After one of my recent posts, I have decided that I am going to go through the Bible and discuss why I do not agree with it. I’ve gotten about halfway through Genesis tonight, so I’m going to discuss it in two parts:
Genesis begins by discussing the creation of the universe, including the first man and woman. In that story, Adam and Eve were tricked into eating forbidden fruit by a serpent. After they had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve immediately realize that they are naked and cover themselves. Why is nakedness evil? I can’t imagine why their first concern would be being naked. And if nakedness is evil, why did God allow them to remain naked for so long?
Throughout Genesis, God proves that he can’t be omniscient: first he doesn’t see the serpent tell Eve to eat the fruit, then he doesn’t see Adam and Eve eating the fruit, and later he doesn’t see Cain kill Abel. He also has to test people to tell if they truly fear him (such as when he tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac). While the Bible doesn’t tell me that God is omniscient, Christians do. The Bible makes that claim unlikely by showing God as being otherwise.
The part with Cain and Abel makes no sense. Cain kills Abel, so God curses Cain, but he protects Cain to keep him alive. God clearly favored Abel because Abel sacrificed animals instead of plants, which made Cain jealous. God’s response is basically “What? If you’re good you’ll get my favor too.” Which clearly isn’t the case. Then Cain kills Abel, which God doesn’t see, and God’s reaction is to ensure that Cain lives a long life and has a lot of descendants despite being cursed. It’s kind of like grounding a child but letting them continue to do everything they’d do while not grounded.
And if Adam and Eve were the first people, and Cain, Abel, and Seth were their only children and all sons, where did their wives come from? Did God create other people but they weren’t allowed inside Eden? Did God create them for Cain and Seth?
At one point in Genesis, it states that people began calling on God. That means that people didn’t call on God until Adam and Eve’s grandchildren were born. So did God just come around whenever before then? Did Adam and Eve do whatever they wanted? Why did Cain and Abel sacrifice to God if they weren’t calling him?
People, according to the Bible, lived impossibly long. Adam lived for 930 years, Seth lived for 912 years, Enos for 905 years, Cainan for 910, Mahalaleel for 895, Jared for 962, Enoch for 365 (and that was because he was “a man of God.” Was he the first holy man?), Methuselah for 969, Lamech for 777, and Noah for 950 years. If people actually lived that long, wouldn’t there be some written record of it outside of the Bible? And if good people died earlier, doesn’t that kind of reward sinning?
Who are the sons of God? Are they angels? Demi-gods? Holy people? If they’re gods, then the Bible isn’t monotheistic, and angels are commonly thought to be creations like humans, not children of God. But if they are holy men, how do you explain the implication that, while Enoch was a man of God, the rest of the people weren’t? And how do you explain the later claim that all people only ever have evil in their hearts? And why would they marry human women?
Nephilims are created as a result of human women sleeping with the sons of god, which suggests that they are supernatural somehow (otherwise why give them a special name?) They are said to be violent (why would holy people raise violent children?) and lead to God seeing that people only had evil in their hearts at all times. But if it’s the Nephilims that are violent, why not kill all the Nephilims? Why blame the humans? And how do people become violent? Is it a result of the Nephilim nature or is it original sin? It doesn’t explain how people are evil, what they do, what God is seeing, or why.
God decides to kill all the humans as a result of their being Violent. Cool, let’s end violence with violence. I wonder if God considered the possibility that humans are violent because they were made in his image. And he decides to kill all the animals because he’s angry at humans. How does that make any sense? Why not just kill the humans and let the animals take over? Or are they evil too?
Despite God saying that all humans only have evil in their hearts, he determines that Noah is good.Was Noah not human? And if God’s just going to determine that we’re all evil no matter what we do, why bother trying?
What are clean vs unclean animals?
Noah only took two of every animal, a male and a female, and the purpose of doing this was so that they could procreate (did he only send the godly pairs to Noah?), but Noah used some of the animals to sacrifice to God when they found land. Well there goes those “kinds.” And God smelled the pleasing aroma from the sacrifice. That’s a very human quality that he has. And it’s the smell that convinced God to allow a violent creation that was evil to survive and thrive. Wait…Noah’s good, and only his family, who is presumably also good since they were allowed on the ark, has survived, but all humans still bad? Wants to repopulate and won’t kill all people despite evil? And he’s going to give humans everything? And, despite the apparent high rate of violence (and Cain killing Abel) murder only becomes punishable after the flood? Was it perfectly acceptable before then? Given how few people could have existed, how were there any humans left?
