Monthly Archives: February 2009

All the Mythstakes in Eden

One need not delve deeply into the Bible at all before the contradictions and inanities come flying at you like the evening migration of dusky mammals (Note: not birds!) from a bat cave. Indeed, the conflicting creation stories in the first two chapters of Genesis offer an eye-opening prelude to what any half-alert observer can expect almost anywhere he or she turns in that so-called holy book.

In the next few paragraphs however, let’s skip over the conflicting twin creation myths and take a closer look at one of the more comical of the bronze-age fables to be found in Genesis: that of Adam, Even, and their eventual expulsion from what passes in the Bible for paradise. By way of a quick recap, Yahweh has created Adam and, sensing that he was lonely, a companion, Eve.

They are happy in the garden and all is good…with plenty to eat, lots of beauty, and – one assumes – no tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, ice ages, or serious earthquakes.

Even better, the only price Yahweh extracts from this most fortunate of couples is that, although the full bounty of the garden is theirs to enjoy, they are not to eat the fruit of one solitary tree that grows there: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Item one for discussion: How could Adam be lonely? As a first and only, he had no experience with human interaction of any kind, could not possibly have known what he was missing, and so loneliness would not have been an issue. Besides, there were all those cuddly lambs and lions and dinosaurs (if you believe the creationists) to romp around with and keep him company. I know apologists can and will come up with a dozen or more explanations for this anomaly, none of which will be textually-based. However parsed though, it does raise a serious philosophical question, and one that apparently requires brand new revelations to clear up.

Then we get to the question of the tree. This takes less deep thought than the previous riddle, but is still of interest none-the-less. Simply stated, if Yahweh was omniscient and omnipotent, and the tree was such a big frigging issue with him, why did he put the darned thing there in the first place? Couldn’t he have anticipated the end result? Why muck up paradise with such an obviously destructive temptation? Would a caring parent provide a loaded handgun to a pair of toddlers and then leave them alone? And what judgment would society render on that parent – certainly not the children – when the inevitable occurred?

Which brings us to our next, closely related issue. Why was the snake there, given free rein to work his dastardly will? It was Yahweh’s creation for crying-out-loud! It’s almost as if the Creator intended to stir up trouble, waiting excitedly for why he knew had to happen. What a piss-ant this Yahweh guy seems.

Not only is what happens next no surprise, it’s damned near anticlimactic. The snake tempts Eve, Eve eats from the tree, Eve talks Adam into taking a bite, and voila…nothing will ever be the same. Even such an obvious plot, however, is fraught with questions that beg asking.

Take that part of the story where Yahweh… who apparently had been away in some distant part of Creation doing, well, God knows what…returns to the Garden but has trouble finding his deceitful playthings, who are hiding. They are hiding, now mind you, from the all-knowing and all-seeing Yahweh, the very same deity who today is aware not only of every action of every single one of the more than six billion “souls” on earth, but of their every thought as well. But he can’t find Adam, and has to call for him to show himself. Can I be the only one who has trouble with this picture?

In any event, Adam eventually comes forward and, to Yahweh’s dismay, he is wearing clothing fashioned from fig leaves. “Why”, Yahweh demands, as if he shouldn’t already know.

“ ‘Cause now we can see we’re naked”, Adam answers.

Here of course we find yet another problem with the story. We are supposed to believe that prior to eating whatever fruit it was, Adam and Eve couldn’t tell they were unclothed. Really?

Yahweh had previously created light, and had given his new toys fully developed eyes. (What good would a half an eye be, for crying out loud.) Are we to assume that until “the fall” Adam and Eve spent every waking hour of each and every day bouncing off every tree and tripping over every critter in their path? How unsophisticated, how devoid of consequential thinking, how “primitive” does a goat-herder have to be to accept, much less author, such a tale?

By now it should be quite obvious that the story contains more faulty logic than a Monty Python skit. The worst by far still awaits us however because only now do we arrive at the real crux of the problem with the story, and, indeed, the real problem with the ancients’ very conceptualization of Yahweh. Adam and Eve are to be punished for doing wrong, for sinning by disobeying Yahweh’s directive, even though up until the time they actually ate of the fruit they lacked any knowledge of good and (or) evil. How could they possibly be held responsible for their disobedience if they had no way of knowing eating the fruit was wrong? What kind of tyrant would extract punishment when the subjects of his wrath were without real culpability?

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Yahweh, a world of deceit, narcissism, and unrepentant vengeance. Deceit? Yahweh did lie, there’s no other way to put it, about the consequence of eating the fruit, threatening sure death. (Adam purportedly lived another 900 years, but I suppose in the long run the Almighty turned out to be right.) Narcissism? How else might one describe Yahweh’s role in the entire affair? Vengeful? How many times in just the first four or five books of the Old Testament does the Old Bugger get his loincloth all in a wad? The guy can only be described as a thug if you take the time to give it any thought.

Summarizing, in just the first three chapters of Genesis we find such glaring contradictions, illogic, deceit, poor planning and design, and unmitigated tyranny, that anyone possessing a whit of intellect and the ability to reason should have no difficulty at all in dismissing the entirety of everything that is to follow.

And some folks think becoming an Atheist is difficult.

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