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Creation's Parables : Genesis 3
Harmonizing Genesis 1-11 with Standard Science
By Jo Helen Cox
Creation's Parables is a paraphrased account that leaves perfectionism out of the Biblical story, simply because the Bible never stipulates God created everything perfect or anything perfect. Instead, nature acts as interpreter to relate the events of biblical creation: the story of nature told by nature. Below is a text analysis of Genesis 3 with notes where the text details match or do not match the evidence expressed by standard science. Surprisingly, most of the details match the evidence.
Perfectionistic assumptions overshadow the garden story. Most details people envision are not biblical. The writer never uses words that convey an idealistic world. No lion naps with a lamb. God never cursed humanity with mortality.
These stories were written in story form, meaning they flow with a beginning, middle and end. They must be handled as they were told. Story form does not dictate pure fiction. Truth and history can be expressed easier in this form. More importantly, listeners retain the information longer.
Passages quoted are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by Permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Genesis 3 with Interpretations from Nature
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The chapter starts like a fairy-tail, not at all scientific. Fossilized snakes appeared long before humans or even early primates existed. The evidence shows a lineage of reptiles slowly becoming legless. The creation process of evolution produced serpentine form, not a single event. Not one ever had a “voice box” that could produce verbal language.
I rationalize the passage by inserting an intelligent entity, possibly the one known later as Satan. It hijacked and spoke through the animal. I call it serpent/spirit. From scripture, Satan is known as a whisperer of half-truths who prompts people toward evil acts. That is what this character does.
Serpent/spirit opens conversation with a question he knew to be false. It implanted the concept of uncertainty toward God’s edicts.
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Woman’s answer complicated the command of God with, “Don’t touch the tree.” The addition is a human tendency that continues today. It is based in fear and prefers rituals over understanding truth.
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Serpent/spirit spoke truth. He knew the woman understood the concept of physical death. However, he also knew physical death was not what the tree or its fruit delivered. Serpent/spirit failed to mention the command concerned spiritual death, something she did not comprehend.
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
God gave animals and “almost-humans” the capacity to desire. Woman justified action out of instinct. She also rationalized the benefits beyond what was offered. Wisdom and knowledge are not synonymous.
Man was near enough to see what was happening. He knew the command, yet did not act. He accepted what he heard and saw without questioning if it was right or wrong. Then, he joined her in eating.
These are still very human traits. We act on our desires, justifying actions and rationalizing to gain imaginary benefits. We listen to propaganda and accept what is presented as truth without considering if something important was left out.
Awareness, Within and Without
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
God did not teach these humans sewing since it was unnecessary in the garden (Genesis 2:25). Therefore, man learned the skill before coming to the garden as an almost-human.
Scientifically, these details are in the correct order. Almost-humans knew how to sew before they needed to cover nakedness. They used these items to protect themselves from harm. Sometime later, the concept of nakedness entered the human consciousness. Humans share this trait, even if the “clothing” is only a string of beads.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
The awareness became shame then suddenly turned to fear. Like any dog, they knew they did wrong. Using animal instinct, they hid.
What did the people hear? Lots of speculation turned dogma adds epic drama to this simple storytelling devise. I believe God is a gentleman. He announced his coming, tenderly.
If God is omnipotent and omnipresent then He knew what the people had done and where they were. God did not rush in. He did not fume or fuss about the sudden distorted mess sin made creation. He called gently. As with wayward frightened toddlers, He played hide-and-seek.
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The storyteller expresses fear in the “voice” of man and woman. He did not relay anger or shock in the “voice” of God.
Man came out whining and crying just like any little kid. God gently prods the man for information. Instead of repentance, Man states facts and shifts blame. God gently prods the woman for information. She too shifts blame without repentance.
Humans have not come very far. We still make this same mistake. Religion heightens our fear by replacing the loving God of the story with a perfectionistic God who is angry and repulsed by the sinful people standing in His presence.
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
When God addressed the serpent/spirit, He started with a curse. His words were not gentle. He did not ask a question or expect a reply. The concepts of “right vs. wrong” and “good vs. evil” are similar but not identical.—Eve and Adam knew better, but they chose to disobey. That was wrong. The serpent-spirit did evil. He knowingly chose to manipulate a person into acting against God. He received harsh punishment, a true curse.
