Broken Chains – Part 4: Cain and Abel (2nd Rebuttal)

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Here is another follow-up conversation with the person I replied to yesterday…

“My personal experience…”

Key word here…. Your personal experience.  You don’t get to use your emotions… Your personal experience as evidence simply because there are millions of other people with different feelings and different experiences.  Should we take the emotions and personal experiences of someone in a mental ward as evidence that there are truly aliens out in space trying to beam signals into our heads? After all… They probably feel just as sure of themselves and their “personal experiences” as you do.  What makes them crazy and you rational?

“I have read many book and most well written ones don’t waste your time with things that you could deduce.”

Except you’re claiming the Bible is an instruction manual, not a novel.  You don’t get to make up your own verses when you’re expecting people to follow this book like a manual for life.  You know what would happen if you were operating heavy machinery or baking a cake if you just added your own instructions that weren’t included in the originals? You might get lucky, but most likely you’d fail miserably.

“You will have to show me where in the bible where it said, incest, rape, and slavery was okay.”

Gladly!

  1. Incest: Adam and Eve either had to sleep with their children, or their children had to sleep with each other (or both).  Given the story that the Bible tells, there are no other options.  Abraham was also married to his sister Sarah, whom he had children with.  Noah’s children and grandchildren would inevitably have had to have slept with each other in order to re-populate the earth after its destruction.  Christian apologists typically come up with a wide variety of reasons to explain this away but again… It usually amounts to them adding things to the scripture that simply aren’t there.  (For instance; God MUST have created other people, and that’s where Cain found a wife! Except the Bible never says that… Not once…)  
  2. Rape:  This is the easiest one.  The Bible (especially the old testament) is filled with horrific examples of god not only permitting rape, but commanding it.  
    1. Judges 21:10-24 – The men of Israel destroyed Jabesh-Gilead, killed all of the men, and took the women as their wives after killing all of their families.  All with God’s blessing.
    2. Numbers 31:7-18 – The men of Israel destroyed the Midianites, killed all of the men and non-virgins, then took all of the virgins for themselves.  All at the command of God and Moses.  
    3. Deuteronomy 20:10-14 – This command of God tells the Israelites how they are to treat their enemies.  It includes a provision that allows the Israelites to take the women and children of their enemies and “enjoy” them as “plunder.”  
    4. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 – God orders rape victims to marry their rapists.  Surely god knew that a woman who has been raped is a victim and that forcing her to marry the man who violated her would be an awful thing to do, right?
    5. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 – God demands a rape-victim be put to death if she doesn’t “cry out.”  This is okay to you?
    6. 2 Samuel 12:11-14 – Here it says god delivers rape victims up to their rapists to be raped in order to punish David.  How is allowing innocent women to be raped punishing David? What about the women? Do they not matter to god?
    7. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 – God once again tells Israelite soldiers that it’s okay for them to take the women of conquered villages to rape.  
    8. Judges 5:30 – God says the Israelite men can take “a damsel or two” to rape.
    9. Exodus 21:7-11 (This pairs with slavery) – God states it’s okay for a man to sell his daughter into sex slavery.  He even adds a stipulation that the man she’s sold to doesn’t have to free her after 6 years.  
    10. Zechariah 14:1-2 – God states he will help the enemies of Israel destroy Jerusalem and rape “their” women.  
  3. Slavery:
    1. “Slavery in the bible is nothing more than servitude slavery and after 7 years you are free even if your debt was not paid in full.”  
      1. You’re only partially right here.  These conditions only apply to Hebrew slaves.  All other slaves are slaves in exactly the way it’s normally implied.  
    2. Leviticus 25:44-46However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. (No 7 year stipulation is stated or even implied here.)  
    3. Exodus 21:2-6 – Here it’s stated a Hebrew slave is to be freed after 7 years, but they must leave without their family unless they willingly choose to stay in slavery.  So in other words, a male can be forced into permanent slavery as long as you keep their family hostage!
    4. Exodus 21:20-21 – Beating slaves is okay.  They’re just property after all! Just don’t hit them hard enough to kill them!
    5. Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Luke 12:47-48  – Even the New Testament approves of slavery! The verses in Luke involve Jesus himself stating it’s okay to beat slaves.  The entire book of Philemon is the story of Paul catching an escaped slave and returning him to his master.  

“Morality is God’s creation and does not change. Men change with time but God does not.”

So then it is your opinion that rape, slavery, and incest are all perfectly moral? All of those things have been commanded or sanctioned by god multiple times in the Bible (as I’ve given ample evidence for.)  

“The bible report incidents as they happens and that does not mean that God sanction the evil that men do.”

