Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Genesis Chapter 2 (V.1 to 25)

Quote: "he rested from all the work"

WHEW!! What a TASK creating a world! Even for a divine being (I suppose). But all the stuff god did, he liked very much. It never says where god decides that the week should have 7 days, the author just assumes that everyone's on the same page there. This seventh day--of the week--is made holy. So it's a holy day. And it has been inferred that we people should also keep the day holy and rest, but this isn't explicitly stated. Now, I've seen calendars in Europe that start with Monday, thereby making the 7th day Sunday, but not here in America. So I'm not sure we should rest at all, and I'm also confused as to WHAT day we should rest.

Also, here's the first contradiction of sorts: in verse 4 the author begins to tell the creating story. Again. Were we not paying attention to the first? Did the first one go into too much detail? Is the author giving us a summary of the first chapter?

Here we go: So when god made the earth and heaven, and before there was any rain or plants, but there was land that was watered by some mechanism (the water cycle?) god made a man out of dirt. So whereas in chapter 1 god makes man on the 6th day, after making fish and birds and oceans and PLANTS, in this chapter, man predates plants. Hmm.

Quote: "In the middle of the garden was the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."

God plants a garden in a place called Eden and sticks the man he created there. There are things in the garden to eat and look at that are nice, as well as these two trees that are in the middle, that god decides to put there for whatever reason.

The author mentions that the spring that waters the garden splits into 4 headwaters, and gives their names, and even mentions that the first one runs through a land full of gold--

Quote: "(The gold of that land is good;"

I like this quote. Cause you can't trust bad gold. Bad gold is for suckers.

So god places man there in that garden. And tells him to take care of it. God wanted to have a gardener, or a landscape guy, so THAT'S why we are all here, people.

And god says to the still unnamed gardener, hey there's lots of stuff here for you to prune, etc. But if you eat off of the tree of knowledge, you'll fall down dead. Seems simple.

Here I must insert that surely there were many other plants in the garden that weren't so good to eat, that in so eating, the man would fall down dead. But god doesn't think he needs to mention this. Nightshade?. . . . uuuh. Go ahead! Boy it LOOKS tasty. . .

This will be lie number 1 that god tells man. Oh, I'm sure there are people that like to say, oh well, the first man was immortal, and the tree of knowledge dealt mortality to the man, and that's what god meant. God meant, eat this fruit, and you'll die EVENTUALLY.

But that's not what's written. And the same people who like to wax symbolic in this part of the bible love to take chapter 1 as an entire and literal truth. If there is no truth to things that are not found in the literal scripture (evolution?) then this whole, 'well, the first dude was immortal and THAT's what god meant' shit needs to stop.

Now for another contradiction. In this version, god creates animals because he thinks the man he made needs a helper. He fashions them exactly like the man, from the dust, and everything, and lets the man name them.

Quote: "But for Adam no suitable helper was found."

None of the animals' resumes were very good. By the way, there is no mention in this part, as in chapter 1, of procreating. Also, this is the first mention of the man's name. So maybe he named himself when he was naming the rest of the animals.

When Adam turned out to be a picky bastard, god made him fall into a deep sleep (possibly by the swift application of a large, blunt object) and took out one of the dude's ribs. Wha?

Yeah, this ALWAYS confused me. Even as a child.

So god is creating and creating, and all these animals and plants and things spring up, and poof! Or, he says something and his speech causes them to come into being. Or he uses hands (?) to fashion things out of dirt, and there you go!

But he's scratching his head on this 'helper' thing. He needs to take a piece of man in order to fashion a helper that Adam will tolerate as being okay.

Quote: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh"

So the first woman was created from the first man. Which is. . . almost. . . incestuous sounding. I'm wincing as I'm typing this, but I can't help how stupid it sounds to me! And then the author goes on to say that THIS is why men must leave the nest of their parents and find his own woman at some point. The logic doesn't add up to me. Let's recap.

