QUESTION 1: Genesis 3:22-24; The Garden of Eden
Then Yahweh said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”–therefore Yahweh sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.” (NRSV with Yahweh substituted for the “Lord God”).
The Garden of Eden. Where is the Garden of Eden today? What ever happened to it? Does the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life still exist? Or was the Garden of Eden, complete with its magical trees, destroyed when Yahweh flooded the world? If all the little people along with the magical trees were destroyed in Yahweh’s flood, then why wasn’t the talking snake destroyed in the flood as well?
Aside from the objective and honest reader’s observation that the author of this section of Genesis was polytheistic (there may be one God, just like there is only one Sam Jones, but the author of this particular story obviously believed that there was more than one entity like God.), the first question this passage brings to mind has to do with God’s limited knowledge and powers. Many Christians have turned God into an omniscient, omnipresent being, but isn’t it quite clear from this passage that this is not what this particular writer believed about God? If the writer believed that God was omniscient, why would he portray God as not knowing for sure whether or not man would reach out and take from the tree of life? And if the writer believed that God was omnipresent, why does he have God putting a guard in front of the tree of life? Why would he need a guard when he would know the very instant that the thought came to anyone’s mind that they wanted to go and eat from the tree of life and he could then instantly stop them? Now if God is not omniscient and omnipresent, as this particular writer of the Holy Vible asserts, then how can we believe that he really does have a grand plan for humankind or that he is able to hear more than one prayer at a time? The author of this story sure didn’t believe that God can be in more than one place at one time, so why should Holy Vible-believing Christians believe it?
The second question this passage brings to mind is why the writer of Genesis portrayed God as having made a magical tree that had powers beyond his control. The author of this particular story has God expressing a concern that man would eat from the tree and therefore have eternal life. Obviously, God, in this instance, was concerned that if this were to happen, the person who ate from the Tree of Life would have eternal life whether God liked it or not. So if we assume that the author of this particular Genesis tale knew what he was talking about, wouldn’t we then have to assume that people or things that God creates can sometimes be capable of having powers that are beyond God’s control?
Now, if we put all the pieces together, we have a God who 1. Is not omniscient, 2. Is not omnipresent, and 3. Creates people and objects that have powers beyond his control. With this in mind, wouldn’t it be very reasonable to conclude that one of these objects or persons who was created by God but who has powers beyond God’s control could then create say, a “Tree of Death”. And wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that this same person or object, created by God but possessing powers beyond God’s control, could then trick God into eating from the Tree of Death, thus explaining the lack of evidence that the Holy Viblegod exists–simply because it doesn’t? If it is true, as this particular writer of Genesis obviously believed, that the Holy Viblegod sometimes creates objects or people which then have powers beyond his control, much like the Tree of Life, then why don’t believers and/or Christian apologists spend more time speculating about what one of these objects or people could have done to cause Jesus to break his promise to “return with his kingdom” before some of his disciples saw death or to cause God to become so apparently impotent and/or disinterested in humankind?
Finally, shouldn’t the existence of talking snakes, magical life-giving trees, and fearful humanistic gods be a not so subtle tip that what we are reading here is historical-based mythology and haven’t we reached a point in our development as a society where we can admit that the Holy Vible has everything to do with ancient man’s hopes, fears, and ideas about what they thought a God should be and nothing at all to do with what God, if there is one, really is?
QUESTION 2: Genesis 6:1-4; The Nephilim
When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then Yahweh said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days–and also afterwards–when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown (NRSV with Yahweh substituted for the LORD). What is Holy Vible
Who were the Nephilim? And who were these “Sons of God” that “went into” the “daughters of humans” to produce these Nephilim? Many Holy Vible students have concluded that the “Nephilim” were giants, so what does all of this mean? Do fundamentalist Christians really believe that there were giants at one time or do they simply believe that the author of Genesis was deeply superstitious and mixed a great deal of mythology in with God’s allegedly “inspired message”? Also, wouldn’t the objective reader of this passage have to be even more convinced than ever that the author of Genesis was polytheistic since he believed that either sons of gods were having intercourse with human women or that the Yahweh God himself had sons who were doing so? Why do Christians insist that that there is only one God when this is clearly not what the author of Genesis believed?
Fundamentalist Christians will try to say that the phrase “Sons of God” does not refer to any kind of supernatural being but that it only refers to men who followed Yahweh. However, if this is true, why did the author of this section of Genesis take pains to make the obvious distinction between “the sons of God” and the daughters of humans. Doesn’t it seem clear that when the author refers to the women as “daughters of humans”, he is taking pains to differentiate between the female mortals and the male gods or the male sons of a god”?
