Genesis: The Fall of Man

Genesis 3:1-3:24

This story opens with the serpent trying to seduce Eve into tasting the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is interesting how the serpent is the one portrayed as the evil character in this story, but all the serpent did was tell Eve the truth. God had been the one who had lied to Adam and Eve by telling them that they would die if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. All the serpent did was tell Eve that she would not die, but be like God. The Bible then says that Eve decides to eat the fruit from the tree because it “was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom”. This passage is evidence of Christianity’s contempt for knowledge. This contempt will later have many ramifications and lead to the unjust deaths of many great minds. Eve eats the fruit then gives some to Adam who also eats from it. They are then aware of their nakedness and are ashamed. I assume this is an attempt to explain why humans wear cloths. The real reason can be explained be our evolutionary will to survive. As we became more intelligent and could create sharp tools to carve the flesh of befallen animals, we learned that we could use the hides as a way to keep warm in harsh climates.

God comes strolling by them in the garden so the two of them hide. The Lord God calls out to them inquiring where they are. Adam answers God and says they hid because they were ashamed of their nakedness.

God then asks, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Adam’s cowardly reply tries to evade any responsibility of his own actions, and attempts to pin it all on Eve. This is definitely a man of strong character. He tells his Lord, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it”.

When God turns to Eve to inquire of her disobedience, she also tries to find a scapegoat to avoid punishment and pins the whole thing on the serpent. She plays the damsel in distress as she tells God, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate it”.

Though the serpent didn’t deceive anyone like I said earlier. The serpent merely stated the facts, and it was God who was the deceiver. If God had just told them that if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that he would punish them, because he wanted to be the only one with power, maybe they wouldn’t have. Even better, as I said in my last post, if he hadn’t created the tree at all there wouldn’t have been any problems. God punishes the serpent by making it forced to live its life crawling on its stomach. I guess the serpent had had legs prior to God’s wrath.

God’s judgement on Eve is the first testament of the Bible’s clear patriarchal view of the world. God makes Eve a subject to Adam, and says Adam “will rule over you”. This promotion of the subjugation of woman to man and the oppression of women’s rights has marred our society for millenniums. Evidence of this bigoted belief is seen today with recent discussion in the US on contraceptives and abortion. Still the church believes that it has the right to control women and their reproductive functions. God also makes childbirth harder on women; the perfect example of an act by a benevolent God.

For Adam, God’s punishment really doesn’t appear to be as harsh. God’s punishment is to make the land less conducive to vegetation. “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food”, God tells Adam. Now this part of the story, at least, if it is not to be taken literal, is probably an allegory for what happened around 13,000 BCE. Around that time the Earth was coming out of an ice age and beginning to warm. This warming made once fertile lands dry up. One example would be the Sahara. The Sahara was once a lush fertile land that supported many plants and animals. As the Earth began to warm, the Sahara began to become the desert it is today. This warming forced people towards river valleys, which would later become the cradles of civilization. This warming also was what inspired humans to turn to an agrarian life instead of one of foraging. The agrarian life was harsher than the life of a forager. Fossil records show that those who became sedentary farmers were subjected to new diseases, a less diverse diet, and longer work days that increased stress, and the result was a reduced life expectancy and shorter people. The benefit of the domestication of plants and animals was that it led to surplus food, which in turn led to surplus population. The agrarian people were not as healthy, but had strength in numbers.

In the last paragraph of this passage, God gives Adam and Eve garments made from skin. I already addressed what would have led man to create such garments, so I will not readdress this. God, fearful that man will also try to usurp more of his power by eating from the tree of life and gain immortality, banishes Adam and Eve out of the garden. This fear that God has is interesting to point out. Throughout the Bible man’s relationship to God is one of reverence and fear. Man is suppose to be fearful of God’s wrath, but interestingly it is God who is afraid here. This is an interesting perspective to keep in mind while reading. Is God’s wrath more in reaction to his fear of man? In any case, it is clear here that God is afraid of sharing any power with man, as any tyrant throughout history–Stalin, Saddam Hussein,or Gaddafi. To protect the garden, and God’s power, God places a Cherubim and a flaming sword moving back and forth to guard the tree. A cherubim is related to the Assyrian karabu, they are cognates, and is a mythical animal similar to the sphinx. This mythical creature was popular in the area of Babylon, where this story takes place, and is tied to their polytheistic beliefs that Christians abhor so much. The fact these creatures never existed hurts the credibility of this book. One more fallacy to chalk up on the board if you are keeping count.

This concludes the tale of the Fall of Man. Next, the story of sibling rivalry, “Cain and Abel”.

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