If there is the equivalent of the Satanic Verses in Genesis, called Brsht in its original Hebrew (see Story of the Cranes in the Qur’an) that might be called just plain wrong in Genesis, it is this, hear.
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And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
This little treatise is intensely problematic. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. The knowledge of right and wrong is conscience – it is distilled in English law as the M’Naughton premise of competence; and this is merely the latest handling of the idea by courts and the wise.
The New Advent offers a Catholic perspective, for what it’s worth. First and wisely, it discusses the unusual philology of English, that Conscience and Consciousness are separated in English, when not so in the original Latin, nor in French. It also asserts:
Being a practical thing, conscience depends in large measure for its correctness upon the good use of it and on proper care taken to heed its deliverances, cultivate its powers, and frustrate its enemies.
Even where due diligence is employed conscience will err sometimes, but its inculpable mistakes will be admitted by God to be not blameworthy. These are so many principles needed to steady us as we tread some of the ways of ethical history, where pitfalls are many.
Knowing good and evil, then, is a matter of the Gods’ conscience but not the beasts. In the myth of eating the apple, humans have risen, unwisely, into an intermediate state between Gods and beasts.
Note that the apparent fear of God is stated – Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…: and obviously this eternal life is only perilous when combined with conscience, for it is a tree freely offered in the Garden. This premise is so much at variance with Christian theology (and some of the other interpretations of the monotheistic religions that revere Genesis) as to require consideration.
Salvation, in the eyes of Christianity, would be the attainment of both conscience and the gift of eternal life.
Conscience and consciousness belong in the same essential definition, I’d say. If there is a modern bent towards the demonic, it is to shrug off conscience in some manner; to become some how exalted so as to never trifle with the concepts of right or wrong, or less primitively, to assert that all one’s actions are inherently correct. Post hæc per ergo beatus sit. It is the passion of modernity – to cough up the apple piece, and be free from morality. It is the infantile bliss – all that I do is wonderful. That is allowed for infants, for they cannot do much. But morality is needed in adults, for they may do much wrong.
The undertone of Genesis is that there is a responsibility for “eating the apple,” somehow. What is it? The defiance of God? Does one complete the pursuit of correctness once one finds an authoritative rule?.
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