Destruction of Heaven Vol. 5
God Returns to Earth –
In the Science of God:
God Returns to Earth,
And “Natural Law,” To –
Of Science To Religion –
To the Science of God; Theology
[CONTENTS: Author’s Draft; edited by Author, to p. 57; 8/6/07 For Natural: 1) Intro. p. 11-14; 2) Moses 140; 3) Paul’s Nature 15-; Naturalistic Interpretations of miracles 22-; 5) Prove Religion true 38-; 6) “super”natural? 43-; 7) Bible’s Natural Wonders 53-; 8) God of Agriculture 57- ; 9) Bible Accepts Science 65-; 10) Tongues 68-; 11) Contemp. Theol. 81-; END? 12) Clerics Magic 86-; 13) History of Naturalism, 87- END; to 40 END or Pt. 2 60; Contemp Theologly 60- Magic 93 END?; Pt. 3 Growth of Naturalism; Against Spiritual 80- Pt. 4 66 ff Naturalism vs. magic 60-99 END]
Biblical Quotes Favoring “Nature”
“The Natural [unspiritual RSV] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corin. 2.14).
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…” (Rom. 1.20).
“‘Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD'” (Jer. 23.24 RSV).
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1.1). “The earth brought forth vegetation…. And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1.12).
“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...” (Deut. 30.9).
“In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corin. 5.19 NRSV).
“He who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth….” (Isa. 65.16-).
“And base things of the world … hath God chosen, yea …” (Corin 1.28).
“Every shower and dew, bless the Lord …. All you winds, bless the Lord…. Cold and chill, bless the Lord…. Dew and rain…. Ice and snow…. Nights and days…. Lightnings and clouds…. The earth.… Mountains and hills…. Everything growing from the earth…. You springs…. Seas and rivers…. You dolphins and all water creatures…. All you birds of the air…. All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord;…. You sons of men, bless the Lord (Dan. 3.64-82 NAB; Catholic version).
. . .
“O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou make them all (Ps. 104.24).
“For all creation, in its several kinds, was being made over anew, serving its natural laws, that your children might be preserved unharmed…” (Wis. 19.6).
“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires…. they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts….” (Rom. 2.14-15).
“But the natural man receiveth not the thing of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal…” (1 Corin. 2.14-3.3 KJE; cf. NAB etc.: “unspiritual” man).
“When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isa. 26.9).
“The whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6.3; Heb. “his glory is the fulness of the whole earth” says KJE; quoting Ps. 72.19).
“For the universe fights on behalf of the just” (Wis. 16.17).
. . .
“…In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corin. 5.17-19-21).
“Put on the new nature…” (Col 3.2-5-8-10; Eph. 4).
“For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Rom 11.24).
“Now in the city there was a certain man named Simon, who, prior to this, had been practicing magical arts…. So they would pay attention to him because of his having amazed them for quite a while by his magical arts. But when they believed Philip … Simon himself also became a believer…. Simon said, “You men, make supplication for me…. (Acts 8. 9-11-12-24 NWT).
“Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature” (Eph. 4.24).
“With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1.9-10; Phil. 2.9-10; Col. 1.20; Mat. 28.18; Rom. 14.11; Rev. 5.13; cf. Eph. 1.22 “all things for the church, which is the body, the fullnes”; Cf. in Jesus, God “reconciled” himself to the “world,” Rom. 5.11, 11.15, especially 2 Cor. 5.18-19).
“…He had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4.9-10).
. . .
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands...” (Eph. 4.28).
“For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church…” (Eph. 5.29).
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8.6).
“For of him and through him, and to him, are all things…” (Rom. 11.36).
“…Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest … if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things…. I can do all things…” (Phil. 4.8-13).
. . .
For all men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the world did not discern the artisan…” (Sol 13.1).
“But yet, for these the blame is less…. They seek God and wish to find him. For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see” (13.6-7).
” The luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods. Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the LORD than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them. Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them. For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen” (Wis. 13.3-4).
“But again not even these are pardonable. For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that that could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord?” (Sol. 13.9).
“…The hope of the universe … took refuge on a raft….. For blest is the wood through which justice comes about; but the handmade idol is accursed, and its maker as well: he for having produced it, and it, because thought corruptible, it was termed a god” (Wis.14.6-7).
“For all creation, in its several kinds, was being made over anew, serving its natural laws, that your children might be preserved unharmed… And later they saw a new kind of bird ….. They justly suffered for their own misdeeds, since indeed they treated their guests with the more grievous hatred. For those others did not receive unfamiliar visitors… And they were struck with blindness…. Each sought the entrance of his own gate. For the elements, in variable harmony among themselves, like striking of the harp, produce new melody….” (19.6 -11-18).
“And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created … every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the water swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Gold blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth….’ And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ …. And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1.20-25).
“And the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 19.1-4).
Thus says God, the LORD, who … spread forth the earth and what comes from it…” (Isa. 42.1-5; italics, mine).
“For both we and our words are in his hand, as well as all prudence and knowledge of crafts. For he gave me sound knowledge of existing things, that I might know the organization of the universe and the force of its elements…, cycles of years, positions of the stars, natures of animals … uses of plants…. For Wisdom, the artificer of all, taught me” (Wis. 7.16-17).
“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise” (Rom. 1.14 KJE).
. . .
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality; impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness…. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander…. Do not lie to one another… put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge…” (Col 3.2-5-8-10).
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth...” (Col. 1.20).
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12.25).
“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14.26).
“But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment...” (Mat. 5.22).
“Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3.15).
“He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still” (1 John 2.9).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son … not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3.16-17).
“Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?'” (John 18.38; Mat. 27.24; Luke 23.4). (Or: “What is the truth?”)
. . .
“And he said to me, “Son of man, stand upon your feet, and I will speak with you'” (God, to Ezekiel, in Ez. 2.1).
“Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ And he said, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.’ And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of the. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! … And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces… And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other….” (2 Kings 2.9-12-14; Cf. Moses; and divided, dual bodies of water; Mediterranean and Black Sea; Med. and Dead Sea; etc.).
. . .
“Nature is the will of God” – St. Augustine. (Dei voluntas rerum natura est.” Also “Portentum ergo fit non contra naturam, sed contra quam est nota natura; De Civitate Dei, XXI, 8. Cited by Antony Flew, “Miracles,” Ency. Phil., 1967, v. 5, p. 348. See also “Augustine,” Ency. Phil. v. 1, p. 205)
“‘A portent is not contrary to nature, but contrary to our knowledge of nature’ – St. Augustine. (Portentum ergo fit non contra naturam, sed contra quam est nota natura; De Civitate Dei, XXI, 8. Cited by Antony Flew, “Miracles,” Ency. Phil., 1967, v. 5, p. 348. See also “Augustine,” Ency. Phil. v. 1, p. 205).
“An interesting early case… is provided by Spinoza in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, in which he tried to reconcile his vision of a natural order (Deus sive natura) with an acceptance of the Bible as in some sense a privileged document. He did this partly by admitting the limitation of observatory powers of the men of Biblical days, but mainly by urging that conventional interpreters of the Bible read far more miracles into it than it contains, because they constantly read poetic Hebrew idioms literally. Today, more and more theolgians seem to be noticing the exact words used by the New Testament writers in describing the sorts of alleged events which, in more scientific ages, have been characterized (and perhaps dismissed) as miraculous. These words are … ‘wonders,’ or ‘prodigies,’… ‘powers,’ ‘signs’; and particularly in St. Paul…’graces of healing’ … and ‘effects of powers’…. None of these words seems to carry any entailments about the overriding of a natural order” (Antony Flew, “Miracles,” Ency. Phil. v. 5 p. 347; ref. to Spinoza, Tractatus, v. VI).
“nature ….. 1 a : the inherent character or basic contitutions of a person or thing : ESSENCE b : DISPOSITION, TEMPERAMENT 2 a : a creative and controlling force in the universe b : an innner force or the sum of such forces in an individual 3 : general character : KIND [acts of a ceremonial nature] 4 : the physical constitution or drives of an aorganism 5 : a spontaneous attitutde (as of generosity) 6 : the external world in its entirety 7 a : man’s original or natural condition b : a simplified mode of life resembling this condition 8 : natural scenery Syn see TYPE” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
“natural theology n : theology deriving its knowledge of God from the study of nature independent of special revelation” (Webster’s).
“natural law n : a body of law or a specific principle held to be derived from nature and binding upon human society in the absence of or in addition to positive law” (Webster’s).
“You yourselves have been taught by God to love one another…. But we urge you, beloved , to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thess. 4.9, 10, 11-12 NRSV).
Historically, the main idea in the Old Testament, 1) the major idea behind the series of “covenants” or contracts God made with man, was this: be good, follow God … and God will give you many material rewards; “prosperity,” and other wonders. Follow God, and get more land; bigger crops; victories in battle; more descendants; bigger houses. However, 2) problems developed with this, the main pillar or core of Religion; it came to seem to many, like Job and St. Peter, that though there were good, and were upholding their end of the contract with God (as much as humanly possible), still, they were not getting all the wonderful physical things promised by God; instead indeed, they often got pain, and suffering.
For this reason, 3) over time, our priests and ministers had to either face the fact that their religion was partially false … and/or, try to topspin all this, or re-interpret the Bible, in such a way that it no longer seemed flatly false. And to do this, our holy and learned men, in the time of Philo, Jesus, and St. Paul – c. 1 AD to 70 AD – began to build up the idea that perhaps, after all, the real subject matter of Religion, was not physical things, but spiritual things. And even that even if the material miracles and wonders, promised by holy men in the name of God, did not appear, still after all, Religion could at least give us spiritual things. Like “hope” and temperance, and so forth.
This idea was tremendously popular; so that the idea that Religion, is and should be “spiritual” and not “materialistic,” predominates; controls all of religion, and the world. However, 4) we are now noting here, that after Job and Peter, many outside the Bible came to the conclusion that there are no physical miracles. But beyond Job and Peter, many also say there are no good excuses for that, either. Indeed, 5) there were severe problems, even with spirituality. So that 6) increasingly, the conclusion for many rational, reasonable, good, intelligent people … is that much of our Religion, is just, false. False prophesy; false promises. That Religion was not good, because it made false, dishonest promises of miracles. And because its “spirituality” is bad too; and just makes people physically dysfunctional.
This seems like an impossibly difficult or heretical conclusion, for any believer to face, or embrace. For some though, the best solution is to just face and accept this. Since 7) the Bible itself, God himself, allows this conclusion. We have found that, amazingly, God himself said there would be many false prophets in “all” of religion; even our own. Indeed, God himself told us that one day, our vision of God and good would change; “mature.” And 8) related to this, the Bible told us that one “day,” God himself would unveil sins and errors, even in our heaven itself. And if this is hard to face or bear, 9) believers can get strength from the discover, that after all, this is endorsed by God himself, in the Bible itself.
But most importantly, now: if our old heaven of miracles and spirituality are supposed to be destroyed, however, there is a great reward to all this; 10) those who pass through this pain and fire, are eventually supposed to see something new and better, after all.
Many therefore, will have found the strength – amazingly in part from the Bible itself – to simply face this; face the destruction of their childhood heaven itself. Since the Bible foretold and authorized, its own destruction. The destruction of heaven itself; or metaphorically, the intellectual and real demolition, of the heaven we learned in church; the heaven of miracles and faith, hope and prayer, spirituality and so forth. Increasingly in fact, many more educated people today, are ready to simply face and accept this: that there were sins and false prophesies, false promises, even in the highest prophets and apostles in heaven itself. And believers should be able to face this too, now: since we have been showing that all this was acknowledged, foretold, in the holy books themselves; in the Bible, itself.
However, of course, many might not be able to face or bear or believe, this Apocalyptic revelation. Even if the Bible itself warned anyone who actually read the Bible itself, (rather than just listening to the misrepresentative fragments of it, read to us by preachers), that one “day” or another, this day would come. Knowing that many cannot believe or face this, traditionally therefore, many Religion scholars have tried, since the days of the Old Testament itself, to offer less Apocalyptic options. Rather than just saying that 1) much of our own Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion, our holy book, is just flatly false, 2) for centuries, scholars and preachers have suggested that maybe, instead, we can use the essential ancient apologetic argument … and suggest that we misread or misinterpreted – or if you think there are no “interpretations,” then mistranslated – the old promises and stories, in our bibles.
And more specifically, let’s re-consider now, perhaps the best apologetic of all, to date (other than the Apocalyptic one): that 3) maybe, the old promises of “miracles,” were actually, misunderstood; maybe the Bible never really meant to promise “supernatural” “miracles” at all; but was only using “metaphors” for something. However, let’s now take this a step or two further. In the past, our preachers suggested that the miracles in the Bible, could be taken as metaphors for “spiritual” things.
4) But there were problems even with the spirituality that dominates Religion, and the world, today. And so, 5) let’s now move on to another, better interpretation of the Bible; which reads it as “parables” and “figures” of something else, just as Jesus commanded. But which finds that those things were not just spiritual, but were – or are becoming – real. Real, physical material things, that people don’t understand yet, and conceived of in confused ways. Though the things talked about were real, material events, that we can now, with science, better describe, confirm, and improve or realized in the physical realm, at last.
There is an ancient tradition in fact, in scholarship and Religion, that the old promises of what are mistakenly called “miracles,” were really only indirectly describing natural, fairly normal, events. And though this theory of things seems apocalyptically different from what we usually hear in church, as it turns out, it is exactly what the Bible itself called for, finally.
Indeed, here we see religion, God, coming down to earth again. As they make material sense.
The Example of Moses
Parting the Red Sea
For example, if we thought that Moses parting the sea, was a huge supernatural miracle, many scholars now suggest, that after all, when the sea fell back for Moses, a natural thing – the “wind” – blew it back. And today we add that we know that this happens in the Mediterranean (cf. the “acqua alta,” or high sea, in Venice). This can amount to a few inches … or many feet. Further, the sea was actually rather shallow where Moses crossed it; we might add that Moses in “striking” the sea with his staff, was simply, better said, “sounding” the water, to find a place for his people to ford. Thanks to this simple technology, the people were able to cross shallow water on foot, with dry land underneath them; while the pursuing Egyptians, in their wheeled chariots, bogged down. And when the water returned (even a few inches, or a foot or more?) … they drowned.
As it turns out, it is possible, as we will see here, to actually come up with natural explanations for everything in the Bible. Explanations consistent with, as it turns out, the Biblical text itself, more carefully examined. Though we will not have time here of course, to explain every single thing in the Bible, we can pick a dozen or more major “supernatural miracles,” and show that there is a scientific or natural explanation, for every one of them. (Finally, even praying to God, and then God responding, has a natural interpretation: it means … consulting our past and present knowledge of nature … and then acting in a way that gets results from Nature).
And though at first this seems to be a great disillusionment and reduction, at last finally we will find here, it really means … bringing spirit back to earth; joining God to earth, word to “world,” spirit to flesh, again.
“The Natural Man”:
Paul Uses the Word “Nature”
in the Bible:
Man’s “Nature,” and the
Rocks and Trees;
Good Or Bad,
According to the Bible and Paul?
First though, we need to take care of this: whenever you champion “nature” in Christianity, someone will quote on or more “spiritual” parts of the Bible; and in particular, the part of the Bible, where St. Paul seemed to say that being “natural” is bad:
“But the natural man [Greek, roughly: “psychios de anthropos”?] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. [ Cf. however, the many times Paul himself criticizes – and judges as in error – various congregations; as in Gal. 1.6? Then too, see Rev. 1-3].
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal… [“sarkikoi”?]” (1 Corin. 2.14-3.3 KJE; cf. NAB).
Did Paul really condemn the “natural” though? It seems not. For the following reasons.
1) We might note first that the word translated as “natural” here, is translated in other Bibles as “unspiritual.” So the word has been simply incorrectly translated in some Bibles.
2) The original Greek word, is really, “psychios” (and not say, “phusikos” or “natural”); which meant “butterfly,” “soul” – and some would say “sighs” or our sentient, animal “breath.” (As hinted in Bulfinch’s Mythology, p. 76; cf. “pneuma” or breath).
And 3) the original Greek world, is from the Greek root for our own English word “psyche”; as in “psychology.” Reinforcing the idea that in fact, even the word “unspiritual” is not necessary a good translation. Since words from the Greek root “psyche,” are really about in effect, an earlier, Greek idea of, precisely, the spirit.
Or actually, the original Greek word, “psyche,” or “psuche,” probably is related to the Greek myth of the sighing goddess “Psyche,” and meant breath … or by implication, metaphorical extension, mind or spirit. But in a particularly Greek and Roman cast; the Greek or animal idea of spirit. Or perhaps merely our animal breath. Or spirit. In any case, as opposed to our “rational and immortal soul. As Strong’s dictionary suggested:
“Psuche … breath, i.e. (by impli.) spirit, abst. or concur. (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from 4151, which is the rational immortal soul; and on the other from 2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectivly to the Heb. 5315, 7307 and 2416: heart + -ily), life, mind, our, + us, = you” (Strong’s appendix Gk. Dict., . p. 79).
That Greek idea of our spirit or breath, to be sure, might – or might not – in turn, have thought of itself as a product of the gods; who were in turn personifications of the forces of Nature, including human nature. Or Natural History: Greek and Roman gods stood for primal “elementary” forces in nature and human nature: the Sea (Neptune), Love (Venus), War (Mars), etc.. Most likely though, it was about our literal breath of our lungs; breathing. If it is spiritual, it is about our animal or bodily spirit. But one redeemed by the later, rational spirit it seems; “pneuma.” The normal word accepted as Christian spirit; but also in Greek it seems the “rational” mind.
Paul seems to have alluded to the essential Egyptian, Greco-Roman, primitive admiration for “beasts,” animals, animal spirits. Paul later condemning in fact, of “elemental spirits” (“stoicheloy,” in Gal. 4.3-9; Ccl. 2.8-20). Indeed, many ancient cultures revered primal forces in nature; including some would say, “animal” passions; like anger. So that St. Paul was right, in part, in beginning to suggest that there were some destructive things in nature and spirits; that “animal” gods, or gods that were half-animal, as were common in ancient times … might not be the best model for human ethics. Indeed, the Greek gods and goddesses, were often driven by very destructive emotions, like Greed and Envy. So that it was a major advance from Greco-Roman and other ancient religions, for a more humane sense of Ethics, of “love” and restraint, to finally arise; in various cults and systems of ethics; and in Christianity.
Even here though, in turning against the Greco-Roman soul or psyche – and elsewhere, against “animal” and “elemental” gods – St. Paul was not necessarily condemning all things from nature. More likely, he was expressing the Bible’s usual, more moderate, overall idea. Which was not to totally condemn all of material life, and materially-minded people, as some extreme dualists and Platonic idealists and Gnostics did. Instead, St. Paul probably is best interpreted in any case, as merely opposing the most violent and destructive parts of our animal nature.
Indeed, though “nature” is good overall, there are bad things in it; including bad, destructive, animal passions in animals and in humans too. Indeed, to be sure, the Greek natural gods were full of simple animal/natural elemental passions – like jealousy and Greed. When Paul attacked the “psyche” then, and the “world,” this is likely mainly what he meant, or is best interpreted as meaning. As when he later attacked the extreme materialistic passions, like Greed and Envy and so forth (cf. his “fruits of the spirit”).
To be sure though, St. Paul was probably the most conspicuously, consciously, dualistic, spiritual- minded person in the Bible; he seems to have read Plato (regarding things on earth as being “imperfect copies” of better things in heaven; cf. “forms”); forth reflections of Plato’s famous “Theory of Forms”). And “spiritual” was St. Pauls’ favorite word. Indeed, he seems to have accepted the Greek dualistic idea that all the universe is divided into two things – 1) Matter, and 2) Spirit; and the belief that all material things get old and die or rot with age; but that spiritual things can live on eternally. So that indeed, this thought became the very basis, for the Christian idea that our bodies or “flesh” are not so important; but that we had an “immortal soul,” that we should try to perfect. So as to have a good life in eternity, in heaven. A spirit some thought should be to one degree or another, detached from many primal passions. Some of which seem celebrated by Greeks and other pagans. This is probably what Paul thought he meant, in attacking ... “psychikos,” or Psyche, in effect. Which to Paul probably meant, either Greek religion, and/or especially just our animal passions or the mere breath of our literal lungs.
