Elohim's identity

I was looking up the term “Elohim” on the internet and I came across this text. It is an excerpt from a larger text, but I found it pertinent to your words about the wrong interpretation of the term.

Of course, this is not in the interest of Theism, but if we are critical about the interpretation of the Bible on the one level, perhaps we should at least entertain what a biblical scholar and translator has to say. What do you say to his ideas? Are you familiar with his ideas?

Some Christians understand the plural character of the name “Elohim” as referring to the multiplicity of persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which we know all to be God.

Personally, while I like the Trinity doctrine that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are 3 distinct persons but only one God, I have never bought into a common understanding that equates God with these 3 persons as if the Christian knowledge of God must encompass His totality. I believe in an infinite God not a God who is only 3. These 3 are simply the persons of God we have encountered and neither God nor the universe He created revolve around Christians and their religion.

To be sure, the Muslims do not like this doctrine of the Trinity, for to them it sounds polytheistic, which they see as anathema worthy of condemnation. This is understandable because the Trinity sounds polytheistic to many non-Christians. But in the same way non-Hindus make the mistake of thinking that Hindus must all be polytheistic, when in reality most are monotheistic in the same way as Christians, believing God to be more than one person but only one God.

For this reason, the ideas of authors like these, seeing elements of polytheism in roots of the Bible does not bother me in the slightest. I will obviously insist that it is still one God no matter how many persons God may be.

When I looked up the word, I saw it being used to describe angels, gods and humans. Yahweh seems to be the same some traditions predominantly used and El seemed to be one used by another sect. The source hypothesis dives into this at times.

(A citation might be in order.) He specializes in woo and aliens, apparently.


(Hey, Dan @EastwoodDC ; - )

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  • Elohim is one of those Hebrew words that has been used or is being used by:
  • Christians of all denominations (e.g. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, All Protestants, Latter-Day-Saints of Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses;Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. World Mission Society Church of God)
  • Muslims of all sects;
  • Jews of all sects;;
  • Baha’i
  • Some Hindu sects
  • Some people who take drugs
  • To name a few.
  • And they don’t all use the word (or one of it’s cognates, or translations) the same way.

I think some of those don’t deserve the designation of ‘denomination’ and ‘Christian’ but rather ‘cult’?

Shhh … the Elohim might find me! :wink:

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…especially the cult of the Nazarene (one of the early names for Christianity).

  • Careful, you may have Elohim confused with “the Eye of Sauron”.

for a person who is supposedly a well known scholar on the subject, this mans history is utterly crap!

Abraham> Isaac> Jacob + Esau

All of Jacobs sons ended up in Egypt (unless one is incapable of simple reading comprehension pertaining to the story of Joseph in the Bible)

Those same sons, and ALL of their descendants remained in Egypt until the Exodus 430 years later!

From this point forward, we have an extensive branching out of biblical history into the entire 12 tribes of Israel (from judges right through until the time of Christ (even including the Maccabean timeline)

It is extremely unfortunate when unwise individuals blindly follow apparent experts, in this case Mauro Biglino, who are demonstrably wrong in their basic assumptions!

Now if Maruo wishes to harp on about Ishmael and Esau…well those are not used for good reason…they are not the family tree that is the history of modern jewish faith. They left the fold (as was the case with Cain after he killed able). This has no bearing on the authenticity of the jewish historical account contained within the bible. It does not mean that the jewish story is fictional. That is the entire problem with this line of thinking…individuals are attempting to whitewash over an entire nations heritage and that is a stretch of enormous proportions.

One should always know that when inconsistencies start to appear in ones interpretation of the bible, one is almost certainly on the wrong path!

The thing that interested me was why did someone who had supervised the translation and publication of 17 books of the Old Testament for Edizioni San Paolo, Italy’s foremost Catholic publisher, turned to an “ancient aliens” conspiracy. The answer he gives the journalist asking him, was that the tendentious translation that he found was going on, was masking behaviours that are attributed to the Elohim, and strangely similar to the behaviour of those the Sumerians called “Anunnaki,” the Egyptians called “Neteru,” and the Babylonians called “Ilanu,” that were for the concept of a God with attributes of eternality, goodness, grace, holiness, immanence, immutability, justice, love, mercy, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, inappropriate.

