Archive for the ‘Cross Shaped Waffle’ Category

Between The Right To Vote and Pray, A Short Note

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Jaybercrow wrote his best ever entry last night, (IMO LOL!) about the Pauline perspective on women in the Bible. I am planning to unleash a fucking monster of a Zoomtard on Monday about how to fit the pieces together but the heart of Jayber’s argument, (presuming I am reading him right, which is a safe presumption since authorial intent can actually be read), is the claim that the body of writing passed down to us through the Canon and attributed to Paul is radically egalitarian. Men and women are equally gifted by God. Galatians 3:28 as a kind of cornerstone of Pauline theology.

If Paul had written and preached openly that slaves should be set free and that women are as apt as men to achieve anything, then the Roman Empire built on the labour of slaves and sustained on the toil of women would have declared war on the very communities (in Ephesus, Colossae, Corinth and elsewhere) that he was writing pastoral letters to. Much better to have women treated as equals in their communities and slaves treated with dignity than there to be no slaves, women or Christians of any kind left at all. This is not the idle conjecture of theology undergrads. This is well accounted for sociological and historical fact.

In time, Paul won and Caesar lost. Slaves were set free. Women were liberated. The challenge today facing us is to be Christians as wise and cunning and reckless and radical as Paul was in his efforts to emulate our master.

Your Correspondent, Judging from picture books, heaven is a partly cloudy place

Girls Should Have The Right To Vote

Friday, November 9th, 2007

I am a feminist. I believe that men and women are created equally. I resent that I have to follow that up with “equal but different” since clear and careful thought would lead everyone to realise that “equal” doesn’t need to equate with “same” in that sentence. Failing that, they could look at some pictures of a man followed by a woman (I hear there are some of those on the internet somewhere) and see that I couldn’t possibly mean “same”.

Some people might say I can’t be a feminist since I am a man. Those people would have told Wilberforce he couldn’t be an abolitionist since he wasn’t a slave, told Bonhoeffer he couldn’t fight in the resistance since he wasn’t a Jew or a Pole and Martin Luther King couldn’t fight for civil rights because he wasn’t black (little known fact, MLK was a white man with a very very good make-up artist).

I am a better feminist than most, because I am a feminist because I am a Christian. That’s a bold statement, isn’t it? Calm down. Calm down. I’m about to back it up. Women are categorically not equal to men. Around the world, women do about 80% of the work and own about 20% of the wealth. Women typically lack the same rights as men. Where they have equal rights, societal values hold them down, so in places like Ireland they still hit a glass ceiling. For secular feminists, they can argue that the hard economic reality supports the equality of women- if you let women into your workplaces that has historically always meant economic growth. Or they might argue some soft values like the “betterment of society”. I’m a feminist because women have the same value and potential as men because women and men are both made equally in the image of God. If it cost a fortune and if it caused huge ruptures in society, I would still lobby as a feminist because it is right. It is true. It is not merely convenient or hip.

Feminism is out of fashion. In the average mind it seems to have transformed into meaning feminazi. Privately, I suspect the hijacking of the movement by abortion-rights advocates has seriously contributed to this development. Maturing girls seem as willing to embrace pre-feminist ideas of what being a woman is as they are to actually realise and stand up for their equality. The sexualisation trend best captured by the Girls Gone Wild phenomenon is just the extreme of a general apathy towards the cause.

Every woman should be a feminist.

Every man should be a feminist.

Every Christian is called to be a feminist.

Gender equality is a victory far from being won. I sometimes feel like so many issues of justice, Christians aren’t really passionate about it. Especially Christian women, who are more eager to buy the latest well packaged heresy from the presses of American printing houses than actually exerting themselves, informing themselves and standing up for themselves. My friends and I toyed with the idea of a blog once called Babes Rule, jokingly taking a verse from the King James translation of Isaiah out of context. We never got around to it, distracted by final year theses and marriage and PhDs and other junk.

But over the last week, some Norn Irish Christian women have been blogging about it, and I have had some more depressing conversations about gender roles and I think maybe this is more of a big deal than I’ve realised. I used to work with Meinmysmallcorner and her post made me very sad. Then LilyTodd threw her articulate lot in the ring and her post made me feel very crinkled in the forehead department. Then esnor introduced herself into the discussion with her very pretty site (would expect as much from a girl!). She put it best:

… Ironically, our hope of salvation lies with the men. Come on, you know who you are. In the privacy of your own home you may expound on equality. But get your ass off the sofa and into the pulpit and start acting a bit more like Jesus. Quit tolerating that which enslaves and wounds. Start protecting and empowering your sisters so we are free to live freely.