[However, this may not have been quite what the term meant to the Greeks: the goddess Psyche, after all, was the rival of Venus, as a goddess of Love. So in fact, the calm ascetic detachment and Love, after all, are not unknown in other ancient, non-Christian cultures. Even the core idea in Christianity – that we have a soul, that goes to heaven – is really Greco-Egyptian. It is not really found in the Old Testament; ancient Jews did not really believe much in the afterlife there, other than in the shadowy “Sheol.” One or two people went to heaven in the Old Testament … but some say, they went while they were still alive (Enoch; Elijah. See “Afterlife” Ox. Comp., Wayne T. Pitard, p. 15). In any case they were the exception.
Indeed, the sighing “Psyche” of Greek myth, was a beautiful virgin, carried off by a wind Zephyr (symbolizing spirit, as all wind), to be sighing for love of the likewise love-struck Cupid; who however abandons her, though only temporarily. Bullfinch noted “the fable of Cupid and Psyche is usually considered allegorical. The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means the soul. There is no illustration of the immortality of the soul so striking and beautiful as the butterfly … Psyche, then, is the human soul, which is purified by sufferings and misfortunes, and thus prepared for the enjoyment of true and pure happiness. In works of art Psyche is represented as maiden with the wings of a butterfly, along with Cupid….” (Bulfinch’s Mythology,The Age of Fable, Mdoern Lib. edl, p. 76)]
The terminology here therefore is difficult; and probably has not been translated well by any popular Bibles. To try to make it out to mean “natural” quickly conflicts with a hundred parts of the Bible that tell us to respect God’s natural universe; to call it “unspiritutal” contradicts its Greek connotations.]
Furthermore in any case, the extreme, Platonistic hierarchically dualistic position, that might be implied here in any alleged contrast between the material world and the spiritual one – that all material things were basically fated to die, and therefore were bad; and that only spirits were good, because they could live forever – was an idea that was fashionable in philosophy and religion around the time of Christianity; but that did not last that long in scholarly circles. Or indeed in Christianity; which eventually condemned exaggerated spirituality, as “Gnosticism,” and as too antithetical to material life (James 2.14-26). Mainly because it put down material life too much; to the point that it leads men to neglect their physical side, and leads them to physical death. Indeed, practical experience with over-spiritual asceticism and fasting, teaches us that those who neglect or attack the material side of life too much, are courting physical disaster and actual, literal death.
So that eventually, though St. Paul and much of Christianity, seems formed around this dualistic idea, it was never very explicitly adopted; because it was a theory that had some fatal flaws in it. Though you can see strong elements of a Greco-Roman, Platonistic Idealist dualism, as the very heart of early Christianity – perhaps in Jesus himself; certainly in St. Paul – eventually, as this movement developed into Platonism, and Gnosticism, it was at first very popular – but then explicitly attacked and anathematized, by the churches. Probably at least in part, for the reasons we have publicized here; because of severe practical problems with over-spiritual life styles.
Indeed, as will be seen here, St. Paul at times seem to attack this material life often; the “world,” our “flesh,” our “bodies”; others attacked material “bread” or food; suggesting that material food and “possessions” were unimportant. That only “spiritual” things were important. but eventually, this point of view did not fully triumph in Theology after the Bible. Because indeed, of some fatal errors in it. So that, although you can see an ascetic, matter-hating, world-hating spirituality written all over the New Testament, as being indeed apparently its very core, you can also see however a second, more practical voice, systematically, throughout the New Testament, time after time, right next to the spiritual voice; toning down that extreme and fatal over-spirituality.
Paul Next Embraces “Nature”
You can see that in St. Paul. Though Paul for example, appeared to attack physical “nature,” for example, above, his second opinion began to balance out that extreme attack. Telling us finally, even a (Greek?) Gentile’s “nature” could be good:
“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (Rom. 1.4).
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood as seen through the things he has made” (Rom. 1.19-20).
Finally, Paul himself, tells us that Gentiles follow the law of God “by nature,” and therefore their nature can be good:
“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature [“physei”; “instinctively” NRSV] what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2.14-16 RSV).
After having flirted with the idea for a while, that much of the material world of nature, and/or many parts of human nature – especially the Greek and Egyptian and pagan “soul” or “psyche” – were bad, and too materialistic, St. Paul said here, in a more “mature” “second” opinion, that parts of even human “nature,” even of Gentiles and Greeks, could be in fact, good.
Then too, though St. Paul did not quite know just how and where Gentile thought was good or bad, where it would “accuse” them in the end, or “excuse” them, we here at last, can begin to see ourselves,
how that happens and is taken care of: we find out which thoughts about nature are good and which are not … by “testing” things with God’s science.
In any case though, so far as “nature”? St. Paul himself often said it was good; that the Gentiles can do good by “nature.” While other parts of the Bible made it clear that to be un-natural, or to go against nature – as in the case of homosexuality and so forth – is bad. Those who …
“Exchanged natural [“physikos”] relations for unnatural” (“para physin”) Rom. 1.26.
And so we are to put aside the bad side of our nature, our “wrath”:
“We were by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2.3?).
But Christianity – and to be sure, other religions of Gentiles – find the gentler side of our nature, that is moral and lawful. At times Paul speaks as it as “new”:
“Put on the new nature” (Eph. 4.24).
“Become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1.4).
It must only be “new” in emphasis only however, and then only to some people thought. Because other times, St. Paul speaks in a way that makes it clear that there were good things in nature all along:
“Gentiles … do by nature what the law requires” (Rom. 2.14).
“Does not nature itself teach you” (1 Corin. 11.14).
To be sure though, just exactly what “nature” teaches us, we will stipulate, is a matter to be determined by science, and not dogmatically stated. One of the past objections to the idea of “natural law,” and “functionalism” – the idea that all our laws are rooted in the natural order of things – is that one can never be entirely sure what is “natural” and what is not; all of science is investigating nature all the time … and real science is never absolutely dogmatic about what nature is really like; since we are always finding out new things. And many laws that were thought to be natural … are later changed. So that we find that many things thought to be natural, are not. Indeed, at one time, people thought nature was “bloody in tooth and claw”; and some “Social Darwinists” thought that human behavior should be the same. But after all, there is a great deal of love and peace even in the animal kingdom; even most female dogs, love their puppies, no doubt; or take care of them. While there is much cooperative behavior in ants, for instance. While then too, no doubt the best life style and ethics for the human animal, is slightly different from other animals too.
Therefore, though we should root ourselves in nature, we should never be too dogmatic or inflexible, as to what nature dictates for us, and what is nature; there are many variables. While then too there are bad things in nature; diseases and predators. Though in general, in any case, the Bible itself supports “nature.” Even bad things in it, are signs of the will of God. Or “tests” for us to overcome.
To the point that one philosopher – St. Augustine? – said that “nature is the will of God” (above?).
A Naturalistic Interpretation of a Miracle:
Moses’ Column of Smoke by Day, Fire By Night:
Another Example of a “Supernatural Miracle” –
That Science Now Re-Describes, as a
Historically, there are two major elements of Christianity. The first is 1) promises of big physical “miracles.” Or, 2) if big miracles don’t show up, then we are supposed to seek “spiritual” things; mental or spiritual solace, joy, and so forth. However, the problem is, that there is no doubt; God, the Bible, really promised lots of big physical results, to following true, real prophets and holy men; not just “spiritual” things “in heaven.” Indeed, God even told us to evaluate the truth of prophets and saints, to find out who is good and who is false in religion, precisely by studying the actual material prosperity, that they or their followers get; their “prosperity,” “fruits,” “works,” “signs,” “deeds,” “proofs”; as evaluated by “test”ing with “science,” and comparison of what was promised, to what comes to pass, or “does not come to pass.” And what is more, the dozens of sermons designed to excuse the lack of such results, do not hold up to close inspection.
So there is no doubt; the Bible really promised lots of big material results if we follow it; and it told us to use science to verify which promises were good and which were not; and yet, science really seems to say, that the old promises of miracles, were just, false. That there are few if any miracles today.
So what can we do? There are in fact, dozens of basic sermons designed by preachers, to try to try to tell people why prayers are “unanswered,” and promises and prophesies of miracles, “unfulfilled.” But as noted earlier, none of them really work. However, there is one particular sermon or theological explanation for the lack of miracles, that has some particular merit: the theory that, after all, maybe our preachers who read the old holy books as promising “miracles,” misread the books. Maybe in fact, the Bible never really promised “supernatural” physical miracles, at all; nor “spiritual” miracles either. But rather, the Bible was really describing lots of rather more natural things; describable today by science; things that once looked supernatural … but that science can now show, are part of nature.
The Bible tells us to honor science in fact. Can we come up with accounts of miracles totally compatible with both 1) science, and 2) the Bible? Let’s take a look at one particular example: the “miracle,” in which God put in front of Moses, an apparently supernatural “column” of smoke by day, and fire by night. As it turns out, we can offer an explanation of it that seems essentially, compatible with the Bible itself … but also science.
Consider this event in the Old Testament. One that has appeared to be a completely “supernatural miracle” to many people: the episode where Moses and his people, wandering in the wilderness of Sinai, were guided by a strange – and many have said, “supernatural” – column or “pillar”:
“A pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people” (Ex. 13.21; see other references.)
Typically, Sunday-School illustrations, picture a giant, cloudy but perfect Ionic, fluted column – of the type used in Greek or Roman buildings – appearing magically in the desert; perhaps hovering in the air. Or spiritualists might say that it was only a symbol for Moses himself; the spiritual signpost for his generation. But let’s look around in Natural History – Nature and culture – to see if there is anything there, that would match this description, in real life; a 1) “column” of ) “smoke” by day, and 3) “light” by night; 4) which “guides” people.
In Exodus, there was said to be an apparent miraculous, column of smoke by day, and a column of fire by night, that was said to have been sent by God, to guide Moses and his people, through the wilderness. This has often appeared to be an event that could not be natural; but that had to be just a miracle. An incomprehensible, a simple supernatural miracle. As it indeed appears … unless you know anything about how primitive armies found their way around in ancient times; as in Indian “Smoke Signals.” And at night, fires with burning ash, enough for scouts to guide the armies behind them. (Ex. 13.21).
Here is the fuller story in the Bible:
“And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him; for Joseph had solemnly sworn the people of Israel, saying, ‘God will visit you; then you must carry my bones with you from here….’ And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people” (Ex. 13.21; see other references.)
In most children’s interpretations of this passage, and in many adult miracle stories, this “column” is pictured as an amazing, supernatural thing. One that does not look natural at all; that looks like nothing that we see in nature, ever. It is totally unlike anything ever seen in natural life; a perfect column of smoke that always stayed in front of the people in the wilderness … and that also, though it was cloudy by day, glowed at night. Becoming a column of light.
This would seem to be – and was often claimed by preachers to be – something that “science cannot explain”; and that didn’t happen in nature. So that it had to be proof that there is a God, and that he can do things above and beyond the laws of nature, and the abilities of science; that God existed, and that he was totally “supernatural” (as they often said in the 1950’s?). And yet however … in point of fact, science and technology and practical sense, can now come up with an explanation of this ancient wonder … that shows that this event could be a quite possible, common, and natural event. In fact, the Bible might be talking about a … signal fire.
What is a “signal fire”? This was an ancient technique of sending messages over long distances, by day and night too: scouts and others who wanted to send back messages to others far behind them, without sending runners, would light a fire … whose smoke would tell people in the day, what direction the scout was in; and possibly, by pre-arranged symbolism, what direction the army should go.
This technique was widely used in ancient times by American Indians. Who in fact, developed this technique very highly; into smoke-talking and so forth. American Indians refined this method, using wet blankets to put over the smoke at times; to break up the otherwise continuous “column” of smoke into separate, discreet puffs; which formed a code. Indians had arranged that a certain number of puffs, meant one thing; and another number of puffs of smoke, meant another. So in this way, far-off scouts and armies, could communicate with each other, without radios or phones … by “smoke signals.” Used by Indians, it was undoubtedly known to the Egyptians. And to Moses too, since he was educated in Egypt (see Gen. 15.17; “a smoking pot and a flaming torch” NRSV). But of course, what is more, not only would such smoke columns (and in more advanced technology, puffs) guide people by day; it was easy to make fires spark up and guide them by night, as well.
That, probably, is the answer. The fact is, there is something in physical reality, that would explain the apparently “supernatural” event, as being instead, a real physical event, achievable by ancient technology. An event that is “natural,” in the definition that we will want here: a real physical event; either a) in Nature as it exists without Man; or b) as nature is manipulated by man, in his culture and technology.
In either case, a physical, material thing, provable by science; and not “super”natural. And what is more, we will be noting, 1) in point of fact, this does not conflict with the Biblical account itself, it seems; the Bible itself, if you examine it closely, does not tell us explicitly that this is “super”natural; and 2) the details of the Biblical account never seem to contradict a natural, science-based understanding of the story. So that, 3) though all our preachers always presented this event, as a “super”natural event, one above the laws of nature as we know them, the Bible itself never said that; and in fact, our scientific or “natural” account of the incident, is far more consistent with both this particular page in the Bible. As well as 4) of course, the rest of the Bible. That tells us to use science, to understand religion rightly. As we found in our chapter on Science.
Is a signal fire therefore, what Moses used? It seems very, very likely. Consider: Moses was at the time, leading more than a half million people, some say, through strange “wilderness” terrain, pursued by Egyptians. In effect, Moses was moving a very large army of people, through often unknown land, while evading pursuers, and trying to get past natural geological barriers like mountains and so forth. So did Moses do that? To some simple people, who don’t know much about life, who have little “knowledge” of God’s nature and world, Moses’ solution would seem magical, and incomprehensible. But those who do have some “knowledge,” will know now, that there is something in natural history, that matches the strange column of smoke and light. Indeed, anyone who watched a few old 50’s cowboy movies, would know that many ancients, like the American Indians, used fires to sent messages, and guide others in forth day, and night too: using the smoke as a signal during the day, and the fire and light, at night.
During the day, scouts would go ahead – and when they found a safe place for the main army to go, they would start up a fire … to signal their own army a direction to turn to. If there was no enemy around. If there was an enemy around (as there was not in the Sinai Wilderness, after the Egyptians drowned), then many fires might be set in many directions … and only one would however, be used to send the correct verification signal, that it was the right fire. In many cases, wet blankets were used, to block out the smoke (in daytime) in signal code puffs of smoke. Or to block out the fire, at night.
And so, there is a simple, physical – in this case, technological – answer, that would 1) confirm that such a thing as Moses’ column was possible; though 2) we find now that it was a natural, not supernatural event. And we might note that 3) though many preachers will insist it was supernatural, and that “God” did it, in fact, God often worked through natural things. And indeed, 4) the word “supernatural” was not ever used in the Bible, except in one place …. where, we found on looking closer, in point of fact, that translation was wrong; where the original term was “spiritual,” or “pneuma”-related.
While further 5) if it is said that God did this, after all God often worked through natural things … and people too. So if people set signal fires … then after all, this does not deny that God was doing it ultimately.
And so 6) there is apparently, so far, little or nothing in the Bible itself, that insists that this event was “supernatural” at all. While indeed 7) God encouraged us to explain things with “science.” So that finally 8) it appears that this science-based explanation, while troubling to those who insist on supernatural or magical explanations of things, is actually, the best solution that is most consistent … with the Bible itself.
And so we have now explained, in scientific terms, and have described more fully, an ancient “miracle”; or better said – to reflect ancient language itself – a “wonder,” “prodigy,” or “sign.” No doubt, as Moses crossed the wilderness with hundreds of thousands of people, Moses – like any good ancient commander – sent scouts ahead, in many directions, to scout the way; these scouts would set signal fires to report back what they had found. These signal fires, would work both “by day,” and “by night.” Exactly was the Bible said. They would send up a column of smoke by night. And – particularly when many spark-making fuels were loaded into the fire – a column of fire sparks, at night. In this way, signal fires were undoubtedly used by Moses’ scouts, far ahead of the main body; to inform headquarters, Moses in his tent, about what lay ahead. Then of course, if so desired, depending on what they deduced from the fires, Moses and the main body of the camp would respond with its own signal fire (Isa. 4.5). To tell the advance scouts where to go next. While deciding what direction to go, on the basis of the information from earlier signal fires.
That’s a scientific explanation then, of the mysterious “pillar.” However, here’s the important point: 1) though many think of such explanations as “debunking” the Bible, and proving it false, strictly speaking, we are not doing so here. Far from it. This 2) could just as well be viewed … as proving that something very real could have happened in ancient times. That there is something scientifically verifiable, that confirms the possibility that this ancient event was real.
So that, strikingly, far from 1) proving that the Bible is false; 2) such interpretations prove that it is true. The Bible is true: albeit, true in a way our preachers have not, until now, understood.
An Early Conclusion
Here therefore, we have an interpretation of the Bible that is consistent with science and the Bible too. To be sure though, this kind of explanation of miracles, is disappointing to many. The wonders that the Bible talked about, now seem so ordinary. Yet supposed we continue to investigate this approach.
Many object to it, because they feel the Bible promised not natural things, but “supernatural” ones. For many years, scientists and practical men have been confronted by what others called “supernatural miracles”; by wonders that seemed to defy natural laws. That were therefore called “super”natural events; meaning “above nature.”
By “supernatural,” that is, we mean something that is “super” or “above” or “beyond” what we know or think is possible, in material nature as we seen it every day, or by science. However, practical experience and science have come to believe, that pretty much everything in the Universe, behaves pretty much according to the laws of physics and so forth; or can be described rationally by some future science. And science says that stories which seem to tell about things that don’t seem natural, or even physically possible – like a miraculous giant column of smoke, burning with light at night – are probably, just false. Such stories, many feel today, are simply 1) false, or 2) metaphors for something spiritual. Or 3) such old stories are garbled accounts of unusual but real things in nature; they are inexact accounts of things, by many uncivilized, primitive, or unscientific people, from two and three thousand years ago. Things like the “column” or “pillar” of smoke by day and light by night, for example, are thought to be just 1) false, or 2) a metaphor for the guiding pillars of the religious, spiritual community, like Moses and St. Peter; or 3) “just” garbled accounts of a signal fire. However, note that 4) if this was a signal fire, this means that in effect, there was something real in the old wonder tale.
At first, to be sure, you are disappointed, the first time you hear such an interpretation of the events that you had imagined as being so much bigger and more dramatic – a huge, supernatural, smoky and yet glowing column in the sky. To find out that “pillar” is a common metaphor for only a rough rising cloud of smoke – a “pillar of smoke” as we say to this very day – can be very, very disillusioning. Our imagination crashes to the earth of mundane realities; we feel our heaven has been made smaller than what we had imagined; or that our mental heaven has been attacked. But indeed, while our mental image of heaven, or miracles, has been attacked, neither the Bible, not God himself, have been attacked. In point of fact, our interpretation of the miracle here, is absolutely consistent not only with science and technology – indeed the signal fire is an early technology in effect; it is also consistent with every word of the Biblical account itself. Or in other words, with the worlds of God, himself. There is nothing in the original account, that says it, in itself, is a “supernatural” event. (And as will be seen, even if you take it as having “spiritual” elements, we will find that spirits after all, are as real as ideas).
In fact, St. Augustine, they say, validated this kind of interpretation. He speculated, they say, that things that once seemed “super”natural, or beyond scientific explanations, would one day, as science progressed, be explained by more advanced science and so forth. (See “Miracles,” in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy?).
While today in fact, we can explain all the “wonders” in the Bible … as being not “supernatural,” but rather, totally consistent with Natural History; with what we know happens through nature or man’s physical constructions of it. Things totally consistent with Science and Technology. With the physical universe.
