Mervin, I apologize for the delay in answering, but have again some deathliness for contributions and papers.
In any case, I think this thread is now entering a highly interesting phase, and I thank you, as well as @Jay313, @Jon_Garvey, and @Bill_II for accepting to discuss in detail the issue of “Hyperbole vs. Miracle” as means to explain Noah’s Flood.
Jay’s reference to Acts 2:16-21 is undoubtedly relevant:
Peter’s teaching here has to be seen in the light of 2 Peter 3:5-10, where the Apostle explains what “the great and glorious day of the Lord” means:
5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.[…] 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be burned up.
So Peter here and in 2 Peter 2:4-10 is elaborating on Jesus teaching in Matthew 24; 25: 31-46, and Luke 17: 20-37 and explaining more in detail the meaning of Jesus’ prophecy about “stars falling out of the sky to earth”.
The phenomenon of “earth reserved to fire”, and “the earth and everything in it will be burned up” acquire in the light of today’s science an astonishing precise meaning. Indeed the earth is supposed to be engulfed by the Sun when this becomes a red giant (see for instance this Wikipedia article). Similarly for the phenomenon of “stars falling out of the sky to earth”: The “existence of collisional trajectories of Mercury, Mars and Venus with the Earth” has been mathematically established (see for instance this Nature). That “the earth was formed out of water” fits rather well with the chronology of the universe: Between about 10 and 17 million years after the Big Bang the universe’s average temperature (273 - 373K) was compatible with liquid water.
From this it follows that Jesus’ prophecy about the End Times is nothing other than the prediction of ordinary natural phenomena. However these phenomena would be extraordinary ones, that is “miracles” if they happened say in year 3,500 AD.
Similarly, Peters explanation about Noah’s Flood (“By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed”) amounts to state that the Earth at about 3,000 BC miraculously returned to the stage of 17 million years after the Big Bang.
Quantum physics tells us that there are NO “inexorable laws of nature” but only probabilistic rules. Accordingly there is no law forbidding the sun to become a red giant in 3,500 AD or the Earth reverting to water at 3,500 BC.
In this sense Jesus in Matthew 24; 25: 31-46, and Luke 17: 20-37 is clearly referring to the Flood and the End Times as miracles.
Now Bill_II pertinently remarks:
Well, this is the case in most miracles: Which traces do we have of Jesus’ Resurrection or His Ascension to heaven? Which traces do we have of Pentecost or even the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and sojourning 40 years in the wilderness? In fact only reports of trustworthy eyewitnesses.
I dare to refer to again to the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima (Portugal) on October 13th, 1917 (see The Washington Post) because it is particularly clarifying about how miracles ordinarily work: In this case 70’000 people gathered at Cova da Iría perceived the sun whirling and as falling down to earth, while 2 billion outside all over the planet didn’t perceive anything extraordinary. The only signs we have demonstrating this miracle are the reports of many eyewitnesses.
This shows that God likes to act according to the Principle of Parsimony also when He performs extraordinary things. So during the miracle there are two parallel worlds: in one world people perceive the miraculously event, while in the other things are perceived according to the usual patterns. At the end of the miracle the two worlds merge again, and the only remains proving the miracle are reports of eyewitnesses.
This explanation is also supported by Pentecost: Peter’s speech is understood by different observers in different languages (a Multiverse!) . In most miracles the same “speech” of God is understood by different observers in different ways.
In the case of the Flood all Image Bearers involved in the event experienced the Earth returning to the stage of 10-17 mya after the Big Bang, and all of them went drowned excepted Noah and his family. After the miracle the only remains of the event were the reports Noah and his family let to his descendants. What Noah perceived as Ark was nothing other than “the region outside Sumer”, that is, almost the whole planet: Indeed it was an Ark with a big under-roof!
Actually this explanation was already proposed in the thread “My Theory about the Flood”. However there I presented it as a Parable, that is, an account on the basis of a local flood. The objections by @gbrooks9 led me to study more in detail the possible events that could be candidates as basis for such a parabolic account. These events are those Jay refers to here:
My conclusion is that none of these “usual suspects” can give rise to an account like that in Genesis 6-9, neither as a Parable nor Hyperbole.
For this reason I am proposing now the explanation as Miracle.
There are two categories of miracles. Those that have to leave physical evidence and those that don’t.
Those miracles that have to leave evidence would include:
Tower of Babel
Those that don’t (with the exception of eyewitness testimony) would include everything else.
