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Sunday, November 28, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 102

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

The insight into this truth [That He is the long-suffering One, and answers speedily] leads the believer to cultivate the corresponding dispositions: patience and faith, waiting and hasting, are the secret of his perseverance. By faith in the promise of God, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him. Faith takes and holds the answer in the promise, as an unseen spiritual possession, rejoices in it, and praises for it. But there is a difference between the faith that thus holds the word and knows that it has the answer, and the clearer, fuller, riper faith that obtains the promise as a present experience. It is in persevering, not unbelieving, but confident and praising prayer, that the soul grows up into that full union with its Lord in which it can enter upon the possession of the blessing in Him. There may be in these around us, there may be in that great system of being of which we are part, there may be in God’s government, things that have to be put right through our prayer, ere the answer can fully come: the faith that has, according to the command, believed that it has received, can allow God to take His time: it knows it has prevailed and must prevail. In quiet, persistent, and determined perseverance it continues in prayer and thanksgiving until the blessing come. And so we see combined what at first sight appears so contradictory; the faith that rejoices in the answer of the unseen God as a present possession, with the patience that cries day and night until it be revealed. The speedily of God’s long-suffering is met by the triumphant but patient faith of His waiting child.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Is Genesis 1-11 history, or myth? Comparing the sequence of events in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2

First, what is a myth? The Project Gutenberg eText of Webster's 1913 dictionary says this:
1. A story of great but unknown age which originally embodied a belief regarding some fact or phenomenon of experience, and in which often the forces of nature and of the soul are personified; an ancient legend of a god, a hero, the origin of a race, etc.; a wonder story of prehistoric origin; a popular fable which is, or has been, received as historical.

2. A person or thing existing only in imagination, or whose actual existence is not verifiable.

And what is history? The Project Gutenberg eText of Webster's 1913 dictionary says this:

1. A learning or knowing by inquiry; the knowledge of facts and events, so obtained; hence, a formal statement of such information; a narrative; a description; a written record; as, the history of a patient's case; the history of a legislative bill.

2. A systematic, written account of events, particularly of those affecting a nation, institution, science, or art, and usually connected with a philosophical explanation of their causes; a true story, as distinguished from a romance; -- distinguished also from annals, which relate simply the facts and events of each year, in strict chronological order; from biography, which is the record of an individual's life; and from memoir, which is history composed from personal experience, observation, and memory.

Some Bible scholars claim that Genesis 1-11 is history. If I understand them, they mean that this text relates real events which happened in sequence as they are read in that text. Other Bible scholars claim that the same passage is myth. If I understand them, they mean that this text is true, in the sense that we are to learn from it, and that it tells us about God, but that it does not necessarily portray real events, nor events in the sequence in which they actually happened.

One author who thinks Genesis 1-11 is myth is Joel Edmund Anderson. Here's an excerpt from one of his blog posts:
Saying Genesis 1-11 is myth doesn’t denigrate it. “Myth” doesn’t mean “untruth.” It is a specific genre of ancient writing that was used to describe a culture’s worldview regarding what that culture believed about (a) the gods/God, (b) the nature of human beings, and (c) the nature of the created order. It wasn’t trying to convey historical facts. It was trying to articulate that “worldview lens” through which that culture could interpret their world.

Anderson has written many other blog posts on these topics. So have others. (Here's another of Anderson's posts, pertinent to the topic of the post you are reading.)

What should we learn from Genesis 1-2? I am not God, so cannot be certain of what He wanted us to grasp, but the things that we were meant to learn probably included, first and foremost, that there is only one real God, powerful and wise enough to make the world as it is. Very possibly, mentioning the sun and the moon as appearing on the fourth day, rather than the first day, and without specifically naming them, shows us, and the ancient Hebrews, that we shouldn't worship the sun and the moon. We are also probably meant to learn that God is responsible for beauty, diversity and order in the world, and that humans have special responsibilities -- we are, in some senses, god-like.

Let's now look at Genesis 1 and Genesis 2:


(This graphic gets tangled up with other parts of the blog, on some platforms. The graphic is still there, as a separate file. Feel free to use the graphic, with no attribution needed.)

There are significant differences in the sequence of events in Genesis 1 vs. Genesis 2. Claims that these two chapters both set forth, in sequence, the events of the creation, are not supported by a plain reading of Genesis 1 and 2. There are various ways of explaining the differences between the Genesis 1 sequence, and the Genesis 2 sequence, and perhaps some of them are valid, but the idea that there is a plain reading of these two chapters, setting forth events in sequence, is not supported.

