The Evil God Paradox
The other day the Jehovah's Witnesses came by. I was at work, so they left a couple of magazines for me. If you have had any dealings with the Witnesses, you'll know of those pamphlets - the gaudy colour drawings where Jesus is a happy smiling white guy surrounded by lots of happy smiling white people. God forbid we consider that "The Holy Land" is located in a place where the natives look decidedly...Arabic.
Anyway. It got me to thinking. And that is never a good thing. So, without further ado, let's start on a brief bit of bible study.
As I was brought up CofE (Anglican Protestant), the bible of choice is the King James. That is what will be quoted here, plus links to an online version for those who want to correlate what I say with the complete text.
Feel free, however, to peruse your preferred version, it's the same story.
So we shall start, at the beginning. The Book of Genesis, chapter one, verse one (link). It couldn't state it any more clearly than:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
There was nothing. So God created light to make day and night. Then he created a firmament and stuffed it between lots of water (I guess it rains in heaven?). Then the water under heaven was gathered together so land could appear. Then grass was created, followed by a fruit tree. This was the third day, he was pretty busy.
But it goes on - heaven was kind of boring looking, so God made a great light for day (wasn't this done already?) and a lesser light for night, plus lots of stars. Following this, God created fowl. So if you are a good Christian, you will know that the Chicken came first. Not content with feathery clucking busibodies, he created the whale. And every living creature, added almost as if an afterthought. Chickens first, then whales, then "other stuff". Sorry, dolphins.
Then came cattle, "creeping things", and beasts. It seems as if a lot of the wording of the creation myth of the Genesis creation myth is redundant redundancy. Or maybe it is just padding because "God created everything!" does sound a little lacklustre.
Finally, God created man and woman in his own image, blessed them, and told them to fornicate like wabbits to fill the earth with humans which will lord it over everything else on the planet. The King James says "have dominion over", but that's basically "pwning" everything, isn't it?
Finally on the sixth day he, sorry capital He, figured his work was complete. The seventh day was sanctified as a day of rest, which is why people who want to go shopping on Sundays will burn in the fiery tar pits of hell for all eternity. Or be forced to line dance to "Achy-Breaky Heart" for all eternity. Which is probably worse. (if you don't believe me - here's a YouTube link)
Chapter two recaps some of this, describes rivers and lands in Assyria, Ethiopia, and the Euphrates river. Actually, Ethiopia is a known mistranslation from a land referred to originally as "Cush". If you look at the references to the rivers and the other locations, the most likely location for the Garden of Eden is Lebanon.
There's either a recap or a serious continuity error, suffice to say that Adam wanted a helper. Since elves had not yet been invented, God anaesthetised Adam, yanked out some ribs, and created woman from man. Chapter two describes this in detail, as opposed to the brief mention in chapter one verse twenty seven. Both were butt naked and quite happy with boobies and...er...other bits swinging in the breeze.
In the Garden of Eden was the Tree of Knowledge that was forbidden. Man could eat the fruit of any tree, but if he eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, "thou shalt surely die" (Gen 2:17).
Chapter three is more pleasing. The snake, as creepy a creeping thing can be, told Eve not to be ridiculous, for the fruit of the tree will not kill them but rather make them know knowledge so they too could be like Gods.
Humans, ever gullible, decided this was good so they ate. And then freaked out at the realisation that boobies and...other parts...should not be free to wiggle in the wind. They made clothing from fig leaves (yikes!) and at seeing this, God freaked out. The snake was as cursed as a cursed wretched thing could be, and Adam (plus female slave/wife) was cast out of Eden to suffer in a world away from paradise.
Chapter four is the story of Cain and Abel. Briefly, Adam and Eve bonked and Cain was born. More bonking took place and Abel was born. Cain tilled the ground, Abel raised sheep. Abel made an offering to God and God was pleased. Cain made and offering to God and God was displeased. This annoyed Cain. While the exact reason is not stated, one can guess that Cain may have been jealous of his brother and/or angry about the rejection by God. Either way, "Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him" (Gen 4:8), then lied to God asking if he was his "brother's keeper" (Gen 4:9) until the haunted ground spoke (Gen 4:10), which must have been seriously bizarre. Well, actually the blood spoke. That ought to please the Evangelicals.