And finally, though this at first, seems like a crashing come-down, even as all our heros in heaven seem to “fall” indeed … yet somehow, though a few will convert this crashing disillusionment, into a dark manipulative and malign cynicism, now finally we are in a position to discover the sliver lining in the clouds. To note that if the glass is half empty, it was also half full. And more than half. In fact, we will find, every element of the Bible we examine here, proves to be absolutely true; and scientifically verifiable. The Bible itself was not wrong; it was only our preachers’ interpretations of it, that were bad.
Specifically, our preachers told us wonders were “supernatural”; whereas in fact we will find, the Bible itself – and God himself – said no such thing. The fact is, the Bible itself left open the possibility that such things were indeed natural things. Things found in the physical, visible, observable universe. And therefore, even wonders, “miracles,” are within the province of … science.
At the same time too though, note that such descriptions are not exactly “disproving” miracles; -or better said the “wonders” – of the Bible. We are not here proving that the wonderful events depicted in the Bible never happened. In fact, we are proving the opposite of that. We are proving that they could have happened. According even to science. Though to be sure, they did not happen exactly the way that many thought they did.
To be sure, we are proving that many (particularly priestly) interpretations of the Bible and miracles, were wrong. But we are not proving the Bible itself wrong at all. In fact, 1) our understanding here is absolutely consistent with every word of the Bible (so far as we know for now). We have not changed a word in this natural explanation. Further too 2) in effect, we are proving that the event in the Bible, could indeed have taken place. Though to be sure, it was not quite what people thought, it was probably, real.
So that now, in effect, we are beginning to see a solid reality, to Christianity. An interpretation consistent with the Bible. Because 1) the Bible itself said that we should use science. And furthermore notice that 2) our descriptions are consistent with every word of the Bible; since as it turns out, if we look closer at the Bible itself, the Bible itself put in words, that allow that the events were natural, not supernatural. God using a “wind” to blow back the sea, for instance. While there is no event in any description of any miracle in the Bible, we assert here, that cannot be found to have a natural explanation, even from language in the Bible itself.
Many More Examples of How
Things That Appear to Be Miracles
Are Normal Natural Things
Can the whole Bible, all its miracles, be seen in a way consistent with nature as seen by science? Can all its miracles be interpreted as being either 1) metaphors, fictional parables, or 2) early descriptions, of after all, natural events? The 1) Bible itself indeed, often said it could be taken as “parable,” “figure,” and “allegory.” While 2) in addition, we just found out that … that overwhelmingly, the vast bulk of the Bible allows – and possibly every single part of the Bible – us to take wonders as natural, not supernatural, events. Events that are consistent with the natural world, as seen by science. God it appears, works far more through natural events, than supernatural ones. And therefore, the best way to know God, and Good … is through science.
Can we interpret every single miracle in the whole Bible, as being heretofore misunderstood natural events … without changing anything? More than two thousand years ago, well before Jesus, Socrates implied that indeed, perhaps all supernatural, surreal tales, could be interpreted as natural things. By what he himself called, “science” (se Plato’s Collected Dialogues, especially Phaedrus, 229). And Socrates did not have any substantial objection to that; his only objection to it was that it would take a great deal of time; and that he himself was more interested in Philosophy than this end of science, and looking at “rocks” and “trees” and so forth. Plato and Socrates did not object to the scientific explanation of myths, religion; they just wanted to devote their own time, to exploring their own minds, hoping while hoping that was not “puffed up.” As Plato said … and as St. Paul was to quote later on.)
Indeed, it is easy to see why Plato and Socrates, might support this kind of interpretation … but not want to undertake it themselves. Because, indeed, it takes a great deal of work to show that the whole Bible, all its miracles, can be interpreted this way; to make the entire Bible, and all of Christianity, compatible with science. Or to show that it is already compatible with science and nature. However in fact, this can be done. We might even summarize in fact, a dozen or so of the major, allegedly “supernatural miracles” that sermons mention … and show how they can be seen to be, in fact, natural things.
First 1) Helping the Blind to See. This may be either a) a metaphor for helping people who don’t understand, learn to understand; or b) an actual medical procedure (as in John?); rubbing away encrustation from the eyes, with a “paste,” etc..
2) Parting the Seas. Many scholars suggest Moses crossed not the “Red” See, but the “Reed” Sea; and/or the Nile Delta, where it flowed into the sea; and Moses crossed at low tide; or when a “wind” – as the Bible said – pushed the sea back a few inches; enough for Moses to find a ford that the wheeled vehicles of the pursing Egyptians could not negotiate.
3) Making Bread Appear out of Thin Air: in the case of a) Manna, and Moses, many scholars suggest that manna was really frost, or aphid secretions, or we might suggest nocturnal but semi-eatable animal (particularly rabbi?) droppings. While in any case of b) Jesus, and the “Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes” as it is called, much of the Bible metaphoricalized that, and suggested that it was just a semi-fictional parable, of how Jesus gives us the “bread” of his good “spirit.” (Mat. 16.9-11, etc.).
While then too, if you look closely at the original, longer accounts of, this, they do not say it was a supernatural miracle; but just that Jesus shared a few items of food, and somehow thousands were fed. This leaves open the possibility that say, if asked, the crowd said it had no food; but when Jesus shared what little he had, the others, who had concealed food in their garments, “found” food they said they did not have … and managed to share it with others too. (Cf. Jesus on having “other sources of food of which you do not know”).
4) Making Water Come from a Rock: water comes from rocks all the time, in springs. Maybe Moses just hit a dormant spring, or dug down a little to find residual underground pools of a recently dried-up spring. While current desert peoples also often put sponges on the ends of sticks, to get to remote water sources.
In addition, in Jewish culture specifically, when Jesus stood by the pool of Siloam, and spoke of being living “water” himself, he stood next to a pool fed by a conduit tunnel carved – they said by Hezekiah – through solid rock; known as “Hezeiah’s Tunnel.” If we think of chisels and all other hand tools and weapons as “staffs,” generically, then the people of this time were, you might say, “striking the rock with staffs, to make water flow from the rock.”
Such early technologies of early civilizations, seemed supernatural and incomprehensible to many more primitive ancient people. Indeed, many ancient accounts of “supernatural magic,” and “magicians” and “wise men,” were almost certainly confused early accounts of ancient technologies that were new and mysterious – and seemingly supernatural – to more primitive persons.
5) Walking on Water; a vision or metaphor only. Or … Jesus was walking on the rocks just under the water, upon which the boat was foundering.
6) The Sun Stands Still; a) the earth shifts on its axis, and results in a longer day. B) This might be a misreading of an ancient metaphors for the seasonal path of the sun. Specifically for “solstice,” or “Sun-Stand” day; the day when the sun arc, is as far South, or as far North, as it gets; and seems to stay there for several days, as they say. Then too c) the sun was said to stand still, on a day of great excitement; and time seems to go slower, when you are excited; so that the day seems to last longer.
7) A Miraculous Column of Smoke by Day, Fire by Night: explained above, as a signal fire.
8) Talking to, Hearing From, God: a) hearing a voice in your mind’s ear; b) talking with a real noble or Lord or gentleman whose words seem to be from God.
9) Creating the Universe in Seven Days: indeed, some force created it rapidly; perhaps too, time was compressed during the Big Bang.
10) Oil Lamps Burn Unexpectedly Long: in certain natural conditions this happens; particularly if a well-saturated clay lamp, wicks oil from the clay?
11) Fire From Heaven, Over Walls (in Elijah): a) even ancient Greeks knew how to ignite caldrons of oil, to pour on invaders of castle walls. Cf. “Greek fire” and so forth. While b) there are meteors. And c) volcanic eruptions, common in the Mediterranean around Pompei, and Mt. Vesuvius.
12) Healing, by the Laying On Of Hands: a) bone-setting; b) massage; c) oriental techniques. Other d) methods of hands-on medical care.
13) Speaking in Tongues: many apostles and early followers, were bi-lingual; and when they (many of them; not just one) began to speak, others were able to hear the lessons of Jesus translated into other languages … or “tongues.” If you read the original account, it does not say that one spoke, and everyone of every language understood.
14) Virgin Birth: scholars say the original Hebrew spoke simply of a hero born of a “young woman” – “Ama”? Young women were sometimes assumed to be virgins; but there was no confirmation of that. Later, when the Greeks translated it, they used a term (“parthenos”? Impregnable?) that seemed to imply virginity. But the original Greek term did not imply that. So that there was nothing in the Old Testament that spoke of a miracle birth in a “virgin”; but a young girl having a child. Or if you look at the text itself, Mary was a virgin … until a “lord” came over her; in ancient civilizations, often the lord of the manor or region, had the right to sleep with a woman before her husband (see ancient noblesse oblige; les driots de la seigner; SP?).
15) Assumptions, Floating Up, Into Heaven: a) probably just a metaphor for dying. b) Or, a kind of union with truth; when you know the truth; the truth is part of you. And even if you die, the truth – part of you – lives on in the rest of the universe.
16) Raising the Dead. Parts of a) Jesus, and St. Paul particularly, suggest this is metaphorical; physically alive persons are nevertheless often “dead”-spirited, downcast, and unspiritual; while on hearing the promises of Jesus, feel revived; as if they had been dead, and now were alive. See Jesus on the Prodigal Son; who was not literally dead, but was metaphorically “dead,” and then came back from the dead).
While in addition b) sometimes persons in comas are revived. And c) the genes of the dead, live on in their descendants; which is said to be how we “live on” by both Plato, and Sirach. Then too d) the thoughts, ideas – part of the “spirit” – of the dead, can live on in memories of their sayings, and in books; and can enter into us when we read them, and adopt their thoughts or spirit. As noted more fully in our writings on Resurrection and Immortality.
A Positive Conclusion
The New “World,”
The “New Nature”
The fact is, God told us to honor science, observation of what actually “comes to pass” in real life – while science says that “supernatural miracles” don’t happen. So how do we account for all the miracles or wonders in the Bible, 1) short of just saying the Bible is a demonic fiction? How can we rescue the Bible from being simply proven false? We can do that – 2) by finding normal, natural equivalents for probably every miracles in the Bible. This turns out to be possible; especially if we take into account, the possibility that some accounts of miracles are just literary inventions, or “parables,” and “figures,” as Jesus called them. Or more precisely, are metaphors taken too literally by uneducated readers. Who did not read or understand, the parts of the Bible that told us to learn what a “figure” was. (In our chapter on Metaphors). Iin addition though, 3) many of the miracles in the Bible are fairly natural events, when more carefully examined. And are better understood as that; as natural events. Than as incomprehensible supernatural miracles. Or as just mental “spiritual” events. 4) In fact, they are both spiritual and real, we will see; physical events with great significance for our lives. And when you see that, you are beginning to see how heaven, comes down to earth. To give you the “full”er, more “mature” vision of life and good. At last.
Many have tried to say that religion is inevitably spiritual, even dualistic: that it loves invisible things only, and even “hate”s material nature. But we find (above, and in our writings on science) that the Bible is full of quotes that told us that God is in “all” things, in heaven “and earth.” To hate nature then, is to hate God. To be sure, at times St. Paul became quite Gnostic/ascetic, and attacked things that are “earthly”; but he attacked specifically only the extremes of earthliness:
“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)…. Anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” (Col. 3.5-6).
God made the material world, and said it was “good,” not evil (Gen. 1). And if God ever cursed the earth, more exactly though we would say here that in any case, after Judeo Christianity, the “world” was remade; the Flood destroyed the old earth and cleansed it; or Jesus “redeemed” the “world” once again. Therefore, if the “world” was ever bad, it has been remade, redeemed, several times over. So that what we have today, is actually, the redeemed, “new world,” and for that matter, a “new nature.” More rational, stable minds. So that the “world” again is good, we would say.
And indeed, thanks to the science of God, and technology, the “world” is becoming a better place. So the world is “redeemed” oddly enough, by the science of God; less than by spirituality.
For many centuries, priests have been spiritual, and have despaired at this material existence; which did not conform to their expectations. They prayed and waited for material “miracles” … but miracles were not quite as common as had been promised. Our holy men therefore often turned against God’s world entirely; telling us the material “world” was evil, and that we should be spiritual beings, destined for “heaven.”
Yet we have found many problems with both the 1) promises of miracles, and 2) the over-spirituality, of priests. Both promises by priests, we found earlier, did a great deal of harm (see Harm Done).
And if our list of mundane miracles, seems … earthly or mundane? No doubt in fact, it is much, much more humble than the grand promises of our miracle-promising preachers. But the problem with our very, very grand preachers, is that though their promises were very, very, very big, they never actually delivered on them. They prayed for two thousand years for many things that never came true, or “came to pass.” Whereas however, oddly enough, those humble persons who followed the “carpenter’s” son, and learned a simple trade – and now and then expanded technology into science – those who respected this lowly earth (that after all, God made) … those persons, oddly enough, as it “came to pass,” created far, far more signs and prosperity and proofs, than our miracle-promiser monks and priests. So that those that our priests said were “last,” in the end, are really first. Indeed in fact, we are now literally going to the literal heavens; and it is because of scientists and technologists; precisely the people that priests often put down.
To be sure of course, in the past, early crude science (the target of Solomon, in Wis. Sol., etc.?) was incapable of making out many of the more subtle – and even to be sure partially invisible – things in the universe, like the human mind or spirit. But today of course thanks to the relatively new sciences of Sociology and Psychology and Anthropology, we are beginning to see the spirit of man after all, rather more clearly. (To see how our thoughts and selves, live on, through culture and DNA for example, our cultural reputation or “name,” and our “seed” or DNA carrying descendants. As we will find in our writings on resurrection and immortality).
And so in fact, the sciences, that once seemed so homely to our very Proud priests, turn out to have been actually, the primary vehicle of God. Though to be sure, there was a brief time, and historical era or “age,” when … we had to believe in things that could not, for a time, be proven. Where science was too crude to acknowledge some things, to be sure, that were real, but that it did not yet, to be sure, have the methodology to see clearly.
Yet to be sure, we are coming to see those things at last. So that actually, religion furthermore, is … coming true.
Proving Religion True
At first, these naturalistic visions of God and Good, seem to “disprove” or “debunk” religion. But actually, we say here, when we find real, scientifically-verifiable things behind the old stories, Religion is not being disproved, but quite the contrary: it is being a) scientifically proven. Or you could also say, b) God is being found again on the earth, again, at last.
Religion indeed is true we have always said; though to be sure, it is true in a way that our priests have not, until now, understood or accepted.
Indeed, can our conservative priests even today, accept a former son of God, who is merely “flesh,” a walking talking person? Returned in fact, as the son of …”Man”?
Yet to be sure, this is what our religion leads us to. And if we begin to adopt the science of God, we begin to uncover in fact, something real in the old stories; the origins of civilization for example. (See farmers, Mal. 3; Deut. 16-18 etc.)
Or … Something Else?
Our priests have remained attached to “miracles.” But God told us to accept science; the observation of what does or does not “come to pass” in real life. While everyday experience, the simplest kind of experiment, suggests right away that there is something wrong, in our preachers’ promises of miracles and other super – natural things. There is something not quite straight, good, or honest about them; about the promises, that if we pray, things will appear out of thin air, supernaturally. Many people pray for supernatural things … and yet they did not come to pass as reliably as something promised by God should come true. And if we have heard a thousand excuses from preachers as to why the promised miracles don’t show up … finally, none of those excuses are right (see Sermons as Excuses).
So what should we say now? Were the old promises of priests simply … false? We might say that. However, we might come up with simply another understanding of the old wonders; a more natural/scientific one. For example note, the Bible itself – as we see here – did not insist that these things were “supernatural” at all; the Bible therefore left open the possibility of a natural explanation for the wonders of the Bible.
In fact, at least as early as the time of Moses, many people were figuring out that the old promises of miraculous powers and so forth, were not very reliable; Paul himself began to ask, “Do all work miracles”? It is probably for this reason in fact, that Christianity developed; out of a desire to try to deal with the lack of many of the material rewards promised by Judaism; including even the material death and then disappearance, of its messiah, Jesus. By the time of Paul – a full “generation” after Jesus – no doubt, many people had begun to notice that the old promises of big physical wonders and miracles – like the material “kingdom” – did not seem reliable. And so, religion had to be abandoned, or changed. And many thought the way to do that, was to become dualistic, and “spiritual.” And to convert/interpret all the old promises of real, material gains from religion, as mere metaphors for spiritual things.
And indeed, Jesus himself, among others (after his slightly older contemporary/teacher? in Egypt, Philo), to deal with this, began to shift, reinterpret the old promises of physical miracles. By implying they were in effect “parables” or “figures” of speech (.q.v.. Cf. etymology of “parable” and “devil” by the way; both forms of the word meaning to throw at you from your blind side). If God has promised real material “bread” from heaven, Jesus was said to have furnished that … but also, he began to suggest that these things could also be taken metaphorically; suggesting that his own thoughts or “spirits” were after all, also a kind of metaphorical/spiritual “bread.”
Thus spiritualizating and metaphoricalizing Judaism, Christianity thereby attempted to distance itself to some extent, from promises of material miracles. Though the old promises were still repeated, and even amplified, metaphorical interpretations of them, were also made available. If Jesus was said to have raised literally dead people back to life, on the other hand, he also offered a metaphorical version of essentially the same event; telling us that the Prodigal Son that left his father and morality behind, but then came back, had been metaphorically “dead” but then, came back from the dead (q.v.).
In some ways, it appeared to many priests, no doubt, this spiritualization would seem to solve the problems of no material results; and in way consistent with the Bible itself. By subtly introducing metaphorical doubles or versions of all the old promises of physical things, no one ever explicitly said that the old promised physical miracles, were false; but it could be deduced by many, that they did not have to be taken literally. Indeed, eventually, metaphorical versions (or ringers) of most of the old physical miracles, were inserted into out Bibles, with the New Testament. If Moses had brought real “water” in the desert, Jesus was said to have brought metaphorical, spiritual “water”; if Jesus himself at times had brought real bread, other times he brings his spirit, a kind of spiritual bread; if Deuteronomy promised starving people real material “fruit,” like grapes and so forth, Paul spoke of the “fruits of the spirit.” So that one by one, the old material promises of God, were all but totally disappeared, evaporated, dematerialized; spiritualized, “twist”ed in their meaning.
Thereby, elements of Christianity were attempting to distance themselves from earlier, failed promises of physical things; to concentrate on spiritual things. In part this undoubtedly came about, as more and more priests discovered they could not really work material miracles. While for its own part, as real science began to develop, it began to confirm more and more often, that the old stories of big physical miracles just did not come true.
Yet to be sure, we are finding here, the attempt to slip away from a religion that promised and delivered material results, here on this earth, was not good. There were literally fatal problems with the over-spirituality of priests, as James began to see. And so it is time to re-materialize religion, we say here.
Indeed, the attempt to re-materialize, has been evident as early as the days of the Greeks. There is a story about one famous Greek; who decided to investigate the claims of priests, that sacrifices left on the altar at night by the people, disappeared by morning, were taken up to spiritual heaven at night by the (in some ways, spirit-like; flying) gods. This famous Greek decided to expose all this; he came by in the morning with his friends, and pointed to all the footprints in the dust around the altar … that showed the footprints of priests. Proving that not gods, but priests had actually taken the sacrifices from the altar at night; for their own use. (A Greek tale the Roman citizen, Hellenistic Paul repeated in effect: telling us “do you not know that the priests share in the sacrifices”?)
But if to be sure, at first such experiments seem to prove there are no gods, no spirits, that even our priests after all need material food, in many ways, this does not fully disprove all the claims of religion. Remember we will find, that after all the material side of life is important; and priests at their best, are material people who take care of material needs too. (Insert farming). Indeed in fact, thanks to the science of God, we can begin to get at the material reality and function of religion: in teaching us to “love one another,” “love your neighbor as yourself,” it teaches people how to get along with one another (often through a central ruler or “lord”). And this cooperation between people, allows us to form civil communities, and … civilization. Which in fact, does produce lots of material “prosperity.” So that amazingly, a spiritual quality like “love,” eventually leads to material prosperity. And the spirit, becomes real; comes to earth. As foretold.
