Question – “Is the Garden of Eden story True?”
Chinaman: Is the Garden of Eden Story True?
Of course it is!! But probably not as you would think it!
The Garden of Eden story tells a truth. In that sense it is true. But if you are asking if the Garden of Eden story is like a history, a recounting of an actual event, then I must give a resounding NO.
Your society only wants to think in straight lines. You are always wanting the obvious or simplistic solution – and instantly at that! If you need to think about something then there is a great reluctance to go further. No wonder the Garden of Eden story is belittled, for you have to think about it!
It is meant as a very true description of the human condition.
Have you not considered why if something is specifically told to be forbidden then you give that something a value that is unwarranted? It becomes more precious in your eyes. There has to be some reason, not obvious at first, that gives it the special status of ‘forbidden’. It is only after the forbidden is taken that true understanding of its worth becomes apparent – usually to the detriment of the person involved.
Not only that, but when did the story say the Fall took place? It is usually assumed that it was when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. No – that is not so. The expulsion is a consequence of the Fall. The Fall is when the couple fell from Grace. So what is the Fall really about?
When Adam and Eve supposedly ate of the Tree of Knowledge, they fell. That is when it happened. The Tree of Knowledge gave them the ability to see the difference between good and evil – and they lost their innocence and hid from God. The promise of being godlike is simply having this ability. It is not being ALL POWERFUL as God. Human kind most certainly is not! But an innate ability that comes with being human is to have a conscience and knowing the difference between good and evil. It is a description of what actually is.
We can go further, for this losing of innocence cannot be recaptured. Innocence once lost cannot be recaptured; you cannot un-eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Knowledge might make you sick to the core [please excuse the pun] but apart from being sickened by knowledge you cannot un-eat of knowledge. It cannot be done. You might forget in time, but by then the damage is done and the value somehow lost. The story specifically speaks of sexual knowledge and how Adam and Eve then knew they were naked. But this is only one type of loss of innocence. The story is still quite true in a general sense, as well as this particular one.
Having lost their innocence, then there is no going back to a state of Grace. The consequence is to face the world with that new knowledge – to be expelled from the paradisiacal garden.
But what of the other tree – the Tree of Life?
There is a limitation to this particular story if there is only one tree in the garden, the Tree of Knowledge. If there was only the one tree then it would seem from such the story that indeed there is no going back. But I challenge that. There is more to Life than just Knowledge.
John is a cynic, and I can understand why. There are many examples of people who become so streetwise that they are ancient beyond their years. There is a dryness, an aridity, an unhealthy cynicism about them that is destructive. That is one consequence of an overload of knowledge and a similar extent of loss of innocence. And at first sight it cannot seemingly be averted. Innocence cannot be recaptured. But my challenge rests in the nature of awareness. For as awareness grows it sometimes leads on to wisdom. And in wisdom there is an acknowledgement, beyond cynicism, beyond rationalising, of something more. I believe that in wisdom there is a touching of the pre-fall state.
So although there is no going back into the Garden, into the state of innocence, there is still found, or a recapturing, of something of the state of Grace. This is the meaning of the other Tree, the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life is not something that can be obtained by a human’s own efforts, for Adam and Eve were expelled from its presence. It is only by a gift from God that the fruit can be tasted. It is only a gift from God that spiritual Life can be embraced.
That is in essence what the Garden of Eden story is all about – a truism but not history.