Jump to content

Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil - Question?


Recommended Posts

You know, I have preached the Bible, taught the Bible and read and studied the Bible as a Christian, but it has become apparent to me that there were some really simple things that I either overlooked or just plain did not bother to think about. I was watching a movie and a thought struck me and so here I am posting here to see what people's thoughts are on this subject. So, here we go!

 

According to Genesis, god made the man (Adam) and the woman (Eve) and placed them in the garden (Eden). Within the garden were two special trees. One was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As we all know, according to the story Eve, after listening to the serpent, partook of the fruit of that tree and then Adam followed in her example and ate as well. The serpent told the woman:

 

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. - Genesis 3:5

 

According to the words of the serpent, eating from this tree would open the eyes of the man and the woman, thus allowing them to know the difference between good and evil. The effects of their action were immediate:

 

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. - Genesis 3:7

 

Knowledge came about via the eating of the fruit of that tree. Nowhere does the Bible state that this is otherwise. When god shows up on the scene, he does not deny the words spoken of by the serpent. There is no indication that the man and the woman did not gain this knowledge. In fact, verse 7 indicates that they did because, after eating, they realized their nakedness.

 

So here is the question:

 

If mankind received the knowledge of what is good and what is evil (right and wrong, etc) then why does the Bible make it seem like we don't have the slightest clue? Why does god feel the needs to so often tell mankind what is right and what is wrong if mankind already possesses this knowledge (even if wrongfully obtained)? Why does god feel the need to have to give mankind laws (which dictate what is good and what is evil) if mankind already has this knowledge?

 

Secondly, if man gained the knowledge of what is good and what is evil from partaking of this tree, then why do Christians insist that atheists don't have a clue about morality and right and wrong? According to the Bible, Adam, as the federal head of all humanity, passed on his traits to all his descendants (us). Since he ate from the tree then shouldn't each person know right from wrong, good from evil even apart from god's laws? And, if this is the case, then Christians, who believe this trash, should not be telling those of us that are atheists that we cannot possibly know right from wrong apart from having a relationship with god.

 

I am sure there are all sorts of convoluted answers that Christians have for this, but I am interested in hearing your thoughts (as well as theirs) on this subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've tried saying something similar before, and so, well, I don't know. :)

 

You did forget this verse though:

3:22 And the LORD God said: 'Behold,
the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil
; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.'

In my mind this sort of clinches the deal. "God" says that we're like him (them) in knowing good and evil and the only way we fall short is in the lifespan department (which he's making sure we won't be able to match by kicking us out so we can't eat from the other tree). I guess the serpents only "deception" was in the order of eating the fruit and not the reality of what the fruit itself actually did? Had Adam eaten of the Tree of Life first and then the Tree of Knowledge this seems to say that "god" wouldn't have had any sort of way to deal with that.

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a nasty theory that occured to me. Maybe humanity having gained full knowledge of good and evil, did decide to choose good. Maybe the story of Cain and Abel was a flat out lie because Cain didn't want to kill animals.

Maybe the reason, Yahweh drowned everybody except Noah and his family, was because humanity WASN'Twicked like Genesis tells us. Maybe they had achieved a paradise of justice, love and peace, and it pissed Yahweh off that they were being decent to each other, instead of being vicious bloodthirsty assholes like him.

 

Considering that Yahweh commanded the children of Israel to commit genocide against the inhabitants of Caanan, and all the other horrible things done in the name of religion, it makes a grim sort of sense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some interesting ideas, folks!

 

Some people have speculated that the serpent is the hero of the story because he wanted to reveal the lie of the deity (that the humans would not die if they ate of the tree). Perhaps the real problem is that the created man was very close to being like god (see the verse that MWC quotes) and, thus, god had another competitor! If the man then would eat from the Tree of Life, then he would be even more like god, adding eternality to the knowledge of good and evil. So perhaps, according to the story, god removed Adam and Eve from the garden in order to keep them from achieving one more step toward godhood. If the story is interpreted in this manner, then the god of Genesis is a cruel being that is trying to keep man from becoming something more.

 

Consider also the Tower of Babel story. According to the text, man was building a tower to heaven. Again, mankind attempting to achieve godhood. They had one attribute (knowledge of good and evil) but wanted more (knowledge does that, you know). So as they strove for this, god again comes on the scene and pushes man backward by dividing the languages.

 

So perhaps we can look at the Bible in a different way and see a cruel and powerful being that is trying to keep mankind down. One way that this being realizes he can do this and control humans (and, thus, not allow them to progress beyond his control) is to get them to worship him and acknowledge him as the only one, the true one, the holy one and themselves as impure, untrue and vile. Again, this is god pushing mankind backward and fighting against our progression and advancement.

 

Now, that is a fund story, isn't it. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Consider also the Tower of Babel story. According to the text, man was building a tower to heaven. Again, mankind attempting to achieve godhood. They had one attribute (knowledge of good and evil) but wanted more (knowledge does that, you know). So as they strove for this, god again comes on the scene and pushes man backward by dividing the languages.

