Do you believe in Noah?

It’s a funny thing that we’re always making fun of Mormons for their “weird” beliefs, when our own Bible contains a well-known story far more implausible–meaning both intrinsically implausible and seemingly incompatible with geological and genetic (for every animal species!) evidence–than anything in the Book of Mormon.

So, do I really believe that a six hundred year old guy saved the animals from a worldwide flood by putting a pair of each on a big boat?  It’s funny that nobody asks me this, so I never bother to ask myself.  Battles over the authority of the Old Testament always seem to concentrate on whether the Earth was really made in six days, whether there was a historical Adam and Eve, and whether Moses really wrote the Pentateuch.  So that’s what we think about.  The story of the Flood seems to be one where nothing is at stake except the reliability of Scripture (whereas Christian orthodoxy requires some sort of historical Fall in order to make sense), meaning that we’d all be happy to relegate Noah’s ordeal to some sort of allegory.  On the other hand, if we take it on ourselves to start saying that this or that part of the Bible didn’t really happen, where will it end?  The Fundamentalists are right to worry that this sort of attitude will end up making all of revelation optional.

Probably the Church has already spoken on this, pronounced hellfire for anyone who doubts the tale, etc.  If the Church’s enemies start making noises about this issue, I guess I’ll have to read up on it.  For now, I’ll concentrate on more spiritually fruitful questions, and I’ll be careful what I say against the Mormons.

45 thoughts on “Do you believe in Noah?

  1. Fr. Seraphim Rose gave a wonderful — and for me, mind-expanding — account of the Patristic vision of the early chapters of Genesis, including the Flood. Recommended.

      • Fr. Rose wanted to show that Scripture does not support the evolutionary view of man which says man evolved from lower forms to higher forms but rather that the story of Man as told by Scripture and elaborated by the Fathers is one of devolution from the perfect creation of Adam to our present degraded state as a result of the Fall. And to be clear Rose is not talking about just our spiritual degradation but our physical corruption as well. Adam created physically incorruptible with death introduced by God only after the Fall to protect us from choosing an endless life of sin.

        So the account is a kind of Biblical literalism but different from the YEC that you mostly see today. The Fathers stress that God would never lie to or mislead us, so for instance, if He tells us the Flood happened then it happened and for the reasons He gives us. And it happened as we would understand a worldwide flood to happen. But clearly much of the detail of the literal history of the distant past is left out so you can’t read the Old Testament as you would a modern historical text, as Dr. Charlton points out below. I believe, agreeing with Arakawa below, that much of what happened in early human history was so unspeakably awful that God is protecting us by omitting so much. Some things, once seen, cannot be unseen so to speak.

        Fr. Rose also wants us to be realistic about what science can tell us about the Creation and the early history of Man. So for example, given the account of the Creation at the beginning of Genesis it suggests that the physics of the cosmos operated differently than they do today and it is an merely an assumption of science that the laws of the universe have always been as they are now.

  2. Almost all people have a deluge story. Ancient tales often use natural imagery to convey social breakdown and sacrificial crises. Plagues and floods, like mimetic rivalry among a people, eradicate differences and, in so doing, represent the disintegration of communities into mobs. Plagues and floods can also cause social crises and they usually do. Since all archaic societies, including Noah’s, were vulnerable to mimetic outbreaks and dissolution, it is unsurprising that deluge-stories are so universal. (Even the Polynesians have them.) There is another aspect of the deluge-type story to be considered. There are, in the history of modern human beings, what the scientists call genetic bottlenecks. A genetic bottleneck is an event that reduces the human global population to a fraction of what it has been before the bottleneck. The Toba Bottleneck, named after a super-volcano eruption fifty thousand years ago, reduced the global population to as few as three thousand people. Then there is “The Catastrophe,” which put an end to Bronze-Age Eastern Mediterranean civilization somewhere around 1100 BC. It was anthropogenic, but it burned out and every city in Greece, the islands, and Anatolia just as if it were a rain of fire. Most of the burnt-out sites were never reoccupied. Archeologists who study the Greek “Dark Age” which ensued attest that there was a seventy-five per cent decrease in population between 1250 BC and 1050 BC in Greece.

