[b-hebrew] Genesis 15:6, believe/ faith, as it relates to common usage in science
furuli at online.no
Fri Jul 24 03:47:09 EDT 2009
Here are some late comments to your questions:
A core meaning of the Hebrew word )MN is "to be firm," and the Hiphil
form of the verb
is often translated as "have trust in; believe in". However, these
renderings tell us very little about the subtleties of believing
()MN), whether belief according to the the Hebrew mind was something
that needed a solid foundation, or something that could be taken out
of thin air. Even if we look at all the occurrences of the Hebrew
word, it would be very difficult to know its full force.
In the New Testament, however, we find a definition-in an epistle
written in Greek to Hebrews by a person who evidently wrote and
thought in Hebrew. In Hebrews 11:1 we find the following definition.
For theological reasons most modern Bible translations give biased
renderings of this verse-they do not give the full force of the Greek
verbs. One exception is "The New Testament An Expanded Translation"
by K. S. Wuest, and I quote this translation:
(1) "Now faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the proof of
things which are not being seen. (2) For by means of this /namely,
faith/ the elders had witness born to them. (8) By faith, Abraham,
while he was being called, obeyed to go out into a place which he was
about to be receiving as an inheritance."
The rendering "title deed" for hUPUSTASIS is excellent. If you have a
title deed for a field or a house or something else, you have a very
good foundation for the expectation of getting hold of the thing in
the future. The rendering "proof" for ELEGCOS is excellent as well;
the word was often used in court to describe a refutation of
something that seemed to be true. Thus, for the writer of Hebrews the
faith ()MN) of Abraham was built on solid evidence, and it was not
some kind of imagination. Faith is not defined elsewhere in the New
Testament, but I am not aware of any mention of faith that
contradicts the definition above.
Two scientific examples can illustrate the definition of faith:
In the beginning of the 20th century, the ninth planet (today no
longer called a "planet") Pluto was not known. However, in 1905
certain irregularities in the orbits of Uranus and Saturn were
discovered. And these clearly suggested the existence of an unknown
celestial body. It was possible to calculate that this celestial body
was about 3,680,000,000 miles distant from our sun. In 1930 a
telescope with sufficient strength was used, and Pluto was
discovered. Before 1930 Pluto was not seen, but evidence about the
existence of the planet were extant.
Another example is the periodic table of chemical elements which was
discovered in the middle of the 19th century. It is very orderly
because of the increase of atomic weight (hydrogen 1; heliom 2;
lithium 3 ...). It was discovered by John Newland in 1864 that
similar physical and chemical properties recurred at intervals of 8.
In 1869 the elements gallium and germanium was not discovered, but
Dimitri Mendeleev was then able to predict their existence on the
basis of the orderliness of the periodic table. These two elements
were not seen, but evidence about their existence were extant.
Both examples above are special cases. In most instances, science is
based on axioms, theories, guesses and hypotheses, and the situation
described in Hebrews 11:1 of the existence of "proof of things which
are not being seen" rarely exists inside science.
There is also a subjective element that works in connection with
faith. Jesus said to the Jews (John 5:44 Wuest): "As for you, how are
you able to believe, habitually receiving laudation from one another,
and the praise which is from the presence of the only God you are not
seeking." These words indicate that certain motives may prevent a
person from accepting "proof of things which are not being seen".
This is seen both in connection with religion and science. Thus,
there is both an objective and a subjective element that may be
considered in connection with )MN.
University of Oslo
>Dear Rolf Furuli and list members:
>I had earlier requested information from Rolf Furuli about the
>research he had done. Perhaps the request was outside of the scope
>of this list.
>I hope that this question is more appropriate:
>Since the word "faith" is sometimes used by scientists ("With solid faith
>that laws of the small should fit together into a coherent whole, physicists
>are relentlessly hunting down the elusive unified theory." Brain Greene, The
>Elegant Universe, page 386), Does the biblical Hebrew word translated as
>"faith" (Gen. 15:6, The New American Bible... "believe" according to
>most others) engage the ideas that scientists intend (as above) when
>they invoke faith?
>My understanding of Greene's words is that physicists note the
>tendencies in the evidence and develop a strong belief about what
>they will find in the end, even though there is, at present, no
>direct observational or experimental experience for the belief upon
>which they can rely.
>Although I have an opinion, I accept my limitations and would
>therefore appreciate list members comments.
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
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