Full Maturity?

I was reading some more in Genesis and thinking on the traditional idea of ‘The Fall’ and had some new thoughts. Just to restate what I mean by the traditional idea: Adam and Eve decided to eat an apple after being tempted by Satan disguised as a snake. God had told them not to eat fruit from the particular tree from which this apple came so doing so was a directly disobedient, rebellious, sinful. Because of this, God punished them by removing them from Eden, made Adam do laborious work to survive, and greatly increased (a curious term to me as it indicates that there was already pain involved) childbearing pains for Eve. AND…the remainder of humanity from that point on was damned to hell unless they heard about and accepted Christ and were, therefore, “saved.”

But curious little verse 22 got me thinking: “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.'” So I was wondering, what if this traditional Fall thing stops way short of the full message? When one reads Genesis literally, as the mainstream Christian tradition generally does with the entire Christian bible, I think it might lead to a short-sided interpretation. We get to the part where it looks to us like God is angry and handing out punishments, and we stop, agree that we are doomed, and then go about the saving. But I’m open to the idea that maybe there is more here.

I believe that the Genesis account merges well with the current scientific understanding of evolutionary theory and cosmology and quantum physics when we consider what God did in the final acts of creation to make man “in his image” was instilling human forms with consciousness. One could also refer to this as a soul or spirit or mind (as opposed to just a brain). Full consciousness seems to me to demand complete free will. If it doesn’t, then it seems to me we are not fully in God’s image and instead are just little robots doing what we are programmed to do. Complete free will would be the option to choose the extremes, good vs evil, love vs hate, wise vs foolish, and the list is endless of course. But if we don’t have that, we aren’t fully consciousness and not fully like God. God himself says what being like one of God is at least in part, and it’s “..knowing good and evil.”

God cautions Adam way back in 2:17 that if he eats from the particular forbidden tree, he will die. God doesn’t say that Adam will be damned to hell. God doesn’t say that God will be angry with Adam. God doesn’t say that Adam will then be a worthless worm and that all humanity coming behind will be worthless worms. God doesn’t even say that he will punish Adam. In fact, when Adam does decide to eat, God says that now Adam is “…like one of us.” So I wonder if this choice placed before Adam was the final act of maturity, Adam becoming fully in God’s image, and what comes thereafter are the plain and simple consequences of being a human fully in God’s image in the physical world God  created with the physical laws that God set up with the Big Bang. You know, I always thought God was angry when he said this, but now it seems to me that God is just being more matter of fact saying in essence, “Well, I warned you, and you did it anyway. So here’s what goes along with that.” Could this decision on Adam’s part have been the final piece of being in God’s image? I’m not sure, but it’s at least really interesting to consider. After they did it the account even reads that “…their eyes were opened.” That seems good to me. Not evil. That seems conscious.

It’s curious too how the snake really doesn’t deceive Eve. Sure, he encourages her to do what God warned against doing. But what the snake said would be the result of doing it was the truth, they would be like God knowing good and evil. And that’s what God said happened. Look up there at verse 22. It’s right there.

Now I’ve been going through this as if the Adam and Eve story is a literal story, and I don’t think it is. It’s an explanation that was useful to an ancient people for whom it was written way back there and then. But there are timeless truths in it. It’s a God inspired story after all. Trouble is when we think we’ve got that truth locked in and solid and literal because we don’t. And I think the trouble may start when we look at Christ on the cross solely in legal terms, as substitution for our punishment which we deserve because of something we didn’t do and had no part in doing.   think that stops way short of all the truth that is there in the crucifixion story too. But when that is where all the focus is, it reaches back to influence all that came before it in a way that maybe wasn’t intended. Because maybe all that happened way back there in Genesis was the final part of maturing into God’s full image. After all, when the only tool you carry is hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

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8 responses to “Full Maturity?

  1. societyvs

    “I always thought God was angry when he said this, but now it seems to me that God is just being more matter of fact saying in essence, “Well, I warned you, and you did it anyway. So here’s what goes along with that.” Could this decision on Adam’s part have been the final piece of being in God’s image?” (Doug)

    I like that – that’s a real interesting thought…consciousness. It is in fact what happened in the story and is true about humans in general. Maybe the steps along the way lead to Adam’s maturity of living on this planet and surviving/thriving – and this was the path chosen. It makes a lot of sense to me too now that I think about it.

    However, talking about literalism – check that verse out again “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’

    Does this mean ‘we are gods’ because of the knowledge afforded to us? I guess we would be one step short – eternal life and the ability to die. But even the Psalms make mention of this idea about ‘gods’ if they are referring to this passage.

    I’m not literalist with Genesis so I don’t think we are gods mind you, but have been given some ability to be able to reason good and evil – like God. I guess eternal life would be the logical next step in the Genesis story – which is a huge promise in Christianity. That step has now become more interesting.

    Obviously there is only One God in this story and it ain’t us. However, I like the maturity angle…maybe eternal life is the next step to ‘full maturiity’.

  2. There was a star trek episode where they have an alien who has amnesia showing incredible healing powers and other things. He “knows” there is something happening to him but he cant quite figure it out. His own race of people call him a criminal and want to kill him. At the end of the show he turns into a beautiful being of light who is now beyond being killed. Just as he finished changing he says, “Ah, now I understand”

    I think that will be the case when we die. Before that, just a sense of more and a whole lot of confusion. ;)

  3. Doug

    Here you go man, its really cool around the 6 minute mark. :)

  4. I don’t think God was angry. He was telling them the conditions under which they would now have to live. But as I understand it, they had severed something in their relationship with God by acting indepdentently of his intent for them.

    In that situation Adam says for the first time, “I was afraid and hid myself.” Why did he know fear for the first time. And what part does fear play in our lives ever after?

    I don’t view the cross legally. In some way beyond our full understanding, it makes possible reconciliation and healing.

  5. Why is that your understanding? From where does than understanding come?

    Adam says he’s afraid because he is now fully aware like God is fully aware. It’s new. Why does that have to be a severing. Can’t that just be a new awareness?

    I agree about the cross. It heals the damaged part of God’s creation in some way. It brings God’s kingdom here.

  6. In Scripture the cross is not only about healing. It is about reconciliation. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them.” And “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”

    So the need for reconciliation indicates a broken relationship. The principles of life are determined by the nature of the one who created it. So he must be looked to as the authority on life. Life comes from him. A severed realtionship severs or damages the flow of life.

    I think Adam was afraid because his new knowledge wasn’t at all what had been promised by the tempter. God dealt with him in love and kindness, making clothes for him and giving him a promise that redemption would be carried out.

  7. It is both exciting and comforting to know of others who look at Genesis from this perspective. For a long time I struggled with the idea of God punishing Adam and Eve. Since God is love, the mean God of Genesis is not consistent with the description of God/love in 1 Corinthians 13. One thing I like most about Genesis is God’s first act towards Adam and Eve after they felt fear and shame. He remained in their presence, in their sin. He did not run and hide and he covered them lifting their fear and shame. That is my God. Not a God of do it my way or else.

  8. Good points Lenny!

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