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Walking on Thin Ice

prayerwithpooch.jpgPhoto from Poretto @ Bastion of Liberty

This image in this morning’s email brought this meditation from 2006 to mind:

To the secular, nothing is sacred. Then again, why should it be? They’re “secular.”

Back in 2006 National Geographic and other media echo chambers thought enough of this “discovery” to headline it, Jesus May Have Walked on Ice, Not Water, Scientists Say . I’m not nearly so objective. I’ve also developed a bullshit meter that starts to tilt whenever I read the phrase “Scientists Say” in a headline.

After I read the story, I thought it could more reasonably be headlined, Scientist Confirms Popular Theory That Most Scientists Are Atheistic Asses with Too Much Time and Money on their Hands, Sensible People Say

The New Testament says that Jesus walked on water, but a Florida university professor believes there could be a less miraculous explanation — he walked on a floating piece of ice….

“We simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years,” said Doron Nof, a Florida State University professor of oceanography. “We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account.”

Nof, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, said on Tuesday that his study found an unusual combination of water and atmospheric conditions in what is now northern Israel could have led to ice formation on the Sea of Galilee…..

“If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don’t,” Nof said. “Maybe somebody walked on the ice, I don’t know. I believe that something natural was there that explains it… We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account.”

We leave to others the question of whether or not Nof’s research is red hot or diddly-squat. What is of broader interest is the present state of the secular mindset to all things religious.

“Not which faith is right, but which faith is to be master.”

Religious in the Christian sense, that is, since the current global climate of “Fear of Flying Muslims” seems to have created a shortage of “scientific research” into the various miracles and powers assigned to Allah in the Koran. Indeed, given the reaction to a drawing of the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, it is not hard to imagine that even if a “scientist” were to notice “something natural that explains” Allah, his next thought would be something on the order of “Why should I put my head on the chopping block?” Jesus, being a more forgiving God, is safer game.

Of course, it is, as scientists are wont to say, ‘only a theory.’ This “phrase that pays” in grants and salaries is used in two ways.

When it comes to a central tenet of modern science, Darwinism for example, the word “theory” is used in a manner that enjambs “theory” into “fact,” and a great deal of effort is put into why “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution” really means “The Absolute and Forever Established Fact of How the World and Life and Everything Else Came to Be and Everyone Else Can Just Shut UP and Sit Down.”

Nof, tugging on his fashionable earing,  opts for the Non-Denial Denial use of “Theory” in his paper. The Non-concluding Conclusion to his paper, “Is there a paleolimnological explanation for ‘walking on water’ in the Sea of Galilee,” reads:

We hesitate to draw any conclusion regarding the implications of this study to the actual events that took place at Tabgha during the last few (or several) thousand years. Our springs ice calculation may or may not be related to the origin of the account of Christ walking on water. The whole story may have originated in local ancient folklore which happened to be told best in the Christian Bible. It is hoped, however, that archeologists, religion scholars, anthropologists and believers will examine such implications in detail.

Translating Nof’s blather: “I just pulled the pin and threw the grenade into the building. Can’t blame me. I was just the hand grenade’s messenger. And, by the way, you may cower and abase yourself when you note the insertion of the word “paleolimnnological” in the title. Makes it sound real solid scientific, don’t it?”

“For Science to triumph as the new religion, Christ has to die again.”

Of course, when Nof gets a little attention from supportive and loving media, he phrases it a bit differently, “If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don’t,” Nof said. “Maybe somebody walked on the ice, I don’t know. I believe that something natural was there that explains it.”

Nof’s entitled to his ‘belief’ in “something natural.” That belief system is not only the foundation of his career but of his self-limited life itself. “Something Natural” is, in a very real sense, his religion.

As far as the whole “Jesus walked on the water” issue goes, my own belief is:

“I don’t know.

I wasn’t there.

I can’t seem to find the weather report from that day online.

And there’s no videotape that I’m aware of.

Just some eyewitnesses, with all that implies.”

