Understanding God’s Love and the Sin that changed the World
ATTENTION: You are reading the 1st chapter in a blog to book series about Genesis (God in the Garden). I recommend starting with the introduction if you haven’t read it yet. If you are interested in learning when the book will be released or discussing anything said in these posts, please reach out through the contact page.
The Greatest Myth
Many believe the Garden of Eden is a myth. That it’s one of our first attempts at explaining the world, but we have grown beyond that. We no longer need myths and religion. We have science. The story of Genesis is outdated and meant for a simpler, more ignorant time. We are more enlightened now. It should be discarded. It was just a tool to keep the lower classes from questioning authority, and it gives us a picture of a cruel and unjust God. A God we would rather not exist.
When I was younger, I believed that in some form, whether I wanted to admit it or not. That’s the reason I’m writing this book. I want to address the popular lies that we believe about God, many of which start in Genesis. The lies that we tell ourselves about God affect how we see ourselves and the world around us. These lies may seem harmless to some, but they rob us of far more than we can ever realize. The following are the pillars these lies stand on.
The Loaded Gun Theory
The central pillar of the world’s understanding of the Garden of Eden is what I call the Loaded Gun Theory. The fruit is the equivalent of a loaded gun in a nursery. God put something dangerous in the garden and told two immature humans not to touch it.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Anything you tell a child not to touch, of course, is the first thing they will gravitate toward. This logic gives us two possibilities. One option is God is an incredibly neglectful and irresponsible parent (only the worst parents would do this). The second option assumes he wanted us to fire the gun (reverse psychology). He wasn’t just neglectful. His goal was to cause us pain and suffering from the start. This puts all the blame on Him and absolves humanity of everything. This is not only beyond neglectful but sadistic and evil. It assumes the absolute worst about God.
How could we trust a being like that to be in charge? Of course, no one would want to put faith in that kind of God. It would be better to believe that there was no God at all than to think that there was a sadistic and cruel God that governed the universe.
God Loves Ignorance
Another pillar is that God punished Adam and Eve because they sought knowledge. This means that God judges knowledge as sinful, and we must assume it’s wrong to pursue it. In a world based on seeking knowledge and learning, this directly opposes everything it values. Everyone values knowledge, both Christians and non-Christians alike.
If we believed that knowledge was evil, then we would not teach our children anything. We would revile education in all forms. Parents wouldn’t want their kids to learn anything (reading, writing, or any of the basics). We would be living in a backward society where education or learning a trade would be a thing of shame.
Of course, that’s not the case and has never been the case in history (except under the most despotic regimes). Whether it’s going to school, becoming an apprentice, or learning from our parents, knowledge has always been essential as it is an integral part of serving others.
The world uses this pillar to rationalize that the God in Genesis is against knowledge. Which means He is either sadistic again or doesn’t exist. After all, who would want to believe in a deity that encourages ignorance? What kind of God doesn’t want us to think? Now he is put in that awful role of the slave master who forbids his slaves from reading. It’s hard to determine which is worse, the neglectful parent or the oppressor.
God Expects Perfection
The third pillar that the case against Eden rests on is that God expects absolute perfection. The fact that the tree was there and that God was so upset that we ate it shows us that God is demanding and unaccepting of mistakes. He expects us to be completely perfect and sets us up for an impossible standard. One small deviation from it and He punishes us and throws us out of paradise, like a parent who disowns their children over a bad grade. It seems even crueler when you consider it with the previous assumption that God wants us to be uneducated. How could any rational person expect someone to be perfect while at the same time demanding that they stay ignorant?
We’re left to hold to an impossible standard. We’re not allowed to make any mistakes and are not given a modicum of mercy or grace. We must be 100% obedient at all times. Any small deviation or error is punished severely.
Location, Location, Location
The fourth claim is that Eden was all about the location. It was like a Club Med where we ate delicious fruit and got to walk around without having to worry about bills or pants. Everything was easy, there was no hardship, and that is what life is supposed to be. The ultimate goal of life is not to have problems or pain and for everything to be easy and given to you. Our happiness is the ultimate goal and the purpose of life. In the perfect world, there are no challenges, and we don’t have to work. Paradise is static, simple and there is no growth.
