Adam and Eve

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Adam and Eve are purported to be the first humans, created by God in the Biblical book of Genesis, who resided in the Garden of Eden until they were cast out following their original sin.

Contents

Summary

In the second creation story in the Bible, in Genesis 2:4-25 Bible-icon.png through Genesis 3 Bible-icon.png, God plants a garden "east of Eden", and creates the first man, Adam, there. He tells Adam that he may eat from any tree in the garden except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or "in the day that you eat of it you will surely die" Genesis 2:17 Bible-icon.png.

God then creates birds and animals as companions for Adam, but none is suitable. God then puts Adam to sleep, removes one of his ribs, and creates a woman, Eve, from the rib. Eve was intended to be a "helper", a "complimentary partner" or "suitable partner" for Adam, depending on the translation. Genesis 2:18 Bible-icon.png

One day, the serpent tells Eve that contrary to what God has said, she and Adam will not die from eating the forbidden fruit, but rather that they will know good and evil, just like God Genesis 3:5 Bible-icon.png.

Eve eats the fruit and gives some to Adam as well. After eating, they realize that they are naked and fashion clothes for themselves from fig leaves. Their sudden shame of nudity arouses God's suspicions, and they eventually confess that they have eaten the forbidden fruit.

God curses the serpent, saying that henceforth it will crawl on the ground, and that there will be enmity between its offspring and Eve's. He curses Eve with painful childbirth, and condemns her to be ruled over by her husband. He curses Adam, saying that he will now have to work the land for food.

Finally, God realizes that Adam might also eat the fruit of the tree of life and live forever. To prevent this, he banishes the two humans from the garden and places a guard to prevent them re-entering it.

Adam and Eve proceed to have children and become the ancestors of all humans.

Textual Sources

In all likelihood, the myth created around Adam and Eve relied on earlier religious traditions of the ancient Middle East.

The Sumerian narrative of the deities Enki and Ninhursag illustrate several plot lines that resemble the account in Genesis. Their story unfolds in a sacred place called Dilmun, where disease and old age are absent. The evil god Enki disguises as a gardener and seduces the female Uttu with fruits, thereby commiting incestuous rape. [1]

In the following events Enki - lusting after knowledge from trees - is cursed by the goddess Ninhursag, resulting in bodily ailments. Later, Ninhursag reluctantly redeems Enki by creating eight minor deities; among others, healing comes in form of Ninti, the "Lady of the Rips".

Lilith is a mythological human or demon that features in Jewish and other legends. She is sometimes said to be the first woman and to have pre-existed Eve. [2]

Commentary

The story of Adam and Eve is the basis for the doctrines of the Fall of Man, in which humans have become separated from God and original sin which has a wide variety of interpretations. The way these doctrines are used have little Biblical support.

In Genesis 3:22 Bible-icon.png, God says that Adam has become "as one of us", rather than "like me". This may be a remnant of an earlier version of the story, in which God was one member of a pantheon of gods.

Why did Adam and Eve hid from God when they know God to be omniscient? Why did God "pretend" to not know where Adam and Eve were hiding? Genesis 3:9 Bible-icon.png

Although the fruit of the tree of knowledge is often depicted as an apple, this is never specified in the text.

Based on Genesis, it is unclear if Adam and Eve are immortal before eating from the tree. Later books in the Bible imply that Adam and Eve were originally immortal Romans 5:12 Bible-icon.png, but this may be a later addition to the interpretation of the original story.

Why didn't God create Adam without need of a companion? Why did God not create Adam and Eve at the same time?

St. Augustine thought that Adam and Eve were originally created with free will but this is not specified in the Bible.

Non God objects

Why did God create Adam and Eve since God is supposedly perfect and creating any non-God object is superfluous?

Serpent

Arguably, the serpent in the story never lies but God apparently does: Adam and Eve do not die on the day from eating the fruit, as God had said Genesis 2:17 Bible-icon.png: Adam is said to live 930 years (Genesis 5:5 Bible-icon.png). Apologists claim the day was on "God's time scale" and not a normal day, [3] which is special pleading. And just as the serpent said, they learn what good and evil are, thus becoming a little bit more like God.

The snake talks Genesis 3:4 Bible-icon.png, which is clearly absurd. Why do snakes no longer talk? It is a clear instance of mythological writing in the Bible that is not intended to be taken literally.

Although it is common to associate the serpent with Satan, the text says no such thing.

Adam and Eve appear to have been vegetarian Genesis 1:29 Bible-icon.png [4].

How the tree of knowledge's effects are passed on to Adam and Eve's descendants is not explained.

Fore-knowledge of God: setting humans up to to fail

It seems unjust for God to punish Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit: before they learned what good and evil were, how were they to know that disobeying God was wrong?