Notice how the first group are all recorded in Genesis 1-11. You can try to explain them by appealing to parallel worlds but if you apply Occam’s razor to parallel worlds vs stories of events that didn’t actually happen then the stories theory wins.
Maybe I’m missing something here but was this meant to be a universal statement? Do you mean just Matthew 5:27-30 or all of Jesus’ teachings?
Well sure, but we’re well on track to collide with the Andromeda Galaxy some three billion years before this time, so it might not even occur. I wouldn’t say that this was ‘astonishingly precise’ but more so ‘incredibly vague.’ As in you could come in and try to guess dozens of different things that the earth being engulfed by fire meant.
That the world would at some period be destroyed by fire was a common opinion among the ancient philosophers, especially the Greek Stoics. What was the foundation of that opinion, or whence it was derived, it is impossible now to determine…
In other words, people at the time thought the earth would be destroyed by fire and the Bible shares the same perspective. And then I’ve heard many people proposing exactly what would be occur (nuclear explosion, sun expanding, spiritual fire, supernatural burning like how the Bible accounts God sent fire, etc.). The original phrase is NOT clear or precise in anyway whatsoever as to specifics but the general spiritual theme is obvious which is the most important point.
Again we’ll likely collide with Andromeda around the same timeframe or before. Or maybe a dwarf galaxy will mess things up.
What? I think the Bible records this because of the belief in a cosmic primordial ocean. But in regards to your proposal that the earth was formed ‘from water’ when was the Earth formed? Approximately 4.5 billion years ago or only about 9 billion years after this supposed time when the universe could have had water molecules in liquid form. But there wasn’t even any oxygen in the entire universe then and no water.
A bit of a stretch for me to say that the earth was formed from waters when oxygen didn’t even exist and the Earth didn’t even form until 9 billion years after this period.
Not even close. 17 million years after the Big Bang the universe had what elements? Most hydrogen and helium, a tiny bit of Deuterium and Lithium. That’s it! What did the Earth have in this supposed deluge and destruction? A LOT of elements. Like all of the ones we see on Earth today. And there were no planets or stars 17 million years after the Big Bang, no rocks either and again, not even oxygen. There wasn’t even water at the time you propose the ‘earth was formed out of water.’
Okay… fair enough though a bit confusing to speculate and I think a bit of a stretch once again. It reminds me of this:
A multiverse? I know you’re the Quantum guy so maybe this means something different to you but from my perspective it sounds like you are really squeezing your modern perspectives into the Bible all over the place, which again to me sounds like you are definitely not applying this principle universally:
I think there is a failure to consider that GOD is the true, and we are the image trapped in flesh.
Look at what scripture presents to us, and consider how our own “parts” in flesh, correspond with GOD’s “parts” in spirit;
Deut 33:27 And the rule of God shall protect thee, and that under the strength of the everlasting arms…
Deut 11:12 A land which the LORD thy God surveys continually; the eyes of the LORD thy God are upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
2 Kings 19:16 Incline thine ear O LORD, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see:
HAND(S) OF GOD
Gen 49:24 …by the hand of the mighty one of Jacob;
Exo 16:3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we
had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, [Heb]
Exo 24:11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. [Heb]
Deut 32:39 Behold, behold, that I am he, and there is no God beside me: I kill, and I will make to live; I will smite, and I will heal: and there is none who shall deliver out of my hands.
Joshua 4:24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of
the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for
Psalm 31:5 Into thy hands I will commit my spirit:
HAND AND ARM
Deut 5:15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God brought thee out thence with a mighty hand and a high arm:
HEART & SOUL
Jer 32:41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will
plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my
whole soul. [Heb]
Job 11:5 But oh that the Lord would speak to thee, and open his lips with thee;
Exo 24:10 And they saw the place where the God of Israel stood: and under his feet was as it were a work of sapphire slabs,
JOY & SINGING
Zeph 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will
save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. [Heb]
Exo 15:26 And said, If thou wilt indeed hear the voice of the LORD thy God,
VOICE AND EYES
Deut 13:18 If thou shalt hear the voice of the LORD thy God,… to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.
Num 24:4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the
vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance , but having his eyes open:
FINGER OF GOD
Exo 8:19 Then the charmers said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God:
We are told over and over again, the RESULTS of God’s body parts, and we are told that WE will at some point, be comprised of a spiritual body, yet we do not comprehend the possibilities of having the ability to accomplish things with hands and feet and voice and eyes and ears and… well you get the idea.
