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The Star of Bethlehem

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Aaron, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. Magnetic Poles

    Magnetic Poles New Member

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    Not so. The process, known as parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction common in some species. It occurs when an ova is stimulated to develop on its own. Of course, lacking a Y chromosome, the offspring is always a female.

    CLICK HERE


    Excerpt: In theory, artificial human parthenogenesis could be used to reproduce humans, but this is highly unlikely due to ethical concerns. Use of an electrical or chemical stimulus can produce the beginning of the process of parthenogenesis in the asexual development of viable offspring.

    Also see http://www.livescience.com/animals/070522_asexual_sharks.html
     
    #41 Magnetic Poles, Dec 27, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2007
  2. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Speaking of logical fallacies, let's look at yours and Allan's:

    But there is no math or science in the world nor it's history to show . . .

    He employs a universal negative, which means to credibly assert such a thing, one would have to have know all math and history. And so you're saying that he can assert utter nonsense without any evidence whatever to counter a point of mine and simply enjoy the defacto position of being "correct," but I have to proffer evidence not only to support my claim, but to counter his?

    [offensive language removed]
    I'm not going to do your homework for you, but lest it be said that the information isn't out there, I'll get you started. Google the term "celestial navigation." (As far as limiting the scope of the search and discovering other key words, that'll be your job.) The method of determining the ground point of a star is really quite simple (if one knows trig) and requires less math than the ancients had at their disposal.

    And, astronomers do it all the time. Hence, the celestial sphere. Oops! I gave you another clue, but generosity has always been a fault of mine.
     
    #42 Aaron, Dec 27, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2007
  3. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    "Ground point of a star"

    Consider this simple math... Bethelehem is about 32 degrees north latitude. The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles at the equator, so going by proportions, at Bethelehem the circumference is approx. 16047 miles [32/90 * 24901]. Since the earth rotates once every 24 hours, a 'ground point' is actually a line, per se, that covers 669 miles [16047/24] each hour, 11.14 miles each minute, or one mile every 5 1/3 second. And you're claiming these wise guys could actually 'follow' a star, taking precise fixes on its position, covering a miles every 5 seconds, until they fixed its position to within about 50 feet on that line which happened to be a house with a young child?
     
  4. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Well Alcott, basic geometry will tell you that a point is not a line, but you're right about time being a factor.

    What astronomers do (and have done for millennia according to my reading) is calculate where the ground point of a star is at a particular point in time. But this star did something else. It "came and stood over the place." This star stood still for a while. Even if they weren't at "ground zero," when the star stood still, as soon as it appeared stationary, all they'd have to do is note the time, whip out their charts and instruments, and calculate it's ground point. And they would travel to that point while keeping their bearings with other celestial bodies. (But I hear that Bethlehem is only five miles south of Jerusalem anyway.)

    A funny thing, I have a budding young astronomer in my family. My wife and I bought her a telescope for Christmas, and a star finder pack. In this pack is a star finder planisphere specially designed for our general latitude. It's basically a star chart with movable layers. All I gotta do Is line up the date and time and voila! Since someone has already done the math for me, I can see where each star and planet in the night sky will be at that date and time. Hmmm, math and charts.

    Anyway, before y'all start throwing rocks at a fella, you should read up on a subject.
     
    #44 Aaron, Dec 27, 2007
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  5. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Well, I finished Molnar's book this morning. It's intriquing, and, frankly, he makes a better case for his explanation than Larson does. The primary difference between them is that Larson looked for spectacular stellar events, and Molnar looked for events that would have been significant and amazing to the astrologers at the turn of the First Century. The climax of Larson's presentation is the "Starry Dance." Molnar's is a horoscope in which Judea's regal portents depict the birth of a divine and inconquerable ruler.

    Both Larson and Molnar conclude the Star of Bethlehem was Jupiter, and both interpret the phrase, stood over the place, as a phase in Jupiter's retrograde motion. (Jupiter was stationary for about a week before it was seen to move backwards.) But their agreement ends there.

    Larson assumes, not arbitrarily, that Herod died in 1 B.C. Molnar adheres to the opinion of scholars that Herod died in 4 B.C. This is important for the timing of the star. The following is a brief review of the conclusions and reasoning of each.

    Larson : Astrological symbol for Judea is Leo, based on prophecies likening Judah to a lion.

    Molnar : Astrological symbol for Judea is Aries, based on the astrological method of assigning symbols.