    • If almost all people have a deluge story doesn’t that give credence to the idea that there was an actual deluge in the actual history of all people, whence this common story originated.

      • One of the ways in which the Bible differs from myth is in its minimization of the cosmological. In Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation poem, mankind makes no appearance until the final tablet; everything that comes before is detailed cosmogenesis. The Biblical Genesis keeps cosmology to a few verses; its interest is overwhelmingly anthropological. Details surrounding the deluge narrative are provocative, especially the mixing of angels and mortals and the wickedness of their offspring, the giants who “dwelt in the earth in those days.” When Noah’s neighbors mock him, they are setting him up to be a scapegoat, another sign of social collapse in the story. The parallelism with the narrative of the Cities of the Plain is relevant: The deluge is a social phenomenon; the wicked inevitably destroy themselves. (In their wickedness, of course, they destroy many others — that belongs to their perversity.) This perspective should be readily available to those of us on the right. We might easily say that the Maghreb is deluging Europe with inassimilable immigrants, or that the American Southwest has incurred a similar deluge. When France or the UK breaks out in civil war, it will not be an act of God; it will be the consequence of nihilistic folly on the part of the Gnostic ruling-class that has established the nationally suicidal immigration policy. Social breakdown “sweeps things away” as surely as a tsunami. “Apres moi le deluge,” as a Bourbon king once said.

        Could there have been a global deluge? The sea-levels were lower during the last great ice-age and when the ice melted many shore-based communities must have been inundated, provoking unguessable social crises. That, the crisis, is what people remember, even when the details of the geological or meteorological provocation have slipped into oblivion. But we don’t need to invoke a global deluge to explain the self-extinction of communities; we only need to invoke the human propensity to sinfulness, which is the same everywhere, always.

  3. Last week at the Creation Museum (just across the river from Cincinnati), Bill Nye “the science guy” debated Ken Ham, the director of the museum, about whether Ham’s world view (young earth creationism) was a defensible foundation for doing science. You may watch the debate on YouTube. Nye hits Ham with several arguments that refute the world wide flood. So, the topic does come up.

    I think that young earth creationism is ridiculous — it basically holds that God deceives us with the evidence, though Ham and his ilk would never admit such. I am completely sympathetic to Ham’s overall world view — his metaphysics and theology. However, Ham’s responses to Nye regarding the evidence of a very old earth border on postmodern nonsense that destroys man’s ability to know anything — including self-eating skepticism. It only escapes failing the retortion test by retreating to fideism.

    That said, how can we affirm the mythology of Genesis (the first eleven books are clearly mythos) while paying attention to the evidence that we see in natural philosophy? Of course, I don’t know, but as I noted in “Orthodoxy and Evolution,” I reject any attempt to reconcile scripture and science that perverts either. The author of sacred writ and the author
    of the cosmos is the same and does not contradict himself, but I, personally and currently, fail to see how they go together.

    I do have a theory, though, heretical and problematic as it may be. When I first started to think about this problem in undergrad., I thought about how the cosmos itself is like an ark. Neo-Darwinians attribute the coming to be of life and of its many forms to chance, but this simply moves the cause back a level — to the structure of the universe, which plays itself out in time and according to an order (of probability). That structure holds within it the multitude of the cosmos, ready to actualize in space and time.

    So, I mused that there was a universe like the one described in Genesis — or rather, Eden existed, though with many significant differences from the cosmos as we know it. Then, the fall occurred. Then, the cosmos started to fall apart, and this process ultimately resulted in the destruction of the cosmos — the flood — which reduced universe to the “primeval atom” in which all the forms, laws, matter, and energy of “our world” were compressed. Very ark-ish, I would say. The big bang and its aftermath, then, would be the slow exit of the ark’s occupants over the last 14 billion years in a world similar to but different from the continually degrading existence of Eden sullied. Or rather — the same world at another stage in its history, with very different circumstances.

