In the Beginning….

*Disclaimer: I promised a couple of you that I would get through one book of the Bible a week. Turns out, it is impossible to cover an entire book in one post. Genesis is pretty beefy. So, my plan is to post parts of Genesis throughout the week, maybe every other day or so. Better ideas on that? What follows is an honest retelling; I haven’t tried to twist words or to take things out of context. This is just an outsider’s honest takeaway.*

 

Ok, so we all know this one: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Only He didn’t do a very good job. It sucked. Earth was a dark, formless mass of water. But like any good entrepreneur, He didn’t give up. He then said, “Let there be light,” and light there was. Though what kind of light is up for debate, because God created light on the second day, but then He created the sun on the fourth day. So…? Conundrum. Anyway, on the second day he created the sky, the purpose of which was to separate water from water. Again… wtf? On the third day God created land masses, the seas, and all known forms of vegetation. As earlier pointed out, God created the sun on the fourth day, as well as the stars and the moon. On the fifth day, all of the ocean and sea life was added, plus He threw in birds for some reason. Logic is for mortals. It wasn’t until the sixth day that land creatures were created. Some of the land creatures He created were specifically pointed out as being “livestock,” which may not seem important now, but we’ll come back to it.

Man, as we know, was created in God’s own image. God tells man to “be fruitful and increase in number,” to subdue the earth and all things in it (pretty sure we surpassed all expectations on this one), and then He gave both man and the animals all of the VEGETATION on earth to eat. Did you catch that? VEGETATION. “Everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” No meat, kiddies. So what was the livestock for? Fur? Nope, man is still naked at this point. Milk? What part of VEGETATION aren’t you getting? We’ll come back to this again later. On the seventh day, God saw that all he had made was good, so he blessed the day and rested.

Apparently, God only really created Adam to take care of Eden. Someone needed to work the fields, and God is more of a delegator. He told Adam that he could eat from anything in the garden, except the fruit the grew on the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” If man ate it, God warned, man would surely die. Which we all know was a bunch of propaganda.

Next, God had man name all of the creatures. Aardvark, Adam? Really? Then God decided man needed a suitable helper, so He put Adam into a deep sleep, removed his rib without the proper sign offs, and created Eve with it. Man named his helper woman, because “she was taken out of me.” Gross.

So at this point in the story, Adam and Eve are both nakey and unashamed. Enter the snake. The snake is craftier than any of the other animals, and he basically told Eve that God had given Adam a bunch of bullshit when He said that the fruit on the tree of knowledge would kill them. “You will not surely die,” the snake said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened , and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So Eve took some of the fruit, gave some to Adam (who had been standing right there–no trickery here), and they both ate it. Then their eyes are opened, they realize they’re nakey, and decide to cover their nakeyness with fig leaves. Personally, I think poison ivy would have made a more interesting story. Though they did go against God’s words, in fairness to Adam and Eve, God had lied to them about the tree, and maybe they just wanted to open their eyes and be more like God.

Soon after, God decided to take a stroll in the garden. Knowing they were in deep shit, Adam and Eve hid. God called out to them. Adam, being a fucking moron, yelled back saying he was afraid to come out because he was naked. So then God was all, did you eat from the tree? And Adam was all, Eve told me to. So Eve was all, the snake started it; because owning your shit apparently hadn’t been created yet. (Also note that the Bible has not yet said anything about God being omniscient, and this episode would suggest that He is not.) So God made the snake lower than all animals, cursed to crawl the earth on his belly. The most terrifying thing about this, to me, is that prior to this episode snakes must have had legs. Nightmares. Every night. He also created enmity between women and the snake, which is why my grandmother hates them and chops their heads off with shovels.

God then punished Eve, telling her that childbearing was going to suck something fierce, and that man was to be her master. To Adam, God said that man would have to grow his own food now, that it would be hard as shit to do, and then Adam would die. Apparently, the “Life’s a bitch, and then you die” motto is completely true and masterminded by God. He then kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden, so that they could not eat from the tree of life and live forever. He put cherubim and a flying, flaming sword at the entrance to guard it. Seriously, “a flaming sword flashing back and forth.” So God pretty much kicked the kids out of the basement, took away eternal life, and cursed all future generations because of some apples. If you think God over reacted on this one, just wait.