Thanks for reading!



 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Sunspots 859

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:

The Arts: (and humor) NPR has posted winners of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Award.


Christianity: (and politics) A Relevant writer makes a good case that "the media" are not massively anti-Christian, and warns against taking one issue (such as abortion) and making that the only issue.

A Christianity Today writer reflects on on-line giving of various sorts, as putting money in an offering plate becomes less common.

Another Christianity Today article describes the results of surveys which indicate that committed Christians are less likely to have sexual relations outside of marriage than was true in the recent past.

A blog post says that the term "evangelical" has been hi-jacked, and has come to mean, in many people's eyes, not a group of beliefs, but a certain kind of politics. The article says that there are people who identify themselves as "evangelical" who do not use the Bible as a guide, don't attend church, or who are actually Muslim or Hindu in belief.

Computing: FiveThirtyEight discusses disparities in exposure to environmental problems, such as toxic waste. Minority groups are more concerned about these matters than "average" persons.

Education: FiveThirtyEight reports that predicted teacher shortages didn't happen much (there have been some places where they did), and that teachers have become more vocal about safety and other issues in schools. (There have been serious shortages in bus drivers and other non-professional education staff.)

Finances: Gizmodo discusses the question of why gas prices are so high. It's complicated.

Health: CNN reports on the loss of smell in some people who have had COVID.

History: (and health) NPR goes over the history of vaccination requirements, all the way back to 1818. There have always been objections.

Politics: NPR discusses yet another book on the last days of the Presidency of Donald Trump. Some scary stuff.

I am not making this up. Gizmodo reports that hundreds of QAnon cultists gathered at the site of the assassination of President J. F. Kennedy. Why? They were expecting Kennedy's son (who died in a plane accident several years ago) to appear and announce that Donald Trump is the legitimate President. It didn't happen.

There's an update to the previous article, here, and it's serious.

Science: An anonymous donor (!) gave a large, poisonous spider, with fangs strong enough to pierce a human fingernail, to an Australian animal park.

There are YouTube videos, such as this one, showing the annual crab migration in Australia, which involves millions of red crabs.

Gizmodo tells us about examples of animals from two different species cooperating for the benefit of both.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 101

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

To enable us, when the answer to our prayer does not come at once, to combine quiet patience and joyful confidence in our persevering prayer, we must specially try to  understand the two words in which our Lord sets forth the character and conduct, not of the unjust judge, but of our God and Father towards those whom He allows to cry day and night to Him: ‘He is long-suffering over them; He will avenge them speedily.’


He will avenge them
speedily, the Master says. The blessing is all prepared; He is not only willing but most anxious to give them what they ask; everlasting love burns with the longing desire to reveal itself fully to its beloved, and to satisfy their needs. God will not delay one moment longer than is absolutely necessary; He will do all in His power to hasten and speed the answer.
But why, if this be true and His power be infinite, does it often last so long with the answer to prayer? And why must God’s own elect so often, in the midst of suffering and conflict, cry day and night? ‘He is
long-suffering over them.’ ‘Behold! the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being long-suffering over it, till it receive the early and the latter rain.’ The husbandman does indeed long for his harvest, but knows that it must have its full time of sunshine and rain, and has long patience. A child so often wants to pick the half-ripe fruit; the husbandman knows to wait till the proper time. Man, in his spiritual nature too, is under the law of gradual growth that reigns in all created life. It is only in the path of development that he can reach his divine destiny. And it is the Father, in whose hands are the times and seasons, who alone knows the moment when the soul or the Church is ripened to that fulness of faith in which it can really take and keep the blessing.


As a father who longs to have his only child home from school, and yet waits patiently till the time of training is completed, so it is with God and His children: He is the long-suffering One, and answers speedily.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

What did the animals on Noah's Ark look like?

An article published by Answers in Genesis complains about illustrations of the animals on Noah's Ark, often found in children's books, and elsewhere. (It complains about other things, but I'll try to stick to a discussion of what the animals on the ark looked like.)

Here is a quotation from the article:

Zebras, Clydesdales, and donkeys are all part of the horse kind and came to look like they do today since the Flood as part of the one horse kind. Species and the biblical kind are not necessarily the same things. The original horse kind likely had features resembling each of these. They diversified into what we have today through natural selection in the wild and artificial selection for man’s benefit. The same is true with the cat kind. Domestic cats, lions, bobcats, tigers, and so on, are all varieties in the one cat kind that have developed through variation since the Flood. It is better to draw generic representatives of each kind ...

