No I do not expect Moses( a human ) to comprehend how to world starts and ends. But actually, I didn't know that god showed moses how the entire world began and ended, mainly because I do not read the bible that much. But this statement implies determinism. That it is already determined how everything will start and end, so why then do we have free will, assuming we do have it in the first place.
Determinism is a fun one.
I believe the end is known, but not through determinism.
I've got children, and I know them pretty well. I know a lot of struggles they are going to make. I have stood by and watched as they struggled through certain things because I know that they will be better for it. I know the child and I know they will reach a specific conclusion, especially if I guide them. When I watch my daughter do her math homework I can peek over her shoulder and see what she is doing. I can make very small suggestions and ask very small questions that can completely transform the way she thinks about the assignment. And yet I let her struggle, I watch as she makes mistakes, because I know she will be better for it.
Using my limited knowledge and being a far from perfect parent, I can watch my child struggle and try to intervene at the critical moments. Step in too early and they won't learn, they won't learn how to struggle and come up with solutions. Step in too late and they will give up or fail. Intervene just the right amount at the right time and they will excel. I imagine God is pretty good at that.
As for knowing the whole plan, we do it all the time with computer programs. we know what will happen, we know to expect from a game, we designed it and know how it will turn out even if individual players make different choices as they play. If we were perfect programmers and were able to design a system without error, we could allow every player to have freedom within our solution and yet still know the entire course the program will take. Does that make it deterministic? Does that mean the players are not free to make choices?
Nothing prevents a player from jumping into a pit millions of times, they are still free to do so; that is part of the reason we employ testers to do things like bump into every wall in the game when going backwards, or play an entire RPG without ever equipping a weapon. We know there are the crazy people who play Nethack that try to do odd things. The web has accumulated a large number of amazing YAAP end-of-game stats. Many of these stats are so improbable or difficult to achieve that they seem impossible... And yet, the whole plan of the game was well known in advance by those who play it. Players are free to act however he want, yet the end results are easily predictable.
The scriptures have many accounts of prophets being shown the world from beginning to end, how the prophets should learn their part, learn what matters and what doesn't. I imagine that if I were shown a single impending earthquake or serious tragedy I would do a lot to prevent it or reduce damage. However, if I were shown the entire world from end to end I would have a different perspective; I'd see earthquakes as just one event out of millions that people should prepare for, and I'd understand that in the Grand Scheme of Things it is best to let tragedy happen since it is often followed by compassion, service, repentance, improved understanding and general advancements, and also better preparation for future events.
Imagine for a moment that you were God. You were smart. You know how things work. In fact you've got a perfect knowledge of how everything works. You don't have to run an experiment about effects because your knowledge of physics is so perfect that you already know. You have a perfect knowledge of how to teach and inspire and guide. You've got a perfect knowledge of how people are going to react in certain situations, if they will panic or turn to a leader or behave in other ways. And as God you've have a perfect knowledge of what it takes to nudge the people to be in the right place at the right tome, and how to do the same with other creatures to alter the course of nature. Not only do you know chaos theory and which butterfly can flap its wings to cause a storm around the globe, but would also be able to prompt that butterfly at the right time, and know exactly how to do it, to get the desired response. As God you would know what it would take for a tiny whispering to the right people. You would know exactly what inspiration would need to be given, and the exact time and place, to reach the conclusion you want. Being perfect seems awesome.
Still imaging yourself with such perfect knowledge, would you not be able to look at the world and show someone the entire course from beginning to end?
I plan out trips during the holidays, and involve my whole family in the process. We plan out what we want to see, what we want to do, what roads we will take generally. We plan where we will stay. Some events are major and need significant planning, but we also allow for spur-of-the-moment changes. We check schedules in advance and buy tickets and reserve rooms. But our plans are not so inflexible that we cannot deal with a simple road closure or unexpected storms; these happen but the plan can still be followed. We've had vacations where people were sick or injured and generally our plans were flexible enough to allow for this. We had a plan, and we could tell extended family in advance where we would be each day, what we were doing, how we could be contacted, and when we would return. We knew what would happen, we knew the end from the beginning, all that was left was to enjoy the journey.