So lets take a quick look at it. :)

 

10:20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families,
after their tongues
, in their lands, in their nations.

First lets start just before the tower story. Here we are told the genealogy of Ham, but note what it says: "after their tongues."

 

10:31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families,
after their tongues
, in their lands, after their nations.

Same thing.

 

11:1
And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech
.

Oops. Hold on a second. That's not what we were just told. Which is it? Different "tongues" or "one language/one speech?"

 

11:2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

Who is doing this? According to the above, though not highlighted, everyone is in their countries. The information is all broken down in chapter 10.

 

This is all an aside really. Here are the important verses that ties into what L4A was saying:

11:6 And the LORD said: 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. 7 Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.'

Once it YHWH comes down to personally investigate this tower (since at this point in his evolution he was omnipresent) he essentially hits the panic button. It's not in his best interest for humans to actually be unified. Now, I've stated before that since we can translate pretty effortly in this day and age, and that we can build towers that easily surpass the Tower of Babylon (including Moon missions), that we must be a terrible threat to old YWHW. He must do whatever he can do throw us into disarray since that would mean that he would become our next target (literally and/or figuratively...I would tend toward the latter). And as our unified target he and his wouldn't stand a chance. Obviously those who enjoy Revelation would disagree but this would mean that then world peace also triggers an all out war with "god" in that book too.

 

When we find peace without "god" it is "god" that wages war upon us. How's that for irony?

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most theologians do not see Genesis 10 and 11 as contradictions. What they say is that Genesis 10 (commonly referred to as the Table of Nations) tells about the descendants of man and where he settled with each people group speaking their own language. They would then go on to say that Genesis 11 tells us how it happened ... that god scattered the languages and that it was this event that produced the results shown in chapter 10. So, for the sake of discussion, we can probably go with the flow and allow that one to pass, right? ;)

 

So what we have here so far is pretty intriguing. Man begins ignorant and is shown how to gain knowledge. Once the knowledge is gained, god steps in and removes from man the ability to obtain everlasting life. Then mankind flourishes on the earth. God tries to say that man was wicked, but even the Bible tells us that man was progressing. He was making tools, musical instruments, making advanced metals, progressing technologically and living a long and plentiful life. So god wipes them all out and, once again, prevents man from getting too advanced where, perhaps, man could challenge this divine being. But a family survives even this! Perhaps god didn't warn Noah, but this family was able to use their wits and overcome the impending disaster (just like we see in many of the disaster movies we watch ;) ).

 

This family, having made it through this terrible flood, manages to do more than survive, they multiply! Mankind once again is upon the face of the earth, living as one people in peace and safety, speaking one language and advancing technologically again. As they advance, the deity looks down and notices that nothing is beyond what they plan to do:

 

And the LORD said, Behold, the people [is] one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. - Genesis 11:6

 

Once again, god decides to slow man down and so he scatters the languages, thus causing confusion which halts the technological progress of mankind once again!

 

God has seen that none of his previous plans were working. He removes man from the garden and, despite the rough life, we thrive. He brings a global disaster, but we overcome and multiply upon the earth again. He confuses our languages and even that does little more than slow us down. So god changes his tactics. He looks for someone dumb enough to follow him blindly and finds Abraham and begins to indoctrinate him. His plan? To raise a people dedicated to him that he can use to wipe out all other tribes of people on planet earth!

 

So he starts by making them into a war machine. How? First he gives them relative peace so that the man, Abraham, can grow into a tribe. Then he has them enslaved so that they learn to endure hardship. Then he has them released and trains them for more hardship by having them survive in the dessert. Then he sends them into the "promised land" to conquer and destroy. But even this battle hardened tribe does not obey. They leave some living and god's plan stops and hangs in the Middle East. So god needed to change his plan a bit.

 

He waits until the proper time and selects another man that is foolish enough to blindly follow him: Jesus of Nazareth. He uses this man to preach a new message ... a message of only one way to be happy and blessed. Once this movement starts to grow the deity begins to transform this new cult into a war machine! What ensues are millenia of wars and battles and, to god's delight, a dark age that lasted nearly 800 years!

 

However, mankind has fought its ways through all of god's traps and is once again an advanced race, though changed by all the carnage we have experienced at the hand of this blood thirsty god. So the question becomes:

 

What is next on god's agenda to keep man from once again building a tower toward godhood?

 

Hey! Now that was fun! I think I may have a book idea there ;) .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's funny that we're told to accept these ridiculous stories like the tower of babel... It was supposedly a bunch of primitive men trying to make a tall building to reach the heavens. Why hasn't God punished us for getting out to space and finding out there is no physical way to reach the heavens? His punishments in the bible are so trigger-happy and never actually accomplish the goal. There's always plenty of evil going on a chapter later. If the Abrahamic God does exist, I have GOT to just laugh at his incompetence.

