Face to Face with Death

Frank, it wasn’t the case for me where one day I picked up the Bible and arrived with the view I hold now. I’m well aware of the narrative above. I studied it extensively at the undergrad level, and that the perspective I held most of my life… and I don’t outright reject it now.

The problem with orthodoxy is precisely with certainty in singular narrative which people go “all in”, mostly because these narrative are institutionalized and perpetuated as a theological certainty. The reality though is that there isn’t any such certainty. It’s a guess from a POV of your personal decision to go along with narratives that were prepackaged for you, as opposed to look and see whether there could be anything else to these at all… first from perspective of plausibility and coherence, and second from any possible secondary concepts.

I don’t know if I already gave you an example, but by 2050, there would have been 120 billion people lived in the planet Earth. Evaluating the plausibility of something like Adventist narrative is fairly simple. There’s 150 million square kilometers of land surface. If you discount mountainous regions, swamps, etc… where people could physically stand… much less.

Let’s be generous and say half of these people… 60 billion are fly off to space with new bodies. I’ll leave logistics of that up to God, since it’s the equivalent of nearly 10x current world population going somewhere. If it’s less, it’s less. The point being it’s ba lot of people.

Per Adventist narrative, all of them get resurrected, some are sooner than later, and one gets to look from inside a giant Borg cube (or pyramid, depending on who you talk to" beyond the walls . The problem is that some of these people wouldn’t even know what’s going on, and Il explain why.

It’s absolutely unclear how and where these people are resurrected. But, those who died at sea apparently get to stand on dry land…which is currently split into 5 continents. So even if they spread of on those continents, 60 billion people would each get about 4 feet to stand on.

The plausibility of Adventist narrative goes out of the window, and frankly, so does the plausibility of the resurrection narrative liked to these events.

These narratives were obviously written by and for people who didn’t expect population expansion to 7.5 billion, which isn’t a number they could even process.

So, you and I are not talking about the same thing from the same POV even in terms of the narrative that you read as these “say something”. As I’ve said, you have to take into account certain ignorance of people, and attempt to process the language as they understand it and then somehow cast it into possible interpretation of our expanded understanding of reality.

Your quoting these “as is” is quite pointless unless you actually attempt to process what exactly it translates into our reality that we live in right now.

People who wrote down this narrative likely had no clue that Americas or Australia existed. Their worldview was bound to very specific geography, and was ethnocentric until it later took certain xenocentric range.

Of course it’s mine. Each of us gets to read into the text our own perspective and concepts. We wouldn’t be able to read or process information otherwise. I’m not sure why you take this as some kind of inherent problem.

The problem as I have pointed out is that as you read this, you have to pretend like you are not reading a limited perspective of 1st venture agrarian people, but you are reading some transcendent narrative which was not merely written to some church out there… but is personally addressed to you… an American cultured person. That’s not the case.

If you don’t read ancestral stories of animism as literal ideas, why would you attempt to infuse literalism in Biblical narrative? You don’t see that as a double-standard when it comes to generic rules one follows to various narrative interpretation?

I grew up in Soviet system with a family who had a partial Jewish and partial middle Eastern heritage. So, I am quite familiar with hardship, which precisely why I am saying things are better today for virtually everyone, no matter where they are. Technological and scientific progress allowed abundance and understanding which greatly reduced suffering.

My child , for example, wouldn’t live past 2 months if he was merely born 30 years earlier simply because they wouldn’t look for certain conditions at that age and infants just suddenly died with them from heart faire. I could give you a wide range of examples, but if you merely shift your perception as it’s constrained by negatives of recent past … then what’s the point?

Your bias is quite evident, since you are trying to imply that we should judge human progress by 20% of the world population that you choose selectively as problematic exhibits. But even in those cases, they arguably have better lives than people in first century… most of whom died before they reached the age of 5. If you don’t understand the significance of that metric, I can’t provide with any facts that would convince you otherwise.

My perspective doesn’t rule that out. I am admittedly agnostic when it comes to ontology and echatology. I don’t know. I’m left guessing. I don’t hold perspectives. I hold possibilities.

