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Fri Nite Frite: Supermassive black hole at centre of Milky Way will erupt again

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Astronomers have long suspected there was an ancient outburst from the hibernating black hole, but it’s only now that they believe they have found an actual “fossil imprint” of the cosmic monster’s last big meal.

and

The question is not if there will be another eruption, but when, scientists say.

Sleep tight.

Wait till it gets to us. Or maybe not.

Or maybe we are dead already, and don’t know.

But like we said, sleep tight.

15 Replies to “Fri Nite Frite: Supermassive black hole at centre of Milky Way will erupt again

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Well if you are going to be scared of cosmic catastrophes, within this temporal lifetime whilst you are here on this earth, I guess there are many things you could be scared of besides black holes erupting, such as perhaps a asteroid/meteorite impact,,

    Meteorite hits Russian Urals: Fireball explosion wreaks havoc, over 900 injured – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-NPaJLftp8

    ,, or perhaps a nearby super-nova explosion,,

    Supernova Explosion Simulation
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHjTb8Chq3k

    ,, But black holes hold a potentially far worse horror for us individually than any fear we may hold, or imagine, about a cosmic catastrophe emanating from one.,,, To frame this fear properly let’s back up a little and add some background information as to what I’m talking about. First, Near Death Experiences have far more observational evidence going for them than neo-Darwinian evolution has:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    And most people always like reading or hearing about the positive, heavenly, near death experiences within Judeo-Christian cultures (I know I do). But few people like reading or hearing about the negative, hellish, Near Death experiences even though the negative experiences are found to be statistically significant:

    THE FOUR TYPES OF NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES
    1) Initial Experience,,,
    Incident rate: 76% with child experiencers; 20% with adult experiencers
    2) Unpleasant and/or Hell-like Experience (inner cleansing and self-confrontation) Encounter with a threatening void or stark limbo or hellish purgatory, or scenes of a startling and unexpected indifference,
    Incident rate: 3% with child experiencers; 15% with adult experiencers
    3) Pleasant and/or Heaven-like Experience (reassurance and self-validation) Heaven-like scenarios of loving family reunions with those who have died previously,,,
    Incident rate: 19% with child experiencers; 47% with adult experiencers
    4) Transcendent Experience (expansive revelations, alternate realities) Exposure to otherworldly dimensions,,,
    Incident rate: 2% with child experiencers; 18% with adult experiencers
    http://www.theglobalintelligen.....007/fringe

    What I find interesting in all this is that the positive heavenly near death experiences, within Judeo-Christian cultures, have the same overriding characteristics that are common to most, but not all, of the positive near death experiences, of accelerating extremely fast up a tunnel to a heavenly dimension, seeing an incredibly bight, ‘loving’ light, and having a life review:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    I would like to focus on the tunnel aspect of the Judeo-Christian NDE’s. We actually have evidence from physics that tells us that this tunnel aspect, of the Judeo-Christian Near Death Experiences, is a real feature of reality. A feature that one would actually see if one were to ‘hypothetically’ approach speeds near the speed of light. At the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light:

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    The preceding video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.

    And, to repeat, this ‘tunnel to heaven’ is mentioned in many Judeo-Christian Near Death Experiences:

    “I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.”
    Barbara Springer

    As well, we also have evidence from physics of a tunnel going to the ‘event horizon’ of black holes. Here is a visualization of that evidence:

    Space-Time of a Black hole
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0VOn9r4dq8

    But what is interesting for me in all this is that although a tunnel is mentioned in negative, hellish, NDE’s, what is missing in the negative, hellish, near death experiences is that, unlike the extreme acceleration in the ‘tunnel to heaven’, there is no extreme acceleration mentioned in the tunnels of negative Near Death experiences. Here are two examples. A man, near the beginning of this video, gives testimony of falling down a ‘tunnel’ in the transition stage from this world to hell:

    Hell – A Warning! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4131476/

    And the man, in this following video, also speaks of ‘tumbling down’ a tunnel in his transition stage to hell:

    Bill Wiese on Sid Roth – video
    http://vimeo.com/21230371

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    But, as you can see if you watched the preceding short videos, there is no mention of the extreme acceleration as with the positive near death experiences. The way I have reconciled this discrepancy between the two types of tunnels is to note that in the bible hades is different from hell. In fact death and ‘hades’ are both thrown into hell, i.e. thrown into ‘the lake of fire’, at the final judgement according to the bible:

    Revelation 20:13-15
    The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Thus perhaps the reason negative Near Death experiences don’t have the extreme acceleration as is noted in positive near death experiences is that complete separation from God is reserved until the final judgement:

    A few other scary facts to consider about black holes are that #1 they’re extremely hot:

    Scientists gear up to take a picture of a black hole – January 2012
    Excerpt: “Swirling around the black hole like water circling the drain in a bathtub, the matter compresses and the resulting friction turns it into plasma heated to a billion degrees or more, causing it to ‘glow’ – and radiate energy that we can detect here on Earth.”
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....-hole.html

    for comparison sake the Sun’s surface temperature is downright balmy at 5,778 K

    and #2, blackholes are ‘totally chaotic,,,

    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    Here is a fitting Gilbert Newton Lewis quote

