Friday, July 15, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #107 Debunking Christianity: Genesis 3-Thank "God" for the Snake

Zach Dills has posted an article on Debunking Christianity in when he attempts to cast Genesis 3 in an opposite manner from what the text actually says. This is a failure of reading comprehension at its best. FacePalm worthy for sue, but let's examine his article further to see where it falls down. My comments are in red.

Genesis 3 is a very important chapter in the bible. It has helped shape and re-shape Christian views on human nature, the state of the world and the relationship between good and evil. It has affected and influenced philosophers, theologians, writers, politicians, historians, artists and the average person on the street. When I examine Genesis 3 I see a story that has been paramount in underwriting the conflict between faith and free thought, which has raged throughout history. This story serves as a precedent for religion’s continuous attempts to suppress reason among its followers and for its attack on anyone brave enough to examine their god and their faith through the lens of rational thought.

Dills makes a fundamental assertion that he as not shown any evidence for: he assumes that there is conflict between faith and free thought.  The rest of the article tries to cast the story in the light of God not wanting humanity to freely think for itself. This is a presupposition about God's character that is not supported by the text. 

Genesis 3 says:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say. ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate…Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden (Gen 3:1-7, 22-23)

So in this story God creates humans without sin but also without knowledge of good and evil. Humans carry with them a sort of infantile innocence allowing them to be “sinless” simply by being ignorant.

This is a bold assertion and Dills offers no reason why anyone should accept his reasoning.

The one command God gives these naive creatures is to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest they die.(1)

Where does the Bible say Adam and Eve were naive. Is being sinless equal to being naive. Does that mean in order to be good you have to be ignorant? I don't think that is what the story suggests at all. 

Adam and Eve appear fine with this command and neither of them seems to give the tree much thought until the serpent comes along. It is the serpent that gets Eve to question God’s command and see the value of what he was withholding from them. The serpent assures her she will not die but rather that her eyes will be opened and knowing good and evil she will become like God. Eve then displays one of the most wonderful qualities of humanity; curiosity. She shows the desire to know more about the world around us and thereby better ourselves. Eve uses her senses to examine the tree and finds that the fruit would be good both as a source of food and to make one wise and so like any good scientist she tests it, she eats the fruit. And sure enough, just as the serpent had said, her eyes were opened and she became more aware of the world around her then she had previously been. She then shares with Adam teaching him what she had learned. Then God comes along looking for Adam and Eve. When he finds them he discovers that they have disobeyed him and then speaking to the other gods or himself says that humans have become like “one of us, knowing good and evil” and so he kicks them out of the garden to prevent them from also eating of the tree of life, which would allow them to live forever.

So let me get this one straight: Zach Dills thinks that humanity is better off - death, violence, lying, stealing, depression, oppression, war, famines, and all the kinds of evil  we whine and complain about? I mean Dills know that had Adam not sinned we wouldn't be in the messes we are now? Doesn't seem so. There  are several things he doesn't get right in his summary of the event and he gets them wrong because of his presuppositions. 

1. The serpent used the same argument on Eve that he uses on us today: Trying to get us to question if God really said what we know He says. The serpent could not get Eve to question God's existence as he does people today so he went after what God says.
2. It wasn't curiosity that made Eve eat the fruit. She ate it because she believed what the serpent told her. She was deceived. Adam on the other hand  knew exactly what he was doing - disobeying God.
3. Dills points out one of  the Old Testament texts that points to the Trinity. In Genesis 1, God said Let US make man in our own image.  In Genesis 3, God said man has become like “one of us, knowing good and evil”.

When examining this story and how it is usually taught to people in church what amazes me the most is the very thing that is never even acknowledged, which is the simple fact that everything the serpent said was true while what God said was in fact a lie.

This isn't a new argument. Let's see Dills blunder his way through it.

