ESSAYS ON THE FALL OF MAN

Does God Tempt

The Bible is such a confused mishmash, that it contradicts itself at every turn. Bear in mind that it was God who made the fruits from the tree of good and evil tempting. The passages below from the New Testament, make the point that both God and Satan are both tempters. Such logic confirms my often stated conclusion that God and Satan are one in the same.

1. According to Jesus, a tree is known by its fruit. If follows that if eating the forbidden fruit leads to the introduction of sin, then the fruit was evil. If the fruit is evil, then its creator is evil.

17So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.
18A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20Thus you will know them by their fruits. (Matt. 7:17-20)

33"Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. (Matt. 12:33)

43"For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;
44for each tree is known by its own fruit. (Luke 6:43:44)

2. The devil is described as the tempter. Who else could that be but a product of God's creation or God himself playing the role of the tempter. This passage comes from when Jesus was in the wilderness with Satan.

3And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of brdea." (Matt. 4:3)

3. Jesus' prayer to God to lead us not into temptation, implies that God is the tempter.

13And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. (Matt 6:13)

4. Let us not forget, that if man can be lured and enticed by his own desire, it is God who gave him that desire. James tries to reverse the burden of responsibility.

13Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one;
14but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)

5. Absurdity: Paul says that the act of eating the forbidden fruit brought death. In other words, if man allowed God to prohibit him from having a sense right and wrong, he would have had immortality. Sounds like a deal with the devil.

12Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned (Rom. 5:12)

Did Adam Bring Death into the World

Lets leave aside the realistic fact that that death is an inevitable aspect of the universe. Not only do all living beings eventually die, but even planets and stars die out too. The Bible defies the Christian doctrine that Adam brought death into the world. In this exercise we will see as we so often do, how much Christian theologians torture language to make it come out the way they want.

1. The idea that man had immortality comes from Gen. 1:27, when God made man in his image. If man was created in God's image, so they reasoned, then he would have to have immortality. True. But man would have to be invisible too. We can't take this literally.

27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)

1a. The second Genesis account portrays man as having a physical body formed from dust. The breathing part symbolizes his soul. Combining verses 1:27 and 2:7, if God created man in his own image, then God would have to be a physical being.

7then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen. 2:7)

2. We have to go all the way to the Pauline epistles to find where this idea got started; it has no support anywhere else in the Bible, including the Gospels. The most prominent passage regarding death through Adam's so called sin can be found in Romans 5:12-14.

12Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned—
13sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
14
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14)

2a. If we follow this bit of logic, we know Adam himself could not bring death to the human race. It would have to be God who used Adam's transgression as an excuse to bring death into the world. By his own weasel words, Paul gives God credit for arbitrarily killing off every living being because of one simple act by one simple person. He is calling God the greatest mass murderer of all time.

3. What Paul did was take Gen. 3:19 out of context, where God tells Adam he will return to dust.

19you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen. 3:19)

3a. It takes an incredible amount of license to take this verse and blow it up to meaning Adam brought death into the world. The verse 3:19 was framed according verse 2:7 below, when man was formed from dust. If he was made from dust, then he was a mortal.

7then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, (Gen 2:7)

3b. This bit about dust brings up another profound point and one of the few times when the Bible agrees with reality. We know that all life is composed of minerals and water. And when we die, we decompose back to the same minerals we came from. In biblespeak, that's dust to dust. Said another way, man comes from earth and returns to earth.

3c. As far into the seventh century, it was believed that humans possessed a body and a soul. All this nonsense about death, heaven, hell, redemption and salvation, has to do with the ancient belief that it is ones soul which animates his body. The words spirit and soul derive from another belief in air as one of the primeval elements responsible for life. As the saying goes, it's all a bunch of hot air.

3d. None of these Genesis creation stories support the Christian doctrine that God created a heaven and a hell where souls go. It is not supported in the Old Testament and Jews don't believe in it either. Man comes from dust and returns to dust.

4. If Adam's disobedience brought death into the world, then God would have had to given Adam immortality before he ate the fruit. The scriptural proof in verse 3:22 indicates otherwise. God had no intention of letting man eat from the tree of life and living forever.

22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" (Gen. 3:22)

4a. To be absolutely certain he doesn't eat from the tree of life, he has it guarded. If you think about this one. God was too helpless to guard it himself, so he had to assign it to some other divine creatures.

