Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The messiness of Original Sin

Messiness won the evening, for the labyrinth stays as is, atop the desert floor. Last evening we continued to place stones atop the ground, that is after Bro. Juniper heard my plea, and even Bro. Clarence thought the drifting sands would add to the visual appeal, and then pointed out the fatal flaw in the test course of stones that are even with the surface -- drifting sand would soon cover and obliterate the entire labyrinth. Bro. Juniper smacked himself on the forehead, something so obvious had escaped his (and our) thinking. With that resolved, we went to work placing the stones, and in the twilight I found myself considering the Garden of Eden story again. Of course everyone seems to latch onto the idea of Original Sin and won't let go, the believers spin and weave in attempts to make sense of the idea, while nonbelievers point to the unreasonable idea that a god would take the misdeed of an innocent and make the innocent guilty, and further, punish the guilty, and atop that, punish all humankind forever more. I think both sides fail to grasp the symbolism of this story. First of all, without humans, not only does the concept of good and evil not make sense, but in all of nature it is absent. In all of nature (apart from humans) only "good" and "nothingness" exists. Bad doesn't exist, for everything in nature seeks to exploit it's own potential to live and replicate. That either happens or doesn't happen. You might think of all nature as one big organism that exists, and exists only because each part that makes up the "all nature" live and die to provide another part of "all nature" with food to do the same. Nothing is "bad" because in "all nature" adaptation to prevent extinction is the only goal, and total extinction would be the only "bad" possible. Yet again, even extinction couldn't be "bad" in a humanless and Godless "all nature," for in such a universe, everything just is. Or just isn't. No matter. For to matter requires intelligence to create the idea of mattering and not mattering. Now back to the Garden of Eden, this metaphor explains the need for intelligence, for awareness, for self awareness, before the ideas (and concepts) of good and bad/evil to exist. Adam before gaining knowledge of self awareness (or if you prefer, evolution before the brain/mind developed self awareness) was as innocent as a Tiger pouncing upon a lamb and ripping it to shreds for a meal. Without self-awareness "pre-humans" did whatever was required in order to live another day and replicate. After self-awareness (Original Sin) humans became aware of their every action and the consequences of these actions and further became aware that life and replication at whatever cost was no longer possible, for the new brain/mind was not only aware of each action, the consequences of the action, but also if the action was good or bad. And for the first time "bad" had a meaning other than failure to survive, the human brain/mind continued to develop this concept of "bad" until it became a powerful force that identifies all that which would or could harm the individual, the family, the group, the environment around the group, and today the entire earth. These are things that no other life/creature can think, humans not only think, but can act upon these abstract thoughts. And so Adam and Eve with full self awareness watched as their sons fought and one became a murderer and the other a victim of murder. Good and evil sprang to life as if it were an entity, a concept so powerful that not one human can return to that Garden of Eden, that blissful and ignorant state of innocence. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was Bro. Simon, "Are you practicing mindlessness again?"

No comments: