“… His decision to expel Adam and Eve from paradise for breaking an arbitrary rule with no foundation in law: Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat.
If He had not wanted that to happen, why did he put the tree in the midst of the garden and not outside the walls of paradise? … Mari would undoubtedly accuse God of administrative negligence, because, as well as planting the tree in the wrong place, He had failed to surround it with warnings and barriers, had failed to adopt even minimal security arrangements and thus exposed everyone to danger.
… but God had proceeded quite differently. He had devised a rule and then found a way of persuading someone to break it, merely in order to invent punishment. He knew that Adam and Eve would become bored with perfection and would, sooner or later, test His patience. He set a trap, perhaps because He, Almighty God, was also bored with everything going so smoothly: if Eve had not eaten the apple, nothing of interest would have happened in the last few billion years.”
Taken from Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
It goes on but I think you get the gist of it. You have to know that I was convulsing with hysterics when I read this the first time and again when I read it a second time to my best friend Shau. Dark humour aside, I found it funny because it was comforting to know that I am not the only person who is not afraid to voice these questions in spite of my deep love for and strong beliefs in God and the Goddess.I suppose I am luckier than Coelho whose parents had him institutionalized, three times, and I only got a faux exorcism from a zealous Christian aunt for my “heresy”. (Notice how the word her is in the word heresy there? Kinda makes the analytical mind go “hmm” doesn’t it?)
Let the record show, that although I am not Christian or religious (not anymore anyway), I do believe in and love God, in all Her and His glorious wonder, but I do question and challenge God whenever I am moved to do so & in this line of work (human rights work) that’s almost everyday. There are claims that have been made about God and how things went down “in the beginning” that sort of, no, scratch “the sort of”, that REALLY contradict the “All loving” and “All knowing” notion of God, this, of course, operating on the whole tree of knowledge and paradise theory. Having pondered upon it at length, I have come up with three probabilities for the nature of the relationship between God and humanity according to Christianity.
The first probable answer being that God is not all loving at all if S/He went ahead and created Lucifer, the tree of knowledge, Adam & Lillith (whom Adam banished and had God replace her with the more demure Eve) and subsequently the rest of humanity knowing full well that we are all going to fuck things up anyway and S/He is going to be “forced” to punish us. I say so because let’s say for a moment that God is all knowing and God knew what the outcome would be even before it happened but went ahead and planted the tree in the garden anyway. There is no real reason that the tree should have been in the garden in the first place except for the argument presented by Coelho which is that God wanted humans to sin only so S/He would have a reason to punish them. Perhaps out of sheer boredom who knows? Either way, that does not sound like an all loving God at all.
If that is not the case then perhaps the second might ring truer and we can say God isn’t all knowing at all, otherwise our all loving (but not all knowing God) wouldn’t put us in these predicaments if S/He knew the outcome. I mean God and the Goddess are referred to as “the Father” and “the Great Mother” and although I am not a parent myself I still like to consider myself somewhat an expert on parent – child relationships and bonds (simply by virtue of having been in one such relationship myself at one point, coupled with decades of accumulated knowledge based on my intense anthropological studies of the fascinating little tribe called The Family).
In today’s world, for example, parents go to great lengths to baby proof their homes because they understand that a child will always be curious and no matter how many times they may warn or sometimes scare their children against all sorts of dangers, a child will not always take heed and will sometimes put themselves in harm’s way during an exploratory exercise so why didn’t God baby proof paradise? We know already that Adam and Eve were not exactly the brightest crayons in the Crayola box (because the bible tells us so, not because I am a cow). They were punished for eating from the tree that would make them smart: street name “tree of knowledge” (in other words, ignorance guaranteed bliss) so one must ask why God would think that those two would be wise enough not to eat the forbidden fruit at the behest of a talking garden snake? One answer to that is that God had no idea that would happen and thought tales of the boogieman would be enough to protect His/Her kids. Plus, perhaps they were going through a credit crunch at that time too and God simply couldn’t afford the prices the security companies in heaven were asking for to install some kind of security system around the tree.