    A possibility — doubtlessly troubling to most people but a satisfactory aporetic placeholder in my own world view.

  4. I just a couple months ago bought a used book that argues there was indeed a substantial rise in sea level that came on very quickly at the end of the last ice age, flooding not just the Black Sea but huge swathes of shoreline everywhere. I haven’t read it yet, but the book is full of photos of immense underwater buildings off the coasts of Japan, the Med, India, the Americas, etc.

    History – like everything else, I suppose – is far stranger than we think. I’m not ruling anything out.

    Here’s a full-size replica of the Ark, in Dordrecht. Pretty impressive.

    Full Scale Replica of Noah's Ark in Dordrecht, Netherlands

    • Not ruling anything out seems to be the wisest approach. With folks like Nye, it’s not their rejection of a literal interpretation of the Biblical creation account that irks me; it’s their insistence that they *know* certain details of time past as if they had observed them themselves when they occurred. I suppose Ham and others are guilty of the same thing, though they are I believe operating in good faith in the conviction that their starting point is divine revelation, with the further conviction that physical reality will fit this (conception of) divine revelation. I could respect the common Darwinian positions taken better if they would admit the presence of first principles in their own position, instead of simply scorning their presence in the position of the Creationists.

    • Some of the underwater “buildings” that have been discovered have turned out to be, upon closer inspection, natural formations, like the ones in Japanese waters (as I recall). However, I know there are real-live underwater cities in the Mediterranean, so it would be interesting to know just how many, and where, those cities are.

  5. Doesn’t the Catholic Church say that the Old Testament must be read in the light of the New Testament?
    The Old Testament is not to be read like a science textbook, a legal document or a modern history book. The genre must be appreciated. The scripture and mythology genre that is,

    • I don’t know about the Roman Catholics, but at least some Protestant denominations hold that everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus, in one way or another. Once we understand that, then certain parts of the Old Testament certainly become more intelligible.

  6. Here’s a similar question — do you believe in the tower of Babel, literally as described in the Bible? This is a case where — clearly — *either* the event is mythical, *or* details of an event that the historian would consider crucial are left out, to such an extent that the description is no longer literal truth, but a mythologization of history. The sin of Babel was not in building skyscrapers, or even forming a multicultural proposition nation, or else America would be punished a million times over — it was in spiritual pride, and it must have been spiritual pride of an order and degree difficult to imagine. The notion of piercing the Heavens conjures up images of some ancient, super-advanced civilization that was actually on the verge of constructing a Singularity (rather than just talking hot air about it like our Singularitarians do), and was providentially stopped by God from actually following through and creating their false Heaven. But is it spiritually healthy to pry into the details and knowledge of such a civilization? Or is it best to stick with the mythology of the Bible, knowing that in terms of *literal history* it obscures far more than it reveals — and perhaps it does so by design?

    So Biblical literalism is counterproductive, because it precisely reverses the relative importance of the aspects of the text — whether the literal details are true or not, they are the least important to know, and obviously secondary to the iconic and moral importance of the story. We’re supposed to know where the abyss is, not gaze fondly at every detail of how we nearly fell into it, over and over again, over millenia of history. So perhaps the Bible is providentially given to us by God humbling the structure of the foundations of the Earth (which is grand and complex beyond all possibility of human imagining) and the histories of mankind (which are sordid and complex beyond all possiblity of human reckoning) into a mere mythology or parable (whether a distorted summary of real events, or a total parable) because that form contains all the lessons, while obscuring the true history of the ancient generations; which, if the Bible is to be *believed* on the matter, has such unspeakably evil moments in it that, should we know the details, we would pray to God to forget them.

