Friday, October 31, 2008

What if Adam had not eaten?

She had watched the tree closely after her last conversation with the snake. The birds and other animals sought the fruit of the tree—often there were no ripe ones left. They did not die.

And the tree was beautiful, not just the forbidden fruit—how could it kill? The woman and Adam carefully avoided the fruit because of the Lord God's prohibition—but now with the prospect of wisdom she found herself drawn to it.

Life was pleasant. There was food, companionship and love with Adam, beauty to admire, and work. The days flowed easily and probably endlessly had it not been for the others.

The Lord God visited the garden often—mostly it was easy to be with him. But when he commanded, nothing else existed. She was attracted to him—in a different way than Adam. When she looked into his eyes she saw the moonless sky.

The snake was different. He wasn't like the Lord God—his eyes held slashes of darkness. She was surprised when he first spoke—none of the other creatures knew words. Even more surprising, he didn't agree with what the Lord God had said—how could that be? He talked about the tree and how its fruit would make her like the Lord God. More than anything she wanted that. As far as good and evil went, they were just names—she didn't care about them, but to be like the Lord God was a hunger that the snake kindled and it grew within her.

Adam stood by the tree with his wife. They had talked about the fruit and what the snake had said, and he was also drawn to the tree. Death was a scary thing, but they decided they needed wisdom. The woman reached out, plucked, and took a bite. She didn't die. She paused, and gave him the fruit. The commandment of the Lord God came back to him and he hesitated.

Adam looked into her eyes and he was alone again. How could he bear that? He took a bite.

9 comments:

VirusHead said...

This is a very powerful and even poetic re-imagining of that scene. I don't think I've ever seen God pictured in terms of the moonless sky. It really captures a sense of infinity and mystery. In Western traditions, we tend to simagine God in terms of light (and the sun), not darkness - but there is something compelling about the absence of that friendly nearby light of the moon that might better describe the awesome majesty and dizzying presence of God.

It reminded me of Kant's understanding of the sublime in the Critique of Practical Reason, the first sentence of which appears on his tombstone:

"Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within. I have not to search for them and conjecture them as though they were veiled in darkness or were in the transcendent region beyond my horizon; I see them before
me and connect them directly with the consciousness of my existence.
The former begins from the place I occupy in the external world of
sense, and enlarges my connection therein to an unbounded extent with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems, and moreover into limitless times of their periodic motion, its beginning and
continuance. The second begins from my invisible self, my personality, and exhibits me in a world which has true infinity, but which is traceable only by the understanding, and with which I discern that I am not in a merely contingent but in a universal and necessary connection, as I am also thereby with all those visible worlds. The
former view of a countless multitude of worlds annihilates as it were my importance as an animal creature, which after it has been for a short time provided with vital power, one knows not how, must again give back the matter of which it was formed to the planet it inhabits (a mere speck in the universe). The second, on the contrary, infinitely elevates my worth as an intelligence by my personality, in which the moral law reveals to me a life independent of animality and even of the whole sensible world, at least so far as may be inferred from the destination assigned to my existence by this law, a destination not restricted to conditions and limits of this life, but reaching into the infinite."

The apprehension of infinite without some access to meta- or transcendent or reflexive thinking is a frightening abyss.

I wonder, could it ever have been easy for Eve - or even Adam - to be with God? Can anyone really picture God walking around in the garden? Was there a bond between Eve and God? She seemed a bit of an afterthought to assuage Adam.

What is somehow most compelling in what you've written here is the sense of potential loss and abandonment inherent in the otherness Adam suddenly finds in Eve's eyes. He chooses love over obedience, doesn't he? (Well, at least until he blames her for the whole thing). Or maybe he just fears being left behind.

I've always thought that the underlying truths of the Genesis account had to do with the emergence of human consciousness. From that point of view, they either passed the test rather than failed it (in not being robots, but true sentient beings) and the serpent was an therefore agent in God's plan, or the narrative was composed to comfort and reinforce a particular set of views of how people became... aware, one that was aimed at supporting some societal structure or issue of the time.

