An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Genesis 4

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on December 5, 2007

Cain and Abel

1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.

I have to question why this is with the help of the lord, seeing as his main contribution to the process so far has been to make childbirth unbelievably painful for Eve.

2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.
4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favour on Abel and his offering,

Already god’s showing favouritism, and to the shepherd no less, depite telling Adam that he and his line would tend the soil for the rest of their days. Obviously we are not all equal in the eyes of god (and, not to give the game away or anything, but this is somewhat of a recurring theme).

5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Well, you would be, wouldn’t you. After all, you spend all day working in the fields, tilling the land and growing food for yourself and your family and who gets all the praise? The guy that sits around in the field and watches sheep!

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

Not only is god playing favourites but he’s confused as to why it upsets people. Yet another mark against the omniscient theory.

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, Let’s go out to the field. And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, Where is your brother Abel? I don’t know, he replied. Am I my brother’s keeper?
10 The LORD said, What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

Now, again, god seems somewhat surprised that Cain has knocked off Abel despite that fact that he (1) blatantly favoured Abel and (B) by virtue of being cunning/stupid caused Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge int he first place, without which Cain just wouldn’t have been worried about any of this (or, indeed, have had to work in the first place).

11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.

Bit of a common theme here – Cain gets pretty much the same punishment as Adam did for listening to Eve in the first place.

13 Cain said to the LORD, My punishment is more than I can bear.
14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.
15 But the LORD said to him, Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over. Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no-one who found him would kill him.

So Cain is upset because he won’t be in the presence of god? More likely he’s just being sycophantic so that god will provide him some protection. Leaving aside the question of who actually exists to find him at that point (which is explained a little in the next chapter) any other people out there must be related somehow and would therefore be mighty pissed off that their nephew/cousin/son/whatever had been knocked off.

Fortunately ole’ Jehovah’s feeling mighty benevolent today, so he just marks him to make sure everybody knows he killed his brother and tells him that he’ll punish anybody that hurts Cain even more. Nice.

16 So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
17 Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.

Whoa!! Slow up a little here. Where did she come from? And who lives in the land of Nod? (The sandman, perhaps?)

18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.
19 Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.
20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.
21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute.
22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
23 Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me.

Well apparantly the Mormons have it right. Bigamy is not a problem, at least not from a religious point of view. I wonder when we were all forced into monogamy? And could the women have more than one husband here? The land of Nod is beginning to look a little like a 60’s free love hippy collective here.

Big family tree, there’s more of that to come. Most of it just as tedious as this. You’d think the editor would have stepped in here and cut a bit to pick up the pace.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.
Lamech’s a sneaky one – he bumps off some unspecified youth (probably picked up a hitch hiker!) and claims that god will avenge himself on anybody who dares take revenge on good old Lameth. No mention as to whether this is actually backed up by god or not.

25 Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.
26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.

Poor old Adam, the implication seems to be that every time he gets laid another son pops out. It’s worse than being catholic.

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