    As for the Flood, if we consider whether it happened literally vs whether it was a mythological invention, we must also give equal consideration to the idea that it happened, but God didn’t just use water, but perhaps gave the Earth a thorough rinse by liquefing the fabric of space-time on some sub-quantum level that even modern physics has no words to describe accurately, let alone Ancient Hebrew. In that case, Flood would be an accurate — but metaphorical and not literal — description. Again, knowing the literal historical details of this is deeply counterproductive, and trying to prove or disprove something like that by studying the fossil record is like pretending to speculate knowledgeably about the physics of how Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes.

    • Wrt. the sub-quantum deluge mumbo-jumbo — I notice Joseph A. has a similar idea in his mind as a ‘placeholder’ (guessing that the Ark is the primordial container that exploded in the Big Bang, or something). I suppose in both pictures the important accent to make is not that we are trying to guess at details not present in the Bible, but precisely the opposite that it was a (punitive) miracle which is beyond the grasp of current human reason. Elevating these or any other schemes of *how* it happened to dogma is therefore a category error — again, like trying to speculate on the quantum nature of multiplied loaves and fishes.

  7. The story of Noah must be seen with the creation story as the background. God created the world, organized it, and set its boundaries.

    See Job 38:4-7, 8-11, Psalm 104:9. and Jer. 5:22, also D&C 88:90.

    However, when man transgresses the boundaries the primal chaos returns.

    Margaret Barker puts it this way in The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy:

    “When the statutes and laws of the eternal covenant were broken, the fabric of the creation began to collapse and chaos set in. Total disregard for the statutes resulted in the return to chaos described in e.g. Isaiah 24.5: ‘The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.’ Or Jeremiah 4.23: ‘I looked to the earth and lo it was waste and void; and to the heavens and they had no light’. Jeremiah sees the world returned to its pre-creation state.”

    The Noah story echoes the story of the Fall, where violation of the commandments and set bounds alters the nature of the world. In Noah’s case, the world has become filled with violence, and the result is the Flood, where God no longer keeps the seas within their bounds. Mankind brings upon itself disaster.

    With this as a background, we can see that the several Biblical stories are all the same story, and they are all closely patterned after the gospel and not just bits of ancient literature rather oddly collated. There are five elements: (1) God creates order and sets boundaries. (2) Disaster ensues from the violation of the boundaries. (3) God calls one to restore the boundaries and the original order. This is ultimately the Christ, but derivatively the prophets of Christ. This corresponds to faith in Christ, the first principle of the gospel. (4) The people are called out to leave the disaster. This corresponds to repentance. And finally (5) the original order is restored by covenant. This corresponds to the ordinances, in which the power of God is manifest.

    And so I will teach this Sunday.

  8. @Bonald – this is a good test case of what it is to believe something is true.

    I believe Noah is true in the same kind of way I believe (and I guess you believe) that some kind of scientific theory is true – that is true overall or in essence; but NOT true in every microscopic and chopped-up detail. No real scientist believes that a theory (or empirical observation) is true in every chopped-up detail – not least because doing science is mostly about examining these details and changing them.

    The Noah story shows that it is foolish to break scripture into sentences, into words even, then argue over whether each word of each sentence is literally factually correct or else should be rejected in toto.

    This is a bizzare modernist intellectualist distortion- and one way or another is fatal to faith – either making it into meaningless literalism or meaningless relativism.

    If we treat scripture exactly the same as secular history/ archeology/ linguistics treats historical documents, we have already decided that it is NOT scripture – and treating scripture as if it was NOT scripture is apparently just as common among self-identified Christians as it is among atheists.

    Such a process feeds atheist assumptions in at the beginning, but is then surprised when atheism comes out the other end! Apparently people easily forget their own assumptions in the process of applying them.

    • Are scientific theories true in any sense or merely useful in particular contexts?
      Newtonian gravitation works to send spacecraft to moon or to mars but is unable to explain the precession of mercury.
      Einsteinian gravitation does predict precession of mercury but at the cost of speaking in mystical language. As CS Lewis remarked, to talk of space being curved is strictly analogous to define God as a circle whose circumference is everywhere but centre nowhere. How can we then talk of truth of Einsteinian theory?

