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Wednesday, April 05, 2006 

Adam and Eve: Takin' One for the Team

A lot of people have issues with the Fall. People who often get confused with the “be ye perfect” aspect of the Gospel have a problem with the Fall. Here’s why I think that happens:

God places Adam and Eve into the beautiful garden and tells them to take care of it, to use it, and to enjoy it. But he also tells them that while they may eat anything in the whole garden, they must not eat from one tree. He commands them not to eat from it, thus making it “official”. But they do eat because they needed to do it to gain knowledge, and because they disobeyed God, they must be sent away from him because they are no longer “perfect”…so did God set them up to fail? Did God make it unavoidable to sin? How can we be perfect when God is setting us up for failure?

Agency, people. Agency and knowledge.

Before they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve did not know good from evil, much like a baby doesn’t know or care. Lucifer, the ultimate instigator, comes along and is anxious to get the ball rolling. He has been promised that all disobedient beings will belong to him, so he’s starting early, and he has the gall to begin at the top with God’s starting players.

Lucifer offers Eve the forbidden fruit telling her “…God doth know that in the day ye shall eat thereof, then you eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

Lucifer is totally playing her. He is saying “the reason God does not want you to have this is because he’s trying to keep you down…the gods know good and evil and you don’t.” Eve knows “the gods”, she and Adam walk with God in the garden, and she knows that God knows all things and it is good, and she doesn’t. When she sees that “the tree was good for food, and that is was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” she eats and then has Adam eat.

Eve is no fool. She knows that Adam HAS to eat it too. She does not want to leave him behind intellectually (she does not want to lord knowledge of good and evil over him and use information as power...she knows knowledge is good), but she also does not want to leave him behind physically. She knows that because she transgressed she will have to leave the garden, and Adam, behind unless he also partakes.

They eat, their “eyes are opened”, they hide from God because they know they disobeyed, yada yada, they have to leave God’s presence.

OK, remember…in Mormon doctrine (which you may or may not believe) Christ was set up as the Savior from the beginning of the beginning. Before the earth was even created God knew that to become like him we needed bodies, to have a body opens us up to all sorts of temptations, disobedience keeps us from being able to be with God, so how do we get a body AND get back to God? Oh, yeah, the Atonement.

Jesus volunteers to atone for our sins because we can’t get back without a way to get rid of sin. Adam and Eve get the whole show on the road with making a choice to either stay in the garden and be dumb, or leave the garden and have knowledge to be able to make choices. CHOICES! Adam and Eve, made a CHOICE to disobey God that we may come into existence. Lucifer didn’t want us to be able to make choices, and yet, he USED Eve’s ability to make a choice against her (he thought he was proving his point nicely) to cause her to sin. After the Fall, God put the Atonement into action; preparing the people of the earth with commandments, and with prophets who would testify that Christ was real and coming soon. It was the only way back. We can’t just be perfect and get back. We HAVE to use the Atonement. We have to acknowledge a power greater than ourselves and rely on it (the Savior) to bring us back into our Father’s presence.

(Which brings me to one of my favorite false doctrine musings…was Lucifer part of the plan, too, in some bizarre way…is he some sort of religious Slugworth who’s been working for God all along? If God is good and eternal, then there must be eternal bad, too…and where does that come from? What is the history of bad before God?..)

So years later, when Adam and Eve are sitting around with their kids, and their kid’s kids, and their grandkid’s kids (get over it people it had to be done), they say to each other (according to the Book of Moses):

Adam: “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.”

Eve: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (Keep in mind that part of obedience is not just never making a mistake, but repenting and using the Atonement if we do…)

Adam and Eve realized what most people who are imperfect realize, we cannot make it without the good and the evil. We will not make it through life without making mistakes or without being touched by sin. People who have testimonies that Jesus is the Savior often come to know this because they have screwed up, and personally know the power of repentance and forgiveness firsthand. Speaking as an imperfect person who has screwed up royally, I have felt this power in my own life. The difference between my sinful state and my repentant state was like night and day (I am speaking of a particular period of my life…this is not to say doing it once is good enough to cover the rest of my life, or that I don’t have some major issues today…). Based on my knowledge, I have CHOSEN to try my best, and I mean my BEST, and to believe that the Savior will help me with the rest.