I’m taking those words to heart.

Your Correspondent, Feminists have a tumor on their funny bone

Money, Sex And New Technology I

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

The former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rev. Dr. Trevor Morrow, delivered the second annual CS Lewis Lecture on behalf of the Evangelical Alliance Ireland last month. These annual lectures are organised by the umbrella movement of the Evangelical churches in Ireland (ranging from mainstream Protestant and Dissenter churches right across the spectrum to independent African Pentecostalism) to give an opportunity for some serious theological reflection on where Irish society is going in the spirit of CS Lewis- open, relevant and accessible to the average Joe on the street. The mp3 of the talk can be accessed via the EAI site here. The paper can be downloaded here. In three parts I wanted to Zoomtard the paper and the many important things that Dr. Morrow raised.

After the paper was delivered, national newspapers reported it widely and talked about Morrow as one of “Ireland’s leading social commentators” and in the wonderfully meaningless words of one tabloid, a “top cleric”. I can’t really speak to any of that but as Dublin’s 14th most popular Christian blogger I can say that few people have had as formative an influence on my thinking and my faith as Trevor Morrow. It seems natural that I vomit out my thoughts on this lecture for all seven of you to relish and comment on and dissect. Money was the first thing he addressed, so that is the first thing I’ll address. Then next week I’ll get around to sex, which you’ll all love and then the week after I’ll fiddle with new technology, which I will love.

There are three approaches to money in the Christian churches. The Pentecostals have often viewed money positively, as a unilateral blessing from God. The Roman Catholics have often viewed money negatively, as a temptation to investment in the world and a distraction that in the grand scheme of things is pretty second rate to the business we are put on Earth for: relationships with each other and God. Protestants, including us dissenting Presbyterians have often viewed money as a neutral thing without moral value. Like a mathematical formula on a piece of paper it can be used for good (say, to produce a drug that cures illness) or bad (say, to make a French atomic weapon to explode needlessly in an atoll somewhere). The Protestants have come out on top of this discussion and around the Western world you’ll find Christians discussing money primarily in neutral terms- it is neither good nor bad until it it used for good or bad.

Addressing the end of the Tiger era, Morrow thinks we may need to revisit this. Evangelicals are defined first and foremost by the way they hold themselves under the authority of the Biblical texts and there we find the bluntness in the words of Jesus “when it comes to matters financial is not a little unsettling”. He blesses the poor but curses the rich saying that it is exceedingly difficult for them to enter his Kingdom, half of his parables deal with wealth and the dangers of it, and he refers to it as a power, which weaves it into a theological pattern throughout the New Testament talking about the role of systemic evil in our world. Morrow reminds us that Jesus was not positive towards wealth.

In Ireland, we have seen explosive economic growth for well over a decade and yet the Royal College of Surgeons report that “a terminally ill patient has a better quality of life then many in managerial positions”. We regularly commute three and more hours a day to work, we work more than any nation in Europe and we see rapidly increasing break ups of families, addictions, suicides and other key indicators that we are living in a society under stress. Without slipping into De Valera talk of “frugal comfort”, Morrow argues that we are a society living a communal life that is badly out of balance.

I am going way beyond what Dr. Morrow said, but the hectic, unsustainable pace of the average family living in suburban Dublin is motivated not by dire need, but by dire greed- we have enough and we want more. He writes, “If happiness is found through giving, peace through relationships and contentment in wonder, then the deceptive power of money and its potential sacred status need to be addressed both individually and corporately.” If Jesus is right in his assessment of wealth as a “power”, then that means we can use it to build a foundation for our identity. We can put money to the task of being the ground upon which we build self. Money can become an idol, the sacred stone upon which we rest all our hope. But money is a finite thing. I know this for sure towards the end of every month. It runs out. Humans are eternal beings and money can never meet the needs we put to it if we trust in it.