      • @BI – You are missing the analogy. My point is that we should not hold scripture to a higher standard of microscopic-consistency than we do science.

        To do so is just an error (or, more likely, a dishonest subversive tactic): it is not how things work (or how the human mind works) and they never have.

  9. It’s extremely odd, but this post appears to have been written sans research. As, for example:

    1) Mormons are supposed to believe in Noah and the flood as well, and on the basis of the Old Testament. The OT is not some “non-Mormon Christian scriptures” which is wholly separate from Mormon beliefs. They have the same debates Christians do about whether it was worldwide or local. Five minutes’ googling would turn up this fact. Hence if there are candidate “weird beliefs” by Mormons these have to be put *on top of* belief in the Noahic flood, not instead of. This point vitiates the entire argument of the main post.

    2) The Book of Moses in the Mormon Scriptures alludes to the flood quite clearly at the end.

    3) FWIW, the nautical advice given supposedly by God in this passage from the Book of Ether makes the specifications for Noah’s ark look like a paradigm of rationality by comparison:

  10. In answer to Thomas Bertonneau above, I would say that the sons of God referenced in Genesis 6 are the descendants of Seth who found the (sluttish) daughters of men (descendants of Cain) more appealing than the modest daughters of God after the two tribes and expanded enough to come into contact with each other again. Angels, whether good or bad, are spirits and could not breed with human women, but could tempt the sons of Seth to do so. God later warned the Hebrew nation not to intermarry with the Canaanites because their spouses would lead them into idolatry and wickedness. The giants in the earth are most likely the kings who ruled just as Tiberius Caesar was the “giant” of Rome and Napoleon was the “giant” of France.

    Donald Patten, a professional geographer and protestant disciple of Christ, wrote a book titled “The Biblical Flood And The Ice Epoch” published in 1966. In it he speculates that a smaller planet passed near earth and was temporarily captured in an unstable orbit and created a tidal surge which would have dragged a tidal wave around the world multiple times. In the first decade of the twentieth century Russian explorers discovered frozen carcasses of mammoths in Siberia who had died flash freezing. Their bodies were undecayed and they had died while eating semitropical plants which were still in their stomachs and mouths. He presents the plausible theory that a planet that could generate a tidal wave could have an ice ring which earths magnetic poles pulled onto the now arctic and antarctic regions. Ice with a temperature of absolute zero would flash freeze all life and and create ice age climates for many years. An actual flood in ancient times is not beyond the omnipotence of God to engineer. He surmises that the climate differential that we have had since then has been aided by the eruption of high mountain ranges pulled from the crust by a strong nearby gravity field. Catastrophes do happen. What say ye orthosphereans?

    • There are some serious energy conservation hurdles for this hypothesis.

      With regards to stuff crashing into the Earth at absolute zero, not only is nothing ever at absolute zero, material crashing into Earth from high in orbit can’t even be particularly cold. Where does the kinetic energy of impact mostly go? The crash would be supersonic and create a strong shock with accompanying heating.

      More importantly, if this planet was in a bound orbit around the Earth, how did it ever get the energy to escape? The main way to accomplish energy transfer from the Earth is tidal forces (e.g. the reason the moon is slowly getting farther from the Earth). Now, I assume the planet was far enough away to have an orbital period longer than a day–otherwise, there would be a Darwin instability and the planet would spiral into the Earth. By Kepler’s 3rd law, then, this planet must have had a semimajor axis at least ~10^-1 of the moon’s. Assuming we want this planet to induce a tidal force ten times stronger than the moon’s, you’ll need it to have a mass at least 10^-2 that of the moon. (Tidal force goes like distance^-3.) Then this planet would have about a tenth the binding energy of moon, which somehow has to get transferred to it from the Earth. Ordinary tidal friction will also end up transferring large amounts of angular momentum.

      Another possibility: tidal disruption of the planet; large fraction of mass colliding with Earth, but remainder ejected from orbit. I doubt we’d be here if that had happened.

      I’d also have to hear more about the idea to know why the orbit was supposed to be unstable in the first place, as opposed to secularly altered by tidal forces.

