The Bible Supports Science, Or
THE “DAY” WHEN “JUDGEMENT” COMES;
VOL. 5: No Miracles, No Sermons Are Good
Are Metaphors …
Not for “Spirits,” But
For Nature, And Technology:
Bringing Heaven, Spirit,
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is an ***Author’s Draft***; corrected by Author, to p. 115 END; 10/28/07. P. 121 END
CONTENTS: Optional SECTION 1, Intro p. 1- 7. Sec. 2 What Are Metaphors, Parables: 1) Bible mentions; 2) Bible says know; 3) what are; 4) meta bread; 5) Parables; 6) All the Bible; 7) Spirituality; 8) Examples “Sheep”; 9) Many preachers read the Bible as Metaphor; 10) All miracles converted to metaphors. SECTION 2, Moral Objections to Metaphoricalization: 11) Objections; 12) Not honest; 13) False “Tongues”; 14) False priests; 15) orld evaporates; 16) Philo, Origin; 17) gnosticism; 18) Fundamentalism; 19) James. SECTION 3, Both Matter and Spirit: 20) both; 21) Objections to “split,” “double” Bible, dualism; 22) Spirituality split heaven from earth; 23) False, Over-spiritual Christ; 24) God mad at allegories, Ezek.; 25) fixing this split; 26) tongues unite; 27) both sprit and matter join. SECTION 4, Plato on Boreas; Materializing: 28) not strange new doctrine; 29) gods as metaphors for natural things; 30) Boreas in Plato; 31) Tiresome, but; 32) useful, real; 33) not debunk, but confirm; 34) miracles about technology; 35) not reductionistic; 35) visual metaphors literalized; 36) Bullfich & Saturn; 37) Dreadlocks Medusa & Spirit. SECTION 5 End Times: 38) Tongues; 29) Joining Heaven & earth; 40) Naturalism of Miracles, as fulfillment of End Time prophesy. END p. 80.. EPILOGUE: God was an Agricultural Over-“Lord”; will be Second Jesus of Science? Some speculative ideas on Science.]
“I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. In that day” (John 16.25-6).
“And I am coming to gather all nations and tongues” (Isa. 66.18).
“He said nothing to them without a parable” (Mat. 13.34).
Miracles are Metaphors
One of the main objections to historical, traditional Christianity, and traditional churches, is their fervent promise of huge, giant, spectacular miracles. The objection is: when we look around us, we don’t see any of them today. We don’t see anyone at all walking on water for example.
They don’t tell you much about this, directly, in church. But many people don’t really fully believe in God – especially, because of promises of miracles issued in his name. Many people hear preachers assuring us that “God” or “Christ” promised miracles; but then they look around themselves today – and don’t see anyone at all, today, literally walking on water. Or making bread appear out of thin air. Or moving real, literal “mountain”s. Or seeing donkeys talk. Anyone can see these things are not really happening. Even though Jesus was said over and over by generations of preachers, religious leaders, to have done such things; and to have promised these very same things – and even “greater things than these”; “whatsoever” we “ask” – to those who followed him.
Many huge things were historically promised to us, in millions of sermons, for thousands of years, by millions of preachers; promised to us with absolute firmness, as the absolute, holy truth. Yet somehow many found that in real life, we don’t see such miracles happening so much; not today especially. When indeed was the last time you the reader saw, yourself, personally, someone walking on water?
It is probably primarily for this reason as a matter of fact – 1) lack of big miracles, in our own time – that many people today just don’t entirely believe Christianity. But now in any case, furthermore, we have found another good reason or two for people to not believe: 2) though eighty generations of priests insisted we are just supposed to continue to believe and follow, to “have faith,” finally we have also found that the Bible itself did not stress “faith” that much; the Bible itself in fact, warned that there have always been “false” and evil things in essentially “all” holy men and angels; and 3) therefore, against what our preachers themselves told us constantly, we should carefully examine all of them, with science. To see if they really produce real material results … or not. And if our alleged holy men, our priests cannot do this? If they cannot demonstrate at least material wonders; and if they promise them, even spectacular miracles? Then we are supposed to at least, simply, stop following them. Because they are simply, the forewarned false priests, following false prophets. They are promising things that they do not deliver; they are therefore simply, false.
So what should we say next? Are our holy men or preachers therefore, just entirely false? And what should we do next? Indeed, we will find here and now, if there aren’t many physical miracles today, then we all have to publicly say, at least, that millions of preachers have been partially wrong, or false. Since millions of preachers promised miracles to us, but don’t fully deliver them, today.
But next, if
preachers have been false, do we have to say the Bible itself is false? Do we have to say God himself does not exist?
In fact, even if preachers are false, we don’t have to say that the Bible is false too. The fact is, there are many different ways of reading the Bible itself; ways that don’t understand it as promising physical “miracles,” at all. In fact, the Bible itself tells us, that we can read the old apparent promises of “miracles,” as being just metaphors, symbols, or “parables,” for 1) “spiritual” things. Or even better, as 2) metaphors in effect, for things in nature and technology; things that science can now describe. In effect, there are no miracles … because the Bible itself never really promised them. What looked like promises of miracles, were really, something else; were just metaphors and symbols.
What do we mean here? Many people who believe in miracles, don’t even know what a “metaphor” or a “parable” is. While even most preachers, don’t know enough about them either; all they know about are “spiritual” metaphors; but we will need to go well past that.
So suppose we start explaining all this from the most basic level; by 1) noting that the Bible itself tells us about these things; and 2) tells believers they need to know what they mean. While next, 3) we will finally explain to believers, what a metaphor is; and 4) how that finally, among other thins, gets rid of the problem of few miracles. By showing that the Bible allows us to read it in a way, that it never really promised miracles at all. But instead, promised natural events.
If there aren’t many physical miracles today, it would seem that we will have to say that millions of preachers have been partially wrong, or false. But do we have to say the Bible itself – which our preachers took as promising miracles – is false? In fact, we don’t; because the Bible itself tells us we don’t have to take what appear to be promises of miracles, literally; we can take the Bible’s apparent promises of miracles, the Bible itself told us in effect, as being “figures” of speech, or metaphors. But we will find, we will need to go well past what priests have already done along these lines; we must take miracles not as symbols for primarily “spiritual” things, we will find here; but rather, the miracles of the Bible can be and should be taken as being in effect, metaphors for … things in nature and technology. So that finally, we will have an understanding of “miracles” that is consistent with the Bible itself, but also with nature, and science. Which means that suddenly we have an understanding of God, miracles … that come down to, merge with, “flesh” and the “earth,” again. As we will see here.
The Bible Allows Us To Read “Miracles” as Metaphors:
“Figures” of Speech, “Allegories,”
Today, many people – even many priests – take apparent biblical promises of miracles, physical “bread” out of thin air, at face value. But these priests have not read their Bibles closely enough.
1) The Bible itself, in fact, told us over and over, that it was often using not a literal, but a symbolical way of talking; that it using a) “parables,” b) “figures” of speech or metaphors, c) “allegories,” and other related things.
“I will open my mouth in a parable” (Ps. 78.2).
“Propound a riddle, and speak an allegory” (Ezk. 17.2; cf. 20.49).
“Now this is an allegory” (Gal. 4.24).
“I have said this to you in figures…” (Jesus, in John 16.25).
“I have said this to you in metaphors” (John 16.25; my translation).
“This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand …. ” (John 10.6, my transl. from RSV).
“Figure:… 21…..b…. A metaphor or metaphorical mode of expression; an image, similitude” (The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary).
“He addressed them at length in parables…” (Mat. 133.3 NAPB).
“It is spiritual and not literal” (Rom 2.29).
“Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘to you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it had not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. That is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand…'” (Mat. 13.10-14).
“Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction…” (Prov. 13.18).
“Now the whole earth had one language and few words…. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language” (Gen. 11.1, 7).
“With … double heart they speak” ( Ps. 12.2).
“Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons” (1 Tim. 3.8-10; also Sir. 5.9-14, 6.1).
“I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. In that day” (John 16.25-6).
“And something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight” (Acts. 9.18).
“Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?'” (Mat. 13.10-14).
“He considered that God was able to rise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Essau…” (Heb. 11.19).
The apostle St. Matthew even told us that Jesus spoke “nothing” without a parable:
“All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable” (Mat. 13.24).
2) The Bible itself therefore, told us it was often speaking in figures of speech, and so forth. And finally, the Bible itself even told us, that to understand the Bible, it was good to learn what these things were:
“That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight … that prudence may be given to the simple … the wise man also may hear and increase and learning, and the man of understanding acquire skill, to understand a proverb and a figure” (Prov. 1.2, 5-6).
3) Since the Bible itself told us it is good to learn what a “figure” of speech is, suppose we do that, right now. God here told us even, the learning what a “figure” of speech is, a “proverb” and so forth, is even, the way, the route, to “wisdom.” A route which is otherwise is quite elusive in the Bible. (The nature of “wisdom” being never so clearly spelled out in the rest of the Bible, as it is here).
Indeed in fact, we will find here, that if you learn what a “figure” of speech or metaphors is, you will eventually come here, to see a number of wonders. To see a resolution of an extremely wide range of apparent sins and errors and confusions in everyday Christians, and scholars. Among other thing, we a) will finally solve the problem of no miracles. Indeed, b) we will finally even come to the first outline of the foretold “second” and better vision, coming, of God.
So What is a “Figure” of Speech,
So what was the Bible really talking about? Clearly the Bible itself suggests you can’t really understand the Bible, unless you know what a “figure” of speech is; an “allegory”; a “parable.” So let’s explain here and now, what these things are.
4) First, let’s explain “figures” of speech. Which are also called … metaphors.
A metaphor is a way of talking, where, you use a phrase that seem to say one thing, while they are really saying something else. Like when you say “its raining cats and dogs.” Here, on one level of the text, it seems to be about cats and dogs. But of course, you don’t really mean its really raining actual, real cats and dogs; its just a way of talking. What you really mean, is that it’s raining hard; with big raindrops; as if cats and dogs were falling down out of the sky.
Many people use metaphors all the time, without knowing it. Its a complicated way of talking, where you appear to be saying one thing, but are actually talking about something else. Here’s an example of a metaphor, for instance: you feel that your brother is messy, and greedy; and you say “My brother is a pig.” Note that if you just look at what you just said, you said a) your brother, was a pig. Which, if you took it on its face value, would mean your brother was an actual pig; a five hundred pound animal on four legs, with big pink ears. But of course, when you say your brother is a pig, that isn’t really what you mean to say; b) actually you mean to say that your brother is like a pig; he is messy, say.
Metaphors therefore, say at least two things at once. They seem to say one thing on one level; but then another thing, on another level. We call these two levels, first the a) “literal” level; what the words seem to say, letter for letter, word for word, at face value. Here, if you say “my brother is a pig,” if that sentence just meant, what if means on the surface, if you really meant that your brother was a real pig, then it would mean that your brother was a four-footed animal, weighing up to eight hundred pounds, with a snout, and bit pointed ears; destined to become bacon one day.
That is what the phrase, “my brother is a pig” would mean, if you took it “literally.” That is, if you just read it as it stands, letter for letter. Took what it said on the surface. But of course, when you talk this way, you often don’t really mean what it seems to say up front; you really mean something different. People shouldn’t take it word for word, or literally; it was of course, a metaphor. In this case, its just a way of talking; you don’t really want to say your brother is a real, actual, literal pig; you mean that he is like a pig in some ways. He is a messy person, say. And that is the second level of meaning; the b) metaphorical level.
There are lots of common metaphors out there in the language. Some people for example, will call people they know, who are aggressive, “lions.” Like this: “My boss was a lion today; he fired ten people!” But take a close look at this phrase. On one level, on the surface it says that … your boss was a lion. That would seem to mean, if you really meant what it says on the surface, that a) your boss turned into a five hundred pound wild animal, with sharp teeth and claws. That is what it would seem to mean, on the surface – or what is called the “literal,” or “letter-for-letter,” level of the text. b) But of course, most people automatically guess, that when you say “my boss was a lion today,” you don’t really mean that he really, or literally, turned into an actual, big cat. Instead, as most people can guess, what you really meant, was that your boss was rather like a lion; in that he was strong, and aggressive, say.
A metaphor therefore, is a way of talking – where what you are really saying, is not quite what the words seem
to say, on the surface.
Spiriting Away Miracles:
Miracles Are Metaphors –
For Spiritual Things?
5) The Bible therefore, is obviously full of metaphors and parables, and other symbolic ways of speaking. But what does this have to do with resolving some of the key problems with, apparent sins in, Christianity? Especially say, promises of miracles, which don’t seem to come true today? (As noted in our chapter on miracles).
The Bible, as read to us by preachers, promised many huge physical miracles; but actually, we don’t see many people actually performing many of the promised miracles today; we don’t see many people walking on water, for example. And this is a problem for Christianity; the lack of miracles is probably the main reason many people think Christianity is at least partially false. And though our preachers have either assured us that miracles are arriving, or have suggested dozens of explanations for the lack of miracles, finally, none of their existing explanations we have found, is true or good (as we found in Sermons as Excuses for the Lack of Miracles). Indeed finally, we will be showing here, the only good resolution to the problem of “unanswered prayers” for miracles, is to show, here, that actually, the Bible itself never really promised miracles at all; that apparent promises of miracles were really just metaphors, symbols, for things in nature.
On the surface, to be sure, at first, the Bible seemed to promise miracles. But remember now, that
the Bible itself told us that many things in it, are not what they appear to be on the surface. (“For the letter killeth”). God himself telling us that many things in the Bible, are “parables,” “allegories,” “proverbs,” “figures”; ways of talking, where the real subject is not what it appears to be often. Therefore, finally, the way is open to suggest that promises of miracles, are not what they appeared to be, at first; actually, they are symbols, metaphors. In fact, for many centuries, scholars have read promises of miracles, as metaphors for especially, “spiritual” things.
Consider one miracle for example: Jesus at times seemed to promise, deliver the miracle of making real physical bread, appear out of thin air, in empty baskets.
But we don’t see many miracles like this today; and many people think such miracles are just, false. But scholars have, over the centuries, come up with a way of reading this, that suggests that such apparent promises of miracles, are not entirely false; they are actually, metaphors. The Bible never really intended, they might suggest, to promise us real, actual, physical bread, out of thin air; instead, all that was just a story, a metaphor. Jesus here for example, could be understood however, instead, as delivering a kind of symbolic “bread”; just delivering his own thoughts or spirit. Which are a kind of bread. Jesus’ thoughts and ideas, being thought to help our mind or spirit; and so to, sort of, “feed” our minds or spirit.
So if miracles don’t appear in real life today? That doesn’t necessarily mean that the old promises of miracles were false; maybe we just misread our Bibles, and missed perceiving the metaphors; maybe the old stories never intended to promise real physical miracles at all; but those stories were just metaphors. Especially – most speculate – metaphors for spiritual things.
In fact, we will find here that a) the Bible is full of this kind of talking; full of “parables” and “metaphors” and “allegories,” and other ways of talking; all of which are essentially the same kind of thing; which we will chose to call “metaphors” here. And b) there have always been many preachers who read the Bible in fact, as if it is metaphorical. Reading c) the Bible as metaphor. Reading d) even its promises of miracles, as being metaphors. Metaphors e) for especially, spiritual things. f) And indeed we will find here, that the Bible itself was overwritten in such a way, that all its promises of miracles, could be read as metaphors or parables etc.; for spiritual things.
There are solid Biblical reasons therefore, to read the Bible metaphorically. f) To be sure though, we will find here that to read the Bible as metaphor for “spiritual” things, is only one step of a larger process. That eventually, we will need to read the miracles of the Bible for example, as actually, in effect, metaphors for … things in nature and technology. Only in that way, can we get an understanding of the Bible, and its miracles, that is consistent with both science, as well as with every word of the Bible itself.
But to get to this point takes a review of some historical ways of reading the Bible. Most of which fixed on the “spiritual” level. So let’s talk about such interpretations first; including Jesus’s own spiritual “interpretation,” of his own “parables,” next.
A Simple Lesson From the Bible Itself
We are discussing “metaphors” here. But let’s use the term “metaphor” loosely here; what we will call “metaphors,” will include a number of closely-related forms of speaking symbolically; including “parables,” “allegories,” and so forth. Which are all closely interrelated; in all of them, what a story or phrases appears to be about on the surface, is not really what it is about underneath.
6) Especially, consider “parables.”
What are “parables”? Many Sunday School teachers know about them; since Jesus himself spent much time, trying to teach us what parables are. Indeed, let’s look at how Jesus explained parables.
To explain what a parable is, there is a fairly simple example, in the Bible itself. Where the Bible tells us explicitly, that Jesus is telling parables (Mat. 13.10 ff).
The story is popularly known in Sunday Schools, as one of several “parables of the sower.” It is one of many stories told by Jesus that at one level, on the surface, seem to be about a seed-planting farmer. But Jesus hinted of course, that this story is a parable; which means, that there is a deeper, perhaps spiritual, message inside it.
Read the story. On the surface,
note, it is just about a farmer, “sowing” -or, that is, about a farmer throwing seed, onto his fields. To plant his fields. But, Jesus himself was going to say later, look at the story more carefully; this story, that seems to be just about a farmer sowing seed, was actually about … what it is like to preach to people:
“‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundred-fold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘He who had ears to hear, let him hear. Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?'” (Mat. 13.5-8).
At first, on the surface, this story might seem to be just about farming; about a farmer, and how he “sows” or plants, say, something like wheat. Here the story is telling us how to plant seeds; being careful not to sow seeds where people would walk on them; or in rocks; or in weeds. But instead, plant in good soil.
And so at first, on the surface, we have here just a story about farming. But is Jesus just talking about a) farming (as important as farming is, as we will find)? Actually, the Apostles themselves suggest to us above, that this story is a “parable” (Mat. 13.8, above). Which is, a story with another, semi-secret, second symbolic meaning in it.
Actually in fact, this tale, which on the surface is just about farming, was apparently used by Jesus, b) as a symbol; as a symbol apparently, for a spiritual thing; what it is like to preach to many different kinds of people. That is: when speaking, preaching to many different kinds of people, trying to give people religion, you will be received in different ways, by different kinds of people. There aa) will be some people that are like stony ground: they resist the message, and don’t take it to heart. The message lies there … and maybe is eaten by birds, etc.. But bb) there are other people, who are like good soil: they are ready for your message … and they will accept it, and understand it, and let it “grow” and develop in themselves.
The story of the farmer sowing, therefore, isn’t quite what it appears on the surface, the Apostles suggest; the story is a parable, or a kind of metaphor. A bit of language, that seems to be about one thing on the surface; but deeper down, is really about something else. In this case, the physical, material story – a farmer planting real material seeds – is just one level of, one reading of, the text. While the Apostles – and most preachers – would read the second, spiritual level, as being more important.
Now and then, c) Fundamentalist preachers will tell us, that we must not read the Bible this way; as being symbolic, metaphorical, spiritual. And they will tell us that the Bible itself told us not to “interpret” its stories this way. But though our Fundamentalists have an extremely important point or two to make (as we will see below), finally, the Bible itself allows us to read it as metaphor, or parable, clearly, it seems. Indeed, the disciples themselves (to be sure, not always a reliable source), suggest Jesus is speaking “parables.” And furthermore, so far as “interpret”ing the Bible, note that Jesus himself goes on to explain his story; and Jesus himself, explains, interprets, his own story, very carefully.
First, c) the Apostles themselves suggest that such stories are explicitly, “parables” (13.8). Then d) Jesus too calls it that (13.18). While e) then Jesus himself just explains, interprets, reveals, the second level or meaning of the text; thus making it clear that the text is indeed, precisely, a parable:
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has not root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and another thirty” (Mat. 13.18-23).
Many Fundamentalist preachers once claimed, that parts of the Bible by the way, say we cannot “interpret” scripture; or that it requires no “interpretation” or explanation; after 2 Peter 1.20. But above, Jesus is clearly explaining – interpreting – his own stories. While indeed the Bible itself often embraces even “interpret”ation by name:
“He interpreted to them in all the scriptures” (Luke 24.27. See also the interpretation of dreams in Gen. 40.8-22, 41.12-15, Dan. 2.4 ff; 4.6 ff; 5.12, Mat. 16.3, Luke 12.56, 1 Corin. 2.13, 12.30, 14.5).
Specifically related to the above story, by the way, is another explanation, by Jesus where explicitly tells us that preaching the “kingdom of heaven,” can be “compared” to farming. Jesus letting us know, one more time again, that he intended his stories about farming and so forth, to be read as being about kingdoms, and so forth, too:
“Another parable he put before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also” (Mat. 13.24 ff).
“And his disciples came to him, saying ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field'” (Mat. 13.36).
“He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one” (Mat. 13.37-38).
“The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who heard, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasure of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8.11-15).
“And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue…” (13.53).
That, therefore, is what a “parable” is: a story with two levels, two meanings. On the a) surface, you might say, the “first” level, the story above is just a story about a farmer, sowing, or planting, seed. This first surface of the story, is what we call the “literal,” or letter-for-letter, level. But note, Jesus and the Apostles tell us that this story actually is a parable; and therefore it has another, second meaning, underneath the surface. In this case, the story, Jesus told us, was not just about farming; it was b) also about what preaching and a spiritual kingdom is like.
The Bible therefore, is full of parables. As Jesus made clear. In this case, he told us the way parables work: preaching is similar to, can be “compared” to, farming, in some ways, he said. And so therefore, Jesus could use a speech that seemed to be just about farming … to also at the same time, talk about preaching.
By the way, note that this is a “spiritual” fable. Jesus was using significantly, a speech about physical things, to talk about spiritual things. In this case, Jesus said, spiritual preaching to others is like the physical act of sowing seeds: sometimes you give or “sow” your ideas to some crowds, and they listen, and take in your ideas or spirit, and let them grow and take root. Other times though, you throw out your ideas, but other people do not like your words, or do no understand them; and they do not let your ideas, grow inside them.
And finally again, how is this important to the old promises of apparently physical miracles? Note that, based on many, many passages of the Bible like the above, anyone could claim – and many preachers did – that the Bible itself, finally allowed that although it appeared on the surface to promise physical, material miracles… actually, it was doing no such thing. Actually, those stories, were not intended to be true or significant on the material, factual, historical level; they were just stories, being used to really, explain more important spiritual lessons.
Indeed, the stories about farmers that Jesus told, didn’t really have to be real, actual stories about real historical farmers; they could even be fictional.
Indeed, fictional writers often make up stories; but the idea is that even fictional stories, can be used to tell, illustrate, important truths about human nature, and spirit, and so forth. So the parables above, and their material lessons, might even be just fiction; Jesus here and elsewhere, might even be using just using stories, where the material facts – including and miracles? – are not true, but are made up. But where, preachers assert, the spiritual lesson in them is still important, and true.
And by the way, this becomes relevant to the discussion of “miracles”; indeed, not only these specific stories told by Jesus, but the Biblical stories about Jesus himself – including his miracles – might even be fictional, or “literary,” as some suggest. But still, many scholars say, that doesn’t make those stories entirely false. Since the historical or material facts – they claim – are not so important. Not as important as the spiritual lesson they teach. Which – they claim – is going to be true, even if the story, the material, historical basis, is fiction. Thus many more intellectual preachers may feel that the Bible itself, and its promises of miracles, are not factually or “historically” true, as they now say; but they continue to assert that the Bible is nevertheless, spiritually true. Though to be sure, we will here find some serious sins in this spiritual claim, in any case, it does seem that the Bible itself, does clearly authorize reading the Bible, not literally, but as a metaphor or parable, etc..
7) Arguably in fact, given all the references above, to metaphors and so forth, the Bible itself in fact, would seem to allow that perhaps everything in the Bible, every single thing, could be taken this way; maybe the whole Bible can be taken as metaphor; as meaning at least two different things. And therefore, of course, we add below, if we wanted, we could take promises of material miracles, as being merely metaphors, it would seem.
Especially, in fact, again, many preachers today, read miracles as metaphors for spiritual things. Which would finally resolve the great problem of Christianity, many have thought: its occasional lack of big physical miracles, today. By suggesting that in fact, the Bible never really, literally promised physical miracles at all. But only advanced such tales, in order to teach a spiritual lesson.
Here we will find that the Bible in fact, is partially metaphorical. But however, there are problems with that. And it is metaphorical, not quite in the way preachers thought.
