When Adam asked for a companion in the Garden of Eden, the Lord did not give him a video or a magazine, he gave him a real woman. Now here’s the punchline – even Adam, the perfect man, couldn’t handle her!
It seems to be a blind spot among moderns that humanity is “fallen”, that the present status of humanity cannot be used for moral modeling. We all know that the story of the Garden of Eden contains an appropriated Goddess myth, re-modeled as a polemic against the goddess theology and ancient matriarchal paradigms, such as those of the Egyptians, since woman gives birth to, or creates, man. In Eden, man gives birth to woman, and God “gives birth” to both via creation from “dust.” Recursively, God creates life from nothing or, as later writers asserted, from his word. The myth also asserts that “the man” (“Adam”) which God created was able to live eternally in Eden, that there was no death.
Now, where does this notion of eternity come from? And the incredible idea of a human body that is indestructible, that does not age or decay? These notions definitely do not come from observation of anything in nature. Even the ancients could not help but notice that one of the fundamental qualities of nature is that things are “corruptible”, to use a Pauline term, that they decay, or degrade, or explode (as volcanoes), or are subject to catastrophe (disease, injury); that plants die, that nature does not exhibit, even at first glance, “eternal” qualities – mountains erode, sands shift – nature is in a state of flux.
Modern science, in its pursuit of the fundamentals of nature, has discovered that substance is fundamentally unstable. They cannot explain what holds it together, except to say that there is a “force”, defined by the Planck constant, an “energy”, but no particular reason for it.
In the search for fundamentals, the progression can be illustrated by, for instance, the question why there are two sexes. Genesis 1 and 2 also try to explain this theologically. So science asked, what are the fundamentals of humanity? Well, first of all, there are two “kinds” of human, male and female. So the next question was, what is the fundamental cause of this? And they found that, well, there are only two kinds of chromosomal patterns determining sex, xx and xy, a genetic basis. So, what is the fundamental cause of genetic differences? It was found that DNA is a double helix string of protein molecules, four in kind, which are arranged in apparently infinite combinations, like musical notes can be, and that one of these combinations was specific for sexual identity of two kinds. So then, what is the fundamental cause of protein differentiation? Well, it turned out to be that proteins are constructed of fundamental particles called molecules, in different combinations. In fact, all matter is constructed of these particles, so a greater fundamental cause was discovered which not only explained sexual differentiation, but material differentiation and properties, connecting humans and all living things to “the dust”; that is, to inorganic substances because they are made of the same stuff.
So science discovered a fundamental physical principle that placed humans in the universe as a variation of simple substances. But still, where did the life come from? There must be a more fundamental principle than just molecules, because there also exist non-living molecular structures, salt for instance, and “complexity” itself does not seem to explain the difference between living and non-living substance – especially since life could not be produced by experimental means from simple substances (i.e., Alchemy), or found anywhere else except Earth.
So what is the fundamental structure of molecules? Well, atoms and their combinations. So the properties of atoms were investigated to discover what fundamental qualities they exhibited and it was found that they were, in turn, composed of even more fundamental particles – electrons, protons, etc. – which explained how and why they were able to combine to form such a variety of substances, exhibiting such a variety of properties.
In the discovery of quantum physical reality, scientists also discovered that the whole entire universe is “dying”, that the substance of the universe exhibits the quality of entropy – the progression from greater organization to lesser organization, from higher energy states to lower states, and that, eventually, according to any theory (string and wave theories of the universe included) the universe will be destroyed.
So where does the notion of eternity come from if all observations of the world render non-eternal results? In a world that constantly and consistently exhibits death and decay, where could such an idea have come from? How is it even an evolutionary concept, since evolution appears to be a function of death? Evolution seems to require death as the basis for selection in that selection would not be necessary if death were not an inherent property of the world.
The notion of eternity is unexplainable in terms of the universe that we live in. The universe does not naturally present this idea to the mind and neither does evolutionary development. Eternity is an absurd notion from the point of view of the world in which we live. So where did it come from? It could have come from simple opposition – the logic that since things die, perhaps there are things that don’t die, that are opposite in quality. This is a sophisticated logic, not a “survival” logic; it is a playful logic, not a “serious” logic. It is a logic that came from stories, from fictions or myths, that allowed minds to play, to explore, to imagine worlds beyond their own where things were different.
