68 Comments

You echo my thoughts on the subject perfectly. I've always rolled my eyes at fundamentalists, and they've done more than anyone else to turn me off from Christianity as a youth, particularly the low church protestant variety ... which is precisely the dynamic you describe.

Meanwhile, research into the Younger Dryas Impact has shown that the Flood story is almost certainly a preservation of a very old and absolutely axial trauma in the history of our species, thus indicating that there is truth in the Bible ... if only one relaxes one's insistence on narrow-minded materialist literalism. Not sure if you've come across it, btw, but if not look up Abu Hureyra, which may have been the basis for Sodom and Gomorrah.

Realizing that it was quite possible to reconcile mythic understandings a la Lewis and Tolkien with Christianity was also revelatory for me. The insistence of so many Christians that anything not in the Bible is of the devil never sat right. It breeds a lack of imagination and curiosity that impoverishes the soul as well as the intellect.

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Their unimaginative literalism is the reason biblical fundamentalists never created any good or interesting art. Thankfully Lewis and Tolkien are there to remind modern audiences that you can be Christian and produce great literature.

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Like I said in my note earlier, I have some serious bees in my bonnet about this. That being said, I’ll tread carefully to make sure that I’m responding to what you wrote instead what I think you wrote.

That being said, here’s my bit of pushback to all this.

First of all, the whole “we have human history dating back before” is questionable. No, what we have is a bunch of artifacts that archeologists think goes back ten thousand years ago or whatever. But it could have easily been interpreted to be much younger. This is what the Young Earth Creationists (YEC) basically contend.

This reminds me of how people believe that dinosaurs live over 65 millions years ago, with most not realizing that we've found soft tissue in these bones (which would be impossible for something that’s millions of years old). But I digress. The point is that the prevailing view of how old human history is pretty much depends on how mainstream scientists interpret the evidence, not the evidence itself.

But I don’t want to get into the rabbit hole of “carbon dating” here, so let’s move on.

I don’t know if you’ve looked up what the YEC have put out. If you haven’t, I suggest you do and take a closer look of what they say. These aren’t people illiterate in science. They know their science and the evidence, they just come to different conclusion. Based on their metaphysical assumptions you might say… yes, so do mainstream scientists. You don’t have to agree with the YEC, but I think you’re being unfair to them.

I also found it funny that you brought up St. Augustine. This won’t help your case at all considering that St. Augustine believed that the whole world was formed in just one day (based on an erroneous translation of the Bible).

There’s honestly a lot I found wrong in this post, but this comment is already long as it is. Thus, I will focus on your comment about you’re trying to get “Christians to break free from feeling guilt from not accepting fundamentalist movement”. Lolwut? “Christian Fundamentalism” is basically a curse word nowadays. What are you talking about?

If anything, we should try to get Christians to break free from feeling guilt from not accepting mainstream science.

Now don’t get me wrong, I get what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to get Christians to explore some alternative history that’s been overlooked. I like these things too (and wish that more Christians tackle these things too). But to attack YEC over this is just misguided. If anything, YECs should naturally be more open towards these things since they already believe in an “alternative history” anyways.

And that’s my rant, lol.

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> If anything, we should try to get Christians to break free from feeling guilt from not accepting mainstream science.

Especially since mainstream science can't even tell the difference between a man and a woman these days.

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Not to pull a No True Scotsman, but the people saying such things are as much scientists as the priestesses presiding over gay "weddings" are Christians.

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That what happened with transgenderism and COVID was able to happen, points to deeper problems with "institutional science", I just don't know how far or how deep they go, or how long they've festered.

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It goes deeper than you think. I find that the best thing you can do is to treat mainstream "historical science" (aka Darwinian evolution, mainstream cosmology like the Big Bang theory) as poor man's mythology or crappy fairy tale.

Once you internalize that, everything you're seeing in "science" makes a ton of sense.

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The Big Bang Theory was itself something of a concession. They weren't happy to admit the universe didn't always exist.

