Adam and Eve and all that stuff
I admit God passed me by for most of my life, although I went along to confirmation classes to get a sup of wine underage on a Sunday and joined the church choir because I had the hots for a girl called Cheryl; someone has to have the hots for a girl with the same name as one of the singers in Buck's Fizz.
I've spent most of the rest of my life with a skepticism for religion which all the threats to the well being of my soul have failed to quench. For a start hanging out with all those horny devils down below and having a BBQ every night sounds like more fun than lounging around on a cloud all day with a giant harp.
So when my daughter recently developed an interest in the Bible; coincidentally after a few too many summer school classes at church play groups, I was somewhat disconcerted at first.
But finally I got into reading the Bible to her at night; not because I'm about to see the light and start spouting off about how we should divorce people with Alzheimer's. Rather because there was actually some interesting stuff in there and I missed many of the nuances in a younger life.
We started at the beginning, of course. God created the universe etc. I had previously missed the fact that no sooner had God created man than he charged him with naming all the animal and birds. Now I'm not being funny but if someone had just thrown me together from a few handfuls of earth and he charged me with naming all the animal and birds, I'd be somewhat pissed.
There are 5,490 species of animals alone and 9,998 birds. That's before we even get to amphibians and reptiles. Fish remain a grey area; there are 31,300 of those. To give this task to one man strikes me as the most unfair kind of delegation. You wouldn't even have time to enjoy the Garden of Eden, let alone chomp on apples from the forbidden tree.
If this wasn't enough God ripped out one of Adam's ribs while he was sleeping and whipped it into a woman. Nowhere in the bible does it say if this was a spare rib or if Adam really wanted his rib morphed into a chick. On the second day Eve whipped up a list and instructed him to load the dish washer and take out the garbage.
There's also rather an ungallant moment that I picked up on my latest reading of Genesis. When God came over all angry about the apple stealing incident Adam said something to the effect of: "It wasn't me guv - that chick you put down here gave me the apple and I ate it."
OK then there's some stuff about snakes being somewhat badass and God making them eat dust for eternity, that and the occasional Indian villager. And women, the Bible says, will always hate snakes. I have actually dated women who hate snakes. In saying that I know women who hate spiders and rate and the Bible doesn't have much to say about them.
Anyhow God said to the woman after that small misunderstanding with the apple: " I will increase your trouble in pregnancy and your pain in giving birth. In spite of this you will still have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject to him."
Run those last six words by me again.
By this stage I am getting somewhat freaked out because it has become clear to me my daughter can recite whole passages from Genesis almost flawlessly, whereas I can't even recite what I had for breakfast.
So God sent Adam out of the Garden of Eden and made him cultivate the soil from which he had been formed, which is a rather disconcerting idea. Then Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain offered his harvest to God and Abel offered the best part of his sheep.
But while God gave Abel positive reinforcement he rejected Cain's offering, leading Cain to kill Abel. Now I'm getting into it at this point because it occurs to me that while I have always known that Cain killed his brother, I never really knew why; and to be honest God should have know better than to show favoritism in my humble opinion. Not that it in any way excuses killing one's brother. I did once feel like killing my brother after he developed anal tendencies when I dropped crumbs in his new car, but in reality it wouldn't have gone further than a quick punch in the side.
Needless to say Cain is even less popular with God after the killing and he is banished to the East of Eden in a land called "Wandering" to toil in some even less prepossessing soil and come up with the names of the animals Adam left off the list; like the duck billed platypus, for example.
Then Cain and his wife had a son and named him Enoch, in anticipation of rivers of blood, perhaps. And then..
Hang on. You don't need to be Columbo to have a 'just one more thing' moment at this juncture. If Adam and Eve had just two sons where exactly did Cain's conveniently unnamed wife come from?
Sign me up to Bible studies, baby.
Now I'm getting a guilt trip, no doubt followed by a freak bolt of lightning that will hit me in bed. What if my posting leads me to lose another follower after the mystery person who unfollowed me last week? And I turn to the front page of the Bible and see an inscription from Proverbs written by a Sunday school teacher called Barbara who I have a vague gray and bespectacled memory of. It's from 1981. The poor woman is surely dead now and she would rest uneasy in her grave at my many blasphemies.