Against the accumulation of luxury goods, exotic experiences and nest egg investments that make up our theology of money in contemporary Ireland, Morrow actually sets out markers to a new approach to wealth. This new mindset might be called a theology of enough. We need a healthy and strong economy to provide for the personal and social needs of our society. But instead of spending the excess on “accumulation of more wealth or to be used in the endless pursuit of happiness through the purchase of commodities” we should craft a society “which honours its citizens and celebrates their humanity”. The way to achieve this is to encourage giving.

Quoting Ellul, “There is one act par excellence which profanes money by going directly against the law of money, an act for which money is not made. The act is giving”. Morrow reminds us of the euphoria that spread across the nation during the Special Olympics, when on a communal level we committed vast financial and time resources on the lavishing of strangers- of the Olympiads who came from every continent to compete and achieve and be honoured. We are not happiest when we spend ourselves on our selves. We were made to spend ourselves on others. This point that Morrow makes seems to be a foundational insight for economists- and I’d love to hear what the economists have to say about it.

Morrow offers three areas of particular focus for weaning a society off greed and into giving. Firstly, the creation of beauty must be a value we cherish. The artists in our midst are not (should not be) producers of commodities that we consume depending on their market value. Space for them should be crafted not because they bring royalty dividends to the exchequer but because of the art itself- its ability to “enable us to experience mystery and cause us to hear ‘the rumours of angels'”. Secondly, we must be a society who exerts the influence of our cashflow to the pursuit of justice. This goes far beyond having an independent judiciary. We must embrace the “moral imperative to seek the right for the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society”. Concrete steps to this include meeting our commitment to 0.7%GDP spent on global aid alongside a tax environment that favours giving. The third step to achieving a realigned view of money is the “encouragement of relationships through which our citizens learns to give and to receive”. So much of our society is geared around and towards the individual, most obviously in our work practices that frown on a holistic approach to life and in many professions scorn anyone that doesn’t commit fully to career success. In the past, it was Christians who fought and won workers rights, regular days off and holidays and better working conditions. Today we need to lobby for “structures in which our citizens will have time to give of themselves, to enjoy the craic and to support the community”.

Morrow was lecturing and not preaching. He didn’t apply his insight on the dangers of idolizing money to the individual. Instead he tries to sketch out what might be the beginning of an economy that more accurately reflect Grace and the values of the Kingdom of God. Government legislation can’t bring about the Kingdom. But the Kingdom’s values are universal, they are liberating and beneficial to all of us so why shouldn’t we engage all the world with them, sharing the generosity?

Your Correspondent, Letting the days go by and the water hold him down

On Barth

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Relevant to comments in my second-to-last blog post, (and via the excellent Dave Bish), there is a new website called Engaging with Barth to go alongside a new book on him with contributions from some total legends, including the best Frenchman in the world after Jean Pierre Papin, Monsieur Henri Blocher.

Your Correspondent, he has never been good, he is not good and he never will be good

Whiling Away Afternoons Thinking About Big Things

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

In the comments, Peebles offered a brilliant quote about the follishness of debating a purely cereberal path to God. He said Barth wrote once, “God has not the slightest need for our proofs”.

I am reminded of another Barthian tale, this time from the brilliant blog, Faith and Theology.

“Oral tradition, which I have not been able to find in print, tells of a priest who made an appointment with K. Barth on a personal matter. Coming after a while to the point, he said, ‘The problem, Dr Barth, is that I have lost my faith.’ The response: ‘But what on earth gave you the impression that it was yours to lose?'”

I think it’s a great anecdote to keep in mind when we are trying to work out God as if he is a puzzle to be resolved.

Your Correspondent, Without meat, he just eats lightbulbs

The Stars Are More Than Dead Light

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

One of the things that I am reminded of in the whole debating and commenting prompted by QMonkey’s insatiable appetite for wordy Zoomy sentences is how commonly misunderstood even the term faith is. When speaking, I always over-pronounce the “dumb” of Christendom. Not because of my speech impediment but as a kind of psychic reminder of just how strangely toxic an environment filled with respectable neutered churches is to real and authentic faith.

We are moving but not quite in post-Christendom in Ireland and this is an era I greet with open arms. Zoomtard Junior will not have to deal with people filled with silly ideas about a god up there far away and his little people down here vainly scouring ancient texts to find evidence of his existence. She’ll have the relatively unique joy of starting the story on a clean page.

