In the pursuit of knowledge

The Blogging Parson has been doing an interesting series on Knowledge, Trust and Expertise. In reading through his posts I started to think about the fall and how Adam and Eve were recorded as eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Could it be that our pursuit of knowledge is actually part of the fall and if so how can we redeem knowledge as being a Godly pursuit?

I’m also asking why is it, in our development of of the doctrine of the Total Depravity of Man; we leave out that we also ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good

Perhaps Paul is referring to this when he say’s I don’t do what I know I should do and I do what I know I should not do?

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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7 Responses to In the pursuit of knowledge

  1. tildeb says:

    Look at the language of the Genesis stories: it screams Myth ahead!. Look at the imagery: nakedness, gardens, snake, trees, fruit… these are all typical sign posts of mythical symbols. The purpose of any myth is to inform us of a basic human truth all of us share and by no stretch of the imagination a literal historical account of some real event! Obviously there never was any Adam and Eve, never any garden, never any talking snake, never any tree of knowledge whose fruit contained information by ingestion about good and evil. The literal notion is plain silliness.

    These main characters are caricatures of you and your wife that you can recognize, a way to be a part of this myth that communicates to you by way of symbols to allow you to teach yourself how to live wisely in the real world. It’s a beautiful thing in the form of a narrative, a fantastic story, one that you participate in understanding and incorporating this knowledge into your daily life.

    But no. This is not to be. You come at it with a closed mind. And you can thank your theology for doing so.

    The christian interpretation of this myth is a travesty of incomprehension: if the story is metaphorical, then jesus dies for a metaphor and we can’t have that so… the story must be literally true, but we know for a fact that we do not descend from any Adam and Eve. Oh my. What are we to do?

    Well, the current course of action is for christians to reject the very science that informs our medicines and technologies that work in favour of believing the unbelievable, of believing that our oldest ancestor actually and in reality betrayed the christian god that poofed him into existence not by his individual free will but by the choices and curiosity with which he was supposedly created. Adam’s nature betrayed him, you see, and we share that nature. And, oh, by the way, it’s really all Eve’s fault because Adam listened to her.

    But why reject that which proves the story cannot be real, cannot be actual? Well, because we must hold our faith-based belief to be of a higher value than what is true. We must trust in the sacrifice of jesus to be a real sacrifice, an event orchestrated by some divine tripartite being, which entails accepting that we are fallen, sinful, broken creatures by our very natures so that all of us need to be redeemed and therefore require such a sacrifice, in need of ‘saving’ not from our choices and free will (if there is such a thing) but from our basic created nature, which can only be done by trusting in such a dysfunctional theology that twists and wrings such an interpretation.

    And the teachings of the myth? Gone, baby, gone… sacrificed on the alter of some perverted theology that sets the stage for intra-species misogyny (it really was Eve’s fault, you see, because that is the nature of women!) and a blank cheque from some divine creator for world domination and destruction of the natural world as our payoff. Such an interpretation turns all of us into moral prostitutes for our christian theology.

    And you’re okay with this?

    • Craig Benno says:

      Actually Tildeb; if you have been following my post’s you would know that I hold the creation / flood story to be in the mythical genre.

      However the ancient mythical genre is different to our modern understanding of what a myth is. There is still truth to be unpacked from that story and so my question was in regards to the majority of Christendom who exclusively concentrate on the Total Depravity of humankind…without acknowledging that part of the fall was both a mixture of knowing good and evil… I’m sure you will agree with me that you would fit into this category also? I know I certainly do and at the moment am yet to know anyone who doesn’t.

      • tildeb says:

        If you hold the Genesis stories to be mythical, then we don’t need redemption. We are the way we are, capable of obtaining knowledge about good and evil that requires us to bear whatever consequences this pursuit yields. But we must leave home to do it, leave behind the totalitarian authority of our parents, leave behind someone else providing us our food, our shelter, and our clothing.