He began questioning some of the passages that were being automatically interpreted as monotheistic concepts, but a literal interpretation seemed to reveal the possibility of a physical presence, such as Numbers 31:32-40 in which Yahweh orders the extermination of men, women, and children and claims for himself 675 sheep, 72 oxen, 61 donkeys, and 32 virgins after a battle against the Midianites. He says, “This portion of the spoils was not for the service of the tabernacle, as Numbers 31 explains: it was for Yahweh’s personal use. One only wonders why a spiritual and transcendent “God” would need 32 virgins — or 61 donkeys, for that matter.”

The journalist asks whether he could entertain the idea that, rather than aliens, the Elohim were a previous civilisation that were perceived as gods. He does, and in the article, he gives an example: “During World War II, the inhabitants of Melanesia in the Pacific Ocean first encountered the white man and saw airplanes. The U.S. Army occupied their islands scattered across the Pacific as logistical bases for war operations. The natives saw the American soldiers coming from the sky and taking off from the ground with their aircraft. They saw them equipped with powerful weapons, high-speed air vehicles, and means of communication that defied understanding. They thus started considering them as deities. The natives began to develop rituals, prayers, and cults in anticipation of the return of the American soldiers.”

I think that this is where you land if you maintain that the Bible is inerrant, and everything you read has to be excepted at face value as being congruent with the Christian God. It is surely an indication that these passages – and there are more – are from a people that are going through a development from polytheism to monotheism, and that we should be wary at taking everything literally. From a modern perspective, tracing the development portrayed in the OT, either God was going through a development process, or the concept of God was. We know that the story of the twelve tribes is essentially a tragedy, and our Christian interpretation of Jesus as the final remnant of Israel who was rejected, which Paul picks up as the turning of God towards the nations, is evidence of this.

In my experience, it has been the reaction to people like Mauro Biglino and those who follow his line of thinking, but mostly the fundamentalistic preaching of inerrancy of the Bible, that has driven most people away from Christianity in recent years. The scandals and church history has also had an impact, but at the end of the day, when everything is weighed up, the church comes across as a very fallible human institution with an imperfect scripture, that has a very small flame that has been extinguished, but the wick is still glowing. This reminds me interestingly of “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out”(Isaiah 42:3).

I believe that Jesus is like that smouldering wick which grew to a flame for a while, and we have been, for some time, reliant upon those who have been fanning the smouldering wick. Among those are the mystics, but others who have been eradicated (by the church) have attempted the same, but as we know, the smouldering wick can also be extinguished if we are not careful.

I recently came across a teacher of the Brahma Kumaris movement, BK Shivani, who comes across as a very quiet and enlightened speaker, presenting her teaching in a very unassuming way, and had to think of how different the atmosphere was to much of what I have come to know of Christianity. I could even imagine, going from the Gospels, that Jesus would have spoken in such a way as this lady, which was why people were fascinated. But, of course, that wouldn’t be good enough for many Christians, Jesus must be a divine representation.

But a branch of panentheism and non-dualism suggests that not one person was the incarnation of God, but we all are. There was a special one, exemplary in behaviour but tragically killed, that showed the way, and like many who followed him, “was a stone rejected the builders, who became cornerstones.” Whether it was the scribes and servants of the temple, or the clerics of the church, these builders tend to make the same mistake over and over again.

Well I certainly will not use the word “inerrant.” “Reliable,” “word of God,” and “God breathed” definitely. But I don’t see how the word “inerrant” can apply. I also don’t think the words “infallible” or “perspecuity” apply either. And it seems to me that Jesus Himself denounces literalism in Matthew 13 as the refuge of those seeking to avoid understanding the scriptures and His words.

Though where people “land” is greatly varied regardless of such interpretive principles.

Well I don’t believe in a static God though I think most of His development is with regards to strategy and dealing with people who are changing. I often say that the Biblical account is 4 dimensional – the story of a changing relationship, and so treating the Bible as an operating manual for life is a bad idea.

I very much disagree with this idea of Israel and the Jewish people being rejected. It never was just about Israel and the Jewish people anyway. I think it is helpful to look at how the Jews understand the suffering servant passages of Isaiah. They think it is the Jewish people who are the suffering servant and their suffering a means by which God changes the whole world. I think their understanding of this is just as true as the Christian use of these passages for Jesus.

