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

(Randy) #121

thanks. What is a god then?
are you saying that we are gods? I know the allusion in the OT and NT. I’m not sure that’s what you are referring to here.
It’s orthodox, isn’t it, to refer to people as spirit? I’m interested if there is a difference between human and non human spirits other than fallen/nonfallen in your consideration.


(Shawn T Murphy) #122

Philo Sophia to the Ionians meant the Love of God’s Wisdom who is God’s Son. So, there is no difference in my mind to admiring the Ionian’s love of Jesus or being a Christian.

I presented this paper to the school board to make a specific point about the recommended curriculum for high-school history. My point was it is pointless to teach high school students history without the ability for them to understand the underlying forces driving events. I suggested that they start by developing tools to analyze the forces at work in current events. By defining ethical behavior and unethical behavior, they can begin to study the motivating factors behind opposing social forces. The intension is to demonstrate how difficult this is to do for current events, so that students would better appreciate the accuracy of historical events.

As a side note, I suggested they stop teaching works that history has shown to be misguided. I.e. teach the master (Plato) instead of the student (Aristotle). And to understand it was a centuries old political decision to stop teaching Plato, leaving us only with the sub-par work of Aristotle. The French declared Joan of Arc a heretic. She was a heretic until some brave French stood up and forced this unjust judgment to be reversed. Its time we do the same for Plato.

I rely on Jacob Burckhardt in matters of history and his methods. The reason being is that I know he was a great historian. He was able to study history, properly judge it and make predictions about the future that actually came true about the future. No modern historian can demonstrate this ability, only a historical figure can. Burckhardt used what we call today a 360 degree assessment and he applied a consistent set of ethics over time. This is his judgement of the Ionian Greeks.

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.)

This is exactly the reason that I am writing on this Forum. I am tired of standing on the sideline and watching science and religion fighting while not addressing the core issues. In my humble opinion, I think the only way that the two side can come together is for each side to do their own 360 and to throw out the illogical doctrines that they continue to cling to. This is why I want to throw away Aristotle. If the church can admit they made a huge mistake by choosing Aristotle over Plato, I know a few scientists that would be very happy.

But I don’t just pick on religion. It would be wonderful if Neil deGrasse Tyson would admit that evolution is sound theory, but we still don’t understand creation instead of insisting that science can extrapolate the evolution of nature/universe through the singularity to creation - in biology and astrophysics. If both sides could stop throwing stones, gains some humility and start working together, I think we could return to the holistic science and philosophy that existed 2,500 years ago.

This book will celebrate the wisdom held by each of these two worlds and attempt to highlight the blind-spots that have kept the two sides from forming a partnership. One of the universal wisdoms that religions have taught for millennia is that when you give, you receive more in return. John Nash received the Nobel Prize for proving this spiritual wisdom and it is in this spirit that a cooperation between science and religion could be formed. Torn Between Two Worlds: Science and Religion

(Mervin Bitikofer) #123

Can you give a succinct example or two here of a core issue that you see not being dealt with here (or by thinkers generally today)? I know - you would have us throw out Aristotle and focus on Plato, so I don’t mean that. But can you tell us the idea(s) you so object to - or wish everybody would move toward instead of listing more names of who to follow or who to banish. E.g. what is it that Aristotle primarily taught that you see as him leaving the rails.

[And I wasn’t aware that Plato had ever been generally ‘banished’ by modern thought - indeed St. Augustine (a giant in the Catholic faith!) would have been much influenced by Plato in bringing Christian and Greek thought together, especially in matters of the soul. While some of the more materialist scientists today may poo-poo Plato’s shadow world metaphor, I have never heard any one deny his profound influence on western philosophy - a “series of footnotes to him” as it’s been noted. But they may have more appreciation for Aristotle’s empiricism even if he still had a lot of wrong conclusions. All this is to say that I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that scientists would be happy to see us all favor Plato, or what makes you think Plato’s ever been generally demoted in the first place.]


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

Ha, u got me on that typo!

The following article covers it well…however, the evidence we have is that tje universe is infinite, and therefore it goes in for eternity.

Modern measurements, including those from the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), and Planck maps of the CMB, suggest that the Universe is infinite in extent, but it’s still an ongoing debate.

This is remarkable, as infinite/eternity are uncomfortable subjects, causing us to feel very very small.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #125

Sorry, the many of the first Christian scholars, including Origen were African. Alexandria is in Egypt. Also we have Tertullian of Carthage, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Augustine of Hippo.

(Randy) #126

@Shawn_Murphy, can you clarify that on Plato? I never really studied the Greeks enough…just enough to realize they were often brilliant and very relevant to modern society. My first exposure was in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” when Professor Kirk says, “It’s all in Plato, all in Plato…bless me, what do they teach children act these schools!”.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #127

The article does not say that the universe is infinite, at least not as we normally think of infinite and as God is infinite.

First of all the article says that the universe has a beginning, which is the Big Bang. That is a boundary which God does not have, so in this sense the universe is not infinite.

