Monday, August 16, 2010

227 / Expulsion From Paradise

"The LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. He cast him out, and to the east of the garden of Eden he stationed the cherubim and a sword whirling and flashing to guard the way to the tree of life."
Genesis 3: 23-24 (New English Bible)
The lesson in these verses in the Book of Genesis is that death has come to us because of our human insistence that we should "know good and evil." My personal interpretation is that to "know good and evil" means that we claim the right to "know the difference," which translates, in the end, to a claim that we can "decide" the difference. As I get it, God felt this was a claim that humans should not have made, so humans were excluded from Eden, where the tree of life was an antidote to death.

Upon our expulsion from Paradise, we have found ourselves living, in fact, in a world we create ourselves, according to our own ideas of what is "good" and "evil." And God might say, "I hope you're happy, now."

In the human world, the rules (the laws) are not like the laws of Nature which are unchangeable and unchallengeable, and are called "laws" because they describe precisely what must, and will, happen. In our world, the "laws" are not like that; they tell us not what "must" happen, but what we think "should" happen.They are not "descriptions;" they are "prescriptions." Our role as creators in the human world is a role in which we exercise the right to determine not "ultimate" truth, but what we decide is "good" or not.

We might as well be "happy." We can't go back.


  1. I feel like you're making an argument here, but I'm not sure what the other side is.

    I read this, and wondered, "What is it that Gary is saying we might as well be happy about?"

    Based on your other posts, I think you're arguing against deep ecologists who say, "We should recognize our kinship and identity with nature." So I think you're saying, "No, we may as well be happy with our difference from nature."

  2. To the extent I'm making an argument (though I think I am actually just presenting an argument made in the Bible), the argument is that we inhabit "our" world, the "human world," the world we create ourselves, because of the "original sin" committed by human beings. That "original sin" resulted in our expulsion from Paradise, which is the world GOD made, and what I am calling the world of Nature or the Natural world.

    In what did the "original sin" consist? The sin, again according to the Bible, was that human beings wanted to have knowledge of "good and evil." Our demand to have such knowledge is what resulted in our expulsion from Paradise. Now, in the human world, we got what we wanted (and I have God ask, rhetorically, "are you happy now?").

    We have a "knowledge" of good and evil because in OUR world, we make the laws, and WE (not GOD) decide what we think is good and what we think is not. In essence, we demand the prerogatives of God the Creator, and this is/was the sin.

    I think it's fascinating that there was no prohibition to eat of the "Tree of Life," which would have eliminated Death, something we are always trying to avoid. But humans weren't interested in that, back in Paradise. They wanted to "know" good and evil.

    As a result, humans now can decide themselves what is good and evil, so they have the knowledge they sought. And....they die.

    Are we happy now?

  3. hi Gary - I'm interested in knowing more about what & when you think humans inhabited Paradise. I'm sure you are speaking metaphorically but honestly you've lost me with this one... - Linda

  4. Linda: It's my old theological seminary training coming out. Metaphorical. The metaphor of the "expulsion from Paradise," the way I read it, is about how we lost our "right relation" to the world of Nature. I think that the Biblical explanation is suggesting that our separation from Nature is due to our unwillingness to admit the "primacy" of Nature, and our demand to decide what is "good" and what isn't. Based on our human assertion that WE should decide what is good, we have created a world separate from Nature, and inconsistent with it. But it's the world of Nature upon which we "ultimately" depend. So, if we keep asserting our right to create our own world, instead of living within the world of Nature, we will be "in trouble." To say the least!

  5. Hm, ...

    And I think it's interesting that God was terrified that people might become immortal, like himself.

    No reason is ever given for this terror.

    Were Adam & Eve interested in the Tree of Life? Clearly not. But did they know it would lead to eternal life? They did not! Both God & Serpent kept Adam & Eve in the dark...

    But were Adam & Eve interested in eliminating Death? Yes! Eve feared death, and her first objection to the Serpent is, "No, God says we'll die if we eat that."

    The Serpent says, "Nope, you won't die. Your eyes will be opened." And sure enough, they don't die... AND their eyes are opened...

    Serpent was right, after all, ...

    Oh, except for God, ...


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