According to Genesis, after Adam and Eve are thrown out of Eden, their offspring pioneer the first primitive industries. Two of their sons, Cain and Abel, are described as the first farmers and shepherds, respectively. They also practiced something that was unknown to their parents in Eden: religion.
Although the story never suggests that God required it, both Cain and Abel religiously sacrifice a portion of their harvest to God. God apparently was displeased with Cain’s burnt offering of grain and/or fruit, whereas he looked favorably on the blood offerings of Abel. Or at least, that is what Cain and Abel assumed. We can only surmise that Abel experienced better fortune than Cain, leading them to this understanding.
Whatever the case, Cain was jealous of Abel and killed him. The very first murder recorded in the Hebrew scriptures shows us that a (mis)understanding of God was the cause; the first recorded incident of religious violence.
While in the Garden, Adam and Eve did not offer sacrifice to God, yet it was not long before their fallen children determined that this was the best way to earn God’s favor. No sooner did they begin this practice was its inherent evil tragically exposed.
It is hard to imagine that God would promote such a dubious system. Yet much of Western Christian theology is based upon the idea that God requires sacrifice – even that of his own son – in order for His wrath to be appeased. This is in spite of the fact that scriptures quite explicitly tell us otherwise. The prophet Micah says that God is not interested in our sacrifice but to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. (Micah 6:8)
Yet we do not listen to the prophets and history continues to repeat itself.