    GILBERT NEWTON LEWIS: AMERICAN CHEMIST (1875-1946)
    “I have attempted to give you a glimpse…of what there may be of soul in chemistry. But it may have been in vain. Perchance the chemist is already damned and the guardian the blackest. But if the chemist has lost his soul, he will not have lost his courage and as he descends into the inferno, sees the rows of glowing furnaces and sniffs the homey fumes of brimstone, he will call out-: ‘Asmodeus, hand me a test-tube.’”(1) Gilbert Newton Lewis

    Thus, if anything should truly keep you up this Friday night (or any night for that matter), it is not that a black hole may erupt and disrupt life on earth, but the truly horrendous prospect that should scare the living hell out of you, a prospect that can scarcely be brought to mind for the unimaginable horrors that it entails,,,

    Bill Wiese – 23 Minutes In Hell – 2010 video
    http://www.vimeo.com/16641462

    Why Hell is so Horrible – Bill Wiese – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hd_so3wPw8

    ,, is the prospect of being eternally separated from God in the in the final judgement on men’s souls by God.

    Verse and music:

    Matthew 18:8-9
    “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

    Creed – One Last Breath
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnkuBUAwfe0

    Third Day – Trust In Jesus
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BtaCeJYqZA

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    So, if the sun doesn’t turn into a collapsed star in 1-3 billion years and end life on earth, we can always look forward to the eruption of a supermassive black hole (possibly in conjunction with the eruption of the Yellowstone caldera).

  4. 4
    CalvinsBulldog says:

    @Bornagain: Your data and conclusions, if true, would render the Christian faith irrelevant. As such, what you have posted here represents an evolution away from orthodoxy, and the subtle admission of heterodox beliefs that actually approach closer to the New Age than they are to orthodox Christianity.

    I do not think this is the place for a theological discussion, but a red light goes on for me when I look at your statistics. Your statistics claim 47% of adults have a pleasant after-death experience yet they do not provide further information about the religious beliefs of those having the experience. In the absence of this, I would suggest your data proves very little about Christianity and presents you with some deep theological problems.

    If you a priori accept these after-death experiences as valid data – something I would dispute on theological and scientific grounds – AND if even a single avowed atheist testifies to a pleasant after-death experience, you have an irreconcilable contradiction between your faith and the data allegedly supporting your faith. If even atheists can get entrance to heaven – as demonstrated by their pleasant after-death experience – then what need is there for anyone to be a Christian?

    But Christ himself says that nobody has come down from heaven with reliable data about the next world except for himself – the Son of God. I think Christ’s point is fairly straightforward: if you get to heaven (or indeed hell), you do not come back to tell others about the experience and then write a best-seller in the process.

    If Christ is correct, it follows with inescapable logic that if the only reliable data about the next world is isolated to the Bible, then your data and conclusions are both necessarily false.

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    ‘If I may interject…’ BDR

    ‘Your data and conclusions, if true, would render the Christian faith irrelevant.’

    That is a non sequitur on two counts, CB. If they had occurred other than under Christ’s auspices, it would not by any means follow that others would enjoy a similar theophany in that way.

    It seems to me likely that Jesus kept a low profile in terms of expressly identifying himself in these NDE’s, not wishing to interfere directly and personally with the course of our evangelisation of people adhering to other religions.

    Also, with regard to the different, Christian denominations, while the Catholic church was the one originally instituted, due to the periods of dereliction, even outrages on the part of its leadership, he clearly inspired some of the founders of Protestant denominations, partly to make good such dereliction, and partly to get the Catholic church back on track, in balance (subject to more our more normal deficiencies due to the Fall).

    Although the paediatrician, Mary stated that she was actually in no doubts as to his identity, but just felt the enormity of relating the encounter: simple humility, in the face of such an extraordinary privilege, which, in some ways is much greater than certainly most of the theophanies granted to the famous mystics.

    ‘But Christ himself says that nobody has come down from heaven with reliable data about the next world except for himself – the Son of God.’

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    CB: Please ignore the above, which was part of an earlier draft, if you have not done so already.

    ‘If I may interject…’ BDR

    ‘Your data and conclusions, if true, would render the Christian faith irrelevant. As such, what you have posted here represents an evolution away from orthodoxy, and the subtle admission of heterodox beliefs that actually approach closer to the New Age than they are to orthodox Christianity.’

    It seems to me likely that Jesus kept a low profile in terms of expressly identifying himself in these NDE’s, not wishing to interfere directly and personally with the course of our evangelisation of people adhering to other religions.

    Also, with regard to the different, Christian denominations, while the Catholic church was the one originally instituted, due to the periods of dereliction, even outrages on the part of its leadership, he clearly inspired some of the founders of Protestant denominations, partly to make good such dereliction, and partly to get the Catholic church back on track, in balance (subject to more our more normal deficiencies due to the Fall).

