Friday, February 20, 2009

God According to Genesis

How can you get to know God? Almost without exception, priests, preachers, and other spiritual leaders within Christianity will answer this question unanimously: pray, and spend time in God's Word, the Bible. The true nature of God is said to be revealed within its sacred pages. So now that we've gone through a series of studies on the book of Genesis, I thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight and review just what we've learned about God from His Word thus far.

God According to Genesis
Per Genesis, man was created in God's image. God formed man, Adam, from the dirt of the Earth and breathed into his nostrils to give Adam life. This not only trumps an evolutionary link, it also brings up questions about whether or not God is shaped like a man, and if so, does He have a belly button? ;-)

When Adam and Eve did not resist the temptation that God have given them (to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), God cursed them and banished them out of the Garden of Eden. God did not offer any opportunity for forgiveness.

From the story of Cain and Abel, we see that God may capriciously reject the honest, hard work that you do for Him according to His whim. At the same time, God may honor work done for Him which has no apparent value. If God rejects your work, He doesn't think you should be angry or upset about the rejection. Instead, you should just try something different to please Him.

Sometime later, God is upset to find that mankind has become thoroughly evil, which, contrary to His omniscience, seems to indicate that He didn't realize that mankind would end up that way. God is regretful that He made man, another blow to omniscience. As opposed to sending prophets or Jesus to earth to steer mankind back to righteousness, God decides that the best solution is to exterminate all of mankind through an epic, global Flood. But God finds Noah, who is the only non-evil man, so He decides to preserve Noah and his family through the Flood.

When the Flood waters recede, Noah kills some animals and burns their flesh, an odor that pleases God. Even though God knows that man will continue to be evil, God promises that He will never again kill all living creatures with a flood, and He makes rainbows as reminders of that promise. Of course, God has made an utterly meaningless promise, because not only do floods continue to kill people even in our time, but God could kill all living things in any number of ways, such as by famine.

At one point in time, all of mankind was working in harmony on one project; the Tower of Babel. The intent of the Tower was to reach Heaven with its top. Instead of God laughing off the impossibility of such a project, God voices His fear that a mankind united in one language could do anything they plan to do. So God scatters mankind around the globe and gives them all sorts of different (and primitive) languages. Given that communication, while not a guarantee, is an essential catalyst and foundation for peace, God seeded misunderstanding, turmoil, and war between different nations forever after with this act.

Through the stories of Abraham lying to Pharaoh and then to Abimelech about Sarah being his sister, we see how God seems to capriciously inflict punishments. For when Pharaoh took the miraculously beautiful senior citizen Sarah into his house, God inflicted him with horrible diseases. However, when Abimelech took the lovely, yet very, very elderly, Sarah into his house, God simply made Abimelech's women infertile.

In yet another blow to omniscience, when God had heard how wicked the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, God decides that He will go down to earth and see it for Himself to verify their grievous sins. He debates with Himself whether or not He should tell Abraham about how He was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He does arrange for the only righteous man in the two cities, Lot, and his family to be removed from Sodom before its destruction. God turns Lot's wife into a pillar of salt when she looks back at the ensuing destruction.

As we will learn later in Deuteronomy, God rightfully finds the practice of making a burnt sacrifice of your son to be detestable. However, that doesn't stop God from telling Abraham to make a burnt sacrifice of his son Isaac. God instructs this morally corrupt act as a test of Abraham's obedience. Of course, if God were omniscient, He wouldn't need to test anyone. Fortunately He does stop Abraham from killing Isaac at the last moment, having Abraham make a burnt sacrifice of a ram instead.

When Jacob steals his brother Esau's blessing, we get our first insight as to how unscrupulous acts may play a part in fulfilling God's prophesies. Furthermore, we see that God is not opposed to blessing those that commit the unscrupulous acts.

In a story in which Jacob can't be considered completely innocent, Jacob gets tricked into marrying Leah instead of her sister Rachel. Eventually, Jacob marries Rachel too. Jacob shows love to Rachel, but not to Leah. In a classic case of displaced aggression, God punishes Rachel by making her infertile because He is angry that Jacob doesn't love Leah.

While working for his father-in-law, Laban, Jacob and Laban agree that Jacob's wages will be the motley colored flock. Jacob cheats Laban by successfully biasing the flock's offspring to be motley colored. When Laban sees that his own livestock wealth is declining, he changes Jacob's wages to more specific color pattern requirements. At this point, God steps in to ensure that the offspring produced match Jacob's prescribed wages, thereby making Laban poorer and Jacob richer. Implicitly, God approved of Jacob's plan to cheat Laban, perhaps as payback for making Jacob marry Leah.

After leaving Laban's house, Jacob spends a night alone while on the way to meet with his brother, Esau. At that time, God took on a human form and wrestled with Jacob. When God saw that He could not win the match, He fought dirty by permanently crippling Jacob, stabbing him in the hip socket. Upon pleading with Jacob to release Him, God renames Jacob to be Israel.

God chooses to execute Er because he is wicked. God then executes Onan for having sex with Er's widow but pulling out before ejaculation to avoid producing an heir for Er and thereby attempting to keep Er's inheritance. Er and Onan don't seem to rank as humanity's worst specimens, yet God kills them according to His whims.

For the grand finale, God manipulates Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery to an Egyptian, which led to him being imprisoned in Pharaoh's jail, where God helps him interpret dreams. Later, when Pharaoh has a couple of bad dreams, God helps Joseph correctly interpret them. The interpretation is a warning that a seven year famine is coming. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of making preparations for the famine. God brings on the severe, worldwide famine in which most people outside of the famine-prepared Egypt undoubtedly perish. Joseph's family moves to Egypt to survive. All the people in Egypt, except for the (polytheistic!) priests, end up selling their land and themselves into slavery of Pharaoh just for food to survive. The purpose of this amazingly horrible story was to fulfill a prophesy that God had made to Abraham; namely that Abraham's descendants would be enslaved and mistreated in a foreign country for four hundred years.

