Did God subject Creation to pointless futility?

Now  that might seem a very odd question? Surely Creation i.e the nautral world – call it what you will, is wonderful and beautiful as these two photos show;

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The first is of Llyn Idwal and the Glyderau behind. I have been visiting there in all weathers and seasons since 1963 and it’s always wonderful. On the right is a typical January scene on the river Wyre near me. Snowdrops never fail to enchant. There is nothing futile here.

Most people would agree that this planet and the rest of the universe is full of wonder and awe, and many would point to Attenborough documentaries. It is clearly beautiful, though at times very harsh, but I can’t see many looking for and finding futility.

Yes, our world is also full of suffering alongside the incredible beauty. There are those, following the poet John Milton, who think the suffering is the result of Adam and Eve’s misdemeanors when the ate the fruit (note that the latin word malus means both apple and sin). suffering and death is God’s punishment for that  and seems rather excessive. It is still widely held by Creationist Christians who won’t accept that the earth is billions of years old and suffering and death have been around as long as life. As all this was known over two hundred years ago it is surprising that some seem to think that the creation is subject to futility. Some even hold it along with an acceptance of evolution.

Let’s now consider a leading Anglican New Testament scholar who accepts evolution and that creation is subject to futility – N. T. Wright. With his vast output he needs little introduction and has probably written one of the best books on the resurrection, where he deftly avoids a simplistic physical resurrection and a non-bodily one. Theologically he is a leading representative of moderate evangelicalism, but some of his Perspectives on Paul are less appreciated by the more conservative and reformed Christians. That is another issue, but I side with Wright on these. But let’s first consider his understanding of Romans 8 in his series Paul for Everyone.

Here is his translation of Romans 8:19-21 New Testament for Everyone (NTE) (which is closer to the Greek than given by Sanday and Headlam in their commentary!)

19 Yes: creation itself is on tiptoe with expectation, eagerly awaiting the moment when God’s children will be revealed. 20 Creation, you see, was subjected to pointless futility, not of its own volition, but because of the one who placed it in this subjection, in the hope 21 that creation itself would be freed from its slavery to decay, to enjoy the freedom that comes when God’s children are glorified.

That is followed by a brief exposition beginning with taking a country walk. I was not happy that he normally walks to take exercise as to me walking is a multi-faceted activity as I enjoy the effort/exercise of climbing 3000ft up a Lakeland fell, as looking at the views, finding unusual flowers like sundews, spotting glacial features and looking for all things new! He had taken an overgrown path and found it led to fantastic view and then likens Rom 8 vs18-25 to a fantastic view of “the whole plan of salvation for all of God’s creation”. He criticises, rightfully, those who see Paul’s theology solely in terms of individual justification and salvation. But after that I depart with haste from his view.

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I was proud of this photo of a struggling rowan high up the Bowland fells. I see beauty and the tenacity of life but no futility. Also God must be a rum lad if he subjected creation to futility!

He then wrote; “The language of creation on tiptoe with expectation is not what they expect. The strange idea of God subjecting creation to futility and slavery, and of creation then being rescued, simply isn’t what people wanted to hear. …. So the path to the viewpoint has been covered over with thorns and thistles.” This made me blink. I am afraid that in the summer months my legs are covered in scratches. Once, in a desert, I walked past a bush and a venomous snake popped out and tried to nip my bare leg! There must be some theology in that. On another occasion I nearly trod on a sleeping Cape Cobra ……

He continues, “the present suffering, … will be far outweighed by ‘the glory that is going to be unveiled for us’. He’s spot on there, but not in his conclusion to the paragraph “then, at last, creation … will know that the time has come for it to be rescued from corruption.”

I want to ask, how is creation corrupted? Except where stupid humans have polluted it.

I am baffled in what way creation, like all the strata from the early Precambrian to the Ice Ages, needs to be rescued from corruption. I cannot see anything corrupt in the Precambrian Numees Tillite or recent Lower Dryas moraines, which I worked on. He continues:

“To understand this, we need to grasp the big biblical story of creation. … God has allowed creation to be subjected to its present round of summer and autumn, growth and decay, birth and death.”

He wrote more fully in Evil and the Justice of God. P116-7

Creation, writes Paul, has been subjected to futility (Romans 8.20). Don’t we know it: the tree reaches its full fruitfulness and then becomes bleak and bare. Summer reaches its height and at once the days begin to shorten. Human lives, full of promise and beauty, laughter and love, are cut short by illness and death. Creation as we know it bears witness to God’s power and glory (Romans 1:19-20) but also to the present state of futility to which it has been enslaved.

I question this interpretation, both of Romans and Genesis, as it makes creation to be rotten to the core. Romans does not say that and it is so contrary to experience – at least my experience. I cannot see futility in the shortening days after the summer solstice. Also the word futility (mataiotes in Greek is ONLY used of the human condition in both the Old and New Testaments, so it is odd to use here for the inorganic creation. I cannot see it in geological studies, which trace out a detailed history of the surface of a planet. I cannot see the Four Seasons as anything but wonderful in their variety and nothing futile.

The beauty of creation in the seasons- a random selection of my photos

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and the futility;

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Where is the futility in a struggling moorland oak in autumn or a British mountain under snow. The mountain is Ingleborough which I had just climbed for the nth time!

