Adam and Eve

Day 18

Out of the Bag

Well, thankfully, I finally told my partner what I’ve been up to. She was asking me what else I had to do tonight and I finally just explained the whole thing to her. She spent some time reading my posts but she was super tired and didn’t get through all of them. I’m glad it’s not a secret anymore, and we had a good talk about my tendency to perceive disagreement as always being a negative conflict. I’m not sure where this comes from, but past relationships is where I’d put my money. It could have potentially come from my upbringing, too. I don’t remember seeing or hearing many disagreements between my parents, and I rarely had disagreements with my parents until I was in middle school or high school. At that point, it was always about something that I’d done wrong or been dishonest about.

But as a Christian, she is happy for me and she approves of this project. Now I just need to make sure I can set time aside. This might be a good way to help establish healthy relationship boundaries. I need to find and set them more than she does.

Especially because writing at the end of my day is terrible for productivity. I helped my partner move and that took up most of the day, and I was already tired beforehand. I had friends help me, and I got to spend some time with them, but it’s just not the same as having free, unstructured time to do whatever I want or even nothing at all. Some days I just want to be lazy and it usually doesn’t take very long for me to snap out of it. But when I don’t get that time, I get more and more backed up until I snap.

At least, that’s how it would work in the past. That anger will never get the best of me again. Instead, I was a mixture of grumpy and sad tonight and I finally just resigned myself to letting my partner leave me alone. We had our separate space, her to watch Netflix and me to do work. And no great harm came of it. Yay, I’m learning to not be crazy!

Genesis 18

In Gen 18, Abraham is hanging out near the terebinth trees of Mamre when “the Lord appeared to him” (Gen 18:1). He looks up, either from a vision of the Lord or from hearing someone coming, and he sees three “men” approaching. This to me is immediately suspect. There is not a clear distinction made here between the appearance of the Lord and the appearance of these three men. It seems that some are of the opinion that these three are related to or actually are the three aspects of the Trinity in human form. Now, to me, the idea of a human form of the Holy Spirit seems to contradict the very concept thereof, but whatever. As far as I can tell from the literature, these are somehow divine beings, because they are here almost as proxy for the Lord.

Abraham bows and allows them to wash their feet, and he feeds them. Abraham knows them for who they are, and treats them well. I remember my story yesterday about the hitchhikers, and how I felt that they were more than what they appeared. Would that we could treat everyone in our lives as though they were angels in disguise! Would that we could recognize the Divine within all of us, and never seek to hate or harm another human being ever again. Abraham has awareness and a heart full of compassion, and his faith is rewarded.

God, whether directly as one of the men or by proxy through the man, tells Abraham once again that his wife Sarah shall bear him a son. Sarah at this point is long past menopause, being at least ninety years old, according to Genesis 17:17, and she laughs with surprise. Her exact words in Genesis 18:12 are “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” So, there is a possibility that she is speaking of the pleasure of childbirth and of being a mother. It also dawns on me that perhaps Abraham is having some trouble keeping his staff raised, if you know what I mean, and maybe it’s been some time since he has “known” her.

Either way, the Lord hears this and wonders why Sarah laughed at a proclamation of God. Genesis 18:15 reads

“But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh!'”

Whoops. Don’t laugh at God. But God seems to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing. That exclamation point says it all, as far as I’m concerned. Had the line been

“No, but you did laugh.”

it would have come off as very stern and disappointed. To me, it’s like God recognizes her fear, calls her out for lying to Him, and has a good laugh about the whole thing. At least I hope so, since he doesn’t smite her into ashes and all. But on the other hand, a promise is a promise, and she has some begetting left to do.

The Lord or these men or somebody has a little internal monologue, it seems, in Genesis 18:17-19, related to whether or not He should tell Abraham what’s going on. So the Lord decides to tell him that the plan is to go warm up the old smitin’ muscles and lay waste to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham sidles up to God and His fellows: “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood still before the Lord” (Genesis 18:22). He spends the next ten verses talking God down from this whole “smiting” business.