I wonder how much Adam and Eve would have wanted to be like God. If I remember correctly, the text says "like gods." I've never known what that would have meant to early humans, just as I've wondered whether the inability to separate good from evil was innocence - or something else.

In any case, I have to notice that this post has a more visionary aspect to it than is normally your style. When a whole scene comes to you like this, something is happening. I think that thinking/feeling your way through it until you receive the message that you are trying to deliver to yourself would be valuable.

Good choice for the illustration. My gut feeling: think about eyes and otherness. We are others to ourselves too. Our loved ones are other to us. The serpent is other, and God is Other, too. But there is a strand that can connect, despite all that otherness, and you negotiate that all the time. That is the job of the mind's eye, the "I," and what emerges in that "between" of Buber and Kierkegaard.

Sorry to be so verbose, but (I'm kind of like that anyway, and) this post is inspiring in a number of different ways. Hope to see more blog posts - I was beginning to think you had given up on it.

VirusHead said...

Oh! Sorry for the bad formatting of the quotation, and for the typos.

It should be "serpent was therefore an agent in God's plan."

And the other one is clearly a Freudian slip. I meant to type "In Western traditions, we tend to imagine God in terms of light," but when I saw "simagine" I thought of simians and simulations (laughing).

Don't forget to turn back the clock! Extra hour tomorrow am! Woo-hoo!

Jeff said...

Fascinating stuff.
I've always found it interesting that Adam is mentioned as being present almost as an aside. Did he hear the whole thing? Did he show up at the last minute?
My understanding is that tradition says that Noah wrote Genesis through the Holy Spirit's "dictation". Whatever human wrote this, was Adam's sudden appearance just a manifestation of the sexism in their society? Would the Holy Spirit allow the writer's personality to manifest itself in this way?

On the one hand, I think there is something to be said for the idea that Noah taking the bite was Adam choosing life with Eve over life with God. (After all, God's compianship hadn't been enough in the beginning or Eve would not have been created.) Ironically, though, the fruit infects their relationship. They each notice that the other is naked, and cover themselves. And I wonder if they are hiding only from God but also from each other?

As for Virus Head's thoughts about the role of the fruit. I slightly disagree. I see how it can be tempting to see the fall as growing up time for humanity. But it appears a bit of a set-up. God has been wanting obedience from humanity ever since then.
I see the tree as the only way that God could make Adam and Eve free co-participants not captives.
If there wasn't an escape valve, a way to leave the garden, they would have been prisoners. I think that God hoped we'd co-exist in ease and comfort with him, but there's a sort-of test built in there... Is this environment fostering the sort of growth and maturity that God expects and wants for us? Disobeying him and eating of the tree would, by definition indicate that we need some other environment to grow and mature us.

VanceH said...

Heidi (aka Virushead),
Regarding God’s eyes resembling the moonless sky, I thought it would be kind of spooky if God’s eyes glowed, but just plain colors or darkness didn’t seem right either. A portion of this: http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/pr-2007/images/phot-33a-07-normal.jpg was what I was envisioning.

The Kant quote is very interesting. However, while Kant looks for the moral law within I see God again—this time at the center of my existence, instead of impossibly remote.

Regarding Adam and Eve being physically around God, the text suggests a physical presence of God several times. I like the idea of this being a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ—a theophany. People flocked to be around Jesus, so it seems reasonable to me that Adam and Eve would be attracted to an earlier instantiation.

On Eve being an afterthought – that is certainly not the message for Gen 1:27, it strongly suggests that both the male and female are required to represent the image of God. For me the Gen 2 account is exploring the relational aspects of female and male. Eve is created out of Adam’s rib, but Adam is dependent on Eve for companionship and for fulfilling God’s command to be fruitful.

