Sunday, March 22, 2009


I'm trying to convince Observant and Man_In_Wilderness that the Garden of Eden story is flawed.

The facts.

"Eden's location remains the subject of controversy and speculation among some Christians." (This is straight from Wikipedia, hence the link.)

"..some Christians see it as metaphorical."

I cannot understand how they could do that. Does that not make everything in the relationship between Man and God metaphorical?

If that's it then isn't 'God' just a metaphor for 'goodness' and they are essentially saying that if you're not 'good' then bad shit will fall on you?

I'm disputing the story of the Garden of Eden with it's two magical trees which God sets up as the de facto 'temptation' .

In the story, God LIES to Adam and Eve, telling them that they mustn't eat these fruits because they will 'surely die!'

Apparently God has fooled Satan into believing that the fruit has the power to make humans into Gods or at least knowing things that only Gods ought to know.

When Eve eats the apple, she wants Adam to share the blame for disobeying God. At this point the only thing that the fruit has done for Eve is to make her feel guilty about eating it.

It didn't kill her as God had promised, but it didn't give her any knowledge meant only for Gods or any Godly powers.

The only thing that Adam and Eve 'get' out of eating the fruit is the 'knowledge' that they ought to be ashamed of their nakedness. (But no they don't.)

Seems to me that the Bible could make the opposite case. Adam and Eve being the perfect, and only, human specimens could easily have shed their clothes and God could have come for a look and chastised them for NOT being ashamed of their bodies.

I think that there are a LOT of Christians, Jews and Muslims who would agree.

We can only imagine that the Serpent was feeling a tad 'gypped' too unless he also knew that the fruit had the one purpose of exposing God's lie that Adam and Eve would surely die if they ate of it.

If the story is metaphorical, in that it's a kid's story about how they ought to listen to their mother and father even if they suspect, or are even outrighi TOLD, that mom and dad are LYING to 'protect them' from mom and dad's WRATH and that, by the way, is a totally unforgivable breech of trust.

I'm not sure how Christians could slough off the story as a metaphor when that suits them then use details of this story to explain the entire basis FOR their religion when THAT suits them.

I'm sure that their doctrine is that God wouldn't lie, so any evidence that HE did lie has to be downplayed as metaphor, or the subject has to be changed to Jesus on the Cross but it's all part of the same story to me.

Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. We are all sinners because of original sin. The original sin was NOT BELIEVING God's lie that by eating the fruit, Adam and Eve would surely DIE!

I suppose that, speaking metaphorically, every absolute authority figure from drill sergeants to Stalin to the Pope would naturally be furious at being caught in a lie.

They'd all likely explain by PUNISHMENT that if you had only 'believed that lie' then they wouldn't have to be punishing you.


Anonymous said...

pb and joyful,

Metaphor, not metaphor, it really doesn't matter you missed some key points. But you raised an interesting issue none-the-less.

If Adam and Eve existed they did surely (read 'without a doubt') die. It's the serpent who makes a play on words to trick Eve into thinking the word 'surely' means, "right away."

The what God knows thing is simply that evil exists. They found out evil existed. -This is the interesting theological issue which mainstream Christianity tries to cover up by saying God knew good from evil because of Lucifer sinning. From a consistency standpoint that doesn't seem right.-

As far as metaphor, don't even the most fundamental pick and choose what they believe in enough to practice? Why not the mythos too?

Anonymous said...

For me it's an authoritative/proto-science text. It's an attempt to explain the human condition. Epistemology wasn't so high on the list, so they stuck with metaphysics.

I don't know who compiled it, but Genesis, from creation to the garden of Eden, is at least two stories. The textual critics call the writers the Yahwist and the Elohist.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of philosophy, somewhere someone came up with epistemology. You know that bit of logic was met with resistance. I'm smiling, but I can bet it wasn't funny for him/her.

"But how do we know?"

China, India, Middle East wherever, that was the first heretic God bless them.