Perhaps Abraham remembers his nephew Lot, who lives there, and would rather not see the whole place destroyed because of a bunch of sinners. So Abraham starts narrowing numbers, asking God if he would spare the city for 50, then 45, then 40 righteous people, and so on down to 10.

The conversation pretty much goes like this:

“Look, God, far be it from me to question your plan and all, but what about the good ones? You just gonna kill them all too? What if there were, say, 50 righteous people there?”

“Well, I guess I could spare the city for 50.”

Abraham cringes ever so slightly. “Nice, that’s good to hear. Now I know I’m talking to God here, but… what about 45?”

God sighs. “Alright, 45 righteous people, and the city will be spared.”

Abraham’s eyes narrow. “How about 40?”

Abraham continues. “Look, God, don’t get mad. This is the last time, I swear: What about 10?”

God throws up His hands. “Alright, alright. 10 righteous people and I swear I’ll spare the place.”

I guess I’m sort of dramatizing the whole thing, but it sure is funny to imagine. And I guess if you want to stereotype Jews as being good bargainers, well, here’s Abraham, talking God’s price down. I’m picturing this as a Mel Brooks scene now.

After Abraham and the Lord are done, God leaves.

The interesting thing that Matthew Henry notes about this chapter is that Abraham never begs God to spare the wicked their punishment.

“Righteousness only can be made a plea before God.”

— Matthew Henry¹

I see this story or the overall idea of God’s “punishment” as more of a “reaping what one has sown,” as opposed to the smiting and the destroying and all that. Wicked people bring unto themselves misery and guilt and shame, and as humans we are all born with a) the propensity for sin (Eastern Orthodox) or b) the burden of inherited sin (Catholics). So either way, we’re all sinners, and without repentance, we will reap only death and never harvest the most nourishing fruit of life.

I think it’s important to remember and to have a healthy spirituality that God will never do wrong. Man can take circumstances and make them painful, man can fill an empty vessel of an experience with negative emotions, but there is a silver lining to every cloud and a lesson that can be learned from every experience. This probably sounds like a load of bulls**t to those of you who feel that you drew the short straw in life, and I completely sympathize. I’m not there now, but I was for a long time. Between growing up with constant money problems compounded by my father’s unexplainable stroke at the ripe old age of 36, I felt like life was just going to keep kicking me while I was down.

I can’t really say what led up to it, but I’m pretty sure the episode with the Infinite Serpent that I mentioned back in Day 3 was pretty much the tipping point. That was the day I understood, no, I grokked the potential for suffering to make us stronger. That changed my outlook, and I realized that God was not to blame for suffering. If anyone can be said to be blamed, it is man. It is man with our free-ish will and our weak and cowardly hearts. We do so much harm to one another, and it can take a long time for someone to see or grasp potential benefits or growth from that harm.

But God or the universe or whatever you want to call the great Unity, the Oneness that is, that Consciousness has a plan. It may not be a plan in the human sense, but regardless, there is a beginning, there are an uncountable number of turns and choices and switches and changes, and there is likely to be an end. We are not just observing this “plan” over the course of our human lives; we are the plan. The meaning of life is living.

Somewhere a few billion years ago stars were born, and they burned and fused elements and then exploded and scattered those elements throughout the universe. And some of them, enough of them, collected in a cosmically tiny sphere of rock that burned and melted and stormed and cooled…. And those elements cooked in the hearts of stars became building blocks that could copy themselves, and those blocks made more blocks and so on and so forth, and DNA was born and several billion years later, the same atoms that cooked in stellar furnaces are what lie behind our eyes and in our beating hearts. We are the universe.

So go forth, find the silver lining to every cloud, no matter how close you have to look or how far away you have to stand. Find the benefit, find the learning experience. Learn and grow and know your own power. Begin to master your emotions and your will, feel the spark of the Divine that flows through you. The knowledge and awareness of Adam and Eve gave them shame and sin, but it also gave them the possibility of change and growth. We learn the most from our mistakes…

Go forth and learn! Become wise and find thyself, and you will recognize the inherent goodness of “the plan.” Accept what is, and be free. The true power of God will never lead you to weakness, only humility.


He shall.




Day 3

This will be brief, out of necessity. My partner stayed over last night and to the morning and I have not yet had time to begin writing.

