Thomas: Did the sun stop moving?

Hi Nick —

Before we move on to secondary issues, we should resolve your initial premise, for the benefit of my fellow Christians and indeed all here:

The premise (with reference to Catholicism) was:
Let's pretend a Catholic Bishop suddenly denounced the idea that sun stopped in the sky. What would happen? I firmly believe the Bishop would be in big trouble. He (no she possible) would be told he has to toe the sun-stopping line or else.

By moving on, can I take your silence on my response to the assertion you made as an admission of error?

Thomas, you wish to discuss your response to my comment, and why I am silent regarding your response. Let's take a look. Your response was,
"You are now about to commence on an exercise to try and ridicule my faith..."
--> I felt your response deserved silence. I still do. I am only too happy to clear up any misunderstanding you have on my silence to your response.


Did the sun stop moving?
Hi Nick —

Thomas, you wish to discuss your response to my comment, and why I am silent regarding your response. Let's take a look. Your response was,
"You are now about to commence on an exercise to try and ridicule my faith..."
--> I felt your response deserved silence. I still do.

OK. I can understand that. I am sorry you feel that way.

Let me clarify the question: Do you accept your premise was wrong?

Respect for each other's beliefs is the basis of our discussions. Without that, no discussion is possible. Since you have proclaimed my premise disrespectful, discussion of that premise now ends.

Do not worry, there are other premises.

Did the sun stop moving?

Let us say then that I stand corrected on that point — you were not intending to ridicule my faith.

Hopefully we can now put that aside.

I only persist because the question you ask can be approached a number of ways, and this will help me determine the context in which I answer the question.

So, for my benefit, do you accept the premise was wrong?

Your insult of my premise is serious. It cannot be "corrected". The insult to the premise stops the discussion of the premise.

Did the sun stop moving?
Nick —

You have laid equally serious offences against my faith in the past, but I have for the sake of the wider discussion I have forgiven them, and moved on, forgiveness is central to my faith, after all.

If you cannot forgive and move on, then I believe the discussion cannot logically proceed — indeed if as you say "the insult to the premise stops the discussion of the premise" — then it stops any discussion of matters subsequent to the premise.

What matters here is not whether or not the sun stopped moving — in Catholicism we are not obliged to accept the text as literally true — but rather whether or not you are able to move ... if not, as your line of reasoning in the current discussion suggests, then I refer to our prior discussions of Aquinas:

"metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections."

In short, I can answer your question — a secondary premise — but this will have no bearing on the prior premise, and your perception of insult therefrom, so logically it's rather a pointless process.

In all this, if I may for a moment address my Christian and other friends who follow these disputes, I am continually conscious of, and drawing attention to, the principle of context, which is an a priori determinant within which any dialogue (and indeed any text) has its place.

Hi Francis —

yes, the sun stopped moving, for those with faith to see such things...

Indeed, in the lives of faith across the globe there are stories of divine intervention in the outcome of military affairs in which they become embroiled (the text of Nick's question concerns the military conquests of the Jews).

A few examples spring immediately to mind:
There are many instances in the Jewish histories (Josue 10 is just one);
There is Constantine's vision of the Cross before the gates of Rome;
The Angel of Mons in 1914;
The kamikaze ('Divine Wind') that destroyed the Mongol fleet off the coast of Japan in the thirteenth century;
The storms that destroyed more ships than the navy when the Spanish Armada set course for Elizabethan England (an attribution claimed by the Wiccan movement);
The Channel storms in 1940/1 that would have played considerable havoc in the German invasion fleet, had Operation Sealion gone forward (again claimed by English Wiccans);
The calming of the storm that would have necessitated the cancellation of Operation Overlord in June, 1944 (ditto).

And I am sure that every soldier, sailor and airman of faith has a personal story along the same lines.

Sigh ... Hi Nick,

I think you said you believe the sun stopped moving. Thanks for clearing that up.

