Revelation by Eclipse – a Christmas day meditation

An eclipse of the sun reveals the hidden corona in the same manner the incarnation reveals the invisible of God.

 

A total eclipse of the sun: modern day scientists have called it “an amazing, awe inspiring, tremendously moving event”1 and ” a spectacle that few people who see one will ever forget.” Total eclipses of the sun have been tracked for over two millennia, as witnessed by the fact that the Babylonians  figured out the Saros cycle – the cycle for when solar eclipses will repeat – 22 centuries ago. Recently it was discovered that the Saros cycle was built into the ancient Greek Antikythera mechanical computing mechanism dating to the second or third century BC – meaning the Greeks too were tracking the total eclipses.

Why this fascination with the total eclipse of the sun? While there are various theories why the ancients tracked them, modern day scientists use eclipses to discover things they couldn’t otherwise see due to the brightness of the sun.  For example:

– A total eclipse of the sun was used to verify the notion of the curvature of space as predicted by Einstein’s theory of General
Relativity.2

– The Corona around the sun  – The solar disk is a million times brighter than the Corona3, so unless the sun is covered – as it is in an eclipse – you’ll never the corona.

The eclipse of the sun makes it possible to see the otherwise invisible corona (depicted above). This is similar to what God did for us that first Christmas. Scripture tells us God is invisible, and even if he weren’t, we still couldn’t see him because he lives in “unapproachable” light:

 15 which God will bring about in his own time–God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
1 Tim 6.15-16


17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be
honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Tim 1.17

How do you see one who is invisible; who lives in unapproachable light?

The lyrics of the Christmas hymn
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
gives us the answer:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell
Jesus our Immanuel4

God, the invisible one was made visible by being “veiled in flesh” as the hymn puts it, nicely capturing the idea that in the incarnation, Jesus’ human flesh acted as the moon does during an eclipse, allowing us to see that which is normally invisible. The incarnation gives new meaning to the early confession “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (1 Jn 4.2) when we realize people who saw Jesus  in the flesh were blessed to see the invisible God who lives in unapproachable  light.

In “being made in human likeness.” (Php 2.7) God gives us the opportunity to know him and see what he is like. That we can see God through Jesus is why scripture tells us that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1.15), and that for those who saw Jesus, they got a glimpse of what the God the father is like, for as Jesus himself said, those who saw him, saw the father. (John 14.9)

So when you consider the baby in the manager this year, consider how great a gift God gave to the world.  Not just the gift of his son – but the gift of a revelation of himself made possible by willfully eclipsing his own glory in order to allow us to see – as we do the sun’s corona when it’s in eclipse –  the wonder and the beauty that is our creator, all wrapped up in the baby in the manger.

 

Duane Caldwell | posted 12/25/2014 | printer friendly version


Notes

 

1. Alex Filippenko The Universe episode Total Eclipse documentary, 2010

 

2. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity says space is curved. If, so light should follow the curvature of space – particularly around massive bodies like the sun. This prediction was tested and verified during a total eclipse of the sun in May 1919 by British astronomer Arthur Eddington.

 

3 Holly Gilbert, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, reference from Total Eclipse

 

4 From the second stanza – Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Note: Immanuel is Hebrew for “God with us”

 

 

“Exodus – Gods and Kings”: a biblically based review

  Ten reasons to be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic.
Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton as Moses and Ramses in Ridley Scott’s Exodus Gods and Kings

There is no question that Hollywood knows how to make big, beautiful, epic, blockbuster movies with wide appeal. In that regard they are second to none. With the release of the recent Biblical themed movies – the latest of which is Exodus – Gods and Kings by Ridley Scott, the question for Christians is has Hollywood learned, or more appropriately, recalled how to do Biblical themed movies that Christians will both enjoy and approve of? I say ‘recalled’ because of course Hollywood used to know how to make such movies. Anyone who has seen  Cecille B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments understands why it is regarded as the standard against which every other Biblical epic is judged.