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
First of all I would like to thank you for this really inspiring post. You raise far reaching questions and address fittingly weak points in my formulations.
In the following I start giving answers that will be completed with successive posts taking account of your possible replies.
“I have to understand today Jesus’ teaching in these verses exactly the same way as I would have understood if I were listening to Jesus 2000 years ago.”
refers to Matthew 5:27-30, it is not meant to be a universal statement:
Mervin referred to Matthew 5:27-30 to justify that “we today can understand Jesus words about the Flood in in Matthew 24; 25: 31-46, and Luke 17: 20-37 as Hyperbole”.
To this I objected that from the content of Matthew 5:27-30 it is clear that “I have to understand these verses today as I would have understood them if I were listening Jesus 2000 years ago.”
Accordingly Mervin’s reference to Matthew 5:27-30 would imply that I have to understand Matthew 24; 25: 31-46, and Luke 17: 20-37 today as I would have understood them if I were listening Jesus 2000 years ago”, and this means to consider the Flood is real history.
This is for me the most important point in your post: Apparently you do not reject my interpretation of the Flood as a miracle, but simply highlight that the likelihood of such a “miracle” would be mindbogglingly small.
Your idea to link the Jim Carrey YouTube is brilliant! This video perfectly reflects my thinking about what a miracle is:
All possible events happening in the world are contained in God’s mind. These events are of two types: ordinary phenomena and extraordinary ones.
Ordinarily God shapes the physical reality according to regularities we can grasp with mathematical equations. This is the reason why we can calculate the world, predict it and develop technologies. So for instance if I enter your mobile-number in my smartphone yours will ring, no matter whether I am righteous or sinner, accompany my calling with a prayer or not.
Nonetheless God can also bring about extraordinary events or “miracles”, which cannot be grasped or predicted by any mathematical equation. How probable such events are, only God can tell; the probability may be tiny little (even much less than “one in a million”) but not zero: “there’s a chance”. “Miracles” do not transgress any “inexorable and immutable law of nature” because there is no such a “law”. However, “miracles” are beyond our operational capabilities: I cannot resurrect a dead or let the sun dance at 2 pm by corporal operations like those I use to phone you; quantum physics does not support developing “miracles technologies” for the market (as supporters of esoteric and paranormal phenomena seem to dream). By contrast God can let such events happen in the follow of our prayers, as plenty of religious traditions all over the world attest.
This seems to me an excellent point. If I understand well you claim:
Today I (Antoine) am interpreting Pentecost in terms of a “quantum Multiverse”, whereas if I had been present at the event 2000 years ago I would not claim I was watching something demonstrating “the Multiverse”.
I obviously agree. Your objection shows the necessity of explaining better what I mean by “Multiverse” in this context:
Quantum physics, as any experimental science, is based on observations (experimental evidence). But observations require observers. For the science we know and do the observers are we, human experimenters. So “we find ourselves unavoidably playing a role at the deepest level of the structure of physical reality” (in David Deutsch’s wording): There is no physical reality without free human choices. The physical reality is defined with relation to the observers.
In Pentecost there was Peter speaking supposedly Aramaic and different groups of observers listen him speaking their own languages. This means: for each linguistic group applied partially different “physical principles” and in this sense one can say that these different groups of “observers” formed a cluster of parallel worlds, a Multiverse. At the end of the miracle these worlds merged together again into one world where Cretans, Arabs, Egyptians, and the other groups heard Peter speaking Aramaic without understanding him. The only remains of the miracle are the reports of many eyewitnesses, as recorded in Acts 2: 7-12.
The “Miracle of the Sun” in Fatima on October 13th, 1917 can be compared to Pentecost: The “speech” of God (the appearing Sun) was understood in two different ways by two different groups of observers. For 70,000 gathered at Cova da Iria God “spoke” in an extraordinary amazing way they had never “heard” before. For 2 billion people around the world outside Fatima God “spoke” as usual. At the end the two parallel worlds merged together and the only sign of the miracle are the reports of the eyewitnesses.
A similar explanation in terms of two parallel worlds can be applied to Noah’s Flood, as stated in previous posts.
