Monday, October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
A friend of mine sparked this post by sending me a flyer which advertises educational material published by an organization called Answers in Genesis. They offer seminars, DVDs, books, and have built a Creation Museum. My evangelical friends and I will never agree on the amount of time God spent in creating our beautiful and breathtaking earth, but one thing we have in common is that God’s hand was in all of it. For many reasons, I cannot accept a literal six-day creation. Here is just a few of them. (I tried hard to keep it as short as possible.)
When Genesis 1 and 2 were written down, probably in the tenth century (although we really don’t know when), Hebrew was already a newish language, emerging from Canaanite, Eblaite, and Sumerian, and the Israelites were emerging as a coherent people and state unto themselves. Genesis 2 describes an era in history that was not only pre-Hebrew, it was pre-Sumer. It was pre-historic, pre-writing, pre-walled cities. Adam and Eve wouldn’t have spoken Hebrew. If indeed they were real historical characters, they weren’t Jewish. There was no Jewish.
Nor were they cave people or hunter-gatherers. They lived in the Age of Copper (c. 4000 BCE), when smelting, pottery, animal husbandry, irrigation, and agriculture were still relatively new and exciting innovations. Although serpents and dragons are sometimes depicted on the pottery that has survived since early times, there are no T-Rexes or brontosaurs. There is a vivid carving of a man being killed by a lion, but not one of a child being eaten by a raptor. There are hundreds of species of dinosaurs all over the globe. There are no human or mammal bones in the same fossil layers, nor cave drawings of a stegosaurus.
But there were cave people and hunter-gatherers before there was animal husbandry and agriculture. And Cain, banished from his own family unit, was afraid of being killed by a different and primitive ethnic group that would not recognize who he was.
Now let’s look at the 3 major creation stories in the Bible and compare/contrast them. I’m going to say something shocking here, but bear with me until I can explain. Everyone says, “But Genesis 1 is God’s holy word. How can you deny the authority of God?” Here’s the thing. Genesis 1, isolated from all other Bible Scripture is not God’s word. My finger is not me. A broken egg, some flour and sugar is not a muffin. God’s mind is revealed in all of the Bible taken together, and understood within the historical context out of which it all came.
A skill in understanding the languages of the Bible doesn’t hurt. The thing that is so miraculous about this debate is that so many are so expert about so much that they know so little about.
First let’s look at Genesis 1 versus Genesis 2. I first studied Hebrew at the kitchen table of a dear Rabbi in Lexington, Kentucky. After a year, Rabbi Schwab challenged me to start reading and translating from Genesis 1:1 and see how far I could get. He sat and listened as I read to chapter 4 or 5. But as I read, something dawned on me. The names of God changed from chapter to chapter. I had always argued emphatically that the scholars who claimed that there were several different documents in the early chapters of Genesis were irresponsible evil-doers who didn’t care if they destroyed people’s faith.
At one point, I quit reading and said aloud, “The scholars were right. There are three documents here.” Now I realize that the real evil, or rather tragedy, is the lack of diligent study among evangelicals conjoined with a vociferous certainty that the Bible is easy to understand and it’s the scholars and scientists who don’t get it.
So, in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3, God’s name is always Elohim. The phrase “heaven and earth” are always in that order. Genesis 2:4 is a bridge verse between what came before and what came next. In 4a the name is still Elohim, and heaven still comes before earth, but the concept of “the generations of” is introduced. In 4b, the name changes to Yahweh Elohim, and earth is placed before heavens. Although there are significant differences between the two passages, the author is tying them together without trying to reconcile all the statements. That is because each passage has a theological point to make, and each is considered sacred in its own right.
Genesis 1 is very exalted in tone, very organized, and poetic. Genesis 2 is more of a narrative that is almost casual about the order of creation.
In Genesis 1, the land, sea, sun, stars, trees, etc. were all in place when Elohim created man and woman. In Genesis 2, God created mankind first, because there was no need for herbs, rain, or plants if there was no one to till the soil. So mankind was created to be a tiller of the soil. The harbinger of his creation was a mist rising out of the ground to water it. God was making the ground tillable for the planter-to-be. The time-frame is difficult to picture because the progression of what really came first or second in this passage or how long it took isn’t that important. What is important is that after God made the man, he planted a garden with no reference as to how long it took to do so. He didn’t “create” the garden or “form” it, he “planted” it. That could take some time.
