Thursday 15 March 2007

The host of heaven

The modern world is a very different place from the one our forefathers and foremothers lived in. If you had to put a single person at the fulcrum of change it might well be Copernicus. After him, the planet was demoted from center of the universe to one more sphere orbiting an unspectacular sun.

One of the significant casualties of 'modernity' is astrology. For thousands of years our ancestors looked up to the skies with awe, and read purpose and prophecy in the motion of the heavens. Paul imagined he had been "caught up to the third heaven" (2 Cor 12:2), the clockwork motions of the stars were thought to determine human destiny, and even those giants of the Enlightenment were keen on divining meaning from the firmament.

Copernicus made no distinction... between astronomy and astrology, referring to them jointly as “the head of all liberal arts.” ... Kepler was his era's foremost astrological theoretician... Even Galileo, like most Renaissance astronomers, routinely calculated astrological birth charts... Newton reported that it was his own early interest in astrology that stimulated his epochal researches in mathematics... (Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, p.294-295.)

Given the universal interest in such things, it's no wonder that many commentators have searched for astrological references in the Bible. If the rest of us find that a curiously antiquarian quest, perhaps it indicates that we have a blindness to the subject that marks our own more rational age. After all, one of the pivotal New Testament stories has three Magi following a star which leads them to Jesus. Three centuries later the upstart emperor Constantine was to legitimate his bloody campaign for the imperial purple by a heavenly sign of his own, a portent that coincidently elevated a form of Christianity to the heart of Roman power.

No post-WCG figure has made a stronger case for astronomical references in the scriptures than former pastor Dennis Diehl. Dennis recommends a site called Solar Mythology and the Bible, and has a couple of articles on the subject, one on Isaiah 14, and another on “the original Sun of God.”

Is he on to something? That's for you to decide. Sophisticated liberal theologians are loathe to see these superstitions in their urbane analyses. Fundamentalists are too blinkered to look beyond their treasure trove of proof-texted dogmas. Maybe we've been missing a very real layer of pure nonsense parading as profundity.

There's a reading list linked from the Solar Mythology site, and for those with a thirst for a deeper understanding of just how different the modern/post-modern world-view really is, you could do worse than tackling Richard Tarnas' powerful book The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View.

For myself, I'm one Piscean who is delighted to be on this side of the Copernican divide.


Unknown said...

There is a very good book on this topic which appears on the surface to be full of quackery, but is actually very scholarly. The book is called "The Witness of the Stars" by EW Bullinger, a Christian linguist. Bullinger is the same man who made the well loved Companion Bible. Basically “The Witness of the Stars” goes through all the ancient names of the constellations and stars in those constellations, and finds that those names are highly Messianic. Bullinger finds convincing evidence that the ancients were taught the plan of God through a divine Zodiac, which was slightly bastardized by the Greeks and Romans. This is why he sources the oldest Zodiac's he can find. Somehow the whole Messianic picture fits together. You have to read it to believe it.

I'm a skeptic by heart, and also rather conservative in my outlook, but this one has me thinking there is something to all this evidence.

Anonymous said...

Jesus was most likely born at the Feast of Tabernacles.

Using the "Course of Abijah" for the priestly service, (Abijah incidentally meaning "My Father is God"), this would imply that Zacharias the father of John the Baptist finished his course of duty in the temple around the time after Pentecost. Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and meets Mary the mother of Jesus about 6 months later. Mary has just coneived, and the babies "leap". Add 9 months for Jesus' gestation, and you end up in FOT time for Jesus' birth.

I suggest that the Magi, who were astronomers, knew of the prophecy that the "Virgin would conceive". The Sun sign around the FOT is the constellation of "Virgo" or "The Virgin". Jesus is thus a "Virgo"!

So besides having a literal virgin mother, God also confirms the idea by having him born under the sun sign of Virgo.

God hung the heavens and placed every star. If he knows every hair on your head, it would seem odd that he did not how the apparent magnitude of every star would appear from the Earth perspective, wouldnt it?

Im not exactly sure with what we are dealing with here, but as an amateur astronomer myself for over 40 years, it appears that the epoch of the Bible does play out in the constellations in some form.