(The word translated futility in mataiotes which in the Greek New Testament and the Septuagint is only used for human folly!)

Also I am one of those who cycles, walks and climbs mountains every month of the year and in all weathers. As I write this on St Nicholas’s day my last three months of walking during the autumn must have witnessed that annual subjection to futility. No way! I’ve had three glorious walks in the Lakes, three in the Yorkshire Dales and many more in the Forest of Bowland. Yes, I’ve experienced wind, rain, snow, cold and warmth and gone up to my thighs in a sphagnum bog! Now that was futile!! My feet were frozen.

Stinging nettles, thistles, thorns, midges and horseflies – and in the past, tsetse flies! I have watched autumn unfold and merge into winter, fungi helping the process of decay/recycling/upcycling in weird and wonderful ways, stands of bog asphodel after losing their fantastic yellow flowers and turning bronze before sinking into a peat bog, frozen pools and a little snow. Beauty, awe and wonder, but no futility. I now look forward to climbing in the snow, and then to the pastel greenness of spring with its flowers, on to the height of summer and back to autumn. At Christmas I am looking at the buds in my garden and daffs poking through. Come January I’ll be looking for snowdrops in the road verges. In all of it I echo G M Hopkins;

The world is charged with the glory of God

not to mention some of the  psalms like Psalm 8 and hymns like How great thou art on creator and  creation

Yes, this has been going on for 4 billion years and is the nature of creation which was written in at the beginning. But his representation of “corruption, futility and slavery” shows that he believes that the creation is not as God intended. He writes of “the sharp end of corruption of creation – on an earthquake fault line, for instance, or by an active volcano – you may sense the awe of that futile power.” Power, yes, but not futile. Often it may be tragic as with the recent eruption in New Zealand. Plate Tectonics, and the attendant quakes and volcanoes were there from the beginning. And that beginning predated humans by a few billion years.

Evidence of Plate Motions - Geology (U.S. National Park Service)

One of my great climbs was up Mt St Helens in 2009, which blew its top in 1980. It was totally awesome. Many years before I was scalded in Bumpas Hell just below Lassen Peak in California, while taking a photo of sulphur crystals. I was shirtless at the time when a gust blew steam over me. I squealed!

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A view from the summit of Mt St Helens showing the devastation caused by the 1980 eruption. Is Mt Ranier is the distance next to go? The grey area was green forest.

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I’ve experienced a few minor quakes in Britain and a massive Mag 8.6 as a child which I do not remember, and one about Mag 4.5 in the middle of a hymn during worship in Uganda. The organist missed a few notes and carried on as we did!

If Wright is correct then there should be something marking the introduction of quakes and volcanoes in the geological record, as that should have occurred when Adam and Eve went scrumping.

There are none.

If there were, I could not have found volcanic lavas in strata some 900 million years old in the Namib Desert nor glaciation in 650 million year old strata nearby, nor some big faults caused by tectonic shifts resulting in quakes some 600 million years ago. I could also mention all the other ancient volcanic rocks I’ve seen from the 2.2 billion year Scourie dykes in the Highlands, 450 million year old lavas in Snowdonia and the Lakes giving excellent rock-climbing, not to mention the mere 65 million year old rocks in Skye. In fact, volcanoes and igneous rock have been formed for a good 4 billion years.

In 2005 Wright gave a lecture God, 9/11, the Tsunami, and the New Problem of Evil (Transcript of one of N.T. Wright’s May 18-19, 2005, lectures at the Church Leaders’ Forum, Seattle Pacific University. https://spu.edu/depts/uc/response/summer2k5/features/evil.asp)

In the lecture he wrote;

What then about the tsunami? There is of course no straightforward answer. But there are small clues.

We are not to suppose that the world as it currently is, is the way God intends it to be at the last. Some serious thinkers, including some contemporary physicists, would actually link the convulsions which still happen in the world to evil perpetrated by humans; and it is indeed fair enough to probe for deeper connections than modernist science has imagined between human behaviour and the total environment of our world, including tectonic plates. But I find it somewhat easier to suppose that the project of creation, the good world which God made at the beginning, was supposed to go forward under the wise stewardship of the human race, God’s vice-gerents, God’s image-bearers; and that, when the human race turned to worship creation instead of God, the project could not proceed in the intended manner, but instead bore thorns and thistles, volcanoes and tsunamis, the terrifying wrath of the creation which we humans had treated as if it were divine.

I was simply stunned to read that and have long restrained from discussing it. I am well-aware of induced seismicity from hydropower, mining and fluid injection in wells, but this is another level or two up.

All these quotations could have come straight from a recent publication of Answers in Genesis and I find it difficult not to read it in the sense that the author believes that “thorns and thistles, volcanoes and tsunamis” are the result of human behaviour i.e. a Curse as the result of the Fall. That was dealt with by the assault of geological hammers and biological microscopes, if not by good exegesis. I am, of course, aware of induced seismicity, at times up to Magnitude 6, whether from mining, fracking, geothermal energy, or the unsettlement of strata from hydro-electric dams, but human activity cannot be the cause of tectonic movements before humans appeared on the scene and could not cause the massive earthquake which resulted in the 2004 boxing Day tsunami, or the eruption of Mt St Helens to give two examples.

