Would you Adam and Eve it?

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A fig tree in Autumn colours. Willowbank Reserve, Tawa, New Zealand

I’ve been re-reading the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible and I believe that Eve has been given a raw deal! Nowhere in the Bible does God forbid Eve from eating fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve had not been created when Adam was given the prohibition!

Secondly, before Eve ate from the tree, she would not have known that it was wrong, as she would as yet have no idea of right or wrong. She would not have known that what she was doing was evil.

English: Adam and Eve are being sent out of th...
English: Adam and Eve are being sent out of the garden of Eden Русский: Адам и Ева изгоняются из Эдемского сада (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thirdly, why did God put the tree there at all? He had no need of it? The Garden of Eden was put there for Adam’s use, with two trees in the centre which Adam was told not to touch. What did God think was going to happen, given that both Adam and Eve were innocents and didn’t know Good and Evil?

And the serpent, described as “crafty” in the New International Version of the Bible. Its intent was obviously not good. Had it already tasted the fruit from the tree? Poor is loaded with the burden of the Original Sin and it should probably have been just the serpent that got the boot from the Garden of Eden with all his offspring.

Anglo-Catalan Psalter or The Great Canterbury ...
Anglo-Catalan Psalter or The Great Canterbury Psalter, folio 1 recto: Genesis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the Bible cannot literally be true, given that we appear to live in a deterministic scientifically describable Universe, and the events in the Bible, the miracles, seem to be both non-deterministic and scientifically highly improbable, we can use examples from the Bible to investigate moral and ethical matters.

The Bible story is an early attempt to investigate moral concepts. A mountain exploding is neither good nor evil, but if we tell a little story about the original people and how they came to know good and evil we can begin to get some idea of the concepts.

English: Bible of Lilienfeld
English: Bible of Lilienfeld (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the story God is responsible for the whole shebang. Why on earth did he introduce good and evil into the world? For that matter, what are good and evil?

In the story the Original Sin was Eve doing something that a higher authority (the Highest Authority!) told Adam, and by extension Eve, not to do. This then opened a Pandora’s Box of things good and evil, like not romping around with no clothes on.

Philosophers note that this does not actually answer the question of where good and evil, bad and good, arise from. It doesn’t answer the questions of what exactly good and evil are and why they exist in the first place. The Universe would no doubt be a less interesting place without the concepts.

While good and bad are similar to good and evil, there are differences and the word “good” is used in a different sense in the two pairs of concepts. A good harvest means a plentiful one and there is no moral aspect to it (except possibly if it is a reward for serious toil), whereas giving part of the harvest to someone in need is a good deed and is good in a moral sense.

Charity
Charity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Similarly a bad harvest is a light one, and again has no moral aspect to it, but refusing to spare a part of the harvest with those in need or stealing the harvest of someone else is morally bad thing to do. It is an evil act.

So, Eve was set up. She had no concept of good and evil, she was persuaded by the serpent who it appears might have already sampled the fruit, and God had placed the trees in the Garden of Eden to tempt her, and for her to be the channel by which good and evil entered the world.

English: Bronnbach Abbey. Choir stalls by Dani...
English: Bronnbach Abbey. Choir stalls by Daniel Aschauer (1778): Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil Deutsch: Kloster Bronnbach. Chorgestühl von Daniel Aschauer (1778): Baum der Erkenntnis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The end result, apart from the expulsion, was the question of what was allowed and what was not. Obviously, doing what you are told by authority is high on the list, as is walking around with no clothes on.

Theologians of all religions have spent a great deal of time and effort deciding what is good and what is bad. Much of the thinking is encapsulated in the “Ten Commandments” (in Judaism, Christianity and Islam at least), and Jesus’ First Amendment to love others as one loves oneself.

The place of Ten Commandment made from Murano ...
The place of Ten Commandment made from Murano glass at Kedumim Synagogue SHetibe, up from the stand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other attempts to codify the concept of good and evil have been attempted over time. One such is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as advocated by Eleanor Roosevelt. This document is good in its intent, but lacking in its understanding of the realities of life. For example, during a war many of the so-called “Human Rights” may need to be abrogated.