Let's re-state that section of the article. The author, speaking for Answers in Genesis (AiG), claims that the animals on the Ark did not look a lot like the animals of today. Why is that claim made? The main reasons are that AiG believes that there was a world-wide flood, about 2348 BC, and that all land animals descended from creatures that were rescued on the Ark. AiG also believes that there would not have been room for each species of animal (and food needed to keep them alive) on that vessel, so that there were, instead, founders of each kind, which, since the Flood, diversified rapidly into the multitude of species that live on earth now. (Apparently this sort of belief has not been around for very long in AiG circles, but it is strongly held now.) In other words, the quotation says, there were no tigers or lions, etc., on the Ark, just a pair of cat family ancestors - generic representatives. So how did approximately 40 living species of cats come about? (And some additional extinct ones -- AiG belief is that extinct animals became extinct after the Flood.) AiG's answer is that there was rapid evolution (although they seldom use that word) after the Flood, and that all of these, living and extinct, are descendants of the pair of cat ancestors that were on the Ark. AiG thinks that distinguishing features didn't arise until after the animals came off of the ark -- the cat ancestors probably didn't have stripes, a mane, spots, cheetah-like speed, the ability to climb trees, and other features now found in one or a few species of the cat family, but not the entire family.

Another AiG source says this: "Recent studies estimate the total number of living and extinct kinds of land animals and flying creatures to be about 1,500. With our “worst-case” scenario approach to calculating the number of animals on the Ark, this would mean that Noah cared for approximately 7,000 animals." [pairs or sevens of each kind]

That seems like a lot, but according to my calculations, there are over 31,000 species of animals alive on earth today, to say nothing of extinct ones. That would mean that each of the kinds on the Ark would, on average, have diversified into about 20 species each, all within less than 4600 years.

That's preposterous, of course. Such rapid and extensive speciation, in vertebrates, has not been observed. Biologists generally believe that new species can't develop unless isolated from others in the same line in some way, either by being geographically separated, by mating at different times, or other behavioral differences, or by hybrid sterility. Cave art does not seem to indicate that early humans saw animals that were substantially different than those we see today. Although the Bible does not describe vertebrate animals in any detail, the behavior described (lions as predators, for example) does not suggest that lions, in Bible times, were much, if any, different from those that live today. Samson and David had interactions with lions. Jacob's blessing on his son Judah includes this: Genesis 49:9 "Judah is a lion’s cub. From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he crouched as a lion, as a lioness. Who will rouse him up?" Jacob died in about 2000 BC. Samson lived at about 100 years before David, who lived at about 1000 BC. (For my post, indicating all the mentions of lions in the Bible, see here.) As I indicated, the Bible does not describe animals definitively, but it sounds like, by the time of Jacob, as well as Samson and David, lions were like those alive today. If they hyperevolved somehow, from an ancestral cat type, this would have happened in less than 400 years, using AiG's timeline.

It seems to me that it makes a lot more sense to suppose that the Flood was not world-wide, and that cats, and other animals, diverged over a much longer period of time.

For an expanded discussion of these ideas, see my post here.

It seems to me that it's OK to put lions, tigers, bears, donkeys, giraffes, etc., in illustrations of Noah's Ark. We don't really know if there was a world-wide Flood, and the proposal that children's Bible story art be based on unproven, even false, ideas is dangerous.

Sidelight 1: By the time of Zechariah, about 500 BC, horses, mules and donkeys must have diverged, although, even today, they haven't completely diverged, as mules are the offspring of a donkey-horse mating. According to AiG, that divergence took place after the ark. According to all sorts of other evidence, it took place over a much longer time.

Zechariah 14:15 "So will be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the donkey, and of all the animals that will be in those camps, as that plague." The Masoretic Text uses three different names for the members of the horse family named in this verse, indicating that there were three different animals, all horse-like. (The King James uses "ass" instead of donkey.) The use of these words goes back way before Zachariah -- for example, Pharaoh's army included horse-drawn chariots.

Sidelight 2: The author of the quotation at the beginning of this post, and AiG, should be commended for at least one thing. The author says that artists often portray Adam and Eve as white, or white, blue-eyed blondes, and states that this is most likely not the way that they really looked.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Sunspots 858

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:


Christianity: (or something) Relevant discusses rumors that satanism was somehow behind the Astroworld concert tragedy.

