General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

What is the religious interpretation of Adam and Eve?

Asked by LostInParadise (17165 points ) July 17th, 2012

It is a great story, but I have trouble interpreting it. After eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve acquired knowledge of good and evil. That would mean that prior to that, they had no knowledge of good and evil. If that is the case, then their action of disobeying God cannot be considered evil. Why then were they punished? Could the act be considered instead a type of loss of innocence that made them unsuitable to continue living in the Garden of Evil?

The other problem I have is to wonder why God asked them not to acquire whatever knowledge that was obtained by eating from the tree. Isn’t knowledge a good thing? Could it be that the knowledge was not in the fruit but in the action. In this interpretation, the disobedience in and of itself transformed the relationship between God and Man. From now on, obedience would be a choice rather than an automatic reflex.

I am not a religious person, but the interpretation of the story does not hinge on whether the events depicted actually took place. For those others of you who are not religious, please refrain from any snide remarks.

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68 Answers

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gailcalled's avatar

Here are six different interpretations of “Adam and Eve; What’s the Meaning of the Myth?”
http://advocatusatheist.blogspot.com/2011/03/adam-and-eve-whats-meaning-of-myth.html

ragingloli's avatar

That god is a malicious, scheming and deceptive maniac.
The whole situation was a setup.
He created a situation where the only way the two humans would be able to know what they were doing was wrong by doing the thing that was wrong. They could not have known that it is evil to disobey god and eat from the tree, without eating from the tree.
He planted that tree in there, fully knowing in advance what the outcome would be.
He created the serpent complete with its subversive and tempting nature and then put that snake into the garden as well, with full foreknowledge of what was about to happen and did nothing to stop that snake.

gambitking's avatar

The story of the Garden of Eden is originally found in the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. Since that (and the Christian faith based therein) is our basis for your question, we’ll use that context… instead of just random angry rantings (ahem…ragingloi). By the way, @ragingloli , you called the “serpent” a snake, which is incorrect. It was a serpent, and remained a serpent until it was cursed, at which point many consider it to be what we know as a ‘snake’. This is important because the word “serpent” actually meant “beautiful creature” in that tongue. Eve wasn’t being tempted by a repulsive animal, it was stunning.

Sorry, now then… before Eve ate the fruit from the tree (the event known as the Fall of Man), the garden was perfect, as were both humans living in it. Many scholars believe that man and animals even communicated commonly, even through speech (as Eve was not surprised that the serpent spoke to her, and the Bible usually conveys fright and similar emotions in a person’s reactions to unfamiliar circumstances).

At that point, there was no sin in the world. (There was also no such thing as ‘good’ – as there was no such need or definition for it). Evil and sin were only introduced to the world upon the disobedience of Eve in eating the fruit. The tree of knowledge is widely believed to be a symbol of the catalyst for the introduction of good and evil into the world, not that it was infused with that knowledge – but it’s not exactly black and white.

As far as the implications of whether Eve acted in sin without knowledge of it, and whether good and evil were cause or effect, it all really boils down to free will. Free will represents the basic purpose of the creation of mankind. According to the Bible, humankind’s purpose is to worship, love and praise God. (Small price to pay for eternity in heaven, right? :)

But everyone knows what an empty, bitter love it would be if you had to force your children to love you. It’s only genuine if they give it. This is God’s position with humans, and angels for that matter (He created those too), and so we were given free will to make the choice whether to love God. Eve acted on her free will, knowing the instruction God had given her, yet acting in rebellion to those rules anyway. That’s the point where evil entered the world and humankind’s sin nature was revealed.

“For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Kardamom's avatar

It’s like saying to your kids, “You get to stay at Disneyland all day long if you stay out of my purse and don’t eat my candy bar. If you disobey me, we’re going to leave.”

The most important thing is that God (or Mom) wants you to do as she tells you, because he/she knows what is best. If you disobey, you not only have to leave Disneyland or The Garden of Eden, you will now understand how things really are (good stuff, bad stuff, evil stuff and consequences), how things really work outside of paradise. Mom and God were being kind and generous, coddling the kids, trying to keep them safe. If they had just done what they were told, things would have worked out well.

God and Mom were also testing the kids to see if they were worthy of further protection. Just because they didn’t know good from evil, they still knew that Mom and God was the boss, and they disobeyed willingly, thus failing the test.

