Answering Lita Cosner of Creation dot com on Galileo
Continued from Last vs. CMI on Galileo Case
Wings of God?
She says - I presume Lita is a female first name - in her review of Lennox' book Seven Days that Divide the World that the major Biblical texts of the Galileo case were poetic:
First, the major texts that were used to defend a geocentric solar system were poetic; poetry conveys truth using vivid imagery more often than by using straightforward language.
Now, that depends on what you mean by straightforward. The psalms are very low on allegory and rich on realistic imagery.
For instance, when David prays “hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8) he does not mean to imply that God has feathers.
Do angels have wings, often enough? Had God shown Himself as an angel on any occasion?
Bodily parts are attributed to God as allegories for His spiritual qualities, like hand for almighty power or eye for omniscient knowledge. But they are also used to imtimate that God was going to incarnate.
God has feathers, not indeed as a being has feathers on its body, but as the creator of birds has birds and as the creator of angels has angels and therefore every wing and every feather of every wing of every bird and every angel.
Dinah's daughter (Jacobs granddaughter, Joseph's niece and wife) was taken away from where she was born out of wedlock and conceived in rape to Egypt somehow - and one story says the angel Michael came along and took her up and flew away with her in the shape of an eagle.
Yes, I know Tolkien readers will say "that's just like Gwaihir and Thorondor", but it is likelier that JRRT got the story from this story than that an early writer got it from a very recent one, who died after I was born, right?
Dinah's daughter was hidden under the shadow of the wings of - a messenger of God. Even though the account we can read now may not have been written back in King David's time, he may have known the story it is based on.
In the same way, saying “Yes, the world is established, it shall never be moved” (Psalm 93:1) in the context isn’t saying that the world literally doesn’t move—we can tell from the next line: “Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting” (93:2) that the Psalmist is telling us about God’s reign.
This psalm has a comment in the Gospels. Swear not by Heaven, for it is the throne of God, nor by the earth for it is his footstool. A funny thing for a footstool to do, to swirl around itself and to circle around one jewel in the throne. In Older Christian cosmology, at least part of Heaven was unmoving enough to qualify as God's throne. But of course, earth is God's footstool because Jesus walked on it. Because a cross with a footstool was raised in it.
Furthermore, we can tell from Psalm 16:8, “I shall not be moved”, using the same Hebrew verb (מוֹט môt)—it’s not teaching that the Psalmist is in a strait-jacket.
Words can be used metaphorically in one text and literally in another. The Cross of Christ is not an allegory, but the words "He that will follow me, let him take up his cross" uses the word cross in a way that for most Christians (not all die as martyrs and some martyrs were not crucified) is allegorical.
But the young-earth timescale of creation comes primarily from historical narrative passages, which normally communicate via plain, factual language. And there is no reason to believe that Moses is speaking in metaphors when he talks about the six days of creation and God’s rest on the seventh day, either within the passage itself, or in the interpretation of that passage in the rest of Scripture (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11).
Funny you should say that, when the main proof text for St Robert Bellarmine against Galileo was a historical text. Joshua bade sun and moon stand still - and they stood still.
Galileo: it was the earth that stopped rotating.
St Robert Bellarmine: well, in that case the moon would have continued to rotate relative to the earth, wouldn't it? And the text says the moon stood still as well.
That part of their debate - I brushed it up to direct speech - I owe to Robert Sungenis, a noted defender of Geocentrism.
So, the major proof text although not most of the proof texts for Geocentrism is not poetical but simply historical.
Lennox admits that literature is usually interpreted literally, unless there is a specific reason for interpreting it metaphorically. Lita agrees with his principle, and so of course do I. Look here how she defends the seven days just after that:
This is not a helpful example, however, because nothing in Genesis 1 itself (nor in the broader context of Scripture) requires the days to be metaphorical, or even indicates that they might be. That the creation days are so often interpreted literally by Hebrew specialists (both believers and unbelievers) is perhaps an indication that any metaphorical sense of the days is more obscure than Lennox’s example would suggest.
