Did Adam do All This?

Posted: May 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ve heard the term “rational theology” a few times lately. I am afraid to ask what it actually means because I don’t want to offend the person who tells me the answer. As you know, I think it is an oxymoron.

But I can’t just throw that out there. I have to base that on something. I feel sometimes that people think I am just mad at someone or someone did me wrong down at the church. Not true. It really does come down to those two words: rational and theology.

I guess I can throw out what I feel is a riddle right from the first chapters of Genesis and move on from there. Any good answers (“no one knows the thoughts of God” and “His ways are higher than our ways” is cheating) will be considered earnestly. I am rarely earnest, but I will be for a wee bit.

In the beginning, God creates Adam and puts two trees in the garden. One is The Tree of Life that will give them immorality, and the other is The Tree of Knowledge (or of Good and Evil). Although these trees predate the Bible in literature, I will take that this is the first use of them.

We are given two facts:

1)      Adam (and soon Eve) is forbidden to eat from the Knowledge Tree (oh, the uncloaked metaphor).

2)      God is omniscient (all-knowing).

So…is the Bible (or God or a scribe or whoever) lying when they said God was omniscient? Because that means he knew that Adam and Eve (given free will) would choose to sin and disobey.

Or…Is the Bible true and God is omniscient and ,therefore, the most horrible, uncaring deity ever for setting up a scenario where all people from then on out – following the sin of only 2 people—would be dying of disease, miserable, overdosed, in chronic pain,  crushed by earthquakes, heartbroken AND going to hell for eternity with no escape?

Which one is it? The lie or the cruelty?

Why did God let Adam wield all this catastrophic power, especially if he knew?

  1. Andrew Ford says:

    Christine and I thought about this and here are Christine’s thoughts. This is a stream of consciousness rather than a refined composition but it strives to be “rational” (based on logic) as well as “theological” (expressing an understanding of God):

    To me the question is: Why did the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil need to exist?
    My unresearched answer is that it goes to the requirement for “choice” to exist if “love” was to exist for humans.

    There is no question that love had to exist for humans because they are “made in the image of God” and “God is love”.

    It is said that “love is a decision”. To truly be able to decide i.e. have choice, we need to have knowledge, but we also need wisdom to know how to apply that knowledge to make good choices.

    Wisdom is something that is gained (for those who are not omniscient).
    Initially humans relied on God’s wisdom for all the decisions they needed to make.
    Once they chose to “eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” they were effectively choosing to rely on their own wisdom. This was a betrayal of trust in God’s wisdom and love (which would have meant all God’s decisions were for their best i.e. “life in it’s fullest”).

    This was a decision that couldn’t be “rewound” but had to be allowed to “play out”. A “memory wipe”, while solving the immediate problem, would violate God’s original decision to allow “choice” to exist.

    – God, being omniscient, knew that eventually the decision to allow “choice” would mean that the wrong choice could be made.

    – God, being timeless, saw this decision being made, even before creation itself.

    – At this time, and because of God’s love, within the trinity of God’s person (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), God made a plan to redeem humans and reconcile them to himself (through the life death and resurrection of the Son, and the sending of the Holy Spirit) and to redeem creation (also affected by the human decision).

    Now, we live in a creation affected by human decision not to rely on the wisdom of God.
    Now, we have the option of choosing to accept God’s “rescue” plan, by turning from self-reliance to reliance on the wisdom of God.

    As we choose to follow God’s Way, we have access to the Holy Spirit of God, dwelling within us, sharpening our conscience and transforming us into people who more and more can make decisions in line with God’s wisdom and love.

    Ultimately, those who make this choice are assured of “resurrection”, where humans and creation will be transformed into that which is of the same essence but is “new” and no longer “time bound” (i.e. is eternal).

    This dwelling with God will once again give us access to the “tree of life”, which is for the healing of the nations. All enmity, pain, disease, decay and disaster will be gone. A new existence, dwelling intimately with the One who is wisdom and love will bring us a joy beyond our imagination.

  2. LANE says:

    Andrew, sorry, but this same-old-same-old absolutely exhausts me. Sounds to me like God just might have created the first Reality Show and has been lounging in the clouds ever since, feeling smug and highly entertained.

  3. Karen says:

    My mother-in-law led me to this guy–Alan Stewart. I am thankful for his generous reply.