There are only Seven permanent moving objects in the sky visible to the naked eye...Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

They travel in the ecliptic, a fairly defined course of 12 constellations.

According to ancient mythology, Scorpio (the scorpion, symbolic of Satan?) kills Orion, (Orion being the most dominant of the Constellations of the sky, and with the belt of Orion corresponding to the extension of the Equator into the sky, so we must ask does Orion represent Jesus?)... the scorpion rises out of the ground to attack and kill Orion by "biting him in the heal" a very similar story to the prophecy of the Messiah in Genesis. Although the scorpion and Orion appear together in this myth, the constellation of Orion is almost opposite to Scorpio in the night sky. The two constellations never appear together in the sky. In legend it has been suggested that this was a divine precaution to forestall the heavenly continuation of the feud.

God hung the heavens and the Earth, and gave the sky as a calendar. So if any of this stuff is true, it would not surprise me.


Anonymous said...

Dennis and all:

Interesting stuff!

Here is how we will disagree. You contend "One point to make is that stories preceed christianity and are not just nice things that Christians up with after the fact to confirm the literalism of their own story".

I will contend that indeed, the "story of the stars" are evidence of the literalism of the Christian/Biblical saga. Afterall, the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the World, and the drama of Salvation was in God's mind from the beginning.

Although we can compare notes on the interesting analogies of the heavens, our conclussions are irreconciable.

On this, both of us being reasonable men, we will have to "agree to diagree in an agreeable way!"


Anonymous said...

I have to confess some skepticism when it comes to discussing this topic, because there's one very important question that seems to be neglected: What constellations did the Israelites see?

Bullinger and Dennis and Lussenheide all talk about Virgo and Bootes and Scorpius and so on. But these are the Greek and Roman constellations. Go look outside and you'll see that the real sky is more like a connect-the-dots without any numbers -- the lines aren't really up there, just the dots.

You would not believe how many times I've pointed constellations out to friends and relatives, only to hear them say they couldn't really see it. "There's Auriga," I'll say.

"Where?" they reply.

"Right over there -- that pentagon with the two little stars hanging off the right corner."

"I don't see any chariot, and those little stars sure don't look like goats!" they counter.

And so it goes. Even Cygnus, which to me actually looks like a swan flying overhead, escapes others.

Take a look at an ancient Egyptian starmap. Same stars, but they connect the dots differently. Where we see the Big Dipper, they saw a crocodile and a god. Try and find an ancient Chinese starmap. Again, same stars, but different constellations with different names and different mythologies.

Sure, there are commonalities, such as the realization that the Sun, Moon, and all planets circle around in the same band of stars, along with the soltaces and equinoxes. But even some things we might expect to be universal simply are not. Our Western mythology depicts the Sun as the all-powerful masculine and the Moon as a less-powerful feminine. However, other cultures have it reversed -- which is why Allah was god of the Moon. The Pleiades were well known as the Seven Sisters -- or were they the Seven Warriors?

So, what constellations did the Israelites see? Did they tend to see the Egyptian ones in the time of Moses? Did they tend to see the Greek ones at the time of Jesus? And what did they see during the hundreds of years in between?

Remember -- that squiggle of stars in the north isn't a throne just because we think it is. Turn it a little, and it looks like an M -- or a W -- or an ancient Phoenician S. If we want to look for astrological references in Hebrew scripture, we first need to know something about Hebrew astrology, instead of assuming that they saw eagles and serpents and lions in all the same places we do today.

jorgheinz said...

Er, may I be allowed to mention Tycho Brahe.

He was possibly the star of Scandinavian astronomers,and he appears in family records.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps we all might like to hum that wonderful tune by Dwight Armstrong,"The Heavens God's Glory Do Declare".(Psalm 19).

Ah, that invokes wonderful memories of yesteryear; the wonderful euphonious voices,the harmony,the keeping in time to the piano,the perfect blending of (s)-trained voices.

Indeed, the church thought itself a star,unfortunately pole-arised in hindsight.

A Nonny Mouse

Unknown said...

Like I said before, the book "The Witness of the Stars" uses the oldest Zodiacs and the most ancient names of them and their stars. It is very thoroughly researched. In terms of depth of coverage, it goes much further than what we are discussing here.

