Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jesus and Galileo

I just re-acquainted myself with a quote from the Jesus Seminar's book The Five Gospels. In order to defend their rejection of the supernatural, they appeal to the conflict myth. It reminds me of Rudolf Bultmann's famous quote, "It is impossible to use electrical light and the wireless and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time to believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles." The Jesus Seminar makes the same point by appealing specifically to geocentrism and Galileo.

The contemporary religious controversy, epitomized in the Scopes trial and the continuing clamor for creationism as a viable alternative to the theory of evolution, turns on whether the worldview reflected in the Bible can be carried forward into this scientific age and retained as an article of faith. Jesus figures prominently in this debate. The Christ of creed and dogma, who had been firmly in place in the Middle Ages, can no longer command the assent of those who have seen the heavens through Galileo’s telescope. The old deities and demons were swept from the skies by that remarkable glass. Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo have dismantled the mythological abodes of the gods and Satan, and bequeathed us secular heavens.

So their understanding of the New Testament presupposes a discarded and demonstrably false theory of the history of science. Someone should tell them to stop focusing so much on Galileo's telescope and look through Hubble's telescope. If they did, they might discover that the universe is expanding outward after having sprung into being, which in turn suggests that something "outside" the universe brought it into existence. That wouldn't fit the narrative of a "secular heavens" though.

(cross-posted at Agent Intellect)

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1 comment:

laBiscuitnapper said...

I feel like the old lady with her elephants when I say "Quantum fluctuations! It's quantum fluctuations all the way!"

But then, I always have problems using the 'weird' details about the Universe as reasons for God's existence, so I'm biased!