An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Posts Tagged ‘Adam & Eve’

Genesis 5

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on December 6, 2007

No real comments on this particular chapter as, let’s face it, it’s rather dull. It really shouldn’t have made the director’s cut, let alone the abridged version!

So we’ll just mention that apparently everybody lived for a rather long time, despite having no public health care, and at the very least the men could father sprogs into old age (there’s no mention of who the mothers were).

Of course the implication of all this is that there was an awful lot of incest going on at this point as people slept with daughters, cousins, nieces, mothers. I guess any knowledge gained from the forbidden fruit didn’t include genetics. Either that or at least a couple of the people mentioned below had webbed feet and twelve fingers.

I have read a defence of this from a christian point of view which suggests that as Adam & Eve were created perfect there were no imperfections to pass on to their children. Imperfections have been introduced over time as genetic copies have degraded in quality.

The problem with that of course is that it admits that people have evolved, rather than being created precisely as we are today. Something that a fundamentalist touting the truth of genesis would likely be extremely reluctant to admit.

From Adam to Noah

1 This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.
2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them man.
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.
5 Altogether, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.
6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh.
7 And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters.
8 Altogether, Seth lived 912 years, and then he died.
9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan.
10 And after he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters.
11 Altogether, Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died.
12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel.
13 And after he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters.
14 Altogether, Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died.
15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared.
16 And after he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters.
17 Altogether, Mahalalel lived 895 years, and then he died.
18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch.
19 And after he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.
20 Altogether, Jared lived 962 years, and then he died.
21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.
22 And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.
23 Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years.
24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech.
26 And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters.
27 Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.
28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son.
29 He named him Noah and said, He will comfort us in the labour and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.
30 After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters.
31 Altogether, Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died.
32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

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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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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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Genesis 2

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on November 29, 2007

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2
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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