Two questions about how central the question of origins is to your core beliefs

(Mervin Bitikofer) #101

I don’t. Any more than I can explain angels at all (fallen or otherwise). The Bible makes reference to them in speaking of temptations or servants and such. But that isn’t so much explanation as reference. So I’m content to be aware enough of those references to try not to misuse them or abuse them. “The devil made me do it” might be one such abuse we occasionally hear today, though usually flippantly. “Principalities and powers” are another reference we sometimes see partly personified in the Bible. We have our modern categories for some of those things too that fulfill their same age-old roles of temptation or coercion. So I guess it doesn’t disturb me over much that these things aren’t “explained” as some might like because it doesn’t seem to have disturbed the original biblical authors. I’m content to leave that category of beings be what they are beyond my knowledge of how to categorize them or even to know if they exist at all as often popularly imagined. As to when “the fall” happened - that would be even farther back into the obscuring mists already inherent in the questions raised above. It may quite well turn out to be a meaningless question to seek after a historical time-line kind of answer to such questions.

As to why God might withhold forgiveness - I don’t think God does. Or I guess another way to see that is that I think God forgives any agent that is capable of repentance and seeking accepting that forgiveness. God would be less than loving - merciful - or perfect, if he didn’t. So if something / someone remains unforgiven into perpetuity, it must be because they have kept themselves unable to receive any such forgiveness.

(Shawn T Murphy) #102

I am confused. You say on the one hand that you know nothing about the fallen angels, yet you are shocked at the idea that humans are fallen angels.

If God does not withhold forgiveness as you say, He would not withhold it from the fallen angels. If we are fallen angels, does that not explain much about suffering and the imperfections in humanity? This is the theory that the enlightened founders of science held.


I thought that the universe is finite, although it is expanding. And the universe had a beginning, so it isn’t eternal.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #104

Based on what I’ve read already, I’m thinking you have a different set of people that you consider to be the “enlightened founders of science” than maybe the standard set of such most present day historians might put forward. [you favor the ancient Greeks of the mystical variety like Pythagorus or Euclid, right?] And I have no problem with including them in our collective intellectual “hall of fame”; but I’ve also gotten from you […as always; correct me as needed!..] that you rather sharply wish to exclude many of the more recent scientific types from nearly all the middle ages as being nothing more than agents of ignorance in comparison. So right off the bat I have a very different (much more inclusive) “canon” of people I’m willing to learn from or accept as potential authorities in various historical matters [not to be mistaken for entire endorsement or agreement of course!]. And right off the bat I suspect we’re going to have some very irreconcilably different views on many foundational philosophical underpinnings for science and truth more generally. My speculation may be off here, of course. But it does seem like you are only showing little bits, hints, and cryptic pieces of some larger hidden agenda. So we’re working with what you’re revealing about yourself here.

More on angels …

I don’t know specifics about angels - but I do know at least some specifics about me; enough to know that I am not an angel. The closest the Bible seems (to me) to come in identifying angels with people is that on a few occasions angels were taken by others to be people (mistakenly, as the stories later reveal!). In the New Testament there is a passage where those who take in the stranger may have entertained angels unaware. But in most cases when an angel showed up, people had to be warned not to be afraid. So there was definitely something taken to be different about the situation. But most of all, if these were two equivalent sorts of beings then I’m not sure why scripture writers would have troubled themselves to make two different categories when there is just one. There is the curious passage where Christ tells us (regarding marriage) that we will become like the angels. So there is that if you want to press that into service toward saying we are angels now. But that’s quite a stretch. If we want to be metaphorical about it, as in “you were my guardian angel there!” - then sure; in that sense we can be “angels”. But that’s not what most people would mean with the suggestion.

So it would seem to me that you take one standard perspective: [we = people] and [angels = ? (not people)] that has a fairly settled view of all the essentials and exchange that for a a view that is creating new problems [not to mention divergences from scripture] without (so far as I’ve seen yet) solving anything. Because now you have to worry about God not forgiving fallen angels, but that only became a problem because you are imagining us to be such things in the first place.


Yep, i’m conscious that my view could be considered arrogant. However, all the scripture ive refered to simply doesn’t lead me to think we are anything other than Gods one and only focus.
Dont get wrong, God is not in the slightest bit dependant on us for anything (nor does he need a plan B creation). The earth is His footstool.
But God’s character is to Love, and what I read is that He has poured all of that Love into creating us, and restoring us to Him through Jesus.
In this view (that we are God’s only focus), it increases both my Awe towards God, and my motivation to devote myself to God. Speculating that we are not that special, is a slippery slope that leads us away from God, i think.