Perhaps the impetus for this was the phenomenon of dreams or of recounting histories for the benefit of the group, or some combination of both, which blossomed into story telling and entertainment – pure mind-based activities that human beings found to be important for social cohesion – to share same understandings (“memes”) for the purpose of communication, so that individuals could operate in the same conscious frames of reference. In this way, they could decrease the options for interpretation, limit the scope of sounds into words that became ever more specific in reference, and place these words in contexts, or juxtapositions, leading to the development of social groups which could command more power by the cohesion produced by the commonality of language and of the epiphenomena of shared understandings of origin, of purpose, of meaning, of the relation between individuals in ever growing, more complex societies, as humans became ever more reproductively successful.
So we are back to reproduction again and the question of eternity. The story of Eden is an example of this playful logic of opposition – that woman is not God, or God is not woman, based on the creation of humans in her womb (related metaphors, “mother earth” or “mother nature”), and that man is not God, or God is not man, because man came from dust. But where did the dust come from? Where did the Earth come from? The ancients reasoned that they must have come from somewhere, from someone, that life has an origin, and it must be a living origin, a “father” metaphorically, because of the new, patriarchal paradigm, and that this father could not, in turn, have a father. A finite recursion of fathers must have had an original father, hence, “In the beginning…”; not the beginning of the father, however, but the beginning of the world. So where did the father come from? Logically, he must have always been, he didn’t come from anywhere – he is eternal (“ageless”).
So, why are his sons and daughters not eternal? A darn good question! Apparently they somehow “lost” this quality of their father, becoming no longer of the same “kind” as him. This seems tragically like punishment, but punishment for what? They must have done something to deserve punishment, and quite a harsh one, it seems, as the difference between living and dying is of primary importance. Why should people die if their original father is eternal?
This is a complex line of reasoning, a moral, intellectual level, which, according to Robert Persig, is higher than social, biological and organic levels (Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, 1991). It is completely thought-based, conceptual, as opposed to practically or materially based, as in social communication, biological survival and organic existence. Therefore, the answer posed by the Genesis narrative is also posed on a moral level. They died because of a moral reason. This is profound – that physical results are based in moral causes. This reasoning also seems to explain a great many other causes and results: the existence of “evil” in the world and evil inclinations in human disposition. It is asserted that the entire world was degraded on a moral basis and that actual, physical death was the result. Moral degradation was also a result, entangled in the entire, complete separation of humanity from the physical and moral perfection, the “being of the same kind” (speciation) as the father.
The man and woman, humanity, are “cast out” of this state, metaphorically. They “descend” and God “ascends”; reality suffers a symmetry breakage and two realms of being emerge – one destructible and one indestructible. So, the notion of eternity appears to have a moral basis, developed from a sense of alienation created by the tragic reality of death.
That death is a moral tragedy and not just a physical one, is very important. It means that the Fall of humanity, illustrated by the story of Eden, is thought-based, not physically-based; it is moral, not scientific. This is the blind spot. It is our thoughts (consciousness) not our physical actions, that cause death. Thoughts and physical actions are not integral. One cannot derive thoughts from actions and actions cannot be derived from thoughts because it can be demonstrated that people often do not know why they do things. Otherwise, there would be no need for psychology or sociology or anthropology or neurology or cognitive behaviorology, etc., etc. It seems that no one can really say, definitely, what actions are derived from what thoughts.
Hence the moral dilemma of humanity – how to discern moral thoughts from immoral ones, actions being non-determinant or irrelevant. Who can say which thoughts are moral and which are not? No one; hence the studies of philosophy, theology, etc. It is a blind spot, this inability to discern, and people will deny it because it is a true blind spot – it does not register. We seem to think we know, in fact, we are often taught to think we know. However, it is a biblical (narrative) truth that we do not. Our thoughts, which are products of a morally bankrupt physicality, the universe included, cannot be moral of the “kind” that God is moral. We are faced with an impossibility (improbability) – to have moral thoughts. Just how “fallen” are we, some may ask? It is not a viable argument that we are only partially fallen, as death is as complete a punishment as anyone could imagine.
Further, how to discover moral truths from “revelation” or “revealed truth” if our thoughts are completely immoral? “Who will save me from this body of death?” (Paul).