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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Adam & Eve

I know I am going to get into a lot of trouble over this post, but that has never stopped me before (sigh) so here goes.

Adam & Eve, the garden, the serpent, it was all a setup. Ok, before you go off the deep end, let me explain.I am not trying to be a heretic –but I do need to clear up some things that have been bothering me about this story. I said story intentionally, not gospel or scripture—because this is a story we all know and have heard practically since birth. It is a key piece of the dogma—the story of original sin, and it looms large in most explanations of why we are so flawed as humans and why we must earn God’s forgiveness.

My issues with this notion are several. First, creation stories (sometimes called myths—but that is another post entirely) were around a long time before the old testament. In ancient Sumeria and Babylonia—probably much longer than that. The details may differ but we have been explaining how we came to be probably since we began to think about ourselves as beings.

I am not dismissing this version just because it shares some elements with other stories about creation. I am also troubled by the idea that we must spend our lives in penance for Adam and Eve’s indiscretion. God’s forgiveness is given even before we ask for it—he told us so. So why would he hold us accountable for what Adam and Eve did? Think about it—why would a God who loves us so—make mankind pay for what the first couple did? It just doesn’t add up.

The fundamental problem I have with this story is far greater—it goes to the heart of the matter and frankly for me it is a great big cognitive disconnect. We are told, and I personally believe, that God has a plan for each of us—one that he unfolds in his time according to his ways. God knows what will happen—he has, after all, total and complete knowledge—in advance. He does not interfere—that would render us puppets and he does not want puppets but real breathing humans—who we are told, he made just a little less than him. So, when God told Adam & Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge—he knew they would do so—he knew they would disrupt Eden, set the world on a course that he would have to address until the day he brought about the great reconciliation. Well, maybe you say that he hoped they would not do so—hoped they would follow his commandment and be the dutiful children he created. Sorry, that just doesn’t wash. Even if he did—and I think that is likely—he knew—he is after all omniscient—all knowing. So, in a sense, Adam & Eve were set up—the serpent—just a bit player in this story but he too had his part to play.

Why do this, you might ask; why test Adam and Eve this way—knowing they will fail. The answer I think has to do with what God really wanted. God did not want obedient slaves that would just bow and worship him because he was God while they, after all, were completely dependent on him for everything. He wanted thinking, reasoning, humans, able to make choices—for good or bad, destined to wrestle with decisions, moral and otherwise. He wanted us to be like him—aware, though he preferred that in that awareness we would make good choices. Adam and Eve had to eat the fruit—the fruit of the tree of Knowledge. Get it—Knowledge. Our progenitors had to know what they were doing, had to know so they could make choices—otherwise they would be just puppets. They had to have their eyes opened.

Have we paid a price for this—of course, we have paid the price of our freedom by hurting each other, by committing all manner of destructive and wretched things along with many magnificent things: art, music, philosophy, literature-mathematics—I could go on. That is the fruit of knowledge. That is why I say Adam and Eve were set up—for good reason—so we could be who we are and come to know God, accept him, as a choice, not as a compulsion.

When we blame God for what is wrong in the world—ask why he doesn’t intercede in the unspeakable things that occur, we need to be mindful that those are things we do—not him; those are things that come with knowledge, for better or worse, and he will not violate our free will just to make things better. God is playing for keeps. If we are to inherit his spiritual kingdom—be as he is in that world, we have to get there on our own –not with a wink and a sly leg up. Yes, men, women and children will die, sometimes cruelly from disease, war and inhumanity—our handiwork. But he is gathering us each to him as we depart this plane of existence and where we are headed—that truly is Eden.

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