“Don’t blame God for world’s heartaches”

May 7, 2011

Rev. Jeff Barnes of Newsong Fellowship Church has a piece in his local paper with the same title and it’s worth some comments from this peanut gallery.

The question that inevitably surfaces is, “Why doesn’t God keep all these bad things from happening?” Fair question. The answers is connected to human choice.

From the beginning, God gave humans the ability to make choices. However, He made it clear that our choices would have consequences. Ever since Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, there have been negative consequences. Just read the first three chapters of Genesis. There you will discover that a “curse” fell upon this world and upon the human race.

Sigh. This is one of the sadder concepts we’ve lived under thanks to the existence of Genesis and those who continue to believe it’s a true history of how humans came to be.

The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Let me compare this (Gen 2:16-17) with Gen 1:29:

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

Every plant and every tree will be yours for food. Every one of them.

Here’s a question that comes to mind: if this was the first version of this creation story, when did it get superseded by the second? Gen 1 just has God making everything, then a couple people in his image. And then he simply tells them that they have command over everything on earth and they should go forth and multiply.

By Gen 2, God’s suddenly being very specific about where Adam can live and what he can and can’t do there. God even makes the new tree rule before he makes Eve. It’s that important to Him. If this was meant to be an object lesson for humanity, what had humanity done by this point that compelled storytellers to alter and elaborate on the story?

The serpent slithers its way into the story at the start of Gen 3 and asks Eve if she’s familiar with the “Eat what you want unless you want THAT one” rule. Eve quotes the rule:

The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'”

We’ll ignore the fact that this presupposes Eve already has a familiarity with the concept of death (how?) and would be actively trying to avoid it. The serpent pooh-poohs that notion and says (3:5)

“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Whether you want to argue rebellion on her part (as the Rev. claims), or deception on the serpent’s part, Eve’s “sin” was wanting to be wise (3:6).

Unrelated, but I wonder if it’s ever been argued that Eve cheated, that real knowledge should come from the effort put in to get it and if she and Adam had worked to learn instead of taking the fast track, this mess could have been avoided. Maybe knowledge isn’t what needs to be avoided; impatience (rather than temptation) is where the problem lies.

Back to the Rev., who perpetuates the myth that Eve’s desire to learn cursed the planet.

It is this general curse that causes the earth to produce tornados, hurricanes, drought, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. They are called “acts of God,” but they should be called “consequences of man.” The Bible reminds in Romans 8 that the whole earth is groaning, waiting to be delivered from the effects of the curse.

Right, because God created the world 6000 years ago and it was fault-free. Blame Eve for every earthquake and volcano ever since. Nice. Isn’t that some of the most ridiculous tripe ever to be published?

The truth, as anyone with sense and awareness of geology knows, the earth is way old and the whole reason we have mountains and volcanoes is because the tectonic plates that float on top of the magma have been rubbing up against each other for aeons. There were droughts, tsunamis and other natural disasters long before the first hominids roamed and no doubt the dinosaurs that preceded humanity found them to be problematic, too. Are we still debating what caused their end? Was it an asteroid or volcanoes or a combination of both?

In the same way, this curse has fallen upon humanity as well. Things like cancer, viruses, birth defects, unnatural sexual urges, mental disorders and the like can be traced back to the distorting effects of the curse.

I would love to see how.

I think this is long enough as is, so I’m going to stop here. I shall disassemble that bit of lunacy in a second post later today.


Quotable Onion (and because everyone else is doing it)

December 18, 2009

I usually don’t enjoy satire as I am often not in on the joke, but for this recent article about perplexed Sumerians and God’s creation, I’m glad I can laugh with everyone else:

“The Sumerian people must have found God’s making of heaven and earth in the middle of their well-established society to be more of an annoyance than anything else,” said Paul Helund, ancient history professor at Cornell University. “If what the pictographs indicate are true, His loud voice interrupted their ancient prayer rituals for an entire week.”

According to the cuneiform tablets, Sumerians found God’s most puzzling act to be the creation from dust of the first two human beings.

“These two people made in his image do not know how to communicate, lack skills in both mathematics and farming, and have the intellectual capacity of an infant,” one Sumerian philosopher wrote. “They must be the creation of a complete idiot.”