Such information is hardly new and has no more merit in my regard than it did when I compiled a detailed research paper on the matter 23 years ago.
John Zande summed up the basic challenge in a couple of well-written posts over on his blog: if Moses wasn’t the historical person described in Scripture, then Jesus wasn’t the Messianic incarnation of God, and the Bible has no credibility. So, for the Christian, a line should be drawn. The patriarchs must be historical persons who lived during the times described. The genealogies leave no question as to the intended accuracy of the claims.
The prevailing wisdom holds that those “in the know” in the fields of Biblical archaeology and textual criticism, from the leading Rabbis in Israel to all the truly credible field experts, are unanimous in their findings that all evidences contradict the entirety of the Bible. This unanimity and conclusion has remained unchanged from what I can tell for at least half a century. The Bible was pretty much tossed out by the academic world shortly after Darwin published his monkey business, so whatever “findings” to discredit the Scriptures after that were a sort of afterthought.
It makes perfect sense that mainstream archaeologists (and Israeli Rabbis) would be unanimous in their rejection of Biblical historicity. Such is the nature of paradigms. Those whose findings are acceptable, are credible; those whose findings deviate, are not. Since all credible experts support the paradigm, the paradigm is therefore proven to be correct. No one else, therefore, is to be taken seriously. So, if I wanted published and accepted by my peers and wished to make a go of it in the field, then I would reinforce the paradigm. Otherwise, my career would be relegated to the fringes.
A case for accuracy: at least 40 kings can be corroborated by archaeological finds, from ten nations (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, etc.) whose names are mentioned not only in the Hebrew Masoretic text (the Old Testament), but are also found on monuments of their own time. Thus, we have a good bit with which to reference the Bible. We also have a basis for comparing the Bible to other literature. Of the 40 kings having an archaeological corroboration, every single name is transliterated in the Hebrew Masoretic text exactly as it appears on the archaeological artifact — syllable for syllable, consonant for consonant, every single name. Additionally, we find that the chronological order of these kings is precise. Every name in the Hebrew Masoretic text, some of which go back to the book of Genesis and before the time of Hammurabi, appears in its correct order, with the correct spelling, in the correct time, as attested by the archaeological artifacts and period literature.
To put that in perspective, the librarian of Alexandria, perhaps the greatest scholar of his era (circa 200 BC), listed the names of 38 Egyptian kings. Of these, only three or four are recognizable when compared to their respective archaeological artifacts, though none are exact. This same scholar also made a list of the kings of Assyria. In only one case does the name clearly resemble the name on the artifact, and that name is not spelled correctly. The only way most of the names can be ascertained and then matched up with an artifact is by intrinsic evidence and cross-referencing with other regional literature. And then Ptolemy, who listed 18 kings — not one is spelled correctly, and most are spelled so badly that we wouldn’t make them out at all without intrinsic evidence and cross-referencing.
We find this same pattern in every other piece of literature extant. The scribe of Assurbanipal misspelled his names. The Pseudo-Callisthenes, in their list of the companions of Alexander, whose every name is unrecognizable. Abulfeda, the author of the Arab ante-Islamic history, misspells his names. The same is true of the lists of Manetho, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Africanus, Castor, and so on.
The only historical literature of antiquity that has demonstrated accuracy with regard to archaeological verification is the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Majority Greek text of the New Testament. Nelson Glueck — a preeminent archaeologist in that region — remarked: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” [Rivers in the Desert; History of Neteg] Philadelphia: Jewish Publications Society of America, 1969.
Before getting into the matter of the patriarchs, I thought it worth mentioning in preface. Digging into the world of the ancient Hebrews and the Old Testament text is a complicated matter, but I wanted to go ahead and put it in perspective, stating categorically that the Hebrew scribes were not flippant in what they handed down. I have no doubt they gave no less attention to what these kings said and did. That the Hebrew writers transliterated at least 40 names (that we know of) with such accuracy and conformity to philological principles is proof enough for me, at least, of their thorough scholarship and access to the original sources.
