One Primate’s Fall is Another Primate’s Progress

One Primate’s Fall is Another Primate’s Progress June 20, 2012

For those interested in theology, I encourage you to reflect on this perspective on humanity’s distinctiveness among the primates on this planet. That which distinguishes us as human beings is responsible for most things that are wrong on this planet – and most of what we consider to make life worth living. I think this offers a nice perspective that complements one possible understanding of the Eden myth – human “fallenness” is not a condition that we could have avoided. The loss of innocence, independent thought, and even rebellion that accompany becoming a mature human being are part of what makes us human, for better or worse.

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  • Kaz

    Interesting perspective, James, thanks for sharing it. For those who are happy to adopt a theology/anthropology that’s based on anything but the Bible, it will likely be satisfying.


  • Mary

    Actually, since this mentions the Eden myth, it is based on the Bible, just not the traditional interpretation. I have often wondered whether the symbolic meaning of this is the separation of humanity from purely animal consciousness. The Adam and Eve story starts out with mankind being totally in harmony with nature and completely innocent. I think innocence here could be interpreted as not necessarily innocent as far as actions are concerned, but rather having the innocence of animals that act according to instincts rather than thought. When Adam and Even ate the forbidden fruit their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked (a symbol of shame). This indicates that “sin” or rather actions that hurt others (not necessarily evil) was ALREADY in existence, because they were naked before the “fall” occurred. Note that the Tree was not a tree of evil itself, but of “The KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil”. The snake, which many people have interpreted as being Satan (even though the story does not make that claim), is a symbol of WISDOM in many religious cultures. The Hindus believe a snake represents the energy of enlightenment, going through the spine from the bottom upward. As this energy winds its way through the chakras (energy centers) it starts with base animal instincts (sex, survival) progressing to higher levels of consciousness (such as love and intellect) and finally through the top of the head to achieve transcendent God consciousness. The tree could also represent the spine depicted in the Hindu belief system.
    The second tree, the Tree of Life represents God consciousness. For some reason it is forbidden to eat the fruit because Adam and Eve would become “like us (the Gods)”. Apparently mankind has to go through the long process of working through our “sin” or lower consciousness before we can attain enlightenment. That means separating ourselves from our state of “innocence”, or animal consciousness, represented by our eviction from Eden. We now inhabit what seems to be a harsh world because we have to deal with the consequences of our wrongdoings and find our way back to God or higher consciousness.
    You can see this story as both pertaining to our animal ancestry but also as an individual growth process as you indicate in your article.

  • Kaz

    Hi Mary,

    I don’t believe that the mention of the “Eden myth” makes the description biblical in any way. There are profound theological problems with attempts to marry an unguided evolutionary process with the Bible, not least of which is the fact that it shifts the blame for all the troubles mankind has endured and places it on God’s shoulders. In this view, man isn’t suffering because of a past fall, but because God just hasn’t bothered to lend a hand. On the traditional Christian view there is a principle involved; on the modern attempted synthesis, it just is what it is.


    • Mary

      Thanks for your reply. However I think you missed my point. I see this whole process as a profoundly spiritual one. The story to me indicates a growth process we all have to go through, as indicated by the author of this article. I am not at all saying that all the troubles mankind has endured is on God’s shoulders. However I do understand that it does go against traditional interpretation of God as Savior. My view is that rather seeing ourselves as sinners that need to be rescued, that we see our problems and mistakes as a learning process. When we work through our “stuff”, we remove the obstacles to God.
      However, this is just my interpretation. My intent for posting this was to stimulate thought on the subject. Thank you for your input.