Class Warfare Blog

February 18, 2013

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Part 2

Filed under: History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:30 am
Tags: , ,

Okay, okay, there were religious issues in my post on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that weren’t tied up there and some want them addressed, so here goes.

In my last post I said: “According to the Christian’s Bible, eating from this tree was what got Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden of Even, a real paradise. Eating from that tree also enlightened both of them as to issues of good and evil. This was not an endarkening but an enlightening. They could tell the difference between good and evil. One might ask why this was forbidden knowledge, because surely God was good, wasn’t he? What was there to hide? Ah, so many mysteries, but that is not my point . . . today.

But that isn’t good enough for some of you . . . okay . . . I continue:

Now some very wise people have interpreted this knowledge to mean not just “good and evil” but “from good to evil” which means everything in between also, which they interpret as “everything,” all knowledge. That seems like more than a little bit of a stretch as I do not expect to find the knowledge of, say, avocados between knowledge of good and knowledge of evil. Also, the story itself gives no indication that all of a sudden Adam and Eve possessed all knowledge. (I would expect to be a little dazed by that, but all they felt was shame for being naked.) Combine this result of this “interpretation” with eating from the “Tree of Life” and Adam and Eve would become not only all-knowing but eternal, so quite god-like.

Setting aside issues such as: why God did not put guards around these precious trees, or why his commands to Adam and Eve had so little standing that they could be countered by a talking “serpent,” and why if God were omniscient, why didn’t he not know the serpent was talking to Eve behind his back, and why God’s threat regarding the eating of said fruit (“for on the day you eat of it you shall surely die”) was so impotent and, well, just not true and why God would be opposed to having Adam and Eve become semi-divine. (The key words for you apologists to deal with are “for on the day” plus there was no statement that Adam and Eve were to be immortal in the absence of such eating, etc.) Let us instead focus on the “Tree of Knowledge” itself.

If it is just the knowledge of Good and Evil and Adam and Eve could know the difference, if they had eaten it earlier, would they then not have known to avoid the serpent? What was an evil serpent doing in God’s Garden any way? What was Adam’s role in the Garden to be? According to scripture he was supposed to be a Gardener. Like Tolkien I honor the profession of “gardener,” but why would God acquire a Gardener and then expose him to a tree that he was not supposed to touch?

Could our Adam and Eve be “Adam and Eve, v. 42?” Could God have created 41 prior Adams and they all ate of the Tree and finally after the 42nd, God just got pissed off and threw them out? (The previous 41 were presumably returned to the compost heap for recycling.)

How much was Adam supposed to know just days after being born? Granted he was born as an adult, or someone fast forwarded us to his adulthood, but he largely seemed quite innocent and guileless, so he couldn’t have had much of an education.

And what if Adam and Eve had taken a bite from both Trees and became somewhat god-like, could not Yahweh have just welcomed them to the club or even still just have “taken them out.” My own father said to me “I brought you into the world, son, and I can take you out.” Surely Yahweh is at least as powerful as my father.

What was so fracking horrible, that God has to condemn the entire human race to everlasting Hellfire, except for the very few who discover the escape clause? Religious issues involved in Genesis, uh huh.

The fascinating thing is: if you ask Christians of the fundamentalist ilk whether the New Testament surpasses the Old Testament, they all say Aye! The Old Testament, though, is the holy literature of the Jews and if you ask any Rabbi if the Genesis story is literal truth they will reply that no, it is an allegory only. So, why do these Christians insist upon the literal truth of Genesis when they obviously do not obey the literal truth of Deuteronomy (which has all of the restrictive rules in it) and when the people whose literature it was before Christ came into being say that Genesis was not meant to be taken literally.

The problems above only come from the irrational insistence that Genesis is literal truth. If everyone were to recognize it as allegory, all of the above objections become moot. Until that happens, people need to be beaten about the head and shoulders with the consequences of their own beliefs.

The insistence on literal truth came from a distrust of priests (currently being reinforced by the Catholic clergy, thank you). Protestants felt they could not trust priests to tell them the truth, so they had to make a direct connection between the scripture and their own minds. Not being experts in biblical history or Middle eastern history, left them often puzzled, so they found themselves reduced to “God would have made his word available to the common person” so the persons involved became the interpreters. This, of course, led to chaos (kind of like asking pre-schoolers to design computer software) so the insistence was that the words were literally and not figuratively true. If the Bible said there was a talking serpent, there was a real, honest to Yahweh, talking serpent.

And, thus the games began. All of this happened beginning in the late 1880’s by the way, children. This is not ancient history.



  1. It was literally only in the last few years that i’ve learnt people (American evangelicals, essentially) actually “believed” the Bereshit (the rather appropriate Jewish word for Genesis). It blew my mind. Adam and Eve, talking snakes, “Don’t touch, wet paint!,” blah, blah, blah. Astonishing. Of course, you’re going to attract the wingnuts now….


    Comment by john zande — February 18, 2013 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

    • Ah, you read me addressing them as “children,” because until they grow up and realize that they are completely responsible for their own lives….

      I have to believe American religious delusions are part and parcel with our cowboy/individualist tendencies. We think we should be able to interpret 1st century (translated from Aramaic and Greek) Middle Eastern mystical literature and when we can’t, we declare that we understand it correctly, everybody else is wrong.

      Ah, Americans, my people; how they suffer.

      Cheers, John!


      Comment by stephenpruis — February 18, 2013 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  2. Or maybe God did throw both Adam and Eve into the compost heap, and so then humans eventually had do evolve from apes? 🙂


    Comment by List of X — February 18, 2013 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

    • One has to ask why God needed a gardener. Either he was all powerful and all knowing or not. Maybe he just didn’t get like to get his hands dirty, but then he dug into the mud to get the wherewithal to make Adam. Is great puzzlement!

      Or maybe God hasn’t had enough time to evolve in our consciousness. ;o)


      Comment by stephenpruis — February 19, 2013 @ 8:08 am | Reply

      • Or maybe God just doesn’t feel complete unless he has some underlings to boss around 🙂


        Comment by List of X — February 19, 2013 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

      • Or maybe God just doesn’t feel complete unless he has some underlings to boss around 🙂


        Comment by List of X — February 19, 2013 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

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