I believe in a God who is faithful and true to His commitments. So the popular movie “Legion” which has God being “tired of all the BS” while interesting and amusing is not something I believe is possible. God doesn’t murder innocent children because He is fed up with mankind. Despite that I take the story of the flood seriously, because a world where the thoughts of human beings are only evil continually is something a loving God would have put a stop to. It is all for our sake. And what God says afterwards is that He will never destroy the earth for our sake ever again (one of God’s changes of strategy).

Some sure. Most? I don’t think so. If you are speaking to the wider issue of exclusivity to all the diversity of religion in the world, well I agree that is certainly a significant detractor. Though I still think the conflict with science is a bigger effect than that – the last straw so to speak. The combination is killer – just too much irrationality for people to swallow.

To be sure not all of Christianity is so exclusive or opposed to science. But the bad example remains. And there seems to be some trouble with holding onto the vitality of Christianity when you go too far in the other direction.

Well, ignoring the points where you assume I was using “you” as pointing at what you said, “Reliable,” “word of God,” and “God breathed” are perhaps suitably ambiguous, and the point that Jesus denounced literalism is acknowledged. It still remains that if everything one reads in the OT has to be excepted at face value as being congruent with the Christian God, especially the God of theology, one runs into difficulties almost immediately. This has been very widely acknowledged by people at least in Europe and in conversation with atheists, it is a point that they make better than some Christians can defend.

I therefore find myself in line with process theology, that holds that God, according to the Bible, seems not to be eternal, unchanging, and unaffected by the world, but rather that God affects and is affected by temporal processes. Both process theology and panentheism reject classical theism’s notion of a static, unchanging, and entirely transcendent God. They both emphasize a dynamic and immanent aspect of the divine, and both acknowledge the importance of God’s relationship with the world. In process theology, this relationship is dynamic and evolving, while in panentheism, it is a deep and ongoing connection between God and the world.

If you re-read what I said, it was Jesus who was rejected, and he was presumed to be the remnant of Israel in replacement theology. Supersessionism had a historical presence particularly in the early Christian church and among some later theologians. Some have argued that the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews led to their rejection by God, making way for the Christian Church as the new people of God. It is true that in the 20th and 21st centuries, there has been a significant shift towards a more inclusive and less supersessionist interpretation of Christian theology, often emphasizing the enduring significance of the Jewish people and their covenant with God.

The suffering servant passages of Isaiah 42 of course refer to Israel, but according to the NT authors, Jesus adopted verses 6+7 as his calling, and I have quoted verse 3 in reference to Jesus that I still apply today to his sermon on the mount in particular. Unfortunately, Christian preaching seldom resembles this message, and this became so abundantly clear when I was involved for a short while in the evangelical “Crusades” of Billy Graham in Germany in the years following the 1970s.

I’m not familiar with the film “Legion,” so I’m not sure what you mean. I find though that wherever you find an account of the flood, it is the behaviour of humanity that is cited as the cause. Even in the account of the destruction of Atlantis, it is said that the citizens had become morally corrupt, greedy, hubristic, and engaged in imperialistic behaviour that angered the gods. So, this is hardly exclusive to the Bible, and most probably common for people living in a mode of immediate participation, feeling themselves caught up in a cosmic drama. This is what I am pointing to with the example of Biglino, because if you take these stories literally, it can also end up with interpretations such as his.

There was most definitely a flood on a catastrophic level, but exactly when is unclear, and could go back to the end of the ice-age, when the ice melting caused widespread floods and a significant rise in sea levels. The point is that the original authors interpreted it in a mythological mindset, and accordingly as a punishment. The redaction of the Babylonian captives probably enabled it to become part of the narrative of Israel, and so we have our version in the Bible.

Okay, I am not familiar with the American society, but here in Europe, it was in particular the “Crusades” of Billy Graham that emphasised divisions already rooted in deeper theological, social, and cultural differences, and caused a split in the churches between evangelical and moderates and those who decided it was time to leave. In Germany, like many other Western countries, we have experienced a large decline in church membership and attendance in the Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical communities, which spiked in the 1970s and grown since. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of Catholics in Germany as a whole fell by 16.1% and the number of Protestants by 22.6%.

Here, the role of the church-science conflict in people leaving religious institutions varies from person to person and community to community. Some individuals who adhere to strict religious doctrines may see a conflict between their faith and scientific explanations of the origins of life, but not all see that conflict. Many religious traditions, including the Roman Catholic Church and numerous Protestant denominations, have reconciled their faith with modern science. So, the conflict between the church and science has played a role in some individuals’ decisions to distance themselves from religious institutions, but it is only one of several factors contributing to the decline in religious affiliation.