8) It is clear that the Bible often not only explicitly talked about, but often also used, metaphors and so forth. Jesus for example said “feed my sheep.” Here, it seems clear enough Jesus was using a metaphor; Jesus did not really want us to literally feed real, actual “sheep,” but rather to feed or help … poor people or followers. So the word “sheep” was just a symbol, a metaphor, for believers; for followers of Jesus and God it seems.
Clearly therefore, the Bible often used obvious metaphors. And obvious “parables” and so forth too (below).
9) Today in fact, most preachers in actual practice, read, or talk most about, the Bible, not literally, but as if it was all metaphors. Especially, all metaphors for spiritual things.
For example? Remember from the above: Jesus himself, often began to show us that many of their miracles a) had a spiritual side or a spiritual symbolism in them. And that therefore, b) perhaps all miracles could be taken to be spiritual metaphors. For example? Remember: if Jesus seems on the surface, to perform a miracle like making bread appear out of thin air, deeper down, eventually, Jesus himself introduces the idea that the miracle might just be a metaphor; that Jesus himself is bringing us “bread indeed” … in his thoughts and spirit. So that bringing us bread, out of thin air, is just a metaphor. A metaphor for something spiritual. For Jesus bringing us his good thoughts, good spirit, as they claim.
To be sure, Jesus at times a) seemed to be making real material bread appear (in the famous “miracles of the loaves and fishes” as they call it).
But then again, b) other times, Jesus seemed to use the whole idea of giving bread to the people, as a metaphor, a figure of speech, for spiritual things:
“I have said this to you in figures”
“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word” (Mat. 4.4; Luke 4.4).
“I am the bread which came down from heaven” (John 6.41).
“I am the bread of life” (John 6.48).
“It is spiritual and not literal” (q.v.).
“The fruit of the spirit” (Gal. 5.22).
10) Finally in fact, there are enough references to metaphors and so forth in the Bible itself, to all but fully justify taking each and every one of the miracles of the Bible, individually, by name, as being just metaphors. In fact, the Bible itself, began to introduce metaphorical interpretations, versions, of essentially each of its most important miracles, individually, one by one. If a) Jesus at times seemed to have produced by miracle, specifically, real “bread,” elsewhere in the Bible it was suggested that spiritual “bread” was what was meant, or was in any case better than real bread. And b) If Moses had make water appear out of a rock, by apparent miracle, Jesus was said to have been a kind of metaphorical “rock,” out of which spirit flowed – like living “water.” Then too, if c) earlier holy books had promised long physical “life” (as Methuselah, living hundreds of years), the New Testament came to supposed that adopting Jesus into your soul, gave you real “life” … even if you died young. And so forth and so on.
d) Likewise, if Jesus was said to have been resurrected from the dead, by a miracle, preacher might note the metaphorical equivalent (/ringer?) given to us by Jesus. Actually, tales of “dead” people coming to “life” could be just metaphors. In the tale of the “Prodigal Son” as it is called for instance, the Bible tells us that a son who was morally bad, was said to be “dead” by his father; but then when he returned to a good life, the “dead” son was said to have come back to life:
“‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ (Luke 15.32 NRSV).
Thus even resurrection itself now, could be taken to be just a metaphor, for how people who were bad, can come to live a new life.
And: e) if Moses or David brought the people a real, literal land and “kingdom,” in Israel, Jesus brought a metaphorical/spiritual “kingdom” in the church. And: f) if God made real fire rain from heaven … the spirit of God was now said to be fire. If g) God promised long physical life in Methuselah and so forth … we were promised a long spiritual life in heaven.
There are dozens more examples.
Amazingly, there are so many examples of this, this was done so thoroughly, so consistently, and in such detail … that finally, it is clear that the Bible was systematically metaphoricalized. That some scribal hand, has gone through the entire Bible, systematically, one by one offering a metaphoricalizing, spiritual version of every major physical promise in the Bible; metaphoricalizing probably every single major miracle in it (see Philo; Jesus; Paul; then Origen.) But why was this done?
Why again, was this done? Probably, by the time of the New Testament – where much of this metaphoricalizing and spiritualization takes place – many people, even priests, had come to doubt the ability of priests to produce real, material wonders; miracles.
Historically, it seems clear that, in spite of some alleged physical miracles, early Christianity suffered many key, physical, material defeats: Jesus himself for example, was physically captured, tortured, and killed; many early Christians were “matryred.” And we suggest this is the reason why some elements in Christianity, at times, partially wanted to back away from its earlier material promises. To explain, excuse, “whitewash,” or even disappear, the old material promises. And one way to do this, was to systematically insert into the Bible itself, indications that the old promises of material things, could be read, if you wanted, as being merely metaphors, for mental or spiritual things.
Clearly, after many very, very serious material defeats, some editors of the Bible decided to stress spiritual things, over physical promises; and to do this in a “subtle” way, specifically, the Bible therefore began to use the old language of miracles, to serve as metaphors. The Bible not entirely denying the old miracles to be sure; but coming up with however, metaphorical spiritual equivalents for each apparent material miracle. So that the old miracles could be read as being either physical, and/or spiritual.
And so, there was now an option, to read the Bible, as never promising any physical miracles at all. If Jesus at times, for example, had promised to make real, eatable, physical bread appear in mostly empty baskets, here, our preachers begin to speak of “fruit” and “bread,” as mere metaphors; for the mental or spiritual things that Religion gives us. Paul speaking of the “fruits of the spirit.” Jesus himself speaking of himself, his spirit, as “bread indeed.” While – as we are noting here – most of the major alleged physical miracles of the Bible, are systematically, one by one, given possible spiritual readings. Promises of “water,” “bread,” “life,” a “kingdom,” are one by one, given possible spiritual readings.
This is extremely important; here in fact, we come to a revolutionary point, a revolutionary change, in the Bible itself. Since now, if any and all events in the Bible, can be read as metaphors, as just symbols – especially symbols for spiritual things – then … can we even say the Bible ever really firmly promised any material things like miracles , at all? Maybe in fact, they were all “just metaphors” for spiritual things, all along.
Did the Bible ever really promise material things at all? In effect, some hand has gone through the entire Bible, and systematically all but made sure, that technically, no one can really firmly say, that the Bible itself ever really promised anything physical, material, at all. Some hand has gone through the entire Bible, and made the metaphorical reading of it, available, in almost every case, it would see. To the point that finally, if our holy men today, don’t get many physical, material results, then you could point to the fine print in the Bible itself, to show that technically, perhaps, a) the Bible itself after all, did not unambiguously promise physical, material things, at all. It was all just metaphors, for spiritual things. Or b) in any case, if the old promises of material things were still there, still, the spiritual lessons they teach are, say, more important.
So if there are not many physical miracles today? Then it can now be claimed, that doesn’t make the Bible itself, Christianity itself, false; in fact, the Bible itself never really promised miracles; that a) was all just metaphors. b) Especially, metaphors for spiritual things.
Yet of course, if some hand has done this, was it really, for sure, the hand of God himself? Or some priestly, scribal hand? Because indeed as it turns out in our study of the scientific materialism of God, there are powerful conflicts, contradictions, between priestly spirituality, and much of what God said, particularly in the Old Testament. While indeed we will have found that spirituality itself, contains a literally fatal seed in it.
To the Bible’s Two Levels,
And the Spiritual, Especially
11) Some scribal hand, has clearly gone systematically through the Bible – especially the New Testament – making sure that it offers chances, to interpret every major material promise, every material miracle, into a figure of speech. As a mere metaphor; especially as a metaphor for something spiritual. Yet there are moral and practical objections to aspects of this change in religion. Since for example, often a) our preachers did promise us material things; b) even material miracles; and c) indeed, we need material things to live.
d) Yet now suddenly, the rules are changed; the rug is pulled out from under us. The old promises are now suddenly … disappeared. By a bit of linguistic, semantic sleight-of-hand. The very firm promises of physical wonders, that were often firmly advanced to us by preachers as the very word of God, might be just metaphors; and might now be, suddenly … made to disappear or dissolve. Though e) some might think of this as progress, e) others might think of it as … an immoral changing the rules and promises; indeed, as betraying God himself. f) Since God himself was often pictured making very firm promises of very material rewards, to those who really follow him.
g) Why was the Bible spiritualized? The reason we suggest, was no doubt, that though the Old Testament God had often promised many wonderful material things, by the time of the New Testament, many priests were having difficulty delivering material wonders all that reliably. Indeed, those difficulties were particularly evident in the years that the New Testament was written: aa) Jesus himself was said to have worked many material wonders … but after all, had himself been physically executed. (And though Jesus was said to have been resurrected, that was only for 40 days; then he disappeared up into heaven; for all the world as if he was really dead). Then too bb) many Christians likewise, were physically martyred. While Jerusalem cc) the city that was supposed – and not just by the Jews, but also the Old Testament – to become the capital of an ideal “kingdom,” was burned to the ground by Rome, in 70 AD. Then too, dd) perhaps, though we are assured that many miracles were worked, some priests found it difficult now and then, to make bread appear out of thin air.
So ee) it was undoubtedly becoming increasingly evident to some, that there was an apparent sin or shortfall in our religion; that it had promised huge material wonders, but those wonders were not always arriving regularly and reliably. Indeed, no doubt many people in the time of Jesus, and slightly thereafter, had come to believe that the old promises of material miracles, were just false. So, possibly the Old Testament itself, Judaism itself, was in part false. And we needed to abandon the Old Testament, the Torah, and God, as false, or less powerful than we thought. Or else, the holy books had to be changed, modified, updated. With a “New” Testament.
h) But of course, there are objections to changing religion; objections to in effect, changing words said to have come from God himself.
While indeed, those who presumed to do such things, were often executed as heretics. And so, if someone wanted to change or update Judaism, how could they do it, without calling attention to what they were doing? i) One way clearly, was just to begin “twist”ing the old scriptural promises around; playing clerical word games, with language, “tongues.” Turning the old promises into metaphors, for instance. Our clerics, scribes, priests, were often among the only literate persons in ancient societies; it was easy for them to get away with just manipulating the language. Using “subtle” language, to spiritualize the old promises; so that it could even be argued by priests, that the Bible never really promised material things, miracles, at all. Or at the very least, than in any case, the “spiritual” aspects of such things were more important than there mere physical side, the “riches” they promised.
So, partly by various subtle and not so subtle scribal manipulations of language, religion – including eventually the addition of an entire new book – the New Testament – to the old holy books, the Torah, finally, Jewish religion was partially spiritualized in its new variation, Christianity. But to be sure, though many people now think of Christianity, and spirituality, as wholly good, there could be – and were – moral objections to some aspects of what it did. Indeed, j) the Jews thought that such things constituted heresy, apostasy, going against God; and the conservative priests, in fact had Jesus, the founder of Christianity, executed, in part for heresy. While to this very day, k) though we here support the Bible itself, l) we might note the uses and interpretations that many preachers put on the Bible, are often highly immoral, and destructive; especially, in their radical over-spirituality. In particular note, though the authors of the Bible itself, made a spiritual side of the Bible available, they did not make it entirely mandatory; nor did they entirely eliminate the old material promises. They merely made spirituality, one of two options, or aspects, of the Bible. So that the Bible itself never became quite as spiritual, as our preachers did. While indeed, m) the Church was to insist that the Old Testament and its materialism, were still important; and was to condemn extreme spirituality in the form of condemning Gnosticism. (Though allowing asceticism, and creating a rather ascetic, spiritual, Christian priesthood).
n) Yet while the Bible itself never quite became totally spiritual, they did make a spiritual aspect available. And so soon our bookish and rather mental preachers, priests, went very far, in reading religion as being mostly mental, spiritual; not physical. If God in the beginning, had created a material universe, a “world,” and said they were “good,” by the time of John, Genesis was being in effect overwritten; and now we had a spiritual, clerical Word God; who was, in the new beginning, a “word,” almost like a thought from a book. A God who even, it seems, all but “hated” the “world,” or his life in the world.
After all, there were now readings in the Bible itself – especially (but not exclusively) in the New Testament – that would allow old material promises to be read as symbolic only; as metaphors, parables, allegories, etc.. But to be sure, p) there would be objections to going just with the New Testament spin on things.
Indeed, q) some like Peter, would mention the very spiritual, Greco-Romanized Paul for example, and “twist”ing scriptures, in the same breath. (Q.v. Not to directly accuse Paul of anything; even though Paul accused Peter, “Cephas,” as being a “hypocrite.” So that conflicts were evident between the more conservative, Jewish Christians back in Jerusalem, and the newer, more Greco-Romanized, Hellenistic Jews like Paul; who was not allowed in Jerusalem in fact, but was given by James and others, the mission to the Gentiles; to non Jews, like Greeks.)
It seems though, there were some objections to the “sly” or “subtle” use of language by holy men. To be sure, Jesus had supported his followers somewhat, even apparently, sly people, and “scribes,” (Mat. 13.47-52), apparently allowing them to bring “new” things out, by subtly, slyly combining them with the “old”:
“Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Mat. 13.52).
“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mat. 10.16 NRSV).
“Be sly as snakes” (Mat. 10.16, my translation).
Yet to be sure, though the Bible itself at times seemingly (some might say from the above) authorized some rather sly things, there are eventually problems with “serpen”tine “patch”ing “new” things, onto old (q.v.). Even a New Testament, to the Old.
If Jesus had at times told his followers, to be “sly” as “snakes” – or “wise” as “serpents” as they themselves like to translate this (Mat. 10.16), yet much of the Bible was not enamored of serpents, who are often associated with Satan himself. Nor does the Bible always like “scribes.” Indeed, Jeremiah warned that often scribes, who were in church of texts like our Bibles, had often changed, twisted, corrupted, the word of God:
” ‘How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us’? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie” (Jer. 8.8).
Finally, though Jesus worked with scribes, he also had warnings about them too:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Mat. 22.13 ff).
12) There would be objections indeed, to some things that went on even among scribes, and even in the ostensibly holy writings in their care (see Scriptures). In part, it seemed many were changing around the word of God, a) even adding an entire New Testament to it. Or b) especially, specifically, Paul introducing another, spiritual reading of God. Or in any case, c) we find here, preachers going beyond even all these, going beyond the Bible itself, and “twist”ing scriptures in their sermons. All these things often seem bad, evil to many people (see Fundamentalists). Because holy men are being far too snakelike; they using sly tricks with language, word games, to secretly change or twist the word of God; which is not a thing done lightly or openly, or with impunity. And if indeed, this process was not quite done in an open, transparent manner, there remain even more serious objections to it. Indeed, when metaphoricalization, spiritualization began to change the word of God, then we have some reason for complaint against those who controlled, edited, our Bibles; for simply, failing to be honest.
13) So can we trust our preachers’ sermons? Indeed the Bible warned us over and over, about the unreliability of language, “tongues,” and “words.” (See in our other writings).
14) And about priests.
Though we might be able to a) live with the Bible itself – which allows both interpretations after all – ultimately, b) those preachers who took this as far as our preachers did, into a rabid over-spirituality, worked a disastrous and illegitimate change in our religion.
15) But what has been the great sin of priests, specifically? In part, it has been their overspirituality. And possibly, its correlate: “hate” for the “world”? Priests had practical problems with a) the “world” of greedy people; but also b) with the material world. In that they had promised material miracles, but often miracles did not appear. And so, many preachers have tried to just make the world go away. By imagining that it was “unreal” as some Religions say. Or evil.
In order to make the world go away, many employed all too often, just a slip or twist of the “tongue,” a few word games, a bit of misdirection and mis-emphasis on just part of the Bible … and then suddenly, our traditional “world” of miracles, in effect, is no longer given by God; and it seems to “dissolve.” To evaporate. With just a few lines, the Bible itself at least hinted (albeit equivocally) at problems with the material world. And those equivocal lines, were seized upon by preachers, and presented to us as if they had only one, unambiguous meaning: to condemn the entirety of physical existence. Along with material promises of material miracles.
And so, in many sermons, all the material life and responsibility that might have been in the Bible; all effectively disappeared, dissolved. By our preachers. Who came to in effect, by various rhetorical tricks, to deny, attack – and in the minds of churchgoers, destroy – the “world” of God.
So that the material world was long ago, all but destroyed by priests. At least so far as the spiritual Religion of priests, was concerned (if not the Bible itself; and most of the people, themselves; and God, himself.) The old material world, the material promises of God, are now all but dissolved. Thanks in part to the scribes that were involved in writing the New Testament, and especially the preachers; who came to radically over-emphasize spirit, and all-but demonize the physical “world.” All because of their own failure in that world; the failure of their miracles. Because of that, preachers began to denigrate and deny, the entire material side of life. But the evil they projected on everyone else (the “Other”s), was actually we suggest, their own. And as they have judged others, so are they about to be judged, themselves.
By way of metaphoricalization and spiritualization in particular, our spiritual preachers demonized, and slyly took away, the whole material “world” and material wonders from us. God himself, in contrast to priests, had told us the material “world” was “Good” in Genesis. But long ago – undoubtedly because of their own difficulties, making good on earlier material promises, miracles – our preachers, scribes, began attempting to wish that all away; with a little linguistic, semantic, slight-of-hand. Trying to disappear all the old material promises, into thin “air” or spirit. With just a “twist” of semantics, of the “tongue.” By saying it was all just metaphors, for spiritual things.
But of course, the attack on the “world” by clerics, even their effective dissolving of the old world, raised some issued. So let’s keep looking at this, for a while. To see what happened; to see exactly how our a) clerics took the material world away from us; and b) gave us only spirit or dreams in exchange (“Say to the seers, ‘See not’; and to the prophets, ‘Prophesy not to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions'” Isa. 30. 10). But then … to also see if we can get something back. Something other than mere spirit or hot air. To see if we can join the best of the “spirit,” back together with a new earth, after all. To create a good material kingdom, on the renewed holy earth.
16) To be sure, this metaphoricalization, spiritualization, was carried out not really fully, in the Bible itself; but outside the Bible. By priests and ancient religious scholars. Even the earliest religious scholars saw that most early Jewish and Christian writings, often, were allegories (a long form of metaphor, as semantics specialists now say).
a) First of all, there was “Philo,” around 15 BCE -50 CE. This scholar, who lived in the lifetime of Jesus, often interpreted the Pentateuch, the books of Moses, as allegories. Allegories of things, related to Plato (we will be following here the article on “Interpretation,” Ox. Comp.)
b) Had Jesus himself, learned from Philo himself, in person?
Amazingly, we suggest here, he could have, according to the Bible: Jesus himself was said to have been taken to Egypt by his parents, when he was a child (fleeing from Herod, who wanted to kill first-born males, to control his own succession). And Philo would have been just about twenty years older than Jesus; just old enough to have been his tutor.
Jesus himself therefore, could have learned about metaphoricalization, from Philo of Alexandria Egypt himself, live and in person. But indeed, Jesus began to support both aa) spiritual leve, bb) but also the literal level; Jesus continuing to promise material miracles. Jesus at times appearing to promise us spiritual bread, or good ideas and feelings: “love” and “hope” and so forth. But also real material food, bread and fishes.
To be sure, once you have introduced the idea of metaphors, even very, very solid looking promises might be just, after all, just vivid metaphors. And yet however, we will have found in our study of the science of God, that finally, there are enough indications that here must always be solid empirical, physical verification, foundation, for religion.
Still, the spiritual interpretation of the Bible, became more and more popular, after Jesus.
c) Later, to be sure, came Paul; within the Bible. Who often spoke of “allegories,” and things “spiritual and not literal.” Like “fruits of the spirit.”
d) But outside the Bible again, came Gnosticism; which read the Bible by way of a radical spirituality; so radical, that it condemned the God of the Old Testament as evil, the real Satan; because God made the whole material world in which we were ensnared. This was kept outside the Bible by the church, for obvious reasons. Which eventually condemned Gnosticism.
e) But in the meantime especially, for example, after Philo of Alexandria, fl. 10 AD, came also Origen of Alexandria c. 210 AD. Who often sought to find spiritual allegories everywhere in the Bible; looking under the surface of apparent miracles to find messages about the journey or progress of the soul or spirit (312):
“He allegorized the story of Israel as speaking of the journey of the soul, which, leaving the sensual world of ‘Egypt,’ seeks the Promised Land of blessedness. The teachings of Jesus and the apostles had the same goal: they pointed, directly or allegorically, to the hope by which Christians live” (Karlfried Froehlich, “Interpretation,” Ox. Comp. to the Bible, 312).
Eventually, metaphoricalizing, spiritualizing, anti-world elements in Jesus himself became enormously, over-influential, exaggerated, among preachers. Today it is widely thought even by preachers, that Origen over-metaphoricalized the Bible.
f) Yet eventually, to this very day, the metaphoricalizing, spiritualizing aspects thought of Jesus, as filtered through and greatly magnified by people like Philo and Paul, then Origin and Gnosticism – became more and more influential among priests, ascetics, if not the common people. So that to this very day, g) though a few preachers continue to stress physical miracles, the literal level of the Bible, h) most preachers today typically speak of the Bible in their sermons – including promises of miracles – as if they were just metaphors. Especially, metaphors for spiritual things. If you go around to a few churches, and listen carefully to many different sermons today (except the miracle-promising sermons of televangelists), you will notice that most of them today, are not really about promising physical miracles at all. Instead, sermons are about … spirituality. Spiritual things. Which tells us that, in effect, most preachers today are really taking the old promises of miracles, as being metaphors; metaphors especially, for spiritual things.
17) Yet finally, we will find, in spite of the enormous temporal, worldly success of metaphoricalization, spiritualization – it took over the world of priests – and its occasional benefits, we will have found that there are sins and errors, here. First, many scholars rightly criticized over-metaphoricalizations, over-Platonizations, Gnostic and over-spiritual interpretations, of the Bible, in Origen and others.
18) And especially, we have noted at length, elsewhere, warnings about spirituality by the Apostle James (see our writing on this).
19) Then too later on, among those who objected to all this, were those called “Fundamentalists.” Who a) believed that the physical things were important; that b) the Bible was promising physical miracles or wonders; and c) who therefore often said the Bible has to be taken “literally,” as word-for-word true.
Fundamentalists d) furthermore, roughly detected the apparent ruse or “twist” in metaphoricalization; the change in the promises of God. And e) fundamentalists, didn’t like this change; feeling in part it was sly, and dishonest; and indeed, against God.
Fundamentalists insisted that God said what he said in the Old Testament that God really had promised material wonders and miracles. And who felt that just f) trying to make those promises go away by playing language, word games, “interpretation” games, was not honest or good.
g) To be sure, Fundamentalists could not really face the persistent problems with physical miracles.
h) But to be sure, finally we will borrow parts from the Fundamentalist arguments here; indeed in fact, it was not entirely honest, for our holy men to just try to secretly efface the material promises of God, miracles, by playing games with language.
The Schizophrenic Split
In the Middle of Religion and Life;
Our “Double” Life
20) To be sure though, today we have a Bible that does not force spirituality on us; rather the Bible contains two levels – and two options – in it. As most preachers say, it allows for both a) physical dimensions, and b) spiritual possibilities too.
The Bible as it presently exists, therefore, can be defended, even with two levels in it.
Whatever the objections to it might be to a Bible with two levels, in any case, that is what we have. Even according to the Bible itself. Even Jesus himself, finally is pictured as telling us many, many times, that the Bible often should not be taken at surface value; that its words often had another level of meaning; that the Bible was speaking in an indirect, symbolical way. In “parables,” for instance; which logically entails, two levels of reading. (As noted above). Indeed, Jesus was pictured constantly offering metaphorical equivalents to physical promises; at times offering real material bread, but other times changing that to spiritual “bread.”
And we might allow that the it is OK for the Bible as it is, even with its spirituality, if the Bible after all, has spirituality as only one of two options; it is continues to allow, at least as one option of two, a materialistic understanding.
a) And this has been defended, in part on the theory that simply, pluralism, more, is better. Understanding parables and metaphors then, to be sure, begins to show us all, how to get to another level of meaning in, another voice in, the Bible. And this is important and good to know, some say: to see that much of the Bible -including it seems likely, promises of miracles – is not necessarily saying or promising, what it appears to say at first. The Bible is really, talking in two or more levels; so that things are not always what they appear to be on the surface.
b) And there are other possible defenses for a two-tiered Bible especially. Which they say, presents a fairly simple aa) first layer, that seems to promise big miracles; probably appropriate for “child”ren and simple adults. But then another layer of meaning, for the “mature”; for those who understand what a parable is (as wise men are supposed to, in Proverbs 1). Or related to this, some think that bb) the Bible offers simple physical, materialistic feats, to simple people; physical things, like physical miracles; but then it proceeds to an allegedly higher level; where we can see a “spiritual” message.
cc) Related to all this, preachers in particular, seem to secretly feel that the ordinary people, with their materialism, are lower; and that preachers and their “spiritual” understanding, are the last, more “mature” word in truth. Those who learn to see that Jesus, in telling a story with farmers in it, is not just talking about, say, farming, but is also talking about – most preachers seem to think – spiritual things; those who see this, are thought by many preachers to have reached the highest, “first” rank of Biblical readers.