      • Thank you for the challenge to Mister Patten’s hypothesis and the time to write a serious riposte. I would understand it better if I had taken physics in college long ago. It is my understanding that all matter generates gravity and so any passing object to earth would pull on the earth and vice versa. I have heard that unstable orbits occur and the smaller object settles into a stable orbit around the larger one or the mutual grip is too weak and the smaller object escapes the attraction and goes on its way. But, I must defer to your expertise in physics. Nonetheless, there must be some sudden and serious cause for the transition from a subtropical climate near the earth’s poles to an effect of a permanent ice age in no more than a few minutes. Also, does not “outer space” have a temperature of two or three degrees above absolute zero? Would not then the rings of Saturn exist at that temperature also? From every day life I assume that an ice ring pulled onto the earths surface would have the same effect as dumping a whole tray of ice cubes into a pitcher with a moderate amount of water.

      • Hi michael b,

        That 2 degrees number refers to the temperature of the cosmic microwave background, a sea of radiation left over from the big bang. It’s actually not too relevant to the temperature that things in outer space in the solar system will find themselves at. Nor is the temperature of the (very sparse) interplanetary gas, which in our neck of the solar system is actually quite hot. Both CMB photons and interplanetary gas are too sparse to allow for much heat transfer between them and some body floating in orbit. Objects in the solar system come to whatever temperature balances their own thermal radiation with the radiation they absorb from the sun. Thus, a white object will equilibrate at a much lower temperature than a black one, and an object farther from the sun equilibrates at a lower temperature than an object closer to the sun. For the Earth’s albedo and distance from the sun, the equilibrium temperature is about -20 degrees Celsius. The Earth’s surface is warmer than this only because of the greenhouse effect.

        This isn’t particularly important for my case, but it’s worth going over, because I know from teaching that there’s a lot of confusion out there regarding the “temperature of outer space”. My claim though is that no matter what temperature something is at, after it undergoes a supersonic crash, it won’t be cold anymore.

  11. The Bible cannot be understood properly when read “literally”. Which itself is a meaningless statement since there is no such thing as textual interpretetation that does not draw on knowledge from outside the text. Biblical literalism is a heresy that denies the central point of the Bible; the story of God’s relationship with His human creations. Biblical literalism especially denies the centrality of Christ’s sacrifice to the Gospel; literalism supposes that the Word was incarnate not so he could die for us on the cross, but so that various people over the next 200 years or so could be moved by the Holy Spirit to write books about Him. Our all-powerful God is perfectly capable of writing a book. He didn’t. Instead He was incarnate of the virgin Mary, crucified by Pilate, died, was buried, and rose again.

    Furthermore, God is all-powerful, yes, but He does not violate His own divine plan, e.g. by wantonly disregarding the physical laws of the universe that He created. There is no physical means by which the entire world could have been flooded at exactly the same time. Tidal forces don’t work that way.

    In addition, the Pentateuch was written by the ancient Israelites, either directly by Moses or more probably attributed to Moses as was customary in that culture. It like the rest of the Old Testament is the story of God’s relationship with the Israelite people. It is not meant to be, and ancient Israelite culture could not have cared less about, what God’s relationship might have been with people on the other side of the world. We do have reasonable evidence for a flood disaster in almost all ancient cultures; however, the story of Noah is about what happened in the “world” of the ancient Israelites, not the Greeks or the Changjiang river culture. Furthermore, the central point of the story is not that there was a great flood caused by God’s anger, but that He was moved to mercy and promised that He would never again curse the earth because mankind is imperfect and prone to immorality. The central point of the Noah story is God’s decision and promise to Save his fallen creation, mankind, rather than destroy us and start over. Getting caught up in whether or not there really were two of every animal or the rain really lasted 40 days* completely misses the point of the story.

    * 40 is one of those standard numbers used in ancient Hebraic writings that just means “a lot”, the same way that the words used for “the evening and the morning were the the [next] day” in the Creation story were words commonly used to reference “time passing”, and not necessarily a 24 hour block of time.

