Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Clock of the Heavens [book report]

I finally made it through my second Steven E. Behrmann Book masochist that I am. So, I thought I'd recap just a little . The Clock of the Heavens is about using the stars and planets to find dates for some major biblical events. I will give him credit for admitting to the tenuous nature of the dates he proposes.
Again, we want to give a word of caution. Such data connot be considered unassailable or proof worthy. But at worst, such a fortuitous configuration in the sky at the assumed time of Christ's death cannot be considered less than incredibly amazing!
In the end it boils down to more post hoc rationalization. He ignores heavenly bodies that were unknown before modern times, but is careful to point out the inaccuracy of modern secular astrology due to precession of the earth's poles which makes the dates of the horoscopes not align with their constellations.

In fact, his debunking of astrology begins by applying arguments that are well know to skeptics.
1. Thousands of people are born every day and have very different destinies.
2. Twins can be very different in personality.
3. Predictions made are very vague and deal with common occurrences.
However, he refuses to employ his true 'science' of biblical astro-chronology make predictions.
It will naturally be a temptation for the inordinately curious to consider if the future can be unveiled by a study of the heavens. For instance, should we search for confirmation of the time of Christ's return? I strongly recommend that no such theories be suggested or promoted. . . . God has never given us permission to rely on such methods.
This is not science if it can't be used to make predictions.

The first half of the book deals with dating events of Jesus' ministry, his birth and his death. The second half deals with the more distant topics of dating the flood of Noah, the fall of man, creation, and then tries to justify the dating techniques with a known significant date - 22 Oct. 1844.

Here is a sample of the positions of various heavenly bodies on the evening of the great disappointment:
First of all we find the sun between the constellations, Libra, the Scales, and Virgo, the Virgin. Because of the timing of this configuration, the sun already resides it he area of the heavens known for centuries as being associated with the Day of Atonement and biblical seventh month.

There are several mansions and decans in the constellations of Libra and Virgo. However, the sun on this particular date is positioned at the foot of the woman. What is interesting is that the sun is at the very place indicated in the lunar mansions as 'Caphir, the atonement.'

My overall opinion is that is sounds a little forced.


Tim said...

What prompted you to attempt this madness of working through your uncle's books?

Iron Soul said...

Mom, just asked if I was interested. I wouldn't have if it wasn't my uncle.

Tim said...

I just had to sit through a sermon by Doug Batchelor this past Saturday, and it made me irritable for the rest of the day, so I wondered how you were doing it. Perhaps your uncle isn't this way, but when evangelical-style conservatives imply that the Truth is obvious and that everyone who doesn't agree with them is evil, weak, or stupid, I start to seethe. Especially given their cold, manipulative, and anti-rational techniques. I try to restrain myself, but I did tell my parents afterward that I thought Batchelor was more Adventist than human. But then, just when I thought that my mom's approval of Batchelor-type sermons signaled an unbridgeable gap in values, we had a really nice time together (on Sunday). So I suppose that if you felt the humanity of your uncle through his books, they might even be pleasurable to read. Hope so.

Herb said...

Hi Tim,

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. Hopefully your bowels are doing better since your 5 October incident. I would have replied earlier but we've been busy working on purchasing a home. No, we don't have one yet, but hopefully sometime in the near future that will change. We're well on our way...

Thanks for the compliments on my past muskrat experiences. You overstate my prowess with a small rifle, but the flattery is fun.

Yeah, it looks like they have confirmed some remains are indeed those of Steve Fossett. It's nice to have some closure on the issue.

Sofie is growing like a weed and is a lot of fun. She amuses us frequently.

Anyway, I ought to log off and watch the news to see more on how the election is progressing. Tell Lydia hello for me and send my affection to Doug Batchelor next time you see him.

Iron Soul said...

My impression from the book was that, though he has his mind made up, he does not want to overstate the value of the 'evidence' he is presenting. And, like I'd said before I was not familiar with this topic previously. That helped keep me interested. That and there was the not much of the Doug Batchelor vibe here.

Tim said...

Thank you for that gracious inquiry about the health of my bowels. They are well, God be praised.

Those darn kids, always growing like weeds. Here, we have no kids, as you know, but medical school continues to be like drinking from a fire hydrant (to match you phrase for phrase).

Actually, I find I can pass my classes without really studying much at all (prior to test week), but Lydia is nagging me to do better than that, and I guess I would like to do better, so I might try a regular study schedule soon.

Wasn't that a great election? Aside from those three marriage-defining initiatives, I'm pretty pleased with, or willing to accept just about everything else. I really liked the assisted-suicide initiative that went through in Washington (thanks, Jeff! take that, Dad! -not that he reads this blog).

The house sounds interesting. Does it have to be on base? Are there a lot of on-base options?

Greetings to Eun Duk and Sophie, and I gave Doug a hug for you (and told him you would probably be agreeable to making a large cash donation to his ministry as a means of securing eternal life - he says he'll be happy to work with you on that).

Iron Soul said...

I feel like I'm eavesdropping on a private conversation, but I'm glad to hear about how you guys are doing.

I'm also fairly disappointed in the California Prop 8 deal, but I suppose it was more wins than losses this week.

I just remembered that My cousin Dan is now pastoring in the Sacramento church that is the Doug Batchelor rival church. He isn't a fan of the Amazing 'Theories' either.

Tim said...

Here's an interesting fact I learned this week:

As part of their normal functioning, our nostrils alternately congest with extra blood flow (swelling the soft tissues) so that air flow in the congested nostril is reduced. This allows the congested nostril to rehydrate and repair whatever damage has been done with normal breathing. And here I thought it was just boogers (ko-tak-je in Korean).

Herb said...

I remember Jim Nestler enthusiastically sharing that information with us in his biostatistics class. We all loved it, of course, and thought similar ideas to what you shared.