Indeed, the spiritual is thought to be good, by most preachers; who think that religion advanced, when it advanced beyond the “materialistic” thought of the “materialistic Jews”- as anti-Semites called them – to the allegedly higher, spiritual thinking of Christianity, and priests.
Thus there are justifications for our two-tiered Bible. And in fact, most preachers thought the shifting of religion from materialistic emphasis on material prosperity and miracles, to spirituality, particularly from the Old to the New Testament, as an advance.
d) Yet to be sure, there were always those who rightly objected to parts of this kind of thing. Who resisted this kind of reading of the Bible. And the aa) betrayal and disobedience in effect, of the material side of God. And the bb) vanity (and anti-Semitism?) of those who think they have the “higher” interpretation.
While indeed, cc) many preachers overdid spirituality in many different ways, as we have shown earlier. dd) And we are not alone here: early on, there were those who objected to readings of the Bible, by persons like Origin and and Philo, that at times did not bother to honor any apparent material fact or promise in the Bible at all. But which attempted to totally efface and deny the material side of religion and God; even to speak as if material things were evil. To be sure, the Church caught and condemned elements of this over-spirituality early on: material-world hating tendencies in Origin, were condemned by many; one extreme form of all this overspirituality, found in Gnosticism, was condemned as heresy.
21) We might defend our two-voiced Bible though, if we say, the Bible just presents two different messages, without – overall – finally, absolutely telling us one is better than the other.
No doubt, indeed, anyone could and should object to a) promises of miracles; but b) now we add, they should also object to the complete denial of the value of the material side of God. So perhaps we can defend the Bible now, on the grounds that it really offers, both. Without valuing one over the other.
To be sure, we might say, though the Bible became split, and eventually offered two interpretations, the implied huge attack (Dualist, Gnostic, Ascetic, Spiritual, Platonic, Idealist, Priestly) on the material side of God, specifically, was never completely accomplished, finalized, by the Bible itself; finally, though the Bible was re-written in such a way to allow people to take it metaphorically, it was not written in such a way as to insist on it. The Bible often spoke about metaphors; and offered spiritual equivalents to nearly all the old material promises; but note, it probably never quite entirely, prominently insisted that only spiritual interpretations were allowed. The old material promises were never totally wiped out. At least, by the Bible itself. The Bible itself apparently left both readings available.
Indeed to this day, many preachers at least technically, read the Bible, as promising both aa) material things, but also bb) spiritual things. And if for example, the material “kingdom” God promised did not show up, then however, we are told, at least we already had a quasi or “spiritual” kingdom, in this or that church.
22) Yet so long as the Bible presents two levels, two different voices, we will have a number of problems out of that. We will have seen for example, a) problems with those preachers who perceiving a Bible with two levels, decided one was far better than the other, and went much too far into the spiritual level.
b) Indeed, Fundamentalists rightly felt that there are still some
problems, even Biblical objections, to a Bible, that had two major – and often conflicting – voices, two levels of interpretation, in it. Because this did not seem honest and whole.
c) Indeed, our Bible could be condemned in Biblical terms; because at the very least, we now have an ambiguous, split, rather “double” sort of document. One that unevenly “patches” “new” material onto “old.” Creating an inconsistent, strained fabric.
d) And indeed, it does not seem quite honest – it seems “double-tongued,” duplicitous, “double-minded,” “split,” schizophrenic, to have a Bible with two radically different levels in it. While indeed we will find, this dualism has split and weakened the mind of man. Dividing his mind into two weakened and often warring parts; religion vs. science; words vs. world; spirit vs. flesh; Old vs. New Testament; Judaism vs. Christianity; and so forth.
Many parts of the Bible to be sure, have at times seemed to some, to hint at possible justifications for a Bible with two levels in it. Especially, not only did it note a) literal vs. metaphorical understandings; it also hinted that this was possibly related to a higher and lower, b) “Child”like and “mature” understanding. (And first vs. “Second”?). And c) Old vs. New Testament understandings; d) or Paul’s “old covenant” vs. “new covenant.” Even ultimately, e) Judaism vs. the new religion, Christianity.
In some ways, the two levels in the Bible, can be understood as a first simple physical text, for simple or primitive people and children; then another more “spiritual” take on all that, for more advanced, “mature” thinkers. And indeed, we will suggest that this model is important in the Bible itself.
e) Yet to be sure, we will find, there are still problems in our Bibles; first, “spirituality” is not quite as good or mature as many thought. While even having a Bible with two levels in it, creates a split, dualistic document, that is at times at war with itself; and could even be accused of some as being “double-minded,” even duplicitous, or “double-tongued.” Since it opens up promising one thing – material results – but then, sly shifts over to a different message. Which does not seem honest, and forthright. And at the very least, gives us a Bible that is confusing.
f) And indeed, we will find, it gives us a mind, a culture, that is hopelessly divided and split. Or then, polarized: in which many go to one side or the other. Thus culture is filled with warring extremists (the Culture Wars).
Both voices in the Bible, we say here, are extremely valuable. Both its spirituality … but also its materialism.
But this is something our very spiritual preachers missed. Though to be sure, the Bible, and some preachers, technically continued to promise both physical and spiritual things, two levels of the text, as a practical matter, note, those preachers that promised material miracles were an obvious failure; so that most preachers all but gave privately gave up on producing material wonders (or at most a few “good works”); and concentrated on the “spiritual” side of Religion. (Though some speaking as if material things might show up say, one “day,” at the End of Time. See also the scholarly literature on the End, eschatology, the Kingdom).
So that today, we think of Christianity as “spiritual.” Indeed, the identification is so strong, that to be religious and to be “spiritual” are thought to be synonyms; just different words for the same thing. But in fact, we are showing here, that massively prevalent idea and practice, is not true to what the Bible itself really said, overall; nor to what God really wanted.
Running from, trying to whitewash, the material failures of Christianity – especially, despite their protestations to the contrary, the occasional lack of material miracles – the Bible itself was written in such a way as not to demand this or that kind of understanding; but was written in such a way as to be open to at least two major possible different “read”ings: the literal and physical; versus the metaphorical (and, usually, spiritual). But of course, God himself had told us that the word of God should not be “double-minded,” or “double-tongued.” Because, we might surmise, when we try to follow two opposite things at the same time, it splits, harms, our minds, and weakens our efforts. While even worse though, we found earlier, was the effort by priests to resolve this, by giving up on one half of the equation; learning to “hate” their life in the “world,” and becoming wholly spiritual, not material.
Jesus himself seemed not to authorize a continuing split between word and world, even a retreat into great spirituality – telling us not to serve “two masters.” But if at times he seemed to veer toward one extreme – telling us to serve not “mammon,” but only “God” – still, in recognition of difficulties here, the Bible did not translate “mammon”; it was not quite made clear whether “mammon,” really meant simply that we should abandon all material interests in life, or something less than that. Indeed, the rest of the Bible advocated material things so strongly, that no part of the Bible could unambiguously cross that; indeed then, we should not take condemnations of any proper names, as if those names firmly stand for just, say, material things; maybe condemnation of “mammon,” was just condemnation of the god mammon, after all; and not of all of materialism. Many Bibles interpret “mammon” as meaning only “excessive” or even “dishonest” “wealth” (Luke 16.9 NRSV, cf. interest or profit?); while indeed Jesus himself amazingly ended up telling us to “make friends for yourself by means of dishonest wealth”; Jesus assuring us finally, that though the kingdom of “heaven” was important, eventually we are to get “food” and “drink” and “clothes” too. Finally it is hard at times to reconcile Jesus to God’s materialism; but overall the Bible’s position might be harmonized by some, by suggesting that God condemns being too “greedy,” seeking “riches,” but allows us to make some money in life, and enjoy some prosperity.
Indeed in fact, we find here, though our spiritualizing believers, despairing of material miracles, split religious thought away from the material world, and often became over-spiritual ascetics, and indeed, “priests,” (the entire profession being typically over-spiritual by nature), finally, that action, split the mind of man, schizophrenically, in half. Split heaven and earth in fact; word and world; religion and science. And thus divided the mind of man, into two, weak, separated halves.
Which was the very great sin of our priests. But one which we can now, correct. Re-joining word and world, religion, and science. In part, as we will show soon, how to read promises of miracles as metaphors … not just for spiritual, but for material things.
23) Indeed in effect, the over-spiritual interpretation of the Bible, presented a False Christ. But now it is time to fix that. With a “second” and better vision of God.
Fundamentalists were right about one thing: the physical side of life is important. And there is something dishonest, Satanic, in a religion that starts off promising physical things … and then uses sly semantics to try to change all that without telling anyone.
24) And in fact, we will now have to note, massive as the spiritual metaphoricalization of the New Testament is, at times elements of the Bible – like especially Ezekiel, one of the earlier “son of Man” – seemed to be angry at the idea that their old physical religion was being slyly taken away by metaphors; by what we might linguistic sleight-of-hand, or confusion of tongues illusionism and “enchantment”s.
And so indeed, at some point people begin disrespecting priests, prophets, in part because of their playing word games, and allegorizing:
“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, propound a riddle, and speak an allegory to the house of Israel'” (Ez. 17.1-2).
” Then I said, ‘Ah Lord GOD! They are saying of me, ‘Is he not a maker of allegories?'” (Ez. 20.47).
There is a hint here, that when the people perceive their priests are just speaking allegories, they begin to reject them and their God. For this reason, God begins to issue … statements that might be taken as a) threats, or b) corrections; of either c) the people, or d) the priests. Who indeed were elsehwere threatened with “refine”ment (Mal.) in terms similar to those in Ezekiel (who is by the way, the original “Son of Man” as he is called throughout that book):
“Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As men gather silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to flow the fire upon it in order to melt it; so I will gather you in my anger and my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you…” (Ez. 20.47-49, 22.19-21).
“Great slaughter” (21.14).
God here e) tells us his prophets are using metaphors. But f) Ezekiel notes that the people are unhappy in this. And they begin to disrespect priests – and worse than that it seems, God. And c) so God begins to say that behind his metaphors, though, are real material things. God begins to hint that if no one believes in the materiality of his promised, then he is going to bring what in at least one reading, is real physical pain – sword, fire, slaughter – to the people for example.
And so here God reasserted a physical side to himself. Thus, even in the heart of metaphoricalization, God begins to hint that behind the spiritual metaphors, are real deeds after all. But we will find next, e) not just deeds of revenge; but f) we will see here, real material, natural history.
(Note Ezekiel’s making “water” burn; probably not literally water, but a volatile watery liquid, like alcohol; likewise burning fire from heaven, is probably burning oil poured from the heights; some early version of Greek Fire or burning oil).
Here we will have seen that in effect, Fundamentalists were right in one thing: God did promise material things, wonders, “prosperity” – and not just spiritual things. He must have; in part because of a) the definite impression of physicality the Old Testament leaves; but b) because we find that any religion that claims absolute authority, holiness, being the word of “God” …. but does not deliver material prosperity, is literally, fatal.
So what should be do with this split Bible? Or with the Religion of spritualization and metaphoricalization that predominates in intellectual preachers? How can we reconcile the massive metaphoricalization of the Bible, with … the necessity of physical material things? Finally, we will be solving that here: saying here that the old miracles were metaphors … but not just for spiritual things, but for real material – if natural – events. But to demonstrate that will take some more investigation, next.
25) The fact is, there is an immensely destructive split between the very spiritual Mount of Olives, and the more practical city of the real working Jerusalem – and indeed between heaven and earth, man and God, religion and science, word and world – then finally, the Bible itself, we will find, notes a way this dualism is resolved. When a) heaven comes to earth. Which we suggest, is b) partially accomplished … when we begin to tie spiritual and biblical ideas … by science, to material realities around us. As Plato’s science did (on “Boreas” etc.).
26) Indeed, if there is a confusing aspect to metaphors, then there is a confusing split in our language or “tongues,” then too. If so then, we might now add, one “day” God is supposed to straighten them out, or even reunite the split parties:
“And I am coming to gather all nations and tongues” (Isa. 66.18).
And indeed, we are about to straighten, unite the two tongues of the Bible, in large part, today. With our clarification of metaphors … as begin about both spiritual life and material life (and later remarks on the Bible as wholly, double entendre?). By showing that miracles, are in effect, confused “tongues” or metaphors, “parables,” not just for “spiritual” things, but also especially for … things in nature and technology. Things that can be confirmed by science.
That is: if God or his spirit parted the sea for Moses, then after all, the image of him doing it supernaturally was just a confused tongues, metaphorical image; in reality, Moses consulted his understanding of nature, and crossed when, the Bible said explicitly, the “wind” had blown the sea back. Indeed, the word often interpreted “spirit” in English, is often originally “pneuma,” or “wind” or “breath.”
The fact is, we can have an understanding of the Bible, of God, that is completely consistent with the Bible itself, and with science too. Though g) to be sure, this means a rather new and different (vision of?) heaven and God. Or a vision different than what priests taught us. A vision that unites heaven and earth. The priest and the common man.
27) Different as might seem, still, to be sure, seeing “miracles” as metaphors for natural things, is trend that started as long ago as the time of Plato, 350 BC, at least. So that in fact what we are doing here is not a “strange new doctrine” at all; it is literally thousands of years old. Being found first of all in Greco-Roman thought; but then again even in the Bible itself. As we will find, soon.
Plato on Boreas;
Miracles as Metaphors
For Spirits … and Real Material Things
Today, priests are radically polarized, split off, from the rest of life; their “spirituality” is often in direct conflict with this material “world” … while they make that out to be even, a virtue. Yet God made the material world, and said it was “Good.” And if the world was ever corrupted, then it was cleansed once by the Flood, and then again “redeemed” and “overcome” by Jesus. So that priests who “hate” the “world” too much, are not really following God. So that it is no wonder that they are so ineffectual; even deadly to themselves and others.
So how can we repair the sins of our priesthoods? Part of the solution to the sins of existing Christianity, priests, comes from the very “world” priests fail to “love” as their “neighbor” and “enemy”: from “secular” or “laity” scholarship. Which long ago began to make some links between ethereal spiritual concepts, and things we see here on earth. To help bring the gods back to earth.
28) There has long been a tradition – not so much in Christian scholarship, but in scholarship about Greco-Roman myths or religion in particular – that suggests that many of old myths and religious stories about gods, a) were “allegories,” metaphors, and so forth. But not just metaphors for mental or spiritual things; scholarship suggesting that there were b) real, material realities, events behind many old allegories, in turn. Real forces of nature, especially.
It has long been thought, that tales of the Greek gods at least, are often personifications, or human-like, person-like symbols, metaphors, for major forces or things in nature, or human nature; gods are symbols for things in Natural History. Major forces in nature, and human nature. And in fact, the Gods are commonly taken by practically everyone, to be in effect, in part, symbols for things in nature. Neptune/Poseidon, for instance, seems to be fairly universally known as the “god of the sea”; it is therefore no surprise to say he is a symbol of the sea, with its powers and characteristics; for deep water, and the ability of the sea to overturn the best boats and plans a man can make … or for its currents to carry us to good fortune too.
It is widely accepted by scholars, that many – nearly all – ancient Greek gods, and many others, were actually human- or person-like, symbols or “personifications” – or you might say, human-based metaphors – for things in a) nature, including b) human nature. And the Greeks and Romans more or less knew this, consciously it seems. Zeus, for instance, was sometimes called the god of thunder, lightning; more forces in Nature. At the same time, what Zeus for example stood for or symbolized, also got mixed up with, or tied to, some human characteristics that were thought to be like thunder and lightning: loud or powerful human actions, using weapons well; being commanding, dramatic, and demanding respect. On the other end of the scale were Eros, a Greek goddess that became Venus in later Roman myth, for instance; these related goddeses were gods of love – erotic and sexual love; which was another basic force in human relations (and possibly animals too; given animals that protect their children, are loyal to their packs, and mate for life). Likewise, Mars was often known as the god of War; which stems from basic human (and animal) traits of anger, fighting, etc. Also a major force in life and in human life, was simple physical, muscular strength; in fact, we are told, though there were many Gods, the godlike figure the shows up most often in archeological digs, was Hercules; just a very strong man (cf. in modern times, World Wrestling Foundation; and the comic books). Hercules – the most popular Greek God or human strongman – seems to have been the symbol, of rather human strength (like the Christian Samson; cf. Samsun, Turkey; two pillars?).
Ancient Greek myths – and probably most ancient gods and myths – many scholars have suggested (see especially Max Muller), were really about effects in nature. Specifically, effects in nature that were often largely mysterious to ancients; and which even seemed supernatural or magical to them. But things which today we see as being normal and natural. As real and natural as indeed, precisely … the winds and seas; as real as lightning, and even love. Though the Greeks and Romans seem to have more or less known this, more or less consciously: Mars was known to be, was called, the god of War; Venus, known as the goddess of love. And so forth.
Ancient myths often therefore, used the figures of human-like gods, as metaphorical ways, to talk about things, forces, in nature. And eventually, in somewhat complicated ways, in some rather complicated allegories. For example, when in myths, various gods interacted, married, fought, that was often an attempt to explain interactions, of various forces in nature. To make up some hypothetical examples: if say, Mars the god of war, killed Venus, the goddess of love, then this would be about how say, war kills love. Or if Neptune drowned the god of fire, then after all, water puts out fires. Or if the king of the Gods was Zeus, then thunder and loud displays command human beings (as indeed they do command apes, who thump their chests to intimidate others). Or if Venus or Eros captures even strong men, then after all Love and Beauty can overcome warlike men.
Greco-Roman myth therefore, is really about the forces of nature, and human nature; from the wind and sea, to love and war. From Natural History. And eventually, the way the gods interact, we suggest, began to explore some complex interactions between different natural forces, in real life. Eventually, in fact, the Greek pantheon – the total of all its gods – is assembled in many tales; tales constructed as if each god is like a piece on a chessboard; each with its own powers, and moves. And through their various moves and interactions, life and some of the complex interactions of nature, are is described. While anyone who studies them might also learn to use these powers, rather like a chess game; using these powers, watching them interact and ally themselves – or work against each other – in life. Seeing which forces conquer each other, or work together in various ways. (As water puts out fire, for example. Along these lines: study allegories in French Neo-Classic paintings).
Socrates and Plato Refine This Idea
The basic idea therefore – that ancient tales of apparently supernatural events and gods, are really metaphors, allegories, of forces in nature, is not new. In fact, no doubt, everyday ordinary Greeks themselves, had a pretty good idea that their gods stood for things, different forces, in nature. Plato and Socrates and other intellectuals of the time, though, eventually refined that awareness a bit; refined what the ordinary Greek already partially knew.
By the time of Plato, no doubt the average Greek already knew, or suspected, that their gods were essentially human-like symbols for forces in nature. (cf. “nature gods” in the Bible; also “beasts” as reference to foreign Gods, that were often part animal). Socrates for example, mentioned that by his time, 350 BCE., this concept was a “fashionable” idea already (Plato, “Phaedrus”?) To be sure though, even as they occasionally had a doubt about this, Socrates and Plato then began to refine this fashionable theory. Assisted no doubt, by growing awareness of nature, thanks to early science; in the days just before Aristotle.
By 350 BCE, there were already some very primitive but still useful outcroppings of science, and certainly, technology (which requires a kind of science; trial and error experimentation; observation, etc.). And by about the time of Socrates, the Greeks were already beginning to make some inroads into a more clear understanding of “nature,” and physical life. And we suggest here that also began to make it clearer to see what the old Gods were about. (Science made it so much clearer, to be sure, that for many finally, science and its ideas began to replace the use of gods, as a much clearer way to talk about what was happening in the world around us. Though to this very day, some elements of life seemed to elude science … and so a “God” has been used to symbolize them, even now).
29) Many already knew by the time of Plato, that the Greek god were essentially symbols or metaphors, for things in Nature, and Natural History (which we define as including human nature). But to be sure, again, Socrates and Plato began to develop this theory a bit. In fact, there is an interesting and important example of this, in Plato’s “Phaedrus.” Of Socrates interpreting a Greek myth this way. There, Socrates is pictures by Plato, as talking with a man called “Phaedrus.” But more importantly, the myth he is talking about, is a tale, a myth which said that a nymph – “Orithyia” by name – was seized off the ground, by “Boreas,” a sort of god of the North Wind. And was carried off a cliff.
The basic myth, we will repeat as reported in a classic (if not entirely accurate?) old collection of Greek myths, commonly called ” Bullfinch’s Mythology.” Here’s the story; note that Bullfinch here is noting that indeed, forces of nature are “personified” – or symbolized in human-like, “person”-like forms – in the godlike or “super”natural-seeming figures of this story. In this case, Boreas symbolizes in part the impetuous or strong, north wind:
“When so many less active agencies were personified, it is not to be supposed that the winds failed to be so. They were Boreas or Aquilo, the north wind; Zephyrus or Favonius, the west; Notus or Auster, the south; and Eurus, the east. The first who have been chiefly celebrated by the poets, the former as the type of rudeness, the latter of gentleness. Boraeas loved the nymph Orithyia, and tried to play the lover’s part, but met with poor success. It was hard for him to breathe gently, and sighing was out of the question. Weary at last of fruitless endeavours, he acted out his true character, seized the maiden and carried her off. Their childen were Zetes and Calais, winged warriors ….” ( Bullfinch’s Mythology, “the Age of Fable,” p. 143-4, Modern Library ed.).
(Cf.: “Eos … in Greek religion, goddess of dawn…. Her husband was Astracus, by whom she bore the stars and the winds – Notus, the south wind; Boreas the north wind…. The Romans called her Aurora....” Colum. Ency. p. 662. Cf. “Aurora Borealis” in science; the “Northern Lights”; lights or dawn, of the north).
On face, this is a typical “miraculous” or magical tale of nonsensical – surreal, supernatural tale. Some might even call it “spiritual”; since it involves spirit-, “pneuma”-like windy events. Here we see gods floating though the sky, using mysterious powers to fly a girl through the air.
But the Greeks knew their Gods stood for, were symbols of, allegories for, real things in nature. In this case, they knew – or were even explicitly told in their myths it seems – that Boreas stood for, was “God of,” the North Wind; one of the predomient breezes that occur around the world; wind from the north (cf. the well known “Aurora borealis,” or northern … lights or “aurora”). Socrates here even suggested that already in his time, some scientists were beginning to interpret this tale as being really, about not just a general thing in nature – the north wind. But possibly a more particular event.
Here’s the story, as told in Plato’s dialogue, “Phaedrus”:
PHAEDRUS: “Tell me Socrates, isn’t it somewhere about here that they say Boreas seized Orithyia from the river?…
SOCRATES: “Yes…. I should be quite the fashion if I disbelieved it, as the men of science do. I might proceed to give a scientific account of how the maiden, while at play with Pharmacia [pharmaceuticals; drugs?], was blown by a gust of boreas [god of the north wind] down from the rock hard by, and having thus met her death was said to have been seized by Boreas…..” (Plato, Collected Dialogues of; Phaedrus, 229b-e).
The impetuousness and rudeness of Boreas, his inability to “sigh,” his desire to blow hard, are all probably characteristic of north winds around Greece. Which may arrive particularly when winter comes from the north, often in strong winds. Information important to a sailing nation, like Greece. Thus the myth of Boreas, conveyed an important fact or two about important forces in nature in fact; that there are four directions on the map, more or less; and winds often come typically from this or that vector; while winds from the North were often powerful; powerful enough to blow someone off a cliff.