We go back to the nakedness being evil thing again when Ham, Noah’s son, sees Noah naked. So Noah curses Ham’s son Canaan (oh look, the Hebrew Canaanites) for Ham seeing him naked, and he praises his son Shem for covering him (though both of Ham’s brothers apparently covered him, so why did only one get praised?). How does Noah know what has happened to him since he seemed to immediately wake up and curse Canaan? Why is Ham seeing him naked (by accident) so bad that Noah curses his own grandson as punishment? Why does he curse Canaan instead of Ham?
Now we get to some interesting contradictions. First we learn that, from Noah’s family, the Hebrew people split into clans and spread over the earth. We also learn that the people in the separate clans had their own languages (this is stated twice). But later it says that all the people of the earth spoke the same language until the tower of Babel. They also apparently stuck together. The Bible claims that the people wanted to build a tower into heaven to stay together, but God decides to confuse their languages (who does god say “come, let us…” to?) and spreads people across the earth because he’s afraid they’ll be able to do anything. Why does he decide to spread them out if he’s going to make it impossible for them to speak to each other? If all the people on earth are God’s chosen people, why does he tell some to kill others and take their land?
Before the flood, God said that humans were only to live 120 years. But after the flood Shem lives 600 years, Arpachshad lives 300, Shelah lives 500, Eber lives 500, Peleg lives 300, Reu lives 250, Serug lives 200, Nahor lives 150, and Terah lives 205 years. Apparently God sucks at keeping his word.
The story of Abram is an odd one. Sarai, Abram’s wife, is unable to conceive. And God promises to give Abram a nation if he goes where God tells him to, so Abram agrees. God promises to give Abram’s descendants the Canaanite land (as punishment for Ham seeing Noah naked?). At one point Abram lives in Egypt, and he tells his wife to lie and say she is Abram’s sister. God inflicts harm on the pharaoh because he takes Sarai as his wife. Why does God punish the pharaoh but not Abram. Abram is kicked out of Egypt. How did the pharaoh know that Sarai was Abram’s wife? Nothing mentions God talking to the pharaoh. Lot, Abram’s nephew and ward, is told to go to keep the shepherds from fighting. He goes to Sodom (Jordan). Meanwhile, Abram lived in Canaan. Once again, God promises the land to Abram’s descendants (how much land do Abram’s descendants need?). It seems odd that God keeps telling Abram his descendants will get the land (I’d suspicious of the promise that the lands would go to my descendants when I was doing all the work), but Abram doesn’t have any descendants and God has yet to say how Abram’s land will be passed down.
Meanwhile, Lot and his possessions are taken by warring kings, so Abram followed the kings and frees Lot. Then he takes everything that the kings had taken, so king of Sodom praises Abram and Abram gives 10% of everything to the king. The king of Sodom tells Abram to keep the stuff and give him the people, but Abram tells Sodom “no” because God doesn’t want any man to be able to say that they got Abram rich. How could Sodom’s king say that when clearly Abram got all the stuff himself? Abram gives the rest of the stuff to his men. Once again Abram is promised land for his descendants, but he still can’t get Sarai pregnant, so God promises children for Abram ( once Abram sacrifices animals of course). Abram makes the deal despite being told that his descendants will live as slaves in land not their own, and then will come back to the Canaanite land and take over (seriously, what did the poor Canaanites ever do to Abram?). Sarai, who seems to be unaware of the deal, tells Abram to sleep with her Egyptian slave, Hagar (if the Egyptians were slaves to the Hebrew’s then why do the Hebrew’s keep getting so much attention for being slaves?). When Hagar runs off after being raped and abused an angle tells her to go back and submit to Sarai (because that’s the message we want to send to abuse victims). Ishmael (Hagar’s son) is supposed to go against all men, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate that. Then, at 99 Abram is told to change his name to Abraham, and is told that every male must be circumcised by 8 days old (and male slaves too), and, if not, then Abraham’s descendants have broken the covenant with God (so I suppose Christian’s have broken the covenant. What’s the penalty for breaking the covenant?). Sarai then becomes Sarah and is blessed to become mother. Why does God bother with the name changes? What do they accomplish? Abraham wonders if he’ll become a father at 100 years old, but his ancestors often became fathers at over 100, so it is odd that he’d bother to worry about it.