So then Adam and Eve celebrated their newly opened eyes by doin’ it. Eve later gave birth to Cain and a little later, Abel. Cain cared for the fields, and Abel took care of the flocks. Side note: again with the flocks/livestock?! What the holy fucking shit is the point?! VEGETATION, guys. Cain brought fruits from the soil to God as offerings, but his wanker brother brought God fat portions from his flock. (So God can eat meat?) Apparently, God preferred the meat, because He favored Abel. Which made Cain super pissy, so he killed Abel. Obviously, God wasn’t really happy about that, so He made the soil baren and forced Cain to wonder the earth. The upside, was that God put a mark on Cain, so that other men would know not to kill him. WHOA, there… other men? OTHER MEN? THE FUCK? What other men??? Did we, or did we not, just  create the world and the only fucking people in it?!?! On that same note, Cain settled and “lay with his wife.” What wife? What in the holy hell is going on here?! This damn story has more plot holes The Dark Knight Rises. How in the hell did Bruce Wayne get back to Gotham, people?!

Anyway… Cain and his mystery wife had a bunch of kids. Adam and Eve also conceived again, a little bundle named Seth. Then Seth had lots of kids, and everyone lived until they were like 800 years old. (Once again, the mystery of where Seth’s wife came from is not addressed.) One dude down the line lived so long that God eventually just “took him away.”

Eventually, we come to Noah. Around this time, man had multiplied quite a bit, and the Bible seems to differentiate between the “sons of God” and “men.” How there is a group of people outside of those that God created is not explained and makes zero sense, but there it is. The daughters of man were beautiful, and the sons of God married them. Apparently, God didn’t like that, decided not to remain with man, and to limit their lives to 120 years–something he doesn’t live up to. Here, the Bible mentions the Nephilim, which I looked up. It seems to be somewhat of a consensus that the word refers to the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men. They were also, possibly, giants. Which sounds like fun. Or it could just refer to fallen men; it depends on who you ask. (I asked a trusted source: Wikipedia, our modern-day tree of knowledge.)

At this point God decided men pretty much sucked, had only evil in their hearts, and regretted his impulse creation. Naturally, he decided to kill everything that walked the earth. Except for Noah; Noah was cool. So God told Noah that he planned on killing everybody and to build a big ship. God even provided dimensions, which came out to about one and a half football fields in length and about 5 stories high. At first, God tells Noah to take two of each kind of animal onto the ark, which is probably the version you’ve heard as well. But then in the next paragraph,God totally screws up every image you’ve ever seen/imagined of Noah’s ark. He says to bring seven of every clean animal, two of every unclean animal, and seven of every kind of bird. Childhood ruined.

From here, you probably know the story. Noah, his wife, his three sons, their three wives, and a metric fuckton of animals got onto the ark. It rains a lot, the earth floods, everything dies, and I’m guessing a lot of sea sickness took place on board the ark. Imagine a rhino with stuff coming out of both ends… this boat ride was probably not for the faint of heart. Eventually there’s something about a raven which generally gets glossed over, then Noah sends a dove out, it comes back with an olive branch, so Noah figures all is well. Once they get off of the boat, Noah takes a bunch of the clean animals and birds (which he just went through a lot of trouble to save) and burnt them as an offering to God. For whatever reason, although God had just fucking asked Noah to save those animals, God loved the aroma and decided to make a covenant to never again “destroy all living creatures” even if man was super, Voldemort evil.

Afterward, God gives all of the animals to man for food, as well as the vegetation. (Up until this moment I was pretty sure I had found the ultimate argument for veganism. Super disappointed, guys. At least now there is reason for the livestock.) He then also changed His covenant to never again destroy all creatures with a flood, so… we might still be screwed? Then God created the rainbow and said that it would be a sign of man’s covenant with God that He would never again destroy all life on earth… with a flood. 

This time, the Bible does specifically say that all mankind, all over the earth, came from Noah’s three sons. So yes, you too are a product of an incestuous relationship. Additionally, Noah became a drunk after the flood. One time, he got so wasted, that he passed out naked in his tent. His son, Ham, saw his nakedness, so Noah cursed him and his offspring to be the “lowest of slaves,” because loving fathers are hard to find in this book so far. Noah lived to be 950 years old–I told you that 120 thing was bull, didn’t I?