Much of this myth therefore, really demands to be interpreted, as being in large part about … something natural; the wind. The tale was an allegory or metaphor, for natual things; wind. In fact, it seems we were explicitly told that is what “Boreas” stood for. As well as being about morality perhaps: the girl is said to be experimenting with drugs, and that is why she was blown over a cliff, Socrates speculated; while “wind” is a common metaphor for “spirit”; indeed, the Biblical Greek which is called “spirit” in modern Bible translations, is largely from “pneuma,” relating to wind or air pressure, in Greek; from our modern “pneumatic hammer,” for example; air- and oil-pressure powered machines.
In any case though, here already, even in Socrates’ time, “scientists” are trying to read religion, as metaphor for natural forces. And indeed, here, much of an old religious story about gods, turns out to be about forces in nature, in large part. Consider indeed, what Socrates said about all this. First by the way, he noted that in fact, by his time, such even “scientific” understandings of ancient myths or religions, was already well known; it was already even “fashionable” for “scientists” he said, to suggest such things. To suggest that tales of a godlike Boreas, carrying off a nymph girl, in the wind, might really have been inspired by real, natural events. A real wind; an incident with pharmaceuticals or drugs.
Many spiritual persons are often disappointed with such readings. But this kind of Naturalistic interpretation of apparently, ostensibly supernatural wonders, has a number of great advantages, to a “spiritual” interpretation. Or fleshes a spiritual interpretation out, quite a bit. As we will see.
a) No doubt, the first understanding most simple uneducated people and “child”ren have of myths, is that they are just surreal – supernatural – events; miracles. About supernatural superheroes and gods, doing things we never see in nature: flying through the air and so forth. But often it is simple people who believe in such things. And if things seem totally surreal, knowing connections between names, incidents, and material things, helps add a new dimension to the myth. Knowing that Boreas is the god of the north wind for example, helps us read another layer into the story, at the very least.
b) Note that Plato and Socrates, are expanding our understanding of this religious tale, by reading the old myths, as in effect, metaphors.
c) But even more here note, Plato and Socrates, mention growing “science.” And so this additional layer in the story, has the advantage that it also begins to connect with science; yet another – and major – district of human experience. (And our Science of God).
d) And then Plato and Socrates note that the old myths and ostensibly supernatural, surreal tales, begin to make material sense; they were in effect, metaphors for … specific physical, material, natural things. For some simple, mundane, early scientific explanations of what was going on in the myth: that aa) a girl or maiden, was playing around with pharmaceuticals – or drugs – and bb) was blown over a cliff by the North Wind. So that the real subject here is, say, two very physical, material things: drugs, and/or the North Wind. And not much more.
e) Can we use such studies, in studying Christian stories? This passage from Plato, is important. Because Christians typically see religious stories as being only allegories of the “spirit”; but
the Bible (and secular culture too) tells Christians, they need to honor science. So how do we put the Biblical commands to read the Bible, its God, as a “parable,” and yet read it with “science” too? In fact, Plato gives us a model for that, here. Combining “metaphorical” understanding, with science, both. So now we are honoring not just half of God, as spiritual interpretations do, but all of him. (We might even also acknowledge so mental “spirit” here too: the spiritually stoned woman; the “winds” or spirits of desire, etc.).
f) In the past, getting science into priestly Christianity, has been hard to do. Because it seemed to priests, that the Bible, its God, were all about … invisible supernatural spirits; things that cannot be studied or confirmed by science. But here now, significantly, we have here in Plato, one of the first clear examples, of science finding natural things, in stories of the Gods, things that science can confirm; analyzing myths, in terms of the natural things that happen in real life. Socrates cross-referencing stories of gods, with what he sees coming to pass in nature … and finding some amazing structural similarities, correspondences. (While in Christianity by the way, Paul noted in Rom. 1.20, that after all, even invisible spirits are known to us, by observation of visible things; as the invisible wind is known, we would say, by the visible leaves it blows).
g) Such scientific, natural interpretations, have therefore been known for thousands of years; Plato writing all this, c. 350 BC. And for millennia, priests have ignored such things, or even opposed them; because in part, they believed, with immense Pride, that their own “spiritual” interpretations were much more important, more elevated, than these allegedly crass, mundane, everyday, understandings. And yet first of all, such interpretations have the advantage that they obey two or three major commands in the Bible, and not just one; they do honor the aa) command to look at metaphors and such; as well as bb) the command look somewhat at spiritual or mental things; but they also cc) at last, also honor God’s command to honor “Science” too. In this way, they follow God’s commands more “full”y than spiritual priests do.
h) And eventually we will find, such interpretations turn out to have some tremendous advantages. Eventually, they turn out to be much better than the first interpretations of myths and miracle stories, that many ordinary people and children and priests have. Which was just that these old stories told about many incomprehensible, but amazing and colorful, supernatural events; or in effect, miracles. Tales about people-like gods flying around in the sky and so forth. But now, in Socrates’ “scientific” translation, such stories actually … in effect, symbolize, to stand for, are metaphors for … things in nature. So that we can begin to tie formerly floating, surreal vague tales … to the earth. To things that can be verified, “confirmed” we might say, by science. As God commanded. Thus following one of God’s commands.
And this has one more great advantage; we are now confirming with science, that something in religion is provably real. Then, if we can expand on this, we might be able to … eventually prove all of religion scientifically; and out of this, adding to its powers immensely. Giving it a greater grasp of itself … and real things, at last. Which might make a material “kingdom” more possible.
i) This kind of the interpretation of old miracle stores, to be sure, is at first, disillusioning, dis-“enchanting”ing, in many ways. In many ways, it is more interesting and colorful, to think of god-like people flying through the air. More interesting than thinking about something as ordinary, as people being blown off cliffs by strong winds.
j) But, as Socrates then also said, we will find, that these “science”-based interpretations, are “attractive” in some ways; because they finally find some real things inside of old myths. Things that are provably real. Such interpretations of old religious stories, finally begin to tie the old myths, to real things we can see around us; to things we know are real. And suddenly we see another dimension in myth and religion; we begin to see it attaching to the world around us. Spirit, appearing in the world.
k) And if there is an element of dis-“enchantment” here? Then after all, one day, we are supposed to break through various “dreams,” “enchantment”s; to see a second and better vision of God; one that comes down to earth.
30) Why shouldn’t we use such a theory? The only real objection Socrates himself seems to have, to this kind of interpretation, is that though he thought of such theories as being a) “no doubt attractive,” still, he thought that looking at religious stories in this way, was going to b) opening up a very long (and Socrates seems to think, rather tedious) project. If we are going to use this approach to religious stories, Socrates said, then we have a lot of work to do; scientists will have to go on, and “tell us the real truth about the appearance of” all the other allegedly supernatural creatures. Like “centaurs”; the half-men, half horse figures. Along with dozens of other supernatural creatures. That, said Socrates, would be a long and tedious study:
“For my part, Phaedrus, I regard such theories as no doubt attractive, but as the invention of clever, industrious people who are not exactly to be envied, for the simple reason that they must then go on and tell us the real truth about the appearance of centaurs and the Chimera, not to mention a whole host of such creatures, Gorgons and Pegasuses and countless other remarkable monsters of legend flocking in on them. If our skeptic, with his somewhat crude science, means to reduce every one of them to the standard of probability, he’ll need a deal of time for it” (Phaedrus, sec. 229d-230; page 478 Collection Dialogues of Plato, Hamilton)
Yet finally, many scholars did take that time, though. In fact, much of science does involve long and tedious observations.
But such studies have been underway for some time.
31) So that now today, because of that, it is now probably possible for us, now, to translate nearly the whole of ancient myth – and religion – as metaphor for subtle things in nature. Or in Natural History. (Natural History – which would include not just nature, rocks and trees, but also human nature, love and hate and war, etc.). And by now, it is possible to begin to come up with tie-ins between spirit and world … that will make both far more effective. (See our remarks on the scientific foundation of Immortality and Resurrection).
This science of Religion, myth, was admittedly a bit “crude” in Socrates’ time. But by now though, fully 2,350 years after Socrates, we have long since developed that science a bit further. To the point in fact, we would suggest here, that some of us (if not all of us) can in fact explain, a whole host of supernatural characters and happenings and miracles; as early accounts of some subtle, elusive, but real things, in nature. Things which are useful to know. As useful, as life-saiving, as an ancient sailor knowing that there were prevailing winds (knowing about “Boreas” etc.).
This makes sense of Greek myth.
32) But more than that, there is something else even more significant going on here: we can now apply science to explain ancient “myth” and religion, in way, furthermore, that does not so much “debunk” or prove them to be unimportant, exactly. But rather, in a way that finds that old myths and tales of magic and miracle, were often garbled but ultimately important accounts of some, real, important, subtle things in nature. Things that ordinary crude spiritual allegoricists and scientists missed. In effect, we are beginning to … scientifically verify the reality of religion.
33) The things the old tales were about, by the way, were not just about natural nature; rocks and trees. But also about early technologies, that some writers did not understand.
Take, at random, “centaurs,” for instance. Socrates seems to think it would be hard to find what these might be about in nature; these were supposedly magical, half-horse, half man creatures, that are never seen in nature at all. But it is possible now to speculate that legends of “centaurs,” were probably garbled perceptions, by very primitive tribes, of a technology, a culture, that many had never seen them before: of one of the early horsemen from Asia or some such. To early men who had never seen a man on horseback before, such a thing would look like … a being that was half man, half horse.
There are many old tales of apparently supernatural things in religion then, that significantly, we can show are not above – or as they say “super” – natural. But are actually about things in nature. And in ancient times, this natural information was often quite important. Today, the fact that a man can tame a horse and ride on it – thus joining the intelligence of a man to the running power of a horse – was no insignificant item of information; whole civilizations were lost and won, because one side had a cavalry, and the other did not.
34) It is often thought that such understandings of ancient religion, are too “mundane” and “reductionistic”; that they ruin religion, if and when they find that the wonderfully surreal and magical old stories, are just about simple, normal things in nature. And indeed, some of these scientific explanations were reductionistic in the past.
a) But remember, from what we just said above, that as we are here finding real, natural things in “supernatural” tales in fact, we not therefore exactly “debunking” old religion, but actually, verifying it with science.
b) Furthermore, by the way, such “mundane” things, are only mundane today; in ancient times, they would have seemed spectacular, magical advances in understanding and powers. The sight of a man riding a horse is mundane to us today; but when the cavalry first appeared to a man who had never seen a man on horseback before, that man knew he was being confronted by something incredibly powerful, and dangerous. If surreal.
c) Furthermore, the knowledge conveyed in these myths was not inconsequential; it actually “saved” lives. As gods are often supposed to “save” and extend our “life” after all. (Thus corresponding at yet another point, structurally, to our own God). The knowledge that there was such a thing like horsemen, for example, could save a combat solider in combat. While likewise, for example, knowledge that there were, say, four directions on a compass, and that there were often strong prevailing winds from the north, would have been an item of critical information – giving great power – to a sailing nation, like Greece.
So that these were not small insignificant “mundane” things, at the time. Indeed, knowledge was power; and those who had it, or who got it from their clerics or their “Lord,” often lived longer; those who did not, often died. Note indeed the applicability of many Biblical terms too: those who had this “knowledge” from their “Lord” were “saved,” and get “prosperity”; those who did not, “perished.” So that there are signs, by parallels with Old Testament language, that we are approaching here, no doubt, the original meaning of the Old Testament for example.
d) No doubt, to those who had never seen such things, they appeared surreal, magical … or miraculous. A man on a horseback, might look like a surreal, half-human, half horse centaur, to a primitive person. And so we can see why we have so many persistent surreal tales; those tales were about something real, but that was just confused. Thus is explained many “miracles” in fact. (Cf. “fire from the heavens” … as burning oil or other flammable liquids, being poured from the “heights”).
e) But now we are getting through the many misunderstandings; to see things better. And what we see is not so inconsequential; but knowing them saved lives. In fact, we were really, talking about very, very significant “powers” indeed, for the times. Whole civilizations rose and fell … to the power of a man on a horse; as versus peoples who did not understand that technology, that aspect, of natural history.
f) Which would explain why such things were often seen as work of the “gods.” It might be thought that seeing “mere” technology and so forth at work behind “miracles,” finds in effect nothing significant behind those promises. But such powers were enormously powerful and important, for ancient people. While now, this kind of analysis begins to help us, at the very least, rediscover, reconstruct, the mind and cultures, of ancient man.
g) More interestingly though, perhaps as a matter of fact, it is possible that eventually, we can re-discover some ancient, obscure observations about nature … that might still amaze and inform us, even today. Telling us something about nature – and the Christian God – that modern man and priests, have forgotten, say. (As indeed, many ancient Platonic ideas about resurrection, immortality, are still obscure to ordinary people).
In fact, when it comes to Christian miracles later on, we will find that we can come up with some things ordinary people might not have thought of; things that add significantly to their understanding say, of resurrection and immortality. And that even in fact, finally locate the real core, of Christianity. In a way that priests have not be able to do.
h) While encouraging Christians to learn more practical knowledge and science; which we will show, can improve their lives far, far more than still more spirituality. (As per James 2.14-26, etc.).
i) Furthermore, we will not even deny the reality of “spirit”; but we are now adding in fact a critical element to it; seeing how it works in, attaches itself to, “pours itself out on,” the “flesh,” the material world.
j) And all this in fact, finally, applied to Christianity, overcomes dualism of word and world; joins heaven and earth as foretold (Rev. 21).
So let us continue, with our study here, of one scientific way, to read ancient religions. Though at first it seems simple, in the end, it proves very useful.
35) Many stories of “gods,” we say here, are about forces in nature; as revealed by science. Or – to use the larger definition of “nature” meaning all things physical – about primitive technologies. Technologies that simple civilizations had, but other still-more primitive cultures around them, did not yet fully understand. Like “centaurs,” being a memory of the first encounter of a culture without horses, or a cavalry, with those technological innovations. Such things would have seemed wonderful, miraculous … and indeed they were, to the times.
Sometimes too, related to this, misunderstandings, tales of supernatural things, likely came from the use – and then misunderstanding – of pictorial convention; or in effect, visual symbols, visual metaphors, by more advanced peoples. In many medieval and later maps, for instance, the maps, trying to show where important and prevailing winds and breezes could be found – which was important for sailors, on sailed ships – to picture, symbolize winds, would often picture a huge face, on the map; with its cheeks puffed up, blowing air in one direction or another. These huge faces in the corner of the maps were not necessarily supposed to be taken literally; the map-maker was
not trying to say that there were, literally, huge heads in the four corners of the world, blowing air through massive cheeks hundreds of miles across, to create the winds that cover the earth. Instead of course, picturing giant heads in the corners of the continents blowing air through their cheeks, was really just a pictorial convention, or visual metaphor, or a way of symbolizing, what the map maker was really trying to show: wind. Which he pictured analogically, metaphorically, as giant human-like faces blowing air through their cheeks.
In this way, no doubt in part, legends of many supernatural gods in the heavens arose. Or are best interpreted today. As again, metaphors or symbols, for some at-one-time elusive forces in Nature. Or, to speak of “nature” more broadly, to include human nature, love; Natural history. Forces that were heretofore often hard for ancient people to picture; forces like Love, and the wind.
By the way note, that once again, in our hypothetical example, a “god” – a giant cherub that creates the winds by blowing air out of his cheek – turns out to have come from … a misunderstood metaphor. In this case, a visual metaphor, but a metaphor all the same. While we might also later begin to try to read back from all gods, even our own God, to misunderstood metaphors, for real forces in nature.
Outside religious studies proper, in the study of myths, it was often suggested that apparently supernatural tales might really be largely about, metaphors of natural things. This idea had a very long history. After Socrates, St. Paul, St. Augustine, Mohammed, Spinoza, this tradition continued through everyday mythologists, like one “Thomas Bullfinch” – author of the once very popoular “Bullfinch’s Mythologies.” Popular and influential as he was, it would be useful to take a close look at what he said, in 1840 or so, about supernatural stories, as being really, parables, metaphors, metaphors, for things in nature.
36) In the nineteenth century, c. 1840, Thomas Bullfinch, the famous popularizer of Mythography, wrote a famous series of books on Greek and other myths, that became collected in “Bullfinch’s Mythologies.” And significantly, he reviewed a least four different ways of trying to make sense of ancient myths. He noted that myths were commonly interpreted by scholars as being a) related to Scriptures. Or as b) being misunderstandings, garblings of History. Or c) as Allegories. Particularly though, he noted that many myths, can be read as c) allegories … of things in physical nature (240 ff; Modern Library ed.). All these approaches are good, as he noted. And we are using all of these here. But of the four methods of analyzing myths and tales of miracles, two in particular are especially useful.
First, this popular scholar of Greek and Roman texts noted more than a century ago that many of our old tales might be considered allegories (like our metaphors) of nature, that came to be taken literally :
“The Allegorical theory supposes that all the myths of the ancients were allegorical and symbolical, and contained some moral, religious, or philosophical truth or historical fact, under the form of an allegory, but came in process of time to be understood literally. Thus Saturn, who devours his own children, is the same power whom the Greeks called Chronos (Time), which may truly be said to destroy whatever it has brought into existence” (241; italics, mine).
Bullfinch gets it right. The God “Saturn” meant Chronos – which means “Time.” The story of “Saturn devouring his children” therefore, probably is about time. It meant that Time in fact, ages all things, and eventually kills or “devours” all of us. We all get old and die, because of Time. So that things born in time, are devoured by it; time devours its own children.
In any case, though, Bullfinch was noting that what seems to have happened, is that people forgot what “Saturn” was. Or they were not taught it correctly as children.
And so to many, a myth about a god is just a seemingly surreal, miraculous, supernatural story: a weird big supernatural monster is eating his own children. People see it just as a miracle or magic. What happened, Bullfinch and a thousand other scholars have intimated, is that all too many people failed to understand the metaphor, the allegory. They lost, or never knew, or could never tie, the surreal surface, to anything real underneath. Because of that, they lost the inner meaning; they think the story about Saturn devouring children is just that, and no more. Just another incomprehensible “mystery,” about strange, seemingly impossible miraculous events. They forgot – or were never taught by their preachers – that the strange things in these stories were actually symobols for underlying subtle things in life; like Time. Instead, they just read the stories, and took them literally: big supernatural monsters doing strange things.
And, we are now saying, the common idea in Christianity that God offers big supernatural miracles, is the same kind of simple mistake. By badly educated persons. The people being mislead by poorly educated ministers; priests without “knowledge” … the knowledge of material things, that would actually help translate the old stories. The real, broad, heaven-and-earth knowledge that a holy “king” like Solomon would have; but his rather bookish clerics, might well not have.
But now we need scholars who know heaven and earth, spirit and world, again, today. To understand the Greek gods. And we will see, to understand, realize, the Christian God, too.
This thing that made us, Time, consumes us, through accidents and old age. Thanks to time, we are born – but gradually are consumed by old age; consumed by time. The very system that gives us birth, in the end also extinguishes us. We are created in and by Space and Time – and are “eaten up” by it as well. So when you read a story about Saturn devouring his children, you should not think that there is a giant human-like god up in space somewhere, doing something. Rather of course, Saturn is just a symbol for Time … and time is everywhere. In heaven and earth.
But to the point here: the tale is about something in Nature; not just hovering in heaven. It is not a tale disconnected to anything on earth, hovering without any relevance to us on earth. And as we carry this further, we will find out that Christianity too, is about something real. Not just about a vague “spirit”; but a spirit that comes down to earth.
To get to this, though, you need to know that a very important key to myths and miracle stories, is to combine two major types of interpretation, noted in Bullfinch and many others. First, be prepared to read anything and everything, as … a) Allegories, Symbols, Metaphors: many myths are symbolic; often they are ancient metaphors. Especially, symbols that were taken too literally. Whose symbolic value was forgotten. But there is a second extremely important kind of interpretation too, that should be combined with this first one. That is: b) “The Physical theory,” as Bullfinch called it. Specifically, note that things in myths are often, about specific things nature. Like Time. Like men on horseback. Like people becoming aggressive. And finally, combining these two, here, comes up with our own main method: that supernatural myths are more often, misunderstood allegories of, or indicated comments on, subtle effects in Nature. In physical reality.
An interesting case in point is the very myth Bullfinch used to illustrate just an Allegory; the tale of Saturn/Time devouring his own children. This is not just an allegory; as it turns out, it is an allegory of Nature.
A later case – of Proserpine or Persephone – will be noted in later, connection with the chapter on Immorality.
While we are about to discuss “Medusa,” one of the Gorgons, now.
Medusa and the Grenades;
The Reality of “Spirits”
“Turning to Stone,” as Paralysis from Fright;
The Beginning of the Solution
to the Problem of Miracles:
Garbled Accounts/Metaphors, of Things in Nature;
The Reality of “Spirits” Like Fear
Those of us who know nature better than some scholars (who after all, study primarily texts, not Science) will note that at the time that professor Bullfinch was writing – c. 1858 – it was thought by some that tales about “nature” included only tales about generalities in Nature, like water, air, and fire, or maybe the sun; a simplity misattributed to Max Müller; the tutor of Heidegger. But nature and language of course, is not so simple – as in fact, even scholars like Müller and Heidegger knew. So let’s move on to a more complicated example.
Myths and miracle tales can be interpreted many different ways. (See Ken Dowden’s The Uses of Greek Mythology, Routledge, NY, 1992, pages. 23-38). And all of them are useful; the best way to get at their meaning is to use all methods at once, if possible, and see which ones fits best. This present book has put all the various methods together – but finds that they all best make sense, they all come together, when they are understood particularly as metaphorical descriptions of natural history. Myths are often indirect or garbled accounts of things that might be described by Science today – like early agricultural technology, or even various things about intellectual culture, as described by Social Science.
Knowing how to read
metaphors is central. Sometimes ancient and even modern people speak in metaphors deliberately – and sometime accidentally. Often ancient people did not see things clearly – they didn’t know a lot, back then – and when they described what they saw in Nature, they described it in odd ways, in terms of supernatural or miraculous happenings that are only indirectly, only half true. Accidental metaphors in effect. If you are seeing a flying bat for the first time, for instance, and had no previous idea about one, to describe it, you might look around for the first available similarity – and call it, say, a “flying mouse.” (The German word for bad: “fliedermaus” SP? Flying mouse). That would be a metaphor, and not one too far off the mark as a matter of fact. Still, such a metaphor might mislead many; into coming up with tales of originally pedestrian mice, suddenly, supernaturally flying.
37) Or finally, if you first see a woman with dreadlocks, you might say you saw a woman with “snakey” or “snake-like” hair. Or “snakes for hair.” In both cases, you would be making an analogy; using a metaphor; describing what you saw in terms of things that it was similar – but not identical – to. And though the analogy, or allegory, or figure, is good, and this metaphor would be descriptive – but those people who did not understand it was, in effect, just a metaphor, who took it literally, might soon some up with a story about a supernatural woman with snakes in her hair. Which we are about to show, is part of where the story of Medusa probably came from.
Many old writings describe things in an indirect, symbolical way of talking; one that describes things in terms of things they are like, but not exactly identical to. Such terms however – and this is the key problem in reading old tales – are also incredibly easy to misunderstand. Especially if we take them as being sacred; as being word-for-word true. Metaphors are comparison betwen things that are often only partially alike; not completely alike. If you imagined that a “flying mouse” (“Fleidermaus,” in German /sp/), was exactly a flying house mouse, and set a trap with cheese to catch one, you would be mistaken; you would have misread a metaphor, taken it too literally, and as a consequence, fallen into error. Just as, if you thought that your football quarterback was really, literally, a lion. Or that there were strange creatures that really lived on forever, by drinking actual blood.
Scholars have long said that the major confusion in myths, the thing that has created so many misunderstandings, is that they are essentially metaphors – while people either don’t really know what metaphors are, or forget to look for symbolic meanings in things – so that they take the old stories too literally, even when to be literal, they would have to do amazing things you never see in real life.
When we take old tales too literally, word or word, we cease to read them as “parables,” metaphors, or allegories – indirect, symbolical tales – as many were intended, and miss their real meaning. Take for example, the tales of Gorgons; women – including Medusa – with snakes for hair, that turned people to stone, when they looked at them. The legend of Medusa was probably a misunderstanding of some metaphors. Some early Greek travelers (Argonauts), unaccustomed to such sights, saw women with snaky hair (cf. Media? Circes? African women?), who were so frightening to the Greeks, that some were frozen with fear; “turned to stone,” when they saw them.
