Time Travel and the Bible

The blog Unreasonable Faith shared this cartoon, a Bible/Back to the Future mash up:

It would presumably have been worth posting just for its humor value, and because it brings together two major themes of this blog – religion and science fiction.

But I think it could actually lead nicely to some interesting and at least semi-serious discussion.

If you had a time machine, what parts of the Bible would you go back and suggest be rewritten or perhaps omitted altogether (rather like Hurley on LOST writing an “improved” script for Return of the Jedi)? What changes would you make, and why?

There are only some instances in which an intervention of the sort depicted in the cartoon would have made a significant difference. In others, the stories circulated orally before being written down, and so even kidnapping the author might not prevent their being written, much less simply stealing the original manuscript.

Let’s hear from readers. If you had a time machine, what, if anything, would you try to change in the Bible, and why?

  • Geoff Hudson

    I would like to go back to the time of Isaiah the prophet, or any prophet. Clearly the prophets relied on oral transmission not upon any written law. 

    Isa.59.21 –  As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and for ever,” says the Lord.

  • Geoff Hudson

    I would like to go back to the time of Isaiah the prophet, or any prophet. Clearly the prophets relied on oral transmission not upon any written law. 

    Isa.59.21 –  As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and for ever,” says the Lord.

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  • Anonymous

    Anything worth discussing is worth discussing semi-seriously, IMHO. ;-)

    Personally I’d do the Terminator 2 thing, but I’m obviously a cranky-pants atheist.

    If I couldn’t do that, I’d probably go back and reverse the demonization of the worshipers of Baal and other religions, which seems to have had trickle down effects in how Christians have chosen to interact with large portions of the world.

    The idea that genocide is justifiable for “the other” is the arguably the most horrific idea we’ve ever come up with.

    Samsons death is nothing other than a terrorist act that killed civilians, but it
    ‘s justified somehow because they were polythiests whose tribal head god was Dagon, not henotheists whose tribal god was Yahweh.

    If we accept that line of thinking, how can we possibly condemn religious terrorism in the world today?

    Either way, then I’d go kill Hitler of course.

  • Erp

    Bit tricky since much of the Bible is legend and much else not easy to change (or would require violence).   Observing in Jerusalem during a certain Passover week might be interesting (if for nothing else, to see Herod’s temple in all its glory).

  • http://digestofworms.blogspot.com/ admiralmattbar

    The problem with changing the past is that there is only one scenario we know of that won’t lead to the destruction of the planet because it’s the one that already happened and didn’t.  Careful what you change, no matter how slight.

  • http://ofthelove.com/ Keika

    “Peabody here, Sherman set the wayback machine to Luke 15, verses 11-32.”

    Upon arrival at the festive party thrown for the Prodigal Son, who has returned to his father’s home to be honored even though he squandered his inheritance, we find the older brother complaining to his father, that it just isn’t fair that he doesn’t get a party thrown for him!

    I suggest to the father that some sort of balance be offered here and not favoritism for the sinner, even though he believed his younger son was dead, but now is alive and back home.

    Midway into the feast, after food, wine and merry song has satiated the senses well, the father asks his two sons to follow him out into the field under the moonlit sky.  There the father picks up a large wooden mallet, which Sherman had conveniently placed in the field earlier under my direction.  Then lovingly and forgivingly the father proceeds to beat the bloody hell out of both his offspring, thus showing no favoritism to either one, and proclaiming if he were God, these Pharisees brats would be sleeping in the dirt this night.  And the next night too!   

    “Gee Mr. Peabody, is there a moral to this story?”  “Of course there is, Sherman, but we’re running late and we have to be in our seats at Ford’s Theater before 10 o’clock.  Oops.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Steve, have you seen “The Greatest Action Story Ever Told” which I think inspired that cartoon?  
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFrufPxjwX0

  • Anonymous

    I have now. ;-)

  • Gary

    “If you had a time machine, what, if anything, would you try to change in the Bible”….OK, not exactly on subject, but I thought I’d mention, since it ties science, science fiction, and, at least I think, theology/bible. I just finished Stephen Hawkin’s book, “The Universe in a Nutshell” that I got from my local library. Good book, difficult subjects to conceptualize, color illustrations to help, but difficult to imagine. lots of conjecture. Since spacetime gets warped via gravity, you could have time wrapped around to intersect itself, thus enabling time travel. Instead of linear, only forward-flowing time, you can have no boundary spacetime, like latitudes on the earth. You can’t go “north” of the north pole, like you can’t go into “minus” time, before the big band, since the concept pre-Big Bang wouldn’t mean anything. At the end of the book, I find it most interesting in the discussion of the shape of the universe and the impact of the 10 or 11 dimensions predicted by M theory. Hawking gives several conjectures of the universe shape….Like a bubble in boiling water, with the extra dimensions curled up to small to notice or measure (quantum size)….like a membrane (brane) shaped like a saddle (still can’t visualize this)….and the most interesting… Our universe could exist on/in a 5 dimensional brane. This I can visualize, like a 2 dimensional sheet-of-paper-world. Matter and electromagnetic energy exist on our brane (universe), but cannot leave the brane, according to Hawking. But the gravitational field can extend beyond our brane. He conjectures that the additional dimensions and black holes of our world are connected to a parallel brane, extreme close to our brane, which he calls a shadow brane. (Notice, 5+5 = 10 dimensions, plus an extra on just for fun). Since the presence of matter/energy in the “shadow” brane results in a gravitational field that extends into our brane, this could be the cause of our dark energy and dark matter in our universe. The interesting part is Hawking makes a comment, that there could be people sitting in our shadow brane, wondering what the source of the dark energy and dark matter in their brane. As far as the theological tie-in…he doesn’t get into that. He is just conjecturing based upon his M theory math models. But my conjecture would be, if, as he says, there is much more dark energy and dark matter in our universe than regular energy and regular matter, that would imply that our shadow brane is a much more complex than the brane we are living on. (OK, i’ll say it,,,anyone for a new heavens and new earth?) Makes a resurrection seem rather simply and mundane? Anyway, the book is interesting, although it makes my head hurt.

  • Gary

    Forgot to mention, Hawkin says that since the gravitational field of a potential shadow brane can extend into our brane, it might someday be possible for science to actually come up with an experiment to actually detect the existence of the shadow brane. But it may take a collider bigger than the one in Switzerland.

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