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Exactly. The big bang cant evade the Creation question and there best response is a “big crunch” which wouldnt fit into the dispersion/entropy model of the universe at all. Its a hollow theology that is indoctrinated into young people today

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You're not wrong. But the problems are much deeper than institutional science. The problems in science are, to the contrary, symptoms.

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True, nevertheless, one of the symptoms is that the pronouncements of institutional science aren't as reliable as previously thought.

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Nothing done by humans is wholly reliable. Including their transcriptions in human language of divine revelation, and their attempts to interpret said transcriptions.

Nevertheless the evidence indicating that Earth and cosmos are, to put it delicately, much more than a handful of millennia in age, is overwhelming and multifarious. Therefore unlikely to be wholly inaccurate, for all that one might quibble about the precision of any one measure. Next to this we have the calculations of some Irish bishop based on the dubious genealogy recorded in the sketchy tribal history of an obscure group of desert nomads as, essentially, the sole evidence indicating a young earth.

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One example: I briefly attended Oregon State University. While renovating their football field, they uncovered the bones of an ancient mammoth. However when radio-carbon dating these bones, the technology stated that various bones if what were obviously the same animal were thousands if years apart. One tooth would be 10,000 BC, the next tooth 12,000 BC. There was no answer for these discrepancies, nor any attempt to make them. They accepted that the carbon-dating technology was producing wildly inaccurate/inconsistent results, but they didnt care to investigate it any further. Because after all “science is settled”. Its just one example that the dating techniques used for ancient fossils are extremely self-contradictory, and the attempts to reconcile them by a complacent and regime-funded scientific bureaucracy is non-existent.

This PBS article conveniently glides past the controversies, but introduced the subject for those who wish to inquire more deeply. Im not saying the Earth is 8,000 years old, Im saying the fossil record which asserts as much is extremely suspect and based on potentially flawed dating-techniques.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/science/ancient-mammoth-bones-discovered-under-oregon-states-stadium

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The problem is that YECs are constantly having to torture the evidence of the natural world to fit their understanding of an old book, which is perverse. What our host is saying here is that it is far more productive to interpret the book in the context of the natural world, especially when we keep in mind that the people who wrote that book didn't understand things like time and history the way we do.

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And you can say that mainstream scientists are constantly torturing the evidence of the natural world to fit their understanding of a universe that's supposedly billions of years old (which is perverse).

At the end of the day, "science" in general is basically (educated) guess work. You don't base your understanding of ultimate reality based on natural science (which advances "one funeral at a time", as Max Planck once said).

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Again: the evidence the universe is billions of years old emerges from multiple sources across essentially every relevant field in the natural sciences. One might quibble about precision here and there, but the basic picture is quite firmly established.

The only evidence YECs can produce to the contrary is "we ready it in a book." Your position is then essentially that the creator of the universe faked the evidence in order to trick the divinely endowed reason he breathed into His children, while putting the real answer in a book. If your God would lie with the entire universe, why would I believe the book He wrote contains a single shred of truth?

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What about distant starlight?

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The "distant starlight problem" is only a problem is you assume that:

1) The speed of light is everywhere and anytime constant

2) the universe is as big as people make as mainstream science make it out to be

Neither one of those contentions had actually been proven. Once again, it's all assumptions by scientists. But like with carbon dating, I don't want to get into the rabbit hole of cosmology.

[edited point number 1 to clarify]

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Astronomers have looked for evidence of variation in fundamental constants through cosmic time, and have found no evidence for it. As far as anyone can tell c is indeed constant.

Regarding the size of the cosmos, the distances to the closest stars are measured via very straightforward geometrical parallax. Such measurements have been obtained for stars up to tens of thousands of light years, which of course is quite impossible if the cosmos is indeed 6000 years old.

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The speed of light has only been measured in a terrestrial environment. It has never been measured in "deep space", for obvious reasons. Now you might say that it would be the same, but you don't know that. That assumption comes from the "Copernican Principle" (AKA the position of the Earth/Solar System is nothing special).

As for the size of the cosmos, you neglected things like redshift. But I don't want to get in the weeds here. The point is that you can make other models of the cosmos which differs from that of mainstream science, and it would fit all of the observable evidence. And it's not me saying this, it's physicist George F. R. Ellis.