    Although the paediatrician, Mary stated that she was actually in no doubts as to his identity, but just felt the enormity of relating the encounter: simple humility, in the face of such an extraordinary privilege, which, in some ways is much greater than certainly most of the theophanies granted to the famous mystics.

    ‘If you a priori accept these after-death experiences as valid data – something I would dispute on theological and scientific grounds – AND if even a single avowed atheist testifies to a pleasant after-death experience, you have an irreconcilable contradiction between your faith and the data allegedly supporting your faith.

    Firstly, be wary of the word, ‘data’ in the context of the bible. God did not intend his words of scripture to be primarily a source of data, which latter is essentially pabulum for the worldly intelligence. Rather, it was to challenge us, to challenge our desire to learn from him.

    Hence, his extraordinary way of packing the most extensive meaning into words, often monosyllabic: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ And, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life.’ Those first two words, ‘I am’, are extraordinarily significant, because they reflect the sovereign truth that he is, himself, the sovereign truth, as made accessible to us. In other words, ultimate truth, God, is personal: ‘Love and truth walk in his presence,’ as the Psalmist say.

    ‘If even atheists can get entrance to heaven – as demonstrated by their pleasant after-death experience – then what need is there for anyone to be a Christian?’

    It is God’s preferred scenario. However, despite the fact that Christ was adamant about the importance of global evangelization and baptism, the Gospels, notably in the sole description of the Last Judgment in scripture, in Matthew, when the Good Sheep claimed not even to know God, indicate that Christ, who is the light ‘who enlightens every man who comes into the world’, does indeed do so, without the individual’s knowledge of the Gospel as formally written, or benefit of clergy.

    Moreover, in the Gospels, on several occasions, he held up foreigners as exemplars of faith in him. Even the pagans in the Old Testament, such as Uriah the Hittite, had an extraordinary sense of the Christian value of spiritual self-sacrifice, in sleeping outside the gates of his home, when his men were in the field in the thick of battle; ironically, akin to David’s own spirit of self-sacrifice, as illustrated in the cave of Odollam, when he would not drink the water from the well of Bethlehem, since his trusty ‘side-kicks’ had risked their lives to get it for him; but instead, he offered it up to God.

    ‘But Christ himself says that nobody has come down from heaven with reliable data about the next world except for himself – the Son of God. I think Christ’s point is fairly straightforward: if you get to heaven (or indeed hell), you do not come back to tell others about the experience and then write a best-seller in the process.’

    There are a few palpably fraudulent ones, it’s true, even one attended by an at least reported miraculous cure; but if so, surely, the work of the devil. She claimed to have cured herself! And that the being of light was herself! Her whole demeanour suggested an incurable personality disorder, so no surprise that she had been a successful businesswoman.

    NDE’ers do not enter heaven. They seems to be taken to a place outside the walls and gates of heaven. Nothing in scripture denies that possibility.

    We are told that Lazarus and the young girl were ‘asleep’. Indeed, in the sense that their respective physical bodies and activity had temporarily ceased, since Jesus was to bring them back to life, it is the perfect metaphor. Because we are not told how their spirits fared, does not mean that neither could have had a near death experience. To God, the spirits of all men are alive. Seemingly, more alive than they were here. And why not?

    There are too many people who would already have been very high earners, for the income from such best-sellers to have been any consideration at all. Some, such as a former millionaire Businessman of the Year, were happy to have left their profession to live on what would have been considered ‘peanuts’ by them, prior to their NDE.

    It is true that Christ was adamant about the importance of global evangelization and baptism, but the Gospels, notably in the sole description of the Last Judgment in scripture, in Matthew, when the Good Sheep claimed not even to know God, indicate that Christ, who is the light ‘who enlightens every man who comes into the world’, does indeed do so, without the individual’s knowledge of the Gospel as formally written, or benefit of clergy. Moreover, in the Gospels, on several occasions, he held up foreigners as exemplars of faith in him.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks Axel! 🙂 CB, the evidence is far more robust, both theologically and scientifically, towards a Christian perspective than you seem to realize. But be that as it may. I certainly don’t want to get into a long drawn out discussion on this Theological topic when I can’t even persuade neo-Darwinists with direct physical evidence that their atheistic/materialistic theory is bunk. i.e. When a certain metaphysical position is held with religious conviction, I’ve learned that it literally takes a miracle to change someone’s mind and no amount of contrary evidence will suffice to change their mind, at least that has been my experience!

  8. 8
    CalvinsBulldog says:

    @Axel: This disagreement is based primarily on theology, and, in my view, illustrates why “theology matters”.

    It seems to me likely that Jesus kept a low profile in terms of expressly identifying himself in these NDE’s, not wishing to interfere directly and personally with the course of our evangelisation of people adhering to other religions.

    That is a statement that goes beyond the available data – either historically or theologically. It is entirely possible that NDEs are the product of sub-optimal conditions for brain functioning producing intense feelings and visualisations. In the ministry of Jesus, he did not deal with NDE, but real death experiences. These resulted in actual resurrections of people back to life.

