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And the Sun Stood Still


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#121    Ben Masada

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 07:09 PM

View PostJor-el, on 28 March 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

The natural laws are all well and good, they are part of the natural order of the universe but that only makes God a very good architect. What makes God, God, is what he does for his children over and above that little fact.

I am mostly a proponent of God using natural laws to good effect, if the universe is deterministic, then there is nothing to say that when he started the ball rolling all his "miracles" were already accounted for and included in that "beginning". But I also believe that God is more than a maintainer of the natural order, He demonstrates his love for us, not in some abstract way like some distant father, but more like a father who lives with and acompanies his children everywhere. He provides for them, he maintains them and he keeps them strong, that is the God of the bible and the God of loving mercy.

Exodus 7:9

"When Pharaoh says to you, 'Prove yourselves by working a miracle,' then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'"

If God does not "do" miracles, and keeps to the natural order, then why did he actually transform Aarons staff and turn it into an actual serpent. I would think that goes abit against the established rules of that "natural order" you are defending.

The whole of the Tanach except for some fragments was put into writing many many years later in the form of chronicles of the kings and of the prophets. Embelishment was the method used to enhance the achievements of the good characters while something akin to slanders was used to spotlight the evil ones. I might be exaggerating a little here you might say, but to anthropomorphize God into personally interacting with man would be more destructive. to monotheistic Theology.

Ben

Edited by Ben Masada, 30 March 2013 - 07:10 PM.


#122    Jor-el

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:09 PM

View PostBen Masada, on 30 March 2013 - 07:09 PM, said:

The whole of the Tanach except for some fragments was put into writing many many years later in the form of chronicles of the kings and of the prophets. Embelishment was the method used to enhance the achievements of the good characters while something akin to slanders was used to spotlight the evil ones. I might be exaggerating a little here you might say, but to anthropomorphize God into personally interacting with man would be more destructive. to monotheistic Theology.

Ben

Oh, I have to ask... destructive in what way?

I could also tell you that I am not a classical Monotheist, if anything the bible does not teach monotheism, it teaches a type of henotheism.

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#123    Ben Masada

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:38 PM

View PostJor-el, on 30 March 2013 - 08:09 PM, said:

Oh, I have to ask... destructive in what way?

I could also tell you that I am not a classical Monotheist, if anything the bible does not teach monotheism, it teaches a type of henotheism.

I wonder why I am not surprised. The Bible indeed does not teach anything monotheistic to the members of the literal interpretation club. One must have some professional handling of metaphorical language to see Monotheism in every page of the Bible; I mean the Hebrew Bible. And by "Destructive to Monotheism" I mean anthropomorphism of God: The attempt to bring God down to the level of man as if He is like one. That's what embarrassed Einstein to reveal himself as a theist.

Ben


#124    Jor-el

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 09:12 PM

View PostBen Masada, on 30 March 2013 - 08:38 PM, said:

I wonder why I am not surprised. The Bible indeed does not teach anything monotheistic to the members of the literal interpretation club. One must have some professional handling of metaphorical language to see Monotheism in every page of the Bible; I mean the Hebrew Bible. And by "Destructive to Monotheism" I mean anthropomorphism of God: The attempt to bring God down to the level of man as if He is like one. That's what embarrassed Einstein to reveal himself as a theist.

Ben

Being Jewish, I sincerely don't understand why he had a problem with that unless he was also somewhat of a christian.

As for the rest I can only be honest about what the bible teaches and not try to twist it to a view that would be more comfortable for me as a christian.

Since the bible habitually shows us a a God that not only interacts but appears to men all the time in a way they can touch and see, I find the metaphorical view to be such a twist. I agree that many texts of the bible are metaphorical, but they are also clearly defined as such by the text. An old disagreement for us, which I don't see being resolved any time soon.

Naturally, if you did a little study on monotheism and henotheism as viewed by the ancient Israelites you might eventually come to understand why a pure monotheism is not biblical, but I don't hold out much hope for that happening.

Edited by Jor-el, 30 March 2013 - 09:14 PM.

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#125    Ben Masada

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 08:04 PM

View PostJor-el, on 30 March 2013 - 09:12 PM, said:

Being Jewish, I sincerely don't understand why he had a problem with that unless he was also somewhat of a christian.

