Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

The Garden of Good…and Evil

28 Comments

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I’ve been told over and over again that we have the ‘end of the story’.  That’s why we should believe over those who lived in Biblical times.  Because we know how the story ends and the great lengths God has gone to to save us – the greatest love story ever told – that is reason enough to place our faith in the Almighty and never question that love.  That implies never questioning His authority, His word (i.e. the Bible) nor His existence.

Ruminating in my mind over the last few days is that, if we take the creation story as fact(which I don’t), a ‘very good’ Adam and Eve were placed in the ‘very good’ garden where God walked with them in the cool of the day.  They could walk with Him and talk with Him and be His very own.  He gave them one instruction.  The world, erm…garden, was their oyster.  How difficult can it be to follow one instruction given to them in person by the rule maker Himself?  Mind you this was before the fall, before they knew good from evil.

Why did God place the tree in the garden?  Was it a test?  I thought God did not tempt us.  So what is that about?  If God wanted us to live in an ignorance is bliss state for all of eternity why put the temptation there in the first place? Has He been trying to trick us since the beginning?   Wouldn’t it be a bit evil for the Creator to be this devious?  We would call this entrapment.

God walked in the cool of the day with the imperfect mankind He made and then suddenly when they showed their imperfections He couldn’t stand the sight of them.  They were too evil for His presence.  Yet we are to believe that this same God loved us enough to kill His Son who would be reunited with Him after the fact all so He could also be reunited with mankind only He still won’t show His face.  Presumably because we’re still too evil?

Fast forward eight or so thousand years.  A lot has happened in that time.  We are expected to believe that the records of Gods dealings were written hundreds of years apart by a dozens of different authors and from those books a committee of priests hand picked which of those books were actually divinely inspired, bound together, and that they form a cohesive statement about God’s love for mankind and his expectations of mankind.

There are many more rules to follow and a far-fetched virgin birth story followed by a far-fetched resurrection story. We are told that without faith it is impossible to please this invisible force.  Yet outside the Bible there is no evidence that this force even exists – not in the Christian sense.

Then the thought comes barrelling though my mind like a freight train that maybe the reason God hasn’t shown His face since the Garden of Eden is because that’s just a story. There was no Eden, there was no Adam and Eve and there is no God, at least not the one depicted in Genesis.

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28 thoughts on “The Garden of Good…and Evil

  1. Why don’t we see God. Oh, that is so easy (disengage snark detector)!

    1) God values faith. If we could detect God, we would know. Knowledge leaves no room for faith. The fact that billions might not end up in Hell if He showed Himself is of trivial consequence compared to His valuation of faith.

    2) God is embarrassed. After being unable to defeat Jacob in a wrestling match, and unable to prevail over an enemy with chariots of iron, He is lying low.

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    • “1) God values faith. If we could detect God, we would know. Knowledge leaves no room for faith. The fact that billions might not end up in Hell if He showed Himself is of trivial consequence compared to His valuation of faith.”

      Scary stuff, eh? Faith is far more important than folks.

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  2. Correct. Those stories are mythology, not literal history as fundamentalists believe, and should be approached as such.

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    • When looked at from the perspective of an actual historical account it’s very schizophrenic. God comes off as a psychopath. He’s no less psychopathic than any of the other blood thirsty gods of mythology.

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  3. None of it makes sense, does it? Well at least not in a literal sense.

    Heck, who am I kidding? It doesn’t even make much sense when read as metaphor (though I do love trying to decipher what the authors might have meant in a mythological sort of way).

    I’m not ready to say “There is no God.” I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that. I am comfortable with saying “The God of the Bible is a man-made construct, and not a very nice one at that.” But for God in general, I’m still in the “I don’t know” camp.

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    • “I’m not ready to say “There is no God.””

      Nor am I. I tried to be very careful to give the caveat that the Christian God is exactly as you say. I don’t think that particular God exists.

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  4. Funny how when you look at the bible god from a different point if view it no longer makes sense. Like you Dma I believed this for a long time I even lead a young girl to the lord. Now I read the bible and I think really anyone who is a critical thinker could never believe the bible stories. My grandson was read the story about Noah and asked what about the other people? He is only four years old and I hope he will continue to ask questions about justice. The god of the old testament did not show justice he was an angry jealous god. Thanks for your posts I look forward to reading them and I hope all is going well with you.

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    • It’s funny. I always thought I’d bring my children up teaching that God is love and telling them all about Jesus. Then when I really got to thinking about what I’d be teaching them I wondered how I could make the leap from “there’s a hell and if you don’t believe you’re going there” to “God is love”.

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  5. And here where I live there are frequent battles about teaching the “fairy tale” of evolution in our public schools over the Genesis “account.” It’s almost laughable.

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  6. God walked in the cool of the day with the imperfect mankind He made and then suddenly when they showed their imperfections He couldn’t stand the sight of them. They were too evil for His presence.

