How The Bible SHOULD Have Been Written

(Note: one in a continuing series). Today’s Episode ADAM & EVE:

The Scene: God says he created everything including Adam and a nice place (the Garden Of Eden) for him to live in.  He’s filled the garden with fruits and vegetables and animals – everything Adam might want. 

“It’s all yours, kid,” God tells Adam, “Every bit of it.  Oh – except that one tree over there.”

ADAM: Which one – the brown one?

GOD: No, the green one.  Are you even looking where I’m pointing?  What’s wrong with your eyes?

ADAM: I don’t know – you tell me. 

GOD: The big tree.  The colorful one.  The one I’m pointing at!  Never mind! It’s called the Tree Of Good & Evil and it’s the one tree ye shall not eat from!”

ADAM: Okay.

GOD: I mean it. Don’t eat from that tree or bad shit will happen.

ADAM: Okay.

GOD: You’ll die.  Because I’ll kill you.  I’ll have to – because you didn’t listen.

ADAM: Okay.

God wants to move on to other business.  But he notices Adam is lonely.  More to the point, God realizes that Adam can’t make more Adams all by himself.   So (God says), he created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs.  And, finally, shit gets real…

SCENE – The Garden Of Eden

Eve has just taken a bite from the fruit of the Tree of Good & Evil. 

Eve stands beside Adam, half-eaten apple in her hand, the serpent cowering behind her.  Adam isn’t exactly representing here either.  He won’t look Eve in the eyes.  He won’t meet God’s eyes either. And… FADE IN –

GOD: Look upon Adam, fallen woman!  Do you not see how he cowers?

EVE: What are you even talking about?

GOD: You ate from the Tree of Good & Evil, the one thing I said ye could not do–

EVE: First of all, back your bony ass out of my space.  Second, who the hell is “ye”?  And third – you wanna talk to me, you lower your damned voice. 

GOD: What?  I’m GOD, you silly woman.  I created everything here!

EVE: You keep saying that.  I’m gonna need to see some evidence.

GOD: See some—

EVE: Receipts, motherfucker!  Proof!  Anyone can walk around saying they invented shit: “I invented the universe! I invented animals! I invented blow jobs—”

GOD: I did—

EVE: Yeah – you’re proud of the blow jobs, aren’t ya?  Blow jobs, I’ll believe. What about the universe?  Prove you invented it.  Show me a bill of sale, a deed, a notarized note. Something!

GOD: I don’t have any of that—

EVE: Cos you didn’t do any of it – you just say you did.  I bet you didn’t make light or water or the sun and the stars either.  And don’t give us this shit about how you put all the animals here for us – we don’t know what half those things are and, frankly, we don’t want to know!  And what about sharks?

GOD: What about them?

EVE: They eat people.  What’s the point of that?

GOD: So don’t go in the water when they’re there. They think you’re seals. Have you seen what they look like on TV?  Sharks are amazing.

ADAM: What’s a TV?

GOD: Did I say that out loud?  Oy.  What I meant was “someday”, okay?  Someday, on TV, after someone invents it, sharks will look amazing. But – in the meantime – we have to deal with this.  I’m God, okay?  I’m God.  Being God means I get to make up the rules.  Look – I made you from Adam’s rib and I can unmake you just like that and replace you with another woman.

EVE: Bullshit!

GOD: What?

EVE: You heard me – bullshit.  If it’s so easy to make a woman out of Adam’s rib then do it.  Right now! Adam’s got plenty more ribs – and anyway – you’re God, right?  Look at everything you created!  Doesn’t seem that big an ask to squeeze out a few more ribs.

GOD: Who said it was easy?

EVE: You just did.

GOD: What I meant was I’d have to put Adam to sleep in order to do it—

EVE: Adam – tell him to put you to sleep so he can take another rib.

GOD: What I mean is—

EVE: You’re full of shit!

ADAM (as it slowly dawns on him): Wait—Are you saying he didn’t make you from one of my ribs?

EVE: Way to go, Sherlock!  Frankly, I’m dubious about the whole making us out of dirt thing, too.  Seems a little simplistic, if you ask me.

ADAM (finally looking toward God): God… have you been… lying to us?

GOD: What? Dude – don’t believe her.  She’s crazy!  I know – I made her that way.

 ADAM (to God): In your own image, right?  (to Eve): I gotta be honest – the whole rib thing never really added up to me—

EVE: Right?  Everything he says – if you stop to think about it – it’s bullshitty and makes no sense.  And he never says anything in a nice way.

ADAM: (now boldly looking God right in the eye): You are kinda bossy, dude.

EVE: Fuck “bossy”, he’s rude.

GOD: Okay, look – I see what’s going on here.  I get it.  But can we just – please agree to some ground rules:

EVE: Here we go again–

GOD: When I say don’t eat from the—

EVE: Why?

GOD: –From the—

EVE: WHY, goddamn it?  Why can’t we eat from that one tree? 

