Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Reading the Bible - Genesis 3

The fall of Adam and Eve if of great importance to the Christian doctrine for a variety of reasons such as the death of Jesus for the sins of the world. However, the fall story detailed in Genesis 3 leaves many questions unanswered and leaves us to wonder about the nature of God. This is especially true when we look at how God deals with problems and his twisted sense of justice, but I am getting ahead of myself so lets look at the story.

The first thing to realize is that the serpent in the story refers to Satan (or the great deceiver). This we can assert as in Revelations 12: 9 it refers to the Dragon as the original serpent or the one called Satan.
"So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him."
I have put the Revelations verse here not to jump ahead, but it displays a lot about Gods personality later in the story.

Now we get the classic temptation story of Satan tempting Eve into eating the fruit. What is interesting about this is that God effectively wants to deny humans knowledge as he has already told Adam and Eve that if they eat from the tree of good and bad or even touch it they will surely die.
"You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it; otherwise you will die."
Satan in the temptation even verifies this by saying that you will be like God in that you will know good and bad. Although, we should point out that Satan did lie about them dying....or did he?
"At this the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad."
Then we see Adam and Eve partaking of the fruit at the behest of Satan and with this eating they obtain knowledge of what is good and bad. Obviously the first thing that happens is that they feel ashamed of being naked. This is clearly absurd as they are literally the only two people in the Garden and they have seen each other nude. So I am not sure why this is an issue, unless it is a way for the church to entrench its ideas of modesty.

So Adam and Eve then sew fig leaves together and make loin clothes (underwear) to cover themselves (verse 7), however after this they are still nude apparently as when God comes around in verse 10 Adam had this to say.
"Finally he said: “I heard your voice in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.”"
But never mind God was cool enough to make them some of his own style long garments when he eventually kicked them out of the Garden in verse 21, so yet again we see the modesty concepts creeping in.

So what justice was dealt out during this fall story?

1)Firstly, Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Eve is cursed to get attacked by snakes and have pain during childbirth while Adam is told he will suffer during work. Good to see some strong stereotypes coming through in the Bible, i.e. the women in the kitchen and the man out at work. I also enjoyed here a theme that is recurring in Christianity and that is not accepting blame for your actions. We see straight away that Eve does not want to claim responsibility for her actions and pins everything on Satan.
"The woman replied: “The serpent deceived me, so I ate.”"

2) Secondly, the snake gets told he will spend the rest of his life crawling around on his belly. This really is messed up, as it was Satan that did this and not the poor snake, so why God decided to condemn the snake is beyond me.

3) Thirdly, and very interestingly is that nothing happens to Satan who is the big player in this whole story. In fact if we remember the Revelations verse Satan is only going to get kicked to Earth in the last days. This seems to me either God wanted the fall to happen or that he really is a bit dense when it comes to in dealing out justice.

Another point to address is whether death actually comes from eating of the tree of good and bad? It would be natural to assume this as we are told Satan is the great deceiver, but this is not true. God actually takes away the option of eating of the tree of life, which prior was not against his will.
"Jehovah God then said: “Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad. Now in order that he may not put his hand out and take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live forever,"
So in effect the punishment from eating from the tree of good and bad is not death. It is only death, because God takes away the tree of life. As such Satan did not lie, but God condemned his creations to death through his twisted sense of justice.

So in conclusion, we have seen that God has a twisted sense of justice by condemning the snake but not Satan. Additionally, God does not just condemn Adam and Eve with pain and labor, but also with death. Lastly, we also see what kind of condemnation we are to receive form God if we make our own choices. That is, practice free will and be condemned forever, but be an automaton and God will be cool to you.

Update:
For the Islamic version of the fall click here.

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All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website