24He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 3:24)

6. How long did God intend for man to live? Well according to the table below, the longest life span was Methuselah at 969 years. Notice, Adam lived for 930 years despite God's threat to shorten his life to one day.

Name Age Passage
Adam 930 Gen. 5:5
Seth 912 Gen. 5:8
Enosh 905 Gen. 5:9
Kenan 910 Gen. 5:14
Mahalalel 895 Gen. 5:17
Jared 962 Gen. 5:20
Enoch 365 Gen. 5:36
Methuselah 969 Gen. 5:27
Lamech 777 Gen. 5:31
Noah 950 Gen 9:29

6a. No one lived to a thousand years possibly because ancients believed it was an increment of God time. A couple of passages are suggestive.

4For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. (Psalms 90:4)

8But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

7. It is not until we get to the story of Noah's flood when God decided to shorten lives to a maximum of 120 years.

1When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them,
2the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose.
3
Then the LORD said, "My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." (Gen 6:1-3)

8. Conclusion. It was God who brought death into the world, not Adam. He never intended for man to live forever at the time of Creation. The maximum life span was to be less than a thousand years. It wasn't until the time of Noah when God decided to shorten life spans to a maximum of 120 years.

Did Adam bring evil into the world

1. Every Bible version from every religion agrees in one way or another: God made the serpent more subtle, more crafty, the shrewdest, sneakier and the most cunning of all the animals. It behaved exactly as God created it, in the image God created it.

"1Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made." (RSV, KJV)

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. (NIV, NRS, NAS)

1The Serpent was sneakier than any of the other wild animals the LORD God had made. (CEV)

1Now the serpent was the shrewdest than any of the wild beasts the LORD God had made. (Tanakh—Jewish)
1Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals the LORD God had made. (NAB—Catholic)

Conclusion: If the serpent symbolizes evil, then it is God who created evil. Not Adam, not the serpent. They can't create. Only God can create.

2. Now we know that the serpent behaved exactly the way God created him. According to the passages below, Satan came down to earth in the form of a serpent. Call it snake, serpent, Devil or Satan or whatever. It still means they behaved the way God created them, and thus, God created evil.

9And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev 12:9)

4For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; (2 Pet. 2:4)

Did God Curse Adam

The short answer is no. As the passage below proves, he cursed the ground. No curse was transferred to Adam. It means there was no such curse for which Jesus is said to have died for.

17And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; (Gen. 3:17)

Shame on the Church

One of the trademarks of authoritarian behavior is that authoritarians have this uncontrollable urge to dominate whatever they do not agree with. Ethics and domination do not go hand in hand. Ethics requires that we treat each other without coercion. The difference is that you cannot dominate without coercion. It doesn't matter whether it is verbal intimidation or physical threat. It is still coercion.

What the mythical Adam and Eve did had nothing do to with ethical behavior. The story shows how the Church is more concerned with obedience than it is towards ethical behavior. It would rather mankind remain in ignorance, then tolerate people thinking for themselves.

Taken at face value, it's a pretty harmless story. It was the Church that twisted it out of proportion and turned it into a monster. We have it on record here that there is no necessary connection between disobedience and ethical behavior.

As the fabled creator of all things, it cannot be otherwise that God created the talking serpent, two naive children, and a tempting tree that bore evil fruit. Except for those who crave obedience, this should not be hard to understand.

In raw nature there is no such thing as good and evil. They cannot be forces of nature because forces have material properties, like gravity and heat. The qualities of good and evil reflect as a code of human values, like the price of something in the marketplace. Though opinions vary in degree, the most common points of agreement focus on harmful acts towards others, like fraud, theft and murder.

The fact remains, that if mankind were inherently evil, it would have self-destructed a long time ago. Mankind has prospered to the degree it has it because of a natural inclination to cooperate with others for mutual gain.

Fortunately, those who would defraud, destroy or confiscate for power, compose a small fraction of society. The Church certainly fits in this category.

God Has No Power

There can be no doubt that the Christian Church takes this story of the Fall of Man very seriously. Christianity rests on two foundations. First, that God is the creator of all things. Second, that all mankind is inherently sinful because the first man sinned—with itself excepted. From those two foundations, it concludes that God is all powerful. That is, he is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omni benevolent and super-intelligent.

The fallacy is that if God has any the qualities he is claimed to have, he can have none of those according to the Fall of Man. Let's go through them one by one.