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit they did not die as God had threatened but rather just as the serpent said their eyes were opened and they became like God as God himself admitted saying they “have become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

The serpent lied because he left out that there would be nothing but misery as a direct consequence of  her and her husband sin. If you are going to take the text seriously, then you have to believe that when the creation was called "good" this meant that it was perfect. No decay. No Second Law of Thermodynamics. No death. Had they remained sinless, Neither Adam or Eve would ever die. God didn't tell Adam that if he ate the fruit he would drop dead at that moment. God said Adam would "surly die". And Adam did. No just Adam we will all surely die and that wasn't the original intention. Not to mention God's wondrous love and mercy. What if Adam had stayed in the Garden and at the fruit of the Tree of Life? We would be forever stuck in our decaying bodies sentenced to sin forever with no way out.  Yup, that sounds like a better alternative alright.

I do not understand why this plain fact is so openly ignored? Not only did Adam and Eve not die after eating the fruit but according to Genesis 5:5 Adam lived for nine hundred and twelve years, so much for the trustworthiness of God.

Duh! Had he never sinned, Adam would never had died!  I thought Dills said he used to be a Christian.

Now the reason anyone ever believes this god again after such an obvious lie is strange indeed but they do and throughout the bible this god persists in fighting against humanity’s purist of knowledge constantly calling them to forego their own reason and trust solely in him. This god seems intent on preventing humanity from growing in knowledge trying rather to reestablish humanity’s infantile mind so as to obtain humanity’s absolute submission and their continuous worship and sacrifice.

Now that's just plain slander! And slander of one's creator.  Tsk. Tsk. Every discovery. Evey bit of knowledge we have about the universe and how it works comes from the one who made it. He put the desire in us to learn and to find out. He the earth and everything contained in it under our feet. Adam gave it up. Jesus took it back.  And denying God the worship God deserves, not just because of what God has done but for who God is, is stupid. No one else deserves humanity's absolute submission and sacrifice. All that God asks for in terms of sacrifice is our lives lived for God's glory. Fair deal. .

So why does the serpent get such a bad rap?

Because our first parents believed his lie and damned us to hell.  Oops, was that rhetorical?

Why, if you ask any normal person about the story will they say that the serpent lied when in fact he was correct?

Go to a funeral and then ask the dead person's family if the serpent was right? Or better yet the next time something terrible happens and you want to bring up the "Problem of Evil" to argue against the existence of God, don't forget to thank the serpent. 

The serpent told the truth whereas God lied and yet the serpent is the one cursed and God continues on in history unblemished despite his clear sin.

When a parent tells his child not to run across the street, is he sinning? If the parent punishes the child for disobeying such a command is it a sin? If you think it is,  it explains much as to what is wrong with society.

Robert G. Ingersoll, a great American orator and writer from the 19th century, astutely notes this and praises the virtue of the serpent. “If the account given in Genesis is really true, ought we not, after all, thank this serpent? He was the first schoolmaster, the first advocate of learning, the first enemy of ignorance, the first to whisper in human ears the sacred word liberty, the creator of ambition, the author modesty, of inquiry, of doubt, of investigation, of progress, and of civilization.” I couldn’t agree more.

I disagree. It is only through obedience to God that we have correct ambitions, gain knowledge, gain wisdom, gain understanding, liberty,  and true fulfillment.  Otherwise you are  wasting your life, chasing the wind. 

The serpent has my admiration for where God says “trust me” the serpent said “don’t trust me rather see for yourself”; where God says “listen to me” the serpent says “listen to reason”; and where God says, “fear me” the serpent says, “fear ignorance.”

And where did the serpent say that? The text says that the serpent said:

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 

“You will not certainly die.” 

But we do certainly die just like Eve and Adam. 

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

And do we really know everything about good and evil. We know evil in the sense that we can't stop doing evil. 

When God demanded faith (ignorance) the best for us the serpent offered reason (knowledge) death and Eve wisely foolishly listened to the serpent. Truly, what parent desires their baby to remain a baby forever?

God doesn't want us to remain immature or ignorant.

Should not a parent nurture and teach their children so that they may one day stand upon their own two feet, make their own decisions and live a good life?
God does exactly that. That is what the Holy Spirit does - lead and guide us to make good decisions and do right.  If that is what you want then you want Jesus. 

