One of my dearest friends is an atheist, in fact he is my Favourite Atheist (FA). He tries not to hold my faith in Jesus against me and I try to offer him the same courtesy. The friendship has lead to some interesting conversations and fun debates. Often he will ask me a question I've never even considered. In trying to attempt a response I feel completely out of my depth. I'll say something like "I don't know let me think about that" and I'll ponder, seek others thoughts, start researching. But normally the topic is too big and takes up to much time and energy. I never develop a response and sadly the topic is shelved for Future Liz to figure out.
Well, no more, no more hiding, putting off, or procrastinating. I am going to find answers for the Favourite Atheist...or at least blog about the questions and maybe find answers. Please join the discussion. Add your thoughts or counter arguments. My one request, which ever side of the debate you are play nice with the other children in the sand box. No throwing toy trucks, dirt, or names at each other -thank you.
This is one of our most recent discussions:
FA: I read an interesting article today about an apparent contradiction in your scriptures. I wonder if you've heard it before.
Me: Okay, what was it?
FA: The Bible condemns astrology, right?
FA: The magi read the stars to find that the King of the Jews was born. They are credited as doing a good thing but charting the stars as signs about future leaders would be astrology -something the Hebrew Law is against.
Me: Interesting, I haven't heard this before. Let me think about it.
My "thinking" was me asking two friends how they would responded. My first friend is a pastor, I've already run this response by FA and will include the counter argument. The other friend is a prof at the divinity college. We just talked about this earlier tonight so the idea is new to me and FA is reading it for the first time (Hi Friend *waves*).
The Astronomers Argument:
The magi were astronomers not astrologers. These scientist were watching and carting the night sky when God put a star in the sky that would be a remarkable sign to them. They did research and decided to investigate (is there any know prophesy that says that a star would mark the birth of the Messiah?)
FA's Reaction: The science of astronomers at this time would have still be closely associated with magic and astrology. Even if God put a star in the sky for them to follow how they noticed it would have been a condemned magical act.
Celestial Being Thought:
In scripture the word used for "stars" or celestial bodies often (he might have said always but I don't want to put words in his mouth if he didn't) refer to angels. The example was the Lucifer was the "bright and morning star." An angel could have been sent to light the place Jesus was, been close the the earth, and stood in one place. If it was an angel it would have been a specific messenger to these wise men. I think this means that when the magi were saying "we saw his star in the east..." the word used for "star" could also mean "angel".
What do you think? Is there a flaw in either argument? Is there a better response? Or do you have a counter argument for either they were astronomers or it was an angel arguments?
For me the questions that the magi raise were: How did they know that this "star" or celestial being was a sign? Is there writings, oral teachings, or a prophecy that lead them to this conclusion?Who were these guys and what did they do? Where did they go after they met the toddler Jesus? Why didn't they stick around and see what would become of him? Those might not be connected to the current discussion.