Although many scholars and theologians recognize that the Bible contains mythological elements and symbolism, amongst the wider population, myths are not understood as symbolic stories that convey deeper truths or lessons and may be allegorical or metaphorical rather than strictly historical accounts. Most people tend to stick to the fiction or non-fiction distinction, primarily from a secular or sceptical standpoint, the Bible’s diverse and multifaceted content overtaxes the ability of most people to engage with it.

I read Whiteheads “Process and Reality” and I am very much opposed to his metaphysics. As for process theology, I thought I should look that up (Wikipedia) to give it a fair chance with me.

contrary to the forms of theism that hold God to be in all respects non-temporal (eternal), unchanging (immutable), and unaffected by the world (impassible). Process theology does not deny that God is in some respects eternal (will never die), immutable (in the sense that God is unchangingly good), and impassible (in the sense that God’s eternal aspect is unaffected by actuality), but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.

Well I already said I have rejected the idea of a static God and that includes denying immutable and impassible as describing God. I don’t think God is subject to any temporal framework but that God has time within Him and is thus capable of all the time related activities as we are. Most of this follows from my being an open theist. But since I don’t like Whitehead I won’t make an identification with process theology and as I read on in the Wikipedia article on process theology I find very little to agree with.

  1. It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.
  2. It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.
  3. It is as true to say that, in comparison with the World, God is actual eminently, as that, in comparison with God, the World is actual eminently.
  4. It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.
  5. It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.
  6. It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God.

Definitely not. None of these is the case. God is permanent not the world. God is one and the world is one (possibly one of many). God transcends the world – the world does not transcend God. God created the world – the world does not create God. Of course as a pan(en)theist all of these would sound reasonable to you.

God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. “Persuasion” in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control.

Yes and no. God is omnipotent but chooses not to be coercive, and this requires considerable engineering and restraint. God chose love and freedom over power and control and thus chose the role of shepherd rather than watchmaker.

Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. These events have both a physical and mental aspect. All experience (male, female, atomic, and botanical) is important and contributes to the ongoing and interrelated process of reality.

Yeah that is Whitehead’s metaphysics which I reject utterly.

The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will.

The universe is characterized by space-time mathematical laws of nature which enable self-organizing processes like the process of life.

Everything physical has its nature from the space-time relationship to the whole universe. But spirit takes forms from the choices of living organisms and these have an existence beyond the physical from the nature which they have chosen.

Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings.

Self-organization certainly describes more than human beings but no it is not so with everything in the universe.

God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God’s will.

Yes God CAN, but God mostly chooses not to. So the final statement is correct, not everything which occurs is God’s will. He chose love and freedom over power and control.

God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism, not pantheism or pandeism). Some also call this “theocosmocentrism” to emphasize that God has always been related to some world or another.

No! God is a true creator, and God made the universe apart from Himself existing by its own nature which He gave to it. God did not make the universe within Himself. You can say there are worlds within God but God came before any worlds that are not within Him, including this one.

Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.


Charles Hartshorne believes that people do not experience subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have objective immortality because their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. Other process theologians believe that people do have subjective experience after bodily death.

I believe God created us for eternal life, where there is no end to what He has to give and no end to what we can receive from Him. But not all are receptive, and so for some there is the possibility of eternal diminishing conscious torment – not because God torments anyone but because people torment themselves consumed by self-destructive habits which they refuse to let go of.

This is part of the Southern Baptists seeking seize and subvert the evangelical movement and thus creating this false association of evangelical with fundamentalism. The original evangelical movement with Charles Finney which converted the majority of Quakers was an attempt to turn away from dogmatic controversies of Christian denominationalism to experience the power of Jesus to change lives.

The point is that God does not lose faith and He would only do something so terrible because we had made an incomparable hell of human existence upon the earth. Something which even a loving parent would see the need to put a stop to and wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

I prefer to have my whole statement as a point of reference and find Wiki not to be an improvement on my statement.

I don’t know Whitehead and so couldn’t say whether I like him or not, so perhaps you have an advantage over me there, although I don’t believe you are that old.