        The myth teaches us that the pursuit of knowledge is a process of obtainment with moral ramifications for which we alone are responsible. Real knowledge is not and cannot be merely a gift of insight or an act of empowerment by revelation, or an event that bestows knowledge into us. To gain knowledge means we have to live, and in order to live we have to leave the womb, leave our childhood home, and enter the real world.

        And if we want to live in the real world and live fully then we must understand that living involves suffering, and we must bear this without the aid and comfort of some dictatorial and demanding parental authority figure who carries our responsibilities for us and provides for our wants and needs. Believing that living our lives is really someone else’s job, someone else’s responsibility, is childish;. we have to grow up and be responsible and leave these expectations and childish desires to be taken care of behind if we wish to enter the world as mature adults. We don’t need a creator/sugar daddy/benevolent welfare provider: we can shed this skin of our immature and childish beliefs and desires and understand that we can do it ourselves. We can live ourselves. We can grow up and leave home. And we don’t sacrifice creative power to do so, either: we possess our own creative power to beget new life… but this also entails the greatest of joys as well as the greatest of suffering, which we can handle together (man and woman). Women already know this because they are the ones with the power of life. They don’t need to believe in immaculate conceptions through magical agents to understand the power they already possess to beget new life and the act that produces offspring; it is men who need to understand, who need to eat the fruit, who need to have their lazy asses kicked into action to leave the parental basement, grow up, grow a pair, and enter the real world as a responsible and mature adult.

        Staying in the garden is depraved… it is non life. It is available only by living completely and accordingly to some overbearing parental authority figure who exchanges meeting only the most basic needs in exchange for total obedience to rules and regulations that ensure zero knowledge. But this goes against our intellectually curious and inquisitive nature; we don’t come equipped to sit idle not thinking and not being curious and not learning. And as every woman knows, you can’t raise children with this non thinking non curious non inquisitive non learning mindset in the comfort of your parent’s basement. Child will not thrive in such an environment. For that all of us – men and women – we must leave our nests, enter the real world, and grow up. Never again can we return to our state of blissful ignorance once we begin to live truly.

        This is a valuable story and offers us wisdom. It doesn’t need to be real. But if it’s only a metaphor as you are willing to concede, then you must see what a devastating blow this is to the crucifixion: no one needs to suffer and die for a metaphor… unless the crucifixion is also a metaphor. Are you willing to go there? I doubt it.

        Can we be ‘redeemed’ from our very nature? Really. Think about that interpretation. Does it make any sense to you? Can we find anything valuable or positive or life-affirming in living to deny ourselves our inquisitive and curious natures, to deny our pursuit of knowledge out of fear of offending some parental Kim Il Jong authority figure, of hating who and what we are to prove our love for our Dear Leader, seeking a return to the oblivion of his special garden before we began to think for ourselves and be responsible? Does this sound wise to you?

        If so, I fail to see it. To me it seems an incredibly childish and immature lesson crafted to suit a very specific purpose for which it was never intended to suit. There are enough symbols in the narratives to show that the christian version makes no sense. Using myths to explain and justify later events is not now nor ever been what myths are all about.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Tilbed; you are reading into the text from your own post modern world view… which is something the authors never intended and therefore have failed as an objective historicist in any scientific / sociologist understanding of that text.

        Christianity doesn’t need the Genesis story to be real as its focus is on the reality of Christ 2000 years ago and what he did and taught.

      • tildeb says:

        Of course I’m reading into the text my ‘post modern’ world view. That’s what we’re supposed to do when reading a myth! If it were historical, we would be reading an allegory, and we’re not. The narrative would have a literal relationship between the objects and events described correlated to a second set of objects and events. No such correlation exists. Therefore Genesis is not an allegory!

        So you miss the mark by accusing me of having failed as an objective historicist in any scientific / sociologist understanding of that text. If I had done so and read the narrative as you suggest – as an allegory – I would be misreading the text!

