When debating someone who believes in the fundamental components of the Christian narrative, i.e. the choice by man to eat the apple, the fall, original sin, and the subsequent return to God, I choose to focus not on the specifics but rather on the first and most important events. These are the creation of man, and man’s choice to eat of the tree of knowledge.
Why did God create man? Why does an omnipotent and omniscient being create us in the first place? Did he want companionship? Was he bored? Was he curious as to the limits of his own powers? None of these explanations fit with an all-knowing and all-powerful being. Something there has to be missing in order to desire to create such a lowly and fragile life form in the first place.
Why create man with a desire for anything other than God? Quite simply, if the purpose of man is to love God, then why not create him just to do that, and with no desire to do something else?
Even worse than creating man to desire something else (step 2), why create an perfect source of that which he desires (the tree of knowledge) and then create a third actor (Lucifer) to taunt him into making the wrong choice? Is this not the very definition of “set up for failure”?
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die. — Genesis 2:17
The Free Will Gambit
Seeing that this is horribly illogical, all Christians are trained to fall back on the specious argument of free will. The idea is that despite the fact that God put everything in place for man to fail, he also gave man free will. So he had the option to choose correctly, and he should therefore have made the right choice.
This is absurd.
Let’s try another, scaled-down version of this experiment that will prove how silly this concept really is. Sit a two-year-old in a high chair with candy on one side of their tray and spinach on the other side, and stand back with an open hand.
If the baby reaches for the candy, slap the hell out of it.
Ah, but that’s not fair because…..why? Because babies are programmed by evolution to prefer sweet tastes, so it’s unfair to ask them to choose the right one because it’s not as pleasurable?
Ok, here’s a better question: who determines what tastes good and what doesn’t?
Right, God does. And who determined how attractive the tree of knowledge was to man in the garden? Right, God did. And who decides how attractive “loving God instead”, i.e. “spinach” was to man at that very moment in the garden? Right again–God.
So if God controls all the variables, where’s the free will?
Desires > Free Will: The Well Scenario
Free will is subservient to the strength of natural desires. If I just spent three days in a well, with no food or water, when I get rescued I have the choice to a) drink water and eat food, or b) go ride a bike. Are those equal choices for your supposedly “free” will?
Or how about you have the same well scenario, but this time you have two options when you get out: a) consume food and water, or b) go help the homeless at your local shelter. Oh, you’d choose food and water? Selfish. You had the option–help others or indulge your own dark desires. You chose wrong.
It’s the same in the garden. Here’s what God essentially offered:
You can either a) stay with your creator in love an harmony forever, or you can go with Satan and Eve to Earth, where you’ll learn about a billion interesting and naughty things (which I programmed you to find attractive). Oh, but if you choose the one that I designed you to find irresistible (and that I hired Satan to seduce you towards), I’ll punish you…
It’s the choice at the well all over again. God determines the strength of every single one of your desires. Is it your “choice”, as a man, to find platinum blonde women attractive? Is it your “choice” to like the taste of steak or beer?
Or, even better, assuming you’re a heterosexual male, could you decide to be gay right now? Could you exercise your free will and simply choose to like men instead of women? No, not really. So how much of a choice is it, really, when you’re asked whether you want to have sex with an attractive woman or an attractive man? Where is your free will when the directions and strengths of your desires are determined for you?
So I ask again: if God controlled all of the following in the garden…
- The attractiveness of staying with God
- The attractiveness of the tree of knowledge
- The seductiveness of Lucifer
- The gullibility of Eve
- How likely Adam would be to do what Eve had already done
…and we all agree that God did control these things…how did man really make a choice at all?
Simple answer: he didn’t.
Lucky for us the story isn’t true at all. It’s nothing more than one of thousands of these highly similar narratives created by man throughout history. 99% of the world accepts that 99% of the other nearly identical stories are completely untrue, so it’s only a matter of time before we clear up that last 1%.: