I am an agnostic. In fact, as our Subaru wagon's bumper sticker attests, I am a "militant agnostic". That is, I don't know and you don't either.
What do I mean by this and why would I stick my hand into such a bee's nest?
First, I am an agnostic: perhaps God/some omniscient all-powerful being exists out there somewhere (or everywhere), perhaps not. I just don't know. I have no personal experience that this is the case, no convincing proof, and no faith.
Second, I am a militant agnostic, because not only do I not know about the existence/non-existence of God, but I also am convinced that no one else knows either. You might believe, you might have faith, but that is different from knowledge.
And now...why would I get into this highly contentious issue? Because I actually took some time to read a little bit of the Torah/Old Testament the other day. This is not something that I usually do. In fact, it is likely something that I will do only when I am really bored and the only thing to read is the Torah.
Hey, that must mean I was in a synagogue recently!
Yes, that is indeed the case. I attended the Bar Mitzvah of my cousin, Matthew. Now, don't get me wrong: I was very proud of Matt and very happy to be there. And when he sang the mitzvot, the blessings, and read his Haftorah, I was paying full attention. In between those high points, however, there were some, let us say, less enthralling moments. And so I turned to the Torah, and where else to start but at the beginning?
So I start reading about creation and soon was stunned to come across the following passage:
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/genesis.html)
This seemingly direct translation is commonly interpreted as follows: On the fourth day God created the sun, moon, and stars. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis#Creation)
Now, I understand that there are many, many (some might say "too many") people in this world (referred to as "fundamentalists") who believe that the Torah is the very word of God, to be followed strictly and literally, not interpreted, not put into "context" or relativized for the changing times. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalist)
Well, for those people I have a question: do you actually believe, as this portion of the Book of Genesis baldly states, that the moon is a source of light -- and do you believe that God has this same understanding? Way back when, as in thousands of years ago, human beings thought that the moon was just like the sun: a source of light. One source illuminated the day (the sun) and the other illuminated the night (the moon). Now humans generally understand and accept, so far as I know, that the Moon simply reflects light from the sun; it does not provide any light of its own.
I can certainly understand that the humans of 2000, 5000 or 10000 years past would not have known this. But surely God, the all-knowing, all-powerful whatever-it-is that supposedly created the sun and the moon, knew that the moon wasn't spewing out any lumens of its own.
Am I missing something here, or does the Book of Genesis clearly and unambiguously reveal its human authorship?