Does Adam choose love over obedience? I discovered the aloneness angle while I was writing the post. In the text the external result of eating the fruit (eyes being opened, noticing they were naked) was a delayed reaction. Eve has enough of her wits about her to hand the fruit to Adam, but if she was experiencing full consciousness and awareness of self for the first time, you would expect some significant internal disorientation that would have to be worked through before you even noticed that things had changed outside your skin. If it played out this way, I suspect Adam’s motivations were more along the lines of panic, rather than love. After eating the fruit Adam found that not only was the aloneness still there—nothing was as it was, and there were penalties to be paid.


Jeff,
I hate the notion that Eve was somehow more culpable for the fall—that she somehow tricked Adam into eating. The Genesis text certainly doesn’t suggest it, and the prohibition was initially delivered directly to Adam, who appeared to be in a position where he could have stopped Eve. Damit Adam—be the man!

Gen 1:27: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed”, sets up the notion that Adam and Eve discovered that their nakedness (and by implication sexuality) is somehow shameful. I don’t think their physical nakedness with each other was the issue—after all they were husband and wife. I think most married couples would not react with horror and hurry to cover themselves up if they suddenly discovered themselves naked in a beautiful garden by themselves! My sense is that their cover up impulse was a reaction to the “otherness” that they had just created between themselves and with God. It is natural to try and build barriers between the other and ourselves. Sometimes that protection is needed; more often we just don’t want them to see us as we are.

It is interesting to postulate the tree of knowledge of good and evil as an escape hatch—it supports a free will dimensionality to the garden. However the escape hatch had death hanging around the door—it doesn’t seem like much of an option to the garden dwellers. Maybe there is an inevitably of death associated with free will that we need to accept in order to have knowledge.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I just came over here to check out your blog, because of a comment you had left on a post of Jeff Campbell's last November. Your comment there was brief but very too the point, and so I wanted "to check you out."

What I found when I came to your blog was this post What if Adam had not eaten?

This concept I have seen discussed and mulled over dozens of times in my life, at church, at school, in coffeehouses, in books, blah, blah, blah. All coming to no conclusion, nothing new being really said.

I didn't have the patience to read thru the long comments left here before me, other than to skim them, including yours. And I have no comment except to say that this is the most beautiful and poetic, no, the only beautiful and poetic—and therefore meaningful—repainting of this part of the Story as a verbal icon that I have ever had the joy of reading. It brings out, to my mind at least, a truth that we somehow all can know if we dare, and yet could never put into words in a linear discussion. Philosophers may have tried, but no one that I have read has grasped it, and conveyed it, as numinously as you have.

I called your writing here a "verbal icon," but it is even more than that to me. It is also a visual icon, as your words here have the power to make the reader see what you were seeing when you wrote it.

VanceH- said...

Romanós,
Thank you for your comment. It is always encouraging to know that another shared in what was given.

-- Vance

Heidi said...

"Repainting" - yes, exactly.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting as anonymous, because I can't remember my Blogger account info, lol, but I'll link to my site if you care to follow up on my comment.

The question "What if Adam had not eaten" raises an ancient debate called The Hypothetical Question, proposed by several theologians and scholars in the church's history, but was undeveloped and formally rjected by the Church in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The question was best propposed by Duns Scotus, the father of Scotism.

Scotus proposed that the Incarnation was so great a good, that Christ would have incarnated anyway, regarless of whther he sinned or not.

This raises a related question, what would the world have looked like had Adam chosen not to sin?

I have been working on that question for over 12 years, and have written non-scholarly dissertations on the subjects in the form of theories which address the problem of free-will, determinism, and creationism.

This question goes to the heart of a serious problem of Christian apologetics today, cultic adherence to Thomistic theology.

Today's atheist/and or reductionist (higher critical) movements have trumped modern traditional apologetics because the fundamentals of Christian doctrines have not been questioned accurately to keep pace with the advance of modern epistemology and scientific understanding.