In the contemporary mind, faith is understood to be a kind of thinking. It’s a kind of ungrounded belief. Dawkin’s definition of it as believing in the teeth of contrary evidence is a common one. This is not an understanding of faith that sits well with Biblical Christianity. QMonkey laments that God didn’t do some sort of Bible Code on the text to give us a clue to His identity. Encode DNA with an acrostic or something of that sort would be a useful hint. Such a position is like Bertrand Russell who when asked what he would say if upon death he discovered he was wrong and there was a God who was holding him to account; “Not enough evidence God. Not enough evidence!” I think I have a good idea of what God said back. “Looking in a stupid way Bertrand?”

The Bible doesn’t have any proof’s of God’s existence because that isn’t what the Bible is for. Taken seriously, the sheer fact of existence alone really is sufficient to get us thinking God-ward thoughts. The Bible is concerned not with whether God is, but with who God is. This only looks like a cop-out if you use the contemporary and yet incomplete definition of faith as an intellectual conviction. The faith that God is looking for is not that He exists. As the New Testament sweetly puts it, even the demons know that.

A Biblical definition of faith would be a lot closer to trust than belief. What do we rely on? Those who call themselves Christians seek to rely on the God who is Trinity. The earliest Christians, alien to contemporary categories of thought and shaped by a totally different society did not mount arguments in defence of faith the way that we do. Paul certainly argued for the logical coherence of the faith and we can imagine Peter in dialogue in the synagogues about how to read the Hebrew scriptures. But primarily what they did was point to the transformed lives of individuals expressed in new ways of doing community. All this debating with QMonkey and who ever else wants to join in is great fun. But arguing and convincing and reasoning and persuading is not the way into faith (although it can be the way out). Biblical faith doesn’t get lived in the mind, it gets lived in the community of Christians that we call church.

Christianity is not simply another way of looking at the world like Marxism or Humanism. It is not primarily a lens to view the world through and a hearth to heat our opinions in. It is a movement that must be acted out. Faith is the action verb of this movement. It is the living out of the Kingdom initiative that Jesus has begun. My sadness about debates online where we don’t get to laugh and drink and do normal things together is that it stays abstract and philosophical and we miss out the Christ-point of it all- Jesus of Nazareth.

Your Correspondent, He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller

Where Greymalkin Gets To Post

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Before the development of science, people didn’t think scientifically. Pre-Newton, most common people still held to some folk ideas intellectualised by Aristotle when they asked about why things fell to the ground when you let them go. Yet on most of the ideas that we now take for granted, the average Jean in the fields just chalked up “scientific phenomena” under the “things we don’t know about” column. For all our advancement by the way, that column is relatively un-touched. It is still as awe-inspiringly long as it was in the 1500s. The rise of geology and the sense that the world was older than we were didn’t really give us new information (most of the early stuff was wrong), it gave us a new way to question. Reading Darwin’s Origin of the Species today you are struck by how he was a fine, creative mind but the theory was patently incomplete. He didn’t give us new answers so much as offer us new questions. This new line of questioning, asking things we had never thought to ask, has lead to some fine advancements in our yet very incomplete understanding of how biological entities change over vast spans of time through mutation.

All this preamble is to say: claiming that before Darwinism, the vast majority of Christians believed Genesis 1 and 2 to be literal (where literal is used to mean scientific) is anachronistic.

My humble and brilliant friend who comments here under the unforgiveably nerdy handle “Greymalkin” offered me this quote from the Irish Augustine in the 6th Century.

‘Although it is said that the whole creation was arranged in the course of six days, this does not refer to the succession of days in an interval of time, but to the sequence of [God’s] acts. For he who subsequently told the story divided in speech what God did not divide in the perfection of his works. For God created at once all of the things which he made, when by a single act of will he arranged the manifold diversity of all the species. In that single act of will he caused all things to come into existence at once, outside time; and since their creation he does not cease to rule over them throughout time’.

Within this paragraph is a stunningly complete theology of revelation and the action of God in time. It is also totally above any questions of “how”. Augustinus Hibernicus gets added to the big Valhalla style warehouse in the sky for legends of the church that defy the contemporary expectations of them.

