The pitcher on the mound is Eeset. At the plate we have a new batter, oldhermit. Look at the arms and legs on that batter. He looks powerful. She underhand pitches it, thinking that the high show ball will be difficult to return. Oldhermit swings. Crack! It is a long ball! The ball is going up, up, and up. It has vanished into the stadium lights.
Let me share with you some thoughts on the garden narritive about the issue of knowledge and human psychology and we will see if your theory about Eve being the "perfected model" holds up as we examine the participation of each in this pragmatic example.
In the garden of Eden there develops an emerging discontinuity between man and his association with forbidden things. When man is unconstrained by revelation, he quite naturally draws conclusions based upon how he relates to the world around him. Man allows what he experiences to influence how he defines what is relevant. Once man learns to link the natural to the eternal, he learns to represent human events in quite a different way. One cannot build a triadic picture of reality based upon experiential logic. Human rationalization operating on its own cannot properly context the relationship of man to the natural world. Building a triadic picture of reality is only possible when one learns to represent human experience in the light of revelation. To do this, one must allow revelation to transcend experiential logic.
There is an example of triadic structure that demonstrates how the natural world and the supernatural world relate to one another in the eternal continuum. At the beginning of man’s history in the garden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were mentioned in the context of man’s relationship both to God and to the natural world. The text never seems to indicate that in the beginning there was any prohibition to the tree of life but that man was only denied access to the tree of knowledge. It was not until after the fall of man that God placed an angel with a flaming sword at the east of the garden to prohibit man’s access to the tree of life. The way in which Adam chose to represent these trees would reflect his understanding of his association with both God and the natural world. As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that access to the tree of life was predicated upon man’s observance of the divine prohibition of the other. Man was to have absolutely no contact with the tree of knowledge. God had provided every tree of the garden for man’s use and pleasure, but this tree was to be left strictly alone. These two trees stand as symbols of a world beyond man’s sensory existence. The tree of forbidden knowledge represents the holiness, the superiority, and the sovereignty of God. It suggests that God always reserves unto Himself the things that belong exclusively to him. It is not merely the tree that has exclusivity, but what that tree represents. As a whole, man is never content to abide by prohibitions. Here, he desires the one thing he is denied. How characteristic this has proven to be of human nature!
Although man was given the highest place of honor as the crowning creation of God and dominion over all creation, this tree was a reminder that even man is not God. Man must stand in the index position of this triad and link the tree of knowledge that he can see to the will of God whom he cannot see. He must also link this tree to revealed consequences that he cannot see and has never before experienced. For man to properly relate to both worlds he must learn to link the eternal world to his world by bringing God’s warning to bear upon his relationship to this tree. He must learn how to define the nature of his relationship to this tree based on what God had told him about it. Now, this epistemology did not just apply to this tree but extended to everything in man’s dominion. He must understand his relationship to all of his domain based upon this triadic epistemology. God had already defined his function in creation and man must relate to his world according to the words of the Lord.
From the beginning, man was confronted with a decision in his association with this icon of good and evil. This tree was a symbol of an unseen reality. There is a particular type of knowledge man was not equipped to handle and should not seek to obtain. The accessibility of the tree shows that man was given the ability to obtain this knowledge. The prohibition laid down by God says that this knowledge is destructive to man. This reinforces man’s position as a subordinate creature to what is unseen. God had said, “From this tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shalt not eat of it; for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.” Here is a divine standard given to instruct man on how to think when he considers this tree. Since God has decreed that punishment will follow disobedience, the validity of God’s word is upheld. Divine judgment preserves divine justice because it is through the exercise of justice that God protects his holiness. Observance of this revelation becomes a matter of life and death. The ethics were simple; God said, “Don’t touch it.” This did not require a human analysis of ethics to decide what might be the right thing to do. Contact with the tree was evil both because God said it was evil, and because of what man would suffer as a result.
We know, because of how this tree is interpreted by the physical senses in the text that man, left on his own, could not arrive at this conclusion. Adam could not see what the tree represented. He could only see the physical dynamics of the tree. For the rest, he must rely upon what God had told him about the tree. Man requires instruction from God to protect him from that which he has no point of reference to understand. As the Creator, God understood things about the nature of man and his relationship to his environment that man did not know and was not created to know. Man was not endowed with the capacity to distinguish between good knowledge and evil knowledge. This truth has not changed. The knowledge provided by this tree was not a necessary component for man to fulfill his role within his assigned environment.
The environment of the garden supplied every conceivable human need. He was even given access to the tree of life. The garden was a secure environment where man had no experience with fear, shame, and disgrace. These were yet unknown elements. It was an aesthetic environment where God controlled access to knowledge. There were certain things that man knew by design, but the prohibition of the tree says that there were those things which man should never want to know or seek to know.