Omniscience means to know all things. When God told Adam not to eat from the tree of good and evil, if he was being protective, the statement would mean something like, "Don't eat the mushrooms, they are poisonous and will kill you the day you eat them." We can rule out this interpretation because the fruit didn't kill him on the day he ate it. Therefore because Adam unexpectedly ate the fruit and did not die, God cannot be omniscient.

Super Intelligent means that he operates according to a plan for which mankind is incapable of understanding. There is a statement where God says man has become like us, knowing good and evil. That means that we have become as capable of judging him as well as he can judge us. Second, his plan fell apart the moment Adam ate from the tree. Therefore, God cannot be super intelligent. In fact, this story makes him appear stupid.

Omni benevolent means he is all good. It is clear that it was God who made the tree desirous and told the man of its powers. He also lied about the tree bringing instant death. In modern parlance we would call it entrapment or a setup. For these reasons, God cannot be omni benevolent. More so, because this fable brought so much guilt, fear and human suffering, God must be evil.

Omnipresent means he is everywhere. There is a scene where he is walking in the garden looking for his two creations. He couldn't find them until they revealed their hiding place. Therefore he cannot be omnipresent; he can be in only one place at a time.

Omnipotent means he has unlimited power. Now if God can't keep two lonely simpletons from eating from one tree, then how in the world can he affect the six billion people who populate this planet. God cannot be omnipotent.

Conclusion. If there is sin, then God cannot gave any of the qualities attributed to him. Despite this host of absurdities, the Church will not find fault with its theology, because such a conclusion would doom its self interests. It would be like the cigarette companies admitting to cigarettes causing cancer.

Just what the Church defines as good and evil needs to be clarified. Basically, it defines evil as whatever it is against, and good as whatever it is for. Eating from a fruit tree seems like a pretty harmless act. Aside from that, if humankind didn't have a sense of moral values, we wouldn't have a civilized society. This fairy tale about Adam and Eve proves the point about the Church's perverted sense of human morality relying on strict obedience.

Obedience Has No Virtue

When the Church preaches how much it wants universal peace and harmony, there is a little footnote to that claim—it wants peace and harmony on its terms and only its terms. Given its two thousand years in business, it has obviously failed.

In order to induce peace and harmony, the Church would have to act in such a way to induce human behavior to maximize its cooperative side and minimize its coercive side. It can't do that by it normal practice of deceit, threat and intimidation. You can't reach a moral end by an immoral means. Those methods have proved to be a catastrophic failure.

By invoking conformity as the standard of right and wrong, the Church puts itself in the position of having to apply coercive measures because it makes itself the object of cooperation. Strict standards of conformity are humanly impossible unless enforced by coercive measures.

In the name of honesty, it has to lie. In the name of peace and harmony, it threatens violence. The net result, as present and past history bears out, accounts for why religious beliefs have been a source of so much human conflict and misery.

Demystifying God

For thousands of years from the time of its inception, after billions of words spoken and written on the subject, the Church continues to confess that its God is a God of mystery, as if it is something admirable. From a realistic vantage point, it's a confession to complete ignorance. If I may be so bold to state: I can this cut through this gobbledygook in 433 words.

Every theistic religion today is founded upon the belief that God is the creator of all things. Repeat: all things. It means man cannot create anything. If there is any truth to such a claim, there would have to be no such thing as life.

The point of it all is that we cannot separate ourselves from reality. That is why the Church is as lost today as it was thousands of years ago. To treat the "God" word as if it were a real person and supernatural at the same time, leads to all kinds of absurd dead ends. It only makes sense if we treat the god word as a metaphor for reality.

The Church regards man's first act as an act of disobedience, but that is to deny man was acting according to the way God created him. Man cannot violate God's laws. To say otherwise means to deny God as the creator of all things. It's black and white; there are no shades of gray. Either God is the creator of all things or he is not.

This also means that man cannot disobey God, anymore then he can defy the laws of gravity. If God created all things, then he created physical reality. Thus our physical limitations do not allow us to ignore God's will. If God is the creator of all things then man cannot violate his laws—either physically or morally.

The next time you see a baby born. Either that baby was created by a union between man and woman, or it was created by a third party. Only a God of reality can satisfy both assumptions.

