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The Fall

Let us think, for just a moment, about the Fall of Man. (Sexist language intended.)

This is the story: God (Jehovah/the Elohim) creates everything. Cool. Gods do that. He manages this ex nihilo, which is pretty impressive, except for the fact that he didn’t really make it out of nothing, as there seems to have been water there to begin with. Oh well.

After he makes the earth, sky, ocean, plants, and animals, he makes the first man, who goes about naming the animals. Nice touch, that — shows that Adam is Lord of the Earth. Yay.

Now, Adam doesn’t say anything, but God thinks he’s going to be lonely, so he puts him to sleep and takes  out his rib to make Eve. Or he makes them both out of earth — Genesis is a little vague here. At any rate, there they both are, man and woman, naked as the day they were…um…made out of dust, and living in paradise.

Everything is wonderful and shiny. God says, “Hey, I made this place for you! It’s amazing and full of good things. You can enjoy it all…except…” Huh? Conditions? In paradise? “You can eat anything you want here, except the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden, okay? That one’s off-limits. If you eat that fruit, you will DIE.” They nod. No fruit from the center tree, check.

Now, let’s think about this for a minute. God created the world. He created humans. He gave them paradise to live in. THEN he puts a thorn in the rose — one tree they can’t eat from. Why? Why even put it there? What is the point? Everything is beautiful and amicable (to quote the inimitable Nichole Hollander); why even put that tree there, just to deny them the fruit?

Right now I can hear the fan wankers apologists rise up in their millions and cry, “It’s there to test them! God demands obedience!” Um, great, but that doesn’t really answer my question: why? What is the point? If there had been no temptation, there would have been no disobedience, no Fall, and we’d all be in paradise this minute.

Hmph. Well, we’ll take the scene as set, just for the sake of argument.

In strides the snake (remember? It still has legs at this point) and finds Eve toodling around the Garden, enjoying everything. It asks her about Life, and she says it’s pretty good: they can enjoy the Garden and everything in it. Oh, except the fruit of that one tree, because if they eat it, they will DIE.

“No, no, no,” says the snake, “you won’t die…you’ll just learn the difference between good and evil. You’ll be like God!”

PLOT POINT. See what happens here? If Adam and Eve eat the fruit, they’ll know the difference between good and evil, which means they don’t know that difference now. Which means that they don’t know it’s wrong (evil) to disobey God. Remember that. It’s important.

Predictably, Eve eats some of the fruit. It’s really tasty, so she gives some to Adam, and he likes it too. Oops! Suddenly they notice they’re naked (naked = eeeevil), so they sew some fig leaves together to cover themselves and run off to hide.

God finds them, of course, and when he finds out what they’ve done (wait, he’s God…why doesn’t he know already?), he goes medieval on them. He banishes them from Eden, condemns Adam to working for a living and Eve to subservience and painful childbirth. Overreaction much? (Interestingly, though, they don’t die, though they will eventually, so I suppose I’ll give that inconsistency a pass.)

That’s the original story. It gets much more complicated as the generations go by and people retell and interpret and reinterpret the story. By the time we get to the Christian Church, especially around the time of St. Augustine, people are blaming Adam and Eve’s little al fresco snack for everything from bunions to war and pillage. And so we eventually get the Doctrine of Original Sin: because Adam and Eve disobeyed God that one time in the Garden, everyone born afterwards is born into sin and are condemned to hell eternally unless they accept Christ. Eternal punishment. Can you understand that? Of course you can’t. But think of it: everyone in the world is born sinful and will go directly to Hell — do not pass Go, do not collect 200 drachmas — unless they profess the Christian religion (and the correct version thereof, dammit!).

THIS, because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, once. And disobeyed him before they could possibly know it was wrong to do so. So let’s forget how spectacularly God overreacts to their “sin” for a minute and just look at the sin itself. What sin? Eating the fruit was what gave them the knowledge of good and evil, so they couldn’t know, before they ate it, that eating it was wrong. What a set up! God not only decides it’s a good idea to put a completely unnecessary trap in the Garden; he expects his creation to avoid the trap without giving them the tools to do so.

What kind of god is this? One who sets his creation up for certain failure, then punishes them — and every single last one of their descendents — for the failure eternally. What could have possibly been going through his mind? Why create humans to at all? Why create a universe just to fill it with suffering and pain and punishment?

Unless God is a sadist, of course. Then it all makes sense.

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Reading Bruce Gerencser’s excellent blog today, wherein he took on the climate deniers. He received one particularly virulent denier comment, and another less spittle-covered, though no more intelligent. This is my response:

Mark: “There are scientist on both sides of the theory.”