    Thank you for your contact. I am afraid my answers are never short, but I can’t abide slick answers so I want to treat your question with proper seriousness. I have added a new post to my blog entitled ‘Here I stand’ to give some idea of where I am theologically and how I got there.
    Your questions is:
    So…is the Bible (or God or a scribe or whoever) lying when they said God was omniscient? Because that means he knew that Adam and Eve (given free will) would choose to sin and disobey.
    My counter question would be: Where does the Bible say God is or was omniscient? I may be wrong but I don’t think it does. For that matter, even the omnipotence of God is hardly a theme in the Bible. The word is mentioned only in Revelation and then only in a song of praise.
    Part of my answer would have to be we are trying to interpret a Bible from the English but its various sections were written in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. Generally this does not really pose a problem but when one deals with words or concepts like omniscience or omnipotence, the varying nuances may well be lost or twisted in the translation.
    First, what does omniscience mean? Does it mean knowing absolutely everything, or does it mean knowing everything that is possible to know? This refers of course to the future. While we might claim to know about the future in general, by deduction from people’s motives, tendencies etc. etc. we cannot predict with certainty what will happen. We may guess to a high degree of probability but absolute knowledge is impossible. After all, there might be a tornado or a bilious attack that wasn’t put into the equation, and that by the chaos theory (please don’t ask me to elaborate) means we cannot predict the future with absolute certainty.
    While God might be called all-knowing, although I can’t quote any text of the Bible which says this, this may well be different from absolute omniscience, which is what some people predicate of God. I think the consensus of scholars on this question is coming round to the idea that God knows everything that is possible to be known, but that, since God has given free will to human beings – implied by the Eden account – unless this freewill is a furfy, God cannot know beforehand what Adam will choose. Therefore the future is open.
    Some find this difficult to accept, and it seems to limit God. But I base my idea (actually I don’t think it’s my original idea) on the idea of emptying. In Philippians 2: 6 Paul writes: though he (Jesus) was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. . . There are many interpretations of this text, (for a detailed debate on the issue see N.T.Wright in The Climax of the Covenant, Fortress Press 1993) and the best I have read is that Jesus, being in the form of God, i.e. being like God, he did the sort of thing that God does, i.e. he emptied himself. Emptying oneself is a basic attribute of God. So before creation, God was all that was. There was nothing else. Hence, to continue to use metaphors – the only way one can talk about all this – God occupied all the space there was. To create anything, God had to empty himself (sorry for the sexist pronoun but Godself sounds so weird) to make space for creation. Similarly when God gave human beings freewill, God emptied himself of some of his omniscience. God now accepted the fact that human beings might choose to do things other than God might have expected, and about which he could do no more that guess. God is not omniscient in this absolute sense.
    Again, I see this all as a sort of metaphor. It is probably drawn from the idea that human parents try to bring up their children to live responsibly and respectfully etc. etc. and they must take the risk that their children will break the rules, disregard the restriction, and throw off the traces. To refuse them the opportunity to do this would keep them forever in a state of virtual servitude, and the love and respect the children would offer would be of no value. God had to give up some of his omniscience or else the gift of freewill is a cypher and the offer of obedience is worthless.
    Maybe this is a long explanation but I don’t see that God is omniscience in the sense that he foresaw that Adam would sin. People might argue that of course God must have known that ultimately even if God had to wait a few aeons, ultimately it was virtually inevitable that Adam would jump the traces so God is still culpable.
    Well, I would think all I could say is that this is a story, and the writer had a message to give which was not about whether or not the idea of omniscience of God is compatible with what we know of the world and its ways. It’s not quite on the level of having an argument as to whether God had two legs or four since he is depicted as walking in the garden. Or maybe we might argue whether God was feeling the heat since he was walking in the garden in the cool of the evening – although if we want to be pernickety, it was not God but only his voice that did the walking! These are simply parts of the story necessary to make it a story but hardly relevant to the message. That may not satisfy some but that’s in part how I would argue.
    All sorts of later doctrines seem to derive from the interpretation of this chapter in Genesis. Paul says that by man came death, so also by man came the resurrection of the dead. But that is Paul, not Genesis. Genesis claims that on the day they eat of the tree they will die. That need not imply that death was something new and was unknown in creation until that time. It could just as well mean that on the day they ate of the tree, they would join the rest of creation in facing death and dissolution. That they didn’t die immediately is a problem for those who insist that the Hebrew word yom can mean only a day of 24 hours. In fact in other parts of the Bible yom is translated as ‘age’ or ‘year’, so the threat can mean that on the eating of the fruit, Adam will enter the age or era of mortality. This whole argument may well mean the rehabilitation of this story at the expense of Paul, and that opens a whole can of worms. But the search for truth is not easy.
    I hope that treats your question with the respect that it deserves. At the moment – and who know what thoughts might come tomorrow this is pretty much my understanding of the story.

    • Steve Watson says:

      Hi there,
      What was before time?
      We have a Eternal God and this show’s with scriptures that “God is all knowing” Eph 1:4
      Eternity is before time? something to discern!
      No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began 1Cor 2:7

      God is Spirit not a “Tree” read 1Cor 13 about Love: For He is “Love”
      God’s Love is unconditional something else to be discerned!

      God show’s no favoritism? So who can be saved? something to be discerned and grasped

      God can not lie? Hebrew 6:17-18 In other words God does not Change? something to be discerned

      For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God 1Peter 1:23

      We live above the Sun not under the sun?
      Solomon lived above the sun at one time? But reverted to living under the sun something to be breathed.

      The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here.Luke 11:31

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