Sunday, 6 May 2018

"T.L.:D.R." The Genesis Question Part two

Hi, Everybody!

Here's part Two of Dave's Commentary on"The Genesis Question". The Word file I have this in, is 368 pages long. The first installment was the first 5 pages. Which means this might run for 90-some weeks. So in lieu of putting links here for all the parts, I've created a new label "Genesis Question", so at the bottom of each post it'll say: "Labels" If you click the  one, you'll get all of these posts. AND NOW YOU KNOW...
1 April 18

Hi Matt!

You must be running out of my Biblical commentaries along about now. So…
Courtesy of CerebusDownloads.com
9 February 14

Hi Troy and Mia:

The next Biblical reference in The Genesis Question is to1 Thessalonians 5:21 regarding which Mr. Ross informs we, his readers, that "the apostle Paul exhorted his readers to 'test everything'.  The 1611 KJV has it as

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

The Interlinear has it as

all ____s however be you proving, the fine ____ be you holding down

It seems to me to be more apparent in the sense conveyed by the original Koine Greek that this is a small part in a larger thought or series of thoughts, whereas in the KJV translation it has, again, that "fortune cookie" quality to it.  One fortune cookie fortune in a short list of fortune cookie fortunes which does appear to begin with one of Paul's characteristic exhortations:

Now, we exhort (alternative marginal meaning: beseech) you, brethren, warn them that are unruly (alternative marginal meaning: disorderly), comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. Rejoice evermore: pray without ceasing, In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the spirit, Despise not prophesyings (my spellcheck doesn't accept the KJV's plural form which is a good point: it should be "prophecies" although "prophesyings" as a coined term does convey a differently nuanced meaning) Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.

The Interlinear has it as

We are encouraging however you, brothers, be you putting mind in the disorderly, be you consoling the ones of little soul, be you holding selves against the weak, be you having longness of spirit toward all.  Be you seeing not anyone bad ___ in place of bad ___ to anyone he might give back, but always the good ____ be you pursuing into one another and into all.  Always be you rejoicing.  Incessantly be you praying, in everything be you giving thanks this for will of God in Christ Jesus into you.  The spirit not be you extinguishing, prophecies not be you treating as nothing; all however be you proving, the fine be you holding down, from every seen of wicked be you holding yourselves from.

As seems to me to be always the case with Paul's commentaries, what he is actually saying is pretty incoherent, open to any one of a number of interpretations. It's "happy talk".  He's really, really happy about Christ Jesus and he wants you to know that.  What he's saying specifically…well…Paul is not really big on specificity.

You can certainly translate "be you putting mind in the disorderly" as "warn them that are unruly". But you could also, I think, just as successfully -- or more successfully -- translate it as "identify with the disorderly" or "project your thoughts into the disorderly" or "empathize with the disorderly" or "try to understand the disorderly"You could also translate it as "help the disorderly to think" or "give your best thoughts to the disorderly" or "keep the disorderly in your thoughts".  All of which constitute "happy talk" and still allow for all of the other meanings cited.

I think this was intentional:  that Paul was selected by God specifically for this conversational and expressive quirk.  He never quite says anything specifically but everything that he says is very, very happy and can be translated any one of a hundred happy ways.  Which means his words are like a Rorschach inkblot test for each listener and each translator.  Pick the happy thought that he conveys to you and the thought you pick will tell you -- and God -- something about yourself.  And allow you to become your own version of Paul, conveying your own "happy talk" to others through what you heard.  I think if you lined up all of the translations of "be you putting mind in the disorderly" over the last two thousand years, what you would see is a progression of ever-more positive and every more cheerful inferences.  It could as easily have gone the other way.  "Impose your will on the disorderly" or "bend the disorderly to your will through your superior mind".

And I think THAT was intentional:  that God was illustrating for His adversary, YHWH, that His adversary's foundational view of men -- "the imagination of man's heart, evil from his youth" -- was and is misapprehended.  If it were otherwise then it would stand to reason everyone exposed to the serious incoherence and serious ambiguity of Paul's words would err in inferring evil meanings from Paul's "happy talk".  And that this would worsen as his "happy talk" spread and was subjected to translations and translations of translations.    

I don't mean "happy talk" as a pejorative.  It was very efficacious, a central reason that Christianity spread like wildfire across the Greek and Roman worlds.  "Happy talk" was in very short supply, particularly in the dominant modes of thinking and belief -- Roman law and Greek philosophy -- in the seminal world of Christianity's origins. 