I am elaborating answers to other thought-provoking points you have raised and hope posting them soon. For today I would like to conclude with this final remark:
The exciting discussion we are sharing here shows that one should not reject “miracle” as an explanation for Noah’s Flood before serious study. A clear advantage of the option “miracle” is that it refers to a real historic event. One should not forget that skeptics of all times have tried to downgrade “miracles” by explaining them through “hyperbole” of usual events; for instance at Pentecost some witnesses said scoffing, “they have had too much new wine” (Acts 2: 13). So the option “hyperbole” as explanation for the Flood can be tricky, especially if one considers that the magnitude of the documented floods in Ancient Near East is in no way proportionate to the superb “hyperbole” Genesis 6-9 displays. Thereby one risks downgrading Jesus’ and Peter’s prophecies about the End Times and the Final Judgement to “hyperbole” as well and in the end say: “They had had too much new wine”.
Slightly off topic, but you known the Bible well (any many things that fascinate me). I am curious if you know any verses that say this? Or is this just some commonly repeated words that have no Biblical foundation?
Thanks for that nugget of food for thought.
Not sure where you see that? I will give you the historical part, but I don’t see miraculous anywhere.
vs 26-27Just like in the days of Noah (history)…People will be eating and drinking (carrying on normal lives). Then the flood came (completely unexpected, like a thief in the night).
vs 28-29 Eating and drinking, than man, unexpected destruction/punishment
You can read that through the eyes of one who believes the flood was historical an local, and none of that meaning changes. I don’t know where Sodom was, could it have been a hail storm with lightening? Could it have been a volcano?
vs 40 No men will be in the field (probably a parable of some sort, probably non-historical, it doens’t say “in the days of”) carrying on with normal life, then, boom, sudden unexpected judgment.
vs 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.
I think vs 50 sums up all of the previous narratives (some parable, some historical) that the point of these references, were to demonstrate unexpectedness of the judgement to come.
You can again read all of this through eyes of one who does not believe in a global flood or a “miraculous scale” required for all of these quotes of Jesus not to be true.
There is no “official” definition of miracles (there is a thread here on that though), just like there is no official interpretation of the Bible. Though I would think creating hundreds of fish out of 2, is creating matter, which is against those laws?
Walking on water isn’t just “beyond human operational capabilities”, it is against physics.
I agree to a certain extent, that humility and love is more important than pride of being right. BUT, This shouldn’t burn any bridge, nor require a bridge, and Jesus can walk on water and doens’t need a bridge. Meaning, YEC’s and EC’s don’t need to bridge together of knowledge, the only bridge they need to is to show the love of God to others as brothers and sisters in Christ. With Jesus as the focal point, there is no water than can’t be traversed, and no bridge needed.
I don’t really have any problem with YEC’s, though I have a little disdain for Ken Ham and the likes that spend (or more accurately stated) waste a ridiculous amount of money to prove them as right. This money could go to those proclaiming God and spreading the love of Jesus! All YEC doctrine does is preach to the choir, those who know the Bible and believe in literally (so hopefully know and trust in Jesus). There is not 1 atheist that would see the Ark and convert, it would do the opposite, and turn people away from God.
1 Tim 1:4 " or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith"
By writing this, this could help someone who doesn’t know God, or has trouble accepting God because of science. YEC’s (in most) know God. So if you write an article that reaches the lost or the searching, yet alienates YEC’s on an intellectual level, may God be praised!
Now I am by no means saying, we are to twist God’s word to reach others. May it never be! Rather if you can come up with a very logical argument that uses our observations and other scriptures to come up with a stance, AND it happens to help reconcile a non-believer to God, praise God.
I still don’t see that. I see it as clearly trying to convey these events as an event that happened unexpectedly.
ANE had no concept of stars as physical objects, it was lights to them. If the starts fell, they thought they would hit earth, probably like a rain drop, which wouldn’t be very scary, the physical act of that. The scary part would be the gods who help us the stars or the firmament holding them broke, that would scare them a bit.
In the beginning…So was man created in verse 2? They weren’t ‘created’ till much later on, “6 days” later. So was it in the beginning? What is the difference between 6 days and 14 billion years? Neither are beginning.
If I car, and I talk about it with my friends, I would say, "In the beginning, I ‘made this car, for this reason I will race’. What did I do on day one, how long did it take me to build this car? I first made blue prints and engineering drafts. The first bolts got tightened, it didn’t race yet, it wasn’t a car before the body got placed over the frame ect.
Jesus can say in the beginning God created man, because God did. He created all of creation for the purpose of a man and women (and finely tuned the universe and our laws so that we can exist), and that man and women to be united. He also created man for His glory and demonstration of His love, which was later revealed to us through Jesus. Who was the firstborn among creation. 1 Col 1:15-20 For in Him and all things were created…through Him and for Him.