Except I’ve given you multiple examples to show that, according to the Bible, god has approved or even commanded immoral things multiple times.  Most of the time it’s women that suffer though, so who cares! According to the Bible women are nothing more than cattle anyway! Right? (I hope you see that was sarcasm…) 

“God has not changed his stance on morality.”

So then, again… You’re perfectly fine with rape, slavery, murder, and incest? Tell me… Since god “doesn’t change” do you abstain from eating shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics? Those things were called “abominations” in the Old Testament.  If god doesn’t change, they still should be, right? Also, women should stay quiet in church, right? (After all… They’re just property according to the Bible!)

“God created a perfect world in the first chapter of Genesis.”

Except… Even according to you (and the Bible,) he didn’t create a “perfect” world.  Even before Adam and Eve, his creation rebelled and had to be thrown into a hell which he created to punish his little “mistakes.” (i.e. Satan and the other angels.)  Adam and Eve also sinned, so… Yeah… Definitely not “perfect.”  Surely a perfect all-knowing, all-powerful god, capable of literally anything, could have come up with a way to create things that wouldn’t sin even with their free will.  Right?  Unless you’re saying god can’t do anything? You can’t have it both ways.  Either he can and didn’t, he simply isn’t all-powerful and all-knowing after all, or he just doesn’t exist.  

“God knew this was going to happen so He hatched a plan to redeemed human race. He sent his Son to die for us. To take our place because whoever breaks God’s law must die…”

Surely an all-wise, all-powerful god as capable of coming up with a plan that didn’t include pain and suffering? Right?  I’m not all-wise nor all-powerful and I can think of at least five…

“If there is a better way God would have chosen it…”

There are countless better ways.  If god is real, then he chose the worst way possible simply because he enjoys watching humans suffer.  That would make him a sadist (or someone who enjoys inflicting pain).

“Am saying that we are in a battle zone, look around you evil abounds everywhere.”

And who’s fault is that?  Oh… That’s right…

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”  Isaiah 45:7

“Innocence is being butchered everywhere you turn to.”

And yet if god is real, he sits back and does literally nothing to stop it.

“The end is very near.”

You do realize that practically all Christians since the beginning of Christianity have been making false claims about “the end.”  Right?  Not a single one has come to pass.  Not even the one Jesus made.  Not one…

For reference, here is the false prophecy Jesus made:

“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.“ (Matthew 16: 27, 28)

All of the Disciples “tasted death” and Jesus still hasn’t returned… What’s the deal?

“When I read my bible and come across those verses or events that you mentioned above, I see a loving God trying to work with a fallen human race.”

How in the world can anyone in their right mind claim that the verses I listed showing rape, incest, slavery, and murder are the words of a “loving god???”  I really don’t get it…

“Look around you bad things happen every day to God people and God feels every bit of it.”

“Throughout the history of humankind, the thrust of evil have been stemmed by good men.”

And yet, god could have easily stepped in and stopped the evil if he actually wanted to. By his inaction, he participates in and perpetuates evil and the harming of innocents.

“He has to let sin play its hand.”

Why?  Is god not all powerful and all knowing?  As I’ve asked before… If god exists and is, in fact, all-powerful, why can’t he come up with a way to save mankind without all of the suffering and death?  If I, a mere human, can come up with the question and possible solutions, then surely an all-powerful god could do the same or better, right?

When god destroyed the world in the flood (if we want to pretend for a second that that actually happened…) Then there were thousands, if not millions, of innocent children that he senselessly murdered.  Besides that, if god stepped in and destroyed evil as the Bible claims, does that mean “freedom of choice” and “free will” really don’t matter after all? If, back then, he could so easily violate freedom of choice and free will to destroy the world, then why can’t he destroy all of the evil in the world now without harming the innocent?  If he can’t, then does that mean he isn’t all-powerful after all?

“No one had to die if they don’t want to die.”

You use the common excuse of the violent criminal to excuse the horrific actions of a violent deity.  For instance; rapists typically use victim blaming to excuse their crimes all the time.  For instance; “If she didn’t want to be raped she shouldn’t have dressed so provocatively!” As do thieves;  “If they didn’t want their store to get broken into, they should have paid for better security!” Victim blaming doesn’t work for humans, and it certainly doesn’t work for a supposedly perfect deity who should be held to a higher standard.  

“If the requirement was not bluntly stated, is it was implied…”

No!!! You don’t get to “imply” anything when it comes to what “God” supposedly said. Why is that so hard for you to understand?  If you can just “imply” (a.k.a. “make up”) whatever you want, then literally anyone can make up anything they want!  I could, right now, say “god says you have to give me $10,000 or else burn in hell!” and pretend it says that “in between the lines” of some verse.  