Your Correspondent, Met a Corkonian once who didn’t ride a unicycle to work

Noah’s Dove Avoids Capture

Monday, October 29th, 2007

So Jaybercrow is once again my muse. He wrote an article last night on what he makes of science and while Wife-Unit gets ready for the day I thought I’d riff on his theme. We’re off to make homemade beer and insulate a house and maybe do some organic gardening so if Konchog is right then my karma will be sky high and I’ll cash it all in for a convincing argument.

Science is our greatest invention. I say that because I hope maths is something we discover rather than invent. But science is even more impressive than velcro and usb disco lights put together. It has been astoundingly successful at making things turn and move and polarize and for a computer geek like me, the doping of sand which produces wafers we can turn into computer processors- it just still seems like magic. I am a nerd enough to get off on books about panda’s thumbs and the development of infinity but I am sane enough to still be very excited by the fact that light can react to paper to record a moment of time, trapped in a photograph.

So in case it isn’t clear yet, I think science rocks.

But because it is so successful we sometimes make a logical error of making science into a tent that covers all knowledge. Certainly, this is a mistake made by quite a few generations of historians who pursued a scientific method for doing history, a scientific historiagraphy. The guys who organised this effort got lots of funding and encouragement because scientific chemistry was working so well and scientific geology rocked (HA!) so much that surely scientific history would make similar objective, dispassionate, proveable, true for all cases advances.

There was lots of scientific history written, but history hasn’t been kind to it. As Jaybercrow points out (point 3), no human being can ever come objectively to any topic. We are subjects who are bound to be subjective. Our individual viewpoints, by dint of being ours, cannot be everyone’s. So the assumptions behind scientific history was wrong headed.

Science works excellently. But its grand trick, the mechanism that like the coil of the spring in a jack-in-box that makes it work is its ability to generalise. The scientist takes the hard-nosed data gathered from numerous experiments done the same way in different contexts and then makes a create leap to hypothesize a general cause. Jaybercrow dealt with this in point 2. Science is a way of inducing the creative spark that sees behind many disparate individual events to recognise the general cause at work. It turns out that the universe, whether made by God or not, has boundary lines drawn by generalised laws. So science is successful.

But back to humans. Each of us are individuals and entirely subjective at that. There is no way to generalise for humanity in any meaningful sense. If history is the study of human mistakes (or achievements), then there is no hope of applying the scientific method to it. There have been many leaders of the German territories and there shall be many more. But none of these experiments in Kaiser-dom are similar enough to justify generalisation. Kaiser Wilhelm II is an unrepeatable event. We can draw similarities between him and Charles V or Helmut Kohl, but the idea of a generalised law of German leadership is a laughable fantasy, although one many bright men pursued.

There is no way science can prove that Caesar crossed the Rubicon. In fact, the very importance and relevance of historical claims is of a different nature to that of a scientific claim. In the end, we have to evaluate each historical claim from the understanding that it is a distinct, individual and absolutely unrepeatable event that occurs in time just one time only. You might end up thinking like Ford that history is bunk, but if that is true, how do you know Ford said that, or even existed?

Examining intellectual history, as Jaybercrow has already said, what you see is not the scientific method standardising and regulating and refining the practices of other disciplines, but a myth of scientific objectivity that has hid the ever-present reality that science has more to do with creativity and human assessment (just like history, theology, literature and music) than Dawkins and all the Priests of Positivism would ever admit.

Your Correspondent, His eyes are small but they have seen he beauty of enormous things

It Might Have Won The Turner Prize

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Are miracles silly? Should we laugh at the silly billys who think that God intervenes in the world? I don’t think so. The best way to put it is to demonstrate it through my almost infinite artistic ability.

Miracles in 3 Frames

Your Correspondent, His favourite crisp flavour is Bum and Onion

Charting The Beiring Sea

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

There is a bit of a comment flurry going on in the Zoomtard comments. QMonkey wrote this:

“but you [Christians] have changed what you once believed because of what science has determined… not what god revealed to you.”

That sentence is philosophically incoherent. If the Judeo-Christian God that is posited does actually exist, he speaks through science just as clearly as his prophets and to remix my favourite Swiss, he can also just as easily speak through communism or a dead dog. If God is, even science is his revelation. You can grow up in a Christendom and still not understand the Doctrine of God.

