Friday, January 29, 2010

Astronautical Chariots & the Incomprehensible

It occurs to me that at the time that the Book of Ezekiel was written, perhaps people did not feel the need to completely explain the enigmatic language of prophecy. At least, not to my knowledge. Jewish tradition gives us midrashim, stories written about different passages in the Bible that attempt to give explanation or meaning to mysterious passages (i.e. who were the Nephilim in the story of Noah? Who is the "us" in the creation story? etc.). These stories usually do not attempt scientific explanation, however. Usually, they are rabbinic writings that use the Biblical text as a teaching tool to illustrate a point. Today, whether or not we are less credulous than our forefathers, because of the advent of science, we have been led to believe that everything really is explicable, if only our technology is advanced enough. Erich von Daniken goes along w/ the philosophy that the Book of Ezekiel is explicable "technologically," but he goes about trying to explain it in a literal way, which has its own set of problems apart from spiritual significance. Are we, as a culture, uncomfortable with the inexplicable? Are we threatened by it? There's always the fact that the unknown is scary, and perhaps films and books exist about aliens, phenomena and the end of the world because it is a human attempt to make the unknown less frightening. On the other hand, if the films and literature we have contradict what we know to be true (i.e. that the Bible does not paint a "geologically accurate" portrait of the earth), are they really that useful in making the unknown less scary. After all, we can only be articulate up to a point, and what exists beyond that, beyond our ability to explain or even to formulate thought, is the true country of mystery, of the mystical even. If the events of Sodom and Gomorrah actually happened, more than likely, they did not happen in the literal Biblical context. Even if they were scenarios of alien contact (probably not in the way von Daniken envisions them), I do not know why that would change the story's significance for People of the Book.


maham said...

I agree with you that inexplicable is scary and science fiction is a way for us to face those fears and make it less scary. I do believe that events of Sodom and Gommorah did take place, in the literal sense. From my perspective of the Quranic story of Sodom and Gommorah, Allah (SWT) puts this story in the Quran to show us his greatness, ability, and kindof create fear in our hearts to make us follow the rightous path, whatever it may be. Call me old fashioned, but by explaining these stories as though there are some science fiction works is a way of denying God's existence. Saying that God never truly exist, it has been aliens all along, treating humans like credulous playthings. Having the power to control there minds.
Allah (SWT) in the Quran does say that human knowledge is like a water in a beak of a bird that is taking a drink from the ocean. There is a lot for us to still discover, and Allah (SWT) says that we cannot discover it all but our job is to try. So if people do believe that aliens exist, thats okay with me because they could. But to discredit any religious text sent by God himself is like discrediting him.

Yaleth said...

Do you take the "pillar of salt" thing literally, then? I heard an interesting midrashim that chose to interpret it as the tears of Lot's wife.