Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Absurdity of the Book of Genesis part II

[We continue our ‘cold reading’ of the Bible to see what we would gather from these scriptures if we knew nothing about God or Jesus or any of it before we ever picked up the book.]

Continuing on with Chapter 4 of the Bible, we read about Adam and Eve’s two sons, Cain and Abel. In this story we discover that Cain kills his brother Abel in a fit of jealousy because Cain’s ritual offering is not as pleasing to God as is Abel’s. It seems reasonable then to conclude that God is vain in that God doesn’t refuse being worshiped. Second, we also see that a knowledge of good and evil do not prevent Cain from murdering his brother, making us wonder what is the point of knowing good from evil if knowing the difference makes no difference. See what I’m saying? Further in the story God asks Cain where his brother is to which Cain replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Until Abel’s blood calls out from the grave, God doesn’t know where Abel is – which is in contradiction to elsewhere in the Bible where it can be read that God is all-knowing. To be fair, God may have been giving Cain a chance to confess, but this is the second time God didn’t know something in the very first book of the Bible. If this is our starting point for determining if God is all-knowing, then we have to conclude that God is not. Anyway, God sends Cain away with a mark on his head as a warning to other people for them not to take vengeance upon Cain because…? Where these other people come from is not clear either since up to this point only four people have been named in Genesis. 

Moving on to Chapter 5 we read with a fair amount of skepticism that men routinely live in excess of 900 years. Chapter 6 verse 3 goes on to say that for no other reason than men being made of flesh, their numbers will be limited to 120 years. And, if we kept reading as far as the Book of Psalms, we’d read that the days of a man will be limited to 70 years. Will someone please make up their mind! It doesn’t matter; plenty of Biblical characters tend to exceed these limits immediately following their announcements. So, whatever.

Immediately thereafter we get these two verses in succession; “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” and suddenly we have a god who regrets having made man. First there are ‘men of renown’ then God regrets making them? Uh, okay. I think a lot of story got left out here. God goes on to lament making man and beast and announces to Noah that he will destroy it all. Right here we learn once again of a god that makes mistakes; God is fallible. Certainly I can’t be the only one who expects a god not to make mistakes.

The rest of Chapter 6 and 7 give of Noah’s tale of the Arc which is not without some minor absurdities. A 450 foot long boat that houses two of every animal on Earth? Sure. All those animals boarding the Arc in one day? Naturally. A worldwide flood that lasts 40 days while just a few verses later the flood lasted 150 days? WHO EDITED THIS THING?

By the way, do you like the scent of burning animals? No? God sure does. At the end of Chapter 8 Noah makes a sacrificial offering that is so pleasing to God’s nose that God regrets flooding the Earth. If we recall, this is now the THIRD time God has regretted a decision…in the very first book of the Bible! What does this guy do for an encore?

In Chapter 9 there are some very strange family affairs afoot. Noah, previously described in the Bible as a righteous man “Drank of the wine and was drunken, and he was uncovered in his tent” (read: naked). God’s #1 guy is a drunkard. Anyhoot, Noah’s son Ham sees his father naked, tells his brothers, and they all go to cover dad up being careful not to look. (Remember, being naked is a big no-no to God, which is why he didn’t cover Adam and Eve up. Wait, what?) When Noah wakes up he is outraged that he was seen naked and sentences Ham’s son to a life of servitude. What a douchebag! The Bible seems to have a bizarre code of justice I am sure we are all glad we no longer live by. Please also note that at the end of Chapter 9, Noah dies at the age of 950. Wtf?

Skipping ahead to Chapter 11 is the story of the Tower of Babel. In this story, God is worried that mankind may become capable of too much as men attempt to build a tower to reach the heavens. Well, God can’t have that! To thwart mankind, God confuses the language among men and spreads men around the globe in an effort to keep them from working together. This appears to us as if a parent were intentionally trying to undermine the achievements of their own children so that the child could never be as accomplished as the parent. I doubt many of us know someone who parents their children in this manner. If we didn’t already, we probably starting to not like this god.

Believe it or not, the Book of Genesis gets more outrageous. Chapter 12 brings us the story of Abram, a man God is sending off into the world and upon whom God will bestow a great nation, for absolutely no friggin’ reason we’re privy to. In his travels, Abram enters Egypt and lies to the locals that his wife is instead his sister. Abram fears he would be killed by the Egyptians because his wife is so beautiful they would want her for themselves.  It winds up that Abrams wife is taken away from him to the Pharaoh’s court for said reason with Pharaoh compensating Abram with sheep, oxen, camels and servants as any fair man would do. Unfortunately, God takes Abram’s side in this deception and rains down fire and brimstone upon Pharaoh’s house. Of course, Pharaoh didn’t know Sarai was Abrams wife, but so what? Why wouldn’t God side with the liar? Pharaoh finally learns of Abram’s deception and promptly sends him and his wife away least things get any worse. The moral of the story? THERE IS NONE! Where do you see morality anywhere in this tale? Dare we read any further?

In Chapter 17 God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and establishes a certain painful covenant, again for reasons we are not privy to. This reminds me of being in the army where everyone is expected to follow commands without thinking. But, since that didn’t work out for Nazi’s Nazi war criminals, I don’t see why anyone ever follows commands blindly. Anyway, in Chapter 18-19 we witness the story and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, cities whose evils are so offensive to God that we never lean exactly what those evils are so we can avoid them ourselves. What we do learn from this tale is that offering up your daughters to an angry mob to save the lives of some angels (who are suspiciously mortal) is not offensive to God, yet another indicator of the level of respect God has for females.

In Chapter 22 God tests Abraham’s faith by asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son to God. Abraham prepares to do so only to have God say “Just kidding!” at the last second. Again we learn we are not supposed to question God no matter what this jackass says and we’ll be rewarded (with oxen or some such). I think, though, that this is a particularly cruel way to test someone faith, don’t you?

Now, folks, I am not going to even mention the fable in which another of God’s chosen dudes (it’s never a chick) blackmails his brother out of his birthright; blackmail obviously not being a crime. Nor will I mention the rape of Dinah in Chapter 34 in which God allows the destruction and death of everyone in an entire city as retribution for one man’s crime.

So, having read the first book of the Bible, what can we surmise? From beginning to end we are privy to a deity who is thoughtless, careless, confused, jealous, vain and savage. But it seems we are supposed to worship God simply because God (along with a few pals) created us. Nevermind that there are no arguments in Genesis that indicate why a creature should honor its creator. God also has a strong bias against women; few women are named in Genesis yet even the most trivial male is given a shout out. Thus, being a reasonable and conscionable person, I cannot take this God seriously. That is, I couldn’t possible respect this God even if it did exist and did create human beings. (There is no evidence that God exists, simply a book that says so. Meaning, I guess Sherlock Holmes actually exists, too, if we’re all supposed to simply take the word of some book.)

Sure, by all means keep reading the Bible if entertainment is your goal. There is even more batshit crazy stuff beyond the Book of Genesis. Volumes of it! Just remember to read it all objectively. You’ll shake your head in condemnation with every turn of the page.

No comments: