3. Reasoned Reality in the Garden of Eden

Article Abstract

After humans were created in the second chapter of Genesis, the next chapter describes life in what is known as the garden of Eden. Contrary to traditional interpretations of this story, life in the garden of Eden is not viewed as an ideal that humans lost as a result of upsetting the deity, but rather a life that is very similar to that of any animal that lives on the resources that are naturally available without the ability to use the environment to create their own needs and to supply them. The reason animals cannot develop means to supply their own needs is because they are not endowed with the creativity that is the image of God, ability that only humans are endowed with. In spite of the fact that humans are created with the ability to think and create what is not naturally available in their environment, the exercise of the thinking and of that creativity has to be a self-initiated activity and not a natural function such as breathing, eating, and so on. The moment when humans exercised for the first time their ability to think is described through the story about eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Although humans are informed by God about the presence of such a tree in the garden and the risks that they would take if they decided to eat from it, God does not inform them about what is the purpose of that tree and they never wondered or asked questions. The first human who obviously wondered what was the purpose of that tree was the woman who came to examine that tree when a serpent informed her that the purpose of the tree was to enable humans to understand the difference between good and evil and therefore become like God from this point of view. Since any thinking process involves choosing between alternatives, Eve had to decide whether risking to die was a price worth paying for the privilege of knowing the difference between good and evil, and she decided that the price was worth paying so that she unhesitatingly not only ate from the tree, but even offered a fruit to her husband. As a result of exercising the ability to think that is key to any creative activity, humans decided to create something that God had not done and there was no objective need for it, that is, to create aprons made from sewn fig leaves to cover their private parts. Therefore, the Bible uses shame and covering the private parts as the first example of what I called reasoned reality. As a result of acquiring the ability to distinguish between good an evil, Adam and Eve have to be expelled from the garden of Eden because such places are ruled by power and the fear of death for which serpents have always been universal symbols and where developing knowledge and making discoveries have always been the most serious crimes. It is for this reason that Jesus uses the eating from the tree in the garden of Eden as a setting for the communion meal before being taken himself from the garden of Gethsemane to be crucified. The reason Jesus had to be killed was because the garden of Eden represents societies in which the reasoned reality is based on power and the fear of death that cannot tolerate what is good while Jesus advocated a society in which the reasoned reality is based on service that promotes what is good for everyone. Since religion and temples have been the means by which reasoned reality is established, Jesus explicitly claimed that he rejected the traditional reasoned reality and advocated a different one by asking for the temple to be destroyed so that he would build a new one.


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