    So human of god, eh?
    It sounds like any egocentric parent. They love you when you’re small and cute and pretty much agree with them on everything. But once you grow up and want to think for yourself and have a life of your own, they disown you.

    I always had the funny feeling that Adam & Eve were naive and helpless, and that pleased god. Once they “grew up” and started doing stuff on their own… goodbye… I don’t like you anymore …. and not only will you pay for it … billions of people coming after you will pay as well …. unless of course … they dumb themselves down and bow before me.

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    • It all seems like rather sociopathic behavior, doesn’t it? I mean, that’s what we call someone now who behaves this way. Maybe Exrelayman was right when he referred to Stockholm Syndrome. We are held captive by our visions of grandeur or our fear or our need to belong for so long that before we know it we are idolizing, protecting, rationalizing our captor’s behavior. What someone else could readily see as irrational, erratic and frightening we translate into normal, consistent and beneficial. Twisted eh?

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  7. Although I evolved into saying I’m technically an agnostic and practically atheistic, I got my start by saying, “I don’t know if there is a God but I no longer believe the Christian God is God.” Watch out for the slippery slope! 😉

    In addition to your thoughts, let me add my biggie. What the h*** is an evil talking snake doing in the Garden? As I wrote in one of my own posts many moons ago, who cares about the tree. Wouldn’t you think God would want to warn them about the snake/serpent/evil crawly thing? 😯

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    • What, Zoe? And ruin the test??? Flub the punchline????? Botch the trick??????? He couldn’t possibly tell them about the snake/serpent/evil crawly thing! Wouldn’t have been just as easy for God to just not entice them with the tree that would be their downfall? 😯

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  8. Yep Zoe’s right, I started out saying I no longer believe in the Christian God too. You can see how that turned out for me as well.

    I once wrote about this too. God created Adam and Eve and he’s all knowing, he knew from the get go that they would do exactly what he had said not to do. Then knowing they would do this from the beginning he gets ticked and punishes everyone. You would think since he created them he would have created that little flaw out of them? No?

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    • The explanation that I’ve always gotten is that God did know that. That’s what all those Abrahamic promises are about. He planned to use Jesus as the sacrifice all along.

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  9. Missing your postings hope all is well.

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  10. It’s been a long time since I posted – I’ve been rewriting my blogs and just started catching up. Interesting that one of the first posts I read concerns Adam and Eve. I’ve been saying for years that there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH.

    Imagine a conservative theologian saying that it’s time to face facts, “There is no historical Adam and Eve; no serpent; no apple; no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence . . . there never was any such paradise to be lost”

    That’s the starting point for my new blog – but as it’s the culmination of the journey of a lifetime (I’m 76), there’s quite a lot of reading.

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    • Imagine a conservative theologian saying that it’s time to face facts, “There is no historical Adam and Eve; no serpent; no apple; no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence . . . there never was any such paradise to be lost”

      Where, then, does that leave the Christian FAITH? If there be no fall, if there be no paradise lost, what purpose does the human sacrifice known as the crucifixion serve? Why is there a need for a sacrificial lamb(which sounds suspiciously like appeasement of a multitude of other gods) if we were built this way?

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  11. Good questions! As I’m fond of saying, there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH. Where for example does the teaching of ‘Original Sin’ come from? Not I would suggest from the Bible but from the misguided teachings of men (theology).

    But then I would be considered a heretic by the majority of American Evangelicals because I am convinced that there is a lot of myth and symbolism in the early chapters of Genesis – but that doesn’t mean that the stories are unimportant.

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    • There is a progressive or what is also called mainstream theology in the US which espouses your view of the early chapters of Genesis. My questions still remain. If that is the case that largely debunks Christianity as a RELIGION or a FAITH. My questions remain unanswered. What is the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice? Why did we need a God-man? I don’t see how it fits. Now if you are suggesting that the birth, death and resurrection are all largely mythology as well we have a jumping off point. I can agree that the sermon on the mount are good words to live by, but there are many such words which don’t come from the Bible. There are many good principles from other religions which are equally ethical. I’m still wondering what is the Christian FAITH you speak of.

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  12. The first sentence of your post reads, “I’ve been told over and over again that we have the ‘end of the story”. That’s what so many evangelicals have been taught – but where do those ideas come from?

    I had one of those ‘light-bulb moments in August last year that I have tried to describe on my new blog. For some people it will put a whole new light on the Christian RELIGION. For others it will simply reinforce their belief that God does not exist.

    I’ve noticed that you still have links to both of my older blogs. Life has moved on!

    I do have far more empathy with some atheists than I do with those ‘Christians’ who believe they have all the answers (you may have read ‘From Christian to Atheist’).

    I didn’t respond immediately. I asked a Christian friend for his thoughts about your questions. He has been questioning the faith and like me has some unorthodox beliefs. His response surprised me. I’d appreciate the opportunity of sharing thoughts with you and any of your friends if you can relate (positively or negatively) to what I have recently written on my blog.