If god exists, if he is all-wise and all-knowing, and if he wanted something said, then he should have said it.  An all-wise / all-knowing god wouldn’t have left it up to his followers to come up with on their own thousands of years later.  Also, if he is all-powerful and never-changing then he could easily set the record straight right this instant by calling down from the heavens with an audible “Eh… No guys… That’s not right…” or “Hey! Great job guys! You’re really doing what I want you to!” This run-around doesn’t make sense! 

“When God said, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” If Cain had no idea what God was requiring of him, he would have objected immediately. Obviously he knew the requirement and disobeyed it.”

See? You’re reading between the lines.  You’re not taking the text at face value.  You’re adding in details and making things up to make a horrible story more palatable to you.  You can’t fathom a god that would be so cruel as to just expect a primitive creature to read his mind, so you make up additions to make god seem nicer to you.  You’re making up your own religion.  If you’re going to do that, why bother with the Bible at all?  Just sit down, write your own rules, and be done with it.  But don’t, for a second, pretend “god said” because he didn’t.  You said.

“Cain rejected God and God rejected his offering. Simple period!”

No… That’s a story you’ve made up, not the story that is given.  If Cain was “rebelling” as you claim, why would he bother bringing a sacrifice at all?  Why wouldn’t he just flip god the middle finger (so to speak) and be done with it?

“God knows that He has the heart of innocent people that are being killed left and right.”

And yet, again… He does literally nothing to help.  It’s not much of a loving god that throws down a book thousands of years ago then checks out for the rest of time. Is it?

“God is doing everything in his power to give them another chance…”

Is he though? I can think of countless other ways that a being with infinite power could step in and help change people or save the innocent.  If he truly exists, then why can’t he?

“I have seen rapist turn their life around, murderer, you name it and they have renounce their evil ways and come to God. That is the grace and mercy of God.”

So much for their victims though.  Where was god’s “grace and mercy” when the innocent victims were being raped and murdered?  Why didn’t he step in to save them?

“Satan wants us to accuse God and say if God is just why does He allow pain and suffering.”

It’s a good question.  If god created everything, then he also created pain, suffering, and evil.  If he is all powerful and all wise, then he could stop it, yet he doesn’t. Why? Why did he even create it in the first place?  And don’t give me that “it’s just the absence of god” nonsense, because that doesn’t stack up.  If god is ever-present, like most Christians claim, then there is no place where god is “absent.”  If there is, then he’s not ever-present.

“I am drawn to the suffering soul; I want to help them heal and that is God working in me.”

No, that is you naively giving the credit for your kindness to a being that isn’t there; or if he is there, doesn’t care and so leaves the job of helping the needy to others.  That’s like a kid doing all of her and her friend’s homework, then giving the friend that did nothing all the credit when they turn it in.

“Even in a cancer patient the glory of God show through, mercy and grace and benevolence comes through.”

You’ve got to be joking, right?  “Mercy, grace, and benevolence” would be to simply… You know… Cure the cancer? Or how about not creating cancer at all?

“Empathy comes across and if that’s not God’s character I don’t know what that is.”

Again… That is you giving credit for your kindness and the kindness of others to a being who (if he exists) doesn’t care enough to bother with any real action.  If he’s there, is he too powerless to do anything real or substantial? Surely god sticking his hand down from the clouds to cure cancer would convince someone to be a better person and to be kinder to people.  Surely god shouting down from heaven “Hey! Stop being a jerk!” would turn an evil person’s life around before he could hurt anyone?

“Thank you for hearing God out.”

God hasn’t spoken here.  You have spoken, and I have to say, it’s pretty gosh-darned arrogant of you to assume you literally speak for god when all you’ve done is taken an old story written by men thousands of years ago, and added your own modern flare to it.  The only thing that makes you different than the Pope or Joe ISIS over in the Middle East is the specific religion you’ve chosen.  You all claim you speak for god, you all use your religion to control others (though some of you are more violent about it), and you’re all the same when it comes to how certain you are that you’re the only ones who have it right.

Tell me… Which of the millions of religious people who are certain god speaks to them, from the thousands of different religions in the world  should we believe?  How do we know who is crazy and who god is actually speaking to, when you’re all saying god speaks to you? Can you answer that without giving a version of “Because of my personal experience” ? Because literally every religious person, throughout all time, has had personal experiences that tell them they’re right.  That’s why personal experiences don’t work very well as evidence.  Everyone’s got them.  

