Monday, July 5, 2010

God's Success Rate, Bible Say Whaaa?, Genesis, Chapters 4-5

This chapter contains all of the begats, though my version of the Bible does not use that word. This is the boring section of the Bible (because all of the other chapters are absolutely riveting), so I will not write a useless and repetitive rant on how ridiculous the names are, how asinine it is to calculate the age of the earth based on this chapter, or how the hell Eve lived with herself after banging her son (because according to the way in which the story is told, Cain had his children before any daughters of Adam and Eve's are listed). Instead, I am going to calculate god's success rate.

I am going to assume that all of the information in the Bible is accurate and to be taken as literally as is possible, which is the same perspective from which I've been deconstructing the Bible since the beginning. Based on this information, I will calculate just how often god gets something right, and I will be as generous in god's favor as it seems fair to be. Keep in mind that these calculations are just as ridiculous as it is to take this story literally (or figuratively, for that matter).

God's Success Rate:

Second & third generations: The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Adam and Eve is seven (Cain, Abel, Seth, plus sons and daughters). Cain has one named child (Enoch), Abel has zero, and the lowest number that can be attributed to Seth is five (Enosh, s&d). Thus, our average for number of children per child of Adam and Eve is two. That is then seven by two, which is fourteen.

Fourth generation: The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Enoch is one (Irad) and to Enosh is five (Kenan, s&d). Our average is then three. Three by fourteen is 42.

Fifth generation: The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Irad is one (Mehujael) and to Kenan is five (Mahalalel, s&d). Our average is then three. Three by 42 is 126.

Sixth generation: The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Mehujael is one (Methushael) and to Mahalalel is five (Jared, s&d). Our average is then three. Three by 126 is 378.

Seventh generation: The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Methushael is one (Lamech) and to Jared is five (Enoch, s&d). Our average is then three. Three by 378 is 1,134.

Eighth generation: The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Lamech is four (Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain, and Naamah) and to Enoch is five (Methusaleh, s&d). Our average is then 4.5. 4.5 by 1,134 is 5,103.

Ninth generation: The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Jabal is incalculable (he is the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock), but for the sake of being as generous as possible, let's call it one son. The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Jubal is also incalculable (he is the father of all those who play harp and flute), so let's also call this one son. No children are attributed to Tubal-Cain or Naamah. The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Methusaleh is five (Lamech, s&d). Our average is then 1.4. 1.4 by 5,103 is 7,144.2.

Tenth generation: Again, for the sake of generosity, let's attribute one son each the one child attributed each to Jabal and Jubal. The lowest number of children that can be attributed to Lamech is five (Noah, s&d). Our average is then 2.33. 2.33 by 7,144.2 is 16,669.8.

Eleventh generation: Let's continue to attribute one son each to the lines of Jabal and Jubal. We can attribute three children to Noah (Shem, Ham, and Japheth). Our average then is 1.67. 1.67 by 16,669.8 is 27,783.

Noah then has children, but as they are only allowed on the ark as part of Noah's contract with god, we cannot conclude whether they are good, only that they are related to Noah. We can, however, conclude that all of the other eleventh generation children are not good, as god did not single any of them out as good. We can also assume that most if not all of the tenth generation have had their children by the time of the flood, as the flood is 600 years after Noah's birth.

This means that out of all of the 27,783 people that we have estimated to be in existence (and estimated with generous numbers, I might add), god realizes that only one is good. This means that god's success rate in creating good is 1/27,783, or .000036%. And he doesn't even realize this until 1,656 years later (as calculated by the number of years listed from creation until flood. I thought about calculating some kind of rate of good over a period of time. I decided against it because I'm not that masochistic.).

Okay, now I know what you must be thinking by now. You must be thinking, "Well, this is all well and good, but god didn't care about whether the women were good or bad. You shouldn't be including them into your calculations." And you know what? You're right. Back in the day, god really didn't seem to care about the ladies' behavior (unless they're particularly bad, like Eve). Let's calculate god's success rate without including the women.

