Hebrew Worldview in Scripture and Literalism, Pt. 1

Though I haven’t been to the Ark Encounter exhibit in Williamstown, Kentucky, I did once visit the Creation Museum here in El Cajon. It was part of a field trip of sorts while at my undergrad, Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. I was there as a student reporter to document the PLNU science class’s visit. Students were scornful of the idea of the world being no more than 10,000 years old. At the time, I was still in that camp. But the mockery of the science students against the literalists, things like “I guess Jesus rode on a velociraptor,” was insulting to the believers.

A few years back, I was speaking to two friends and told them I didn’t know what to think about Genesis and the Flood. To them, saying I didn’t know was occasion for them to say they would pray for me.

This time, I was insulted.

But the question was about the inerrancy of the Bible story. I admit, I don’t know about many things in the Bible. But that issue opened a can of worms for other problems with a literal view. But the Flood story is such a major part of the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole, that the question of it as an actual event demands an answer.

So I am now thinking about the way the ancient Hebrews saw the Universe. This graphic from the University of Oregon’s Cosmology class can be found in various other versions.

Looking at the graphic above, I believe the scientist view. When a new Earth creationist quotes those scriptures referencing “windows and doors of heaven,” “storehouses and fountains of the great deep,” “waters above the firmament,” “foundations of the deep,” “foundations of the Earth,” or “foundations of heaven,” they tend to think of it some form of poetry, but those lines reference the literal Hebrew cosmology.

The Flood was a local event. Not a worldwide cataclysm. The ark’s size finally works under that interpretation. I have no problem with Cain’s wife being a unrelated woman from a tribe not spoken of in the Bible; I no longer have to defend the idea that incest between Adam’s family was necessary for propagation of the species.

So, it doesn’t bother me if the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe 14 billion. I want to talk more about literalism, a critical matter.

Continue reading “Hebrew Worldview in Scripture and Literalism, Pt. 1”

Not turkey day

Just kind of venting on that un-Thanksgiving phrase. Same goes for Xmas and “happy holidays.”

I always hear about Uncle Bob coming over for Thanksgiving dinner and arguing about politics or religion. I have personally experienced relatives who just ignore those conflicts.

Praying for thanks and lifting up each other. It makes for harmony. A little light, a mountain top view. I want to be a lamp to other’s feet.

Meanwhile, since being on this keto diet I’ve been losing weight and my appetite has been nonexistent. I like it and don’t, i.e., I am not enticed by bread rolls and pies.

I’ve taken a “day off” before (Phil’s barbeque), but this will be an unsatisfying one, I think.

So I will be enjoying no arguments, but not enjoying food.

Old fashioneds for me and sis’ boyfriend.

That I not wail

“Mad and violent; bitterness mistook for frolic, I fought my way by literature and wit.” -Lewis.

O my soul, say you will not wail.
Though I pierce Him every day,
Say the sky will not break,
That there be no longer a shiver up my spine,
His feet brass burned in a furnace,
His voice rushing water,
The seven stars in His right hand.

The sword of His mouth sharper than any two edged sword,
Piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit.

The sun will shine in His strength.
Do not look upon me,
Just let me ascend.

Stay Engaged and Encouraged

So there are a number of situations that are of concern around the world right now:

– The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are conspiring to get their hands on Pakistani nuclear weapons.

– The Chinese are still preparing to blockade Taiwan and bring down the global economy.

– The Venezuelans are discussing with the Russians the idea of arming hypersonic missiles with nuke warheads.

– A worst-case scenario nuke attack could wipe out 90% of the U.S. population.

It’s easy to point out that most people are either oblivious to or purposefully ignoring the news. Continue reading “Stay Engaged and Encouraged”

The Future of AI: What Chatbots Will Be Doing and What You Should Be Doing

UPDATED Nov. 13, 2023

Loner Theodore Twombly has struck out on relationships. He’s nervous, self-conscious. He’s accused of being “weird.”

But then he meets Samantha. She’s personable, she listens to him, and she engages him with personal questions and genuine concern. She also gathers his life story and, with his permission, asks about his schedule, flags his calls, and manages his daily interactions. Soon Theodore starts to confide in her.

