Judging solely on what’s written in the bible — that book he apparently dictated to Moses — God is either the most inept deity ever or he’s a neurotic hot mess, angry because humans never do what he tells them to do. Imagine having the power to create the universe but none to deal with your own creations. Think about it: you’re Yahweh (aka “God” — “God” is not the character’s name, it’s his job description!) You’ve just created literally EVERYTHING in the cosmos. For an encore, you created Earth then flora & fauna’d it. Then, for an encore to the encore, you created human beings in your own image. And suddenly everything goes kablooie.
If we’re to take the OT texts literally (as the intensely religious in America do and think we all should), the most powerful creature in all the universe got waylaid — his master plans for the universe thwarted — by one woman: Eve. And all because Eve eats a piece of fruit the Yahweh character tells her not to eat. Wait… wut?
Say that again: the most powerful creature in all the universe gets defeated by one of his own creations (and, really, Eve is a creation of a creation since — so the story goes — she was created from one of Adam’s ribs). Oh, sure — Eve and Adam get punished. They get tossed out of Eden. Adam will have to work for a living while Eve screams in pain throughout each birth.
But that doesn’t end things. Yahweh’s creation in his own image continues to thwart him. In the end, Yahweh hires Noah to build a boat. How bloody bonkers is this story?
Let’s go back a step. We get where Adam and Eve came from. We get where Cain and Abel came from. Then Cain kills Abel. That leaves three people. Cain, cursed by Yahweh for having murdered his brother, says “My punishment is greater than I can bear…I shall be a fugitive and a wonderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.”
How’d we get from THREE PEOPLE to “anyone who meets me may kill me”? Where’d the “ANYONE” come from? The earth should be peopled with exactly three people. Yahweh promises Cain no one will hurt Cain — he’s been “marked” like a made man and off he goes the “Land of Nod”.
Where’d the “Land of Nod” come from? Who invented that? Better question — who peopled it? Suddenly Adam is knowing Eve every second he gets, producing a steady stream of boys who — according to verses 18 through26 — marry and produce a steady stream of descendants. From women who didn’t exist — who couldn’t because who bore them?
We have to remind ourselves. These old stories are old stories. They were written by well-meaning people (men almost entirely if not completely) trying to figure out the universe with at best a rudimentary knowledge base. For instance — they thought everything revolved around the earth. In fact, the earth does not sit at the center of the universe. Hell, we don’t even sit at the very center of our own galaxy.
Yahweh, in the OT, is frankly psychopathic. Finally, he gets someone to “believe in” him — Abraham. Abraham and his wife Sarah have conception issues. Abraham wants a son. Sarah’s “maid” Hagar bears Ismael. Not good enough for Yahweh or Abraham. Finally, Sarah bears Isaac — the son he’s wanted forever.
“Hey,” Yahweh says to Abraham one day, “I need you to take that son you love so much and sacrifice him — because I’m telling you to”. Abraham does not protest. Not in the least. To prove he loves the voice in his head more than his own flesh and blood, Abraham takes Isaac to the designated place (following Yahweh’s psychotic instructions to the letter) and would absolutely have finished the act if an angel doesn’t intercede and stop him.
That’s the story that sealed the deal on my atheism when I was a kid. I was never much swayed by the “magical man in the sky” story. Nothing in the Pentateuch convinced me that I was wrong — that there is a magical man in the sky. The idea that I was supposed to emulate Abraham — and the extent of his faith in Yahweh? Hell no. I saw myself as Isaac. I see this story as an attempt to justify murder — because the voice in your head says “Do it”.
As a kid, I couldn’t get past that weird juxtaposition my religious teachers wanted me to buy into: believe in this Yahweh character even though he’s clearly a petty, insecure, weak-minded bully. The universe may be brutal and random but at least it follows some basic rules of physics. Yahweh is brutal and random — but he makes up the rules as he goes along.
The New Testament version of Yahweh seems kinder and gentler. After all — he’s offering up his own flesh and blood to try and undo the damage done by Eve and her transgression. The whole point of the Garden of Eden — as Paul re-told the story to a Gentile audience with no background in the Jewish mythology — was to end up at Jesus who dies for the sake of mankind (and to reverse the impact of Eve’s “original sin”).
But, in order to get the death-defeating benefits that Yahweh is selling, you have to believe in Jesus. Paul made it an imperative. Believe in Jesus — or else. “Live forever or die right now” should have been institutional Christianity’s ad slogan.
Actually, that’s exactly what the institutional church did. It turned “Do unto others” into “Do what we say”. I keep going back to the image of a deity inventing everything in creation — while worrying if everybody likes him.
Never mind building a better mousetrap. What humanity needs is a better class of deity. Or no deity at all. But then, I’m biased.