So let’s dive right into the Adam and Eve story. To sum it up really quickly for those of you who might not know it; Adam and Eve were the first humans and God put them in a great place called the Garden of Eden.1 This was a perfect place to live except, for some reason, God decided he would tempt these two crazy kids with the fruit of the tree of the ‘Knowledge of Good and Evil’. As long as they didn’t eat the fruit2 of this tree everything would be great. If they ate it, they would die.
Well, if you take this literally, either God is the dumbest parent ever or he set Adam and Eve up to fail right off the bat. Either way, he doesn’t come off as an all-knowing infinite, loving, benevolent Being. He comes off more as a kid who gets his jollies tearing the wings off of flies.
I mean, why would God put Adam and Eve in this great place with everything they’d ever need and then put in one tree that would kill them? And why, if he’s all-powerful, would he let Satan, in the form of a talking snake,3 into the garden to tempt them with this great tree that would make them like Gods and kill them at the same time?
And then, knowing they’d fail, why would he banish them, punish them and make their lives miserable forever? And not only them, but all of humanity forever? I mean, if the kids don’t pass the test I guess it’s okay to punish them but everybody, all their relatives, forever? Forever? I’m sorry but I didn’t even know these people and I’ve still got to pay because they couldn’t follow the rules?
Doesn’t that sound a little petty and vindictive? Would you do that to your kids?4 Do you know anybody who would? Even Jesus said, “Who of you, if your son ask for a fish, would give him a stone?” It’s like putting a bunch of heroin in front of your kids and telling them it’s the best thing ever but “don’t you dare touch it or you’ll die”. And then just leave it there on the table while you go shopping at Walmart.
I know there are plenty of people who take this story literally, and that’s okay. But for those of us who don’t believe in talking snakes and can’t imagine God wandering around the garden, scratching his beard, wondering where those darn kids had gotten off to, there is another way to look at it.
Remember, these stories started out as campfire stories meant to explain the unexplainable. They were developed over thousands of years and morphed along the lines of the cultures as they spread out across Africa and Asia. If you look at the Garden of Eden and the Adam and Eve story metaphorically, it makes a lot more sense.5
First of all, it’s notable that the tree with the forbidden fruit was the tree of the ‘Knowledge of Good and Evil’. “Knowledge” being the key word. Not the knowledge of what good is and evil is, but the knowledge that good and evil exist. It is really an acknowledgment of the duality of our human existence. It was never about man knowing the difference between true good and evil, but about him knowing there is a difference. And, by knowing that, he would literally be damned to a lifetime of trying to figure out which was which, thinking he was right and everybody else was wrong.6
It doesn’t take much looking around the world to see how much trouble this has caused us. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Killing is never right unless I’m killing my enemy. Then it’s okay, because obviously, I’m right, and they’re wrong.
History is littered with the most heinous atrocities perpetrated by supposedly righteous people who thought they knew the difference between right and wrong. This ‘knowledge of good and evil’ is literally killing us.
The problem is, there is no altruistic ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ written in the sky. All of it is relative. I know I’ll get a lot of flak for this but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see I’m right. Ha! Did you catch the irony?
The creator(s) of the Adam and Eve story knew this was a part of the human condition and strove to make sense of it. Kind of like when you make up a story to explain to your 3 year old why somebody does something awful. The easy way out is to blame somebody else, and the devil is the perfect scapegoat if there ever was one. Damn that snake!
1 In the second version
2 Which, by the way, was very pleasing
3 Why would he let Satan be Satan anytime, anywhere?
4 Even Jesus says, “Which of you, your child having asked for bread, would give him a stone?”
5 And who was there to document it anyway?
6 Hence, the ‘thou shalt die’ thing