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.

1 comment:

  1. I am very amused by these chapters of the Bible in which the god character displays deep weakness and insanity.

    We learn in this chapter that the god character prefers meat over vegetables - not to eat, but to have other people burn for him. In later chapters we learn that these offering procedures can be very complicated, and if even one little detail is wrong, the whole thing has been in vain.

    I imagine that the people making the offerings are just as confused as I am, but since the god character is vicious and very mentally ill, not to mention infinitely powerful, they know that asking for an explanation is the same as asking to be brutally murdered. Example of dialogue:

    - It has to be done EXACTLY LIKE THIS.
    - But, why?

    The "punishment" in this chapter is yet another example of how the god character prefers to punish other people than the one actually committing the crime. Nothing more to say about this - it's just in his nature to be a jerk. It might also be that he doesn't want to be too obvious with his actions.

    The problem of who the other people would be, which Cain might run into, is huge indeed. Even more curious is the idea that any person he meets might kill him. Yes, sure, any person MIGHT kill you at any given time. But why is this something that Cain expects to happen?