We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.

What Went Wrong in the Garden of Eden?

Image by massdistraction via Flickr

Image by massdistraction via Flickr

When Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they imposed their will into the center of Paradise, and this was the act that destroyed Paradise. They invaded the proper domain of God. Instead of recognizing that they were supposed to derive life from the center, they placed themselves in the center. They tried to become “like God.”

The beauty of creation depends on the integrity of the distinction between the complementary centers and the source of the center. The “No Trespassing” sign placed at the center of the garden represents the warning to preserve this boundary and thus the order, beauty, and life of creation. Everything depends on humans remaining humans and not trying to be God—not trying to be their own source center.

photo

Adam and Eve violated this boundary. They thrust themselves into the center of the garden to try to make themselves “wise like God.” They tried to design their own space, as it were, with themselves as the center. And we do the same. We try to make creation—and God—revolve around us. Instead of remaining content being complementary centers, we try to make everything complement us. We attempt to use things and people to derive our worth, meet our needs and expectations, or improve our lives in some way. And we “know good and evil” in the process, for we invariably judge things as “good” or “evil” on the basis of how well they play the idolatrous role we assign them.

Living as the source center means living as judge. But we were not created to function as the source center. We were created to function as complementary centers. We have no life in ourselves to dispense to other centers. Consequently, our center is not one of fullness but of emptiness. Without God as our center, we are not a source of life but a vacuum that sucks life. We can’t radiate life in other centers; we can only try to draw life from them. The world and God revolve around us, and we become a virtual black hole, as depicted by the diagram below.

photo copy

It is out of the depravity of this black hole that we function as a center, playing God, judging good and evil.

This is life “in the flesh” or life “in Adam.” It is life lived under the serpent’s lie and thus life lived as though we were the center. This way of life is diametrically opposed to God, for it makes it impossible for the fullness of God’s love to flow into us and through us.

In this fallen way of life, people and things have worth only to the extent that they fill us. Instead of ascribing unsurpassable worth to others because the Creator does, we ascribe limited worth to people depending on our judgment of them. Do these people love me? Do they please me? Do they benefit me? Do they affirm me? Do they agree with my opinions? We are the ones who declare that someone or something is good or evil, for we have set ourselves up as the center around which everything revolves and, therefore, the standard against which everything is measured.

—Adapted from Repenting of Religion, pages 68-71

Related Reading

If Sin Has Its Own Consequences, Are We Really Forgiven? (podcast)

Greg talks about sin and forgiveness. Episode 539 http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0539.mp3

Judgment and Idolatry

Why was the forbidden tree in the center of the garden called The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Since the Bible depicts eating from this tree as the reason humans are estranged from God and the cause of all that’s wrong with humanity, eating from this tree is obviously a terrible thing.…

Coming Home

The only way we can experience the life God has for us is to give up trying to acquire it on our own. We must surrender ourselves completely to God. This is not merely a matter of believing that our attempts to acquire worth and significance (some of the ways that we do this were…

Why is the Bible so strict on prohibiting pre-marital sex? What’s the big deal?

Today in western culture people tend to have a rather “recreational” view of sex. It’s just a pleasurable physical activity we engage in. Even people who don’t consciously believe this are influenced by it , since we’re bombarded with this message every day through movies, television shows, radio, magazines, etc. Because we’re influence by this…

Did the Fall Really Happen? (podcast)

Greg speculates on the nature of the fall, then talks about evidence of God in the universe.  Episode 520 http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0520.mp3

Love OR Judgment – You Can’t Have Both

Image by Morgan Sessions We cannot judge others because it is not our place as humans to function as the center—because God is that center—and judge other people. In addition, we cannot judge others because we ourselves are sinners who deserve judgment. If we don’t want to be judged, Jesus says, we must not judge. The…