    Larson: Jupiter and Regulus are regal stars based on astrology. In the year that Larson assumes to be the year of Christ's birth, Jupiter circles, or "crowns" Regulus three times in the constellation Leo (Regulus is the brightest star in that constellation anyway) before moving on. (My copy of the video has been loaned out, so I can't review it for dates or the reliability of my memory.) Jupiter, being the "king planet" would be the one to watch.

    Molnar: Jupiter and Regulus are regal stars based on astrology, but we're looking at the skies four to five years earlier. Not only that, we're not looking for spectacular stellar events, but astrologically significant events. This is where I say you're just going to have to buy the book to get a satisfying explanation. Ancient astrology was sophisticated and arcane, and thus, though Molnar took pains to make it accessible to the uninitiated, I found it very difficult to follow.

    It's not as simple as seeing something happen in the constellation Aries, it's also how Aries relates to the other constellations in its Trine, Leo and Sagitarius; the positions and behaviors of the Trine's rulers, the sun, Jupiter, Saturn; and the positions and behaviors of their attendants, the moon and the other planets. All this and more was in addition viewed in relation to the Cardinal Points, the Ascendant, the Midheaven, the Descendant, and the anti-Midheaven. There's even more, but you get the picture.

    Briefly summed up, Judea's regal portents were satisfied in such a way to signify that the ruler then born was an inconquerable, divine ruler worthy of worship. This would indeed be the sign of a birth of world-wide significance, yet would have been noticed only by astrologers.

    Jupiter, being the regal planet in this horoscope, would be the one to watch.

    Larson: ...we have seen his star in the east. The Magi were in the east when they saw Jupiter. When Jupiter set, viewed from Babylon, it's position on the horizon was directly above Judea. So the Magi knew to go to Jerusalem.

    Molnar: ...we have seen his star in the east. The Magi are refering to heliacal rising of Jupiter. It rose in the east just before the sun in the constellation Aries.

    Larson: ...went before them.The Magi were in Jerusalem when they inquired concerning the king of the Jews. Now they had to look south to see Jupiter, and literally followed it south to Bethlehem.

    Molnar: ...went before them. "The word proegen, ('Went before') is related to the astrological term proegeseis, which indeed means 'to go before' or, more precisely, 'to go in the same direction as the sky moves.' A planet goes in the same direction as the sky when it reverses it's eastward motion through the zodiac and proceeds in the same westward direction in which the sky rotates. The ancient Greeks perceived the 'normal' direction for a planet as the direction of the sky's movement. Today, however, astonomers reverse this concept: they think of movement in the direction of the sky as backwards movement, and call it retrograde motion." So the Magi weren't literally following the star. They knew to go to Jerusalem because of the horoscope.

    Larson: ...till it came and stood over where the young child was. The star became stationary over the place. Larson didn't suggest calculating a ground point. He suggested that optically, it appeared to be over the place, just like it appeared to set in Judea when viewed from Babylon.

    Molnar: ...till it came and stood over where the young child was. This is the message an astrologer would get reading Matthew 2:9, And behold, the planet which they had seen at its heliacal rising went retrograde and became stationary above in the sky (which showed) where the child was. Molnar did not suggest calculating a ground point either. His take is simply that the star became stationary in the sky, and that the sky showed them by the horoscope (not Jupiter alone) where the child was born.

    All in all, a very interesting little study.
     
  6. mnw

    mnw New Member

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    1. Is this making something complicated that is really quite simple?

    2. Maybe I just have a bad mind, but does anyone else simply fill in the obviously replaced word?

    Oh man, I'm getting drawn back into the BB.... must resist.... don't have the time...
     
    #46 mnw, Dec 28, 2007
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  7. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    What do you mean? For me, the Magi saw a star and understood it's meaning. Now if I were an astonomer, I might have more of an interest in what they saw and how they knew it was Messiah's star. The fact of the matter is that I don't have much of an interest in it. Larson's video intrigued me, and when I researched his critics, Molnar's work was frequently mentioned, so I thought I'd check it out.

    the obstinate adherence to arbitrary assumption as indisputable fact. I thought assigning the supernatural to phenomena viewed against the backdrop of false assumptions was only a caricature of Christians. This thread makes me wonder...

    Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. :1_grouphug:
     
    #47 Aaron, Dec 28, 2007
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  8. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Oh, one more thing. Larson's video has great music! :thumbs:
     
  9. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    But you did claim the "star" was a natural phenomenon, and not a miraculous appearance or appirition, right? If that's the case, then they would have to be able to calculate the position down to the seconds of latitude and longitude. I know of nothing by which ancient astronomers or navigators were able to do this. One second of latitude is (I get) about 101 feet, which would be accurate enough to point to a single house unless many houses together were very small and unisolated, though it should still be only a few. But then there's longitude, which is more difficult because the distance between meridians varies from 69 miles between degrees at the equator to obviously 0 at the poles. Now, if you want me to agree with your contention, you will have to show me that these atronomers had the knowledge and measuring equipment necessary. I find nothing to indicate they did. In fact, in a somewhat related problem, Erostosthenes, who had the correct idea of how to measure the circumference of the earth around the time of Christ, did so with what is confirmed high accuracy for his time... yet he was still about 3% off-- about 187 miles per quadrant! So hopefully you can see why I regard your claims as unconvincing, and the appearance of a 'star' which could point out one house in a village had to be something more than just a little bright light in the sky, apparently unnoticed by astronomers in other part of the world.
     
  10. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Nope. I didn't make any such claim. I said the conclusion that the star was miraculous was based on arbitrary assumptions. I'm open minded.

    That's my point. We don't know. We're assuming. Consider this ancient Greek analog computer discovered in a Roman ship wreck.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6191462.stm

    It was built for calculating the positions of stars and planets. "Although its origins are uncertain, the new studies of the inscriptions suggest it would have been constructed around 100-150 BC, long before such devices appear in other parts of the world.

    "Writing in Nature, the team says that the mechanism was 'technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards.'" (emphasis mine)

    Again, you're assuming they literally "followed" a bright thing in the sky that. This is not stated in the Scriptures. It says it "went before them." As I said, (actually, as Molnar stated) an ancient astrologer could read Matthew's account, take it literally and arrive at a completely different conclusion than you did.

    Again, it's not my contention that it was a natural phenomenon. I'm open-minded and both Larson and Molnar make compelling cases. Our debate was about the assumptions of many concering ancient science.

    That's pretty accurate since he was off by only 200 miles in every 6000. Naturally the error would be much smaller when calculating a much shorter distance.

    I work with high vacuum systems. The pressure in the process chambers is measured with an ion gauge. Ion gauge tubes have a margin of error up to 40%! However, because the gas pressures are so small (0.00000015 mm) total pressure, 40% error is a very accurate measurement.

    So let's say, just for kicks, that they did calculate the ground point after viewing the stationary Jupiter. (Remember, Jupiter was stationary for about a week.) They knew the arc of the earth's surface within 3% (some sources say Erastosthenes was within 2%). Three percent of five miles is 792 feet. They have a week to find the Christ child in a radius of 800 feet. They could adjust their calculations or just ask directions from there. :) (We know the wise men weren't real men, because they stopped and asked directions.)

    But it doesn't say the star pointed out the exact location. Again, Molnar says an astrologer wouldn't take Matthew's statements that way.

    This is where I misspoke. (You see? We're all guilty of jumping to conclusions.) Last night I read that the ancient records of Roman astrologers confirm Molnar's calculations. They noticed the extraordianry horoscope.
     
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  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Something is wacky here. The actual Greek root word for proegen as used in this passage is proago, which is nothing like proegeseis--and I can't even find that word in any of my lexicons (including the classical Greek L & H, so it's very rare), though it occurs in the Perseus database once in Ptolemy. It is much more likely to derive from proegeomai. Molnar is obviously no linguist.

    See a scholarly critique of Molnar at: http://www.thestarofthemagi.com/Ch. 6 Which Star was ItF.doc

    But there would have been very few astrologers reading Matthew 2 in the first century. The average reader would not read the passage like an astrologer, but would take it as a miracle--see above where I quote first century Christian Irenaeus.

    At any rate, thanks for the informative comparison, which was interesting--though I don't swallow any of it.
     
  12. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    From your link:
    The first thing that impressed me (negatively) about Molnar was his non sequitur in assuming that the Babylonian astrologers would have all adopted Greek methods after the hellenization of their society. (Post # 12) However, despite some flaws in his premises, and in his Greek, the horoscope he presents is extraordinary, and is meritorious in that respect. At any rate, he's earned an audience.