Well, there is nothing in the text of Joshua to indicate that "sun standing still" was figure of speech for "earth ceasing to rotate below the sun".
Of course, Lita would be able to argue that we use "the sun rises" as figure of speech for "the earth is rotating so that exactly we here (among others, but excluding many more) go from the place where sun is hidden by earth's volume between into the place where it is visible and earth's volume is on other side of us".
But then geocentrics would not use it quite as figuratively.
"The sun revolves around us so that now it is for us here rising from behind the earth, from beyond below us (centre of earth being lowest of all), to where we can see it".
And who indicates that either Joshua or his men were heliocentrics?
Lennox seems to treat Scripture and science equally, and it is unclear how he decides to go with Scripture regarding the (scientifically ‘impossible’) Resurrection but with ‘science’ on the timescale of the universe. He seems to make the common error of believing that science in and of itself can ‘tell’ us anything. It does not, at least not in propositional statements that can be said to be true or false. To get from data to propositional statement, one must interpret the evidence within pre-existing frameworks, which may be flawed to any extent. But Scripture does communicate in propositional statements, which by nature means that the extent to which any part of it may be ‘reinterpreted’ without simply declaring that it is wrong is very limited.
Thank you very much. As you say, science cannot propositionally in and of itself and from only scientific data tell us earth is billions of years old, except within a specific framework of interpretation of data. But same is true about the heliocentric propositions, those two that Pope Urban VIII condemned in 1633:
The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place* is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture. - The proposition that the Earth is not the center of the world and immovable but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and false philosophically and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith.
Here is more of her characteristic of Lennox:
But he also argues that “the Bible was not written in advanced contemporary scientific language” (p. 29). This brings out a bit of a straw man—no-one argues that the Bible primarily intends to communicate science; rather, it’s a historical document. He argues that the way God inspired Scripture made it accessible to everyone (p. 30).
Well, the bit about Bible not being written in advanced contemporary scientific terminology has been a bit of a standard argument since one abandoned Pope Urban VIII, when it comes to Joshua's day. You just did something similar yourself, Lita, when arguing that "the earth shall not be moved" is poetical rather than factual language.
Look here on Lennox' solution and Lita's treatment of it:
[that the author of Genesis] “ … did not intend us to think of the first six days as a single earth week, but rather as a sequence of six creation days; that is, days of normal length (with evenings and mornings as the text says) in which God acted to create something new, but days that might well have been separated from one another by unspecified periods of time” (p. 54).
At this point, there is a certain sort of impasse, because in a more technical work, one would expect Lennox to go on to prove exegetically that his interpretation was plausible based on the structure of the Hebrew text and the verb forms used, and so on. But this is not a technical work, and it may be unfair to expect this sort of sophistication in a little book which makes no pretensions of being a scholarly volume. So it must suffice to say that Lennox gives no evidence for this interpretation, let alone argument that it is superior to a literal understanding of the Creation Week, and therefore it may be dismissed with as little argumentation as he gives evidence. Suffice it to say, if it were right, then logically the days of our working week could also have long periods between them, since Exodus 20:8–11 makes an explicit connection between the working week and day of rest with Creation Week.
Well, yes ... Lita, where is your exegetical proof Joshua's day was meant as earth standing still and then resuming rotation? There is a logical difficulty with that one too. How come there was no jerk when earth stopped and no jerk when it started rotating again? Did God do a second miracle, unidentified in text, to hide the normal effect of a miracle identified in text with a backwards (though now usual among heliocentrics) way of describing what happened?
Or was God giving Joshua what he wanted without helping him to see what it was, doing a series of miracles other than the exact words of Joshua, but which gave an appearance of these coming true?
Some modernists have suggested that Jesus also accomodated sudden healings of mental illness to the "bad spirit" understanding of the time he worked in.
Here is a key understanding of what sin is, and why Young Earth Creationism is useful:
A plain interpretation of Scripture puts all predation and the existence of thorns after the Fall, requiring us to place the formation of the rock record after the Fall, as mostly the result of the global Flood in Noah’s day.
