Saturday, June 27, 2015

NOW, ABOUT ADAM AND EVE...

I have a confession to make: In light of the brouhaha in the country right now over a certain matter, I chose the title of this post deliberately, maybe to be a little misleading. This post is going to have absolutely nothing to do with, ah...that subject; nothing at all --- except, that is, for one passing reference in the last paragraph. But, be honest: When you first saw the title, didn't you suspect --- or, at least, think --- that this was going to be about...that? You, maybe reluctantly, decided to read it to see what that senile old man (me!) had to say. So it worked; it got your attention!

Anyway: In this short post, I want to spell out what the story of Adam and Eve means to me. As most of you know, I am not a Biblical literalist, so while I may not believe that the events recorded in the first pages of the Bible actually took place as they are spelled out, whether you do or not is completely irrelevant; I think that the point it makes is valid, anyway.

Most of us know the story, so I'm not going to repeat it here. What I am going to mention here, though, is the battle of very modern ideas that I think it speaks to: Is there really any such thing as human free will? Or are human attitudes and behaviors predetermined by our genetics or wholly controlled by our environments? For me, the story of Adam and Eve answers those questions.

According to Genesis, Adam and Eve were directly created by the perfect God, so their genetic makeup was perfect. Their home was a beautiful Garden, so no more favorable environment could have been imagined. Perfect genetics; perfect home environment. But the animals also lived in that environment, and were also directly created by God. What was the difference between the two humans and the animals?

Adam and Eve were given the agency of choice. They were shown certain plants, and told to choose whether they would or would not eat of the fruit those plants produced. Remember, their genetic makeup was perfect, so there's little or no hint as to whether it would urge them in a certain way; and their environment was perfect, so there's nothing that would suggest that they needed to eat of the fruit, because they lacked nothing.

It came down to: What would they choose to do?

We know what they chose. If you need to have your memory refreshed, read either the first few chapters of the book of Genesis in the Bible, or Milton's Paradise Lost. It makes no difference whether you believe they actually, truly, literally existed or not...the central theme of the story remains the same: They had Free Will, and they could choose, not unduly influenced by genetics or environment. 

Again: As humans, they had Free Will.

That's the central point of the story for me. I don't see it as a textbook outline of creation, or a screed against homosexuality, or any of that other stuff. Maybe you do --- and that's your business, not mine. But, for me, this very ancient tale answers the very modern psychological question: Do humans have Free Will? I say, Yes.