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Featured EVE! Legendary heroine of Humanity!

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by blü 2, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    In the Garden story, God creates Adam, puts him in the Garden, points to “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” [the ‘Tree’], and says to Adam “of the [Tree] you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Genesis 2:17).

    A bit later God takes a rib from Adam and “made [it] into a woman and brought her to the man.”

    Next, Eve says to the snake, “God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the [Tree] [...] neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” (3:3).

    The snake replies – completely truthfully – “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.” (3:5)

    “So when the woman saw that [...] the [Tree] was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (3:6).

    And she gave some to Adam too.

    “Then the eyes of both were opened.” (3:7).

    And after that they were both able to distinguish good from evil.

    Christians blame Eve for the Fall. They say she and Adam sinned. (Nothing of the kind is in the Garden story, and sin's impossible for people who are denied knowledge of good and evil, and Ezekiel 18:20 says unequivocally that sin isn’t inheritable. But leave that aside.)

    This is the point.

    Isn’t it an extremely good thing that Eve is said to have done? Shouldn't we hold her legend in the highest regard, since we, like Eve, think it’s extremely good to be wise?

    Shouldn’t we have statues and images of Eve in all our churches and public spaces as a symbol of Human Wisdom?

    Something we often seem not to have enough of?
     
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  2. viole

    viole Metaphysical Naturalist
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    In churches? Surely not. It is a Christian imperative, as it is also confirmed by your analysis, that the more you know, or try to know, the worse it is. It is even engraved in that theology to the point of condemning the whole universe, on account of challenging authority to gain more knowledge. And that for obvious reasons.

    Ciao

    - viole
     
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  3. lukethethird

    lukethethird Well-Known Member

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    I always thought that the snake told the truth and that it was fine for Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge, and that God comes across as a liar and a jerk in this story.
     
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  4. Left Coast

    Left Coast Happy Spring!
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    I'm curious how our Jewish and Noachide members understand the story.

    @RabbiO?
     
  5. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    So why was it that knowledge of good and evil was a bad thing? Did God explain that?

    Why create the tree in the first place, and why could God not just zap the new knowledge out of their heads, once they'd eaten the fruit?

    I'm skeptical about this knowledge of good and evil nonsense. People have been arguing about good and evil for millennia. The fruit didn't work very well.
     
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  6. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    But surely it's time that the Christian churches addressed this problem ─ and embraced the chance for a new star in their firmament?

    Time that Augustine of Hippo ─ who was the one who picked up on Paul's tiny mention and ran with it ─ was put back in his place?

    Time that another female was added to the VIPs of Christianity? Of the world's legends?

    Time that such a longstanding defamation was exposed, undone and apologized for?
     
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  7. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Yes, that would be of considerable interest.
     
  8. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Yes, quite specifically. If the humans have knowledge of good and evil, they'll become like God (Genesis 3:5 as to knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 3:22 for the knowledge of good and evil plus living forever), and no right-minded god is going to put up with nonsense like that.
    Ah, Harry's Obliviate! charm! No, what the Garden story suggests is that just as Adam and Eve were new to being humans, so God was new to godding and [his] technique here points to much inexperience. Perhaps it was this that later prompted [him] to use [his] omnipotence and make [him]self omniscient.
    No, that's like quibbling about whether Rapunzel's shampoo was up to the job or not. Stories have their own rules.
     
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  9. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Jesus did in the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3.
    Vulgarly often shortened to "Ignorance is bliss."
     
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  10. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Aren't we supposed to be like God; to imitate Christ?
    Nonsense like that? What kind of God is so insecure as to be threatened by knowledge, and weren't we originally designed to live forever? "Right-minded indeed! :rolleyes:
     
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  11. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    "Poor in spirit" = stupid?
     
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  12. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Get the Who's in Charge Here? part right and the rest will follow ─ or so President Xi told me.
     
  13. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Interesting OP.

    The orthodox reading of this passage from Genesis concerning Eve, the Tree and the talking Snake can appear somewhat paradoxical at times.

    Other parts of the Bible regard the ability to differentiate between good and evil as something not only beneficial in nature but also a prudential power implanted by God.