I would like to comment on the satan factor.

I don't believe that satan is part of the plan for our salvation unto eternal life. I say this because the plan was presented before Lucifer fell. Satan is allowed to tempt us today because God cannot destroy lucifers agency. Some people have commented that each earth created requires a satan so there can be opposition. I believe it to be a false doctrine though because God wishes that all of his children might be like him. Opposition does not require evil to already exist in order to proceed. Opposition merely means that we have consequences for both obedience and disobedience. I do believe there are earths that God has created that are basically righteous with no satan as a temptor.

rob,

how do you deal with 2 Ne 2:11-16?

There are two questions which I have and have never really been answered in this area:

1) Adam took one for the team, but why did anyone have to take one for the team? If a fallen world is really "better" why didn't God simly create it that way?

2) Closely related, why in the world do bad things have to happen? Saying that one won't appreciate the good without the bad seem flat out medieval in nature and seems false at any rate. Since good and bad lie of a continuous spectrum, if "bad" didn't exist wouldn't we simply label that which was relatively less good 'bad'? The whole idea that all the bad things that happen are actually for the better seems more than a little far fetched, a case of taking possible theodicies a little too far.

jeff-

if no one took one for the team we wouldn't be here. If we believe God is perfect then he himself would never have been able to set the whole Savior plan in motion. Someone had to commit the first sin/transgression/whatever to make the Savior necessary.

Bad thngs happen because bad things happen. No one ever said they happened for our good. They happen because we live in a world governed by physics and choices. Weathering through a bad situation and seeing the good is a matter of attitude, not doctrine. (This is a short and trite explaination and not meant to belittle anyone's struggles through tragic things.) Yes, I think that God sometimes intercedes with the laws he created, but for the most part he lets the chips lay where they fall...this is our turn to struggle and figure things out, he's already done this part so it would be unfair to interfere...but when was life ever fair?

I actually like the description of our existence as the fallen condition.

It's morally superior to Rousseau's deterministic optimism, which legitimized Robespierre's terror and has guided both Leninist and National Socialist violence. The totalitarians believed that cruelty was virtuous because it would speed along heaven on earth.

As a theologian, Thomas Malthus was suspicious of Rousseau's optimism. He argued that population pressures would catch up with progress and reintroduce scarcity. There is no way around "thou shalt eat thy bread in the sweat of thy brow."

Eventually, Malthus's ideas became the foundation for Charles Darwin's biology.

Looking at it with historical perspective, it is rather bizarre that American fundamentalists have such a hard time with Darwin who really formulated a powerful bulwark against the Enlightenment heresy and mankind's arrogance. Ultimately, Darwin translated the religious skepticism into secular terms rendering it immune against Rousseau chimera.

I guess in some ways, American fundamentalists are more attached to modern arrogance, i.e. optimism, then to the Biblical conception of human nature.

Interestingly, the most prominent "religious" opponents from William Bryant Jennings to Pat Robertson are not theologians.

As for the account of the fall, I don't buy the McConkie story. I used to subscribe to the agency explanation. But the great council in heaven renders another choice superfluous.

When I believed in the lying, manipulative God, I gave folks too much opportunity to manipulate me.

Lately I have decided not to follow leaders any longer that manipulate me "for my own good." The only way I can make sense of my mission experience, is to acknowledge that Mormon leaders are just a human as anyone else. As such they are self-interested people susceptible to the temptations of power.

They are better off and I am better off when I refuse to be manipulated. God the manipulator would be one sick puppy who would make the rest of us sick too.

In fact, whenever I encounter something bizarre in the Church, especially counterproductive policies, I now evaluate it the same way I look at the rest of the world.

I ask myself: How do decision makers benefit from the state of affairs? That usually explains it in an instant.

This is something I've shelved. It's not something that's crucial for me, it might be crucial for others and I don't judge, but I don't really care.

Except for the part where people blame women for stuff. That gets my back up.

John c,
I deal with those scriptures as there having to be a consequence for action. Look at verse 11- it states unless there is opposition wickedness could not be brought about. Wickedness plain and simply is direct disobedience. The plan did not require Satan in place in order to proceed with the plan for our eventual eternal life.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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