One of the most devastating arguments against the Bible was gained for me when I became a dad. All those years in church. All those theology degrees earned -- even an M.A. in Christian apologetics, and then a doctorate. No matter. It doesn't make sense anymore.
It happened while thinking about the Genesis account of "The Fall," when, thanks to Adam and Eve, it all went south for humanity.
Now, as a father, I imagined myself in the same predicament. I thought how it'd go if my only son turned his back on me. So I imagined:
Updating the Bible plot a tad, instead of snitching fruit off a tree, I imagined my son saying, "Fuck you old man. I hate your guts and never want to see you again."
He then walks away, giving me the finger just to solidify the point.
The Big Question arises: What would I then do?
It's sobering just imagining it. I know it would be the worst day of my life. There's no doubt about the effect. Hunched over, I'd curl up underneath a Canadian Maple tree and wait to die.
I'm also utterly certain of one other thing. I'd still love my son as much as I always have, a passion seared into my heart the instant he opened his eyes in his first moment of life.
Of course this is all a little dramatic on my part, but that's the point, no?
After all, the Bible story of Adam and Eve's disobedience is the cornerstone of faith used by the Church, over the centuries, to justify a need for redemption, to grant salvation and then live according to other biblical standards. It comes first. And if it falls, so does all of Christian theology.
So let's review the coherency of the scriptural account more closely:
God creates his own children, but upon their disobedience -- one that should've been fully expected by a reasonably intelligent parent, much more a deity -- he ends up having a holy tantrum. God then banishes his two children from their garden home, then, piling it on, he makes them subject to death and disease.
The condemnation was total. Death and mayhem not just for Adam and Eve, but also for their children.
Nope, the curse was extended to all generations to come, down to you and me a few thousand years later.
Nope, it extended not only to humans, but all life. Animals, sea creatures. Birds. Even vegetative life.
Done yet? Was that sufficient?
Not in this story about God. In full tantrum mode, he ends up extending the curse to all of nature, the biblical explanation for earthquakes, hurricanes, and other ruination seen on a daily basis.
It was in that first moment of disobedience by Adam and Eve where the Apostle Paul states, "death entered the world."
Now, to be fair, we all have a tiff from time to time. Anger, even rage. But normally we return to our more sober thoughts, reflecting on our anger, thinking about how to make amends. Even Capricorns like me, who normally keep a grudge for what seems like eternity.
Get over it, I eventually tell myself, for goodness sake.
But not with the God of the Bible. Grudges are eternal with him. Those reproduced thousands of years down the road must also grovel and apologize to the slight made in prehistory. All about some stolen fruit in a very grumpy, great, great (etc.) grandfather's garden.
"Whew," you might be thinking by now. That's quite a story.
But hold on, because if you feel no debt to your ancient relative's mischief, nothing like trying to scare the bejeebers out of the children by introducing Hell. Otherwise known as, The Lake of Fire. So, still don't want to apologize? Then spend eternity in damnation and torment.
The lesson? I know us dads fail from time to time these days. But the Book of Genesis insists that the God of the Universe - the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent One - has the emotional maturity of a sociopath.
Here's another point that shouldn't be missed by the faithful, if they've managed to keep reading so far; those who might feel that "righteous indignation" bristling. Here it is: Mine is no attack on God.
Quite the opposite.
Consider if there were a singular, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good being who is in charge of the world. Responsible for the existence of the universe. How could this description of his behavior from the pages of the Bible be true?
In point of fact, it's exactly the description we'd expect from an ancient and primitive group of men, trying to make sense of a world far beyond their abilities.
The early Bible writers, either those of early Judaism or, a bit later, like St. Paul, had no better chance at explaining why there is death. Why bad things happen to good people. Why there is so much misery. Game of Thrones stuff, with or without the dragons.
They were cloaked in ignorance about our planet's billions of years of prehistory, with the order of the day permeated by dying, misery and death for 99% of all species, long before the emergence of "sinning" homo sapiens. These early writers also had no idea about genetics, and that the human species didn't suddenly appear as a single couple a few thousand years before.
Perhaps there is still some room for God today. But if one insists, let's have an understanding of this deity that matches what must be a fairly powerful disposition for understanding and compassion. Not a conception of God most certainly written by some angry old men.
For my part though, I have more important things to do. Like playing with my son. Time is short.
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