Science or Fable: Hills full of horses and chariots of fire

Hills full of horses, but only one man can see them.  Chariots of fire, also seen by only one man.  And they aren’t burning up.  What do you think?  Science or fable?  Or science fiction?  Surely this is a fable.  Isn’t it?  There can’t actually be such a thing.  Can there?  Maybe it’s science fiction.  Or maybe it’s a miracle.  And maybe science can give us a clue as to how that miracle could actually be real.

science or fable?Think of our universe as the image at the right – with the zipper pulled all the way up.  We can see only the white star-shaped objects.  But what if there was a way to pull down the zipper.  Or someone who could do that. 

Then we could see both the yellow and the white star-shaped objects.  They were there all the time.  But just because we couldn’t see them doesn’t mean they weren’t there.

How?  They were in another dimension – or a parallel universe – or some similar type of construct that we know thing about.  But still – that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

So here’s where those thoughts and questions come from:

Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans

2Ki 6:8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”

2Ki 6:9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

2Ki 6:11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

2Ki 6:12 “None of us, my lord the king ,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

2Ki 6:13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

2Ki 6:15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

2Ki 6:16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

2Ki 6:18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

2Ki 6:19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

2Ki 6:20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

2Ki 6:21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”

2Ki 6:22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill men you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

Science or Fable?

So what do you think?  A fable?  Science fiction?  Or a potentially real event that can be backed up by science? 

That’s not to say a provable event.  Certainly not to say we know for sure how it was done.  However, if we take an open and honest look at what science tells us, can it appear to be possible?  If your into science but not religion – keep an open mind.  If you’re into religion but not science – I say the same thing.  There’s no reason for either one to exclude looking into the other.

Let’s go through that passage a little bit at a time.  We’ll look at things that would seem to be impossible.  While we’re at it, we’ll also look at what current scientific knowledge has to say on the topic.  Again – not to say that the science is absolute.  After all, scientific “facts” have changed frequently and by leaps and bounds just in my lifetime.  We’re only going to look at whether something is conceivable with what we think we know today.

So let’s go back to the passage and examine some verses that seem impossible.  Impossible until we consider what scientists have learned – and believe to be true.

A traitor in their midst?

2Ki 6:11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

2Ki 6:12 “None of us, my lord the king ,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

Since the king of Israel always seems to know what the Arameans are going to do – before they do it – the king of Aram accuses one or more of his officers of being a traitor.  They say it’s not them.  Still, somehow Elisha  knows everything they plan – even being able to somehow know the very words the king of Aram speaks in the privacy of his own bedroom.

Of course – today we’d be searching for electronic bugs and eavesdropping devices.  But there was no such thing back then.  So it had to be impossible.  Or more likely the story was made up.  Right?

Well, not so fast.  Enter the time warp.  True – it’s a topic of science fiction.  However, we need look no further than the recently departed Stephen Hawking.  The thing to keep in mind as we read this – Hawking was an avowed atheist.  While he started out with a goal of knowing the mind of God, he ended up having no place for God.

Space and Time Warps

From a lecture that Hawking gave, we see the following excerpts:

In science fiction, space and time warps are a commonplace. They are used for rapid journeys around the galaxy, or for travel through time. But today’s science fiction, is often tomorrow’s science fact. So what are the chances for space and time warps. 

The idea that space and time can be curved, or warped, is fairly recent.

As often happens, science fiction turns into something “real”.

The following portion of the lecture is very telling, on two different fronts.

Cosmic strings may sound far-fetched, and pure science fiction, but there are good scientific reasons to believed they could have formed in the very early universe, shortly after the Big Bang. Because they are under such great tension, one might have expected them to accelerate to almost the speed of light.

What both the Goedel universe, and the fast-moving cosmic string space-time have in common, is that they start out so distorted and curved, that travel into the past, was always possible. God might have created such a warped universe, but we have no reason to think that He did. All the evidence is, that the universe started out in the Big Bang, without the kind of warping needed, to allow travel into the past. Since we can’t change the way the universe began, the question of whether time travel is possible, is one of whether we can subsequently make space-time so warped, that one can go back to the past. I think this is an important subject for research, but one has to be careful not to be labeled a crank. If one made a research grant application to work on time travel, it would be dismissed immediately. No government agency could afford to be seen to be spending public money, on anything as way out as time travel. Instead, one has to use technical terms, like closed time like curves, which are code for time travel. Although this lecture is partly about time travel, I felt I had to give it the scientifically more respectable title, Space and Time warps. Yet, it is a very serious question. Since General Relativity can permit time travel, does it allow it in our universe? And if not, why not. 

Let’s first look at what Hawking said about God.

What both the Goedel universe, and the fast-moving cosmic string space-time have in common, is that they start out so distorted and curved, that travel into the past, was always possible. God might have created such a warped universe, but we have no reason to think that He did.

No reason to think that God created a universe in which time travel was possible.  Really?  This from a man who has no place for God in his life?  From a man who said:

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

I submit that as we explore the question of science or fable in this and other articles, we’ll see that there are plenty of reasons for God to do exactly that.

I think this is an important subject for research, but one has to be careful not to be labeled a crank.  No government agency could afford to be seen to be spending public money, on anything as way out as time travel. Instead, one has to use technical terms, like closed time like curves, which are code for time travel.