And so actually, as we begin to see the material function of religion, we begin to re-materialize things. Just as indeed, Jesus himself was said to have begun to re-materialize many things; being the Lord in the “flesh” after all; here on this material “earth.”
While we have begun here and now, to carry the re-materialization of God on earth, another significant, “second” step forward, here and now, too.
By showing how ancient “supernatural” things are natural then, we are not “debunking” Christianity then; but far from it, in fact, we are, as foretold, bringing heaven down to earth again, at last.
“Natural” and “Supernatural” In the Bible:
Did God Promise “Supernatural” Things?
1 Corin. 10.3-4 RSV?
Many preachers assert that God and his actions are “supernatural”; which means, “super” – or above – the world of Nature, as we know it, through our senses. But did the Bible itself, ever use the word “supernatural”? In most concordances or indexes to words used in Bibles, the word “supernatural” is used, 1) only in some interpretations; 2) and there, only in one place in the entire Bible ( in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 10). While furthermore, we are about to show, 3) that sole use of the word “supernatural,” in some Bibles, was a bad translation of the earlier Greek; the real word – “pneumatikos” – was better translated in other Bibles, as “spiritual.” So that in effect … the Bible itself originally, never used the word “supernatural” at all. And finally, shatteringly … 4) we find that here, the only part of the Bible that uses the word, finally the concept of the “supernatural” is used by the Bible … only to condemn it.
Most people think that the Bible itself said, that we would get “supernatural” things from God. That the “wonders” promised to us, were explicitly called “supernatural”; and permanently beyond the range of science to explain; totally beyond the natural universe. But as it turns out, that is not true. First of all, note that 1) the word “supernatural” is only found in some Bibles.
2) And worse, those Bibles that used the word “supernatural,” used the word “supernatural” only in one place; 1 Corin. 10.3-4. (In most other Bibles, we will note, that word is more correctly translated, from the Greek, as “spiritual.”)
3) Then note that those Bibles that do use the word “supernatural,” seem to use it only in one single passage of the Bible. And then note next, for that matter, that other Bibles translate this word differently. Note first that a) even this Revised Standard Version of the Bible – the “RSV” – observes in a footnote, that the real word here was not “supernatural”; it was the Greek word for “spiritual” (RSV note “o”):
“Spiritual”; “pneumatikos” (1 Corin. 10.23; The New Greek English Interlinear New Testament).
So most other Bibles do not use the word “supernatural” at all; they translate it as “unspiritual”:
“All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink” (1 Corin. 10.3 New Revised Standard Version, or NRSV).
“All ate the same spiritual food. All drank the same spiritual drink (they dran from teh spiritual rock that was following them, and the rock was Christ)” (1 Corin. 10.3 New American Bible, NAB).
“And all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink” (NWT).
“And all did eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink” (KJE).
4) And worst of all, however this word is translated – whether as “supernatural” or as “spiritual,” note that in this, the only place where most Bibles use the word “supernatural,” the Bible notes that the supernatural , even the “Rock” of “Christ,” is actually, amazingly, not really good. As the Bible notes that the people of Moses had the “supernatural food” of God, or the spirit, even Christ himself .. and yet it did not save many of them from perishing in the wilderness:
“I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all pass through the sea [baptism], and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same
supernatural food [see the host, in the Eucharist] and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock
which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ [the Lord] to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And so not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you thin you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corin. 10.1-13).
Paul seemed to use the word “supernatural” many times. But note, first of all, the word “supernatural” is found only in on this page of the Bible – and nowhere else; probably it is better translated as “spiritual” as a matter of fact (the usual meaning of pneumatic- related words). Most importantly though, whatever the word meant – supernatural or spiritual – the very point of the Bible here, was that whatever it was … it was not enough. The people of Moses had it – but the supernatural or the spirit in the wilderness … did not save them.
5) There are many reasons to regard the translation many preachers gave this word, then, as bad and evil. Not the least of which is, by the way, that the word “supernatural” links Christianity to the traditions of Magic.
6) While finally, to these more substantial objections to the use of the word “supernatural,” (and also the stress on the efficacy of “spirituality”) we might add that in point of fact, the “Supernatural” was indeed, some scholars say, a concept than most ancients did not have (q.v.; see here, from Ox. Comp. on “miracles” or “interpretation”?). First, ancients before Plato and Aristotle, did not have a clear idea of science or even nature; so they did not have any idea of anything, versus nature; over and above nature. Of any things beyond science. To the ancients, some say, all of life was all part of the same mysterious and confused web; god and caterpillars and rocks and spirits, were all in the same mix, with no clear distinctions between them. (Indeed, in animism, many rocks and trees have spirits in them, etc.) Therefore, some scholars object to translating anything in the Bible as “supernatural”; because they say ancients just did not have that concept. They had no concept of the “natural” as opposed to the “supernatural.” (See George Santayana’s famous essay on the discovery of the natural: “The Discovery of Natural Objects,” in for example, American Philosophical Naturalism in the Twentieth Century, John Ryder Ed., Prometheus Books, Amherst NY; 1994.).
7) And for that reason indeed, we might now envision, read many old promises of miracles … as natural “wonders” – without violating the Bible at all. But only some very bad translations used by preachers who, no doubt, wanted to semiconsciously try to link Christianity to … Magic.
8) But if this quote seems to decisively destroy many preachers who support supernaturalism, it actually, note, attacks “spiritual” preachers too. Consider in fact, the New Revised Standard Version, as it correctly retranslated Paul; not as speaking of the “supernatural,” but rather, the “spiritual.” And note that now, in this translation … the Bible is now condemning the spiritual, or saying it is not enough to be saved:
“I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sister, though our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness” (1 Corin. 1.1-5, NRSV).
This is the better translation; the oldest Bibles that we have, which are in Greek – used the Greek word “pneumatios”; which was the Greek word for “spiritual,” after all (most “wind”- or “breath” related words being metaphors for spiritual things; “pneu” being the Greek root essentially, for wind, pressure. As in our “pneumatic hammers,” and “pneumonia”).
Incredibly then, the Bible really is talking here about “spirit,” even the spirit of Christ or God himself – and incredibly, it is saying that the “spirit” is not really, quite good enough to save us, always. And if our preachers will try to draw the moral that this means that we must first accept this spirit into our “heart,” as it turns out, that is not the right moral, at all. In part a) because after all, our “hearts” often “deceive” us. And then related to this, b) in part because … since our hearts often deceive us, we need to use science instead, to tell us if a given word really is from God or not; or is a “false spirit”; using science to tell us whether we should actually follow a given word, alleged to have come from God, or not. So that finally, many religious women, who stress the “heart” and “love,” particularly, make this very serious mistake: mere “spirit” and even our “heart” is by far not enough. But we must always have some “science.”
We therefore, here once again, come to the shattering discovery, that is contrary to so many sermons, and indeed to the primary direction of Christianity for the past two thousand years: whether we are talking about either “spirit,” or something “supernatural,” in neither case, were these allegedly wonderful and infallible, “inspiration”al things, enough – the passage says – to save the people. It is in fact, the explicit point of this passage, by Paul, that Moses and his people had either supernatural and spiritual help from God … and yet, this passage notes, they sinned anyway, in spite of it. And many people were therefore struck down. Because they had only the spirit of God.
This is an unsettling conclusion of course, to the many who believe their hearts, and spirits, faithfully. But indeed finally, whatever it is that we are talking about here – either the supernatural or the spiritual – God himself told us it is not enough to save us.
And if many preachers will sermonize, that this means that such things do not save us unless we have more “faith”? Then after all, we have found that excuse false, as well. In fact, the Bible constantly warned that there are many false things in our holy men and angels; and therefore, we should not have too much faith in them; but in fact, “test everything” in religion, with science; to find out if it is really true, or not. Indeed note, the passage above refers to “test”ing repeatedly. Moreover, we suggest, this must refer to scientific testing; since the whole idea of a “test of faith,” we found, was not from God, (but was literally an idea presented by Satan, in Job 1).
Finally therefore, against a billion sermons, God says the spiritual and the supernatural do not save us; because they left out the importance of … knowledge of the natural, after all. Of practical knowledge … and science. And left out the importance or real, hard work.
Indeed note, Moses himself they say, was allowed to see, but not to enter, the promised land; because Moses himself had sinned (q.v.). So likewise indeed, the very spiritual priest, with his supernatural miracles, who follows Moses all too religiously, will likewise in the end fail; and has always failed us. The priest indeed, has rarely been allowed to truly run, direct, our countries; because he just does not know enough; he is not well-rounded enough; has never seen the “full” outline of what one needs, to see all of what is good, and all of God.
To do that, we need not a “priest,” but a man is in part a priest, but more than that; a “Lord,” a “messiah,” a “Christ,” a “king.” And we must convene with them more directly, we cannot entirely trust the cleric or priest, to accurately convey the sense of him to us; since our priests are unreliable angels, unreliable messengers. Clearly.
But perhaps in the future, some scientist of God, will see things more fully. And then at last, he or his followers, will be allowed into the company, the household, of the Lord, as a useful servant (Dan. 1.4-15). And not as a temporary resident to be kicked out – as our spirit heaven itself is dissolved.
More Points Against a
“Supernatural” – and a Spiritual – Interpretation
Of the Bible, and Miracles
There are a number of interesting things that can be gleaned about the “supernatural” and even “spirits,” from 1 Corinthians, above, then. The first is that 1) few interpretations of the Bible ever used the word “supernatural” at all; 2) the one that does above, uses it only in one place. While 3) even that version of the Bible – the RSV – tells us in a footnote that the original word was in fact, “spiritual,” not “supernatural.” Moreover, 4) indeed, that is the correct word for the original Greek, “pneumaatikos.” While 5) the whole point of the passage was that whatever pneumatikos was – supernatural or spirit – it was explicitly, not enough to save the people. While Paul even explicitly tells us too that 6) that spirit was not just the Old Testament spirit, but also the spirit of Jesus Christ too: “and the rock was Christ” (above). So that finally, Paul was telling us – amazingly, shatteringly – that either the spirit of the Old Testament God, nor for that matter of the New Testament God and “Christ,” were enough to save us. So that finally, if we – more correctly – take this passage to be about “spirituality,” and not the “supernatural,” then … then we have another major point of our book here confirmed: God’s spirit, spirituality, is somehow, not quite enough.
In fact, we need more to save us than spirits and spirituality. And what is that? Preachers will tell us we need to accept the spirit; that the moral of the story is that it takes an act of willing acceptance of the spirit on our part to save us. But even if that is the message of this particular passage, that is not the message of the larger, overall Bible. Which is in fact, that a) neither the Holy Spirit, b) nor our own willing spirit, are always or even normally enough, to fully save us, and take are of all our lives. That 7) in fact, something more is needed. Which is, as the rest of the Bible makes clear: our own practical knowledge and 8) practical, physical work.
While furthermore of course, 9) backing this up, we will be finding that the other specific examples of allegedly supernatural and/or supernaturally “spiritual” miracles, that we will be examining here in the rest of the Bible, can in case after case (all we have examined here) be interpreted as natural things; things found in nature. (As will be seen – 10 – even the spirit turn out to be real; a pattern in material particles, like computer memory data).
So everywhere we look, the Bible itself tells those who look most closely at it, that ultimately, the wonders in the Bible were never called, and are not, “supernatural” at all; but are rather, better called “wonders” and so forth.
And indeed, 11) scholars even tell us that the original Greek and Hebrew Bibles, did not use our “miracle,” but words more like our “portents,” and “prodigies,” and so forth (see Antony Flew, “Miracles,” Ency. Phil.. Also miracles in Ox. Comp. to the Bible).
While 12) we are beginning to show here, that even “spirits” are real, natural things; like human consciousness and minds. Though they were once “super”natural – beyond the powers of science to explain – today, after the historically recent advent of Psychology, even the spirit or mind, can be studied by science.
In fact, for example, note that the passage where Paul used the word “supernatural” – which is found moreover in only some translations only; and that apparently wrongly – referred in turn, to an incident in the Old Testament, in the stories of Moses. Which did not necessarily present even receiving spirit, as being all that supernatural. All that happened, when Moses was in the wilderness in this part of things, was just that God – through a natural human being, Moses who “heard” and “saw” him – laid down a set of laws and commandments – The Ten Commandments. Which the people were told to follow. If “talking” or “seeing” God is just a metaphor for interior dialogue, then nothing all that supernatural happened there. It is presented – often at least – as a rather natural event: God appears, and talks to Moses. Though to be sure, this appearance is not totally like a normal conversation, as it turns out below, “talking to God” is a far more natural activity that our preachers said.
In the end, the vast majority of the Bibles’ ostensibly supernatural events, can be found to be largely, 90% natural, not supernatural. Even its “spiritual” things, as will be seen. And so finally it seem that given this record, and the progress of science (even in our book here), we can get to 100% very shortly; to a completely scientific, natural explanation … of everything in the Bible. All miracles; and all spiritual events too.
Therefore, even now, all of the Bible is better seen today, not as promising supernatural miracles – or even just “spiritual” things either. But as promising natural wonders. Real things, in the visible, physical world, that can now be described by science.
And 13) if at times this seems disillusioning or reductionistic, if it seems to reduce the Bible to promising not much more than what we already have in real, normal life today … then after all, much of what we have today – flying through the heavens in airplanes and rocket ships for example – would have seemed like a bit of heaven, already, to ancient peoples in the time of the Bible.
While then too, the Bible told us to be “humble,” and perhaps not expecting so much is humble. Indeed, the people and grandiose religious conservatives – Pharisees – were disappointed to see a mere “carpenter’s son,” in ordinary “flesh,” appearing to be God; and will be disappointed to see a son of “God” appear a second time, as a son of “Man”; or a mortal, no doubt.
Yet 14) though humble at first, it seems likely that, given the record of past accomplishments of science and technology, it will be most likely humble working science and technology, not promises of supernatural miracles, that show the most “signs” and proofs, of being able to realize the “full”er scope of what the Bible promised; including the “kingdom” of peace or prosperity for all, here on earth, as foretold.
The natural/scientific approach to religion and life therefore, is to be vastly preferred to the supernatural/spiritual one that is predominant today. Indeed, anything else is heresy. A heresy that has rested on even willfully inaccurate translations of the Bible, and so forth. Which itself, never used the word “supernatural” at all, originally. While it constantly noted limitations in “spiritual” things too.
15) But if our traditional spirit-led priests have been mislead then, where does the science of God lead us next?
The Bible’s Miracles Sometimes
Look Magical, Supernatural …
But Sometimes, More Natural;
A “Wind” Blows Back the
Red or Reed Sea
God we find here, is 1) not entirely spiritual or supernatural, or absolutely opposed to “natural” things; 2) indeed God himself never used the word “supernatural” it seems. And 3) many – and as will be seen, perhaps all – of his alleged “supernatural” miracles, can be mostly (and ultimately, we trust, totally) explained as natural events.
What about miracles? Which at first, look surreal and supernatural? In point of fact, it is well known by most scholars already, that the
events in the Bible that at times, in their shorter descriptions, appear magical or abbreviatedly surreal or supernatural, often – in their longer descriptions particularly, as some details are filled in – seem far more natural. Even in the Biblical text itself.
A now-famous case in point, are different descriptions of Moses parting the Red Sea. In the short description, it appears to be a miracle, or magic: all that is said is that Moses is to raise his staff (rather like a magic wand, note) and then the seas are to part:
“Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go on dry ground through the sea” (Ex. 14.16).
Mere Moses with his “staff,” looks rather supernatural; even like a typical magician with a magic wand; doing things in a strictly magical way. Here, Moses lifts his magical staff … and amazing, apparently supernatural things happen; the sea divides and the people walk on dry ground where the sea was. But then, lets look at a longer description.
In a longer description a few details are filled in – that show that the whole incident of Moses parting the seas as they call it, could have been a rather more natural event. In fact, the Bible itself says … the “wind” actually blew the sea back a few inches; enough for Moses and his people to ford a low place, on foot:
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went….” (Ex. 14.21-22).
This theory is well known by – and to be sure it is widely rejected by our magical /supernaturalist /spiritual preachers. Who claim that at most the wind could blow the sea a few inches; which was not enough to accomplish anything. But first of all a) a few inches, would be enough to let people on foot go by … but mire down the wheeled chariots of the Egyptians. But even more importantly b) we note here, that actually, winds blow the seas even dozens of feet, in the Mediterranean. There is in fact, just across the same Mediterranean ocean, a famous “Acqua Alta” (SP? from the PBS show) in Venice; where the wind notoriously pushes the sea up many, many feet; enough to seriously flood Venice at times.
It seems equally possible that the same thing could happen on the southern end of the Mediterranean. Indeed, in any case, all that would be needed, was for the wind would blow the sea back a few inches; enough to let Moses and his people on food, find a ford … but then “clogging” the “chariot wheels” of the pursuing Egyptians:
“And in the morning watch the LORD … looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily … and the sea returned to its wonted flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it, and the LORD routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returns and covered the chariots and the horsemen…” (Ex. 14.25, 27-28).
So actually, as scholars should finally note, the Bible itself began to offer different interpretations of miracles; as either 1) spiritual metaphors, and/or as 2) fairly natural events. (Cf. Dam-building in Joshua 3.16?).
Some spiritualists, will continue to argue for supernatural things in other elements of the story; many will say, for example, that though a rather natural “wind” might have played a role here, still it is not usual for people, like Moses, to be able to command the wind to arrive at a given time. Yet perhaps after all, a) Moses knew the tides; and that was what happens. Or b) Moses knew how to “ford” shallows; and was raising his staff to “sound” the depths for a safe fording place. Or c) indeed, Moses was just lucky; or d) most likely, Moses suspected from his experience as an overseer of works for the Pharaoh, that the wind would eventually have this effect; and when he felt when the time had come, felt the moment had come, felt the “word” from God … he raised his staff … and was right. In this case, a word or message from God, was basically a metaphor for … a thought coming into his head; a voice.
In any case by the way, others parts of the Bible sometimes suggest that God actually, never really did what a man asked; except once, when he is said to have made the day longer, for Joshua:
“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed…. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD harkened to the voice of a man” (Josh. 10. 14).
So the whole idea that we can pray, and get wonders, natural or otherwise, seems at times, not to be upheld in the Bible itself. St. Paul himself even at times made remarks that seem to question miracle-workers. While Paul also suggested there are “higher,” “more excellent” gifts than miracle-working:
“Do all work miracles…? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way” (1 Corin. 12.29-31).
No doubt, is hard for preachers to give up dreams and claims and prestige, of claming to have amazing supernatural or magical or spiritual powers. But there is a more “mature” way, after all, St. Paul hinted. As Paul not only questioned whether all work miracles; but also told us there were “higher” things than miracle-working.
To be sure, even Paul himself was not totally reliable; Paul admitted that his own “knowledge” was not enough; that “love” was the most important thing; more important than “prophecy” for instance:
“Love never ends; as for prophecy, it will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 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…. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but he greatest of these is love” (1 Corin. 13.8-12).
No doubt, “love” is more important than prophesy – or miracles – we might add. But even “love” can be fooled; our “hearts” often deceive us, many sections of the Bible warn. So that even Paul’s “love” is not quite enough, either.
By the way, for those who claim they have this or that perfection already, and think Paul’s love is the final answer, note that Paul, who advocated love here, admitted that he himself was not yet “already perfect.”
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on (Phil. 3.12).
Jesus might have added “love your neighbor” as his additional commandment, according to John; but after all, there were still many other commandments; including the one to “work” most of the week to get things. While if John might have been a fan of love too, he also added too, that after all, there are many false spirits; and therefore, we must even “test the spirits” (1 John 4). While finally, the rest of the Bible shows we must go far beyond John’s limited “test”; to full, scientific testing of each and every saying in religion. Before we are required to have any “faith” in it at all.
