Across the world, we each live in varyingly religious societies. Depending on where you come from, it can seem like religion is a thing of the past, or it can be engrained into your everyday life. I’ve long wondered how far secular movements have come. How many atheists are there in the world? What’s the ratio of women to men? Country by country? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
I grew up in Tennessee, but it was a small town near a Nuclear Power Plant. The community was largely atheist as the majority of the locals worked in scientific fields. When I moved to Switzerland, the country was indeed more religious that I had ever known before, but the majority of people my age aren’t real believers.
I know only a few people who attend church – most of whom I don’t know to do so out of love for their God, necessarily. Only for their community. It seemed to me for a large part of my life that religion as an ideology was dead. That the remaining establishment had a real potential to contribute to society.
The more I’ve learned about the rest of the world, the more the idea of religion scares me. 18%? After all this time, after all this progress, what ties them to their faith? It can’t be reason. Not after we learned to fly, not after we went to the moon. The world we all live in today is evidence, yes, evidence of human progress. Evidence of what comes from scientific progress.
The Gender Gap in Religion
An additional question posed by the study in 2015 by the Pew Research Center was, how many atheists are women, and how many atheists are men?
Among women and men ages 20 and older, 83.4% of women and 79.9% of men across 192 countries and territories are religiously affiliated
Pew Research Center – Women are more likely than men to affiliate with religion
Even more interestingly, there are no countries in the world where men are more prone to affiliating with religion than women by more than 2%. What can devotion to faith tell us about the differences between men and women?
The difference is even larger in countries like Uruguay, the United States, the UK, Spain and Germany. There’s no room for speculation here as to why this is. I’d love to ask an expert what they think.
It does sadden me sometimes, although I am thankful for any and every person who is willing to think rationally and stand up for those without faith, that so often does it feel like a bunch of white men snickering at religion.
That’s what Secular Sanity is all about. Humanism is, quite literally, for everybody. Whatever imbalances there are today in our understanding of secular values, we can still fill those gaps. We don’t have to dwell on what got us to this point. This can be the first step to something amazing if we focus on the issue at hand.
If you’re a woman and an atheist, power to you. You seem to beat the odds a little bit. I always stand by the fact that faith has nothing to do with intelligence. Whatever it is, you overcame the temptation to believe just like any other atheist. That is a wonder in itself, and anybody who manages that should be proud.
It’s no surprise that since ethnicity and culture are heavily intertwined, ethnicity and religion are too. Where you’re from can influence how you’re raised, what you’re exposed to, and what you come to learn about the world.
It’s not that only certain people from certain ethnicities can unlock the knowledge behind secular values. It’s just that in certain cultures, freedom from religion isn’t only off the table – it’s off people’s minds. Whether out of fear or prejudice, faith is the only path for them.
So I ask you, in such a society, how does an atheist navigate? To whom do they go for help? From whom do they recieve their blessings? And for those of us who don’t live under such conditions; just because we don’t live in a place where faith is the only option, does that mean we should just ‘take it easy’? I don’t think so. Fixing the problem starts inside ourselves and in the people we love.
Sure, you can’t change the minds of everybody who believes. But it doesn’t have to be a crusade. We’re all just learning. Growing. Changing. All we can do is help the people we care about to embrace that, before it’s too late. But don’t be fooled. This isn’t a minor issue. 16% is not enough. 18% is not enough. Not in a world where we excuse this fact by suggesting that religion doesn’t even greatly impact our daily lives. If that’s the case, what’s all this for?
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
Genesis 5:1, 5:2
The fifth chapter of Genesis reads very differently than the chapters before it. Instead of a story, chapter 5 is more like a list. It describes each generation of Adam and how long each of them lived. That’s why I don’t think that the best approach is to go verse by verse with this one.
The goal of this chapter is to demonstrate that just as Adam was created in God’s image, so were his children; not in the physical sense, but in the overlord sense. It’s about God giving his image to humans as his representatives on earth. It’s about sharing with humanity his responsibility to rule and subdue the rest of creation.
“Age is Just a Number”
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
Genesis 5:3, 5:4, 5:5, 5:6, 5:7, 5:8
Note that we will be following the male family tree, and completely ignoring the female side. This is because, in biblical times, women were little more than wives or mothers. Neither an original reader nor the ancient writer of Genesis would have given another thought to this.
We already know that Adam is said to have lived 130 years before passing away; but Adam isn’t an anomoly here. In fact, his life is relatively short lived compared to the lifespans of his offspring and their children. Seth, Adam’s son, gives birth to Enos, who goes on to live 807 years.
Long lifespans would indeed help explain the rapid population of the earth, but it’s wholy inconsistent with our observation of history and evolution. Our lifespans have increased, not decreased, thanks to things like hygiene, medicine and an improved understanding of nutrition and disease. There is no better reason to believe that the ‘first humans’ lived such long lives than there is to believe that there were ‘first humans’ in the first place.
