everal times during my childhood I heard a pastor preach on the creation story in Genesis. While I was still a Christian I thought it was just about the coolest story I’d ever heard — every time I heard it. Here’s the run-down:
In the beginning there was god. God got the urge to create stuff so he fashioned a planet with land and water and light so he could put plants and animals on it. In order to make this his crowning achievement he then placed humans and a talking serpent on the planet. The habitable area on this planet was constrained to a garden, in the middle of which was a tree that god had created knowing that it would destroy the humans someday.
Pretty awesome, right? Well, kind of. When I was a Christian I followed along in my book while the pastor read and never asked questions. This is how the sermon almost always went:
“Genesis 1: 1 — In the beginning, GOD. Now, that’s all I need to know. This tells me that god was always there, is there now, and will always be there even after I die. Praise the lord!”
When I hear it now it makes me want to vomit. Believers honestly constrain their knowledge to soundbites like this and call it wisdom. The passage that the preachers love to abbreviate leaves so many unanswered questions and gaps in the story I can’t even count them all! Now that I’m thinking outside of “the book,” there are some things I’d love to have answered. I’ll outline them below:
- “In the beginning” of what? Are we talking about the beginning of god? The beginning of the universe? The beginning of recorded human history? The phrase is ambiguous and makes me scratch my head because if god was always around then he didn’t have a beginning and Genesis 1:1 is a misnomer.
- If god is perfect then he doesn’t need or want anything. He would literally be in the most complete, whole, and utter state of perfection without anything added or taken away. Why, then, would something change and god suddenly have the need or desire to create something? He was around before the beginning of time and existed for an eternity prior to saying, “Let there be light.” What happened during this eternity where a major shift in his attitude and modus operandi occurred and he started poofing things into existence from nothing?
- What was god doing prior to getting the creation bug? What was his purpose? If he created humans to worship him and spend eternity in Heaven with him, then why did he even exist prior to the first human being created? Did he exist prior to the first human being created? I’d love to know!
Here are just three simple questions that don’t have satisfactory answers. Most theists to whom I’ve asked any of these questions usually just wave them away and say that it’s not important. The point is that god is eternal and the creator and owner of everything and all we need to do is make sure everyone is “saved.” This is the height of ignorance! Why, in any conceivable way, is this information irrelevant or unimportant? We’re talking about the deity you worship as the most perfect being imaginable. Don’t you want to know what he was doing before he appeared to really have a purpose?
I suppose I can understand a little bit the mentality behind the theist’s position. I was once in that position myself. I knew the Bible was true and I didn’t doubt that the only important information was what was written on the pages of those books. I knew that, that is, until I removed myself from the controlling influence of the religious hive mind and began thinking for myself.
My biggest problem with the Biblical concept of god is that he appears to be devoted entirely to the reward and punishment of human beings. No Christian ever speaks out about how god is making sure the orbits of the planets around Gliese 581 are stable and contained in the “Goldilocks Zone.” No, god’s attention is focused on Earth and its inhabitants. So, how could god have existed for an eternity prior to creating humans when his only purpose is to reward and punish humans? And if you want to back it up and say that it’s not just humans to which he devotes his attention but the heavens and the earth, then how could he possibly have had any purpose whatsoever prior to the heavens and earth being created? He couldn’t have!
Either god has some unstated purpose that we’ll never know (and it’s so nice of god to keep that hidden from us) or the whole creation story is crap. If you would have asked me 20 years ago I would have told you that god is a mystery and it’s not for us to know. Hell, I would even have been happy with that answer. If you ask me now, I vote for the “crap” theory.
Part of why I don’t have faith anymore is because faith never answered any questions — except with more questions.