The following regards an interview with David Mathisen on Greg Carlwood podcast show The Higherside Chats (THC).
I hoped to make some points critical of both the general tenor of the discussion as well as it content. The intro (which was very complimentary) did not live up to the rest of the show because the show deteriorated into where all astrotheology ends up and that is subjectivism and dogmatism.
Without defining the term and concept of “literal” (the definition of which many wrongly assume but really means to take as intended: based on genre, etc.) David Mathisen condemns it and replaces it with his own view which he takes to be the only true interpretation not only of the Bible but of all ancient myths, legends, scriptures, poems, etc. regardless of the chronology, geography or theology from which they come—this seems rather authoritarian.
He states that it is all about stellar procession and then subjectively goes about force-fitting all such ancient literature into his dogmatic interpretation—regardless of grammatical context, historical context, cultural context, etc.
As David did, astrotheologians tend to elephant hurl: they offer the audience so very many tidbits and pieces of information that the listener will tend to simply shrug it all off, accept it in an un-skeptical manner or decide to devote a considerable portion of their lives towards unpacking all of the claims. After all, David has written thousands of pages on this subject (and I am certainly not complaining about that) so that it would take a tremendous amount of time read it all, track down all of the primary source info, double check all of it, determine the various contexts noted above, etc.
Thus, the presupposition must be that David, et al. have done so (familiarized themselves with the texts, the contexts, etc.), are thus the authorities and can speak dogmatically—as they clearly take upon themselves to do. Yet, what we end up with is a typical astrotheological tactic to the like of, “Well, the text states this but I subjectively claim that it means that and that states this but I personally think that it means the other,” etc., etc., etc. This is peppered with enough vague allusions to data points that it appears impressive and accurate.
I will point out a few items specified in the interview:
The story of Noah being naked, found by his sons, being covered by a sheet (which is said to refer to a constellation): in short, those who interpret the Bible according to its own contexts, contents and concepts know that it does not stated that Noah was naked but refers to his sons seeing their father’s nakedness. Now, being previously aware of it or not, liking it or not, understanding it or not: the fact is that within the Bible the term “father’s nakedness” means the man’s wife’s nakedness (Leviticus 18:8, 20:1). Thus, Noah’s wife was naked.
David Mathisen tells us that the story of Solomon, the prostitutes and the baby is about constellations because well, because of painting that illustrate that event which date from much, much, much, much, muuuuuuuuuuuch later than the event, its recording in writing, the manuscripts, etc. If I may be so bold as to say that Greg should have told David that this anachronistic and thus disjointed manner of argument is illegitimate rather than implying that he is really onto something.
He asserts that El or Elohim is Saturn because apparently someone has claimed as much and yet, there is no one and nothing in the Bible named El or Elohim: this is not a name but is a description or a title and is used of the God of the Bible, various false, gods and goddesses, Angels, judges, etc.
Regarding John the Baptist, David claims that “increase” and “decrease” are used within his astronomical context. However, the narrative tells of Jesus’ disciples and John were baptizing in the same region (John 3:22-28, ff.). John’s disciples noted to him that Jesus’s was nearby and “all men come to him” to which John replies, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven…I am not the Christ…He must increase, but I must decrease.” What “increase” and “decrease” mean contextually is just that: popularity, following, number of disciples, etc. It has nothing to do with astronomy. Yet, David forbids literalism and thus will surely reject these facts and merely claim that the grammatical context is also referring to astronomy.
Of course, I would imagine that no amount of fact based corrections will matter because regardless, David can just subjectively turn the facts into symbols, allegory, simile, etc.
Just because David Mathisen can subjectively re-interpret a story does not make his interpretations valid (all interpretation were not created equal). Thus, he claims that Sampson’s story is about constellation, Goliath’s story is about constellation, Eve is a star, etc., etc., etc. and he then invents meanings such as not drinking too much in the case of Noah, coming of age in the case of David, etc.
That is not to say that one cannot derive such life lessons from those stories but only that David’s subjective and dogmatic claims does not make it so (and also that such life lessons are derived from real life events).
Also, I myself hold that there are various points of contact between many myths and legends (due to common history eventually becoming such myths and legends after the Tower of Babel dispersal of humanity) so I am not simply shrugging off David’s claims or painting them with a broom.
Terms are defined by the context in which they are used and not by etymology or what they meant two or four languages over in any given direction and it is this basic principle that David dismisses.
Of course, at that point he will clearly be seen to not be dealing with texts in a hermeneutical manner but will be seen to twist and turn texts to fit his preconceived notions at any cost—taking texts out of context to make pretexts for proof-texts—in this case, the cost of discrediting himself.
Bottom line is that every time he referenced the Bible, he got it wrong and that is supposed to be a text with which he is very familiar. It makes me wonder how often and how badly he gets wrong the various and sundry other texts with which he is not familiar and may have only read once.
Now, at times Greg and David imply that by “the church” what is meant is the Vatican and at those points I agree fully in condemning that particular organization. However, “the church” is not the Vatican neither is it 21st century North American Conservative politics, nor is it the worse historical examples of which anyone can think (which are actually examples of violations of Christian ethics) but is it those (as a basic definition) who are Christ-like having been saved by grace though faith in Jesus.
David ends up stating that the church “must be stopped” because they “hurt children” by teaching that which the Bible states as is—in which case Greg and David are no longer dealing with the Vatican alone but with the majority of historic Christianity (as well as biblical Judaism for that matter).
He has made literalism a forbidden view and excommunicates literalists (again, without defining the term) as per his dogma.
I also note that the show ends with a reading of supposedly problematic Bible texts: 1) why not even one single text of any of the entire world’s myths, legends, scriptures, poems, etc.? 2) Greg seem to be treating David in the manner which I have identified: as the infallible interpreter. Thus, David is turned to in order to derive the one true authoritative and dogmatic interpretation and the result is, “Thus saith David.”
In other words, Greg, David and other astrotheologians turn into exactly that which they claim to condemn. They set themselves up as dogmatic authorities who promulgate the one true view and who condemn those who disagree and demand that they be stopped.
Lastly, I admit that I have not listened to every single THC show. I will also note that beginning at around the age eleven I began reading about cryptozoology, UFOs, witchcraft, etc. and have thus enjoyed various THC shows.
Yet, I will say that I have noticed a pattern within the shows and that is Christophobia. It seems to me that Christianity is the one and only call it what you will (religion, faith, worldview philosophy, etc.) that Greg and guests are willing to besmirch and do so on a regular basis. For example, “they,” “the church,” etc. are child abusers because they teach David and Goliath as a literal story when they should really be doing what? Apparently because “they” are not teaching the story as per Greg Carlwood’s and David Mathisen’s dogmatic interpretations.
In other words: Greg and David demand that “they” swap the literal dogmatic interpretation for astrotheology’s subjectively preferred eisegetical dogmatic interpretation.
Well, there is obviously a LOT more to be unpacked in this regard but I hope these examples will suffice to show that David’s claims within the interview are not only suspect due to their subjective and force fitting nature but are hostile and authoritatively dogmatic.
For previous references to astrothelogy see Freemason Robert W. Sullivan on Royal Arch of Enoch and especially Ascension discussion by Santos Bonacci.
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