My friend Nate, from the insightful, agnostic/atheistic blog “Finding Truth” gave me the following comment (one of many 🙂 ) in response to my post “A Discussion of Free Will”. Though I answered him in a follow-up reply, and I’ve expanded on some of our discussions before, I thought this was a great comment to begin and/or further a dialog on. Please feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts below:
It’s interesting to think about how Adam and Eve could sin prior to receiving the “knowledge of good and evil,” which is what the fruit supposedly gave them.
It is interesting. Because that is exactly what happened. In this case–the instance of “original sin”–the very definition of sin is stretched beyond the parameters of simply “knowledge of good and evil”; touching on our God-given ability to choose, the freedom and consequences of freewill, and why–since before we were even created–God’s plan included a “savior”.
Ephesians 1: 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (NLT)
Regardless of whether or not a choice itself is inherently good or evil, could sin also be defined as knowing what is the right or proper thing to do in a given situation, and choosing otherwise? After all, the fall of man was Adam’s doing, not Eve’s. Eve was led into temptation; Adam freely disobeyed God by, instead, following the lead of his wife.
In a paper written by Rabbi Jeffery Leynor, its noted that the three most often used words in the Hebraic bible to denote ‘sin’ are:
- The root HT (Het): which occurs 459 times and the original meaning of the verb HATA: “to miss” something, or “to fail.” It signifies a failure of mutual relations and corresponds to the modern idea of “offense” rather than the theological concept of “sin.” One who fulfills the claims of a relationship or an agreement is righteous, ZADDIQ; one who does not, offends, fails, or misses the mark. This is essentially what Adam did in the Garden.
- The root PESH which occurs 136 times and is also found in the early texts of Genesis and Exodus. Its basic meaning is that of the “breach of a covenant.” Acts of this type are said to dissolve the community or break the peaceful relations between two parties, as in cases involving international treaties. Or, in Biblical terms, the covenant between God and His people, Israel.
- And finally, the word AVON (meaning “crookedness”) which, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary, is the main Hebrew word for “iniquity” and describes perversion or depravity of actions causing the ‘sinful’ person to become crooked rather than straight.
It is my belief that the choice Adam made–though it was indeed sin (HATA)–on its own merits was neither good nor evil. I imagine Adam’s thought process went something like, “I’ve lost her anyway. I can’t live without her. I can’t stand the thought of her suffering alone. I might as well do the same thing . . .”
It’s that same thought process that leads us as well—ever so slowly—away from God. There’s any number of things on any given day that we feel—no, that we know—we “can’t live without”. God may be somewhere in there but, if we’re honest, rarely is he the first “thing”.
Adam chose to follow his wife, openly disobeying what God personally told him. (At least Eve could have the excuse of, “Well, I think this is what Adam told me that God told him . . .”) Adam’s eternal sin was committed before his bite from the forbidden fruit was ever taken. Finally, it was sealed when he tried to shift the blame for his actions . . . to God himself. (“It was the woman YOU gave me.”)
What the snake did was evil; what Adam did was ‘miss the mark’, then further complicate things by guilt, shame, hiding, denial, pride, on and on (of which, these thoughts and emotions may very well have been the result of the “knowledge of good and evil”): thus breaking the covenant relationship with his Creator . . . .
Genesis 3:23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
. . . . A relationship that we later have the ability to choose to restore, through a new covenant, and a new “Adam” . . .
1 Corinthians 15:45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!