In the garden, man enjoyed the presence of God and the full awareness of God. God knew that through disobedience man would be exiled from this controlled and protected environment and from his fellowship with God. By violating God’s prohibition, man challenged the sovereignty of God. Man does not have the authority to mandate a standard of moral conduct. The text of Genesis shows us that this level of knowledge belongs exclusively to God. Because man chose to behave sinfully, he is now confronted with a new reality. Adam is now aware of a particular type of knowledge that will forever change the way mankind represents the relationship he has with the natural world and with his God. It also laid a foundation by which humanity would forever be forced to choose between these two epistemologies. Should we represent reality based on revelation from God or should we rely on those things learned from pragmatic experiences? Which one will we depend upon to tell us the truth about what is relevant?
Now, man has access to the knowledge of good and evil. This presents two problems: First, man does not know the difference between good and evil and secondly, history shows us that when man is left to his own, he will more often than not choose the evil to his own destruction, even when revelation is present. In Genesis 6:5, we see that by the time Noah comes on the scene, “every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is only evil continually,” (RSV). The fact that revelation was available to that generation is evident in the character of Noah. God regarded Noah as “righteous in his generation.” Righteousness is the result of submitting one’s self to revealed constraints. This deterioration of a divinely established ethic shows a complete reversal of a revealed epistemology. This is what happens when the mind of man becomes isolated from the revelation of God. This isolation was willful, deliberate, and fatal. When man is left to himself without a desire for revealed knowledge, he is characteristically self-destructive. If man is to survive spiritually in a cursed environment, it will require a standard that will enable him to represent properly his assigned place within creation.
When Satan approached Eve in the garden, he confronts her about the tree of knowledge. Eve rehearsed the commandment that God had given to them about this tree saying, “from the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but of the tree that is in the midst of the garden you may not eat from it or touch it lest you die.” It is very clear that she understood both the commandment and its consequences. This represents a revealed language structure about certain truths concerning this tree that she could not know any other way. Satan then introduced a new way of thinking about what is true. He portrays this revealed grammar as unreliable and not to be trusted. “You shall not surely die for God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” The idea obviously appealed to Eve but the force of the temptation was more than just a desire to be like God. This new way of representing truth offered a means by which control could be shifted from God to man.
Eve relies upon an unrevealed method for making decisions. Rather than consulting God and relying upon revelation which, by her own admission she understood, she relies instead upon her five senses operating in this natural world to formulate her epistemological base. She “rationalizes” (a knowledged based thinking process) why it would be acceptable to eat that which had been forbidden. This reveals a distorted ethic in the misappropriation of things that belong to God. She contemplated stealing that which belongs to God and then attempted to justify the rightness of it in her own mind.
Satan’s temptation was two-fold based upon the decision matrix of the woman. This would imply that Satan understood something of the psychology of the woman and he capitalizes on her naiveté. Experientially, Eve knows nothing of Satan, temptation, evil, craftiness, the pain of disobedience, or death. The serpent creates doubt in her mind about the motives, character, and purpose of God. He accused God of lying and planted the seed of evil ambition. “God knows that in the day you eat of it you will become like God.” The reality was that they were already like God. He creates suspicion in the mind of the woman by implying that God is deliberately withholding something from her that is both desirable and beneficial. It implies that, 1) man is just as good as God is, 2) God is unjust in this prohibition, and 3) man has the right to be God. This is a challenge of God’s sovereignty. At the heart of this, is the question of who has the right to be in control? Who has the right to decide what is best for man? A worldly epistemology says that man has the wisdom to decide what is best for him. A revealed epistemology says that God not only knows what is best he is also able to supply it.
Satan then makes an appeal to the empirical and aesthetic observation. Eve saw that the fruit was good for food and was pleasing to the eye. He also appeals to the subjective impulse; it was desirable to make one wise, which the text defines as knowing good from evil. Where then was the sin? The sin was allowing human logic and rationalization to overrule the revelation of God. This is a propensity of humanly derived standards of ethics. The decision was made by appealing to an uninspired epistemology rather than to the words of the Lord. Human logic and rationalization are not valid determinants for deciding what is right or wrong. God said, “Don’t touch it.” This alone determines what is right or wrong.
The ball doesn't come down until it reaches the parking lot. Looks like we really have a power hitter here.
I chose this because this essay of a post has some real gems in it. I have highlighted some of the real good points oldhermit has made. If you take the time to read it, you will realize oldhermit had blasted Eeset's OP out of the water. Take the time to read his posts. They are well worth it.