Whitehead’s philosophy is complex and nuanced, and the statements you quoted represent some of the key ideas in his thought, in which he is attempting to reconcile traditional religious ideas with a modern, dynamic worldview. But he did demonstrate a degree of humility regarding his philosophy and was known for his intellectual openness and willingness to engage in dialogue and collaboration with other thinkers.

  • Whitehead suggested that both God and the world have aspects of permanence and change. God, in his view, provides a transcendent aspect of stability and permanence, while the world is characterized by constant change and flux. This fits in with your rejection of the idea of a static God, and the point I was making that either God was changing, or the concept was. We know that humanities ability to think abstractly was developed relatively late, and from archaeology we know that humankind was widespread long before that, so there is obviously a process going on and God, if he interacted with Israel, had to adapt to that process.
  • Whitehead’s philosophy reconciles the idea of a singular, unifying aspect of God with the multiplicity and diversity of the world. He sees both unity and multiplicity as valid aspects of reality. This fits in with ancient religious concepts that sees God participating in the world through individuals, guiding humanity through the development process towards sentience and unity. The fact that we are once again in a phase where various groups are at the throats of others, the process is continuing – unless of course God has packed in and left us to our karma.
  • This statement reflects Whitehead’s idea that God and the world are related in terms of actuality or reality, but in different ways. His philosophy is characterized by the idea that the fundamental constituents of reality are not enduring substances but rather events or processes. These events, which he calls “actual occasions,” are the basic building blocks of the universe. Each actual occasion is a unique, self-contained process that is both a product of the past and a source of potential for the future. God is seen as having a higher mode of actuality compared to the world, while the world has its own mode of actuality. God’s actuality is immanent in the world’s becoming.
  • Whitehead’s philosophy suggests a mutual immanence between God and the world. God is not a distant, separate deity but is immanently involved in the world’s processes, and the world, in turn, is immanent within the divine. This is the panentheistic approach, and also the point that God suffers with the world, not just in an individual on a cross, but in all suffering. Atheists will not be able to say why did you allow this or that, they will have to recognise that he was there, in “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.”
  • Whitehead’s concept of God is both immanent and transcendent. God transcends the world in the sense of being beyond and above it, but also is immanently connected to the world’s ongoing processes. He is also the sacred Unity to which we are called to participate.
  • Whitehead’s understanding of God as a creative principle suggests that God and the world are interrelated in a dynamic process of creativity. While God serves as a source of creativity, the world also contributes to the ongoing creativity of God. Humankind is called to be participant in his creativity, which is how we identify our relationship with God.

How “considerable” the restraint of God is, is purely speculative, as are most ideas about God. That is really the problem with your approach, you treat your propositional “knowledge” as if you have evidence that you can demonstrate. You don’t have to believe, you “know” things. Whitehead was trying to reconcile traditional religious ideas with a modern, dynamic worldview, with the purpose of retaining a meaningful orientation for life. But he recognized that philosophy is an evolving discipline and that his own ideas were not necessarily the final word and acknowledged that his philosophy was a work in progress.

For reasons probably only known to you. I particularly appreciate the dramatic “utterly” which absolutely reflects how seriously you take yourself. I think Whitehead would have smiled …

That is quite understandable. What we take from various philosophers as good and useful is quite likely not going to match up with how someone else understands it. For example, I often say that the maxim of pragmatism is that the effect of believing something is part of its truth value. That is my own words boiling down what I see in the work of Charles Sanders Pierce. And my take away from a lot of the work of Albert Camus probably diverges considerably from how others would summarize them. From “The Stranger” what strikes me most is how Meursault approaches his execution with relish, in which I see the idea of how one can see all experiences as giving something of value to us. From “The Myth of Sisyphus” I derive an unwillingness to accept nasty behavior from anyone’s portrayal of God, choosing instead to feel a sense of affirmation and worth from any damnation they would visit upon me for this. The result is that existentialism became a stepping stone to a theism acceptable to me rather than a repudiation of theism because of Camus’ negative portrayals.

I am 62. Does this mean you are so much older or that I have a youthful spirit? LOL

As a physicist I don’t see the world being a multiplicity and diversity at all. To me it looks very much like a unity and everything in it has its existence and nature completely from the space-time mathematical structure of the whole. I see more multiplicity and diversity in the realm of spirit where everything has its existence and nature from its own form of being.