The next paragraph makes his understanding clear;

“The human race was put in charge of creation (as so often Paul has Genesis 1-3 not far from his mind). When humans rebelled [in Garden of Eden] and worshipped parts of creation instead of God himself (Rom 1 21-23), creation fell into disrepair.”

How did creation fall into disrepair not so many thousands of years ago? How does the disrepair manifest itself? My bicycle takes a battering as I cycle over 4000 miles a year and continually edges towards disrepair necessitating repairs or replacement. Yes, it is continually falling into disrepair – particularly after winter cycling! But the creation? How?

I expect to read something like that on the website of a Young Earth Creationist group. What Wright is claiming is that when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden that affected the whole of the natural order, or creation, or cosmos, or universe and made it change from a good state to one of disrepair and had fallen into corruption, whereas it was uncorrupt before. Seriously, From my fieldwork, I cannot distinguish between the basic make-up of glacial material deposited 600 million years and those from 20,000 years ago, or alpine moraines today. I have studied all three in the field. We need more on how the creation is corrupt whereas previously it was incorrupt.

He concluded his lecture;

The Gospels thus tell the story of Jesus, and particularly of his death, as the story of how cosmic and global evil, in its suprapersonal as well as personal forms, are met by the sovereign, saving love of Israel’s God, YHWH, the creator of the world. They write intentionally to draw the whole Old Testament narrative to its climax, seeing that narrative precisely as the story of God’s strange and dark solution to the problem of evil from Genesis 3 onwards.

Here he first looks to a past event when “evil” was introduced to a pristine planet – including earthquakes – and also conflates natural with moral and spiritual evil. Wright seems to imply that natural events like volcanoes and earthquakes are not as God intended. On could add disease and death, but all these are part of the fabric of the natural world.  Leaving aside the issue of natural and moral evil, this whole discussion brings out the Achilles heel of many theological “reconciliations” of theology and evolution. Most are aware of the reality or brute fact of the vast age of the universe and evolution, but then approach their theology and biblical interpretation implicitly rejecting that reality and thus adopting a theology more amenable to young earth ideas. Most commentators on Romans 8 do this as do many other theologians.

If all these scholars are correct in taking ktisis as meaning the whole of creation , the cosmos, or the universe, then their theology and that of the apostle Paul is totally contrary to the physical realities we have in geology, biology and cosmology.

Is Paul simply wrong or have we got Paul wrong?

As Wright presents his understanding of the Fall in these three places he effectually adopts a Miltonic view of the Fall accepting that it had a serious and deleterious effect on ALL creation and that is how his epic poem Paradise Lost begins

“Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden fruit, whose mortal taste

Brought death into the world, and all our woe“.

and

Beast now with beast gan war, and fowl with fowl,

And fish with fish; to graze the herb all leaving,

Devoured each other. P.Lost X 710-12

We are too easily lulled by Milton, as the the geologist Rev Edward Hitchcock stressed in the 1850s, when he wrote, “we groan under the burden of Milton’s mythology.”.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/why-the-apple-didnt-kill-adam-and-eve/

Great though Paradise Lost is, it is putting the whole Genesis account as portraying a young earth and the dramatic change to the constitution of this planet caused by “man’s first disobedience.” Some New Testament scholars are saying that – at least implicitly. In other words, all of these are essentially saying Young earth Creationism is right, there was this CURSE and thus the earth is thousands of years old. That is simply untrue as the earth is billions of years old and life nearly as old, and thus death and earthquakes.

Creation is wonderful and not subjected to futility as these photos show;

An open letter to John Inge, bishop of Worcester, on sexuality and marriage | Psephizo

Recently John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, wrote an open letter why same-sex marriages should be conducted in church.

Here Ian Paul challenges his arguments, especially those from the Bible, and also his claims that it is the same as the church accepting that creation in genesis should not be taken literally and occurring a few thousand years ago, but rather millions of years ago. To support his claims he said his predecessor at Worcester, Charles Gore was lambasted for not accepting a literal Genesis in 1889. He was wrong there as Ian points out ..

Have a read to decide.

Source: An open letter to John Inge, bishop of Worcester, on sexuality and marriage | Psephizo

Bingo! Everyone’s wrong on creation of man and woman in Genesis!

One New Year’s Day 2023 the Liverpool Echo had a article about the Rev Bingo Allison, who is a transgender Anglican priest in Norris Green, Liverpool. It was repeated in the rightwing rag the Daily Mail, and thus cannot be reliable reporting, and then in the respectable left-wing newspaper the Daily Mirror, which validates its authenticity.

Church of England priest on how God guided them on their journey of becoming queer

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/church-england-priest-how-god-25771430

Church of England Priest Bingo Allison

I shall not comment on transgenderism as there is enough comment elsewhere.

My focus here is on Bingo’s novel and radical interpretation of the Creation account of Genesis chapter one. It came as a result of writing a theological essay on the creation of the earth, which is a foundational Christian doctrine. I must add here I have spent far too much time on that chapter and considering the implications, or not, of science on Genesis 1. I have read, and then written up in academic publications, how Genesis 1 has been understood in relation to science from 1600. But away with that. We will just consider Gen 1 vs 27 on the creation of humans;

“male and female He created them”

As The Echo reported;

But one evening, Bingo was writing an essay about God’s creation of the earth when they had an epiphany. They explained how Genesis 1:27 uses the terms ‘from maleness to femaleness’, rather than men and women.

