An Interpretation Of The Myth Of Eve And Adam

Paradise And Instinctivity
- An Interpretation Of The Myth Of Eve And Adam

When I attended a christian kindergarten, I perceived all stories told indiscriminately as fairy tales, no matter if the were Grimm's or from the bible.

The story of how Eve and Adam lost their paradise was one of those fairy tales.   But rationally seen, their garden Eden was certainly not the perfect paradise.   Had it been, they would have owned it, instead of having a narcissistic landlord, who imposed authoritarian rules upon them and who had the power to kick them out in the case of the lack of compliance and submission.

Putting aside the landlord part of the story, it is mainly an interesting myth of how millennia ago people imagined the ideal circumstances for a happy life.   Filling gaps in my knowledge of the story with a few assumptions, experiencing the garden Eden as a paradise implies Eve and Adam as having been a happy bonded couple having sufficient propinquity.    For a mismatched couple, it could logically not have been a paradise.

The essence of the happiness of Eve and Adam and their good life while residing in the garden of Eden can be explained by one decisive distinguishing factor:

The definition of a paradise includes the absence of harm caused by instincts and all instincts causing harm.     

The garden Eden supplied Eve and Adam with all resources for survival and freed them from any necessity to depend on others.  There was no danger requiring others for protection.   No competition for scarce resources brought out the worst of male instincts in Adam.

  • Procreation instinct

    They were childfree, they were not harmed by the consequences of the procreation instinct.   They did not need to produce children for the purpose of being cared for when old.

  • Sexual instinct

    They either were free from sexual instincts or their needs were balanced and symmetrical.  There were only the two of them, therefore their sexuality was entirely focused upon each other, without any disturbance or interference from others, not by disruptive comparisons, nor was there any alternative available to monogamy by either cheating, poligamy or ruthless dumping and replacing.
    The entire garden Eden was their private home.    They were able to be naked without any involuntary triggering of the instincts of or by strangers.   Adam's instincts were not triggered by other women, Eve was not at risk of being objectified by triggering other men's instincts.

  • Hierarchy instinct

    There was nobody to compete or even fight with for a higher place in a hierarchy.  Adam was free to be a nice, caring, considerate guy.  He had not reason to be or to learn to be aggressive and dominant, nor had he any reason for risky behaviors.
    He had no need for the hierarchy instinct.  There were neither other men to deprived of resources or of women.   There were no other women to be taken away from other men.   Adam had no reason to be a jerk for the enhancement of his own reproductive success, both because of the absence of the procreation instinct and of the absence of targets.

  • Ingroup-outgroup instinct

    In the absence of any other people, there was neither an ingroup nor an outgroup. Adam was never in a situation desensitizing him become cruel and commit atrocities to outgroup members.

  • Gregarious instinct

    They did not need a gregarious instinct attracting them to indiscriminately interact with other people, even with those being unpleasant or harming due to having nothing in common.  Without the need of exchanging of services, support and for protection, they were free to suffice to each other.
    They had time to spend together and they were not too exhausted by hard labor for survival.    They were in a situation to have the time to work on their relationship, to communicate, to create intellectual and emotional intimacy.
    They were fully sensitive and perceptive to influence each other's behavior and treatment, because they were not deformed by instinct driven and desensitized persons as disruptive role models.

It is very interesting to notice, that the myth of Eve and Adam in the garden of Eden clearly but implicitly describes a paradise free from instincts, yet to this very day, the damage caused by instincts is never explicitly recognized.   Whatever harm is caused by instincts is excused as if the instincts were not only the true human nature, but as if there was nothing wrong with being determined by instincts.
It is overdue to redefine human nature by the primacy of cognition, and to start recognizing instincts as an obsolete nuisance, which needs to be controlled, whenever it causes harm to others.

This is a copy from my ERCP blog:  

Views: 210

Comment by Kyle Bates on September 2, 2012 at 1:03pm

Or 'instinct' isn't at all what the story is about.

Why would they have "owned" the garden for it to be paradise?  That doesn't make any sense at all.  You can't praise the lack of hierarchy and then criticize the absence of land ownership, those two concepts go hand in hand.  Why would those two humans have owned the land?  What about all the other plants and animals?  It is this very story that allows humans to believe we are exceptional to the point where we can claim dominion over land and other animals.

The Old Testament is a compilation of selected oral traditions passed on from one culture. These were the stories told around the campfire to give the early Hebrews a cultural identity. All tribes had their own oral traditions, but what is written in the Old Testament survived because the tribe eventually wrote them down.

There are a few things to consider about this. These stories were important enough for the tribe to pass down for generations before eventually writing them down. The second thing to consider is that these stories were passed on orally for thousands of years. Surely the significance of the stories would have changed their context over this vast period of time. The third thing is that these stories could only be based on all they knew, not all that was.

