The Apocrypha of Genesis: Part 1: Is God who we think he is?

Genesis is a funny story. Or should I say stories. Did you ever notice there are two creation stories? Yes, god created man and woman in chapter one, then later on in chapter two he creates them again. Weird. But that’s not the weirdest thing about Genesis. The weirdest part it is what we call “The Fall”. This is the point at which man rejects the perfect life of union with God, loses his innocence and becomes mortal. This is the moment man opens Pandora’s box, lets evil and corruption lose upon the world, and becomes a rebel, a deviant! Thunder cracks and sinister laughing echoes over the mountains…

The Temptation and Fall of Eve by William Blake

You know the basic premise, boy meets girl, girl meets snake, apples are eaten… yadda yadda yadda, boom, original sin. There’s just one problem; “original sin” is not in Genesis, its just an interpretation, and not a very good one either.

The Fall is, culturally speaking, a very important story, but the problem is that we’ve been told what it means, before we’ve had a chance to read it for ourselves. What would happen if you just read it without all that extra crap that everyone else is telling you? What does the book actually say and what lessons, if any, does this story actually teach? Welcome to the hidden meaning of Genesis. It’s actually quite ironic, because in telling you this, I must play the role of the serpent.

Part 1 – Is God who we think he is?

All the monotheisms (I’m assuming) believe that God is all-poweful, all-knowing and all-good. This idea however, is problematic [see the Epicurean paradox]. However, we can put those philosophical questions aside for in Genesis the very first book of the Bible there is quite a bit of scripture to challenge this conception.

Exhibit 1: Gen 2:18

And the LORD God said, It is NOT GOOD that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Did you see that there? Did you see those words “not good?” God himself admitted it. He made a mistake. Not only that, but he proceeds to make all the animals and birds and he gives them to the dirtman, but the dirtman is still not satisfied, “there was not found an help meet for him.”

Exhibit 2: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Remeber how God says that “in the day you eat it, you will die”? Why would God do this? Eden is supposed to be perfect. And it is, except for that tree, which is just another way of saying that Eden is not perfect. For if it were perfect, then there would not be one iota of danger. Surely if he wanted to remove it or destroy it or put a giant fence around it, he could’ve. So why doesn’t he?

You may be thinking, this is because he wants to test Adam, but why test man if He is all-knowing? Doesn’t He know what man will do? If He knows, then why test man? Is this all an elaborate ruse, a trick?

Exhibit 3: The serpent

Similarly, why create the talking serpent who “seduces” Eve to eat? Surely God know this creature was up to no good, right?

Exhibit 4: Gen 3:9-12

So God comes tromping through the garden after the two naughty monkeys have eaten and says… “Where art thou?… Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?… What is this that thou hast done?” So what is happening here? God sounds outraged, incredulous, but how could he not know what happened? Why ask these questions?

Exhibit 5: Original Sin

If The Fall, as many Christian’s claim, is the story of original sin. Then we have a problem. Either God made a mistake and is not perfect, or he wanted this to happen, he designed it to happen this way. In either case, we have to ask… is he really who we think he is?

Ancient of Days by William Blake

It appears reasonable to argue that God is too complex to understand by reason and logic. However, surely He knows that about us and expects (some of) us to try. And if our intelligence were so limited, wouldn’t you expect God to provide us with unequivical evidence or would you expect him to taunt us? Therefore his behavior in Genesis (supposing that it really is God) should be intelligible in some way. Right? And if not, what are we to make of someone who is not intelligible?

In Genesis it say that man was created in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). But when I read these OT stories like The Fall, I can’t help but feel that God was made in man’s image. Of course, what these contradictions show is that this story cannot be read as historical fact. As an allegory, they are much less problematic.

If you have another explanation, lets here it. And stay tuned for Part 2: What is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

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5 thoughts on “The Apocrypha of Genesis: Part 1: Is God who we think he is?

  1. You are obviously an intelligent person, and I appreciate this thorough analysis of the creation story. I also find the Genesis creation story and original sin to be problematic for a compassionate God. Not to mention, I don’t think it makes any sense. This is multiplied when you consider how many different interpretations there are.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have time right now to give this post a comprehensive reading, but I will soon! Thanks again for your comments over at my blog.

  2. Bunch of good stuff here. I’d particularly like to congratulate on your catch of Gen 2:18; I never caught that one before. I agree that the creation story is puzzling and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without interpreting it in a way which basically transforms it into a new tale. I also agree that original sin is an interpretation that is both unpleasant and unquestioned.

    I’ve had discussions about the Tree with Christians and their responses are mostly unacceptable. When I ask what it was doing there, they have a two-fold response: (1) God can do what he wants/asking why doesn’t serve as an argument and (2) perhaps God had unstated plans for it. (1) is unacceptable: just because God can do whatever he wants doesn’t mean he’s justified in doing so. (2) is the standard skeptical theist response and it fails for all the reasons skeptical theist responses fail, but it’s especially irredeemable in a specific context like this.

    I feel God should be held accountable for placing the Tree there in the first place. I use a metaphor to explain my position more clearly: a father leaves his gun in reach of his children and then blames one of them for shooting the other. A wise, sensible father would have realized why that was a bad idea. I think the same principle applies to the Tree in Eden.

  3. Pingback: The Apocrypha of Genesis: Part 2: What is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? « Good Old Neon

  4. Pingback: The Apocrypha of Genesis: Part 1 REDUX: Is God who we think he is? Or is he a perv? « Good Old Neon

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