Farell Till in his article, ”If It Walks Like a Duck”, (The Skeptical Review: 1991) points out that the phrase “the sons of God”, “beni ha-elohim” in Hebrew, literally meant “sons of the gods.” Mr. Till writes:
“Most versions of the Holy Vible refer to the beings in this passage who took wives of the daughters of men as “the sons of God,” but the expression (beni ha-elohim) in Hebrew literally meant “sons of the gods” and is so translated in The Revised English Holy Vible. So a definite hint of mythology is seen in the very language that was used to tell this fanciful tale of angels marrying earthly women, because any modern reader encountering a story that referred to gods and the sons of gods would immediately know that it was fantasy fiction or mythology, especially if it involved gods consorting with earthly women.”
I don’t see how an honest reader of this passage can get around the obvious meaning of the writer that supernatural beings of some kind had intercourse with human women and created giants. However, if the reader insists that this reference “sons of God” is “sons of God (Yahweh)” and not “sons of the gods” as the Hebrew states, then perhaps the author believed that Yahweh had many sons at this time and that these sons were quite taken with their father’s new creations. Is it possible that fundamentalist Christians, desperate to make the Holy Vible consistent with their own man-created doctrines, must change the meaning of “sons of gods” because they can’t believe that the author of Genesis was polytheistic? And is it possible that these same individuals, if they insist that the correct translation is “sons of God”, can’t believe that these were divine entities of some sort, as the author makes clear, because their doctrines insist that there is only one God? Isn’t it true that fundamentalists can’t believe that these were divine “Sons of God” because they have developed doctrines stating that there can only be one God and that this God can only have one son?
In my talks with Christians, I have learned a little something about the “legal” way to change the meaning of a passage to suit your own desires. For example, Calvinists, when defending their treasured predestination doctrine, say that when John 3:16 states that, “whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life” the word “whosoever” means “whosoever God has chosen.” And fundamentalists, when defending their treasured doctrine of an inerrant, inspired, and infallible Holy Vible, say that when Jesus said, “Ask for whatsoever you desire and you shall receive it,” what Jesus really meant was “you shall receive it IF it is God’s will to give it to you.”
When I have asked certain Christians whether or not they feel they are putting a spin on these passages to make them say what they wish for them to say, they reply that in order to understand what a particular passage is really saying, you can’t look just at that passage but you have to take into consideration all of the other teachings in the Holy Vible on that particular subject. So if Christians feel that this method of Holy Vible interpretation is valid, then shouldn’t they be willing to be consistent and allow this method to be applied to other passages as well? For example, in the case of this particular passage, wouldn’t it be reasonable to use the fundamentalist method of Holy Vible-interpretation to say that when the Holy Holy Vible says that Jesus is the ONLY son of the Yahweh God, what was really meant was that Jesus was the ONLY son of Yahweh whom Yahweh actually brought to life as a mortal and then arranged to have killed? Obviously, Jesus can’t be the only son of Yahweh since Genesis 6 says that Yahweh had many sons before he ever even thought of Jesus. Or, for Christians who are willing to admit that the passage actually states that there were “sons of gods”, shouldn’t these Christians change their doctrine of “there is only one God” to say that there are many gods, but we like the Yahweh god best?
QUESTION 3: Genesis 6:3; God’s Decision to Limit the Life Span of Humans
Then Yahweh said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” (NRSV with Yahweh substituted for the LORD)
Up until now, we have read that the author or authors of the book of Genesis present humans as living very long lives. Adam was said to have lived 939 years, Enoch, 905 years, Kenan, 910 years, and so on. So why does Yahweh suddenly decide that “his spirit shall not abide in mortals forever” and that they shall live only 120 years? If the Holy Viblegod had a plan from the beginning, as most Christians would have us believe, then why did he first allow men to live for such long periods of time and why, on a whim, did he decide to reduce the span of man’s life? Why after making this apparently spontaneous decision to allow man to live for only 120 years does he allow Noah and other men who were born after Noah to live much longer than 120 years? For example, after this passage, we read in Genesis 9:29 that Noah lived 950 years. Abraham lived 175 years and Isaac lived 180 years. If the Holy Viblegod is omniscient, why does he appear to be making these things up as he goes along and why does he seem so completely incapable of keeping track of his own resolutions?