Isaac (who isn’t born yet) is given the covenant, though what that means hasn’t really been explained. It seems to merely suggest that he’ll be given the land promised to Abram, but that doesn’t happen. So…he gets the promise of the promise? And Ishmael is blessed and given a nation (which is what Isaac is supposed to get, so how is it any different?). Abraham immediately circumcised every male in his household, including himself. For the promise of the promise of land? That he’d never see? Later on, 3 men go to Abraham, and Abraham runs over to them and begins speaking to them as if they are God, or God is among them (he knows what god looks like? God is human-like?). All 3 men answered “yes” when offered shelter and food, so Abraham fed the men. One tells him they will return and give Sarah a son in a year (that one is labelled as the lord, and he says nothing is too hard for him). So does God look human? If he merely possessed a human, how does Abraham know he’s God? The human “lord” then tells Abraham that he’s going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but he says he will spare Sodom if there are 50 righteous people, then he goes down to 10 people. Abraham is concerned that God will kill all the people, so why doesn’t he do more to stop him?
In Sodom, Lot bows down to the angles that appear (how does he know they’re angles, since it’s implied that he does?) and invite them to stay in his house (why does it specify that he bakes bread without yeast?). But the people in Sodom want to gang rape angles (I know these people are supposed to be really bad, but why? Why rape strangers just to rape them? There actions are non-sensicle), so Lot offers up daughters instead. Lot is supposed to be the good guy. The person worth saving. But he offers up his daughters to be raped. How is he any better than the people who want to rape the angles? The angles blinded the people and tell Lot to take his family out of the city, so he takes 2 daughters and wife and leaves. The angles tell Lot to flee to the mountains, but he says no and is allowed to flee to small town instead. Burning sulfur reigned down on Sodom, and Lot’s wife is turned to salt for looking back (who wouldn’t look back? It was her home and it was being destroyed).
Lot then took his daughters to the mountains to live in a cave (because now he was okay with living in the mountain). His daughters get him drunk to sleep with their father because it is custom for women to sleep with men to preserve their family name and they are afraid not to. This is viewed as sinful behavior on their part, but other instances of incest are okay.
Abraham again lies about Sarah being his sister, and again Sarah is taken. God again comes and tells the man not to sleep with Sarah because it is a sin and he will die otherwise (Abraham is protected because he is a prophet). Abraham says that Sarah truly is his sister through his father (which makes this incest okay). Sarah is told that Abraham will be paid off for what was done against her. Because the only reason the harm matters is because it affected Abraham. Because only men mattered. As a result, for some unexplained reason, Sarah has Isaac, and he’s circumcised at 8 days old. Ishmael is sent away because Sarah’s jealous, and God tells Abraham to listen to Sarah because Ishmael will be given his own nation. Wasn’t it Sarah’s idea to have Ishmael? Why is this okay because Ishmael will get a nation?
God tests Abraham by telling him to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac asks where the lamb for the offering is, and Abraham lies and says God will provide it (this guy lies a lot). As Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac, an angle stops him. This is supposed to prove that Abraham fears God. Abraham offers a ram instead, and God (again) promises that Abraham’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars (has said this many times and seems to be moving the goal posts around). God blesses all the nations because Abraham obeyed him. Why does God still need to test Abraham after Abraham has moved away from home, sacrificed many animals, built many shrines, changed his name, and circumscribed himself and all the males in his family? What more proof could God possibly need? And why does he want Abraham to prove he’s afraid? Why not loyal? How is any of this moral on either God’s or Abraham’s part? Sarah lived until she’s 127, Abraham, who’s older, is still alive. Apparently God still hasn’t mastered the “human’s will only live until 120” thing yet.
When Abraham’s slave is looking for a wife for Isaac, he prays to God as “my master’s god.” This suggests that, while this slave believes in this god, they don’t worship him. Why is that? Is it because they simply don’t have religious beliefs? The praying makes that unlikely. Does this slave pray to another god? That seems far more likely. So which god do they pray to? Why don’t they share the beliefs of their master? I found it interesting that the Bible mentioned Isaac meditating, because I read a post by a woman who was afraid of her child meditating in school because it was a sign that the occult was entering her school system.
Abraham dies at 175. It is mentioned that he had concubines who had children. So clearly sleeping with multiple women and having children out of wedlock wasn’t a big deal. So why is it a sin now? What changed? Did God change his mind?
Ishmael died at 137. When are people going to start dying at under 120 years old? Why do ancient nomads with poor health care get to live so long but our (comparatively) awesome health care can’t keep many of us alive to 80? That hardly seems fair. Or likely.