D'you know I am coming to the conclusion that if I should want you to know anything of what I believe with any certainty, I should say the opposite of what I mean? ;)

Be that as it may, it would be remiss of me not to draw your attention to the fact that you have made a wrong assumption.

For Francis and anyone following this discussion, I hope you know by now that I am not given to making overtly-simplistic and unqualified statements.

If anyone is interested there's a couple of interesting socio-archeological notes about the text in question, and as I put forward in my original response to the erroneous premise of the freedom of its interpretation being forbidden, I can precis the Catholic position regarding textual analysis as a whole.

Thomas, you said,
" have made a wrong assumption."
--> Ah, you think the sun did not stop moving. Got it. I find that fascinating, as the Bible says it stopped moving.

Nick: "I am just reading what the Bible says."
Thomas: "Not really, if you think about it."
Is it just me, or is this way off the plot somewhere? Surely this thread isn't what this forum should be about?

If someone started telling a faithful Muslim how they should interpret the Koran would we not expect some strong defence to the contrary? What's the difference in this case?

Is there a way in which we can give each other enough space to share and discuss matters without it getting like this?
I think what's happening here is clear enough. Nick tried to begin a simple, friendly discussion. He asked: "Thomas, did the sun stop moving?"

Certainly it is understandable, plenty encouraged, that others would comment, answer, offer their thoughts, etc.

However, the original question was put to Thomas, very straightforward.

So far, Nick has gotten NOTHING but the runaround from Thomas. I trust that ANYONE can clearly see this.

It is interesting, that you seem far more concerned with how your fellow Christian are PERCEIVING YOU, Thomas, than with just giving Nick a simple, straightforward answer.

Too tall an order, you say? WELL THEN, why not at least ADDRESS THE ACTUAL QUESTION NICK HAS ASKED, and let the discussion develop from there? If the answer requires you to go deeper, that's fine - and probably welcomed, by Nick! I know I would be interested to see what happens.

But so far, we've seen you dance all around the actual question, try to address other questions and issues, talk about how important it is for your observing, Christian peers to hang around and back you up and jump in any time to bail you out (? - this is what I think you're doing, at any rate) ...

And only ONE person - another Catholic, I think - has actually bothered to ANSWER the question asked of YOU, Thomas. :eek:

Now we have Neemai saying that he (?) thinks it's wrong for Nick to try and take you to task over what the Bible clearly says occurred, though, Neemai, if you will look carefully ... Thomas has YET to fully or properly address Nick's ORIGINAL, straightforward question ... unless, by chance, this most recent post is telling us NO, Thomas doesn't think the sun actually stopped moving.

Is that what we've FINALLY seen you say, Thomas? I confess - I AM CONFUSED - because with all this dancing and dodging and avoiding and attempt at FACE-SAVING you've been doing ... I can't make out what you DO or DON'T seem to think!

I mean, when Francis says YES, the faithful believe this, you say, "INDEED," Thomas. But when Nick says, "So, you DO believe this ..." - we find you berating Nick for DARING to make the OBVIOUS and LOGICAL assumption - and you tell us, NO, I do NOT think that.


Meanwhile, Nick is patient as ever, and is still just looking for that SIMPLE, straightforward response to a FIVE WORD QUESTION in the OP. If we have it, now, FINALLY, then good. More discussion MIGHT be in order ... yet I am amazed at what a person must go through in order to try and get the ball rolling.

Everyone wants to punch and poke it, scotch the thing, deflate it, reshape it, spray-paint it fifteen different colors, and NO ONE - save poor Nick - can seem to communicate, "JUST GIVE IT A PUSH, in the proper direction - which YOU feel it should roll!" :rolleyes:

I mean, DEAR GOD, what's it take to get an honest answer?

Sure, I understand Thomas, you are afraid you'll be `taken to task' as soon as you say AUGHT. You're right, and you know it, so I can well understand your little dance.