In the meantime, over the last two thousand years, worldwide, probably billions of sermons have been constantly delivered to the people of the whole earth; promising huge supernatural miracles (and spiritual things) to us; if we just followed our preachers. And no doubt, those big promises, are what attracted billions of people to religion. But now actually, as we learn to read the fine print, as we learn to read our Bibles, our contracts with our lord a little closer … we find that … many of those promises were all but withdrawn. By qualifying phrases, fine print. By language that suggests that miracles might just be either 1) parables, metaphors, for spiritual things; and/or 2) rather elliptical descriptions of wonderful but still, natural things.
But perhaps after all, there is something real here. Indeed in fact, we will find here now … there is in fact, 3) a good spirit that is both biblically, religiously spiritual; but also scientifically, natural, and real, too. But to get to it, to see it at last, next, we will have had to use not just blind faith, and spirituality … but far more than that, we will have had to use … the science of God.
Which in fact, begins to show us next, the real, materially functional, genuine if modest, heart of Christianity and God. Not as wholly “supernatural” entity, nor just a “spirit”; but as a real force for material prosperity and well being. As we see, finally, briefly, next.
As the God of Agriculture,
And Material Productivity
[Repeated from writing on the Harm Done]
Real religion is supposed to get real material results. But how does it does that? God told us that there have always been sins in our holiest men and angels; and therefore, rather than trusting them, to find out which are good and true and which are not, we should carefully examine their “fruits.”
Preachers tried to get around this; a) in the past they spoke of “fruits of the spirit”; or b) they spoke as if just getting many people to follow them, to join their churches, and/or c) lots of money in the collection plate, were all the “fruits” one needed. Yet we will have found here that actually, these hardly count at all; real religion is not supposed to get just mental fruits, or lots of followers … but real material results. Indeed, even the “spirits” are finally evaluated, by whether they bring long-term material prosperity.
While as for considering having a massive church? Church membership in itself, we note here, is not proof one is good; indeed no doubt, it is easy to attract lots of people to yourself, with false promises. In fact, in that sense, the devil himself is supposed to be fruitful; since he is able to attract the whole earth, to himself (Rev. 13). So that obviously, our priests’ attempts to re-define “fruitful”ness, as just “spiritual” results, or even mass church attendance figures …. are not true; are mere exercises in word-“twist”ing. Semantic sleight-of-hand, and mental delusionism and deception.
The fact is, real religion, words that are truly from God, are to be known, (at a minimum, among other things) by the material fruits they produce; the physical prosperity they produce. And by that standard, we are noting here in fact, it was not the prayers of our priests, that have been productive or sacred. But rather, it was the inventions of practical knowledge, science and technology, that were sacred. That were most productive.
For centuries, man had lots of religion – and giant churches. And yet, people died of starvation, disease, exposure. Millions of the faithful, died of disease in Medieval plagues, for example. Indeed, what finally made the difference, was not faith and prayer … but practical knowledge. Of new agricultural techniques and so forth.
To be sure indeed, when we read passages like the following, consider that though at first, such passages seem to try to say that old commands for “fruits” can be reinterpreted as mere metaphors, for followers:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but he laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’ And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease” (Mat. 9. 36-10.1).
Yet the text does not clearly say anywhere that converts are all the “fruits” a minister should get. Nor does it say it in passages like these:
“Beware of false prophets…. You will know them by their fruits” (Mat. 7.15).
For centuries priests often said these “fruits” were “just” spiritual allegories. Or were about getting good church attendance. Yet finally, we find here, God is very angry at those who think that all these things are merely mental, spiritual, or about churches. Real Christianity is supposed to get real material results; bring real material prosperity. And a Christ or Christianity that does not do that, we will find, is not supposed to be followed loyally, but is supposed to be firmly declared, “false.”
While indeed, finally, the test for your “fruits,” was originally not just for material goods; but largely, literally, agricultural fruits. As in most ancient cultures, which were agricultural societies, several times a year you are to present yourself to the local lord – or LORD God – and you at that time, will be judged even by your real, literal, fruits, “produce”:
“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 feast of weeks, and at the feast 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).
“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 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 win or 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 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).
“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).
No doubt the simple, humble materialism of this religion, will greatly offend or very grand miracle-promising and spiritual priests; just as the simple, mere fleshly “carpenter’s son,” once offended the scribes and Pharisees. With the hint that a mere mortal man, even son of a practical “carpenter,” speaking constantly of farming, being a son of the Lord.
So what happened? How is it that our priests were able to stray so far afield, from the practical/agricultural/materially productive origins, of Judeo-Christianity? No doubt, it was in part the division of labor; that separated the priests from the practical working man. Though Jesus attempted to rediscover that linkage, between heaven and earth, spirit and material realities, God and mere man … it was precisely the priests, the religious conservatives of his day – the “scribes and Pharisees” and priests – that had him executed for that.
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 the from, the material basis of civilization itself: the basic founding principles of … an agricultural economy, directed by a central 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 (see Joseph “interpreting” a “dream” in Gen. 41.15 – 42.9) that makes them great, is to grasp the basic principles of agriculture, that feeds a nation. Which 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 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 and pests. The local lord – who, like Pharaohs, was often regarded as a god by his subjects – might also use his armies, to protect his loyal or “faith”ful subjects, from invaders. Then too, of course, the lord would feed – give bread to – his armies, and his clerics. And this in fact is the underlying core truth of the New Testament; the truth of the cleric: 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.
This is the physically functional, core truth, of Judeo-Christianity; it 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. But can a priest or prophet today, ever see this? Even find the humility, to learn to confess that he was just a farmer; a “tiller of the soil”? Until he does, he will indeed suffer from his own ignorance, and be pierced through by his own mother and father; until he understands.
No doubt at first, to see mere material things – like real fruits; bigger crops – as the great gains from God, finds this goal to be too mundane. But remember, that when Jesus himself appeared on earth as a mere practical men, in the “flesh,” the religious conservatives of his time – the Pharisees and others – found him too mundane, too practical, too everyday:
“‘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 two billion Christians, trained to see Jesus as the Son of “God,” bear to see him return, as a “carpenter’s son”? Or even the Son of “Man”? (Meaning mortal? Not Ezekiel, also called Son of Man).
But in the end indeed, we find it is the humble, mortal, practical farmer, say, who was the greatest man. While in the end, after much pretension regarding spiritual prophesy, even our prophets are found, at their best, to be returned to farming (cf. swords to ploughshares). To understand themselves after all, as farmers; as “tillers 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.’ Awake, O sword, against my shepherds, against the man who stands next to me,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the shepherd…. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested…. Behold, a day of the LORD is coming” (Zech. 13.2-7, 9, 14.1; cf. Cain and Able, etc., as a contest between vegetable agriculture, and hunting and meat).
What was the real basis of Christianity”? It was actually, the outline of the basics of a centrally-controlled agricultural economy; the first model for civilization. Specifically, in ancient times, one a “day” once or twice a year or so, at least, around the time of harvests, the tenants of the land are to bring their agricultural products – even their actual material literal “fruit” – to the local lord or ruler. As tribute, and payment, as “sacrifice,” for what they owe to the lord; in what were in effect, early proto-feudalistic, manorial, agricultural tribute systems.
As we will see, this is the real basis of Judeo-Christianity: it is a codification of the things needed to form an early civilization: a central “lord” or cultural ideal, sustained by agricultural tribute or taxes or sacrifices: “sacrifices” to the Lord. At the basis of all this, was the simple farmer; growing crops; and the shepherds, with his cattle, goats, etc.. Paying tribute, taxes, to the king or lord, in exchange for use of the land, and the protection of central authority and government. In effect by the way, these payments, sacrifices, were taxes; scholars noting the similarity between terms for taxes and sacrifices, in point of fact.
(See Social World of Ancient Israel, 1250-587 BCE, by Victor Matthews and Don Benajmin, Hendrickson Pub., Peabody Mass., 1993, p. 181; from B. A. Levine, Leviticus. Pub. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989, p. xxiii).
Is this picture of Judeo-Christianity far too mundane? Too “worldly”? Not as grand as the huge, gigantic proud promises of our preachers and prophets, of gigantic miracles? No doubt, it is as humble as Jesus, son of a mere practical carpenter. Yet finally note, God speaks firmly against the “prophets” above; and tells us that in the end, they will say they are mere farmers; “tillers of the soil.”
While by the way, as for those who continue to pose as holy men, shepherds of people, but who do not produce real material results? God says he will strike even the false shepherd standing right next to him; and “pierce” him; and will “test” our priest too; till they confess that he too, deep down, is just a tiller of the soil.
No doubt, all this is far, far too mundane, earthly, and humble, for our very, very proud and spiritual priests and theologians. But for those who can now hear, and see: there is to be a “day” indeed when, you come before the Lord, to show him your fruits. A day when, rather like Jesus, your lord is no longer a floating disembodied spirit; when God comes to “earth” and “flesh” again: and not to speak in vague “parables,” any more, but to speak “plain.”
So let us now speak plainly: God wanted us to have material prosperity. And only those who produce it are to be considered good. Indeed, the model for producing material prosperity, is the real meaning and material basis of Christianity. And furthermore though, it is not just the people that are to produce it; the lords and their clerics, are supposed to effectively supervise all this, in order to increase material productivity, and supply centralized governmental services. In order to increase especially, agricultural productivity; in fact, real, literal “fruit.”
To be sure of course, today most of us, for now, have enough food and fruit; so that, just producing more and more crops, is not necessary; we have enough food for now. (Though population pressures could eventually be a problem). Let us therefore of course, not descend to mere “gluttony” then; more food than necessary. Rather, as we pursue the material life of the lord, instead, let us now consider … the advancement of science; which after all, is all about long-term material prosperity, material success. And learning to see God, good, in the world.
The standard of success, godliness, is material. Yet this is not entirely anti-intellectual; science becomes almost, an idealistic pursuit of knowledge, almost for its own sake. As we investigate the material universe, in part to satisfy our curiosity, for knowledge; almost for its own sake. Yet to be sure, for the science of God, of the Lord, finally any and all knowledge, to be found true – and not just an “illusion” or “delusion” or “false dream” or “false prophe”sy – must ultimately proven materially fruitful, empirically provable. Or else be declared useless, and false.
As most of the ideas of all our clerics are hereby found, in summary “judgement” against our many plaintiffs, and prayerful spiritual petitioners.
The Bible Respects and Advocated,
The Acceptance of Natural History,
Can we, without impiety, re-envision, re-embody the wonders in the Bible, as being … natural things? Things in nature? Things that are now seen as unusual, but still natural, events? Events that we can even now see around us in the world, and that we can confirm, with science and everyday experience? This approach will seem “new” and heretical, a “strange new doctrine,” to many believers. But it is actually, a very, very ancient tradition.
This approach to miracles and myth, tales of allegedly supernatural gods, was described as early as Plato, c. 350 BC (in his remarks on Boraeas; in Phaedrus, in Plato’s collected dialogues). While St. Paul, note, clearly seemed to know Plato, and to “owe” a debt, to “Greeks” like him. See Paul’s remarks on things here on earth, being imperfect “copies” of heavenly things, vs. Plato’s most famous theory, the “Theory of Forms.” See also traditional sources, like Bulfinch’s Mythology, on interpreting surreal supernaturalisms and Greek myths, as metaphors … for physical things in nature (Bulfinche’s Mythology; “The Age of Fable,” (1855), Chapter XXXV; The Modern Library, NY, pp. 241, “The physical theory”). Though no doubt, Paul for instance, might take issue with the worship of some kind of “elements,” or elemental spirits (the Greeks and “fire” or spirit, “water,” “earth”), even Paul would finally allow that God and truth – even spirit – is known though the “observation of what has been made.” Even the invisible wind, is known, by seeing the wind blow visible leaves. (As we noted in our writing on Science).
Finally, the Bible supported this material “earth” many times; and supported “science”; and told us that one “day” especially, God is supposed to return to this earth, this world, and even “flesh,” again. So in fact therefore, as we will see here, we are allowed to understand (and re-translate?), or see the Bible and its “wonders,” in such a way, that is consistent with science, and with common sense experience, here on this earth. In a way that does not depend on belief in “supernatural” things, like “miracles.”
Surprisingly enough in fact, this can be done in a way that is absolutely consistent with the Bible itself, as it stands today, without any new translation at all (at least in the Revised Standard Version, and probably the King James too; and perhaps most Bibles). As a matter of fact, we will find that, in addition to supporting science and heaven coming down to earth, specifically as regards miracles: 1) the Bible itself, for example, never really used the word “miracle” at all; the usual words that it used were “wonders,” “prodigies,” “signs,” and so forth. (See Antony Flew, “miracles,” Ency. Philosophy). While 2) the original Bible languages – Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic? – did not use the word “supernatural” either. 3) Nor did they condemn the “natural” man either. While furthermore, of course, 4) the Bible itself tells us to use science.
In fact, 5) God often worked through very natural things, that can be described and embraced, by Natural Science: like rains, floods, plagues, earthquakes. And, to use the word “natural” more broadly, God often worked though physical things in our technology too; the work of our “hands” using hoes and axes, reigns and houses.
Here particularly, though, we will find in this chapter that 6) actually, if you look closer, at the apparent supernatural miracles of the Bible, they are actually described in a way that usually does not really suggest that they were entirely, or even largely, supernatural miracles; but rather, you will find, that all the “miracles” in the Bible, are described in the Bible itself, in a way that leaves open the possibility, that they were mostly (and eventually we will show, entirely) natural events.
Amazingly, we will find, that when you look at the Bible itself, it describes things in a way that is consistent with science, and not miracles.
Naturalistic Details in the Bible Itself
Qualify All Miracles
As Possibly Natural,
Speaking in “Tongues”
Really, Speaking Other Languages;
Not a Miracle
In the past, our priests missed the connection between religion and science.
Or more broadly, “spirit” or religious things, and material reality. Or “miracles” and physical reality too. Conceiving of God, as purely “super”natural. And yet after all, one Apocalyptic “day,” things that are in heaven, and supernatural, are supposed to return to our earth; as God returns to earth again. So … suppose we continue linking spirits and heaven, to earth for a while, here and now. To see what develops.
In the past, our preachers tried to see God, good, as wholly supernatural; as being totally above man, in “heaven.” Typically therefore, out of the whole repertoire of thousands of popular sermons that you are likely to hear delivered from the average pulpit, there is only one that begins to get at the truth; only one that begins to re-form the lost connection between religion and world. It is a particular sermon, on “speaking in tongues.” Which is one of the very few sermons that begin to tell us, that what appears to be a supernatural miracle – “speaking in tongues” – is not a miracle, supernatural or otherwise; and not a solely “spiritual” thing either; but a natural thing.
What do people think “speaking in tongues” is? As popularly conceived in some churches today, (Pentecostals? Seventh Day Adventists?), many believe that the Bible in the book of Acts, described, endowed on some special people, a particular kind of supernatural power or miraculous ability, a kind of talking or speaking; called “speaking in tongues.” What happens, it is said, is that people go to church – and suddenly, they are “filled with the Holy Spirit,” as they say; and decide to start uttering strange words, a strange language. Words that a) most people don’t understand. Or b) strange words that is strange to everyone; but that somehow everyone, no matter what their language is, understands. Which would be, of course, a miracle language; a strange language spoken – and even understood, some say – by many people; even by people who had not previously studied that language. A language which furthermore, has never been classified.
This whole idea, comes from a passage in Acts. On the day of Pentecost (five days after Passover?):
“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).
This passage, many churches, many denominations, interpret as a miracle: it is said by many that in effect, the disciples who are from Galilee – and who would ordinary, it is presumed, be speaking only the language of that region – somehow, speak in another way – in “tongues.” In a way that anyone can understand; any one, of any language. No matter what language they speak. So in effect, most people think we are getting a sort of miraculous (“Ur”?) language here; one understood by everyone.
But if that’s what people think, let’s read the passage a little closer. First of all, 1) there is nothing here that every explicitly calls this, by name, a “supernatural miracle.” Furthermore, 2) actually, if you know much about language, you know that “tongues” is an old metaphor, for language. (Since language is largely spoken, with your tongue). And 3) in fact, read more closely, it turns out this is about a surprising, but still very natural, fact: “speaking in tongues,” just meant, speaking foreign languages. Or in “other tongues,” then the common one; as the Revised Standard Version says.
4) What is really happening here then, is probably that … Jesus knew many kinds of people; including non-Jews and Romans and so forth. So many of his disciples, are probably bi-lingual; they speak more than one language. And so, when the disciples start to speak to the crowds, they speak many different languages. So that whatever language you speak, you can hear the word of God, in your own language.
5) People who were not there, are amazed and perplexed; but perhaps not because it was a miracle; but because they misunderstand what was being talked about. (Language, “tongues” being confusing, after all.
6) Most likely in fact, people were amazed … merely to find the words of a Jewish Rabbi like Jesus, being spread in languages other than Jewish Aramaic or Hebrew.
Many people might have thought – or assumed; or asked as an open question; “are these” not – whether the disciples and Jesus, who are assumed to have come from Galilee, therefore, spoke the language of that region; they are therefore amazed, to hear the disciples speaking to many different people, in many different tongues – or languages. Yet of course, the assumption that the disciples are from Galilee, or spoke only one language, is almost certainly incorrect. Today we know that many of Jesus’ disciples were from professions that would have demanded that you speak two languages; like Matthew, tax collector. Indeed, Jesus at times supported “Samaritans,” half-Greeks and so forth. While Paul himself was both a Jew, but also a Roman citizen; who probably read and wrote in Greek. So that it might have “amazed” many to hear an idea being spread in many tongues; but it was not necessarily supernatural.
7) So that likely, all that was happening here, is just that bi-lingual disciples, are teaching the words of Jesus to many different kinds of people, each in their own tongue. So that everyone heard the word of the Lord, in his own language. No doubt, the linguistic diversity and pluralism of Jesus amazed many; but cynics were cynical about just how important his message was, after all.
8) By the way, as for the “spirit” starting all this: “spirit” in part means “ideas,” and your mood or “spirit”; and moods and ideas, were taken from Jesus, and given to the disciples. So that they were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Thus inspired, they began to talk to the ethically diverse communities in Jerusalem, and around the world,
9) That no supernatural miracle is happening here, but only a natural event, can easily be shown, therefore, from the text itself. Indeed, there is nothing in the Bible itself that insists that this is a supernatural miracle at all; everything the Bible says here – if you only know how to read it closely enough – is consistent with natural events, that can be confirmed by science.
There is nothing in the Bible itself, that demands that this is a miracle. And so indeed, we can understand it as a wonderful, but natural event.
No doubt, many of his disciples and others might have been called “Galileans.” And therefore, many around them assumed that they would only speak the local dialect of Galilee; probably Aramaic (a variation on Hebrew; another “Hamito-Semetic” language as they were once called; all also related to Arabic). But note that the idea that the apostles were Galileans, only spoke some dialect of Galilee, is only an assumption or even an open question, by the people around them: “are not,” the people ask, all those speaking … Galileans”? Therefore, note, the Bible itself never even firmly said the apostles were Galileans, in the first place. It merely says that many people asked whether they were. Nor does it ever say the apostles only spoke one language either; and were not at least bi-lingual. Indeed, many scholars now believe in fact, that some of the Apostles in any case, were in professions like tax-collecting; (like Matthew); which often required Jews to speak more than one language; to speak or write Greek or Latin, for their Roman overseers. While eventually, indeed, Christianity was spread through a Greek-language New Testament. Into foreign, non-Jewish lands, like Rome; where Latin and Greek, were predominant.
10) No doubt, this was a wonderful and astounding thing in some ways; that Jews should be speaking many languages, and spreading Christianity around the world. And yet to be sure, it was not necessarily supernatural at all. Indeed, there is a perfectly natural explanation for this alleged miracle.
As indeed, practically, all alleged miracles.
No doubt, many of Jesus’ early followers spoke other languages than Aramaic, or Hebrew. While we know that speaking in “tongues” is just another way of saying, speaking in other languages.