In our modern society we enjoy an abundance of material wealth. Earth itself is barren with air, water and rock. It yields nothing without work and creative effort. When inventors, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, etc. come up with new ideas and discoveries, they don't think they were inspired by revelation from God. They know they were inspired by their own will.

So there you have it. If man is capable of creation through his own inner thoughts and actions, then he is eminently capable of fabricating a supernatural God. He can exist in our minds, but he cannot affect material reality.

Material reality is the only medium man cannot create, change or destroy. The best we can hope to do is strive to improve our understanding of it in order to rearrange it to our benefit, but we cannot create, change or destroy it. To hide from it will get us nowhere, as the static view of God attests.

Faith And Happiness

Perhaps it is an overwhelming task for believers to inquire as to whether the Church is a competent broker of truth or if it doesn't have some hidden agenda. It offers a sympathetic explanation about the seeming harshness of reality; it has survived and prospered through centuries; and there are billions of people who subscribe to it.

So we do what our human instincts incline us to do. We join the legion of other believers, because it brings a sense of hope. The problem with this logic is that in order to have hope, there has to be despair. For whatever reasons, I suspect it is despair for which believers find consolation in religion, not hope.

Certainly if you want despair, you'll find plenty of it in the belief that all humans are natural born sinners. Religion provides the perfect medium for validating one's feelings of despair. It's like that cliché about misery loving company.

I have yet to find a single piece of official religious literature which promotes happiness for its own sake. It's always conditional upon loving imaginary beings with mantra like names. When you are happy, there is no need for hope because there is no despair. With faith, it's like buying a dollar ticket to a lottery, where a person hopes he will be the lucky winner despite near impossible odds. In faith you hope happiness comes to you. The problem is, it doesn't work that way.

You can't find real happiness by waiting for it to come to you. You can't wish for it or pray for it. And you can't buy it; though money does help. You find happiness by eliminating the thought habits that cause stress. I would guess that 99% of the stress we experience, is caused by worry over imaginary problems.

The most productive form of happiness, comes by learning to distinguish between what is real and what is imaginary. Religion will get you nowhere which you can't get more effectively by grounding yourself in reality. The understanding of the faults of religious beliefs provides a good starting place towards recognizing what is imaginary.

A Losing Proposition

The view I present here is that any pact with the Church results in a losing proposition. What one gains by a feeling of hope, more is lost by the fear, guilt and suspicion which permeate its doctrines. We like to feel that the Church helps us feel better about ourselves and others, but on balance it makes us feel worse.

Many believers would argue with the previous statement. While it is true that there are people who are completely happy in their faith, it is also true there are a lot of people in mental hospitals who are equally happy. It's a common practice for those who are frustrated by reality to fabricate their own perception as a method of coping. Religion provides a socially respectable refuge.

We don't have to fabricate reality when we can have the real thing. There are innumerable ways to satisfy ones personal needs without religion's negative side affects. The better we understand reality, the more control we have over our own destinies. But if we trust authority, we forfeit control and self-confidence.

Despite religion's popularity, that doesn't change the fact that it is founded upon an archaic belief system. It teaches us to hold authority as the highest good and blinds us into justifying its coercive means as a necessary side effect. Even today we see this violence played out among the three Bible based religions fighting for control over Jerusalem. This has been going on for over 2,000 years now.

What this proves is that the idea of placing our faith in government and religious authority is based on a flawed moral system. If we hold truth as a moral good, then we should reject any authority who doesn't prove to be truthful. If we hold non-violence as a moral good, then we should reject any authority who imposes violence and fear.

It is only by holding authorities to same moral standards we want for ourselves, can there be any chance of eroding the misery which we allow authorities to inflict on us. In truth, moral goodness is universal to all; there can be no exceptions. There is no such thing as a higher truth, unless we start with truth at the lowest level. It is equally impossible to engender peace and social harmony through coercion. Such a method violates the premise which it seeks to eradicate.

If continue to blind ourselves to the treachery imposed on us by authority, we will continue to have the mess we have now. I know that there are a lot of people who accept the misery of others because they don't think it affects them. But that is only because they are used to being screwed. Through faith, we blind ourselves to those facts.

Power Corrupts

In a brief scan through the history books we can see that when the Church was as the height of its political power, it instigated wars and persecutions in the name of belief. If we can find reason to reject Communism because it has the same history, we should reject religious practices on the same grounds. Even in the Middle East today, the three religious factions who claim their beliefs are rooted in the same Bible, are fighting one another in disagreement.