Perhaps I should explain a little of what this means. It means that the relationships between things in the physical universe come from outside of them and without choice. But for spiritual things relationships must come from within and by choice. Thus there is a need to make these connections with other things while we are alive and have a chance to do so. It is you might say this is the peril of the absolute freedom which we have in the spirit.

And my philosophy is a modernized version of Aristotle’s hylomorphism, where energy (or something like it which can be called the pure potentiality of being) is the unifying substance of all things – all of which are different forms of this same enduring substance. This I believe is the metaphysics which best reflects what we have discovered in science.

Indeed. And I am very much theist believing God to be the creator of the universe as a separate existence… so much so that you will find me in endless arguments with other Christians opposing their idea of the universe being dependent upon God for its continued existence.

While I very much see us being called to follow in the footsteps of God as creators in our own right, this goes too far. God is the creator. And while I very much think that what God seeks from us is an authentic relationship, it is God who gives of His infinite abundance and we who receive from Him to travel the path of our infinite potentiality. I see no merit in overturning this basic relationship to make ourselves the creator of God. Christianity has enough egocentrism to expose and defuse without adding even more to it.

Yes it is all speculative and subjective… religion is all about this aspect of life which requires subjective participation. So diversity of thought is unavoidable. We make our choices and embrace them fiercely because this is part of what it means to be alive.

I have no reason to share your admiration. Frankly I think Whitehead’s ideas are a revival of those of Plato which I have likewise reviled. But at most I can only say that this is a way of thinking which does not interest me.

We are permanently interpreting evidence as it becomes available to us, and it is obvious from the wealth of information that we are amassing, that the poetic portrayal of the creation of the world in the Bible is just that, a poetic and symbolic interpretation of how the world presented itself several thousand years ago, with its inconsistencies portrayed as punishments for the ever present failure of mankind to live up to its own standards. Since then, we have realised that much of this changeability in the world has natural causes and has been ongoing even before humanity ruled the world, and it has been our struggle to cope even before we could read or write. The fact that our mythology sees a correlation between our behaviour and our trials may help us correct our behaviour, but it doesn’t help to promote the truth to reduce our understanding to that.

The discussion about the portrayal of gods and other supernatural forces in our ancient texts seems to split into two main groups, one the fundamentalistic understanding that these are true entities, and the other that they are primitive descriptions of forces beyond human influence. The problem seems to arise from the fact that the fronts are hardened and there is hardly any acceptance on either side. In the middle of this are people like Whitehead, who in various ways, try to reconcile and bring together both sides, but as a result, we are attacked by both sides.

The propositional assertion of each side oversees the truth that facts alone are not understanding. Whether in scripture or in scientific papers, the words that portray the corresponding perspective are not the understanding we need to proceed but are mostly restricted to specific areas of investigation. As Iain McGilchrist says, understanding always means interpretation and he quotes Whitehead:

“The production of a scheme is a major effort of the speculative reason. It involves imagination far outrunning the direct observations … Millions had seen apples fall from trees, but Newton had in his mind the mathematical scheme of dynamic relations: millions had seen lamps swinging in temples and churches, but Galileo had in his mind his vaguer anticipation of this same mathematical scheme: millions had seen animals preying on each other, vegetables choking each other, millions had endured famine and thirst, but Charles Darwin had in his mind the Malthusian scheme. The secret of progress is the speculative interest in abstract schemes of morphology.” (Process and Reality 56-8)

In a similar way, religionists tend to observe the world in the scheme of their scriptures, and we often see how strict observation also means a restricted view, overlooking the other facts of existence and interpreting experience only from scripture. We see continually how religionists attempt to bring experience in line with their scripture rather than scripture in line with experience. We have philosophical traditions that sound modern in some ways, despite coming from a distant past, and we also have traditions older than the biblical that reflect that, so the reconciliation is not impossible.

Iain McGilchrist says, “In the Tao Te Ching, it is said that ‘being and non-being produce each other’. The Chinese is notoriously such that it cannot be pinned down to just one interpretation. In this word-form it seems peculiarly abstract. The insight behind this saying, it seems to me, is one that I have touched on repeatedly; that creation is the precipitation of something out of unlimited potential into limited actuality, which then inevitably interacts further with potential, in such a way that potentiality influences what is further actualised. In other words, there is a continuous reciprocity or calling-forth between the potential and the actual, the unbounded and the bounded, in Whitehead’s terms between God and the World, each helping to shape the other. This meaning is perhaps more apparent in another translation: ‘what is and what is not create each other’. (The Matter With Things (pp. 1935-1936).)

