31 January 2010

January in review

We are one month in, about a twelfth of the way through the Bible. We have finished Genesis, we are a good way into Exodus, and we are about a twelfth of the way through each of Psalms and Proverbs.

The first part of Genesis contained some good myths. Some of them, like the first creation account gave lovely explanations of how our world came to be. Others, like the flood, make a mockery of the idea that God loves us. However, none of these myths have lasting explanatory power in light of our knowledge about reality.

The stories of the patriarchs and of Joseph and his brothers entertained me. They make great stories! Lots of complex human emotions and flaws and interesting plots. However, as God's perfect word, they contain many flaws. The stories lack internal consistency, and they often repeat elements.

Exodus so far shows God to be a horrible monster. God commits thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of murders to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave the country. But this killing is not necessary. God himself hardens Pharaoh's heart so that he can show his power by inflicting more torture on the Egyptians.

The Book of Matthew is interesting mostly in the picture it gives us of Jesus. He likes to heal people, and he has quite a temper. Thus far into the Bible, I am skeptical of the claim that Jesus loves humanity. Yeah, he heals people and provides miraculous bread, but these could all be interpreted as opportunities to demonstrate his power. The fact that he only heals people who have enough faith in him also makes you wonder whether his goal is really to heal or to show what he can do.

The Psalms have spent a lot of time talking about suffering and wanting relief. They emphasize God's power and God's anger against his enemies. Only rarely, as in Psalm 23, do we see an unambiguous description of God as loving.

The two themes I remember from Proverbs are avoid evil people and avoid immoral women. Also, evil people always lie and cheat and plot. Combine this with the sentiment given elsewhere that anyone who does not follow God is evil, and it is easier to understand why Christians think atheists must be evil people plotting to destroy humanity (muah ha ha!).

Yeah, so far, not that impressed.