I’m also aware of another theory that holds that the Star of Bethlehem was a supernova that just happened to show up in the sky at Christ’s birth. Arthur C. Clarke used this to good effect in his short story “The Star.” T.S. Eliot used it earlier in “The Journey of the Magi.” In a much less distinguished manner, I’ve even used it myself in Sunday Meditation: The Star @ AMERICAN DIGEST where I noted, in passing,

In time stronger sciences would rise upon the structures of the proto-sciences of astrology and alchemy. These sciences would push the first sciences into the realm of myth, speculation, and popular fantasy. The new sciences, you see, were much, much more about Reality. They would never be tossed aside in their time as so many playthings of mankind’s youth. The authority of astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry and others was certain. Unlike astrology and alchemy, they would never be questioned. We had the evidence. There was no doubt. They were as eternal and as fixed in the truth as… well, as astrology was in 5 B.C.

All of which gets us back to the present where Christ is revealed to have been, at the very least, pretty good at ice-skating. And, with a supernova at birth and a frozen lake near the end, you would have to say, even as a secular scientist, that Jesus had a great sense of timing as well as a way with words.

Nof seems to have a sense of timing and a way with words as well. I’m sure there are nods of approval and various other high fives pinging into his email from other true believers world-wide. After all, it seems that the only thing that makes a bigger splash in Science these days than a cure for “Covid” is some bit of “cutting-edge research” (almost always with the aid of computer modeling) that either warms the globe or disparages religion.

Why? Because it is a central tenet of faith in the Secular Religion that traditional Christianity is the “Anti-Darwin” to that faith. Strange when you consider that, in terms of actual dogma and actual acts, Islam is far more hostile to all the core tenets of science, but — as I noted above — it really isn’t very safe to take too close a look at that collection of ergot-derived insights out of the desert. (They shoot cartoonists, don’t they?) Those Muslim adherents are a bit more lethal when it comes to accepting slights on their religion. But then Christianity is the dominant religion of the First World and that’s what we’re discussing here — not which faith is right, but which faith is to be master. It seems that for Science to triumph as the new religion, Christ has to die again — and this time he’s got to stay dead.

There are fundamentalist Christians who hold that everything in the Bible is as the Bible says it is. And there are fundamentalist Scientists, like Nof, who hold that nothing in the Bible is as it says it is.

My very small puppy in this fight says that there is a lot in Science that lets all of us live longer and better lives while there is a lot in Christianity that lets us live deeper and more meaningful lives.

I don’t look to Christianity to bring me the weather reports for tomorrow. At the same time, I don’t look to Science to ever, in its wildest dreams, reveal the core of the miracle and mystery of being a conscious entity who has been granted the gift of being able, in my better moments, to witness — even for an inch of time — the wonder of Creation.

I know that there are many zealots of the Secular Faith who will think less of me for not being “tough-minded” enough just to face up to the fact that everything really is “purposeless matter hovering in the dark.” I know that habit of mind well. I wore it like a pre-fab Medal of Honor for many years. Then one day I had had enough of Nothingness and I sent it back.

I guess you could say that to me being a Secular Atheist started to feel like trying to walk on thin ice.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sam L. March 12, 2021, 9:35 AM

    Welllllll, I thought EVERYONE KNEW the the Sea of Galilee was FAMOUS for being frozen over for 30 centuries. (/sark) (I couldna resist.)

  • rabbit tobacco March 12, 2021, 9:51 AM

    Jethro Tull Skating away on the thin ice of a new day

  • Casey Klahn March 12, 2021, 10:44 AM

    Going into the deep past to debunk a miracle of Christ. Does this guy have a day job?

    He’s a “scientist”, and yet the rationale that is God is omnipotent, then He can do anything – that’s all BS. How about this? Get some logic, Einstein.

    Science. Riiiight.

  • Gordon Scott March 12, 2021, 11:13 AM

    Just wait until some 28-year old who has never worked for a living sneers, “I really don’t care what your silly Sky God has to say in your imagination.” Assuming you have the self control not to give him a lifetime of dental issues, he’ll be one person you can cross off the list.

    I think about C. S. Lewis walking the night time streets of Oxford, explaining Christianity to J. R. R. Tolkien, and succeeding in his loving goal: to save Tolkien’s soul.

  • Roger March 12, 2021, 11:34 AM

    Well, would the appearance of ice, timed just at the right time to allow Jesus to walk out to his disciples be less miraculous?

  • Lance de Boyle March 12, 2021, 11:40 AM

    Danged funny.