I realize this is not going to win me any credibility with my atheist friends or too many others, but it is what it is, I suppose. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe not. **shrug**
My existence is predicated upon consciousness, referred to in metaphysical circles as “the soul” — a massless, formless living force, a “spirit.” I am not a product of my physical manifestation. I am not a machine, defined by neurons and synapses and the complexities of the human brain. We can map out our brains and determine which parts are involved with which functions, but our brain does not define us, it merely facilitates us by translating our CODEC. Our body is a machine, our brain a complex CPU. And I am the software, the “ghost in the machine.”
The point at which mass becomes less than the smallest particle, the quark, matter loses locality (becoming undefined by physical laws as we currently understand them). Undetectable, immeasurable, timeless, and as far as we can understand, non-existent. Such is the nature of the “spirit.”
God as spirit, in this understanding, is “non-existent” and His domain, “non-existence.” The paradox of a non-existent being existing in a non-existent plane of existence is, in fact, how the Bible describes God. He does not exist in any concept we have of “existence.” And the only time He ever “existed,” he plugged himself into the body of what we know as Jesus Christ, though since he was human, was no longer God. And yet he was. He was limited and fallible like us, and yet he wasn’t. So the only way we can see him as God, is when he is not appearing to us as God, since God is formless and immeasurable.
If God has always existed, what was He doing before He created the universe? Since time did not (and still doesn’t) exist, God did not have time to do anything “before” time. This is rather difficult to grasp.
The Theory of Relativity does not apply to a world in which time is non-existent. When we consider the psychological aspects of time, we are again dealing with the relativity, but relativity as experienced, rather than as measured. We are still dealing with time, but not with eternity. There is neither measured nor experienced relativity of time in a purely spiritual world, because time belongs to the physical order.
It can be argued that in experience, the passage of time could be so rapid as to be virtually eclipsed. It would appear that you could experience timelessness within the natural order. This is confusing because it implies that if a thing is small enough, it is nothing at all. This is analogous to saying that there is no fundamental between something and nothing; or, to use a more familiar idea at the other end of the scale, that infinity is merely a very, very large number. However, infinity differs from a very large number for the important reason that if you subtract one from a very large number (no matter how large it is), you have one less: if you subtract one from infinity, you still have infinity.
Time stands in the same relation to eternity, in one sense, as a large number does to infinity. There is a sense in which infinity includes a very large number, yet it is quite fundamentally different and independent of it. And by analogy, eternity includes time and yet is fundamentally something other. The reduction of time until it gets smaller and smaller is still not eternity; nor do we reach eternity by an extension of time to great length. There is no direct pathway between time and eternity: they are different categories of experiences.
The fundamental point is when we step out of time, we step into eternity, and while we cannot be in them both at once, God, according to the Bible, is able to so. Some passages come to mind immediately in support of the view that God lives outside the ordinary limitations of time as we experience it. For example, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). If we make the period before Abraham to be represented by the letter A, Abraham’s time by the letter B, and the time of speaking by the letter C, we have the three periods A, B, C amalgamated as one and the tenses confused as though C preceded A. What we might have expected to find was, “Before Abraham was, I was” — which would have satisfied our normal sense of time.
Christ took Abraham’s time as the pivot and spoke of two periods balanced on either side, namely, the ages which preceded Abraham, and all that followed (including the present). He then deliberately picked up the present and put it back before Abraham, but still referred to that distant period in the present tense. Though it was centuries ago, to Christ it was “now.” Even if He was here today, He would still refer to the time before Abraham as the “present” time. Why? Because He is God, and to God there is no passage of time, but all is “present.” The reaction of the Jewish authorities to His statement suggests that in some strange way they had understood what He meant. The mystery of God’s name, as revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:13,14 “the One who is existing always in the present” is unlocked here.
When a Christian dies, from this understanding, they pass from this realm of time and space into another realm of pure spirit, out of time as we experience it into a state of timelessness, the ever-present of God‘s domain. As they make this passage, every event in the future passes instantly before them, completed instantaneously. As each of us passes, we therefore experience no death nor the slightest pause in consciousness, nor even any sense of departure from those who remain.