James Garcia – 9/13/2016  

Broken Chains- Part 3: Cain and Abel (A Rebuttal)

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I received several replies to my Cain and Abel piece from someone and because they were long and my own replies got pretty lengthy, I felt a real post was required.  Here is my rebuttal to their rebuttal (her comments in red, scripture in blue, my responses in black.)

“God is too wise to be mistaken.”

Who says? God? Did god actually tell you that or are you assuming it because others have told you that’s the case? Tell me… If I were to tell you that I am “too wise to be mistaken”, would you automatically believe it? Or would you expect me to prove myself with actions rather than simple words?  If the Bible is to be believed, then there are a variety of instances when god has been wrong.  For instance… Throughout the Bible both incest, rape, and slavery are all said to be okay, but then god changed his mind about all of that?  How can rape, incest, and slavery be okay according to god in the past, but not now? Could it be because morality isn’t god’s creation and instead is based on what society judges to be moral?  Surely if an all powerful, all knowing god created morality it would be forever unchanging.  Right? 

Even within the most conservative of churches the concept of morality has changed and evolved over time, so you can’t simply claim that morality has always been the same, because it hasn’t.  Not one single church still practices morality these days as it was practiced in Jesus’s time.  Not one.  If they did, those that lead the church would most likely be thrown in jail or into a mental institution.

Besides that… How in the world could it be considered “wise” to sacrifice yourself in some sort of strange blood pact to “save” people when you could just as easily say “I forgive you.”  You can’t say “because sin requires death” because according to Christians, god makes all the rules! If god makes all the rules, then he could just as easily have said “All that sin requires to be forgiven is for me to say I forgive you” and that would have been that.  

Then, of course, there is the entire issue of god’s creation (man) being flawed anyway.  If god is “too wise to be mistaken” then how in the world could he have created a broken world? Why would the destruction of the entire planet have been necessary? Why would the need for “salvation” have even been in the picture?

“God is too good to be unwise.”

Again… Who says?  If I walked around wiping out entire civilizations, allowing my friends to rape all the women and young girls, setting wild bears on children, and having my followers sacrifice their children, would you still consider me good simply because I say so? Because if the Bible is to be believed, then god does literally all of those things I listed.  Why are human beings held to higher standards than god when it comes to what is considered good?  Why is god allowed to murder men, women, and children on a stomach-churning scale and still be considered good in your eyes, but if a normal person did that you’d demand they be executed? How can god permit rape and slavery and still be considered good in your eyes, yet if a normal person did that you’d demand they be thrown in jail?  If you truly believe the Bible, then how are all of the atrocities commanded or enacted by god okay with you?  How can you stomach it? How can you sit there and with a straight face say “god is good, god is love” when, if the story is to be believed, so many horrific things have been done by him and for him by his followers (with his blessing)?

“When we don’t understand Love, we don’t understand Him.”

Except the fact of the matter is, there are so many people on this earth that understand love far better than the god of the Bible supposedly understands it.  God is supposed to be the parent-of-all-parents, but what kind of loving parent would let his or her child die of cancer or AIDS? What kind of parent would willingly stand by and let his or her child be held in a basement to be raped by some sicko for years? What kind of parent would let his or her children die of starvation?  I’m not god, and I wouldn’t even let a stranger’s child suffer through that if I could do something to prevent it.  I wouldn’t even let my worst enemy suffer that, yet, if he’s real, then god does this every… single… day… and people like you still insist on claiming that he is the ultimate representation of love.  If that’s what real love is, then I don’t want it! I’ll take my “bastardized” version of love where I… Strange concept here… Actually care about other people and do my best to help them when they’re in need.  You can talk about “free-will” and try and use that as an excuse, but where is the free-will of the baby of a drug addict who also became addicted while in the womb? Where is the free-will of a rape victim? Of someone with cancer? Of someone who had their entire family killed in a freak car accident?

“You are right about God chiding [Abel] but you fail to see that God must be specific in order for him to reject Cain’s offering. God said to Cain, “If you do right [your] offering would be accepted” indicating that there is a right way. If you could offer anything, then God refuses it, then would be unjust.”