To really understand the myth of Medusa – the tale of a woman with snakes in her hair, that turned men into stone if they looked at her – you really need to think about a) metaphors, and b) nature, both at once. If you do that, then suddenly the story that seemed to be about an impossible magical, or unnatural act or miracle, (cf. the Bible on unnatural acts, and magic), turns out to be about a series of interested, subtle psycho-physical phenomena; a physical-spiritual thing. Note that it is well known in psychology – and well known to some people – that there is an automatic animal fear instinct in both animals and human beings to “freeze,” or stop moving, when they are afraid of a predator. This is because many predators eyes and brains, are particularly sensitive to motion; lions see potential victims, by seeing deer move, and so forth. So that, over the years, deer that moved too soon when they saw a lion, often got eaten; while those that froze, were not noticed and often escaped. (Unless the lion was closing on it; in which case, it was better to run).
This same instinct exists in human beings; who talk about being “frozen with fear.” In fact, this is something that a few people do not know about, but some might; sometimes if you are afraid, it triggers an instinct in you that you didn’t know you had: your body will suddenly become paralyized, and you will be unable to move. In fact, this often happens in real life, and it is important to know about. In the Army, it sometimes happened for instance that recruits, being trained to throw live grenades, would think about how dangerous a thing they were about to do – and they would “freeze,” with a live grenade in their hand. Of course, this would mean the grenade would explode in the recruit’s hand, and probably kill him, and everyone around him. For this reason, finally, eventually Army trained had a spotter stand next to every recruit, looking for exactly this; if they saw a recruit “freeze” with a live grenade in his hand, it was their duty to grab the grenade out of the hand of the recruit, and throw it into a pit, before it killed everyone.
So in fact, the myth of Medusa is actually a tale about perhaps, a bit of real history … but also about a complex, interesting, and often important, spiritual/mental physical phenomenon. No doubt, when the Greek Argonauts saw a woman with dreadlocks, or snaky hair, they were afraid; so afraid that the “freeze” instinct set in, and paralyzed them; making them easy prey. Indeed, many warriors came to wear scary-costumes and emblems, to try to psychologically disorient their opponents, and if they were lucky, even paralyze them with fear. Eventually, many Greek warriors came to put an embossed picture of Medusa, specifically, on their shields. While later, the tales were combined with the deadly mistake that created popular Christianity; taking metaphors literally; in this case, taking the metaphor “turned to stone,” literally; assuming that those who saw Medusa were really, literally, turned into granite. Creating a story or myth about a supernatural miracle thereby; forgetting first of all, the real psychological things behind it. Psychological things which had real effects, first of all.
Implications for Christianity
38) He in effect, from even the study just of Greek Myths, we are finding that there is a reality to human “spirit” to be sure; as real and as important, as fear; and learning to conquer it. (As we found in the story of Medusa). And how we manage that spirit – like fear – has much to do with how well we do materially, on earth.
Interestingly indeed, the particular myth of Medusa, is not just about a physical event; it is also about an interesting example of how psychological things, relate to physical things. Or spiritual things, to real material events. And further, this knowledge is not unimportant; knowing about your spirit, can save your physical life. And there are many “invisible” things, like our mind, that move visible things, like our body … or fail to move it, if you are not careful, and are not aware of the link between mind and body.
No doubt it will be shocking for many people to suddenly discover that a) many of their miracles are almost certainly metaphors for other things; and for b) things that are spiritual, all in turn connect to c) strange things in nature. But now we are finding out that even “spirit” is real; as real as ideas in the human mind; as confirmed by the science of Psychology.
Or, in Christian terms: we are now beginning to see renewing links between good and bad “spirit”s, and material reality, therefore, in Greek myth. Or you might say, in Christian terms, links between heaven and earth. Word, and world. Word, and flesh. So that in effect, we will see, the “spirit” is indeed, being “poured” on “flesh.” As we will see, next.
To be sure, the spirit we see first in Medusa – of fear – is not a good one. But then we begin to see a kind of idea, knowledge, spirit, that can after all, learn to see all this … and push back the fear, perhaps. Knowing that one can be paralyzed by fear, can help one be prepared for this, and to combat it.
Speaking in Tongues
In the past, preachers thought at first that a) the Bible promised lots of big material things. But b) those things seemed like miracles … and many of us did not see many miracles in real life. And so c) preachers spiritualized religion. But d) there are sins in a strong spirituality, we found. So what can we do? Do especially, with those old promises of material wonders? Finally, there is only one method, that meets the demands of the Bible, and of practical Truth: that does not totally deny the reality of the old promises; that is consistent with the Bible itself; and that is consistent with science too. Finally … if we can learn to read the old “miracles” as being in fact, about natural things; perhaps being in fact, garbled “tongue” language or in effect metaphors … for material things in nature.
Thus at last, combining the Bible’s commands to both see things as “figures” and so forth … with at last, his command to honor science.
39) There have been many bad metaphorical interpretations of the Bible. Many preachers have a) essentially decided to interpret everything in the Old Testament as a “prefiguration” of the New Testament. The Old Testament is always interpreted as a preview, a forecast and endorsement, of the New. But while there is a great deal of resemblance between the two testaments, not everything in each, is as reflective of everything else, as many preachers thought (see allegory in “Interpretation,” Ox. Comp. p. 311-12, etc.). Other preachers b) always interpret everything in the Bible, as metaphors, but as spiritual metaphors only; as having a “spiritual” meaning (Ox. 312). But here we will find that c) the truth is, that life and even God, is both spiritual and physical.
Filling “heaven” and “earth.”
And finally, not only is what we are doing here more consistent with the Bible itself; linking, correcting your fantastic and vague notions, to material realities, is the way you get to a real physical kingdom on earth, or the promised material “prosperity.” Which you do not find, we will show, until you know how to connect spiritual things, to physical things. The way we are beginning to do, in this book. Until you know the science of God, you are in fact not really productive; and are not qualified therefore to stand before God, as a trusted and useful worker (Dan. 1.4-15).
Speaking in Tongues
As Speaking Many Languages
Continuing our study of Christian metaphors … consider, say, the alleged miracle of “speaking in tongues.” A reality which we will find is both physical, and spiritual … and commonsense scientific reality too. While those who do not understand the practical side of this, will not know how to make themselves truly useful to God and the kingdom; their understanding only half of the story, after all; grasping the part of our God who lives in “heaven,” but not the part that lives “on earth.”
40) Here, surprisingly, there is, actually, one pre-existing sermon, on the possibility that “miracles” are actually misunderstood metaphors; and not metaphors for “spiritual” things, but metaphors for natural things. In the whole body of everyday sermons, there is one – and to be sure, perhaps only one. One sermon, that is delivered much in the churches, to tell people about the truth. That sermon, is a homily on “speaking in tongues.”
What is “speaking in tongues”? There are many churches today, (Pentecostals? Seventh Day Adventists?) who believe that the Bible described, authorized, endowed on some special people, a particular kind of supernatural power or miraculous ability, called “speaking in tongues.” What happens, it is said, is that people go to church – and suddenly, decide to start uttering strange words, that most people don’t understand. Or strange words that somehow everyone, no matter what their language is, understands. A miracle.
More exactly, what this “speaking in tongues” is said to be, is actually any one of three or four things. Some say that a) the Lord, God, is said to suddenly give persons the sudden power to speak a foreign language; suddenly, miraculously, as if by magic. Or b) it is thought that people suddenly get the supernatural power to speak in a strange, babbling way, that is not necessarily any particular language, or anything they themselves ever learned – but a strange way of talking that God understands. Or that c) many or d) even all other people understand? Even if it does not really seem to be any language that language-specialists recognize.
Following this belief, people are encouraged to start babbling in churches.
And in this fairly common (but now declining) practice in some small denominations and churches – a practice known as “speaking in tongues” – parishioners are allowed and even encouraged, to stand up in church and begin babbling strange words; words or sound that even they might not understand themselves. Words that in fact, often do not seem to belong to any language. This is thought to be a sign that the Holy Spirit has come upon them, in fulfillment of a particular passage in the book of Acts:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues…. And at this sound, the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galilean? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadoccia, Pontus and Asia … were hearing them telling in our own tongue the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “what does this mean?’ But others mocking said ‘they are filled with new wine.’ But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them “Men of Judea… these men are not drunk … but this is what was spoke by the prophet … in the last days'” (Acts. 2.1-17, excerpts).
Jesus and many other disciples were partially from the region of Israel or Judah, around the Sea of Galilee; they were therefore called “Galileans” at times. (While Jesus was also at times, accused of being a “Samaritan”; q.v.. Jesus was born in Nazareth, just southwest of the Sea of Galilee; which was the lake in extreme northern part of the Jordan River valley. From the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River flows due south about a hundred miles, into the Dead Sea, where Jerusalem – the “City of Peace,” of “shalom” – is found. Jesus lived by the Sea of Galilee for some time as a child and young adult, and gathered many of his first followers around the sea, it seems; before moving on down to Jerusalem, the capital city. So that he, and many of his disciples and others, might have been called “Galileans.” As they went from the living sea of Galilee, down to the city of peace, Jerusalem, and the Dead sea; life … to death and peace.)
Traditionally, the above incident at Galilee is presented in some churches, denominations, as a typical, supernatural miracle: suddenly, it is said, people who normally speak one language, Galilean, were supernaturally granted the ability to speak another, mysterious, miraculous tongue; one that was understood by all other humans, and/or by God. However, not all Christian denominations believe this was a miracle. And very few churches believe that “speaking in tongues” is good today. And in fact, there is here at last a common sermon, that gives all this a natural explanation.
a) First, note that the word “tongue” is a common, ancient metaphor for “language.” And “speaking in tongues” often means nothing but, “speaking in foreign Languages.” Any Bible that says anything different, has been mistranslated. Indeed, Paul seems to be assuming that speaking in tongues just means speaking another language, in passages like this one:
“Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I benefit you…. If you in a tongue utter speech that is not intelligible…. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker….” (1 Corin. 13.6-11).
“Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful” (1 Corin. 13. 13-14).
b) So “speaking in tongues” then, doesn’t really usually mean what some of your preachers told you. Your preachers mislead you, and got you praying to the wrong idea of God; the wrong Christ. As we will see, when we examine the passage from Acts, that has caused all the confusion. The simple truth is this: “speaking in tongues” just meant, speaking a second language. Speaking a foreign language.
c) And likely, all that happened in the incident above, was that as a matter of fact, Galilee, and much of the Mediterranean, included many different cultures; and often, the people there spoke different languages; some spoke two or more languages. Just as St. Paul, a Hebrew, also knew how to write Greek. So that when the disciples got excited, many of them began speaking in non-Hebraic tongues or languages; in order to tell others, who did not speak the primary Hebrew, what was going on.
d) This was in many ways wonderful; in that it allowed Jewish ideas to be communicated to all other languages, to all other people. So that “each man heard” the scripture, Jesus, in his own native tongue. And all were amazed at the time; to hear Jews or others from Galilee, speaking so many tongues.
To this day, Bibles are similarly translated into a hundred of languages. Often by Englishmen, who speak in “tongues”; that is, who have a second language. So that each and every person in the world, can hear the voice of Jesus, each, in his own tongue. But marvelous as this is, it is not a supernatural miracle.
e) So it likely was. Suddenly, many disciples begin to speak in foreign tongues; and persons of all languages understood them. This is thought to be a miracle, by simple or uneducated or unintelligent people. But it is a very natural thing.
f) Why was it ever thought to be supernatural? First, this is thought to be a miracle, because, it is said in the text, the disciples are from Galilee … with the assumption by the people who are speaking in the test, that the disciples therefore, only speak one language.
g) And indeed, look at who is speaking in the text, above; is it God himself? In fact it is not; those who are furnishing most of the commentary, are actually ordinary people, the “multitude,” commenting on the scene. So that first of all, much of what is said about this event, is said by unreliable witnesses; not by God himself:
“The multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galilean? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?”
Note two things here:
first, who is speaking? It is not God; it is the multitude. Who are not reliable witnesses. Then next, are they even really sayings, that the disciples are Galileans? The text doesn’t exactly say they are. It has some people in it ask, “‘Are not all these who are speaking Galilean?'”
So in fact, regarding a critical element of the story, all we have here, is first of all, an assumption by unreliable witnesses. While indeed the authoritative parts of the text, never for example confirms that the apostles are Galilean; it just pictures others assuming, or just asking, about that. So that they might not be, after all. So that they might not even be from one language tradition at all.
Or, h) suppose they are from Galilee. Still, though some are amazed, if they spoke other languages than Galilean Hebrew, or a Hebrew dialect like Aramic, then that would not be so surprising or supernatural. Standard histories of the region tell us that there were many Greeks in Galilee, for instance. During for instance the persecution of Jews, of “Antiochus’ IV’s Hellenistic reform in the mid-second century BCE (1 Mascc. 4.14-23); see Sean Freyne, “Galilee,” Ox. Comp. 241). Some even suggest that Jesus himself may have spoken a little Greek. As did St. Paul.
(See also the possibility that the Bible is speaking of metaphors, double-entendre language, that is typical of religious writers: a way where different people hear different messages from the same words. Largely spiritual and literal, priests seem to think; but bringing the tongues, “uniting” them … again, we find them both spiritual, and literal … and in effect, figures about real natural things).
So that, a close look at the Bible itself, suggests that what is probably happening here, in Pentecost, the speaking in tongues, is almost certainly, nothing much more than that a group of Jews or early Christians – who were perhaps mistakenly thought to be from Galilee – turn out to be speaking many different, non-Hebraic languages.
i) Would people be “amazed” at this? Indeed even just that much, might amaze the people. Who are pleasantly surprised to hear Jews speaking to them in many different native languages. Many Jews not being quite so multi-cultural, as to commonly speak many languages, though some more educated ones did. Or indeed, there were many Samaritans in Judah, where Jesus was from. And Samaritans were often half-Jewish, half some other culture; and so probably often multi-lingual. Indeed, too, Christianity attracted, was open to, many “Greeks” and others. So that here again other languages would be entering the mix.
So was this a miracle? It seems unlikely from the above. And still less, when we consider that j) God tells us to honor “science” … and science does not document things like this coming to pass in real life.
k) For that matter finally, the Bible itself does not say it is a miracle.
l) By the way, later one the Bible often had some negative things to say about speaking in tongues, in churches. Look at what St. Paul later said on this subject, after Acts:
“Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching…. There are doubtless many different languages in the world … but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker…. Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful” (1 Corin. 14.6 – 13-14.).
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature… Tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers…” (1 Corin 13.18-22).
“I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all; nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corin. 14.18-19).
“Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy” (1 Corin 14.5).
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, … then … speakers in various kinds of tongues…. But earnestly desire the higher gifts” (1 Corin. 12.27).
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully…” (1 Corin. 13.11-12).
“Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I benefit you…. If you in a tongue utter speech that is not intelligible…. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker…” (1 Corin. 13.6-11).
“Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful” (1 Corin. 13. 13-14).
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbals. …. Love never ends; as for prophecy, it will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease…. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass way. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I now in part; then I shall understand fully….” (1 Corin. 13.1, 13.8-12).
“Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corin. 1.22).
“Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature. In the law it is written, ‘By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people; yet even then they will not listen to me,’ says the Lord. Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophesy is not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all … he will bow down before God” (1 Corin.14.20 ff RSV; NRSV.)
m) Paul here at times clearly assumes that “speaking in tongues” means “many different languages.” And all he is really saying is that it is good to translate the ideas of Jesus, into many different languages, and to deliver speeches in different languages to many, in order to reach all kinds of different people. However, Paul notes that some confusion is caused, when some people don’t understanding the particular tongue that the service is delivered in. And n) even if there are translators there, the noise can get confusing. So that there should be some control on how many languages are spoken in church.
o) Then too, useful as speaking a foreign language is, Paul notes there are higher gifts; the power to use your “mind,” to be educated, for example, is important; otherwise though you speak another language, still you have nothing to say.
And that finally, is what “speaking in tongues” corresponds to the the real world, that is confirmable to science. And noting this, can help many people avoid many miscommunications.
p) Indeed no doubt, it was those who rightly understood all this, who simply learned other languages, that ultimately were far, far more effective in spreading Christianity. Since they were able to communicate more effectively, with eventually, all the other cultures of the world. Whereas those who merely babble, are rarely understood by others.
So it was indeed – as we predicted – those with a natural/scientific understanding, that actually were far more “fruit”ful.
q) Such naturalistic explanations of miracles seem disappointing at first; in them, our vaunted spirit, as our grandiose “dreams,” are tied to often seemingly very mundane, very worldly realities. As for example, when a seemingly magical, miraculous “speaking in tongues,” is seen to be just, speaking foreign languages. But such analyses are not just “reductionistic” (see above); there is a much more positive way of seeing this movement from dreams, to realities; as fulfillment of prophesy.
As we link our childhood imaginings, dreams, about God and the Lord, to material realities, this to be sure, seems disappointing, disillusioning, at first. But indeed, one “day” aa) we are supposed to “mature”; and bb) discover that our priests’ visions were “delusions,” “illusions.” That their very “heaven” was bad; so that their very heaven is supposed to “dissolve.” We are supposed to be in effect, dis “illuioned,” dis “enchanted.”
r) What was speaking in tongues then? Here as usual, above, amazingly – and extremely important point, eventually – the Bible itself can be found over and over, in miracle after miracle, introducing phrases, words … that allow us to interpret every miracle in the Bible, ultimately, as … natural things. In this case, furnishing enough material to see tongues as just speaking other languages. An amazing thing to simple people, but not for others.
And indeed, this is a striking thing: whenever we examine an alleged supernatural miracle, in the Bible itself … we will find that the Bible itself does not say it was supernatural, or a miracle, at all; while indeed the Bible furnishes enough naturalistic details, that its description of each and every alleged miracle, can be read as a natural event.
Indeed, in this case, “tongues” was not even called a “miracle”; in the matter of “tongues,” note that the better translations don’t even all this event a “miracle”; they call the event a “wonder” (Acts 2.19).
s) And at that, a sign only for” Gentiles” (or unbelievers?)?
t) Speaking in tongues, therefore, is not a miracle. But to be sure, it is a great skill; one that gave early Christianity, “power.” No doubt, Judaism was somewhat more limited, in that Jews did not mix quite as fully with other cultures, as Christians did, and did not know as many languages often (in general; with exceptions of course among educated Jews and so forth). Linguistic and cultural narrowness then, even rigid orthodoxy, made it hard for Judaism to spread or grow. The more multi-cultural openness of Christianity – which embraces not just Jews, but also “gentiles” and so forth; them and their languages – was therefore, something of a wonderment to conservative Jews; and was in fact a great asset for Christianity.
Indeed, as Peter rightly said next, it is still a “wonder.” If not a miracle. Indeed, when many began to mock this event as a rumor, as a drunken idea, from followers drunk on new wine … St. Peter stands up and rightly says this:
“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice…. For these men are not drunk … but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh…. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath … before the day of the LORD comes” (Acts. 2.14-20; “wonders” from “portents,” meaning important signs or acts; from Gk. “terata”).
Of course, it was wonderful; the ability to speak many languages, allowed disciples to teach Christianity and its spirit, to all over the world, to all peoples, all nations, all tongues; to “all flesh.”
It was wonderful no doubt. But though generations of Christians have assumed that this was a supernatural miracles, there is in fact nothing in the Bible text itself that says that, or even firmly implies that.
And that finally is the amazing thing; finally, we can look at each and every alleged supernatural miracle in the Bible … and find that the Bible itself perhaps never specifies that this event is supernatural, or above and beyond nature; and furthermore, most often the description of each and every alleged miracle, is written in a way that ever word is capable of being understood, as a natural, not supernatural event.
u) So that amazingly, the Bible itself, never promises supernatural miracles. Not here, or anywhere else. Rather instead, the perception that it did, was a misunderstanding … among preachers.
To be sure, at first, when we hear such things, are we be disappointed? When we see a mundane, earthly reality, behind it all? When our grandiose imaginings seem to aa) come crashing down to earth? But consider next, on “second” glance especially, that after all, bb) there is something wonderful happening there, according to Peter, and cc) according to our own account here. And dd) among other things, note a fulfillment of Biblical prophesy: that the ideas of God – his “spirit” – were in part already, being poured into “flesh.” And how minor is that? When the idea, the spirit of God, begin to enter material bodies? And influence our material behavior?
Is that really minor and insignificant? When spirit enters – becomes – flesh?
Perhaps it is not as dramatic and colorful as we imagined it as “child”ren. Or as we heard preachers promise it, in grand – Proud – imaginings. Yet it has the advantage, in that it is all … real. And materially useful. And brings ultimately, real, material success. And not mere grandiose “dreams” or “illusions.”
w) So let us move ahead with this; indeed, such practical thinking finally, shows many “signs” of success. Historically we know, for example, that the Christians who spoke foreign tongues, were extremely important in making Christianity a success. And no doubt, those today, who also have practical material understandings of the Bible, who understand its natural sense, will also be more productive, prosperous, as well. While those who pray endlessly for supernatural events … will overall not fare as well.
The End Time, the Apocalypse:
A Metaphor For Growing Up, Becoming “Mature,”
“Understanding … Science”;
Naturalization of Miracles
Is Partial Fulfillment of End Time,
41) What should we say in summary?
Over the centuries, preachers enticed millions, billions of people to follow them and their idea of morality; largely, with promises that if we followed them, and their idea of the “Lord,” we would get huge, amazing, incredible, “miracles.” We would get the power to walk on water; to make bread appear out of thin air; to make “mountain”s move; to heal the sick and raise the dead; all the “works” that Jesus did, and “greater works than these”; “whosoever” “believes” or has “faith,” we were solemnly assured in churches, would get “whatever” we “ask.”
Our preachers made huge, enormous, gigantic promises, prophesies, to us. Of often, huge, amazing, incredible, physical miracles. And yet however, we have found over the centuries, that they do not seem quite as good as their word.
So what did our preachers then say? Next, after making many, many false promises, false prophesies? After many, many priestly promises, proved largely false, then a whole raft of possible explanations, excuses, were generated; dozens, hundred, millions of sermons were delivered to us. To try to assure us that if miracles were not arriving, it was because we needed to learn one more thing from the preacher; (and often, leave one more dollar in the collection plate.) Or finally, among other things, our preachers told us that even if we did not get “mere” physical things – like the food we needed to live – then after all, such things were unimportant; that Religion, Christianity, at least delivered, say, mental or “spiritual” things or sensations: “consolation,” “hope”; or taught us to “love” and have “faith.” And indeed in fact, as we look at our Bibles themselves, we find here that … the Bible itself, was re-written in such a way, that its own apparent promises of material things, miracles, could all be understood to be just … metaphors. Figures of speech. Allegories … for how preachers, by promising many things, could at least give us mental, spiritual things, like “hope.” But indeed finally, what is the “hope” that we get from false promises? But false hopes? “False dreams”?
And so what, who, do we see in priests, now? Are our preachers and holy men, quite as good, sacred, holy, perfect, as they proudly claimed to be? In fact, it rather appears now, in the end, that … all our preachers were “deceived,” “under a strong delusion” or “illusion” or “false dream” or “enchantment”; and they in turn, cast their “magic”al enchantment, on the rest of humanity. Though there is some vague truth to their dreams and promises, it was never quite what they promised. Indeed, those who relied on their promises, often came to grief, we found (in The Harm Done).
So what should we say, now, about our holy men? Our churches? In fact, there is, surprisingly, something in the Bible, that rather exactly fits what many of us are coming to see, here and now. A series of prophesies, on the End Time; the “day of the Lord”; the Apocalypse; the Second Coming or Pauousia; the “day” of “judge”ment.
What were all these End Time – or as scholars say, “eschatological” – prophesies about? Most preachers take them to be a very physical, material event, that will vindicate, reward priests: the “Lord” is to come to earth they say, to at last, reward the Religious, and punish the guilty. IN the End, God is supposed to destroy the “world” for its many evils; but then deliver a “new world.” On which heaven itself, the heavenly city of Jerusalem, God himself, will descend; to deliver to all faithful believers, all the miracles, the ideal “kingdom,” that were often promised “soon,” two and three thousand years ago. And of course, many of our preachers assume that they themselves, have been most true and faithful to God; and therefore, they themselves, and the churchgoers that follow them, are to be rewarded at last, by God. While everybody else will at last be punished.