I asked her about the apparent discrepancy between Genesis 1 and 2. She said that perhaps it just appears out of order, perhaps that there were already plants and animals elsewhere but that God created the garden itself after breathing life into Adam. Speaking of “breathing life,” it’s going to be interesting how many sayings or metaphors we still use that come from the Bible. I have a feeling I’m going to find several.

One thing I discovered is that there is a chance that the word “formed” in the NKJV may be an incorrect or incomplete translation. There is a potential that the original Hebrew word could also be translated as “had formed,” which would make verses like Genesis 2:19 fall in line with Genesis 1. The other thing I pointed out to her was that Genesis 2 tells a different story with a different lesson than Genesis 1.

Also, I discussed that, if one believes that the Bible is divinely inspired, then any translation error would have to be intentional, have meaning, or both. There would be a holy purpose for every mistranslated word.

Also also, my partner pointed out that in Genesis 1, it appears to imply that all animals were vegetarians, and that meat eating didn’t begin until the Fall of Man. I asked why God would create wolves with such sharp teeth if they were meant to eat fruits and plants. She said perhaps that’s when evolution kicks in, and allowed animals to evolve into meat-eating forms.

I told her if you’re going to use evolution to defend the Bible, you better produce a fossil record; you can’t have it both ways. She didn’t seem to like that. But that’s just what makes sense to me. I keep my science and my faith separate because they describe two different things.

But this is why I’m reading this book. I have questions and I might not be able to find answers, but God put a burning desire in me to constantly seek understanding, and I think I have found a purpose for that fire. I want to seek understanding now of this book, of this faith, and I will raise questions as they come. There is no intended disrespect. I think it is fair and right to seek knowledge and to ask questions of God. Faith should not and need not imply ignorance; that is my opinion.

Genesis 3

People sometimes say that the serpent is Satan. I see nothing that implies this. It seems simply that the serpent is a trickster and a deceiver. Its name is not capitalized, and nothing indicates to me that it is anything other than a snake.

When I first felt and knew and understood the presence of God, I visualized an Infinite Serpent, coiled upon itself in an infinity symbol. There was no visible head or tail, just a body, infinitely entwined. In my mind, the head that I could not see represents the higher spiritual realm, and the equally invisible tail, the lower. This is my own interpretation of a strange and mystical experience.

But when I visualized this image, I felt the presence of what people call the Holy Spirit. I felt love and peace such as I had never known. I knew that I was a part of this universe, that God existed, and that all was Good.

It all came crashing down shortly thereafter and after weeping with joy, I wept with sorrow. I was afraid that the Serpent I saw was a deceiver, and it hurts my heart even now to remember this feeling. But like the Serpent at Yggdrasil, the World Tree, in Norse mythology, the Infinite Serpent I witnessed was indeed venomous.

The good and the bad were entwined within it, and I understood all the ills of the world. This might not sound right, but bad things happen because a) men are free to make decisions and sometimes those decisions hurt others, but more importantly because b) without some measure of stress, we would never grow strong.

Yes, there are things in this world that seem horrifying. We should all be more kind and understanding with one another. However, just as muscles atrophy without some measure of stress and activity, so too do the mind and soul wither without challenge providing the opportunity for growth. We must, out of necessity, rise to our occasions; otherwise all would be stagnant. “What a man can be, he must be.”

But back to Genesis 3.

I don’t have time to discuss talking snakes, so who cares. There’s a point to the story. God says that if you eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that Adam or his wife will surely die. Long story short, they eat and are still alive! Is God a liar?

Of course not. One could argue that they do die, eventually, and that had they not eaten of the tree they would have lived forever! But I don’t like this explanation, because God later says in Genesis 3:22 that they would only live forever if they ate of the tree of life, which is why he banishes them from Eden in the first place.

In my opinion, the death is a spiritual one. By knowing good and evil, by being ashamed of their nakedness, by knowing how to judge, mankind has lost its innocence. Man is dead inside; he and his kind will suffer, toil, and die.