Bingo said: “I was sitting there in the middle of the night when I realised I might need to run my life upside down. It was a deepening spiritual experience, I properly felt God was guiding me into this new truth about myself. One of the things that has kept with my ministry ever since is that transition and coming out can and should be a spiritual experience, as well as an emotional and social and sometimes physical one. There is something beautiful about growing into who we were created to be and growing into our authentic selves.”

It this is right then the Bible speaks about a continuum from “maleness to femaleness” rather than a binary division. If that were so, then we have been reading the Bible wrong for 2000 years, or 3000 for the Old Testament. Genesis One speaks of the creation of the world in six days culminating in the creation of humans , with verse 27 on the creation of human male and female;

 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply,

That is the RSV translation and is typical of all translations as all have “male” and “female”, which, of course, was necessary if they were going to be “fruitful and multiply”. A gender identity won’t produce kids! Checking the Hebrew (my Hebrew is non-existent) the meaning is male and female as in sexed humans and the words for male and female is used to delineate the SEX for other animals, as gender identity doesn’t really apply to a year old male lamb for sacrifice!

I have a number of Commentaries of Genesis from Calvin to Westerman and Wenham and none give any support to Bingo.

It is the same in the Greek Old Testament (Septuaginta LXX) translated by Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria in the 2nd and 3rd century B.C., and the usage is found in the greek New Testament and Apostolic Fathers, most explicitly in Mark 10 vs 6-7;

But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,

Thus the Bible in the original languages is absolutely clear, the words for male and female in Gen 1 vs27 mean just that and not “maleness” and “femaleness” which seems to be a gender self-identification.

On 13/1/23 a priest on Twitter posted the following;

*Lowers voice to a quiet whisper* …Surely the use of the connective ‘and’ rather than ‘or’ in Genesis 1:27 affirms, rather than precludes the place of non-binary and fluid gender identities in the Creation…?

This goes against the whole meaning of “and” in this context whether in EVs , Septuagint or Hebrew. This is more eisegesis and striving after finding one’s own preferences.

Bingo!! It’s wrong

I would have loved to have seen the theological lecturer’s face if that appeared in an essay – or perhaps not. (Maybe he taught a module on queer theology.)

It is incredible to think that this “epiphany” has any credibility beyond personal opinion and feeling. It is as much within standard Christian belief as Joseph Smith’s discovery of the Book of Mormon, and other “visions” some have had, going beyond Christian teaching.

From such false premises and a gross misreading of Scripture it is impossible to see that through this “God guided them on their journey of becoming queer.”

**********

I see in all this the confusion many in the churches have in interpreting the Bible today. There is the influence of Postmodernism (don’t forget Foucault’s holidays in Tunisia) allowing an infinite variety of personal views. There is also the elevation of eco- , feminist-, liberation- and other stances, which are often applied with the dogmatism of fundamentalists, and are equally fundamentalist in their own ways.

Biblical interpretation is not forcing your own views and wishes onto the words of the Bible, but asking what that passage of the Bible means. It also involves taking into consideration what others have said for the last 2000 years.  It also requires a little humility.

If you want more how some in the Church of England view transgenderism, this blog contains Dr Ian Paul’s critique of the views of Rowan Williams and some others

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2022/04/07/are-trans-people-on-a-sacred-journey-psephizo/

If you want , here is Genesis chap 1

In the beginning God created[a] the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit[b] of God was moving over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

Was Jesus really born into a ‘poor’ family? | Psephizo

Shock! Horror!

Jesus was not born in poverty.

This totally destroys the leftie gospel and the woke gospel.

Seriously Ian Paul does some solidly based iconclasm on popular ideas of the poverty of the Holy Family and points out that, for their day, there moderately well-off. This should be obvious if you don’t read the gospels with rose-tinted glasses.

Ian concludes

Jesus was not born in a stable, the shepherds were not despised outcasts, and Mary and Joseph were rather ordinary. Christmas is not about God coming to others, over there, for whom we ought to feel sorry, but to ordinary people like you and me. In the incarnation, Jesus embraced the poverty that every one of us experiences as a vulnerable, dependant human being. And if he came to us then, he will come to us again this year. ‘Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.’

Source: Was Jesus really born into a ‘poor’ family? | Psephizo

The Cross of Jesus Christ as a Crane

As a kid I loved my Meccano set and was making stuff with it  (or playing or learning mechanics?) until I was 14, when I moved over to taking bikes to bits and re-assembling them. The ten years later I did the same with Morris Minors, which I ran for twnety-five years.

I was given my first Meccano set for my seventh birthday. It wasn’t a surprise as I had checked my parents’ hiding places for presents. It wasn’t a shiny new set but I had lots of bits to play with. I had two favourites; making model vehicles and cranes. I once made a large model which looked a bit like an Austin Atlantic, with IFS at the front, a gearbox and a differential. I made lots of cranes, some of which fell over as they were so high. I would not have made those mistakes if I had consulted an engineering textbook!

