September 10, 2011

2 Kings 1.2-1.17

["Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel from Samaria... He served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done."]
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Now Ahaziah fell through the latice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them: "Go, inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this illness."

But the Angel of the Lord said to  Elijah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the King of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?' Now, therefore, says the Lord, 'You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.'" So Elijah went.

The messengers returned to the King, and he said to them, "Why have you returned?"

And they said to him, "There came a man to meet us, and said to us, 'Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the Lord, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but shall surely die.'"

He said to them, "What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?"

They said to him, "He wore a garment of haircloth, with a girdle of leather about his thighs."

And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite."

Then the King sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, "O man of God, the King says, 'Come down.'"

But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from Heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then fire came down from Heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

Again the King sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he went up and said to him, "O man of God, this is the King's order, 'Come down quickly!'"

But Elijah answered them, " "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from Heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then the fire of Godcame down from Heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

Again the King sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and said, "O man  of God, I pray you, let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. Lo, fire came down from Heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight!"

Then the Angel of the Lord said to Elijah, "Go down with him; do not be afraid of him."

So he arose and went down with him to the King, and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron-- Is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire His word?-- Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die."

So he died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. Jehoram, his brother, became King in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, because Ahaziah had no son.

7 Comments:

At 1:47 AM, OpenID rhiannonproblematising said...

I am struck by the fact that in this brief passage, the Lord only does two things: speaks, and kills (I might even say murders). I'd like to know what other people make of the deaths of a hundred men for reasons which are not apparent in this passage.

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger forrest said...

It takes a certain amount of 'reading between lines.' But a 'god' in these times [and others] is very much a political thing. We've had a couple of generations where the state religion has been Baalist; Jezebel is still a powerful influence and the King is her son-- So far as the state still has a small professional army, it seems likely that their loyalty is to the ruling dynasty and 'their' god.

So their attitude toward Elijah is far from friendly; and toward the end of this we have God telling him, "Do not be afraid." That is, Elijah has been in danger and keeping him safe has required inspiring a little more 'respect', as Don Corleone would have put it-- or as a friend once told me on a student-teacher assignment: "You may not care whether this kid respects you, but you can't teach him anything until he does."

Jesus does without that sort of respect, but he comes along after a very long historical process-- and we all know how his arrest went.

What God thinks of "killing" is probably much like what I think of "killing" stones in a game of go: They go into a little bowl, and come out again in the next game. People learn more in their earthly lives than your average stone, but the fact of death is one of those things available to learn from. [It doesn't necessarily mean we learn the right thing, initially!]

God is about to do 'worse' than this; but no one disappears out of the Divine Grasp.

 
At 10:20 PM, Blogger Random Arrow said...

Perfect. Just perfect.

I see the header: 2 Kings 1.2-1.17. I wonder: “let’s read this passage and see who is killing who this time?”

Rhiannonproblematising has already asked this question for me. Or a question like it.

Rhiannon, I don’t have the answer.

Forrest covered a little political stuff.

My two-cents on logic. This is faux modal logic. Starter modes (modalities): 1) all, 2) some, 3) none.

All this is prefixed: 1) if God, 2) then.

If God (exists), then God can relate (if God exists as a relational God) to all, some, or none of human violence.

Human violence is the ‘given.’ On the record.

If God relates to ‘none’ of our human violence, then ‘some’ humans will blame God for walking away. If God relates to ‘all’, then ‘some’ humans will blame God for taking sides (my God v. your god - as forrest says about political gods). If God relates to ‘some’ human violence, then ‘some’ humans will blame God for being arbitrary and capricious. Simple modes (modalities): 1) all, 2) some, 3) none.

Occam says don’t multiply entities beyond what’s necessary for simplest explanations. The simplest explanation is – God doesn’t exist. We’re on our own. We kill each other. This isn’t the route Occam took. Occam didn’t know how to apply his own logic.

Or? – maybe God is a necessary entity after all?

Which makes things unlimitedly more complicated.

Each must come to her/his own answers.

 
At 11:54 PM, Blogger forrest said...

Logic is not our best friend here. "Unicorns have one horn" is true, does not require or imply "Unicorns exist."

"God exists" is different, the same sort of proposition as "Random Arrow exists." Which really turns out to depend on "What do we mean by 'Random Arrow'?"

I have not personally observed 'Random Arrow', but have personally observed 'God'. Whether this is the same thing that you mean by 'God'... can only be rightly settled by pointing-- and my ability to point in that direction is limited!

When I had a bookstore, my counter had a little shelf in front; and I sat at a desk behind it. It was just about impossible to tell people to look at what was right in front of them. Every time I'd point there, they'd turn around and look behind them.

The same thing happens when I try to point the direction of 'God'.

God is no more and no less responsible for human violence... than my mother was responsible for the existence of dirty diapers. Humanity implies that capacity-- But at a certain level of development, that capacity stops being an option.

Here, however, we're talking about God's actions: Remove this piece from the board; add that one-- for strategies and objectives we aren't equipped to readily see. Unlimited love and wisdom... will sometimes resemble limited love, or even dislike-- and sometimes not.

I've had to conclude that God is 'necessary' in the same way, for the same reason, as "Something has to exist." That is not a 'logical' proposition, as the inventors of the 'ontological argument' imagined it to be. But there It is.

 
At 1:38 AM, Blogger Random Arrow said...

“Logic is not our best friend here.”

Aye. Not friend. Not foe.

"Unicorns have one horn" is true, does not require or imply "Unicorns exist."

To exist in imagination is to exist. In imagination. Existence in imagination is a form of existence. That unicorns have one horn is true – implies that unicorns exist – in imagination.

More Vajrayana Buddhist tricks below.

"God exists" is different, the same sort of proposition as "Random Arrow exists." Which really turns out to depend on "What do we mean by 'Random Arrow'?"

Yes. What existence does “God” have in my imagination? What existence does “Random Arrow” have in my imagination? What I mean by “Random Arrow” may or may not mean “Random Arrow” has any existence outside of imagination.

I have not personally observed 'Random Arrow',

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe the only “Random Arrow” observable is that which is ‘observable’ here online? Maybe this ‘observation’ in this media is the only observation available? Maybe. Maybe not. If no, then there’s ‘this’ (online) and more (elsewhere/other modes). If yes, then there’s this (online) and the next question is the degree or robustness of what’s been ‘observed’ here. What’s a valid ‘observation’?

(continued)

 
At 1:50 AM, Blogger Random Arrow said...

(continued)

... but have personally observed 'God' .

Yes. I’m still struggling with this one. The proper expression. Tough one for me. The most elegant expression is: “have personally observed ‘God.’” Also, “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also” (1 John 1:3).

Ontologists get fancier: calling it ‘that which.’ Ontologists fill in ‘that which’ with whatever further modes of existence they consider implied or ‘necessary.’ Observations in ontological modal logic (faux yet) are observations of mental abstractions (existence in imagination) of ‘necessary’ modes. The question is whether ‘that which’ exists in imagination has been ‘observed’ outside imagination too in the ‘external’ world. Correspondentially speaking. And what ‘observation’ externally means? If anything at all? My personal sense of this next.

... Whether this is the same thing that you mean by 'God'... can only be rightly settled by pointing-- and my ability to point in that direction is limited! .

Yes. Methinks that the pointing can (not ‘must’) include pointing to that which exists in imagination in the modal logic (faux) definitions of God, that is, pointing to how “God” (my statement of) exists in my imagination plus my pointing to the external observations of ‘God’ that I consider in correspondence with “God.” You are able theoretically (maybe yes, maybe no in fact) to look at both of these to which I point so long as I’m relatively competent to point to both the imagined “God” (my statement of) and to my corresponding external ‘observation.’

This stuff is the coded note on the rock stuff. Pointing. Or throwing.

The additional way beyond pointing at these coded (or thrown) messages is through ‘psi.’ The inner confirmations that we're indeed meaning the same thing by “God” and ‘God.’

Here’s the trick - imho. These inner confirmations may happen quite outside and independently and despite our linguistic or other adequacies or inadequacies at ‘pointing.’

Such as when the North American Indians ‘point’ to the White Buffalo Calf Woman and I receive an inner ‘psi’ confirmation that ‘that’ is the same as what I mean by “God” and ‘God.’

As your friend Gaskin says, “this changes everything.”

Aye!

What fries my brain is the command to obtain “two or three” witnesses to a thing (even a ‘psi’ thing). So as to have inner witnesses of psi ‘confirmed.’ Confirmed here means made strong. Rather than left weak. There are strong psi signals. Made strong. Confirmed. And weak psi signals. Left weak for lack of confirmation. Confirmation here includes confirmation via externals. Including confirmations via and by the natural world. Another matter. My interpretation of such “two or three witnesses” in this usage is idiosyncratic. But there it is.

I agree that the ontological argument fails. Fails its purpose. But succeeds despite itself for a different purpose. The ontological argument raises the question (as a question) whether any “God” (statement) which exists only in imagination qualifies as ‘that which is greater than’ a ‘God’ which exists both (key: both) in imagination and outside and independently of imagination? Which is the ontologically ‘greater than’ mode of existence? - to exist only in imagination? - or to exist both in imagination and outside (external world) too?

Vajrayana Buddhists say that existence in imagination-only is the greater mode of existence for “God.” It’s heresy to say “God” exists outside imagination. Herukas (assigned gods) exist exclusively in imagination. Never externally. Fantasies. Fictions. Imaginations. Per dogma. Other religions say otherwise: “God” exists both in imagination and in the external world. Permutations on these ‘modes’ for both (imagination, externally) have exhausted generations of thinkers. And kept freshmen undergrad neurons twitching in overdrive.

Enough for now (for me). The mother stuff later.

Jim

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger forrest said...

Defined-God, existing in the imagination, has the properties that people have built into that concept, much as a unicorn has a horn.

Met-God overlaps with this imagined-God; but one has to work out in practice:

To what extent do the properties of the Actuality match-- or diverge?

How do I know that Met-God is truly 'God'? If you're in the ocean, and something taps you with a tail the size of your living room, you know you've met a whale. Deciding whether you should call this 'a fish' (as Melville's narrator did) is secondary to 'large, wet, I-do-hope-it's-friendly!

Many people have met, in the privacy of their own self, Something.

Whether they describe this as "like me" or "wholly other" seems to me a matter of personal taste & emphasis. More accurate to say "What I am truly made of-- is like this."

The ontological 'proof' "works" -- (despite proving nothing! -- because Existence is a side-effect of Its very nature.

God is not a mere "explanation of the fact that the world happens to exist;" the very fact of anything, whatsoever, existing... requires a 'transfusion' of the Actuality which God is (among other things!)

Electrons carry patterns of information through wires and ether to moving patterns of charge in your retina, optic nerve, cerebrum. But Spirit reads these words; all those intervening mechanisms of 'reality' are Its invention.

 

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