The Many Children of God
And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
And Cainan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel: And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared: And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.
And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
Enoch will become the first of the generations of Adam to break the pattern so far. Whereas each of his ancestors eventually die, there is no such verse for Enoch.
Taken by God, a Fate Most Unlike Death
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
Genesis 5:21, 5:22, 5:23, 5:24
Enoch’s devotion to God throughout his entire life gives God so much pleasure, he decided to prevent Enoch’s natural death and instead bring him up into heaven with him. It’s a rather confusing verse in the Bible. Many christians are uncertain about the details behind Enoch, but still see this as an act of mercy.
Is this mercy? God singles out those most devoted to him and shields them from the very pain of death he cursed them with so long ago? This is meant to fortify that Adam and Eve’s transgressions against God could be rectified through faith. Is the faith of every christian who dies in today’s world simply not enough then?
The Birth of Noah, Son of Lamech
And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech. And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son. And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.
Genesis 5:25, 5:26, 5:27, 5:28, 5:29
Lamech was also the name of a descendant of Cain. In the story of Cain and Abel, Lamech slayed a man in cold blood. This Lamech, descendant of Cain’s brother, Seth, is said to be pure in heart. The Bible hopes for us to see the difference in the lineage between Cain and Abel as polar opposites. Cain’s bloodline is supposedly soiled with the Mark of Cain, whereas Seth’s bloodline is blessed with the devotion and faith of Seth.
Whoever wrote Genesis is writing from ignorance here. We shouldn’t be judging anybody off of their ancestors – and if you pick out from an entire lineage the few that help portray your prejudice the best, you are sure to get the results you wanted.
And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Genesis 5:30, 5:31
A Story That Falls Apart Before it Begins
So where do we stand, five chapters into the holy book? We have an all-powerful, all-knowing God who created everything we know of seemingly from nothing. This God creates beings to mimic his authority over the world he made. He then proceeds to micromanage his creation into oblivion, feebly handing out justice with no sense of right and wrong.
Worship of this God seems to be the only path to a good life, and even that alone isn’t enough. God moves the goalpost further and further back until he either shows you favor or punishes you. Either way, you will most likely end up dead. If this is helpful to people, I can’t see how. All I can see is a mysogynystic overlord playing with his toys.
When I was a kid, my family moved halfway across the world and I found myself knee-deep in a strange culture where the locals spoke a language I had never even heard before. It was by far the most defining time in my life, but also the most difficult. It’s in moments like that where I found myself under the open sky, shouting at the heavens, cursing a God I had never believed in. Some days, I was too tired to yell. Instead I would plead on my hands and knees for an explanation. A sign. Some reassurance that I had not truly lost everything that would ever matter to me. It was exhausting. That’s when I started to think that maybe prayer wasn’t as harmless as I’d thought.
I wanted to believe that there was a reason for all of this happening. I wanted nothing more than for God to step down from the heavens and put his hand on my shoulder. He’d tell me it’s going to be alright. Maybe he would send me home, where I felt I belonged.
God Never Answered When I Called Out to Him
Looking back, I can recognise the feeling of entitlement. I really felt like the world was unfairly stacked against me. When you’re young, your whole world consists of your hometown, your family and your friends. Losing any part of that can feel like a fate worse than death.
God began to take shape in my mind as a scapegoat for all my misery and confusion. Some christians might say I never truly believed, or I never accepted Jesus Christ into my heart, and that’s why God never answered my prayers. Others point out that I myself claim to be happier now that I don’t live in the U.S. anymore. ‘It was God’s plan all along.’
I absolutely hate this sentiment. I pleaded to God in a moment of desperation. But God never answered when I called out to him. It was me, taking responsibility for my own happiness, that pushed me through those early years. God didn’t teach me the language, or help me overcome my fears. God didn’t console me when I was overwhelmed with the world. The idea that that’s somehow my fault for not believing in him is infuriating.
Worship is Anything but Harmless
Worship is by nature an act of submission. But it’s even worse than that. Worship in a God is submission to something that one has no good reason to believe exists. One’s belief in a God may truly be harmless in a sense, but devoting your life to a non-existant cause is an exercise in futility.
We know not to worship kings or cult leaders or celebrities because they’re only human. God’s exemption from this judgment relies on him being more than human. But you can’t attribute the source of morality to a God and then expect people to praise him for being so moral. By the very definition of God, he is moral no matter what he does. But if that’s the case, what good do prayer and worship do? Inflate the infallable God’s ego? Put us in our place? I don’t know. Theists don’t seem to care. Somewhere along the line, they were forced to make a decision. A choice between what they really want in life and what their God apparently wants for them – but the truth is, if you really believe in a God, then you might feel like you don’t have a choice at all.
In the last installment of Unbiased Bible Study we took a harsh look at the story of original sin. We discussed how it portrays women and human nature in toxic lights. Now we move on to chapter 4; the infamous story of Cain and Abel.
