Home Page Home Page


I.  Some basic versions of the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, & KJV English

Lecture 1.B.i. -- Bible versions

I'll be using the KJV (King James Version) primarily for three reasons:

  1. It is the literary English version of the Bible. Recent translations aim for readability rather than beauty.
  2. It's the version of the Bible that influences English-language literature and culture from 1611 on. Even recent movies like Pulp Fiction tend to fall back on the KJV for their quotes rather than newer editions. So it's the literary version of the English Bible in that sense as well.
  3. There is no replacement for the KJV; instead, there are around 100 English versions of the Bible competing for our attention. I doubt any one version will emerge as the preeminent one. That being said, if you have trouble understanding the KJV, I encourage you to read a good modern translation along with it. *NOT instead of it!!!!*

II.  Science done badly

Lecture 1.B.ii. -- Science Done Badly

Read Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow, Joseph Campbell, and Kimura Kyūho on basic approaches to myth.  There are two basic approaches they discuss.

  1. Hawking & Mlodinow place mythology into an evolutionary framework of epistemology (theory of knowledge):
    1. "Ignorance of nature's ways led people in ancient times to postulate many myths in an effort to make sense of their world."  Hawking and Mlodinow are mainly focusing on etiology myths. What is an etiology myth? 
    2. "But eventually, people turned to philosophy, that is, to the use of reason—with a good dose of intuition—to decipher their universe.
    3. "Today we use reason, mathematics and experimental test—in other words, modern science."  People who try to use outdated mythology to guide their science are guilty of science done badly.  To this I would add that they are also doing mythology badly.  In the old story of "It's turtles all the way down," the very act of asking an Enlightenment question changes the nature of the myth in the mind of the believer.  Most of us have very sophisticated ideas about myth except concerning our own.  We don't feel the need to find the sun tunnel under the earth Gilgamesh travelled through; however, we are tempted to go to great extremes in such a project where the Bible is concerned.
  2. Campbell deals with myth as an entirely different project from science.  Science can deliever facts; mythology points us toward the Truth. All symbols point to something beyond themselves; mythology is such a system of communication rooted in our Jungian collective unconscious. 
  3. In his 1969 book In Praise of Play, Robert E. Neale the stages people go through in relation to their sacred beliefs:
    1. Believe.  In this phase, we simply accept the stories at face  value.  Santa is real.
    2. Disbelieve.  We start to doubt that the stories are literally true, and lose faith in them.  Santa is not real.
    3. Make believe.  We re-enter into our myths, rituals, and traditions as make believe, a way of putting on another version ourselves, a path to finding that way to transcendence.

Which brings us back to Stephen Hawking.  As one of the smartest people in history, does his belief that mythology is, in my words, science done badly make him immune to the allure of a good myth?  Watch this clip of Holograms Playing Poker.

 Who is playing Stephen Hawking in this clip?  Why?  Let's discuss this on Moodle.

III. In the beginning

Comparison chart of Genesis 1 & Genesis 2 and Lecture 1.B.iii.

IV.  42

The book of Genesis is written to answer Humanity’s Oldest Question.   We all sense that, but usually when we read Genesis, we don’t truly understand that answer.  Why?  I call it the Hitchhiker’s Conundrum:

“‘The Answer to the Great Question... Of Life, the Universe and Everything... Is... Forty-two,’ said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” -- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

So the Hitchhiker’s Conundrum is that we know the answer to humanity's oldest question; we just don’t know the question.  Before we proceed, go to Moodle and give your best guess for that question.  [Hint: it's NOT  "What is 6 x 7?"] 

Lecture 1.B.iv. — So....what's the question?

So just what is humanity's oldest question? The problem with most of our responses is that we are thinking philosophically and theologically when we should be thinking grammatically. When we think grammatically, finding humanity's oldest question becomes simple — just look for the question marks. When we start at Genesis 1:1 and start looking for question marks, we get three questions in early Genesis that typify the attitude of their speakers:

  1. The serpent: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
  2. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
  3. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

Am I my brother's keeper?  THIS is humanity's oldest question. And the human who asks that question is Cain. And whenever we ask that question, we too are Cain.

הֲשֹׁמֵר אָחִי אָנֹכִי׃   Hashomer aḥi anokhi? -- Genesis 4:9.  Our mutual responsibility for one another is the thesis of Genesis.  Yet we are so focused on incidental matters like dinosaurs in Eden and the size of the ark that we miss what Genesis is trying to tell us.  But being our brother's keeper completely transcends the science done badly of Stephen Hawking, and even the getting in touch with your deeper self of Joseph Campbell.  Instead of looking back or inside, Genesis demands that we look around. 

The rest of Genesis is devoted to the various shades of being our brother's keeper.  This is the theme nobody is trying to wedge into science class.  The issue in our approach to our fellows does not rely on the precise nature of the relationship--we see brothers, half-brothers, cousins, parents and children, husbands and wives, and other possible permutation.  Nor is the issue how much the person deserves our help.  The issue is our own character.  Thus Abraham tried to help Sodom and Gomorrah regardless of what they may have deserved.

Home Page
Home Page