Anything you can do I can do better…

I already broke my vow not to post about religion anymore, so let’s go for broke here. I have a lot of problems with the bible and it’s no secret. Today I was thinking about the flood and Noah, and a few questions about the whole thing occurred to me. God created the flood to wipe out humanity–except for Noah–because he was displeased with man’s wicked ways. Fine, whatever. Men are evil, I’ll give you that one, bible (apparently God’s flood solution didn’t really fix that, though. Good one, God!). But the bible is quite clear that the flood destroyed everything. That’s why Noah had to bring all the animals on the earth with him in the ark. And two thoughts occurred to me.

1. What about plants? God’s instructions to Noah are pretty specific about collecting all the animals. But nowhere does the Almighty mention anything about plants. Which I find kind of weird, considering life on this planet couldn’t exist without them. And I don’t know too many plants beside kelp that could make it through 150 days of being water-logged, starved of sunlight, and deprived of CO2. The biblical account of the flood makes it abundantly clear that every living thing on the planet is going to die. Yet there’s no mention of a stockpile of seeds on the ark. No gardens. Nothing. Of course Noah had to bring some plants aboard the ark to feed the animals. But I’ll assume that the animals ate them. Am I to assume that Noah also gathered two of every plant on the earth as well? Well, if you interpret the bible literally, I would have to assume that if it’s not in the bible, it didn’t happen. So, bible, please explain the biodiversity of plant life on earth. Explain to me how all of the non-aquatic plants we see today made it through a 150 day flood that God says killed every single living thing on the planet.

2. Why the animals? This was actually the first thought that I had. If God’s problem is with man, then why did everything have to die? So man is evil and wicked, kill everything? Because human beings are screwed up, everything else has to pay for it? What am I supposed to conclude here? That animals were also wicked? Because if animals don’t have souls or aren’t capable of sin, that means they’re all innocent. Which means that God essentially murdered a bunch of innocent creatures because he was angry with man. Which is stupid.

Actually, the whole flood myth is stupid. It’s clearly a rip-off of flood mythology that predates it (Gilgamesh, anyone?). But these two thoughts bring me to what I concluded from this whole thing. If I can do something better than God, He doesn’t exist.

This plan of God’s to wipe out humanity is really stupid. It makes no sense. First of all, the time frame. I have the same problem with creation myth. It took an omnipotent being outside of time and space 6 days to create one planet? And then he had to rest? What the hell is that? You’re the supreme being–just blink everything into existence at once. The same with the flood. 40 days of rain? Why? Just snap your godly fingers and kill all mankind in an instant. There, problem solved. My problem with God is that all of his plans are insanely convoluted and filled with unnecessary pageantry. A burning bush? Why? What possible advantage does that serve over just fucking speaking directly to someone (which we already know he can do thanks to Abraham)? God could take a flesh and blood form and come down and do miracles until the cows come home to verify he is who he is, and then lay down the law. But instead we get a burning bush? Stone tablets? Come on. Why not just permanently etch the commandments into the side of a mountain, for all to see? Reveal the commandments–God’s most important laws ever–to a small group of people in central Asia and then wait for them to invent the printing press and boats to spread it to the new world? Why not just appear to everyone in the world at the same time and lay down the law?

And then there’s the problem with why God created the flood. He was disappointed with his creation. Well, if God exists in the past, present, and future, shouldn’t he have, I don’t know…seen that coming?! God knowingly created something he knew would fail him, would disappoint him? Why? That actually sounds a lot more in line with a God who just “flipped a switch” and let the universe sort itself out rather than a supreme creator who created everything 6,000 years ago exactly as we see it today. But that’s beside the point.

The actual point is that if I can think of a better way to do something than God did it, doesn’t that speak to an utter incompetence on God’s part? And how could an omnipotent and omniscient being possibly be incompetent?

I know I’m not the first person to ask these questions. And usually when these questions are asked, they’re met by generic answers like, “Well, He works in mysterious ways,” or “His ways are beyond us.” Except that’s bullshit, and it doesn’t really answer the question. They’re cop outs. They’re excuses. They don’t explain at all why I, with my puny mortal brain, can think of a dozen better ways to do it than God did it. Even, “I don’t know. If God is eternal, maybe he’s just bored and does things the way he does to amuse himself?” would be a better answer.