Maybe it’s the last theory which is the one I prefer and that is there has been a great misrepresentation of God by the powers that be and their followers and no one really knows what this life thing is all about and what the real motivation for our creation really is. After all, what we have learnt and “know” of God is what we have heard from other people (and for the brown person in particular, other people who pointed a gun to our heads while they read the verses that made us relinquish our power) and not God Herself/Himself. One thing I know for sure is I am not going to get the correct answers from anyone, not even a book I’m very dubious about, outside of God and I look forward to that encounter.
Some might chime in (read: “come at me with pitchforks and clubs”) and claim that we were “gifted” with choice, that is how much God loves us, and that WE have been the architects of the “fall of ‘man’” and that it is all “that bitch Eve’s fault for seducing my bwoy Adam into making the wrong choice” to quote a friend (yes, I have an interesting collection of friends) that we are in this predicament. I am not even going to go into the misogynistic and ignorant things that are so obviously and tragically wrong with that comment but I will instead say that I don’t believe that there really is such a thing as choice or freewill, just the illusion of it and even then, that illusion is not as limitless as we are led to believe by religious doctrine. I say this because as far as I know people do not choose to be born and to exist. There in itself is the absence of choice and this is purely from the Abrahamic faiths’ perspective. Besides, us mere mortals are not so fortunate as to be all loving and all knowing like God so we are bound to slip up a coupla hundred thousand billion times while we are here.
Let me refrain, for a moment if I may, from speaking on behalf of all of humanity and speak of the very significant times in my own life where choice was not presented to me. I did not choose to be born (again operating from the Christian theory on creation, birth and death). I did not choose my father. I did not choose for my mother to die when she did. I did not choose to be involved in the car accident that almost took my life 7yrs ago (granted I chose to be in the car but had I been lucky enough to be all knowing and had known that the same car would have been involved in a near fatal accident I would have chosen otherwise). These are just a few examples of the times where I had no choice. I concede that I have had innumerable opportunities in my 27 years of existence (in this life time) to make choices, which I have done, some good, some bad and some a iffy but my point is that this whole schlep that God gave us the “gift” of free will is just that, schlep in my opinion. From a more general perspective, I hardly think that children who are abused and exploited have a choice, women who can’t conceive but want children have a choice, those affected by natural disasters or those born with a physical “defect” have a choice. Not completely or limitlessly.
I suppose at this point some of you are wondering whether or not I believe in the bible and creation story. The answer to that is pretty long but I will try my best (may fail drastically though) to give you the shorter version. I believe that the bible is not necessarily a historical text chronicling factual events as they occurred but it is more of a guideline, if you will, with a lot of “he said, she said” that should not always be taken literally or at face value. There is a lot of hidden meaning in there, a kind of subliminal messaging I think and the simplistic interpretations we see today and that form the foundations of the Christian faith are not particularly accurate. Pretty far from it actually, given that it was politics and not faith that was responsible for it being published, distributed, edited, translated and redistributed some more only to be rammed down people’s throats. Again, it is politics, both personal and public, that influences its interpretations today. Have I deciphered it? No, but neither have a lot of other people, even those who claim to have done so. Will I start a cult or my own religion if I do? There’s lots of money to be made in being a religious leader so damn right I will! (Not really. Not my kind of tea party).
As far as the creation story is concerned, well I do not believe it should be taken literally neither should it be viewed in isolation i.e. without looking at the scientific and archaeological evidence that exists, sometimes, to discredit the creation story. With that said, the modern scientist should also be careful not to dismiss, as they do, the mystical versions of creation as mysticism is also a science in its own right that has inspired some of history’s most revered scientists’ discoveries and inventions.
At the end of the day, we have various faiths, beliefs and religions in the world and the thing is, no one really knows what’s up. We could all be right, we could all be wrong, some or one of us could be right and the rest will be pretty much screwed but whatever it is, I think the most important thing is for us to be good to ourselves, to each other and to the rest of creation, whether you believe in the ‘A guy, a Girl, “Fair” Trade Apples and a (Two Eyed) Snake’ story or the exploding fire cracker in the big nothingness story or any other story you’ve heard about how and why we came to be. At the end of the day that’s what really matters.