Who Makes the Rules?

I was always taught as a child that god was in charge.  He was the ultimate authority, the first and last word on any subject, and the law.  He took orders from nobody and had nobody to whom he had to answer.  God made the laws of nature and he could break them any time he wanted.  There was absolutely nothing he couldn’t do.  Then I read the Bible.

At many points in the Bible god is seemingly forced to take some kind of drastic action to intercede in his creation and at every one of these points he chooses (or must choose) the most elaborate, ineffective, and sometimes flat-out silly means.  It seems that every time he has to step in and take action he’s constrained by the Hollywood villain code of monologuing and setting up a trap that’s just way too complex to work.  Here are some examples:

Genesis 2:4 – 4:2 — He creates a tree that will doom mankind forever and puts it directly in the middle of their home.  When the humans eat the tree’s fruit he gets mad and tells them they’ll eventually die, but not before they’re allowed to have babies and thereby populate the Earth with more sinners (which, presumably, god doesn’t want).

 Garden Fail

Genesis 6 – 9:17 — When the world is overrun by sinners (due to god’s inability to kill off the first two before they started breeding) god gets angry and devises a plan whereby he’ll save only the most worthy humans and drown the rest with 40 days and 40 nights of rain.  He seals up eight humans and two (or seven) of every kind of animal and floods the world, presumably ridding the planet of those horrible, dirty heathens.  Yet, once the flood waters recede the humans start breeding again and make — you guessed it — more sinners!

Flood Meme

Genesis 11:1-9 — The people of the world are united with one language and set about to accomplish an amazing feat of architecture, building a “tower to the heavens” out of bricks.  God is afraid (seriously) of what these people can do when they understand what they’re all saying so he devises a plan where he’ll make them all speak different languages and they won’t be able to cooperate anymore.  Kind of makes you wonder from where all of these skyscrapers are coming now, doesn’t it?

Ceiling Cat Tower

[The New Testament Gospels] — Because we haven’t even gotten out of Genesis yet, we’re going to skip ahead to the most important Biblical blunder.  When god sees that humans are just wicked sinners in need of saving (from whom, one might ask?), he concocts this excellent, fool-proof plan where he’ll send his son down to Earth to become human and be murdered horribly as the atonement sacrifice for all of mankind.  His blood will wash away the sins of the world…except people will still sin and they’ll have to explicitly ask for forgiveness and accept the “free gift” of Jesus’ sacrifice which was already provided before they were born whether they liked it or not.  Supposedly this was the only way god could save mankind, and this is exactly what I want to address in this post.

In each of these instances we’re to assume that god created the rules that he would end up following.  Since he has no higher authority than himself, he decides what happens, when, and how.  I’ve given three examples in a single book of the Bible that show god not only to be incompetent but very nearly impotent to the point of miserable failure in every instance.  By his actions he accomplished nothing and gained nothing.  Who said he had to do it that way?

And what of the sacrifice of Jesus?  Was there truly no way to save mankind except for the murder of an innocent man?  Again, who said he had to do it that way?  Even Jesus, when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, asked for god to find a better way to do it!  He asked three times for a better way, and we see nothing more than an image of god with his hands in the air saying, “Psshht, rules!  What can ya do?”

Either god makes the rules or god follows the rules, but doing both is logically inconsistent.  If he makes the rules he can redefine them as he wishes (like when he subverted Pharaoh’s free will to show off his muscles) and he’s therefore not constrained by rules that would result in failure.  If he only follows the rules (as he appears to) then he can’t have made the rules in the first place and we’d have to assume some higher authority.

I have yet to meet a Christian honest enough to address this issue without invoking one of a number of  cop-out responses.  Most often, this conversation gets shut down immediately with something akin to, “God works in mysterious ways!”  It’s really just a lazy way to repackage, “I don’t know, but I don’t want to think about it!”

So what is it?  Does god make the rules or does he just follow them?

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