The bottom line is that the logical gaps and inconsistencies in the bible are so numerous it’s staggering. I suppose that’s why Christianity requires faith.

And now for some hilarious memes.

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2 thoughts on “Anything you can do I can do better…

  1. Sorry for not responding soon, as I’m just now finding the time. Many of the answers to your questions can already be found in the Bible. I hope you’re okay with my lengthy response.

    I can appreciate that you have problems with the Bible, but I think those obstacles can be overcome if you’re sincerely looking to find out if God is real.

    You claim that God’s flood solution didn’t fix the problem of mankind being evil, and imply that he messed up. But I think you’re making a number of unnecessary assumptions. First, he did fix the problem of mankind being evil by having his son, Jesus Christ, die on the cross for our sins. Second, he obviously didn’t intend to wipe out everyone because the Bible tells us that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. And it’s good for us that he did! The flood served a number of purposes, including a warning to us. It demonstrates that God hates sin and wickedness, that he has the power to destroy us, and that he is merciful and wants us to love and serve him only.

    Genesis 6:17 says that God was going to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But he also made provisions to spare those he elected- including the animals. So what about plants? Well, plants aren’t considered life in the same sense that animals and humans are. The Bible uses the word “nephesh” for life when God referred to sea creatures, land animals, birds, and man, but never plants. Plants aren’t alive like animals. And the Hebrew word mut or mavet means to die, and it’s only used in the death of man or animals with the breath of life, not plants.

    The existence of all the non-aquatic plants we see today can be explained by their seed surviving the duration of the flood. All the plants would have been destroyed, but their seeds would have persisted. Some (not all) would have survived as floating masses upon the surface of the water until the water receded from the land. And those that did survive would have reproduced, slowly returning land to a livable state. I think you’re assuming that no seeds could have survived the duration of the flood, and I don’t think that’s a valid assumption. Most seeds can survive years before they germinate because they’re in a dormant state. Those seeds that could not survive the flood ended up going extinct. Only the survivors persist today (at least their ancestors have). Plants have certain adaptive abilities that would have allowed the seeds to survive the stress imposed by the flood. Plants respond to stress conditions in certain ways, and the seed coat would have protected some since they were not being decomposed by normal means. And some plants could spawn clones of itself through vegetative propagation, organogenesis or somatic embryogenesis. Also keep in mind that most, if not all of the plants we see today aren’t the same ones that survived the flood. Through natural selection, today’s plants are different, and if there were another flood like Noah’s, many more plants would go extinct, but some would survive.

    Why the animals? The short answer is that everything was corrupted by man’s sin. The Bible talks about the whole creation groaning because of the effects of man’s sin (Romans 8:22). This may not seem fair, but God never promised fairness. Everything had to die to demonstrate God’s wrath and his hatred of man’s wickedness. Everything on earth was held accountable because of our sin. And that should cause us to reflect on our own sinfulness, and how much we need a savior and redeemer. It’s scary that our sin affects so much, but it’s amazing knowing that we have a forgiving, merciful God who loves us enough to bear the wrath that we deserve.

    And the flood isn’t a myth, nor was it a rip-off of Gilgamesh. If anything, Gilgamesh was a fictional account of a real event, and all the survivors of the flood and their ancestors would have knowledge of the flood, which is why every major culture has a flood legend with similarities to the actual, historical event.

    What about God resting? It’s about God setting an example for us to follow. It’s not as if God was actually tired and needed the rest. God’s creation was done for the benefit of man, who was his crowning achievement. After creating man, God pronounced his creation “very good.” But he created man and intended him to work, just as God himself works. But he also didn’t want man to work endlessly. Instead, he gave man a Sabbath day’s rest, and he rested on the seventh day as an example. God always imposes upon himself what he expects from man, and he didn’t ask man to do anything that he’s not willing to do himself. And God didn’t blink everything into existence at once for the same reason; he intended man to work six days, and so he stretched his work over six days.

