No sooner had God created Adam and put him in Eden than God began to contradict himself. He told Adam that he could eat from all the trees of the garden. ALL the trees. Then God said, “Nevertheless, you can’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you will die that very day.”
It appears that God was still making his mind up about things.
After this, God decided that Adam needed a helpmate, so he fashioned from the soil all the wild beasts and birds of the air and paraded them before Adam to see if he wanted one for a mate. Adam wasn’t moved to take a wife from the beasts, which is to say he wasn’t attracted to them sexually; but then it was only the first day. Nevertheless, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and removed one of Adam’s ribs, which God enclosed in flesh and made into a woman. When Adam saw her, he was relieved to have someone from his own species with whom he could procreate (whatever that was).
The next thing we know, the woman is having a conversation with a serpent. The serpent asked the woman if God had really forbidden her and Adam to eat from the trees of the garden. She answered that they were allowed to eat from every tree but the one in the middle of the garden, and then she misquoted God to the snake: “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.”
Of course she wasn’t there when God gave the edict to Adam, so we can’t blame her; Adam must have added the bit about touching. The serpent was quick to respond, as serpents are. He told her, “You will not die. God knows that when you eat this fruit your eyes will be opened and you yourselves will become gods. Now you will see everything the same. When you eat, you will know the difference between good and evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was beautiful to look at; it pleased her. The fruit was even more beautiful, and a desire rose in her for the knowledge it would bring. She gathered some of the fruits and ate, and gave some to Adam, and he ate.
After they ate the fruits their eyes were opened, just as the serpent had said. Later that day, when the first couple heard God walking in the garden, they hid behind some bushes. If Adam and the woman hadn’t yet realized that God was not-all knowing, they soon discovered this: “Where are you?” God called out. Adam revealed himself and told God that he had hidden because he was naked, inventing prevarication as he did so, but God was not convinced.
“Have you been eating from the forbidden tree?” he asked, further exhibiting his ignorance.
Adam then invented the excuse, “It was that woman,” he said, “the woman YOU gave me. She gave me the fruit.”
God was still not getting the whole picture. “What have you done?” He said to the woman.
She said, “I only ate it because the serpent tempted me.” She was a fast learner in regard to excuse-making.
At this, God became very upset. First, he cursed the serpent, making him accursed beyond all beasts, which God had apparently cursed to a lesser degree, and told the snake that he would crawl on his belly and eat dust each day of his life. All of the animals were new, so perhaps God hadn’t yet realized that the serpent already did this. He also told the snake that he and the man and the woman and all their offspring would be enemies from that day forward. All humanity henceforth would crush the heads of serpents, and the serpents would strike their heels. Then God turned to the woman and gave her a nasty curse as well: “You will give birth in pain,” he said, “and I will multiply that pain. Your only desire will be toward your husband, and he will use that against you, lording over you.”
I wonder of there was time to explain what “birth” was and what a “husband” was to the first couple who couldn’t have known the meaning of either..
Either way, it was now Adam’s turn. “Because of what you’ve done I will curse the soil. You will suffer trying to make it produce food, and it will yield brambles and thistles, forcing you to eat wild plants. When you eat your bread you will have sweat on your brow, and it will be this way until you return to the soil from which I made you.”
What a temper. Forget for the moment that Adam had no idea what bread was; at least God didn’t kill them that very day as he had earlier said he would. God never told them that they would live forever, but he did tell them that they would die on the very day that they ate the fruit. He either made a mistake, or he lied. Either way it’s quite problematic.
Once God finished cursing, Adam thought it would be a good time to name his wife, who up until then was only known as “the woman.” He named her Eve. After making clothes for the two chastened humans, God began to talk to himself. Or perhaps he was talking to some other god; we’re not told:
He said, “Look. With this knowledge of good and evil, the man has become like one of us.” (Notice that the woman is not even mentioned.) “We mustn’t let him pick any fruit from the Tree of Life, because then he would live forever.” So God did the only thing he could think of; he kicked them out of the garden, just like that! No appeal, no second chance, no removal or relocation of the Tree of Life, out they went. To make extra certain that they didn’t return, God posted cherubs who spun swords of flashing fire at the entrance. Suddenly finding themselves on the outside looking in, Adam and Eve did the only thing they could think to do; they had sex.
What irks me most about this story isn’t the fact that the serpent told the truth and that God lied, it isn’t the fact that the woman got blamed for the downfall of humans, it isn’t the fact that this god is a vengeful, unforgiving, wrathful god, so bent on punishing two completely naïve humans that he cursed them and all of their offspring to lives of pain and misery, it isn’t the fact that God never forbid them to eat from the Tree of Life, but then kicked them out of the garden so that they could never eat from that tree, it is the fact that God supposedly made us in his image, yet when the very first humans achieved this perfection and became gods themselves, God freaked out and decided to curse them instead.