The Bible is not a book of science, though the first Chapter of Genesis, as the nineteenth-century sociologist Max Weber points out, is the necessary prelude to science. It represents the first time people saw the universe as the product of a single creative will, and therefore as intelligible rather than capricious and mysterious.

Nature has no divinity. Indeed, in the Hebrew Bible, it became “undeified” as G. W. F. Hegel put it. Hegel observed (in lectures notes his students published after his death) that it was the Israelite religion described in the Bible that altered the very nature of nature itself. This is an interesting point, which would explain the first verse neatly:

 

“In the Beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

 

It means that the heaven was created first. That is: earth is not the center of the universe. In the scientific view (the Big Bang) there is also considered to be a beginning, not only for Earth, but for the entire Universe. This does represent a point of agreement between them.

Not only is the Old Testament Israelite religion viewed as historical, in contrast to the nature religions of the pagans, but the nature of the Old Testament is also seen as unimportant and inert, in contrast with the sacred nature of the pagans. In his 1965 classic, The Secular City, theologian Harvey Cox wrote that the Bible “opened nature for science” by beginning a “disenchantment process” that wrested nature free from Gods and God. “This disenchantment of the natural world,” Cox wrote, “provides an absolute precondition for the development of modern science.”

In itself nature is not dramatic, it is not wonderful, it is not miraculous; it is a mean. The great Italian Israeli Bible scholar Umberto Cassuto described this Israelite rejection of nature poetically in his commentary on the creation story in the Book of Genesis:

“Then came the Torah and soared aloft, as on eagle’s wings, above all these nations. Not many gods but One God … not a deity associated with nature and identified with it wholly or in part, but a God who stands absolutely above nature, and outside of it.” (Cassutto 1961, 8)

 

Bearing in mind that autistic people are deprived of theory of mind, they cannot therefore do religion. “God wants you to do …” is a meaningless statement. What you don't know is that neither can we be brainwashed by voices of disbelief – secular atheism. Where Christians believe that Yahweh is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator of the universe, Skeptical atheists believe that nature is all there is. As Gunter Grass wrote, “The only time I’m religious is when I’m sitting in the woods with paper and pencil, admiring what nature has come up with.” I’ve never been awestruck by nature. And I am not curious or fascinated to explain away the magic of reality. There is no magic to explain away.

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Comment by Brad Snowder on January 26, 2012 at 3:51pm

"Sometimes I have a terrible need of, shall I say the word, religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Comment by Albert Bakker on January 26, 2012 at 5:18pm

Curious..

A naive evaluation of the worth of the Bible as a prelude to science might be done perhaps by judging the tree by it's fruit. In Europe we refer to the period when the Bible was most influential on the scientific outlook of contemporaries as: the Dark Ages.

The Arabs had to translate the Greek naturalist philosophers and expand on it with their own and borrowed work, before it finally was reintroduced in the 13th century via Spain and southern Italy and a beginning could be made to finally end that devastating necessary Biblical prelude to science.

Also I think reading a lot of modern science into the first sentence of Genesis is completely baseless. It does not say heaven was created first because it mentions that word first and it certainly does not convey a rudimentary understanding of the Copernican principle. Only first in sentence 14 stars are created. It is indeed not a science book.

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