There is a third core belief of fundamentalism. This may be the worst of all perhaps, but I’m really not sure, because there is a 4th idea that I have difficulties with as well, (but I’ll save that for my next post!)
What I am sure of is that most of the difficulties I have with the this twisted belief system originate with the premise that the Bible is to be taken literally unless there is some compelling, overwhelming reason not to do so. This makes sense when considering the different genres of literature contained within the Bible.
It does not make sense when this idea is applied to a historical time line, science, and perhaps even some of the figurative prophetic scenes.
I was raised to believe that the Bible laid out a literal historical timeline of the earth beginning with Adam and Even, about 6000 years prior my birth. Here’s the story that I was taught as being just as real history as what I did last week. And I believed it, defended this, and distrusted my science books, and especially those ‘wascally’ science teachers who obviously all had a secret agenda to all fight against God and Christianity!
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’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 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. 7 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.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LordGod among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[a] and hers;
he will crush[b] your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Here are some takeaways from this passage.
- It never actually claims that the serpent was inhabited by Satan, but just actually says the serpent was more crafty than any of the other wild animals that God had made. So what am I supposed to think about this? Did God create an animal that was self aware, with both locomotion and speech? Later on, God cursed the serpent telling it that it would crawl on its belly. So does that imply the snake walked originally walked upright or possibly had appendages? Kinda’ creepy but that’s what’s actually implied here.
- There is no known fruit that when eaten will give us a distinct knowledge of good and evil. So is was this tree a real thing? If so, given that God is omniscient, when why did He (a. create the serpent (b. create this tree with its unique fruit? If I believe this literally combined with what we are taught about the characteristics of God, (ie. . .God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent) we have great intellectual difficulties here. What does this say about God? Is God really a loving God?
- God’s punishment to Eve was basically two-fold. He made her subservient to men, and He gave her great pain during childbirth. As childbirth pains originate largely from the muscle contractions and pressure on the cervix, then one is led to wonder if God changed some structural anatomy of Eve? Was she somehow different than every other woman after her? That’s what you have to consider if you take this literally. Oh, and verse 15 makes no sense to me at all by the way!
- Adam was punished in that the ground would not yield crops easily for him, but he would have to work very hard to grow food to eat. Was this just specifically to Adam, or for men in general?
These punishments strike me as extremely harsh against two human beings who prior to their choices had no concept of good or evil if we take this literally. What if I cursed my son for the rest of his life for one incident of disobedience when he was merely one year old? I think the situation presented in Genesis is similar because while a one year old is somewhat capable of making very basic choices, a toddler really has no moral basis or mental capability to make any rational choice. They are still innocent. Fundamentalists who believe in Dispensationalist theology refer to this time frame as the Age of Innocence.
As long as I’m on this, I’ve always thought the very next verse is incredibly mysterious and intriguing especially if we take this entire passage as literal history. Here it is. . .
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 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.”23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
- Where did the skin come from? Did God kill animals? Or did God merely create the clothes out of animal skin? And why not use fabric? He’s God! He could have clothed them in anything! How about a cool, comfortable polyester silk blend? And did God make shoes for them or did Adam stub his toes on the thorns that were growing out of the cursed ground?
- Verse 22 uses the plural word ‘us’ referencing God. What does that mean? Is this a reference to the Trinity or is it a veiled reference to polytheistic Gods?
- It has always struck me that God or ‘the Gods’ felt threatened by mankind, especially if those cursed humans would happen upon the tree of life and live forever!! It looks like perhaps humans had a missed opportunity to become like God and were forcibly prevented from doing so because God drove them out of the Garden of Eden (it doesn’t say exactly how), and then God posted a guard to keep Adam and Eve out! I find this astonishing! If we are taking this literally, as I was taught and believed for many, many years!
This is getting to be pretty wordy. I apologize. This blog is directly from my anguished heart and is my way of trying to heal, to tear away the layered web of lies that have covered my soul for much of my life. And even doing this, makes me feel like crying. Even though my rational brain tells me that everything I just wrote cannot possibly be factual history, it still just feels as if I am walking away into a rather gray unknown void of and now what?
I will pick up on this thought thread in my next blog post and get to the 4th damaging idea when I get to it.
It’s getting pretty deep inside my head. Lot’s of digging out from under this stuff!
Have a wonderful, safe Memorial weekend! A huge THANK YOU to all the Veterans past and current for their service even to the point of giving their lives for my freedoms and comfort that I currently enjoy!