Rebecca , Isaac’s wife, had twins. God says that the older will serve younger. Esau, the older one, was a hunter, and was most loved by Isaac. Jacob, the younger, preferred books, and was most loved by Rebecca. Esau sold birth right to Jacob. At one point Isaac is told to stay on the Canaanite land, and not to go to Egypt (yet God told Abraham that his descendants would not stay on their land, and would live as slaves in a land not their own). Isaac lied, like his father, and said that Rebecca was his sister, and when he was discovered he was told “what have you done to us? One of the men might have slept with her” (which suggests that rape was common, and not really a problem if the girl wasn’t married, men can sleep with multiple women even when they’re married, and can marry many women or just one and can still sleep with others, but women were not to sleep with anyone but their husband, and men were not to sleep with the wives of other men, basically, women were a commodity). Neither Abraham nor Isaac were ever punished for lying. Isn’t lying a sin? Why didn’t God care before the 10 commandments were written? Isaac moved farther and farther away from the land where he was told to stay because he was told he’s too powerful. Isaac is later told that he will be blessed and have many descendants (God really likes this promise, doesn’t he? I wonder if it’s because it’s easy to fulfill but doesn’t actually have to be fulfilled).
Rebecca uses Jacob to trick Isaac into giving Jacob a blessing meant for Esau. Isaac somehow can’t tell the difference between Jacob and Esau by voice and requires touch (though he’s easily tricked by goat fur), and Jacob is made the ruler over Esau. Esau swears to kill Jacob, so Rebecca tells Jacob to flee to his uncle, and is told to take a wife from his mother’s brother (Canaanite women are said to disgust Rebecca, and displease Isaac) So now we have acceptable tribalism/racism. It’s better that Jacob marries his cousin than a Canaanite, even though they are still distantly related to the Canaanites. And they live with the Canaanites and clearly have to deal with then daily. Esau already had Canaanite wives, but took a woman from his parents clan to please his parents. God comes to Jacob and makes the same promise to him as he made to Abraham and Isaac, and says the lord will be his god if he comes back from his journey (his vision is enough to change the name of the land). So Jacob didn’t worship the same god as his father and grandfather? And he didn’t worship him while being away from home for more than 14 years? He only worshiped God when when he got home?
Jacob’s uncle tricked Jacob into marrying his older daughter when Jacob is meant to marry the younger. Leah, the older, is allowed to conceive because Jacob didn’t love her after he married Rachel (after another 7 years), but Rachel remained childless. Rachel becomes jealous of Leah, so Rachel has children through her servant. Leah also used her servant to have children after she stopped conceiving. Rachel and Leah made deals with each other to sleep with Jacob (Leah has more children as a result), and Rachel is finally able to conceive after years. This is the weirdest family dispute I’v ever heard of. And why does God encourage it?Jacob’s uncle learned that he is blessed by Jacob’s presence through divination. I thought that was considered a black magic. Isn’t it part of the occult? Or is it okay if you do it while worshiping the right god?
Jacob gets strong animals to mate in front of branches so they are striped or spotted. What kind of magic is that? How does it even make sense? So he gets the wealth from his uncle (and says that God has taken it away from his uncle for cheating Jacob). God calls himself the god of Bethel (not god of Abraham). It seems to be an odd word selection. It seems to suggest that this isn’t the god of Abraham but a different god, the god of the town of Bethel.
That took way too many hours. This is going to be a long project. As you can see, there are many problems just with the first half of Genesis (and I ignored the entire creation bit because that’s been criticized so much). This isn’t looking good for the Bible.
October 5th, 2014 at 8:11 am
Thanks for the follow 🙂 Your blog is really interesting and very courageous. I went to Catholic school until 18 and I am very unsure if I believe in God. I know that I don’t believe in religion and while the Bible has some great stories and lovely parables, I do not believe a word of it. Having ssaid that I keep my thoughts to myself because it isn’t a very welcoming environment for not sure atheists. I don’t know if you are an atheist but even critiquing the bible takes courage. 😀
August 4th, 2014 at 12:29 pm
I have a proposition. Pick out the three questions you have asked in each of your “Why I Can’t Agree” series of articles- those you consider the most unanswerable, most problematic, or that you personally are the most curious about and post them in your comments, starting with this one.
I will attempt to provide answers to each question as presented as an article on my blog with links to your articles here.
You can then either comment directly on my blog and/or post a follow-up on your blog regarding what you think about my attempts at answering.
If we’re not careful we both may learn something through our interfaith dialogue.
August 6th, 2014 at 5:07 am
I will make a new post with the most prominent questions up to now. If you’d like, I can keep making similar posts as I get further along. I want to finish 2nd Samuel before I make the post though, so I’ll likely put it up tomorrow. I’ll also link it to you so it’s easy for you to find.