To answer the question:  no, Hollywood has not learned or has chosen not to recall how to make movies Christians can both enjoy and approve of.  If Exodus – Gods and Kings is the gauge, then it’s clear Hollywood remains clueless in this regard – or perhaps more appropriately – remains willfully antagonistic toward the Christian messages inherent in Biblical themed movies.

This assessment stands in stark contrast to the article in Christianity Today
from which the caption (Ten reasons to be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic.) is derived. In that article, Brett McCracken wants to give you “Ten reasons to not be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic.”  Here’s my assessment in a nutshell:

For Ridley Scott, director of films such as Gladiator (2000),  Hannibal (2001) and American Gangster (2007) the account of the exodus is just another story. He could not possibly care less if it is a Biblical story that has theological meanings, symbolism and message. He doesn’t care if it is cherished by Jews and Christians the world over. He’s a story teller, and he’s going to do it his way. And do it his way he did.

After viewing the movie I sat down and wrote over 3 dozen inaccuracies and problems (from a Christian perspective) in the film without having to look hard or dig for them. What follows are what I consider to be 10 of the most egregious.  After that I’ve included commentary on the ten reasons that Brett McCracken thinks it’s okay to see the film.

Here are links to the two sections:
Spoiler Warning: – Many parts of the film are discussed – but if you’re familiar with the Exodus account, not much should be a surprise – other than the many changes Scott made.

 

Part I.  Ten Reasons to be Hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic

 

Part II.  Brett McCracken’s  “Ten reasons to not be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic” – in italics, followed by my comments.



Part I:
Ten reasons to be hardhearted toward Ridley Scott’s biblical epic

1. No concern for Biblical authority
Right off the bat you know that there will be little regard for Biblical authority when the first thing you see is the time period: 1300 BCE. That date – known as the “late date” for the exodus is used because many scholars date the exodus to 1270 BC during the reign of Ramses II.  (In passing, BCE – Before the Common Era – is used by those who don’t want to acknowledge the Christ in BC – Before Christ.) Scholars who affirm the 13th century date do so disregarding recent archeological evidence1, and more importantly the testimony of scripture which says:

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Bat Flight – Evidence of Design Surprises Researchers

 Bat flight -a sophisticated flip to landing made possible by a neronal compass and sophisticated geometry Evidence of a sophisticated navigation system in bats is evidence of Intelligent Design
A bat performing a complex flip to land maneuver navigates with a system based on a sophisticated geometric shape.


The website of the prestigious science magazine Nature recently published an article titled:

Bat-nav’ system enables three-dimensional manoeuvres1 Study reveals surprising neural code based on bagel-shaped coordinate system.

 

The article states that bats are able to navigate because their brains function as a sophisticated compass, programmed with a complex geometrical shape (a torus – a figure similar in shape to a bagel).  In their words:

“The brains of bats have a neuronal ‘compass’ that enables them to navigate in three dimensions.

The discovery, published in Nature2 on 3 December, explains the long-standing mystery of how bats — and perhaps other mammals such as monkeys, which do not fly but swing between branches — manage to orient themselves in the air as well as on the ground.

The ‘bat-nav’ system is “surprising — but also surprising in its beauty”, says May-Britt Moser, a neuroscientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim…

Computational neuroscientist Andreas Herz, from the University of Munich in Germany adds that the simple elegance of the neural coding that makes up the compass has wider implications for how the brain computers.

This article was based on a paper which talks about the requirements for such a sophisticated system:

Navigation requires the knowledge of one’s location (‘map’) and direction in space (‘compass’). The neural representation of spatial location in mammals includes place-cells which compute position, together with grid cells that encode distance.3

Here is a video of a bat performing a complex landing maneuver which includes a flip to the inverted position that such a system allows:

  During flips, bats are able to keep track of their orientation in space thanks to a surprisingly complex ‘head-direction’ system. 

Notice researchers are surprised not only by the sophistication of the system, but also it’s elegant beauty. These are unmistakable signs of intelligent design, but when you subscribe to a worldview that says there is no design, then yes, such sophistication is quite surprising – especially when the design is complex yet elegantly beautiful. Still, researchers do not want to stray beyond the bounds of orthodox evolution. Here are those bounds, in the words of William Provine, professor of the history of science at Cornell University:

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