The Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, the testing of Abraham’s faith, the Exodus, the test for an unfaithful wife, the response to a man gathering firewood on the Sabbath, Elishah and the two bears, the story of Job, Jesus’ birth, and Jesus crucifixion: What do all these events have in common? They are all 10 instances of God’s decision-making where I could have come up with better alternatives. Let us begin in the beginning.
1. “In the beginning,” in the Bible, it says, “God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Eventually, he creates a man and a woman. Up until this point, God has made everything out of virtually nothing, by merely speaking them into existence. What does he need to form man? Dust. Go figure. Then he creates woman. Does he need more dust? No. He causes the man to fall into a deep sleep and takes one of his ribs. He then uses the rib to create a woman. Interesting. Next, he places a tree in their midst and tells them to stay away from it. Don’t eat of its fruit. No touching. Hands off. He says this is necessary in order for them to have free will. He also creates a talking snake which wants them to disobey God regarding the tree. And get this, God is omniscient. He knows the talking serpent will tempt them to eat the fruit of the tree. God’s omniscience is a very big problem here. If you don’t want someone to mess with something, you don’t put that something near them if you don’t have to. You do your best to keep it away from them. And you certainly don’t put someone who wants your creation to disobey you near them. It would be like if you didn’t want your kids to try pot and you placed a big bag of marijuana on the kitchen table and invited Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson over to “hang out.”
And when they inevitably disobey him, what does he do? He overreacts entirely, cursing not only them, but their descendants as well forevermore.
If I had been calling the shots, I wouldn’t have created the source of temptation nor the salespitchman for the forbidden fruit in the first place. You don’t need to put something near people that’s off limits in order for them to have free will. After creating them, I would have simply told them to be good to each other and if they didn’t, I would have solely punished them. Case closed.
2. Onto the Great Flood. God decided everyone on Earth (aside from Noah and kin) were so evil, they all had to die. So, he floods the entire world, drowning all infants, pregnant women, grandmothers, puppies, and kittens in the process. Hardly something an omnibenevolent being would do.
Here’s what I would have done. Let’s just say that everyone except Noah and family were evil. Let’s just say. I would have made everyone except Noah’s clan sterile so they would all die natural deaths on the same timeline that God decided to flood the Earth. No animals die. Noah doesn’t have to build a boat nor does he have to herd 2 of every kind of unclean animal and 7 of all the clean ones. Boom. Easy peasy; lemon squeezy.
3. And now we cover God fucking with Abraham by telling him to kill his son. Overall, this was a dick thing to do (Genesis 22). If he did this today in the United States and the authorities found out about it, they would call it cruel and unusual. Imagine how terrified his son must have been when Abraham grabbed Isaac, tied him up, and raised the dagger ready to act. If caught, Abraham would be locked away and Isaac would be taken away by social services. Here’s an idea: don’t. God is omniscient. He knows Abraham will do whatever the hell he wants him to. This whole thing is completely unnecessary.
4. Now, we get to what went down in Egypt. In Exodus, it says the Egyptians owned God’s chosen people as slaves. God wants Pharaoh to let them go so they can be free. What does he do? He tells Moses to ask Pharaoh to let them go and then (I kid you not) hardens Pharaoh’s heart so he won’t. 10 plagues and several countless innocent Egyptian firstborn sons later, he finally lets them go.
Here’s what I would have done. Lull the city guards and Pharaoh’s army into a deep sleep, pull a Jericho and have the city walls come tumbling down. God’s chosen people escape. No innocent firstborn children die. No animals die. Problem solved.
5. (Numbers 5). There is much debate over abortion rights. Pro-lifers say that God is with them and is on their side because of the passages in the Bible such as the one in Jeremiah 1:4-5, which says that God knows everyone even when they’re in the womb. But what the passage in Numbers 11 indicates is that God is not pro-life nor is he pro-choice either. Normally the process in determining what to call a fetus in utero involves a Rorschach test given to the woman carrying the fetus. If she wants the fetus to live, there’s a baby inside of her and she’s having a baby. If she wants to abort, what is inside of her is a parasitic growth attached by way of an umbilical cord to her uterine lining draining her body of nutrients. But let’s get back to God.
According to this passage, he’s pro-abortion and anti-choice because the woman in question has no say in the matter and when she drinks the concoction, her body expels the fetus as she miscarries because according to God, if she got pregnant by another man as the result of being unfaithful to her husband, this is what needs to happen.
What would I have done? Leave the decision up to the mother. After all, it is her body. Next.