Here is a tid-bit, the Southern Cross constelation was known to exist for thousands of years, but it wasn't until man had made boats which could travel near the Southern tip of Africa that they saw it. How did ancient astrologers know of the stars? The Zodiacs they were making were from so long ago (thousands of years ago) that the earth's tilt in the universe was in position to see the Southern Cross.

And just so you know, the Soutern Cross is in the correct location in the sky to match were it should be for the Messianic story explained in the sky. Read the book, it is astounding.

Anonymous said...

Two points. One is that the majority of mythology, astrology, history, you name it, is based on perceptions from the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross is but one of the constellations visible from the Southern Hemisphere. All of the Levitical festivals related to harvest, etc. are six months out of sync for folks down under! Was God Northern Hemisphere-centric?

Second point. We live in an age where there is an abundance of far more brilliant scientists than Copernicus and Galileo. Religionists still don't give them any more credibility, and many insist on believing myth rather than science. Apparently some see more wisdom in the thoughts of the primitives, and are happy that way.


kscribe said...

Perhaps with all these myths of stars and constellations that the religionists around the world embrace, consider that perhaps all the knowledge man has known and contributed to some religious figure(s) or religion comes from another source.

The PLAIN TRUTH may be that our ancestors traveled here long ago from a dying(sun/son/solar system.)???

This makes more sense than the answers that the religious community spouts forth. And I might add, the questions that are raised by their errant theories and theology!


Anonymous said...

There is a scripture that hints at star worshipping, not a message in the stars, early in the scripture. I believe it is one scripture that can also be used to show that David was quoting Moses in Psalm 8, the wording is almost exact if you were to put this scripture side by side with Dt. 4:15-20 and then verse 20.

What is man that thou art mindful of him? David asked as he gazed up unto the heavens. Paul uses that scripture to explain that man was to inherit all things. Revelation talks about inheriting all things as well.

But, Dt 4 also talks about not making the likenesses of the things you see. Verses 17-18 are almost word for word used by David in the reverse in Psalm 8. Verse 19 says: "And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord they God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven." the NKJV uses; "As a heritage (inheritance)." to end the verse.

God intended that man inherit the universe from the beginning. Someone once asked if there were a scripture that proves that man was to inherit the universe. HWA thought so, but nothing is as clear as this scripture. So, the universe is not to be looked to to worship, and although there stars may have been used to tell a story by man about God. God never intended that it be worshipped according to the scripture.

Anonymous said...

This is the best blog-readin' I've done in a long time!

I've got a rendition of the Jerry Garcia Band doing "That Lucky Old Sun" (kind of a gospel-type song) rolling around in my mind.

I'm a Scorpio, and have had a fondness for Orion since writing a paper on Orion in gradeschool. I remember going to an observatory and seeing that one of the fuzzy "stars" that made up Orion's sword was actually a nebula.

Ah, the things that the primitives/ancients saw and imagined!
And, having been to a few Garcia concerts, I'm convinced that the Kaneh Bosm must have helped.
Ya know, seeing God, and all ;-)


Gavin said...

Actually Jorgheinz, your distant relative, Tycho de Brahe (1546-1601) appears several times in Tarnas' book. He bore the impressive title "imperial mathematician and astrologer to the Holy Roman Emperor." His successor was Kepler. In 1572 he witnessed a supernova, thereby himself becoming a star (boom, boom!) He also earns a dense paragraph in the notes at the back of the book.

Anonymous said...

"Actually yes he was :) Not only that, but he was a god that had not thought out how polar bears, penquins, kangaroos and platypusses would make the trek to board the ark."

Dennis. If your hatred of God hadn't blinded you, you would easily see the answer to your Satan-inspired commentary; that is, that God super-cooled certain portions of the water shell-atmosphere (Dr. Kent Hovind, PhD) that covered the earth so that migrating Artic animals actually traveled in a cold weather pattern that migrated along with them! The truth is there to see, if you will only accept it.

Formulating complex answers for simple questions,


Anonymous said...

Paul, I don't understand your comments to Dennis. Where do you get a sense of "hatred for God" from Dennis' writings?