This happens to be “Moses interpretation” and “what really happened”.
I agree, the flood (possibly local) is what really happened. So was the creation of man and women in the beginning.
I’m still not seeing this. It seems to me like you want to see this, therefore can? He equated the flood to what will happen in the end times, it will be unexpected. 1 Thes 5:2. Rev 16:15. Mat 24:43. The thief is most likely a parable/analogy than historical event, but they are extraordinary events are they? Or miraculous?
This is perfect. The overall meaning is about growth, YET a very specific (untrue as I am told, but I am no botanist no know much about seed sizes) detail is spoken that says “Though it is the smallest of all seeds”.
This is exactly what many are saying about the flood. It uses specific details of boat dimensions and says world and uses universal language. But the overall meaning is about God’s redemption, it isn’t about the detail or size of the flood, nor about the details or the size of the mustard seed.
Quantum physics doesn’t tell us this. Quantum theory tells us this. quantum physics tells us that newtons laws or much of what we thought of as acceptable laws don’t work like we thought. From this, we can make all kinds of theories.
I see the discovery of quantum physics as a humorous analogy to the book of Job. God is saying, you think you can figure me out, you can’t, so stop trying, and trust just me.
This is spoken by someone who didn’t understand the meaning or reason for hyperbole. Hyperbole is to add emphasis, urge importance. Not to know that it isn’t 100% exact and could never happen, so ignore it. I love @Mervin_Bitikofer analogies. It is exactly like a parent claiming you will die. They don’t want a bratty, know-it-all kid (Dawkins here) to respond with, I probably won’t die, statistically speaking, there is only a .00051% chance of me dying, so I should ignore you. They want the kid to be scared or respect the road so they don’t die or cause an accident or an unnecessary event, had they looked both ways. So reading hyperbole, should have one put that much more importance on the message behind the hyperbole. Like the eye gouging.
Same with the flood or the creation story. I would understand it the same as they did. That they are accounts that happened where we can learn many things from. We can see the purpose and function of our lives and the cosmos in the creation account, we can see the love of God and justice and redemption in the flood account. The Bible wasn’t teaching history, every one knew about the flood and have their own account of it, they weren’t trying to inform or convince others of it, they had a narrative about it they wanted known. The same narrative they wanted known 3000 years ago, is to be known now.
I have to like this just for the dumb&dumber reference.
Are these really the results of God’s body parts? Or is God using language that we can understand. Is Jesus really the “Son” of God? Did God birth Jesus through some woman? He uses Jesus as the Son of God, because we can relate to a son, we understand the love one has for the son. They Bible uses head, bride, arm ect. These are all things that we understand the function and relationship of, they are not necessarily saying God has these. It also says something like a bunch of eyes and wings and stuff. God doesn’t need eyes, eyes are limited to a field of view, if you know everything, you don’t need to see it, you see it in your mind.
These were snake charmers that claimed this, common. Just because something is written in the Bible, doesn’t mean it is the words of God, or is correct, or God wants us to agree with it.
2 Sam 11:3-4 “and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.”
So does that mean God wants us to sleep with women after we find out they are married? Of course not, there is context to things and others thoughts and words are captured in the Bible.
The truths are God are sacred/special, the words are just that, words. I don’t think God wants us to know of His “spiritual fingers” through the thoughts of snake charmers.
The same can be said about all of His ‘body parts’.
simply means secure
Just means God sees them, and/or watches them, again implying security
strong, powerful, accomplishes things
Strong, powerful, accomplishes things
My desire, my compassion, my love, my being and efforts.
"For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened… Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’ " (Matthew 24:21-22, 29)
It doesn’t sound like “a rain drop hitting the earth”!
This is a good point!
In fact noting speaks against interpreting Jesus’ words "at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’ " (Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6) in the sense that the creation of man and women marks the beginning of creation:
We are taught by quantum physics that there is no physical reality without free choices of agents.
On the one hand, to teaching that the end times “will be unexpected”, it would have been enough to use “the parable of thief”, you fittingly refer to. On the other hand, equating the “End-Times-Prophecy” to a “Flood-Hyperbole-Account” would have been awkward and confusing.
So it seems fitting to conclude that referring to the Flood Jesus aimed to equate the End-Times to past real history. And since this past historic event didn’t leave any trace observable to us today, it can be nothing other than a miracle.
