Repost – The Unfairness Of It All

I’m still sorting through the google cache of the old blog, most of it is just news tidbits, some of which I added to Religion Harms, most of it is random nonsense (which isn’t particularly surprising), but there are some personal reflections that I wanted to hold on to.

Originally posted on November 11, 2010

When I began my bible study as a teenager, two stories we discussed really struck me, Cain & Abel and Jesus & Judas.

They’re just so inherently unfair, and I was brought up with a VERY strong sense of fairness. I felt so bad for Cain and Judas from the get-go. I never condoned murder or suicide but these poor bastards were driven to it by God the asshole, and then blamed for millenia for being unwitting pawns in “God’s plan”, turning their very names into epithets.

Not to step on KK‘s toes, but if you’re not familiar, here’s the myths:

Abel became a shepherd of a flock, but Cain cultivated the land.
3In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the LORD.
4And Abel also presented — some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,
5but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast.
6Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why are you downcast?
7If you do right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

It seems God hates produce and told the farmer that he was sinful for having offered cabbage. (Or sinful for being upset at rejection. Like so many things in this text, it’s somewhat unclear.) The story is oddly truncated (unlike the apparently necessary inclusions of begat after begat a few more pages in) and the next line is:

8Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Look, I have brothers. Here’s what I think would have happened. Cain’s all pissed cause god hates his broccoli and Abel (like my brother would do) is rubbing it in. Cain loses his cool and they get into a bout of fisticuffs. The farmer hits the goatherd a little too hard and bam, he’s dead. All because god is a carnivore.

(Personally, I think it’s a allegory of the Hebrews choosing to live a nomadic goatherd life, rather than a settled agricultural one, but what do I know? I’m an economist.)

Judas is an even sadder tale, because he did not even have the free will for his misdeed. He is one of the disciples, and God’s plan calls for a betrayal of Jesus. Judas was chosen by God to be that guy. He shows the cops who Jesus is. (Which is another thing that always made me wonder. He’s such a big criminal that they decide to execute him, he’s wandering around preaching everywhere, and they don’t know what he looks like? What kind of retards are running this show?)

Once it’s over, the bad guys give Judas some money which he either refuses, or gives back a time later (more unclear text) and then suicides by hanging (or leaping into a pit or is disemboweled). God forces him to betray Jesus, he is so overcome with despair that he kills himself, and then…he is damned to hell for committing suicide. Poor bastard.

(Judas initially earned my heart as a reader at this moment:

3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said,
5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

They try to play it off like Judas was asking so he could steal the money, or so he could cast Mary in a bad light. I didn’t get that vibe from reading, but whatever. The important part is that Jesus says:

8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

Or as I paraphrase, “You should indulge me because I’m going to commit suicide by cop next week. You can always find poor people to help. Forget the ones who starve to death tonight, new ones will just replace them.” )

At any rate, those two stories stuck with me as a kid, of the examples of God’s bastardry, and began the path to atheism.

And just for fun, here are the original comments (Most of them off topic):


Daz said…

“commit suicide by cop”

Perfect! And what an arrogant arse-hole, too. “Hey, I’m the important one here! That feeding the poor thing is just for the suckers, erm, I mean ‘congregation’.”

2:47 PM, November 11, 2010

Alice said…

I always got that feel from the Jesus character. I could never see the “benevolent, all loving” guy that everyone did. He just seemed like such a jerk!

4:41 PM, November 11, 2010

yokohamamama said…

“commit suicide by cop”–second that smile!

Wow–that’s *exactly* how I always felt about those stories. Unfair–they were unfair! I, too, have a strong sense of fairness (as does my dad and my oldest son), and honestly half (or more) of the stories in the bible struck me as somehow…unfair. Not quite right. Off. But I was a quiet kid, so I never asked embarrassing questions, I usually just sat there feeling uncomfortable or slightly sick.

And the Cain and Able story–poor Cain! You know he worked hard, too. Raising grain is just as back-breaking, if not more so, than herding. The exact same situation in a Dickens plot would leave the readers’ blood boiling at the injustice to the rejected child. What kind of adult would do such a thing to a child? Well, God would, apparently.

6:35 PM, November 11, 2010

Daz said…

And let’s not even start on Job, poor sod.