It didn't make your head hurt (provided you didn't examine it too closely or attempt to make it adhere to accepted rules of intellectual discourse).  It could -- and did -- incite joy and Joy in those inclined in those directions and amendable to them.  "Be not afraid"; "be of good cheer".  Cheer up, basically.     

I'll try not to further belabour the point of the wide spectrum of meanings allowed for by Paul's "happy talk".  I think the literal translations of "be you consoling the ones of little soul"; "be you holding selves against the weak"; "be you having longness of spirit toward all"; "the fine be you holding down" speak for themselves in terms of incoherence, allowing for both good and bad inferences (particularly "be you holding selves against the weak"). 

It seems to me an implicit small irony that Mr. Ross cites Paul's incoherent ambiguities as a foundation for his goal of "proving" his own theses.

Anyway, on to the book itself:

CHAPTER ONE A PERSONAL JOURNEY

"I understood that the big bang meant an expanding, "exploding" universe.  I agreed with Einstein that an exploding universe can be traced back to an explosion, a beginning."

I agree with "expanding" but I've definitely come to disagree with "exploding".  Not that the term isn't forensically accurate in human frames of reference.  Anything expanding that far and that fast is, by definition, "explosive".

But it seems to me to be naturally infected…and inflected…with our mental image of earthly explosions -- largely haphazard acts of concentrated and largely destructive violence. 

As I explained in THE LAST DAY, I think that's true of our sun and of stars, generally, insofar as, it seems to me, that they are imperfect, failed attempts to duplicate the big bang. 

All the same elements are present in the big bang and in the birth of a star.  The difference is that the big bang was engineered by God, who knew what He was doing, and each star is an attempt by His creations to duplicate that engineering feat and they don't know what they're doing while maintaining that they do know what they're doing:  to the extent that they believe themselves to be co-equivalent with God. 

It seems to me a seminal point of the physical universe itself -- the answer to the question "Why?" that science long ago left off trying to answer (as Stephen Hawking said, "I know what the universe is doing, I just don't know why it's doing it") --  God having proved definitively that only He is God because anyone else claiming to be God or God's equivalent can only prove it by causing another big bang and umpty-ump billions of years later have failed to do so even once.

The fact that there has been no big bang since the big bang -- that there is only evidence of a singular event -- rather proves God's point, I think. 

The difference, it seems to me, is that the big bang wasn't an explosion.  If it had been an explosion, it would have turned into a star -- as all subsequent big-bang-modelled-events-in-the-universe have done -- instead of being the source of the entire outwardly expanding physical universe. 

That is, like each star or binary star we can see, the "not big bang" would have expanded only so far and then its own gravitational force would have collapsed it in upon itself into a roughly spheroid shape of inchoate nuclear force, matter and energy that would burn for a few billion years before collapsing into a black hole.

"In the physics of the universe I saw harmony and consistency, perfection, freedom from contradiction, a pervading beauty and an elegance of design."

Yes, I would agree with "perfection" if what you are talking about is the entirety of the universe and only to the extent that the universe is God's Point, God's Argument physically incarnated and physically constituted. 

It is a perfect construct illustrating, irrefutably, that only God and only God's work is perfect.

 "Harmony and consistency", well, yes but containing the unharmonious and the inconsistent by way of illustrating the fact of their nature -- "you perceive yourself to be harmonious and consistent but, by means of the big bang, I have illustrated to you that you are unharmonious and inconsistent" -- to themselves.  The big bang was and is the perfect way to do that.  Think how far away from the big bang we are and how much of its effects we can see with the unaided eye.  Even the largest galaxy -- that is, the "least failed" attempt to duplicate the big bang -- is minuscule in comparison.  God's QED.

Likewise "freedom from contradiction".  The big bang was free from contradiction which is why it kept -- and keeps -- going, outward bound.  All else IS contradiction, a hatching out of contradiction, from suns to planets to comets to asteroids to moons to…us.  Which is what I think when I read Mr. Ross' earlier comment:

"Millions of people through the ages have lived and died by their 'holy books'.  But if all the holy books came from the same source and said pretty much the same thing, as my teachers suggested, why did the followers of each book criticize, condemn and even kill the followers of the others?  I began to suspect that all religions were humanly crafted fronts for people's psychological desire to dominate others."

Well, yes, for the same reason that our sun didn't turn into the "next big bang".  "All have fallen short of the glory of God."  Even the consciousness and sensibility that existed at the time of the birth of our sun -- the most geographically proximate event to us attempting to duplicate the big bang -- was contradictory.  However much it got right -- and producing a large spheroid nuclear fire that will burn for 15 billion years is quite a feat of engineering in its own right -- it was either mostly wrong or partially wrong or sufficiently wrong to fail in its avowed purpose:  to make a big bang and so prove that consciousness and sensibility in nearest proximity to us to be "Like God". 

