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What I really meant to say was…

Oops!As I’m sure you are aware, some Christians interpret the bible mostly as a fictional story filled with allegories and examples showing how we should live our lives. Some other Christians seem to not “interpret” the bible at all, instead taking it at its literal word, insisting that everything is true in exactly the way it is written.

I usually don’t have much of a problem with the first group, much like I don’t usually have a problem with those who interpret Aesop’s Fables as fun made-up stories with accompanying moral lessons. If Aesop-readers started speaking as if real talking foxes were actually disgruntled over not being able to eat grapes, there would be a different issue.

The bible literalists are the ones I target in this post. I find that, right at the beginning of the bible, we see that God is either not all-knowing or he is a liar. There are a number of biblical passages that show this, but I’m going to start right in Genesis chapter two.

God tells Adam that he can eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden except… the Tree of Knowledge. So far, so good. Other than setting Adam up for failure (and already knowing that Adam will fail, being all-knowing and whatnot), this is a relatively straightforward rule. Here’s the exact quote from the King James Bible.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

That’s pretty simple. Eat from any tree in the garden whenever you want, just don’t eat from the tree of knowledge because on the day you do that, you’ll die.

Wait… you’ll die? That day?

If you continue reading Genesis, you’ll see that Adam and Eve both lived long after they chomped on the forbidden fruit. Strangely enough, that’s what the serpent told them. So did God lie and the serpent tell the truth? …or did God make a mistake when he just thought that Adam and Eve would die that day. It’s got to be one or the other because according to the bible, they most certainly did not die that day.

No doubt you’re thinking that by “die,” God didn’t really mean “die.” He meant it symbolically or he meant that the fruit would cause some really bad stomach cramps that would make you wish you were dead… or something. For those who do not take the bible literally, I will concede those points, though not without a bit of snickering. Here’s what some scholarly folks have to say.

From Biblos.com

“By death he means the separation of man from God, who is our life and chief happiness: and also that our disobedience is the cause of it.”

…or…

Thou shall die – That is, thou shalt lose all the happiness thou hast either in possession or prospect; and thou shalt become liable to death, and all the miseries that preface and attend it.”

From BibleExplained.com

Surely die May be translated, “in dying you shall die.” Of course they did eat and they didn’t die that day. The Lord’s statement was a pronouncement of the penalty for sin. On that day Adam and Eve’s status would change. They would certainly die, whereas before then they would either live on endlessly or die, depending on their choice. Rejection of the source of life means only death.

From Jesus Lives

Thou shalt die, that is, “Thou shalt be debarred from the tree of life, and all the good that is signified by it, all the happiness thou hast, either in possession or prospect; and thou shalt become liable to death, and all the miseries that preface it and attend it.”

If you’re going to do fancy interpretation of the bible, you can stretch it to say or mean anything you want. However, if you are a literalist, then in Genesis 2, the bible is very clearly and unequivocally stating that God is either not all-knowing or that he lied to Adam.

If he’s not all-knowing, that wouldn’t make him much of a god. If he’s a liar, then he breaks his own commandments and can be considered a hypocrite.

Those of you have have done even a little bit of research into bible contradictions have no doubt found scores of examples like this. Apologists try to explain them away, but they clearly have to jump through some pretty elaborate hoops to do so, which tends (for me, anyway) to draw even more incredulity to the already-preposterous claim that the bible is the inerrant word of a perfect, all-powerful, loving God.

Oops.

One Comment

  1. RLWemm says:

    The “crime” in this story is that Adam and Eve got to learn the difference between right and wrong. Until that time this knowledge had been reserved for the Yahweh god (or was it the El god?). Until this moment neither Eve nor Adam knew that it was a sin to disobey god or that it was a sin to go around naked looking like an image of the El god (or was it the Yahweh god?).

    In other words, the Yahweh and/or El gods made humankind in its/their own image but failed to provide the humans with divine moral knowledge. When the poor blighters ate the fruit because they did not yet know that it was wrong to do so, they suddenly realised that their god-like body was disgusting and covered it up real quick. The Yahweh and/or El god then punished his ill-formed creations for something that they had only just been given the knowledge to know was wrong.

    Would you want that kind of being running your life or your justice department?

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