Steve Ruis is one of the most original writers I know on the subject of religion and society. I don’t agree with everything he has to say, but much of the time I do. I think he asks a lot of questions in a very insightful way — and at times, I have never seen the thoughts expressed just like that before, which I intend as high praise. *
. Here is his article on the entire Genesis story, which is supposedly the origination myth common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as most of their variations and sects. I hope Ruis doesn’t mind that I am reposting the entire thing and not just providing a link. Actually I’m going to guess he’ll be pleased.
Let me add this article made me think of something that bothered me when I used to try reading sections of my wfie’s copies of the “Silmarillion”. (That’s by Tolkien, who wrote the 3-book novel that the Lord of the Rings movies were made of, including The Hobbit, if you didn’t know.)
Here’s the similarity and the bother: In the beginning of Middle-Earth as I recall from Tolkien, thge great spirit (sorry I can’t remember his/her/its name) created a bunch of creatures (elves?) to be all perfect, but somehow they started fighting with each other, massive bloody fights and they turn to evil. Why did the creator allow that to happen?
(Of course, other questions, less important, also came to mind: Why would anybody fight to the death over, say, what tune the elf-fathers were signing, anyway? And how do orcs eat and reproduce, anyway? Where are all the farms and workers and mines needed to make all that armor, or even the metal tools in the Shire? Let us point out that every single detail in the founding myth of Middle-Earth, was completely imaginary and made up by Tolkien with some suggestions from his writer friends. But the founding myth that Tolkien invented does seem to borrow a lot of ideas from The Bible used by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
For completeness, let me add one important question that has already been asked by many, which is why Ruis probably didn’t bother asking:
How do we know any of that stuff in your “sacred book”? Why should we believe your story any more than we should believe in the “Silmarillion” or, say, he wacky ideas behind Scientology or the myths of all the Jewish tribes fighting Indians all over the Americas for thousands of years as vaguely spelled out in King James-style writing on the invisible “Golden Plates” of Mormonism and translated by someone speaking through his hat?
Just who was there watching and recording all of these imaginary and mystical acts anyway? What was he/she eating/drinking/breathing? Where did they get the papyrus and ink? Or did these supposed witnesses carry around clay tablets, or simply write on cave walls?
(BTW, if you’ve ever been to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, you know that writing long texts down on walls like the Persians did takes a really, really long time and is very, very heavy and nearly impossible to carry around – it was a major feat for the Rockefellers (?) to steal it from Iraq or Iran and put it back together again in Manhattan.)
How did they witness God or Elbereth or the Titans or Shiva do all supposed creation stuff when there wasn’t any ocean or air or universe in the first place?
Why should I believe YOUR version of this fairy tale, since there are clearly so many that completely contradict each other? Why should your version get any more credibility than the Popul Vuh of the Mayas, say, or the stories of Enansi, the Spider Trickster? Does your group of believers really act in such a wonderful way in the world, or are they the usual mixture of decent people, frauds, friends, cheaters, leaders, followers, sinners and fools just like everybody else? The bigger the religion, often the better was the technology and organization that allowed the group to conquer others by killing.*
Remember that at one time, Buddhism was the dominant religion in Eurasia because the Mongol cavalry (“hordes”) came out of seemingly nowhere and conquered nearly all of it about 1200 AD. Christianity rose to prominence by having the head of the Roman Empire (Constantine) convert so he could win more battles. Islam rose by conquering the Persian Empire** (which worshipped yet other gods — Mazda? Definitely not Hyndai or Ford like we do today.) and a large part of the Byzantine and Roman empires. And there was a time that the worship of the Norse gods was pretty much the rule in Northern Europe, until the Vikings settled down and took on the religions of the people they had once conquered. Which is probably why our week days are named after gods like Wotan, Thor and Freya (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). Gadzooks! Why do we still use these evil Pagan names! Zounds!)
Enough asides from me. Read on.
My main takeaway is that exactly none of these religions are based on any evidence whatsoever.
All right, I admit it, I am obsessed with the Adam and Eve story. Not the story per se but what meanings people put into it. To cut right to the chase, in this story God (Yahweh) creates Adam and then slightly later he creates Eve (maybe, there are two stories covering the same material and they are different). Shortly thereafter, Adam and Eve disobey God’s direct orders and, being rebels, were expelled from the Garden of Eden to live lives cruel, brutish, and short. From them, then, we are said to be born as sinners, said sin (disobedience?) inherited from Adam and Eve. We weren’t wiped clean of that stain when God killed all but six people so that we, supposedly, all descended from those six, clean, holy people, but … nope, we are still born in sin.
Now these people who are the keepers of such stories say this with a straight face. Their also say that God is love itself. He loves us they say and He is perfect, having no flaw and knows all, sees all, can do all, etc.
Apparently not. Do these people even take note of what they are saying? Adam and Eve were created by their perfect God and the first thing they did was to disobey. If God couldn’t get that right why do we supposed He got anything else right? Was it that he could not admit an error that he kept the Adam and Eve Experiment running? Why didn’t he just go “Oops,” eliminate his flawed creatures and start over. His motivation is he wanted a gardener (to tend the Garden; it is right there in scripture for Pete’s sake). If you were looking for a Gardener and the first one didn’t work out, wouldn’t you fire him and hire another? Apparently God doesn’t make mistakes and when He does He makes them permanent.
“Adam and Eve were created by their perfect God and the first thing they did was to disobey.
If God couldn’t get that right why do we supposed He got anything else right?”
Yo, Christian theists, do you actually read this stuff and use the brains your God gave you (I got mine from my parent’s) to realize there is something not quite right about scripture?
PS For those of you who wish to invoke the Devil in this story, stop. Don’t. Sheesh. Who created the Devil? Who could “uncreate” the Devil? (Repeat after me, children … God.) In a fighting match in the Octagon between the Devil and God, who is going to win? If the Devil did things and God didn’t notice, how can you label him as all-knowing? (See, I told you. Don’t!)
* (I’ve never met him) GFB
** Killing people in other groups is nothing new. I’m reading George Catlin now, who went to live with and travel among and paint and document life among the Indians of North America in the 1830s. It was clear that the various Indian tribes loved to do nothing more than to stealthily murder and ritually mutilate the members of other tribes, and steal their valuables just like soldiers on many sides still do today, including our own US military from time to time. Otherwise, he found the Indians to be generous, honest, kind, good family members, and clean-living But murderers and warriors all. Today, we entrust the job of killing and robbing to specialists rather than requiring every single able-bodied man to do it. GFB