Second, if the universe has a beginning, then logically it will have an end. In the past it was expected that the universe will expand and then contract and this will be its end. This is what Hawking wrote in his Brief Story of Time. The article says that the universe will continue to expand indefinitely, which as far as I have heard has not been determined.

Third, the article did not really commit to any particular configuration of the universe. The universe is expanding and yet has no physical boundaries. Einstein’s theory establishes its curved outline. The model of the Big Bang is somewhat misleading in that it is four dimensional with time being the fourth dimension.

Fourth, if the universe were to expand indefinitely then it would seem that eventually the entropy would occur.

Firth, in any case the universe is not God. It has boundaries and it is not eternal. God created the universe. The universe did not create itself.


To me, without having studied them, I think these philosophers can only offer a shaddow compared to the wealth of scripture.
I know this was discussed elsewhere, but I suspect it was the Greeks that Gen 6:4 was referring to…

4 The Nephilim were on the earth at that time (and also immediately afterward), when those divine beings were having sexual relations with those human women, who gave birth to children for them. These children became the heroes and legendary figures of ancient times.

More to the point, my 7nderstandung is that, the Jewish/Hebrew culture & civilisation predates the Greek?

(Randy) #129

I think that these are totally different writings, yes. Faith and philosophy are similar, but while you find philosophy in the Bible (eg in Ecclesiastes,) philosophers don’t claim to have the words of God.

I’m just trying to understand where @Shawn_Murphy is coming from in his understanding.

I have never been able to understand the Nephilim reference well–there’s tons of conjecture. But I’m missing your point in regard to the Nephilim?


I understand that mathematically, zero curvature can be detected. I.e. two parralel lines will not alter the distance between them. Therefore, mathetmatically, this ‘proves’ infinite distance. This is backed up by the other observations from the article.
I think its fair to say, that from all we can observe (science)at this time, space is infinte.


If I remember my geometry, and it has been quite a few years, that is the definition of parallel lines and is one of the assumptions that form the basis for Euclid geometry.


Yes, thats the basis. However, if science is about what we can observe, the evidence strongly points to an infinite universe.
Perhaps a level of faith comes into the equation however.
On another angle, we seem to accept God as an infinite being, however, He aslo states that He is the Alpha and Omega…Rev 1:8.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #133

Yes, that is correct. By itself it isn’t evidence for what the universe is, though. There are non-Euclidean geometries too, so the existence of a certain geometry is no guarantee that the universe itself follows those particular rules. To guess more intelligently about the universe you would need some physical evidence. And I guess that is in short supply either way right now! Though I would love to hear a cosmologist weigh in since this boggles my mind. What I have a harder time wrapping my mind around (so to speak) is an infinite universe, since (to me) that would seem to imply also an infinite age. And yet the big bang would not allow for that, right? At least not to my simple time-bound mind.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #134

Here you seem to be hinting to conclusion in the absence of much evidence (and that would apply either way - whether you think God was infinite or finite). God being the Alpha and the Omega doesn’t help you out on this question beyond the author’s simple claim that God was present both at the beginning of all things as we know them and will still be present at the end too. If one of those created things is time, then the question of what could exist before or after becomes a meaningless one. Perhaps God transcends time. But I can’t be dogmatic that way either as scriptures seem rather silent on the subject of infinity as a modern geometer would understand it. It seems that I’ve heard from Hebrew scholars that the biblical concept of “eternity” should not be considered equivalent to what we now use the word “infinity” for. But I can’t site any sources for that at the moment.

(Shawn T Murphy) #135

Here are two succinct examples. The first from Nobelauriate Erwin Schrödinger.

*To put it dramatically, once can imagine a scholar of the young School of Athens paying a holiday visit to Abdera (with due caution to keep it secret from his Master), and on being received by the wise, far-travelled and world-famous old gentleman Democritus, asking him questions on the atoms, the shape of the earth, on moral conduct, God and the immortality of the soul – without being repudiated on any of these points. Can you easily imagine such a motley conversation between a teacher and his student in our days? Schrödinger, Erwin. “Return to Antiquity.” Nature and the Greeks, by Erwin Schrödinger, … Cambridge: U, 1954. N. pag. Print.

The second is the classic example of Galileo and the impact of the Roman Catholic church’s adaptation of the Aristotelian worldview over Plato’s. This happened 700 years after Aristotle’s death, and after the logical church fathers like St. Augustine had any say in church doctrine. The early doctrines adopted by the church made it impossible for them to adopt Plato’s worldview since it conflicted with these early doctrines.

Adopting the Aristotelian worldview set a precedent in the church that Plato and Socrates would not have stood for: Rhetoric. For the church, it was fine to explain their doctrines with “mystery” instead of logic. It was not until Galileo that they were called out on their illogical worldview. A millennium of illogical doctrine covered in mystery has yet to be unpacked, let alone corrected.