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You absolutely can make other cosmological models that fit the evidence; in fact, it is very likely that the number of potential models is effectively infinite, given that technically any small variation in Lambda or the precise properties of dark matter is a different model. Which isn't to say that there aren't plausible models that are wholly different from Lambda-CDM cosmology. There absolutely are, but what the work of Ellis or any other theorist working on non-standard cosmologies has to do with YEC is not at at all clear.

What cannot be done at this point, without invoking the Troll God hypothesis that the Almighty faked up the universe as some sort of prank, is come up with a plausible model in which the cosmos was created 6000 years ago.

As to measurements of c, we effectively have this out to almost a light day thanks to Voyager 1, with no indication of any change. However, we do have measurements of the fine structure constant from both quasars and natural nuclear reactors, which probe possible changes out to Gyr timescales. No change in alpha has been found down to a very high precision; ergo, a change in c is highly unlikely.

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You can really get into some rabbit holes with ancient history.

For example, while most modern Christians would consider the mention of giants in the Bible to be meant to be entirely mythological, but then you read some odd archaeological discoveries that seemed to be hushed up in a hurry.

Then there are the ancient copper mines in Michigan, done far before any advanced civilization we know of was capable.

The past is far more interesting and mysterious than both the "I ******* love Science" people and the literal creationists think.

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Agreed. God doesnt tell us every single thing in the Bible, only what we need to know. Example: Who did Cain reproduce with when he went to the east and built his city??

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Jul 14, 2023Liked by The Saxon Cross

great essay my friend,

I'm glad you brought this up...a topic with is hardly discussed.

I believe that the literalist/fundamentalist movements started as a reactionary movement to modernism and the Industrial Revolution. these events completely shook up the world and resulted in many leaving the faith. how can an old time religion compete in the age of "Miracles and Wonders"? during this time Christianity was losing followers to rationalism and scienticism, so the fundamentalist had to "prove" the Bible as a literal version of events, both historically and scientifically. this is and was a great tragedy. to think how many modern folks were turned off of the Gospel because of this insane message?

hopefully we can correct this for future generations.

cheers...

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Many non fundamentalist christians have a literal interpretation of genesis, including church fathers who fought augustine on this matter.

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Thank you. And as i said in my own comment, St. Augustine believed in an even more young Earth (it being created in one day instead of six).

As someone who enjoyed this Substack, this post is a really big L for the Saxon Cross.

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author

That’s an awful interpretation of Augustine, if you think it means he thought the earth was six days younger than a fundamentalist interpretation. Neither of your comments give the impression you understood this very well

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The problem in your text is that you assume that literal interpretation excludes alegorical meaning. Especialy in hebrew literature, both can coexist. Also, Jesus and Paul refere to the events of genesis as literal.

You have a point, just be careful not to assume everyone who disagrees with you is a materialist.

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The point is that he's doesn't bolster the argument for "not making a literal interpretation of the Bible". He's even more strict in terms of special creation. A lot of theistic evolutionists used St. Augustine for their position. And it's kinda dishonest considering the context.

Now to be fair, I'm not saying that you're doing this per se. I don't know if you believe in evolution yourself.

"Neither of your comments give the impression you understood this very well."

And your post isn't an accurate portrayal of Young Earth Creationism, to be quite honest. But I already said what I wanted to say. We'll just have to agree to disagree on this.

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author

I think you’re thinking my goal is to disprove YEC or convince Christians they shouldn’t believe in it. But my real point is that it shouldn’t be taught as the necessary interpretation and that there are others out there

If that’s your personal take, I’m not trying to persuade you otherwise, though I don’t agree with it myself

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Fair enough. I just don't think you're giving it a fair shake. And while I do have strong opinions about the YEC, I'm not about to excommunicate anyone over it. I do think that it's a topic that Christians can have a good-faith disagreement about.

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He doesn’t have to “give it a fair shake” though. He’s saying there are other interpretations. He barely touches on them. And YEC has entire legions of people committed to promoting it (as you yourself are doing here).