Some examples are theodicies and creation theories.

The theodicies have generally been reductionist in nature, or they never question the fundamental questions of whether or not theological emphasis in doctrinal development (the primacy of certain unchallengeable Christian propositions) are legitiamte or not, meaning are the presupposittions of the essential theological traditions themselves correctly stated from the outset?

For example, in all Christian theological traditions (fundamentalist, whether Protestant or Catholic) the primacy of the Cross event is formally unquestionable. In Catholic theology from the time of Aquinas, to Reformed Theology in Calvin's Institutes, The Hypothetical Question was rejected as heresy and made off limits for further dicussion and development.

Thomism won, the Scotist school lost the debate, the Church chose to theologicall view the Cross as a divinely decreed event in infra and later supralapsarian terms.

Cathlolicism and Arminianism chose to view the Cross (Redemptive Theology) in terms of foreknowledge, hence infralapsarian, while Calvinism and Reformed Theology tends towards determinism and supralapsarianism.

This makes the Cross event primary to God's plan, from either view, from the one view as a matter of foreknowing Adam's sin, and from the other as a matter of God's predestined choice.

In the supralpasarian view, Adam had to sin.

In the Catholic/Protestant Arminian view, Adam had to sin because God foresaw his free choice, and decided that He would send Jesus to the Cross based on that sin event, God choses that scenario as opposed to perhaps choosing to not create at all.

The supralapsarian view creates an ethical dillema for Christianity (for God) as being the author of evil, and has not provided a good apologetic yet that satisfies the sensibilities of philosophers to date.

The infralapsarian view creates a contradiction between the proposition of God's Foreknowledge, and His Immutability, and they have not provided a good apologetic to date for that either.

Thus, the tradiontional Christian view of seeing the Cross as primary to God's plan (whatever view you take) in all forms of Christianity, has created for us today a nearly insurmountable problem of solving the epistemological and has apologetic problem in the modern era, because, I assert, the tradition itself is FLAWED.

They chose the wrong theological tradition to follow.

What if Adam had obeyed?

There is no theology in Christianity describing that scenario, is there?

Why?

And beyond, why, let's jump to What If?

What would that answer solve?

It would solve the two fundamental theological, philosophical , and scientific problems facing the Church today, in apologetics anyway, of Free-Will, Creationism, and the "Bultmann Problem", the issue which he stated was central to all problems in Christian theology, The "Offense of the Cross."

Answering this question, if it's possible, may open up a new field of Christian apologetics, and solve the serious problems for Creationism within Christianity as well.

I have detailed some discussion on my two answers to this problem, which are admittedly not complete yet, even after 12 years, but I think I have done some very good thinking on the problems, and provided a basis from which real scholars can take my lead and develop professional theology to fill in the gaps in my expertise.

You can read my papers on these issues at the following links:

http://sonnycraig.webs.com/libertyandfreewill.htm

http://presuppositionalcreationism.webs.com/

These are extremely comp;ex subjects, even for professionals, and I only ask that you read through the material first, and allow time to digest more the IMPLICATIONS of my thoughts, more than the consturction of my apologetic. I'm a seminal thinker, but not formally trained in writing scholarly theology, so professionals may be tempted to bail before they grasp my suppositions accurately.

Thank you for asking what I think is the most important question in Christian theology today, I am very impressed you were insightful enough to ask it.

Sonny Craig

Sonny Craig said...

I'm posting as anonymous, because I can't remember my Blogger account info, lol, but I'll link to my site if you care to follow up on my comment.

The question "What if Adam had not eaten" raises an ancient debate called The Hypothetical Question, proposed by several theologians and scholars in the church's history, but was undeveloped and formally rjected by the Church in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The question was best propposed by Duns Scotus, the father of Scotism.

Scotus proposed that the Incarnation was so great a good, that Christ would have incarnated anyway, regarless of whther he sinned or not.

