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Religion, Science, Understanding, and Tolerance, Part 1

May 10th, 2013

Samson Illustration from 1728 La Haye Bible. Image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries.

Religion and science were intimately connected three thousand years ago. The greatest example of this ancient link is the biblical Samson story.

Hi! I’m David O’Neil, and I’ve spent many of the past eighteen years working on this puzzle, trying to figure out what the authors of that tale were recording. I’m happy to finally share the fruits of my labors!

To begin, let me tell you a bit about myself, and what drove me to these investigations!

I wish I could say being Satan’s grandson had its perks. Imagine the fun of reporting the school bully’s ‘tighty whitey’s’ caught fire while he gave me a snuggie! But such wasn’t the case.

I also wish I was joking about being related to his Evilness, but according to the vehement beliefs of Mom, her mother, and many of their friends for a short time, Dad stemmed from that source. And since I was only seven, I believed them.

Little did I know my experience would eventually lead to a new understanding of humanity’s religious and scientific roots. In the next three posts I will share some of those discoveries with you, and show the deep connections which once existed between those topics.

My sad adventure began a few years earlier, when Mom started getting frustrated with my father. He always seemed to be working, and they didn’t talk much. Our roof leaked, we had little money, and she had borne a child each year… All these items (and more) added up, until one day shortly after giving birth to my fourth sister she had enough. Her mother took care of a boarding house for girls in Idaho, and the prospect of living there appealed to Mom more than the life we had. She ran away with my sisters and me.

Religion played a central role at the new location; the house belonged to a fundamentalist Catholic cult. We began our indoctrination even before arriving.

Dad soon found us, and, after a lot of difficulties, got us back three months later. The following years continued to be hard for me, including being bullied and believing in my father’s not-so-noble lineage for a while. A divorce, two court cases, a bad lawyer, and a judge who decided twelve jurors couldn’t be right were among other notable events I witnessed in those times. But this isn’t about those times.

My purpose in this writing is given in the title. What I went through made me investigate the roots of Western religion in a manner nobody else has, and revealed items which have been hidden for millennia. Simply stated, I discovered the astronomical basis of the Samson story. When it becomes clear, the perceived rift between religion and science will narrow, and these fields will no longer be viewed as fundamentally incompatible. I like to think that understanding and tolerance will immediately erupt, leading to a more peaceful world, but based on human nature a bit more patience may be necessary!

In order to share my discoveries we must move to a middle ground; a time when humanity – or at least the core which evolved into today’s Western civilization – was turning away from earlier thoughts of ‘magic,’ but had not yet developed a fuller scientific understanding.

If you are religious you may believe in a literal reading of the Samson tale, but such a viewpoint contains several problems. For instance, no Philistine records have ever been unearthed telling of the terrors unleashed upon them by this Hebraic strongman. Also, Samson was said to be a Nazarite, but by such standards he was a terrible example. For one thing, they are prohibited from having sex, yet the biblical language strongly suggests he did just that.

I outline more problems with a literal reading in my book, Laughing at the Devil: One Man’s Religious Discoveries, which goes much deeper into all of the issues and finds I touch upon here. Of course I highly recommend it since the author is yours truly! But even without my personal bias, as of now it is the only writing in the world to deal with these topics in a clear manner, for you who desire a deeper understanding for yourself.

Rather than a literal interpretation of the Samson story you might believe the biblical narrative was created just to impress the kids. But where did the constructs in it come from? All writings today are based on historical events or works of some nature; what are the ones behind this tale?

My own initiation into this puzzle wasn’t due to the riddles touched upon here. Instead, a book titled Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time was to blame.

You may be familiar with Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend’s work. If so, you probably know it has huge problems. The most glaring issue is their writing strongly suggests our ancestors possessed a much deeper astronomic understanding than our historic records indicate, for a much longer timeframe than is feasible.

In spite of that difficulty, the book has more than enough references to show that several myths are based upon an astronomical knowledge of some kind. The Samson story is among those they mentioned.

Their introduction, although deeply flawed, slowly led to a solution for the Samson puzzle. But before diving in, here is a good place for a quick breather before getting to those fascinating details!