The experience would be the same for everyone. All history, all intervening time between death and the end of time, is suddenly annihilated so that each person from the very first to the very last, is just dying and arriving in a single instant together, without precedence and without the slightest consciousness of delay. Scripture twice affirms, observing events from our point of view, that no man has yet ascended into heaven (John 3:13), not even David (Acts 2:34). And yet, when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord in eternity. David is not there yet, nor any others, because we are not there.
Ultimately, we will dwell in a “new heaven and a new earth,” so perhaps time will always be with us thenceforth. But we shall experience time not as limitation, but as opportunity. Time will not be continually running out as it is now; unlimited time for unlimited adventure.
This is, of course, purely hypothetical, and just a thought. Thanks for reading.
In “Santa God, part 1,” I agreed with atheists that God in the form of Santa God did not exist — this sort of invisible sky-daddy, cosmic space bubble god which floats around voyeuristically watching us and keeping score of our goods and bads with his finger on the “destroy“ button constantly ready to zap us. I also alluded to the difficulty of conceptualizing an entity which exists outside of time, given our inability to comprehend such an existence, particularly how such an entity would relate to and interact with “reality” in spacetime.
Keep in mind that Eternity is not a realm with unlimited time. It is a realm without time at all. This is what we refer to as the “spiritual dimension,” or “astral plane,” where the laws of physics as we understand them do not exist — making it necessary to seek more tangible ways for our basic understanding in a time-based, matter-infused, digital reality. In this respect, it is not so much whether or not God or spiritual beings exist, but rather finding an adequate way to conceptualize it.
According to Genesis, in the beginning “Elohim” created the heavens and the earth. “In the beginning,” referring to the beginning of the spacetime universe, since Eternity has no beginning and has always existed. The continuity of force admits of neither creation nor annihilation, but demands an unseen universe, out of which the visible has been produced “by an intelligent agency residing in the unseen,” and into which it must eventually return (The Unseen Universe, pp. 167, 170).
Elohim here is plural, though is translated in English as “God,” which denotes an entity with a multiplicity of Divine powers, the threefold personality of the Godhead. Separate but equal entities, co-existing as the fulcrum of all existence.
According to Scripture, Jesus was with the Father (YHWH), with equal Divine authority, yet with different functionality and roles, joined together through their Holy Spirit as “God.” The Godhead is the governing head of all existence. (Just as the governing head of the U.S. of Eh?, where we have the Legislative Congress, the Judiciary Supreme Court, and the Executive President, separate but equal, with different roles and powers.)
By this understanding, Jesus is not YHWH. He is “God,” as “Elohim.” But he is not YHWH, not the “Father,” not the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God. YHWH is God. The Holy Spirit is God. But they are not each other.
Put an end to petty jealousies. Forgive all those who have wronged you. The freedom from letting go is overwhelming in intensity.
Share the gratitude of your heart with all those around you. Radiance is infectious.
Live selflessly. The needs of others should supersede your own. If others follow your example, someone will take care of you in the same regard you take care of everyone else.
Connect with supreme Consciousness (God, Holy Spirit) and let enlightenment guide your every thought. In such a way, every second will count, every moment matter.
We cannot live for ourselves. Our lives here are temporary and extremely brief. We all knew this on 9/11. The whole was eminently greater than each part. We lived as one. We grieved as one. We can do this every single day.
And we should.
The inspired mind is locked into the Stream. Just put your fingers on the keyboard and type without knowledge of what is coming; hands and fingers moving faster than ever and still not keeping up with flow. Understandings beyond anything pondered or imagined. Just write and write and write and don’t stop until you collapse from exhaustion. Write without notes or idea outlines. Just write and write while your eyes are looking else where. This is not normal. This is savant territory. Such is the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
We are not machines. Machine men. Living a life of fleeting highs and crushing lows and darkness without end. We are more than a paycheck. Our time here is but the briefest of moments. We must make each moment count, treating others with respect, as your brother or sister or mother or father. Love them through God’s Spirit, for He is love. Show no prejudice. Hold back no kind words. Help and assist and offer helpful advice without expectation of return. Live selflessly. Every moment of every day, without exception. The Spirit is eternal and never sleeps.