I suggest that there are other ways of interpreting economic reality than either Marxist or Austrian schools of thought. Am I obliged to promote them if I’m saying “hey, check out distributism, you might like it, idk”?

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Jul 13, 2023·edited Jul 13, 2023Liked by The Saxon Cross

A much needed article. One thing that really turned me off regarding the atheist movement in the 2000s was that they often debated more outlandish fundamentalists but never wanted to engage with an educated Christian from any other sect; they treated Christianity like a monolith represented by a few people who might as well be strawmen. There is something ominous about how pop culture creates a binary between materialism and this fairly new and theologically unsound religious movement. I also agree that there is a need for Christian scientists; the lack of ethics in the field has done a lot of damage. We may also deeply benefit from that little bit of doubt in scientific dogma that loyalty to another belief system brings, like in the case of geologist Len Cram, a Christian man who decided to put the scientific establishment to the test and "fact-check" their belief that gems need millions of years to form. He ended up proving that you can grow gems artificially like a mortal Feanor.

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People need to realize (especially Christians) that evolutionary theory has huge philosophical implications. There is a reason why the Communists, National socialists, British empire, robber barons and the modern scientific community all subscribe to evolutionary theory. From the very beginning it has been as a political tool to promote a materialistic and nihilist worldview where truth just like man and the rest of creation had to evolve from a supposedly archaic form. The church has never historically taught that Genesis is allegory or that the earth was old or that man evolved even though such beliefs did exist in the pagan world. It was only recently that Catholics, protestants, and some Orthodox christians started to espouse such ideas.

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author

I never mentioned anything about evolutionary theory here

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Just wondering without judgment. Does part of your inclination stem from a desire to reconcile pre-diluvian mythos such as LOTR with Christianity? I think theres a lot of fascinating ground to cover there, but Im just wondering your theory of history

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Well, Communists don't subscribe to evolutionary theory. The modern scientific community plays lip-service to it, but will cancel you for pointing out most of the implications.

https://daviddfriedman.substack.com/p/who-believes-in-science

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I would agree that they deny evolutions implications with race and gender but they would deny the existence of race and gender regardless of what theory of origin they believe in. There are a whole laundry list of foundations dedicated to stopping creationism from being taught in school and making sure evolutionary theory is promoted. One of the foundations of enlightenment thought is that mankind must progress(evolve) towards a utopia of reason. It has always been implied that such evolution would be guided by those at top whether by eugenics or social engineering. Transhumanism, which is also being promoted, is an out growth of this.

And yes Communists certainly believed in evolution even if their model differed from western ones.

https://isreview.org/issue/65/marx-and-engelsand-darwin/index.html

https://answersresearchjournal.org/charles-darwin/engels-darwin-marx/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/when-the-soviet-union-chose-the-wrong-side-on-genetics-and-evolution-23179035/

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Also what do gender and race even mean if they are just the product of genetic code. At that point they don't have any real substance and are liable to be changed anyways.

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I read this this morning and I've been thinking about it all day. I don't know much about the history of the "young earth" thing. I was raised Catholic with that in the packaging. Everyone I know who espouses such theories is hungry for science. They gobble up any and all scientific resource from any and all sources, not just Christian. I have no idea how many conferences and talks I went to as a child, hosted by very respected scientists who had been expelled from mainstream science for questioning the popular theory. Many weren't even Christian. They discuss in open and friendly fashion and most who didn't adamantly agree would say it didn't really matter as long as you believe God created everything. Some argued that it wasn't possible to know for sure and that's where faith comes in. I disagree, I think we can know for certain a hell of a lot more than we admit.

My point is that young earth creationists are not really science-dismissing fundamentalists. If anything they ARE the Christian scientists. Obviously there's variances within the group, but I mean generally. Insane wackadoos on Twitter are not indicative of a entire scientific area of research.

