Ethics in the Bible

In the Bible, ethics are paramount. Everything reflects, in some way or another, the importance of ethics.

In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s direct ethical command to stay away from his tree. In the story of Noah and the flood, all of humanity, except Noah and his family, were not ethically suitable, so they were destroyed. In the Psalms,  David asks God to destroy evil-doers (those who are not ethically sound) and to deliver good people (those who are ethically sound). In the Proverbs, the deeds of the ethically wicked will always come back to bite them.

The Bible takes a consistent view when it comes to ethics: the good guys will always win and the bad guys will always lose.

Essay 2: On the Importance of Cell Signaling in the Fight or Flight Response

When someone is startled, their heart rate increases. They didn’t run or perform any physical activity, so why did their heart rate increase?

Humans, and most other animals, under the proper circumstances (fear), are readied by their bodies to make a decision. Either to stay and fight, or to make a run for it (commonly known as the fight or flight response). In  order to ready itself, the bodies’ cells must have a way of communicating with one another. This is where the process of cell signaling  comes into play.

There are three types of cell signaling: local signaling, long-distance signaling, and nerve cell signaling (formally known as pecarine, endocrine, and synaptic signaling, respectively). In pecarine signaling, a cell releases a specialized signaling molecule called a ligand, into intracellular space. These ligands are targeted at cells in the immediate vicinity. In endocrine signaling, an endocrine cell releases a hormone into the bloodstream to reach other cells throughout the body (synaptic signaling is not as important in the fight or flight response).

In a fight or flight situation, endocrine cells release the hormone adrenaline into the bloodstream. Adrenaline increases heart rate and communicates other messages to cells in different parts of the body to perform actions that will help the body fight or fly.

The Meaning of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

In Plato’s allegory of the cave, he portrays the common man as a prisoner, chained so that he can only see the shadows of real things, not reality itself. However, the philosopher can escape from of the cave and see the real world as it is.

What Plato is driving at here is that there is much more to reality than what we can see with our eyes. Plato believed that all the physical things in the universe have absolute archetypes, called forms, that exists in a separate universe. This separate universe is not physical, nor does it exist only in the minds of human beings. What we can see are simply physical examples of the forms.

The Disagreement Between Socrates and the Sophists

Socrates and the Sophists were fundamentally opposed. Socrates believed that truth and morality are never-changing constants that hold true for every human being. The Sophists, led by Protagoras, believed that truth and morality are relative. That what is true for one person may not be true for another.

The Sophists taught argument, which was important in ancient Greece because people had to represent themselves in court. They taught people how to convince anyone of anything regardless of whether or not it was true.

Socrates thought that sort of moral relativism would corrupt the youth of Athens. One of Socrates’ main arguments against the sophists was that if Protagoras’ notion was true, then it would be correct for Socrates to oppose Sophism because it isn’t necessarily right for him.

The Elements of Hierarchy in Genesis 1-3

Adam was made in God’s image. God created Adam out of the dust of the earth, which God breathed life into. This makes man unique among creation. None of the animals were created out of the earth or made in God’s image. Adam served as an intermediary between God and creation.

Eve was created out of Adam. Eve was not a separate creation from Adam, but rather an extension of Adam. Eve served as a helper and companion to Adam, because the animals were to far beneath Adam to be his companions, and God was to far above to be his companion.

The serpent was the embodiment of evil. He temped Eve by appealing to her pride. When discovered, the serpent was punished by God to crawl on its belly and forever be the enemy of mankind.

Long-Term Optimism in the Psalms

The psalms are optimistic because they offer hope for the future. In psalm 17:51, God will show “mercy  to David and his anointed: and to his seed forever”. This means that God will show mercy to David’s inheritance. This offers David hope for the future. In psalm 24:13, for the man who believes in God, “his soul shall dwell in good things, and his seed shall inherit the earth”. This offers hope for God’s believers. In psalm 15:5, “the Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: it is thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me”. God will preserve David’s inheritance. These psalms show the optimism of the psalmist, and his hope for the future.

 

Sanctions in the Psalms

In the psalms, God is repeatedly asked to destroy evil-doers. He is also asked to deliver His people. These are forms of sanctions. The destruction of evil men is a negative sanction, while the deliverance of believers is a positive sanction. The theme of positive and negative sanctions recurs  throughout the psalms.

The Importance of the Pre-socratic Philosophers

The pre-Socratic Philosophers are not primarily significant for the truths that they discovered, but because they were the first thinkers to think of knowledge as a whole. They weren’t concerned with, for example, the motion of a rolling ball, or of a shooting arrow, but with the concept of motion as a whole. Zeno of Athens, for example, argued that motion is impossible. Heraclitus, however, argued that permanence is an illusion, and that reality is change.

Another important concept in pre-Socratic philosophy is concept that the universe is composed of a fundamental element. Thales of Miletus posited that the fundamental element must be water. Anaximines said that the fundamental element must be air. Today we know that these ideas are false. but it is not important if what they posited was true. What is important is that they were thinking in a way that was new; what and how rather than who and why.

A Summary of Hebrew History

Abraham was called by God to go from his home in Mesopotamia to Canaan. His son, Isaac had two children, Jacob and Esau. Jacob had twelve children. His youngest, Joseph, was much favored by Jacob. Joseph’s brothers became jealous and sold him to  traders from Egypt. In Egypt, Joseph gained the favor of the Pharaoh by interpreting from one of the Pharaoh’s dreams that there will be a famine. Egypt was able to prepare and, when the famine struck, the Hebrews took refuge in Egypt.

They lived happily in Egypt until Joseph and the Pharaoh died. After they died, the Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians and the new Pharaoh ordered all the baby Hebrew boys killed. But one mother put her baby into a basket and floated it down the river. The baby was discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter. She took the baby in and raised him in the palace. When this boy, named Moses, grew up, he was upset by how badly the Hebrews were treated. One day, he killed a cruel slave overseer and fled into the desert. He was now determined to free the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt. Eventually, he led them across the red sea and out of Egypt. He then brought the tablets of the ten commandments down from Mt. Sinai.

The Hebrews were unable to return to Canaan, so they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Moses Chose Joshua to be his successor. Joshua recaptured Canaan, and the Hebrews were divided between 12 tribes. The tribes decided they needed a king so a judge, Samuel, appointed Saul. Samuel realized that he had made a mistake, so he appointed David as his successor. David won the favor of Saul by curing him with harp music. Saul became  Jealous of David and tried to kill him. David fled into the desert. Saul was killed in a battle with the Philistines.

David, now king, conquered Bethlehem. After his death, his son Solomon, became king. Solomon lived in luxury and built magnificent palaces, and a temple (David couldn’t because he was a man of war). Solomon was unpopular, and when he died, revolt was just below the surface. His son, Rehoboam, was also unpopular, and during his reign, revolt broke out. As result of the revolt, the kingdom divided into Israel in the north, and Judah in the south. In 722 BC, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians. Then, in 586 BC, Judah was overtaken by the Babylonians. This period is known as the Babylonian captivity.

Persia took over Babylon in 538 BC. Many Hebrews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (which was destroyed). Judah was taken by Alexander. During this time, Greek culture was spreading through the east. This is known as the hellenistic period. Judah then passed to Syria in 198 BC. Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria demanded that the Jews adopt Greek customs. Rebellion broke out, and, under Judas Maccabeus, they restored the temple in 133 BC. Judah became a Roman province. Pompey subdued Jerusalem in 63 BC. Jews revolt but are unsuccessful. Titus attacks Jerusalem in 70 AD and buns it to the ground.