Lennox argues that Scripture says that Adam’s sin resulted in human death and was not necessarily the cause of animal death...
For a Jew, that would make sense, since he is not dealing with Romans 5. Genesis about the fall does not mention any either immortality or non-death of animals, only death for man if eating the fruit. To St Paul - disciple of Christ - it was into the world that death came by the sin of one man.
Of course, one can argue that "world" often seems to mean mankind. John 3:16. Or "in the world but not of the world". Or even "I pray for you, but for the world I pray not". There it means the sinful society. But in traditional exegesis death entered the world, as in the cosmos, the biosphere, by the sin of Adam.
Now, Heliocentrism raises a similar problem about the Resurrection and the battle of Harmageddon coming before it. Where in the galaxies is "heavenly Jerusalem" on the modern view? How long does it take for Christ and his cavalry to ride from "heaven" to Harmageddon? Where are they now? At Harmageddon they seem to have bodies, if only because they are riding horses.
But even before that there was a Church motive to oppose a much more modest and less problematic Heliocentrism of Galileo: a cardinal who later became Pope Urban VIII and who debated with Galileo in the meantime had told him that God was able to create the world any way He liked (Geo- or Heliocentrically) and also to make it appear any way He liked (Geo- or Heliocentrically).
God was able to make the Universe appear to the naked eye basically as it is, or in a very other way to be reached only by very roundabout means. This argument finally convinced Galileo one year before he died.
Now, people saying the opposition to Galileo came from Aristotle have support in exactly one document or group of such: Galileo's own polemical writings. He is painting his adversaries as Aristotelics, just as he had done in a dialogue on why movement of an object does not cease as soon as the mover ceases to be moving it. What is moving the stone between its leaving the hand of thrower and its falling to the ground? There Galileo argued against a genuinely Aristotelic position, but one which was no longer really fashionable. His own position on that one was so close to what had already been said by some scholastics that that is where Galileo got his initial fame and support from the Church from. But then he used "Aristotle" or "Aristotelian" as a convenient label for his other opponents as well, including each Geocentric. Problem is, to modern readers who are scientific and heliocentric, Galileo's work is paramount and the other guys - except Tycho - can be neglected. They are threfore shown as they appear in disguise as fictional characters in Saggiatore and Dialogo, not as they appear from their own writings.
Aristotle was in fact less fashionable than Plato during the Renaissance. Aristotle was contradicted by both Tycho Brahe (whom St Robert knew better than Galileo apparently) and even Galileo himself in manners which were not at all condemned by the Catholic Church.Tycho Brahe saw a "new star", a "nova". Unaristotelic, but not condemned. Galileo saw spots on the sun and moons around JUpiter. Unaristotelic, but not condemned. Reason? Scripture was not contradicted by these real discoveries.
Also, Luther and Calvin would have been far less likely than Catholics to be Aristotelic, yet Luther condemned Copernicus while the Catholic Church was yet silent, Calvin condemned Copernicus or Kepler or both also before the Catholic Church said anything about Heliocentrism being true or false.
So, no, Lita Cosner, you are simply wrong to state:
Enough has been written in creationist literature about this that it is not necessary to cover it here.1 It will suffice to say that the major opposition to Galileo came from the Aristotelian scientific establishment, and not from the church—but to be fair, Lennox does mention the academic resistance as well.
Besides, I thought Creation Science was about Tasman Walker and some other guys doing actual science, academically, to show how science can be done without contradicting Genesis. The real scientist who is really a Christian is not quite separate from the Church, although he is certainly usable across confessional borders in a way strict theologians are not.
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
St Agnes' Day
*Sungenis quotes this passage " that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place as observed is absurd etc." but I get my quote from a site that is quoting a book (Source: Giorgio de Santillana, The Crime of Galileo (University of Chicago Press 1955), pp. 306-310.), he may be quoting from another book or from a copy of the process itself. If Sungenis will link to an online work or page containing the longer quote with source, I would of course appreciate.