    Also, with regard to the different, Christian denominations, while the Catholic church was the one originally instituted,

    This is your theology talking, I suspect. As a historian I would categorically reject that the Roman Catholic Church was the one “originally instituted” – a view shared by virtually all reputable ancient historians (including many Roman Catholic scholars). As a hard-nosed Protestant, I reject that assertion on theological grounds as well.

    due to the periods of dereliction… partly to get the Catholic church back on track…

    If your position is that NDEs functioned as a divine effort to reform the Roman Catholic Church, I would suggest that is a concept alien to the church fathers, the scriptures, and even Roman Catholic teachings regarding death.

    Although the paediatrician, Mary stated that she was actually in no doubts as to his identity, but just felt the enormity of relating the encounter: simple humility

    Mary did not have a NDE. If the gospels are to be believed, she encountered a visible angelic being and believed his testimony. It is her faith that the passage highlights.

    God did not intend his words of scripture to be primarily a source of data,

    Really? Says who? I reject that assertion out-of-hand. What possible evidence do you have to suggest what God did, or did not, intend the scriptures to be? This is a staggering statement.

    Rather, it was to challenge us, to challenge our desire to learn from him.

    That’s not how the Prophets, Christ, or his Apostles viewed scripture. Paul tells us that scripture is sufficient to make a person wise to salvation – hence knowing them is important. Christ and his Apostles speak of scripture almost as a living thing, attributing to it a kind of volition or imperative quality. In the New Testament, the scriptures are elevated as the objective, authoritative standard of revelation, not the subjective data derived from human experience.

    Hence, his extraordinary way of packing the most extensive meaning into words, often monosyllabic: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’

    Monosyllabic only in English. If you know Koine Greek, you would know that this phrase is very definitely polysyllabic.

    It is God’s preferred scenario.

    Really? That atheists get access to heaven? I guess the words of Christ you just quoted, along with those of John the Baptist go out of the window: “He who does not believe is condemned already… God’s wrath abides on him.”

    in the sole description of the Last Judgment in scripture, in Matthew, when the Good Sheep claimed not even to know God

    That’s not what they said. You present a misreading of the text. In the passage, the sheep inquire of the Judge as to when they had performed the services to himself that he attributed to them. He tells them that when they performed acts of charity to even the most insignificant of the brethren, they had done it to Christ himself.

    Parables, of course, are not allegories. They are intended to teach a small handful of divine truths. Obviously the redeemed and the damned will not have interchange with the Judge en masse on the Day of Judgement.

    does indeed do so, without the individual’s knowledge of the Gospel as formally written, or benefit of clergy.

    That is your personal theological belief. It is unsustainable from a consistent reading of the text of the New Testament, runs contrary to the explicit teachings of Christ and his Apostles, and finds no purview in the Patristic Corpus of the Church Fathers.

    Moreover, in the Gospels, on several occasions, he held up foreigners as exemplars of faith in him.

    The key to properly understanding the text is that they had faith in him . They were not atheists who explicitly rejected his existence.

    Even the pagans in the Old Testament, such as Uriah the Hittite

    There is no evidence that Uriah the Hittite was a pagan. It is more likely he was a “God fearer”; a Gentile convert to Judaism. The name “Uriah” means “God is my light” – a distinctly monotheistic, Hebraic nomenclature.

    had an extraordinary sense of the Christian value of spiritual self-sacrifice, in sleeping outside the gates of his home…

    Virtues are not of themselves indicators of salvation. Virtues must be directed with appropriate belief. There is necessary doctrinal content that shapes and moulds true Christian virtue.

    Roman soldiers showed great dedication and diligence in ensuring the Christians were rounded up, tied to poles, doused in pitch and ignited as human torches. German soldiers showed extraordinary self-sacrifice as they massacred Russians in the snow in the last world war. This does not mean that either were showing “Christian values”.

    There are a few palpably fraudulent ones, it’s true,

    Having admitted that some NDE are fraudulent you are left with the problem of how to identify the genuine ones. This problem is further exacerbated because it impacts theology. The theological question is why God would provide revelatory data through a means in which nobody can have absolute certainty as to what is true and what is sheer chicanery. Without an objective determinant or regulating principle, NDEs are useless as revelation.

    NDE’ers do not enter heaven.

    Many claim otherwise.

    They seems to be taken to a place outside the walls and gates of heaven. Nothing in scripture denies that possibility.

    Nothing in scripture admits that possibility either.

    We are told that Lazarus and the young girl were ‘asleep’… does not mean that neither could have had a near death experience.

    Both were properly dead. In Lazarus’ case, for three days. His body had already started to decompose, hence Martha’s warning about opening the tomb to expose onlookers to the odour. In the warm conditions the process of decomposition was no doubt accelerated. The young girl had been dead for a period of time sufficient for mourners to gather – and the text clearly indicates that she was absolutely dead. In both cases these were not NDE where a person “dies” and then returns 1-60 minutes later, but “real death experiences”.

    There are too many people who would already have been very high earners, for the income from such best-sellers to have been any consideration at all.