Theories of Everything have been said to be “around the corner” for some time now, and religionists try to push their scriptures as such, but the observation of a continuous reciprocity or calling-forth between the potential and the actual, the unbounded and the bounded, is very old.

Erwin Schrödinger discussed the concept of the continuous reciprocity or calling-forth between the potential and the actual in life in his essay “What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell,” and in his chapter ORDER, DISORDER AND ENTROPY proposed the idea of “negative entropy” or “negentropy” as a way of understanding how life sustains and organizes itself. He argued that living organisms are able to maintain order and complexity (in the face of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which tends toward entropy or disorder) by drawing upon a constant flow of energy and information. (Schrodinger, Erwin. What is Life? (Canto Classics). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.)

In the chapter THE ARITHMETICAL PARADOX: THE ONENESS OF MIND, he summarises that the reason why our sentient, percipient and thinking ego is met nowhere within our scientific world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: because it is itself that world picture. It is identical with the whole and therefore cannot be contained in it as a part of it." This reflects a perspective that shares some similarities with panentheism and holistic philosophies, because Schrödinger’s statement suggests that the conscious and thinking self is not something separate from the universe but is, in a sense, the universe itself.

In My View of the World, Schrödinger says, “…call to mind that sense of misgiving, that cold clutch of dreary emptiness which comes over everybody, I expect, when they first encounter the description given by Kirchhoff and Mach of the task of physics (or of science generally): ‘a description of the facts, with the maximum of completeness and the maximum economy of thought’; a feeling of emptiness which one cannot master, despite the emphatic and even enthusiastic agreement with which one’s theoretical reason can hardly fail to accept this prescription. In actual fact (let us examine ourselves honestly and faithfully), to have only this goal before one’s eyes would not suffice to keep the work of research going forward in any field whatsoever. A real elimination of metaphysics means taking the soul out of both art and science, turning them into skeletons incapable of any further development.”

So, we are not talking about separation of these fields, but realising that it is a matter of soul, it is, as Iain McGilchrist wrote, that science and religion must observe nature with the wonder of poets:

Matthew Segall notes that ‘Nature was no mere appearance for Schelling, but rather the living ground and visible body of an eternally incarnating divinity.’ Not a divinity that had incarnated once, note, but one that is always incarnating itself in the evolving cosmos. For Schelling, and it is a position to which I subscribe, the imagination is not, as for Kant, a faculty that creates merely the best we can manage as a re-presentation of the world; nor is it making the world up from scratch. It is collaboratively allowing the world to presence, bringing the world into existence; and if it is the case that the soul is not separable from the God that is the ground of all that is, this is entirely in keeping with the imagination helping to constitute the world as it really is. This is remarkably similar to Eckhart’s deep insight that ‘the nature of God … is to give birth,’ and that the birth happens in the soul of each one of us.
McGilchrist, Iain. The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (p. 1914). Perspectiva Press. Kindle Edition.

Elohim’s identity is then, a projection of metaphysical speculation, which needs poetic consideration rather than the interpretation as an entity.

Just because it is poetry and should not be treated as a scientific text does not mean its principle message of divine creation is wrong. And this notion that religion and such things are no more than primitive science is prejudicial rhetoric. It is quite clear that modernization is a process of specialization not revolution, and so all the functions of the tribal story telling is divided into the specialized activities of science, philosophy, religion, law, history, education, and entertainment. Revolution is manifestly NOT a source of progress but only regression. Real progress is achieved by finding new meaning in the historically proven methods of human success and development.

So… we can accept the superiority of science in the explanation of natural phenomenon and find more specialized functions and meaning for the supernatural and spiritual. As someone not raised in religion but only in the dogma of science and psychology this was something I had to do before I could see any meaning in the things of religion. My often repeated explanation is that while science is founded on objective observation, life requires subjective participation. And it is for this reason that religion continues to have an important role in human life even while that life is increasingly dominated by the success of science.

I read Schrödinger’s original book “What is Life?” and I am not surprised he followed up with revisions because the conclusions in his first book were proven wrong. He wrote it before the advent of the science of chaotic dynamics and his conclusion that quantum fluctuations could have no effect on the process of life was based on old science which has since been shown incorrect. Because of the character of non-linear equations, quantum fluctuations can and will be selectively amplified to affect large scale phenomenon which He might have realized must be the case because they do so in quantum measurements. His observations with regards to entropy in his later writings are of course quite correct.

