For the next few weeks we will take a break from our posts on coronavirus. After all, it is an issue that is not going away soon and to be quite honest, a pandemic is quite a depressing subject to focus on for any length of time. Instead, following on from the last post – that touched upon the issue of delayed gratification and its resulting consequences – I thought it might be interesting to explore the ways in which human inability to master desire has and does continue to affect our existence in a multitude of ways that are both good and bad.
Of course, for many christians, the blue print for human susceptibility to ‘delay gratification’ is considered to have its root in Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden – you know, the second and third chapter of the book of Genesis where they are in the Garden, Eve sees the apple, takes a bite, passes it to Adam (who also has a bite) and it all goes ‘pear-shaped’ (pun intended!) for humanity after that – with the consequence of painful births and a susceptibility to disobedience.
Now, while its my intention to look more closely at our human response to desire and gratification, I feel its important to allay the folly of those who believe that:
- somehow it was the woman’s fault that sin came into the world
- some kind of physical apple was consumed which had a metaphysical consequence for humanity.
The first of these I will deal with today and I am indebted to author Harold S Kushner who in his book ‘How Good Do We Have to Be?’ observes of the incidents recorded in Genesis 2 &3 in this way:
‘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?’
Til next post…