11) And this usage seems confirmed, implied, in some of St. Paul’s later remarks on speaking in tongues:
“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).
Here St. Paul here assumes that “speaking in tongues” means “many different languages.”
12) Further, by the way, note Paul began to note problems with “speaking in tongues.” Since:
a) If you speak one strange language, you are not understood by those who don’t speak it; to whom you will be a “foreigner.”
b) And then too, Paul emphasizes that it is not how you say things, but what you say, that is finally more important. That you should have your “mind,” solid thoughts and ideas, behind what you say. For which reason, speaking in tongues is not the highest gift one might have:
“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 ever 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).
c) Furthermore – as some ministers note – the text in Paul says that speaking in tongues is only a sign or miracle, for unbelievers:
“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).
Like most of the Bible, to be sure, this line has at least three interpretations: that aa) only unbelievers demand signs; or bb) only unbelievers will see this sign; or cc) tongues are significant only for non-Jews, or unbelievers. But in any case, Paul’s general tone on “tongues” here, as always, is rather negative.
d) Speaking another language, translating to others into a different language in church, as Peter too saw, is useful, in that it allows ideas to be spread to others who might not understand the language of the church service. However, there are also problems that can come from even translating, interpreting, in church. The first problem, Paul saw, is that if someone is speaking one tongue from the pulpit, at times there will be many who do not understand that single tongue. And yet, when many people try translating while still in church, things can get chaotic, noisy. Perhaps this is why Paul elsewhere told us not to “murmur” in church.
13) Eventually in fact, in the Church, the masses were told rather strictly only in Latin; (or in other churches, in Greek?). No doubt to try to straighten out the confusions.
Yet finally in any case, tired of much babbling and confusion of tongues no doubt, finally Paul and stressed the ideas, and the “mind,” over the mastery of language. The “mind,” over “tongues.” Finally then, in the middle of all the enthusiasm for speaking foreign languages – or speaking in tongues – in fact, Paul simply told us to grow up. To be “mature.” Though Jesus had said that only if you are a child, do you get into the kingdom heaven, at some point we have found, apparently, once there, you are supposed to grow up. And not “grow up in your faith” as ministers said, but grow up beyond faith; to the science of God. As part of that, our first childhood heaven itself is to dissolve; and we are supposed to “mature,” it seems.
14) Undoubtedly, being mature here, means in this case, knowing what a “metaphor” or “figure” of speech is (as commanded to the wise, in Proverbs):
“The wise man also may hear and increase in learning, and the man of understanding acquire skill, to understand a proverb and a figure [of speech; a metaphor]” (Proverbs 1.5-6).
15) So indeed, we need not priests “without knowledge”; “my people perish from lack of knowledge.” Specifically, knowledge of … tongues. Resolving the confusion of tongues as foretold (“come to unite all tongues”).
16) In the meantime, even our priests are not knowledgeable enough; they are indeed, priests, prophets “without knowledge.”
17) And because of that, they are false shepherds.
18) But if our people now “perish, for lack of knowledge,” and false priests, then after all…
19) Indeed, now note, the text itself, in the better translations call it a “wonder” (Acts 2.19). And not a “miracle.” A “sign.”
As indeed, Peter rightly said. When many began to mock this “miracle,” as a drunken idea, new wine …. St. Peter stands up and 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”).
Note here indeed, that significantly, aa) Peter does not call this a “miracle”; he calls it a “wonder” (in, for instance, the RSV). While by the way bb) note that “spirit” is being poured into “flesh.”
20) To be sure, our languages were long confused:
“You ransomed men for God saints from every tribe and language” (NRSV); “tongue” (Rev. 5.9 RSV)
“Now the whole earth had one language and few words…. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people…. Come, let us go down, and their confused their language, that they many not understand one another’s speech…. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth” (Gen. 11.1, 6, 7, 8-9)
21) If our tongues were confused though, one day they are to be straightened out, or unified:
“I am coming to gather all nations and tongues” (Isa. 66.18).
“Not double-tongued” (1 Tim. 3.8).
And indeed, we are straightening them out somewhat, even here. Fixing the “confusion of tongues.”
22) And for that matter, pouring spirit, ideas, truths, on “flesh.” Filling out the old disembodied notions. Showing how they can find a home here on this material earth; in natural things.
In “speaking in tongues,” through disciples, God was no longer totally supernatural; he had found a “body.” (Some say, the church). And was working through unusual, but normal, physical, channels.
23) And this is an important accomplishment. Here, showing how things we thought were supernatural, were natural enough after all, the things that were spiritual, our heaven itself, our lord himself, can be re-tied, re-embodied, can come down to earth again.
24) Wonderful as this moment of “speaking in tongues” was, in fact, this event – like indeed all miracles we will find – was not in the Bible itself, ever quite proclaimed, by the higher narrative voice in the Bible, as a miracle. Nor in fact, we find, are any of the alleged supernatural miracles of the Bible, really that at all. Even according to the Bible itself. Which indeed uses the word “wonder,” or “portents”; and used the word “supernatural” only on one occasion: in order to condemn it.
25) Why did our very, very spiritual priests miss and deny this? What happened to them? What happens, the reason that most of our priests and monks continued to believe in “supernatural” miracles so late – most of them, up to about 1964 or so (Vatican II) – was that most priests had a very narrow, monkish, bookish, ideational/ spiritual sense of religion …; they knew only words, floating in space … and did not really understand, or have enough training in, applying to religion, science and practical knowledge of this material universe. Like training say, in languages; “tongues.” They therefore, had no ability to cross-reference what they read and knew only from books … to actual things in the material universe.
If only our priests had more respect for God’s material universe, this would have been taken care of; but long ago, our clerics, our priests, became bookish … and turned their backs on, refused to obey, the material, physical side of God. And because of that, they lost the sense of even the good book.
26) And by this sin, almost all our priests, became false priests.
27) Or in effect, really, magicians. Believing that things happen by direct action of magical “word”s, without the intervention of practical work and knowledge; that you say the miraculous words, and things just appear, as it were, out of thin air. So that the vast majority of our priests became in effect, believers not in God, but in … magic; conjuring; sorcery.
As we will have seen in our section on magic.
28) And so it was; the whole earth was “deceived,” even in what it worshipped; by indeed, just as God warned, “sorcerers.”
29) But while this is true, it is time today, to expose our entranced, deceived priests. And “refine” them; show them the way to the higher, better, fuller, science of God. And if they do not agree? Then after all, we can simply say to them – with God – “you are no priest to me.”
30) Does the natural interpretation of wonders, seem too “mundane”?
31) Too “reductionistic?”
Then too, our spiritual leaders often have an exalted vision of God … and, like the Pharisees and townspeople, cannot recognize God in a rather ordinary, mundane, “flesh”ly son of a “carpenter,” walking among them.
And so it has been, once again. We were lead to “false prophesies,” false promises of miracles, by precisely, priests, or ordinary people, “without knowledge.” Who could not see God in normal things; who would execute once again no doubt, in fact, God come in the “flesh,” in ordinary material things. Who will not accept as a son of God, the ordinary farmer, or carpenter, or even scientists. Or even accept, the son of “man”; a mere mortal.
32) But so it is. Let them open their eyes now, and see. The second and better vision of God; on earth again.
To fix this, now finally, we are trying to educate – refine – the priests, and the public. So that finally, we can have a population that understands the nature of God. Better than our priests have. And when our priest at last, one day, discover this – after centuries of misleading themselves, and everyone else – then and only then will we have a proper sense of religion, good enough, realistic enough, informed enough … to actually begin to get effective results, here in this world; enough, to build a “kingdom.”
33) To do that, though, we will need priests who can see both heaven, but also earth. And know now to link them together.
34) And we need to be firm about this: anyone who cannot do that, will not be admitted into the company of the Lord, for the truly practical and useful work of the lord (Dan. 1.4). But will be judged, indeed, as not having sufficient material fruits.
The truth is, as foretold, our priests and bishops and ministers, made an enormous mistake and were “deceived”; there are no miracles. If you look carefully at even the Bible itself, you will find that the Bibles themselves, carefully hedge the mirculousness of the wondrous events of the Bible; indeed they are presented in such a way that finally all such events are qualified in such a way, to be capable of being understood as magician’s tricks (Moses vs. the magicians); or as being in effect, garbled accounts – or in effect, metaphors, figures of speech – for things in nature and technology. For this reason among others, our priests were not good; they were largely deceived, as foretold.
But while this is so, we can now show our priests the missing links between spirit and earth. And demand that our priests to publicly, repeatedly, confess their former sins and deceits. To cease promising their miracles … and adopt the science of God.
35) Or else, be adamantly, repeatedly, publicly, denounced. Judged, after all, to be in part, magicians; entranced by magic. But also simply, false priests.
36) Following false prophets; a false idea of Christ; those who believe in miracles, following a False Christ.
No doubt this is hard to “face”; and yet it is what we must face. In order to move on.
All This is Background to
All our books here, finally add up just to … the background to contemporary Theology. Which is science-based.
Though here we show that this is not only compatible with the Bible; it is the beginning of the fulfillment of prophesy. Only those who can pass through the intellectual “fire” of re-examining their old “child”hood ideas of God, who can pass through the demolition of their childhood heaven of faith and miracles, who learn to tie religious ideas, to science and the world in this way, can in fact have the foretold, “second,” “fuller” vision of God; the vision that can lead humanity to learn to make wonders happen more often; and create the ideal heavenly kingdom of good on earth, that was foretold so long ago.
But if this seems totally “new,” or Apocalyptic, remember that 1) even the Apocalyptic destruction of heaven itself, was foretold, in the Bible itself. While in any case 2) this vision might be “new” to ordinary preachers and churchgoers … but it has been around for literally thousands of years, among intellectuals, and theologians.
In fact, all of what we have said in this book, has long been known to Theology. Indeed our entire book here can be read as being nothing more than a simple introduction, to the background of … Theology. Which long ago passed through all this.
Indeed then, our study here has been in part intended to use quotes from the Bible itself, to take the ordinary churchgoer, who believes only what he reads in the Bible – from his simple native, blind faith in the Bible, to the more aware, critical vision of Theology.
And so indeed our book ends, where Contemporary Theology begins. As is appropriate to a book that can serve after all, as an intro to the background of contemporary Religious Studies and Theology. With the finding, basic to contemporary Religious Studies: that 1) contrary to what we heard in church, from preachers, both churches and preachers and holy saints, can sin … and have sinned. However 2) fortunately, we have a method – practical knowledge, science, reason – that can help us find the truth. And 3) when this knowledge – which we note here, is commanded by the Bible itself – shows us that “supernatural” “miracles” don’t really happen much, if at all, then 4) after all, we are supposed to just note this … and move on to a more complex, scientific understanding of life, and God, and of good.
God works through very, very natural things that can be described, now. And if this “Natural Christianity” seems revolutionary when presented to the people as the best replacement for failed 1) Miracle Religion and 2) Spirituality), what we have presented here in fact – 3) The Science of God – is only a very, very slight variation – if it is any variation at all; – of what has long been accepted in much of mainstream theology. Or of a contemporary theology which now grows out of the most advanced and rational method of Biblical analysis; Biblical Criticism.
Standard Theology texts, and most scholarly articles on Biblical Interpretation, pretty much accept something almost exactly like, this kind of natural sense. The sense that supernatural things don’t happen as often as many thought; not even in the Bible itself. And that we need to move on to a more scientific understanding of God therefore. Even, some would say, over and above the Bible itself. Since the Bible itself notes that even its own prophets and angels, can be questioned; and are to “fall.”
In any case, let us close where contemporary Biblical studies being. Let’s quote one standard theological reference work – the Oxford Companion to the Bible. Which noted in 1993, that not too lng ago, Biblical Criticism came to take seriously the finding that science thought that supernatural miracles didn’t happen; and then, modern scholars also noticed that however in fact, the Bible’s “wonders” were often actually not presented as such supernatural miracles, often, even in the Bible itself. But rather, they were presented, as more natural things:
“The rise of biblical criticism ran parallel with changing ideas about the world we live in. New scientific knowledge…. It was debated just how exactly factual biblical depictions of miraculous events were. Critics note the literary aspect: scripture is quite uneven in the degree to which it brings in miracles stories, and it may describe the same event in ways that are more sheerly miraculous or less so. This suggests that the element of miracle is again in part a matter of style. Biblical criticism is not in principle skeptical about miracles; but it takes it as clear that not all miracles stories are to be taken literally….” (James Barr, “Interpretation, History of,” Ox. Comp. p. 320).
In addition to this, it had long been said that the Bible, if it appeared to promise miracles, should not be taken literally. St. Paul himself, Jesus himself too, told us that much in the Bible would be “parable,” or “figures” of speech (as noted in our chapter on Metaphors). Telling us first of all, that the Bible should not be taken at face value; and that specifically, things that appeared to be “miracles” might not be what they appeared to be. They might be “spiritual” metaphors.
Or we now add, they really are after all, metaphors for, or by-some-garbled but intact descriptions of … subtle things in nature. (An ancient scholarly theory; from Socrates on Boreas, to Bullfinch; to Max Muller).
And so now, as we end, the reader is now at the beginning of contemporary theology. We have taken the believer who believes only the Bible itself … and have found seventy, a hundred quotes from it … that allow, and even command us to follow the scientific vision; and contemporary, science-based theology. But this is more than just an academic exercise however; it really is the beginning of the fulfillment of the Bible prophesy itself. That one “day,” our first heaven itself would be ending … but then we would begin to see another. Another that comes … down to earth.
If then, this, or if contemporary, Biblical Criticism-based theology, seems Apocalyptically different than what we learned as children, or faithfully obedient adults in church, then after all we note, this new theology is the fulfillment of two more things in the Bible, itself: the predictions that after all, one “day,” 1) we are supposed to “mature” or change, in our vision of God and Good; and 2) one “day,” God is supposed to reveal, uncover, many bad things even in our highest angels in heaven; is supposed to destroy our first heaven itself.
And if this seems impossibly hard to face or bear? Note that 3) all in order to reveal a new and better, “second” vision of God and good. A heaven that can related to, get results on, “come down to,” this natural, material earth. A vision that some of us in Theology, are seeing realized in part, even, now. And that anyone can come to see. Since the basic ideas and examples, are simple enough.
Finally though, we need to deal with the history of many disillusioning confrontations and conflicts, between 1) common sense and science … and 2) religion. Most ordinary believers are unaware of any such conflicts. Or they have been trained to ignore them. But let’s look at the first moments, and what happened, when Science first began to examine religion … and ran right into miracles. Which did not see to happen, in real life, science found. When Science therefore often came to the shattering conclusion, that Religion was simply false.
Though now we find that if early, crude science simply rejected things it could not at the time “see,” now, we can begin to see things like the human mind or spirit, for example. So that we have a new science, and a new world; a science that does not fully debunk or reject, what ancient science could not yet see; even “spirits.” But which to be sure, now makes sure that the old good spirit, finds a material home; here on this material earth, again.
As foretold by the Bible itself; by God, himself.
END OF CHAPTER; END OF BOOK?
Where Belief in the Supernatural – Magic and
Miracles, Magic Wands and Magic Staffs, Bread Out of Thin Air – Came From:
Simple Clerics’ Misunderstanding of
The whole idea that some things are “supernatural” “miracles,” in fact, came mostly, from ancient primitive persons – and priests – misunderstanding early technologies. Like signal fires.
Where did our clerics ever get the idea that the things of religion were “super”natural, or above and beyond natural explanations? Where did they get the vision of life that children and clerics believe: that one could say a few prayers or ritual formulas … and bread could appear supernaturally, out of thin air? There are many places priests got these ideas. One is that 1) priests tend to know little about physical reality; so it all looked surreal and supernatural to them. While 2) partially because the old accounts of wonders were sketchy, and left out key details that would have made them seem more normal. While 3) priests often tended to take metaphors literally. (See our chapter on this). While then too 4) many priests seem to have been unconsciously, and in spite of themselves, and Biblical prohibitions, influenced by surviving (or resurrected; or syncretistic) ideas, from Magic.
Can belief in supernatural miracles have come less from the Bible … than from residual belief in Magic, found in cultures all over the world? Actually, though Christianity likes to try to distinguish strongly between belief in “miracles” and belief in “magic,” the two are essentially, belief in the same thing: say the “magic words” – or in the case of religion, say the miraculously efficacious prayers and formulas – wave a magic wand – or a cross – and things that you want will appear out of thin air. A rabbit will appear in an empty hat; or, the Christian equivalent, bread will appear in empty baskets (the “Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes”).
Many parts of the Bible spoke strongly against “sorcerers,” and “diviners,” and “magicians,” (and “pharmacists.”). And yet popular — or “low” – Christianity, low Judaism – and its belief in “miracles,” seems, anthropologically speaking, very continuous with ancient legends of magic. And its “prophets” – who after all tell the future – seem to be nothing much more or less than the religious version of “fortune tellers” and “soothsayers”; who also told the future. While indeed, Anthropology confirms that modern religions, probably had their origins, in ancient forms of Magic. So that if we are really serious about reforming Religion, we will need to go back and uncover – and weed out – many elements in “low” religion, that in effect, are really … magic and sorcery. Indeed, God warned that there would be magicians and so forth, around; perhaps in Christianity itself. And the modern “Miracle-workers” are in effect, magicians.
But what in turn, are magicians? The word comes from “Magi” – as in the “Gifts of the Magi.” It was apparently, and old word – perhaps Persian – for the “magus,” or “sorcerer,” or simply, “wise” or learned man.
What was a Magician? Today, when we think of a “magician,” we think of an illusionist and slight-of hand man; a person with a secret pocket up his sleeve and so forth, that appears to be doing physically impossible things – like making a rabbit appear out of a hat – but that is actually using secret springs, and pockets, and tricky movements with his hand, to pull rabbits and scarves and other things … our of secret pockets and so forth. The Magician today , is a simple stage performer, that pretends to make solid objects appear out of thin air, among other things. But most children today, know, that the stage magician is really, just using tricks; he is not really making real objects, appear out of thin air.
In ancient times, though, before the development of science proper, there were many wise men around; “Magus” is really the ancient word for “wise man,” or learned man, or “master.” In ancient times, there were many such men … who knew a little primitive technology and medicine, we would say here. They knew a little about herbs, and various primitive medicines; like witches (and “Brewhas or Brewhos” Spanish?). They lived in ancient times, before real science; when we had some “pharmacists”; in whom though some real chemistry was mixed in with alchemy … as well as perhaps, some sleight-of-hand and chemistry tricks. n which some fairly real and workable techniques, were mixed in with things that did not work too well; or that were even deliberate frauds.
Elements of such things, some scholars say, can be found even in the books of Moses … and even Moses himself. Moses is said to have thrown his staff on the ground … and turned it into a snake; but scholars of magic say that this was a common trick among sleight-of-hand artists in ancient times. While indeed, when Moses did many of the alleged miracles he did, the Bible noted that “but magicians did the same things.” Indeed, some might say that his “staff” was really, the Jewish equivalent of the “magic wand” of Magicians. Sometimes they had secret compartments in them with dye in them; to turn water “magically” red – or into “blood” – and so forth (with red cochineal bugs?). Note that such tricks however, often combined a mixture of simple deception … with real chemistry and technology and so forth.
As for prophesies and influencing nature? Already in the time of Moses, there were many disenchanted with “soothsayers” and “fortune-tellers”; and often Jewish kings would outlaw them. And though some apparently returned in Christian guise, as “prophets,” Over time, the Jews themselves, and Christians too, have grown disenchanted with those persons who claim, magically, to have a “crystal ball.” And with religious prophets too. See Zechariah, Malachi, Jeremiah, Jonah: all prophets … who were often disillusioned with much of prophesy and prophets. For some time, people tried to find good prophets, and to distinguish them from “false prophets”; though eventually by the 19th century, history was well-enough developed to record thousands of false prophesies; and by about that time, people began to feel that nearly all prophets and fortune-tellers, were “charlatans,” or false; fakes. (Charlatan, from “Cerreto,” a village in Italy, home of Padre Pio). While science was well-developed enough to know which elements of ancient knowledge or “magic” were true, and which were false. Indeed, Harry Houdini – the famous stage magician of the turn of the century, (1874-1926) -confessed in effect that none of his stage tricks was anything more than a fake; and he wrote at least one book, in which he counted his study of stage magic … telling us that everything he had seen to date, was indeed, just an illusion; that there was no one out there really making solid things appear out of thin air, for example.