In Genesis 1, the man and the woman were “created” on the same afternoon. All of the land species, including dinosaurs I presume, all of the insects, the ecosystems that work together and are dependent on each other, were all swept into existence out of nothing. In Genesis 2, the man is “formed” from the mud of the newly watered and viable earth. He is alone long enough to study the behavior of animals and realize that he is unique in being one of a kind. He is alone long enough for God to declare that he needs a mate.
In Genesis 2 Adam is put into the Garden twice. In v. 8 God “puts” the man whom he had formed into the Garden. In v. 15 he “settles” the man in the Garden to till it and keep it. In between, the entire Tigris-Euphrates Valley with the two rivers and mineral resources has been described. Adam has to learn about all the flora and fauna of his environment. This could take some time. Finally Eve is “formed” (not created) from his rib.
The third part of the creation story is in Psalm 104. This psalm has a different agenda, but is clearly tied to Genesis 1. Unlike Genesis 1, however, mankind, beasts, and created environment are all rolled together, mutually supportive and all acknowledging the sustaining power of the Creator.
And that is the important message of these three inspired creation narratives. Psalm 104 ties it all together with God’s benevolent care over all creatures being the central theme. God dwells IN his creation, he sees it all, he made it all to work together. If we come away with that message, we will do well. If we carp over inerrant portions of this or that, we actually dilute the whole point and drag the Judeo-Christian reputation into a slough of scientific absurdities.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
The Gulf Breeze Sightings, Part 6, The Ouija Predicts the Coming of the Anti-Christ (And Other Disasters)
In the last blog post, I wrote about Vance Davis’s dream of confronting Satan in a webby, spooky cave. The dialogue between the two was like something out of a George Lucas film:
I felt a strength and resolve come over me that I had never felt in real life. I created a glowing ball of white energy in my right hand and threw it at this being. It hit him squarely in the chest and tossed him across the room. He ricocheted off the wall and hit the floor. The energy had clearly stunned and hurt him, but he rose to his feet.
“They have allowed your training and powers to come to earth with you, Old One,” he growled, “But it is not enough. Now it is time to die!”
Red balls and white flew back and forth until Satan was about to deliver the fatal coup de gras. Suddenly the Jesus entity appears and Vance is delivered by wielding his name.
There are various possibilities as to the source of this dialogue. Vance may have written it himself, or it may have come from God to arm him with his best weapon against dark forces, or it may have come from the Enemy to pump up Vance’s ego and prepare him to view himself in later years as a chosen, End Times warrior. Later, when entities claiming to represent heavenly forces speak through the Ouija, Vance can look back and think, yes, I was chosen for this moment even from my youth. Now it all makes sense.
And thrown into the mystic casserole are notions of the pre-existence of the soul, the age-old war in the heavens (a very biblical concept), and warrior spirits that incarnate to join The Last Battle. If Vance really didn’t make up this dream script himself, it’s quite an ego booster. It seems a little odd that if Vance has incarnated for that battle that the Apostle Paul, the 4 Gospel writers, and Timothy are left incarnate, to talk to a group of young, theologically untrained, spiritually naïve cryptographers through a Ouija Board.
Channeling and Disaster Predictions
Almost every nationally known channeler or fortune teller begins their enterprise by making some exceedingly accurate predictions. Jean Dixon predicted JFK’s assassination. It did no good, of course, because no one listened. But she hit enough bull’s eyes to garner national attention. In the end she became hyper-mystical, and her predictions became less accurate. She predicted that a comet would hit the earth in 1985, which didn’t happen.
Edgar Cayce predicted that Japan would sink into the sea and Atlantis would arise, and the poles would shift. One thing that every abductee researcher notices is that aliens manipulate their contactees with predictions of horror. Ninety-four percent of all humans will be eaten. There will be a nuclear war by such and such a date. Earthquakes, floods, alien invasion… you need us. Without us you will not survive.
The entities of the Board knew how to gain Vance’s attention and possibly that of government administrators. They predicted an earthquake in Iran in which over 300,000 would be killed. It happened. They predicted a terrorist bomb in New York (the first World Trade Bldg bombing, the Gulf War, the break up of the Soviet Union, the unification of Germany, and the European Union, all of which happened. They warned of danger to a shuttle mission, which may have saved it from exploding.
