Thursday, September 17, 2009

God in the Garden: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

This is a new series I'm starting that will examine curious parts about the book of Genesis, specifically the beginnings of mankind before, during, and shortly after the Garden of Eden.

For the first post in this series I would like to discuss the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Lets read the verse referring to this to begin with.

Genesis 2 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Lets ignore the last part for this moment as I'm sure that "surely die" can be interpreted different ways. But rather, lets take a look at the actual command and circumstances around that command. What do we know from previous verses about the situation?

1. Adam was newly created.
2. Adam was just put in the garden.
3. Eve was not yet created. She was created in verse 18.

Taking the first bit of knowledge listed. Adam was newly created. Now assuming he was created as an adult, which the bible doesn't say, but for the sake of argument, lets say he was an adult out right. He was still a child of mind. He had not experienced anything at all up to this point. The bible is clear. He was created, but into the garden god created, and told not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He would have been completely naive. Some things we take for granted would be foreign to him. Death, disobedience, right and wrong, sin, suffering. As a child, these terms would have no meaning to someone who has not experienced them. A child is not born knowing he must obey his parents, he learns it.

Being just put in the Garden, he would likely have been curious. Having never seen trees, or animals or anything before. Like a child, he would not have a concept of punishment or discipline. Curiosity would likely over come commands to not do something, as often is the case in children. If you have children then you understand that when you tell a child to NOT do something or NOT touch something for their own good, you can't just leave them to their own devices. If you tell them NOT to touch something, they will likely feel the need to touch it. You must constantly supervise them. There is no reason to believe that Adam would have been any different as his situation was just a like a childs newly brought into the world.

Eve was in an even worse situation. She was created AFTER this command, and thus was given the command second hand. She would also have been naive and unaware of the concept of right and wrong. As we move to Chapter 3, we can see that Eve is not just naive, but, likely any gullible child, easily confused.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Now, Eve, being child like, would not have been able to defend against this argument. Why? Because god gave no reason, and her information was second hand any way. So like any child, when the fruit was dangled before her, with the promise of being good and that she would learn and know more, she fell for the trick. A child falling for a trick? Today, we call that child exploitation, because we understand that children are not adults, they don't have the capacity or experience to sort through such things on their own. For Eve it was even worse as she would not have any concept of good and evil, right or wrong.

She ate the fruit, gave it to Adam, and he ate as well. Now their eyes were opened. It is only now that we see them realize they did something wrong, AFTER they ate the fruit. We see not hesitation on their part BEFORE eating it. Why? Because they didn't know it was wrong, because they had no knowledge of right and wrong. But after eating the fruit, they did. They grew up essentially.

So, like any good parent, god took them aside, chastised them and made sure this was a learning moment in which they learned a valuable lesson and they moved on right? After all, they are just children. Right? Wrong.

God punishes them by putting them out of the garden, introducing them to pain, suffering, death, and turmoil. I'm sure they learned a valuable lesson that way.

God put two children in a garden, put temptation right in front of them, allowed the "father of lies" (satan by most christians beliefs) to go into the garden to tempt them, then punished them vilely for falling for it. What? In the real world, we call this setting someone up to fail. God is supposedly all knowing. So he put them in the garden, and put temptation in the garden, and allow the master deceiver in the gardern, when he absolutely knew the outcome. What kind of parent would put a bowl of pudding on a table, tell the kids not to eat it, leave the room, send someone in that room to coax them into eating the pudding, then storm in and punish them for eating it?

Sound cruel and awful? It is. But that is exactly what god did. He set them up to fail. How can someone claim love of another when they set them up to fail, KNOWING they will fail, then punish them? Can you name another human being you would love or respect if they did such a thing?

The lesson we can learn from this is a hard one. If god exists, he is not a nice being. He is cruel, spiteful, and will punish even the most naive of persons for just about anything. He will set you up to fail marvelously because he knows exactly what it takes to make you fail.

This is one of the first lessons we learn about God in Genesis. If he exists, watch out, because he is looking for ways to trip you up, and he has the upper hand.