But let's face it, hard questions will sometimes FORCE us to rethink things, and to ask ourselves, what DO we actually believe ... and WHY. Nick's helping you with that, but I kinda wonder - do you have the humility, or the ability, to admit it! :eek:

If the Sun (meaning, of course, the EARTH) did not in fact, stand still, then we might ask ourself - what did occur? And if we - for whatever reason - agree with the dead-letter, literal Bible tale ... then again, we may go on to ask, HOW do we believe such a thing, knowing what we know about GRAVITY, for starters (but of course, this is merely the tip of the iceberg).

What a pity, that no one around here wants to TALK TURKEY.

Sorry to butt in, Nick, but if you and I just wanna address the issue, since we seem to be the only ones willing to think it out, to be sensible about it, and brave enough to actually take the bull by the horns ... then hey, I'm always game. :)

Tell me something, do you get such resistance, and dodging, and efforts at face-saving ... from folks on the Theosophy forum? I'm really quite curious! ;)


Let's not try and be personal, please - both the question and answer in this thread do appear somewhat aimed at purposes other than discussion.

Considering that belief in the Divine, in whatever form, requires a belief in what most people without faith would consider supranatural at best, I think the suggestion that any individual belief or consideration of the existence of the supranatural as flawed or otherwise misdirected, is less than ingenious.

We're not here to place any individual member's faith under the spotlight and be critical their personal position faith, unless invited.

Now, this thread can continue as a discussion of Joshua 10:13 by all means - but let me know if this can continue as a civil discussion, or whether I need to close the thread.
I said:
We're not here to place any individual member's faith under the spotlight and be critical their personal position faith, unless invited.
Could you please remind me, Brian, just for the RECORD ... WHEN, WHERE, on WHAT POST, THREAD and DISCUSSION ... either Nick, Bruce Michael or myself - asked Thomas (or Francis, for that matter, and a coupla other folks who love to chime in - I think we can see a perfect example of that here, in response to this) to TRASH our spiritual and philosophical beliefs (?).

Perhaps they think, as some do, that because they are more numerous than ourselves (those who pursue a more eclectic spiritual path, whether `esoteric' or otherwise) ... it is okay to BASH away, and pretend that Theosophists don't have feelings, and that we don't take our beliefs seriously. :confused: :(

I mean, I can argue - and have done so - that a Theosophical line of belief fulfils every bit the role of `a religion,' or set of Spiritual beliefs in one's life ... certainly the latter, yet YOU HAVE SEEN the position which Thomas loves to shove down people's throat, EVERY opportunity he gets!!!

I KNOW you have seen this, because I have even PM'd you about it.

Now, it's YOUR forum, and I KNOW that you changed the `Garden' approach some time ago, and sure, the Christian forums are more lively for that. Yet I think you've found, have you not, that folks both familiar with C-R and new to the board are pretty much fine with having a lot of discussions on Comparative, and others on a different section than `Christian,' thus cutting down on the excess traffic, Jesus-bashing, and general frivolous discussion which seems to so often end up over on Christianity, for some reason.

Tell me it's `payback time,' for those of us who have dared to question status quo Christian interpretation (and just what is `consensus,' anyway?) ... and that'll be enough. If it is acceptable to stand by and observe those with less popular beliefs and spiritual paths get BASHED daily for it here at C-R, while those in the MAINSTREAM are not only allowed to LORD IT OVER other folks - but also get a prompt defense from the Board Admin simply because they are being taken to task for being dodgy about a straight answer to a simple question ...

... then I begin to wonder, how did our friend Blue Jay manage to HOLD OUT so long as she did! :(


Why not just open a new sub-forum called THEOSOPHY BASHING?

At least then there will be no lie.