These are the kinds of nuggets that the CIA eats for breakfast. Presidents thrive on it. The channeler of such tidbits becomes an overnight celebrity. The entities actually know the future and seemed willing to share it with us for our benefit. They were the good guys, the ones we could work with and count on.
What lies ahead? What lies!
It’s really hard not to get sucked into a drama like that. Do I think the Gulf Breeze Six were dumb to believe the entities of the Board? Not at all. The spirits knew everything about all of those young people. They knew their past, their future, what to say, which buttons to push. They supported their cause with signs and wonders. They were really good at what they did.
Some predictions were exaggerated. For instance, when they were told to go AWOL, they wanted to go to California. Safire vetoed that because in 1996 there would be an earthquake in Los Angeles measuring 14.6 (if the scale went that high, which it doesn’t). Seattle? Nope. There would be earthquakes there and then Mt. Rainier would blow between ’93 and ‘95. East coast? Nope. Earthquakes there. New York would suffer a bad one, destroying a portion of the city (p. 113).
None of those events came to pass. In 1994 southern California had the North Ridge quake, which was registered as 6.7/6.9. Because the quake occurred at 4:30 a.m., only fifty-seven people died. Many more would have been killed had it happened later. It was a terrible event, with billions in damage, but it’s what California does. It doesn’t mitigate any damage to lose sleep because of a half-baked, unverifiable prediction.
Other predictions: THE US STOCK MARKET WOULD CRASH. IT WILL RISE TO 4000 BEFORE THE EVENT. MARTIAL LAW DECLARED IN ALL MAJOR CITIES LIKE NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES, CHCAGO, PUTTSBURGH, ETC. GOVERNMENT CLOSES BORDERS WITH CANADA AND MEXICO. U.S. AIR SPACE RESTRICTED. 1 AIRLINER SHOT DOWN, 302 PEOPLE LOST. A MAN WILL DECLARE HIMSELF TO BE MESSIAH IN 1998. Etc.
The poles will shift, 50 scientists will go missing, special people will emerge around the world to teach truth by 2000. The seven thunders of the Bible will be revealed. The New World Order will be the new religion. Upheavals of the earth near Florida would reveal lost cities. Bible treasures would be found [like the ark of the covenant perhaps?]. A meteorite will hit the Pacific Ocean by 2005, causing significant damage and flooding (They didn’t mention Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans nor the 2004 9.1 off Sumatra.)
Anti-Christ on the Horizon
The most compelling prediction, besides that they had to leave Germany because a bloody war would soon break out between Europe and the U.S., was that the Anti-Christ would arise in Europe, start a new religion, and establish the New World Order. The Six were all chosen to be warriors in this End Times scenario.
A final letter was dictated from the heavenly messengers. Each one took turns adding something. Just a taste of what was said:
From Mark, “If you listen to this letter…you who claim to be of Christ our Lord…then you will harken unto these words that follow…then leave all and search for the elect and their followers as they are of Gods chosen leaders…”
From Simon Peter, “This is but the last warning from us that teaches of Christ without bloodshed…the elect were chosen…but volunteered when the world was new…follow those that are humble in spirit but ferocious in Christs words…You of the world listen carefully…the time is now to wake up your spirits and heed the warning…I am the last to speak to you ever…now the elect take over the mission of the apostles…God speed.”
From John, “And it was said in the end that a great shout would be heard around the land…then all would see the trembling of the great king of whore…then from the back cometh a great cry of the chosen of God and the mighty warriors led by them….from the earth cometh the elect to render the great king a murderous heart toward the one called Jesus…” etc.
And so, goaded by pleas allegedly from on high, the intrepid group made their plans. With the help and encouragement of sweet Mary and the boys from the Bible, they headed off to Atlanta and the rest of their lives.
I can’t hardly blame them, considering who they were and what they knew. They were trying to do the right thing. They just fell into a really slick, well-played demonic scam. Nothing useful will ever come through a Ouija Board. What really would have helped the Twin Towers and the city of New Orleans is if the people in power had gotten off their ignorant, self-interested behinds and listened to the experts who were predicting those disasters based on solid information. Neither disaster had to happen.