For instance, an individual should never undergo torture. However, what if torturing one individual one can save millions of others? I don’t answer this question – I merely pose it. Indeed did God breach the Human Rights of Adam and Eve by evicting them from their home in the Garden of Eden, perhaps?

Adam and Eve ( )
Adam and Eve ( ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arguments like this abound – is it acceptable to transport a man to “the colonies” for stealing a loaf of bread? What if he did it, not for himself, but for his family? The law, which is at its base a codification of good and evil, said at the time that this was acceptable, and indeed necessary, but today it seems barbaric. Morals seem to be mutable.

Poor old Eve gets the blame for everything. Literally everything. For pain, childbirth, and the whole Human Being thing, not to mention venomous snakes. Snakes may, if they were conscious beings might consider themselves hard done by, because after all, if God had not put the tempting tree there would have been no problem.

Red milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum syspil...
Red milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila) User licence kindly provided to Wikipedia under the GFDL by photographer: Mike Pingleton Mike’s page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What about all those fleas and mosquitoes too? They have probably killed more people than snakes ever have. Maybe it wasn’t the serpent’s argument that persuaded Eve. Maybe it was a mosquito whispering in her ear that tipped the tables.

It’s a great story, a story of innocence lost. It conveniently encapsulates a reason for good and evil, and accounts for the fact that humans have to toil for a living, either by tilling a field and fighting weeds and thorns, pest and crop diseases, or by piloting a desk in a modern city.


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But it is unfair that Eve gets all the blame. If Eve were being tried in a court of law, I’d believe that she would have a good case, being set up by God and beguiled by His servant the serpent, all when Eve was in a state of innocence, not knowing at the time that what she was doing was wrong. Yes, I reckon she’d be let off with a caution.

Depiction of Adam and Eve being cast out from ...
Depiction of Adam and Eve being cast out from the Garden of Eden in the Dispersed Falnama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

The lull after Christmas

expenses-2011
expenses-2011 (Photo credit: Kyle McDonald)

I’m going to describe a graph, but I’m uncertain what to label the vertical axis. Probably labelling it “energy” would be the closest. The horizontal axis is definitely time, measured in days. The graph as a whole describes the Christmas – New Year period.

Starting on the day before Christmas Eve, the “energy” is high as people rush around preparing for Christmas. The mood is generally on the up, looking forward to the Christmas break. This year, as Christmas Day fell on a Wednesday, most people would have been off work, many until after the New Year holiday, so the Monday (the day before Christmas Eve) and the Tuesday (Christmas Eve) become part of the holiday.

Some children looking at a selection of Christ...
Some children looking at a selection of Christmas Cards during the 1910 holiday season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas Eve itself is an up day as everyone makes final preparations for the big day. Last minute shopping, cleaning, tidying have to be fitted around present wrapping and ensuring that the menu for the next day is in place. Some people prepare all the vegetables for Christmas day and nearly everyone remembers to get the turkey out of the freezer. Parents with children often face the twin task of preparing stockings and making the kids go to bed with the hope that they will finally drop off. Sometimes the duties extend well beyond midnight.

sleeping kids = clean house
sleeping kids = clean house (Photo credit: RAPACIBLE)

Christmas Day itself is a day of at least two parts. No matter how late they went to be the kids will wake up early, no doubt rousing their parents from some hastily snatched hours of sleep, then the day continues from there. Many families still go to church in the morning though this practise is declining.

The church of Tilly-la-Campagne with Christmas...
The church of Tilly-la-Campagne with Christmas lights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rest of the morning goes into cooking, eating, and no doubt drinking, as well as unwrapping presents, stopping kids (and older people) squabbling about trivialities. All this peaks when lunch is served. In the southern hemisphere, if it doesn’t rain, this may be eaten outside.

Christmas barbeque
Christmas barbeque (Photo credit: QuinnDombrowski)

In the afternoon, the mood declines to the point where some people may become comatose. Granny always sleeps in the afternoon, but so will Uncle Bill, who ate too much pudding and drank too much alcohol. Parents with kids might not be able to relax completely and may be arm-twisted into games of backyard cricket, at least in this hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere parents will no doubt be required to help with those construction toys or technical gadgets that the kids have been given. Nevertheless the mood is definitely down on the peak of the Christmas meal.

