This is the second part in the series An Evil God?
The Bible’s Answer
The Bible, like many myths, begins with answering how the world came to be and why it’s so screwed up.
The Bible tells us that God created everything in six days. He created Adam out of dust, and Eve out of Adam’s rib. (Woman, being the property of man, doesn’t get the dignity of her own mud spawning.) They were placed in the Garden of Eden and told they could eat of any fruit except one. If they ate that evil forbidden fruit, they would die that day.
Well, as you know, the snake tempts Eve, she eats the fruit and then Adam eats some too — and what do you know, they’re still alive. Soon after, God shows up, asking, “Where art thou?” (Come on, God, do you really not know?) When he finds them, he gets angry at their disobedience and curses Adam, Eve, the snake and the earth.
And that’s the explanation for why the world is the way it is — our ancestors ate some forbidden fruit, God got angry, and now everything is screwed up. That’s definitely on The Top 10 List of Worst Explanations Why the World is Screwed Up.
The Blame Falls on God
The story attempts to put the blame on man, but fails. The blame falls on God.
Man was doing what he does best — eating things that look delicious and disobeying rules for which he has no reason to obey. Only the snake gave an explanation, who said man’s eyes would be open, and they would know good from evil — that they would be like God. And you know what? The snake was right!
God was the one who made man with a nature that is susceptible to temptation. God made the tree look delicious and tempting. God made man to require reasons — and didn’t give him any. God created the snake and let him into the garden. And God knew all this would happen, yet still setup things so man would disobey him!
Man is not at fault — God is. This myth does not get God off the hook for what a crazy, screwed up world we live in — it would make him responsible for it.
What kind of God would punish so many innocent people and animals throughout history because of one sin that he orchestrated to happen? Why did he put the tree there anyway? Why did he make the tree have magical properties so that when they ate Adam and Eve “knew good from evil” — clearly a desirable thing? And if they didn’t know good from evil before they ate the fruit, how would they have known eating it was evil?
Some may find this story profound, but instead of answering questions, it just creates more. Of course it’s just a crazy ancient story, though — what did you expect?
There are two ways to view the world around us: the natural and the supernatural.
As we look around, we see that things are not ideal. Natural disasters kill millions of innocent people. Diseases ravage through populations. Children die of starvation. People are born with horrible birth defects. Good people suffer, while the evil prosper. Life isn’t fair.
Christians believe that God created the world and is in control of it, so they must find a scapegoat for all this evil that goes on. They can’t believe their God could have intended all this to happen. So they have the story of the forbidden fruit and Satan, the rebellious angel. Yet is the Bible’s answer really satisfying? As I have argued, it would make God responsible for this mess.
On the other hand, we have the natural answer. We see that there are natural laws and can predict many natural disasters. We know they are simply part of the world that we live in — parts that have helped form us, and without which we would not exist.
We can study disease and see it is not demonic or a superstitious curse. And as we have progressed in science, we have been able to cure many diseases.
We know that children are starving because of economic, agricultural, political, and cultural problems — problems that can be solved with science, government, and human compassion — not sacrificing sheep to an angry sky God who delights in the burning smell of animal blood.
The natural explanation makes far more sense than a supernatural one, and has the advantage of having an abundance of evidence. Why cling to old superstitions and supernatural boogeymen when we have a better natural explanation?