In the beginning was The Word… or not.
It would be logical, in a world that depended upon God’s Word to exist in order to follow it, to give mankind the holy scriptures as soon as possible. A God capable of creating the universe is, I’m sure, equally capable of giving homo sapiens a fully furnished bible as soon as necessary. It would be logical, I assert, for 3 good reasons: in order for people living through the times of Genesis to be able to live a holy life, and for no argument about what makes up the canon, and of course so that the bible’s origin would be unquestionable.
For some reason, man was without even the first book of the bible for over 5,000 years*. When we see stories such as Cain and Abel, we can say without disagreement that Cain murdering Abel was evil… but how was Cain to know this? The commandment not to murder didn’t come about until the book of Exodus, quite a bit of time after Cain had passed on to his reward. Some might argue that any culture knows that murder is wrong, but if that’s the case why even include it in the bible if it’s obvious?** Less obvious is what caused God’s wrath to spill out on the planet when he flooded it, saving Noah and his family. We still don’t know what consisted of the “wickedness of man” in Genesis 6:5, nor can we even rationalize killing innocents who hadn’t been told what wickedness was. What made Noah so upright? Upright, good, and holy hadn’t been defined yet, either. Are these people in hell? Did they even stand a chance?
We also have teachings of prophets such as Enoch, a “perfect” man who “walked with God”, and yet even his scripture didn’t make the cut. Was it meant for the bible or not? How about the lost (until recently) gospels of Thomas and Judas Iscariot? The bible never tells us when it was intended to be finished, never including a phrase such as “The End”, as modern books are kind enough to provide. That is why we have Muslims claiming the Qur’an is an addition to the bible, and Mormons claiming the book of Mormon as divine script. Who’s to say with certainty that there are no more prophets? Who’s to say that just because the bible went to the printing press that it was completed? A bible given to man up front would’ve answered this question to anyone’s satisfaction.
Finally, we have archaeologists and historians who have studied the actual intact scriptures such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and believe that much of it was added and edited later by people other than the original writers. This makes the whole origin of the bible rather shady, not so much God-inspired and man-created. “Amendments” to the Old Testament also show a lack of authenticity. Consider, for example, that we no longer put witches to death. No matter what reason you find in the New Testament for God changing his mind on this law, one must wonder why He wanted it done in the first place if He later considered it wrong. Let’s assume an African tribe got its hands on the Old Testament – and only that part of the bible. They might put to death their witch doctor, as well as killing all those who worked on the Sabbath or commit adultery – and they’d be doing it in the name of God! How would they know different? Why should they have to have a complete bible to know what God truly wanted? If that’s the case, perhaps man should’ve been given a complete bible instead of each chapter, one by one, piecemeal.
It’s obvious that I don’t believe the bible holds any truth. I do believe in Occam’s Razor, that the simplest explanation is best. It would seem that God left man to write the bible because there is no God and it was totally and utterly up to man to create from his imagination. Or maybe the bible still isn’t finished, and we’re waiting for a later prophet to explain why it was done so thoughtlessly.
*Of course, you may not believe in the literal truth of Genesis, and believe in evolution instead. This makes the whole point even further absurd, as we’re led to wonder why God waited 75,000 years rather than 5,000 to give man the first book of the bible. Also, why did He wait for homo sapiens? Did homo erectus go to heaven, hell, or oblivion? What is so special about our kind, besides our invention of the written language? If the bible was made by man, and man alone, of course it would all hinge on written language and nothing else.
**The bible does include an implied lesson, in that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and shortly thereafter put on clothes to cover their shame. Are we to believe that nudity is naturally against divine will, known to us from birth? Why does National Geographic continue to find tribes that don’t believe in covering breasts as essential? Why do we have to teach our kids to keep their clothes on and keep their nudity private? I have a daughter, and like most kids she appears to have no shame or modesty about her naked body… it’s something she must be taught by those of us with “morals”. Even the apostle Paul admits he didn’t know coveting was a sin until he read about it. Wickedness, at least wickedness as defined by God, actually had to be spelled out in writing.