    Ben Sira (second century BCE) in the Catholic deuterocanon baldly states that human beings were given the awareness of good and evil as an innate faculty:


    Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 17 (NRSV)


    The Lord created human beings out of earth,
    and makes them return to it again.

    ...

    Discretion and tongue and eyes,
    ears and a mind for thinking he gave them.
    He filled them with knowledge and understanding,
    and showed them good and evil.


    Although there is no extant Hebrew for this passage, the Greek verb used is ύττοδείκνυμι, likely translated the Hebrew verb דגנ in the original, which in Ben Sira usually means a revelation.

    Indeed, the ability to know good and evil is a key presupposition of covenant obedience in the Torah, for example in Deuteronomy 30:15 where Moses, in reference to the statutes and ordinances of the law he has laid out before the Israelites, says, "See, this day I set before you life and good, death and evil." So, again, the Deuteronomist author appears to have shared Sirach's fundamental doctrinal understanding: God revealed to humankind the knowledge of good and evil.

    An interesting interpretation which smooths over any apparent inconsistency here, which I have read, is one possible reading from the Rambam - the great medieval Jewish theologian Maimonides in his Guide for the Perplexed.

    Maimonides argued that the human person was created as an intelligent being, which is the reason the biblical text described him/her as being created in the image of God. As a consequence of eating the fruit, however, humanity is demoted from the order of perfect, direct apprehension of truth / understanding and knowledge (true/false) to the order of judgment (deeming things good/bad in an opinionate fashion):


    https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1057/9781137299635_7.pdf


    The premise about the meaning of elohim that Maimonides has established for his reader does not reappear in his response to the interlocutor he now introduces, a man engaged in speculation who “once upon a time” posed his objection to the story of the Garden of Eden. 1

    3 In the clear sense of the biblical text, as this learned man sees it, the prohibition against knowledge of good and evil should mean that the human being was intended to be no different from other animals, a creature without intellect, lacking any capacity to distinguish good from evil. Why, the objector wants to know, should an act of disobedience result in man being granted precisely that capacity he had been forbidden?

    One must be filled with wonder at the strange situation in which the punishment for man’s disobedience consists in the acquisition of his greatest perfection, the intellect. To the objector, the story in Genesis sounds like a pagan myth, where an individual who performs a criminal deed is rewarded by metamorphosis into a heavenly star....

    . The verse in full would have prematurely posed a problem for the interpretation Maimonides is about to develop: after creating in His own image a being defined by the possession of intellect, why should God then forbid him from obtaining the knowledge that, according to the biblical text, would make man in His own likeness?...

    It is the intellectual cognition of truth and falsehood that alone belongs to the human being in his original and most perfect state—by inborn disposition, as Maimonides now puts it...

    In that primordial state, there was no access to judgments of the noble and base, or beautiful and ugly. It is of decisive importance, as we shall see, that the terms Maimonider employs here are not those the objector used when he identified intellect with the capacity to distinguish good and evil, or more simply, good and bad. 19 That judgments of noble or base have no place in our original state can be seen, Maimonides observes, from the most obvious case—uncovering the private parts.

    In the words of Genesis 2: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (2:25). The first consequence of the opening of their eyes is the experience of shame: that experience, as Maimonides interprets it, marks the loss of pure intellection of truth and falsehood and its replacement by the lens of noble and base, based on generally accepted opinions. The “fall” of man consists precisely in this transformation of our cognitive capacities.

    Two cognitive modes have been distinguished—intellection of truth and falsehood, on the one hand, reliance on generally accepted opinions of noble and base, on the other—which might seem to be appropriate in separate spheres: 24 in the example Maimonides provides, the assertion that heaven is spherical or the earth flat would be true or false, not noble or base (14a–b). Yet, following in the tracks of the Book of Genesis, the genetic account by Maimonides speaks of a momentous change in apprehending the very same thing: what was perceived, before eating the forbidden fruit, simply as a matter of fact appears afterward as base or ugly. Each of the two modes of apprehension becomes an all-encompassing, and mutually exclusive, way of being in the world.