Except where does the Bible specify that god laid out any requirements or even asked for an offering?  Hint: It doesn’t.  Here are the verses in question in case you doubt me:

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.  In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.” (Genesis 4:3-5)

In your own words… God must be specific!  Otherwise he is unjust; and nowhere is it stated, or even implied, that god laid out some “How do give a proper sacrifice” plan for Cain and Abel to follow.  All it says is that Abel kept flocks and Cain worked the soil.  As the story goes, they then, out of their desire to please god, brought him an offering out of the work that they both did.  God rejected Cain’s offering and praised Abel’s in front of Cain.  What kind of loving parent would do this? I don’t have children of my own, but I know that if my artist daughter brought me a picture she painted while my son baked me a cupcake, I’m not going to heap praise on my daughter’s artwork while slapping my son’s cupcake out of his hand while telling him what an awful job he did.  They both had their own individual skills, and they both brought a gift in love.  Why treat one with disfavor?  What good could that possibly serve?  You can try and claim that surely god told them the rules, but that isn’t what is stated in the story.  The story, as presented, shows us a cruel god playing two brothers against each other for no reason.  

“God is just in all his dealing with us, he doesn’t [suppress] anybody. You are a witness to that. He has done no evil to you.”

If it is within your power to help someone in need and refuse, then you’re guilty by inaction.  If you see someone brutally murdering a child and you could have stopped them, then that child’s blood is on your hands as well.  If god exists, he may not have done any evil to me with his own hands, but he allowed quite a bit of evil to be done to me and to others; evil that, if he truly existed, he easily could have stopped.  You can’t claim it’s all because of “free will” either, because that simply doesn’t pan out.   Drug addiction, alcoholism, STDs…  You can attribute all of those things to “free will” if you want, but you can’t say that cancer, or a baby with AIDS, or a classroom full of children being shot dead, are because of their own free will.  Where does their free will come into the picture? Is the life or innocence of a child truly worth so much less than the free will of a murderer or a rapist? How does allowing a single, loving mother of four to die of cancer affect anyone’s free will?  

“You are right about God refusing his offering but you failed to acknowledge that there must have been a right way or right offering for God to reject Cain’s offering.”

I don’t acknowledge this because it simply isn’t there.  You are implying conditions onto the situation that simply aren’t stated, and if god exists and is truly wise, then he would have stated those conditions simply to make sure someone like me didn’t question it.  After all, he is supposed to be all-knowing, right?  If that’s true, he would know someone like me would have this question at some point and would have included an explanation in his “Holy Word” wouldn’t he?

“My point in the first post is that love requires freedom of choice.”

Again… Where is the freedom of choice in cancer? Where is the freedom of choice for the child who is molested by an adult? Where is the freedom of choice for a mother who sees her child blown to bits by a bomb in a war-torn country? If god is truly all-powerful then he could easily pluck a child out of danger without violating anyone’s freedom of choice.  The “freedom of choice” excuse is a cop-out, nothing more.  The ultimate horror is to have an innocent child who happened to be raised in the “wrong” religion, getting raped and murdered, only to wake up in Hell immediately.  Because “god is love”? Right? Nothing says “love” like an innocent victim being condemned to an eternity of the worst torture imaginable! 

“Once you understand this simple principle, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can [read] the Bible and understand it. Keep searching the scripture.”


I understand the Bible perfectly fine.  The problem here isn’t my understanding.  The problem here is with you and those like you.  You see a verse that tells a horror story and to make it a little less terrifying you add details to make the bitter pill that is the Bible go down easier.  You see a story of an all-powerful / all-knowing being playing a game with the lives of two brothers for no reason? You add some “off-screen” scene to make it seem less terrible.  You see that same all-powerful / all-knowing being playing a sick, psychological game with his most loyal servant by demanding he sacrifice his own son, then stopping him last-minute, and to make it more palatable you make up some amazing “lesson” we’re all supposed to have learned that simply wasn’t given in the text. 

“The bible requires you to dig for the truth…”

That is exactly why I gave up Christianity.   I dug and dug for much of my teenage and adult life and the truth that I found in the Bible is just too horrific for me to believe it serves a good or loving purpose.  No loving being would use the Bible as it’s instruction guide.  

“A lamb sacrifice was what God asked for.”

God asked for no such thing.  God was supposedly given a gift by his two creations that wanted to show him they loved him and instead of accepting them graciously, he praised one and shunned the other, for no good reason.

“It represented a Savior that was promised…”

That is simply a detail you’ve added to make the story less terrible to your conscience.  Without that little detail added hundreds of years after the fact, the god presented in Genesis looks kind of like a sadist.  

“…by faith Abel offered an excellent sacrifice.”

No… Abel just got lucky that he was the one Adam picked him to work the flocks while Cain  was picked to tend the crops.  It was luck-of-the-draw, nothing more.  

“Hey, I will love it if we could study together. Do you know that hell does not burn for ever?”

