Thanks Running Man for the quote in the title. It’s a great movie, check it out if you don’t know it. Based on Stephen King’s book.
[Disclaimer at the end]
Welcome friends, to another Sunday sermon. This week we continue our discussion about God: who is He, what’s He done for us, why should you love Him?
The Abrahamic god goes by several names, Yhwh, Jehovah, Allah, or the ever modest God, to name a few. But God is what he’s known as in most of the west, so I’ll go with that one (it’s also easier to spell!).
We can start to get some idea of God from His translated words. I concentrate here primarily on the Torah (also known as ‘the old testament’), as this is the book (compilation of books) that is common to all three Abrahamic religions. I’m using the Commentary on the Torah, new English translation including Hebrew text, by Richard Elliott Friedman. It’s important to note that, unless one reads the original language, any version is a translation. However, God being all powerful and all knowing, His words, ideas and those inspired by Him should translate perfectly in any language. After all, at the time he wrote the bible He would, of course, have foreseen the modern age and, indeed, that fact that you would be reading this blog entry at this precise moment.
So, what’s He like?
We’re continually told He is all powerful and all knowing, and He clearly demonstrates something to that effect by creating the universe and everything in it, as detailed in the book of Genesis. That’s a lot of cosmology and particle physics to manipulate. He’s clearly advanced from us, as we’ve just discovered the Higgs-Boson particle, which might give rise to universes due to an instability. But we’re far from being able to actively exploit it. Especially in order to produce something as specific as humans. And He did it in seven days.
Except, he apparently created light before light sources (light was created on day 1, stars on day 4)?! And plants (day 3) before creating the sun (day 4)?! Oh well, let’s give Him the benefit of the doubt, it was probably His first universe.
It was possibly also a mistake to create humans as a species that was supposed to multiply, but couldn’t die. I’m sure He realized that eventually, which is undoubtedly why, of all the places on the planet he could have put the Tree of Knowledge, he chose right smack in the middle of the Garden of Eden (the one place humans would have no trouble reaching it).
What I don’t understand is, why He’s blamed us for His oversight. I mean, He needed us to eat from the tree of knowledge in order to die. Otherwise we’d overpopulate the world in less than 50 generations (assuming only 2 children per couple there would be over 1 quadrillion people by the 50th generation, which would be approximately 1000-1300 years after the creation of Adam and Eve). So why put this whole original sin thing on us?
When a human does such a thing it’s usually to distract others from realizing their guilt. Could this be true also of God? Is God so insecure that He can’t accept the blame for His own oversight? Some might say “Ours is not to judge God”, but I say “If not us, then who?”
If insecurity and dodging blame were the worst of God’s failings, then He wouldn’t be so bad. No perfect, but not so bad. But time passes, Gods come and go and people become complacent. Enter the age of Noah.
Noah was a good man, by which the bible means that he was a God fearing man. Unlike most of the population at that time, apparently. In fact, the omnipotent God became so enraged at the lack of respect He was shown that He, well, He did something very naughty. He decided to wipe all life from the Earth. Yep. Not just all humans, which would have been bad enough, but all life. And in a rather violent and fearsome manner. He could have just stopped everyone’s heart in their sleep. But God chose a different manner for showing his disappointment. He decided to drown everyone and everything on the planet. And he did, with the exception of a very few of each species.
I desperately hope this doesn’t sound like a good idea to anyone. Because killing everyone to start over, to build something more to your specific liking, is just wrong. It lacks patience, it lacks foresight, and it lacks concern for those you will harm. When I read the story of Noah and the flood, I can’t help but feel that God may have set a very bad precedent here, something I’ll discuss in an upcoming sermon.
Please forgive me if I don’t touch on all God’s… poor choices (the torture of Job for a bet, the levelling of Sodom and Gamora for reasons similar to the Great Flood, teasing Abraham with the order to kill his son, even the unnecessary and pointless torture of God’s own son?!, and many others) but I think we are already capable of seeing a trend in God’s actions.
He is clearly insecure, easily angered, quick to act on His anger — seemingly without appropriate forethought, as he often regrets His actions later, despite being omniscient — and gives very little value to human life. His tally for the murder of humans either by direct action or command, runs easily into the millions when considering the near genocide during the flood and the razing of several cities. Sadly, this doesn’t seem high by today’s standards, but an actual estimate is impossible since we don’t know how many people existed in these times. Also consider that during the flood He killed not just 99.999% of all humans, but essentially every living creature on the planet. Multiple mass genocides on a planet-wide scale.
So, you may love God, but the question has to be asked, does He love you? I think from the brief biblical exploration above, the answer to anyone sane must be a resounding NO. God is clearly a petty, angry creature with no patience, no honour, and no respect for His creations. He seems far more a petulant child than the rightful ruler of creation and seems only to love himself. So you can choose to love God, but it seems quite clear that God doesn’t love you back.
Disclaimer: for all the religious fundamentalists who might be reading this, I assume you have read the bible, so I can only conclude you haven’t actually thought about it beyond the rhetoric you’ve been taught. Please, for all our sakes, open your mind to the insanity. If your God is the one in the bible, then if He exists, He clearly has an agenda that does not include helping us humans. Of course, I don’t really believe the Abrahamic God exists because if He did I would either be cowering in constant fear of this mad-being, or working with the resistance to bring Him down.
Insight and longevity,