In the previous installment of ‘Unbiased Bible Study’, we analysed the second chapter of Genesis, including the creation of mankind and the garden of Eden. Where we left off, God had created “the woman”, and she and Adam stood naked in the garden, free of shame.
The Serpent Told the Truth, Unlike God
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman,
“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
And the woman said unto the serpent,
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:Genesis 3:1, 3:2, 3:3
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
This chapter of Genesis is great for demonstrating God’s inadequacy as a deity. What in God’s name is this snake doing here? We learn later on in the Bible that this is indeed Satan himself speaking to Adam and the woman through this snake. So why has God placed him here? Allowed him to approach Adam and the woman in the first place?
And keep in mind, it’s God – not the serpent – that lied to Adam and the woman about the tree of knowlegdge of good and evil. They would not ‘surely die’ as he had claimed. Some christian apologists like to claim that what God referred to was a ‘spiritual death’ – being introduced to the feelings of shame, guilt and fear; their perfect lives replaced by a nightmare, but both God and the snake are pretty clear.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:Genesis 3:4, 3:5, 3:6
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Some believers like to point out that God had to give Adam and his wife the ability to cross him, and if God had made them incapable of disobeying his orders, they would be mental slaves, robots. That’s why God allowed Satan to convince Adam’s wife to eat the fruit and pass it to Adam.
But even if God had to give mankind free will, allow me to remind you that God is supposed to be omniscient. Not only did he know that Adam and his wife would eat the fruit of the tree of good & evil, but he knew before he had ever even introduced the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Before he made the garden of Eden. God knew exactly what would happen, and not only resisted intervention, but activley orchestrated it.
The truth is, even within the context of this fairy tale, both Adam and the woman are blameless. God created a wicked scheme that seems to have set them up to fail.
Wait, isn’t God Supposedly Omniscient?
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.Genesis 3:7, 3:8
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
It’s amusing how interchangably throughout these passages God goes from manifesting a body and walking in the garden to being beyond space and time, beyond our concept of reality. If it’s so easy for him, as it should be, him being all-powerful and all, why don’t we see this level of intervention in our lives today? Admittedly, this is a question that can be asked about a multitude of passages throughout this book.
To be fair, at this point in the story, Adam and the woman were literally born yesterday; but to try and hide from an omnipresent, omniscient omnipotent being amongst a bunch of trees is absolutely feeble. There’s no way in Hell that-
And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?Genesis 3:9
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.Genesis 3:10, 3:11, 3:12
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
So, God finds out what’s going on – ‘finds out’ being a relativley strange thing to attribute to God, and it’s genuinely confusing how it occurs. The Bible describes a train of thought; God realises that Adam knows he’s naked, and then puts two and two together to realise that he had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But God isn’t meant to ‘think’ like that, is he?
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.Genesis 3:13, 3:14 3:15
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Here, we read God’s first real prophecy in biblical scripture – the Protevangelium. Christians tend to regard it as the first mention of the good news of salvation in the Bible. Essentially, in saying “thou shalt bruise his heel”, God is referring to the crucifiction of Christ, and in saying “it shall bruise thy head” he’s referring to the ultimate defeat of the Devil, in the end times, as he’s cast into a lake of fire.
This prophecy alone, despite the many questionable claims and contradictions in Genesis up to this point, is enough evidence for many christians to assert that the biblical story of creation is true. As they believe in Jesus Christ, and that he died for our sins, God’s fortelling of Jesus’ efforts of salvation gives credence to the creation myth.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.Genesis 3:16, 3:17
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
God Curses All of Humanity For Little to No Reason
The curses God starts giving out left and right aren’t finite punishments, even though the crime certainly is finite. He essentially curses Eve to feel the pain of childbirth and curses the ground to go from providing crops as easily as one plants a seed to requiring great effort and toil to produce edible crops.
It’s clear how God views Adam and his wife here, how he views the divide between man and woman. The woman’s curse has to do with bearing children, where Adam’s curse is in relation to work.
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;Genesis 3:18, 3:19
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
When God says “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”, he’s referring to Adam’s curse. That Adam’s work would be hard and frustrating as long as he live, and eventually end in his death. It’s death that would be the final consequence of sin.
Now, let’s think about these punishments for a bit. Adam and his wife turned against God and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, an event that was not only inevitable, but orchestrated by God – and as a result God embues all women with the pain of child birth, all who till the ground he curses to struggle to survive, and death is sewn into the very fabric of humanity.
What about knowing of good and evil is so offensive to God that countless generations can be justifiably punished for it in one fell swoop? The truth is, such a punishment could never be moral, as no just punishment could be passed from one person to the next. Not son nor father nor friend should be forced to pay such a price for anything.
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.Genesis 3:20, 3:21, 3:22, 3:23
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Nothing About This Predicament Was Inevitable
I’ve mentioned previously the connotation of naming something in biblical times. As Adam names Eve, he is once again showing dominion over her – and God supports this notion. If you don’t believe me yet, just wait. There is no shortage of mysogyny in the Bible.
In order to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life and becoming physically immortal, God sends Adam and Eve away from the garden of Eden, with apologists’ excuse for this being that the now sinful humans would be able to infinitley transgress against God, to forever wander as a spiritually dead, physically alive shell of a person, and that death is an act of mercy.
In effect, God is acting in the role of a witch, handing out unjustified curses and punishments in direct response to the slightest amount of disobedience.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.Genesis 3:24
Cherubim are one of the many types of angels that God apparently created. When? I dunno. We just spent three chapters going through, in detail, how God made everything, and I don’t remember a mention of the Cherubim or any other type of angel for that matter. Cherubims as depicted in ancient artwork were similar to Sphinxes, with wings and human faces. Nothing like the fat babies with perfect wings you’ve come to expect at the word “angels”. Nevertheless, almost all biblical depictions of Cherubim look more like the angels we’re used to seeing everywhere.
Genesis’ third chapter turned out to be no less or more accurate than the first two, but instead equally immoral, equally inapplicable to life today, and equally wrong. It’s a pitiful chapter that tries desperately to explain away select things about human nature without actually looking at human nature. It doesn’t teach us anything that we can’t learn in a less toxic, less demanding environment, like that one should take responsibility for one’s mistakes, or that one should not lie in the face of authority.
For learning from the Bible – whether as a historical account or as a source of moral values – to be justified, I believe it must first be demonstrated that the Bible can not only teach us things, but that it’s worth overlooking the many issues and contradictions in the Bible to learn them. That the Bible is the only, or the best way to teach us those things. That has yet to be demonstrated.