Of course I agree whole heartedly in this opposition to the logical positivists. Logical positivism rejecting the meaningfulness of metaphysics (the study of the nature of reality) is frankly something most of academic philosophy has concluded to be shown up as a failure.

Which just goes to show that Iain McGilchrist is not a scientist. Observing nature with the wonder and obscurity of poetry is not the work of science.

Well that is just wrong. It is a minority of religion which fabricates a fantasy world by forcing reality to line up with literal scripture. And yes there are those who feel free to alter or replace scripture in order to line it up with fashions of modern culture. The majority certainly does neither of these things. Instead they find new meaning in scripture which bring enlightenment to their experiences of life so they can choose their own path rather than be swept willy-nilly by passing fancies.

The Bible says God has a task force of divine beings who carry out his decisions. It’s referred to as God’s assembly, council, or court (Ps. 89:5–7; Dan. 7:10).

One of the most explicit verses about it is Psalm 82:1. The Good News Translation puts it well: “God presides in the heavenly council; in the assembly of the gods he gives his decision."

The original Hebrew word translated “gods” is elohim. Many of us have thought of elohim for so long in just one single sense—as one of the names of God the Father—that it may be hard for us to think of it in its broader meaning.

But the word refers to any inhabitant of the unseen spiritual world. That’s why you’ll find it used of God himself (Gen. 1:1), demons (Deut. 32:17), and the human dead in the afterlife (1 Sam. 28:13).

For the Bible, any disembodied being whose home address is the spirit world is an elohim.

The Hebrew term doesn’t refer to a specific set of abilities only God has. The Bible distinguishes God from all other gods in other ways, not by using the word elohim. For instance, the Bible commands the gods to worship the God of the Bible (Ps. 29:1).

He is their creator and king (Ps. 95:3; 148:1–5). Psalm 89:6–7 (GNT) says, “No one in heaven is like you, LORD; none of the heavenly beings is your equal [1 Kings 8:23; Ps. 97:9].

You are feared in the council of the holy ones.” The Bible writers are pretty blunt about the God of Israel having no equal—he is the “God of gods” (Deut. 10:17; Ps. 136:2)

God met with his heavenly host to decide how to get rid of King Ahab. In that passage, the members of this heavenly group were called spirits.

If we believe the spirit world is real and is inhabited by God and by spiritual beings he has created (such as angels), we have to admit that God’s supernatural task force, described in the verses, is also real. Otherwise, we pay mere lip service to spiritual reality.

And since the Bible identifies these divine council members as spirits, we know the gods aren’t just idols of stone or wood. Statues don’t work for God in a heavenly council.

People in the ancient world who worshipped the rival gods did indeed make idols. But they knew the idols they made with their own hands weren’t the real powers.

The gods of Psalm 82:1 are called “sons of the Most High [God]” later in the psalm (v. 6). The “sons of God” appear several times in the Bible, usually in God’s presence (as in Job 1:6; 2:1). Job 38:7 tells us they were around before God began to fashion the earth and create humanity.

God calls these spiritual beings his sons. Since he created them, the “family” language makes sense, in the same way you refer to your offspring as your son or daughter because you participated in their creation. But besides being their Father, God is also their king.

In the ancient world, kings often ruled through their extended families. Kingship was passed on to heirs. Dominion was a family business. God is Lord of his council. And his sons have the next highest rank by their relationship with him.

The sons of God are also decision-makers. From 1 Kings 22 (and many other passages), we know that God’s business involves interacting with human history. When God decided it was time for wicked Ahab to die, he left it up to his council to determine how that would happen.

The divine council meetings in Psalm 82 and 1 Kings 22 are not the only ones related to us in the Bible. A couple of them determined the fate of empires.

In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was punished by God with temporary insanity. That sentence was handed down by “the decree of the Most High” (Dan. 4:24) and “the decree of the watchers” (Dan. 4:17).

Watchers was a term used for divine beings of God’s council. It referred to how they were ever watchful over the affairs of humanity; they never slept.

These biblical scenes of divine council sessions tell us God’s council members participate in God’s rule.

In at least some cases, God decrees what he wants to be done but gives his supernatural agents freedom to decide the means.