Why would God's plans be anything less than perfect? I'm certain they account for everything that needs to be considered, I trust that he's God and he can do that. The major course is already set and will be followed. There may be detours and course corrections to account for things, just as when you plan a major cross-country trip you may find detours, but they can be easily dealt with and destination is known, the plans are in motion, and the perfect captain is at the helm. The only serious question is where we individually will choose along the way.
Next up, the concept of literacy. Many of the people in Bible stories were illiterate. Many prophets and kings relied on scribes to record their words. Many stories were not immediately recorded at all, traveling through many people before getting recorded. Some, like the story of Job, were written in poetic form. Does that mean that they cease to be divinely inspired? I don't believe so. Instead, you must take that at its value and accommodate for it within your beliefs.
But that leaves the question just how much of it is real and attributed to god? Why should we believe this part versus others? It also leaves the possibility that all words in the scripture are wrong and falsely misinterpreted. If you defend that the bible is the scripture of god's disciples, then you cannot say that this part is from god and that isn't because it was or might have been misinterpreted. If you defend it, then you have to defend the whole thing.
Yes, that is a good question. That is just one of many reasons why we still need guidance from God. If we believe that God didn't change the rules mid-game, then he still speaks to us individually and he still gives guidance to prophets today.
I don' t think there is a need to defend the entire bible as the literal word of God and directly applied to each of us today. I'll still hold that it contains messages from prophets to the people at that time which have been handed down, translated, and passed through generations. But when it comes to what applies to me directly, I will pray and ask what I can learn from the lessons, what guidance I need. And I will also look to the prophets in our own day to give guidance to me.
Noah tried to warn his people of the flood and called them to repent. That was the message from God to his people at that time. Does that mean mean we should be building arks today?
Moses led the exodus from Egypt to Israel, making clear demands to the king to let the people go interspersed with a series of plagues of increasing severity. That was the message at that time. Does that mean we should be packing our bags and preparing for plagues of locusts?
The prophet Nathan is in a couple books in the Old Testiment, among his prophecies to the then-king David included that his 4th son would try to gain control by force and murder and that he should give his kingdom to Soloman. Does that mean we should all beware of murder from the fourth-born children because a prophet once warned of it?
Elija warned the then-king of Israel about a multi-year drought and to prepare for it to avoid famine. Jacob the prophet who was sold to Egypt by his brothers had the same for a seven year drought in Egypt. Does the existence of these prophecies mean we need to stockpile for a seven-year drought in our time?
Isaiah was a great prophet who had a great many Messianic prophecies. He was also heavily involved with the political leaders and gave prophetic guidance to them as well. One of Isaiah's prophecies to a king that he didn't need to worry about an invading army leads to one of my favorite translations: "and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." Perhaps that means if there is an army of a quarter million invaders camped at the bottom of the hill, perhaps just like Isaiah's prophecy to his king we don't need to worry because God will send in destroying angels (or perhaps angels with bags of poison) and about 180,000 of them will die during the night.
While it is interesting to see what prophets told people back in their day, I'm more concerned about my own day.
I also note that Isaiah's message to not worry about an army was quite different than a mass exodus like Moses. Different time, different message from the prophet of God.
I want to know what are today's prophets warning us about.
God spoke back then and I don't believe he has changed into a silent role. In my church we believe in prophets, and they still give God's word for our world today. Old prophets gave simple lines in most cases: be prepared for famine, be prepared for flooding, repent, be moral. Rarely did they have specific intervention at major points in history, and so it still is today. The prophets in my church have given similar council about preparedness and morality, some topics are rather frequent about preparedness against disaster, the importance of strengthening the family including church-wide programs to help, the importance of service and the blessings that come from it to both the servants and those served, and so on.
No I guess I didn't say it clearly, when I say fairy-tale like, I do not mean how it was presented, I mean the content of whats being presented. Obviously, you telling your kids your life experience in a nicely wrapped version doesn't imply your story to be false, because your story are explainable. The story presented in the bible( from my little readings), are claims made such that its hard to believe and naturally/scientifically unexplainable.
You say they are fairy-tale like, and several are. I tell my own children stories of my own life and they enjoy them; I often start with "Once upon a time there was a little boy named Bryan, and one day he went out on an adventure..." These are stories of my life being recounted to my children, they are true to my memory, yet they are in fairy tale form. Would you say that immediately makes the story false? Would the life lessons I learned the hard way become less true simply because I use a format they enjoy? Does it harm the facts to reduce the story down to just those most relevant details expressed in a way they understand? I don't think so.