    “Nof’s research is red hot or diddly-squat…”

    Those ARE the (rhyming) choices in life.

  • Sally J Dungan March 12, 2021, 12:45 PM

    Actually it was Tolkien who led Lewis to salvation.

  • Milton March 12, 2021, 1:22 PM

    Then there’s the whole thing about the boat. Was it an ice boat? Was Peter’s only concern that the ice wasn’t thick enough?

    What a knob.

  • Jewel March 12, 2021, 1:38 PM

    It would be way more sciency if scientismists would say, “Jesus, a fictional, European fairy tale, who didn’t probably never even existed, most likely walked on ice, which is really common in the Middle East, says science.

  • ghostsniper March 12, 2021, 2:14 PM

    ice my ass
    I saw somewhere recently an entire ship, maybe a giant cargo ship, hovering in mid air over the ocean. They claimed it was an “optical illusion”.
    So if a ship can hover why can’t a jesus walk on water?
    Besides, ever walk on ice? You won’t get far. Instantly your souls (get it? souls) will start to burn like hale and next thing you know that slippery shit will break your hip.

  • Auntie Analogue March 12, 2021, 4:13 PM

    A priest, a minister and a rabbi are in a boat out on the lake, fishing.

    PRIEST: “Doggone it, I left my sunglasses on the dock.”

    The priest steps overboard, walks across the water to the dock, fetches his sunglasses, walks back across the water, boards the boat.

    MINISTER: “Wouldn’t you know it, I left my lunchbox on the dock.”

    The minister steps overboard, walks across the water to the dock, fetches his lunchbox, walks back across the water, boards the boat.”

    Mystified, but not to be outdone, the rabbi pipes up:

    RABBI: “Oy-vey, I left my sunscreen on the dock.

    The rabbi steps overboard, takes one step and plunges up to his neck in the lake.

    The priest elbows the minister:

    PRIEST: “Do you think we should have told him where the stepping stones are?”

  • gwbnyc March 12, 2021, 6:51 PM

    was that “Moron ‘Nuf”?

  • Nori March 12, 2021, 7:32 PM

    “Then one day I had had enough of Nothingness and I sent it back.”
    Yes. Anyone who has been in that pit and emerged becomes stronger,in ways you never imagined.
    And He will be there with you,always.

    Auntie A. reminds us how wonderful the gift of humor is. A good laugh is so soul-cleansing.

    Thin Ice On A New Day,good stuff,rabbit t. Jethro Tull’s Stand Up album is forever ingrained on the brain,I still know the lyrics,it was and is a great work.
    Who can forget the Grammy Awards,sometime last century,when Metallica lost the new category “Best Heavy Metal Album” to…Jethro Tull. WTF? had’nt been invented yet,but it was on everyone’s faces.
    When Metallica finally won their first Grammy,Hetfield said “We’d like to thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year.”

  • Jewel March 13, 2021, 12:12 AM

    Jesus also never walked on eggshells. But for reasons that elude me, all the priests and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church do so, quite well.

  • Northern Dave March 13, 2021, 5:52 AM

    Interesting that a guy living in Florida knows about walking on ice.

  • ghostsniper March 13, 2021, 8:15 AM

    I lived in FL 40 years.
    As a kid my mother frequently told me I was “Skating on thin ice.”
    I didn’t find it interesting.

  • ambiguousfrog March 13, 2021, 4:34 PM

    Ugh, my Alma mater. Sorry my money went there in the 90’s. Were the apostles ice fishing with nets? Did Jesus have snow chains on his sandals? Maybe he was driving a Cherokee during those most racist of times. I want off this rock.

  • EX-Californian Pete March 18, 2021, 1:28 PM

    To Nori-
    “Anyone who has been in that pit and emerged becomes stronger, in ways you never imagined.
    And He will be there with you, always. ”

    After all the “extreme near-death” challenges I’ve had to face (including the Camp Fire) I’ve lost all fears, with one exception- fear of God Almighty.

    I’ve found that no one ever really knows the true amount of great inner strength we possess until we are forced to summon it up, usually from having to deal with some type of huge threat or challenge. I guess that’s just part of our “Human Nature.” Or maybe it’s the “test of fire” referred to in the Bible.