I won't bore you with more calculations. I'll just tell you that I calculated what percentage of people we can "reasonably" assume are women based on what percentage of women were listed in each generation of children. The number of women calculated per each generation is 30%, a laughably low percentage. Of course it is ridiculous to assume that only 30% of people were women, as it is likely that there were many more women that just were not mentioned. I would add in my defense, though, that this entire exercise has been ridiculous, so why not add to it?

If we subtract 30% of the population from 27,783, we get 19,448. If we calculate god's success rate as being 1/19,448, then god is successful in creating something good about .0000514% of the time.

We all know what happens next. God kills everyone but Noah and his family but swears he will never send a flood again. He doesn't, however, seem to correct his abysmally low success rate.

So, let's calculate what percentage of the people on earth today would be viewed as good in this god's eyes. According to the World Population Clock, as of the time I am writing this, it is approximated that there are 7,024,127,900 people living. This time we count the women, because apparently god does care about them now. If god's success rate is still the same, then only 361,040 people living today are good. I guess the Jehovah's Witnesses got it slightly wrong.

But holy crap! Only 361,040 people are good enough to not warrant being wiped out by a flood? That's a scary world we live in, right? Good thing this is all just make believe. If god can't even do better than chance, by admission of the people who believe in him, why is he even worth praising if you do assume that he's real?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Genesis, Chapter 4 Say Whaaa?

There are absolutely no excuses for this chapter. No matter how many times I think about, I can't imagine how someone could read it and think that it is literally true, and furthermore, think of it as something to cherish and praise.

Chapter 4 tells the story of Cain and Abel. There is nothing in here that I had not read as a Christian, but my perspective has clearly changed dramatically. This seems to be a terrible, nonsensical story, but for some reason, I just lapped it up when I was younger. I bought that this all made sense and was fair and just, as god always is. As always, I'm not going to blame myself too much, as I was young and impressionable and because it is my prerogative to shift blame. However, I think I am warranted. How could any adult buy this?

So first we're not supposed to question that there is something inherently sinful or even less good about offering fruit rather than meat as a sacrifice to a god? I remember not seeing anything wrong with this when I was younger. Well, of course god would prefer lamb to squash, because... well... lamb is... I mean, vegetables are just.... Just shut up and stop asking questions, okay? If god prefers it, then that means it's better.

Now, I'm no vegetarian, but I like to munch on a salad often enough. And hey- what would I do without cauliflower and carrots? I would not be anywhere near the first person to say this, but it seems like the god of the Bible has a serious fetish for meat. My translation specifically refers to the "fat portions" that Abel offered. Maybe this was god's way of saying he prefers his ladies curvy.

So Cain kills Abel, god gets mad, he gets all parent stylie again. By this point, it really seems that god needs a lesson on how to punish. He bans Cain from where he is currently living, sure. Then he places a mark on Cain's head so that no one who meets Cain outside of Eden will kill him, else they "suffer vengeance seven times over."

Two issues here:
1. What the fuck? Cain commits fratricide and then the worst thing that happens to him is that he has to leave his parents' land?

2. Who could Cain possibly meet other than his parents? This is actually a huge, glaring error that renders the Genesis account entirely unreliable as a literal story. I know that. I think you probably know that. HOW THE HELL DO THESE LITERAL BIBLE BELIEVERS NOT KNOW THAT? Sorry for being reduced to all caps for a second, but seriously? It's not a very talked about issue, but whenever it came up, the Christians I was surrounded with just assumed that Adam and Eve must have had an unnamed daughter or that one of the sons impregnated Eve. Gross, I know, but that's what these literalists have to believe. But even if that is the case, there is still no one outside of Cain's own family in existence. Unless a significant chunk of time has gone by that god never inspired anyone to write about, any offspring that could have come from the original man and woman would be close enough in age to Cain? He would know and recognize them, right? You have to do a serious backward bend of apologetics to make anything here fit.

Given this information, it seems barely worth mentioning that one of Cain's great great great grandkids, Lamech, claims that because Cain had a protective mark on him, he too will have a protective mark. You see, he's also killed someone. But just like great great great grandpa, anyone who retaliates will suffer, this time sevenfold. Great precedent you set there, god.

This project is making my head spin and it has barely begun.