This is not a medieval mistake as some apologists would have us believe. It reflects on the coercive nature of religious institutions. "War is Peace" as the famous Orwellian dictum goes in the book, "1984". To effect war in the name of peace violates the moral premise upon which religions claim to remedy.

Smoldering Sin

Those who accept the doctrine of sin find themselves in a state of chronic subconscious discomfort, always on guard to avoid against it; though they can never feel in control of their destiny. It reflects on their willing obedience and sense of duty towards the Church's dictates. And it reflects on their fear of accepting information which might evoke doubt about their beliefs. Believers call it faith. In reality it's superstition.

Subscription to the doctrine of sin causes believers to look at humankind in the worst possible terms. The word evokes guilt, fear and suspicion. It sticks to them like a tar baby; they can't get rid of it no matter what they do. They can't see it, they can't feel it, they can't hear it, but they are convinced it permeates everywhere like a force of nature.

The truth of the matter is that sin expresses a value judgment at odds with what we experience in every day affairs those with whom we come in contact with. It is when we come in contact with those who claim the authority to save us from ourselves, do we run into the obstacles that make life difficult.

The Way Out

Everyday living is like driving a car. Whatever we do there is usually a destination in mind. If we get lost, we don't blame the road, we blame ourselves. Now ask someone for directions. Suppose that person told you that the directions back to the main highway remain a mystery to him, but if you try this or that you might get there. Our usual impulse would be to ask someone else.

Now ask the Church how do you get through life as safely and comfortably as possible. You'll get the same answer: The glory of God is a mystery to them, but if you trust him you might get there. That's their euphemistic way of admitting they are lost too. The typical believer's impulse is to try anyway.

With the above example in mind, the straight answer on how to stop being a sinner is to stop thinking like one; it's all mental. As individuals, we can't be immoral beings unless we behave like immoral beings.

We are selfish and sexual, because such attributes are necessary for biological survival. Feelings of guilt about such natural behavior are both fruitless and counterproductive. They come about as a result of allowing false authorities do our thinking for us. (Recommended reading: "The Virtue of Selfishness," by Ayn Rand)

It should go without saying that you can't have realistic expectations without a reasonable understanding of reality. The journey through life requires us to make constant corrections. The better our mental map matches the territory we are mapping, the better our chances of improving our lot in life.

Believers may find science too cold because it tells us that biological life did not arise out of purposeful effort. That doesn't mean we can't find purpose within ourselves. I offer no prescriptive philosophy on life except to advocate living as honestly and productively as you can.

By increasing our value towards others, we in turn increase our own sense of self-worth. Life has no theological purpose, but it can have whatever value we wish to strive for. It certainly beats trying to love something that doesn't exist.

The common desire for spirituality is another one of those false promises to which believers turn to religion to find solace. The argument goes that we should divorce our wants for material gratification because it reduces our spirituality. Materialism is equated with sin because it leads us away from God.

If there was something wrong about materialism, then it would stand to reason that countries like Cuba, North Korea and Afghanistan would qualify as the most spiritual places on earth. That logic doesn't connect.

You will find more spirituality where people's wants and desires are satisfied then where they are frustrated. Where we see the worst pockets of human poverty, misery and scarcity, we'll find the coercive practices of criminals, clergy and politicians at work.

By threatening sin and damnation, the Church plays on our basic need for safety and steers us away from viable solutions. To the degree we isolate ourselves from the real world through religious practices, we divert our attention from finding a lasting remedy to the kind of spirituality that isn't fragile. This discussion is not exhaustive, but is meant to point out that religion has been around for thousands of years and has failed miserably in accomplishing its mission.

With this exposé on sin, my objective is to redirect readers attention away from the theology that all humans are born sinners, to the positive and realistic assumption that humans are inherently moral beings—not perfectly moral, but inherently moral.

This is not an assertion dependant on abstract proofs. We can see it in our modern market economy, which requires an extremely high degree of social cooperation to produce its abundance of wealth. And we experience it directly in the everyday politeness we receive from strangers and acquaintances.

This is not to say that all people act this way. At the top of the social pecking order are those who crave power by whatever means works. Power cannot come through cooperative behavior on the basis of equality. It comes by deceiving and threatening others into cooperating with the power seeker. To its miserable credit, the Church pioneered and mastered the art.