I asked some questions about what ‘the Fall’ meant in the context of evolutionary origins of species and human beings. After reading both Peter Enn’s the Evolution of Adam and Charles Foster’s the Selfless Gene, I am nowhere closer to forming my own opinion on it.
Charles Foster does raise some important points that may rule out certain interpretations, based only on the biblical narrative of Genesis 3 itself. Let’s look at them, regardless of whether one accepts Adam and Eve as historical figures or not.
- God said ‘for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die‘, yet Adam and Eve did not die after eating the fruit; they lived for hundreds of years more. So in what way did they die?
- That God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever‘, means that till then, they had not eaten from the tree of life, and hence were not due to live forever.
- If God created mankind in his image, and meant for humans to be like him, then eating the fruit of knowledge of good and evil made Adam and Eve MORE like God. Isn’t this a good thing? Isn’t it, as Charles Foster reckons, a fall-UP?
He goes on to suggest that what died that day, was mankind’s ‘innocence’. Homo sapiens, instead of being naive like a child, became mentally mature. It was the rise of self-consciousness. How many of us, faced with the anxieties of adulthood that comes with increasing knowledge of the world and our responsibilities, wished we could turn back the clock to live as we did as a child, without a care in the world? With increasing knowledge comes increasing fears. Foster theorizes, that the reason man did not reach out for the fruit from the tree of life, was because ‘it never occurred to him that he would die and that it would be a good thing to avoid that death.‘ The consequence of the fall, was the rise of civilizations as we know it today. If this is true, the implication is that God did not intend for mankind to learn so much, to build civilizations and to develop cultures.
As intriguing as these ideas are, I do not find them very satisfactory. What does this imply about God? What was his original intent for creation and humans? What would have happened if Adam and Eve had not eaten of the forbidden fruit? Would we all still live in a childlike state of innocence? Is such a state really desirable?