I agree that the Israelites were bright. For example, the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, Qohelet, was one I once used to tell my father shouldn’t be in the Bible because of his sad outlook–but after a while, I realized better what he was saying.
What I meant was that if God took the time to explain to the ancient Israelites heliocentrism, they 1) would be distracted from His purpose or 2) think it unscientific, based on their stories… What if God gave us moderns, with the belief of heliocentrism, Genesis for the first time, and he tried to explain geocentrism as the right way (presuming that’s correct)? We would totally miss the boat on His message, I think. We would probably think that it was gobbledegook, and reject it.
So, what was God’s message? The Bible is very deep, and there are many things we can dig out of it. CS Lewis said he thought there was more than he ever understood.
However, among other things, God, among other things, gives a message of love by contrasting with the pagan ones. Ancient Sumer, Ur and surrounding areas (Palestine) had terrible, pagan stories about how the Earth and people came to being.(this was the science of their day. It supported the pillars of the sky, the earth, hard dome of the firmament, etc). For example, whereas in the old stories, the gods made Man as slaves for them; whereas the chief god, Marduk, killed his mother and cut her in half to make the sky; whereas they exterminated people in the Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh or Atrahasis because they were noisy, God said, “No!”
“I am One. I created you in fellowship, in My image, and only sin can separate us.”
Genesis’ message of a single God who cares about what his people do was revolutionary.
It’s my opinion that God wasn’t lying about the earth and Sun, any more than Hemingway or I am when I talk to my wife and remark at the sun rise, or muse about how its coming up again is like God’s resurrection. (credit for some of this is from Denis Lamoureux and Peter Enns)
It’s an interesting question about whether God’s wisdom trumps man’s. The difference appears to arise when we use our knowledge of science to interpret our understanding of the Bible–Bacon’s Two Books analogy–the Book of God in written form, understood with His work in physical form. How can we discuss our understanding of the world with other religions who hold as strongly to their interpretation and their books?
I was born in Nigeria, the son of Christian missionaries, and grew up in Niger, which is about 99% Muslim. While they were pretty peaceful, orthodox Islamic presuppositions are pretty strongly against us. For example, they say that the Christians corrupted the Old and New Testaments, including Psalms (Zabur) and Gospels (Injil) to worship Jesus. They say that we believe that God had relations with a woman and gave birth to a man–anathema to them. Many Muslims believe that all mankind are born Muslim, and convert to whatever worldview surrounds them. The Qur’an says that we worship 3 people–not the Holy Spirit, but God the Father, God the Son, and Mary. They say that the Qur’an was composed in Arabic before the world began. If we tried to tell them to the contrary about our Trinity definition. the relationship to God of Jesus, and that we didn’t corrupt the Bible to divert from the Qur’anic message, they wouldn’t believe us. After all, the Qur’an says that that is what we believe.
Hindus have similar prejudices. Some Brahmins, from my understanding, are the only ones who can read their Vedas and truly understand them. Trivedi and Chaturvedi are common names saying how many they can read (tri=three and chatur=4).
How can we discuss things clearly with them without the common ground of science? What language can we use other than “you are prejudiced” (a claim they can aim at us with equal force)?
This is where conflict seems to arise–assuming that everyone else has the wrong desire.
Thank you for your thoughts. In Christ, may God bless/Allah shi taimakemu (May God aid us).