Linda_Owl's avatar

On this point, I totally agree with @ragingloli !

justdave's avatar

Great Question. The story in Genesis is a variation of earlier creation myths with the uniquely authoritarian slant of the Abrahamic religions. The original myth merely sought to explain the phenomena of human self awareness. At some point in human evolution, our species became aware of our existence and hence our inevitable mortality. This was quite a frightening revelation and is theorized by many to be the basis for the creation of all religion.

The myth expressed this as the snake (which was originally the symbol of rebirth (shedding skin and all)) opening the eyes of the humans to their impending demise, and as a result closing them off from the prospect of living forever. After-all, if you aren’t aware that you are going to die of old age, then you are going to live forever and you have nothing to fear, just ask your cat.

When the Abrahamic religious mythology was written, the concept of the divine authoritarian hierarchy had already been devised in order to justify the authority of the divine’s appointed human rulers (kings and queens), so it was incorporated into the already existing myth that was devised to explain the existence of our self awareness. It was a very shrewd modification that allowed divine authority the be imposed over the rebellious and now inherently flawed human subjects that would now be required to endure hardship, and seek divine favor by worshiping both the divine and it’s appointed earthly rulers.

And so the yoke was set, and no mere mortal human dared to try and free himself from it, lest he be shut off from the tree of eternal life for all eternity.

At least that’s how it worked in the Zorastic/Abrahamic cultures. Most of the rest of the world learns some version of the original myth and just struggles with mortality itself, which a big enough challenge in itself.

Hope that helps..

LostInParadise's avatar

@Kardamom , Could not the advice of Mom (and God) just be a cunning trap to encourage disobedience and thus force confrontation with reality, which is much different from Disneyland or Paradise.

Supacase's avatar

How could Eve know it was wrong to disobey God if there was no concept of right or wrong, good or bad, until after she did it? She was given a test with rules she couldn’t comprehend. Even the child who is told not to get into Mommy’s purse knows the basic concept of obedience.

ragingloli's avatar

@gambitking
You know, if I was a christian, I would most likely be a Calvinist.
Ergo, I reject the concept of free will, since it directly contradicts the concepts of omniscience and omnipotence.
Adam and Eva’s disobedience was a foreseen and planned event.

Kardamom's avatar

@LostInParadise I don’t think God (or what people other than myself since I don’t believe in a God) believe to be God would play a trick to get A & E to get them to be disobedient in order to force a confrontation with reality. I wouldn’t see why he/she would need to do that, if he can just show them. I think it was more of a test of loyalty. With the Mom, she would never try to trick her kids to show them reality, she (and Dad) most likely, if they’re good parents, will present reality as it comes in an age appropriate way. Mom was just trying to get the kids to follow her instructions, and to show them that if they didn’t, there would be unpleasant consequences (not eternal damnation like the big guy’s punishment).

I forgot to mention the Snake who in my opinion is simply the desire to have something that sounds potentially good (the candy bar or the apple) without taking the time to consider the outcome, even though the outcome was already told to them.

ragingloli's avatar

“I don’t think God (or what people other than myself since I don’t believe in a God) believe to be God would play a trick to get A & E to get them to be disobedient in order to force a confrontation with reality.”
That would not be the only time he did that.
He did it to Abraham and to Egypt’s Pharao.

Kardamom's avatar

@ragingloli Can you give me a synopsis of that story, I’m afraid I don’t know it. My bad.

I should qualify my statement, too. I suspect that God (the one that we’ve been referring to) probably has played tricks, it just doesn’t seem to make any sense as to why he would need to do that to A & E to get them to have a confrontation with reality, when he can just show them reality.

Judi's avatar

If you read the story, the sin happened when the serpent told her “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Eve’s sin didn’t start with eating the fruit, it started with, “wanting to be like God.”
The story that I get out of this is that God is the creator and I’m not. Envy and greed and self centeredness are our destruction.

Kardamom's avatar

@Judi I’ve never thought of it as Eve wanting to be like God, as her reason that she ate the fruit. I just think she was tempted (like a lot of us are, some more than others) by things that look attractive, yummy, exciting or rare. And sometimes it’s harder to resist temptation when you have someone else (in this story, the snake) egging you on.

ragingloli's avatar

@Kardamom
In Abraham’s case, he told him to sacrifice his son to him, knowing full well in advance that he would stop him at the end. Of course, God did not bother to tell Abraham that, an let him go through all the motions, until he had proven himself, to himself, to be a good thought slave.
That’s a deception via a lie of omission.

