An Irreverent Formulation and Antidote for an Intractable Guilt: A Second Opinion About Original Sin

Mar 20, 2020

It is the final phase of God’s work of Creation. It’s a wonderful plan but with an inherent and dreadful problem.

RUMINATIONS OF A PSYCHIATRIST

It is the final phase of God’s work of Creation. The earth-creature that God has just created from the dust of the earth, the “Adam-With-the-Free-Will” who is, one day, supposed to set in motion cycles of regeneration, is on board. It’s a wonderful plan but with an inherent and dreadful problem. The “Adam” might choose not to become a breaker of new ground and tiller of the earth as God intends. So, the question becomes how might God make certain the “Adam” chooses, of its own volition, it’s intended destiny?

This was the plan. God provides an incubation period, an apprenticeship of sorts in a garden, a nursery, wherein the “Adam,” assigned to look after and maintain the place, will see how seeds fall to the ground apart from the parent plant. He’ll get the idea and want to be like those seeds, separate yet owning his own destiny. He’ll seize the opportunity, follow suit, and become a genuine breaker of new ground. He’ll be promoted from tiller of the Garden to tiller of the earth. Anyway, that was the plan.

The “Adam” doesn’t take the hint. He doggedly obeys the injunction instead of disobeying it as intended. God’s program and ultimate purpose is clearly not on the “Adam’s” radar so God must choose another strategy. God introduces into the Garden different creatures that “Adam” immediately sets to naming. This seems to be what interests him. Naming. It grabs and holds his attention. Regarding the injunction, he doesn’t bite (in both senses of that word).

Here’s where God becomes nervous. God wonders whether the “Adam” is too tense, maybe, too stiff, too tightly packed with mud to think outside-the-box. But, God being God, He solves the problem. He splits the earth One into two parts, two sides, ensuring that each side has real breathing room, room to think, consider, reflect. What happens next is remarkable. One side immediately wants to keep the name, “Adam,” that side becomes, Adam. He is Man and he immediately sets about naming the other side (no surprise here). Adam calls the Woman-side, Eve and Eve’s bent isn’t naming. It’s getting up close and listening.

This time, rather than simply repeating the Injunction-don’t eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or else you’ll die!-God takes a different approach. He shows Eve rather than warns her. And, given Eve’s preference for up close and personal communications, God arranges for a serpent, up in a tree at her eye level, to show her what she needs to see. Optics matter. Eve watches, fascinated, as the serpent sheds its skin and then replaces it, over and over, over and over, until finally she gets it; something ends and something else begins, a cycle, a cycle of regeneration. Death (whatever that is, there never having been such a thing in the Garden) is evidently part of this cycle and Eve knows what she needs to do: investigate, experiment, and try something new and different. She straightaway takes the fruit, eats it, and directs Adam to do the same. The rest is history. Adam and Eve together have fulfilled God’s wishes and passed God’s test. It’s time to move on and move out.

To say God was delighted is an understatement. His two students had graduated, and He was thrilled, totally relieved. He hadn’t made his earth-creature wrong. He hadn’t misjudged, either. He’d simply picked the wrong side. It was a win-win.

God’s graduation speech was tough but spot-on as the two students needed to know what was coming and be prepared. Also, God saw to it that the way back into the Garden would be distinctively marked. He set up two signposts east of Eden where the garden ended, signposts that revealed the key to readmission. One signpost noted that innocence, the nakedness of a baby represented by a cherubim, was necessary. The other, the flaming sword, noted that an exceptional type of strength and grit was called for to return. In any event, there’d be no sneaking back into the Garden, no crashing this party. The serpent had been grounded, literally, and women were hereafter made to feel repelled by their sight. There’d be no secret Garden visits through a backdoor of memory breakthrough caused by too much schmoozing between those former buddies, Eve and the serpent.

As a graduation present Adam, representing Man, was given the badge or emblem of a genuine recycler, namely a wholesome sweat whenever pushing forward. Man’s way. Women were given pain in childbirth as their gift. It would be their personal wake-up call, their reminder to stay alert and keep pushing so progress would be always assured. Woman’s way. Both would experience a never-ending urge to move forward, to always strive to make things better, try to make themselves better. Return visits to the Garden, of course, would happen but only during special times, times of dreaming and intimacy. Such visits would be brief, of course, and details hard to hang on to. Bliss with contentment and peace would be the notice that such a visit had taken place. The urge of man and woman to join together, to complete one another, would be their only hint that they had once been one; the memory of each being, for the other, a missing part of an original Whole.

x