(Shawn T Murphy) #106

Dear Mervin, I am just testing the waters, you are right. I published a paper early in my writing career that summarizes my thinking on the founders of science and how we have not yet returned to the level of enlightenment that existed in their culture. But this is not my Judgement, it was the judgement of Nobelauriate Erwin Schrodinger and of historian Jason Burckhardt.

All this demonstrates, first of all, consummate political aptitude. At the same time, the Athenians rise far above all other Hellenes onto the throne of education, art, and superior social graces.

The central location helped greatly to bring this about, but a more basic reason is the happy blend of rural and commercial life and the most favorable set of conditions ever encountered on earth. It was as if Nature had for centuries saved up all its resources to expend them at that time…

It is hard for us to give a fair judgment between Athens and Sparta, since we owe an infinitude to Athens and nothing to Sparta, and because Sparta did not hold on to any venerable primitive piety in the face of rapid Athenian progress, but from the beginning maintained a depraved rule of force over subjugated fellow Hellenes. We do not know, however, whether without such an adversary Athens would not soon have degenerated in other ways, e.g., gone in for conquests of the of the Sicilian campaign and other adventures. Burckhardt, Jacob, and Harry Zohn. “Antiquity.” Judgements on History and Historians. Translated by Harry Zohn, Etc . London: George Allen & Unwin, 1959. N. pag. Print.

I am pointing to a return to the wisdom that existed in a society that has given us so many household names, like Euclidian geometry, the Pythagorean theorem, Aesop’s fables, democracy, the Hippocratic Oath and Plato’s dialogs. Their descendants were also the first Christians…

(Randy) #107

Mr Murphy, may I ask what is an angel in your definition, then? Thanks.


The first Christians were Jewish.

(Dillon) #109

Okay. I totally see where you’re coming from then. To say it confirms the existence of God makes more sense to me. I was more chiming in about the cosmological argument’s ability to sway those who do not already believe (due to direct experience of God etc.)

Me too.

I agree with pretty much everything you said here. I would say that we need science, philosophy, and (something else) to accomplish the things you listed. Perhaps I would select Great Love to serve the purpose that Theology serves for you. In any case, I understand how Theology might serve as a good compliment or balance for the other two. On their own, science and philosophy simply do not suffice as good motivators.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #110

First of all let me say that really there is only one supernatural reality, Who is God. Others might say that angels are supernatural, but they are gofers for God. They have no independent e4xistence apart from God.

Second, the issue is not supernatural, but spiritual. God is not physical, which is the primary reason why we cannot see or touch God. But the fact that that God is not physical means that we must not expect God can be experienced like physical things.

Third, even though humans are physical beings, we also have spiritual needs as well as rational needs, thus humans do have reason to communicate with God.

Fourth, God has make Godself known to humans as I have said through the Bible in general and through Jesus Christ in specific. Therefore it is not true that God reveals Godself to humans only at God’s whim.

Fifth, while God makes Godself to all people, there is a question as to why only some people respond to this revelation and are saved from sin and death. We know that God does not save us because we deserve salvation. I would say that we are saved because we know that we are sinners who do not deserve salvation and are willing to ask forgiveness for our sins and accept that forgiveness and follow Jesus.

Clearly people apparently like yourself who feel that they do not need forgiveness and spiritual help do not seek God Jesus said, “Those who are not sick have no need of a doctor. I have come to help those who have deep spiritual needs.”

Sixth, God is not a thing, but a Person. We relate to persons by communication, and we communicate with God by prayer. If you have spiritual needs, you need to read the Bible and share your needs with God through prayer. God will hear you and answer you although it might take awhile and it might not be the way you expect.

Try it. You might like it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Seventh, God is Love. God is real, because Love is real. “What the world needs now is Love sweet Love.”

(Shawn T Murphy) #111

The definition that I use goes as follows: An angel is an immortal ethereal or spiritual being, of the same substance as God. A fallen angel is dead - separated from god but still immortal and ethereal. Angels are also referred to as gods and fallen angels are also refereed to as demons. A human is the coexistence of material body and an ethereal body or spirit (sometimes referred to as soul). Jesus and the prophets were human bodies filled with a divine, immortal spiritual body.

(Shawn T Murphy) #112

Sorry, the first major Christian Scholars were Greek, the greatest of these being Origen of Alexandria. But also many in the beginning were the Greeks that Paul evangelized to.

(GJDS) #113

I preface my comment by stating that I have not read every comment on this thread, so this is not directed to anyone in particular.

Central to this subject matter is our belief - my belief is that God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and all that is, or ever could be.

This theistic position then negates all questions posed in this thread.


