Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Joshua Nakamura

I saw an advertisement for an upcoming film entitled, The Day the Earth Stood Still. I have no idea what it is about nor do I care. But it caused me to think about the day the sun stood still as recorded in Joshua 10. The historicity of the account is met with sharp Copernican criticism and this criticism is met with a reasoned rebuttal followed up by a jump to a typical conclusion that is typically decimated by physics. Usually it goes this way:

guy 1 - "The sun stood still."

guy 2 - "Big deal. The sun always does that. It's the earth that moves."

guy 1 - "Semantic trifle. Of course it was not the sun that stood still. But don't we in the scientifically emancipated 21st century still call it sunrise even though we know astronomically speaking it should be called the earthspin? It was really the earth that stood still."

guy 2 - "The earth and its passengers move at a rate of 66,600 miles per hour. If Earth stopped suddenly, all life would be ripped apart and slingshot from the earth at that same rate until friction stopped it. No survivors. Not Amorites, not Israelites, not even cockroaches."

guy 1 - "[pause] God can do anything."

guy 2 - "Why are we having this discussion?"

...And we have reached communication breakdown (It's always the same...).

Both sides are wise to accept that the language describing "the sun standing still" was intended to communicate the effect of whatever physical phenomenon occurred and not to scientifically document the phenomenon itself. What the scribe recorded was that an ancient commander asked his God to make the sun still because, by his ability to perceive, it seemed to him that this would give him longer daylight under which to defeat his enemies. It also seemed to him that this was exactly what happened. No need for his God to clarify. "Listen Joshua, the Sun always stands still. Answering your prayer literally would be meaningless because it's the earth that moves. [pause] Yes, seriously. And since stopping the earth would be globally cataclysmic, I'll have to do something else for you." Why go to the trouble? Joshua doesn't need a physics lesson; he needs his God's help. What physically happened is of no relevance to the commander or to his scribe. To them, the day was much, much, longer.

Where the conversation takes its fatal turn is when, after guy 1 and guy 2 agree that it couldn't have been the sun that stood still, guy 1 immediately jumps to the conclusion that the uncharacteristically immobile culprit was the earth, leading guy 2 to point out the obvious. Allow me to offer another option.

While we're allowing that the sun standing still was only the people's perception of the phenomenon, why not explore other scenarios that could produce the same appearance? What if instead one thing slowing down, other things just moved much faster? Time is relative, therefore so is speed. I think it's possible that God allowed both armies to have an altered time-space experience until the battle was over. To Joshua, it looks like his prayer is answered literally, so why get into the details?

I now open the floor for a possible discussion. Or disinterested silence. Whatever.


CSigler said...

First off, whether or not you care, you should know that THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is a remake of the 1951 classic sci-fi thriller directed by Robert Wise.

Second off you offered disinterested silence, and where offended when i actually took that option (haha)

I will respond to this again through the eyes of the tradition of the church which doesn't seem to have any problem with your assesment of the situation. There has always been a sense of mystery within the way God works. God can never be anything but God, but we don't always understand what that means. We love to jump to rational conclusions based off of our own limited, and highly physical, boundaries. It seems that the same God who can create a bridge between heaven and earth within true worship, who can heal people even though it is physically impossible, who can bring people back from the dead, who can actually manifest himself in the very bread and wine we take in the Eucharist (I know, I know...touchy subject...don't give a crap)is fully capable of both creating a time anomally, and hold us secure on the planet as he stops it (even though physics would tell us that this doesn't work). God is without a doubt a rational being, but we would be fools to assume that we know HIS limitations...

Joshua Andrew Smith said...

yeah yeah yeah. What do you think about Joshua as Hiro? Isn't that a cool thought?!?

Joshua Andrew Smith said...

And furthermore, you bugged me about having slacked on the blog front, so I mustered up the energy to write something and you said nothing. That invitation to ignore was for everyone in the world EXCEPT you. Now I want some interaction, dangit.

CSigler said...

Haha... you're ridiculous. I do like the idea of Joshua being Hiro. Thats pretty awesome. It is highly possible that God did that, but it doesn't seem that that would give Joshua's army much of an advantage. If the opposing side is slowed down, wouldn't Joshua's army be as well? If that is the case, what is the point?

Now... it is possible that the Lord gave them extra energy to fight with. So then when it says that the sun stood still, it is also saying that the energy they had in a day also remained.

Chew on that for a bit.

Joshua Andrew Smith said...

Actually, both sides would have sped up. And the point wasn't to give Joshua's side an advantage, but to give them long enough daylight to get the job done without taking a break. Josh didn't see reason for coffee breaks in his epic battles, but Amorites don't glow in the dark. He was facing a dilemma here. Energy schmenergy.

Andrew Reed said...

On a side note. I saw the movie the other day. Worst movie ever. Full of political agendas and bad, acting, producing, editing, and whatever else goes into making movies.