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Christian Tractatus

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)


The Bible does not seem to have a Cosmology that is consistent with reasonable observation. It seems to adopt a three tiered geocentric view of the universe, with heaven "up there" in the sky and hell (gehenna, ie. the abode of the dead) "down there" under the earth.

  1. It may be significant in this context that Hebrew & Greek use the same words (respectively) for "sky" and "heaven".
  2. Another pointer that may be relevant is the equipment of heavenly beings (eg. the Cherubim & Seraphim) with wings for flying.
  3. It would be a mistake to read all the ramifications of the pre-Copernican mediaeval or Ptolomaic cosmology into the Bible, but it seems unlikely that the Biblical cosmology is the same as that of modern science.
  4. One may suspect that a naive cosmology is behind the astronomical miracles1 of the Bible (eg. Joshua's "long day", Hezekiah's sundial, etc).
  5. It may be possible to adopt a principle of accommodation, so that the then current cosmological presuppositions are used, without their truth being assumed. This, of course, does not help elucidate the miraculous elements.
  6. The risk in this approach of demythologisation is that, if it is applied more widely, Christianity may degenerate into a moral code with nothing of cosmic significance to say. It is important to most Christians that heaven, if not hell, should exist. If it is not "up there" (or at least "out there") we are at a loss as to what to make of the concept, because there is no further assistance provided by the Bible or other normative Christian tradition.




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12/08/2007 10:17:46 403 (Problems - Bible Cosmology) Problems

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