The Keeper of Sheep and the Tiller of Soil
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
Genesis 4:1, 4:2
According to the Bible, Eve gives birth to two sons, first Cain, then Abel. She went through the pain of child birth at least twice, a result of the curse laid upon her by God in the previous chapter. For reasons we’ll get into later in the chapter, we know that within the context of Genesis, Adam and Eve birthed more children than just Cain and Abel. However, it’s clear the Bible wants us to focus on the two brothers.
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
Genesis 4:3, 4:4, 4:5
After being punished for eternity by an all-powerful deity, the humans still seem inclined to worship him. God is somehow still supposed to be worth the offerings of flock and crops even after cursing them in a masterful scheme of his own design.
God appreciates Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. I’ve searched long and hard to find an explanation for this from christian sources. Most say Cain was not true in his devotion to the Lord. Others say that God saw an evil in Cain before anyone else did. The way I see it, Cain is justified in his frustration, if not his violent action.
Cain and his family have been lead around like puppets on a stage since the very beginning of human existence. God has shown his inconsistent, begrudging nature – and now, he shows favor to Cain’s brother in a seemingly unjust move. He’s ungrateful, there’s no other way to put it.
The First Murder in the Bible was Fratricide
And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
Genesis 4:6, 4:7
Cain is the first person in the Bible to feel resentment for God. He’s the first to observe the injustice behind God’s ways and react accordingly. God essentially tells Cain that he must abandon all sense of good or bad, of right and wrong, and instead adhear to the word of God.
If Cain insists on seeing the world through his own standards of what’s acceptable, God promises that sin will swallow him whole. The implication is clear – follow the word of God, unquestioning, and without hesitation. Any other route to truth is the fast track to sin.
God puts Cain in a double bind here. He insists that Cain follow his every command, but also neglects to aknowledge his sacrifice in favor of his brother. Yaweh unrealistically expects Cain to subdue his anger and frustration, even though he’s omniscient and knows exactly how this plays out in the end.
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
Genesis 4:8, 4:9
God is omnipresent. Does that mean he was there when Cain slew Abel? Did he predict that it would happen, as he’s omniscient? Did God, being all-powerful, not have the power to stop it from happening? If God truly does love Abel, surely now is the time to intervene!
Instead, God arrives at the scene of the crime like a detective with an eyepatch. “Where is thy brother” is a question we would expect Adam or Eve to ask, not the allmighty Lord and creator of the universe.
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
Genesis 4:10, 4:11, 4:12
So the Lord did know what Cain had done; it was true, after all! God knows all! Although I suppose that brings us back to square one – why oh why did he not intervene? If God created Cain, and God created Abel, if he made the flock of sheep that Abel kept and the crops that Cain had planted, then why is he acting like everything has gone horribly wrong?
Yaweh curses Cain, with what can only be described as blood magic. As Abel’s blood soaks the ground beneath his feet, God damns him to never again till the soil for crops. He takes from Cain his sense of purpose and his livelihood, and then finally casts him out away from his family, from his home, and from his God.
He does everything short of killing him outright, an act regarded by countless christians as merciful. Is it merciful to orchestrate the execution of one man, only to prove a point to another?
The Mark of Cain
And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
Genesis 4:13, 4:14
Clearly, Cain is not a particularly nice guy. He killed his brother in cold blood over a jealous minutia. The fact remains, though, that the Bible tries to portray him as wrong for turning his back on God, not for killing Abel. It’s all about God, you see.
That’s what’s great about this story. It’s a wonderful portrayal on God’s priorities. He hands out ‘justice’ as he sees fit, when any truly fair system would be based on a process of evaluation. Cain’s motives, the undeniable human nature behind his act, and the preexisting burdens put upon him by God aren’t even brought into question. It’s all just about worship and forgiveness.
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
Genesis 4:15, 4:16
In an act of mercy, rather than smite Cain for murdering his brother in cold blood, he ties to him a ‘mark’ as it’s called, the Mark of Cain. The Mark ensures that anybody who slays Cain will feel Gods retribution sevenfold. It’s implied that everyone around him would instantly be aware of this mark, essentially warding him from harm. Justice?
Oh, and remember when I mentioned that Adam and Eve must have had more kids at this point than just the two brothers? The Bible is strongly inferring that there are at least a handful of other people out there. But, brother killing brother, cousin killing cousin, that’s not that bad…
A God who Sees Nothing Wrong with Incest… Yet
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
It’s impossible to talk about Genesis without adressing the evidential incest. Cain is the second generation of human beings. That means his wife is either also of the second generation of humans, meaning direct discendants of Adam and Eve (a.k.a his sister) or potentially of an even younger generation. Either way he calls his child, a child of incest, Enoch, and builds and names a city after him.