My first crane was a bit like this (which is not very stable);

Analysis of Meccano Manuals - Manual Model Search

My cranes got bigger and better and I ended up making something like this,

Meccano model page 15

I could have post picture of real cranes but thought these would do. After all, Meccano is probably the best “engineering” toy ever made and beats plasticky Lego into a cocked hat. The name Meccano is related to mechanic and machine and comes from the Greek as Wiki says  “The English word machine comes through Middle French from Latin machina, which in turn derives from the Greek (Doric μαχανά makhana, Ionic μηχανή mekhane ‘contrivance, machine, engine’, a derivation from μῆχος mekhos ‘means, expedient, remedy’). The word mechanical (Greek: μηχανικός) comes from the same Greek roots.” The greek, (or at least Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the Eastern Roman Empire) word  μηχανή mekhane can simply mean crane.

Here are some pictures of ancient cranes. They were made out of wood with pulleys and, often, a treadmill to provide power. Some could lift well over a ton. Similar cranes were used in the middle ages for castles and cathedrals. Of course things changed with the introduction of iron and steam power. (I am surprised greenies haven’t suggested we go back to human powered cranes.)

Roman Construction Crane | Stephen Ressler, P.E.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treadwheel_crane

They could be quite large. This one seems to be working on an aqueduct.History of Cranes - Lee Industrial Contracting

I had never thought about Roman and Greek cranes until I came across the metaphor as the cross of Jesus being a crane in Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians. Ignatius was a second century Christian who became Bishop of Antioch in Syria. Somehow, details are not known, he crossed the Roman authoirites and was sent to Rome to be executed. The date  is normally thought to be in the reign of Trajan (98-117) or possibly Hadrian (117-38). en route to Rome he wrote seven letters – to the churches of the  Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, Smyrneans and a letter to Polycarp who was martyred several decades later.

To me he is too full of himself as bishop and calls for an almost blind obedience of bishops. Any more comment on that may detract from what he said about cranes. most of his letters are about 3000 words long and thus comparable with Paul’s. His aim in all his letters was to encourage fellow Christians who knew he was travelling to Rome to be executed. He seems rather untroubled by his forthcoming death, which was liable to be an unpleasant spectacle. Despite his views on bishops, he is strong on encouragement and his letters have a New Testament feel about them. That is unsurprising as they were written some fifty years later.

In chapter 9 (or better paragraph 9) Ignatius wrote;

because you are stones of a temple, prepared beforehand for the building of God the Father, hoisted up to the heights by the crane of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, using as a rope the Holy Spirit;

This is from the recent translation by Michael W. Holmes, and the whole of chap 9 is

But I have learned that certain people from elsewhere have passed your way with evil doctrine, but you did not allow them to sow it among you. You covered up your ears in order to avoid receiving the things being sown by them, because you are stones of a temple, prepared beforehand for the building of God the Father, hoisted up to the heights by the crane of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, using as a rope the Holy Spirit; your faith is what lifts you up, and love is the way that leads up to God. So you are all participants together in a shared worship, God-bearers and temple bearers, Christ-bearers, bearers of holy things, adorned in every respect with the commandments of Jesus Christ. I too celebrate with you, since I have been judged worthy to speak with you through this letter, and to rejoice with you because you love nothing in human life, only God.  – Epistle to the Ephesians 9

The image of the cross as a crane is vivid and would have resonated with his hearers as most would have seen one these wooden cranes on construction sites, often lifting up large stones to a considerable height. Thus there is a second image  – of stones.

The vividness of the metaphor is that to Ignatius both cranes and crosses were wooden structures with an obvious vertical component. Clearly Jesus was passive and nailed down on the cross, so was immovable, but despite his passivity his death brought about the salvation of humanity. That is what we read about in the New Testament and has been the central focus of the Christian faith ever since. This comes out in so many hymns, including the popular ones of There is a green hill and When I survey the wondrous cross. and then there is the majestic processional hymn Lift high the Cross with its TWELVE verses and chorus, giving time to circumnavigate any cathedral, following the processional cross – lifted high. To Ignatius it is not the cross lifted high, but the cross lifting us up high, as Jesus lifts up those who follow him.

Paintings of those at the foot of the cross abound, from  the almost erotic

Eugène Delacroix
Saint Mary Magdalene at the Foot of the Cross 1829

File:Eugène Delacroix - Saint Mary Magdalene at the Foot of ...

to a simple photographic silhouette

Lent Series: At the Foot of the Cross – The Benefice of Garsington,  Cuddesdon and Horspath

Looking at the paintings found on google its seems that there were fewer men at the foot of the cross.

Ignatius develops a second image – that of stones, echoing St Peter’s words

And like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house I Peter 2 vs5

His hearers would have seen cranes lifting stones into place, so here we have the Crane/cross of Jesus lifting living stones, Christians, into place. I find it a great image

The third part of the image is the rope which is the holy spirit who, in the words of J V Taylor, is the go-between God, here between Christians and Christ. I suppose it was a three stranded rope too. Sorry, that would be an allusion to the Trinity.

