An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Genesis 3

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on November 30, 2007

The Fall of Man

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?
2 The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’
4 You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

Now I had always been told that the serpent in the garden was Satan himself, disguised as a snake, tempting Eve. Here is a fairly typical argument for that one. Not only is there no mention of the snake being Satan but Satan has not even been introduced as a character yet.

I have to say though – that’s a fair temptation. Eat this apple and you will become a godlike being. Seeing as all god had done was issued a blanket “stay away” command with no explanation is it in the least surprising that Eve fell for this? If you ask me the serpent is far more likely to have been god testing his own creations and letting Satan take the fall for it is just mean.

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Doesn’t seem like Adam needed much persuading though, or was he already under the thumb?

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

OK, now they’ve eaten the fruit, which apparently means they can distinguish good from evil, and their first act is to be ashamed of being naked. Would this not imply that nakedness is evil? I’m sure the Catholics are happy about that but I have to ask: if nakedness is, in fact, evil, then why did god leave them naked in the garden in the first place? Why didn’t he create Armani on the seventh day?

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 But the LORD God called to the man, Where are you?

This blows the omniscient god theory out of the water – he couldn’t even beat Adam in a simple game of hide and seek!

10 He answered, I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.
11 And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?
12 The man said, The woman you put here with me— she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, What is this you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

I sense a wrath of god passage approaching …

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

Nice easy scapegoat there – the poor old serpent. If it was Satan disguised as a snake then it’s a bit mean to punish the poor old snake. If it was god that set the whole thing up then it’s even worse as he knows for sure that the snake’s innocent and is just using it to divert attention. If it was indeed just the snake having a bit of a laugh then why try and “interpret” it as meaning something different. Why not just say “snakes are mean and sneaky”?

Of course that would beg the question of why god created an evil creature in the first place. After all everything’s still pretty new here, so all these animals (including Adam and Eve) only have the traits that god gave them. Another pointer to the fact that poor old Eve was set up by god to take the fall for all of mankind. I’m not liking this god chap much so far. He sounds like a bad project manager or management consultant – take the credit when all goes well but when he’s cocked up it’s time to shift the blame to the closest unfortunate.

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Now this is harsh. Man will suppress woman and woman will basically really bug man. It seems that any relationship issues you may have can be blamed directly on god and his little temper tantrum here. On the other hand Dr. Phil and John Gay (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: How to Get What You Want in Your Relationships) have made a pretty good living off it.

16 To the woman he said, I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

Whoah!! And if you thought he’d been a bit nasty so far here’s a really bad one. I’m now 100% positive genesis was penned by a guy, and a guy that had never been in the same room as a woman in labour at that.

17 To Adam he said, Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

So the moral of this is, what precisely? Don’t listen to your wife? Incidentally it would seem that this is the first time the word wife has been used, although I haven’t noticed god presiding over any ceremonies.

This one really doesn’t make too much sense though. Does it mean that Adam’s not allowed to eat apples, and where does the assumption that it was an apple tree come from? God just calls it the “tree of knowledge” and leaves it at that. It would seem more likely that if Adam’s not allowed to eat this any more then the fruit was something unknown to us which god subsequently destroyed (or left growing in the garden of Eden, from which mankind is shortly to be banned. Oops, sorry, that was a spoiler…)

God obviously wasn’t thinking long term though. I don’t have a lot of painful toil when I nip down to the local shops to get something for dinner. Unless I take the kids with me – that can sometimes be painful.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.

Yadda, yadda, work for your food, aha, here we are. Now you are MORTAL! The implication here of course being that previously Adam was going to be around for a pretty long time, but now that god can’t trust him any more (having fallen for god’s sting operation) he’ll now only have a limited time on the earth.

I would imagine by this point Adam’s pretty relieved about this. He’s just been told the cushy life is over. Eve’s going to nag him for the rest of his days, which he’s going to have to spend trying to grow enough food to stay alive. Death will probably come as somewhat of a relief to him.

20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

Another implication that the men and women created in genesis 1 don’t seem to exist, as supposedly god created them first. Or are we talking a different race here?

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

I’m really hoping we’re talking about animal skins and some decent sewing skills here, because otherwise, eeeww, it seems to suggest that they didn’t have any skin. I think I’ll just put this one down to poor writing and/or translation so that I don’t have nightmares.

22 And the LORD God said, The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever.

Now this is interesting – “The man has become like one of us”. US !! Who exactly is god talking to here?

There is a word in hebrew – Elohim – which is used in the hebrew version of the bible and would tend to reinforce this concept of plurality. The bible doesn’t seem to make much of it apart from this and I’ve really never heard any christians bring it up.

Should christianity and it’s offshoots be re-classed from monotheism to polytheism? That would confuse an awful lot of people.

23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

I’m beginning to think this garden of Eden lark was some kind of early reality show, along the lines of “Big Brother” or “I’m a celebrity idiot, get me out of here”. I can just see the Elohim sitting around somewhere working out which species to get thrown out of the garden next and devising elaborate ploys so that they can bring about their own downfall.

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