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Wed Apr 22, 2015, 03:53 PM

Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity

Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity
NEARLY two thousand years ago, a man named Saul had an experience that changed his life, and possibly yours as well. According to Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the biblical New Testament, Saul was on the road to Damascus, Syria, when he saw a bright light in the sky, was blinded and heard the voice of Jesus. Changing his name to Paul, he became a major figure in the spread of Christianity.

William Hartmann, co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has a different explanation for what happened to Paul. He says the biblical descriptions of Paul's experience closely match accounts of the fireball meteor seen above Chelyabinsk, RussiaMovie Camera, in 2013.

Hartmann has detailed his argument in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science (doi.org/3vn). He analyses three accounts of Paul's journey, thought to have taken place around AD 35. The first is a third-person description of the event, thought to be the work of one of Jesus's disciples, Luke. The other two quote what Paul is said to have subsequently told others.

"Everything they are describing in those three accounts in the book of Acts are exactly the sequence you see with a fireball," Hartmann says. "If that first-century document had been anything other than part of the Bible, that would have been a straightforward story."


That would certainly be a different interpretation than any I heard when I was you. I can even understand why Paul and other would interpret an event of this nature as a sign from God.

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Falling meteor may have changed the course of Christianity (Original post)
Agnosticsherbet Apr 2015 OP
hrmjustin Apr 2015 #1
Agnosticsherbet Apr 2015 #3
msongs Apr 2015 #2
Agnosticsherbet Apr 2015 #4
Lint Head Apr 2015 #5
rug Apr 2015 #6
A HERETIC I AM Apr 2015 #7
rug Apr 2015 #8
A HERETIC I AM Apr 2015 #9
LiberalAndProud Apr 2015 #10
struggle4progress Apr 2015 #11

Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 03:55 PM

1. Interesting theory but I take it on faith Jesus spoke to Paul.

 

But it is an interesting theory and worth exploring.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 04:30 PM

3. That doesn't mean it wasn't a meteor.

I am agnostic, but it is interesting to contemplate how an omniscient, omnipotent, infinite God, if such a thing exits, communicates with finite beings.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 04:16 PM

2. how something real (maybe) gets turned into superstition and fairy tale nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 04:32 PM

4. Paul would have no concepton of a metor nor of ultraviolet light that may have burned his eyes.

HIs interpretation, considering the time, should not be surprising.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 04:35 PM

5. I can understand how the impact and sound of an explosion, as the meteor hit the earth, interpreted

as the voice of God. If someone, particularly from the Iron Age, were in deep contemplation regarding life and it's meaning that sound could me interpreted as a sign.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 07:02 PM

6. That's a rather far-fetched theory.

 

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Response to rug (Reply #6)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 07:08 PM

7. .....

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 07:10 PM

8. I know.

 

I appreciated the irony as I was typing it.

However, I do hold the Planetary Science Institute to a higher standard when it comes to a hypothesis.

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Response to rug (Reply #8)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 07:20 PM

9. Just that, eh? n/t

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 08:33 PM

10. And Paul was the only one who noticed, evidently.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Apr 22, 2015, 08:58 PM

11. If one wants to understand the experience that led to Paul's change-of-heart, it would seem

more natural to examine his own direct testimony rather than hearsay reports from later

Discussing his conversion in his own letters, Paul says things like

... I told you what I had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried and raised on the third day, that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to five hundred brothers and sisters at once. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me ...

whereas Acts (containing the bright-light-on-the-road-to-Damascus story) was probably written two or three decades after Paul's death, traditionally considered to have occurred in Nero's era

It would, of course, be interesting if we had datable evidence of a mid-first-century meteoritic fireball near Damascus, but establishing that such an event led to Paul's conversion would be quite difficult, I think: it might be simpler to suspect that such reports later rolled into the story of Paul's conversion -- just as one might reasonably suspect that a total eclipse visible north of Jerusalem in November 29 CE eventually rolled into the Jesus crucifixion narrative







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