Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Seeing Stars

Rick Larson, described as a Texas lawyer and professor, is humping a DVD called "The Star of Bethlehem," that supposedly proves the existence of the Star and reveals its identity. Larson claims to have "treated the Star as a mystery or puzzle, looking at the Bible and comparing the facts of Scripture with facts from science and history." According to the press release:

Larson's quest for answers began from a simple effort to produce an accurate, visual portrayal of the Star in his yard for Christmas. This sent him into a whirl of questions that many people ask each time the Christmas story is told. What did this Star look like? Where did it come from? How did it lead the wise men directly to "this" Child?
Well, there is no telling what can lead to a fruitful ... um ... scientific research program ...

"God began leading me on a journey and unveiling answers to me beyond my own understanding," Larson said. "That God would ask someone not trained in astronomy to do this still amazes me."
I can certainly second that.

Using astronomer Johannes Kepler's map of the solar system, Josephus's calendaring system and Imaginova's state-of-the-art Starry Night® software, Larson pinpointed the year of the Star's appearance. While most astronomers researching the Star only look to the sky, Larson took his findings a step further by utilizing a critical piece in the puzzle – the Scriptures from the Book of Matthew.

Larson's in-depth study of Matthew led him to nine distinguishing characteristics of the Star that helped explain its existence. These features of the Star included that it signified birth; signified kingship; had a connection with the Jewish nation; rose in the East; appeared at a precise time; was unbeknownst to Herod; endured over time; was ahead of the Magi as they went south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem; and stopped directly over the city of Bethlehem.
I'm not quite sure how this thing can have a connection with the Jewish nation but still be unbeknownst to Herod ... but okay. So what was this star?

The Biblical characteristics pointed to the Star being a natural occurrence. Larson's study of wandering stars, or planets, and slow retrograde motion, created a breaking point in his research. Larson discovered that in 3 and 2 B.C., Jupiter, known for ages as the "King Planet," held the nine characteristics of the Star.
Ummm ... a Romanized Jew, such as Herod, would have known of the planet Jupiter, named by the Romans for their chief God and, as this site from the University of Leicester points out, planets would have been distinguished from stars at the time, especially by the supposedly astronomically sophisticated Magi.

But, hey! Other than that, it is a perfect ... um ... theory.

"Larson's quest for answers began from a simple effort to produce an accurate, visual portrayal of the Star in his yard for Christmas."

Larson may want to start on his "accuracy" by getting time of year of the star's appearance right, which has nothing to do with December/Christmas/Winter Soltice.
No doubt using "Josephus's calendaring system" (funny, I thought the Romans used Julius' calendaring system ... oh, well) automatically compensated for that.
I've seen a lot of purported explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. But they're all wrong--the real star of Bethlehem is Michael Behe.
If you followed a planet throughout the night, wouldn't you walk in a circle?
actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.
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