Is there also something of being labelled a crank unless anything of God has also been removed from the subject?

“Hearing” conversations without being there?

Time travel is only one of various ways that scientists could use to suggest ways for Elisha to know what was being said, even in the king of Aram’s bedroom.  If God created the universe with something like the cosmic strings that Hawking talked about – either He or one of His angels would be able to traverse time at will.  

In the same lecture, Hawking talks about wormholes.  

Closely related to time travel, is the ability to travel rapidly from one position in space, to another. As I said earlier, Einstein showed that it would take an infinite amount of rocket power, to accelerate a space ship to beyond the speed of light. So the only way to get from one side of the galaxy to the other, in a reasonable time, would seem to be if we could warp space-time so much, that we created a little tube or wormhole. This could connect the two sides of the galaxy, and act as a short cut, to get from one to the other and back while your friends were still alive. Such wormholes have been seriously suggested, as being within the capabilities of a future civilization. But if you can travel from one side of the galaxy, to the other, in a week or two, you could go back through another wormhole, and arrive back before you set out. You could even manage to travel back in time with a single wormhole, if its two ends were moving relative to each other. 

So now we have at least two concepts that even people can come up with that would have allowed for the first part of the passage from 2 Kings to be possible.  Keeping in mind that we know so little about the universe, we can’t even begin to imagine what God really did.  But if we can think of something – however crude it might be – it’s beyond arrogant to say that God didn’t / can’t do it infinitely better.

Could that statement – Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom be true?  Certainly.  When it comes to the question of science or fable – science cannot rule it out.  In fact, science can, as we saw, even give us an explanation of how it might have happened.

The LORD opened the servant’s eyes

2Ki 6:15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

2Ki 6:16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Obviously, the servant wasn’t blind.  And he didn’t have his eyes closed either.  If he did, then he wouldn’t have been worried about horses and chariots that he couldn’t even see.  So what’s this prayer for God to open his eyes so he may see?

For starters, take a look at the image at the top of the page.  Think of it as a giant curtain, with a zipper.  On the surface of the curtain you can see the white star-like objects.  Only when the zipper is pulled down can we see the larger yellow star-like objects behind the curtain.  It’s like what we see when we go to a play – where sometimes one or two people start out in front of the curtain – and we don’t see the set or the other actors until the curtain is pulled back.

Now, imagine that the surface of the curtain is what we can see in our visible universe / 4-dimensional world (length, width, height and time).  When the zipper is opened, we can see another universe / dimension.  (Note: I use both terms because there are varying ways that scientists propose alternate universes and dimensions.)  

For a more detailed look at this topic, please see Science vs God – The Concepts of String Theory.  I promise – no numbers and complex formulas.  Just images to try to explain what’s known and / or proposed.

What we’d have then, from the passage in 2 Kings, is that Elisha already has the curtain unzipped / pulled back in his “eyes”.  And he’s praying that God will do the same for the servant.  Is it literally with their eyes (as we know them) or is it some other sense that we haven’t yet determined?  We just don’t know.  There’s so much that we don’t know.  

However, scientists have proposed various alternate / parallel universes, more dimensions, Etc.  

BTW, if you’re thinking that there’s no way we humans could possibly “see” these other dimensions / universes – think again.  There are claims that the human genome has been sequenced, and that we know all about our DNA.  But that’s just not true.  In a follow-up article, we’ll get more into that.

From the US Government Human Genome website, you can read this answer as to whether or not the sequencing is complete.  

Yes – within the limits of today’s technology, the human genome is as complete as it can be. Small gaps that are unrecoverable in any current sequencing method remain, amounting for about 1 percent of the gene-containing portion of the genome, or euchromatin. New technologies will have to be invented to obtain the sequence of these regions.

That’s pretty much a “no”.  One percent left.  Isn’t that a small amount?  That same site says there are three billion base (3,000,000,000) pairs in the human genome.  One percent of that is still thirty million (30,000,000) that haven’t been completed.  Thirty million!  That’s not small.  And those are only the ones we can detect with today’s technology.  Who’s to say how many more will be added or what lower levels of the genome actually exist and might be found by newer technology.

To say that God’s not capable of doing the curtain thing that we just looked at is a statement that cannot be backed up by science.  We have thirty million base pieces of the human genome that we don’t even have a clue what they do.  Further, we can’t even say that we know everything about the 2,970,000,000 that we think we’ve completed.

Blinding people in this universe

Let’s look at this final passage from 2 Kings.

2Ki 6:18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

2Ki 6:19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

2Ki 6:20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

After what we saw with allowing Elisha and the servant to see God’s army of horses and chariots of fire, blinding someone to the things in our known world seems a trivial matter.

Conclusion

When it comes to the Bible and science, I really think Christians need to get over a fear of science.  We need to think less of our own knowledge – and more of God’s limitless capabilities.  We know so little.  And yet we are so afraid that science will somehow “prove” that God can’t exist.  Or “prove” that the Bible is just a fable.  

But reality seems to be more and more putting to rest this science or fable question.  It’s becoming decidedly more science than fable.  Rather than the hoped for proof (by many) that God doesn’t exist / doesn’t need to exist – science is leading us in an entirely different question.  It’s us – people and the universe in which we live – that could not exist without God.

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