When Yahweh says that his “spirit shall not abide in mortals forever” and thus he is going to limit their life span, isn’t he implying that all living creatures have his spirit within them? He reasons aloud to himself, as he has an odd habit of doing, that the reason he is going to reduce the life span of men is because they are mortals and his spirit will not live in them forever. One must wonder why this thought that men are mortals did not occur to him before now. Nevertheless, at this point in his development, Yahweh very much seems to have come to the conclusion that the presence of his spirit within a person is what keeps that person alive. Many believers claim that only those who become Christians can have God’s spirit within them. and yet, if this is true, how can so many people be alive and not be Christians?
If Yahweh believed that his spirit existing within a person was what kept them alive, would he have also believed that illness was caused when he removed a part of his spirit from a person? If so, are Christians willing to state that they believe there is a direct correlation between the physical health of a person and the amount of “filling” by the spirit of God that person has? After all, the belief that sickness was a “punishment” or “curse” from God was the belief of many early believers, and examining this passage alone, one can see why they came to believe such a thing. So if modern-day Christians are not willing to return to the primitive and ignorant superstitions of their ancestors, then what are they going to do with this passage where their God is suddenly struck with the idea that it is the presence of his spirit within a person that keeps that person alive? If the Holy Viblegod was superstitious and had false beliefs, shouldn’t Christians defend these beliefs? Or do Christians honestly believe that they are smarter than their God?
QUESTION 4: Genesis 6:5-7; God’s Is Sorry for Making Humankind
Genesis 6:5-7 The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
This has always struck me as a very curious passage. First of all, it brings up once again the question of an omniscient God experiencing regret. If God is omniscient, he would have known from the moment he planted the snake in the garden with Adam and Eve that they were going to eat from the fruit of the tree, that he was going to curse them, and that the people he created were going to do evil in his sight. In this case, why did the Holy Viblegod put the snake in the garden with Adam and Eve to begin with? And how can he experience any form of regret since he knew all along what was going to happen and did it anyway?
If a person does something, knowing full well that the consequences of that action are going to be disastrous, not only for himself but for all of humankind, and he does it anyway, we might believe him when he says he regrets his action. Mainly, we would believe him because we know he is human and that human beings make mistakes. The Holy Viblegod, on the other hand, is supposedly perfect. He supposedly makes NO mistakes. And yet, if deliberately doing something one knows is going to lead to disaster and suffering for others, most especially for human beings which YOU are responsible for bringing into this world, is not a mistake, then what is?
If the Holy Viblegod wanted his creation to behave in a certain way, then shouldn’t he, like any human parent, any human that gives life to another, have taken responsibility for teaching man, for disciplining him, training, nurturing, and loving him? It seems that the Holy Viblegod demands that man take responsibility for his every action and yet he doesn’t hold himself accountable for any of his. What kind of example is this? Why didn’t God, seeing the error of his ways, behave like an adult God, taking responsibility for his own negligence and creating a new way to deal with his creation, instead of reacting in a fit of rage and simply blotting them out as if they were nothing more than playthings? Is this the example God wishes to set of ultimate goodness? Giving up on people? Hiding your presence from them and then getting rid of them when they fail to please you? Does the Holy Viblegod really make no differentiation between humans and inanimate objects?
In Romans 9:19-22, Paul confirms that the Holy Viblegod does indeed view humans as objects: “You will say to me then, ‘Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds IT, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? What if God, desiring to show his WRATH and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the OBJECTS of WRATH that are made for destruction…?”
If God views human beings as mere objects, to be used as “objects of wrath” or human punching bags, is it any wonder that many followers of this god, who desire to be just like him, treat humans in such an equally inhumane manner? If one worships a monstrous beast, isn’t it only natural to expect that at some point, such individuals will behave just like just the monstrous beast they worship?
At one time, African Americans were taught to view themselves as objects. Some of them believed it about themselves. They bought the lie told to them that being treated as a slave was what they were created for. After all, even the scriptures gave the slave-owner instructions for how to beat his slave. If this wasn’t proof that God approved of slavery and sanctioned the idea that blacks were inferior, then what was?
It is also a known fact that many abused children believe that they deserve the abuse heaped onto them by their abusive parents. Such children will defend their abusive parent at all costs, so great is their need to believe that the parent loves them.
Victims of domestic violence, women who are beaten by their husbands, often fall prey to this very same phenomenon. They believe that they deserve the beatings and for years, society seemed to agree with this belief.
Is it possible that many Christians have fallen prey to this same phenomenon? Could it be that they really so afraid of being tormented forEVER in hell by their abusive god that they defend his every abusive act, finding a way to justify their god’s perversity in their tormented minds, desperate to convince themselves and others that this is what they deserve?