That is what preachers seem to think. But actually, we will have been finding here, the priestly characterization of the End Time, is not quite what the Bible itself actually said. In fact, one day – as the Bible said dozens of times – we are
supposed to discover that 1) all our holy men were unreliable; that 2) the whole earth was deceived, under a strong delusion or enchantment, by false holy men (Rev. 13). And 3) on that “day,” not even so much the “world,” but our traditional “heaven” itself is supposed to “dissolve” (Isa. 34.4; Rev. 21; Mark 13.30; 2 Peter 3). But 4) all in order for us to see another, “second,” “full”er, more “mature” vision, Second Coming, of God. A God who does not deliver just empty promises or sermons; but real, material “prosperity”; a real, physical “kingdom.”
The End, therefore, is rather different than our preachers imagined, and preached; and it is not quite as good for preachers, as they thought. Indeed, our preachers were very vain and Proud; and imagined that they were “first” with God; and that the many everyday working, practical men and women, would be “last,” in the End. But indeed, just as the Bible said, the End Time brings about some surprising reversals, from what everyone – even our priests – thought. The priests that we thought were very “noble,” turn out to be “scoundrels”; the priests that we thought we “wise,” turn out to be not so wise, after all.
So what do we have now, in the end, in fact? Or in fact, what have we been doing here, in this very book? In part, it seems, our own intellectual journey, here, enacts, follows, the exact route of … the Day of the Lord. As we intellectually examine priests, we did indeed, 1) find our holy men to be often, “false.” Even 2) essentially all of them, all over the world. Finding specifically, their promises, prophesies of “miracles,” and even their “faith,” to be largely, or partially, false. And 3) as our priests are intellectually/spiritually exposed, their ideas, their ideals, their “heaven,” begin to “dissolve” in our mind’s eye. To 4) be replaced however, by a “second,” “full”er, better, more “mature” vision of God. Of 5) a God who urges us to learn to use, honor, practical knowledge, and science. (But to be sure, this does not mean to honor it in an exaggerated way, to treat it as just another religion: real science is also humble; always ready to acknowledge past errors).
And so in our intellectual voyage or progression here, we have it seems, passed through the Apocalypse itself perhaps. And have arrived at the Second Coming; the second and better vision of God.
Indeed, perhaps finally – likely in fact – the series of End Time prophesies of the Bible, were just metaphors … for growing up; or as Paul said, “matur”ing. Many preachers themselves, have at times referred to the process of “growing up in your faith.” But actually, that was not well said. Since real religion, is not really a “faith.” In fact, we have found here, over and over again God told us not to have too much “faith” at all; but to found religion, Christianity, on, explicitly, “science.” (Likely Paul referred only to the “faith,” specifically, in resurrection; he did not intend to use “faith” as a synonym for all of Christianity. Or if he did, then after all, Paul confessed that he himself was “not … perfect” when he wrote his half of the New Testament).
In fact, we suggest here, in our closing paper on metaphors, that the whole series of otherwise rather inexplicable and surreal End Time prophesies – especially the notion of a “Day” of the Lord, judgement day, an Apocalypse, and a Second Coming – can and should be read, primarily, as a metaphor. A metaphor for … growing up. Ceasing to be a “child.” Becoming “mature,” as Paul said. But to be sure, the day we grow up, is not “growing up in our faith,” as many preachers incorrectly say; it is at last … growing up beyond faith. Growing up to being a practical, realistic adult, with practical knowledge, and ultimately, the Science of God. The “Apocalypse,” is the “day” we become cognizant enough, to see sins and errors, in our holiest heros and angels. In their promises of miracles … and in their very faith and spirituality too.
The “Apocalypse” in fact is the key. Or rather, the key to the meaning of the Bible, and its End Time prophesies, is a moment in the Apocalypse that our preachers have not had the courage to “face” or “bear, even though it is mentioned in the Bible itself, dozens of times. And what is that absolutely crucial moment in Christian history? It is not the destruction not of the “world.” But rather, it is the destruction of … Heaven.
We have been speaking of metaphors here. So let us close by saying that the Apocalypse – especially, with its Destruction of Heaven – can best be seen, as a metaphor for growing up, or “matur”ing. For the “day” you stop believing in supernatural “miracles”; and blind “faith”; and begin to think with a rational, adult, logical, mind; the “mind of Christ.” And the day you grow up, is a shattering, dis”illusion”ing day of course; a day you see sins in all the adults, moral leaders, priests, that you thought were all but absolutely holy and good, and all powerful. (Cf. recent investigations of children discovering sins in their “infallible mother” at about the age of 4; as reported in the NY Times Review of Books, c. 2006/7). Yet shattering as this moment is – indeed, your very heavenly pantheon of saints and angels and heroes begins to dissolve – yet finally, in this very moment, by virtue of the very growing powers of observation that noted sins in your heros, you are also coming to have, after all, the more “mature,” logical, “knowledge”able mind; that allows you to be a responsible adult, hold down a job, and do effective, materially productive “work.” And thus, to get the material “prosperity” – and “fruits” – that God promised.
So amazingly, what we have done in our books here, painful as it is for the faithful, is really … justified in biblical terms at last, as fulfillment of biblical prophesy. Particularly, End Time, Day of the Lord, Judgement Day prophesy. The prophesies that told us that one “day” we are to see sins in basically “all” our holiest men and angels (“all have sinned”). And on that “day,” our traditional heaven itself is supposed to “dissolve” before our eyes. But if this is happening to you, even here and now, then after all, our religion is not destroyed, but “fulfilled,” and discharged. The Bible is not being found false; indeed, the Bible is coming true. But true in a way our priests have not, until now, understood. The destruction of heaven is upon us; but even now, we are getting a “second” and better vision of God and Good; of what the Bible itself, really said.
And what God, Good, are really like.
No doubt, to be sure, a God preoccupied just with material gain, here on this material earth, has its limitations; after all, we all materially die one day, and lose all obvious material things; as Ecclesiasticus and Paul were fond of noting. So that to be sure, Old Testament materialism, has its limitations. And therefore, we might look for something better; something that continues on after our deaths. For this reason, Plato and Paul and others, began to look at the possiblity that we had a soul or spirit; that might live on after our physical deaths. And to be sure, as we will see – in our later writings on Immorality and Resurrection – even in the Old Testament, there were some seemingly non-material things that live on after our deaths; our “name” and “seed”; our reputation and ideas or spirit, and our DNA or biological children, descendants. Yet as we will be seeing, even these “spiritual” things, whatever life after death we enjoy, will now suddenly be seen to be far more physical and materially real, than most priests knew. In fact we will find, the sciences of Anthropology, of Biology, as used by the Science of God, tell us that many of our ideas, if they are good, can live on after us, by way of Culture. While many of our traits, likewise, live on through Biology, our children, our DNA. Which can survive, if they are survivable, until a better world comes; this world improves, etc..
Thus as it turns out, the seemingly rather extreme this-world orientation of materialism, can however finally, begin to be able to speak of material self-sacrifice, for some kind of transcendent realities, that are “transcendent” indeed, in that they live on past our own immediate material lives; surviving to the world that comes after our deaths. At the same time though, we will be finding that even what was called our spiritual transcendence, survive by way of – or are manifested now, in the second vision of God, in – material things.
At first, many might be disappointed to see our formerly grand and proud ideas of a spiritual reality totally beyond matter, suddenly tied to, “poured” over, mere material “flesh” and matter around us. Others of us though, will not be disappointed at all; to see “spirit” become “flesh,” to see spirit begin to come down to earth again, after all. To see even spirit, become real, material, again.
As we will be seeing in our next books, on Resurrection and Immortality, as real material things. (As others have also done).
END OF BOOK
Who Was the Old Testament God?
An Agricultural Over “Lord”
Many spiritual people are disappointed, when the science of God conceptually ties grand spiritual ideas, to mere, “mundane,” material things here on this earth. But actually, the material world that we live in today, for now, would seem like the promised incredible miraculous world to come, by many ancient people; a people that (as we do now) fly to the heavens in rockets for example, would have seemed like angels, to ancient people. And many ancients might even almost accept our own (for the moment) relatively peaceful and incredibly powerful civilization, as “fulfillment” of ancient promises of a great (if not to be sure ideal) “kingdom” of Good on earth. Indeed in any case, all the “signs” and evidence is, that ancient promises, prophesies of an ideal kingdom, are to be reached largely by … practical knowledge. To be sure, life here and now, is not yet absolutely perfect; and we cannot be sure future disasters do not await us. Yet science and technology, despite occasional misuse, seem to be the route by which the old promises are best realized. Moderated to be sure perhaps, by religious morality, and some small sacrifice to support for transcendent things that come after us (like our children, our culture).
Many old prophesies, miracles, in fact, seem to be fairly substantially reached, by practical things. Among other things, now, we see a “spiritual” thing, a “miracle” like “speaking in tongues,” find a natural material referent, an effective embodiment, resurrection, even here and now in real life; as we understand speaking in tongues, as speaking different languages; which furthermore, give us real power; the power to communicate to almost everyone, all over the earth. Which finally begins to fulfill prophesy in two ways and more: 1) conceptually, we are seeing …. spirit and earth, word and world, religion and science … coming together again. As we see how old magical ideas are actually, conceptually linked to a material thing on this earth; translation. And 2) we saw prophesy partially fulfilled in yet another way …; we are suddenly able to assume, exercise more “powers,” “wonders,” on the earth: when the disciples and others, initially used their multi-cultural (Greco-Roman-Jewish-Samaritan) background and multi-linguistic expertise, to successfully spread the word all over the earth, all flesh, all nations.
So though at first, conceptually linking spiritual or religious ideas, to material realities, in the way our science does, might seem reductionistic or debunking at first, actually, what we do can be justified as partial fulfillment of many prophesies in the Bible. Just as some spirit began to meet material means in the time of Peter, so too, those of us who now begin to see the ties between miracles, and material things, are also beginning to further fulfill prophesy. As it turns out, those of us who can, first of all, conceptually(/”spiritually”) tie matter, to spirit, by means of the science of God, are 3) helping God come down to earth again; finding a body, flesh, again. Finding not just the church, but helping locate, fix, anchor, the spirit, our formerely scizophrenically detached, floating, heavenly, spiritual vision of God, back into the material universe again. Thus among other things, 4) redeeming in principle, giving transcendental purpose, to the whole “world,” the whole of material things, once again; finding God not just in a) a human body, but also b) a God … no long eminent, but immanent in “all things” again. In heaven “and earth.” So we have God, on earth again. In things materially “good.”
Redeeming the earth again, in this way, when we see God, the Bible, in concrete everyday things around us, now, we see prophesy being partially fulfilled; heaven is descending to earth. And 5) it is thanks to the science of God that this begins; it is by the science of God, we are given the authorization and vision, to see God, good, in the ordinary material life around us.
But how 6) do we get this to succeed? How do we convince our perennially, perpetually over-spiritual priests? Perhaps all this must be dramatized to them; as after all, the Second Coming, the Second and better vision of God.
And 7) what happens next, once we “refine” our priests, and teach them to respect the material world again? Then after all, they can begin to see the material gains from even many “spiritual” things. And thus they can share in the fruits of science; instead of the sterility of endless praying.
Humble as our science is, science overall has proven so much more fruitful than our spiritual priests. (Or about as fruitful; cf. the function of spirit, in our writings on Immortality, and morality as the basis of civil behavior, and civilization; with its great productivity). And thus, science has proven to be as much – or more – from God, than our preachers’ proud and vain over-spirituality, and proud pronouncements of their own perfection.
To be sure, no doubt, the way we see the fulfillment of prophesies – as of a better world to come – is not at first, as grand or as supernatural as our grandiose preachers thought. Indeed, the realization of prophesy, is found in a number of seemingly humble, everyday realities; like learning another language. But after all, by way of such humble, carpenter-like, agronomist-like skills, what is even everyday, common, today – submarines, airplanes, rocket ships, computers, modern medicine, modern agriculture – would have seemed miraculous, wonderful, long ago. And these things are therefore, no negligible achievement. But are the partial fulfillments of ancient promised wonders, powers.
Indeed, what contemporary society, science, practical knowledge, has achieved, especially in moments of peace, is almost already wonderful enough, to be considered partial fulfillment of ancient Judeo-Christian prophesy, we will see, for a truly humble person. Especially when we will show that finally, there is even a kind of real immortality, by way of all this. So that ironically, it is not so much our priests and praying that have shown the best “signs” of being from God; but technology and science and practical knowledge. Though to be sure, such things need the guidance of a practical moral mind. (Though even here, our priests were not whole).
In any case, the proven history of science and technology, is already a massively important development, and an increase in prosperity. And given that past proven (if not “perfect”) record of “fruits,” “works,” “signs,” “deeds,” “proofs,” what has “prov”ably “come to pass” in real life over the last several thousand years, therefore, whatever the present-day science lacks, we have a very reasonable hope, it can (with our own strenuous efforts) make up, in further improvements, in the future.
So that we should now put our hope and faith, not as formerly, in the all-but blind faith of priests, but in the science of God. Which actually, finally, gives us the first glimpses, signs, of the second and better vision of the Lord and good; here on earth. As we are beginning to see, here.
To be sure of course, science and technology now and then make mistakes; but so do priests. And we are all now learning to be humble, anticipate mistakes, and correct them. Two steps forward, one step back; on to making the world a better place to live, after all. And realizing step by step, parts of an ideal kingdom for all, here on earth again.
As foretold, as authorized, as commanded, by God.
The Real Core, Material Meaning
Of Judaism and Christianity;
The Early Deification of a Farmer/Land “Lord”
(Expanded from “Harm Done”?)
What do we now see, as the real core of Judaism and Christianity? What does the core of Christianity look like, from the “new” perspective of natural Christianity, science? In fact, what is … God?
Let our preachers look at what they told us themselves, first of all. Our priests often told us basically that the essence of Christianity, is to love or honor “the Lord”; and to obey his rules or commandments – and if we do that, then the “lord” will reward us with prosperity, wonders. So that actually, all along, real Christianity promised real material results.
To be sure, our priests did not really know how to get the material results promised; because they knew so little about material reality, that it all seemed like a surreal, magical process. They thought that we just prayed, and were mentally or spiritually good, and then things appeared magically, out of thin air. But thus were all our priests deceived, as foretold, by magicians; magical thinking; enchantments and delusions. But now we can begin to dis-enchant our priests; and teach them real reality; how it really works. By showing them that actually, just hopes and prayers, were only part of what you need to be good; you also needed practical knowledge and practical work. Though to be sure, priests, clerics, could be to a degree, intellectual/mental/spiritual specialists, on the other hand, they would always be limited in their perspective, never quite capable of see the “full” vision of God, to the extent that they did not enlarge their perspective, to see the full equation, the full formula, the fuller vision of God. The larger vision which will, because of their provinciality, have been obscure; and which, on being shown to them, will seem to be perhaps, a dramatic, entire, Second Coming.
And so more specifically, we might look finally, at what our God the “Lord” himself, might really look like, when viewed in material terms; as a metaphor or “figure” for … things we find in nature and real life. We have looked at “tongues” and “wonders” and many different specific things in religion. But suppose now, we begin to look at “God” himself; let’s look at the “Lord,” more specifically. In material terms.
First of all, probably his major name, is the “Lord” or LORD. And he often demands that we give him our “fruits,” “sacrifices.” So let’s now look for something on earth that corresponds to that.
Suppose we begin to look indeed, very closely at … what the Bible said about “fruits” specifically; and this means, on the material level, the fruits, the crops, of agriculture; “shepherds” and “farming” and “sowing” and real “fruit” and so forth. Like this:
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mat. 9. 37).
“Beware of false prophets … You will know them by their fruits” (Mat. 7.15).
For centuries, many of our priests have said this demand for “fruits” were “just” spiritual allegories, spiritual metaphors. Yet remember that finally, God is very angry, at those who think that all these things are merely mental, spiritual (as in Ezekiel); while James began to see that a religion that only delivers spiritual things is not enough. Indeed, real Christianity was always supposed to get real, material – not just spiritual – results. And as it turns out, when our “lord” asked for “fruits,” he often meant just, good, healthy, material, literal, food. Sometimes, even actual fruit: like grapes, and so forth.
So indeed, let’s take a long hard look particularly, at the passages where a “lord” is promising to guide us to “fruits.” As it turns out, originally this most often meant, real, literal, agricultural crops: often literal fruit. Like grapes, wheat, and so forth. Or at its most metaphorical, more cattle calving, or more material children, and so forth. Things that are to happen moreover, not in heaven one day, but here on earth, in a very material way:
“The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground; for the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments…. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us…?’… but the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey … you shall live and multiply” (Deut. 30.8, 11, 15).
“There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination…” (Deut. 18. 10-12; cf. Abraham and Jesus, sacrifice of sons).
“And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ – the a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18.21-22).
“Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing [rain?]. I will rebuke the devourer [locust] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not fair to bear…'” (Mal. 3.10-11).
“And you shall not set up a pillar, which the LORD your God hates” (Deut. 16.22).
Then our fruits can even be turned into, sold for, “money,” which the LORD also often likes:
“Then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses, and spend the money for whatever you desire, oxen, or sheep, or wine and strong drink, whatever your appetite craves; and you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice…. At the end of every three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your produce in the same year, and lay it up within your towns; and the Levite … shall come and eat and be filled; that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do” (Deut. 14.25, 28-29).
The fact is, originally, good religion, a Lord that is good and real, is supposed to create … real material results. And most specifically often, good agricultural crops. Often, real, literal, eatable, fruit. And in effect we will see, the predominant vision of God we see in the Bible, is creator not even so much of “heaven,” as of the “earth.” A God that promised real material “prosperity” – even more food – here on this material earth. And the way it was achieved, was largely by practical work in the fields, farming, as we will see. While in fact, we will find eventually, the God, the “Lord” of most of the Old Testament, was basically, an agricultural over”lord.”
In the past, our priests overlooked and even denigrated, disobeyed, this side of God; God here being too simply materialistic, for our priests, one guesses. But in fact, the core meaning of Christianity here, is just this: follow the lord, his rules … and in reward, get real, actual agricultural fruit. Some of which you are to return to the lord, in payment for his protection and guidance.
In fact, lets carry this a step further; not only is the “fruit” we are supposed to produce, normally just food; but every other major aspect of Judaism, and Christianity – like our “sacrifices” to the “lord” – are found here to be a reflection/deification of … the simple facts of (especially but not solely, early agricultural) civilization. Especially, the over-“lord” guides farmers and so forth; so that in return, as payment, tribute, tax – the primary meaning of “sacrifices” – farmers and shepherds present a portion of their crops to a central “lord,” in harvest time, or the “feast of booths.” And by the way, at this time, we are “judged” to be good or bad, according to how many “fruits” we are able to produce and give the Lord.
This can be seen in parts of the Bible, like these:
“You shall count seven weeks; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you first put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the feast of weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you…” (Deut. 16.9).
“You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you make your ingathering from your threshing floor and your wine press…. The LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands…. Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place which he will choose: at the fest of unleavened bread, at the fest of weeks, and at the fest of booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you. You shall appoint judges” (Deut. 16.13,15-18).
The fact is therefore, the core material reality of much of religion, including Judeo-Christianity-Islam, from the days of the priest-kings of the first civilization in Mesopotamia, has actually been an outline of the material basis of agricultural civilization itself: the basic founding principles of … an agricultural economy; a) producing real actual physical fruit, or crops; b) thanks in part to the direction and protection of a central “lord.” And then … c) presenting some of the fruits of their labor, as payment for his services, to the local ruler, landlord,” or “Lord.”
From the days of Abraham, and Joseph, and Moses – who had worked as a (probably in part, agricultural) overseer for the Pharaoh – and David, the core dream of vision, especially, was storing food, to help starving people in lean years. (See Joseph “interpreting” a “dream” in Gen. 41.15 – 42.9). And that vision or understanding, is a large part of what makes many early lords great; it is because that mental vision is an outline, that grasps, outlines, the basic principles of agriculture; the agriculture that creates and feeds a nation; that keeps it alive. In general, the vision is this: everyone in the country, must obey a central authority or “lord”; who guides them, oversees them, and protects them with civic works, an army, laws, and so forth; while in exchange for that, his – in effect, roughly tenant farmer or manorial fiefdom – subjects, in turn, give their “lord” tribute or taxes, sacrifices; giving him the “first fruits” of their agricultural crops, and so forth, at set intervals throughout the year, around harvest times (festival of booths, etc.). At that time, on those “days,” bringing their fruits or sacrifices to the Lord their god, they are judged as having met their obligations, having shown enough fruits, or not. In any case, a certain percentage of their crops went to Lord and his clerks or clerics – priests – as tribute, “tithe,” or “sacrifice.” Some of which were consumed as payment for the supervision and guidance of the Lord, the protection of his armies and so forth.
That is the general outline of what most the Bible – and especially its end times prophesies, of “judgement” day, the “day of the Lord,” being judged by our “fruits” – was really about.
More specifically though, much of it was also about learning to store food for the winter, and for lean times. Some of which was taken into his “storehouse” or granaries (Mal. 3 above), to be held by the Lord for “lean years,” or times of famine. At which time, the Lord might release some of his grain – or “bread” – in “lean” years (Gen. 41.27), to feed his starving subjects, and “save” them from starvation. Hence the importance of storehouses in the Bible.
To be sure, these very, very material truths, were later metaphoricalized, spirituality, by the new Testament. Yet originally, they were far more literally, materially true. Abraham was a literal “shepherd,” with literal goats and sheep; and we were told to store our fruits not in “heaven,” but in silos. So that indeed, the New Testament very significantly turned away from the Old Testament God, and material sense. When it took all these things are being almost solely spiritual metaphors; and lost sight of the practical material reality behind them. (Our priests thus becoming “blind.” “Who is as blind as the servant of the Lord,” indeed, today).
If you had a good, real lord, the advantages of obeying a central “lord” or “god,” a centralized agricultural economy, were considerable; the lord god would run schools and temples to train people in “wisdom,” “knowledge”; and have armies and overseers to protect and “save” them from enemies and pests and starvation. Then too, specifically, of course, among many other things he did, the “lord” would often rather directly feed – give real actual “bread” to, or meat or “flesh” – especially of course, his own a) “household” of the “lord,” often as his own “table.” Many rewards went specifically and foremost then to those immediately around the Lord himself; the overseers and immediate household of his “kingdom.”
But then benefits also those who ate at the mess-halls of his armies, and those who worked in his temples and scriptoria and schools: his clerks, or clerics. Who would at times, share their meals even with the Lord in person, face-to-face; or at least eat his “bread” in his household kitchen or mess hall. But then too again, if your Lord god was truly good, it was not only the lord’s immediate household that benefited; but though their guidance, the whole country.
The New Testament God;
The Clerk’s “Word” God
That was the original truth of our religion. But over time, the accounts, the history of the Lord, were written down … and passed partially, into the hands of clerks, clerics. Whose perspective on the Lord, and the “full” scope of his activities, was in some ways remarkably accurate. But finally the perspective of clerics on the Lord, was note quite as broad as it ought to have been; our clerics being, like all professions, limited by their “deformation professionale,” as they say in French; by the small part of the economy that their job is concentrated on. And from the perspective of the priest, the clerics, it was all about “words,” not “works”; and “scripture.” The job of the cleric in ancient times, was reading and writing; clerics were often among the only 2-5% of the population that was literate, that could read and write. And the job of clerics was originally, clerical: writing records for the king, and reading his laws, in temples and courts and schools, to the masses; who could not read or write on their own. For them, from the perspective of their job, the whole world, the earth, looked like this: you learn to quiet your youthful “passions” and “lusts” for action and fun, and sat down quietly in the schools or temple schools, to listen to rote lessons, of ancient wisdom, the “Lord”s “knowledge; especially, learning to read writings, or “scripture.” If you did that, if you yourself followed the rules – and taught, evangelized the scriptural “word,” the knowledge, to others, in temples and so forth – then, in exchange just for that, the Lord would see to it, that you could work in his household, and get “bread,” meals, even meat or the Lord’s “flesh,” and wine, in his messhall; or even at his own personal table. All without doing so much physical work, as mental, spiritual works: reading and writing. Indeed, the cleric scarcely needed to learn much of anything about practical life, and where his “bread” came from; growing real fruit and bread and so forth; the agricultural overseers took care of that. And so the whole life-world of the cleric, was pretty simple: learn, obey, spread, “scripture,” the “word” of the “Lord”; and if you did that, then “bread” would appear on your table, seemingly by magic; by direct action of the Lord. Merely from learning, saying, saving “word”s.