In the book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, he discusses the fact that human beings are living in a dream. We dream constantly, we make assumptions about things constantly and dream things up in our imagination. Think about the way the mind alters and manufactures memories… think about the way the mind fills in the details of familiar things. Have you ever driven to work and realized that you were on autopilot the whole time? You can barely remember the journey!

I don’t have time to get into the scientific literature on the nature of memory, but let’s just say that I agree with his statements. The problem is that we live in this dreamworld and we are controlled by a judge inside of us that judges everyone and everything that ourselves and others do, say, or do not do. We judge because we have to make sense of the world. But when we are controlled by this judge, when we feel victimized, we live in the past, we hold on to the past and constantly dredge up painful memories. How often have you been haunted and ashamed of a mistake you made several years ago?

Don Miguel Ruiz says that by living in the past, by living under the tyranny of this judge, we are only half-alive. We are too busy dreaming to see the present, to see the truth that is always before our eyes. Everything we see and touch is the truth, but we have no eyes for this truth — we are blind to it. (I think somewhere down the road we will see that Jesus heals blindness, no?)

So anyway, in my opinion, God is telling the truth. Adam and his wife will “die,” when they eat of this tree. They are no longer innocent; and the FIRST THING they do is judge themselves. They are afraid or ashamed of their nakedness. Now that they have become able to judge, they are afraid of their innocence. They have forgotten it.

Another interesting part is that Genesis 3:8 says that “the Lord God walk[ed] in the garden in the cool of the day.” So God here is described as having a physical presence, a physical body. Perhaps, anyway. Just an interesting aside.

Also after the “Fall of Man,” when Adam and his wife eat the fruit, God tells her that she will suffer childbirth. This also appears to be different from Genesis 1, where God says to man and woman, “Be fruitful and multiply,” which seems to have no negative connotations. Again, it is my opinion that God created more than just Adam and Eve. I don’t know how else you explain where Cain and all his sons found wives. Plus what about the Neanderthals? Plus… ehhh we’re not going down that road.

I’m not trying to take this book literally. But there are people who do and I do not wish to insult or offend them. I believe these are stories with messages. As I discussed yesterday, narratives make us remember lessons; without the story, without the emotion, the lesson would easily be forgotten.

Back on track… Genesis 3:17-19 are interesting because they describe the advent of agriculture, it seems. Man has gained knowledge of himself, the understanding of good and evil. And he suffers for it. He becomes “like one of Us,” (Genesis 3:22, again with the first-person plural…) and he suffers.

The interesting thing to me is that in the archaeological record, human life gets worse after the advent of agriculture. God tells Adam that “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread/Till you return to the ground,” (Genesis 3:19) and it is bread or grain that appears to have caused mankind no end of trouble. Starches helped rot our teeth, and men and women both worked long hours in the fields and over grinding-stones to make flour. Backs became hunched, knees and joints arthritic. Mankind suffered from agriculture.

And, like being cast out of Eden, the free-spirited living off the land that early man enjoyed can never be returned to. There is no going back. Once a tribe or group can feed its members consistently, it grows, and can never again be supported by foraging. The way of life is lost, never to return. In a sense, this is Eden, an ever-providing garden that mankind will never again enjoy.

The interesting thing about Göbekli Tepe, which I mentioned yesterday, is that one of the men who discovered or wrote about it, believes that it is a temple in what was once called or referred to as Eden. Man ate of the animals and the plants. But by gathering together in large numbers, the people needed more food to feed themselves. They discovered agriculture; they could make plants grow on their own terms. But as I said, there is no going back. Their lifestyle changed, and they suffered for it. They farmed and farmed, not understanding crop rotation, or the nutrients of the soil, and they farmed the land to death. There is a reason there is  desert in that region of the world. So they cursed their fate, and buried their once-sacred temple. It reminded them of a past, of an innocence, of a forgotten Eden to which they would never return. An interesting theory to say the least. We shall never know the whole truth, but it is a hauntingly beautiful story.

Even in our disobedience, God shows Adam and Eve his love. He gives them clothing (Genesis 3:21), but he realizes that man cannot be allowed to live forever. So out from the garden they go. To me it is interesting, because even though this is seen as a “bad thing,” the Fall of Man appears to have been inevitable. People multiplied, and many lives were brought into the world, onto the earth, because of this Fall. Adam and Eve would bear children and multiply….

