The Strange Tale of Sodom and Gomorrah

Edit: This post got even more rambly than usual. If you want a short version of it, check out the last two paragraphs; they contain a summarized version of my points, though you will miss my stories and incomprehensible wordenings.

The reaction to my post The Personality of Gods was predictable, of course, but it takes the ability to ignore a lot of the Bible to believe that the Christian God is a loving, wise, parental figure. The idea that God was surprised when Eve and Adam (order chosen for Biblical order) ate of the fruit of knowledge of Good and Evil seems to indicate a lack of prescience, but that point has been beaten to the ground. For an even better, more comprehensive idea of how much God loves us and can totally see the future, guys, is to look at the tale of Abraham, Lot and the city of Sodom.

When God announced his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham stood and called into question God’s judgment. As per Genesis 18, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

Read that a few times. That is a human standing up to God, and saying “You know, maybe I’m like… Not perfect, or whatever… But killing everyone, the good and the bad, just because there are lots of bad people? That seems like… Maybe… Kinda dickish. So… What say you tone it down a notch? Maybe?”

There is an extended bartering session between God and Abraham, then. God says he will save the cities if Abraham can find fifty righteous among the population, and Abraham eventually talks him down to ten. So God says “Sure. If you can find ten righteous people, I’ll let the people of the city live.” This always made me incredibly uncomfortable, as no matter which way I read it, this did not point to an omniscient, loving God.

Let’s take a look at it, walk around it a little, think about the implications. God lets Abraham, a person He … Loves? Is that the word? Anyway, he lets Abraham look for these ten people who are righteous. If he is omniscient, he will know two things: Whether those people are there, and whether Abraham will succeed. So what does that signify?

If God knows that there ARE ten righteous amongst the population of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham just has to find them, like some high stakes game of Where’s Waldo mixed with one of the Saw movies, then you are worshiping a God who seems almost sadistic. If God knew that there weren’t ten righteous, why would he let his chosen even search? Seems like a waste of time. Not only that, but God spares Lot, his wife (sort of spares his wife, I suppose? Gives her a chance? But why give her a chance if you are going to kill her in ten minutes? Again, seems almost sadistic), and his three daughters… So that is five people right there! Of course, God kills Lot’s wife who defies him and looks back at the destruction of the city (did he not know she would?). So we are now left with four. Aaaand… Lot gets pissed off his ass and has crazy Old Testament sex with his daughters. So maybe none of them are righteous?

So why did God save Lot and (most) of his family? That part isn’t suuuper explicit, but it is generally accepted in the reading that Lot was saved because Abraham asked God to save him. So it rounds out to something like God saying “Awww, don’t be mad Abraham. Hey, what say I save your nephew? Will that make you feel better? Huh? Yeah, yeah that’ll make you feel better. I’ll kill everyone in the cities except Lot. Can’t get a better deal than that, can you? But they’d better not watch me level those cities, or I’ll still kill them. I mean, fair is fair, right?” It sounds almost petulant, seems almost like God is trying to earn Abraham’s love, rather than Abraham worshiping him.

In the New Testament, we have the idea of The Rapture (while the word is never actually there, there is the idea that 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel are rescued from the end of the world). Oh hey, while researching this very topic, I read the etymology of the word Rapture. It comes from the Latin “raptura”, meaning “To seize, rape, kidnap.” That actually blew my mind a little, that the Christian population cannot wait to be seized, raped, and/or kidnapped…. BY GOD! Anyway, while the Old Testament God is usually very much on board with wholesale destruction, killing all people for the sins of some, and even explicitly sending all humans to hell for the sins of Adam and Eve, the New Testament God is willing to save 144,000 Jews! Oh, you thought He would save you, theoretical Christian? Given the stats provided in Revelations, you are probably out of luck. I am sorry to bring you this news. Where was I going with this? Oh right, God is willing to save some righteous while he burns the rest of us (the Rainbow Covenant in Genesis, at the end of the flood, said he’d never kill us all via flood ever again, so giving evil free run of the world, with burning, fire, demons, and gnashing of teeth is totally on board. But he’ll save a large group of people this time! Instead of 8, He will save 144,000, which admittedly is quite the improvement.

Now, using rough numbers, God saved 0.0000032% of the Earth’s population the first go ’round (given an estimate of 250 million people alive at the time, and having saved 8), and given the current world population of 7 billion and the number of saved at 144,000, that means he’ll be saving 0.002% this time, a thousandfold improvement! Such mercy! Such love! Such wise judgment!

I don’t know why, whether it be imagined or true, God is so willing to kill so many out of hand. He’s done it before, He promised to do it again. I do not understand why this is considered such a good thing, such a loving thing, such a wise thing. The fact that this is viewed with awe and reverence scares me, I suppose, because I think to believe in a God of Love requires being blind to so much of what is going to happen, what the Bible claims has happened.

It goes further than that; when science and modern Christians give Biblical Literalists a chance to escape, an excuse of “it was local”, or it was “Noah’s whole world,” for the flood, they stand in a position of defiance. “No, God killed everyone except 8 people! HE KILLED THEM ALLLLLLL!! AHAHAHAHAHA!” (I may have added the laughter at the end myself, but other than the laughter, that is an encapsulation of their belief, really.)

Their God of love did not feel he had to devise a targeted apocalypse; the God of Love just said “F*** ’em,” killed everyone, and started over.

And He plans to do it again.

And He loves us.

So, to summarize, I suppose; the God who can see all events of the future was surprised when Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, surprised when Adam did the same, surprised when His creation contained a bunch of jerks, surprised when Abraham tried to have the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah saved, surprised when people built the Tower of Babel (that is a story for another day, kids), and all of this surprise by the God who can see all things in the future as though they are happening before his eyes adds up to the fact that He thought it was OK to kill everyone, send them to a pit of eternal torture for the Sins of their forebears (Did you know that, according to the Bible, if a child is born out of wedlock that family line is cursed for ten generations to Hell? Deuteronomy 23:2. Seriously, if in the last three hundred years any of your family was born out of wedlock, you are going to Hell, even if you are the bestest, most worshippingest Christian history has ever recorded).

Anyway, please, tell me why you believe God is a God of Love in the comments. Please, please, please do. I do not understand, I really don’t. While you are at it, let me know why you believe He is omniscient, because he was pretty much perpetually surprised in the Old Testament, as far as I can read. That may sound sarcastic, but I really would like to have some level of respect for God, but the Bible makes it really, really difficult. =(