As for the rest I can only be honest about what the bible teaches and not try to twist it to a view that would be more comfortable for me as a christian.

Since the bible habitually shows us a a God that not only interacts but appears to men all the time in a way they can touch and see, I find the metaphorical view to be such a twist. I agree that many texts of the bible are metaphorical, but they are also clearly defined as such by the text. An old disagreement for us, which I don't see being resolved any time soon.

Naturally, if you did a little study on monotheism and henotheism as viewed by the ancient Israelites you might eventually come to understand why a pure monotheism is not biblical, but I don't hold out much hope for that happening.

View PostJor-el, on 30 March 2013 - 09:12 PM, said:

Being Jewish, I sincerely don't understand why he had a problem with that unless he was also somewhat of a christian.

As for the rest I can only be honest about what the bible teaches and not try to twist it to a view that would be more comfortable for me as a christian.

Since the bible habitually shows us a a God that not only interacts but appears to men all the time in a way they can touch and see, I find the metaphorical view to be such a twist. I agree that many texts of the bible are metaphorical, but they are also clearly defined as such by the text. An old disagreement for us, which I don't see being resolved any time soon.

Naturally, if you did a little study on monotheism and henotheism as viewed by the ancient Israelites you might eventually come to understand why a pure monotheism is not biblical, but I don't hold out much hope for that happening.

Well, how about some beef in the buns? I have found out that taking each other's word for it will take us nowhere. Open the Bible and tell me what is literal and what for you is metaphorical? And before starting anything I hope you have understood the metaphor of "beef in the buns."

Ben


#126    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:29 PM

View PostJor-el, on 30 March 2013 - 09:12 PM, said:

Naturally, if you did a little study on monotheism and henotheism as viewed by the ancient Israelites you might eventually come to understand why a pure monotheism is not biblical.

Depending on what you mean by 'pure monotheism' and/or 'biblical', I think I'm with you on this one.  You are definitely correct that early Israelites were henotheists and that is biblical in the sense that this fact is described there; I haven't made it through much of the OT but I distinctly remember references to the god Baal.  However, and maybe this is just the way you've worded it or I may well be wrong, I don't think there's that much in the Bible that unequivocally states that these other beings that these Israelites worshiped were actually ever 'real' gods.  I guess I'm just having trouble unpacking 'pure monotheism is not biblical'.  I agree that 'the idea that the ancient Israelites were purely monotheistic is not biblical'.  But I don't know that I agree that, 'the idea that there is and has always only been one god (possible definition of 'pure monotheism') is not biblical'.  Maybe more succinctly, do you agree that 'monotheism (no 'pure') is biblical'?

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#127    Jor-el

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:47 PM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 01 April 2013 - 09:29 PM, said:

Depending on what you mean by 'pure monotheism' and/or 'biblical', I think I'm with you on this one.  You are definitely correct that early Israelites were henotheists and that is biblical in the sense that this fact is described there; I haven't made it through much of the OT but I distinctly remember references to the god Baal.  However, and maybe this is just the way you've worded it or I may well be wrong, I don't think there's that much in the Bible that unequivocally states that these other beings that these Israelites worshiped were actually ever 'real' gods.  I guess I'm just having trouble unpacking 'pure monotheism is not biblical'.  I agree that 'the idea that the ancient Israelites were purely monotheistic is not biblical'.  But I don't know that I agree that, 'the idea that there is and has always only been one god (possible definition of 'pure monotheism') is not biblical'.  Maybe more succinctly, do you agree that 'monotheism (no 'pure') is biblical'?

Monotheism is like trying to fit a sqare peg in to a circular hole.

That does not mean that it isn't right, but it is right only in an indirect way. There were many gods and these gods were real entities but none of them are THE GOD. In that category there is only one. The others are called the "bene elohim" the "sons of God" and they contrary to what is preached today a very real part of ancient Jewish life and of the life of the surrounding civilizations in the ancient near east.

Here is something I posted some time ago on this subject which I still find interesting and defines my point of view...