My life, your life, we are all here today as a result of agriculture, as a result of reproduction. There is an unbroken chain of life going back and back and back…. It seems to me that God knew this would happen all along. The world is not perfect, and man must be given suffering to rise above. Man must be given challenges to overcome. It is how we grow, how we strengthen our souls. Man, like an innocent child, cannot live in the garden forever. What would be the point?

Life is both means and end. Life is for living. We are here to have experiences, we are here to make connections, to live, to love, to learn, and to grow. We are here to make the best of this world, to make the best of the circumstances and the life that God has given us. What more could we ask for but to be alive?

This is one of the most fundamental questions a human being can ask. My favorite answer to this question comes from the movie Dogma. (Spoiler alert incoming)

At the end of the movie, the main character, a woman, Bethany, dragged into a universe-ending conflict, gets to meet a physical embodiment of God, played hilariously by Alanis Morissette. God cleans up all the mess with a blink of Her (His?) eyes, and before leaving, Bethany asks, “Why are we here?”

God thinks for a moment, and boops Bethany on the nose with Her finger. Bethany looks confused.

We are here because we are here. It is both as simple and as complex as that. Life is for living, learning and experiencing. I believe it should be about doing good, building bridges with other humans rather than burning them, bringing people together rather than pushing them apart. But we all have our own God-given paths and circumstances. Life is about finding the purpose, finding the good that one can do amidst those circumstances, or in spite of them.

I am already filled with joy and purpose from writing this. I feel better already. Thank you, God.

To anyone and everyone reading this, I love you. Thank you for joining me on this wonderful day.

Peace be upon you.

Day 2

After reflecting on this project yesterday I started to realize what an immense undertaking it is. I realized that at this rate, it’s going to be approximately 2 ½ YEARS before I get to the New Testament! I’m probably going to read ahead….

I wish I had this other book in front of me right now. It’s called Contagious by Jonah Berger and it’s about how ideas catch on. I have it on audiobook and I just listened to this big part about how humans love narratives, and specifically how the lessons related to the fall of Troy (“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” or beware when your enemy seems friendly) would have had less of an impact had they not come within a story!

In the book Hannibal and Me by Andreas Kluth, he tells of Mahatma Gandhi’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. This holy book tells a story about a grand war, and Gandhi is a pacifist. His interpretation is that the narrative describes a spiritual battle and the spiritual challenges that mankind faces, but by framing it as an actual war, it makes the lessons more interesting and exciting. A story gives us names of people, places, and things that we can actually care about. By attaching emotion to the story, the lessons are better understood, and stand out more vividly in our minds.

So, in front of me, I have a book that accounts for creation and also teaches lessons. It happens to be a narrative, not a textbook. Interpret that as you will, but it seems like the good Lord knows what He’s doing.

Genesis 2

(Oh Lord, this is such a long book…)

Let’s take this one from the top. So first we get the 7th day. The entire universe is done, finito. And so the Lord rests. So God in short blesses his weekend and sanctifies it. Seems fair! Even the Lord should get to kick back once in a while.

But now we get to the fun stuff, starting with Genesis 2:4, we have what calls the second contradictory account of creation. A difference here between NKJV and NIV is that NKJV says that this history is “in the day (emphasis added) that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” NIV omits the bit about “in the day.”

So here we have an instance where the word day probably doesn’t mean an actual day. Because the “day” that God made the heavens and earth was Day 1, according to Genesis 1. And not much else happened that “day”! Well, the light thing, but you get it. So again, here we have a piece of evidence that would seem to support the JW assertion that unless otherwise specified, a “day” in the Bible does not necessarily have to refer to a 24-hour period. I haven’t read the whole Bible yet, but this might come up later.

Genesis 2:5 says that this is before there were plants, there was not yet rain and there was “no one to till [work NIV] the ground.” But, Genesis 2:6, either a “mist” (NKJV) or “streams” (NIV) came up and “watered the whole face of the ground.”

