Adam and Eve. You and Me.

July 1, 2010

Be you religious or not, odds are you have heard the story of Adam and Eve in some form or another. I know I had heard it many times before reading it for myself. There’s a tree with some fruit that you’re not supposed to eat, Adam and Eve eat said fruit, God gets pissed, Adam and Eve are banished, the end. That is the story I was familiar with and I’m sure many of my peers are familiar with still to this moment. I was delighted to find out that the story in itself has a few more nuances to keep me engaged…if only to question it…

So Man was left alone hanging out with all the creatures on an unpopulated Earth. Since none of the creatures were a good enough fit for man, God decided to create him a “helper”.

“but for the man there was not a helper fit for him…and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman.”(Gen 2:20-22)

I’m sorry ladies but I feel this is the first in a long line of events that are about to unfold where you get the short end of the stick. From the get-go woman was only a helper to man. Some radicals might go as far as to say slave, but fortunately this Bible doesn’t go that far. The most I can gather about this excerpt is, at the moment of female conception, God, and subsequently man, did not consider woman his or His equal. Instead, woman is just a “helper” to man; lower, but still better than the creatures and creeping things.

Soon after the creation of woman we are introduce to the fabled serpent. As far as I can tell from my text, the serpent is never labeled as Satan or a satanic figure. The only information I am given to separate the serpent from the other creatures is that it is “more subtle than any other creature.” (Gen 3:1) The story of Adam and Eve I was always told painted the snake as a definitive embodiment of the devil. I can see how the metaphorical jump can be easily made, but I find it interesting that the devilishness is not explicitly mentioned in the holy text itself.

No special mention is given to the fact the serpent intelligently communicates with the woman. Even taking into account the evolution of cultures over the millennia I feel ancient peoples would still consider talking creatures strange. Nonetheless, the serpent convinces the woman to eat the fruit from the tree of wisdom/good and evil. When she does, she shares with her husband and they get caught by God. What follows is a tri-fecta of curses:

“cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go…all the days of your life.” (Gen 3:14)

I interpret this passage to say the snake becomes the least considered creature of them all. I think it’s interesting God condemns the snake to travel on its stomach as if before the snake did not slither in the way we are most familiar with. I like to think it was a dragon or Trogdor-like creature before its transformation.

“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing, in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire will be for you husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)

As suggested in a previous post, Genesis most likely serves to explain why many things in the world are the way they are. God’s curse on the woman explains why childbirth is so painful to women. God seems to suggest that childbirth was no big deal before this fruit conundrum. Now, I have never given birth and I don’t want to challenge God’s judgment, but I can’t imagine a world where passing a cantaloupe wouldn’t be painful.

“And to Adam he said;” (Gen 3:17)

Before I go on to describe the final punishment for mankind, I want to point out that this is the first time a name has been given to the male character. Until this point our characters have just been referred to as the man and the woman, like a deleted scene from “The Road”. Anyway:

“cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life:” (Gen 3:17)

Here the text provides yet another explanation for the reasons behind why things are the way they are. Apparently mankind cannot partake in foliage as a source of food per the damnation that God has put on men and women. I find this punishment clever on behalf of God; you eat His plant and He’ll make it so you can’t eat plants anymore.

The most startling piece of information comes at the conclusion of Adam and Eve’s story when God says:

“Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Gen 3:22)

Not only does God again mention the mysterious “us”, but He recognizes man as similar to Himself. God shows a concern that man will also eat from a “tree of life” to become immortal and therefore godly. It was always my impression there was only one tree in the fall of mankind. The word “also” tips me off to the fact there are two trees in this story: one tree of knowledge between good and evil and another tree of life. It seems all people have to do is eat the fruit of said trees to become like God. I can see now why God wouldn’t want people eating his trees. He doesn’t like to share. I can’t help wondering: if God is so awesomely powerful then why did he put the trees in the Garden of Eden in the first place? It couldn’t be to tempt Adam and Eve, because I was under the impression temptation was Satan’s job. Perhaps God is compelled to put the trees there by an even higher power, dare I say. The presence of these questions leads me to wonder if good and evil, morality, and immortality exist outside of God.

Having a tree that bestows the knowledge of good and evil suggests there is a definitive line between the two. If physics has taught me anything it’s that there are few things that can be considered absolute. The story of the fall of man seems to insinuate good and evil are two of those absolutes. Banished from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve are forced to make their way in the world outside passing their ill-gotten knowledge on to their descendants. At this time I cannot say that humans still possess this knowledge over good and evil. If humans supposedly had this knowledge, why are there so many debates over ethics and morals today? At the expense of sounding cheesy and emotionally optimistic I will say humans have the knowledge of good and evil if only we can find it in ourselves (what a cuddly thought).

Although Genesis explains why things are the way they are I am upset that humanity has to endure the consequences of Adam and Eve’s actions a long time ago. Since when has the actions of one’s ancestors been reason to punish a new generation? So Adam and Eve screwed up. Punish them. If you asked me not to eat your fruit I wouldn’t eat your fruit, even if a snake started talking me into it. Especially if a snake started talking me into it. Perhaps it is my bestowed knowledge between good and evil and right and wrong that allows me to decide not to eat the fruit. Either way I would have appreciated some say in this decision.

At the end of the day, towards Adam and Eve, I am indifferent. Thanks for the knowledge. No thanks for the damnation.

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One Response to “Adam and Eve. You and Me.”

  1. Alisha Says:

    Well, done, as always. I really liked your humorous insights at the end regarding us still “paying” for the wrongdoings of our ancestors. You make many good points. Loved reading – keep on keepin’ on!

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