So what could the story of Adam and Eve have represented for the early Hebrews? The creation of the world? Certainly not, but what could have happened that was so significant that they would hold it in so high a regard as to call it creation? Can history give us any clues as to what could have been so significant to these people 10,000 years ago?

The fact is, history can tell us about a very significant event that happened in the same time and place, the Agricultural Revolution.

Now, it should be said that humans had been around for hundreds of thousands of years prior to the Agricultural Revolution. During this period, human population growth was slight. These early tribes were mostly hunter-gatherers with some low-level farming. A comparative look at some of the isolated tribes of today shows that they have a high respect for nature, and concepts like ownership of land and ownership of food are mostly non-existent. They lived as animals, in that they killed and ate what they needed, and for protection, but very rarely more than that. This is the law of limited competition as we see among other animals in the wild today. Humans did not claim dominion over the planet or its food. One day the human hunters caught the deer, another day the deer got away, and yet another day a tiger caught the deer. The humans did not resent the tiger for this because they were living as the tiger did. Whether the deer lived or who caught it, was up to the gods. By “the gods” I of course mean the Animist “gods” found in many tribal cultures.

Fast forward to the Agricultural Revolution when humans began to think differently about their food. Rather than rely on “the gods” for their food, humans began a concentrated wholesale campaign to grow and have complete control over their food. Animals were domesticated and raised on farms for the sole purpose of food. This time the deer or other livestock belonged to the humans first and foremost. The deer’s fate was sealed from birth, it belonged to the humans. The livestock was also protected from other prey, and when necessary, the humans went to war with other would-be competitors for the livestock. To put it another way, humans suddenly took control and decided who lived and who died. Until the Agricultural Revolution, this was the “Knowledge of the Gods.”

Do you see where this is going?

The story of the fall of Adam and Eve is the story of the Agricultural Revolution. The story is told from the point of view of a neighbouring tribe. They thought it was a bad idea as the gods had provided for all up to then and by claiming the knowledge of the gods (eating the apple) they had begun living outside of the laws of nature which had worked so well until then. These observers assumed chaos would ensue and “the gods” would no longer provide for them or protect them, thus they were “cast out of the garden.”  It couldn't be more clear that this story is describing the advent of agriculture when you consider Adam's punishment that he must toil the land for food.  Fortunately for the early Hebrews, this new form of making a living seemed to work quite well. It is likely that the observing tribe was assimilated as agriculture very quickly spread all over the world.

So the story of Adam and Eve wasn’t about the creation of humans, but the creation of civilization as we know it! Surely a story worthy of being passed down for generations.

Another thing that is interesting about this, is the spiritual basis of these people was taken away from them. What right did they have to claim dominion over the world and all the animals and plants in it? Who could possibly have given humans the authority to have the knowledge of the gods, of good and evil? Well, who else could give that kind of authority, but the gods themselves.

So this wasn’t just the birth of civilization as we know it, but also representing the invention of gods. What better coronation story for us, than to be created by god in his own image to rule over the earth.

It’s actually surprising how literal some of these stories can be taken once put in the proper context.

The story of Cain and Abel (along with many other Old Testament stories) is representative of the spread of agriculture. Cain, a farmer, represented an agriculturalist tribe who went to war with Abel, a shepherd, who represented a tribe of, well, shepherds.

Comment by maruli marulaki on September 2, 2012 at 1:28pm

When a landlord has the power to make rules, which restrict the diet of his renters by not allowing them to eat the fruit in their garden, then it is better to own the property than being at the mercy of being evicted by a narcissistic landlord.    If any criticism about land ownership is justified, it is the criticism of the landlord's ownership and power to evict.  

Comment by Kyle Bates on September 2, 2012 at 2:05pm

... except the "landlord" doesn't exist and the concept of "owning" land is irrelevant outside of the context of agriculture.  Start thinking of these stories as being written by humans trying to tell a story about something that actually happened and you start to understand why these stories were actually written and what they were actually portraying.  The first couple chapters of Genesis seem to take pains to express how special humans are -- chosen by god and whatnot -- in order to justify us believing we can own land and do with it what we please.

Criticizing the "power to evict" is just criticizing nonsense and it completely misses the point of the story.

Comment by maruli marulaki on September 2, 2012 at 2:15pm

We are not talking on the same level of mental distance.   I grew up as a skin deep christian, who has never even bothered to read the bible, it was too boring compared with Grimm's fairy tales. 

I am referring to a fairy tale and myth about paradise, which happens to have been included into the bible.   I am interpreting the myth, not the bible.    Seen from sufficient mental distance, someone evicting a couple from their home is a landlord.   Else he would not have the power to evict them.   

The bible is too weird to bother interpreting, what christians read from it.    

Comment by maruli marulaki on September 2, 2012 at 3:05pm

Paul, may I inform you politely but clearly, that you happen to post on an ATHEIST site and not in your church.


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