    Yes, God could have snapped his fingers and killed all mankind in an instant, but he chose a different method. Throughout the Bible God did put people to death instantly (Numbers 16:28-35, Acts 5:1-11). So God is sovereign, which means he may act as he pleases, and his methods are always good, even if you don’t personally understand them. Why do you think you’re entitled to have all of God’s plans and reasoning explained to you? Do you think you’re worthy of such knowledge? Job sure wasn’t.

    You may claim that God’s plans are insanely convoluted and filled with unnecessary pageantry, but that’s not true. God is very intentional, and does everything for a good reason and purpose. The bottom line is that he has a plan, and will fulfill his plans according to his good timing. It’s not for us to know every aspect of his decisions. At some point we need to trust that he has our best interests in mind, and he’s done plenty to demonstrate that. With the burning bush, God was demonstrating his power over nature and his holiness. He often does these things for our benefit, through a ceremony or covenant, with purpose and as an example for us, and he does so with patience. God takes the time to come to us and subjects himself to us, rather than doing everything instantly; that wouldn’t accomplish the results he intends to accomplish. And that end result is a people who have been sanctified, redeemed, and made holy through long suffering and trials. God understands that suffering and trials produce redemptive qualities that wouldn’t come about by other means. The suffering we endure refines us and produces good qualities and the character he wants us to have. And, once again, he was willing to endure the suffering himself by subjecting himself to humanity, a mortal body, and dying on the cross.

    So why didn’t he do things your way? Maybe someday you can ask him yourself. I hope you have your sins forgiven and can stand before him and ask him with reverence. He won’t keep those mysteries from us forever. But maybe he knew that your way wasn’t the best way, and that whatever way he chose, people would still oppose him. There are many examples where the people knew he was God, but still opposed him for their own political reasons (John 9:1-34, John 10:22-33, John 11:1-53, John 12:9-11). Jesus did many wonders, miracles and signs, and even rose from the dead, yet there were many who still refused to put their faith and trust in him, so there’s no reason to think that any of your ways would have worked.

    Of course God knew everything in history that would happen. So why did he do it? Because he loves us and wants us to share in his glory forever. He has a redemptive plan, and his plan was always for his people to share eternity with him. He wrote the story with the ending before creation, and all things have been working out for that end since the beginning. So God wasn’t surprised by anything that happened; that was all part of the plan.

    So instead of speaking of God’s incompetence, it really speaks to our lack of knowledge and understanding. We like to think we’re smarter than God, but God has told us many times that we’re not all that. Job thought he knew more than God, but God put him in his place, and Job submitted and repented. 1 Corinthians 1:25 tells us that “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” So it’s easy to mock God when we can’t see the whole picture, but I have a personal relationship with Jesus, and God has revealed all I really need to know in order to live my life for him. I still have plenty of questions, but those can wait until I stand before God in glory. And I hope you’ll be there too.

    1. I was waiting for you to chime in, but don’t worry. I realize that people have lives and that for most these lives don’t revolve around wordpress 😛

      As per usual, I appreciate the biblical perspective that you bring to these posts since your knowledge goes way beyond mine. In particular, I am drawn to something you said at the end of your post about how God isn’t really incompetent, we just don’t understand Him. Why is understanding God a bad thing? That seems to be a central theme in the bible, that this represents arrogance. I have a hard time with this concept. Why is wanting to understand your creator considered to be arrogant by Him? It’s one thing to try and BE better than God, but different to try and simply understand Him and why he does the things he does. Is there no distinction within religion here, and if so why not? Isn’t it natural to want to know everything about your creator?

      Your line about how God never promises fairness also jumped out at me. This bothers me. If God loves us, then why not act in fairness? Are not fairness and mercy acts of love and compassion? Even human parents, fallible as they are, try their best to enact fairness for their children. God is the Father, the Shepard, etc. Every instance of his portrayal is in a patriarchal context, and part of patriarchy is protection. If a father does not protect and look out for and forgive his children, then he’s not much of a father. A lot of God’s actions tend to go against that. One could argue that it’s “tough love.” But even human parents are subject to recrimination for acts that border on abuse–like drowning your children, even if you “did it for a good reason.” Should not God be held to a higher standard than human beings?

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