Since becoming atheist, I’ve come to enjoy reading the bible much more than I did as a Christian. It just seems more fun to learn when there is no pressure to pass a test at the end of class!
I’m also having fun reading Christian apologetics. (You are encouraged to recommend your favorite apologetics to me!)
I keep running into little tidbits in the Bible that make me wonder. Genesis 1:18-20 is one of my favorites.
Here’s the setup. God has finished his creation. He worked for six days, and rested on the seventh. Rain wasn’t invented as yet, so the plants and animals just dealt with a divine automatic drip watering system. God made the Garden of Eden, and an orchard, where he placed Man, plants and animals. He tells Adam to take care of the orchard, and to not eat the fruit from the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Everything is set, but something is missing. To quote the Bible, (NET translation), Genesis 2:18-20:
2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.”
2:19 The Lord God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
2:20 So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam no companion who corresponded to him was found.
You have to ask yourself – is God stupid?
He has just figured out that Adam needs a mate, and instead of immediately creating one, he sees if Adam wants one from the laundry list of animals that God created. You get the impression of a long line of animals, presumably mostly female, and Adam saying, “Nope. Nuh huh. No. Not that one. No…” as he works his way through the lineup.
How different would our world be if Adam found just one animal to his liking?
Would a sheep be temped by the serpent? Would there be original sin?
The truth is that many different creation mythologies teach that humans and animals are equals in the distant past. Cultures predating the Bible have left evidence that they believed this. So it is no surprise that the idea finds itself in the Bible. Biblical stories often find their roots in the stories of earlier religions.
I’ve had religious people argue with me that I’m not interpreting this correctly, that this is a mistranslation, and that the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (’ezer) means “Helper” instead of “Companion”. Which isn’t true, this word implies an equal role in the relationship – not a subordinate role that the word “helper” would imply. (The same word is used elsewhere as a label for Eve.)
If you want to see a Christian tap dance, bring up this verse and watch how fast they try to explain it away. The truth is much more simple – the text is accurate as is because it taps into older creation myths.