In Pharao’s case, God levelled the plagues on Egypt, allegedly to get the pharao to release the Israelites. Unfortunately for the plan, the Pharao was already willing to release them before the last plagues where released, so the text tells us that God purposely “hardened Pharao’s heart” so that he would not let them go just yet, so that God could level the rest of the plagues on Egypt to demonstrate his power.
Not only does this demonstrate a vicious deception and scheme, but also a direct interference in Pharao’s so called ‘free will’, so that God’s plan could be played out.

Judi's avatar

@Kardomom, Here is the story. It certinally played into her reasoning!

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Kardamom's avatar

@ragingloli OK, yes I guess I do know the Abraham story. That story used to make me cry, actually! At my pediatric dentist, back in the 70’s they had one of those lovely illustrated bibles for children and one of the paintings (along with the story) was of A holding one of those big curvy swords over his child. I thought, at that time, that God must be one sorry mo-fo! There was this fabulous picture of Eve holding the apple, although it looked more like a pear, and she looked like Veronica Lake! I just found the book online. It’s This One It was one in a volume.

Not being being a person of faith, I’m not as familiar with the other story.

Kardamom's avatar

@Judi, the serpent sounds like some 16 year old boy, trying to convince his 15 year old girlfriend to smoke pot with him. : (

Supacase's avatar

@Judi how was Eve to know wanting to be like God was wrong? She didn’t know what “wrong” was until after she ate it. For that matter, she wouldn’t have known things like envy, pride, arrogance, etc. Or, at least, she wouldn’t have known they were bad.

Judi's avatar

@Supacase ; but she knew what was forbidden.

bkcunningham's avatar

She made a decision to believe and trust Satan over God, @Supacase. She consciously chose the words of Satan over the words of God.

keobooks's avatar

The first eleven chapters of Genesis were just a way to tell people why the world is the way it is. I don’t think it was ever meant to be taken literally. Many cultures have a “golden time” in their mythology where animals, humans and gods all lived together in harmony and then something bad happened (almost always something that a human did) and it all ended.

In Greek mythology, Pandora opened the forbidden box and brought evil into the world. If you read many “Just So” stories from around the world, you can learn how the leopard got his spots, why the coyote howls at night, why mosquitos buzz in people’s ears – but you will also find out why God eventually stopped hanging around and we can’t understand animals anymore.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to the humans. This has often been held in a similar light as the serpent “giving” the knowledge of good and evil to the humans by tricking the humans into stealing it for themselves.

Find some Joseph Campbell collection of creation myths and it’s fascinating to see how similar the Adam and Eve story is to many other stories all over the world.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

The Bible is merely a Quickstart guide for the human race.

Hardly still needed.

laurenkem's avatar

I’ve always wondered (and have gotten into quite a few arguments with my Nazarene mother about) why, if Adam and Eve were the first people on God’s earth, why are they shown with belly buttons in every depiction I’ve ever seen of them?

Like @keobooks , I don’t take the bible literally. I think it was meant to be a series of lessons on how to be a good human being. That’s just IMO, of course. I’m sure that there are plenty of you that disagree with me.

LostInParadise's avatar

The serpent was right! They did know of good and evil. They certainly did not die immediately.

As to whether they would have otherwise lived forever, the Bible is not clear. God makes it seem as if death is the most natural of things.
”...till thou return unto the ground ; for of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Shortly afterwards it says:
“and now lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat , and live forever”. Therefore the Lord God send him forth from the garden of Eden.

I think the story lends itself to a metaphorical interpretation. There was no actual garden of Eden. What sets us apart is consciousness, which allows us to know of good and evil and which also lets us know of our mortality. That is the price we pay for the knowledge that we gained, as represented by the mastery of fire in the Greek myth of Prometheus that @keobooks mentions.

SavoirFaire's avatar

There are many possible interpretations of the story in question, but it seems to me the easiest way to dispense with the philosophical question you ask is to keep in mind two important points.