It’s not about God. It’s about us and our pleasures. We had everything we wanted in this idyllic location and none of the struggles that mark life now. If God had just left us alone and not kicked us out, that would’ve been the merciful thing to do. A loving God wouldn’t banish his children from Club Med.
God is Threatened by Us
Near the end of the story, God banishes Adam and Eve to keep them from eating from the tree of life. Not only does he kick them out, but he puts an angel with a flaming sword at the gate of Eden.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
He uses force to make sure they can’t reenter. That shows you his heart. It would be as if a parent caught a small child stealing something little. Then stationed an armed guard in front of their home to keep the child out. Not only is God worried about his possessions, but he’s afraid we would become like Him.
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever
He is threatened by Adam and Eve and must cast them out as they challenge His power. God cares more about what he has and protecting his power than he does about our well-being. He cares more about himself and his rule than about showing mercy and mending a relationship over a simple mistake.
God Never Gave Them a Chance
This is claim is evident in all the points I already brought up, but it’s still crucial to highlight this claim. God punishes us harshly (banishment) for merely disobeying Him one time. He could’ve allowed us to stay or forgave us, but he throws us out. Would a loving parent kick their kids out for breaking the rules one time? After all, Adam and Eve didn’t know any better. With their limited understanding, they were no better than children. God’s actions don’t seem that loving or forgiving. He shows no empathy or mercy and banishes them. He doesn’t even give them a chance to explain themselves or see things from their perspective. All he cares about is His rule and punishing us for our mistakes.
The Omnipresent Argument
Lastly, if God is Omnipresent, then why didn’t he do anything to stop it? Why didn’t He put the tree somewhere else? Why didn’t he make us better? Why didn’t he stop the devil from talking to us or kept the devil out of the garden? Why didn’t he do a lot of things to stop it? A loving omnipresent God would’ve done something. So, if the story is true, then either God is not all-powerful and therefore not really a God, or he doesn’t love us as much as we believe he does.
A God in Our Image
All of these claims, while they can appear logical, come from a misguided understanding. They automatically assume that God doesn’t have our best interests in mind. They believe that God is vengeful and threatened by us. They infer God’s motives by placing our worst nature on Him (creating a God in our image, and not the other way around). In the process, it paints a picture of God that doesn’t even hold up to human standards. It is a vision of a sadistic and power-hungry creator threatened by his creation and who punishes it harshly, even though He knew the outcome at the start.
Why do these claims still strongly permeate our culture? How do we disprove these claims and show God’s love in Genesis? Are Christian arguments of free will sufficient, or is there another lens with which we could look at Genesis (without twisting scripture)? I know that attempting to understand God’s will is walking on shaky ground. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and while I don’t want to paint a false picture either, I felt that these claims need to be addressed in another way. But first, we need to examine the Christian Free Will doctrine, and before we do that, we need to accept one fundamental truth.
Netflix Vs. Bible
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone about a film and found out it had a much deeper meaning than you realized? Even though you had watched it several times, it wasn’t until you were able to look at it from a different angle that it became clear. This is true of the Bible more than any book or movie in history. While we can learn much from skimming the surface, there is a whole wealth that can only be found by diving into its depths.
We must accept this fundamental truth before continuing. You might have read the Bible, or someone may have told you what it’s about, but that doesn’t mean you understand it or that the interpretation is correct. What we see is determined by how deep we go and what lens we want to look through. We can read a passage one way and see a very cruel creator or another way and see a gracious and loving God. Throughout this book, I intend to show the latter.
These are the claims that the world believes:
- God was negligent in placing the tree of knowledge in the garden, or even worse, sadistic.
- God loves ignorance and punishes those who seek knowledge.
- God expects absolute perfection and hold us up to an impossible standard.
- Paradise was all about location, nothing more.
- Life is about the enjoyment of pleasure and the absence of pain.
- God is threatened by us and punishes us harshly.
- A loving God wouldn’t have kicked us out and banished us.
- There is no second chance with God.
The Christian Free Will Defense is a sufficient counterargument, but could we make it even stronger? That’s what I intend to find out in the following chapters.