Browsing my King James Bible, I came across this curious tale. Maybe you've heard of it. It's the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. It makes you wonder just what sort of god the author was writing about. It soon becomes all too obvious why he was writing it in the first place though - and I do mean he.
Firstly, this god is supposed to have created the Garden of Eden, complete with fruit trees for food, and put Adam into it.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
He then tells Adam that he can eat the fruit on all the trees except for the [fruit of the] tree of 'knowledge of good and evil' otherwise he will surely die.
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
So this god has put temptation in the Garden of Eden yet poor Adam does not yet have knowledge of good and evil so he doesn't yet know it's wrong to disobey this god. The words 'set up to fail' spring to mind.
But maybe that threat that Adam would die would do the trick, though we aren't told if this god has actually told Adam about death yet, and he can't have heard about it from anyone else. We can be sure though that Adam couldn't possibly have had any experience of this 'death' thing because, according to this version, there was nothing to die yet.
God then makes all the animals and birds, etc, out of the ground, apparently hoping that Adam could use one of them as a 'help meet'.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Okay. So, this god decides to make Adam 'an help meet' and creates a whole lot of birds and animals to see if any of those would do, but fails to make a suitable one - which is strange really, what with being omniscient and having created Adam in the first place.
So, he has another go and creates a woman for him. For some reason, although he could create a man from dust and all the animals and birds 'out of the ground', he needs a piece of man from which to make a woman, but that's by the by. Maybe he was losing his touch or the magic was running out along with his omniscience.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Well, obviously! With no knowledge of right and wrong, why would they feel shame?
And now the tale starts to get really bizarre, as though it weren't bizarre enough already.
Apparently, this god had included a talking, reasoning and cunning snake when he created all the animals and birds 'out of the ground'. It turns out too that this snake knew that the god had lied to Adam before it was even created, but we aren't told how it got this knowledge. Obviously someone must have told it because it wasn't there when the god told Adam the lie.
The lie was of course about dying if they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or even touched it (though the god apparently forgot to mention the touching part).
So, here we have an incompetent god who tells lies, and a clever serpent who tells Eve the truth. And Adam, who was told personally by this god that he would surely die, decides to take his chances with Eve and the serpent instead.
Perhaps he wasn't too impressed by this god either, having seen his bungling over the 'help meet' fiasco. But of course, Adam and Eve didn't know right from wrong, so they can't be held responsible for doing a 'wrong' thing, can they?
Anyway, they then eat the forbidden fruit, gain the knowledge of right and wrong through some mysterious process, and don't die that same day after all, just like the serpent says, and contrary to what the god had said.
God had lied to them.
So, was this knowledge of right and wrong the knowledge that this god is a liar and did Adam and Eve get their morals from a talking snake?
But it doesn't stop there.
A bit later on, Adam and Eve, who had mysteriously found a needle and thread and made some simple clothes to cover their newly-discovered naughty parts, heard this god walking about in the Garden of Eden so they hid from it.
And the god couldn't find them so he had to call out to Adam and ask him where he was.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
They hid from an omniscient, omni-present god!
And it's only then that this 'omniscient' god discovers that they have eaten the forbidden fruit and now know right from wrong!
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
So, this 'omniscient' god now needs to be told what happened and falls for Eve's lie. The serpent hadn't deceived her at all. The serpent was the one who told them the truth and the only person who could have told the serpent the truth in the first place was the god. They touched and ate the fruit and didn't die like this god had told them they would; instead they lived, like the serpent had said they would.
It was Adam who had been deceived by the god.
It all smacks of a set-up to me.
But it maybe all becomes clear in the final few of verses of the tale:
And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life
So the poor serpent gets punished for doing what he was made to do and for telling the truth which it can only have been fed by the god. And of course, as we all know, snakes eat nothing but dust to this day!
Then the sucker punches, and the reason the entire tale was made up in the first place, even at the expense of making the god sound like an incompetent fool and a liar. According to the author, the god who rigged the whole thing in the first place decides to punish Adam and Eve even though they didn't know right from wrong until after they had done the naughty thing. Not only that, but it deems this the worst crime imaginable and one for which all Adam and Eve's descendant were to be punished too.
And this is supposed to be an omni-benevolent god!
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Yep! Women are to be the chattels of men! How convenient!
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
And the best a man can hope for is a life of toil and drudgery and labouring in the fields.
Except of course for the priests and the ruling classes, who just happen to own the fields and need a compliant labour-force who know their place and believe they deserve nothing better from life. What a very handy outcome for them, eh?
And that's the women put in their place too! Sod all that seduction and foreplay stuff and wanting a say in everything! A man should be master in his own house!
This is how you can tell that the Bible was written by men for the masters they served and how the god in it is a utility god who is made to be whatever suits the rulers at the time. Later on it will be a brutal, genocidal god, or a capricious, threatening one, or even one who sides with the underdogs - up to a point of course.