What We've Learned
God is probably man shaped (or perhaps more appropriately, man is God-shaped!). God will tempt you and punish you if you succumb to that temptation, and will not seek your forgiveness. God is capricious in His acceptance of deeds done for Him. God's omniscience is flawed. God is sorry that He made man. God likes the smell of burning flesh. God will make meaningless promises. God is afraid of mankind working altogether in harmony, and will take action to prevent such a peaceful collaboration. God is capricious in His punishments. God will test you in morally corrupt ways. God will fight dirty. And, finally, God will do absolutely anything to keep His promises and prophesies, including using evil methods and laying waste to the overwhelming majority of mankind, and the animal kingdom for that matter.

In short: Be afraid. Be very afraid. The fear of God is exactly what God wants you to have.


  1. You only forgot one thing, God is a big time gambler, God will let his most faithful servants lives be utterly ruined to win a simple wager;i.e.["uh-huh yes he will"/"nuh-huh no he won't"] with a supposedly most indesirable, unsavory adversary.
    Yhis does, I guess, fall under the morally corrupt test heading, but I just wanted to highlight the blatant disregard of human life for simple personal gratification and ego inflation.

    On fear;
    Myself, [an imperfect lowlife mortal],I feel bad when my dog,[the lowest member on the totem pole in my family] fears me, I try to cheer him up, and let him know that it's ok, and I even forgive him if he pukes on the carpet[and that really pisses me off!] he's not even my creation,and he's a freeloader! God would have been savoring his burning flesh by now!
    Or banished him to the desert for a few generations.good ol fear and unforgiveness. Sounds like a solid foundation for religion inc. Once again, what would Jesus say?

  2. I'm assuming the adversary you mention is Satan. From what I can discern, Satan isn't really in the picture yet, as I cover in "The Fall of Curses" (that theory being the reason for not including God's wager in the Genesis summary). However, whether it starts in Genesis or not, you are correct about this Biblical Godly attribute which is exposed within the both the Old and the New Testaments. It's a perverse heart that would treat sentient beings like poker chips. It certainly blows a hole in the oft-touted "sanctity of human life" banner.

    I think you've poignantly alluded to a fault of God with the treatment of your dog. You, a superior being, grant your dog grace and forgiveness knowing your dog's limitations and imperfections. I think it's reasonable to expect God, a supposedly superior being, to possess the same type of understanding with us. But time and time again, this is not the behavior we find God to have in the Bible.

  3. I confess [appropriate huh],I got a little excited and got a little ahead of the program, I just wanted the resume to be complete I guess. Your site is so refreshing, I hope I'm not too much of a pain in the ass with my comments, but there really aren't too many people you can toss this stuff around with, who don't have denominational bias.The rest of the so-called "religious" people don't know jack about religion. They are the "sheeple" they don't want or care to know. They go to and from church blindly. Solely for acceptance in their communities and families. So thanks.

  4. No problem at all! I welcome and enjoy your comments. It makes me feel like some people actually read my rambling words! :-)

    I think you are right about what you suggest that far too many people are in a church-spoon-fed religion. That's part of why I am putting in this effort. Steve Wells did an excellent job reviewing the Bible in fine detail at (SAB). But I felt like there was still a need for sermons (for lack of a better word) that covered the whole truth of Biblical stories, as opposed to the church sermons that are built upon cherry-picked verses and spun in the most positive light possible.

    I've seen believers dismiss the SAB and the standard lists of contradictions for one reason or another. However, I think it's a little more difficult to ignore case-by-case studies that are examined using their full Biblical context.

    I hope this becomes a great resource. But I need comments, both for support as well as for keeping me honest and accurate. It's far too easy to let one's bias overcome one's objectivity. So even if you don't agree with me, please feel free to voice that opinion as well!

  5. These are an excellent review. Who'd of thought a book could be so frightening and so hilarious in the same strokes?

  6. Thanks Anonymous, I am glad you enjoyed it. You have hit the nail on the head there, it is funny and frightening, silly and sad.

  7. I just found this site and I am drinking it all in. I am going thru the deconversion process right now, living in an overtly religious community, being a business owner who's mainstay of clients are staunch Christians. I am 53 years old. I became a grandparent for the first time last year and even though I had long known I was living a lie by being a church member, with the new responsibility of helping to shape a new has gnawed at my gut until I have no choice but to act upon it. Thank you for your writing. I will keep reading.

  8. Hello, and welcome Anonymous! I do not envy the road you have to navigate, for sure. Deconversion is a hard enough process to go through internally, without adding in heavy external factors such as your own. I am afraid I cannot offer much advice, other than perhaps to take some time to digest it all before worrying about larger changes, and to make those changes over a timeline that feels right for you and your situation. Whether or not you find Christianity to be false at the root, as it seems you are reaching that point, I am sure you realize with your accumulated wisdom that there is some good there, or at least there can be. I still enjoy a good sermon every once in a while.

    You are certainly not alone in where you are now. You can find many different paths that people have taken in their deconversion, some rather benign and some volatile, with a little search when you are ready. In fact, since I have started blogging, I have run into a youth minister and a former pastor who have walked away from the faith, and you can imagine just how much of a life-changing event that was for them. You can find my story by clicking "My Bio" under my photo in the upper right part of the page. My email address is found by clicking "my profile" in the same part of the page, if I can be of any assistance.