    I have a great respect for LDS beliefs and the people of the LDS church. The reason why (theologically) the Church and other Christians question the veracity of the Book of Mormon is that it smacks of gnosticism. Christ was seen preaching and performing miracles by thousands of people and we have 2000 years of him, Mary, the various saints and angels appearing to the faithful and not so faithful, either in physical or spiritual presence. Like Mohammed, John Smith claimed to have received a revelation from God, but there are very few external signs to anyone else that this is actually what happened. That’s not to say that Smith was mistaken, but it simply is not in keeping with our prior understanding of how God operates: He does work through His chosen prophets on occassion, but our historical knowledge of His relations with humanity would not cause us to believe he is wont to reveal Himself only to one or a few people and deliberately keep everyone else in the dark.

    • @CdJ – I think perhaps you do not know enough about Mormonism (or the claims of Mormonism) if you think that the history of the LDS is one in which God revealed himself only to one or a few and kept the rest in the dark – and I really cannot understand where the idea comes from the Mormonism is a kind of Gnosticism.

      But I do wonder about all the discussion of Gnosticism anyway (especially on this blog). The word is thrown around an awful lot, but I don’t get any sense of any real understanding or precision of usage – in fact I am strongly averse to such discussions: they seem empty.

      All religions have a greater or lesser resemblance or similarity to all other religions (including Gnosticism – whatever that is supposed to be) – but being *like* something is not the same as being something. Men are like women, also like chimpanzees – but they are neither!

      • I think perhaps you do not know enough about Mormonism (or the claims of Mormonism) if you think that the history of the LDS is one in which God revealed himself only to one or a few and kept the rest in the dark – and I really cannot understand where the idea comes from the Mormonism is a kind of Gnosticism.

        That is not what he saying.

        But I do wonder about all the discussion of Gnosticism anyway (especially on this blog). The word is thrown around an awful lot, but I don’t get any sense of any real understanding or precision of usage – in fact I am strongly averse to such discussions: they seem empty.

        There are many similarities to make a legitimate comparison. I would also point out that the term Gnosticism is not thrown around here anymore than the terms “leftism” “Marxism” “liberalism” “modernism” or “rationalism” are by you to the point where your use of those terms renders your posts meaningless. .

      • But I do wonder about all the discussion of Gnosticism anyway (especially on this blog). The word is thrown around an awful lot, but I don’t get any sense of any real understanding or precision of usage – in fact I am strongly averse to such discussions: they seem empty.

        +1 I also don’t like the term Gnosticism as used in this website.

        There are many similarities to make a legitimate comparison. I would also point out that the term Gnosticism is not thrown around here anymore than the terms “leftism” “Marxism” “liberalism” “modernism” or “rationalism” are by you to the point where your use of those terms renders your posts meaningless.

        But “leftism”, “marxism”, “liberalism”, “modernism” and “rationalism” are all terms which are universally understood. You can open an encyclopedia and see their history, see what they mean. And if you speak to someone that doesn’t read orthosphere, he will understand those terms.

        But “gnosticism” as utilized here … try speaking this term to a non-orthosphere reader. He will have no idea what you are talking about. Because the definition being utilized here is a local invention. It’s a very narrow jargon, which has doesn’t mean what is meant here for 99,9% of the population.

    • I think that people often misunderstand what the “literal” sense of scripture means to Christians. Thomas Aquinas explains it well, as we should expect. The literal meaning of scripture is how the community in which it was written understood it (as the author intended); such respects the genre. Moreover, Christians have always held that the literal sense isn’t the only (as in exhaustive) meaning of scripture. I have to credit Ken Ham in his debate with Nye that he gets this point exactly right. More Protestants need to turn to the collective Christian tradition — there are many resources there. I call (non-Anglican) Protestants who read Aquinas “Wheaton Protestants” — they all seem to come from Wheaton.

  12. Pingback: The Key To Omega Lock | Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis


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