... I see a world where we are surrounded by miracles. Does it seem far-fetched that world is filled with miracles, divine inspiration, and at the same time is utterly mundane?
Let's look at a few.
In the book of Numbers, where for certain skin diseases (some translations talk of lepers) priests were told to make an offering using certain woods and barks and spread the resulting slime and ash onto the disease. Modern science shows us that in fact many of these were antibiotic, antiseptic, and anti-fungal concoctions. Burning a few specific kinds of branches with certain types of animal blood may seem odd at first glance, but when you consider the sources of most modern medicines often rely on burnt plants, creature parts and mold extracts, is it really so different from our modern pharmacy?
Consider when Naaman was told by a prophet to go bathe for a week in a river that was basically an open sewer at the time to have his serious skin diseases cleansed. He complained about it and preferred to go to a clean river, but eventually did it and was healed. Modern science shows that this is actually rather plausible. Many seriously dirty places like cesspools are also filled with natural germ killers. What could be better than telling the guy with a skin infection to go bathe in antiseptic for a week?
How about Joshua breaking down the walls at Jericho. The writings say the camp of about a half million people walked around the city every day for a week. The last day they walked around seven time and then started shouting. It sure sounds like an implausible way to knock down a cities defenses. And yet, modern science uses the same kind of heavy repetitive pounding to break down subterranean rocks. Mythbusters even hit some of the science of using simple mechanical resonance of some people walking for a few minutes to break down a bridge. Audio percussive blasts cause resonance and can break not just wine goblets but also fairly large structures. There's a perfectly legitimate physical explanation, but who would have used that as a method of demolition?
Or maybe we'll look at when Jesus reportedly healed a guy who was blind from birth. He spit in the dirt, made some mud balls, rubbed them into the guys eyes, told him to go to a specific river and wash, and the guy could see for the rest of his life. We do similar stuff with modern eye surgery, although we tend to use lasers and micro-abrasives rather than mud balls, so it it really so impossible?
Why couldn't God who has a perfect knowledge of the natural world direct and inspire a holy man to tell someone to use antiseptics, or tell a prophet to use then-unknown solid scientific principles to destroy city walls, or perform improbable but not impossible medical care?
We are surrounded by things that fit into biblical miracles all the time and we ignore them as simple science.
Wine from water may sound impossible. My kids loved coolaid when they were younger, mixing a tiny packet of powder with water gave a refreshing beverage. My state passed new regulation on a bunch of "just add water" mixes readily available online that ferment into alcoholic drinks very quickly. Considering a bit of chemistry, and understanding how stories are recounted and retold before they were recorded, Wine from water is far from impossible, but something we can reproduce with modern basic chemistry.
Sure it is possible that the ancient prophets had advanced knowledge of chemistry, mechanics, and medicine that exceeds our own. Or it is possible that they were very lucky and discovered them and immediately forgot. Or maybe steps were left out of the recorded words. ...
... Or perhaps they were divinely inspired by one who has a perfect knowledge of the topics. Inspiration of "go mix this", or "Find this open container that is filled with dust and dump in water", they can have both a mundane scientific explanation and also be miracles.
But the problem here is that your attributing miracles when some goods happen and saying when some good doesn't happen, its just bad luck. For example, two people are diagnosed with cancer. Both are christians, both families and supporters prayed heavily for them. In the end, one of them was cured, while the other died. Now your saying that the person that was cured, was a miracule, while the person that died just had bad luck. That doesn't constitutes as a miracle. You cannot simply say when something good happened, that it was a result of devine intervention and completely ignore the fact that the all other situation of similar kind that resulted in a bad was as bad luck. Thats just being ignorant.
I said miracles do happen. I didn't claim to understand why one case is different from another.
I have had family members and neighbors die from cancer. I have seen people die from various causes. I have watched death and injury. It is part of life, and I can see good reason why God wouldn't intervene.
I have seen things that I will attribute to the power of God. I have seen things that I can only explain as miracles. I mentioned a bit about a hospital for two summers.