But you said “Their descendants were also the first Christians…” so it seems that you are moving the goalposts. The first Christians were not Greeks, but it is true that many major Christian scholars were Greek.


I thought that the universe is finite, although it is expanding. And the universe had a beginning, so it isn’t eternal.

“One of the reasons we care is that a flat universe has implications for whether the universe is infinite,” saidDavid Schlegel, a member of the Physics Division of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “That means – while we can’t say with certainty that it will never come to an end – it’s likely the universe extends forever in space and will go on forever in time. Our results are consistent with an infinite universe.”

Again…seems to me that the concept of eternity is now both confirmed and observable.

This has been discovered in the past few years, as no curvature can be measured when projecting stright lines via telescopes.

(Randy) #116

A little off the subject line, but I like remembering that some of the earliest Christians were Ethiopians…that led to their own ancient civilization and culture in isolation from the West. (From the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, I think)

And…the Mar Thoma church. is pretty cool too.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #117

I did finally find and read your paper – thanks! And I found much to commend in it too. The value of learning and reason and refusing to exclude wisdom / virtue such as what Socrates is said to have promoted - I share in the admiration and striving for those more wholistic approaches too. I also found interesting the snippet you included in your post above that speaks of us owing much to the Athenians and nothing at all to the Spartans. While I’m a bit uncomfortable trying to take our modern tribalisms for use as a knife to work back, cleanly dividing history into the “good guys” and the “bad guys” (more on that in a bit), I nonetheless also repudiate the notion that “all societies are equal”, and that in fact some societies have succumbed much more thoroughly to a grievous host of evils. I’ve heard the Spartans referred to as “the Nazis” of the time who very much were drunk with the “will-to-power” koolaid that would also find its later expression in Nietzsche. As an Anabaptist Christian I loath that depraved state of mind wherever it rears its evil head, whether in ancient or modern times or in my own heart too. That koolaid is temptingly sweet (at first) - especially when one has identified a group of people as a “clear” enemy and sold themselves to fear as a result. But it turns its partakers into blinded idiots in the end.

But all that is to fixate on the wrong end. When we turn our gaze up instead, I find it most revealing of all for us to ask on whom do we bestow our allegiance as being the pattern - the archetype, of all that is worth pursuing? Your distinctive focus seems to be on the Ionians, whom you see as the originally most enlightened ones (whose wisdoms we have apparently not fully recovered, you said?) There is much to commend about them indeed. I resonate also with the thought that knowledge is valuable and that sources for study should not be summarily dismissed just because something imperfect or wrong is found mixed in.

I am curious how you would answer this: Are you a Christian first and an Ionian admirer later? Or is it the other way around? You might think I’m making a rhetorical (and perhaps insulting) suggestion here, but you would be mistaken. We all struggle with our effective allegiances which (too often) carry on quite independently of our verbal professions. So it is just a way of asking … are you an admirer of Christianity (of Christ) because in some ways it comes closer to the ancient, enlightened Ionians? (…and therefore would freely discard those parts of Christianity or scriptures that don’t pass that ancient Greek inspection). Or do you admire the Ionian culture because it has many excellent virtues to celebrate underneath the Lordship of Christ? (…and therefore freely take or leave various ancient Greek wisdoms according to how they fall in line with the Spirit of Christ.) It isn’t a trivial kind of question to ask - for any of us regarding the things we too each admire in our own turns.

On the division of history into “good guys” and “bad guys”, I won’t follow you in attempting to throw the entire Catholic church under the bus. Yes - they are far from perfect (you don’t have to remind any Anabaptist about that!). But the whole notion that the so-called “dark ages” are just a yawning chasm of lost ignorance that we’ve only just begun recovering from, on our way back up to some original Greek enlightenment is, (as we’ve seen and discussed in this forum before) revisionist history in the extreme. To maintain such a view requires one to shut their eyes to so much knowledge that is well-established by historians. Any who would take Socrates as a virtual patron saint would surely disapprove of willfully discarding all that wealth of knowledge just to pursue anti-Catholic dogma.

One last question: Do you think that modern science has the potential to become enlightened enough to explain all facets of reality and human existence?

[with edits]


Yes and there was the Samaritan woman at the well, and so on. But we were talking about THE first Christians, not some of the first.


Only God is eternal. And I didn’t know that telescopes projected “strignt” lines.

(Randy) #120

yes, sorry, I was just wandering. One thing that really struck me was that northern Europeans seemed to be the last to know about the Gospel, compared to the Ethiopians, Armenians, Turks, Greeks, and Indians :).
I think @Shawn_Murphy was talking about the earliest philosophers.