First, the idea that intentionality is central to morality is a relatively modern notion, and not one shared even by all contemporary moral philosophies. One sins by violating the will of God, which can be done with or without knowledge that one is doing so. Sin is a taint on the soul—a contamination—and as any ecologist could tell you, contamination can occur without anyone having the slightest understanding of the mechanisms by which it does so.

Second, the idea that knowledge is good for its own sake is also a relatively modern notion. One of the things this story teaches is that some knowledge is not worth the price or outside the purview of human beings. It’s the same lesson that we find in sayings like “curiosity killed the cat.” If only God has the wisdom to handle knowledge of good and evil properly, then one might think that human beings should leave it well alone.

@laurenkem I think the explanation for that is just that artists are rarely medical doctors. Plus, it would probably freak people out not to see belly buttons despite the logic of it. Call it an acceptable break from reality.

laurenkem's avatar

Oh my, @SavoirFaire , I loved that! It may be petty, but think about it! If they had belly buttons, then who the fuck gave birth to them? Perhaps, as you said, the artists that depicted their vision of Adam and Eve were subject to just that – their vision.

And let us not even get scientific here and wonder, “Hmmm., wonder where the dinosaurs and the cavemen came in?” After Adam and Eve? Well, we have actual proof that the cavemen and the dinosaurs lived – has anybody ever found Adam and Eve? If anyone has, I’d love to see where.

It’s all faith versus science. I guess everyone will take their pick.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@laurenkem I am not a religious person, but I think it only has to be a question of faith versus science if one insists on a literal interpretation of the Bible. Not everyone does. Indeed, Biblical literalism is yet another relatively modern notion. It came about as a result of people who were not imaginative enough to figure out how the Bible could be inerrant and infallible without being literally true. Traditionally, however, that was precisely the task of the theologian: to discover how the figurative language of the Bible yielded inerrant and infallible truths to those who studied it.

P.S. I totally agree with you about the irrationality of Adam and Eve having navels. But seriously: a human figure without a belly button? I think that would be firmly within uncanny valley territory for people who couldn’t even see ankles without getting aroused.

laurenkem's avatar

I hate to tell you this, @SavoirFaire , but I went sans belly button for about 6 months after having emergency abdominal surgery. They had to cut my belly button off, and a plastic surgeon had to make me a new one.

I know, that’s just gross. Yet true.

Edit by me: I don’t think they actually cut my belly button off, but they had to rearrange my entire abdomen in order for me to look “normal” again. But yes, for 6 months I had to listen to my husband say, “Doesn’t it freak you out not having a belly button?”. I believe I threatened to kill him if he asked me that one more time.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@laurenkem You should have said “it doesn’t freak me out as much as it will when I give you a second one!”

laurenkem's avatar

@SavoirFaire, That would have been a great comeback – shame I divorced his ass two years ago. Oh well, I’ll save it for the next person that makes fun of my tummy (no, it still doesn’t look right!)

LostInParadise's avatar

One more thing to contemplate. Just before the first passage that I quoted, the Bible says,
“And the Lord God said:“Behold the man is become one of us, to know good and evil;”
I don’t know if God is using the royal we or is referring to angels, but in either case he is saying that Adam and Eve have become more godlike. Since God is infinitely good, how can what Adam and Eve did be viewed as being wrong? The story really does seem in many ways to parallel the story of Prometheus that @keobooks cited.

Judi's avatar

@LostInParadise , I always figured it was the trinity.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@LostInParadise My college friend who is now a Lutheran minister responded to your question.

“There are many interpretations of Gensis 2 and 3. In my view, when we humans judge what is good and what is evil, we tend to break the first commandment which is to have no other gods but God.”

“It’s not up to us to decide, for example, who is evil and who is good. That is God’s place alone to judge. The sin is in failing to own their disobedience. They didn’t need knowledge about evil to obey God. In a very real sense, the story is an etymology (something that explains why things are as they are).”

I hope this helps answer the question.

LostInParadise's avatar

Thanks. I agree that the story is an explanation of why tings are the way they are. I am not sure what to make of the previous statement. Is he saying that we are wrong to pass laws and punish people for disobeying them?

ragingloli's avatar

so basically: leave your brain at the door, just obey without question

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@LostInParadise This is my interpretation of his response and are not his words. If a person believes in God, then they should should follow God’s instructions and have faith that it is the right choice.

