In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was a vast waste, darkness covered the deep, and the spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water. God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light; and God saw the light was good, and he separated light from darkness. He called the light day, and the darkness night. So evening came, and morning came; it was the first day.
I’ve always liked that version of the Creation; it makes it sound so simple, so straightforward. Well, I have to tell you that right there is the first of many times the truth is going to clash with what you’ve read in the Bible—you know, it’s even possible that this book could get banned on a list of forbidden books—just like the Bible itself once was! I can just see the headlines now “God bans God! Oh well, that’s all part of the problem—the assumption that once something is written, it’s—you should pardon the expression, “gospel”, and you should go on for eternity with blinders on. I mean, according to the different books in the Bible, I am in favor of slavery, bigotry, genocide, and animal sacrifice. Do you really think that I want you to go around sacrificing helpless animals to me so I can have a whiff? We’re bound to come back to it again and again, but come on, humanity; I gave you a brain so I must have intended you to use it!
But, for now, let’s just start with the observation that, no, the act of Creation just wasn’t as simple as all that.
First of all you have to understand that being God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. First, the whole omniscience thing. You would be surprised at what a pain that is at times. I mean, I knew how the whole universal unfolding would go even before I began the act of creation. Just to really hit home here, think about the fact that I knew I would create the universe even before I ever thought about it. See, I just know! Which really puts a damper on the element of surprise—if you take omniscience to its logical conclusion, God just can’t be surprise by anything. Oh, I can be amused, perplexed, puzzled, disgusted, angered, yeah, all that—but if I know all, you, that is the whole human race, just can’t do anything that can surprise me—I already know what you’re going to do before you do—if you get what I mean.
So, that doesn’t really work, does it? Kind of puts the whole kibosh on the free-will bit, eh?
Any one of your more clever philosophers could easily point out that the fundamental flaw in the concept of the unfolding of a divine plan is that if God already knows how it winds up, then it’s a done deal. Why go through the whole mess — creating stars, planets, atmospheres, life; watching mankind1 stupidly murder each other in your superior ignorance of just what I have planned or what I want of you; observing civilizations rise and fall, children suffering from neglect and starvation in a world I designed to support and nourish them all, watching innocents immolated or crucified because you just can’t agree over whether I am One or Three or Two Thousand Four Hundred and Twenty-Seven! —when the whole thing is a fait accompli? And then you go and wonder whether mankind has free will! What kind of madman would I be if I did all that intentionally, knowing all this in advance? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, indeed! Something wrong with the picture? Well, all in it’s time and place.
Of course you have free will! Look at the schmucks2 you pick as leaders. Divine Right, my tuchas!
Oh, don’t get me wrong. If that were all you were, all you were capable of, I would have destroyed the lot of you long ago (my supposed promise to Noah, not withstanding). But, boy, Humanity: you really do piss me off sometimes!
And before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight:. I am not going to tell you how the whole thing is going to turn out — I mean, you’ll just have to go along for the ride. That’s part of what being human is about.
I hate to disappoint you, but despite the delusion of grandeur a good number of your leaders have, you’re not the crown of creation. I did not create the universe for your sake. And by heaven!, how you could possibly think that yours is the only planet with life on it is beyond belief. I mean, really! I’m extremely fond of you for a heck of a lot of reasons, which I’ll get to, but come on! Get a little perspective, humanity.
In short, I’m God, and you’re not!
Well, yes, I’m quite aware of how you worship me at your synagogues, mosques, churches, temples, shrines, what have you. Don’t think I don’t listen. Why, sometimes I even listen to your religious broadcasts—now there’s a concept for you; can you even imagine that we would get television in heaven? So I know what’s going on down there. Holy, Hallelujah, Baruch Atoh, Hari Krishna (or Rama or Vishnu or the manifestation of your choice), Allahu Akbar!, whatever you want. Hey, I’m certainly pleased that you remember me, and that there is some thought to good and evil, and basic moral principles. Great. Can you take it to the next step and leave each other alone to worship me as each sees fit. I don’t recall giving any of you the authority to say whom I’ve damned and whom I’ve saved, and who is blessed, and who has blasphemed my name. Do you really think I’m so petty as to actually care about this? After all, sticks and stones may break my bones –again, metaphorically speaking of course– but names will never hurt me. And as far as all you fanatics go let me tell you a big secret: If I wanted someone killed over this stuff, I am certainly capable of doing it myself. I’m God, remember? Jesus Christ!, if I could destroy Sodom and Gomorra, crush Leviathan, drown Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, destroy Babylon the great, and—pièce de résistance!—resurrect the dead, I think I can fight my own battles, thank you very much.
I mean, do you honestly think I had nothing better to do than to create you so you could go around persecuting each other for my greater glory? What sort of sick, sadistic son of a bitch do you think I am? Or maybe you think it’s like television…like I look at the Earth edition of the TV Guide and think, “Hm…there’s a fight between the Protestants and Catholics in North Ireland. Nah, maybe I’ll watch the starving masses in Ghana tonight…much better than Survivor”. Do you suppose I think those are comedy shows?
Anyway, let’s get back to this all-knowing God thing. That one was a problem. If I already knew how the whole goddamn thing turned out, what was the point of going through the whole creation bit? It’s sort of like turning on the TV to watch a bad movie when you already know the plot. Boring! So, the only way it works is that I don’t know all the details. Yep, I don’t know everything. Nor would I want to. Kind of makes the whole thing pointless: Why put all of creation through all that suffering and pain? Its not like I can go to someone with a smug look on my face and say “Told you so!” I know what the end game is supposed to be, but I don’t necessarily know how we get there. Sort of like a detective story where you know the murderer in advance but you want to see how the detective catches him. Hey, inquiring minds want to know!
Oops, I supposed some of you might be shocked that I would have used the expression “goddamn” a few seconds ago. I guess I just took my own name in vain. Now, I’ll get into it more when I get to discuss Moses, but that old commandment “You must not make wrong use of the name of the Lord your God” (or as some put it “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”—and, by the way, it should be “carry” not “take” if you really want to translate the word nacah from the Hebrew correctly) does not mean that you can’t curse. Heck, it really takes a saint to avoid saying a good “goddamnit!” after hitting your thumb with a hammer!
Besides, what do you think it really means whenever the Bible says “God cursed…(so and so)”?!
You want to know what wrong use of my name is? Killing those who think differently about what I am than you, saying that an illness, a tragedy, poverty or other misery is a punishment from me, invoking my name to justify your wars, that’s taking my name in vain!!!
1 Okay, let’s take care of this right now. I’m not going to be politically correct with this man/woman-kind bit — we know what we mean! I can just see someone protesting now — “God is a male-chauvinist! He’s anti-this, that and the other one!” How boring! Get a grip, humanity! First of all, what’s makes you think I’m male? Or female for that matter?
2 Just because I use the word “schmucks” here does not mean God is Jewish. I am neither Jewish, Christian, Moslem, Zoroastrian, nor Wicca. Nor am I deist, theist, atheist, or agnostic, for that matter.
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