AND BY THE WAY, BRIAN, ASK MEfor a LIST, a compilation of NUMEROUS POSTS, from the past - say, 5 or 6 months, hell, even 2 or 3, in which Thomas (and occasionally another) has simply said, STRAIGHTFORWARD and DIRECTLY, YOUR SPIRITUAL PATH/PHILOSOPHY IS INVALID, ILLEGITIMATE, ILL-FOUNDED (etc), for the following reasons ... and then gone on to enumerate these, sometime with repetition, but always with a slightly different angle of attack.

Now, find me ONE SINGLE POST where I SINGLE-HANDEDLY indict THE ENTIRE CHRISTIAN FAITH, or even Roman Catholicism as a whole ... rather than, AT MOST, point out that I have disagreements, or different interpretations, etc.

SHOW ME where I say the same thing that Thomas says ...

... and WHO is being told to chill out here, exactly?

Yeah, uh-huh. Wanna explain to me again how that goes?

Ready for the LIST yet?

I figured as much ...

Or, for the hell of it, show me ONE `Francis post,' where I've said, point blank, "Your philosophy and beliefs are a rip-off, a sham, totally ridiculous and utter NONSENSE ... they are BULLSHIT, you'd have to be STUPID and totally misguided to believe in such hogwash, etc."

Hi Nick —

Thomas, you said,
" have made a wrong assumption."
--> Ah, you think the sun did not stop moving. Got it. I find that fascinating, as the Bible says it stopped moving.

As I suspected, you have immediately jumped from one wrong conclusion to the other.

OK. Let me bring this to a close.

First, for accuracy's sake, let's quote the actual text in question, the one Nick had a vague recollection of, but could not remember where in the Bible it was, or bother to find it, but the answer to which seems all important:
"Move not, O sun, toward Gabaon,
nor thou, O moon, toward the valley of Ajalon.​
And the sun and the moon stood still, till the people revenged themselves of their enemies. Is not this written in the Book of the Just? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down the space of one day. There was not before nor after so long a day, the Lord obeying the voice of a man, and fighting for Israel."
Josue 10:12-14

According to scholars, the first part of the text is a poetic couplet, the second its interpretation.

The association of heavenly bodies with the deity who fights for Israel is a commonplace in Biblical poetry. And as I have intimated, a belief that God is on one's side in a conflict is not uncommon in the traditions of the world. Indeed there are images of Adolf Hitler under the title of "Gott mit uns" (the motto of the Royal House of Prussia).

The text "Is not this written in the Book of the Just?" does not appear in the Septuagint, although it is an ancient gloss, a footnote indicating the source from which the poetic unit was taken, I believe no longer extant. The same type of internal referencing can be found elsewhere, eg 2 Sam 1:18.


Where does this leave the Catholic in regard to the interpretation of Scripture?

The answer to that question, as was originally framed by Nick, who believes a Bishop would be in 'deep trouble' for not 'toeing the line' if he chose to regard the astronomical phenomena, is that there is no requirement upon the Catholic to treat the text as literally true.

The next roll-on question then: Is nothing in the Bible literally true?
To which the answer is, of course, there are literal truths, there are poetic truths, there are mythic truths, there are all manner of truths ... which is why it is entirely reasonable and logical to say that the Bible, in its totality, cannot be understood in depth without the accompanying traditional commentaries — as is the case with any sacra doctrina.

Allow me to quote from Dei Verbum, a document comprising part of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church:

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).
(my emhasis)

However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another.

My emphasis again.

The game of tit-for-tat that Nick and I have been engaged in has for me a precise purpose pointing not only towards "refuting error," but also towards the "reformation of manners and discipline in right living" — in this instance, of course, I mean the correct philosophical method of inquiry, in the Greek tradition, nothing more.

Again, "The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture." — As Nick sought only a yes/no answer to his question, I drew the obvious conclusion that he has no interest in investigating the meaning the sacred writer intended to express.

OK ... so ask me again. Do I believe the sun stood still?
The poet in me says yes ... the philosopher in me says no ...

Actually, I think a 'Theosophy Society' board would be a good idea, under 'Modern Religions' or 'Alternative'?