    Human beings exhibit the realization of their defective state, according to the Book of Genesis, in the novel experience of shame, which was altogether absent from the original condition: “And the eyes of them both were opened and they knew they were naked” (Genesis 3:7)
     
    #13 Vouthon, Mar 5, 2021
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  14. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Also you're probably already aware @blü 2, that a number of early (heretical!) Gnostic Christian churches - such as the Sethians, Naassenes and the Ophites - actually endorsed your interpretation and made it a fundamental premise of their theology. It's not really a novel subversion of the traditional 'myth' for that reason, but rather an ancient re-exegesis of the text.

    For these Christians, the 'serpent' in Genesis was a benevolent figure sent down from the pleroma or transcendent divine realm to act as a conduit for the impartation of liberating gnosis (self-knowledge), namely to make human beings aware of the divinity hidden, lying latent, within themselves. They called this the spark of Sophia, the Aeon of Wisdom. They deemed the biblical creator God - whom they referred to as Yaldabaoth - to be their 'enemy' and cosmic jailor, precisely because he had striven to prevent Adam and Eve from learning the truth about themselves, that 'ye are Gods' (that is, divine and have no need therefore to worship or obey the commands of the creator God and his archons (the ruling angels of the cosmos)).

    In thus heeding the serpent's counsel and disobeying the prohibition of the biblical creator God, whom the Sethians rejected as a mere Demiurge, an evil being falsely posing - or deluded enough to believe Himself to be - the ultimate reality, these gnostics celebrated the 'fall' i.e. eating from the Tree of Knowledge and being ejected from the Garden

    As one of their primary scriptural texts, the Apocryphon of John (circa. 180 A.D.), states:


    The Secret Book of John (Apocryphon of John)


    Yaldabaoth’s demonic forces envied the man.
    Through their united efforts he had come into being
    They had given their Power to him.
    His understanding was far greater than that of those who had created him.
    And greater than that of the Chief Ruler himself.

    Adam was revealed because within him dwelt the shadow of light.
    His mental abilities were far greater than those of his creators.
    They had gazed upward and seen his exalted mental capability.

    He shone with light
    And could think better than they could
    And was naked of evil,
    They took him and cast him down...

    Those thieves bound the man in it,
    Enchained him in forgetfulness...

    The rulers took the man and put him into paradise
    They told him to eat freely...

    As for the tree called “The Knowledge Of Good And Evil”
    It is the Epinoia of the light.
    They commanded him not to eat from it,
    Standing in front to conceal it,
    For fear that he might look upwards to the fullness
    And know the nakedness of his indecency....

    I appeared as an eagle perched on the Tree of Knowledge!
    [Which is the Epinoia from the pure Providence of Light.]
    In order to teach them
    And raise them up from sleep’s depths.

    [For the two of them were fallen and aware of their nakedness.
    Epinoia appeared as a being full of light
    She enlightened their minds.]

    When Yaldabaoth discovered that they had moved away from him
    He cursed his earth.

    And as St. Irenaeus explained in his Against Heresies (circa. 180 CE):


    CHURCH FATHERS: Against Heresies, I.30 (St. Irenaeus)


    Doctrines of the Ophites and Sethians

    ....

    On this account, Ialdabaoth, becoming uplifted in spirit, boasted himself over all those things that were below him, and exclaimed, I am father, and God, and above me there is no one. But his mother, hearing him speak thus, cried out against him, Do not lie, Ialdabaoth: for the father of all is above you"...

    But their mother (Sophia, Wisdom) cunningly devised a scheme to seduce Eve and Adam, by means of the serpent, to transgress the command of Ialdabaoth. Eve listened to this as if it had proceeded from a son of God, and yielded an easy belief. She also persuaded Adam to eat of the tree regarding which God had said that they should not eat of it. They then declare that, on their thus eating, they attained to the knowledge of that power which is above all, and departed from those who had created them...

    Ialdabaoth, however, through that oblivion in which he was involved, and not paying any regard to these things, cast Adam and Eve out of Paradise, because they had transgressed his commandment...