If you want to present your rebuttals, I’ll be happy to reply.  But the Bible and Christianity have caused too much pain for me for one lifetime. At this point, my only purpose in studying the Bible is to help show others what a terrible book it actually is.  If that offends you, then I apologize, but you might want to find another friend to study with.  In spite of the differences in our beliefs, I really do wish you the best.  Good luck with your own search for truth. 

Regards,

 

James

Broken Chains: Part 2 – Cain and Abel

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So, with my last entry I discussed the story of the Creation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent “sin”, their punishment (which included having all of humanity cursed for their mistake), and their expulsion from Eden.  As the book of Genesis continues into chapter 4, we see the birth of Adam and Eve’s first cursed offspring, Cain and Abel.  For those that know the story, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is “oh, that’s the one about that guy who killed his brother,” and while that’s true, let’s look it over anyway.  

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” (Genesis 4: 2-4)

Interesting… I guess it makes sense.  Someone needed to work the farms, because as we saw with the whole “forbidden fruit” scene, God cursed Adam and his male descendants with having to work the ground for their food. It looks like Cain is following in his father’s footsteps.  How unlucky for Cain…

downcast

“The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering,  but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (Genesis 4:5)

Odd… When the brother’s story begins we see that each has their own responsibility, Abel tends the animals, Cain tends the fields, but for some reason God isn’t happy with Cain’s offering.  Basically we have Cain working his butt off, bringing some of his work to offer to God, only to have God shake his head in disgust because it wasn’t a big juicy steak like Abel’s?  I’m guessing God is not a vegetarian…

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” (Genesis 4:6)

Oh gee, I wonder! Could it be because the God of the Universe just turned his nose up on something he’s worked hard to bring him, while at the same time patting his brother on the head and telling him how good he is?  Are jealousy and resentment bad things? Sure they are, but again, we have to remember that God is supposed to know everything that has, can, and will happen.  He knew the offerings that these primitive brothers were going to bring, he knew how Cain would react, yet he played the brothers against each other anyway, and he couldn’t just leave it at that.  He had to keep poking and prodding Cain, which I would only imagine would upset someone even more.

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

I’m still having trouble understanding up until this point, what it was that Cain did wrong in this story.  In a world without many career options, is it such a bad thing to grow vegetables to help feed your family?  Man can’t live on meat alone, right?  I think if I were Cain I’d be pretty upset that the Creator of all things was telling me my life choice to work the fields sucked too (even though that very same Creator cursed the men of the world to do just that!)

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To make a long story short, Cain, worked into a blind rage by his loving Creator, lures his brother to a field and kills him.  Shocking.

“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:9-10)

Once again, as with Adam and Eve in the garden, we see God acting all clueless.  I’m not sure why this is necessary.  Cain knows God knows and sees all, and God knows Cain knows he sees everything, yet here he is once again asking silly questions for which he already knows the answers.  If Adam and Eve’s story is any example, then a heavy handed curse is sure to come next…  

“Now you are under a curse (Surprise!) and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

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My goodness, God sure loves cursing his creation… For Cain he’s basically taken away all he’s ever known and has driven him from his family.  I wonder why God just didn’t kill him?  God also says a curious thing here: “The ground… opened it’s mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”  But I wonder who truly has Abel’s blood on their hands here?  Let’s look at the facts:  We have God, who knows everything, past, present, and future and then we have Cain, a primitive man who knows basically one thing, which is how to work the fields, and who also doesn’t have any human interaction outside of his family.  In my opinion, if anyone is responsible for Abel’s death in this story, it’s God.  He would have to know every single thing that would happen, which means he could easily have patted Cain on the head along with Abel and said “Good boy! What nice vegetables you’ve brought me!” Instead, he chose to play the brothers against each other and then he toyed with Cain’s emotions, driving him into a rage.  God may as well have smashed Abel’s head in himself.  I guess that wouldn’t have been quite as fun or dramatic as driving Cain insane and making him do it, right?  After all, there was no reality television back then! How else was God going to amuse himself?   

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” (Huh? Where did these other people come from that Cain’s talking about?)

But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.  So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” (Genesis 4:13-16)

What a happy, storybook ending! Not only would God not give Cain the dignity of a swift execution, he made sure no one else could do so either; how loving! Of course I guess it wouldn’t be a Bible story without shame, pain, anger, some blood, God’s wrath, and a few curses! If there’s anything to learn from the Cain and Abel story, it’s that vegetables are from the Devil.  So make sure you remember that all you vegans and vegetarians out there! 😉

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Well, that brings this week’s entry to a close.  I hope you’ll read my next one when I discuss the story of Noah; The First Genocide!

