Are We Unjustly Punished for the Sins of Adam and Eve?

If you read my last post, then you may have seen that I finally got some sort of insight into God’s judgement in Genesis 3. I don’t know how right I am, but it seems to make sense. First, a quick recap:

God created Adam and Eve, placed them in the Garden and commanded them not to eat from the tree of Knowledge of good and evil but gave no such command concerning the tree of life.

God then leaves them alone. The serpent then shows up and convinced Eve to eat from the tree. She does and Adam joins her. (They seem to be very stupid people. No offense meant, ancestors.)

Eventually, God returns and they admit to their actions. He then goes on to hand out punishment.

But punishment in what way? I think the issue of God punishing us (unjustly) for the sins of Adam and Eve (our ancestors) can be avoided if you take the view that God was never actually ‘punishing’ them but simply letting them know what would naturally result from their actions. That is, God is not acting directly, but is letting their actions run their cause.

For instance, If have sex, you might get pregnant. Getting pregnant is not a punishment (even if the sex is premarital). It’s simply the way things work. Unprotected sex = babies. In the same way, maybe the death, pain, suffering, subjugation of women, etc. Were simply things that followed naturally from eating from the tree. In that sense, When God said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”, he did not mean, “I will kill you if you eat from the tree” but rather, “if you eat from the tree, you will set in motion a chain of actions such that your death will result.” Here are some hypothetical chains:

Chain 1
Man and woman eat from tree –> Man and woman become sinners. If they eat from tree of life (or continue to eat from it), they live forever in that fallen state. –> God sends them out of the garden –> There’s no tree of life, so they eventually die –> Their children also have no tree of life and die too.

Chain 2
Man and woman eat from tree –> Man and woman become sinner and now cannot have their previous relationship with God –> God used to sustain the land, and now that he doesn’t things don’t act the way they used to –> Pain and suffering result. –> Their children are born into this fallen world and it all goes on till we get our redemption, new bodies and a new heaven and earth.

Now, in both my chains, God does act directly in the chain, but he can’t be said to be issuing a direct punishment on them. At least not in the ‘you broke the law and now you must pay’ way. The first one is more mercy than punishment. He  wants to redeem them rather than let them continue on their path. The second one is their fault. As a direct result of their actions, God’s relationship with them and the land is simply no longer there and this sets everything on a downward spiral.

If my hypothesis is right, then God did not punish either Adam or Eve for eating from the tree but they still got justice. He also did not unjustly punish us by directly making women suffer more in childbirth, etc. So, if anyone is to blame, Adam and Eve are.

So far as I can see, the greatest objection to this is that God claimed to be the cause.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel. – Genesis 3:15

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children – Genesis 3:16b (Hey, can you see the repetition there? This is written like poetry. Of course if you group this chapter of Genesis with the wisdom literature, all this goes out the window)

However, I don’t think this means anything. Firstly because God did act directly (in my chains). But none of his direct actions were ‘punishments’. The punishment was built into the system. Also, God can, in a sense, be said to cause anything that He allows because He runs the joint. E.g. He crucified Jesus, although we all know it was the Romans and He took Job’s children even though that was Satan and He killed my Grandpa although I’m pretty sure he died of old age.

Disclaimer: All of this came directly from my head and I’m no theologian. However, most of it seems to make sense as far as I’ve thought them out. I would be glad if anyone can point out any problems I missed. I also did not handle the serpent’s case. That was intentional.


Genesis 5 and 6

Monday January 9, 2012, 10:03 am
I read Genesis Chapter 5 and 6 today. It was interesting as usual and I have my list of questions.
  • o   God cursed the ground because of Adam (Genesis 3). Why? Why not just punish Adam? (unless, it wasn’t supposed to be punishment for him at all, but something that simply naturally followed from their actions. E.g. “you will die if you eat from the tree”. Maybe God pronouncing death on Adam wasn’t a punishment, it was a natural consequence and as that, it affected Eve too. In the same way, maybe the curse on the ground was just a natural consequence. God was no longer with them the way he used to be so the ground acted in that way. Maybe.).
  • o   God said Man’s days would be only 120 years. Is it just me or don’t some people live longer than that?
  • o   Why did God destroy the animals too? Couldn’t he have left them and just gotten rid of the wicked people? That would have saved Noah the trouble of gathering all those animals.
  • o   Noah’s family was saved with him. Were they righteous too? (Probably, or God would have killed them with the rest of the wicked.)
Now, my observations:
  • o   God was sorry that He had made human beings because they were so evil. It is interesting that he gave us such power over himself. Power enough to make him hurt.
  • o   Noah obeyed God, even though the work he was asked to do was not an easy one.
  • o   God established his covenant with Noah. What the covenant said, I wonder.
  • o   God used a flood in the destruction. So natural. Anyone who saw it could explain it away as some sort of chance happening.

Genesis 4

Sunday January 8, 2012, 7:33 am
I just read Genesis 4. The first murder happened so soon after the fall. I wonder if there were other wrong things done before then. I have more things to add to my list of questions:
  • o   What did God mean when he said that Abel’s blood was crying out to him? It sounds like something pagan. Or was it merely symbolic?
  • o   Jubal, one of Cain’s descendants, was an ancestor of all who play the harp and flute? Was there a kingdom of flute-players in this time? That is what it sounds like but I’ll reserve judgment.
But here are the nice things I noticed:
  • o   God was merciful to Cain even though he was a murderer. Who is like our God, huh?
  • o   God addressed the issue of Abel’s murder personally. He didn’t let the people take care of it.
  • o   Cain lived long enough to be killed by Lamech, his great, great, great grandson who somehow did not take into account the curse God declared on anyone who killed Cain.

Genesis 1, 2, 3

Saturday January 7, 2012, a few minutes before 9 pm.
I decided to read the Bible through for the first time today. I read Genesis 1 and 2. It’s all so confusing.
  • I need to figure out if the order of creation in Genesis 1 is consistent with Science.
  • I also need to find out if Genesis 1 and two are both contradictory creation accounts.

They don’t seem to be but I’m not sure. I started learning the Hebrew alphabet because it seems that all these are thing I have to figure out by myself. There are so many questions floating around my head that if I had to ask them all, I could never get them out let alone find answers. I’m trusting God and taking it one day at a time. Here’s a small list of my questions right now.

  • Cutting off a woman’s hand for grabbing her husband’s private parts in public (accidentally, I suppose). Why?
  •   Parents taking oaths on behalf of their children? How is this fair?
  • It still seems like God both punishes and does not punish children for the sins of their parents – a grievous contradiction.
I’ll add more as I think of them. I’ll cross them out as I find answers. I also took a good look at Richard Dawkins’ website. There wasn’t much on it besides the problem of evil again. They need to find an objective moral standard. Hehe. Also,
  • The punishment God gave for eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was passed on to generations. Why? It doesn’t sound fair.