Gen 1:6-8.

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Thu Aug 31 04:24:51 EDT 2000

At 23.20 30/08/00 +0100, Peter Kirk wrote:
>To your last question, very probably yes (though I forget the details of the
>individual case). 

It's usually better to know a little about something before you comment on
it. Bruno was burnt for rocking the boat, supporting a heretical view of
the world (amongst other things) -- yes, the same boat that Galileo later
rocked when he outlined his discovery of (round) satellites orbiting
Jupiter: the world was round and that it wasn't the centre of the universe
which was clearly against the then current teaching of the Catholic church. 

But I can understand your necessity to answer, but your not having anything
to say.

I have proposed that you made unwarranted assumptions about how the
readership of our particular text would have reacted. I think you have
simply projected a modern understanding of the world onto the readership of
this text, an understanding which is simply inappropriate.

In Giordano Bruno's time, most people believed that the world was flat
although it doesn't make much sense to the modern mind. The fact that light
existed before the sun doesn't make much sense to the modern mind, but this
is a problem for the modern mind. One cannot simply project that problem
back onto the ancient mind.

>Too many people have been burnt in the past, these days
>they are just treated as outcasts, because they have correctly understood
>the author's literary, rather than literal, intention, whereas only a
>literalist misunderstanding was acceptable to the authorities. For example,
>Galileo was condemned (but escaped burning by keeping quiet) for teachings
>against the Bible when the Bible actually has nothing to say about the
>scientific matters Galileo taught about, except to those who insist on
>taking poetry and metaphor literally.

This is a matter of the politics of faith. You are looking at the wrong

We were trying to understand the notion of light before there was a sun.
Perhaps the text will clarify the situation. The sun was created to "rule"
over the day (three days after light was created). There is no indication
in this event that the sun was necessary to have day; the sun is seen as a
kind of accessory to the day. It is merely the bright thing that populates
the daytime sky, just as the moon and stars are the ones that populate the
nighttime sky. The sun's role is strictly related to the moon's role. They
both are just strong presences, but it is not offensive to the modern mind
to think that you can have a nighttime sky without a moon, while it is with
the daytime sky and no sun. (You can also have a sea without fish and a sky
without birds...)

In Giordano Bruno's time we know people believed that the world was flat,
despite the fact that you know better. You would however be wrong to impose
your understanding on their minds and conclude that they mustn't really
have believed that it was flat, just as you are wrong to impose your modern
understandings in the case of the readership of Gen1.


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