What this has meant for many scientists today is a distain for illogical religion. I use Neil deGrasse Tyson as my example for the succinct problem. Neil has said there is no life after death because science has not discovered it. He presents scientific theory as “Science” like it is fact, using the same type of rhetoric that the church has used.

The difference between deGrasse Tyson and Democritus are light years. Democritus correctly theorized the structure of the atom and the solar system. He did this not just while believing in God, he did this because he believed in God’s order. He understood the spiritual laws that govern the divine realms, the Laws of God that created the natural laws. This is the missing link the Schrödinger discovered, cooperation between the wisdom of spirituality and the wisdom of science. Not conflict.

(Randy) #136

Sie schreiben noch in Deutsch! Sehr gut. :slight_smile:

(Mervin Bitikofer) #137

Thanks for that reply - which has much good food for thought.

Amen to that! I would even add in that science specializes in knowledge more than wisdom, which might be attributed more to spirituality.

I may need a bit more help unpacking your first story from “the Schrodinger” :slight_smile:. So Democritus is obviously the hero of the story - and can I take it that Aristotle is the villainous and potentially disapproving master that the student must sneak away from in order to pursue his true education? So I think I get the who’s who in the good-bad dichotomy you are so committed to. But I’m not sure how Schrodinger’s concluding speculation fits in. Is it proposed that under our present (and apparently still frustratingly Aristotlean) regime of thought that nobody is allowed to muse productively over these kinds of questions? That wouldn’t make much sense, as obviously we have and still do. So I must be missing something here.

Furthermore, (at least to hear Wikipedia tell it), Democritus was apparently not at all liked by Plato who wished for the destruction of the former’s works. Assuming there is some truth to that account, does it gall you that two of your ancient heroes would be seen at such odds with each other? And to add insult to injury, it was the villain of your story (Aristotle) who apparently not only was familiar with some of Democritus’ cosmological speculations, but even correctly refuted one of them regarding the dimmer nature of stars in the Milky Way! Again - that is all from Wikipedia so you could understandably take it with a grain of salt, but on the other hand, it provides references for those claims, and this probably isn’t a topic that attracts so much modern controversy as to render all media postings about it suspect.

Your second point on the Galileo affair is interesting too. So I take it Thomas Aquinas would be among the lowest of the low villains in your world? He is credited with finally “baptizing” Aristotle, making him respectable within the Christian world (also thanks to the Islamic world that had preserved so much of Aristotle to that point). I’m fairly certain that a whole lot of knowledgeable scholars would rightly bristle at your suggestion that in doing so, Aquinas sacrificed logic for the sake of mystery. I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. But that is not to say that such a merging was all good or should be considered above critique. There may be much good and needed critique of all that. But to accuse Christendom as having left logic and reason behind, and to lay that all at the feet of Aristotle seems to me to be a case you have yet to make.

I am intrigued by the suggestion that modern science (and religion - at least in the perspective of some) have succumbed to a messy divorce over issues of wider reality and what all can be known. To trace that back possibly even to Aristotle and beyond seems to me a more plausible pursuit.

By the way, where do you get the idea that Democritus believed in God? I thought the atomists were fairly atheistic – in an “attribute nothing to the gods” sort of a way.

[edited for clarity and to soften just a bit!]

(Shawn T Murphy) #138

Dear Randy, I just wanted to add some food for thought regarding Plato, especially Socrates.

“Ye have slain, have slain, the all-wise, the innocent, the Muses’ nightingale.”(Diogenes Laertius II 44)

A very good friend of mine spent the last 30 years of life comparing the Socrates to the Bible. His conclusion, and I agree, is that Socrates was the last Prophet before the coming of Jesus, after Malachi. And thanks to Plato’s brilliant camouflage, he was able to protect the speeches of Socrates along side the pagans. This way Socrates comes to us without any ‘adjustments’. The pagans painted Socrates as fool after his death and laughed at his wisdom because they preferred their heroes’ words.

(Shawn T Murphy) #139

Dear Mervin, Thank you for the answer. First I want to correct your use of good and bad. I referred to makers and takers without applying any value to them. The Roman Empire was a taker society (slave driven) was that good or bad? I do not know, just a fact. It has been 14 years since I published this paper and since the refined my definition wisdom versus rhetoric. I am just helping people to recognize the differences to properly evaluate them. A society built on rhetoric has pervasive contradictions, whereas a society based in wisdom does not. Both can be successful societies.

I am not blaming everything on Aristotle. The two succinct examples I gave were 1) a lack of holistic science and 2) a lack of wisdom in Christianity. The choice of Aristotle was due to the lack of wisdom, not his fault. Christianity started going off the rails in 325 AD at Nicea. By 543 AD all of the logic was out Christianity. Symbolically this was the destruction of Origen’s Stromata that reconciled Plato with Christianity. Plato and Ionian Greeks had no place in Christianity after this.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #140

Can you give me a better idea of what “Rhetoric” is in your use of it? Is it something other than the standard: “art of persuasive speaking or writing …”?