A Reader Wrote: The death that Adam and Eve suffered on that fateful day in the garden has nothing to do with physical death.
So, the proposal is that Adam and Eve did not die naturally, they died, “spiritually?”
The fact remains that we donʼt have “Adam and Eveʼs” bones and we know even less of what may or may not have taken place inside them “spiritually.”
Removing objections by moving them to a metaphysical realm (that no one can verify or deny) does not demonstrate the superiority of oneʼs beliefs.
Neither does the Bible say they died “spiritually.” It just says, “In the day ye eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil ye shall die.”
Liberals, moderates, and fundamentalists have been known to go at this question for eons at a time, “what did God mean when he threatened, ‘in that day ye shall die?’” The non-fundamentalists cite an example in the Old Testament where the same phrase appears, in which the king threatens, in the day so-and-so crosses such-and-such a river, he shall die. Then so-and-so crossed the river and the king sent out someone to kill them, and they are killed. So in that section of the Bible, the phrase, “in that day ye shall die” definitely refers to physical death.
The mere fact that Eve in the Bible believed her mere “touch” of the fruit would kill her also seems to imply a threat of immediate physical death.
Hereʼs how I view the story:
by Edward T. Babinski
The Lord told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A serpent talked Eve into eating the fruit. Eve convinced Adam to take a bite. Then the Lord appeared, late as ever, and placed curses on the three parties involved, evicted Adam and Eve from the garden, and placed an angelic guard with a flaming sword at the gate so that the first juvenile delinquents might never return and eat of a different fruit, the fruit of the tree of eternal life (which would have allowed Adam and Eve to live forever). Got it? Good, letʼs move on.
Eve was clearly smarter than Adam. After all, she outwitted him about the apple.
- Bernard J. Leikind, “What Was Adamʼs IQ?” The Skeptic, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1996
According to Genesis 2:20, Adam “named all the birds of the air and beasts of the field.” The Institute for Creation Research (Impact article #265, July 1995) interprets this to mean that Adam had a “super brain,” because there are more different kinds of birds and beasts in the world than any ordinary man could “name” and remember.
Hmmm, according to my “less than super brain,” there is no mention in Genesis of Adam naming the “fish” or “creeping things,” just “the birds, and beasts of the field,” in other words, the largest most obvious creatures he came into contact with. Not much “super brain power” needed there. Furthermore, the number of different animals mentioned by “name” throughout the Bible itself is small; sometimes whole categories of animals are lumped together under a single “name.” Not much “super brain power” needed there either. And what if the author of Genesis, like everyone else in his day, did not have a clue as to how many different “birds and beasts of the field” there really were in the world? He probably assumed the number was a lot smaller, just the animals in his vicinity, and a few others he had heard about from visitors from nearby lands. So maybe he was not nearly as concerned as the Institute for Creation Research with trying to show how “super” Adamʼs brain was?
The author of Genesis was probably far more concerned with getting across the simple concept that man “dominated” the animals. So he pictured the first man “taking dominion” over “birds and beasts” by “naming” them. Back then, the ability to “name” something implied you had gained control over it. That is why Adam was depicted doing such a thing. It had nothing to do with Adam having had a “super brain.”
But if Adam indeed had a “super brain,” wouldnʼt the brains of chimpanzees in Eden have been functioning at “super high” levels too, since human and chimp DNA is so similar? And what about extinct species of apes in the fossil record that had larger brains than any living species of apes? Those creatures must have provided a challenge for Adam, especially if their brains were “suped-up” like Adamʼs. He probably beat them at chess, but what about poker? “Damn it Eve, I could have sworn those apes were bluffing. So I bet the garden. and lost. Now weʼll have to move!”
Too bad Adam couldnʼt keep focused in his “super brain” the one thing worth remembering according to the Bible fable, which was, “Do not eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge.” But how could a “super brain” resist the temptation to ingest more “knowledge?” Sounds like a sting operation to me.
If Adam had enough knowledge to intelligently name all the animals, either he had already eaten of the fruit of knowledge, or God didnʼt need to forbid him the fruit.
- Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, entry under “Genesis”
The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then Adam and Eve would have eaten the serpent.
- Mark Twain
If an all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving Father failed to teach his kids to keep their hands off a piece of fruit, then what chance do ordinary parents have to teach their kids right from wrong?
God threw his first two children out of the house (in this case a garden) after their first mistake, and barred their way back with a flaming sword? How many loving fathers would treat their children that way after their first mistake? And what a way to treat “newborns” who were also “newlyweds!” No doubt Adam and Eve forgot to floss after eating Godʼs precious fruit, and no father will stand for that, not if Heʼs a dentist.
The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it a wanton cruelty. But God did not forgive the ignorant and thoughtless first pair of juveniles even their first small offense and say, “You may go free this time, I will give you another chance.” On the contrary! He elected to punish their children, all through the ages to the end of time, for a trifling offense committed by others before they were born. He is punishing them yet. In mild ways? No, in atrocious ones.
- Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth
He went to all this effort to make a perfect creation then loaded it with a big self-destruct switch. Adamʼs action had no effects in and of itself, save that it angered God. God took the situation further and cursed creation and thereby created the circumstances for all future misery and hardships. Had God responded just a little differently (to say nothing of more maturely and judiciously), He could have spared billions of people, not to mention Himself, a whole lot of trouble and heartache. The sin of Adam was nothing compared to the sin of God in cursing creation. If you want to blame anyone, blame God for overreacting and for rigging his own creation to fail.