    Not “many people”, unless those experiencing NDE’s are disproportionally drawn from the highest income brackets of society.

    Some, such as a former millionaire Businessman of the Year, were happy to have left their profession to live on what would have been considered ‘peanuts’ by them, prior to their NDE.

    In my experience, conversions or life-altering experiences that result from extreme duress or dramatic circumstances are the most suspect of all.

    but the Gospels, notably in the sole description of the Last Judgment in scripture, in Matthew, when the Good Sheep claimed not even to know God… does indeed do so, without the individual’s knowledge of the Gospel

    The idea that people can be saved without knowledge of Christ, or even in utter rejection of that knowledge (i.e. atheism) is completely heterodox. Jesus himself explicitly defines eternal life as knowledge: “This is life eternal, that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

    he held up foreigners as exemplars of faith in him.

    As already indicated, the key point in those cases was faith . Those gentiles did not attribute their healing or assistance to Zeus or Jupiter. They acknowledged – albeit in limited fashion – that they were aided by the power of Jesus Christ and therefore he was (and is) Deity.

  9. 9
    Axel says:

    @CB:

    ‘Not “many people”, unless those experiencing NDE’s are disproportionally drawn from the highest income brackets of society.’

    If I had said, ‘a RELATIVELY large number of people’, instead of ‘many people’, what you have written would have been correct, but I am surprised at your making such an elementary mistake in logic, particularly given the implication of relativity of the word, ‘disproportionately’, in the context in which you use it.

    1000 is quite a large number, in general terms, but relative to trillions, it is relatively small.

    ‘ he held up foreigners as exemplars of faith in him.

    As already indicated, the key point in those cases was faith . Those gentiles did not attribute their healing or assistance to Zeus or Jupiter. They acknowledged – albeit in limited fashion – that they were aided by the power of Jesus Christ and therefore he was (and is) Deity.’

    Here, you miss the point totally. Had they been FORMAL believers in Christ, as opposed to ACTUAL believers in him, there would have been no point in holding them up as exemplars to the shame of his Jewish audience.

    It was precisely because their customary religion was foreign and pagan, that the tepid faith in himself that he was attributing to his countrymen, generally speaking, could be put shame by his reference to the actual faith in him of those pagan foreigners.

    Jesus was emphasizing their lack of faith by comparing it unfavourably with that of formally pagan foreigners, who had far less reason, to believe in him, at least on the score of that religious provenance. To a degree, he is reiterating the truth that he states explicitly elsewhere, namely, that a prophet is not recognised in his own country and by his own kin.

    I don’t believe we would get anywhere arguing with each other, as we are too far apart in our basic understanding of the nature of scripture, apart from anything, and seemingly much, else.

  10. 10
    CalvinsBulldog says:

    @Axel

    If I had said, ‘a RELATIVELY large number of people’, instead of ‘many people’, what you have written would have been correct, but I am surprised at your making such an elementary mistake in logic, particularly given the implication of relativity of the word, ‘disproportionately’, in the context in which you use it.

    There is nothing illogical about my statement. Presumably NDEs are evenly distributed across the population. This means that if “many” who experience NDE are wealthy, then it would be disproportionate to what would otherwise be expected from a typical income curve. In any society, most people are not wealthy.

    1000 is quite a large number, in general terms, but relative to trillions, it is relatively small.

    The problem for your argument is that there is no possible way to determine exactly how many people in a given society have experienced genuine NDEs. Therefore, you cannot possibly construct a relative mathematical argument. You have no data with which to relate a comparison.

    This tends to highlight my earlier implication that NDEs hover tentatively at the fringes of science. Arguments made on the basis of statistics of alleged NDEs are liable to teeter off the cliff into a chasm of irrationality since there is no objective regulatory principle.

    Here, you miss the point totally. Had they been FORMAL believers in Christ, as opposed to ACTUAL believers in him, there would have been no point in holding them up as exemplars to the shame of his Jewish audience.

    I have never heard of the dichotomy you use here. I attempted to search for some definitions, but Google does not seem to have heard of this terminology either.

    In any case, the text is intended to illustrate the readiness and receptivity of Gentiles to accept the Jewish Messiah, even in the absence of serious evangelical effort. I think we both agree on that.

    It was precisely because their customary religion was foreign and pagan, that the tepid faith in himself that he was attributing to his countrymen, generally speaking, could be put shame by his reference to the actual faith in him of those pagan foreigners.

    I do not dispute that in this text the centurion’s faith serves to highlight the disbelief of the Chosen People. On the other hand, I do dispute your assumption that the centurion was a thoroughgoing pagan – you seem to want or need to find pagans even when an exploration of paganism is not the purpose of the text. One suspects this is because your belief necessitates that you find something of this nature in the text.

    It is entirely possible that the centurion was a “God-fearer” – a Gentile believer in Yahweh albeit not a full Jew. Many of the centurions stationed in Palestine either were God-fearers or sympathised to some extent with the Jews.

