Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages Genesis

The beginning of the covenant; Faith vs. Faithlessness

Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be blamed

Postby Cooing » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:45 pm

If Adam and Eve knew nothing of right and wrong before eating from the tree of knowledge, how could they be blamed for doing something wrong (disobeying God?)
Cooing
 

Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby jimwalton » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:45 pm

Adam and Eve were rational beings before the violation. Gn. 2.15 says that they were given responsibilities. This clearly implies that they have brains to think, they are able to understand roles and functions, with the ability to evaluate and accomplish. They can be held accountable for what they are told because there is expectation of the capability to comply.

Gn. 2.16 lets us know that they had both moral capability and culpability. They were given great freedom in the blessing to eat of the trees of the garden. So we know they had and understood free will and the exercise of it. They understood their right and ability to choose.

Gn. 2.17 lets us know that they had an understanding of right and wrong, between permission and prohibition, and consequences for disobedience. God made obedience easy for them. They were in an ideal environment with great liberties in their choices. God had provided for their needs and warned them clearly of the consequences of disobedience. Evidence of moral law is built into creation.

So the "knowledge of good and evil" is not to assume that he was a clueless imbecile, but that they had not yet experienced intentional disobedience. They quite obviously had moral knowledge and understood the prohibition. Gn. 3.3 shows that Eve understood the morality of the decision and the consequences of disobedience. She knew full well that she was committing a sin before they did it.

In other words, they knew disobeying God was wrong. He had been explicit and clear with them (Gen. 2.17).

"The knowledge of good and evil" doesn't mean they didn't know anything about morality, obedience, godliness, or disobedience. In the ancient world, God was often associated with the concept of wisdom, and "the knowledge of good and evil" is a idiomatic way that they expressed that concept of wisdom. For instance, in the Gilgamesh Epic, the primitive Enkidu becomes wise (possessing reason) not by eating the fruit of a tree but instead by engaging in sexual intercourse with the prostitute Samhat, who was sent to entice and capture him. The tree in this story, therefore, is to be associated with the wisdom that is found in God (Job 28.28; Prov. 1.7). It's not that Adam and Eve didn't know about good and evil before this, but that God was inviting them to acquire wisdom (godliness) in the proper way at the appropriate time by obedience to him. "Good and evil" is a legal idiom meaning "to formulate and articulate a judicial decision (Gn. 24.50; 31.24, 29; Dt. 1.39; 1 Ki. 3.9; 22.18). The idea is that they would seek God's ways instead of their own. The tree corresponds to their ability to decide. What was being forbidden to the humans was the power to decide for themselves what was in their best interests and what was not.

So we can say with confidence that Adam and Eve had intrinsic knowledge of good and evil before eating the fruit. They knew full well what their choices were, and God was clear about what the consequences were. Unfortunately, what they chose was to be self-governed rather than God-oriented, relying on their own faulty "wisdom" rather than on the wisdom of God. God had a grand goal for them (abundant life), but that life could only be had by staying in relationship with God who is Life.
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby Cooing » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:41 pm

> What was being forbidden to the humans was the power to decide for themselves what was in their best interests and what was not.

If they were forbidden to decide for themselves what was in their own best interest then how could they have decided not to eat from the tree of knowledge because then they would have decided for themselves that it wasn't in their own best interest to eat from the tree?
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby jimwalton » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:46 pm

Thanks for asking. It's probably fair to say that we are all taught and encouraged to choose what is right, what is good, and what is wise. At the same time we are free to choose what is wrong, what is degenerate, and what is foolish. Their problem was that when they were offered what was the right way they chose an alternate path. When I use the term "forbidden," I don't mean to say that choice was not available to them, but rather that they were clearly told that to choose in self-interest was a self-destructive choice. They were able to make the wise choice but did not.
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby Cooing » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:37 am

Yes, but what did they choose by eating from the tree of knowledge?