And that is the theology or vision of the Lord, that we get from clerics, priests, to this very day. The relationship of a temporal “lord” to his clerics specifically, in fact is the underlying core of especially, the New Testament, as our preachers perceived it. That is to say in yet another way: the Christianity we got in church, was often the truth or economic situation of the cleric: the good cleric, who learned to read and write, and to read and then proclaim the laws and sayings of the lord to the people in public temples or courthouses, in exchange for that, would get “bread”
or food rations, from the lord; even be allowed to eat his ration of bread or food, in the lord’s mess hall, as part of the “kingdom”; or even – if he was important enough, knowledgeable enough in “science” and so forth (Dan. 1.4-15) – take bread at the table of the lord himself; as part of the royal “household,” an intimate part of his “kingdom.”
Ancient, Old Testament religion therefore, was based mostly on a) the deification of the relationship that founded, civilization; the landlord”/farmer shepherd tenant, economy. Christianity itself comes from a codification, a deification, of the material beginnings of Civilization, in centralized agriculture. Which they say began in Mesopotamia, expanding under the Manorial/”House” system, and Feudalism. Obedience, payment/”sacrifice” to the local lord, brought “prosperity.” The hundreds of farming references in the Bible especially, were not incidental; they were the material based of it all. No doubt, early Jews, the first Jewish man or “Adam” (“man”; or “name” in Turkish), learned agriculture from Mesopotamians; stealing, poaching from a “Garden” in Mesopotamia as children, they finally took one too many fruits, and were ejected from it, and told to learn to farm, on their own.
Indeed, a smooth- functioning, centrally controlled economy or farmer tenant/landlord, and/or manorial system, is the physically functional, core truth, of Judeo-Christianity, and of civilization. It is what feeds us. It is what keeps us physically alive. Judeo-Christianity, therefore, was really a somewhat misty but discernible outline, of the core, practical principles necessary, for a centrally-controlled agricultural economy; the basis of early civilization. Obey the land “lord”; when harvest times come, give him part of your crops, your fruits, as tribute, sacrifice, tax, payment; in return for the use of the land, or the protection, of the Lord.
Mundane is this might seem, this system has been some time so important however, so central, as to be sacred. It is what feeds us, and keeps us alive. Whether it was a patriarch father of an extended household, guiding his sons (q.v. Bible), or over the centuries, a similarly paternal relationship between in effect, the land “lord” and early tenant-farmers, and “vassals” and “serfs” and bondsmen and “subject” and “followers,” and clerks or clerics, priests, this relationship was made remained rather idealized; serving as the model for a religion of the “Lord,” your God. While it remained through Medieval times.
Yet to be sure, as time went on, knowledge passed more and more into books, it also passed into the hands of clerics, clerks, “scribes.” And when that happened, often our clerics were a little limited in their perspective; they did not fully understand, or fully respresent, the whole picture, of the Lord, and all that he knew and commanded. (See indeed, Biblical complaints about “scribes” and “priests,” vs. the “lord” demanding real “fruits”).
And indeed, as the clerical profession became narrower and narrower, more and more concentrated just on scribal rules and so forth, on more and more mental/”spirit”ual activities, its perspective on the “lord” narrowed to the point that … it was grossly narrow and incomplete. Even as it vainly, proudly, claimed to be “all” we need in life.
And that is the problem that we have now to take care of. To return our clerics to a wider, “full”er vision of God, of the Lord. One which recovers his engagement particularly, in material affairs; with the material “world.” And not just the cleric’s world of books or scripture, the “word.”
This return, is so dramatic no doubt, that for many, it represents not just an “apocalyptic” demolition of many of their old ideas, their old heaven; but in effect also, a “second” and dramatic new vision of God. Though it is really just in large part a return, after all, of the old God.
But can our spiritual priests today, really see or accept God as a person, or an entity, issuing not just “word”s or sermons, but doing real material deeds, on earth, say? To be sure, this will be hard for preachers. Can our priests now learn to respect, “love,” the material “world” or “earth”? And cease despising the “flesh” in the sense of our own bodies (see NAB glossary)? And especially, can priests and believers, even learn to see God, good, in the material world around them? In some way other than supernatural “miracles”? And can they even see God, or Good, in someone in the “flesh” around them?
One would think, that our priests are somewhat prepared for this. They have been prepared for the Second Coming; to see their Lord God descend from heaven, to the earth, after all. But are they prepared to see that this moment happens at least in preview, and even in substance, to each of us individually? When the over-spiritual, over-clerical, over-faithful person learns the broader, “full”er, “second” perspective of … the science of God? When an individual man or woman learns in effect, what the lord knew: that if the whole man does not live by bread alone, neither does he live by spirit alone, either. That if the over-materialistic man is not whole, neither is the over-spiritual man, either. The LORD God, Christ, though one of his functions was of a “priest,” also had many other titles and functions than a priest; wider responsibilities and knowledge. He is not only a sort of head priest, like Christ; but also a “king” and a “lord.” A practical overseer of practical affairs.
God was bigger than our priests saw. But here at last, we will have shown here, the main side our God had, that our clerics did not fully see, or obey; which was once again, God’s immense investment in the physical, material universe. Which is outlined best, currently, not by priests, but by practical men and women, and scientists.
Though to be sure, scientists and practical “worldly” men have their limitations too, still, what they do is definitely the major part of what God wants. And therefore, no cleric can ever really know God, unless he knows much practical knowledge and science; and regularly integrates them continually, into his own job and theology. (As we do in Religious Studies, biblical scholarship). Unless and until all our clerics learn to radically change their church services, to become both far more humble, and far more practical, far less dogmatic about God, then we would have to say they are, and never rarely been, really whole or holy. Our clerics have been narrow, provincial specialists, who do not represent the “Lord” very well at all; and they should therefore cease representing themselves firmly, or even allowing themselves to be perceived as, as his spokesmen; as being themselves the voicepieces of God; even all “holy,” “sacred,” or “perfect”; even our best priests have been very, very, very far from that. Indeed, bad as they have always been, perhaps our priests should cease even mentioning the name of the Lord, whose name and Nature they constantly misrepresented; but should instead confess that from the beginning, the great wise men, we will see, even their own role models, were not priests, or prophets, but were really, deeper down, merely good “farm”ers.
Can our conservative, tradition-loving priests learn to see this? The fact is, remember: the original fathers, or the original conservative priests, were the Pharisees; and precisely the nature of their sin, was that they had trouble respecting God or the Lord … when he appeared, as material, everyday; in a form as mundane, as the son of a “carpenter.” Indeed, our first conservative priests, did not accept it, in 30 AD, when a mere walking, talking man like Jesus, claimed to be a lord, even son of God. For that – for trying to assert godhead in a material being here on this earth – priests – and “scribes,” fixated on the “letter of the law,” on things in writing but without practical sense of the world, on their tradition; and executed Jesus. In part for daring to say or imply that he, a mere walking, talking man (on one level), a man in the “flesh,” was actually, something “God”like. One who moreover, would at times go against the old holy things that were “written” or “said,” when actual experience showed that those words did not work in real, material, daily life. Like the absolute prohibition on working on a Sunday; which Jesus said would be find, since in daily life, most people did it anyway. When someone has a lamb that is lost and trapped on a Sunday, would you not work to save it? So if Jesus and his men picked corn on a Sunday – worked; even on a Sunday – was that so wrong, asked Jesus.
Can we modify even holy words, commands not to work, according to practical experience? Jesus did. But to be sure, conservative, spiritual, self-righteous, anti-“work,” word-oriented, priests in the past – Pharisees – killed Jesus. It was more than anyone else, the conservative, scribal priests, the ones that fixated on scripture, the letter of the “law”; the ones that would not allow written holy books to be overruled by practical experience … that killed Jesus. More specifically, they killed Jesus for precisely this limitation in their own thinking: they a) could not see or acknowledge God in physical form, as being a being in Nature; as, in one respect, a mere material human man, on this material earth. And b) they would not allow Jesus to make practical modifications of old holy rules written down in holy books.
So can our conservative priests today, admit – any more than their predecessors the Pharisees, seeing God in a seemingly ordinary “flesh”ly human being in the “world”? Will they be able indeed, ever be able to see the son of “Man” (meaning, likely, “mortal”)? To see and acknowledge as God, a mere son of a “carpenter”?
Will our preachers, with their grandiose promises of supernatural miracles, ever be able to humbly see miracles, Gods, as physical events, here on this earth? They could not see it centuries ago, when Jesus first came to earth as a mere man; indeed, the priests executed him for in part, the heresy of claiming to be God in “flesh.” As a mere man walking on the earth. So let us begin to examine our preachers today; to see if our conservative preachers today are any better than their predecessors, the “scribes and Pharisees.” To see if they can today acknowledge what appears to be a material man on earth, concerned with things on this earth or world … as a manifestation of God.
Our many proud, very spiritual, supernaturalist spiritualist priests of course, make Christianity out to be far, far more than this. Much too grand to be found in mundane things. No doubt, many spiritual preachers cannot face or accept a religion, a Christianity, that stresses material things as the great gains from God; or sees “miracles” as being about normal/ scientific/ technological things. No doubt, our proud ministers will find this sense of Christianity, to be far too mundane; too humble. But remember a) all the times that God promised material things. And remember their importance.
b) And remember too, the reaction of the priestly community – of the scribes and Pharisees or priests – when indeed, Jesus himself appeared on earth as … a mere man, in the “flesh.” c) Remember too, that the religious conservatives of his time – among others, the Pharisees and others – found Jesus too mundane, too practical, too everyday. His own home town remembered him as a “carpenter’s son” … and rejected him:
” ‘Is this not the carpenter’s son?…’ And they took offense at him…. ‘A prophet is not without honor in his own country and in his own house.’ And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Mat. 13.55, 57-8
Can our priests face a God that a) was related to a long series of farmers and agricultural overseers? A b) Jesus that advocated science? A c) son of “man,” a mortal that gets most of his material results, not by supernatural wonders or miracles, but by actual material work (laying on hands: setting bones and so forth)? It was not just the people that hated Jesus in fact; it was more than anyone, the priests.
So our priests have always been over-spiritual; and have always had a very, very strong prejudice against materiality, “flesh”; they have often “hate”e to see good, God, in material things, a material body. To the point that they will accuse of heresy and have executed, any mere physical being, who claims to be strongly connected to – to even be – God himself. And so, can two billion Christians, who were trained to see Jesus as the Son of “God,” bear to see him return as the Son of ... “Man”?
(Probably meaning mortal? Not Ezekiel; also called Son of Man, also told to speak in riddles?). No doubt, after centuries of radically, unbalanced, over-spiritual leadership from priests, it will be very, very hard, once again, for our priests and the people, to see good, God, in a mere physical man. Or harder, in material “prosperity.” And it will be very, very difficult again, for them to see a greater good than even in priests; in say, the humble farmer, and his practical knowledge and work. Or in the honest mechanic, or businessman, or scientist. Yet finally, we are now showing our priests, in the end indeed, it is not the one-sidedly spiritual man, but even more the humble, mortal, practical, materially productive man – especially in the old days, the good honest farmer, say, or literal “shepherd”; and the practical agricultural “lord” – who was actually, a better man than a priest. Even according to the Bible itself.
Indeed, a practical agricultural lord, seems to have been the model for much of how God himself was pictured in the Bible. Indeed, Anthropology confirms that our core myths and legends and religions and holy days, are at root, based around agricultural harvests; and explaining the virtues and timing of organized agriculture, and its harvests, and payments or “sacrifices” to the “lord”s or agricultural overseers. While amazingly, this proves remarkably true of Christianity, too. As can be seen particularly clearly, in the book of Deuteronomy.
No doubt this is painful. Basically we here see God – and especially the End Time, the Day of the Lord – as being a) a metaphor for the day we grow up, and discover the science of God; and the day that we are supposed to be materially productive. But also b) we now add, that all that comes to a head, one “day” or another a year – or later, metaphoricalized to the end of time. When we are called before God, to present our “fruits,” and be “judged” according to them. A scenario that had a very concrete reality, in ancient agricultural states, above.
Can preachers “face” this God? Is this too mundane? Too “worldly”? Is this not as grand as the huge, gigantic proud promises of our preachers and “prophets,” of a gigantic God offering gigantic supernatural miracles?
If so, then let us note still one more “end time” prophesy, that is fulfilled, when someone at last faces this. Let us begin to close, with a biblical passage; one where a) finally God speaks firmly against the “prophets” above; and b) where God actually, tells us that in the end, the prophets will be made to confess that they were deep down at best, mere farmers, mere “tillers of the soil.” While also by the way – c – as for those who pose as such holy men, even as “shepherds,” but who do not produce real material results? God says, note, finally, on the “day,” he will “strike” prophtes – even such a shepherd, even one standing right next to God himself. And “pierce” him. Until he confesses he is, or his roots are, just a “tiller of the soil”:
“On that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more; and also I will remove from the land the prophets and the unclean spirit. And if any one again appears as a prophet, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD’; and his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies. On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; he will not put on a hairy mantle in order to deceive [cf. wolves in sheeps’ clothing; and Able], but he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a tiller of the soil; for the land has been my possession since my youth. And if any one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ He will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’ … Behold, a day of the LORD is coming” (Zech. 13.2-7, 9, 14.1).
In the end then, this is the moment of awful realization we are supposed to come to. That our holiest prophets should have been ashamed of their visions, their prophesies; so that each holy man should see that he himself at best, was merely a farmer, a tiller of the soil.” And confirming that, above we have just found that our prophets – even our God – appear to have focused mainly around farming. No doubt then, our prophets were at best indeed farmers, tillers of the soil; particularly since their God is essentially, an agricultural over-“Lord.”
But now, here is the question: can our very proud, spiritual holy men, our preachers, ever see and confess, their link to the soil? To this material earth? Can they even specifically, confess links between their alleged wonderful spiritual things, to realities as mundane, as humble, as agriculture? Can priests confess their relation to as humble a being, as a mere carpenter or a farmer? Can they see that their highest prophets after all, were “tillers of the soil”? No doubt, to learn to see this is extremely deflating, dis “illusion”ing and dis “enchanting.” But after all, one “day,” we are supposed to discover that our grand Religion was basically a magical “illusion”; so that being dis”illusion”ed is a good thing. And if all this disillusionment and deflation is extremely painful? Then after all, they are supposed to be painfully “pierce”d through, in the end. (Cf. Jesus himself? Pierced on the cross). So that at last they become ashamed of themselves. And then our holy men are to finally confess: “I am no prophet, I am a tiller of the soil.”
In any case, the bulk of the Bible’s idea of God, and especially of God on the “day” of the Lord, Judgement Day, seems to be based on good, effective … agricultural overseers. And often specific figures, specific names in the Bible fit this: a) God of Genesis, keeper, overseer, of a “garden”; the Garden of Eden. b) Abraham, shepherd. Then c) Moses; overseer of works for the Pharaoh; and d) David, once literally a shepherd. And then more remotely, many might say, e) Jesus; often referred to, but only metaphorically, as a “shepherd” with “sheep,” meaning though now, only a preacher leading followers. But to be sure, those who followed Jesus lost the material side of all this; and took it all too metaphorically, spiritually. So let us remember that f) any second coming or “parousia,” “appearance,” of God, Christ to earth, is likely to focus rather more, once again, on real material prosperity. And the practical knowledge and work that gets us there.
While indeed, that is what we are doing, here and now.
The Material Function of
“Love Your Neighbor”
Here, we will have found that God was rather materialistic, scientific; but most priests are radically, fatally, over-spiritual. And so we find now that priests and churches, desperately need to turn away from the extreme spirituality that dominated them in the past, toward material sense, and the science of God; and just plain science and common sense.
Is there any room at all, for a spiritual person, or a single spiritual moment, in all this? Here, we have had to rigorously fight the radical and fatal over-spirituality of preachers. To try to get our preachers to learn to see the importance of what they usually ignore or deny: the material world. But to be sure, finally, we might allow that there are some spiritual things that might have a place in all of this; because some mental, spiritual qualifies, do have some material fruits. Consider finally, the material productivity of at least one spiritual virtue. Of indeed, the virtue that Jesus and Paul identified with (even as, in Paul) the core command of Judaism and Christianity: “love your neighbor as yourself.”
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat. 19.19, Mark 12.31-3; Luke 10.27; cf. 5.4).
“‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12.31-3 RSV; “and the second is like” AKJV).
“A new commandment I give to you, that your love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13.34, 15.12).
“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning…. Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him… He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still” (says John, not Jesus, in 1 John 2.7, 8-9).
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John 4.20).
“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another” (Gal. 5.13-15; cf. Eucharist, communion).
“He who loves God should love his brother also’ (John 4.21).
“He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13.8).
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5.14; James 2.8).
“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10.29; Good Samaritan).
Paul for once, was right; as it turns out, the command “love your neighbor as yourself” as Paul implied (in one reading), is really the core commandment of all of Judaism and Christianity. But such spirituality is not an end in itself; here and now, at last, we can show how that “spirit”ual quality, that morality, really does lead to material prosperity.
Recall first, how Christianity works, on a material level. What was Christianity really about, deep down? On a rooted, physically responsible, material level? Like most ancient religions, it was basically about the “mysteries” of agriculture (and then the trades); and especially about a, specifically, centrally-controlled agricultural economy; the first model for Civilization. (Likely, many ancient Greco-Roman “Mysteries” groups, were centered around the then-mysterious knowledge of various trades; especially the then-mysterious knowledge of agriculture; see the myth of Persephone and so forth; as being about life going on underground in the winter; coming up in the spring). Now in fact, we can describe the functional core of Judaism and Christianity: in the first, ancient civilizations proper, the people were mostly farmers; who were somewhat centrally organized by several rulers, from the “father” of the family or clan, to, above him, this or that or “lord.” These “Lord”s – often seen as gods – maintained in effect, some central government; the “lord” especially maintaining the granaries, taxes, armies, and so forth (Mal. 3). In some cases, the “Lord” would actually (claim to) own the land; and to just let the other farmers and shepherds use it; often in a sort of landlord/tenant-farmer relationship. Specifically, we assert here, this is the meaning of many “end time” and final “day” prophesies: in exchange for the services, protection of the local “Lord” and his armies and the benefits of his central governance, one “day,” once or twice a year or so at least – especially around harvest times – the farmer/shepherd tenants and other subjects, were supposed to bring to the “lord,” or his clerks/clerics, some payment, tribute, tax, or sacrifice. Which often meant their actual material “fruit,” or crops; as “sacrifice” to the LORD; and payment for whatever they owed to the lord in exchange for his protection (and threats); for his “saving” them from starvation and so forth. Essentially therefore, the core idea of Christianity – the idea that we plead or pray and “sacrifice,” to the “LORD,” to get “prosperity” and be “saved,” is a “confus”ed “tongues,” somewhat metaphoricalized, universalized /spiritualized version of … what we might call roughly, early proto-feudalistic, manorial, agricultural tribute systems.
That was in fact, we say here, the real basis and wisdom, of Judeo-Christianity. And it was materially functional; when things went well, it did produce the promised material “prosperity” to a degree (relative to other systems of the day). But was there no place whatsoever for spirituality here? To be sure, the system was not wholly material in any obvious way. Since, we might now note, in order for this productive culture, a productive economy, to be formed, the people had to learn to get along with each other. The fact is, to form a prosperous economy, we need for people to a) roughly obey their leaders, their “lord”s; and b) following their direction and “law”s, c) “work” together to d) form the larger, more productive social units. Like larger families, “houses,” “tribes”; then farms, cities, shops, businesses, nations, armies; civil life, civilization.
Civilizations are the root of real productivity, “prosperity”; only large communities of people, working together in a coordinated way, with much specialization of labor, can produce the complex consumer goods and scientific instruments, that bring (relative) mastery of the material environment; that bring the Lord’s promised material “prosperity.” But how do we get people to learn to work together like this? How do we get many people to learn to work together with each other?
Finally, here is where, at last, a single moral/spiritual virtue, actually proves materially functional. In order to found a civilization, in order to learn to work together, to create wealth, “prosperity,” in order to work together in cities, farms, businesses … the people had to be taught a mental or spiritual discipline; they had to learn to get along with each other. And to do that, finally, the slogan, “love one another,” is useful.
Finally, “love” has a material value. Finally, love is even in the interest of material prosperity; only those peoples who can learn to work together can really create the larger cooperative enterprises – like cities, businesses, farms – that produce real material wealth. Thus, even for selfish reasons, you need to learn to “love” one another; or at least, respect and get along with each other.
For this reason in part, Jesus said that to love “God” is the first commandment; but in some translations, he says “and a second is like unto it: to love your neighbor as yourself.” While Paul later makes remarks which might even make this commandment, amazingly, even superior, to “love God”; as the one commandment that is the basis of everything else. Or in Paul’s to be sure often equivocal words, the commandment which fulfills the law.
Jesus himself therefore mentioned – as a perhaps, apparent equal, to “love God” – this command. As the core belief of Christianity. And Paul finally named it, as the core essence of Christianity, or at least the “law”:
“Pay to all what is due them – taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13.7-9; The New Greek English Interlinear New Testament, Ed. J. D. Douglas).
“For the entire law in one word has been summed up in love the neighbor of you as yourself”; (Gal. 14, The New Greek English Interlinear New Testament, Ed. J. D. Douglas).
The command to “love” is greater than orders to have “Faith” too, by the way:
“So faith, hope, love abide, these three … but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corin. 13.13).
To be sure, Paul and priests were apt to hugely over-emphasize the value of spiritual things; as if they are all we need. As our priests radically neglect the importance of material things. But in any case, by the way, note that even Paul’s’ statement above, shows “love” and “respect” for others, “love one another” … being mentioned in the context of paying “taxes” and honoring authority. Suggesting again, yet another tie between Christianity, and practical activity; honoring, demonstrating love to the agricultural overlord, by paying the taxes due him.
And so, to be sure, finally, there is at least one spiritual quality, taught by priests in part – love and respect for our neighbor – that we find here, actually has a material function. And so indeed, you could say, we are now proving even “spirit” to be … materially real. Indeed, “spirits” are as real as culturally-transmitted ideas, thoughts in our minds. And the effects of a good thought or idea, can of course, be immense, in our material lives. The trick is though, to be sure, that our thoughts or ideas are correct, and are not mere “delusion”s or illusions. And the only way to find that out, is in part to try our ideas out in material reality; to see if they really bring material results, or not. So that finally, even the “spirits” must be “test”ed, said God; with the Science of God. Since indeed, there are many “false spirits.”
So that finally, concerning the “spirit”ual leanings of priests, we find there was to be sure, a small “spiritual” component to the core of Christianity: “love.” Especially, loving your neighbor. However, given the huge propensity of priests to vastly, criminally over-exaggerate the value and sureness of spiritual, priestly things, and given the great damage done by their radical over-emphasis, we must therefore note here, adamantly, that this spiritual element, on which priests have fixated for two thousand years, as if it was “all” that God wanted, was actually only a small, single component, was only a “part” of the larger, “full” picture, of what is good; of what God wanted. Perhaps all the “law” is fulfilled by such love, suggested Paul in one reading; but more than either Paul, or the old “law,” after all, is needed. Before we are fully good.
Should we forget the command to “work” 6/7 of the week, for example? As priests have? (Priests omitting this part even of the commandment; prefer to shorted it to only: “honor the Sabbath”).
But indeed finally, the vast majority of priests who only focus on Sunday, the spirit, do not by any means, have enough to be considered good. Indeed, one of our major points has been that over-stress on the “spiritual,” is the great sin of priests; the place where they radically disobey God and go against God. When essentially all our priests have been – as foretold – “deceived,” “under a strong delusion,” “illusion,” “enchantment,” or “lie.” The lie that … we can live on spirit, almost, alone.
Where all preachers failed us, and became evil, is when they failed to see that all the “spirit” and “prayer” and good will in the world, is of no use, is just hot air, is just the “east wind,” “empty promises” … unless or until, you then join with your neighbors or fellow citizens, not just in love fests … but in productive, practical, physically effective “work” together.
All the love in the world, will not lead to the material “prosperity” that God promised, and that is essential to the continuing survival of mankind. Unless we also move on to the next part of the larger process: and begin to do materially productive work together. So that indeed, “Faith without works is dead.” Faith, spirit, are just one part of a much larger puzzle. And therefore, all our priests, who told us so many times that the they and their “spirit” and “love” were “all” we needed in life, were actually dangerously, fatally, wrong.
