Challenging Myths Of Eden

Challenging Myths Of Eden September 22, 2009

Below is a thought-provoking video which critiques the notion of fallenness from several angles.  It builds off of one point I’ve wanted to write about for a while and that’s that the non-literal reading of Genesis is just as false as the metaphorical one.  When religious people argue that the Garden of Eden story is unaffected by scientific knowledge they ignore the fact that the Eden myth asserts an initial state of perfection from which we have fallen because of a sin.  But that’s not “metaphorically” or “mythically” true.  Our ancestors were neither perfect humans any better than us (in fact they were “lesser” evolved than we are if we are taking human perfections as the standard of excellence by which to judge lesser and greater), they did not incur pain on the universe since it already preexisted our arrival by millions of years, and our tendencies towards ethical failing are not punishments for some sin but far more explicable in terms of the complex set of strategies for social and environmental success that proved most benefiical to our survival.  Similarly our intellectual shortcomings have everything to do with an evolutionary necessity for making judgments of a local kind but an evolutionary indifference to judgments of highly precise theoretical kind.

In other words, an evolutionary understanding of primeval history exposes not only that the Genesis story is not literally true but its mythically presented propositional claims that pain in the universe is connected to moral failing, that moral failing is a punishment for a sin, that the need to work and for women to suffer excruciatingly during child birth, and that humanity was initially better off than we are now are, are all flat out false.

And now, here is FFreeThinker exploring more interesting moral and scientific challenges one can level in nuance at the myth of Eden.

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