This raises a related question, what would the world have looked like had Adam chosen not to sin?

I have been working on that question for over 12 years, and have written non-scholarly dissertations on the subjects in the form of theories which address the problem of free-will, determinism, and creationism.

This question goes to the heart of a serious problem of Christian apologetics today, cultic adherence to Thomistic theology.

Today's atheist/and or reductionist (higher critical) movements have trumped modern traditional apologetics because the fundamentals of Christian doctrines have not been questioned accurately to keep pace with the advance of modern epistemology and scientific understanding.

Some examples are theodicies and creation theories.

The theodicies have generally been reductionist in nature, or they never question the fundamental questions of whether or not theological emphasis in doctrinal development (the primacy of certain unchallengeable Christian propositions) are legitiamte or not, meaning are the presupposittions of the essential theological traditions themselves correctly stated from the outset?

For example, in all Christian theological traditions (fundamentalist, whether Protestant or Catholic) the primacy of the Cross event is formally unquestionable. In Catholic theology from the time of Aquinas, to Reformed Theology in Calvin's Institutes, The Hypothetical Question was rejected as heresy and made off limits for further dicussion and development.

Thomism won, the Scotist school lost the debate, the Church chose to theologicall view the Cross as a divinely decreed event in infra and later supralapsarian terms.

Cathlolicism and Arminianism chose to view the Cross (Redemptive Theology) in terms of foreknowledge, hence infralapsarian, while Calvinism and Reformed Theology tends towards determinism and supralapsarianism.

This makes the Cross event primary to God's plan, from either view, from the one view as a matter of foreknowing Adam's sin, and from the other as a matter of God's predestined choice.

In the supralpasarian view, Adam had to sin.

In the Catholic/Protestant Arminian view, Adam had to sin because God foresaw his free choice, and decided that He would send Jesus to the Cross based on that sin event, God choses that scenario as opposed to perhaps choosing to not create at all.

The supralapsarian view creates an ethical dillema for Christianity (for God) as being the author of evil, and has not provided a good apologetic yet that satisfies the sensibilities of philosophers to date.

The infralapsarian view creates a contradiction between the proposition of God's Foreknowledge, and His Immutability, and they have not provided a good apologetic to date for that either.

Thus, the tradiontional Christian view of seeing the Cross as primary to God's plan (whatever view you take) in all forms of Christianity, has created for us today a nearly insurmountable problem of solving the epistemological and has apologetic problem in the modern era, because, I assert, the tradition itself is FLAWED.

They chose the wrong theological tradition to follow.

What if Adam had obeyed?

There is no theology in Christianity describing that scenario, is there?

Why?

And beyond, why, let's jump to What If?

What would that answer solve?

It would solve the two fundamental theological, philosophical , and scientific problems facing the Church today, in apologetics anyway, of Free-Will, Creationism, and the "Bultmann Problem", the issue which he stated was central to all problems in Christian theology, The "Offense of the Cross."

Answering this question, if it's possible, may open up a new field of Christian apologetics, and solve the serious problems for Creationism within Christianity as well.

I have detailed some discussion on my two answers to this problem, which are admittedly not complete yet, even after 12 years, but I think I have done some very good thinking on the problems, and provided a basis from which real scholars can take my lead and develop professional theology to fill in the gaps in my expertise.

You can read my papers on these issues at the following links:

http://sonnycraig.webs.com/libertyandfreewill.htm

http://presuppositionalcreationism.webs.com/

These are extremely comp;ex subjects, even for professionals, and I only ask that you read through the material first, and allow time to digest more the IMPLICATIONS of my thoughts, more than the consturction of my apologetic. I'm a seminal thinker, but not formally trained in writing scholarly theology, so professionals may be tempted to bail before they grasp my suppositions accurately.

Thank you for asking what I think is the most important question in Christian theology today, I am very impressed you were insightful enough to ask it.

Sonny Craig