QMonkey says something else that I suspect lots of people agree with.

“The VAST majority of Christians believe that god created the earth in 6 days, and that he destroyed the earth in a flood, Jonah survived inside a whale etc etc. They deny evolution for exactly the same reason you deny my theory that Jesus didn’t resurrect. I put it to you that up until 1900 ALL Christians believed in a 6 day creation… including st Paul, St John, St Matthew, Luther, William Tyndale etc.”

I cannot prove to you that the majority of Christians living today believe the world was created in 6 days. For what’s it’s worth, the majority of Christians today haven’t thought to ask the question what with famine and persecution and AIDS and all that going on.

But the historical assertion is categorically wrong. Throughout history the Genesis document has been understood to be a framework theological statement written in dispute with other nation’s gods. It’s much more fascinating than the laughable physics paper that fundamentalists turn it into. It was only in the 1900s that anyone began taking it “literally” where literally means scientific, at all. QMonkey and Joe Bloggs on the street actually can’t be more wrong. They have it backwards. I’ll prove it to you now without recourse to empirical methods (since history cannot be generalised) and it should serve as a double blow. QMonkey will accept that I am right about this and then he’ll buy me a pint next time in Dublin and loudly declare to a bevvy of beautiful girls beside us that I am the smartest and wittiest man since Richard Dawkins frankensteinly resurrected a hybrid of GK Chesterton and Carl Sagan in a weird evil atheist science experiment.

In 208 AD Clement of Alexandria wrote:

“And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist? . . . That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds: ‘This is the book of the generation, also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth’ [Gen. 2:4]. For the expression ‘when they were created’ intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression ‘in the day that God made them,’ that is, in and by which God made ‘all things,’ and ‘without which not even one thing was made,’ points out the activity exerted by the Son” (Miscellanies 6:16 [A.D. 208]).

Origen was another super important church father and he wrote:

“For who that has understanding will suppose that the first and second and third day existed without a sun and moon and stars and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? . . . I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally” (The Fundamental Doctrines 4:1:16 [A.D. 225]).

Pay attention to this one from Origen which totally contradicts the Monkey’s assertion:

“And with regard to the creation of the light upon the first day . . . and of the [great] lights and stars upon the fourth . . . we have treated to the best of our ability in our notes upon Genesis, as well as in the foregoing pages, when we found fault with those who, taking the words in their apparent signification, said that the time of six days was occupied in the creation of the world” (Against Celsus, 6:60).

Ambrose of Milan wrote:

“Scripture established a law that twenty-four hours, including both day and night, should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent. . . . The nights in this reckoning are considered to be component parts of the days that are counted. Therefore, just as there is a single revolution of time, so there is but one day. There are many who call even a week one day, because it returns to itself, just as one day does, and one might say seven times revolves back on itself” (Hexaemeron [A.D. 393]).

And Ambrose was preaching when Augustine of Hippo began his conversion process. He went on to be the most important theologian of the post-Biblical era full stop. And he wrote:

“It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation” (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1:19--20 [A.D. 408]).

“With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about these matters [about the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation” (ibid., 2:9).

“Seven days by our reckoning, after the model of the days of creation, make up a week. By the passage of such weeks time rolls on, and in these weeks one day is constituted by the course of the sun from its rising to its setting; but we must bear in mind that these days indeed recall the days of creation, but without in any way being really similar to them” (ibid., 4:27).

“[A]t least we know that it [the Genesis creation day] is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar” (ibid., 5:2).

“For in these days [of creation] the morning and evening are counted until, on the sixth day, all things which God then made were finished, and on the seventh the rest of God was mysteriously and sublimely signalized. What kind of days these were is extremely difficult or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!” (The City of God 11:6 [A.D. 419]).

“We see that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting [of the sun] and no morning but by the rising of the sun, but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day. And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness and called the light ‘day’ and the darkness ‘night’; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was and yet must unhesitatingly believe it” (ibid., 11:7).

And on it goes through the ages. Christians did not read Genesis as a scientific text until a weird off-shoot called the 7th Day Adventists got very angry with Darwinists in the 1920s. I am a scientist who is a Christian. I subscribe to the theory of evolution and believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. In so doing, I am standing with the oldest of Christian traditions.

Your Correspondent, Would do anything for a banana