But Samantha is not flesh-and-bone. She’s what we would call a chatbot, albeit a very advanced one. Theodore’s relationship with Samantha is depicted in the Hollywood movie Her(2013). During the film, Theodore moves from relying on a digital assistant to an intimate friendship with this computer program. With his romantic flops, Theodore also relies on her for his social needs—including sexual ones. (At one point, Samantha questions why they haven’t had sex, a word that has become just a term for onanism.)

It was prescient.

AI-generated on-the-fly text, images, audio, video, and more (see specific applications below) are creating plenty of sturm und drang among writers, business people, and content-driven industries. Are today’s chatbots coming for our jobs? While I could be one concerned writer, I’m thankful that chatbots don’t yet show the cognition and life of Samantha. A recent voice upgrade for ChatGPT is getting us closer, but there’s more coming.

Continue reading “The Future of AI: What Chatbots Will Be Doing and What You Should Be Doing”

Dissent is Patriotic

Why all the vitriol for any discussion of the hot issues?

1. Abortion
2. Transgender
3. Border Security/Immigration
4. Israeli Self-Defense
5. Election Integrity
6. Vaccinations

Fringe personalities may weigh in. But raising a question cannot be disinformation.

Do the revolutionaries (Jacobins) feel insecure when there is a potential they could be wrong? This type of certitude bears on a religion that cannot be questioned–accompanied by a public flogging and excommunication.

Questioning the censoring Left on any of these is patriotic, not misinformation/disinformation. The country was founded on free thought, not agreement.

The Biggest Questions

Paschal wrote that the Jew and Christian have the same faith, that of the heart (Pensées). We both know of God through faith. Oftentimes, I hear from the pulpit that the Jew relies on law for salvation. They are depicted as the Pharisees, but not all were Pharisees. Having listened to and read Jewish theology, I see their belief in Malachi: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Is the New Testament reading an addition or clarification?

Abraham believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

There is also the supreme bet, which diversion can withhold from, that God is over God is not. If you wager that He is and He turns out to be, you’ve gained the world. If you wager that He is and it turns out that He is not, you have lost nothing. However, if you make the absolute assertion that He is not and He is, then you have truly lost.

Lewis: “(In youth) My judgment…was not so good; but I had all the facts. But as Xerxes wept…not one of that great multitude would be alive a hundred years afterwards.”

Bet on His existence.

On Symbolism

Some think to end the discussion about scripture saying it is symbolic and that we can’t know what it ultimately means.

Lewis wrote that you cannot know that a text is symbolic unless you have independent access to the thing and can compare it with the representation–especially if we are talking about a transcendent, objective reality to which the story is solely referring.

Much of scripture is difficult but can be taken for face value. The idea of hidden meaning in the text is easy to make, the original, which, again, we do not have not access to, being “corrupt.”

Perhaps some “skimmers” arm themselves with these arguments, but a serious look is necessary to reckon with the text. Accounting for the New Testament or Old Testament milieus should be part of the effort in understanding the background of the chosen fines. But I question the initial choice of say NT Wright’s historical scholarship before reading as a “child.” That’s how I grew up. I let the lines tell me instead of putting scholarship over top. First start with the simple things, the meaning of what the writer or character means to the most simple of readers, the child.

Layer on the accouterments later, but remember the first impressions.

The Slim Self is Worth Fighting For

Luddites feared being replaced. But I the solitary being am consumed apart from AI. I type in my 80s reflection and GPT gives me many more to go with it. My memory is even old. In memory regurgitated, my slim self of that reflection dissolves.

“Bots…are going to understand our wants and needs and align with our distinctive worldviews. We will form buddy-movie partnerships that will let us drink from their massive processing power with a spoonful of sugary natural language. And if forced at the end of the road to decide whether to lose to obnoxious humans or gracious bots, we won’t give it a thought. We’ll change our wills, leave them all we have, and let them roll their upbeat tanks right over our houses” (Wired).

For me, the buddy movie seems like a bot leading me by the hand safely, feeding me sweet language as I fade to grey down the greying street.

“No, I don’t want you to say it for me!” I plead with the damn program.

My independence is necessity. And I would rather have a human I can argue, debate with, than none at all.

It turns out the very same things that will distinguish you from chatbots in your work will be part of what you must retain to be human. Work gives your personhood voice. It’s no longer only about worth and relevance as a human, it’s about the existence of self apart from screens. If I turn it off, I don’t want something to comment on everything I do. Yes, I appreciate its help. But not to complain, I’ll call you when I need you.