Basically, Dennis has a different concept from your own, and you are apparently intolerant. Let's get one thing straight: None of us "knows" God. We just know what other humans have taught us about the Supreme Being, be they patriarchs, "apostles", or whatever. So, although we can hate certain teachers' concepts of God, the reality is that we really can't actually hate God himself.

Now, if you want to discuss teachers' teachings, I'd have to say that I personally hate Herbert W. Armstrong's concept of God. That "god" curiously resembles Satan the devil, in my opinion. And, as they say in the commercials, your mileage may vary on that.


Anonymous said...

For those who don't know, Kent Hovind is the leading proponent of the "young earth" theory. He is currently serving a ten year sentence in federal prison for tax evasion.

One would certainly hope that AW bloggers could find better authorities to cite in support of their ideas and theories!

Kook alert! Kook, Kook, Kook.


Unknown said...

byker-bob said:
All of the Levitical festivals related to harvest, etc. are six months out of sync for folks down under! Was God Northern Hemisphere-centric?

Actually the Levitical festivals were land-of-Judah-centric. Travel about 1000 miles West or North and there are no longer three growing seasons. This doesn't mean that God only loved the land of Judah. God was doing something unique through the Israelites, so it made sense to set up that unique thing in their land. To take something given to Israel (like the various Sabbaths) and apply it to ourselves only creates confusion. God made it for them, NOT US. Does that mean God doesn't like us?

Imagine a parent with two kids. One kid is gifted at playing the piano and the other just likes playing in the front yard. If the parent takes the one kid to an expensive music school but doesn't do anything expensive for the other kid, does that make them a bad parent? No.

Anonymous said...

The book I mentioned about astro-theology Starlore by William Olcott.

It covers the entire history of all the star groups and background.

Thanks, Dennis!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Dennis.

Also, I believe we would be very myopic, chauvinistic, and misguided if we arbitrarily decided that our earth is the only planet in all of the universe, capable of supporting life. The stars appear to have meaning only because they are viewed by us in their positions relative to earth. From any other solar system, they would appear totally differently.

The religions of the world seem to paint God as being earth-centric as well as Mesopotamian-centric.


Anonymous said...

For Pete's sake people, of course I was spoofing. I guess that means that there are people out there who would subscribe to such an idea.

I thought everyone would know that I was joking with this:

"Formulating complex answers for simple questions"

Kent Hovind provides me with hours of entertainment. Such imaginative thinking!


Anonymous said...

To Paul,

I am very glad you were spoofing! Others, in the past, on other forums were most definitely NOT, when they cited Hovind!

Sometimes the thing about blogs is that we don't see one another's facial expressions, and can't tell whether someone is a joker, or is deadly serious. That's one reason why I post under the same moniker on all the ACOG dissident sites. People have gotten to know me over a period of five years, and most know if I'm kidding or serious.


Anonymous said...

Let's face it, folks, stone age man looked up in the sky and imagined all sorts of things, trying to explain what they could not understand. Their imaginings became folklore, then became accepted wisdom of the ancients, then later still were written down and became religions and beliefs such as astrology. Later still, these ancient writings were looked upon as god-inspired. What an interesting species mankind is.

Religion? Astrology? Stone-age belief systems that adapted and persisted into the modern era? Buffalo Chips is all they mean to me.

Steve said...

So far, all of these points have been nothing short of BORING!

Steve K

Anonymous said...

I like your wetsuit analogy, Dennis, although I've used the caterpillar-butterfly one myself, or the Jonathan Livingston Seagull model.

One thing I would hate to have as my "reward", and that would be to become some sort of amorphous ghost that wanders around with all my ghostly relatives, the Brethren, and Herbert W. Armstrong for all eternity. That never struck me as being a nice "forever".

What good is life if you can't enjoy long motorcycle rides, kickass rock n roll, outrageous sex, and good ice cold beer? Of course, I realize that others might cite Mozart, cruising around in one's Rolls, and digging on Grey Poupon Mustard, and that's ok too, because that would be what speaks to their souls. A one size fits all reward would kind of suck.


Steve said...

Dennis said...
yes Steve, only all your input has been stellar.....on this topic. I can see why you might be bored.

MY COMMENT: Ooooh! I hit a soft spot. :-)

Steve K

Steve said...

I still maintain I hit a soft spot. Ok, we'll hangeth together. :-)

Steve K