I don’t know how he feels about laws and punishment, but would venture a guess that he adheres to the laws of where he lives based upon a question of whether he would perform a same sex marriage or not. (If it was legal, then he would do so.)

@ragingloli Obeying without questioning the words in The Bible may be something that a few do, but I’m fairly certain that the vast majority do not. If God provided a direct phone line, people would be on hold for a long, long time before they got through.

ragingloli's avatar

” If God provided a direct phone line, people would be on hold for a long, long time before they got through.”
Everyone would get an answer immediately at the same time. God is allegedly omnipotent, omniscient and outside time.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@ragingloli Yeah, I’ve heard that theory before. I’m not well-versed in The Bible. Are there examples of this happening?

Supacase's avatar

@Judi and @bkcunningham I do understand what you are saying. My point is that she had no concept of good or evil so how could she consciously choose evil/Satan over good/God? God challenged her to obey him without giving her the rules of obedience – obedience to him is good, disobedience is bad.

bkcunningham's avatar

But he did give her rules of obedience, @Supacase. Genesis 2:16–17.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

She didn’t believe God.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@LostInParadise God has many properties, so there must be multiple dimensions along which one can advance to become more like Him. Adam and Eve became more like God by becoming more knowledgeable. That doesn’t mean, though, that they also became more like God relative to any of His other properties (e.g., goodness). I’m not saying that the Prometheus hypothesis is not the correct historical or archaeological answer, but this is how it might be explained from inside the Abrahamic tradition.

gailcalled's avatar

@SavoirFaire; Thank you for “inerrant,” my new word-of-the-day.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@LostInParadise A new message from the friend…

“An interesting side note. Augustine used the text to draw out a doctrine of original sin. However, Jewish interpretations suggest that we all have the same choice to make that Adam and Eve did and that we all make the same choice (to sin). It is in my view alien to the text. The text wants to say that playing God always has catastrophic results. When Adam and Eve fail to own their sin that’s when evil happens. And it all spins out of control quickly. The first murder etc.”

LostInParadise's avatar

Thanks again, but I still am not sure what is meant by playing God. If someone is imprisoned or executed by the State, is that not also playing God?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@LostInParadise This might be off topic from what you’re looking for, and probably more political than religious – and maybe even common sense, but your last question got me thinking. I do believe executing a person is playing God. In what way is taking a life justified, even if that person has taken another life? It’s elementary, but “two wrongs don’t make a right” is taught to young children, and yet adults don’t practice that. In a political sense, executions are justified in that the funds required by the state to hold an inmate in prison for the remainder of his natural life far exceeds the cost of executing him. Does that make it right? Probably not. And I’ll never understand why Republicans believe it’s wrong to abort an unborn child but it’s quite alright to kill an adult that has committed a crime. “The baby never did anything wrong” is a flimsy excuse, especially considering the great majority of Republicans are Christians (supposedly). That logic just makes no sense to me. It’s either right to kill or it’s not. I think morally, religious or not, murder is never justified. The question of whether abortion is murder is debatable, but that’s off topic.

On the other hand, I don’t believe imprisonment is playing God. Imprisonment is an attempt to keep dangerous people away from the rest of society. To preserve lives and punish crime. That’s pretty common sense, of course, but imprisonment doesn’t take away a person’s life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness unless the offender lets it. When you break the law and are convicted of a dangerous crime, you give up certain rights according to the law. Is protecting the part of society that is not violent or criminal from those who are “playing God”? I don’t see how it would be, especially considering the alternative.

Now all of that may sound totally stupid, but I figured I would post my thoughts on the “playing God” question.

bkcunningham's avatar

Murder is never justified, @livelaughlove21. I think that is where the logic comes in for people who uphold punishing someone with death for murdering.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@bkcunningham But that’s a huge contradiction. “He killed someone. Murder is never justified. So let’s kill him to punish him for murdering someone.” In what way is that logical? That’s saying it’s not justifiable for one person, but it is for another. I agree that someone who murders should be punished, but murdering them for murdering someone else just makes no sense to me. If it wasn’t right for him to kill, why is it okay for the state to kill him for killing? Sounds a lot like the “I’m going to get you back” you hear from kids on the playground. Either killing is right or wrong, like I said, and I think we’d all agree it’s wrong. Well, it’s wrong for the state in the same way it was wrong for the offender. I say, let ‘em rot in prison for the rest of their life. I’d much rather be given the easy out of death than to spend the rest of my life in a cage. I’d go as far as to say killing them is like having mercy on them – putting them out of their misery. But don’t they deserve misery for what they did?