And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech. And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
Genesis 4:18, 4:19, 4:20
And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
Genesis 4:21, 4:22
And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
The next few verses sprawl out the incestious history that proponents of the Bible love to ignore. It’s an attempt to demonstrate that Cain’s children bore the same curse he did. According to the Bible, Lamech killed as well, and presents his story to his two wives so proudly it almost sounds like a threat.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
Lamech here is declaring that Cain’s protection extends to himself, though without God’s endorsement. It’s implied Lamech means that he and his people will deliver the vengeance without God’s help. Caine’s entire bloodline is causing trouble throughout the world that God created. Does he not intend to do something about it?
And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.
Genesis 4:25, 4:26
As we jump back in time, back to Adam and Eve, many christian sources draw attention to Eve’s declaration that God had given her a child. This is evidence of nothing other than Eve’s faith in God’s existence, but Eve’s faith is incomparable to the faith expected of christians today. Eve directly experienced God. She watched as he walked through the Garden of Eden. She felt the pain of child birth as a direct result of what God had told her. In the context of the Bible, it’s entirely rational for her to have believed in God. The Lord has yet to meet that standard for billions of humans today.
Seth is born, quite literally to replace Abel, although someone should tell God human lives don’t work like that. Seth has another child of incest with his presumed sister, and so the 130-year old Adam becomes a grandfather. Keep in mind that according to science, the oldest person to ever live only made it to 122.
God will later condemn many forms of incest, and I promise, we’ll get to that. But because that hasn’t happened yet, because God hasn’t declared it bad yet, incest is not immoral. There you see the issue with one’s morality being based on one God’s word.
The Consequences of Sin
Abuse is a vicious cycle. First, you get somebody to fear you. Easy enough if you’re an all-powerful deity. Make them crave your praise, to the extent where they would crack their own brother’s skull out of feeling neglected by you. Then, only then, do you show them mercy and kindness. Bless them with a child. Give them divine protection. This is not a loving God, nor a hateful one. This is a God who doesn’t care whatsoever what happens to his people.
The story of Cain and Abel is about the apparent consequences of sin. It tries to stampen your doubts about Christianity not by providing explanations for inconsistencies but instead by embuing you with an inherent fear to question God or his choices. Cain paid dearly not for his crime, but for his lack of repentence.
But God can not save you, not forgive your crimes. You can learn to forgive yourself, and you can hope that others come to forgive you in time, but there is no divine solution for someone like Cain.
When you’re an explicit atheist, it’s easy to think that religion is a bunch of hogwash that isn’t worth a minute of your time. I’d like to make the case that atheists should learn about religion. Those of us who weren’t indoctrinated into a religion might never pick up a Bible or the Quran – and this is, of course, completely justified.
Learning about religion isn’t the same as joining one
It’s not our job as non-believers to pick up every holy book ever claimed to be the word of God and familiarize ourselves with it. Familiarity with scripture isn’t necessary to come to the conclusion that God isn’t real. But that doesn’t mean atheists can’t benefit at all from reading scripture and analysing the messages within it.
Learning more about religious practices and the consequences of religion on our world, becoming familiar with the dangers of devoting one’s life to God and the negative effects of an unjustified belief in the afterlife, these can be as enlightening for an atheist as leaving a religion can be for a theist.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where God has influence. Not as an all-knowing, all-powerful deity, but certainly as an idea. That’s why atheists should learn about religion. Culture, history and our entire world has been shaped by it. As such, knowing more about religion roughly equates to learning more about people – their lives, their choices, their methodologies. Discovering not only what people believe – but also, equally important, why they believe it – will help you better understand the predicament of religion and therefore be better equipped to react to it.
Scripture shouldn’t convince anybody of anything
When I had only just became a skeptic and taken a hard stance against religion, I remember being afraid to read the Bible. I knew myself well enough to know that I would come out of the experience with more questions rather than answers, but a younger, more ignorant version of myself spoke to me from the back of my head. I was so afraid that if I really read the Bible, took my time with it and really went through it properly, I would come out the other side a Christian. Not because I had determined it was rational to consider the Bible the word of God, but because so many people are drawn into faith every single day all across the world. What makes me any different from them?
This “Book” or collection of books that I was dreading to read had shaped the world like nothing in human history. It felt as if opening the cover alone would do away with my years of experience as a humanist, a rationalist, and most of all an atheist.
I now know this fear was irrational. See, I had not come to my current understanding of the world through taking things at face value. My beliefs, even then, were grounded in evidence and reason. No baseless claim of any kind can penetrate a proper barrier of skepticism. The only way opening that Bible would make be believe that God exists is if I already wanted to believe it.
If for nothing else, read scripture so that, like me, you can learn about the atrocities of Gods and the unjust nature of their proposed morality. Read scripture so that you could never want to believe in God. It’s that intention to believe – not the belief itself – that sets people on an imperfect path to truth.
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: 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.”
Genesis 3:1, 3:2, 3:3
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: 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.
Genesis 3:4, 3:5, 3:6
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. 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.
Genesis 3:7, 3:8
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?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 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.
Genesis 3:10, 3:11, 3:12
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. 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.
