Monday, September 7, 2009

2: Brotherly Love

Genesis 4-7
Genesis 4; the story of Cain and Abel. Cain works the land and Abel raises animals, apparently God favors the latter and Cain is overwhelmed with jealously. First off, why doesn't God appreciate the work of Cain and his offering, but loves Abel's offerings? We never find out. It seems like God could have made everyone in the situation feel competent and like they had done a good job. God then asks Cain why he is angry, and several other questions. Doesn't he know? Again, he is acting less than omniscient. Cain then kills Abel and proceeds to attempt to lie to God about it. Cain clearly doesn't see God as omniscient either, otherwise why would he even attempt to lie?

God then administers his first punishment for murder. The only other punishment we have seen so far was in Genesis 3. Which, as we remember, was eternal torment for all of mankind for eating a fruit. Any reasonable person would expect a much more horrible punishment for murder. What is this horrible punishment you ask? Cain can't grow any more crops and he has to move.

This brings us to another strange point. Cain, in trying to talk God out of his punishment, says that "whoever finds me will kill me". How many people do we know of that are on the earth at this point? Adam, Eve, Cain, and dead Abel. Who is he afraid of? God then marks Cain so these mysterious people wont kill him.

Cain then apparently marries one of these mysterious people, unless the wife he took was Eve, which the text does not say. Could these people be the ones that God created in Genesis 1? The text simply doesn't say.

Genesis 5 serves to connect Adam to Noah in genealogy, and has several stories of people living nearly 1000 years. At every step in the generational line the men take wives, but we are again not told where any of these people come from.

Genesis 6 starts with God being very upset with his creations. We are given no explanation as to why he didn't know how we were going to turn out. The only conclusion this omniscient being can come up with is to wipe us all off the face of the earth; except Noah of course. Couldn't he have come down and at least asked us nicely to be good boys and girls?

Apparently God, having exhausted all other options, (though we don't see much of an attempt) decides to kill us all, and tells Noah to build him an ark that is 450ftx75ftx45ft. He then tells Noah to get two of all living creatures; birds, and anything else that moves along the ground. I have searched for the most conservative estimate of how many land creatures are currently alive today. This website tells me, after I add them up, that there are 26,859 land animals currently alive. For the moment, I will not figure in dinosaurs or insects (the lowest estimate I would find was nearly 1 million insect species). Dividing the cubic footage of the ark by the number of animals currently on earth yields 56.5 feet cubed. Taking the cubed root of this gives me a 3.8x3.8x3.8 foot box, for every pair of animals currently alive. This does not give any room for food, water, or any place to walk.

At the same time we must also assume that the ark is infested with 2 million insects, as they are not figured in to this equation. This is also not including the massive brontosaurus, which has an average length of 75 feet, or the infamous tyrannosaurus rex which averages 43 feet long.

These numbers aren't looking good for the bible going into Genesis 7, unfortunately it gets worse. God again changes his mind, as we've already seen several times. He now says he wants 7 pairs of clean animals, 2 pairs of unclean animals, and 7 pairs of every kind of bird. Ok, well I guess I need to recalculate. There are a relatively small number of "clean" animals, so i will just include them in the count of "unclean" animals. So two pairs of unclean animals (excluding birds) would be 35,718 pairs. Seven pairs of each bird would total to 63,000 pairs. This totals to 98,718 pairs of animals. This means that each pair of animals would have a cube 2.5x2.5x2.5 feet. This also means that there would be about 4 million insects crawling around (this is around 3 insects per cubic foot of space). Noah would certainly have to watch his step to ensure he didn't wipe any insects off the face of the earth. I will reiterate that this is the most conservative estimate I could find of the creatures on earth, there could be many, many more.

The final blow for the ark was when I started thinking about how these 8 people would tend to all these animals. There were 8 people on the ark to tend to 98,000 animals. This comes out to over 12,000 animals to tend to per person, per day. This means that if every person worked 24 hours a day, and never slept, ate, or used the bathroom, that each person would have 7 seconds to care for each pair of animals. This would include feeding, watering, and cleaning up the cage. I assume that the insects would just find their own food and water.

I leave Genesis 7, perplexed.

12 comments:

  1. Your perplexed for a reason, there is certain information that is useful to know before reading a book that was compiled thousands of years ago. Cultural differences don't change the moral teachings, but simply how we need to read and comprehend what we're reading. Many books in the Bible, mainly the Old Testament, are not supposed to be literally read. They were oral tradition passed down through the generations to teach moral lessons. The story of Adam and Eve uses a fruit allegorically within the story of the original sin. Adam and Eve are just the characters that were needed to tell the story, that doesn't mean that there weren't other people created, nor does it mean that they are purely fictional, just that one must be careful not to make assumptions about their own understanding of what they're reading without knowing sufficient background information.