Well, I’m not really sure you can dictate that for me now, can you? The fact is that not only I can and able, but I’m actively doing that, as I share this as a possibility, when at the same time providing some criticism for established narrative which I find less plausible. That’s a I’m doing. I have no means not ground for saying that it’s absolutely wrong. There are problems when we concider implications of unpacking visualizing these events as written. These were obviously written by people who didn’t have billions in mind, since they packed all of these people in relatively tight spaces, sometimes at very high altitudes :slight_smile:

I respect your choice in believing and sharing your perspective, but to say that I can’t do what I do … is a constrain that you have to justify by providing such justification for the entire chain of assumptions that you make. I’m not so certain you will be able to do so.

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I like this, Ark!

No, I don’t read it as addressed to me, first. The NT letters, for instance, were written to first century people in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, etc. It was written to them. They were the primary audience. I would thus say that it was not written to us, but preserved for our benefit. I would only try to apply what it means for us, until it can be determined, as much as possible what the original writers were trying to say to the original recipients, in their time, place, and circumstances. That does entail having to acknowledge the differences in cultural, historical, social perspectives in order to translate the application of the text and its message to us in the 21st c. This means that anyone who is serious about the integrity of the text and its contents is trying to put bias aside as much as possible by trying to exegete the text on its own terms, in its own setting, in its own culture, before applying it to ours.

I understand that you are doing this in your own way. I just question how far one can compromise the actual message of the text’s application for us, before turning its original message into something it was never intended to say. One can say that the text of Galatians was meant to condemn any individual effort to try and work one’s way to heaven, as an application of its message. While it’s possible to read that into the text, in fact, that is not what careful exegesis reveals was being said by it to its original audience. The later application ends up being based on more of an eisegesis, than anything else.

I get that you are saying that with their limited view of the world and its scope, that those who wrote the NT could never envision what they were saying about mass resurrection and the world’s renewal by God, in terms of the logical strains it places on the reality of the world as we see it twenty one centuries later, with a different awareness of cosmogony, history, science, even population issues.

The questions I have that arise from this are:

Did Jesus the Messiah really rise from the dead , as it was attested to by eye-witnesses, or was this a myth or metaphor that the early disciples constructed?

If the resurrection of Jesus was a literal, historical event, what significance did it hold for those first disciples and the NT writers, and are we at liberty to alter that significance for ourselves today? IOW, when Paul wrote of death as the last enemy to be conquered, and when John records the apocalyptic, symbolic vision of death and the grave being eliminated in a lake of fire, are we to consign that to the understandings of people who were spreading a message of the resurrection of Jesus and its anticipation of general eschatological resurrection that was limited by their cultural/historical understandings, or is this a revelation of a reality that transcends such?

This leads to, if Jesus’s resurrection was a literal and historical event, was it actually tied to a literal, general resurrection as the first fruits of it, as Paul described it, or was it simply a one off event, if general resurrection is simply not a feasible construct from our vantage point in the 21st c? If Jesus’s resurrection was simply a one off, then what significance did it have then or does it have now?

And, if it’s not a literal event, then why did all these people give their lives for a myth or metaphor that they constructed, not by flying planes into buildings for the honor of God, but through preaching a non-violent kingdom of love, justice, and shalom for all? This is especially poignant when seeing their initial reaction of hopeless resignation after Jesus’s crucifixion. Why did the gospels record an absolute change from that hopelessness, to the fired up zeal of his followers to preach the king and his kingdom, shortly after?

For many of the reasons I’ve implied above. I must admit this bias…the gospel/gospels make the claim that Jesus the messiah died and rose from the dead as literal, historical events. It makes claims as being the inspired word/message of God to humanity. I do come from this assumption.

I will concede your point, though, that how that will translate into an eschatological future is open to possibilities only fully known to God, not us. How that looks and will play out is beyond human understanding. However, this doesn’t invalidate resurrection, to me. The God that has the power to raise the dead, as seen in the resurrection of Jesus, has the power to renew and reconstitute all creation to accommodate all who would participate in the life of new creation. This, admittedly, goes beyond empirical observation, and crosses into faith in what we do not now or yet see.

