Abram the astronomer

From: george murphy (gmurphy@raex.com)
Date: Tue Feb 19 2002 - 16:30:38 EST

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            One result of increased science-religion discussions in recent
    years has been popularization of the idea that science can discover
    God. E.g., physicist Paul Davies said that in his opinion "science
    offers a surer path to God than religion." "Geologian" Thomas Berry
    refers to the "natural world as primary revelation of the divine, as
    primary scripture, as the primary mode of numinous presence." The July
    20 1998 _Newsweek_ cover story was "Science Finds God."
            The OT Lesson for this coming Sunday in the Revised Common
    Lectionary, the call of Abram (Gen.12:1-4a) is interesting in this
    regard. There are a number of old Jewish stories about why God picked
    Abram. (See, e.g., James L. Kugel, _The Bible as it Was_ (Harvard,
    1999).) E.g., Josephus' _Jewish Antiquities_ has the following:

            "[Abraham] became the first person to argue that there is a
    single God who is the creator of all things, and that whatever any of
    these other things contribute to the good of the world, they are enabled
    to do so at his command, and not by any inherent force of their own. He
    was able to figure this out by the changes which land and sea undergo,
    and those that are connected with the sun and moon, and from all those
    occurring in the skies. For if these bodies had any power over
    themselves, they would surely have arranged for themselves to be
    regularly ordered; but since this is not so, it is clear that they come
    together for our benefit not by any authority of their own, but by the
    power of the One who commands, to whom alone it is proper to give thanks
    and praise."

            I.e., Abram deduced the existence of a single God by reasoning
    from his observations of the natural world.

            The interesting thing about this is the complete absence of
    anything like it in the Bible. Abraham the astronomer, aka Abraham the
    natural theologian, is unknown to scripture.
            Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.


    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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