August 6th, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Great! I’m looking forward to it. Thank you.
July 14th, 2014 at 2:26 pm
[…] Admittedly this is a sore subject for many people, both Atheists and Christians. Certainly I don’t want to add another list of specific Bible or belief contradictions to the many good and bad ones out there. For a good set of specific topics of contradiction, check out Rayan Zehn over at The Atheist Papers. If you want a list of problems with the Bible going book by book, Hessian and Withteeth have something here. […]
July 12th, 2014 at 4:50 am
First off, does it say that nakedness is evil? no it says there eyes were opened and they found that they were naked. You find it evil because it happened right after evil came into the world. The reason they found themselves naked was because, with evil, came a sin known as shame. Shame cause them to do this. Nakedness was not evil, but shame was.
God created man with a free will ( can’t you choose things?). So God did see these things, but he let man choose to do what he/she wanted to do in the situation.Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
According to the book, the testing of the faith not only tests the fear level of God for the person, but also gives the person trust and a better relationship with God.
I can go on and on but i will leave it at that
July 12th, 2014 at 5:12 am
If we have freewill why does god threaten to punish us for not doing exactly as we’re told? Why is shame a sin? And how do you know that it was the shame that was wrong and not the nakedness? The bible says nothing of shame, it just says that they recognized they were naked and covered themselves.
July 12th, 2014 at 7:24 pm
1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
July 13th, 2014 at 2:12 am
I haven’t gotten to 1 Corinthians yet. I’ll respond to it when I get there. But maybe you should show that bit to the Christians who keep telling me that I know god exists, because that bit says otherwise.Though I see no reason to be ashamed of my disbelief.
July 13th, 2014 at 3:46 am
I don’t know why they would be saying that. You can believe that he doesn’t exist, that’s a matter of you, no one can tell you different of your opinion.
June 30th, 2014 at 11:44 pm
Reading the Bible literally always leads to incoherencies. Saying the Bible is mythology is considered an insult, but I don’t think it is.
As a disclaimer, I’m an atheist. But the ancient Hebrews believed in God, so I see the Bible as a collection of books (ta biblios, Greek for “the books”) written over many centuries that records a culture’s conversational attempt to understand God, or to grapple with existential questions if you will.
But something that is infinite and beyond all concepts (existence, or God) can only be discussed using metaphors that relate to people’s lives at that time, which may not work today.
So, for example, if I were to reinterpret Adam & Eve’s nakedness, I’d think of it as that point when homo sapiens as a species, and each person at a certain point in childhood, achieves self-awareness and thus acquires the ability to choose between good and evil.
June 30th, 2014 at 12:03 am
Interesting. I never heard that take before. Especially since most Christians refuse to dilute the sovereignty of God in the smallest way.
June 30th, 2014 at 12:43 am
I probably wouldn’t have thought about it, but I’ve heard similar passages get interpreted that was (though not by Christians).
June 29th, 2014 at 11:55 pm
Genesis 9:3 (KJV) – Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
Cain was not content to just build a Little House on the Prairie for him and his sister-wife and his rugrat, no, he built an entire city called Enoch. Population three.
June 30th, 2014 at 12:00 am
I read that as “now you can say everything on earth is yours. Before it was mine and you just borrowed it.”
June 29th, 2014 at 1:19 pm
Certainly nakedness is not a concern for a couple when there is no one else around to see them.
The curse of Cain was against the soil. He could not ever grow food again like his father trained him to do. And did you ever wonder what Abel was doing raising livestock when no one could eat meat until Genesis 9:3 ?
You are reading the thing about living 120 years wrong. God said this before the flood, so it referred to the time that everyone had left, and was probably inserted to show what a great prognosticator God was, but that introduces a problem when God grows angry at all mankind later. How can he grow angry when he already saw it coming?
June 29th, 2014 at 11:35 pm
But why should nakedness be a problem at all? The whole nakedness thing seems like they are taking it to an unnecessary extreme.
But why ensure that Cain lives? What’s the purpose? The raising livestock thing isn’t too odd. You can still take advantage of what they produce. And people may not be able to eat them, but they can be sacrificed (and the person’s god can enjoy the scent. In my Religious Studies class we learned that ancient people believed that burning sacrifices fed the gods). Though my edition says nothing about being unable to eat meat. What edition do you have and what is the verse?
The god of genesis is so obviously not omniscient. Which makes me wonder how he knows that people are all evil all the time.