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Post  Post subject: Examining the star of Bethlehem  |  Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 5:23 pm
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Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 10:31 pm
Posts: 42
Location: Nebraska, USA

(I had a very hard time deciding if this topic should go here or in the Astronomy section.)
My aunt, who (as she says) is Christian but does not believe Jesus was the son of God, sent me a link to a website about the star of Bethlehem:
The article speaks of the star of Bethlehem being a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus (and thus not an actual star).
However it seems like this conjunction is a very common occurrence, and indeed we had one in August 2014. Why then are these astronomers so amazed at what's happening here?

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Post  Post subject: Re: Examining the star of Bethlehem  |  Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 6:21 pm

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:44 am
Posts: 515
Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The thing about people that try to justify bible stories and look for scientific evidence for them is that they make stuff up or hijack any phenomenon that might fit regardless of credibility... I've personally heard people claim the star of Bethlehem was a) a supernova, b) a comet c) a conjunction of two (or three planets), d) a UFO (yes really! That guy was particularly thick) and e) a wandering planet entering our solar system. AFAIK there is no astronomical evidence for any of these (not even the UFO :lol:) and there is no evidence outside the bible there ever was anything that needs to be explained... If there was a noticeable thing in the sky you might have expected other cultures to have noticed and mentioned it.

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Post  Post subject: Re: Examining the star of Bethlehem  |  Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 10:55 pm
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:35 pm
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Location: Cardiff, Wales

i remember Isaac Asimov writing an essay called "Star in the East" (compiled in "The planet that wasn't") where he goes to show that the star only makes it in five verses of Matthew's nativity scene
Luke's nativity scene makes no mention of a star, and Mark and John's gospel don't have a nativity scene at all

so to say that the bible mentions a star of bethlehem is maybe trying to overselling a casual remark in one out of four gospels

so then Asimov goes through the various options : religious mystery, pious invention, a miraculous event only visible to the wise men, and finally a real astronomical event

of the astronomical possibles he goes through

Halley's comet : too obvious for everyone to see
supernova : likewise
the planet Venus : too ordinary, happens all the time
meteorite : too transient

in the end he settles for a combination of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn in close alignment as something that might be meaningful for astrologers but not necessarily to the general public - and then discards it by saying "No, the whole tale is but an ingenious working-out after the fact"

in short, a pious invention to try and tie in predictions of the Messiah with the Star of David

so yes, the Scientific Study of Religion is the right part of the forum for this discussion

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)

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