Why? The original listeners would understand what Jesus was saying (literal history to them) and modern readers would understand even knowing it isn’t literal history. Can you explain why you think this is awkward and confusing?
Sorry but to me this has not been demonstrated to be true.
You don’t think that it is little bit deceitful for God to perform a global miracle which He has documented and then erases any trace of said miracle? Can we trust a God that would be such a trickster?
Edit to add:
And not only did He erase any trace of the miracle He created false evidence to show the event didn’t happen.
No, the whole narrative is doom and gloom. And the when the beams that held up the sky failed and the stars fell, that would be scary. But I think the “sky” falling would be the scary part, not the stars themselves. I don’t even know of the ANE realized a star was a physical thing and had any size or mass, or if they were just lights to them.
That is interesting, I never thought of that before. Could the universe have existed before humans?
But God could have either “paused” physics, or, maybe He was the observer back before humans? The latter seems more likely to me. He said it was good, so there was some form of expectation/measurement being done.
He did use the the thief parable, he used a farmer in field parable, He also used a historic event of the flood, He used the historical event of Sodom…all to get the message across of unexpected judgment.
He didn’t say “the end times will be huge and scary and miraculous, it will be like sodom, flood”. He said “the end times will be unexpected, like in sodom and flood.
I really think you want to see what you are seeing, it’s just not there, sorry. You are talking yourself into it.
Unless you can find one of those references that don’t proceed or follow that message with the mention of “unexpected”, you really need to re-read it from us unbiased motive.
Mat 24:39. “
and they knew nothing about what would happen until“
1 Thes 5:3. “destruction will come on them suddenly”
Rev 16:15 “Look, I come like a thief”
If you were attempting to compare the scale of destruction, maybe. But if you were trying to compare the unexpectedness of these two unexpected events, then it makes perfect sense to use.
It’s not just, no evidence, like it was erased, but there is actually evidence to prove it didn’t/couldn’t have happened. So erasing evidence, and planting contrary evidence that proves that it couldn’t have happened, and then making a written account to contradict the evidence you planted…seems not very likely.
In this post I meet another relevant comment you have raised regarding my interpretation of Jesus’ and Peter’s statements about the End Times (“the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken”, “that day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat”). You have objected:
First of all I would like to clarify that my interpretation aimed to answer the following Mervin’s question to me:
My answer was and is:
NO, I don’t discard all “subsequent science”.
In support of this claim I referred to phenomena science today predicts (“collisions of planetary trajectories”, “the sun becoming a red giant and engulfing the earth”) that apparently fit with Jesus’ and Peter’s statements like: “the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken”, “that day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat”.
To this answer you object (if I understand well):
Jesus’ and Peter’s narratives simply reflect the common opinion among the ancient philosophers, especially the Greek Stoics, “that the world would at some period be destroyed by fire. In other words, people at the time thought the earth would be destroyed by fire and the Bible shares the same perspective.” So “it is a bit of stretch” that I (Antoine) squeeze into Jesus’ and Peter’s accounts modern scientific perspectives.
It took me a while to realize how far reaching your objection is, and I would like to meet it in two Sections:
Actually you are NOT supporting at all Mervin’s claim that the “ancient understanding” of Jesus and Peter requires discarding today’s scientific knowledge about “stars and the motion of the earth through the solar system”. On the contrary you implicitly acknowledge that the teaching of Jesus and Peter about a universal conflagration, although certainly “vague” regarding timing, it accords to what we know today. The astonishing reason for the “accordance” underlying your argument is that Jesus and Peter were apparently well informed about the science of their time.
It is in fact remarkable that science views coming from the pagan world have accorded to the ideas Jesus and his disciples wanted to convey, to the extent that they used them in their teaching. But even more remarkable is that such views in ancient science seem also fit with our science today.
So my answer to Mervin can be completed as follows:
By holding Jesus teaching as “gold standard” for today’s theology (which other “gold standard” could one hold?) we will never have to discard today’s scientific evidence, because Jesus was relying on the scientific observations available at His time, and these observations can be completed but never contradicted and falsified by new observations.
Jesus and Peter use Science to teach and promote Christian Faith, and encourage us to do the same!
But there is another important aspect:
Peter advance the Flood as main argument to counter the objection referred to in 2 Peter 3:4 against the coming of End Times. In this pericope Peter foresees that “last day scoffers” will say:
“Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
The meaning of this scoffers’ objection is as follows (see Barnes commentary you also quoted in your post):
There are no signs that the world will end and the Lord will come to judge all; the “laws of nature” are stable and uniform, and had been so long and so uniformly unbroken that it is absurd to believe the world will be destroyed.