    The particular centurion that Jesus commends for his faith had provided funds to construct the Jews a synagogue. He had a good reputation among the Jewish elders (a virtually impossible achievement for a regular pagan Gentile who was considered an “unclean dog”). The Jewish messengers who came to Jesus declared that the centurion “loves our nation”.

    In addition to this, the centurion also had considerable and specific faith in Christ. In his address to Jesus, he clearly acknowledges Jesus’ authority over death and disease similar to the authority he exercised over his cohort. This is tantamount to testifying that Jesus is Deity.

    The centurion in the story, therefore, is not a typical pagan Roman. That fact is strongly underlined in the text.

    Jesus was emphasizing their lack of faith by comparing it unfavourably with that of formally pagan foreigners, who had far less reason, to believe in him, at least on the score of that religious provenance. To a degree, he is reiterating the truth that he states explicitly elsewhere, namely, that a prophet is not recognised in his own country and by his own kin.

    Apart from the allegation that the man was a pagan, I do not dispute any of this.

    I don’t believe we would get anywhere arguing with each other,

    Debate is the fire from which truth emerges. Whilst you may feel this accomplishes nothing, I believe it accomplishes a great deal.

    as we are too far apart in our basic understanding of the nature of scripture, apart from anything, and seemingly much, else.

    Are you saying that discussion can only take place among like-minded people? Goodness.

    I agree that the theological chasm between the Roman Catholic and properly Protestant perspective is enormous. Obviously I side with the theology that I feel is the most robust.

  11. 11
    Axel says:

    CB, how can there be common ground between us, when for you the pedagogic intent of the bible is no different from that of a washing-machine user manual; and to be read in the same straightforward manner; while to me, it is a holy object, a form of sacrament, whereby, if we approach it in the proper attitude of mind, God speaks to us directly, often in such mysterious terms that it took various Councils of the early church to tease out the meanings of some of Jesus’ sayings. We need the help of the Holy Spirit much more than for reading a user manual. Which is why we cannot accept your sola scriptura, but rather rely on our scripture and tradition and the Holy Spirit, as well as our own docility to the Holy Spirit as we read it.

    Before the descent of the Holy Spirit, failure to understand some of Jesus’ sayings was surely much more understandable, even by fishermen and other unacademically-minded people, who are given by God the lion’s share of spiritual wisdom, although not necessarily always formal.

    In fact, it led to some scenes I cannot help finding hilarious, since with the limitations Jesus had accepted in fully assuming our human nature, (albeit alongside his divine nature, which he only resorted to on occasions and for our benefit) prevented his understanding the gulf between the wisdom he had learnt, in the same way as his disciples did, but much more effectively, since he was sinless, and their level of wisdom.

    For example, he gets very short with Philip and Thomas, because of their incomprehension in relation to Jesus’ identity with the Father, when it wasn’t until 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicea that the basic, divine, triune nature of God in the Holy Trinity was teased out from the scriptures and formally defined. And that was with the benefit of the descent of the Holy Spirit 300 years + ago.

    But there were a number of occasions when Jesus became quite testy with his disciples for much the same reason. So a straightforward user-manual, data log, the bible is not.

    PS: By ‘formal’ believers in a particular religion, such as the Syro-Phoenician woman, the Roman centurion, etc. There is no reason to suppose that because they believed in Christ, they would have forsaken their own religion, at that time, religions being bound up with national or regional cultures; and as far as we know, they did not immediately convert to Judaism, despite the centurion’s having paid for the construction of a synagogue. Changing one’s world-view is usually like turning round an ocean liner.

    Our minds are messy until we settle on a basic belief, and to some extent, remain so, until we gradually tie up the loose ends in relation to things we have accepted as matters of faith, and then see them, one at a time, vindicated in the course of their lives.

    By ‘actual’ believers, I was referring to such people as the Syro-Phoenician woman and the centurion, whose formal religion was not Judaism, but who, nevertheless believed in Christ.

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    CB:
    Sorry, #11 was so poorly drafted.

    Incidentally, my use of the word, ‘wisdom’, might also be be expressed as ‘spiritual sensitivity’.

  13. 13
    CalvinsBulldog says:

    @Axel:

    CB, how can there be common ground between us, when for you the pedagogic intent of the bible is no different from that of a washing-machine user manual;

    The scriptures are read – even by unbelievers – very differently from a procedural text like a washing-machine manual. The above statement is a grave misrepresentation of my position.

    and to be read in the same straightforward manner;

    Unless there is good reason to read an ancient text in an abstruse and esoteric manner, the meaning to be preferred in any serious historiography is the plain sense of the text. This hermeneutic principle is upheld by Roman Catholic scholars as well.

    while to me, it is a holy object, a form of sacrament, whereby, if we approach it in the proper attitude of mind,

    I agree the scriptures are a genre of holy text. Protestants have long affirmed that the text of the Bible is theopneustos – God breathed.

    I should point out that in your post you present your view as a contradistinction to “mine”, yet you have no meaningful understanding of my perspective since I have not elucidated it. What you are apparently responding to, therefore, is a stereotype or caricature of what you think I believe.