So where did these claims come from in the first place? Probably the credibility of magicians and miracle-workers, went back to the ancient days, when to be sure, even then, there were many outright frauds. But when after all, there were ancient pharmaologists and so forth … who sometimes, knew some real, valuable things. Ancients for example, knew many working technologies and medicines. So that intermixed in with bloated, exaggerated, and false claims, were real things … that amazed and shocked and awed less sophisticated peoples.
Significantly, many of the early technologies that seemed incomprehensible and surreal, to many, were pretty simple and are well-known today. So that today, they do not seem supernatural at all. Among them might have been: 1) the ability to find water coming out of rocks; find a spring. Or to 2) dig wells, or conduits; to get “water out of solid rock. ” (Which was done in Jerusalem). Such things would have seemed “magical” to ancient people. In addition perhaps 3) the ability to pour “fire” from the sky; or burning pitch or oil from castle walls. (Cf. “Greek fire”; cf. Elijah). And in addition, there were 3) many early, partially effective medicines, “bitter water”s, that could induce abortions and so forth (Num. 5?). As 4) well as many “magic sticks:” that were actually, probably, just simple tools that however, more primitive persons could not quite understand. Tools ranging from boomerangs, to flutes, hammers to arrows, measuring sticks and so forth. While 5) many “burning” swords were probably just burnished metal swords, a) first seen by Stone-Age people who didn’t have metal, and did not know what they were; or b) as poetically described by poets, using “burn”ing as metaphor, for light-reflecting. (Cf. “Singing wires”; the humming telegraph wires, as described by Indians; and “Buffalo soldiers,” or black soldiers with black woolly hair). While 6) in some cases, agricultural overseers – like Moses; trained by the most advanced civilization of his day; Egypt – might be able to “foresee” or predict, various shortages, famines, due to dry growing seasons and so forth. (And even cause them; by ordering Jewish farm workers to work less hard; a “self-fulfilling prophesy”). While 7) getting a “sword out of a stone,” was originally probably, about … how to smelt rock ore, to get metal.
When we are talking about magic and miracle then, we are talking often about things that were sometimes just 1) frauds, but 2) are sometimes real, early technologies. (As well as 3 – misunderstood metaphors, and so forth; as noted in our chapter on Metaphors). Those things that worked, in ancient times, were thought at times – even by the early chemists themselves – to involve “invisible spirits” or some such. But today we know that there were many things in ancient times, that worked and were real; but just depended on chemical effects and so forth, that the ancients had stumbled on, and were using, but they had not yet fully understood.
And where did rumors of “magic wands” some from? In ancient times, there were no really scientific civilizations; but there were relatively more advanced civilizations – like Rome. Which were quite a bit more advanced than tribes in Africa. To whom simple Roman technologies – like making concrete, and burning pitch, and ships, and metal swords – would have seem magical and supernatural. Although to anyone who knew how to make these things, they were of course, natural enough. They involved no supernatural spirits, but instead, simple knowledge of … science and technology. To this very day, we find chimpanzees using sticks to get eatable termites and so forth, out of termite mounds; and sticks to crush nuts; and waving stics about ineffectually as though they could use them effectively as weapons; which no doubt to the uninitiated chimp, would seem surreally frightening and magical.
Likewise, the implements of more advanced civilizations, would have seemed supernatural, to more primitive persons.
So again, where did tales of “magic wands” and magic brews and so forth, come from? Imagine a primitive person, from Africa, coming to Rome, to watch Romans make concrete. It is a strange and magical process, to the uninitiated. Workmen have a strange piece of paper, with some kind of formula on it. They they gather up strange chemicals and objects – lime, sand, crushed rock – and mix them with water … with sticks. And if they mix it just right …. they pour this liquid into a form … and it changes to rock. It is easy to see then, where many rumors of very strange miraculous happenings, by wise men, would have spread world-wide. And would have been quite persistent. Because, after all, there was something real behind them. Though to be sure, it was not quite what some of our ancients thought it was.
Gradually, by the time of the 19th century, and Harry Houdini’s book, most people in most civilized nations, had come to more or less understand that most things that were called “magic,” were misunderstandings of primitive people; or were outright frauds. However, our religious workers – who were not trained in science – held on to belief in magic, or miracle, much later than anyone else. In part, because they believed that they were supposed to hold firmly to ancient books like the Bible; and so never really read or never really take fully, seriously, more recent, modern, informed discussions of such things. Not knowing that God in fact told us to develop our “minds,” and honor “Science.” If we do this, then we will find that the Bible and real religion, are not oriented to the “supernatural” at all. And therefore, not to invalid forms of Magic.
Never knowing this, many of our priests and uneducated people, then, have held on to belief in “miracles” to this very day. Many have held on to this very day, to ancient, garbled or “para” or Meta”phorical – elliptical, garbled – descriptions of old wonders. But they have even to this day, not grasped the real nature of these things. Believing that water becomes rock, or other miracles happen, by simply … 1) saying the magical ritual formula 2) over some substance, and 3) waving the magic sticks. Then wonderful things happen.
In effect then, much of our Religion to this very day, is basically, heavily infected by … belief in Magic. While even then, it does not get even magic right. And if Religion is really dominated by Magic, and religion dominates the world – as indeed it has; until recently, even in most civilized countries, most people said in polls that their faith was the most important thing in their lives – then false magicians, a false image of Christ – as miracle worker – have indeed, been dominating the entire planet. As foretold (Rev. 13, 1 John, etc.).
The Most Common Sermons –
As Debased Belief in Magic;
Versus a Realistic Description
Of the Clerical Life
Consider for example, the very core of what we have been taught is sacred today: the core of most sermons, the core of priestly Christianity. It is essentially, this simple vision: 1) devote yourself to the old sacred formulas, prayers, dogmas, and books, or the “word” the “Bible”; 2) learn them by heart; 3) if you do that, the LORD will make bread appear out of thin air. To feed you. This is in effect, actually, just a typical primitive priestly misunderstanding, of actually, a bit of our economy, our economic technology. This simple core theology, is in effect, a sort of half-comprehended, garbled version … of 1) the particular job of clerics; and 2) the virtues of Education.
First consider the cleric’s life. The 1) cleric was originally, one of the few literate members of society; among the 2% trained to read and write; to read religious books in temples, and keep written records for the king too, often. As such, the cleric was to make his living in large part, by reading and writing. Which meant essentially this: a) as a “child,” you go to school or temple (“schule”); and b) learn to quell your unruly passions and clamorousness; to c) devote yourself to learning the “books”; and/or the sacred books and formulas. Then d) when you could do that, you read the books to the illiterate masses, in temples and so forth; and e) the “LORD” (of the manor, or whoever) saw to it that bread appeared on your plate, to feed you, and take care of you. As if by magic. Say the words … and bread appears.
So that in fact, we say here, the theology that we were taught by priests, as being absolutely holy and binding – but that did not, we found, really match the overall massage of the Bible itself – was actually, just an expression of the limited life world of the cleric, and his limited job. The fact is, that the simple core formula we were taught, above, in fact works for the cleric; but only for the cleric. All he has to do is too devote himself to the “word,” and he gets his bread, from the Lord.
However, the fact is, of course, our priest has a very, very limited vision, or only part of the whole elephant; the whole process. The priest is likely to speak constantly, as if this is “all” there is to life; partially because indeed, it works for him. But what the priest does not know, is what goes on behind the scenes (cf. The Wizard of Oz; the movie). The fact is, the priest is not really fully, adequately appreciative, of how his “bread” appears. To him is seems simple, even miraculous. But behind the “miracle” is actually, hard work.
The fact is, that bread does not just appear, as the priest is wont to assume and say. The fact is, many practical working people, have to work together to produce it. Just for a loaf of bread, we need, to just draw a sketchy outline: 1) banks to finance farmers; 2) farm-machinery manufacturers; 3) farmers to farm the wheat; 4) truck drivers to take the wheat to the mill; 5) millers to mill the wheat into flour; 6) more trucks to deliver the wheat to bakers; 7) bakers to cook the bread; 8) still more trucks to deliver the bread to the stores; 9) grocery stores to sell the bread; 10) other people with money, to buy the bread. And 11) a government, overseers, a society, to make sure all this happens in an orderly way.
To the preacher, it all seems simple: 1) read the holy books; 2) teach them; and 3) food appears. And this is the theology we are taught.
And indeed, this is seen as the simple message he likes to teach; which seems to be indeed the moral of the “Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes”; where Jesus preaches … and it is said, bread just appears magically – or the Christian version of Magic; “miraculously” – in the empty baskets.
But in fact, if you read the original Biblical account more carefully, you will find that … the longer, definitive account, did not actually quite say, that bread appears “supernaturally” or “magically” or “miraculously” in the baskets at all. It may be that after all, the crowds had bread hidden in their pockets and so forth; when asked, they said they had no food; but when encouraged to share, they took the bread out of their pockets, and bread “appeared,” as if by magic.
Indeed to this day, in any case – as Paul acknowledged – it is the crowd that feeds the priest, as far as physical food; more often than the other way around. Where after all does the priest get his money? Most often, the congregation, puts money (formerly, its “sacrifices”) in the collection plate; and as Paul noted, these “material” benefits are given to the priest, as his salary and so forth. Some of that money, the priest may then redistribute; but not all of it. In any case, he did not get his bread out of thin air. The priest gets his material support … from the very productive working people … the value of whose “works,” he often constantly, hypocritically, denies.
Or never sees. As he continues to preach that bread appears out of thin air, just by saying certain words; like magic. As indeed, in a way, it does. And yet however, if our working men and women, would consider where the priest ultimately gets his bread, the mysterious check falling into the collection plate – from your own hard “material” work and “sacrifice,” as even Paul admits – then after all, perhaps it would be better for our working men and women, not to pay their priest. Until such time, as he comes to at last respect the true material means of his support. To acknowledge that God and his promised prosperity, works even more, through the practical hard work of “secular” people. That his bread does not appear out of thin air, but came from practical material knowledge and science.
And if a priest does not acknowledge this? Then after all, simply … have everyone stop putting money into the collection plate, after all. Until at last the priest acknowledges that whatever the priest may give the masses, there is a great deal they give him as well; that the working people of the world, are an even more important part of the total picture, than the priest is.
So that furthermore, to really understand God therefore, the priest must never again, be so spiritual; but should devote at least half his studies, and half his sermons, to practical knowledge and science. To the better half of God, and good. While until he does that, and knows the material side of life, the priest is just a false magician; a conjurers; who speaks as if – or in many cases actually believes – that material goods simply appear out of thin air. Without the intermediary of our practical work.
Will priests ever learn this? In the past, they never have. But finally, there are many ways to remedy this, now. To “Refine” our priests; until at last they see the “full”er outline of God; a God who lives in heaven “and earth.”
Among many other excuses for their own lack of material results, our priests say the things they promised will show up “soon.” But “I will gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today,” was the not-too-admirable glutton “Wimpy,” in Popeye cartoons. Who likewise exchanged empty eloquent words, and no real material fruits, for real material hamburgers. Though no doubt, our clerics’ spiritual instruction has some value of its own, on the other hand, in the end, many spirits are false spirits; and we can only know they are good … by after all, the material prosperity they produce. And in a timely way.
Have our spiritual priests done anything for us at all? To be sure, we will find, teaching the people “love,” teaches them to learn to cooperate with each other; which makes civilization possible – and the cornucopia of complex consumer goods that only a complex society can produce. So that ultimately, some spiritual instruction bears real material fruit, down the line. But not all of it. Spirituality indeed, is like a “leaven”; but it cannot replace the meal, the wheat, the flour. Much spirituality in fact, brings great material suffering.
So we need our priests now, to be able to see the whole, larger process – spirit and practical economy. Heaven and earth. Priest and working man. Words and fruits (or lack of them). Words and world. So we see how they interact well … or not. Which doctrines are fruitful and true …. and which are materially dysfunctional, and false.
To find all that out, we need people with a “broad” vision, like Solomon. We need in fact to join heaven and earth; word and flesh. Religion and Science. As we are doing here … and now, in part. Only those persons with a Solomonic largeness of mind can help create the kingdom of good on earth. Unfortunately, our priests so far have fallen far short of that. Though a far broader education, in the seminaries, in the science of God, can help.
Believe in Magic
This Is Scientific Proof that Religion Is True:
The Importance and Sacredness of Naturalistic
Or Natural Interpretations of Religion
Are we against Religion and God? In the past, the major objection to this kind of account, was that it is against God and the Bible. That such accounts are intended always to “debunk” or “disprove” religion. But note: we are not going against God or the Bible here. And we are not “debunking” Religion. Far from it. First 1) note that we have quoted the Bible over and over and over here; 2) it seems that we have done nothing that contradicts the Bible here. And 3) that we have actually, amazingly enough, scientifically confirmed the parts of the Bible, that once seemed surreal or incomprehensible and even impossible. And have actually, made material sense of the old wonders at last. While indeed, 4) we have made material sense of the old wonders, materialized them, brought them down to earth; 5) we have actually, proved that these wonders, could have happened. In effect, 6) we have scientifically proven that (this part of) Religion, could be, absolutely, materially, scientifically true.
In fact, 7) we will be showing, all this is in fulfillment of ancient prophesy: one “day,” our old detached “heaven” of miracles is supposed to be dissolved; but we are supposed to see a new, “second” vision of God; one that comes down to earth somehow. And even now, we are doing that; seeing a better vision of God … as we see how he works by and through, things on this earth, again.
8) Far from refuting the Bible therefore … we are actually, fulfilling it. At last. And as we see more and more, how God was always in the earth – but is more and more visible now, thanks in part to our religious scientists – we should be able to understand, “see,” religion, God, so much better … that at last, we can get a Christianity … that can get, see – and improve on – the real material results; that were there all along. For those who had ears to hear; and eyes to see. Real eyes; to see things – god, good – in the material world again, at last.
As foretold in the Bible itself.
The Growth of Early Science, Naturalism –
Rejects Miracles and Magic
When Science first looked at Religion, the results at first, were often extremely negative. Particular, when it came to examining Religious claims of miracles. The fact is, Science and practical people, have often formally and informally investigated claims by preachers and magicians, that they and/or their god(s), had “supernatural” powers. Claims that this or that holy man or magician, had powers beyond or above – or “super” – the ability of science to explain, in terms of physical things in nature.
Many have claimed to have amazing powers. Preachers and magicians in fact, often claimed they could make things appear out of thin air; give them supernatural powers to walk on water; and so forth. But while millions believed in such things, as early as the time of the Greeks though – and certainly by the time of the often very-practical and eminently realistic Romans, and the time of Jesus too therefore – many more educated people had looked into such things … and decided that few if any people actually had such “supernatural” powers. Even if the powers were supernatural, often the things they claimed to produce, were supposed to be visible; as in making stone walls crumble (at Jerico); the ability to walk on water; and so forth. Yet science said that whenever it looked for such results, it either found none. Or found some natural explanation to them. If people appeared to “walk on water,” for instance, perhaps they were actually walking on some unexpected rocks, just below the surface.
Not only scientists doubted supernatural miracles. It is easy enough for an ordinary person, to find out that praying for miracles or supernatural powers does not work too well; just try it and see. Pray, and wait to see what happens. Probably every five-year old has been good, and prayed for something … and found out that though our preachers often promised us “all” and “whatever” we “ask” … the things we prayed for did not happen. Probably every child has done this. Or if he hasn’t, he should.
At first then, historically, when we applied science to Religion, we found that it is full of deceptions and dishonesties. Or, you might say, science seems incompatible with religion; or religion, with science. Particularly, Science often says only matter and energy is important and real – and that “spirits” probably don’t exist. Since there has never been any good material evidence of spirits. Which would appear to mean, finally, that therefore, much of religion, is just “bunk.” “Humbug.” False, silly stuff. Misunderstandings … or even, deliberate lies.
For centuries, in fact, throughout History, whenever science – or even just common sense – looked into religion, much of religion seemed, just totally false. In large part, the main problem reasonable people have had with religion, is that religion seems to be promising many miracles that we never see. As science noted. For this reason, may nations began to simply abandon religion, from the time of Plato, and the Roman Empire, on, there were many educated men who suspected that much of religion was confusion and deceit.
This view has some significant influence, too, among many, if not all. Particularly among educated people. By the time of Rome then – and of Jesus – it was becoming evident that practical, realistic, proto-scientific, rational knowledge, was really what made man prosperous. When an engineer said he could bring water into Rome, he could. While in contrast, it must have seemed to some, our magicians and priests, who often claimed to be able to make water appear out of thin air, seemed increasingly, to be unreliable. More and more, the knowledge and science that described Nature, in rather material terms – by way of physics, math, engineering, and so forth – applied in practical ways by engineers, professional men, tradesmen … seemed far more effective in bringing God’s promised prosperity to us, than prayers and so forth.
And so, gradually, respect for human reason, and science and practical knowledge, grew. While respect for traditional religion, often declined somewhat. And eventually, out of all this, Naturalism developed: a movement which came to believe that belief in ghosts and spirits, did not really seem to be very helpful, or productive; that life seemed to work more along the lines described by science and technology and practical sense. That what worked best, was to think of life in terms of solid material things; their physical properties and chemistry and so forth. And that was what brought prosperity. More than prayers, to invisible spirits.
History of Growing
Observing problems with, implausibility in, promises of miracles, many elements of our cultures, began to become more interested in practical knowledge, the observation of material life, than religious spirits. And though belief in invisible spirits persisted in religion, and in literature to some extent, eventually, an attempt appeared – by the 19th century particularly – to try to see essentially all of life – even things traditionally talked about by religion – in concrete, practical ways; as being about different aspects of material things.
Historically, this trend grew, very slowly. But there was persistent dissatisfaction with priests – or “clerics,” as they were in part called. Secular governments indeed grew up, in part by noting problems in clerics; in “clericalism.” Especially, clerical impracticality and reliance on miracles. Out of this, various forms of anti-“Clericalisms” grew. Secular governments gained in power … by noting problems in clerics; and taking away many governmental and authoritative functions, from them. Like “Rights of Clergy.” The Protestant Reformation was at first, phrased as a criticism of the Catholic Church; and formed as a part of the state taking over Holy Roman Empire chores; Henry VIII breaking away from Rome, to form his own church, the Church of England, or the Anglican Church. But by the Enlightenment, religion in general, was sometimes even explicitly, or almost openly, attacked (vy Voltare, etc.). Then, following English enlightenment, and English-speaking figures like Hume (who wrote negatively On Miracles), Jefferson, in the Constitution of the United States of America, c. 1776, rigorously separated government from religion; setting us a strict “wall of separation between church and state,” as he explained in a later letter to Baptists.
Cynicism about religion in general – because of the problem of miracles in part – continued to grow, with the French Revolution of 1789; in which many key participants were self-confessed atheists. Another key early date, was 1806 – when one of the Napoleons, (who were often atheists?), dissolved the Holy Roman Empire.
And to be sure, seemingly at the center of all of that rejection of religion, was the science-based movement called “Naturalism.” Which at first, to be sure, seemed adamantly against religion. But then….
What was, or is, “Naturalism”? It is a tendency in our cultures, to begin to believe science and common sense; to see life as working more according to rational, normal, “natural” processes; as against religious visions that insist that life is full of magical or miraculously incomprehensible things; things that have no real rhyme or reason, or that happen by super– natural, often invisible powers; not according to natural processes that we can see. Ghosts and spirits; the Holy Spirit.