Moreover, our modern perception of time is just that, modern. Time, to some extent, does not exist, but aids us in perceiving an infinite now. Not to get too metaphysically wacky. But God could have completed each day's creations in a snap of his fingers which could have been simultaneously a thousand years and twenty-four hours. Mostly it doesn't matter. But the idea that the world is zillions of years old is the chief arguing point for people who maintain that cosmically accidental evolution is the only answer to why we exist. Thus it began to matter. Which sucks because, as you said, it can get in the way of far more interesting discourse.

I'm glad you wrote this because it helped me think about things from angles I don't usually use. In the future, I'd love it if you could add a bibliography or footnotes or something. I love looking into things further. And I'm pathologically incapable of taking any scientific fact at face value (all that YEC upbringing, I guess).

(Also, the tiniest little side note as I respectfully tip my hat to you: some of us ladies also enjoy scientific and intellectual pursuits as well.)

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(Ah, missed the bit in the last paragraph. Us ladies have been accounted for, I withdraw my last parenthetical thing.)

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A great book on exactly this topic is

“The Lost World of The Flood”, highly recommend it.

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I believe that one is written by John Walton, who has written multiple books describing various OT scripture in light of Ancient Near East (ANE) cultural understanding. I recommend these books, though I definitely have some differences of opinion with him.

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One thing that always struck me about the Genesis story, ignored by materialists and fundamental literalists alike, was how the order of Creation aligned almost perfectly with scientific theories of cosmology and evolutionary epochs. We move from light as its first and simplest node to Man as its final and most complex one. What an interesting "coincidence."

I think the problem with strict literalism is related to a broader problem having to do with how imaginations work, particularly when it comes to our attempts to interpret (and in many cases, sanctify) historical accounts. Like the material-reductionists, the fundies are filming movies in their heads that match their priorities, then mistaking them for document. I wrote a bit about this here, if you’re interested.

https://markbisone.substack.com/p/the-imaginary-past

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The Garden of Eden narrative from Genesis 2:4 onwards has to be accepted a literal history since that's when poetry, mythological language switches to Prose.

Genesis 1-2:3 is metered and meant to be sung.

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Thoughts provoked by your text (came here via Barsoom):

"Christian science"; science is science, it is neither christian or atheist or islamic or whatever, except when a specific discovery or attitude to/understanding of science is referred to.

When, how and why water boils has nothing to with religion. I think the various instances when cults have opposed science have tainted the well re: religious understanding and beliefs.

Instead of keeping the material - the vulgar if you will - and the spiritual separate in understanding and application alike, they have been intertwined and confused leading to purely material porcesses being interpreted in a religious context, and vice versa. F.e. that schizophreniac hallucinations and religious exstacy activates the same areas of the brain in the same manner; this has been used as "evidence" that religion is a delusion as well as neuropsychiatry being a materialist understanding of religion.

Both are of course wrong. /If/ a religious perspective is chosen, /then/ it is revelatory exstacy. /If/ a materialist perspective is chosen, /then/ it is simply neurons firing in such a way as to cause hallucinations.

In both cases, it is neurons firing in the brain - the why and how to go forth from the experience is what matters. Is the individual in danger from itself? Is it a danger to other or in danger from others? Does it ask for help?

Those are the important questions in this example, and I'd argue they can easily be extrapolated to any other issue.

Personally, I wouldn't call myself religious in any this-side-of-the-year-1000-sense, nor would I refer to myself as atheist. I mention this not because I'm so bloody important and interesting (damn the internet generations for mukking up language so you need to CYB all the time!) but because religion is the topic, and one's personal stance is sort-of important for a comprehensive understanding of any argument brought forth (whereas f.e. boiling water is rather indefferent - is indeed incapable of having opinions at all - to what I think).

Don't know if this makes any sense, but since your post provoked thinking I felt inclined to try and return the favour. Also, you and Carter referencing you getting a hard time from commenters piqued my interest - always more interesting when the comment section resembles the House of Commons of old, than some Facebook or Reddit consensus-orgy.

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Indeed, anyone who has ever dealt with civilizations prior to the 17th century will know that "thousand years", "ten thousand", "millions", always mean, in a poetic way, "a long time" and not some literal quantifiable fact.