bkcunningham's avatar

Punishment is different than the crime, @livelaughlove21. That is like saying I never understood why you would take someone’s freedom away for kidnapping someone and taking their freedom away. Of course you can enact penalty that fits the crime. That doesn’t make the penalty the same as the crime.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@bkcunningham I think imprisoning someone is a little different than killing them. And not all crimes are created equal. If the punishment should “fit” the crime, then should the state should hire people to rape rapists? It can’t be a blanket statement if it doesn’t apply to everything.

bkcunningham's avatar

That is silly, @livelaughlove21. You are going really far off the question and off base of a reasonable conversation on the topic. The state hiring someone to rape a rapist as punishment? Let me ask you this to see if I can understand where you are coming from. Where do you think we get our system of punishments? What is the basis for punishments, say in the US?

LostInParadise's avatar

This is a good discussion and I would like to contribute, but it deserves its own post.

ragingloli's avatar

The only difference between murder and the death penalty is the type of justification/excuse for the killing and the false sense of authority.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@bkcunningham What I said sounds “silly” because I was making a point. We have people kill an individual because he committed murder. You were trying to say that’s justified because a kidnapper is justly placed in imprisonment because the punishment should fit the crime. If that’s true, all criminals should have the same act done upon them. But that only fits if all crime is created equal, which they’re not. We don’t rape (or castrate, for that matter) rapists, burglarize burglars, or steal money from those who commit forgery. We imprison all of those people. I still have not heard one logical response as to why it’s justified for the state to kill a murderer if murder is never just. I didn’t get this far off topic until you commented on my original post. I was answering the question of the OP that is listed just before my response.

I wasn’t coming at this from the point of view of the system. I was coming at it from a religious or moral point of view. There are many reasons for punishment in the US – deterrence, retribution, incapacitation, and rehabilitation being the big ones. And, of course, not all punishments fall into all of these categories. Imprisonment deters criminals from committing crimes (in theory), serves as retribution for their crimes, certainly incapacitates them, and in some cases even rehabilitates them. This still doesn’t justify capital punishment IF you’re looking at it from a moral point of view.

I’m not even saying that I’m against capital punishment. I was simply speaking about logic and morality. There is no LOGIC or MORAL reason to kill someone because they killed someone else. If someone commits a crime, they deserve to be punished. The question of whether they deserve to die for their crimes is extremely debatable. The OP asked if that was “playing God” – and I believe it is. Who is the state to take a life? Does the loss of that life in any way make up for the original life lost? No, it does not.

Supacase's avatar

@Judi she was given rules, but how did she know it was wrong to not follow them if ‘good’ had yet to be established? He told her she would die, but how would she know what that means?

Well, anyway, it just seems like the first of many challenges given by someone who should be above reassurance, neediness, arrogance, jealousy, etc. A supreme being should not be bound by petty human emotions.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@LostInParadise Here are the answers to your two questions from my minister friend. “No, it’s not wrong to pass laws that are just. What I mean by playing God or judging is deciding on someone’s ultimate value. As to the execution questions, I do believe that is indeed playing God.”

Judi's avatar

@Supacase, you are asking age old questions that many wiser than me have attempted. I don’t claim to know the mind of God. Lots of stuff is over my head. I do think I have a sliver of knowledge of the heart of God. That’s why I’m not to worried if I don’t have all the answers.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Supacase, I think I see how you are looking at this. Are wondering why God would punish Adam and Eve with death for disobeying rules? Are you seeing it as God made death the punishment for not doing what He said and it isn’t fair because Eve didn’t know better?

gambitking's avatar

@ragingloli… I myself subscribe a good deal to the Calvinist beliefs, you’re probably talking about predestination so yeah, still not sure how that correlates with whatever else you’ve said.

You make mention of free will contradicting omnipotence and omniscience, but really didn’t support that with anything, so while I don’t know how you back up your claim , I can still offer my refutation, it’s pretty simple really….But first I’ll say that our free will has nothing to do with God’s omniscience (being all knowing), so there’s that.

