Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

To a Fundamentalist

Dear Fundamentalist,

I understand that Christian fundamentalism is based on a belief in the inerrancy of the King James Version. I understand that American protestant fundamentalism was first expressed comprehensively by a series of pamphlets from 1910-15 titled “The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth.” Do these represent your views? If not, please explain where you differ.

As a fundamentalist, do you believe that the world is round? In ancient times, it was taken for granted that the earth was flat. After all, anyone can see for himself that the world is flat. The Old Testament has twenty-seven references the to the 'ends of the earth', and one in the Book of Acts. Let me remind you that a spherical body has no ends. There are also two references to the 'four corners of the earth,' namely Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1. Please explain to me where the four corners of the earth are located.

Let me call your attention to Genesis 1:7-8 which reads:

And God made the firmament, and divided 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. ...

The word firmament comes from the Latin firmamentum which means arch or dome. The ancient Israelites of Old Testament times understood that the firmament was like a transparent bowl of hammered metal that was placed upside-down over the world. Why was the sky blue? During the daytime one could see the blue waters above the firmament. Thus our world is a submarine world -- a bubble in a vast sea. Do you believe that there is a dome-like firmament that separates us from the waters above? How do airplanes keep from crashing into the firmament? Do you believe that our world is a submarine world?

The story of Noah says that God caused the flood by breaking the fountains of the great deep and opening the windows of heaven. Then it rained forty days and forty nights. [Genesis 7:11-12] Thus when God wants to produce rain he opens one of the windows in the firmament. The waters above stream through this window and fall upon the earth as rain. When God wants the rain to stop, he closes the window in the firmament. [Genesis 8:2]

Do you share that ancient belief that God produces rain by opening a window in the firmament? And where are the windows of heaven? And where are the waters above the firmament? Why don't they appear in any of the photographs from our telescopes?

The ancient world believed that our world is fixed in place in the center of creation. They also believed that the sun, the moon, and other celestial bodies were much smaller than the earth and they travelled only a short distance above the earth. The idea of a spherical earth would have been incomprehensible. The idea that the earth rotated on its axis, that it revolved around a huge sun would have seem blasphemous or idolatrous to the ancients.

Do you share this ancient cosmology? Or am I right in thinking that you do not accept it completely? Because if Genesis 1 is literally true, then everything we have learned since Erastophenes would be blasphemy. Magellan's circumnavigation of the world is a hoax. If ours is a flat world, a bubble under the waters above, then the space program is a hoax. It is impossible to orbit the earth. Our atlases and globes are thus the work of Satan.

I trust that you see the point that I am making. I don't know of any fundamentlist who truly believes what the priests and prophets of the Old Testament believed in. Fundamentalism is not a pure biblical theology. Many Old Testament beliefs have been replaced by scientific knowledge. Thus fundamentalism is, in part, a product of modern science.

I'd love to hear what you have to say on these matters. Do you stand with the cosmology of the Old Testament? Or Aristotle? Or Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton? Or the relativity of Albert Einstein? Do you accept the religious transformations produced by modern science?




Blogger Carol said...

Good points... Not that I could have said it very well myself. But I wish more people would think about the ideas you bring up in this leter.

11:18 AM  

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