The rest of chapter four is a whole lot of bonking. So much bonking that the entirely of chapter five is a recap of who bonked who and who this "begat". It is hard work creating the human race!
By chapter six, God is starting to get disillusioned. "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen 6:5) and "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." (Gen 6:11). This leads in to Noah's ark, so we shall cease the bible study at this point, for we have enough to be getting on with.
So let me posit this - if God created everything? Given what it says above, did God not also create evil?
Let's take this a step further. God created creeping things and one such, the snake, tempted Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Some say that Satan was, or had possessed, the snake. Either way, God clearly lied for humans were cast out of Eden but nobody died. Then, by his own hands, Cain murdered his brother, most likely as a result of God playing them off against each other. It took six short chapters (well, four and two recap episodes) for God to realise the darkness in human hearts. Was this, perhaps, our reaction to being unfairly cast out of paradise? God's response? Save the animals two by two and screw the rest, let 'em all drown. Let everybody drown. That'll learn 'em good!
Now, if I don't add this, I'm sure to get somebody saying "God is love, the Devil/Satan/Lucifer did it!". Well, the origins of Satan are not clear. One of the more accepted theories is that Lucifer, the angel of light (or morning star or something; interestingly mentioned by name only once in the bible - Isaiah 14:12) had too much pride and he rebelled against God, wanting to rule the joint for himself. Islam does not allow for angels to rebel, so Lucifer is often depicted as something similar but different (a "Jinn") that can choose to rebel.
I mention Islam because there are numerous similarities between The Old Testament and The Qur'an - see http://www.dar-us-salam.com/TheNobleQuran/surah2.html for an example; and note that Satan makes numerous appearances, I wonder if the Qur'an explains the origin of Satan if God created everything and Satan is in Genesis?
The same story as in Christianity appears in the Torah (part of the Jewish bible) - see http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0101.htm.
If you have a half hour spare, please take a read of a little bit of the Torah, the Qur'an, and the King James. While there are differences in phrasing, you might be surprised at how similar the texts are. Sure, there are disagreements, Judaism sees Jesus as a false prophet and Islam sees him as a mortal prophet and not the son of God; but can Christians really complain about this when they have not yet agreed on whether Jesus was the son of God or some weird complicated incarnation of God himself (re. the Holy Trinity)?
In any case, at the bottom it would appear that Satan is one of God's own that turned against him. As there was nothing before and no heaven either, God created all of it.
The forbidden fruit. He created.
The snake that tempted the first woman. He created.
The tantrum that expelled humans from Eden. He threw.
The brother that killed brother ... How was murder possible if God had not created the concept of evil itself? And evil washing over the planet like a virus, leading God to regret his creations and want to assure that they fear God properly.
We're running dangerously close to having proof that God is, indeed, fallible. Not to mention running close to Him being a bit of a crazed dictator...
In any case, if there was nothing and God created everything, he chose to create a world in which the capacity for evil, pain, and suffering existed. He chose to create a world in which children can die, teenagers can die of Luekemia, innocent people can be murdered over mere differences of outlook, hundreds are born into a place far from the sanitation and medication we all take for granted, and people routinely suffer plights that are simply unimaginable to most of us. He chose to create a world filled with this pain and this fear.
And we, supposedly his followers, his sheep, his loved ones, we choose to blame some airy-fairy Satan concept because it protects us from having to face haunting questions.
If God created this world with these problems, is this a God that loves us or hates us?
Is this a God that I even want to believe in, or be associated with if he is real?
Is God evil? If not, where did evil come from, if not from God himself?
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|Rick, 3rd November 2013, 22:51|
Something I overlooked originally. Something so obvious I am now kicking myself.
The first humans, according to the biblical story, are Adam and Eve. They brought forth Cain and Abel, and afterwards only Cain survived.
Genesis 4:17 says "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch".
Question is - if there were only three humans at this point (Adam, Eve, Cain, and the corpse of Abel), who was Cain's wife if not Eve? Was this incest, or are there great gaping holes in the story?
The next verse, 1:18 says "And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech". That's a whole lot of bonking, and only naming one person with each iteration. Looks like the story is suffering numerous omissions. The verse after talks about Lamech's two wives, with no indication of their origins. With omissions of this scale, makes you wonder what else is missing?
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