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James Garcia: 8/26/2015

Broken Chains: Part 1 – Adam and Eve

Issue 1 – A Poisoned Cupcake:

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“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed… The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2: 7-17)

My first problem with the Adam and Eve story begins with the creation of Adam and the Garden of Eden.  Here we see God creating Adam from dust, then building a beautiful garden for him to live in.  But for some strange reason he decides to plant a tree right in the middle of that garden that will supposedly kill him… My question is why?  The God we’ve seen up to this point is presented as this all-powerful being who knows exactly what this newly created, innocent being will do, yet he plants this deadly tree there anyway?  What purpose could this possibly serve?  Many who actually believe this story to be true fall back on the “well it was necessary so that man could have free will and could choose to obey God willingly.”  But was it really necessary (outside of a story narrative that is…)?  Do parents that are not cruel and vindictive sociopaths test the obedience of their children by putting deadly temptations within their reach? For any parent out there, let me know which choice  you feel your child (who has no concept of life or death) would make if you put a poisoned cupcake on the ground, said “Don’t eat this, it’s poisonous!”, then left the room.  I don’t have any children, but I am pretty certain of the choice my nieces and nephews would make.  
According to the story, at this point Adam has no knowledge of the world (which was apparently just created), no concept of temptation, of sin, or of disobedience.  Yet somehow he is supposed to be able to resist temptation? Because that makes sense. Right? 

Issue 2 – Major Surgery:

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“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2: 18-22)

Even though, just a few short verses ago, we were told that God made Adam from dust in just a few seconds, for some reason he had to mutilate his newly created being to make another.  Why? (Let’s just ignore the fact that God apparently just spoke the Universe and all other living things into existence, but for some reason can’t speak Adam and Eve into existence the same way…)

Issue 3 – The Crafty Serpent:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  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 when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:1-6)

Apparently Adam was just too darn successful at avoiding the temptation of the tree-trap that God put in Eden.  In this section, God throws in a few more kinks and we see the “big mistake” that Adam and Eve made that apparently cursed mankind for all eternity, all orchestrated by that “Crafty Serpent.”  But the very first line of the story says that “the Lord God had made” the serpent, so who was really behind this horrible error?  As with Adam, God supposedly made the Serpent exactly the way that he was.  If this God was truly all knowing, then why in the world did He create the Serpent, then allow him to roam the garden and corrupt his innocent creation?

If Christians are to believe that God has everything planned, right down to the hair on their heads, then, if this story is to be believed, how can we ignore the fact that this entire scenario would have been part of that plan? If one is willing to admit that the “fall” of man was part of God’s plan, then how can they then believe that those considered “sinful” deserve to be cast into Hell to be tortured for all eternity?  Many say that this is just the first part of the whole “Redemption” narrative of Christ’s salvation, but if that’s true, then that still means that God created billions of human beings who didn’t know Christ (and in fact would never have a chance to know him) specifically for the purpose of doing bad things and to be thrown into a pit of fire to be tortured for all eternity.  But I’m jumping into the concept of a future entry, so I’ll move along…

Issue 4 – Our Evil Bodies:

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“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths, and they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:7-8)

So we see in this section the foundation of the Christian ideal that our bodies and our sexuality are not just immodest, but evil.  Some might argue that is not the point of the passage, but that is exactly the point of the passage.  Adam and Eve had just eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, their “eyes were opened”, and they realized their naked bodies were evil, so covered themselves.  This probably wouldn’t affect an adult much, because we already have certain societal guidelines regarding modesty, but what sort of damage does this sort of nonsense do to a child’s self-esteem if they are told repeatedly, in their formative years, that their bodies are evil and shameful?  It’s evil to be naked?  Really? Why?

Issue 5 – God Plays Dumb and The “Blame” Game:

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But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

This entire passage almost seems like a scene from a Three Stooges episode or some other silly sitcom.  We have God, who is supposed to know everything, asking questions like “Where are you” and “did you eat from the tree I told you not to eat from?” when we all know he already knows, and then we have Adam and Eve, covering their private parts, nervously shuffling their feet, pointing fingers at one another, then finally at the Serpent.  The funniest part is that Adam even attempts to blame God for all the trouble! “Well the woman YOU gave me made me do it!” It’s just ridiculous, and very hard to take seriously.  It would almost be funny if it weren’t followed up with a scene worse than something straight out of A Child Called It

Issue 5 – Can Someone Say “Overreaction?”:

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“The Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.  I will put enmity  between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’” (Genesis 3: 14-15)

Ignoring the fact that this is biologically inaccurate (something you think God would know…) God is apparently making the woman and her children hate the serpent, whether they really want to or not.  What happened to free will?  