    Ialdabaoth, again, being incensed with men, because they did not worship or honour him as father and God, sent forth a deluge upon them, that he might at once destroy them all. But Sophia (Wisdom) opposed him in this point also, and Noah and his family were saved in the ark by means of the besprinkling of that light which proceeded from her, and through it the world was again filled with mankind.
     
    #14 Vouthon, Mar 5, 2021
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  15. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    I greatly appreciate your exposition. I know Maimonides only as a background character from my readings of the early Schoolmen. I'm also taken by the dichotomy of gaining, let's say, mature emotional insight, as against gaining, let's say, informed intellectual insight.

    Long ago, in a century far away, I pondered on what could have been intended by the author or authors of the Garden story. The best I could come up with is that it's the bridging tale between the newly created Adam and from him, Eve, through the Garden, symbolizing infancy, to the fruit, symbolizing adolescence (reaching sexual awareness, knowing you're naked), to their expulsion, symbolizing the tough grind of adulthood and own family.

    That's from the same period when it occurred to me that the usual picture of God has more than a passing resemblance to the way my father seemed to me when I was four or five. (He was warmer than God, but big, and present, and personal, and able to fix anything and everything). However, it's not true that he had to pitch me out.
     
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  16. Gargovic Malkav

    Gargovic Malkav Active Member

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    I worship and believe in the One I see as the Source of Everything as a result of experience and faith. Label me as you see fit.
    My early childhood was the easiest stage of my life,
    even though I didn't know or understand anything.
    I also didn't have the rights and privileges that are so obvious to me now,
    because my parents were supposed to decide for me what's good and what isn't, and provide me with what they thought I need.
    When I think back I'm prone to nostalgia trips.
    Because my flexible and inexperienced child-mind made it easy for me to be happy and amused, even though I didn't have the same freedom and awareness I have now.
    And yet, if I would go back to that time with my current level of awareness,
    it would probably feel kind of empty.
    Because I'm not a child anymore.

    I can say I am happy, but life isn't as easy as it used to be.
    So I see no reason to glorify our intelligence, because in my view, it is like glorifying rich people for being rich.
    Not that I have something against people who are more intelligent or rich than I am,
    but if they're better off than me, I don't think it is because of their wealth or intellect.
     
  17. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    That's the usual interpretation. The literal translation "lack of breath" doesn't make much sense.
     
  18. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    If you are interested in non-religious exposition on the paradox of knowledge and 'human wisdom', I'd highly recommend John Gray's 'the Soul of the Marionette:A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom '

    From the 1st chapter:

    A puppet may seem the embodiment of a lack of freedom. Whether moved by a hidden hand or pulled about by strings, a puppet has no will of its own. All of its movements are directed by the will of another – a human being who has decided what the puppet will do. Entirely controlled by a mind outside itself, a puppet has no choice in how it lives. This would be an unbearable situation, if it were not for the fact that a puppet is an inanimate object. In order to feel a lack of freedom you must be a self-conscious being. But a puppet is a thing of wood and cloth, a human artefact without feeling or consciousness. A puppet has no soul. As a result, it cannot know it is unfree. For Heinrich von Kleist, on the other hand, puppets represented a kind of freedom that human beings would never achieve.

    In his essay ‘The Puppet Theatre’, first published in 1810, the German writer has the narrator, wandering through a city park, meeting ‘Herr C.’, the recently appointed first dancer at the Opera. Noticing him on several occasions at a puppet theatre that had been erected in the town’s market square, the narrator expresses surprise that a dancer should attend such ‘little burlesques’. Replying, Herr C. suggests that a dancer could learn a great deal from these puppet shows.

    "Aren’t marionettes – controlled from above by puppeteers – often extremely graceful in their movements as they dance? No human being can match the marionette in effortless grace. The puppet is: incapable of affectation. – For affectation occurs, as you know, whenever the soul … is situated in a place other than a movement’s centre of gravity. Since the puppeteer, handling the wire or the string, can have no point except that one under his control, all the other limbs are what they should be: dead, mere pendula, and simply obey the law of gravity; an excellent attribute that you will look for in vain among the majority of our dancers … these puppets have the advantage of being resistant to gravity. Of the heaviness of matter, the factor that most works against the
    dancer, they are entirely ignorant: because the force lifting them into the air is greater than the one attaching them to the earth … Marionettes only glance the ground, like elves, the momentary halt lends the limbs a new impetus; but we use it to rest on, to recover from the exertion of the dance: a moment which clearly is not dance at all in itself and which we can do nothing with except get it over with as quickly as possible."