    The fact that there was only so much space for an animal isn't important, the numbers may mean something symbolically, but the idea is whats important.

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  2. Unfortunately this is not how the majority of the population reads the bible. I refuse to read something "symbolically" when this is supposed to be the word of God. Would the all powerful God not mention that most of this was supposed to be symbolic? Who's to say that the parts that condemn homosexuality aren't symbolic. If you get to pick and choose what you take seriously then you may as well throw out the whole thing.

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  3. O.o we found out in your newest entries why God favored the animal farmer over the crop farmer: God loves the random slaughter of animals in his name.

    Slaughtering crops isnt good enough- (i guess you just cant beat the smell of burning lamb fat)

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  4. I think God is favoring the shepherd figure (foreshadowing) more than he hates the hunter. The dilemma of Cain's wife is a big deal among many Christians. However, keep in mind that because 'society' (or lack thereof) was very patrilineal, women are not mentioned. Obviously the descendents of Adam and Eve were not only male, nor were they limited to Cain, Abel, and Levi. There is no proof of a moral code to tell people not to have sex with siblings or outside the confines of 'marriage', and (correct me if I'm wrong) and diseases were only beginning to develop in that stage of mankind.

    So basically, God is:
    A. Producing women from thin air
    B. Really hypocritical about marriage

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  5. Leviticus 18:9 "Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere."

    Leviticus 20:17 "If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They must be cut off before the eyes of their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible."

    Sex outside of the confines of marriage is adultery. Which the bible forbids.

    So the bible itself has a moral code that forbids the actions that must have taken place within the bible.

    What evidence do you have that diseases were "only beginning to develop"? This is not plausible from a scientific evolutionary point of view.

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  6. Ok, I hate to be the repetative asshole but Quinn (in "Ishmeal") posits the following:

    Definitions:
    -Takers: People often referred to as "civilized." Particularly, the culture born in an Agricultural Revolution that began about 10,000 years ago in the Near East; the culture of Ishmael's pupil.

    -Leavers: People of all other cultures; sometimes referred to as "primitive."

    He brings up the story of The Fall of Man and tells a tale which explains why the fruit was forbidden to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: Eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil provides the gods with the knowledge they need to rule the world- the knowledge of who shall live and who shall die. The fruit nourishes only god, however, god saw that if Adam ("man") were to eat from this tree, he might think that he gained the gods' wisdom and in his arrogance, destroy the world and himself. "And so they said to him, you may eat of every tree in the garden, save the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for on the day you eat of that tree, you will certainly die."

    Ishmael makes the point that this story of the Fall of Man, which the Takers have adopted as their own, was in fact developed by Leavers to explain the origin of the Takers. If it were of Taker origin, the story would be of liberating ascent instead of a sinful fall.

    Ishmael and his student go on to discuss how, for the ancient Semitic herders among whom the tale originated, the story of Cain killing Abel symbolizes the Leaver being killed off and their lands taken so that it could be put under cultivation. These ancient herders realized that the Takers were acting as if they were gods themselves, with all the wisdom of what is good and evil and how to rule the world. And as a result the gods banished these people from the Garden and they were brought from a life of bounty in the hands of the gods to one of being the accursed tillers of the soil.

    All quoted from Wikipedia, and I promise that was the last time I bring up this book.

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  7. There is another interesting tidbit in 6:4, where it refers to the Nephilim existing, and sons of God screwing the daughters of mankind.

    If women were the daughters of mankind, men would surely be the sons of mankind, so the sons of God would be Angels? Lots of Jesus'?

    And the Nephilim (literally translated as "giants"). Hmmm.

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  8. Can anyone tell me what the curse was or what they think it was/is.

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  9. I always had a problem with Cain's wife, where did she come from?

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  10. Where did all those people come from? Easy. Genesis 1 when god created man and woman. What the greeks left out in their translation is that Adam is the first jew, not the first man. It's the only logical excplanation. ;)

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  11. wondering how noag managed to sail across to Australia and pick up a few kangaroos?

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  12. What about the first few verses of chapter 6:

    1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

    2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

    3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

    4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.


    God limits humans to 120 years. Ok, got that. But the other part has always bothered me. Human women were having babies with angels. And those babies grew up to be big, strong, powerful giants. And they were respected (men of renown) if only because they were giant half-angels. Most christians aren't even aware of this story. But those who are have some interesting explanations. I've heard that the real reason for the flood was to get rid of them. I'd love to know what your thoughts are on this.

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