“Monotheism” as a term was coined in the 17th century not as an antonym to “polytheism,” but to “atheism.” A monotheist, then, was a person who believed there was a God, not someone who believed there was only one spiritual entity that could or should be named by the letters G-O-D. This understanding of the term has been lost in contemporary discourse, and so it would be pointless to call for its re-introduction. A more coherent approach is to describe what Israelites believed about their God rather than trying to encapsulate that belief in a single word. When scholars have addressed this tension, however, a shift to description over terminology has not been the strategy. Rather, scholars have tried to qualify the modern vocabulary. Terms like “inclusive monotheism” or “tolerant monolatry” have been coined in an attempt to accurately classify Israelite religion in both preand post-exilic stages. These terms have not found broad acceptance because they are oxymoronic to the modern ear.

Other scholars have argued for an “incipient monotheism” that could perhaps include the affirmation of other gods who were inferior. There is precedent for this idea in the scholarly exchanges over henotheism, monolatry, and Israelite religion. Historically, henotheism assumes all gods are species equals and the elevation of one god is due to socio-political factors—not theological nuancing. Quoting Max Müller’s seminal work on the subject, M. Yusa writes that henotheism was a technical term coined “to designate a peculiar form of polytheism . . . [where] each god is, ‘at the time a real divinity, supreme and absolute’ not limited by the powers of any other gods.” Müller called this idea “belief in single gods . . . a worship of one god after another.”


T. J. Meek referred to pre-exilic Israelite religion as both henotheistic and monolatrous, thereby equating the two, based on the prohibition of worshipping other gods. But did the canonical Israelite writer believe that Yahweh was superior on the basis of sociopolitical factors, or was Yahweh intrinsically “other” with respect to his nature and certain attributes? Did the writer view Yahweh as only a being who could not be limited by the powers of other deities, or was there something unique about Yahweh that both transcended and produced this total freedom?

H. H. Rowley, reacting to the work of Meek, moved toward the idea of uniqueness, but did so using the word “henotheism.” What distinguished Mosaic religion in his mind from that of other “henotheists” was “not so much the teaching that Yahweh was to be the only God for Israel as the proclamation that Yahweh was unique.”


Rowley’s focus on uniqueness was on the righttrack, but his approach has the disadvantage of trying to convince the academic community to redefine a term whose meaning by now is entrenched. The proposal offered here is that scholars should stop trying to define Israel’s religion with singular, imprecise modern terms and instead stick to describing what Israel believed.

“Monotheism” as it is currently understood means that no other gods exist. This term is inadequate for describing Israelite religion, but suggesting it be done away with would no doubt cause considerable consternation among certain parts of the academic community, not to mention the interested laity.


“Henotheism” and “monolatry,” while perhaps better, are inadequate because they do not say enough about what the canonical writer believed. Israel was certainly “monolatrous,” but that term comments only on what Israel believed about the proper object of worship, not what it believed about Yahweh’s nature and attributes with respect to the other gods.

In the judgment of this writer, describing what Israel believed about Yahweh need not involve the kind of high philosophical speculation that most modern scholarship wants to deny the ancient Israelite. Several simple ideas have been communicated to the reader by the canonical authors that allow a description that demonstrates a firm, uncompromising belief in Yahweh’s “species uniqueness” among the other gods assumed to exist.


Israel did not believe the other gods were species-equal with Yahweh and essentially interchangeable. Israel did not believe that Yahweh should be viewed as the supreme god only because of his deeds on behalf of Israel. The canonical authors considered Yahweh to be in a class by himself. He was “species-unique.”

Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism?Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew BibleMichael S. Heiser, PhD

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#128    Jor-el

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:49 PM

View PostBen Masada, on 01 April 2013 - 08:04 PM, said:

Well, how about some beef in the buns? I have found out that taking each other's word for it will take us nowhere. Open the Bible and tell me what is literal and what for you is metaphorical? And before starting anything I hope you have understood the metaphor of "beef in the buns."

Ben

Ben I'll get back to you on this tomorrow, right now I'm beat and can't concentrate at all... and your posts need concentration.

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#129    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:46 PM

View PostJor-el, on 01 April 2013 - 09:47 PM, said:

Here is something I posted some time ago on this subject which I still find interesting and defines my point of view...

“Monotheism” as a term was coined in the 17th century not as an antonym to “polytheism,” but to “atheism.” A monotheist, then, was a person who believed there was a God, not someone who believed there was only one spiritual entity that could or should be named by the letters G-O-D.

Interesting, thanks.  I'm not sure how to read that last sentence, does, 'a monotheist was a person who believed there was a God', more thoroughly translate to 'a monotheist believes there is at least one god'?

