In the last post we considered the christian understanding of the Fall. That is how decisions made by Adam and Eve – but particularly Eve – resulted in evil coming into the world. Be that as ‘natural disasters’ ( aka natural evil) and ‘human evil’ in which humans do harm to one another’ (aka moral evil).
Now, while the idea of Adam and Eve inadvertently releasing evil into the world and onto themselves (like Pandora’s box) is a convenient idea for some, it is worth noting here that the nature of the way our physical world is constructed suggests that change, pain and suffering have always been a part of it.
For example, the issue of ‘gravity’ suggests that in the same way fruit falls from a tree so too will death and injury be visited on the town at the bottom of the valley should the avalanche reach that far. And yet we know that gravity is a good thing in that it keeps us fixed to the ground rather than allowing us to float off into outer-space like a minion in the film ‘Despicable Me.’ Moreover, gravity also facilitates the hydrological cycle through the process of evaporation in which salt-water from the sea returns as rain to establish one of the main building blocks of life on this planet – fresh water.
Likewise, the erosion that washes peoples’ livelihoods away has a flip side- a bi-product if you will which results in alluvial deposits being laid down elsewhere for a different community where it will replenish their land with the necessary minerals and nutrients so another community may continue to farm and grow crops to feed themselves and others.
In short, the world does not seem to be out of kilter at all but is rather a mechanism through which human needs are met but (in an instance) may also be hampered or wrecked.
Today, the more rational among us would think it nonsense to believe the equilibrium of the physical, spiritual and moral world of humans might be affected through the consumption of an apple. That said, it is clear there is a growing understanding of how human activity in the world does result in changes to the environment. Changes which may (and may not be) detrimental to health and wellbeing of ourselves and that which lives within our world.
However, this type of change is a long way removed from orthodox thinking of how the world is affected by a spiritual reality where illness and death arrived with the plucking of the apple from the tree or Adam and Eve’s bite of the apple. The problem we have is that our understanding of the world today means we are less susceptible to simplistic understandings of why the world is the way it is. Like it or not, tectonic moment can be a good thing as is gravity and the bacteria that keeps are gut healthy. That said, get caught in an earthquake, fall down a mountain or get a strain of bacteria that makes you ill, and the world is a dangerous place. Although the world sustains life, know this: it is NOT a harm-free zone. And most certainly, this is the way it was created and (imho) was never the perfect idyll we imagine it to be. Adam and Eve may have struggled to resist temptation and delay gratification but it never resulted in changes to the processes of our physical world. Why? Because they were always there and that’s the way it is!