    When the narrator reacts with astonishment to these paradoxical assertions, Herr C., ‘taking a pinch of snuff’, remarks that he should read ‘the third chapter of Genesis attentively’. The narrator grasps the point: he is ‘perfectly well aware of the damage done by consciousness to the natural grace of a human being’.

    But still he is sceptical, so Herr C. tells him the story of how he had fenced with a bear. A practised swordsman, he could easily have pierced the heart of a human being; but the animal, seemingly without any effort, avoided any harm:

    "Now I tried a thrust, now a feint, the sweat was dripping off me: all in vain! Not only did the bear, like the foremost fencer in the world, parry all my thrusts; when I feinted – no fencer in the world can follow him in this – he did not even react: looking me in the eye, as though he could read my soul in it, he stood with his paw lifted in readiness and when my thrusts were not seriously intended he did not move."

    Humans cannot emulate the grace of such an animal. Neither the beast nor the puppet is cursed with self-reflective thought. That, as Kleist sees it, is why they are free. If humans can ever achieve such a state it will only be after a transmutation in which they become infinitely more conscious: just as two lines intersecting at a point after they have passed through an infinity will suddenly come together again on the other side, or the image in a concave mirror, after travelling away into infinity, suddenly comes close up to us again, so when consciousness has, as we might say, passed through an infinity, grace will return; so that grace will be most purely present in the human frame that has either no consciousness or an infinite amount of it, which is to say either in a marionette or in a god. The dialogue concludes: ‘But,’ I said rather distractedly, ‘should we have to eat again of the Tree of Knowledge to fall back into the state of innocence?’ ‘Indeed,’ he replied; ‘that is the final chapter in the history of the world.’

    ...

    Many people today hold to a Gnostic view of things without realizing the fact. Believing that human beings can be fully understood in the terms of scientific materialism, they reject any idea of free will. But they cannot give up hope of being masters of their destiny. So they have come to believe that science will somehow enable the human mind to escape the limitations that shape its natural condition.

    Throughout much of the world, and particularly in western countries, the Gnostic faith that knowledge can give humans a freedom no other creature can possess has become the predominant religion. If one of Kleist’s marionettes were somehow to achieve self-awareness, Gnosticism would be its religion.

    In the most ambitious versions of scientific materialism, human beings are marionettes: puppets on genetic strings, which by an accident of evolution have become self-aware. Unknown to those who most ardently profess it, the boldest secular thinkers are possessed by a version of mystical religion. At present, Gnosticism is the faith of people who believe themselves to be machines.

    John Gray - The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom
     
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  19. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Thanks.

    I find Gray hard to read, something of a scattershot presenter rather than a steady builder or expositor. As a materialist I have a certain amount in common with his views, but I don't share his pessimism. (As for Kleist, he wrote one of my favorite short stories, 'Das Erdbeben in Chili' / 'The Earthquake in Chili' ─ having said that, I should dig it out and re-read it, since that was a while back.)
     
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  20. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    That's why i find him so interesting, I like the eclecticism of the sources he draws from to make his points. While he frequently addresses similar themes, I always learn something and it is never predictable.

    He still builds his ideas, but in a less linear manner.

    His pessimism is overstated imo, it is just that the classically tragic view of humanity is rare in the post-Christian West. It is more the absence of optimism rather than the presence of pessimism.

    It's kind of like how some religious people find atheistic worldviews depressing as they deprive the world of 'objective purpose and meaning'.

    Humanists and others often find the tragic view depressing as it is a rejection of the purpose and meaning they have created to replace the religious myths of old.

    Humanists wouldn't see their irreligious worldview as pessimistic though, just 'realistic', and the same applies to those who reject the Humanist view as they don't find its mythos tenable either.
     
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