The second book of Kings contains the story of Naaman, the head of a foreign army, who is cured from his leprosy by Elisha.
It’s a story I’ve read and heard preached about many times. For those wishing to extol the virtues of faith and the overcoming of doubt, it makes for a great narrative.
What is less well known is that at the end of the story Elisha’s servant gets a little greedy and claims the payment for the healing after Elisha has turned it down. It’s not clear how Elisha finds out about the deception, but he isn’t best pleased and promptly curses the servant and all his descendent to be forever plagues with leprosy. Nice.
It is this sort of ending that justifies the challenge that the Christian god isn’t a god of love but a moral monster.
Subjective moral values aside, the story creates a narrative that should be testable today. The servant’s descendents were cursed to suffer with leprosy forever. Which means that there should be alive today a family line whose descents all suffer with this disease. This would make for an interesting medical case, especially since leprosy isn’t a genetic disease. Does a family line exist today where all members suffer from leprosy?
The existence of such a family would surely be evidence for the authenticity of this story and therefore affirm the existence of such a curse, which surely would conclude that the Christian god isn’t a myth after all. It would also confirm that the Christian god is a petulant vengeful scumbag that we should be afraid of but is not at all worthy of worship. So if this story can be confirmed to be true based on the servant’s curse, then maybe Christians don’t want the lineage to be identified after all.
There are some Christian objections though:
– maybe it’s not leprosy, the English says leprosy, but the original could mean any skin disease.
My ancient language knowledge isn’t good enough to read the original; there is strong support for it being leprosy and also for a less specific diagnosis. Whatever it is or was, it doesn’t cancel out the many generations being cursed with a disease forever. If that disease isn’t a genetic disease, then how does each descendent get it? Does god arrange for each one to succumb?
– People with leprosy tended not to reproduce due to being outcast so don’t assume the servant did
Well, that puts paid to the all descendents forever part of the curse. Who’s at fault there? The godly Elisha or god? Someone surely messed up.
– Maybe god chose not to honour Elisha’s curse beyond the servant.
This is a good one. It rescues god from the evil very not loving accusation but also removes the testable part of the story. No confirmation means the bible is once more in the cupboard marked myth. Christians probably like it because it means the bible can’t be falsified either. Perfect for those with blind faith.
Seen in a fresh light, the story of Naaman isn’t one of grace and faith, it’s one of betrayal, vengeance and downright nastiness. Who wants that sort of god to rule over them? Not me.