How do you define a miracle? When do you say something was unlikely and natural, and where do you draw the line to say divine intervention may have been involved? I am perfectly fine with miracles that have natural explanations, I would expect God to nudge things just a tiny bit at just the right time, not rearrange the universe every time.
I have seen serious large second-degree burns that hours later were minor first-degree burns after ministration by church members. Is it likely it was misdiagnosed by about ten people who saw it immediately after the injury, or the person had a very quick healing response? Sure its possible, but I don't think so. I'm calling it a miracle.
There was a child with a massive head trauma, kicked in the head by a horse on a rainy muddy day, with a visibly deformed mashed in head covered in blood and mud and gore, treated by his church members and given priesthood blessings walk away from the hospital hours later apparently uninjured and after lots of medical scans showed no damage. Not minor damage, but none whatsoever. This was in spite of him being covered in blood and gore. I heard about a follow up that the kid had no lasting injury. I heard a few people try to explain it as a 9-year-old's head may have been still soft like an infants, or perhaps realigned, and perhaps his brain was just lucky to only have a minor concussion that went away after a few minutes. I don't think so. I'm sticking that strongly in the miracle category.
I'm good friends with a man who loves motorbikes; he was injured in a pretty nasty crash while jumping hills on his little 4-wheeler. Ambulance arrived, they called in the for a helicopter to get him to the regional hospital to deal with serious trauma. Less than 24 hours later he was out of the hospital and those who treated him at the scene said there was no way he should be out that quick. Again, improbable and still possible with various explanations, but that goes into my miracle category.
I've seen infants in NICU that I cannot fathom how they survived. They had people praying all the time, various church people coming and going, praying with the families. I've heard feeble claims about how perhaps their infant body managed to heal right, or they were lucky. You don't need to spend more than a few days in there before relying on the "act of God" response for seeing how some cases respond. Yes there are tragedies, but there are many others that defy description. The stories of Jesus where he asked them to bring the children forward and ministered to them first, said that God loves little children and all mankind should become like little children to be saved. From my experience I'll stick little children in the miracle-prone category generally.
Yes, people die. That is part of life, and even those who pray for miracles need to understand it. While individual circumstances are sometimes tragic, I am able to celebrate death. My wife thinks I'm weird that way. Everybody gets to be born. Everybody gets to die, and their spirit returns to live with God, and they will still have opportunities to grow and develop beyond the grave, and they will get resurrected. I'm a very strong believer in the scriptural line "this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. ... O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? "
I see no issues with one person getting miraculous healing, while another dies. Life runs its course. One family may be blessed with a particular miracle and another has different daily miracles, and I'm okay with that.
The bible is not a single work. It is a compendium of a bunch of records that were kept in various languages, translated many times, consolidated, and more. Errors were made in copies. Errors were made in translations. There were many times that scholars collected multiple copies, compared the differences, and attempted to resolve errors between them, or gathered copies and attempted to translate them. Many records were left out because the scholars and clerics decided against it, perhaps through revelation and inspiration, or perhaps not. Many records were lost or destroyed, for reasons I'll let you ponder yourself. Perhaps records were added that should not have been, or omitted in error.
You use the term scholars, as if they are better than 'regular' folks. Just because they are scholars, doesn't make their opinion correct. What you said in the above statement, makes the bible seem even more controversial. If what you said above is true, then that makes me even more furious. It seems like the "scholars" are just trying to turn profit and hide the evidence.
Considering history, those who were literate and educated were quite rare. Scholars often were different from regular folks.
Most regular folks were illiterate, often poor farmers who spent the days raising herds and tending crops, or working in trades of iron working and leather working to support their community.
Many scholars came from rich families, but historically they would often give heavily to religion. I don't think they were "trying to turn a profit and hide the evidence", I think well of humanity generally, and would prefer to attribute it to their better nature rather than malice and greed. Generally malice and greed are short-lived and self destructive.
There were also many that came up through the churches, were educated by the churches, and performed their work in maintaining scriptures as a service to the church.
Some of them may have had negative motives, but I think those whose efforts brought us the bible were doing the best they could with the resources they had. I won't condemn my relationship with God simply because of the mistakes of a few mere mortals in how they transcribed records.
So finishing up (wow, this turned into a long reply) I think this is more a matter of how you choose to interpret the world according to your own faith and beliefs. If I can help more in your crisis, please let me know.