God made man. Man needed a helper. God made animals. Man didn't like them. God took a piece of man and made an animal out of that. Man liked this--it was like he was and he's a narcissist. It CAME from him. He was the provider of the rib, therefore he gave rise to woman. And because god made woman, and woman comes from man, men must get married.

Oh, okay. I get it. Because god went to the trouble for this first guy, all subsequent guys better make damn sure they take advantage of the opportunity. That sounds reasonable. Besides the glaringly misogynistic side to it, that woman only exists on the planet to help man, there's the question of why birds leave the nest, why stallions leave the herd to start their own. . . WE have a reason for coupling and starting families, but in this version of the creation story, the animals are neither given a reason to multiply nor told to do so.

So the two chapters complement each other and contradict each other, like two different eye witness accounts of something. I always wanted to believe that there was a divine being that wrote some shit down to help us poor mortals, but if this is the book he wrote--or even inspired--it's off to a stupid start.

Then, as an afterthought, the author mentions that these first people were naked, but they didn't care. This is seen as an example of innocence, because people nowadays are ashamed of being unclothed. Of course, there were no other people around. So the jury's still out on whether they were unashamed because they were alone or because they were 'innocent.'

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Genesis Chapter 1 (V.1 to 31)

Let's dive right in.

Quote: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

So the first line has god creating two things. But in the next line, it is stated that the earth (that god just created) is formless. So god SORT of created. . . something. But it's formless. And empty. Oh, yeah, and dark. Reeeeally DARK. But not empty. Cause god was there. Check.

Then he makes light. And boy is it good. He likes it. But he has to separate it from the darkness. Because the darkness and the light are always passing notes.

Quote: "And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day."

I have a problem with this sentence (and the others that are patterned after it). Because days, for humans, start with the MORNING and not the EVENING. Or maybe god was on the 24 hour clock, and the 'evening' refers to hour zero, which would TECHNICALLY be morning. . . And maybe not, maybe our whole calendar is wrong. It would have to be if we celebrate the sabbath on sunday, which is supposed to be the 7th day--but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Then god creates water. But he has to separate the water above from below. Thereby making heaven. . . which. . . he already made in the first line. He wanted to make damn sure it was there, I suppose, because that's where people would always look when invoking his name.

Then god put all the water in one place. And said "STAY!" And when that happened, there was dry ground. And he names the water 'seas' and the dry ground 'land.'

No offense, but this first part of Genesis always seemed rather ridiculous to me. But it gives you real insight into the way ancient peoples thought. Writing and reading and literature was a sacred thing, and words. . . words were paramount. So not only is Genesis establishing that this particular god made everything, the authors are also seeking to establish that the words they use for things were first uttered by this divine being. That's powerful stuff.

Then god invented angiosperms. Sorry, my science background is rearing its ugly head. God said that the 'land' he'd just made up should have these living organisms on it that derive nutrients from the soil through varying degrees of something called capillary action, and that they should bear fruit with seeds (instead of having coitus with each other, which would be pretty creepy). And boy, was THAT thing he just did GOOD. He liked it.

And on the fourth day, god decided to put the sun in the sky because the vegetation he'd created was dying pitifully. Aaaaaah, photosynthesis. But, even though he sets up the sun and the moon, he doesn't name them. And I think that's another clue from our authors, and a very clever one at that. Because there were many who worshipped one or both of these two things AS gods, and the author wanted to portray them as just light sources, lamps, not divine beings. Kind of like "Oh yeah, well my god MADE UP your SUN!! Ppppttthhhhht!" Boy was that ever a good day for god. He really liked what he did there.

The fifth day god made ocean dwellers and sky dwellers. So, fish and birds. And I suppose that includes penguins and flying fish quite neatly. And he BLESSED these creatures. So plants can go to HELL cause critters, they're BLESSED. He told them to be fruitful (but not BEAR fruit, cause that's for the vegetation) so not only were they blessed, they got to have sex. Or maybe THAT was the blessing. . .

