Adam and Eve and When It All Went Wrong

Well, it’s been a while since we dropped in on our friends Adam and Eve in the garden. So I figured I might as well make it a week of weird and tell y’all what I’ve been thinking/figuring out about them.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a wee bit of an obsession with the creation stories and the story of the fall. In fact, if it were possible to make money off meditating on them, I would be writing this from a beach in Fuji instead of on a computer with vacuum tubes in a spare bedroom that looks it hasn’t been cleaned in 2 months (because it hasn’t).

The reason I am so obsessed with these stories is because they seem to hold the key to understanding what is wrong with our relationships with each other, God and creation. Once you stop reading them as either the worst history book ever written or a fairy tale just-so story and taking them seriously, you discover that they are a lot like a puzzle. And I’m one of those people who plays soduku to relax. I like puzzles.

Anyhow, last spring I wrote a short series about a vision/dreamy sort of thingy I was given about what happened at the fall. Which if you may want to check out. The big take-away from the whole thing was that the fall wasn’t actually our fault. It was more like the world’s worse act of abuse against a couple of kids. If you think I’m full of it or want to know more, you can go read the posts on the subject. They’re short, we can wait:

What Was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Doing in the Garden?

The Fall Wasn’t Our Fault

Does God Sit Around Monitoring Our Thoughts? And Other Pertinent Questions

So What Happened to Adam and Eve Anyhow?

Now if I haven’t scared you off, today I want to discuss the relationship between Adam and Eve. As I’ve said before (and as Ireneus and a few other early church fathers said), Adam and Eve were children. Little children.

Adam was made first. Adam is the Hebrew word for man or mankind. It’s used thousands of times in the Hebrew OT to mean man or mankind. So when we talk about Adam, we are talking about a character who represents mankind as a whole, not necessarily about one specific individual. (Remember, mankind is one.)

Eve is formed later as a subset of mankind. Still a part of mankind, but defined by her gender. Eve is like a little sister to Adam. Consider that it is Adam who named the animals, received instructions from God, went looking for a partner, etc. Adam even got to name Eve.

So Adam would have been much like a big brother, showing his little sister around, telling her what things were called, explaining the rules, etc. Anyone who has ever seen a preschooler with a toddler sibling knows exactly what I am talking about here. A little kid enjoying being in charge and showing off what he knows for an admiring younger sibling.

I’ve written before about a small detail from the story of the fall which is normally overlooked, but I think is important. When Adam and Eve were standing by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the snake approaches them, Eve says something untrue. She tells the serpent that not only can they not eat the fruit of the tree, but they are not even allowed to touch it. It’s a little detail that points to the fact that perfection, as we think of perfection, did not exist even before the fall. Which makes sense; God had declared the earth “good” and Adam and Eve “very good”. We’re the ones who made up this idea that it was perfect.

So, where did Eve get this idea that they weren’t allowed to touch the tree? Perhaps she made it up and was just lying. Or perhaps it was what her big brother Adam had told her. It’s totally the sort of thing a big brother would do. (I once had my little sister convinced that clouds moving across the sky showed how fast the earth was turning. Because I wanted to impress her with my great understanding of the workings of the earth, of course.)

God had given Adam one little rule to follow. It’s very easy to imagine that as a big brother, earnestly taking his responsibilities very seriously and feeling very important, he had instructed Eve, “see that fruit over there? God says we can’t eat it or we will die. We can’t even touch the tree it’s so dangerous!” He exaggerated a bit. Who doesn’t exaggerate from time to time? (My computer does not have vacuum tubes, by the way.) Especially when we’re trying to impress someone?

So Adam and Eve are standing by the tree. Maybe Adam’s showing off how brave he is to get so close to the dangerous tree. And the snake, who knows damn well that he has no business messing with them comes by to chat. And let’s just say that perhaps, as they are talking a breeze goes by and a branch moves and a bit of fruit brushes against Eve. Who doesn’t die.

And the snake says, “You will not certainly die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Eve at this point is perhaps aware that her brother may have been doing what big brothers do and scared her in order to impress her. She didn’t die from touching the fruit. Perhaps eating it wasn’t so scary either. It was pretty. What little girl doesn’t like pretty things? And God had given the garden to them to eat from. Plus, the fruit was useful for gaining wisdom. If she was wise, then she wouldn’t be the little kid her brother could trick.

Adam is standing there silently. Perhaps he heard Eve repeat his harmless lie and had some idea that he had made a mistake in telling her they couldn’t touch the fruit. Perhaps he had some vague awareness that he had been caught; that Eve knew he had lied to her. But I have had a child tell me “I didn’t stand on the coffee table” while they were standing on the coffee table. Little kids aren’t exactly know for their willingness to admit that they did something wrong.