Omnipotence (all powerful) is another story. Free will is not a weakness in God’s omnipotence, it is simply His restraint from exercising it upon our will. He still has the power to control our wills, but has simply chosen not to for purposes already conveyed.

But people that lead with “IF I was a Christian” also have a bit of a drawback in that they have a different comprehension of things than Christians do.

For example, I’ve heard non-Christians say so many times “Can God create a rock so heavy even He can’t lift it?” This is supposed to be some kind of hole-punching paradox, but it’s simply a flawed question asked by someone who doesn’t understand God. IF you were a Christian, you might know that God doesn’t move rocks. He simply speaks, and they move.

So perhaps the reason these types of religious discussions draw such controversy and will never be resolved is because those on the opposition lack an understanding that only comes with joining their opposition.

ragingloli's avatar

Omniscience means god knows your ultimate fate, which means your fate is carved in stone and there is not a single thing you can do to change it, or even slightly deviate from it. Every detail of your life is predetermined, every single one of your decisions already made and planned long before the universe was created, ergo there can be no free will.

phaedryx's avatar

@ragingloli I disagree that knowing something will happen in the future removes free will.

Suppose I had a time machine and went back in time 5 years. I would know the future. I would know that Barack Obama would become president. By your reasoning, that knowledge would force people to vote for him.

mattbrowne's avatar

A modern version of this parable can be found in the Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Until the traveler arrives from the past, the Eloi are a comfortable group, living a banal life of ease on the surface of the earth. When they get a taste of knowledge they meet the evil Morlocks. No more paradise.

People “eat” fruit from the tree of knowledge all the time. But this means they lose their innocence and their ignorance i.e. their “paradise” and learn about the evil side of the world. But it’s an opportunity for growth as well.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
JSpeer's avatar

God created mankind as a “bride” as he puts it. Our relationships on earth between men and women are “pictures” or “types” or God’s relationship with us. When he put them in the garden all they knew was God and the way he loved. But the only way they could truly love him back was to have the option of NOT loving him. Or else they would just be “robots” programmed to love him (which of course is not genuine love).

The idea of gaining the KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL once they disobeyed God does not mean that they DID NOT understand that there was opposition to God before the ate the fruit. It means that once they did, God chose to show them how hard they would have to work in order to earn or deserve the kind of love God offers freely…if he hadnt offered it freely.

The whole idea of the LAW (Ten commandments) in the old testament was the result of the fall of adam and eve in the garden. the LAW was the CURSE. Before that there was no LAW other than…dont eat the fruit (more simply: LOVE me and TRUST me) But their curiosity, mixed with the deception of another got the better of them, and they disobeyed God.

As a result God “said”, (feeling sorrow for them because of their choice) “OK, since you decided to challenge the way i set things up, I’ll show you what it would be like if I wasnt as loving as I have been to you.” (not God’s actual words as far as I know lol)

So in this story, God is displaying himself as a great husband to his wife, as well as a great father to his children. Mankind is both God’s bride and his children. This is why their should be a sense of order in our families today. – because family is a picture of God’s relationship with his people.

JSpeer's avatar

the story of the Bible in a nutshell:

God created a bride for himself (man). He gives them the option to choose him, or not to choose him. They, mislead by there own curiosity and pride, choose opposition. God, as a loving husband and father, disciplines man by “hiding” his grace from them, and asking them to prove themselves (ten commandments) BUT, his challenge for them to PROVE themselves was simply to make them say, “wow, we really cant do this ourselves I didnt realize how much I needed God’s grace.”

And for all those who realized that, God has a plan to rescue them and put things back the way they were, but only for those who learned through his discipline. God later fulfills his rescue plan by returning to those who chose him, and restoring with them the relationship that he once had with adam and eve.

Which would lead us to the present, and the rest of eternity. We live on earth with the choice to join that relationship with God, or to ignore it. But we dont have to WORK for it like they did in the old testament. It is freely given like it orginally was in the beginning.

Note: “Grace” simply means – giving to man what they didnt deserve.

Questions?

JSpeer's avatar

Just because God knows something is going to happen, doesnt mean he’s making it happen. He allows things, yes.

The explanation of free will is in allowance. If we are allowed to make our own choices, and either suffer or benefit from them, we are making our own path.

The story of Adam and Eve supports free will. It doesn’t contradict it in any way

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