    God speaks to us directly, often in such mysterious terms that it took various Councils of the early church to tease out the meanings of some of Jesus’ sayings.

    To which sayings of Christ are you referring? And which of the earliest ecumenical councils were required to expound on the meaning of those sayings? This is quite an absurd statement. Jesus’ sayings are simple enough to be accessible to the unlearned Grecian slaves who converted in substantial numbers in the earliest church. St. Augustine relates in his letters that the gospels were orally recited in the streets of Rome. Why would councils be required to exegete them?

    I am currently reading an excellent book on the paleography of the New Testament by the renowned Dr Philip W. Comfort. I would recommend some of his starter volumes for laymen if you want a primer on the “publication” and presentation of the gospels in the ancient world. They were explicitly intended for oral recital, and thus were simple, straightforward and accessible. God does not reveal his truth so that only an elite group of religious professionals are capable of deciphering it.

    We need the help of the Holy Spirit much more than for reading a user manual.

    Protestants do not reject, but rather strongly affirm, the necessity of the illumination of the Holy Spirit in the proclamation and reception of the scriptures. It is simply amazing that you would make the above claim. Evidently you do not properly understand the position you oppose.

    Which is why we cannot accept your sola scriptura, but rather rely on our scripture and tradition and the Holy Spirit, as well as our own docility to the Holy Spirit as we read it.

    I am fully aware of the Roman Catholic position on scripture. When I was at college I studied Roman Catholic theology under a Jesuit professor.

    The Roman Catholic Church rejects sola scriptura precisely because the doctrine is incompatible with the Roman Catholic position of sola eclessia – the infallible authority for faith and practice being isolated in the Roman Catholic clergy.

    Interestingly, this was not always so. The historian Dr. Herman J. Selderhuis in his excellent biography of John Calvin relates how the Vatican sent a delegation to Geneva to attempt to broker a rapprochement. One of the things the Vatican was prepared to negotiate on was sola scriptura.

    The dialogue broke down, and later the Council of Trent closed the Roman Catholic canon and instituted numerous anathamas that separated Rome from the Reformed forever. (By the way, some of the anathams are no longer observed today, even in official Roman Catholic teaching – putting paid to the reliability of the infallibility of the magesterium to chart a course).

    In fact, it led to some scenes I cannot help finding hilarious,

    I have never understood people who claim to have found hilarity in the pages of scripture.

    For example, he gets very short with Philip and Thomas, because of their incomprehension in relation to Jesus’ identity with the Father, when it wasn’t until 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicea that the basic, divine, triune nature of God in the Holy Trinity was teased out from the scriptures and formally defined. And that was with the benefit of the descent of the Holy Spirit 300 years + ago.

    Historically unsupportable. The understanding that Jesus was Deity along with the Father and the Holy Spirit is evident not only in the scriptures, but unquestionably in the Ante-Nicean fathers of the second century. Ignatius is commonly cited as an early expounder of Trinitarianism. I would also recommend you read the sermon of Melito of Sardis whose outstanding exposition on the Passover virtually qualifies it as required reading for the serious Christian scholar.

    By the way, although a popular view, it is incorrect to think of the Council of Nicea formalising the Doctrine of the Trinity. Nicea was convened to resolve the Arian Controversy, not to establish the exact relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Interestingly, despite the Council of Nicea almost unanimously condemning Arianism, Arianism continued to be a problem and was favourably viewed by the Roman Emperor (clear evidence that neither ecumenical councils or the Bishop of Rome was held to be infallible since you can find no one in the early church functioning on that principle).

    The basic Triune doctrine was formalised at the First Council of Constantinople. But since it said very little about the Holy Spirit or the relationship between the Divine Persons, it required individuals – not councils – to hammer it out more forthrightly over several centuries until it reached a more complete form in the 4th century.

    But there were a number of occasions when Jesus became quite testy with his disciples for much the same reason. So a straightforward user-manual, data log, the bible is not.

    You keep utilising this fallacious strawman argument, as if the above is what I – and my fellow Reformed Protestants – actually think about the scriptures. It is not.

    In my reading of the scriptures I see nothing but patience on the part of Jesus for his disciples.

    There is no reason to suppose that because they believed in Christ, they would have forsaken their own religion, at that time,

    You really think this? So if a person comes into your experience who saves your child from death with a mere word, or revives your servant remotely with a command, it would inspire absolutely no desire to rethink or adjust your religious views? I think your statement defies common-sense. Of course the gentiles that Jesus interacted with altered their religious views. They would have had to be unrepentant fools not to.

    religions being bound up with national or regional cultures; and as far as we know, they did not immediately convert to Judaism, despite the centurion’s having paid for the construction of a synagogue. Changing one’s world-view is usually like turning round an ocean liner.

    You keep assuming the centurion was a pagan, when I have provided you with several good reasons to think that was not the case. You have provided – and indeed the text itself offers – no evidence that the centurion was a pagan, whilst concurrently providing us with four distinct units of information that lend credence to the view that the centurion was “God-fearer”.