To meet this objection Peter refers to the case of Noah’s Flood where the same objections could substantially have been urged: “There was, in itself considered, as much improbability in believing that the world could be destroyed by water as that it would be destroyed by fire”. Nonetheless the Flood actually occurred and the world was destroyed and consequently the objection of “last day scoffers” has no real force: “Notwithstanding the apparent stability of the laws of nature, the world had been once destroyed; and there is, therefore, no improbability that it may be again.”
To reinforce his argument Peter adduces two further reasons:
The heavens came into being and the earth was formed by God’s word.
The earth was formed out of water and by water.
Regarding 1: Peter is stressing that since God has the power to form heaven and earth, He has also the power to destroy them. In other words Peter is teaching that there is no “law of nature” forbidding God to do things outside the regularities we are used to. And this is what quantum physics is telling us today. Actually this “accordance” is not that astonishing if one takes account of what Max Born (the author of the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics) states in his Nobel Price Lecture 1954:
“Mechanical determinism gradually became a kind of article of faith: the world as a machine, an automaton. As far as I can see, this idea has no forerunners in ancient and medieval philosophy. The idea is a product of the immense success of Newtonian mechanics, particularly in astronomy. In the 19th century it became a basic philosophical principle for the whole of exact science. I asked myself whether this was really justified. […]This is not the place to go into the matter more deeply. I should like only to say this: the determinism of classical physics turns out to be an illusion, created by overrating mathematico-logical concepts. It is an idol, not an ideal in scientific research and cannot, therefore, be used as an objection to the essentially indeterministic statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics.”
Regarding 2: Peter is invoking here the view of Greek philosophers that water was the basic element from which all is derived. He explains that in the Flood God reverted the earth to this primordial stage, and similarly in the End Times God will destroy the earth by fire. Today we can interpret the universe was formed out of a “quark-plasma” (as your name in this Forum also suggests!) and in the End Times God will revert it to this primordial stage.
The Reference to Noah’s Flood in Jesus’ and Peter’s teaching is not mainly meant to stress the End Times will be unexpected but to refute the objection of “last day scoffers” i.e.: “It is absurd to believe that such an event could occur.”
Peter refutes the objection by stressing:
The world was already once really destroyed in the Flood.
God has the power to do things beyond the natural regularities we are used to, that is: Miracles.
And from this one is led to conclude:
Maintaining that the Genesis account of Noah’s Flood is “Hyperbole” of some “local event” would completely destroy Peter’s rationale and strengthen “last day scoffers”. These could then argue: “Jesus prophecy about End Times is as absurd as the claim that Noah’s Flood is real history”. And this applies all the more if one considers that there is no documented local flood that would be worthy of a “Hyperbole” as that displayed in Genesis 6-9.
I finish by thanking you again for your comment: I enjoy the “mental fighting” your issues provoke and will be happy receiving any new comment about possible weak points in the preceding discussion.
What Jesus teaches is the gold standard for any Christian theology – I accept this as a given, of course!
What Jesus makes use of in the way of common cultural assumptions and understandings of his day (e.g. -using the “fact” that a mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds) is not the gold standard for scientific understandings of our physical world today – nor is that what Jesus was teaching. He was using it to teach something else much more important. And that “something else” is the gold standard we should adhere to. When we now try to pull in ancillary cultural assumptions that he freely used, insisting that those be included as things “being taught”, this is conflating Jesus’ real teachings with falsehoods.
It is precisely because I consider what he taught to be a gold standard, that I refuse to lump our modern agendas in with that, thereby mixing falsehood with truth.
Fair enough, I will give you this one reference. As I read it, I see that even though it does indeed also mention in verse 10" But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.", in this one specific passage, that does not appear to be the main theme in what he is trying to get across.
But all the other references you have spoke of, it is very apparent they are trying to convey “unexpected” in those other references.
However. In vs 10 he also says “The heavens will disappear with a roar.” Or in vs 7 “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire”
Are the heavens going to disappear? Is Paul using a hyperbole here?
That and as you say (and I agree) Paul was speaking of the scoffers. There were scoffers in Noah’s time, and they were destroyed. Local scoffers, destroyed locally. In the end times, there will be scoffers all over the world, who also will be destroyed, and the whole world with them. But only the local ones scoffed that the world would flood, only the local ones saw/received word that Noah was even building an arc. And those local were the scoffers who perished by the flood.