I would infer that motivation has a lot to do with it.  God didn't, I don't think, create the big bang out of a "psychological desire to dominate others".  He's God and there is none Like Him.  But He realized that many of His seminal creations didn't -- and still don't -- "get" this.  The big bang was the perfect way to settle the argument.  "If you're God, make one of these."  Each failed attempt confirms God's Point. God a) came out here with us and b) He was always out here.  He is, by definition, omnipresent.  That doesn't mean that He prevails everywhere and at all times.  His Spirit informs our holy books, but, just as the sun is an imperfect attempt to duplicate His big bang, so our holy books are imperfect syntheses of His word and -- I would assume -- the consciousness and sensibility that He created and which is the Largest Entity in direct cosmological proximity to us.  The awareness that pretended to be God or Like God and attempted to make a big bang and just made another medium-sized yellow star.  It's only in our own neighbourhood but it does have a large presence here, relatively speaking.

I think it sensible to assume that that consciousness and sensibility inhabits -- or "inhabits" or inhabits/"inhabits" the sun.  Has that consciousness and sensibility repented of its blasphemy?  No idea.  I'm not sure it even knew how it got all the way out here or even that it was just another example of all the other failed experiments it could see around it in the heavens.  That is, I don't know that the sun even knew that it was just another star until we figured out it for it.  Which would be a really humiliating way to find out about your own reality if you think about it.  These little insect like creatures crawling around on a tiny chunk of rock 93 million miles away FIGURED OUT SOMETHING I HAD NO CLUE ABOUT!

Likewise the centre of the earth, earth's molten core, I think partakes of that sensibility and consciousness.  I think that's what the YHWH is -- a little "sun" in the middle of our nondescript chunk of rock. 

I think if you're looking for the origin point of the "psychological desire to dominate others",  that's where you need to start looking.  I think that's the imperfection built in to all the failed experiments.  God created the big bang to establish the Verity of His Absolute Preeminence.  Not to dominate anyone or anything, but just to make sure that Verity was maintained -- however corrupted it would become by lesser beings. 
All of the suns and galaxies and solar systems were created, I think I'm safe in saying, from the "psychological desire to dominate others":  that each wanted to prove they were God -- and only desired to be God because it looked like fun to be better than everyone else -- and failed to do so in no small part because domination is an unworthy motive.

Writing about Genesis, Mr. Ross writes:

"Most impressive of all, the four initial conditions and the sequence of major creation events -- not just one or two, but more than a dozen -- all matched the established scientific record." 

Well, yes, of course.  The sun was a failed experiment to recreate the big bang, but that didn't mean it was a complete failure.  The same centrifugal force that hurled the proto-sun and its consciousness/sensibility out into this particular suburb to make its own attempt to create a big bang, free from external interference and influence -- the chance to prove its "Godhood" in a pristine context -- enacted itself and created the proto-planets.  I'm sure it's all the same recipe and I'm sure it's very basic.  That, too, it seems to me was God's Point.  "Here, I'm going to take this, this, this, this and this.  Now I'm going to balance them.  A specific mixture of each one -- strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, matter, energy. Now watch."  Big bang. One minute the consciousnesses/sensibilities were watching God's balancing act and the next minute they were being hurled outward within a state of Universal Light at nearly unimaginable speed and spinning at unimaginable speed. 

That's what was so enticing.  The answer is there.  But not one of them has been able to imitate it. 

Human beings are, it seems to me, a good example of a consolation prize.  You didn't produce a big bang, but you did produce this little chunk of rock which is pretty meticulously balanced.  Not big bang balanced, but balanced enough that you created water (which is no mean trick: it requires nearly perfect balance of hydrogen and oxygen which are pretty unstable stage props).  With water you made sentient beings possible and not only sentient beings but sentient beings which incarnate as being pretty close to balanced.  Women are, generally, smaller than men but in cosmological terms, we are pretty close to the same size.  God and his immediate local counterpart, the YHWH, were now able to have a discussion through these proxies.  Millennia-long, repetitive, reiterative, circular and largely pointless (completely pointless in terms of what God could get out of it), but at least a discussion. 

Genesis just documents the enactment of that discussion.  Here is how the discussion goes on a water planet.  Human beings having been made possible -- (long after the first iterations, things like the dinosaurs which were functional but hardly constituted a discussion) -- God incarnates Adam and then creates Chaua (Eve) out of Adam.  And everything unfolds from there, everything is an enactment that follows logically and sequentially as a means of explaining the nature of the imperfection of God's creations to those imperfect creations, by means of a perfect enactment.  The mere fact of how the sun turned out -- that it wasn't a binary star, that it was yellow, that it was the size it was and that it "spun off" the planets that it did in the size and order that it did, implied how this epoch, as documented in Genesis, was going to enact itself.