There are virtually no CLIMATE scientists on the climate-denier side of the issue and very few of any other type. A 2003 poll confirmed scientific consensus on the subject — http://www.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full — and when the results were criticized, a 2009 survey (http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf), simply confirmed the first one’s findings. To quote from the latter article: “It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate among scientists.”

Russel (and T Paul, not quoted): “Unlike those who follow Al Gore by burying their heads in the sand to the existence of skeptic climate scientists’ assessments, such conservatives look into skeptic viewpoints in careful detail. What do they see? Peer-reviewed science journal-published papers and lengthy reports citing thousands of these, which ultimately come to a conclusion that contradicts the IPCC.”

Proof? References? According to the studies above, scientists who are currently publishing in ANY field are overwhelmingly of the opinion that the earth is warming and that the warming is primarily due to human activity. Among publishing climatologists, the view is nearly unanimous. Who are these skeptics? And how does such a small number of them (almost none of them climatologists!) trump the vast consensus among the scientific community at large?

I understand why people want to deny climate change. It’s scary. If climate change were true, we would have to to change many of our everyday habits  and rethink many of our modern “conveniences.” Slowing or halting the process would demand changes is in manufacturing that would doubtless cut into the (often outrageous) profits of many large industries and harm many smaller companies as well. Owning up to our part in the disaster could induce truly spectacular levels of guilt. Easier to wave it away or use the Bible or some angry conspiracy theories to “prove” it doesn’t exist/it’s normal/we can’t do anything about it.

But once you have the facts, you can no long hide behind lack of education or wishful thinking. You are now responsible for your part in climate change, even if you continue to deny it’s happening. You are responsible for the futures of your children and grandchildren. You are answerable to the people of low-lying nations, who will certainly be made homeless, their nations EXTINCT as the water rises (http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/washed_away_as_sea_levels_rise_island_nations_look_to_the_law, http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-07/news/31130875_1_climate-change-global-sea-levels-president-tong). You are accountable to all of those who will suffer or die from the droughts, floods, storms, heatwaves, etc. that will be the result of this massive global change. As we all are, of course, but the question is, what will YOU do about it?

the things I think about

Why does anyone believe in any religion these days?

Specifically, how can anyone believe in an exclusivist religion?

Why is it so hard just to be polite?

You know, I really am fucking lazy.

I should really stop eating so many Jelly Bellies.

When can I stop worrying about things?

Hey, nice font — what is it?

Should I take a nap, or will that make it hard to sleep tonight?

Salamander-Boy doesn’t have a chance…does he?

Why are so many people so mean?

I need to get to Jo-Ann to get some yarn to make Jan some chemo hats. (Can’t visit of course — not with this cold.)

It never ceases to amaze me that people proclaim the xian god to be a “god of unconditional love,” then claim innumerable conditions to salvation by same god, who was, by the way, depicted as decidedly not loving in the OT.

Why in the name of all that is true and good and beautiful would you CHOOSE to believe a religion that posits an eternal hell? Seriously?

I need to get to Powell’s.

So, Mitt: it’s a bad idea to raise tax rates on interest income, which would only affect people who could afford it, but it’s a good idea to raise taxes so those 47% of Americans who pay no federal income tax (ignoring all the other taxes they do pay) will be forced to chip in, huh? Fuck you, you entitled, over-privileged, smug white boy.

By the way, Mitt: Actually, I wouldn’t mind AT ALL if a presidential candidate paid more taxes than he or she owed. Seriously, wtf?

I ought to feed Peter lunch, and get some for myself.

I created this blog so I could answer some offensive religious asshole who thought that only jesus-people could be moral and that if god were kicked out of government that there would be wholesale rape, murder, and minor property crimes and our nation would, essentially, collapse. Why do I do this to myself?

I did exchange a few comments, trying to keep the snark to a minimum (I was genuinely abashed when I snarked at the poster’s substitution of “intransigently” for “intrinsically” only to be told that English was his second language).  As usual, the actual thrust of my remarks/arguments/questions were ignored so the person replying could sermonise and evangelise. I tried, what, three times? before I gave my “I give up” post, wherein I nonetheless restated my original point. (Gods, I’m such a wank.) I then made it clear that all their condescending explanations of theology and all their pleas for me to seek god were pointless as I had been there and done that. I resisted going into my entire rant as to why I found their religion to be not only untenable but offensive and morally repugnant, though my first draft was not so restrained. Just waiting now for them to respond with the “not casting pearls before swine” line they used on Nick earlier in the comments. By their love shall ye know them, indeed.

So, in sum. This blog is a sham, my name is not Kat Stone, and everything else in it is absolutely true, to the best of my limited human ability. Knowing me, I’ll probably make a couple more posts where I muse on religion or politics, then I shall either gradually or immediately disappear when I get overwhelmed by everything else.

Le sigh.