    Larson assumes, as does many, that Daniel influenced the school of the Persian astrologers and that Daniel's teachings (not Greek astrology) are at the core of the Magi's interpretations of the stars. But Larson uses stellar spectacles to establish his date of Christ's birth. Using his date, the sun is in Virgo with a new moon "at her feet." He believes this has something to do with Rev. 12:1.

    Then Larson fast forwards the stars to the date of Christ's death, and Virgo is again "clothed with the sun" with a blood moon at her feet. This is a lunar eclipse, so he places his reference point on the moon looking toward the sun. From the moon, the sun appears in Aries, right where the heart would be (if the drawing is accurate *Molnar made a point about the way the Greeks reckoned the drawings of the zodiac), and at 3 in the afternoon, the time of Christ's death, the earth then blanks out the sun, or snuff's out the heart of the "sacrificial" Ram. But then who was watching from the moon?

    Larson also used Acts 2:19-20. The sun being darkened Larson believes was when the sun was darkened at Christ's crucifixion, and the moon turned to blood he says is the blood moon of this lunar eclipse at that same time.

    If his dates are correct, and if he's interpreting the stars correctly, he puts the Magi's visit to Christ at December 25, A.D. 2. If one can present a number of events like this so perfectly timed as to defy random chance, it's at least worth listening to.

    The question is, was Matthew attempting to be historically accurate? As your scholar noted, Matthew was not present at the visit of the Magi, so where did he get his information? Your scholar doubts the historicity of Matthew and suggests the account of the Magi was added later.


    I believe Matthew was attempting to be historically accurate, even if he may have confused a word or two. It's evident that Matthew's purpose was to show that Jesus was the king of the Jews and that He was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies. It's also clear that Matthew's intended audience was Jewish. Though pagan astrology was forbidden to the Jews, the Jews believed that signs in the heavens would accompany the advent of the Messiah. If there were an astrological event with regal portents that occurred at the time of Christ's birth, it's perfectly logical that Matthew's would include it in his narrative, and be as accurate as possible with his description.

    Again, there's no way to know for sure, I just leave it open as a possibility. It may very well have been a miracle, but the evidence is not conclusive.

    I do think it's significant that almost everyone who has studied it thinks Jupiter is the star, or is key to it's interpretation.
     
    #52 Aaron, Dec 28, 2007
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  13. mnw

    mnw New Member

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    Yep, Horse puckey is much better. :)
    Ah, but Picard resisted and succeeded!
     
  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I am wondering whether you've read my posts carefully. I've quoted no scholar who doubted the historicity of Matthew, nor would I knowingly do so.

    Edited in: Okay, I see you are talking about the article I linked to. I didn't quote that scholar, but only saw what was said about the supposed astrological term of Molnar. I would not have linked to the article had I known it doubted the historicity of Matthew.
    I not only believe Matthew was attempting to be historically accurate, I believe the Holy Spirit superintending him as he wrote his Gospel guaranteed his accuracy.

    I think you have mentioned a key point, that Matthew's 1st century Jewish audience (the Pharisees at least) would have rejected astrology as pagan. ISBE (the original edition) points out in the "Astrology" article that the Jews' besetting sin was worship of the planets, and that, for example, Moloch worship was Saturn worship, for example.

    Again, in Acts 14, they attempted to worship Paul as Jupiter. So does it make sense that God would have used the planet Jupiter to show the way to His Son? "Inconceivable," to quote "The Princess Bride."
    Being a linguist, I feel the evidence from the Greek grammar and from the writings of Irenaeus (a student of Polycarp, a convert of the Apostle John's) is conclusive that it was a miracle. We'll have to agree to disagree.
     
    #54 John of Japan, Dec 29, 2007
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  15. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    I had forgotten all about Larson's web site. And I'm wrong on the date. He said 2 B.C. (It couldn't have been 2 A.D. because Herod was dead by then.)

    Larson identified 9 conditions from the book of Matthew that the suggested star would have to fulfill. They can be read here:

    http://www.bethlehemstar.net/dance/dance.htm
     
  16. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Yes, with a little help from his friends.
     
  17. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    A good discussion to revisit.
     
  18. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Did I mention the movie has great music?
     
  19. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Have heard that the star was venus/mar/Jupiter in alinement, or a supernova exploded and light finally arrived right atthat time...

    Why not the glory of God, as in the fire in wilderness, presense of God Himself?
     
  20. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Evidence and circumstances don't appear to support that theory.
     
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