47. Sin, the Tree of Knowledge, and the Tree of Life
As Genesis describes, the first sin was Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. What, exactly, was this sin? If a word will suffice: masochism.
Masochism is the mind having been perverted to desire what the unadulterated mind instinctively knows to be detrimental. The sin of masochism, therefore, is falling away from God our Creator because we are meant to avoid what is naturally disagreeable.
Again: Creation fell because environmental influences (the snake) corrupted the mind to desire what was not in the body’s best interest. Importantly, readers of the Bible should not be misled to think that the “fruit” of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was something pleasant to look at, smell, and eat. It was not. In fact, it is a blasphemy against God the Creator to claim that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was an apple, pomegranate, grape, some other sweet and naturally delicious item, or that it was, greatest-of-physical-pleasures, penile-vaginal intercourse!* So claiming casts aspersions on God because the implication is that God created a hellish world with a natural temptation that could never be fulfilled.
Because God is the Creator, the Genesis statement that God “commanded” man not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge can be understood to mean that Adam and Eve had an innate instinct that told them not to eat from such a tree (Gen. 2:17). Consider: the Biblical God is not a person or a material object (in fact, believing such is idolatry).
To repeat this crucial point, when the Bible relates that the Creator—Who created humanity’s inborn nature—said something to Adam and Eve, what is meant is that the couple could make a distinction based upon their inborn intuition.
In the same way that we each naturally know to suckle our mother’s breast but not to eat excrement, it can be said that our Creator has commanded that we both drink milk but not eat poop. As a proof of this understanding being the genuine meaning of the Biblical texts, the first time that the word “command” appears in Genesis (originally written in Hebrew), is in verse 2:16. There, God “commands” man to eat. Was man so foolish that he required, from some outside Being, a verbal directive to know that he must eat? Surely, this cannot be this text’s meaning. Rather, the true message is that as hunger naturally commands the human action of eating, such a “command” can be considered to be coming from God, the Creator of Nature. (Logically, eating is God’s first directive because even a baby recently out of the womb must suckle actively.)
Continuing, “fruit,” in the original Hebrew, can be broadly construed to mean “product” (by the same Biblical analogy, by our fruits we are judged, that is, by our products). Therefore, the “fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” can be read as the “product of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”; and, again, such a product was not something that was naturally appealing to eat! In fact, judging by our innate senses, we knew that consuming this fruit/product led to death in the same way that we naturally sense that eating foul-smelling excrement will lead to demise.
Hence, there was no temptation to eat the forbidden fruit—until the snake came along and so convinced Eve to partake. The snake triggered such a mental perversion by prodding Eve to the point of getting her to wonder why she had an innate instinct not to do something. (Moreover, as Genesis 3:3 relates, Eve—but not Adam—was also forbidden from touching the fruit. While countless historical and historic theologians have explained that Eve added to God’s command, such is not true. When knowing what precisely was this fruit/product, it is clear that the life of a woman would be—due to her physiological differences from a man that make her more susceptible to certain infections—dangerously threatened from either eating or touching the fruit. Adam’s hazard, however, came only from eating.)
Without much delving into a semiotic analysis of the word “snake,” besides referring to the literal animal (which eats everything as it consumes its prey whole), the word could imply that Eve’s temptation emanated from the older, reptilian layer of her brain. If so, and further hinting at the definition of the forbidden fruit, because a snake uses its tongue to smell, this reptilian layer may have left Eve, under certain circumstances, susceptible to an investigation of her world by her actually tasting something foul so to know its character for certain. And, in her so doing, she would have overridden her human sense of smell that was designed to keep her at a distance from a foul substance.
Similar to how many women are mentally willing to suffer physically for the sake of style, the Bible relates that it was via the channel of Eve’s eyes that the aboriginal woman became convinced that it was in her interest to know why there was an innate aversion to eating from the Tree of Knowledge (Gen. 3:6). Moreover, after the snake’s influence, Eve became convinced that eating the forbidden fruit would make her like God because, then, she would know why it was bad to eat. The reason why it was wrong was information already known to God the Creator, Who had gone to the extent of making the urge not to eat from the Tree an innate instinct. So, Eve’s sin, sparked by a desire of her eyes playing with her mind, was something akin to the curiosity that killed the cat.