    There was never any requirement in early Christianity that a person become a Jew before they became a Christian. That, as you would know, was the first heresy combated by the Apostles.

  14. 14
    Axel says:

    CB, book-learning alone does not take one far in the things of the spirit.

    When I had barely been a month in an Italian missionary seminary, and attending Mill Hill missionary college, as a young man, I roundly condemned Rahner and McKenzie in essays. They seemed to be, respectively, the most celebrated Jesuit theologian and the most distinguished Jesuit scripture scholar of the day – pointing out their folly.

    Far from being condemned or even criticised for it, I was, though my superiors in the Italian missionary seminary, offered a place at Heythrop Jesuit college. But It seemed impossible for me as a mere aspirant of a month’s standing to accept. I mean it had been like ‘the emperor has no clothes’ gone mad. I was just shocked, appalled. And I had no reason to believe things would have gone better at Heythrop, through no fault of theirs.

    But the RC Church in 1972 was a hotbed of liberal derangement, just as the Tridentine Church had been of right-wing derangement. I truly wondered whether those two were Christians, since a traditionally-taught five-year old would have set them straight.

    Incidentally, I find ironical your accusation that I had erected a series of straw men. Your answers were all over the place, contradicting yourself, including contradicting statements in your previous post, and straw men galore, responding, according to your lights, to questions I had not put to you.

    I’m sorry, but that really is my final word to you.

  15. 15
    CalvinsBulldog says:

    @Axel:

    CB, book-learning alone does not take one far in the things of the spirit.

    I would agree with this statement insofar as affirming that the Holy Spirit’s work is not dependent on individual intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge.

    On the other hand, the Apostle Peter writes about those who are “ignorant” and “unlearned” who “wrestle” with the Letters of Paul to “their own destruction”. The same Apostle commands us to “add to your faith knowledge”. Clearly, therefore, a solid knowledge and understanding of scripture and its attendant issues form part of the necessary development of the Christian.

    When I had barely been a month in an Italian missionary seminary, and attending Mill Hill missionary college, as a young man, I roundly condemned Rahner and McKenzie in essays. They seemed to be, respectively, the most celebrated Jesuit theologian and the most distinguished Jesuit scripture scholar of the day – pointing out their folly.

    It is not unusual for young men, with the brash energy of youth and the impetuousity of those who have freshly discovered their own intellect, to roundly condemn their elders. I did the same when I was at college, often flattering myself that I knew more than some of my professors.

    Most of us, however, develop maturity at some point in our twenties. The challenges of life help to work a degree of humility into our character, and we come to recognise that few things are wholly good or bad in this world. All things must therefore be weighed critically, and sifted. It is seldom wise to reject something out of hand since wisdom might otherwise have been obtained from a more careful evaluation. This applies even to the work of theologians.

    I mean it had been like ‘the emperor has no clothes’ gone mad. I was just shocked, appalled. And I had no reason to believe things would have gone better at Heythrop, through no fault of theirs.

    Theology can often be a confronting subject, since its subject material addresses things so deeply woven into the fabric of our worldview.

    But the RC Church in 1972 was a hotbed of liberal derangement, just as the Tridentine Church had been of right-wing derangement. I truly wondered whether those two were Christians, since a traditionally-taught five-year old would have set them straight.

    This admission creates some problems if you believe Roman Catholic teaching regarding the church’s infallibility and alleged unity.

    Incidentally, I find ironical your accusation that I had erected a series of straw men.

    It is disappointing that you could not at least acknowledge what is manifestly true. Reformed Protestants do not read the scriptures like a “washing-machine manual”. That is a misrepresentation at best, and a caricature based on a stereotype at worst.

    Your answers were all over the place, contradicting yourself, including contradicting statements in your previous post,

    No they were not. My statements are consistent, since they flow from a position based on a systematic theology.

    If you believe I have contradicted myself in an egregious fashion, it would be a fair-minded man’s approach to provide citations or evidence so as to allow for a response or clarification.

    and straw men galore,

    I reject this accusation. I have made extraordinary efforts to represent you accurately, including direct bold quotations of the material to which I was responding. It is very difficult to erect a strawman argument when, suspended over one’s text, is the other person’s actual statement.

    If are serious about your accusation, you would at least provide examples. You will observe that when I pointed out your strawman argument, I clearly underlined precisely which assertion I was referring to and demonstrated why it was a strawman argument.

    responding, according to your lights, to questions I had not put to you.

    It is surely monumental arrogance to presume that I am under some obligation to read your posts and limit my replies only to your questions, as if my role in this discussion is only to answer your direct queries. That is not how discussion works. It is evident that I have responded to your statements and assertions with statements and assertions of my own. There is nothing improper about that.

    I’m sorry, but that really is my final word to you.

    A wise decision, as this entire post is unworthy of any person who wishes to engage in any kind of scholarly (or even semi-scholarly) discussion.

    However, it is entirely possible that you have concluded that the resources of your knowledge are not sufficient to engage in such discussion at depth. If that is the case, then I would simply conclude with the observation that there is nothing dishonourable or shameful about recognising one’s own personal limitations.

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