- Bruce Wildish
The reason Adam ate of the fruit of knowledge was that he didnʼt know any better. Had he had just a little more knowledge, he would have known enough not to do such a damn fool thing!
Can we return to the Garden of Eden? Well, if we returned completely, if we entered again into the complete state of innocence, we would no longer have the knowledge to prevent us from eating the apple again. And so again we would fall out of grace. It seems, therefore, that to regard the Garden of Eden, the state of innocence, as the perfect state is simply a mistake. It has the obvious imperfection of being internally unstable and self-annihilating.
Too bad there werenʼt two trees of knowledge in the Garden of Eden, a big tree and a little tree. The only knowledge to be imparted by the little tree should be, “It is a mistake to eat of the big tree.”
- Raymond Smullyan, “The Fruit of Knowledge,” This Book Needs No Title
What I cannot help wishing is that Adam and Eve had been postponed, and Martin Luther and Joan of Arc put in their place — that splendid pair equipped with temperaments not made of butter, but of asbestos. By neither sugary persuasions nor by hell fire could the serpent have beguiled them to eat the apple.
- Mark Twain
The story of Adam and Eve made no sense to me. Eve is responsible for the entire decline of humanity because she was tempted by an apple. Donʼt you think God overreacted just a tad? Itʼs not like Eve ate Godʼs last Oreo.
- Margot Black (comedian)
I have a sneaky suspicion that Adam and Eve vomited up the fruit of the Tree of “Knowledge” as soon as they were cast out of Eden. That would explain a lot.
Politically Incorrect (Television Program, Aired 1/6/99)
Bill Maher: You say animals donʼt have souls.
Brad Keena: Right.
Bill Maher: I take it by your comment that you donʼt believe in evolution.
Brad Keena: I donʼt believe in evolution. I believe in creation.
John Fugelsang: So the serpent talked to Eve and Eve talked back to it. I guess snakes used to be able to talk back then.
Elayne Boosler: Snakes talked and dogs donʼt have a soul?
Brad Keena: If you read the scriptures, things changed after the fall of Adam and Eve. And the serpent wasnʼt the same. Part of his punishment was that he had to crawl along the Earth.
John Fugelsang: Right, and part of womenʼs punishment was that they have to have monthly menstruation, painful child birth and crappy wages for doing the same job as a man.
Brad Keena: Men work by the sweat of their brow. Right.
Elayne Boosler: So on the whole the snake came out okay.
The snake was cursed to go on his belly.
How he went before, the story does not say.
And Adam was cursed to work.
That is why we have to work.
That is, some of us — not I.
- Clarence Darrow, “From Rib to Woman”
According to Genesis 3:14 when the Lord was cursing the serpent, He added, “Cursed are you more than all cattle.” More than all cattle? God cursed cows? When? And what did the cows do? Did a few cows munch on “forbidden fruit” and turn it into “forbidden milk” in their udders, making God afraid that Adam might take a “forbidden” sip? Did God foresee a cow would tip over a lantern and start the Great Chicago Fire? Did God “curse all cattle” because a cow jumped over the moon? The Bible does not say. In fact in this respect itʼs less revealing than Mother Goose.
The story of the fall of man in Genesis seems originally to have been one of the sardonic folk tales of the Near East that explain how man once had immortality nearly within his grasp, but was cheated out of it by frightened or malicious deities [i.e., Adam and Eve were hustled from the garden by such deities before they could eat of the “fruit of the tree of life” and “live forever” like them]. We have earlier versions from Sumerian times on that are less rationalized than the one in Genesis…The Genesis account permits itself a verse (3:22) in which God seems to be telling other gods that man (after eating of the “fruit of the tree of knowledge”) is “now one of us,” in a position to threaten their power unless they do something about it at once, with a break in the syntax that suggests genuine terror.
- Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature
Genesis (chapters two and three) depicts Adam and Eve being hustled from the garden by a frightened or indignant deity after they have tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge “and become like one of us” (like “gods,” or like “God,” depending on your translation). Better evict them before they also take a bite out of “the fruit of the tree of eternal life,” and become even more like gods.
Such myths were invented to explain why man was superior to the animals in having god-like knowledge and amazing creative abilities like speech, yet still suffered the ignominy of death along with all the other animals. Hence, myths arose about man being cheated out of the other god-like quality he wished he had along with his intelligence, namely eternal life.
Speaking of “god-like” qualities, Genesis plainly states, as many theologians have pointed out, that man was created in Godʼs physical image. Some verses make this connection abundantly clear: “When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God…[And then when] Adam became the father of a son [it was] in his own likeness, according to his image.” (Gen. 5:1,3)
Ancient peoples even spread fables about how the gods found human females “beautiful” — nearly as beautiful as the gods themselves were depicted as being. Such fables are echoed in Genesis 6:2: “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” In short, the ancient Hebrews believed that humanity was made in the physical image of “God,” even in an image that the “sons of God” found irresistibly attractive. In a similar fashion the ancient Greeks believed that they bore a physical resemblance to their gods, Zeus, Apollo, etc.
Speaking of the Hebrew Lord resembling Zeus, see the section “Lightning (A Heretic Makes a Shocking Discovery)” which explains how both the Hebrew Lord and Zeus liked to “cover their hands with the lightnings” and “restrain” or “loose” it; and how the roar of thunder was viewed as their “voice.” Moreover, nothing pleased both their noses better than the aroma of flaming sacrificial livestock. As it says in the Bible, “the Lord smelled the soothing aroma.” (Gen. 8:21; Ex. 29:18; Lev. 1:17, 3:5; Num. 15:13,24; 29:28)