In the 19th century the great New Testament scholar J.B. Lightfoot (1828-89) and later Bishop of Durham, not only wrote some excellent commentaries, but also a mammoth work on the translation and commentary on the Apostolic Fathers. Here he sees another image in chapter 9 – the Windlass.

So here is chapter 9 in the Greek and the translation.

Book page imageBook page image

Note that he uses Engine rather than Crane, but Engine  was used more generally in the 19th century for any machinery rather than the producer of motive force! He would have been surprised that most call railway locomotives an engine and that what is under the bonnet of a car. Today μηχανή mekhane  is better translated crane

However he continues “Your faith is your windlass” i.e the pulley system

That is a nice thought but fanciful and the Greek is more literally; “Your faith is the one who lifts you up”. The major Greek Lexicon of Arndt- Gingrich dismisses Lightfoot’s translation as quite unlikely.

This imagery of the cross  as the crane is very technological  and is hardly ever used. We often sing lift up the cross and how Jesus lifts up the fallen, but never this.

The multiple imagery of a crane lifting up stones for a building is a  good and evocative one, expanding the ideas of Peter (I Peter 2 vs5) of living stones in a pictorial form of the cross/crane lifting up stones and placing them above the corner stone (Jesus). Jesus as the cornerstone is also found in Ephesians 2 vs 20 but Paul jumps to more bilogical imagery.

The Cornerstone

What Ignatius gave us is an excellent image of the work of Christ and it baffles me why it is never used

Here is a crane lifting up a stone for a building

The CornerstoneANCIENT Crane - Who invented the Crane? medieval - roman - greek old

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Here is a brief exposition from 1900

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/srawley/index.html

The Epistles of St. Ignatius

By J. H. Srawley

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge

First published 1900.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/srawley/ephesians.html

have learned that certain persons from yonder [3] have passed through your city, bringing with them false teaching. These you did not suffer to sow seeds among you, for you closed your ears that they might not receive the seeds sown by them, since you were stones [4] of the temple, prepared beforehand [5] for a building of God the Father, being raised to the heights by the engine of Jesus Christ, which is the Cross, using as your rope the Holy Spirit. Your faith is the windlass,[6] and love is the way which leads up to God. So then you are all companions in festal procession along the way,[7] bearing your

[1] Suggested by 1 Cor. ii. 14 sq.
[2] See Introd. § 4.
[3] It is uncertain what place is alluded to. Lightfoot conjectures Philadelphia.
[4] The change of metaphor is sudden, after the manner of Ignatius, and is followed by another change. They are in succession the soil in which seed is sown, stones of a building, and members of a festal procession.
[5] Lightfoot’s emendation has been adopted.
[6] The whole of this passage is a somewhat extravagant expansion in great detail of the metaphor used by St. Paul in Eph. ii. 20 sq. In the building of the Church, the faithful are the stones, the Cross is the crane, the Holy Spirit is the rope by which the stones are raised, faith is the windlass which sets the machine in motion, and love is the inclined plane along which the stones are drawn.
[7] Another change of metaphor. The figure is now a heathen procession, in which the pilgrims, arrayed in festal attire, carry small shrines, images, and other sacred emblems.  Such processions would be common in Syria, Asia, and elsewhere.  For a gift of such images to the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, see Lightfoot, Ignatius , II. 17.

Creationism and climate – birth of a new pseudoscience

As one convinced that climate is changing to our disadvantage, I have noticed all this century how Creationists (the Young Earth sort) frequently deny Climate Channge.

Here Paul Bratermann gently shreds their arguments.

I first wrote of this nefarious tie-up in my book Evangelicals and Science 2008 and later in a chapter I wrote for the book  Religion in Environmental and Climate Change  2012

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/evangelicals-and-climate-change-1990-to-2011/

I finished it on Aprils fools day 2011 so I don’t deal with later developments as in the series Is Genesis History

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2021/10/22/creationists-diss-climate-change-snowballs-from-is-genesis-history/

nor with the pseudoscientific ramblings of John MacArthur.

As I finished my chapter I should have felt the massive Mag 2.1 earthquake caused by fracking in Lancashire. But I didn’t as it might have caused a ripple in my tea cup. Later as I found some/many highlighted the imaginary risks of this I delved into fracking. That is another story, but I found the anti-frackers were as competent in science as creationists. Anyway leave that to one side and focus on creationist misunderstandings.

Primate's Progress

The usual creationist nonsense is just tedious. But creationist “climate science” is toxic, disastrous in its implications for policy, and frighteningly well-connected politically

Major eventDate (using Ussher)1
Creation4004 BC
Curse4004 BC (Day 10 after creation)
Global Flood2348 BC
Tower Babel2242 BC
Egypt beganAfter 2242 BC but prior to Abraham going to Egypt (Genesis 12)
Call of Abraham1922 BC
Ice Age peak1848 BC (500 years after the Flood)
Time of the Judges (Moses was first)1491 BC (God appearing to Moses in the burning bush)
Time of the Kings (Saul was the first)1095 BC
Split kingdom975 BC
Christ was born~4 BC
Timeline of major events, according to Answers in Genesis

We are all too familiar with creationist life science (theory of kinds) and creationist Earth science (Flood geology). As I explain in an article at 3…

View original post 458 more words

Is the Bible contradictory on sexuality? | Psephizo

The issue of sexuality is permanently to the fore in the churches, with attendant charges of homophobia and heresy.