I am not as great of a historian as many of the folks here, maybe @Reggie_O_Donoghue can help me out here? But I thought there were man many different accounts of a large flood? The different races had their own account or retelling of it, but it is pretty clear they were all talking about the same flood. This is also something John Walton speaks of in some of his speeches.
Even without considering the “End Times” argument, to be coherent, the hypothesis that Genesis 6-9 is “Hyperbole” based on some local flood would require evidence of a flooding event about 3000 BC whose effects would be comparable to that of the mega-tsunami produced by the impact of the Chicxulub asteroid 66 million years ago. To my knowledge there is no evidence of such an event but will be thankful for information completing my data.
I have heard many say that there are a bunch of relatable flood accounts in the ANE from the various races. John Walton speaks of them, though I am personally not as familiar with them.
But you have to admit, your last reference to punishing the scoffers, makes a very strong case for the flood being local. Now anyone who wants to scoff can on a global scale, we are all pretty much made aware of global events with communications today and can account for a global destruction and global scoffers being punished. But in the ANE, they didn’t have quite as good communications. So if scoffers were being punished, surely that is an indicator that the flood was local, to the local scoffers?
Was the rainbow local? And human sinfulness … was that also a local phenomenon?
I think you’re missing Walton’s point, which is that the various ANE myths that involve a flood all may have been inspired by an actual, past flood. From that jumping off point, the author of Genesis expanded upon the flood theme by universalizing it to make a theological point about God’s response to human violence/sin.
If the flood was, yes. That’s how rainbows work, sun going through rain.
I don’t think God “invented” a rainbow after the flood. I think God used an already naturally occurring phenomenon to make a covenant. Just like I don’t think the nitrogen cycle began after Adam ate from the tree. Death was happening way before “the fall”.
No, but the world wasn’t under a magnifying glass either. The Bible is focused on a bloodline, the stories revolve around that bloodline.
I agree. But if the actual event killed everyone but Noah’s family, how was it written about/know of?
I think the flood was more importantly about God’s response in spite of sin, that He will redeem those who have faith in God, as He did with Noah.
Hold on. Let’s back this truck up. I’ll try to be more clear this time. We don’t know which “actual event” may be behind the various flood myths of Mesopotamia. There is evidence of large floods at several places and times, ranging from Ur ca. 3500 B.C. to Kish ca. 2600 B.C. Writing, specifically cuneiform, was invented during this same approximate time frame. Any one of these floods could be the “original” flood that inspired the Mesopotamian myths about a flood. Alternatively, since rivers tend to flood and floods occasionally reach historic levels, one single flood event may not lie behind all the various myths. Since the area experienced several major floods over the course of hundreds of years, stories passed down about the various events probably merged in the re-telling. That’s the background of the historical event(s). As for the Mesopotamian flood stories, there are many (Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, Sumerian King List, Sumerian deluge), and Genesis 6-9 is the last to be written.
Now, the “regional flood” approach can take two directions from here. One version of this interpretation simply identifies one of the above floods as “Noah’s Flood,” and afterward the story was passed down intact through Noah’s descendants until it was written down several thousand years later. This seems to be your position. The other version, represented by Walton, Longman, et al., says that one (or all) of these disastrous floods provided the “nugget of truth” behind Noah’s flood, but the details of the story in Gen. 6-9 are examples of literary “hyperbole,” which the author employed to make a greater point about God.
I don’t think the first version of the “regional flood” interpretation is sustainable. The name “Noah” is a Hebrew word, and the Hebrew language did not yet exist when the floods in question happened. Also, the idea that the story was passed down orally for nearly 2000 years without alteration strikes me as wishful thinking, if not silly.
The second interpretation of the regional flood is simply that an actual flood served as the inspiration for Genesis, and that fact somehow preserves the historicity of the account. If that sounded a little sarcastic, that’s because it was. This is where I depart from Walton and Longman. If the flood at Ur or Kish was the “real” flood behind Genesis, it also was the flood behind Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, and all the other Mesopotamian myths. But, in that case, we must apply the same reasoning to those myths as to Genesis, so what has been proved? Only that the Gilgamesh epic has as much historical basis as Genesis. Do we therefore regard the Gilgamesh epic as being “historically true” in the same sense as Genesis? Obviously not. And if we do not accept such reasoning in the case of Mesopotamian myths, why do we think it is valid in the case of Genesis 6-9?