Serpent/spirit hijacked an animal, so from then on, he would resemble that beast. Because serpent/spirit acted with evil intent toward humans, he would eat the dust of mortality.
A spiritual war started in the garden. Not between Satan and God, Satan does not have that kind of power. It started between humans and “the adversary” (that is what Satan means). Serpent/spirit produced children through his whispers. Both spirits and humans listened (John 8:42-47; 1 John 3:10). They would fight against those who followed God. One of woman’s children would end that war.
16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
God does not curse woman. To insist that He speaks in anger simply supports perfectionistic ideals. God’s words are blunt but not harsh. I believe God spoke in a sad but gentle voice to the novice sinner. That is the example of Jesus. He only became angry with the children of serpent/spirit, those people who were only outwardly good.
In the Hebrew, God multiplied (increased) the pain of conception and child birth, therefore woman already knew that birthing children was painful. The fruit gave knowledge beyond what animals have instinctively. Scientifically, as almost-humans became human, their head grew larger. The female birth canal did not evolve as fast, thus more pain.
Woman wanted wisdom, which did not come from the fruit. Her desire became a bane to her daughters. Desire chooses unworthy men for husbands and lets men rule over them.
Humans still choose poorly when we let desires drive us.
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Only now does God name the man, Adam. Again, He did not curse the novice sinner. God spoke in a sad but gentle voice to foretell what the future held because of knowledge. He explained that actions and inactions bring consequences, and knowledge accentuated difficulties and disappointments.
The text places a curse on the ground and ties it to plowing. It never says God or sin recreated vegetation. But, tilled ground provides nutrition for plants besides grain. Prejudice restricts discernment and appreciation for botanical goodness and beauty. People would see only evil weeds, a curse. God called all his plants good, which included the thorny and poisonous. They are good for something.
The desire for dominance makes our relationship to weeds correspond to woman’s desire that corrupts relationships. Humans labor throughout life, and then die. In death, the body returns to the dust of its Earthly origin. The Breath returns to God.
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
Adam follows God’s example and names the woman. They would be the first of the lineage of human, the living images of the living God.
Oddly enough, the text details match genetics. All living humans have one common maternal ancestor and one common paternal ancestor. These two people were not the only humans on Earth, yet only their lineage survived. These two people may not have lived at the same time, and the difference could be counted in a hundred thousand years. Yet, in the most recent estimates, the two overlap. They could have known each other.
21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Many sermons call this a sacrifice, but not the text. It is just an animal killed for its skin.
God’s act is that of respect and preparation. Instead of anger or rejection, God taught these humans how to tan animal hide and sew clothing. The almost-humans lived outside the garden. Adam and Eve needed this skill when the next season of their lives began.
Into the World
22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Perfectionism distorts our perception of God. It claims that He is so pure that evil rebuffs Him. Instead, scripture says, God is so pure that even though He knows evil He chooses to be good. Purity comes from choice.
Over the ages, many suggestions have been proposed for why God said, “… like one of us.” These have influenced theology and were used to support preferred ideologies. Today’s most prevalent claims He spoke as the Trinity. However, the ancient Jews would not have canonized such a passage. Their God was singular, always singular. So, an alternate answer must have satisfied them. That would be the cherubim, the next character in the story. God spoke to His servant.
Perfectionism also distorts our understanding of the tree of life. God gave man and woman the choice to eat from it. They did not. God offered this choice again, in the form of Jesus. In between, the importance of spiritual death and life became evident. People realized peace came from doing good not evil. They learned and relearned the benefits of trusting God. We are still learning these lessons.
Sin was not God's reason to banish man and woman from the garden. Exile only removed the possibility of eating from the second tree. It was guarded for a future time. What this guard looked like is baffling, why the flaming sword moved continuously. My guess is the description grew from a physical experience, possibly volcanism of the strombolian eruption type that ejects fragments into the air. These might look like a flashing sword.
The first lessons were over, so it was time to leave the security of the nest. The Breath and knowledge had to enter the almost-human population. In time, only one lineage would remain.
 The maternal lineage places “Mitochondrial Eve” in eastern Africa up to 200,000 years ago as Homo sapiens sapiens first developed. The technique to study “Y-chromosomal Adam” is still relatively new, so dating is widespread.