An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Genesis 2

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on November 29, 2007

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

Time for that beer at long last.

3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

So god rested on the seventh day. I can’t say I blame him, it sounds like a pretty busy week – I’d have taken the Sunday off too (or would that be Saturday? There always seems to be some confusion over this one, if only he’d mentioned what day he actually began creation we’d be OK).

I would like to know though why that supposedly means that the rest of us aren’t allowed to do anything on the sabbath. Just because god wanted a lie in on the Sunday why can’t I mow the lawn on one of my (two days a week only) days off? Seems a little unfair really and for no good reason.

Adam and Eve

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—
5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,

So presumably we are talking about the second day, the fourth day and the fifth day, when all life sprang up, with a bit of a break on the third day to sort out night and day. Presumably not having that would have played havoc with circadian rhythms.

And what’s with this “LORD” stuff? Why is the single initial capital letter not suitable for this? It’s really pretty unsubtle and you can imagine god telling his scribes – “Make sure everybody knows I am their lord and master”. Then when the second scribe had finished brushing away the remains of the first for daring to ask “how?” he just went for the most blatant method possible.

6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground—

This is the earth that was seabed until not so long ago.

7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Out of the dusty ground, that’s just been watered, so probably more mud than dust, springs forth man.

8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground— trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This is getting really disjointed. When did he create Eden? Before or after he created man. If I was looking at this for a screenplay I think I’d be giving up about now or suggesting a rewrite that actually sets the scene in a reasonable chronological order for the viewers.

10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.
11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.
12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)

Woohoo! We’re only up to chapter 2 of the whole bible and already it’s telling us that gold is good. God is a stockbroker!

13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.
14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

God obviously never had to deal with unions. You can imagine the conversation:

Adam – Err, god, hi. Do you think we can talk?
God – What is it, my son?
Adam – Well, I’m working my ass off here, putting in ten hour days, tending your magnificent creation.
God – Yes?
Adam – Well, frankly, what’s in it for me?

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

Hardly an above average salary with a nice pension. Especially with all that gold knocking round just down the river.

17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.

Now really. That’s a little obvious isn’t it? Put a gun on the mantlepiece in act 2 and you just know what’s going to happen later on.

18 The LORD God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

I was wondering about how Adam named them all in different languages, then I remembered we haven’t heard anything about Babel yet, so I’ll pass on that one for the moment.

21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

And left him in a bath of ice?

22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.

There are some sources that say that Lilith was Adam’s first wife and Eve was created later. Others that suggest Lilith came to Adam when he was separated from Eve, but I’ll avoid digression as we’re just dealing with this version of the bible for the moment. I might get to the apocrypha later.

There is of course an implication here that wo-man is inferior simply because she was created “out of man”. This inferiority is somewhat of a recurring theme throughout the whole book.

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

And why should they? Shame is a natural consequence of a social order along with all it’s mores and rituals. Religion plays a significant part in generating shame in people so it’s somewhat ironic that one of the first things the bible establishes is that before there was religion (while they are still innocent and haven’t eaten any forbidden fruit) there was no shame. It’s a subtle admission that seems to be oft overlooked.

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