Here a recent article by a leading American biblical scholar, Walter Bruggeman, is discussed by Ian Paul.

It is a very constructive piece but some may disagree with Ian.

Source: Is the Bible contradictory on sexuality? | Psephizo

A Creationist from Merica goes to Scotland and gets Hutton all wrong on geology

Henry ford is alleged to have said “history is bunk”. He was right as much supposed history is utter bunk and here is an example about James Hutton who some wrongly reckon to be the Father of Geology and invented the idea of millions of years!

It is a sort of inverted version of the Conflict Thesis of Science and Christianity, and is an example how misunderstanding the history of science leads to all kinds of distortions

Here an American comes out with a load of bunk on Hutton

https://creationmoments.com/sermons/the-birth-of-deep-time/?mc_cid=9e2c97f9ff&mc_eid=251871d2b4&fbclid=IwAR1ZEJMqm_G48c8UdAXZJQCLyudxug1CdP7Pi9y26aMeAXaaRBdpmXrXVLo

Psalm 78:15
“He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.”

I was on an open-topped tour bus, seeing the sights of downtown Edinburgh—the capital city of Scotland. From this vantage point, our guide stopped frequently, to tell us about John Knox’s grave and house, the Royal Mile, and beautiful Edinburgh Castle. At one stop, there were three things to see. To our left was Britain’s ugliest building—the Scottish Parliament. Straight ahead was Holyrood House—where the Queen lives when she is in Edinburgh. And to the right was a cliff face, called Salisbury Crag. This rocky outcrop consists of a lower level of greywacke, topped by several layers of sedimentary rock.

The guide pointed the crag out to us, and said that in 1787, the crag was studied by James Hutton. In fact, the guide said that in 1787, it was by studying these rocks that James Hutton proved the Bible to be wrong.

Why would this guide think that Hutton had disproved the Bible? Hutton invented the concept of deep time; of millions of years. He supposed the unconformity separating the two rock sections must have been formed by erosion, millions of years ago. In fact, this smooth erosion is evidence consistent with a much shorter age. The lower rock would have been laid down early in the Flood, and turned over while still plastic. Powerful underwater currents would have caused the erosion that we see. Finally, the layers of rock would have been laid down on top. This model is fully consistent with the truthful account in God’s word.

Prayer: Your word stands forever, O Lord. Nothing can take away from Your word. We pray that we might submit completely to Your word, that we might not sin against you. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutton’s_Unconformity. Image: Ann Traynor, Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike 3.0 Unported.

© 2022 Creation Moments.  All rights reserved.

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Now here is a Merican touring England, except of course it is Scotland not England! We have the matey approach saying “I was there like Kilroy so I must be right.”!!

And so Paul Taylor learnt ” In fact, the guide said that in 1787, it was by studying these rocks that James Hutton proved the Bible to be wrong.”

james-hutton-caraciture

I sorta have my doubts whether the tour guide actually said that, or anything like it. Anyway Hutton never ever said such thing!!

In fact two years earlier in 1785 He was writing a summary of his geological views, which contained a summary of perceived religious implications. These he sent to the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Dr Robertson for consideration and comment.

Here is part of it and he never thought he had disproved the Bible!!

May be an image of text

So there’s the first mistake. But he goes on to say

Hutton invented the concept of deep time; of millions of years. 

  Poor lad, he was a bit wrong. It all started in the 1680s in the Llanberis Pass in Snowdonia when Edward Lhwyd reckoned from the numbers of boulders lying on the floor, many had been there before 4004BC. A decade earlier than Hutton the Frenchman Buffon was insisting on at least 74,000 years from cooling experiments. Privately he indicated millions of years. Even earlier Fr Needham accepted “millions of years” and was hardly an atheist. 

In fact, most savants in the 18th century thought the earth was ancient, and the discussion was whether it was millions or hundreds of thousands. By 1787 an old earth was quite acceptable to most educated Christians – if they knew much about science.

To claim “millions of years” was the atheistic idea of Hutton is just nonsense. Yes, he was a deist but his science and ideas of geological time were acceptable to all but the most conservative Christian, even though many preferred a little less time time, that is less than a million but never 4004BC!!

There is no unconformity here!!! He got that wrong too!

It is magma intruded into sandstone as Hutton realised

This is very clear when you read this BGS (British Geological Survey) excursion guide to Salisbury Crags

https://earthwise.bgs.ac.uk/index.php/Arthur%27s_Seat,_Salisbury_Crags,_Edinburgh_-_an_excursion

It says;

The justly famous Hutton’s Section of the base of Salisbury Crags Sill is found towards the south-eastern end of the escarpment, and provided Hutton and his followers with telling evidence in favour of magmatic intrusion in the great argument with the Wernerians in the eighteenth century. Beneath the sill lie well-bedded Cementstone Group strata, alternately red and white. The sill transgresses the bedding conspicuously in two places. At the first the sediment against the transgression is crumpled; at the other a wedge of teschenite has been intruded beneath a block of sediment, rotating it upwards from its original position and partly engulfing it in the sill. At the western end of the section, the teschenite immediately above the contact has been chilled to a glassy skin up to a centimetre thick, which has now been devitrified to a greenish material. Above the glass the teschenite is very fine in grain but coarsens markedly upwards. In the rock-face to the south-east of Hutton’s section large rafts of sediment can be seen high in the sill. The rafts are not distorted and lie parallel to the strata below the sill. Still farther to the south-west, syenitic segregation veins up to 5 in thickness cut the sill.

Scale is very important!

Here is a contemporary sketch in which the scales are all wrong as the men would need to be FOURS TIMES the size for a true scale. However it brings out the magma intruding into the shales.

In fact it was in June 1788 that Hutton discovered the unconformity  at Siccar Point some 30 miles south east of Edinburgh.

The photo shows near horizontal Devonian strata (red) (360my lying on nearly vertical grey Silurian Greywackes (420my)

Angular Unconformity at Siccar Point, Scotland. Siccar Point, Scotland (Photo: Wikipedia “Hutton’s Unconformity”)

This is an article but rather mythical on what Hutton was doing as it is wrong to say ;

Siccar Point is world-famous as the most important unconformity described by James Hutton (1726-1797) in support of his world-changing ideas on the origin and age of the Earth.

https://www.geowalks.co.uk/siccar-point/

By the time Hutton went there many had realised that the earth was ancient decades before. Sadly many repeat myths about Hutton.

Well the author Ken Taylot got things so badly wrong that this is the only reaction

BmZJVIpCEAEmHN_

this is a good book to read;

    2876

Creation Moments is one of the many American Creationist sites and is possibly more inaccurate than Answers in Genesis. It goes back 60 years.

The History Of Our Christian Radio Broadcast

FIVE DECADES AGO, A MINISTER NEAR BOISE, IDAHO, NOTICED A TROUBLING TREND…

Founder Pastor Walter Lang found many of the young Christians in his congregation abandoning their Christian roots after spending a year or two in college. “Could this be happening in other churches around the country?” he wondered. It was. Lang decided to do something about it.

Evolutionary theory, with its godless worldview, was poisoning young minds in Lang’s church. These young people were taught evolutionary theory as fact, with no mention of Biblical perspectives and creationism theories. Lang searched the country for a publication devoted to promoting creationism theories. There was none. That’s when he decided to start Bible-Science Association (now Creation Moments, Inc.)

Lang saw a problem and did what he could to solve it. Today, every Christian creationist organization owes a debt of gratitude to Lang’s vision. We know, however, that his work is not complete. Every day, evolutionary theory is taught in public schools, confusing the hearts and minds of young people. It dismantles the faith the godly parents have sought to instill in their children. Instead of “Train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6), evolution promotes the secular humanist dogma that “God is dead; religion is an opiate.” In the end, evolution seeks to dislodge God from His rightful place as our Creator and Sustainer.

From Walter Lang’s simple vision, Creation Moments now serves Christian youth and adults alike. We are committed to promote, teach and study creationism theories and the truth of divine creation as revealed in the Bible. It is our goal to build up the Church and enlighten the world to the wonder and the truth of God’s marvelous creation. We hope you will join us in this important mission. Together we can reach the hearts and minds of a lost and needy world!

Since 1963, Creation Moments, Inc. (formerly the Bible-Science Association) has been communicating the truth of creation. That ministry continues today through Christian radio broadcasts, seminars, publications and a bookstore outreach. In 1986 the two-minute international Christian radio broadcast “Creation Moments” was born. “Creation Moments” is one of the top five US syndicated radio programs of five minutes or less. “Creation Moments” is carried on five major networks: Bible Broadcast, Moody, LifeTalk Network, Family Radio and Bott Radio.

I first came across this when it was the Bible Science Association in the 1980s, when I trawled every possible American creationist outfit.

It is a good idea to get your facts right and it is not quite right to make stories up to prove the Gospel

Copper Issues of the Metal Type Make EVs A Poor Choice!

To many environmentalists this blog must be wrong as it comes from a “dodgy” source – Natural Gas Now – an american pro-fracking blog.

However he is absolutely right to argue that EVs will founder on the lack of copper, as supplies and reserves are simply far to low to make the transition and electrify to go for EVs.

Most will not admit to this, but anyone with a little knowledge of mining , and especially copper mining will know that it is essentially correct.

In the UK we could solve the problem by opening up two ginormous opencast mines in snowdonia, one by Dolgellau and the other digging up the whole area around Betws Y Coed.

I claim some knowledge as I worked as a section gweologist in a Ugandan copper mine, surveyed an old mine in South Africa (it was too small) and prospected a few thousand square miles for copper.

Source: Copper Issues of the Metal Type Make EVs A Poor Choice!

What do we do if we think the Bible is wrong? | Psephizo

Of course the Bible is wrong!!

It teaches a flat earth and the earth was created in 4004BC.

Really, that’s only if we don’t consider when and why it was written

Here’s Ian Paul on whether 2+2=5 and all that

10625007_903401446354135_8319436030620620834_n

Seriously there’s more too it!!

After all we still read Shakespeare despite his mistakes, especially his history of english kings!

Science hardly gets a mention…

Source: What do we do if we think the Bible is wrong? | Psephizo