Re: the tradition that Abraham engaged in astronomical studies

From: George Murphy (
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 22:35:25 EDT

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    Howard J. Van Till wrote:
    > > quoted:
    > >> "When he was three years old Abraham came out of the cave. He
    > >> reflected: who created heaven and earth and myself? And all through the day
    > he
    > >> prayed to the sun. But in the evening the sun set in the west and the moon
    > rose
    > >> in the east. when he saw the moon surrounded by stars, he said to himself,
    > >> here is the creator of heaven and earth and myself and these stars are his
    > >> ministers and servants. And all through the night he prayed to the moon. In
    > the
    > >> morning the moon set in the west and the sun rose in the east. He said these
    > two
    > >> are powerless. They have one master, it is to Him that I shall pray, before
    > >> him that I shall prostrate myself."
    > When Abraham was THREE YEARS OLD???
    > In the words of John Stossel, "Give me a break!"

            This puzzled me too. It's missing from the version I have.
    > > commented:
    > > It is just one more fallacy of
    > > belief in the efficacy of independent natural theology.
    > I don't see this story as an example of natural theology at all, but rather
    > an example of the way in which fictional (and flattering) legends come to be
    > associated with a person that a community wishes to be bigger than life.

            Certainly what Abraham is pictured as being engaged in is natural theology. I
    agree with your analysis of the origin of such legends, but this isn't simply a matter
    of building of Abraham. By doing that the capability of human beings in general to
    discover something of the truth about God on their own is built up. If we take this
    legend seriously we're flattering not just Abraham but ourselves.


    George L. Murphy

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