Genesis 3:13, 3:14 3:15
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. 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;
Genesis 3:16, 3:17
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; 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.
Genesis 3:18, 3:19
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. 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.
Genesis 3:20, 3:21, 3:22, 3:23
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.
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.
As an outspoken humanism and atheism activist, I’m frequently asked this question. Why take all these people who believe in a God and make them out to be at best, ignorant, and at worst, grossly deceitful?
Well, first of all, I don’t treat all theists the same. It’s not like I and all other atheists single out believers as unintelligent or evil. Some atheists do this, but some atheists also believe in Bigfoot, so that doesn’t tell you much. Personally, I think the average theist I tend to come across is often more compassionate or trustworthy than the average atheist.
No, I treat theists the same way I treat anybody. Frankly, your belief in a God doesn’t tell me anything about how rational you are, considering how many influences there are around the world for people to believe in a God. In my eyes, we should judge people’s reasons for belief, not their actual beliefs themselves. In that regard, it is not the theist who I am ‘attacking’, but instead the methodology they use. People are known to go around spreading whatever they happen to be convinced of for no other reason than that they truly believe it.
Therefore I feel anybody is justified in challenging religion. I am justified in challenging science, mathematics, litterature, social norms, and so I should be allowed to do the same with religion. But people want to know why we antagonize it, not why we challenge it. I’ve heard people say that most religious people are harmless, and they don’t hold the toxic beliefs from their scripture. That we should refrain from destroying that, even if it is some kind of illusion.
I strongly disagree. The more people are convinced that their version of the afterlife is a myth, the less people will be living a lie. It’s fascinating to me – so many people today are going crazy about conspiracy theories, evildoings behind the scenes, a world of lies akin to the matrix – but faith is a conspiracy. The only difference is that the wild, absurd claims it makes are so engrained into our society that, on an intellectual level, we simply haven’t been able to catch up.
So let’s entertain for a second that God is absolutely, unequivically not real, and one day, we all wake up and realise together.
That would mean around 85% of the world’s population had been wrong about the afterlife. Almost 7 billion people who had been lied to their whole lives, pulled in different social and political directions, contributed their hard earned money to the religious organisation they belonged to. Every church and mosque and synagoge across the globe would stand as a monument to our ignorance. Hundreds of thousands… millions of articles would simply be misinformation. Books and sermons and gospel alike. So much of our world is tied into our idea of God, it’s hard to imagine a future without it.
But the truth is, there is a future where religious organisations do more good than harm to our world. It’s just that as long as they claim to know the one true God, as long as they attempt to define my sexuality, my desires and my actions, as long as religion is opressive, manipulative and a path to further ignorance, I will stand for rationality, for humanism, and for positive change in the world.
We started our path on evaluating the Bible with Unbiased Bible Study – ‘Genesis, Chapter 1’ . We learned about the first six days of creation, and we already have mountains of questions regarding the dissonance between what we know about our world and what the Bible says it took for it to come to be. Now we can proceed to the second chapter of Genesis, where we’re introduced to God’s greatest creation – mankind.
The Seventh Day Makes No Sense
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
Genesis 2:1, 2:2
Some christians like to claim the issue behind God’s actions on the seventh day is a matter of poor translation. The hebraic word for “rest” can also mean “to cease” or “stop” – leading them to point out that God never said he ‘needed’ to rest, only that he did; and by extension, that God simply saw fit to finish his creation then and there.
But if the world was so perfect, why doesn’t the story end here? Why do we need God to stick around anyways? Hell, if God had decided then and there that the world was finished, Earth may have actually been a beautiful place. Animals, plants, seas and land, a planet without the “scourge” of humanity. And that’s not my belief, by the way, it’s the Bible that depicts humans as flawed and broken throughout – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
Genesis 2:3, 2:4, 2:5
Sources on this subject are completely contradictory. Explanations for why God blessed the seventh day include that ‘God had always intended for the seventh day to be a day of rest’ and yet as we just assumed for the christians’ sake, God’s definition of rest on the seventh day is meant to have nothing to do with reinvigoration. This goes to show how some chrisitians will bend the word of the Bible to fit whatever narrative they need to make one argument, and be willing to flip-flop over to the other side to contradict it themselves by making another argument.
Clay Soldiers in the Garden of Eden
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Genesis 2:6, 2:7
The idea of life being made from earth is as old as mythology itself. The Bible shares this origin story with Islam, but also with the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Sumerians, Chinese, Koreans and a handful more. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is created by the goddess Aruru out of clay to be a partner for Gilgamesh, “mighty in strength”. According to Hindu mythology, the mother of Ganesh — Parvati — made Ganesh from clay. The point is, the idea that humans were formed from the mud and the clay of our planet is neither original nor true.
