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Why Did God Need to Rest After Creation?

Absurdity of God Resting

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According to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, after spending six days creating everything in existence God actually had to stop for a day to rest. God didn't have to stop to admire his handiwork or add something he missed — he did that during the first six days. No, God was so tired from creating things over six days that he needed a full day for rest and recuperation.

What sort of omnipotent, transcendent deity needs to rest after doing anything, much less after creating plants and animals?

 

God Rested on the Seventh Day

Genesis 2:2: And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

The power attributed by Jews, Christians, and Muslims to their god is unmatched and arguably unimaginable. Nothing in the universe ever has or ever will come even remotely close. What's more, this god is to varying degrees depicted as radically different in nature from humans or any other creature.

That's why it's so absurd to suddenly find this god doing something that is so very human: resting after a hard week's work. Does God need to sleep? Does God need to stretch occasionally? Does God need to "decompress" by playing video games? Does God doodle on scrap paper? Those all seem like silly questions because they involve activities that "God," as described in traditional religion, should be way beyond needing. The same should be true of "rest" as well.

 

Different Gods, Different Attributes

It's not strange to see gods from other cultures and religions resting. The Greek gods, for example, may have been very powerful but they weren't omnipotent or transcendent; they were instead very much a part of the universe and subject to physical laws of the universe (though in different ways). Those gods don't just need to rest, they also need to eat and even have sex occasionally.

The god of the Bible and western monotheistic religion is another type of deity entirely. There's no reason to think that it should need or want to rest; there's nothing about any of the other characteristics ascribed to this god which would be consistent with a need or desire to rest. There is also nothing about this god which would be consistent with comparable activities like playing, sleeping, etc.

At best the description of God needing to rest is part of older traditions about deities that were neither transcendent nor omnipotent. From an academic perspective, it's easy to imagine the oldest stories about God being consistent with stories about other gods in the same region if all those cultures treated their gods in similar ways.

Admitting that would, however, require admitting that beliefs about God have evolved over time, even to the point of incorporating conflicting and contradictory ideas. It would require admitting that belief in and worship of "God" originated in a culturally contingent context rather than having any sort of divine, supernatural origin.

 

God Resting After Creation

What do you think about the idea of the god of the Bible having to rest after six days of working? Do you agree that this is inconsistent with other traditional ideas about the nature of God or do you think that there is a way to read Genesis that would make sense of depicting God as needing to rest? If you think it makes sense that God would need to rest, your solution cannot add anything new that's not already in the biblical text and cannot leave out any details that the Bible provides.

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