6.Now we get to God commanding a village to stone a man to death for gathering firewood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15). Sticks and stones may break your bones, but gathering them on the Sabbath gets you fucking killed. He was just working. He was harming no one. The way God responded to this incident is a clear case of as the saying goes, “much ado about nothing.” If I were God, I wouldn’t have had this as a commandment in the first place. If someone wants or needs to rest, let them rest. Working is not something to die over. It’s as simple as that. So now I say to the fourth commandment what Manute Bol said to Muggsy Bogues every time he blocked one of his shots the one time the 5’3″ Charlotte Hornet was audacious enough to challenge the 7’7″ Philadelphia 76er to a game of one-on-one: “Get that outta here.” And if I had to replace that commandment with another one, I would make “Thou shalt not own slaves” the fourth commandment. *Drops the mic and walks off stage.*
7. Since we are going in order of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things in the Bible I would change, let’s talk about Elishah, the two bears, and 42 young boys scared shitless next. In 2 Kings 2: 23-25, Elishah gets made fun of by a gaggle of youth and what does he do to get even? He overreacts entirely (just like God is prone to do throughout the Bible) and calls 2 she-bears out of the woods in God’s name and they tear these young boys to pieces. We can see here that by doing this, Elishah is more thin-skinned than Donald Trump.
What would I have done? Once again. Here’s an idea: don’t. The boys were just teasing him. No one should have to die just because they were making fun of someone. This is an easy decision. In fact, it’s so easy, I’ll now say to this what Bob Dole said to his wife, Liddy the time he ran out of Viagra on sex night: “It’s not that hard.”
8. Then we have the story of Job. It begins with God and Satan chumming it up (because, you know they do that). They then engage in a vain bet. God bets Satan that no matter what happens to Job, he won’t curse God. So, God permits Satan to literally wreak havoc on Job’s life. This was interestingly enough, the only people Satan ever killed in the Bible. That’s right. Satan took out 10 people (Job’s kids. With God’s permission) while God offed over a million including his own son and Satan is the bad guy. My message to God would be, “You’re omniscient. You already know Job won’t badmouth you. You have nothing to prove to Satan.” As Full House’s Uncle Joey would say, “Cut. It. Out.”
9. Here comes the virgin birth. God wants a son. So he gets a woman, who was engaged to another man, pregnant in a time and place where if women were even suspected of having sex before marriage, they were stoned on their father’s doorstep. Interestingly enough, she manages not to be murdered by her fellow townspeople. Nine months later, God wills it that she travel 70 miles on a donkey while full term. Not to be outdone by his previous acts of insensitivity and inconveniencing this family, he has her give birth to her child in a barn (must’ve wanted him to have “humble beginnings”).
Here’s what I would have done. If you have to get a woman pregnant in that kind of place in that sort of time, wait until she is married so she won’t feel the shame of having people think she had sex before marriage. It’s more kind. Also, do it so she won’t have to travel while 9 months pregnant. It’s more courteous. If you have to have her make the journey, give her a room in which to give birth to your son. It’s more chivalrous. To this, I’ll say the title of a Spike Lee joint back in 1989: Do the Right Thing.
10. And now, finally we get to what John 3:16 calls God greatest act of love, torturing to death his son for the better part of a day. To put this into perspective, I will use an analogy. Let’s say you were the general of a great army or even were a manager of a Wendy’s and your troops disobeyed a direct order or in the case of the restaurant, all of your employees decided to no call/ no show one day, they wanted your forgiveness, and you are willing to forgive them. You do not have your son, who is by all accounts, an upstanding citizen, tortured to death and blame your troops or employees for your poor decision-making, and tell them not only if they believe you did this, they can be forgiven, but that you had to do this, and if they agreed, you could forget what they did and from now on, things between you all would be totally cool. You are the one who decides the criteria which has to be in place in order for you to forgive them. Doing this to your son would be entirely unnecessary, bizarre, and cruel and more importantly, doing this would make you a bad father. If you want to forgive people, like Nike says, “Just do it.” No guilt trip required.
I began this article by asking what these decisions made by God all had in common. I will end with asking another question. What do all of my alternatives to God’s choices all have in common? The answer is that they are all more humane, less complicated, more efficient, and above all, more loving than what God did. So, when it comes to these events in the Bible, if I had been in charge, like the Kenny Chesney song goes, I’d have done a lot of things different.
Jon D. Webster is the author of 10 Decisions I Could Have Made Better Than God: And Other Audacious Atheist Articles.