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:8, 2:9
God creates the Garden of Eden to be mankind’s first home – and as God is apparently perfect, so should be the home he created for his people. It’s described as a “pure” place and yet right there in the middle stands the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
A common misconception amongst creationists and evolutionists is that the tree in question is the “tree of knowledge”, whereas it’s important to note that it is in fact the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” – implying that the fruit of the tree would allow mankind to know evil as it had not known before, rather than provide them with divine knowledge of some kind.
Either way, what in God’s name is this tree doing here? Did God intend for mankind to eat from the tree of good and evil? If not, what is it’s purpose?
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
Genesis 2:10, 2:11, 2:12, 2:13, 2:14
The Bible attempts to help us understand more about the location of the garden of Eden by telling us about the four rivers, Pison, Euphrates, Gihon and Hiddekel (a.k.a Tigris) although their ability to tell us more about the garden of Eden is limited. Tigris and Euphrates are two rivers that exist today, strongly connected to the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia. This makes sense, as most of if not all of Genesis is said to be inspired by Mesopotamian myths and legends.
The issue is though, we have no way of knowing if the Tigris and Euphrates we see today would even be comparable to the ones mentioned in the Bible. According to the very book we’re reading, a global flood has yet to come through and change the face of the earth forever.
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
I don’t often see many people having a problem with passages like this, but to me, this is a perfect example for why God necessarily had to find a better way than scripture to teach humanity about the beginning of everything. It’s impossible to decypher what he means.
“took the man, and put him in the garden”
Did he pick him up? Wave his arm and float him over like he’s using Wingardium Leviosa? Teleport him at the snap of his fingers? Nobody seems to care – and I suppose if you’re willing to accept that he can create anything, you’re willing to accept that he can do anything; but I like to remind myself in moments like this that God’s power, at least in the Bible, seems absolutely unlimited, even after his “rest”.
How to Sabotage your own Creation
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 2:16, 2:17
I can’t say that if I ever had divine powers I would be as careless and cruel as God in this situation. He creates Adam, taunts him with the tree of good and evil, and tells him that if he eats it, he will die. This is of course wrong, because even according to scripture, the fruit of the tree does not leave mankind dead if they eat from it.
Why create the tree, put it within their reach, and demand they subdue their curiosity? To assert dominance? Hardly, because God knew Adam would betray him. To give mankind free will? Doubtful, as God’s version of free will is akin to holding a gun to someone’s head and saying “the choice is yours”.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
Genesis 2:18, 2:19
In biblical times, naming something was a great honor, and insinuated dominance over or ownership of the named. As God has Adam name the birds and the animals, he is solidifying Adam’s dominion over them and searching for a ‘companion’ for hm.
It’s interesting, because at first, one might think God is looking for something or someone to be Adam’s equal. The truth is, God seeks a pet, he seeks property for Adam. Someone who will provide him with children the way the chickens provide him with eggs and the cattle provides him with milk.
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
Genesis 2:20, 2:21, 2:22
When God creates Eve, he creates her from man. The natural balance of masculine and feminine traits that hold up biology and social science are chucked out the window because, according to scripture, man came first. Women were an afterthought, and here we see a tiny glimmer of the sexism that will be riddled throughout the Bible.
There would of course be nothing wrong with observing such an event. It’s when you make it up, when you fabricate a story that fits your narrative, and you say it correlates directly with the real world – that’s when we start to run into some issues. When you do that, each example of women being misstreated is as much the word of God as the 10 commandments.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Genesis 2:23, 2:24, 2:25
The Book of Genesis tries here to present the world as pure and innocent as it can, because the actions of God and that which he holds dominion over is about to set off a chain reaction that will plunge the world into darkness and sin, simply because his creation with free will acted on that free will.
The fact that they were naked and not ashamed is presented as the optimal option, the best, most innocent stage of their existence, and yet the celebration and desexualisation of our bodies, a.k.a the seperation of shame from nudity is one that is often denounced by the religious more than anyone.
It’s a strange moment, really – the world at this moment in the story does seem – despite incoherancy with the observations we’ve made about the real world – like paradise. A world full of life, and without sin. An entire world of innocence. But on the doorstep of this chapter is chapter 3, where we’re introduced to original sin and Satan himself. In short, it’ll get worse before it ever gets better.
“God of The Gaps” refers to the mistake made by countless theists across the world from a vareity of different backgrounds; to fill the gaps in our knowledge about the origin of the universe and the origin of life with the cop-out explanation that is God.
If you sit down with theists and try to get to the core of why they believe what they believe, they often find themselves in this circular argument. I believe it stems from an inability to admit when they don’t know something – or, at the very least, an inability to seperate what they know about religion and faith from what they can’t explain.
The thing is, in science, you don’t get to do that. The default position isn’t what you want the outcome to be, but what you can reasonably determine to be true – and, if you can’t find an evidential explanation for something, your conclusion must be that you don’t know.
Learning to admit that you don’t know something is a fundemental part of being a skeptic. If you accept things before you have good reason to do so, your conclusions on a large scale will contradict oneanother – but God is an unfalsifiable concept. He is beyond our senses, beyond perception, beyond even our imaginations. How do you provide evidence for something like that? The truth is, you can’t. God could. But you?