Thanks for the discussion, Ark…


  1. How sure are you that you haven’t done that already?

  2. Why would you think that “the actual intended message” is more relevant than our broader interpretation, given our expanded understanding of reality today?

For example, we don’t read “heart” today literally as these writers intended to communicate and and attach the function of the heart to thoughts and desires. They likely thought that , because they associated chest area with core function of human being, since it’s active even when we are still, and when that activity stops we die. So, from their POV it’s only natural conclusion to correlate core human function with all of the mental activity … with function of heart, and associate life and memory with blood, etc.

We know it’s not so today, so we have to re-interpret and recast that narrative with implications for how we understand the reality and proper functional relationships. Thoughts are in the brain, the emotional context could be full-body hormonal-induced state. Heart has less to do with it than they thought. It’s likely has more to do with it than we are currently thinking, but not to the extend that they thought it did.

Ok, then perhaps my above explanation is excessive and unnecessary.

You have to consider a couple factors which no historian would ever ignore when considering interpretive methodology with which one would approach these writings and narrative.

  1. This narrative is written by the very people who have vested interest in stories they describe.
  2. There is a very known psychological phenomenon of cognitive-support bias that comes to play in arranging human narratives in a way in which people can live out the entirety of their lives in denial in order to avoid cognitive dissonance that would utterly destroy their existing conceptual framework, in which case they would have to start from zero.

And there are a range of well-documented human behavior in which people confabulate narratives that they end up believing in:

I’m not say that’s what happened. But, you asking the question above is rather naive if you don’t consider that as a possibility.

Now, I hope you are aware of the psychological pitfalls of the choice supportive bias as it relates to this issue :slight_smile: I hope below video can demonstrate to you that such conceptualization of leadership is fairly common when it comes to avoiding cognitive dissonance which results in death of someone who promised eternal life…

To give a little background on the above, L. Ron. Hubbart, the leader of the Scientology cult, spent his whole life promising that humans can achieve immortality and eliminate disease with practices that he developed. Of course, him dying from disease would seem like a dissonant concept for that idea. So, these leaders walked out and stated that he abandoned his body, and he is doing his work elsewhere… while Scientologists keeping his quarters ready for his return.

Again, I’m not saying Christian case is that. What I do say that it could be that, or it could be a broader range of things, including structuring a narrative that doesn’t look as historical accuracy as more important than directives necessary for successful human progress.

I understand why it would be a big let down for you if you approach this narrative from a POV of strict literalism, but again:

  1. Christianity is a progression of Judaism.
  2. There wasn’t a singular take on Christian narrative at its inception
  3. Those which survived got consolidated into systematic theology
  4. You read that theological perspective as “default”

I think part of responsible human behavior as it relates to our teleology is to explore possibility that our perspectives can be wrong, especially if we inherit all of the construct and methodological constraints and assumptions along with those perspectives.

So, a similar question for you which you were asking me above. What happens when the traditional narrative as it is modeled is so beyond our model of reality, which we can test and verify, that it becomes less plausible?

Think about why Jesus would ride the flying horse in the sky in John’s vision, and how outdated this concept is to our understanding of modern warfare. Even a motorcycle would be more versatile than a horse.

The point being, there are eschatological implications in which Christians end up looking forward to wrong things. The whole point of the Christian narrative was that Jews were focusing on political solution, while the problems were interpersonal in nature. We are actually making the same mistake with our eschatological narratives in which God simply fixes things for us, and all we have to do is ride it out, much like people attempt to ride out this Covid crisis. And that goes hand in hand with ideology that God (Government ) will solve all of your problems. All you need to do is trust and obey, for there’s not other way .

I’ve had bad experience with that with Soviet system. I don’t expect it to be any different anywhere else. Our problems are not political. Our problems are interpersonal when it comes to foundational understanding of proper relationship between individuals. I don’t expect God to be along the lines of a tyrant who narrows human choices to a singular belief which grants one passage into afterlife. I think it should be an abhorrent to think that, but it is a default Christian narrative today.

I likewise appreciate your discussion.


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