        Look, I know a lot about myths. When we read one, we recognize the costumed images of our own dreams. Dreams and myths are closely related, relying a grammar of images that have meaning. That’s why each image in the story matters on a personal level. The dream is the private myth, whereas the myth is the public dream! Myths offer us a personal experience of being alive if we understand and recognize the costumed clues that reside within the myth. But how can we recognize the clues embedded in the myth unless we already recognize the very experience that the clues are supposedly offering us? The answer to this paradox is that a myth must “not only be convincing, that is, possessed of meaning, but explanatory, that is, an assigner of meaning.”(C. Yung Essays on a Science of Mythology p 4) A myth presents us with our own symbolic dream images, which we then recognize, and assigns meaning within the context of the story, which teaches us about ourselves. So how can we do this with an ancient myth like Genesis?

        Elementary ideas or archetypes appear in different costumes at different times due to historical and environmental conditions. The dream images of a nomadic hunter during the last ice age would be costumed differently than the dream images of today’s nuclear physicist. The nomadic hunter may clothe his dream image of fear as a saber toothed tiger, whereas the nuclear physicist may cloth his fear as an explosion. These images represent the personal aspects of dreams and are clothed differently. But there resides a common primordial theme about fear shared by both hunter and physicist that is mythological. To bridge the gap between the private dream and the public myth, the mythical narrative must clothe a primordial theme with a recognizable symbolic image. That is to say, we must look for the familiar primordial theme that lies behind the symbolic images of a myth in order to interpret a costumed symbolic image.

        For example, why a snake? What characteristics of a snake are primordial to be used as such a central and pivotal symbol? There are several and they all matter to the richness of the story’s message to us. How does the christian interpretation help us do this? I don’t think it does. At all. If it’s a devil, then why not a devilish creature like a goat? If it’s message is like poison, why talk? Why not bite? We need to explore these differences to see which one matters. And therein lies the important lesson for us to enrich – not reduce – our lives.

        You dismiss my point all too easily, my friend. I suggest you talk to your religious tutors about the central and pivotal importance of Genesis to explain and justify why the ‘sacrifice’ of jesus personally matters to our need for redemption. Without Genesis and the Fall, the death of jesus doesn’t matter one whit.

      • Craig Benno says:

        In understanding the precept of an ancient myth; one has to first engage with the “Truth” as to what that “Truth” meant to the actual authors within the actual construct of the authors intent. So the intent of the authors was to say that God created all; we all were made to be in relationship with God and humankind turned their back on God…

        Therefore you have totally bypassed the authors intention and re-read this story through your own world view without engaging in anyway shape or form with what this story meant to the original authors….

      • tildeb says:

        But every creation myth does this, Craig… set the beginning with god-like forces and conflicts. That doesn’t make it literally true: the First Nations people here relate this creative force to a giant divine turtle: that doesn’t make this turtle ‘true’. It’s a symbol. One does not gain anything ‘truthful’ believing that there really was a giant turtle and that mankind literally rejected this divine creature: that’s why we have to remember that the creation myth is not an allegory! Believing god was real and that man ‘rejected’ this god is reading Genesis as an allegory! That’s a mistake, an error, a comprehension that diverts you from the purpose of the narrative. This belief you have is unfounded, which is why the christian interpretation is flawed from the getgo. You are not coming at the story with any intention of learning from it but using it as an explanation for what comes later, namely the death and resurrection of jesus. That’s flipping everything exactly backwards and applying meaning to the story rather than extracting meaning from it. In addition you make an even greater error to assume the author’s intention based on beliefs in jesus already held prior to the reading. You have no idea what the author’s intentions are about, and when it comes to myths it simply doesn’t matter who the author might have been or in what context the author created the story. What matters is the myth itself. Because so much early history is passed on by such stories, we can have no idea who the original author/authors might be, and we don’t need to know. The myth stands or falls on its own merit, on the power of its symbols and importance of its message. Christians have neutered this myth to be self-serving for their theology and play a game of bait and switch between what’s literal and figurative, what’s metaphorical and what’s true, what’s allegory and what’s myth. And these differences matter a very great deal to the authenticity of the so-called resurrection of jesus.

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