Okay, following on from the last post which considered the outcomes of Adam and Eve’s garden escapade with the tree, we consider what happens next and its resonance with freewill and delayed gratification.
Well, with Adam and Eve banished from the ‘Garden’ (however you want to understand that?) the couple make their home outside of it and have two sons – Cain and Abel. We are informed that one day, the sons decide to bring offerings to God. One son (Cain) brings fruit and vegetables while the other (Abel) provides meat and wine.
Long story short, God is displeased with Cain’s sacrifice – preferring Abel’s plate of meat over Cain’s vegetable and fruit spread. Annoyed that God preferred meat over vegetables, Cain lets his anger get the better of him and he kills brother Abel.
Now I do not necessarily want to get into the accuracy of the account but it will suffice here to say that most theologians will point out that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are considered ‘narrative’ in the sense that they predate chronological accounts and so cannot be understood as historically accurate documents. However, for the purpose of this post, it will suffice that should it be true and two brothers existed and one killed the other, then it is not impossible to see how this might have happened because of one person’s failure to delay gratification.
In this instance, angry Cain gives way to his base emotion, slays his brother then buries him in a shallow grave. However, Abel’s corpse cries out from the grave to God who asks Cain, ‘what have you done?’
And so begins a rather long saga of humans killing one another – that is presuming Cain v Abel was not the first slaying? (ooh, controversial but check out next week’s post to find the reason why it might not be!).
Yes, in this incident what we find is the human inability to delay gratification can and does override a person’s behaviour in the heat of the moment – but which is worst?
Taking a bite of an apple from a tree you should steer clear of? Or killing your bother in a fit of rage?
Presumably, the latter but I suppose it all depends on how we understand the apple and what it represents?
However, for now, what we do know is that an inability to control our human desire (good and bad) has a consequence – and yet, failure to control desire has varying consequences. For one person, the consequence for eating something (like chocolate) may have no consequence at all while another’s impulse to kill a love rival will (if discovered) result in them going to jail.
Until next week, resist!