Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

The Summer and Fall of Mankind

I was considering writing a post on the more mysterious figures of the Bible, like Enoch and Melchizedek, but then I thought, "Why not just do a series on the Biblical patriarchs and their contemporaries in general?" (No, I didn't think those exact words, but that was the gist of it.) And what better place to start than with the original patriarch and matriarch of the human race, Adam and Eve? Their story begins in way back in Genesis 2.

Okay, so, God makes the first human out of dirt (which is MUCH less embarrassing than evolving from an ape, for some reason), and has him live in a magical garden with every kind of plant and animal. He names all of the animals, but I'm not entirely sure why this detail is relevant, since it's not like whatever names he used would be the same ones we use today. Except I think I remember seeing an indication that some people believed all humans spoke Hebrew before the Tower of Babel incident, which is pretty typical mythological ethnocentrism. American fundamentalists probably believe that Adam spoke English.

There have already been plenty of people who pointed out the absurdity in the forbidden fruit story, so I'm just going to sum it up. God makes ignorant people who don't know the difference between right and wrong, and then gets mad when they do the wrong thing. What's the moral of this story, anyway? Is it that humans will always do the wrong thing when it's an option (and there's a talking snake to tempt us)? That hardly seems fair, since Adam and Eve weren't supposed to know the difference before eating the fruit anyway. Is it a warning against curiosity, or an indication that we should always do as we're told even when the instructions make no sense and aren't explained? (And really, the bit about the tree really DOESN'T make much sense, because God could have easily put it somewhere else if he didn't want anyone eating from it.) It's a popular opinion that eating the fruit represents sexual awakening, but didn't God already tell Adam and Eve to "[b]e fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth"? This bit is actually in Genesis 1, which means it was most likely written by a different author who hadn't even heard of the Garden of Eden story, but I'm not sure a literalist would be too keen on that explanation.

God's curse on the disobedient human beings involves childbirth being painful, husbands being in charge of wives (yeah, God is pretty sexist even this early on), and having to till the ground for food. Although it's not actually in the book that's supposed to be the revealed word of God, however, it seems to be a popular idea that the Fall of Man ruined everything for everybody. Prior to this, all animals were herbivores that lived in peace, no plants were harmful, and life was eternal. This last one seems to be contradictory to the text, because why would God have been afraid that people would eat of the Tree of Life if they were ALREADY immortal? For that matter, He never made the Tree of Life forbidden in the first place, but after Adam and Eve ate of the other tree (referred to in the King James version of Genesis 2 as "the tree of knowledge of good and evil"; apparently God was about as skilled at naming things as Leonard of Quirm), He went to great lengths (involving cherubim and a flaming sword; say what you will about Yahweh (and I've already said plenty), but at least the dude had style) to protect it. Genesis 3:22 reads, "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." So are the only ways in which God is different from humans that he knows the difference between good and evil (which is no longer a difference as of Genesis 3) and is immortal? The latter is no small thing, but I hardly think it makes someone worthy of worship. But as we'll see with the Tower of Babel, this concept of God was terrified of being unseated from power by mankind, which is hardly something an omnipotent being would have to be concerned about.

But getting back to the magical garden where tyrannosaurs were best friends with sheep, why would these animals have been punished for something that humans did wrong? Childbirth is painful for many animals as well, but THEY didn't eat any forbidden fruit, did they? And the idea that eating fruit brought sin into the world seems rather far-fetched anyway. Why would being able to tell good from evil have been an asset in a world that didn't HAVE any evil? And why would the snake have been hanging around in a perfect place? Sounds like God had already sown the seeds for sin, doesn't it?

Next week (or whenever I get around to writing it, but I'm hoping to make this a Sunday feature), we'll turn our scrutiny toward Adam and Eve's children, and how Yahweh prefers meat to vegetables.
Tags: bible, mythology, religion
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