Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Honest Question re: Genesis

This is an honest question about the Genesis story that has been bothering me for a long time. You hear it a lot: the reason the world has pain and suffering in it is because of Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. That sin, the eating of the forbidden fruit, introduced pain, disease, death, predation*, every violent, sad, tragic, painful or even slightly unpleasant thing was introduced to the world by man's sin.

Well, okay, but wasn't Satan already in the Garden? I seem to remember:

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they werenaked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Yeah, that's odd. What was the serpent doing in the Garden of Eden if God hadn't put him there? Why was the serpent subtle if God hadn't made him subtle? If there was no sin in the Garden, why would the serpent suggest disobeying God?

Anyway, that's my question for the day.

*Apparently, every predator today, such as polar bears and tigers, were herbivores prior to Adam's and Eve's mistake. Presumably, their teeth, claws and digestive systems were entirely changed in that moment. Among other things.


  1. I have a different question than the serpent/Satan being in the garden:

    If eating from that tree was the only thing that would give Adam and Eve knowledge of Good and Evil (and thus sin), how would they known that it was wrong prior to eating it? God tells them "eat from everything except this tree here or you'll die," and then the only other thing that they've encountered tells them that it's OK to eat from that tree. They have no concept of what awaits them if they do eat, they have no reason to not trust anything that talks, and they have no concept of what this "dying" thing is, considering up until that point, nothing had ever died.

    So, if I were to tell a 2-year old, "place your hands on any surface in this house that you want, except the stove, or you'll flangerbitzun," then set about showing them all the neat stuff to touch, and then left them with a toy that told them it was OK to touch the stove too, would I then be justified in killing the child when they touched the stove?

    The garden of even story doesn't serve well as a moral story about obeying God to stop horribly things from happening - it just serves to point out that God has been a ridiculously evil deity since the dawn of man. You know, if you believe that claptrap.

  2. Well, if you believe Christian mythology, "God" is supposed to be all-knowing, omniscient, etc, etc. So he knew all about Satan, apple, Adam & Eve, knowledge, etc,-and obviously didn't have a problem with it since he was the one who set it all up.

    I wonder if Christians ever notice that their religion is comprised of bits and pieces stolen from earlier beliefs?

  3. I've always had a HUGE problem with the idea of "Him" being so very disappointed/saddened/whatever at all the choices we've made, starting with the one in the Garden.

    Why would an omniscient being--who supposedly already knew everything we'd ever do before grabbing up that first handful of clay (*eyeroll*)--create such imperfect, disappointing critters as all of us, anyway? You'd think with all that omnipotence, he could craft better toys for Himself...

  4. If you look at the early old testament in detail, you see an obvious contrast, and then convergence with later teaching, most specifically between the concepts of an omnipotent, omnipresent God (Yahweh), and a semi-mortal, non-omnipotent God (Elohim). The Genesis story makes a great deal of sense in the Elohim context, but has obvious continuity issues with the Yahweh concept. These sorts of "plotholes" when two mythologies are intertwined are not at all atypical, as demonstrated by the Aesir vs Vanir in Norse Mythology.

  5. So, if I were to tell a 2-year old, "place your hands on any surface in this house that you want, except the stove, or you'll flangerbitzun," ...

    Well to be fair, if you told me I'd flangerbitzun if I touched something, I'd hide in the corner at the other end of the house utterly terrified of it. Seriously, that word sounds like it'd be excruciatingly painful.

  6. The serpent was 'wise', it wasn't evil, and it never says to disobey god. All it does is tell the truth, which is what you'd expect from someone who was both wise and non-evil.

    Eve chose to believe the serpent, and sure enough, eating the fruit made her wise like the serpent said, not dead like god claimed.
    The 'first sin' was god lying about the tree.

    What god said isn't even a command, it's just bad advice. Eve naturally ignored it once she knew better. The real question here is, why is she inevitably blamed for what He did?
    I have my theories …

  7. Out of all the weird backward stuff in Genesis, that's what you have a question about?! :) j/k yeah, the entire book is a mess of sloppy fairy-tale editing...what can be expected but absurd nonsense?

  8. i have heard MOAR theories about "The Real Genesis" than i can number. like:

    1) sure the snake was Satan - and sure, God's omni-everything - but, since there's "free will", even though God knew what was going to happen, he had to LET IT happen, because otherwise he was interfereing with free will
    2) the snake was NOT Satan. the snake was just a snake. God set it up - "tricked" Adam and Eve - because he didn't want 2 people, he wanted Humanity, which couldn't happen unless they "sinned", so that they would A) stop being immortal and B) become fertile
    3) the word "Day" in Genesis, is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for "epoch" - which, in Hebrew, means "as long as it takes". so "during the FIRST 'time that took as long as it takes' God created the Heavens and the Earth, etc.

    there's lots and lots and more lots. sigh.

  9. I wouldn't have gone for an apple.

    A chili-cheese dog on the other hand...

  10. Pretty much what everyone else said.

    Inconsistancy aside, I enjoy pointing out that the ultimate "Truth" lies, and the "Father of Lies" tells the truth.

    After last weekend especially, I'm more convinced that the hymn which mentions "the old, old, story" is more correct than the author intended.

    It's just campfire stories at the core. All the themes are there, and the listeners are just as avvid to hear and believe.

    My father believed it was all real. And he was an educated man who once held the 11th highest security clearance in the US.

  11. @Quasar - or, as I've put it before:

    God: "I've cleverly set a thousand land mines in this field and placed a toddler in the middle. I've very carefully instructed him that if he walks in one particular direction, he'll be fine. I've then set the biggest, shiniest toy in existence in the middle of the largest concentration of land mines."

    Toddler: [blows up]

    God: "I warned him. It was his choice. I am still just and loving!"

  12. So why do you think the serpent was Satan? The Bible never states that.

  13. Beam;

    i can't speak for anyone else's experience, but in MINE [my mom converted to Xianity when i was 9ish; there were several years when i would go to church because it was one less fight], MOST people who believe Adam-and-Eve are something that was "real" really truly believe that either the snake was Satan/Lucifer [since "Satan" was not ever used OT] or that S/L had somehow made the snake do it. i know other people who think the snake wasn't S/L but rather Lilith - Adam's FIRST wife, conveintly edited out of the modern Bible, but there in anything old enough, or if you borrow books from Jews. :)

    i don't know why. probably because "everything bad comes from Satan" because gods know there's a certain type of person who just KNOWS that everything good he did was because "God" and everything bad he did was because "The Devil". period.
    how that matches up with free-will, or even the thought that we are PEOPLE who can THINK and not just trained circus animals, i've never understood...


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