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Other Myths in Genesis

Two other separate myths are present in the first 11 chapters of Genesis; these are the Myth of Cain and Abel and the Myth of the Tower of Babel. After our rather “heavy artillery” approaches against the creation account and the Noachian Flood, we will take a more simple route with these two less spectacular myths; we will simply note the inherent contradictions in the stories and show the probable origins of these stories.

The Myth of Cain and Abel

The story of Cain and Abel is told in Chapter 4 of Genesis. These two (Cain being the elder son) were the first two offsprings of Adam and Eve. The problem with the story begins after Cain slew Abel out of jealousy (Genesis 4: 3-8). Now the contradiction begins:

Genesis 4:13-15
Cain said to the Lord “My punishment is greater than I can bear...I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me shall slay me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken upon him a sevenfold. And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone who came upon him shall kill him

Now, it is obvious that Seth was the third offspring of Adam and Eve. The passage 4:25 makes that clear.

Genesis 4:25
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore him a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, for Cain slew him”

This verse clearly shows that Seth was only the third child of Adam and Eve. For Seth was born to replace Abel. So how could it be possible that Cain became afraid that whoever finds him shall kill him? Furthermore how could God have forgotten that with no one else in the world except Adam and Eve, the “mark of Cain” would be useless? A similar problem is raised for the verse below:

Genesis 4:17
Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch...

Now where did Cain’s wife come from? There is no mention till then that Adam and Eve had bore any other children apart from Cain and Abel. Driven to the wall, fundamentalist theologians had had to come up with quite perverse ad hoc explanations. Firstly they say, although it is not stated in Genesis at that point, Adam and Eve already had more children. Secondly, they say, Cain probably married his own sister (or niece!)-in short, driven to the wall, they suggest incest as the solution! The problems with their explanation is simple: if they can use an explanation not stated in the Bible, why limit themselves to the assumption that he married his sister-equally unsupported would be the suggestion that God made another man (or men) who also “knew” Eve and had sons and daughters, and so Cain only married his half sister. But if they object that this is adultery, what about their incestous solution?

The solution to the Cain problem is simple: it is a myth. The science of evolution (living things always evolve in a population not in pairs) tells us that there was no Adam and Eve and hence no Cain and Abel.

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The Myth of the Tower of Babel

The myth about the Tower of Babel is told in Genesis 11:1-9. There the story is told of the decendents of Noah who settled in the land of Shinar (Babylonia) and decided to build a tower that was to “reach unto Heaven” (Genesis 11:4). God defeated their purpose by confounding their languages and scattering them over the face of the earth.

First let us point out a contradiction here. Genesis 11:1 mentioned that there is only one language and a few words. Yet only one chapter earlier (10:5) the following statement is made:

Genesis 10:5 (see also Genesis 10:20 & Genesis 10:31)
From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the sons of Japheth in their lands, each with his own language, by their families, in their nation.

Second, the story is pre-scientific in the extreme. Note that the people wanted to built a tower than actually reached “unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). Also note that God came down to look at the tower (Genesis 11:5). It is obvious that the reason why God confounded their language and scattered them was that he was afraid these people might actually reached heaven! As William Harwood notes:

A modern god, knowing the distance even to the nearest star would laugh at such an enterprise, but the Yahweh of 920 BCE could hardly be blamed for being as ignorant as his biographer. [1]

The story probably originated from the experience of the original Hebrews upon seeing the mighty buildings in the cities of Babylon:

The myth...reflects the attitude of nomads entering the fertile plains of the Delta, beholding with wander and dread the soaring towers of Babylonian cities, and despising the multitudes speaking the various tongues of the ancient Near East. [2]

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1.Harwood, Mythology’s Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus, p 135
2.Hooke, Middle Eastern Mythology, p138

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