The Bible: Genesis
It’s not a big secret that I’m no fan of religion (or the supernatural in general), but I’m also not a fan of unfounded criticism. With this in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to read the King James Bible cover to cover and find out for myself exactly what it says. I’m also going to be making note of all the interesting bits I find and periodically sharing them here. Let’s get started with the foundation of Creationism itself: The Book of Genesis.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that this passage is saying that God made the sky in order to separate all the water on Earth from all the water… in space.
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.
I wonder how many times throughout human history this next bit has been used as a justification for treating women as second-class citizens.
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.
Leading up to this point, God has created the Heavens and the Earth, the Sun and the Moon and the stars, etc. God created Adam, then created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, Cain killed Abel, and now we find… Cain has a wife?
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.
Here we are told that Adam, the first human, died when he was 930 years old. I can’t help but be somewhat skeptical of this claim.
And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
This is a disturbing little passage. Here we find God taking a specific interest in the pee-pees of his chosen people. God says that he intends to establish a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, but only if Abraham agrees to dust off his wiener knife and put it to some serious use. I can’t help but wonder why the all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe would be even remotely concerned with the foreskins of some desert tribe. I’m not going to turn this into a lengthy diatribe about circumcision or genital mutilation, but will simply suggest that you watch the circumcision episode of ‘Penn & Teller: Bullshit!‘. Oh, and as an added bonus, see if you can spot the implicit endorsement of human slavery.
And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
This passage gets thrown around a lot (no pun intended), but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing. God is getting ready to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with a rain of fire and brimstone. This guy named Lot lives in the city of Sodom, and one day he is visited by a pair of angels. He decides to let these angels crash at his place, but in the middle of the night, the men of Sodom show up at Lot’s house and demand that he bring forth these two strangers. So they can be raped by the mob. Lot, being the ever-gracious host that he is, can’t bear the thought of his guests being mistreated. Instead, he offers up his two virgin daughters to be raped by the mob. Keep in mind, Lot is the one man in Sodom that God thought was worth saving from the fire and brimstone.
But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Oh, but our adventures with Lot aren’t over yet. And it looks like the apples don’t fall far from the tree in this family. Here we see Lot’s two daughters taking turns getting him drunk and having sex with him in order to ‘preserve his seed’. Charming.
Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
Here we find God ‘tempting’ Abraham by ordering him to make a burnt offering (read: sacrifice by fire) of his only son, Isaac.
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Abraham apparently thinks that this is a perfectly reasonable request, and so goes right along with it. Abraham then ties up Isaac, places him on the pyre, and is just about to stab him to death when one of God’s angels shows up and says, “Just kidding! It was all just a big loyalty test! And congratulations! You passed!” I can’t help but wonder why such divine intervention was denied to the children of Dena Schlosser and Andrea Yates.
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
I actually really like this next line. I think it would work really well on an epitaph or in an obituary. And it’s just another example of the countless modern expressions that can be traced back to the Bible.
Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.
Here we find Isaac instructing his son Jacob to go find a wife. But he doesn’t want Jacob to marry some lowly Canaanite girl. “No, no, Jacob,” Isaac says, “if you want to find true marriage material, you need to go see your uncle Laban and marry one of his daughters. Yeah, one of your cousins.” I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending for you: Jacob doesn’t just marry his cousin Leah, but her sister Rachel as well.
And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother.
Here’s an odd one. Judah and Shuah get together and have some kids: Er, Onan, and Shelah. Judah eventually finds a wife for Er, but unfortunately, Er was ‘wicked’, and God struck him down. Judah takes the death of his firstborn in stride, turns to Onan, and says, “You’re the brother-in-law, so why don’t you get your act together, get in there, and have some sex with your dead brother’s wife.” Onan sees nothing wrong with this, but thinks that getting Tamar pregnant would be crossing the line. So he has sex with her, but pulls out. God is displeased at this, decides to go two-for-two, and strikes down Onan as well.
And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her. And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er. And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan. And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him. And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
Well, that’s it for the Book of Genesis. Obviously, I have more than a couple of hang-ups with the messages it contains. It’s just far more blood-soaked and inconsistent than I would expect the divinely inspired word of the all-loving creator of the universe to be. But I don’t want to give the impression that I’m just targeting the holy book of Christianity for harsh criticism. Depending on how this little literary project turns out, when it’s finished, I might try reading through the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon in the same way.