But while the whole earth has long been deceived by false priests, to”day” at last, we can learn to move beyond all that. To “day,” the very day you read this, you see us here and now, exposing, un-“veil”ing, uncovering, the nakedness and inadequacy and falseness of essentially all priests and ministers and holy men and angels. In order to reveal at last, the first glimpses of the second and better vision, the Second Coming, of God. Not in blind “faith,” or blind “love” either. But in the Science of God.
If our very spiritual preachers began to understand the vision of God as a) an agricultural overlord or noble, might have some functionality. Yet to be sure, finally, we will need to move a humble step beyond even that. Since as time has gone on, our agriculture was more and more well taken care of; and therefore, our economies have become more complex – and no longer dominated by 90% agricultural workers. Finally therefore, the metaphorical or “figure”ative (but also factual, historical) understanding of God, as an agricultural overseer – which predominates in the neglected bulk of the Old Testament – perhaps to be sure, did need some extension, or change, in the time of Jesus say. Though to be sure we will have found here, the clerical move – to see God as b) totally “spirit” – was not quite right either. Indeed so finally, we may see that the best and most productive image of God and Good for our time – and from the Bible itself – will be c) … a God who tells us to honor “science.” That shows us say, Christ, as a scientist. Rather than as solely an agricultural overseer; or as a predominantly “spiritual” person.
Indeed, it is a God, a Christ, that urges us to learn science, that we many of us will have begun to see, here and now. As we will have been seeing, it is only a holy man who has lots of science, who can really see the fuller outline of the Bible; and be a whole, full man. It is only the priest who devotes most of his study and services, to practical knowledge, that can see, and further (rather than hinder) the second, “full”er, more “mature” outline of God. The better, “full”er understanding of God, that leads to real material “fruit”fulness and prosperity, after all.
And so we will need a new generation of practical, scientific religious leaders. In contrast to … the priest, the “man of spirit,” who has been indeed “blind” and “mad”; the over-spiritual priest. Who has been a very bad, false shepherd, in all too many situations; who has until now in fact, mislead himself … and the whole world.
Real religion, a) real Christianity, is supposed to get, prove itself by, the real, concrete, physical, material prosperity it creates, day to day. By this standard though, the Christianity we have gotten from priests for two thousand years – telling us to b) pray and get miracles; or to c) give up entirely on material things, and be spiritual – was actually, mostly, false. Was in fact the foretold “false” religion, following a False Christ, that we were warned about, in the Bible itself.
All priests, all ministers, have been in effect, partially bad and evil. Essentially, the Christianity that dominated the whole earth, till about 1969 or so (to pick an arbitrary date), was at least partially false; was perhaps the foretold false religion, False Christ, that we were warned, would dominate the whole earth. Particularly, our priests were over-spiritual, and neglected the material side of life and God. Most of the time, our priests sinned constantly, consistently, against the material side of God, by becoming over-spiritual. Or other times, if they promised us material things at all, they promised us material things in an unrealistic way: they promised us “miracles.” But we know from experience, that their promises were largely false; promises of miracles were not reliable. Our preachers’ idea of how material things work, was simply wrong. Preachers all over the earth, believed that material things come about out of thin air, just by direct action of spirit alone: pray, make your mind love your idea of God, and then, they promised us, material goods would appear, out of thin air; like a rabbit out of a hat. But here, we will have found that our priests’ idea of how material life worked, how God’s material promises are fulfilled, was simply, wrong. Our priests were mostly, radically over-spiritual; while they neglected, denied, and constantly attacked, the material side of God. Or, if our preachers thought of material life at all, they thought of it in a way that was ineffective … and in effect, magical. Indeed, our priests, who promised miracles, were really, under the influence of magic and magicians. Or indeed, if they really believed their promises, their magical thinking, then they themselves … were magicians, sorcerers. Giving us illusions, delusions, empty words and formulaic prayers, instead of real material results. Giving us indeed, far fewer material results than … practical knowledge and work. Which, being far more fruitful than preachers, must now be proclaimed as in fact, the better, truer methods of God. Ironically.
In the past, our preachers promised magical things out of thin air. But then, when their promises did not work in the world for priests, rather than looking hard at themselves and the failure of their own tradition, of themselves, they just decided to blame everybody else; to say that the material “world” was bad and evil. And if their material methods failed, they would usually just recommend just more and still more “faith” and prayer, and other spiritual activity. To the point that finally, they claimed that material results, were no longer necessary; that just having faith was sufficient reward, in itself. If it was God himself had promised us a material “kingdom” in the Old Testament, in dramatic and total opposition to that, it is Satan that promises a material kingdom to Jesus, in the New. (To reconcile the two? We suggest that Jesus is supposed to refuse an earthly kingdom offered by Satan; but later, not the earthly kingdom offered by God).
But actually, we will have found here, promising miracles, or spirituality either, are not the right, final answer. Indeed, to be sure, some people need more spirituality for example; but many people – particularly priests – need less spirituality. Many people – especially priests – typically need actually, far less spirituality, and far more practicality. They have more than enough spirituality; they need to work on the other side of the equation; to learn the other part of the process; to learn the value of material sense. And especially, the value of practical work, practical jobs. Practical knowledge of science, the trades.
We need therefore, a huge change in our priesthoods. And finally, if our priests cannot or will not do this? Or even if they do? Then after all, we have seen such a history of massive failure in Religion, that finally, we will need a priesthood that never itself proclaims, or even accepts from others, proclamations of its own “holy”ness, “sacred”ness, or “perfect”tion; or any other synomym of flawlessness, sinlessness, etc.. The fact is, we need to prominently, publicly, radically, repeatedly, de-emphasize and downgrade the status of priests; who have been far less sacred than they so prominently, proudly advertised. The fact is, given the history of the priesthoods, we should absolutely limit their advertisements, as to their own “holy”ness and “sacredness” and so forth; indeed we should never let them represent themselves as the reliable voicepieces of “God”; perhaps it would even be better, if we should establish a rule that no priest should ever even mention the name of God; since in point of fact, they never really knew God very well at all; but only a tiny “part” of him; since in fact, whenever they tried to represent God in the past, they, in their narrowness, priests almost inevitably seriously misrepresented God and Good. Since, acting constantly in the “name” of God, they all too often lead their people not to prosperity, but often, to disaster.
Given the horribly flawed history of “sacred” and “holy” persons and institutions, at the very least, no priest or alleged holy man or church, should ever be presented as absolutely holy, sacred, perfect. Or any such thing. From now on, we need a truly humble priesthood; one that does not, as present priesthoods, disguises great pride beneath a superficial humility. One that does not constantly proclaim itself as the voice of God.
We need then finally, a priesthood that does not constantly proclaim itself as the voice of God, as particularly sacred or holy. But that is truly humble at last. But also especially, finally, our priests should shift their emphasis on spirituality; to emphasize to a far greater degree, practical “work” and knowledge. Emphasizing practical work, as at least 50% of what they teach, in every sermon. If some spirituality is allowed, it is to be allowed usually, only after exhausting every other practical material remedy.
The stress on practical knowledge and practical work, is in fact the missing or additional step that is need, to really be following all of God. The missing step in the process of God’s prosperity-creation, that priests have normally chronically neglected. And it is the step that priests have even typically, constantly attacked and weakened. Priests ignoring, or even attacking practical “knowledge,” as “worldly,” false “secular” “knowledge.” Thus weakening themselves, and attacking and weakening, much of civilization.
To be sure, a mild spirituality, once had some functionality; especially in the days when science and practicality were insufficiently developed, to spot the reality and usefulness and materiality, of good moral laws and so forth. But, whatever the truthfulness of some past acknowledgments of spirit, for some time, our priests have been fatally over-spiritual. They have been fatally narrow; they saw and recognized, only a tiny, misrepresentative fragment of the whole, “full”er picture of God. They saw the marginal importance of some moral values – but they radically over-stressed their value. While they failed to see their place in the larger picture of what is Good;.
Especially, our preachers failed when they failed to see spiritual values, like love of neighbor, as only part of the larger picture of what God was, and what good demands of us; when they failed to see or acknowledge the importance of “work.” Indeed, it was because of that lack, that preachers have been at best, very, very narrow specialists; or even substantially “false shepherds.”
And preachers will not even be remotely good, until they cease being “priests” and “ministers,” and become “counselors”; people who know the value of old spiritual and moral things, but who also value material results; who know that deep down, the real hero of civilization and for God, is not the priest … but the good but practical working man. (Even especially the farmer, the “tiller of the soil.” Whose image is found – you would have thought, inextricably – deep within … story after story after story, in the Bible itself.)
Until about 1969 or so, our priests and ministers condemned “money” as “mammon” … and then passed around a collection plate, to ask for some of the money they just said was unimportant and even evil. It was not until about 1969 or 1970 or so, that they began to modify their sermons condemning money; to suggest that money might be OK; it was just excessive love of money that was bad.
Yet in spite of minor corrections of late, still historically, preachers and churches have not, by far, been good enough; they only knew and saw and obeyed, a tiny part of God and the formula for good. They were “blind” and even actively disobedient, in fact – or at best merely gave lip service, the occasional and woefully inadequate tribute of their “tongue” – to the greater part of God and good; to the necessity for practical knowledge, science, and work. Because of this, our preachers have often been physically bad for the people (as we have shown, in The Harm Done).
What do we need now therefore? Given the literally fatal narrowness of preachers, often, normally, far better than the priest – and ironically, closer to God – was actually, all along, the laity. Even what the priests thought was the “secular” “world,” was actually in many ways, far closer and dearer to the Lord, than priests and prophets. Since the laity, the ordinary moral working man and woman, not only followed a) morality somewhat, but was b) also a practical person. If the priests became narrow specialists in moral things, it was the ordinary good working person, who continued to be more balanced and whole; who a) followed morality somewhat, but who b) also knew and followed, the importance of materially productive work; above the preachers normally, rootless, and therefore empty and useless talk, sermons and homilies and apologetics.
Against our priests, the “laity,” the “secular” person, knew what the priests ignored and even attacked; they knew that, above and beyond spirit, practical knowledge and work, was the missing link – indeed, the vaster bulk – of the Lord’s Plan. Against our priests, only the laity, even the “secular” world – the world that priests “hate”ed, against God – really intuitively knew or sensed deep down, that after all, the fuller commandment told us to “work” 6/7 of the week … and honor the Sabbath only 1/7 of the week. Only the practical working laity therefore, really knew and understood and obeyed … the bulk of what God commanded, in the proportion that the commandments ordered. Whereas, in contrast, priests or preachers, typically, disobeyed and ignored most of God’s commands, over and over and over and over. Our preachers speaking to us constantly, as if every day was Sunday; a day of rest and no work. As if the whole of our lives was supposed to be about spirituality; whereas in fact, only 1/7 is.
Our preachers therefore, were extremists, narrow over-specialists. Actually, a good honest working person, or a moral but also practical leader, is seven times better than a priest; the practical working person having achieved the right balance, the right ratio, the right proportion, that God wanted: 6/7 practical work, 1/7 Sabbath. Whereas, in contrast to the good working man and woman, our priests – who thought every day was Sunday, who never liked practical work at all – were extremists; never in tune with, in proportion with, the more balanced, “full”er, whole, holistic vision of God and good. Indeed, the great sin of priests, is a radically, over-spiritual, irresponsible and totally unworkable attitude toward physical reality; even a “hate” for the “world” that after all, God also made. While it was only the practical working man, that kept that in sight.
To be sure no doubt, it is possible to be over-materialistic. To be sure no doubt, in the past, all material things are taken from each of us, as we physically die. Yet to be sure, at the same time, it is one of the major lessons of our writings here, to introduce the finding that, just as it is possible to be over-materialistic, it is also possible to err on the other side too; and to be over-spiritual. It is easy to have too much of a good thing; the substance that in small amounts is a beneficial medicine, becomes in larger doses, a fatal overdose. While unfortunately, our spiritualists – over-spiritual priests – have been administering fatal overdoses of spirituality, to the people, for centuries.
Given all the huge sins of priests, no one should ever again, be lead to completely, by too spiritual men; lest we ourselves be “pierced” for our lack of material realism; for the pretensions and presumptions of holiness and spirituality.
From now on, those who say they are holy, or are from the Lord, should obey the Lord: they must be required to produce, demonstrate, real material results. At least, enough to sustain our lives; to supply subsistence, even in lean times. If they cannot do that, if they give us only “words,” not “works,” then they can by no means therefore be regarded as being truly, or “full”y from God or the Lord, after all. Instead, they must be regarded as extremely narrow specialists, useful in some situations, but finally lacking in the “full,” larger picture of what God and good, really, fully demand.
Some might hope for such a “reform” of preachers. But given the long history of many bad things in priests and holy men, almost anyone called a “priest” or “preacher” or “minister,” will no doubt, fall back into the same old bad habits of priests; of radical over-spirituality, magical thinking, and hate for the world. So that finally, now we must move on to a new kind of priest, with a different title; perhaps, a “counselor.” One who is trained in some spiritual things … but also, equally, in materially productive sciences and trades, too. Whose aim is not just producing pleasant but often “illus”ory mental or “spiritual” sensations; but real material, physical results; real material prosperity, after all. As the Lord originally sought. The “deeds” and “works” that God requires of us, after all, before we are “judge”d to be really, fully, finally, good enough.
Looking Ahead – to A Second, “Fuller” Appearance of a Christ:
Jesus as Advocate of Science, Practical Knowledge
In this second vision of God, who is God? What does God look like? First, we noted, the God of the Old Testament – from Genesis to especially Deuteronomy and so forth – is essentially, an idealized composite, of a regional ruler of an agricultural community. An agricultural over”lord,” extending protections/”salvation” and “pro”ven, practical guidance to his people; while demanding from his “people” in return, taxes, tribute, “sacrifices.” Of course – as priests are fond of noting – no individual, actual human “king” or lord of this world was ever quite as good as our idealized model. Yet this was a large part of what a good man is supposed to do; a good Lord was supposed to provide real material benefits to this people; while in return, the people owned to that leader, a portion of the material “fruits” they produced in part thanks to his material guidance.
That actually, was the very core of God, good, in the Old Testament. But what, next, about Jesus? Today, our spiritual preachers like to assert that God changed himself with Jesus; that he ceased being materialistic or scientific at all. That only the “materialistic Jews,” as they sometimes said (anti-Semitically), asked for a real, “material” “kingdom.” If God himself promised material things, a material kingdom in the Old Testament, it was only the Devil that promises a material kingdom, in the New. And indeed, Jesus himself is pictured as become rather spiritual; metaphoricalizing the old material promises, and backing away from promises of a real material “kingdom” especially. And yet to be sure, we note here, God himself, God the Father, was pictured as promising real material – not just spiritual – results. And if Jesus is presented at times, as delivering only spiritual things, other times, he is presented as producing real material results; material wonders. To be sure, he is presented as supporting material self-sacrifice, and so forth. But finally, he is supposed to produce real material results; if not in the First, then in his Second coming.
Today, many preachers act as if whatever Jesus accomplished was “all” we need in life. And indeed, there were parts of the Bible that suggested or hinted, that the “full” measure (Deut. 33.16, Job 20.22, Ps. 24.1) of all “prophesies” were being fulfilled, in the First Advent or first coming, of Jesus; including the kingdom and so forth (cf. however John 1.4, 1.16; Rom. 15.29; Eph. 1.23, 3.19, 4.13; Gal. 1.19, 2.9; “full” in other senses only). And yet however, today Biblical scholarship and everyday Christians intuitive know that full as the first coming of Jesus was in some sense, that did not fully fulfill everything; and that yet another, “second” coming will be necessary. In the “fullness of time” (Eph. 1.10). While those men who are merely “full of talk,” say, are not enough (Job 11.2; see “full” in a concordance; “full of deadly poison” James 3.8, etc..). Today, serious science-based biblical scholarship says that the whole dialogue on Jesus fulfilling things, presents a mixed, “already/not yet” vision of what was fulfilled after all: at times, the New Testament seems to speak as if all prophesies were fulfilled (and/or discharged) by the first coming of Jesus; while other parts of the New Testament seemed to hint that not all had yet been performed; that an “eschatological or End-Time event, a second coming, would be necessary before God met all his promises. Here we find that Jesus, in his first coming, fulfilled some things; or perhaps fulfilled the Old Testament in the sense of meeting and discharging its covenant. Yet we agree here that yet another, second coming of Jesus will have been required, to fully deliver all the Bible promised.
What did Jesus himself say”? In fact, a) at times Jesus seemed to present himself as a pretender to the throne, a man about to deliver a full kingdom. Yet b) if you read more closely, you will notice that Jesus was not entirely sure of his own status, himself. When others asked him who he was, Jesus is pictured far more often – 99% of the time – not confidently assuring others that he was good, but merely asking others who they thought he was. Jesus c) himself never seemed to say he was God; and d) if Jesus one time, seemed to affirm that he himself Son of God, another part of the Bible recounts a similar incident differently; as it being merely a priests’ assumption that Jesus was claiming such things; (q.v.). While furthermore, e) all those pronouncements by Jesus, about a “son of Man” doing this or that, were delivered in third person; so that it is not certain Jesus was talking about himself, rather than someone else. (Indeed, Ezekiel is called “son of Man” over and over, in Ezek.). And f) indeed, when Jesus himself was physically executed, and many apostles, Christians martyred, when his material success did not seem obvious, many might have thought that indeed, Jesus was simply not the foretold ideal Christ or Lord. Or g) at any rate, just the fulfillment of some things, not the complete “fulfillment” of everything God promised. h) And indeed, most of his followers today, believe that though some martyrdom, self-sacrifice; and spiritual, not material rewards, can be good for a time, in the end, we have hope of some future material reward, “soon”er or later; perhaps at the end of time. In a Second Coming.
The first coming, the First Advent of specifically, Jesus therefore, was fulfillment of many things; and yet however, to be sure, the Bible overall, told us that “all” our holiest men have often fallen short of the glory of God; and we confirm they have typically not produced all the material protection and prosperity they promised; especially, all the miracles they promised. (While if spirituality in itself is a supernatural miracle, some might say, even it is not quite fully what was promised). The fact is, most of the Bible – even the New Testament – often promised real material things. Not just nice ideas or spirit; not just more and more sermons or words. But real material goods.
And so indeed, quite properly, humanity has been waiting, for yet another, “second” Coming, second appearance, of God or Jesus. To finally make good on all the old promises. But can priests acknowledge or come to see, another, even better vision, coming, resurrection, of God? Beyond a) the God or Lord of agricultural civilization? Beyond b) the Christ of the disciples that, aside from an unrealistic reliance on miracles, all but gave up on the material promises of God, to become “spiritual”? Can c) we now guide, shepherd, “refine” our priests … until they at last learn to see the “second” and better coming of Jesus? To see that the most productive element of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other religions, was not blind reliance on spirit and authority, but was in fact, empirical science and practical knowledge. Which the Old Testament especially introduced; when even God himself told us to “put me to the test” (Mal. 3.10), with “science” (Dan. 1.4015 KJE). But that that even the all-but world-hating New Testament of the disciples, still continued to honor; if equivocally.
Jesus himself often outlined a continuation of the science of God. Those who followed after Jesus though, priests especially, to be sure, overall, ignored that side of Jesus, his science; and his followers, became quite “spiritual” and “faith”ful. Yet not only does aa) an examination of the Bible itself, reveal that the faithful failed to perceive and follow the most important side of Jesus as outlined in the Bible itself; furthermore, bb) in the centuries since Jesus and the Twelve died, History has shown that it was finally, not the “faith” and “spirituality” and belief in “miracles” that were the true, most “fruit”ful strain in religion, in Christianity. Rather, what history – what has “come to pass” – has shown, was that ironically, of all the many themes and subjects introduced in the Bible, it was actually, empirical thinking – measuring the truth of things by the material results they produce; the very aspect of the Bible abandoned by priests to “secular” people – that was actually, the core truth of life, and of God. And so finally, the God, cc) the Christ we need everyone to learn to see now, is not the Christ of blind “faith”; but rather a second and better vision of Christ; Christ as a practical man doing practical material “work”s; and renewing God’s commands to develop science, and practical knowledge.
Though priests typically think of practical materialism as “secular,” the truth is, actually, practical material sense can now be seen, by many of us, in the very heart of the a) Lord God of the Old Testament; but b) also in Jesus himself as well; Jesus promising at least at times, very material “fruits,” “works,” “signs,” “deeds,” “proofs,” “prosperity.” To be sure, the disciples forgot or denied the material, physical side of Christianity … when aa) Jesus was physically killed; and bb) when, after a brief resurrection, Jesus was said to have gone away to heaven; and cc) when many later Christians did not get physical support, but instead got more death and martyrdom. After all these material failures, many of Jesus’ disciples and the scribal authors of the New Testament, all but gave up on the material side of religion; to emphasize at most, “spiritual” things. Like “hope” and “faith” (as did Paul, especially; by far the most prolific advocate of “faith” in the Bible).
dd) Yet finally, the demand for real, material results, in the Bible, was so firm, that no scribe or disciple could entirely, obviously disappear it, without obviously crossing and going against … God himself. So that finally, if we wish to honor the whole or overall Bible rather well, or even just the New Testament, finally, we must never again let Christianity and its priests become so spiritual; but must insist that from now on, all our priests learn – and regularly practice in all rituals, liturgies, doctrines, services – real material science. Just as God and Jesus advocated, in the Bible itself.
Amazingly to be sure, Jesus himself was rather spiritualized by, in, the gospels. So that it is oddly enough, not so much just out of the New Testament, but rather instead, in part, a reconciliation or average between the Old and New testaments, that finally offers the more balanced and “full’er vision of God; as a materially practical lord; not requiring Paul’s New Testament endless “faith” and “spirituality,” but, with actually, telling us to follow, as the true words of God, only words that produce real, timely, material results, here on this material earth – as gauged in large part, by “science” (Dan. 1.4-15 KJE). A vision at once old and traditional, but also very new.
That is the vision, understanding of God – God, Jesus advocating science – that is the first glimpse, for many, of the second and better appearance of the Lord.
And what does that vision, coming, appearance/”parousia” of the “Lord” lead us to? Historically, those who saw much of the Good and Godliness of science and practical reason long ago, helped develop science and technology as we have it today; the science and technology that after all, have indeed lead us to the manifest fruits of civilization that we have enjoyed so far; today’s civilization being by far the most populous and wealthy and powerful, in all of history. While a careful extension of that, no doubt, shows all the best signs of being the true, fuller, balanced, heaven-and-earth, theology of God.
Where Will Science Take Us?
Where will the science of God finally take us? To the stars; the heavens. But not magically, by just ritually repeating old formulas, without understanding; but reading the Bible, understanding it … and learning science.
What will science lead us to next, specifically? We can only speculate here. We can look at the face of Mars … and see disaster there; the huge valley on Mars, the “Valles Marinaris,” looks as if the planet was sideswiped by a large body … whose remaining particles or explosion, partially continuing into space, may have carried off any air and water.
But if God’s material universe is full of material disasters, it is also full of things that can be turned to human advantage; and we are given the power and ability to do that, with the science of God. Consider: astronomers, astrophysicists today, believe that the universe is full of “dark matter”; so heavy that we cannot see it. But we suggest here that in fact, the universe if far more full of light – which is also matter; photons – that people realized.
A single star gives off enough light, that almost anyone in a sphere a hundred thousand light years around it, can pick up enough photons in just their naked eye, to see it. And photons, light, are also … matter; they have weight. And if we then calculate the amount of photons that must exist in say, a sphere a hundred thousand light years in diameter, and then multiply that by the total number of visible stars (and then a few that are visible not to the naked eye, but to telescopes) … then we come up with a universe … filled with photons; filled with an immense amount of light … which is also however, matter.
So the “dark” matter, is actually … light.
And can we communicate faster than light? Push a stick with one end contacting a marble at one end; push the other end with your finger; how quickly is the touch of your finger transmitted, from the moment you touch it, to the marble? Theoretically, given a stiff linkage between atoms, that message would be transmitted … instantaneously; infinitely fast. Much faster even, than the speed of light; traveling in fact, indeed, with the speed approaching, step by step … infinity.
END OF CHAPTER;
END OF BOOK 2 ON MIRACLES