The Fire Down Below

This story about the scientific controversy over the extinction of the dinosaurs (asteroid or no asteroid?) is interesting; but what I want to comment on here is this passage:

The impact [of the asteroid, if there was an asteroid] unleashed giant fireballs, crushing tsunamis, continent-shaking earthquakes, and suffocating darkness that transformed the Earth into what one poetic scientist described as “an Old Testament version of hell.”

Was Fantasia right after all?

Was Fantasia right after all?

The “poetic scientist” is not identified. I suppose there’s no reason to expect scientists to be any less ignorant about the Bible than most Bible-believers are about science (and the Bible, for that matter), but – what “Old Testament version of hell”? It remains controversial among Biblical scholars whether Hell is even a thing in the Old Testament; but even if it is, it goes pretty much undescribed. All the lake-of-fire-and-brimstone stuff about Hell is in the New Testament. The Old Testament does have some bombastic apocalyptic prophecies, but they describe a future condition of Earth, not Hell. (Some Christians [e.g., Adventists] believe that all Biblical references to Hell actually are references to a future condition of Earth, but that hasn’t been the traditional view.)

I suspect the “poetic scientist” simply assumed that any lurid passages about Hell must belong to the Old Testament, given the New Testament’s “kinder-gentler” reputation. But whether or not the New Testament really is kinder-gentler than the Old depends very much on which parts one focuses on (unsurprisingly, given that both texts are collections of works by a variety of authors from a variety of time periods and with a variety of viewpoints).


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