GOD: Cos—you know—“Good” and “Evil”.  I was trying to make a point.

EVE (looks to the half-eaten piece of fruit): You’re insane. This wasn’t even a good piece of fruit. Who died and made you God – that’s what I want to know.

GOD: No one.  I’ve always been God.

EVE: Well, isn’t that convenient?

Eve starts to laugh.  So does Adam.  Now it’s God who won’t meet their eyes because they’re laughing at him.

GOD: I am the alpha and the omega.  I am the beginning and the—stop laughing, damn you!  Stop it.  Stop laughing or I swear I’ll—

(God stomps off angrily).

ADAM: Yeah, you keep walking.  And when you get to the ends of the earth?

EVE: Keep walking — Bitch!

NEXT: NOAH & HIS ARK

Here’s The Problem With Letting Religious People Run Things, Part One

An important moment in every kid’s life — an essential moment, really, that will dictate the course of the rest of their life — is the instant they realize that adults (pretty much all of them) are completely full of shit.

And adults ARE full of shit.

Adults want kids to believe they know everything while they absolutely don’t. Realizing that, some kids surrender immediately. They become cynical (and will stay cynical the rest of their lives). “People lie to you — that’s just how it is” becomes their mantra. That, in time, becomes “Both sides do it”.

Other kids become skeptical. They know not to trust adults. They trust their friends instead even though their friends know as little as they do. The problem: they know they have to trust adults sometimes. The question is when and how much?

A small sliver of kids are skeptical but with a twist. They don’t trust adults but they want to know why adults do what adults do. How did adults go from being kids like them to being “adults” who lie so easily?

The first inkling most of us got that adults weren’t being entirely straight with us was when they began introducing religion to the mix.

I went to Hebrew School for 8 years (ages six to fourteen). I’ve always been grateful to Hebrew School for helping make me the atheist I am today. I bet my experience wasn’t unique.

Being a kid, your mind is still relatively free of wackadoodle adult ideas. You’d ask why things happened and adults would spew an answer that, frankly, was just words to you. That the adult could answer the question — that’s what mattered. That’s what made you feel safe. The people you trusted trusted something — so therefore you trusted it too (regardless of whether you actually should or not).

And listening to adults tell you stories — that was de rigeur. Adults told stories all the time — to entertain you, to put you to sleep. No one said “But, this story? It’s not a story. It’s real and you need to believe every word of it“. That is, they didn’t until they got to THIS story — the one with “God” in it.

One of the great hiding places for “I don’t know” is religion: “I don’t know the answer to that but our religion does” is how it goes.

The problem is your religion doesn’t know the answer. It knows “an” answer and they’ll insist it’s “the” answer but that’s hyperbole not stone cold truth.

The men who wrote the texts we now call the Old Testament were trying to explain how we got here, why we were here and where we were going. They had pretty much their eyes and their ears at their disposal. That was it. No microscopes, no telescopes, no internet. Hell, the guys who wrote the OT and the NT had no idea that continents existed. They didn’t know that germs caused disease. They didn’t know that the earth rotates on its axis around the sun as part of a small solar system on the fringes of a massive constellation — one of potentially billions of constellations.

If the guys who wrote the texts that became the bible had known any of those things, do you think they would have written what they wrote the same way? Of course not. A lot of their questions would have been answered via science. There would have been unanswered questions — as there are now. But, if the scribe who penned “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden” had known a little astrophysics and biochemistry? No way he’d have written what he wrote.

It seems crazy to let someone unclear on how to drive a car chauffeur you around but that’s what we do when allow people unclear on how reality actually works to legislate life and death decisions.

Would anyone really allow someone untrained in surgery but big on bible studies to operate on them? Would you remain seated on a plane if the pilot got on the intercom before they closed the doors and told everyone tonight’s flight will get to wherever it’s going on a literal wing and prayer. If the passengers don’t pray hard enough while the plane’s aloft? It could be over for all of them. Who’s staying put for that flight?

Who in their right mind would want someone else’s magical thinking making real life critical decisions for them?

Someone who believes that things happen because the angry deity in their head makes them happen will make decisions differently from someone who believes things happen for the reasons science says they do. They’ll make decisions about other peoples’ health care and safety and economic situation. If they turn up their nose at data — or what their constituents want — because their imaginary friend has issues with it? That’s a problem.

Here, in America, religious people long resisted climate change. Some still do because their angry god loves wiping out people and species. They’ve even concocted a whole apocalyptic story that they think will literally happen. Ummmmm, doesn’t anyone know what metaphors and allegory are? Don’t they get that the John who supposedly authored the Book Of Revelation that closes the NT (meaning, the early church, in editing what early church texts to include in the canon they were creating and which to exclude) wasn’t written as a literal description of anything.

But, here in America? Some of us take everything in the NT so literally that you can craft horror movies out of the mythology — it’s that nutso, that angry, that violent. Think “The Exorcist” or “The Omen”.