"Eighteen months later I arrived at Revelation 22 .  During those months, I had read every page and failed to discover anything I could honestly label an error or contradiction." 

Well, no. You wouldn't, would you?  Like the sun and its consciousness/sensibility, we are all imperfect enactments.  That's what we're doing out here. 

The best we can manage to do is to attempt to understand the perfect imperfectly.  I'm pretty sure that's how God judges us.

In the same sense that the planets of our solar system established the nature of the sun -- the sun could only produce the planets it did if it had this specific nature -- so we enact our own part of the larger enactment.  We are all of us children of Adam as Adam was a "child" of God and a child of the earth, formed of the dust of the earth. 

What we do and what we choose is who we are. 

Part of us comes from God and the perfection of God's enactment and part of us comes from the incoherence of the consciousness/sensibility that formed our sun and the planets.  We will never become God or become Like God.  The best we can hope for is to cohere and adhere as closely to the perfection of God's enactment and to keep ourselves as far from the incoherence of that enactment that opposes God and seeks to supplant Him as we are capable. 

"I have done my duty as God gave me the light to see that duty" as General MacArthur put it in his farewell address to Congress.  More accurate to say, "I HOPE I have done my duty, etc.".  Human imperfection being a given in any context.    

On to chapter two next week.

Best,


Dave 


Next Time: Uh...chapter two...  Dave just said so...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think talking to Dave about God would be a very interesting and riveting conversation; this is the next best thing. Thanks for sharing these and the Revelations posts.

A Fake Name

Tony Dunlop said...

I'm glad you like it, Fake. I got about a third of the way through before I said to myself, Self, there are three minutes of your life you'll never get back. Then the Issue 289-290 references began and I said "Self, RUN!!!!"

Although I admit Dave does, no doubt inadvertently, illustrate one of the (many) reasons I realized (years ago, now) I could no longer be a Protestant. The money quote: "...(Paul) never quite says anything specifically but everything that he says is very, very happy and can be translated any one of a hundred happy ways. Which means his words are like a Rorschach inkblot test for each listener and each translator." This, to me, is what happens when you do not have any "guiderails," in the form of a Magisterium (Catholic) or councils, bishops, and the holy Fathers (Orthodox) to prevent each Christian from just making up his own religion and calling it Christianity (and, frequently, claiming that he's the first one, or the first one since the death of the last Apostle, to *really* get it). To be a Protestant means to trust your own judgment above all else; I don't trust mine, since I am a sinner.

(It's worth pointing out that there are plenty of places where Paul is not happy but rather very (and very specifically) stern about specific sins into which the churches he was writing to had fallen into.)

David Birdsong said...

Tony,

I'm asking this in a non-smartass way so please don't misunderstand me.

What prevents the councils, bishops and holy fathers from making up their own religion and calling it Christianity?

Tony again said...

The short answer, David, is "nothing." Due to time constraints this will have to be a blog-post answer, and therefore necessarily short, pithy, and vastly oversimplified. There have been lots and lots of heretics - those who depart from what those in the two branches of Christianity can legitimately, with a traceable documentary record, claim to be the same church the Apostles presided over - Catholic ("Rome") and Orthodox ("Constantinople") - have taught, practiced, and believed since the descent of the Holy Spirit as depicted in Acts chap. 2. Sometimes those heresies have been "official" church doctrine for decades at a time, but (we Cath/Orth) believe that the same Holy Spirit who descended on the Apostles also eventually guides the Church, often through humble and unexpected ways, back to the true faith.

This is *not* going to be, or intended to be, convincing to anyone who isn't already open to it. It's just a very brief, very Internet-age-simple, no doubt very lame, attempt to not ignore David's question. Unfortunately I have neither the time, nor the theological acumen, to get further into it. Suffice it to say that I believe that the Church is, indeed, the Body of Christ that St. Paul says it is. Just think of this reply as a tiny glimpse into a very foreign mind-set, attainable only through prayer and setting aside the ego, and feel free to think of me as a crank ;-).

David Birdsong said...

I understand where you are coming from Tony, thanks for answering.

Tony again said...

You're very kind, David - I was rambling like Paul there.

David Birdsong said...

I’m not sure anyone in the history of of man has ever rambled quite like Saint Paul. I find it very interesting and satisfying to know that Dave Sim brought us all together to discuss it, however.