Judges 6:31

Chapter 6 of the book of Judges in the Bible is the beginning of the story of Gideon. The Midianites are being murderous dicks again, Israel appeals to God, God picks Gideon as Israel’s champion, all according to formula. An angel performs a couple of miracles, Gideon is impressed and gets religion.

Then God tells Gideon to start fighting a competing religion, that of Baal, starting with Gideon’s own father:

25 That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

Gideon’s not a complete moron; he’s afraid of what’ll happen if the townspeople catch him desecrating religious edifices. So he does this at night.

In the morning, the townspeople find the altar demolished, the sacred pole burned to sacrifice a stolen bull. They go to Joash, Gideon’s father, and tell him to give them his son the iconoclast. Presumably one of Joash’s duties as a head of family is to uphold religion. But he also doesn’t want to have his son killed, which puts him in a bit of a predicament. So he says:

But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

This is a precursor to “What does God need with a starship?“: “if Baal is really all that, why does he need you people to fight his battles for him?”

But of course, the question can be turned to YHWH, or any number of other gods. If anyone claims to be doing some god’s work by executing gays, or flogging adulterers, or feeding the hungry, or spreading their holy book, or outlawing abortion, ask them what God needs with a starship. Surely any god worthy of the name would be capable of snapping his/her/its fingers and make manna fall in the Sahara, or make gays fall down dead, or add a gene that prevents conception in people who aren’t married and financially stable.

Presidents and kings need spokespeople because they’re only human and don’t have time to answer everyone’s question. But on important policy matters they step out in front of the cameras and explain what they’re trying to achieve. Or, if they can, they issue orders and make stuff happen.

Why can’t gods do the same?

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