Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Death in the garden..

And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2: 9 ESV)

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  (Genesis 2: 16-17 ESV)

At face value this is a deadly experiment—can these newly created beings obey instructions?   If not, Adam and the woman will eliminate themselves—providing a clean slate for another try.  

The experimental subjects were conscious, facile with language, aware and able to appreciate each other.  They were able to work and maintain their environment. Did they understand death?  One must assume so.  It would hardly be fair for God to tell them they would surely [unknown concept]  if they ate of the fruit.

In other ways the pair was limited.  They didn’t have knowledge of good and evil.  They saw each other without seeing.   Adam at least, appeared to view the other as a pleasing extension of himself rather than a distinct individual (he didn't name Eve until after the fall). 

In truth God had not created a literal: if eat fruit—then drop dead experiment.  So what was He up to? 

Perhaps He wanted beings that were willing to risk death in order to pursue knowledge.  An exercise of free will, with a possible ultimate penalty.   This is a step that God could not command, but He could create the situation.  In a risk free garden this could not happen.  In a garden with forbidden fruit it required disobeying God’s command.

With this reading of the text we face the abyss. Does God sometimes command us to inaction, when He really wants action?  

Clearly God's command does not always express His intent.   When God wanted to test Abraham He commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering on a mountain.  God's command was death, but His intent was a test followed by a blessing.    Even Jesus, in another garden, questioned God on what was really necessary.    Who can claim to know the mind of God?  

The woman and Adam decided to not accept their limited existence. They were willing to risk death to gain knowledge.  

In the aftermath there was cursing, dust, enmity, pain, servility, hard work, and death.  But there was also vision, God-like knowledge, the joy of children, destiny, desire, relationship, and freedom. 

I think they made the right choice. 


Jeff said...

I don't know. There's a part of me that wants to believe this reading of the text. But God seems genuinely distressed at Adam's and Eve's choice. Perhaps more importantly, Jesus' redemption of humanity seems a bit of a farce, if God had wanted us to do this all along. (And Paul seems pretty clear that Jesus' sacrifice is a direct result of Adam's sin.)

On an unrelated note, it seems to me that if the issue is obedience to God, it doesn't really matter whether or not we understand the penalty.
If God says "Don't eat of the tree or you will Farsakwa" I may not understand what farsakwa means. (It's a nonsense word, just for the record.) But if I choose to eat of the tree, I've chosen disobedience and am taking my chances with just how ugly farsakwa is going to be.

When I try to wrap my brain around the meaning of the knowledge of good and evil, I focus on the first word: knowledge.
Human knowledge is necessarily limited, and is also by definition something earned, rather than in-born.
I'd suggest that God was saying "Right now, I am the source for information about right and wrong for you. In eating of this tree you are choosing to work it out for yourself. If you take this route, there will be problems you can't solve, ethical quandries which you can't work out."

Finally, The more time I spend reading Revelations, the more I am clear that God is directing us back to the original destination he'd planned for Adam and Eve. This suggests to me that within the parameters He'd set up, he could have grown and matured us; the fall was a detour, not a necessary step.

blogger addict said...

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VirusHead said...

February 2010... Time for a new meditation.

L.W. Dickel said...

Here's a good description of the Judeo-Christian religion.

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change this.
For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."-Albert Einstein

Religion is mind rot. A bunch of asinine Stone Age bullshit that only the weak minded, apparently in need of comforting fairy tales, can swallow.

Virgin births, blood sacrifices, talking donkeys, genocide, infanticide,slave trading, stoning non-virgins to death, stoning homosexuals to death, etc. In other words, absolute Stone Age bullshit!! Gotta love it!!