Similarly, it is foolish to assume that the Bible must have included all of existence within it for it to be truly the work of God. No church father ever said "sola scriptura" for this very reason. There are other texts and ideas that can supplement the Truth of the Bible. The church fathers used Hellenistic science and philosophy and we should be sing the same exact tools of this age, for the same purpose.

The Bible is fundamentally about the relationship of man to God, and more specifically, as you very astutely state, man's fall. Through that understanding, it is no coincidence that the fundamentalist idea of a 6000 year old earth closely coincides with the flowering of settlement after the flood. Yet, even then, it is unfortunately off by about 2000-3000 years.

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Fundamentalist American-brand Protestantism drove me away from Christianity at an early age.

Discovering the Aristotelian and Platonist roots of Christianity through other avenues was a major part of rejecting atheist/materialist beliefs. I look at the writings of C.S. Lewis, or Aquinas and Augustine, and it makes me sad for how far the faith has fallen in the US. It makes me angry for the stupidities that were forced on me in its name.

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> Fundamentalist American-brand Protestantism drove me away from Christianity at an early age.

Why? Because they were questioning the science (tm) before it became cool?

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Yes, that's it. You got me.

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I know. People have a tendency to fall into the thinking of "everything the system taught me before I started paying attention is definitely true, what a coincidence that I just started paying attention at the exact moment the system started malfunctioning".

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> I know

I very much doubt that, but you slay queen.

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It’s interesting to note that Yahweh, baby-massacring god of Moses, never claimed to be the creator at all, only to be who he was. The creator was a different God—or Gods. Indeed, Elohim is plural, and in the context of the ancient world, “Gods” could easily have meant the pantheon of pagan gods that were widely revered throughout the known world. ‘Ware mistranslations.

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Hahahaha yeah, right

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"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Modern Christians assume that the father of lies is Satan or Lucifer, based on zero evidence. But here is Jesus literally speaking to the servants of Yahweh about Yahweh. If anything, "Satan" is Yahweh.

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Begone, Gnostic.

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I’m not a gnostic.

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Right, you simply believe that the God of the Old Testament is an evil Demiurge.

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I just think that the god of Moses, who condoned the oppression of goyim like myself, is not the creator of the universe in Genesis, nor the Father in Heaven to whom Jesus commanded us to pray. The Old Testament recognises Melchizedek as a priest of the Most High, though he was a Canaanite, and he blesses Abraham in the name of the Creator. So the worship of the one true God, creator of all things, was already established at that point. Egyptians, who had a prosperous and blessed society that lasted far longer than ours, also worshipped Ra the creator. But I do tend to believe that the Yahweh never claimed to be the creator in the beginning, but only claimed to be a tribal god, based on a literal interpretation of Exodus 3:14. I’m always willing to change this interpretation, because all my ancestors held both books of the bible very dear, but I think that this is the simplest conclusion, and one which enables us to resolve the cognitive dissonance that arises from attempting to justify the Israelites’ genocidal atrocities.

(My sincere apologies to the Saxon Cross for polluting his nice clean comments thread. I didn’t mean for this to turn into a long discussion. Please feel free to delete my comments if you think they’re out of line, off-topic, or unsightly.)

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Bruh its saying that the pharisees had been given over to the devil for some time. Not something uncommon today. Jesus is the son of the God of the universe. If YHWH wasnt God of Jesus AND the universe then you cant explain all of the psalms which are rife with christology

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Furthermore, if Milchelzedek didnt worship YHWH (“I am” nothing more, not a name for a pagan god) then how could Abraham have been blessed by him? If Jesus (who is a high priest in the order of Michelzedek) wasnt the incarnation of YHWH, then what kind of crazy coincidence would it be that He was born into the line of David whom clearly worshipped “I Am”? Doesnt add up. The God of the Hebrews is the God of the universe

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> Indeed, Elohim is plural

It's a majestic plural (notably it takes singular verbs). This kind of usage isn't restricted to Elohim, "behemoth" is another example of a majestic plural used in the Old Testament.

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Interesting, I didn’t know that. Thanks.

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