10:25 PM, November 11, 2010

yokohamamama said…

Completely OT–but I just noticed that you have a link over there to Freakonomics:)) *Loved* that book–really fascinating! I should have remembered to quote it when KK had up his post on abortion (rats–what was I thinking!)

5:56 AM, November 12, 2010

Alice said…

Oh, Job.. Yes, there are so many of those sad, long-suffering characters in this text. Oh, and Eve, poor Eve..

7:51 AM, November 12, 2010

Alice said…

They have a second, SuperFreakonomics, which I quite enjoyed. I find the whole area of Behavorial Economics fascinating.

That link is their blog @ NYTimes.

The one Professor is at the University of Chicago, which is where I’d like to do my doctorate one day.

7:54 AM, November 12, 2010

yokohamamama said…

That’s right–Steve Levitt is a U of Chicago, same as Jerry Coyne… would you get a doctorate in economics? I did German and French undergrad, and now I’d love a chance to go back to school to do…Biology, I think. (Evolutionary Psychology? Cognitive Neuroscience? Ahhhh! Can’t pick!)

6:59 PM, November 12, 2010

Alice said…

I love Behavorial Economics, Economic History, Financial Economics, and Monetary Economics.

I’ve not considered any other subject for a doctorate, but I’d love to have a second bachelors in Pre-Communist Russia, or Ancient History, or Linguistics, or Music History. I also found Chemistry really interesting, and I got perfect marks in my Speech classes. I hate Math but I’m pretty good at it, and I liked the Computer Progamming class…

I have far too many varied interests, but my general plan is a Masters at my current college, then a Doctorate at U of C, and then working at the Chicago Fed before I begin my politics career. ^^

9:22 PM, November 12, 2010

Alice said…

Oh, I almost forgot. I’ve always wanted to study Archaeology and Anthropology.

9:23 PM, November 12, 2010

Daz said…

Yayy! Archaeology was my choice when we had this conversation the other week.

9:46 PM, November 12, 2010

yokohamamama said…

Yay! Archeology was the thing to be when I was 11! Why do we forget about those things we wanted to be when we were 11? Those were good things to be…

7:00 PM, November 13, 2010

yokohamamama said…

Word verification to the rescue: exuainse.

Definition: the anal excuses you make to yourself when you’re 20 and you haven’t picked a major yet that cause you to forget what you wanted to be when you were 11…

7:02 PM, November 13, 2010

yokohamamama said…

Ooooh–Behavioral economics! Have you read any of Dan Airely’s stuff? My sis has my copy of Predictably Irrational, but I should be getting it back fairly soon…:)) He has a couple of TED talks, too–funny guy:))

(sorry for the multiple posts:((

7:07 PM, November 13, 2010

Alice said…

I’ve read of him, and checked out his blog from time to time. It’s one of those books on that LONG list of “One day I’ll read this”

My experience was slightly different, as I went into college to be a music major.

At 11, I wanted to be President. Shortly thereafter, I decided to be a truck driver. I wanted to be a lawyer by 13, a sailor by 16, and then it changed to wanting to be a band director by 18. Before I wanted to be President, I wanted to be ‘rich’ when I grew up, which mostly consisted of having enough food to eat.

No problem on the multis, the more the merrier. ;)

10:19 PM, November 13, 2010


3 Responses to “Repost – The Unfairness Of It All”

  1. Ooh, you got the comments too. Odd how a different aspect jumps out at you on a second reading. This time, I noticed:

    Caine & Abel. Could it be the remnants of an oral tradition tale about something like the farmers versus cattle-drover wars that feature in so many Westerns, do you think?

    Judas. Nice treatment of him in Parke Godwin’s Waiting For The Galactic Bus. Don’t bother with the sequel though. Awful. (I forget the title.)

  2. Why not, they’re good comments. ;)

    -nods- That’s exactly the type of thing I was thinking. Subtitled, “Why Goatherders Are Better Than Dirt-Diggers.”

    Y’know what would be neat, a television series or docudrama that illustrates all these crazy, unfair moments, one after another.

    Hm, I’ll add that one to the list, I’ve kinda always wanted to write a book about Judas.

  3. Ah, but are goat-diggers better than dirt-herders, eh?

    Hmmm. “Bible Balls-Ups: Where God Went Wrong.”

    Judas is kind of a major bit-part in Galactic Bus, rather than a main character. Very sympathetically written though.

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