Julie's New Toy
Julie’s New Toy (Photo credit: camknows)

Boxing is interesting. It may be a down day, if for instance you have over-indulged the day before. Or it may be an up day if you are interested in the ‘traditional’ Boxing Day sales. This year I had to make a small purchase so I went to the local mall. The place was crowded, but unfortunately for the retailers there was a glitch with the EFTPOS systems and all purchases had to be strictly cash. I believe that spending on Boxing Day 2013 still broke records.

English: White Christmas at Baltasound Well, B...
English: White Christmas at Baltasound Well, Boxing Day actually; looking across the Houb towards Valla Field. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Boxing Day comes the lull. I’m writing this halfway through the lull, which extends from the day after boxing day to the day before New Year’s Eve. Most people celebrate the New Year, even if it is at a much less energetic level than Christmas Day. I generally stay up on New Year’s Eve to ‘see the new year in’ for no very good reason, I admit. Some people choose New Year as the chance to drink and eat more than usual, as a sort of full stop/period to mark the end of the holiday, even though they may not be returning to work until the beginning of the next week.

new year mice
new year mice (Photo credit: Natasha Fadeeva)

But back to the lull. The lull does not have to be an emotional down period, but it is probably, for most people, an energetic down period. People have survived Christmas and have a lesser celebration to look forward to in a week. It is a time for relaxing, taking the kids to the beach or the movies, visiting Granny, or merely settling down with that book that someone gave you for Christmas.

It’s a time for eating increasingly stale mince pies, trying to find leftovers interesting, and generally  tidying up the loose ends of Christmas. Maybe a trip to the mall with that token someone gave you. Maybe watching the England – Australia test match.

Boxing day test cricket, mate!
Boxing day test cricket, mate! (Photo credit: simonhn)

It’s a period with intrinsically no pressures, though for some people their circumstances may override this – from those who are about to give birth to those about to depart this life and those experiencing all life’s dramas in between, this period can be highly emotionally or energetically charged. But in general, it is a lull.

So my graph starts off low on the eve of Christmas Eve, and climbs through Christmas Eve. I originally wrote ‘climbs steadily’, but it may climb erratically but will trend upwards until the end of lunchtime Christmas Day. Then it drops dramatically, during the afternoon, as people relax after the exertions and excitements of the morning. Even washing up, while a chore, is still at a lower level than the peak of Christmas lunch.

Times Square on New Year's Day
Times Square on New Year’s Day (Photo credit: davehunt82)

On Boxing Day the graph may rise a little (for the shoppers) or drop (for those ‘tired’ from the exertions and consumption of the day before). And then comes the lull, a tranquil period between Boxing Day and the eve of New Year’s Eve, a relaxed period for most, I’d say. The graph remains low and level with maybe a lift as New Year gets closer.

On New Year’s Eve the graph may rise again. Some people like to party on the turn of the year, but the intensity of the celebration may not in most cases match Christmas. With the exception of the celebration of the year 2000, there is no real drive to make New Year an intense experience, though people do gather in the likes of Times Square to ‘see in the New Year’.

So, there you have my graph of the Christmas/New Year period. The rise from the foothills of pre-Christmas to the Everest of Christmas Day, followed by the valley of the lull before New Year and the minor peak of New Year itself. It remains to mention the lowlands of the period before those who work return to it at the beginning of January.

English: Sometimes the voice of Taka's Pack Re...
English: Sometimes the voice of Taka’s Pack Readers will lull him into a nap. But they are brief because he doesn’t like missing any part of a story. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope that all of you who celebrate Christmas had a good one and are looking forward to a pleasant New Year, and best wishes to those who do not celebrate this season either because of religion or conviction and those whose calendar does not align with the one to which I am accustomed.

Happy New Year (white camelia)
Happy New Year (white camelia) (Photo credit: tanakawho)