‘By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.’ 2Peter 3v7
Following on from the idea of how judgement on the world has been brought about by Adam and Eve, let us take a closer look at some of the counter arguments that might be considered. Here, I am indebted to Jewish rabii and author Harold Kushner whose observation of the incident in Genesis chapters 2 & 3 which reads:
‘I can’t remember how old I was when I heard (the story) for the first time, but I can remember that, when I was still young, I found some aspects of it hard to understand or accept…Isn’t this a harsh punishment for one small mistake – pain and death. Banishment from Paradise, for breaking one rule. Is God really that strict? Why did God create a tree that He didn’t want anyone to eat from?
Was God setting up Adam and Eve so that he could punish them? Was the woman ever told of the prohibition, either by God or by Adam? Why is the story told in such a way as to make it seem that it was all the woman’s fault? What is the significance of the first humans being unashamed of their nakedness before they ate the forbidden fruit, and feeling shame immediately afterward?
And perhaps most troubling of all, if the forbidden tree was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, does that imply that Adam and his mate had no knowledge of good and evil before they ate of it? If so, how could they have been expected to know that it was wrong to disobey God? And why were they punished if they had no sense of good and evil before they ate of it?’ (‘How Good Do We Have to Be?’ Harold S Kushner).
In summary, it is clear that simplistic narratives about evil, creation and judgement, unravel rapidly when held up against the model of a loving God and His intentions. Not that the most profound aspects of truth can be found in the most obtuse scriptures but these need to be understood against the backdrop of an emerging humanity with its misunderstanings and misconceptions about God and the world in which they lived. Something which is problematic for every generation as it tries to make sense of those who have gone before them. A lesson we all do well to learn for as observed by JP Hartley’s in the opening lines of his book ‘The Go-Between.’
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.“