If God is all-knowing then he knew before he even created the garden that it would fail. He commanded Adam and Even not to eat from the tree while simultaneously knowing they would eventually do so! He also knew before creating the serpent that it would cause Adam and Eve to sin, yet he created both. This combined with the previously stated fact that before eating the apple Adam and Eve had no concept of right and wrong shows that the blame lies not with them for falling for the trap, but with God for setting it. Why did God undo the harm and make Adam and Eve forget the knowledge? These and similar problems are aspects of the famous problem of evil.

Since God created everything with the full knowledge of future events, the only consistent conclusion is that God intentionally created evil, either amorally or because the existence of both good and evil is optimal.

"[While evil exists at all], it will very much puzzle you Anthropomorphites, how to account for it. You must assign a cause for it, without having recourse to the first cause [God]. But as every effect must have a cause, and that cause another, you must either carry on the progression in infinitum, or rest on that original principle, who is the ultimate cause of all things... [i.e. God]"

David Hume

Nietzsche points out that God might simply have been bored and created evil to amuse himself:

"it was God himself who at the end of his days’ work lay down as a serpent under the tree of knowledge: thus he recuperated from being God.—He had made everything too beautiful.—The devil is merely the leisure of God on that seventh day"

Believers have since been trying to absolve the moralising God of this action, [5] which is clearly a later invention that is totally incompatible with the creation story in Genesis. Soon after creating Adam and Eve, God regrets creating humans in the first place (even though God supposedly has foreknowledge of the outcome of his actions). Genesis 6:6 Bible-icon.png As Nietzsche pointed out:

"Too much miscarried with him, this potter who had not learned thoroughly! That he took revenge on his pots and creations, however, because they turned out badly—that was a sin against GOOD TASTE."

A God that makes mistakes of this magnitude is not worthy of worship.

Banishment and life on Earth

Genesis 3:22-24 Bible-icon.png makes it clear that Adam and Eve are not banished for disobeying God, but rather because God fears that Adam might become immortal. This banishment is a preventative measure to protect the tree of life. This is at odds with notions that the banishment was related to sin or separation from God.

What exactly is provided by the tree of life? Since theists generally believe that people have immortal souls, it is unclear why physical immortality is seen as problematic by God, considering Adam and Eve were originally allowed to eat from the tree of life.

Why did God banish Adam and Eve instead of sending them to Hell or simply un-create them? Why did God not take the children of Adam and Eve into protective custody from their unreliable and fallen parents? Why did God command them to have children?

God employs collective punishment. One man sins and all men, including those unborn, are punished. One woman sins, all women are punished. One serpent deceives and all snakes are punished. Collective punishment is typically considered immoral and unjust. The punishment for eating from the tree of knowledge is bizarre:

  • the serpent is cursed and forced to crawl on the ground,
  • women are cursed with painful childbirth and commanded to obey man, showing God is a misogynist,
  • man is cursed to work the land for food, which is strange since many men in modern times do not work in agriculture and women also have this responsibility.

Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger pointed out that these punishments are still exacted even when Christians believe that, on some occasions such as baptism, all past sins are forgiven. We should expect Christian men to get free food from God and painless childbirth for Christian women.

"There is a serious theological contradiction in telling a woman that when she comes to faith in Christ, her personal sins are forgiven but she must continue to be punished for the sin of Eve. [6]"

After humans were dismissed from the job of divine gardeners, the purpose of the Earth and human existence after banishment is unclear in the Biblical narrative. If God expected people to be moral from the point forward, he might be expected to provide a complete moral code at this point. He also does not explain the consequences of non-compliance with is moral code, which might be reasonably expected. God doesn't bother providing any stone tablets of laws or any Bible at this stage. There is no mention of later prophets, a chosen people, saviour or a final prophet. He doesn't given any specific instructions and just leaves Adam and Eve to their own devices, except for God's command to "go forth and multiply". In fact, God becomes a very poor communicator from this point forward. The lack of forward planning by God is also striking. This shows the Bible for what it is: a series of legends that were accumulated in an ad-hoc fashion, without a grand plan and with little internal consistency.

God doesn't even command Adam and Eve or their descendent to be moral or even that murder is forbidden. However this doesn't stop God disapproving of murder after the fact Genesis 4:10 Bible-icon.png and eventually angering God into destroying most humans a great flood.

Depiction of Adam and Eve

Although Adam is said to have been created from the dust of the ground, and Eve from his rib, they are for the most part depicted with navels ("belly buttons"), which would imply that they were born with umbilical cords. There is a parallel in the way Western art depicts Jesus wrongly.

References

  1. [Dickson, Keith, Enki and Ninhursag: The Trickster in Paradise, in: Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol 66, No 1, 2007]
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. [4]
  6. Richard Clark Kroeger, Catherine Clark Kroeger, I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking I Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence, February 1, 1998
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