“To the woman he said:  I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

If you think this scripture would fit perfectly in the “How to be a Misogynist” handbook, you’re not the only one.  Not only is the story saying that God is cursing women for the rest of humanity’s existence with nearly unbearable pain when giving birth to children, but he’s also making her a slave to her husband?  It kind of seems like Eve is getting the greater portion of God’s displeasure here, but she’s just a woman right?  This is just the tip of the ice-berg when it comes to horrific things happening to women in the Bible.  

“And to Adam he said:  ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’” (Genesis 3:17-19)

So, add to the “Things that are Evil” list “Listening to your wife” right below “being naked.”  I’m having a hard time seeing Adam’s punishment as comparable to the severity of Eve’s.  So basically he has to grow and harvest vegetables and sweat a little?  I’m sure Eve would have gladly taken that over the pain of childbirth.   

“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.  And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:20-21)

So, once more we have a little bit of body shaming.  Before it was just Adam and Eve thinking it, but here God had a chance to say “Hey guys, I created you in my image.  Your bodies aren’t shameful! They’re natural!” But instead he decides to slaughter a few animals and cover them up, reinforcing their body issues. 

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.  He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:22-24)

So apparently all it takes to be “like God” is an understanding of what is good and evil and a little bit of immortality.  But seriously… The Bible tells us over and over and over again how “loving” God is, what an awesome, caring Father he is.  It even goes so far as to say that human parents can’t even understand the measure of God’s love for “his children”, yet I can’t imagine any sane parent that truly loves their children, punishing them in the fashion that God is supposedly punishing beings that were basically the equivalent of extremely naive and trusting children, who had no concept of sin, evil, disobedience, or deception.  Not only that but he’s punishing all of their descendants, for as long as humans exist, with the same punishment, even though they hadn’t even had their chance to make their own choices!  This is considered just and loving?  This is a being that Christians think deserves to be worshiped? To me it sounds more like a character out of a scary movie.  

There are many Christians these days that say the Adam and Eve story is just a moral story or a parable, and I’ve even heard some say that it was never meant to be taken as truth.  But the Bible and history itself don’t back up that assertion.  The “Sin of Adam” is mentioned multiple times throughout the Bible, by Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles.  56% of Americans think that Adam and Eve were real people! This isn’t some small sect that everyone thinks is crazy, like the Westboro Baptist church.  This is a large portion of humanity that ignores common sense, biology, archeology, and all of the other evidence that shows this is just a strange, misogynistic, story.  These same people demand that this nonsense be taught in public schools in science classes! It’s insane! Whether the original author was off his rocker and truly believed God told him that this is what happened, or if he wrote it as some cautionary tale to get people to do what he wanted, it still amounts to the same thing:  When this story is looked at logically, with all of the historical and scientific discoveries that have been made, it just doesn’t make sense.  

James Garcia: 8/19/2015

Broken Chains: Introduction

When I first came out as both gay and agnostic, I made a comment in my post about there being certain things in the Bible that, looked at together, made it impossible for me to keep being a Christian.  The truth of the matter, is that it’s not little, isolated scriptures here and there that make me have small doubts.  It is very big things in the Bible that make it impossible for me to believe the narrative; from Adam and Eve, all the way to Revelation.  For the next few weeks I plan on writing a series of posts that discuss a few of the problems with some of the more well known Bible stories that many Christians profess to be, not just parables, but historical truth, in spite of the fact that there is no truly concrete evidence for them. I will also discuss some of the more commonly held Christian beliefs (i.e. Hell, blood atonement, etc…) I am not entirely sure how long the series will be and I may also have out-of-series posts here and there.  I am also certain that there are many who have done this very same thing before (and have probably done it better), but this is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a few weeks now, so here it is.  I am calling the series “Broken Chains” because (to steal a Christian analogy) I truly feel that once I turned away from religion, that the mental chains that I had binding me, for years of my life, were finally broken.

Disclaimer: For those that read my blog that are Christian, know that I am not attacking you, I am not attacking your beliefs, and I am not advocating for you to be persecuted somehow.  If you believe things that I don’t and can reconcile that with the world around you, fine.  What I am doing is discussing things that made it impossible for me to believe.  These are issues that have led me to where I am in my life. I hope that if you do choose to read these posts, that you will do so with an open mind, you will reflect on your own beliefs, that you will ask yourself if you have answers to the questions that I pose, and also whether those answers stand up to harsh scrutiny.  If you can’t handle having these stories and beliefs questioned, then I strongly advise you to pass on reading any of the posts in this series.  You have been warned.  

James Garcia: 8/19/2015