Yet this god would have none of that rather he would have us all be intellectually barren and living in diapers for all of eternity.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16,17

Looks like the Bible disagrees.

We live in a day when religious fundamentalism seems to be growing worldwide at the expense of rationality and sound education.


Dogmas and creeds are regaining the place they had lost as the dominate force in creating and controlling people’s morals, politics and over-all worldview.

Thank the serpent for the need to control people's morals, politics, and worldviews.  People do all kinds of evil. We all sin in word, thought, and deed. No amount of control we try to implement is enough fix this. Sin is so terrible and pervasive God had to deal with it.

Reason is once again being viewed with hostility and suspicious in favor of mindless doctrines and ridiculous interpretations of archaic scriptures.

Dills knows a lot about "ridiculous interpretations" just see the one he offered here. 

Doubt is again a sin and faith is THE virtue.

Because faith is moving on what you know to me true. No one in the Bible was ever asked to move on blind faith. IT was trust based on relationship with God. In light of that doubt is snubbing your nose at one who has cultivated a relationship with you - your creator himself.

We are told one should have faith; faith in God, faith in you country and faith in your own unexamined beliefs.

Not by God. The Bible tells us to have faith in God and to examine our beliefs.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? - 2 Corinthians 13:5

Sadly this unexamined faith endangers the world as it allows people to maintain their pathetic feelings of superiority over those who do not share their same unexamined beliefs.

Besides not examining your beliefs is a sin and outside of God's commands.
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:11

Be like the Bereans!

Unfortunately, the fight against fundamentalism is one that is amazingly difficult. Fundamentalism has the advantage of being able to spread itself through birth, bribery, fear, laziness, coercion and violence whereas reason must rely solely on education.

 Funny, atheism is much the same way.  Given that most atheists can't seem to represents what Christians believe accurately, they don't understand what it is they say they rejects. through the same kind of lies that the serpent  fed Eve that day she became a sinner.

As we saw God demanded faith and relied on threats whereas the serpent demanded nothing and offered only information.

If someone tells you something is bad for you and it warns you that it will kill you, how is that a threat? How is it the truth when you are told that that an action will make you as knowledgeable about God and all you get out of it is a cycle of sin terminated in death and no way out. Of course the serpent didn't ask for anything in return because he got what he waned - our downfall.

So let us stand up against the faith of fundamentalism and evangelicalism by following the brave example of Eve.

You mean damning ourselves and all of our children? Too late. 

Let us continually take the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil through the process of education and learn to think for ourselves.

Notice how the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil didn't lead to education or Adam thinking for himself. He didn't develop quantum mechanics. Invent the wheel.  Or map the universe. He did learn how to sin and rebel against his creator.  Fear. Death. Doubt. And Disbelief. Yup, good times.

Let us not waste the gift the serpent pointed us to by ceasing to examine and test the world around us so that we can make it a better place.

It was that "gift" from the serpent that makes it necessary for the world to be made better place.  It had been perfect.

It’s time to stop starring at the sky waiting for a god that’s not coming and time to start looking one another in the eye, learning from one another and working together for a better future. And if knowledge makes us like the gods then I say let us dare to be gods.

We don't have to wait for a god to come to save us. Jesus already came and saved us if you put your faith in Him. Knowledge does not make us like the gods.  We were already created in the image of God. Funny how the lies the serpent gave Eve becomes even more and more insidious the closer I look at it.

(1)I’ve always wondered; if Adam and Eve did not have the knowledge of good and evil how could they “know” that it was wrong to disobey God?

FYI: One can put superscripts in blog post The tags you want  are "" and ". Works like a charm.  As for knowing it was wrong to disobey God, they know the same way you knew each and every time you disobeyed your parents. No one skates on ignorance. For every sin we unknowingly commit, there are many we voluntarily commit.

Written by Zach Dills

Debunking Christianity: Genesis 3-Thank "God" for the Snake
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