The illusion that is christians arriving at faith through what they think to be reasonable arguments doesn’t make them rational. It doesn’t do away with the consistent use of fallacies to back up their claims about the universe and humanity. That’s why the scientific method is such a better approach to learning about reality than anything that religion draws from. Science can be cross-referenced, scruitinised, often replicated to back up the conclusions it reaches. Science has no bias, no agenda, and there is no one scientific opinion on anything.
That doesn’t mean everyone’s opinion is equally scientific, however – just that even within scientific circles things are up for debate all the time. The only difference being the people in question are all theorising, experimenting, and most importantly of all, using the scientific method. Their inability to agree on anything is similar to that of religious folk – only they don’t believe in things they don’t know to be true. They don’t claim what they know is unquestionably correct; and as a result, their findings, although often different from one other, strengthen their overall resolve and understanding of the unknown.
Admitting You Don’t Know Something Is The First Step
Most people hate admitting they’re wrong, even at the cost of their goals. Those of us who aren’t naturally stubborn are naturally gullible. As kids, we ask and ask away, curious about everything and steadfast about naught, in the hopes to learn as much as we can. The problem with that time of our lives is we’re also extemely impressionable. Our barriers for evidence are incredibly low, leading us to essentially believe anything adults say to us. Critical thinking is evidently a developed skill, and clearly not one everyone gets around to learning.
But, if you are interested in being a rational, reasonable person, you must outgrow this urge to believe what you want to believe. To in effect be a vessel for someone else’s toxic idea, a blissful preacher of deception. Believe only what you have good reason to believe – nothing more, nothing less.
Theists like to drag scientists from the 17th and 18th centuries like Isaac Newton through the mud as it’s understood he believed in a God as a direct result of the God of the Gaps argument.
“This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.
And if the fixed stars are the centers of similar systems, they will all be constructed according to a similar design and subject to the dominion of the One … And so that the system of the fixed stars will not fall upon one another as a result of their gravity, he has placed them at immense distances from one another.”
And in truth, Newton was wrong to make these claims. He truly only believed in a God because he couldn’t fathom any other explanation for the world he observed. What’s important to note, though, is that just because he came to the illogical conclusion that God is real when he should have claimed not to know, doesn’t make Newton any less of a magnificent scientist ahead of his time.
If Newton was around today, and we had the opportunity and time to take him through the modern understanding of physics, astronomy and the human condition, I have no doubt in my mind that he would come to an atheist perspective before long. That’s because although he hadn’t applied it to each and every question he’d ever asked himself, Isaac Newton had a genuinely formidable method of rationality and understanding of the scientific method.
It also just goes to show anyone is capable of making mistakes, or believing something that isn’t true. All the more reason to be skeptical of people making extrordinairy claims about our universe and the life within it.
How many people do you think actually believe that Genesis is an accurate description of the origin of our universe? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? And how many think although it’s not true, we can learn from it and should seek wisdom within it’s pages? It’s that which I wish to bring into question in this series. So without further ado, let’s look at Genesis I – the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.
The Beginning isn’t Really the Beginning
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness fell upon the face of the deep.
Genesis 1:1, 1:2
So the Bible starts us off explaining the origin of everything, or so evangelists would have you believe. The truth is, even in this wild fantasy in which God creates everything, we have no explanation for the origin of God. The very first line of Genesis is a fallacy – moving the goalpost from our universe to it’s alleged creator.
As much as proponents of the Bible will claim that Genesis describes the beginning of everything, as long as God is not included in that ‘everything’, this story starts in the middle. Not at the beginning.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:3, 1:4, 1:5
Big day, huh? Even for God. Wouldn’t it be nice to witness this level of divine power? He’s presented as a limitless, all-powerful being capable of such direct influence on the reality we live in – the reality he apparently created – and yet in the world we live in today, it’s humans who have torn the earth to shreds in a fight for survival, not the earth that was ever so kind and generous to us to ensure our wellbeing.
The Second Day
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Genesis 1:6, 1:7, 1:8
This is where things get a little bit crazy. Essentially, the earth was first a formless blob of water – and God created a dome, a sort of bubble, with water above and below the dome. The easiest way to picture it is as a snowglobe – a model that, in every depiction I found, seems to completely ignore the idea that the earth is spherical.
The Third Day
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas: and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:9, 1:10
So Yaweh goes on to form the landmasses and the sea – and although science suggests the earth truly was covered in ocean from about 3 billion years ago up untill about 1.5 billion years ago, the forming of the continents and land masses we know today have been forming for as long as around 240 million years. The idea that this could all happen in two days – from nothing to a planet with land masses and oceans, is I suppose no more likely than it happening over billions of years – but it’s certainly inconsistent with everything we’ve observed about the formation of celestial objects.
