Examining “The Fall”
If you’ve read the Bible, then you should well know the story of the fall of man. The quick version is this; Eve was tempted by a serpent to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and by doing so, disobeyed God, leading him to curse mankind with pain and death and toil. Now, this narrative is crucial to Christian theology because it establishes the necessity for a redeemer in the form of Christ. Without this narrative, there is no basis for any of the rest of Christian theology. For this very reason, many evangelicals and fundamentalists insist that this is a literal account of an historical event because otherwise Christ serves no real purpose. But given our understanding of the universe and things such as evolution and DNA, the idea that this narrative is in any way literal is simply foolishness.
There is however, an allegorical lesson found in the narrative and that is what I’d like to discuss. Now, in order to examine this allegorically, we have to accept a few things. First, we have to accept that contrary to what biblical literalists have to say on the matter, this is not a recounting of an actual historical event. Secondly, we have to accept that what we’re talking about is a biblical version of an Aesop’s Fable. Once we accept these things we can retell the story as such:
“Once upon a time there was a woman named Eve who lived in a wonderful paradise. She and her husband Adam had everything they needed, and wanted for nothing. One day, as Eve was walking through the garden, she was approached by a serpent who said, “If you eat this fruit, you will have knowledge and be able to become greater than you are.” Eve is intrigued by this, because although she has all she needs, she can feel there is more that could be gained. So she eats the fruit.
As the serpent promised, once Eve ate the fruit she did gain knowledge. But she found that what that knowledge offered was the ability to understand the world around her – and with that, the emotion of suffering. Because the more we know, the more we have to fear.”
I want to take a minute here to draw a parallel between the narrative of the fall of man, and another very similar fable with a very similar message. If we look to Greek mythology we find a tale about a titan named Prometheus who not only makes mankind from clay, but also defies the gods and Zeus himself by giving mankind the gift of fire. If we examine this story closely we can see almost an identical tale of a tragic protagonist in the form of Prometheus who gives mankind knowledge in the form of fire and thus causes mankind to understand that they can become greater than they are, but also brings great suffering to mankind because that knowledge is supposedly meant only for the gods, and for man to have such knowledge is an affront to the gods. In order for the gods to mete out their “justice” against mankind, Prometheus’ daughter Pandora is tricked by the gods into opening a box that releases great suffering on the world, and Prometheus himself is punished by having an eagle eat his liver daily which then grows back and is repeatedly eaten for all eternity.
If we dive even deeper, we can see yet another parallel here that begs our attention in the characters of Prometheus and the serpent. You see, in much of Christian theology it is believed that the serpent in this narrative is either Satan, or one of Satan’s minions. Satan, for those unfamiliar with the character, is the fallen angel known originally as Lucifer who was cast out of heaven for his pride, believing he could be greater than God. The word Lucifer is from the Latin Vulgate and means, "the morning star", and when used as an adjective means, "light-bringing". If we instead look to the Hebrew Septuagint, and it’s translation into Greek, we get the name Heōsphoros, rather than Lucifer, a name that literally means "bringer of dawn". So we have Prometheus who literally brings light in the form of fire, which in this narrative is meant to represent knowledge, to mankind – and we have this figure Lucifer who is the “bringer of light” and who also brings knowledge to mankind.
Connecting the Dots
So, when we see the parallels, and are able to understand the allegorical nature of the narrative, we can see a worthwhile lesson of a warning to be cautious about our quest for knowledge and the application of it. And most of us would probably agree that this is a warning worthy of heed. The same knowledge that brought us nuclear power plants also brought the atomic bomb, the cold war, and the constant threat of an extinction level event occurring at the push of a few buttons. The same knowledge that brought us vaccines has also offered us biological warfare. It is easy to see how some people could think mankind’s search for knowledge is something to be feared or even fought against. The problem here however, is not a rationally based issue, but rather an issue drawn from how knowledge has increasingly boxed out God and shown the supposed “truth” these religions have offered to at best be myth, and at worst just flat out falsehoods.
For the evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, this is an untenable position to be in because it becomes difficult to keep the pews full when you can’t offer people a logical reason for the need of Jesus as a supposed savior. And because of this, we have seen the insanity which is “creationism” popping up like an uncontrollable weed. These ideas of biblical literalism and creationism are invading the governments of many countries, their schools, and most assuredly their homes, and the main premise is that science and academia are at odds with Christianity and that only those who take this route of literal interpretation are true Scotsmen.
Now right here I’m fixing to “offend” some people, but quite honestly… there just isn’t any nice way I care to say this:
If you believe that the book of Genesis from the bible offers a literal account of how life arose on this planet, you’re an imbecile. I won’t apologize for saying this, and quite frankly I think more people should say it. It is no different than someone believing that the Prometheus tale is literal truth and that all of science that disagrees with that assertion is the product of a demonic deceiver. It is fucking ridiculous.
Tossing Out a Life Raft
There is no hope for “creationism”. It was dead before it ever got going, but unfortunately no one involved with this pseudoscience has come to understand this yet. While the vast majority of those who watched the recent debate between creationist Ken Ham and engineer Bill Nye have stated that creationism failed to show itself to be a viable scientific proposal, there are still a great many who thought it somehow a victory for creationism. Despite the vast array of television shows that provide knowledge about the universe, history, archaeology, and all sorts of other endeavors of science and technology, these same people who believe in a 6 to 10 thousand year old earth tend to also be the people turning Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty into top rated shows. A great many of these people are adults who were poorly educated or due to growing up in impoverished conditions ended up doing poorly, dropping out, or failing out of school altogether. Many of these people have no interest in learning new ideas at this point in their lives and quite frankly, “God did it”, is just simple and comforting and something they’ve grown up with all their lives.
The only life raft left to the religious world is to accept that its place is the realm of philosophy and mythology. The only way to avoid a train is to get off the tracks, and this is exactly what religion must do in order to survive the coming wave of rationality. Men such as Ken Ham are called fools by even Pat Robertson who has made such nutty claims as; clothes bought at the Goodwill store might be contaminated with demons. Ray Comfort, a biblical literalist and creationist buddy of Ken Ham, tried to use a banana to prove God created the universe – the banana which has been intentionally genetically altered by human-guided speciation for the exact flavor, texture, and shape to accommodate the human palate, transportability, and expanded farming region. Ray Comfort’s ignorance of this isn’t what made him a fool, it’s that he didn’t take the time to find out before he opened his damn mouth. It is that chosen ignorance and indulgence in absolute nonsense that is the consequence of saying that the bible must be literal in order for it to be valid, and the unfortunate thing is that this nonsense is being taught to children – breeding a whole new bunch of ignorant fools running around buying every conspiracy theory and biblical account of history that comes across their Facebook feed and then supporting any governmental candidate who’s just as foolish and naïve as they are.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we can’t have nice shit… like equality for all people.