So Eve eats the fruit and hands it to Adam. Adam has just watched his Eve, who God made just for him, who would be the mother of all adam, sign her own death sentence. All he had meant was to keep Eve safe and maybe impress her a bit. He was the big brother and being a big brother comes with responsibilities. So Adam does just what a good man would do in that situation and bravely took a bite of the fruit Eve handed him. If she was going to die, he would go with her.

 

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Consciousness and Genesis 1

I want to write about my personal theory on the story of creation told in Genesis 1 today, but I can’t think of any interesting or clever way to start the post. So I thought maybe I could find a good joke about creation to use. After looking for awhile I found this little gem:

A minister, a priest and a rabbi went for a hike one day. It was very hot.
They were sweating and exhausted when they came upon a small lake.
Since it was fairly secluded, they took off all their clothes and
jumped in the water.

Feeling refreshed, the trio decided to pick a few berries while enjoying
their “freedom.” As they were crossing an open area, who should come
along but a group of ladies from town. Unable to get to their clothes in
time, the minister and the priest covered their privates and the rabbi
covered his face while they ran for cover.

After the ladies had left and the men got their clothes back on, the
minister and the priest asked the rabbi why he covered his face rather
than his privates. The rabbi replied, “I don’t know about you, but in
MY congregation, it’s my face they would recognize.”

Of course that joke has nothing to do with creation, but it’s funny so in my infinite wisdom, I’ve decided that’s what counts. Now . . . moving on to the story of creation.

One of the oddities of the story of creation in Genesis 1 is that the order in which things were created makes no sense. First there’s day and night and then later, after there was land and plants, but before there were animals, the sun, moon and stars get made. Water was apparently pre-existing and had to be separated from air to make the sky. So on and so forth.

For creationists, none of this matters because somehow that’s just how God did it. For people who run a wee bit deeper and wider than that, both logic and science say that it couldn’t have happened like that. Those who reject religion say the creation story is just something people made up to explain the world and really means nothing. Christians who don’t blasphemously reject the evidence of God’s own creation in favor of man’s understanding of scripture figure the point of the story is that God made everything, he made it with purpose and it is good.

I personally have my own pet theory about why the order of creation is all jumbled up in Genesis 1. Continue reading

Why Was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden?

Hi, I’m Rebecca and I’d just like to say at the outset that to the best of my knowledge I’m not actually crazy. And no drugs were involved in the making of this post. Of course, the only reason for someone to start by declaring themselves sane and not drug addled is because they are about to say something which will make people think otherwise. Which is what I’m about to do.

But first, a little background. Perhaps you recall me saying a few times that I have a bit of a fixation on the creation stories. I rejected a literal reading of them ages ago. A supposedly literal reading is incompatible both with the evidence from God’s creation and the text itself. I don’t honestly know if the stories are a figurative retelling of things that actually happened. Or if they are true myths in the sense that they are not true because they actually happened, but true because they happen all of the time. Probably as far as I would go is to say that they tell the story of a deep spiritual reality which has been made manifest in the material world.

I think that the creation stories are important because they are our faith’s explanation for the start of all things concerning us. They give us a peek at our true identity, who we were made to be, what our relationship with creation is, how God works and ultimately, hold the key to figuring out what is wrong with us. That last bit seems particularly important to me, as it is very hard to fix something if you don’t know what is wrong with it.

Over the last 20 years I have spent what probably amounts to an absurd amount of time meditating on and trying to puzzle out the creation stories. There are two things I have learned which are particularly relevant to our discussion here today. The first is that the garden was a place for Adam and Eve live and learn. It was almost like a playground for them in the sense that for a child, the whole world is a playground. Like a playground, the primary purpose of the garden was for Adam and Eve to have fun, but also to develop skills. And like a playground, it probably wasn’t entirely safe, but life with no risk isn’t really the sort of setting which mankind tends to thrive in. Too much is bad, of course, but too little is stunting.

The other thing I have learned is that Adam and Eve were children. Remember the other day when I explained that adam actually means mankind and that when God made and dealt with Adam, he was dealing with mankind? Well, just like each individual person is born needing time to grow up into maturity, mankind is likewise in the process of growing up. There has been a tendency to assume that Adam and Eve were just like us, only without sin. However, Adam and Eve were just like us the same way that 3 year old me was just like me today. I’m still me, and I may or may not have actually improved since them. But inevitably I’ve grown and changed a good deal between 3 and 39. Continue reading