Naturalism then was roughly, an enthusiastic embrace of science, by people outside science proper: by writers and philosophers. It was the attempt to explain or describe not just chemistry, or physics, but all of life – including religion, and the things spoken of by religion; miracles, metaphysics, ethics or morality – not as supernatural things, but as a product of natural forces, from the material universe. At times, naturalism went totally with science, and its assertion that material things, the world of “nature,” are all there is; saying that there are no spirits, no angels, no God. Since we can’t see them, or image them on the instruments. Naturalism went so far, as to suggest that the whole universe was best explained by science, as an effect of matter and energy. Physics. It even added at times, that thinking of “spirits” or “super-natural” things – things beyond nature, matter – was silly. Spirituality never worked, science said.
Furthermore, science had begun to look at alleged incidents of “miracles” and “supernatural” activities. To investigate them. And all the good, serious, objective, and honest investigators began to say that most of the things that religious persons had thought of as “miracles,” were actually, just natural things, that uneducated people misunderstood. A meteor struck the earth – and they all thought that God had sent “fire from the sky”; a volcano exploded in Italy, and everyone thought God was doing miracles, moving a mountain top. Whereas scientists believe that these things just happened; not because we were good or bad; they were just as the fairly random result of simple natural geological processes; tectonics, magma, and so forth. As for the “power of prayer,” that was investigated over and over … and the results were overwhelmingly, negative. Early scientists compared the number of their own prayers, to actual results; they watched other people pray for this or that, and compared the number of prayers to the number of times the prayers succeeded; as compared to standard statistics of how often things happened, etc.. And what they found, overwhelmingly, was that supernatural miracles never seem to happen, at all; and that praying for miracles didn’t work either.
Out of this came scientism, and some kinds of naturalism. Which in extreme forms, amounted to an almost total – even naive; exaggerated – faith in anything that chose to call itself, “science.”
The Naturalist Movement
Noticing the great material success of science, by the 17th century, many people began to strongly advocate “Reason,” particularly. As in the “Age of Reason”; the “Enlightenment.” Eventually though, real “science” was growing. And finally, many educated elements of society began to advocate that; and trying to use science to understand, every single thing in the universe. As part of that, “Naturalism” appeared.
“Naturalism” proper, by name, or as a self-conscious movement, seems to have roots at least as old as Plato (Phaedrus, 229b -e); though Socrates himself, without explicitly repudiating it, declared he himself didn’t want to study Nature, but rather the human mind or spirit (230a-d).
Still, a kind of rudimentary technology, and therefore trial-and-error technology or science, has existed since at least the time that man began using tools, and then improving on them. While a fair description of a scientific experiment, with a control group, existed in Daniel 1.4-15, KJE. And it soon became evident to many, that technology, a trial-and-error, experimental way of looking at the world and nature, was proving to be extremely useful, in bringing mankind prosperity and so forth. Particularly, by the time of the machine age. And given the lack of miracles, as compared to the huge and indubitable improvements in life, worked by science and technology in the machine age, many people were willing to give up many ancient beliefs – even beliefs in miracles and God, perhaps – to try to live their whole lives, not by ancient religious and other formulas, but according to the newer knowledge of science, and so forth. Or at least, many wanted to give science and practical knowledge much, much more importance, than ancient societies seemed to give them. And at times, there even surfaced groups of people, or schools of thinking, that would more or less consciously advocate, studying and ruling our lives, according to what science discovered, in the material universe; on in “nature.” Hence, a kind of thinking appeared, that at times called itself “Naturalism.” A great confidence in man, and the ability of his technology, to tame, and live in Nature, and to explain, life. As you see in say, the novel Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. (And Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court). With the increasing idea that it was, more than any other form of knowledge or activity, man’s observation of nature, and the development of science and technology, that raised us up from “savagery.”
“Naturalism” therefore, was appearing rather strongly, in the late 18th, early 19th century. By that time, practical knowledge, science and technology, were so obviously successful, that many people wanted to try to apply scientific thinking, the scientific interest in matter, a material Nature, to all of life. To philosophy and literature, and all aspects of human life.
And so Naturalism started up strongly, in the early 19th century – and became a conscious movement (cf. Zola, Balzac, etc.). Because of the great success that science and technology were having, elsewhere.
By the 19th century, particularly, science and technology were producing huge benefits; the steam engine, the automobile, the airplane, the radio, better agriculture and medicine. Science was saving millions of people from disease – whereas priests who had been praying for miracle cures from prayer, were having little effect. In fact, with the rise of science and technology, religion seemed to be in trouble. To many intelligent persons, it was becoming evident to some that praying for miracles – which was the normal kind of prayer – was far, far less effective than science and the study of visible Nature. And the medicines – like penicillin – that they produced.
Finally, out of increasing awareness of the material success and importance of science and technology, partially out of that, came the movement known as “Naturalism.”
What is “Naturalism”? In extreme, classic form, Naturalism is about the same as “scientism” and rationalism; belief in science and reason, and not much else. It the doctrine that all things, even human life, could best be explained, and most effectively dealt with, as an effect of matter, natural forces; material things that we can see, in Nature. Not spirits or invisible, supernatural things. Hence “natural-ism.” A movement which, to be sure, was often rather against religion – or at least, against the belief in invisible, supernatural spirits.
By the early 19th century, it was clear that the progress of practical knowledge, as evidenced in the Industrial Revolution and mass production, was becoming a tremendous boon to mankind, overall. Although now and then, some noted pollution, overcrowding, and so forth, overall, science and technology were a clear good. And so Naturalism was a sort of attempt to center itself around things that worked; around science, the study of material nature. And in some cases, it was applied to the study of human beings too. What made people tick, many came to think, was Matter; our material needs for food, sex, shelter. As Karl Marx began to suggest. And then Freud. Or in any case, if human beings were not quite that simple, still, we could look at human beings scientifically, and find out what did motivate them. And mostly, it was thought that it was material needs and forces; not “spirits.” Not even the Holy Spirit.
At some points, science was strong enough, to almost take on Religion; or at least, the “supernatural.” And belief in “spirits.” Science had looked for spirits, and had never seen any; nor even, what is worse, any really, materially noticeable results among those persons who believed and trusted and had faith in spirits. People prayed and prayed and prayed for healings; but nothing worked better than penicillin. Leading many intelligent people to finally conclude, that most of religion was “bunk.” “Hokum.” Lies. A fraud. Or, for those who would like to still us biblical terms: a “deception,” a “strong delusion.” People had prayed to “spirits” for centuries, to be healed of illnesses; but nothing worked better, than the new medicines. And so, many concluded, perhaps we should even abandon religion, and/or many beliefs regarding the “supernatural”; in “invisible” spirits and other things above and beyond what science could observe. Since such beliefs, were proving, demonstrably, infinitely less productive, of real “works” and “fruits,” than say, scientific agronomy.
Science and technology had become so successful, that though the vast majority of people claimed to be religious, or went to church one day a week, still, for millennia they had always devoted the bulk of their work week, to practical knowledge and activity; farming and fishing and so forth. Which were more materially “fruit”ful. And eventually, a few intellectuals began to wonder whether science and Reason, couldn’t do better in life, all around, than Religion.
Indeed, the 15th century Italian Renaissance, began to move a bit away from Christianity, to emphasize “Humanism,” and greater confidence not so much in religion, but human Reason and Knowledge. Though most scientists and others still acknowledged the Church; and indeed, were silence, jailed, or executed, if they did not (cf. Galileo). But still, the bulk of humanity has always devoted the bulk of its efforts, not to Religion, but to practical jobs. And by the time of The Enlightenment, in the 17th century, there were thinkers who were either trying to 1) make religion compatible with science; as some “Deists” did in America; or 2) just reject religion entirely; to become Atheists. Some even went to far, c. 1789, with the atheistic elements of the French Revolution, and ten in 1844 with Marx’s attempt to see all of society in terms of materialism, or 1917 in The Russian Revolution, or in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s, and the rise of Italian nationalism in 1860-1929, many attempted to set up secular states, sometimes in open opposition to religions. Which seemed like “primitive superstitions” to some intellectuals and workers. In the United States, armed conflict between religion and others, was prevented perhaps, by the doctrine of “separation of church and state.” Which allowed both to exist simultaneously. Without allowing one to interfere with the other.
In fact, most legal systems today, allow religion, but do not allow it to take over government. Indeed, America was founded partially by Puritans, who came to America to escape the state religions of England for example (Anglicanism; the Church of England; established by Henry VIII). So that when advanced thinkers like Jefferson and Franklin, established the Constitution of the United States, c. 1787, they wisely established the separation of church and state, and thus managed to avoid the conflict that was to often tear Europe and Asia apart, for the next 150 years. Leaving however, the relative importance of church and state, church and reason, church and science, unresolved.
For many years, Americans have thought of themselves as religious; and have said belief in God, Christianity, is one of their most important values. But creative writers and thinkers, often questioned even Christianity; and applied science and reason, in various studies and books, to religion. At times, to explicitly attack it. But other times, to try to come to some kind of truce or meeting, between it and science.
Yet to be sure, there were no easy answers it seemed; no easy ways to come to terms between religion and science; the only answer for many, was simple partition. Just separating them; and at times, to this day, suggesting that they live “separate but equal” more or less, as they said of black and white people for a while. While some decided that both were valid; but had sway over different parts of life; science and practical reason say, over the “world,” and religion, became the “field” (see Paul), that specialized in continuing to apply traditional answers, in whatever “spiritual” things remained opaque to science; like, until very late, morality and metaphysics.
In sum though, relations between science and religion, were always somewhat strained or strapped; they seemed to have very little overlap. And then when science looked into religion, or vice-versa, there seemed to be outright conflict.
By far the bulk of people in America, to this very day, have tried to believe both some elements of religion, and practical sense, somehow, simultaneously; while ignoring any conflicts. Though to be sure, many intellectuals have consistently tried to either reconcile the two fields. Or … historically, given the great successes of science, and the apparent failures of religion, many intellectuals in many eras, began deciding to simply junk religion, to become atheists. And to try to see all of life solely in terms of science, matter, things in the material, natural world or universe. An idea which became part of the motivation, for some of the more atheistic kinds of “Naturalism.” Which was therefore, often, rather opposed to Religion, and its invisible spirits.
In some ways, and at first, many people saw a bright Utopian future for a science-based, nature-based civilization. An ideal world, a Robinson Crusoe-like existence, in nature, living well thanks to technology.
At other times though, to be sure, some found that such attempts to see reality, almost solely in terms of what we see with our eyes and technology, and the societies it made, were not all that ideal; that things in that World View, sometimes seemed grim. In particular, if it said there were no real “invisible spirits,” then Naturalism seemed to say there was no soul … and no afterlife in Heaven (or Hell either). And no invisible angels or God hovering over us helping us either. Which was a hard idea for many to face or bear. So that indeed, though there were some very positive things about naturalism – a bright and materially prosperous future thanks to science and technology and reason – on the other hand, the universe seemed suddenly “soulless, and empty” in some ways.
Particularly, in the often explicitly “Naturalistic” writings of Stephen Crane, Dreiser, Jack London, Sinclair Lewis (Cf. Marx, who started his career as a literary critic, in the era of Naturalists Balzac and Zola), man and life seemed rather short and mean; men seemed motivated just for more material goods for themselves; to have no sense of justice, fairness, honesty, or ultimate truth; instead, people were just pursuing their own material gain. As Robber Barons. As the rather materialist Hobbs had suggested, life was “nasty,” brutish, and short. Science and photography were seeing the surface of life in more and more detail … but life was looking more and more ugly.
In the earlier forms of naturalism, or nature study, there was a focus on the love of nature; as in the pastoral paintings of the Renaissance, through to the last paintings of the French nobility, before the Revolution. But later naturalists – particularly after noting some of the ugliness and pollution of the Industrial Revolution – began to note a kind of emptiness and exploitation, and ugliness. Which began to appear in paintings by Courbet; or others in the movement, related to “Naturalism,” known as “Realism.” In the naturalistic materialistic philosophy of Marx, c. 1844, and in the writings of Dickens, and Sinclair Lewis, and in the photographs of Hine and so forth, we begin to see poor people whose new scientific technological environment just meant, pollution, and a very dirty poverty.
To try to fix this new problem in man’s culture, the majority solution, was just to use Christian morality – but also socialist unions – to convince industrialists to create more humane working conditions, and so forth.
Yet at the same time, there have remained deep antagonisms and incompatibilities between science and religion … until now, perhaps. Particularly, practical people were angry at Religions’ irresponsible – and often on its own part, fatal – attitude toward material reality. Often, religion did not mind if people died materially, hinted Marx; since it thought that they had another life, after death. (Religion for Marx was the “opiate of the people”). It therefore, just enabled the bourgeois to offer probably false “pie in the sky,” good things in “heaven,” in order to keep workers working harder and harder, under bad conditions; believing things would be better after death.
And so Naturalism, proper – which was really about technology, or atheism, more than nature – developed. Read a general definition of “Naturalism,” by Websters’:
“Naturalism: … a theory denying than an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically: the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena.”
Now note, though this part of the definition of Naturalism:
“Realism in art or literature, specifically: a theory in literature emphasizing scientific observation of life without idealization or the avoidance of the ugly” (Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dict.).
Naturalists wanted to be scientific objective; and that meant facing ugliness. Even the ugliness that science or technology themselves, in part, created.
For some time, science and religion were at odds, or hard to reconcile. And given the success of science and technology, society was splitting; those who wanted to remain religious, found that it was harder and harder to defend the material promises of Religion. And so the intellectual religious elite, became “spiritual” (cf. Theosophy, etc.). While on the other hand, many were going totally with science, and its vision; and were giving up totally on Religion altogether. Thomas Jefferson was a rationalist. Many of the leaders of the French Revolution of 1789 were atheist rationalists. Karl Marx based his thought, on Materialism; the belief that only material things are real; and the Communists who followed him, the Marxist-Leninists of 1917, were mostly atheists. Which clearly seemed better than a Christianity that held on to supernaturalisms, miracles that didn’t seem to come true. Or that retreated into a Spirituality that functionally (if not technically) just gave up on material things, and the material promises of God. Which Religion was manifestly not producing.
Even if a universe without God in it, without a human figures outlined in the stars, seemed cold and ugly at times, still, writers like Zola, (Ellman, The Modern Tradition, 270), wanted to try to apply science, and even the experimental method, to life; in the novel. To be an objective photographer of life (273). At times, this vision of life seemed cruel, heartless, and ugly (see Thomas Hart Crane’s naturalist writings; and Call of the Wild, etc.?). Many at first had seen nature as an idyllic pastoral paradise. But then Locke and others began to call it a place filled with predators killing other living things for food; nature, then was “red in tooth and claw”; and its “natural law” was the “survival of the fittest.” (Cf. Charles Darwin; Social Darwinism; Hart Crane).
Though finally it was said, that those who had the courage to pass through the “long and nauseating kitchen ” of realism, naturalism, and experimental science – and their at times depressing view of life – would at last, come to a “superb salon, flooded with light” (280). Almost, it seemed, a real heaven, on earth. A scientific utopia (q.v., Bacon, Moore, etc.). The utopia, some said, of science. Without Religion and its “primitive” belief in “spirits” at all.
Yet on the way, people found that the promised scientific “utopia,” was not quite as complete as one would hope. Science and technology did wonderful things … but then created pollution too. And dark factories, full of exploited workers (see Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times). To fix this, to try to deal with some apparent shortfalls in Hard Science – physics, biology, engineering – and their apparent failure to deal with some aspects of human existence, eventually, c. 1900-1930, a few new sciences of human beings – Sociology; Anthropology – were developed. To try to deal a bit more with human beings and their societies, and especially, their morality and ethics. Thus edging into the last bit of territory occupied by Religion.
Still though, many people believe that science and reason, though useful, have not been able to deal effectively with much of life; not even as well as Religion. Particularly, when it comes to morality and ethics. So that to this day, in much of the world, the average person gos to school, and devotes much of his time to a practical education; but then, picks up at least a bit of religion, faith, on Sundays.
Perhaps this worked fairly well. Still, 1) in Europe and Asia, many people are increasingly just giving up on the old religions; for science and reason. Without however, there being any clear and proven, well-tested alternative posed, even by science and Sociology. While 2) for those who want to try to co-opt, use both Religion and Reason, heaven and earth … there have remained problems of trying to reconcile the two; there have remained mutual incompatibilities between the two. So that though billions clumsily try to use both practical reason, and aspects of Religion, there has never been any smooth, coordinated way to do that. Often Science and Religion even worked against each other. As they will … until you discover the science of God; Religious Studies.
As for “miracles”? 1) Persons of a scientific bent, who were willing to just write off all of Religion as simply, wrong, often just said that promises of miracles were just, flatly, false; ancient superstitions based on nothing. Others though, took more moderate, reconciliatory positions. Some said that 2) old stories of miracles might be after all, taken as metaphors for spiritual things. But now, let’s look at one more interesting interpretation: that 3) ancient stories of “miracles” were actually, slightly garbled interpretations of … unusual things in nature.
In this important way of looking at miracles, a) some of the more anti-religious Scientists, often just said that ancient primitive “superstitious” people just mistook natural phenomena for supernatural things from God. For example, they said, those who said that God was throwing “fire from heaven” onto the enemies of the people of God, were just observing say, meteors or volcanic eruptions; and mistaking them for supernatural actions of spirits; whereas they were just natural things. The conclusion often being, that Religion was just ancient primitive-mindedness, and we should just give it up; things are better described today, by science.
At first therefore, this kind of Naturalism looks like it is thoroughly against Religion and miracles. However, let’s pursue the old Naturalism a step further … and improve it. Let’s b) consider another view of essentially the same set of facts. If for example, science finds that “fire from heaven” might be meteors or volcanic eruptions (or burning oil poured from ancient castle turrets; q.v. below) … then note, you could say, that science is not totally disproving the old miracles; in fact, it is proving that there was something about them, that was real and true.
Though to be sure, the miracles were not quite what we thought they were at first, and for a long time, as it turns out here, in fact, if we re-read the old Bibles a little more closely, we come up with interpretations that are both totally compatible with science … but also, one might say, perhaps even totally compatible … with the texts themselves, too. With the Bible itself.
Conclusion of Our Book
The entire Bible is true – but true in a way our preachers have misunderstood. The entire Bible, including supernatural miracles and spiritual events, can and should be taken, as “metaphor.” Though not as metaphor for just “spiritual things.” Religion is supposed to look at the things on the earth; and to get real, material results, here on earth. So that indeed, even spiritual events should be read, instead, as metaphors – for natural events; as heretofore misunderstood, subtle events in nature. This is not to say that God is Nature, or Nature is God; but rather, to avoid controversy, to say this: God works far more through nature, than over and above it. God fills “all” things, heaven … “and earth” (Jer.). The things that are invisible, are primarily known through the things that are visible, the things that God “made”; as St. Paul and others said in the Bible itself. Through visible “fruits”, “works,” “signs,” “deeds,” “proofs”; as read by “science” and “tests.”
This indeed was the very conclusion that many were coming to by the Enlightenment, the Deists, and the 19th century and 1960’s. Yet there was still a problem. Which was that many felt that good as practical sense and science were, they were missing something; that they were indeed not dealing with something that was real, within “spirits”; at the very least, they were not dealing with our human mind or spirit well enough. Which indeed, seemed permanently beyond science, to many; until the time of Freud and Psychology.
Indeed, in the meantime to be sure, science was not well equipped to deal with the reality of the human spirit. Nor was Humanism quite as successful there as many might hope. So that Religion was to retain its primacy for many, for a while, when it came to the human spirit. As indeed perhaps it might retain. But to be sure finally, next we find that Science at last, is ready to merge with religion … to define the science of the Spirit. As we see, next, science does not have to simply ignore or deny spirit; nor do even (moderate) spiritual persons need to eschew Science. Because next, we will see, we can finally give Spirit a scientific description. And in this way, bring spirit down to earth again; as foretold. Join it to flesh, to material things, again. For a second time.
God becomes flesh, again.