After Eve’s mind altered to desire what she had innately known to be not in her best physiological interest, such a mental corruption was passed to Adam: man, too, can be convinced to desire what is not good for him. Clearly, this type of perversion can be classified as a rebellion against the Creator because it is a rebellion against the innate. Thereby, Creation fell: our created form was reduced from its original design of being rightly able to judge by our inborn senses.
With this Fall, Adam and Eve realized their nakedness. Actually, such a recognition is masochism’s natural consequence. After all, when masochistically consuming what is not in the best physiological interest, one becomes sick. And, at such a time, when being sick, one would feel cold in a previously warm-enough environment. Because Eden, designed for Adam and Eve, was hot enough for the two to exist naked, when the couple were sickened for the first time, they would have noticed their nakedness in a way as never before.
Moreover, and as the Bible relates, the punishment for this sin was exile from the Garden. This penalty is logical: as Eden was designed for Adam and Eve, if their senses could no longer be trusted, they would no longer be able to function in an environment attuned to their senses.
Suddenly maladapted to their environment, Adam and Eve were obliged to find a new home outside of Eden that would allow for their altered states. There, clothing, too, was required: Eden, made for the pair, was warm enough for them to exist there naked. However, life outside their original habitat could be too cold, since a warmer-than-Eden, desert environment could be inhospitable for other reasons.
Analogous to this historical understanding, a baby, when first born, exists naked in the realm of the senses: when the baby is hungry, the baby cries; and, when fed, the baby is satisfied. As we age and are inculcated to desire social cohesion over our individual, best, selfish interests, we are cast out from the realm of the senses. That is, we are cast out from Eden.
Notably, I, the author, believe that Adam and Eve, at the time of the Garden, were our very ancient ancestors. Because Genesis relates that the aboriginal couple were vegetarians, their time must have been prior even to the first hunters. Further, Hebrew sages teach that the first appearance of Adam was very different to the way that humanity appears today. Hence, in obedience to these sages, I believe that the condition of Adam and Eve in the Garden were as the progenitors of more than just humanity. In fact, Genesis relates that thorns began to grow only after the Fall (Gen 3:18). Prior to the Fall, the flora was not equipped with thorns for protection because the fauna was insufficiently abusive so that thorns were required. For this reason, if the condition of Adam and Eve in the Garden was at a time before all of Earth’s flora had a need for thorns, Genesis is speaking of a very long time ago.
As this corresponds to Biblical chronologies, it is crucial to realize that a “day,” in Hebrew, can, also, mean a “step” (really, a day is one step of the 365 steps that constitute a year). Therefore, when the Bible relates that a “day” has passed, it could mean either a literal day or a step, that is, an age or an eon. Therefore, in the manner that science relates epochs in time (e.g., from the Miocene to the Oligocene), such can parallel the Bible’s original meaning when it recounts chronologies (e.g., Gen. 4:18’s, “Unto Enoch was born Irad; and, Irad begat Mehujael; and, Mehujael begat Methusael; and, Methusael begat Lamech”).
In this vein, recognize both that chimpanzees are humanity’s closest relatives and that only chimps and humans, of the primates, are known to fight amongst themselves to the degree of death (that is, these primate species alone engage in lethal warfare). Therefore, does such mean, as Cain killed his brother Abel, that chimps and humans descend in some fashion from Cain (Noah’s wife is said to come from Cain), while the other primates do not?
Finally, and to hint more regarding the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (if further clue is needed), in Hebrew, a “tree,” via its two Hebrew letters, can be more broadly termed a “funnel.” (A tree is a two-way funnel: roots keep the trunk and leaves alive, while the leaves, via photosynthesis, funnel nutrition downwards.) Hence, the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” can be translated as the “Funnel of Knowledge.” And, as the Body is the Garden, this could be metaphorically taken to mean the digestive system, since we innately know both that whatever food enters this system via our mouths is good for us and that what exits as excrement is bad. With a similar analogy, the Tree of Life would be the reproductive system.
* While original sin was not penile-vaginal intercourse, the author does not disregard the view both that a penis, metaphorically, is describable as a “snake” and that another form of male-female sexual activity may have been related both to the “consumption” of the forbidden fruit and to the explanation of why Eve but not Adam was, of it, prohibited to touch.