Anonymous said...

Umm ...Shouldn't God have known these answers?

" Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?"

How do you hide from God?? Isn't he 'all knowing'?

And the he said to her - WHAT DID YOU DO!!??

Anonymous said...

Stacy, those are different arguments and I agree with you, so I don't see what you're getting at.

Pboy was being pretty specific.

pboyfloyd said...

"If Adam and Eve existed they did surely (read 'without a doubt') die. It's the serpent who makes a play on words to trick Eve into thinking the word 'surely' means, "right away.""

But oneblood, as far as anyone knows Adam and Eve weren't under any delusion that they were going to live forever.

The other tree that God told them not to 'eat of' was, after all, "The Tree of Life!"

Are you 'saying' that Satan(as the Serpent) sent them to the wrong tree first?

Why is Satan even being deceitful saying that Adam and Eve will not 'die eventually' as opposed to 'right away'.

God lied, "... Of every tree of the garden surely you may eat;
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
not you shall eat from it;
in THE DAY OF your eating from it
surely you shall die". (Genesis 2:16-17)

Anonymous said...

"Are you 'saying' that Satan(as the Serpent) sent them to the wrong tree first?"

pboy I didn't know the Serpent sent them anywhere first. I'll go check the text. I'm not arguing against your point that God lied from a theistic standpoint, I just don't think that can be inferred so easily.

Now, to give you a tip of the hat, I think there was a gnostic group that believed Yahweh was an evil demi-urge. So in fact the story could have God lying from the intent of the story writers.

While I am debating this I have to force myself to remember that the people who wrote that story almost unequivocally did not have the exact same religion the patriarchs had much less the believers in the new testament.

Anyway, I'm going to check.

pboyfloyd said...

Interpreters 'get around this' using the fact that Adam and Eve DIDN'T die 'in the day of eating it' by 'figuratively' shrugging.

God mustn't have meant it like that, because it didn't happen.

But, it seems that the text is clear enough. Repeated twice for emphasis and everything.

Anonymous said...

You know what else pboy, if this story which seems to start at Genesis 2:4 is not only oral tradition but a pastiche in of itself you and I are incorrect in at least one presupposition. That the story is cohesive.


So if this really is the 'beginning' in the story, it seems there is a larger assumed theological context. Our protagonists were able to eat of every tree in the garden except the knowledge tree. So you're right in the assumption about Adam and Eve "knowing" anything about eternal life. I think I can safely hypothesize that the Tree of Life was simply one (albeit the most important) of many that they hadn't eaten from.

Anonymous said...

Great pboy, just great. You opened up a whole can of worms.

Alright your assertion is that God lied. To me it looks like the writers could've: had God lie (remember who knows what they believed about him), made a mistake, or it could be one of several stories about God compiled.

Having God lie is an intriguing notion I have to admit. Could show a hierarchy of morality, as in 'better to lie to man to save him from what I know' but frankly since I don't know what the author/s believed I can only guess.

I still stick with my original response though. Yes I am assuming that regardless of how many threads are in there, The Yahwist 1 and 2 and whoever was trying to make one story. And in that story it seems the inference 'surely' is based on a pun. My second choice would be a compiling mistake. But, your assertion is the most interesting, brings in gnosticism to boot.


Leave it to you to make an interesting theological point simply while trying to tick off MIW and Observant.

The Maze Monster said...

The story of adam and eve is so flawed that we could have seen the flaws back a hundred years ago. Just like what stacy said about "hiding" from God. WTF!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a good writer in most circumstances and I repeat words a lot. Apologies if something's unclear.

Anonymous said...

"The story of adam and eve is so flawed that we could have seen the flaws back a hundred years ago. Just like what stacy said about "hiding" from God. WTF!"

The flaws in fundamental interpretations were seen long before that. The most famous textual criticism began in the middle 19th century I think.

Anonymous said...