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#130    Jor-el

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:57 PM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 01 April 2013 - 10:46 PM, said:

Interesting, thanks.  I'm not sure how to read that last sentence, does, 'a monotheist was a person who believed there was a God', more thoroughly translate to 'a monotheist believes there is at least one god'?

More accurately, a monotheist believes that such a being called God exists (as in the concept of such a being existing) as in opposition to an atheist who believes no gods at all exist.

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#131    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:02 AM

View PostJor-el, on 01 April 2013 - 10:57 PM, said:

More accurately, a monotheist believes that such a being called God exists (as in the concept of such a being existing) as in opposition to an atheist who believes no gods at all exist.

I looked up the etymology and I think I see what you are saying.  A henotheist believes that several gods exist but has faith or worships one of them, a modern monotheist believes there is only one god; the former and thankfully obsolete usage of 'monotheism' would include both of those.  Actually it appears that in its very first usage 'monotheism' is used to describe pantheism, which of course is also considered to be atheism like polytheism also (in Henry More's opinion).

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#132    eight bits

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 08:05 AM

Quote

That's what embarrassed Einstein to reveal himself as a theist.

Once again, you have slandered a dead scientist who was culturally Jewish but non-observant.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Einstein was ever "embarrassed to reveal himself as a theist." His religious ideas were largely formed in adolecscence, and his principal influence was Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza was called an atheist in his time, and a pantheist afterwards. Einstein's differences with Spinoza were sufficient to justify calling Einstein a deist, but if so, a very Spinozan deist, and proud of it.

There is nothing about Einstein's religious thought for him to be embarrassed about. There is a consistent record of Einstein being forthcoming about his devotion to Spinoza throughout his adult life. Einstein thought his ideas were typical of scientists, though he seemed to realize that his views weren't the usual pantheism that other people associated with Spinoza.

A reliable collection of source material on Einstein's views about the question of God, and about some other religious questions can be found here:

http://uncertaintist...-irreligion.pdf

This resource provides, in addition to apt quotes, discussion of the context in which the quoted matter was written.

Einstein did not approve of others personalizing God, or behaving as if God would do favors for his devotees. Unsurprisingly, Einstein didn't do those things himself, nor did he think it was in any way inevitable that a person who was mindful of God would do those things. He envisioned, with approval, a future religiion, based on ideas about God like his own.

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#133    Frank Merton

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:49 AM

My impression is that Einstein was a friendly, polite man who did not like to disagree with people.  He also had the habit (I think a bad one but very common in physics) of referring to the laws of nature as "God." (I.e., "God does not play dice" to which Bohr -- a known atheist -- gave the famous response that Einstein is no one to tell God what to play with).

Whether he was really a theist is hard to say.  He liked Spinoza, but I know of nowhere that he explicitly endorses him.  He only says that he is good or attractive.  Besides, that kind of theism is not really theism, not even as far as the Deists would go -- a moral force, but without personality, in the universe, but not a creator.


#134    eight bits

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:16 AM

Well. Frank, I did give a link to collected source material, so I stand by my statement that Einstein "endorsed" Spinoza. If you are interested in my basis for saying it, then click the link.

Like any other user of natural language, not everything Einstein uttered with the word God in it was a theological statement.  "God does not play dice with the universe" is clearly a witticism. He probably also made a few remarks featuring God during passionate episodes.

However, one of the nice things about the source I gave is that it includes the context of each remark. Often, Einstein made statements in answer to direct questions, or in commissioned essays, or while explaining himself to a specific reader or audience.

On these occasions, when he mentions God, he means God. Those are the kind of things, the only kinds of things, that appear in the source I cited. Based upon that and similar readings, I wrote what I did.

As to your theory about what counts as theism, knock yourself out. Zeus wasn't a creator, either. People who believed in him and his pals weren't theists by your reckoning. Other reckonings are possible. For example, one might classify a typical deist as a kind of theist.

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#135    Frank Merton

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:26 AM

Oh I read the material; I just from other times and places think he liked Spinoza a lot but never really committed himself.  You find this sometimes -- one place the "great man" says something and another place he doesn't quite sound so sure.

No I would strongly disagree that Einstein says "God" referring to anything even remotely resembling the God of his tradition.  I kinda wonder from what you say if you understand Spinoza anyway.





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