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  13. Hey there, I’m the friend Pete is referring to above. And I’m wondering how to get into the conversation. It’s obvious that its a conversation that desires a larger canvas than just a blog reply – Pete is trying to accomplish that with his site, as a place where a conversation can take place. Its a fascinating conversation, one I hope you’ll want to join in. I’d love to connect on a personal level as well – hope you feel like dropping me an email, because I’ll grant you the first move rather than try to butt my way in.

    To give you an idea of where I’m coming from, let’s take the issue of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – why was it in the garden in the first place? The western Christian viewpoint, from a foundational Latin perspective, frames the idea legalistically, thus you arrive at the very questions you have asked, i.e., was God trying to tempt man, is God the author of evil, etc. The eastern view rejects that line of reasoning, placing the tree in the garden meant that it was good, but it approaches the original condition of man not as western perfect, but as perfect but not yet mature, that God intended man to eat from it, just not yet. There are significant ramifications of the eastern view which drastically alter the understanding of the whole event, indeed the whole faith, which most of western Christianity has never been exposed to. In addition to that, genetic research in the last few years has raised serious questions about myth and symbolism, the reality of Adam and Eve as common ancestors, etc. that many in both the scientific and theological communities are wrestling with.

    Of course, it would be obvious now that I’ve studied the eastern view extensively, I constantly keep abreast of the emerging scientific discoveries in archaeology and genetic research, and immersed myself in the best writings of Hitchins, Dawkins and others. I end up with a “Christian” faith, but probably not one many people have encountered. I have a furious disregard for fundamentalism, evangelicalism, and every other form of Christianity which has so blindly painted itself in a corner that it has alienated and abused anyone who dares have a question.

    So, again, you guide me – do I get to join the conversation? Hope so.

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    • Do you have a blog, yourself, Dave Price? I’m interested in what you have to say, don’t get me wrong.

      This isn’t meant as an attack, but you say:

      I end up with a “Christian” faith, but probably not one many people have encountered.

      Does that mean that you think you’ve found the way and that if I just knew your way I’d be convinced? You see, my questions don’t begin and end with Genesis. I question the authenticity and historicity of much of the New Testament as well.

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      • Wow, you’ve encountered some pretty rough stuff, and I truly am sorry for that – they say that Christians are the only religion that eats its wounded. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing I said above that comes even remotely close to “Does that mean that you think you’ve found the way and that if I just knew your way I’d be convinced?” I’m not built that way, and I try pretty hard never to sound that way. That sentence does reveal a lot about the journey you’ve taken, and the wrong treatment you’ve received – seems even educated people in church feel threatened easily and go on the attack, but I can’t change them, I can only do my best to be radically different than them.

        I have my faith, sure, and Pete has gleaned more about me from things I’ve written than I even thought was there, (its amazing what he can pick up on from the most innocent remark), but I’m not a thumper – to each his own. I studied Philosophy in college, which I learned was a bad career choice but an excellent preparation for enjoying people. I enjoy conversation, I enjoy discovering what people believe and how their life journey shaped that belief, but I’m not one for trying to convince anyone of anything. I don’t feel threatened by anyone’s ideas, nor do I think its my place to set anyone right – I’m not sure I could define “right”, or “faith” except that its unique to each individual. I write on Hubpages occasionally, and one recent entry might give you a better picture of me: http://daveprice.hubpages.com/hub/Ive-Done-Gone-Down-the-Rabbit-Hole

        So, to sum up, nothing you could say to me would feel like an “attack” – I’m just not offended in that way. I don’t go on the defensive, on the offensive, or any other “sive” – I just enjoy honest conversation and finding new people to journey with through life. Pete thinks a lot of you, and I think a lot of Pete, so it seemed “logical” that we might enjoy each other’s company and conversation, especially after I read what you had written here. So… wanna walk together awhile?

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        • I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to get back to you.

          I didn’t exactly know how to ask my question without sounding sarcastic. It was not meant that way in the least. I do get some responses here that indicate if I just had the right truth I’d change my mind. Most of those come in like a little lamb, only to reveal themselves later as trying to “convince” me why I need religion in some form or another. And having been involved in fundamentalism for many years I know what that response is. I’m apostate and headed straight for the gates of hell.

          I have no problem with people having a differing opinion than mine. I certainly don’t have the answers, though I once thought I had them all. You may post responses here anytime you wish. It will give me something to think about.

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          • You’re right, and I get it, some of those questions are hard to ask without sounding sarcastic or worse. I wish I could apologize for all who have, in their STUPIDITY – God forgive me for how much I love putting that in caps – treated you unkindly, but I can’t speak for them. Its my firm belief, and I’m pretty sure I’m the first one who said it, ignorance is inherited but stupidity is a choice – and I’ve always been one to let people live with their choices.

            Thank you for inviting me into the conversation, and for not lumping me in with all the other fundamental idiots. I promise to be myself, although I’m not sure how much of that is fit for human consumption 🙂 I trust you’ll be a good judge of that.

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