 

And back to the Tree of Knowledge story...I remember feeling really uncomfortable reading Paradise Lost in high school because I totally identified with Satan's character and felt sorry for him. This God character was a self-righteous tyrant. I think the bible does a much better job demonizing God than Satan. Without the scary imagery and threats Satan just isn't nearly as frightening...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And back to the Tree of Knowledge story...I remember feeling really uncomfortable reading Paradise Lost in high school because I totally identified with Satan's character and felt sorry for him. This God character was a self-righteous tyrant. I think the bible does a much better job demonizing God than Satan. Without the scary imagery and threats Satan just isn't nearly as frightening...

 

There was a discussion about Satan and the serpent somewhere on this forum before (if I remember correctly), but nowhere does it explicitly say that the serpent in Genesis 3 is Satan. It is implied in the New Testament by calling the Devil that "serpent of old" in the book of Revelation. But even that is up for grabs. In any case, the Old Testament never draws the connection between the serpent of Genesis 3 with Satan.

 

That being the case, we can have even more fun with the story because we do not have to see an evil creature tempting Eve. Instead, we can see a good being trying to help mankind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, for the sake of discussion, we can probably go with the flow and allow that one to pass, right? ;)

Well, that's why I mentioned it was really just an aside. I was reading around there and thought I'd mention it but it wasn't of any real consequence. :)

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All in all...even if this being DID exist, he wouldn't be deserving of any sort of reverence or worship. Biblically, you're right, he IS always trying to hold mankind back in the dark ages. And we even see modern-day Christians today trying to supress truth and discovery. It's truly sad...makes me sad to imagine how far we could be if it weren't for religious intervention.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's funny that we're told to accept these ridiculous stories like the tower of babel... It was supposedly a bunch of primitive men trying to make a tall building to reach the heavens. Why hasn't God punished us for getting out to space and finding out there is no physical way to reach the heavens? His punishments in the bible are so trigger-happy and never actually accomplish the goal. There's always plenty of evil going on a chapter later. If the Abrahamic God does exist, I have GOT to just laugh at his incompetence.

The story is silly. Though the tower most likely did exist (or should I say "a" tower since there were many of them and we can't be certain which specific one the story speaks of but they have a reasonable idea for this particular case). Since these towers were all mud brick they were fairly durable but they could reach nearly 30 stories (this one in particular). So if weather got bad (rainy) then they'd require lots of repair or they'd crumble apart. So here you have a classic story telling the folly of building your own personal artificial mountain to god. The concept of a unified language could come from the idea of something like the Persian Empire (for example) where all the countries had their own languages but used a common language when doing government business.

 

Taken very literally this god is bad at what he does though. It seems he not much of a forward thinker (especially for someone who supposedly knows the future).

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That being the case, we can have even more fun with the story because we do not have to see an evil creature tempting Eve. Instead, we can see a good being trying to help mankind.

I either see it as just a talking snake (making it purely a fable) or the snake is a representation of Asherah (which was represented by a snake...a bronze snake actually making a better fit in the Exodus story and the later smashing of the idol) but it could still be a form of her here.

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have guys looked into the story of Lilith at all? I haven't read a whole lot on it, but that myth fits very nicely between the two creation of man stories. The first has man and woman created at the same time at Genesis 1:27 and then at 2:22 he takes a rib from Adam to create woman. The story of Lilith suggests she was the first Eve, but she refused to be subservient to Adam. She said they were both made from dust so they were equals. Adam kept being an ass though, so she left him. Fits nicely, huh?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A god who opposes man every time he gets enough technology and knowledge... Sounds like he doesn't want any threat when his mothership "The New Jerusalem" makes its landing. This sounds so much like Stargate with the being that outlawed writing so the people couldn't pass on the knowledge of the rebellion against him.

 

We have a thread on this: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=29246

 

Scary how the true believers are willing to sacrifice their minds and the bodies of unbelievers in the quest to squelch science and understanding. History is replete with examples of this from most major religions.

 

I used to quote that verse about God saying "nothing will be impossible for them" as pretty high praise for what human unity can accomplish. And I think it is true, we can really do a lot when we aren't bickering, sabotaging, and profiteering, but instead working towards a common goal.

 

I also see the snake story as a parallel to many native stories about why animals have certain attributes. "why the snake crawls along instead of walking". The character of the devil or Satan develops over time and is never linked to the snake directly in the OT, that I know of.

 

I also posted once about how "The Tree of Life" might be religion itself holding out the promise of eternity like a carrot.

What if the tree of life is the temptation of religion itself? Are you willing to bite the apple of religion for the promise of eternal life? "You know you want to… Everybody's doing it" Are you a sucker if you do? Religion holds out the concept that you can live forever in a wonderful place, if only you will submit your mortal life to the control of the principles and principals of whichever religion is evangelizing you at the moment. “You can be like God, and live forever.” Lots of people bite this one.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.