The Spirit is not a thing. He is an entity which encompasses the entire fabric and force of all things throughout time and space. Filled with this Spirit, we are connected to every single atom, quark, quanta. Every thought, every image, natural force, cosmic body, every moment of the universe, flows within the Spirit’s vibration. He occupies the entire time-space continuum. Every galaxy, super nova, shooting star. Every breeze, cloud, hurricane, tidal wave, volcano. This is what it says in Scripture. The Eastern mystics all examine and investigate and write down their assessment of The Holy Spirit through concepts of Qi, Karma, the Cosmic Stream, Cosmic Strings, Infinite Wisdom, The Force. One can easily bridge the gap and pull these together and see how they intertwine.
I just realized something. An epiphany of sorts.
For many Christians, being a Christian means living the “good life” and receiving comfort, rewards and prosperity, which will then magically lead others to God because they will want in on the action.
I’ve spent a significant amount of time browsing and finding atheists to converse with, and getting a feel for why they don’t believe. I always used to assume it was out of ignorance or an irrational hatred or something perhaps psychological, which would cause their disbelief. Although that’s true in some cases, that is not normally what I found.
The ones I’ve spent the most time with are all very intelligent, rational, good-natured, considerate, genuinely good human beings, with whom I shared a lot of commonality. They thought the same way as me, were curious and skeptical in nature, and always desired the get to the bottom of everything they had interest in. But they were yet to find a god they could accept and believe in.
So I broke it down even farther. I got them to describe God as they understood him from what they knew of Scripture and what they’d heard from all the many Christians they’d argued against. What resulted is this: God is a sort of cosmic Santa, who floats around the cosmos in some sort of cosmic space bubble, checking up on people and making a list of who’s naughty and nice. And if you’re good, say your prayers, and tell others about Jesus, then Santa God rewards you with a blessing of happiness and prosperity. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized they were absolutely right. No wonder they don’t believe, because that is how we tend to view God. And that is a ridiculous absurdity. So I thanked them for helping me learn, and told them I really needed to rethink this and figure out what we’re missing.
I wanted to find out who God really is, without any prejudice or predisposition. So I studied the five Vedic texts of sacred eastern metaphysics. I studied the Bhagavad Gita. Studied Theoretical and Quantum Physics. Cellular biology. Astronomy. Cosmology. Stories of the gods, myths and legends and everything in between. I thumbed through ancient writings of Plato, and St. Augustine. And then I went line by line through the Word of God. And everything fell together.
“God” is a meaningless abstraction invented by our pop culture. He doesn’t exist. The atheists are right. Where they are wrong, however, is where they say there is not ANY god.
The supernatural Creator of all things DOES exist. The God of the universe, the beginner of time and the spreader of space, also exists. The Redeemer, the salvation of all mankind and defender of our soul, He exists. The Cosmic Stream of Light, the Thread and String, binder of all things, igniter of stars and the mover and shaker of the spirit, He exists.
We get so tied up and stuck in rabbit holes debating “the Trinity” and trying to grasp a Plurality which exists as one yet acts as three. Well, the answer is profound in its simplicity. Think of it in terms of Head, Body, and the Door. God the Father (the head) is the ruler of the universe, God of all things, beginner of beginnings and ender of ends. He directs the flow and the light, as a brain directs and coordinates our systems and functions. The Holy Spirit (the body) is the Living Force, Cosmic Stream, Thread and String which binds and connects all living things and maintains the balance and order of the cosmos, generator of stars and light, and the source of Divine knowledge and inspiration. Anytime you look at images from Hubble, notice the infusion of light and vibrant radiant colors! That is a reflection and projection of the essence of the Spirit. Folks, that is some POWERFUL stuff.
If you’d like to get a gauge for an understanding of this power, look up the term ZERO POINT ENERGY. I used to just think that was a science fiction term, made up by the writers for Stargate: Atlantis, where they used these Zero Point Modules (ZPM) to power the instantaneous crossing between worlds. Turns out there’s a lot of truth to it all. We are just beginning to realize the freaky level of energy and power in every inch of the universe. There are no empty voids. The cosmos crackles and sparkles and hums with the power of over 400 trillion suns, in every square meter in every corner. FREAKY.
Powerful stuff. And I will take it from here next time I cover this topic.