Before, you said that they chose "the power to decide for themselves what was in their best interests and what was not." - which they could not have done unless they already had that power. Now you say they chose an "alternate path." What is this path that they chose?

> they were clearly told that to choose in self-interest was a self-destructive choice.

How can a "self-destructive choice" be a choice of "self-interest?" This doesn't make sense. I don't mean to funny but you're not making any sense and seem to be contradicting yourself all over the place. Maybe you should refrain from replying until you feel more mentally well but thanks for your reply anyway.
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby jimwalton » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:56 am

> Maybe you should refrain from replying until you feel more mentally well but thanks for your reply anyway.

"I'm not dead yet. I'm feeling better." :lol:

> what did they choose by eating from the tree of knowledge?

In the ancient world, their worldview centered on things like order, disorder, and nonorder. They also perceived the deity as the source and center of wisdom. Genesis 3 is more about the encroachment of disorder (brought about by sin) into a world that was in the process of being ordered. It is about how humanity lost access to the presence of God when it representatives tragically declared their independence from their Creator. The serpent would have been viewed as a chaos creature from the non-ordered realm, promoting disorder. By choosing to eat from the tree of knowledge, they were deciding to be the center and source of order, and to set themselves up as a satellite center of wisdom apart from God. It is a childish sort of response: "I can do it myself"; "I want to do it MY way." These are not so much a rejection of authority, per se, but more an insistence on independence. With people as the source and center of wisdom, the result was not order centered on them, but rather disorder—extending to all people of all time. Life in God's presence was forfeited.

Wisdom is good. God didn't intend to withhold it from humanity. But wisdom must be acquired through the right channels, generally from instruction by those who ARE wise. The fall is defined by the fact that Adam and Eve should to acquire it illegitimately (22), trying to take God's role for themselves rather than eventually joining God in His role as they were taught wisdom properly and became the fully functional vice-regents of God that He always intended for them, involved with God in the process of bringing order. Instead, they separated themselves from Him with the idea that they would do it themselves and in their own way. Their self-interest became their self-destruction.

> How can a "self-destructive choice" be a choice of "self-interest?"

When a mother tells a child not to touch the stove because it's hot and will hurt them, but a child decides to reach across it anyway to get a cookie (instead of asking for help), the child's choice of self-interest also become self-destructive. They get hurt because they didn't go about getting the cookie in their right way which is also a safe way.

Suppose a child sees a toy across the street. The mother warns the child not to run into the street. The child can choose to act in self-interest, in an act of independence, and run across the street, potentially (in this case) to their own self-destruction.

A person may choose, for instance, to become involved in a political protest, say, in China, knowing that their action of self-interest may also easily become an act of self-destruction.

Drug addicts also choose for self-interest that is also self-destructive.

That's how choosing in self-interest can also be a choice of self-destruction. Adam and Eve chose to act as independent agents to pursue a good end (wisdom) by an illegitimate means (doing it themselves rather than following the One who was truly wise: God). God had indicated that he would help them achieve wisdom in the proper ways, but they chose to follow a path of self-interest which led to much greater problems, i.e., self-destruction.
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby Cooing » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:56 am

Well you've certainly given that a lot of thought, obviously studied for a long time, and come up with your own interpretation of what the Adam and Eve story means. It must have taken a great deal of thinking and a lifetime of wisdom to decipher the message and you've certainly explained it far better God ever managed to do so well done you! So now that you've discovered that you shouldn't think for yourself and instead just trust in God, all you have to do now is use your own wisdom and intelligence to decide which god is the real one and how to decide what it is he want's you to do by carefully studying whichever holy book you've decided he wrote and then use your brains to try to interpret and decipher the messages within. Good luck with that and don't forget - try not to use your brain or come to your own decisions while you're doing it.