" The flaws in fundamental interpretations were seen long before that. The most famous textual criticism began in the middle 19th century I think."</i"

So how is it that people believe that the bible is without error??

My head still shakes!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Beliefs are a complicated issue. Almost anything concerning humanity is complicated.

Harvey said...

We are mistaking "understanding" with "belief" when we ask why or how fundamentalist believers cannot "see" the obvious flaws in the Genesis accounts . As has been repeatedly pointed out, besides the fact that the accepted Old Testament (even in the Torah) account is a compilation of multiple previous oral traditions, there are many translational issues, not to mention all the doctrinal arguments in the Church in historical times. One has only to take note of the vehemence with which "literalists" still argue with each other as to which version is "correct" (for which please read "the one I believe).

If you have based your entire belief structure on a single book, whose provenance and accuracy are as shaky and subject to questioning as are the Old and New Testaments, and when whole generations of religious "experts" have made a career out of "explainig" the apparent conflicts, it is understandable that pointing out these issues results in them putting their fingers in their ears and saying "La la la la la! I can't hear you!!"

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Harvey = natural born eloquence

I want to think you learned to sum up, restate and assert like that in med school but I have a feeling it's in your marrow :-)

Harvey said...


At my age there is precious little left in my bone marrow. I will admit,however, if you are a person who tries to teach young people how to analyze and integrate lots of disparate data, as I do teaching medical students and residents, it helps to be able to restate things in your own mind so that you can have as clear an understanding as possible before you try to pass it along to anyone else.
Remember that "those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, administer." I have also had to administer, but now I am able to concentrate once again on teaching.

mac said...

Then again, one could argue that the serpent was just a serpent.

I'm not sure that the original texts stipulated the serpent to be Satan.

Still, why must snakes be vilified, but apples(?) are All-American snacks. Should god not have struck the forbidden fruit from the earth or, at least, make it not edible for eternity?

I've got to go with MazeMonster here....more holes than Swiss Cheese !

Asylum Seeker said...

Well, I am wondering if perhaps some event occurred in between the warning and the eating of the apple in order to mitigate in some fashion. Might have just been "lying" in the sense of exaggerating/oversimplifying that parents sometimes to make their kids understand things more easily. No reason to believe that either of those was the case, and the second one is still lying, but whatever.

Anyway, interesting mention of demiurge. Because I have just been thinking that if I were ever to take up religious beliefs, and was somehow prevented from becoming a deist (not a hell of a leap from my current position), I would become a maltheist. Because Evil God is hardcore.

Speaking of which: you're right mac. The serpent was never suggested to be anything but a serpent (which was associated with evil, obviously), and the Satan of the Old Testament (limited to the Book of Job?) was not suggested to be antagonistic as he is portrayed in Christianity. And evil Satan was later suggested to be associated with the serpent, or the serpent himself. It was a post-hoc explanation/reinvention/insertion in much the same way that the events in the garden were used to explain the need for Jesus's existence with the idea of "original sin". Just a bit of interpretation.
And only certain fruits are bad...the kind that reveal knowledge to you. The hallucinogenic kind. The war on drugs started in Eden. Spread the word.

Anonymous said...


That reminds me of Bill Hick's theory on how man got a frontal lobe. It's obviously anecdotal but for a mechanism it's not bad. Quien sabe?

Anonymous said...


You know for months I thought the picture in your icon was of you kissing a fish.

What's your bird's name?

pboyfloyd said...

The bird's name is Pretty Boy Floyd.(after the gangster, not the boxer)

mac said...

Eden has been discovered !!

It exists in fools imaginations.

Anonymous said...

Which brings to mind the question...why?

Anonymous said...

Well pboy, you could answer my last post as pertaining to your bird, or mac's post. But I already have an idea of what you would say for the latter.

pboyfloyd said...

Why is the birds name Pretty Boy Floyd?

He's a pretty boy.

Mac, you are correct SAH!