We’re already up to Genesis 1:10 as far as the original account goes. We have land separate from the water. And now… Genesis 1 says the next step is plants. But Genesis 2:7…

I have to stop quoting every verse or I’m never going to get this done. Here’s the deal: God creates man from the dust and breathes life into his nostrils. Tada! Man is alive. Sounds like God had to turn on the brain!

In the next few verses, Genesis 2:8-15, God creates a garden (Eden) and puts the man in it. The garden has the famed tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The Bible also describes the “location” of the garden indirectly by explaining the rivers that come from it. Two of these are the Hiddekel (or Tigris, according to the NKJV), and the Euphrates.

Now if you’ve sat through any world history class, these will be familiar to you. The present area near these rivers is unfortunately a desert!

I really wish to launch into a great big rant about Göbekli Tepe, a site in present-day Turkey that appears to be the world’s oldest human construction… but I do not have time. I’ll give a quick and dirty description and provide links at some point so anyone interested can do review the research and literature on their own.

Göbekli Tepe

Long story short, Göbekli Tepe is a site constructed somewhere around 11,000 years ago. This is before  humans had discovered agriculture (Hey hey, man is created before the garden! Genesis 2:7-8). There are stone monoliths and carvings of animals that are as detailed as cave paintings if not more so. The level of organization and craftsmanship involved baffled archaeologists. One person said that it was like “finding that someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife” (National Geographic).

The marvel of it is that it suggests that people came together for a religious or spiritual purpose and then, once they got together, they had to figure out how to cultivate food to support such a large population! There are domesticated cereal grains found not far from the site, and they appear to be the earliest known. The thinking once was that growing crops was what spurred settlements and buildings, but it could be the other way around.

Anyway, I like to think personally that this site or those like it, because there are many rings of these stones, is what the Eden story is about. I’ll elaborate on this tomorrow in Genesis 3.

Fruits, Animals, and Woman

Starting back up at Genesis 2:16-17, we have God letting man know not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Can we get any more prepositions? It does have a good rhythm if you say it fast, though.

God tells Adam, who is at this point unnamed, that he will die if he eats of the tree. He can eat everything else, though! Oddly enough, God does not mention the tree of life, which seems to be a much bigger deal. (Come back tomorrow, true believers!)

Anyway, God sees that man should not be alone, “It is not good,” so sayeth the Lord. I actually read a blog once where a guy used this verse, Genesis 2:18, as a defense of gay marriage, because God never intended for his children to be alone in the world without a companion, but that is a big can of gay worms that I am not prepared to open. We haven’t even gotten to Leviticus!

Now God begins to create the animals. “Out of the ground,” God makes all the beasts and birds, and apparently the fish just show up at some point because Genesis 2 makes no mention of them. Then God brings them to Adam, who now in Genesis 2:19, has a name (NKJV). Adam is given the opportunity to name all the animals and birds and beasts and what have you. I had a friend in high school that said that “The oldest profession is not prostitution, but taxonomy.” Clever.

So Adam has all these animal friends, but nothing comparable to him. So God knocks him out (“cause[s] a deep sleep,” whatever), takes a rib, and genetically engineers a woman from the current tissue. God warps a Y chromosome into an X chromosome and tada! We have a woman. She won’t get her name til tomorrow.

Adam gives her a name too, in the general sense, and dubs her “Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Now, one verse after that we have Genesis 2:24, that says:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Remember what I said earlier about narratives? Here is the lesson to be learned from this story, it would seem. Adam and his as-yet-unnamed wife are “of one flesh,” literally in this case but metaphorically in the case of marriage. Unless “becom[ing] of one flesh” is a double entendre….

Which, holy $#!& it might be, actually! In the book Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk, he has this whole part of the story that describes how sex is what separates us from our parents. When we grow up and can have sex, that’s what makes us true adults. We are no longer the child, but we are the ones who can now be parents.

In the Eden story, Man leaves his “father,” God, and his “mother,” the earth that bore him? And he leaves them to become his own man and take a wife. Oh man, I hope that’s a sex reference.

But, it would seem that they are thus far innocent. Adam has not yet “known” his wife, and they don’t seem to care about their nakedness. In this garden of Eden, man and woman are free, innocent, alive, and happy. I think we all know what happens next.

Peace be upon you.