Also, none of this makes any sense anyway because conscious decision making is an illusion and the notion of free will is a logical absurdity. Oh yeah, and there's no such thing as God. But try not to think about that, God doesn't want you to think for yourself. :)
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby jimwalton » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:56 am

> Well you've certainly given that a lot of thought, obviously studied for a long time, and come up with your own interpretation

Um, no, I haven't come up with my own interpretation. The interpretation I shared is advocated by a collection of scholars, and in the course of my study and weighing the evidences, I regard their interpretation as not only plausible to truest to the text.

> It must have taken a great deal of thinking and a lifetime of wisdom to decipher the message and you've certainly explained it far better God ever managed to do so well done you!

Now you're just being sardonic. You must remember that the text was written to another culture, in another language, in another era, according to a different worldview than we Westerners share. Meanings are best deciphered by analyzing the intent of the author, not how it comes across to you in English millennia later. Some texts are not just shallow but rather are best understood with background study into the culture and worldview of the author.

> So now that you've discovered that you shouldn't think for yourself and instead just trust in God, all you have to do now is use your own wisdom and intelligence to decide which god is the real one and how to decide what it is he want's you to do by carefully studying whichever holy book you've decided he wrote and then use your brains to try to interpret and decipher the messages within. Good luck with that and don't forget - try not to use your brain or come to your own decisions while you're doing it.

And now you're being ridiculous. If you want to have a conversation, let's talk. If you just want to make fun because I have presented a theory with which you are unacquainted, then maybe we should just desist.

> Good luck with that and don't forget - try not to use your brain or come to your own decisions while you're doing it.

And now you're being verbally abusive, which I don't appreciate. It doesn't contribute to reasoned dialogue.

> Also, none of this makes any sense anyway because conscious decision making is an illusion and the notion of free will is a logical absurdity

Well, this is a different discussion altogether. Free will is a necessary component of human existence. If conscious decision making is an illusion, then disciplines like science are also illusory, and reason itself is unreliable. If free will is an absurdity, then there is no foundation on which logic stands, for logic itself requires conscious decision making.

> Oh yeah, and there's no such thing as God.

Now you've moved the goal posts again. Did you want to talk about Adam's and Eve's decision, or did you want to talk about evidences for the existence of God? What sense does it make for you to ask about Adam & Eve when you don't believe in God, don't believe in the Bible, and don't believe in rational discourse? Hmm.

> But try not to think about that, God doesn't want you to think for yourself. :)

The smiley emoticon doesn't rescue you from your own self-contradictions. I guess you never really wanted to talk about this subject in the first place. I'll be glad to dialogue with you when you want to have an honest discussion.
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby Cooing » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:44 am

You answered my original question, so thanks for that. However, I maintain that the ultimate decision about what's best for you and what's best for your own interests lies with you because it's ultimately up to you whether to trust God and to follow his instructions. You do this by deciding whether God is good and trustworthy. If you determined that God was evil and couldn't be trusted then you wouldn't trust him. Thus you are the ultimate judge of God (and God's morality) and you have no choice but to make the final decision about what's best for you (whether or not to trust God,) not God. And you are therefore ultimately reliant on your own wisdom and not that of God.
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Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong and can't be bl

Postby jimwalton » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:46 pm

> I maintain that the ultimate decision about what's best for you and what's best for your own interests lies with you because it's ultimately up to you whether to trust God and to follow his instructions.

Yes, I can see what you're getting at. You seem to be saying, if I am reading you right, that if you sense the goodness of God and his wisdom, acting against your own inclinations to conform to God's ways is ultimately a decision of self-interest, leading to your wellbeing. But from another angle, if you reject the idea of God's goodness as leading to your wellbeing, and don't trust God's wisdom, you choose to rebel against him, which is ultimately a decision of self-interest, concluding that become your own center of order will lead to one's wellbeing. Either way, one is acting in self-interest, depending on how you look at it.

The final question, then, is not to center on the term "self-interest," but rather to see the text (Gen. 3) as whether they would recognize God as the center of order and trust His wisdom or to choose themselves as the center of order and trust their own wisdom.


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