Geographical Arrogance

Sabio Lantz shared the following image on his blog:

One could point out the ignorance of the person who made the image, clearly unaware that the three traditions collectively would expand the range of God’s action, just in the stories told in their Scriptures, into the Arabian peninsula, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt, at the very least.

Or one could go further than the image’s math does, and add some estimate of the size of the universe – we cannot be absolutely certain quite how large it is, but we can say that it is at least some 92 billion light years across, based on the part of it that is visible to us. (Visit and explore this cool interactive site on the scale of the universe).

The latter approach makes an important point, despite the problems with the graphic. But it doesn’t mean that there is no God, or anything of that sort. What it does indicate is the arrogance of any human being claiming to have the definitive perspective, as though everything important happens in their corner of the planet, or of the universe – or exclusively in their religious tradition, nation, or species.

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  • Bob MacDonald

    very cool – from 10^-35 to 10^27 in one swoop. The real estate is only 17 inches on my computer but I have taken in the math of the universe. My little 1.5 lb slightly alkaline computer between my shoulders is looking pretty elegant. Why would not the Lord of all, visible and invisible, shut its own eternity into a span?

  • Andrew Dowling

    Judging from Sabio’s posts around Patheos he attacks a fairly literalist conception of God as found in the major traditions.

    • Sabio Lantz

      Actually, Andrew, if you read the site I took that drawing from, I criticize the author in the same way James does here. I was defending an Evangelical who made the same point. This is well before I read this post.

      You know, Andrew, I was banned on one Progressive Channel here for simply posting Pew Report on Islam beliefs. It was Jonathan Shore’s “Unfundamentalist Christians: Above All, Love”. Progressive Christians can be far more vehement than you imagine.

      On Naked Pastor today I criticize a fundamentalist for not considering other flavors of Christianity.

      So before you start slandering, you might want to gather more data.

      • Andrew Dowling

        If you consider my post as “slandering: someone needs a cocktail . .

        • Sabio Lantz

          I gladly accept.
          Don’t you find the progressive Jonathan Shore’s banning very odd? Or does it make sense to you.

  • Just Sayin’

    The scandal of particularity. Christians know all about it, thanks; we don’t need an atheist to tell us!

  • Anonymous

    When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
    The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
    What is man that You are mindful of him,
    And the son of man that You visit him?

    Today with modern astronomy we can better appreciate the psalmist’s words than his contemporaries ever could. It is both humbling and astonishing to think that God (the Son) created such a vast universe and yet in His humility deigned to send Himself down to live among us and save us.

  • bardfast

    The graphic is accurate if, as it says, “action,” not “influence.” The only minor problem would be Ur is not included, but drawing the circle all the way out there would be wildly disproportionate. Yhwh appeared to Abraham, Moses, and we can say Jesus. So, eastern Egypt and Canaan. Epileptic visions by the likes of Daniel don’t count as “acts.” And Muhammad never “met” Allah, rather the angel Gabriel spoke to him.

    Perhaps McGrath should lose the arrogance and look a tad more carefully before he shoots his mouth off… It might save him some future embarrassment.

    • Sabio Lantz

      I think James was actually generous and acknowledged the point of the graphic he disagreed with while disagreeing with some details. Even John Zande, author of the graphic, agreed that the city of Ur could have been included but he did not want to change his graphic. I argued that it should be wider too. To watch the defensive arguing was fascinating.

      • Sabio Lantz

        BTW, is “bardfast” just another handle for John Zande?

        • bardfast

          No, but I read the comments and on the whole agree with him. It’s anally retentive to be nitpicking over the “size” of a circle when the point of the graphic was something completely different; something visual. So it takes some minor liberties. Who the hell cares? Do you study Impressionist art like this? What Zande has done, and what you’re demonstrating perfectly, is highlight the sheer inability of theists like yourself to actually see the nonsense you’re inside. Does including Ur make your god anymore real? No.

          • Sabio Lantz

            “anally retentive” <— fantastic rhetoric.
            Notice that I mentioned to John that he accidentally put two A's in his last name on the graphic and he immediately thanked me and changed it. So in both cases I may have been "anally retentive" by your Freudian archaic reasoning, but in both cases he responded differently. He didn't want to compromise to his criticism of Yahweh, especially to a Christian who brought it up.
            Note — I am an atheist.
            He was being defensive for defensive sake and not rational though they brag of their superior rationality.
            His rhetoric was disappointing, as is yours here.
            Once you get a [supposed] theist in your sights, reason fails you.

    • Agni Ashwin

      Yhwh Elohim also appeared in the Garden.

  • Sabio Lantz

    James, after making my post I actually went to the author’s site (John Zande) and argued similar points — you should see the “debate”.
    I may even have to change the map on my own post for those reasons.
    It is important to stay open, eh?

    • James F. McGrath

      It didn’t have the “reply” button on that thread, otherwise I would have responded to his “Who’s James McGrath?” question.

      • Sabio Lantz

        i actually changed the graphic to my own. maybe no better but i changed the wording too

  • Sabio Lantz

    Well, I took John’s down and put up my version with some touch ups.