Admiral Ackbar on Genesis 3

Joel Watts shared the above photo on Facebook. I remember some people not getting the point when I shared the meme image with Admiral Ackbar at the Last Supper warning “It's a trap!!!” I wonder whether this one will be any different.

As soon as I saw the image, it reminded me of another image from the Admiral Ackbar meme:

I wonder whether the two images are not really saying the same thing, talking about the same human experience – one symbolically and mythologically, one more literally – and in this case, both in connection with Star Wars.

The story in Genesis 3 has become, in traditional Christian theology, a story about “the Fall,” a story about an event from long ago that has left us human beings with a handicap that we cannot overcome.

But read on its own terms, the story is about growing up. Human beings always reach an age when we begin to rebel against parental authority, and need to take responsibility for our actions. It is a moment lost in the shrouds of childhood memory, just like the transition from innocently running around naked to wearing clothing.

We can all relate to Admiral Ackbar saying of growing up that “It's a trap!!!” Being held accountable, having to work, and everything else that goes with the loss of childish innocence has negative aspects to it.

But it has positive ones too. And few of us, given the choice, would truly choose to live in Eden – i.e. in childhood – forever. We are made to grow up and leave that Eden behind. To discover God, or not, for ourselves, and not merely accept what we were given. To create, to build, to love, to marry, to grow old, and eventually to die and make room for those who come after us.

It frustrates me that young-earth creationists have turned the story in Genesis 3 into a story that is false, because if it is treated as a story about an actual event some six millennia ago, that is what it is.

But the Eden story is true when treated as what it clearly seems to be, namely a mythological depiction of universal aspects of human existence and experience. We feel a loss of something precious in growing up, even though the post-childhood life of maturity can be richly rewarding. We appreciate and miss childhood's innocence, and yet we hopefully learn that there is much to be gained from, as Paul put it, “putting away childish things.”

And sometimes we need Admiral Ackbar's help to see it.

 

  • Susan Burns

    There is a lot of information in the Genesis myth that can be gleaned for facts. For instance, the location of the people who created this story of origin. The toponymic clues place these people along the western coastline of southern Arabia.

  • Bilbo

    Ah! Now I understand your hatred of YECs! You reject the doctrine of the Fall! But one can accept the doctrine of the Fall without being a YEC. C.S. Lewis, for example, offers such an alternative in his chapter “The Fall of Man,” in his book, The Problem of Pain. I accept the doctrine of the Fall, as do most Christians, regardless of their beliefs concerning the age of the Earth or evolution. To suggest that only YECs accept the doctrine is a grave misrepresentation of the rest of us, James.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Well, first of all let me say that the direction of development in my thinking is the opposite of what you suggest. I reject a literal historical Fall partly because the Bible itself raises problems for that way of viewing Genesis 3, and partly because I first rejected young-earth creationism because I realized that the science they were denying and telling lies about is in fact correct.

      Perhaps you could explain what you yourself mean by the Fall, how it differs from what young-earth creationists say, and why you view things the way that you do?

  • Bilbo

    Why don’t we begin with reading C.S. Lewis’s “socratic myth” of paradisal man:

    http://telicthoughts.com/c-s-lewis-on-paradisal-man/

  • Bilbo

    And then Lewis’s description of Original Sin:

    http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/2011/12/cs-lewis-on-original-sin.html

  • Bilbo

    I don’t presently see why Lewis’s account of how unfallen humanity could have come about through a process of natural and supernatural guidance. And if such people once existed, then their “fall” (their choosing to be gods unto themselves) would be a very tragic event, not one to be celebrated.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @df726d57b7bea01dfef61ab9081bef3d:disqus, I don’t see that treating Lewis’ myth as a myth in the more usual sense in any way undermines his point, and in the segment you quoted on your own blog, it is clear that what is being spoken of is a universal common human experience. And so I don’t see how that is inherently at odds with my own appreciation of the Genesis story as myth. Perhaps you would care to explain where you see the differences and why you consider them significant?

  • http://twitter.com/bmk bmk

    I’m grateful for this post, and the ensuing discussion, since this is a bit of scripture that I’ve struggled with. I think that part of my problem is our modern conflation of the ideas of innocence and selfishness. And I’m not sure that our notion of the opposition between childlike innocence/selfishness and coming-of-age maps well onto other cultures (especially not the ancient cultures that produced the books of the Pentateuch).

  • Dr. David Tee

    You seem to have a problem with the truth. Why is it that you want to mythologize the book of Genesis? There is no point to doing that. Genesis 3 is factual, true and NOT mythology.
    It does provide a great lesson on what happens when humans use their freedom of choice wrongly. They will be punished by God. You do not like those type of stories, I wonder why that it.
    The only one turning a true story into something false is you. Oh and i didn’t see Lewis’ name mentioned in the post, why is everyone talking about him? His words are not inspired nor infallible. His judgement doesn’t change the truth of Genesis 3.

    • Beau Quilter

      “Dr. David Tee”

      Would you give us chapter and verse, why you believe Genesis 3 is “infallible” (and what that really means) and what the word “inspired” means?

      And while you’re at it, come clean and tell who you are and what you are a doctor of?

      Don’t you think your deception has gone on long enough?

      • Dr. David Tee

        Not releasing private and personal information is not deception nor hiding anything. There is nothing to be gained by putting the focus on me when it needs to be on God and what He wants you to hear.
        You might find my book Archaeology and the Unwary Believer quite interesting.
        As for your request, why? if the Bible is wrong in Genesi 3 we would also have to question every other chapter in it. How would we know which passage was true or not? Where would we get the corrections since the majority of ancient mss. support what has been written already. Didn’t the DSS tell you anything at all? God has preserved His word and we see that promise in action.
        Who is great enough to say that God lied in Genesis 3 but told the truth in John 3? How would they know?

        • jwalker_cht

          It isn’t necessary for God to “lie” for Genesis 3 to be a non-factual story or myth explaining how humanity came to be in a state of imperfection and suffering. What’s necessary is to let go of the notion that God somehow directly “wrote” the material that became known as the book of Genesis in the collection known as the Bible. Since there is nowhere in the Bible any claim that God wrote it, it shouldn’t be too difficult to let go of that completely non-scriptural idea.

          It also isn’t necessary for the Bible to be wrong for the Genesis Creation/Fall story to be a myth, not intended as literal, historical or factual but instead literary and evocative of the overall message of God as Redeemer.

          You may or may not be the actual Dr. David Tee who wrote Archeology and the Unwary Believer, but you certainly share his decidedly non-scientific view of how to interpret data from antiquities and dig sites. Anyone who will first turn to authority (ie: the Bible) and then interpret the data in order to match with what that authority seems to tell you is NOT a scientist and NOT an archeologist no matter what advanced degree is held in that field.

  • Just Sayin’

    This post makes far too much sense for Tee to accept it.


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