Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eve was entrapped ... not framed

There is a popular bumper sticker that says "Eve was framed", but it would be more accurate to say that "Eve was entrapped". Perhaps that would be too complicated a sentiment for a bumper sticker, but let's look at the situation.

God apparently wants to test Adam and Eve, but it seems that he has trouble playing fair when it comes to tests. It would have been one thing to just tell Adam and Eve not to do something and then wait a limited period of time to see of they would disobey. It is another thing to allow another one of your craftiest creations to actively attempt to persuade Eve to act otherwise than she would have acted on her own. That is the essence of the modern concept of "entrapment". By one definition it is, "To lure into performing a previously or otherwise uncontemplated illegal act". In modern jursiprudence, entrapment is a valid defense against committing a crime because you were lead by the hand, meaning that it's not a true test of your obedience, but rather, reflects how gullible and easy to manipulate you are.

To wit, Genesis 3 opens with the serpent asking, in perfect Hebrew, presumably, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" In other words, the serpent is planting the idea in Eve's mind. Eve's response is to reject the snakes subtle advance, even including the embellishment that God said touching the fruit would cause death (Gen 3:3). In other words, Eve is perfectly content to stay away from the tree and its fruit. So the serpent perssssists, and actively assurse her that she is not going to die. Instead he promises that, if she does, she is going to gain wisdom from it, at which point she is persuaded and eats.This is clearly inducement.

Consider this example. A mother tells her five-year-old daughter, "don't eat these fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies because they are poisonous and you'll die". Then the girl's cool older sister comes in after mom's gone and puts her arm around her kid sister and says, "hey kiddo, why aren't you eating any of these delicious cookies?" The little girl explains, "Mom said they were poisonous and I don't want to die". The older sister assures her, "You're not going to die, silly. Look, I'm eating one now. Mom just doesn't want you to eat cookies because she knows that eating cookies will make you cool like me. So dig in." What kid would be expected to have the adult level of responsible judgment to resist that kind of thing?

Of course, the story gets even more sordid in the case of Genesis, since almost none of what God claimed to Adam and Eve about the trees was actually true. He supposedly put some trees in the middle of the Garden of "Delight" (aka Eden), as per Gen 2:16-17, saying, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 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." He technically tells them they can eat from ANY tree but the" tree of knowledge of good and evil" (tokogae), and yet in Gen 3:22 he goes back on this saying, "[Man] must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever". This would be like the mother saying to her young daughter, "you can eat anything in the kitchen besides these chocolate chip cookies" and then freaking out when her daughter tried to eat s'mores.

Furthermore, from a literal perspective, Gen 3:22 proves that Adam was not immortal. He had not eaten from the tree, so there is no reason to believe he has immortal before eating from the tokogae. And Adam very certainly doesn't die the next day, or next week, or next year, or next century. He lives for 930 years. Dishonest apologists try to claim that this is because to god "a day is like a thousand years", but that is a figurative, non-literal interpretation. These same people claim to be "bible literalists" and say that one can rely upon the "plain meaning" of words in the bible without embellishment. However, that apparently only applies unless there is some kind of difficulty with the text, at which point, anything but the plain meaning of the words are read into the passage to square it with preconceived dogmas.

If the mother, in this example, told her daughter that eating the cookies would cause her to die instantly, and then her daughter died ten years later in a car wreck, nobody could reasonably say, "maybe in her mother's mind, 'instantly' meant something like ten years". Anyone claiming this, at the very least, would have to prove that adam died from slow, 930-year-old apple toxicity, and not for some other reason.

More importantly, one wonders why God withheld a full and fair description of what he actually intended to do to Adam and Eve if they ate from the tree. Most people cast this as "disobedience", but actually, God fails to say, "just don't do it". Instead he just describes a false consequence of eating the fruit as an apparently ineffective deterrent. Then, when Adam and Eve test the claim and find it to be clearly false, God applies all kinds of consequences that he never warned them about. How might the test have turned out differently, had he been upfront with them about the actual consequences? As Voltaire observed, God seems to care a lot more about a piece of fruit than he does about his own children.

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