And on the sixth day god made things that live on the land and walk about, including livestock and wild animals. This phrase again and again: "each according to its kind." Oh, good. I'd hate for you to get your blueprints mixed up. But he did it right, so he sat back and said, aye-oop, good job, god! But then he wants to go and fuck it all up.

Because this is the day he makes man. And the blueprint for man is himself. But earlier he is described as a 'spirit' upon the deep. So I guess that's what man should be. And he said, Hey, you need to get up and rule these stupid animals I made, they're making a mess.

Quote: "Male and female he created them."

Just like the rest of the animals. No beautiful and meaningful preamble just : people. Then, in my favourite part of this chapter, god GIVES all this earth, the animals and the plants, to man, for man to take care of. This is not only poignant now, I believe it served another purpose then. I think that a lot of the 'pagan' religions of those days believed that people were at the mercy of nature. This book, in the first chapter, says that THIS god elected to have MAN have control over nature. I think it may have stemmed from what could have been a very primeval story about how man settled down and instead of going out to find what nature had decided to grow here and there and picking it, and instead of going out in hunting parties to see what kind of animals nature had around where they were living, they started to grow food on purpose, and keep their animals penned so they could eat them at their leisure. Just a thought I had.

The poignancy I can see this holding now is in a globally ecological way--the environment. If some divine being hands you a planet it made, dammit you'd better take care of it. Do all you can to keep it clean and to keep care of all those plants and animals.

I have to mention that, while the author talks about livestock, god tells man he can eat plants, and that the animals can eat the plants, but makes no mention of the animals eating any other animals, including man. So if you take this literally, so far, I think you should become a vegetarian.

Man was that ever a great sixth day! Give yourself a cookie, god!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


My partner in crime, Millicent (who is also hot to trot in the sheets and on top of them) asked me if I wanted to read the bible with her. I said "What the hell are you injecting now?" but after she explained the premise of this Searching for Meaning exercise I am happy to oblige. She doesn't use drugs nor inject things by the way. I just like saying that. Well, I've never really said that until now but it sounds okay so I may start saying "what the hell are you injecting now?" when someone asks me a question that is totally outside of any tracking device in my brain.

Anyway, we're going to read the fucking bible, give it a chance, and see what happens. We're atheists, but we will read this bible (why are they all made out of such very thin paper?) very carefully and do our best to present our take on what we've learned, laughed at, pondered over eating fresh croissants with creamy butter and delightful coffee during the usual church hour(s) in the south, or cast off as downright preposterous for crying out loud.

Millicent is the brains of this outfit. I just dig her ass.

Delighted to Meet You

So, I live in the South of the US of A. I moved here when I was young, from somewhere decidedly unlike the South of the US of A. I was raised as a Protestant Christian, usually in the Presbyterian faith, and like many others (you know who you are) liked to have my Minister/Pastor read the Bible FOR me and then tell me what it means to me. Somewhere in my muddled adolescence I decided that I didn't like feeling like all my friends were going to spend an eternity burning and being poked by various nasty daemons. Even IF some of them seemed like they'd enjoy getting poked in such a manner. . .
I'm an atheist now, with sort of Buddhist leanings--which is, let's face it, just a flavour of atheism, just as Christianity is the atheism of every OTHER major religion (and it doesn't even KNOW about the minor ones.)
The Bible still intrigues me. Maybe because I'm certain that whatever Pastor/Minister I had put their own spin on the scripture when it was regurgitated to me on Sunday morning. Maybe because so many people feel like it's the rock upon which they stand--that a BOOK could also be a ROCK has always fascinated me. Kinda like a door being ajar.
My partner and I have decided that there may be good in the book, and there may be bad. But that we should formulate our opinions according to what WE see there, and not what anyone tells us we SHOULD see there. So we are going to start at the beginning (Genesis) and read until we get to the end--of the Bible or our wits, we aren't sure. But our minds will be open. And if the proof is in the pudding, then let this be a testament to the way god can change a couple of atheists by his word alone. If not, we'll have a grand and interesting time finding out what's actually IN this ancient tome.