Monday, April 23, 2012

The Misfit Atheist reads the Bible: Genesis 4-9

(If you want a list of all of my "atheist Bible study" posts, just click here. Also, if you're feeling a little Bible-d out, here's something that I find makes much better reading: Aesop's Fables.)

Our first post dealt with the Biblical creation of the universe, Adam & Eve and the Fall of Man(aka "original sin") which formed the foundation of the Abrahamic religions. Now we turn to how Adam & Eve make out after getting thrown out of the Garden of Eden. We find out that despite leaving a supposed paradise on Earth, they seem to be doing quite well. They have several children, the first two of which are Cain and Abel.

As the story goes, both Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to God(as Bronze Age farmers usually do), but God likes Abel's animal sacrifices over Cain's fruit sacrifices. Cain gets depressed and God asks "Why so down, bro?". Then Cain kills his brother in the field, and when all-knowing God asks where Abel is, Cain says "Am I my brother's keeper?"(meaning "How should I know? I'm not his babysitter.") When God figures out what happened, he curses Cain to be a "fugitive and a vagabond". At least unlike what he did to his parents for learning, this seems a sensible punishment.

But it turns out Cain got over God's punishment more or less, as he finds a wife(where did she come from?Did  God pull another creation in another county?), has a son and builds a city(both named Enoch). And then a couple of generations later, we have Lamech, who according to the Bible is the first polygamist(he had two wives) and apparently takes up his great-great-grandfather's criminality by killing a man.

Meanwhile, Adam knocks up Eve again(at this point he's multiple times great-grandfather) and has Seth. Seth bares a son(again, where did his wife come from?), and then we're treated to a generational recap with some new insights and questions.

In the recap, Adam actually had some daughters, but they remain nameless. All of the patriarchs supposedly lived ridiculously long lives. Quite a feat, considering they had virtually no medical knowledge or science. At the end of the recap, we discover Lamech gets a son named Noah. Yes folks, that Noah!

Genesis 6 wastes no time getting straight to the Great Flood that gives Young Earth Creationists such a hard-on. Apparently God got fed up with sin in the world and attempted to get rid of it by killing everything on the planet, save for Noah and his family. So God tells Noah to build a boat that's apparently too big to be seaworthy yet too small for every pair of animals on the planet. And there's quite a few other problems with the Flood story that come to mind, but are addressed here.

Fast forward to Genesis 8, and we find that the Flood has receded. Noah makes animal sacrifices to God(effectively making many animal species extinct thanks to the Flood in the first place), and this convinces God not to flood the world again. God then tells Noah and his family to "be fruitful and multiply". Let's take a step back and observe the whole picture thus far, courtesy of DarkMatter2525:


Okay, so now that we have the Flood in the rear-view mirror, let's see how Noah and his family make out in the aftermath. Hmm. Apparently Noah gets plastered off his own wine and runs around in his birthday suit in his tent. His son Ham covers him up, but Noah doesn't like it. As punishment, Noah curses his grandson(who had nothing to do with it) to be a slave. Gotta love that biblical justice, eh?

That's pretty much it for Genesis 4-9. Next up: The Tower of Babel!