So then, Noah’s sons spread out and had lots of sex. Lots. Even after many generations and lots  of sex, man only had one language, so they decided to build a tower that reached to the heavens to gather man together in one place. This made God afraid that if they all worked as one, they could accomplish anything, so He decided to “confuse” their language, so that they would not “understand each other.” And so the tower was abandoned and named the Tower of Babel, because it is where our language was “confused.” Question. Why in the hell would God want to do that? What is he afraid we will accomplish together? Not fighting each other? Not killing each other in wars? Just seriously, what the fuck, God?

 

Tune in next time to find out what happens to man after the Tower of Babel fell, and why I’ve re-renamed Abraham Captain Dick Monkey! Like what I’m trying to do, tell me about it! Don’t like it, suggest a better way I can go about it! I’m open to suggestions! I’m also open to the thoughts and ideas of others regarding the words of the Bible. This blog is meant mostly to start a conversation about what is actually in the Bible, not to be dismissive of a religion, piss people off, or to make anyone feel ousted. So let’s talk! Please comment, follow, and share!

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2 thoughts on “In the Beginning….

  1. I thought light was the first thing created, in the form of brilliant particles colliding with each other to create first light, then matter. For light needs no medium to move through. Then as more particles combined water and earth are created, in a waterfall style cascade of caouse turning unto perfection and back again. Now who’s to say who stared the fire, that I feel is still part of the fun of finding out.

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    • You are doing such an amazing thing, nichols448! This is awesome. Our culture rests on a Judeo-Christian bedrock which is made of a long history of events, and wide variety of liturgies and the enigmatic source of thousands of years of warm courteous debates which we’ve given the innocuous moniker “Good Book” to make it sound sweet. Let me rephrase that without the snark: the Bible is weird. It’s weird, weird, weird. And we used it as part of the footing for our entire Western civilization and now we’re stuck with it and all its history of grisly unintended consequences. Over the millennia it has been a task ranging from thankless to heretical to point this out. This is where you come in! We all need to do exactly what you’re doing, which is to examine our sacred texts with some objectivity and humor and an acknowledgement that there are some bizarre inconsistencies and at times horrible terrible plot contrivances in this book which we’re all supposed to revere uncritically. Now, before I say anything else, I should make a key personal distinction here between what I believe (and I think most reasonable but also spiritual people in some form believe) are the things God made and the things man made. I think any useful debate about All Things Biblical needs to do this in some form: God or something god-ish and unknowable made the universe. Man made religion. Perhaps we can allow that God helped man at a few key points, but for the purposes of a useful discussion it seems like we need to be able to say men wrote the Bible just like they would build a suspension bridge. Zealots should concede this because it allows us all to look at the stories in the Bible as constructions of the dark humid brains of ambitious and greedy and fearful – but also witty and noble and brave – humans. Religion isn’t nearly as strange and inexplicable when we think of it that way. Picture one of our clever forebears realizing that he’d have a much better day of hunting and gathering if he weren’t distracted the whole time worrying that his weirdo neighbor was stealing his stuff and raping his wife. Enter the primeval Santa, knowing if Weirdo Neighbor has been bad or good, rewarding the latter, but more importantly vengefully punishing the former with all the worst things Bible author number one could think of. Over time more authors, with widely divergent points of view, add bits and themes and kooky concepts, and more rules and hypothetical consequences and spurious but unverifiable proofs of God’s wrath. Tack on a creation myth at the front and voila: The Bible. Of course it doesn’t make sense!! When has a committee ever produced something seamless and coherent, especially one that started out as pre-literate and had no writing implements, and then went on to take hundreds of generations to complete their task? But that’s what makes it so great. It’s fun stuff, once you can imagine all these guys contributing all their different ideas into this great big hodgepodge of weirdness. I bet some of these guys were epic smartasses and actually meant for their contributions to be amusing or ironic or winkwink clever. I love how you’re shining your own unique light on this and revealing all the ridiculous inconsistencies. You seem to be having a lot of fun. Which we all should do. I love your personal additions to your essay, like the part about your grandma killing snakes with a shovel. I love you wit and style. I’m now trying to work the term “nakey” into daily conversation thanks to you. Your observation that Wikipedia is our modern Tree of Knowledge is brilliant. You’ve got Harry Potter and Batman in there. What’s not to love? This is super fun. And current. You are making something that’s weird and intimidating into something that’s engaging and alive. For those who prefer their man-made religion somber and terrifying, I’m sure there are thousands of blogs for them. I much prefer yours. Well done.

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