Our habit of letting religious people run things is why America’s the only industrialized country where — when disaster strikes — we’ll offer up “thoughts and prayers” to go along with whatever else we send you. Sometimes, those thoughts n prayers are all you’re gonna get.

Don’t get me wrong — thoughts and prayers are nice and all but — in a disaster? On a bad day even — that’s just you talking to yourself. Thanks anyway.

The Bible Is What Happens When Books Meant To Answer “One” Question Are Used To Answer Another…

I’ve always said Hebrew School made me the atheist I am today. That’s not entirely true. I have been an atheist since inception. Hebrew School simply closed the deal.

But I don’t regret any of my religious education (which lasted from age 6 to 14). I genuinely learned a lot from it. In particular, I had one truly excellent teacher — Henry Hyman. Mr. Hyman taught this: the bible is a religious text. It isn’t a reliable work of history. But, as a religious text, it is incredibly valuable.

In other words, Mr. Hyman taught “perspective”.

I remember one especially meaningful conversation I had with Mr. Hyman. It was probably when I was 12 or 13. Like I said, I was born an atheist. Skepticism runs in my blood alongside the red and white blood cells. I bumped hard on the Abraham almost sacrifices Isaac story — and I said so.

I’m sure I didn’t articulate well what bothered me then but the same terrible lesson still disturbs me: Jews are meant to revere Abraham (the foundational “First Jew”) because of his absolute fealty to Yahweh. If Yahweh says “kill your son” (“sacrifice” being a kinder-gentler way of saying “murder in cold blood”), we’re supposed to look to Abraham for guidance. Well, we’re meant to think, since Ol’ Abe was down with killing his son, who are we to go a different way?

To Mr. Hyman’s credit, he tried very hard to sell the metaphorical qualities of the story as a whole over the more disturbing, realistic story beats themselves. I wasn’t having it. In the end, Mr. Hyman encouraged me to continue asking questions. Either I was going to find an answer inside the faith that satisfied me or I wasn’t. That he appreciated that fact — that he encouraged a 12 year old to think that way — I am eternally grateful.

Want to have a religious debate? The bible — OT or NT — are excellent resources. Want to know anything about history? Avoid the bible like the plague. Yeah, sure, there’s “background information” — lots of good insight into both Jewish culture and how Jewish culture thinks about itself. But if you want the historical record backing up your “faith”? Prepare to be disappointed.

As Mr. Hymn said: “The bible is not a work of history”. No, it absolutely is not. Fact — it is debatable that Hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. The Egyptians kept records. Lots of them (they’re called “Hieroglyphics”.) Nowhere in those records do we find Hebrew slaves building pyramids or a Hebrew prince rescued from certain death, raised by an Egyptian princess and slowly remade into a kind of Hebrew Avenging Angel.

Someone made that story up. Or they took a small thing and wrote it larger. Kinda like how Paul did with Jesus. If Saul of Tarsus never has his “come to Jesus” moment on the Road to Damascus, then Christianity never happens.

Jesus — whoever he actually was — did not “invent” Christianity. If you sat him down today and explained to him what “Christianity” was, he’d look at you like you were nuts for suggesting HE was its “founder”. Jesus was born a Jew, lived his whole life as a Jew and died a Jew.

As for creating the Christian church, what we can ascribe to Jesus (at least it’s one of his more consistently reported on teachings) is a very simple (and very Jewish) message — “Do Unto Others”. Also “You don’t need a church in order to have a relationship with god”. Jesus’s message is spiritual perfection — it teaches people how to live a good, happy, successful life and it even teaches them how to do it: be nice to people.

But, of course, not everyone wants to see these religious texts for what they are. We have a whole segment of our population — uber Christians, evangelicals & fundamentalists — who believe that the words of the bible magically appeared on parchment. They say “divine inspiration” motivated the writing.

J. K. Rowling feels exactly the same way. She might not call the inspiration “divine” but her readers do.

Using the bible — old or new testaments — as anything other than a dated “how to live in the past” manual is guaranteed to screw up your life. Ask yourself: if the men who wrote those texts had been aware of germ theory, if they’d had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet and all the information we now have today about our bodies, the natural world, the cosmos, would they have written the texts they wrote in exactly the same way?

Doubtful. Do televangelists avoid electricity because it would have been unknown to Jesus? Of course not! Modern religionistas use technology when it suits them to accomplish their goals. If any religious work’s author had had access to our modern knowledge base, it would have fundamentally changed what they wrote.

That makes it even more appalling when the faithful try to use their religious texts to answer science questions. They’re compounding the ignorance of the past by continuing to make it part of the present. Wrong information doesn’t suddenly become right.

Bullshit doesn’t suddenly become true.

Magic doesn’t suddenly become real.

The bible doesn’t suddenly become anything other than a story based loosely on reality.