Genesis 9, Noah invents slavery

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Genesis 9, Noah invents slavery

We see some great family-friendly entertainment in this chapter.

God decides to make all animals afraid of humans, so that humans can eat them more easily. Violence, and the fear of violence, seems to be the main motivation for most of what happens in the Old Testament.

Apparently, God does postmortem interviews with all animals to find out how they were killed. If people eat animals that still has blood in them, it’s a big no-no (for some ungiven reason). And killing humans is right out. Genesis 9:6 (KJV) says:

"Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed "

This is probably how some people who are pro-capital punishment justify it. Problem is, there are many, many times that God commands people to kill other people for crimes less than murder. And times when people kill other people and aren’t put to death (Cain’s murder, for example). If God really wanted murderers killed, couldn’t he do so himself instead of letting imperfect humans decide who should and shouldn’t be put to death? Not to mention that God kills plenty of people himself, meaning he should kill himself (maybe that’s why we don’t hear from him much anymore?).

God also promises (again) not to flood the earth and kill everything again. How nice of him not to kill off his creation! Rainbows remind him not to kill everyone in a flood again. It would be better if the rainbows came BEFORE the rain, so maybe he would remember to spare people in the non-global but still lethal floods that are increasing around the globe.

Then, we have something funky going on between drunk Noah and his family (9:18-28). It’s not clear what on earth happened other than Noah got drunk, one of his sons (Ham) sees him naked, two of his other sons go in and cover him up, and then after Noah sobers up (and is probably hung over) he unilaterally curses Ham’s son Canaan slavery. Why would Noah curse Ham’s son because Ham saw Noah naked and told his brothers? You could argue that Noah would want to curse Ham for seeing him naked and spreading the word to his brothers without covering him up. But what does this have to do with Ham’s son?!?

If God disapproved of this behavior (both the lying around naked and the seemingly randomly making his grandson a slave), he certainly could have said or done something about it. But no such thing happens. Noah condemns his grandson to slavery. A "righteous" man (Genesis 7:1) indeed…

Christians tell their kids about how Noah built the ark, but never explain that he invented slavery.

Genesis 5 — Be begotten, not forgotten?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Genesis 5 — Be begotten, not forgotten?

Genesis 5 is pretty easy to blog. Mostly a lot of "begats" in some attempt apparently by God’s chosen people to keep a history of their ancestors. There is nothing wrong with doing this of course, it might even be considered a noble sort of pursuit, provided the information you keep is accurate and not just made up.

God was apparently so mad at humans after Adam’s fall that he originally let humans live up to 969 years. As the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible points out, this was despite the fact that God promised Adam he would die the day he ate of the fruit of knowledge. God was only hundreds of years off, which is a lot more accurate than his faithful young-Earth creationists likely being billions of years off about the age of the planet!

Was this reprieve a blessing or a curse for Adam and Eve? Genesis 5:2 says that God "blessed them". This is the same God who threw them out of paradise and condemned them to suffering and death for all their descendants, all on account of eating some fruit that made them smart. And then after this, God lets them suffer for hundreds of years!  Genesis 5:29 correctly reminds readers that God "cursed" the ground. So it doesn’t seem like such a blessing to me. What on Earth did Adam and Eve, and their ancestors, do with their lives for hundreds of years? Struggle to survive, I suppose. I would think with having very little else to do in those days (few people around to talk to, no pay-per-view…) that it may have been worse than death. Maybe that was God’s idea, to keep them around to suffer even more?!?

I’m glad this is a fictional account, otherwise it would be rather cruel. You could actually see someone enjoying living 900 years nowadays if their health permitted it, but just wandering around the desert for hundreds of years must not have been pleasant. Fortunately, there is no reason, besides the Bible itself, to believe humans used to live (and suffer) that long. I used to take "for the Bible tells me so" as proof enough for anything the Bible said, but realize now that you shouldn’t based your entire worldview on one grossly unproven document, no matter how much it (or other people) tells you it’s true.

About all the people born in this chapter, as far as I know, we find out little to nothing about most of them. Why are they included in the Bible, then? What good is just having someone’s name if you’re trying to remember your civilization’s history? How does a list of random names fulfill God’s holy purpose? God really needed an editor to cut the bloat out of this thing.

We do see that Adam (and presumably Eve) had some daughters in this chapters, though they go unnamed (since women aren’t really all that important). So this may answer how the human race got started: it was brothers and sisters having sex. Don’t try this at home, folks, it’s just some good ol’ family values from the fictional Bible.