I’d like to bring attention to the tail end of Genesis 1:10 – “and God saw that it was good”. Here, the God of the Bible begins bringing attention to a theme he will continue to bring up throughout Genesis. God observes that it is good – God is satisfied with his creation, and makes that observation alongside many of the steps he takes to lay out the world. In this we can be sure that God, the all-powerful, all-knowing creator, cannot have made a mistake, cannot have regretted his creation or any of the specifications thereof, and so it would not be unreasonable to expect the world he created to be perfect. Flawless.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Genesis 1:11, 1:12, 1:13
It’s hard not to observe how exactly God’s power seems to match his intention. God says let the earth bring forth grass, and so it does. He says let the herb yield seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, and that’s exactly what occurs.
There’s a dissonance here, between the God we can observe during the creation of our world and the God who works in ‘mysterious ways’ – the God who’s grand plan involves pain and suffering and evil but claims it all to be a means to an end. This God’s power is instant, his influence is undeniable.
The Fourth Day
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Genesis 1:14, 1:15, 1:16, 1:17, 1:18, 1:19
We obviously know the idea that the sun was created after the earth – not to mention for the earth – is ridiculous. We also have yet to find Heaven in the skies but we know the exact position of the sun and moon in our solar system at any given moment. This entitlement of the sun, that it was created for humanity, for earth, that it belongs to us, is a central reason for the outward and inward geocentric belief that so many human beings have carried around with them.
My point is that these are the early signs of a common theme throughout this book – lies, misinformation, contradictions – all in vain of describing the truths we’ve come to observe about the universe. There’s not even a kernel of divine wisdom that could have possibly gone into these pages. To ignore the blatant dishonesty we’ll find scattered throughout scripture, and focus solely on a few abstract lessons we draw from it, is not a path to truth in any regard.
The Fifth Day
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Genesis 1:20, 1:21, 1:22, 1:23
On the fifth day, God essentially looks upon his creation and begins to fill it with life. He fills the ocean and the sky with creatures and encourages them to breed and populate the Earth. The issue of course, is that evolution doesn’t work like this. There was no ‘first whale’ nor a ‘first bird’, and animals certainly don’t need a God to tell them to multiply.
The Bible can often seem to coincide with an abstract understanding of reality – it speaks not of a world we can’t imagine, but our world, it speaks of the sun, the moon, the birds and the fish, it tells us stories about origin akin to the conclusions of a child’s observation. That, however it may seem compelling to see as evidence of causation, is more likely evidence that whoever truly wrote the book of Genesis was ignorant to many things, and observant of others.
The Sixth Day
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and livestock after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:24, 1:25, 1:26
This trend of a child-like perspective continues as God seperates the animals of the Earth not by classification, or identifiable relation to one another, but instead by “livestock” i.e cattle, sheep; “creeping thing”, i.e rodents, insects and the like, and “beasts of the earth” i.e wild animals.
So, according to the Bible, the domestication of animals is invalid, and certain animals were created to serve a purpose. To be seperate from the “beasts of the earth” at the moment of their very creation.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:27, 1:28
That’s right. The birds, the fish, the beats of the earth and the creeping things upon it, they were all created for us. Humanity is once again demonstrated as entitled to everything upon the face of the earth, a christian narrative that has lead to heavy doubt on the topic of climate change and the irradication of species in the modern world.
You don’t have to give up meat or denounce the farming or fishing insdustries to recognise that the circle of life, our need for sustinence and our unique position at the top of the food chain don’t give us dominion over anything. Being more efficient, more intelligent and more productive than the animals of this world, it falls on our shoulders to provide for or at least not activley persue them, not the other way around.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
Genesis 1:29, 1:30
The real idea here behind the process of creation is to show that God creates things in the order of necesity. He creates the earth, then the life to grow upon it, then the creatures to populate it and eat from those plants, then humans, to reign over and live off of the creatures of the planet. In effect, it’s an attempt to show God as one step ahead of himself each day – but just when it seems God may just spend his infinite time as a divine being constantly adding to and improving on our earth, he’s finished.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
“It was very good” he had said. It’s sort of a funny quote, really. If Genesis was true, and it really was very good at the time, the proceeding books of Joshua, Leviticus, Revelation, and many more would overshadow any innocence and goodness in the world that God created in the beginning.
And keep that in mind, this is only the beginning. There’s so much to unpack in scripture, and barely any of it is good. What are we to learn from Genesis I? Because I found nothing but lies, misinformation, and the planting of a seed in the minds of humans who follow the God we’ve been introduced to – that everything is about you. About your story. Your journey. This world, these plants, these animals, the sky and the very earth you stand on, it’s all for you. Not God.
God is simply a vessel your mind takes to reach new levels of entitlement and narcisism, and contradictory to what the church would have you think, Genesis is a great place to start when you’re on the path to realising that. I truly believe that the more you read the Bible, the more you disagree with theists, or at least, their advocation for their specific domination.