Environment: NPR reports that, although Pope Francis has been outspoken on fighting climate change, the Catholic bishops in the US have done little about it.

Health: Fox News reports on a study that shows that unvaccinated Texans were 20 times more likely to die of COVID than those who were vaccinated.

Humor (and food) Gizmodo tells us about 9 new kitchen appliances that you don't really need.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight discusses the proposed political map of North Carolina, which map gives Republicans a few more congressional seats than they deserve. In other words, the map is the result of Gerrymandering.

Relevant discusses work by the Pew Research Center, which suggests that, rather than being just Republican or Democrat, voters in the US fall into nine smaller ideological groups. There's a quiz to let you know where you belong.

Science: (or something) NPR reports that a roadrunner got onto a moving van in Las Vegas, and was discovered in Maine, 4 days later, during the unloading. It's being cared for.

Gizmodo reports that a small asteroid was probably once part of the moon.

Gizmodo also reports on an unusual effect of unusual weather, in Egypt: scorpions!

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 100

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome. When once faith has taken its stand upon God’s word, and the Name of Jesus, and has yielded itself to the leading of the Spirit to seek God’s will and honour alone in its prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay. It knows from Scripture that the power of believing prayer is simply irresistible; real faith can never be disappointed. It knows how, just as water, to exercise the irresistible power it can have, must be gathered up and accumulated, until the stream can come down in full force, there must often be a heaping up of prayer, until God sees that the measure is full, and the answer comes. It knows how, just as the ploughman has to take his ten thousand steps, and sow his ten thousand seeds, each one a part of the preparation for the final harvest, so there is a need-be for oft-repeated persevering prayer, all working out some desired blessing. It knows for certain that not a single believing prayer can fail of its effect in heaven, but has its influence, and is treasured up to work out an answer in due time to him who persevereth to the end. It knows that it has to do not with human thoughts or possibilities, but with the word of the living God. And so even as Abraham through so many years ‘in hope believed against hope,’ and then ‘through faith and patience inherited the promise,’ it counts that the long-suffering of the Lord is salvation, waiting and hasting unto the coming of its Lord to fulfil His promise.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Sunspots 857

 Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to


others*:

The Arts: (and Christianity and Computing) I am not making this up. Relevant reports on a computer-generated gospel music singer.

Christianity: (and politics) Relevant reports that about 60% of white evangelicals say that they believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. (31% of Americans, as a whole, hold this belief.)

Health: (and politics) Republican politicians are pushing ivermectin as a treatment for COVID.

Humor: (and Science) NPR reports that astronauts returning from the International Space Station will be wearing (and, presumably, using) diapers during their return journey to earth. There are problems with the plumbing.

Politics: NPR reports on Tucker Carlson, of Fox news, who is spreading disinformation about the January 6th insurrection.

NPR reports that membership in the Oath Keepers includes members of the military and police.

Science: Science.org shows a video of pigs using tools.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 100

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray begins a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

The Power of Persevering Prayer.
‘And He spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint. . . . And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry to Him day and night, and He is long-suffering over them? I say unto you, that He will avenge them speedily.’—Luke xviii. 1-8.

Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is one of the greatest. That the Lord, who is so loving and longing to bless, should have to be supplicated time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes, we cannot easily understand. It is also one of the greatest practical difficulties in the exercise of believing prayer. When, after persevering supplication, our prayer remains unanswered, it is often easiest for our slothful flesh, and it has all the appearance of pious submission, to think that we must now cease praying, because God may have His secret reason for withholding His answer to our request.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Sunspots 856

 Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:




The Arts: (or something) Gizmodo reports on an esthetic advance in the design of screws.

Education: (and politics) NPR reports that the Texas governor, and some other officials, are trying to get some books removed from public school libraries.

Health: NPR reports on how our future interaction with COVID may develop.

History: Grammarphobia explains how first names became last names. (Example: Davidson) A lot of last names are based on first names, most not so obvious as the example I gave.

Politics: NPR reports that former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio has cost the taxpayers $100,000,000 in legal fees.

Science: Gizmodo reports that two California condor females had offspring by virgin birth -- no mating involved. Some birds can do this occasionally.

(or something) Gizmodo also reports on how a gun shooting blanks could kill someone.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.