Did God Intend for Adam and Eve to Falter?
(In this article, I will use “them” and “they” as pronouns to refer to God as it is how God refers to themself- Gen 1:26)
Even if God didn’t intend for Adam and Eve to falter, they certainly knew it was likely
As a parent of younger children, many things have become evident to me that I was oblivious to in the previous four decades of my selfish meandering. For example, I truly had no frame of reference for how much free time I had (and conversely, how much time I was wasting) until I had children. I also had little appreciation for the value of money; I used to blow my annual bonuses on transient material things, vacations, stuff I didn’t need, and other worldly things. While I certainly wouldn’t call vacations a waste of time (after all- the memories, positive or negative, last a lifetime), but it sure would be nice to have a little more cushion in uncertain times like now, or a little more for those forthcoming college expenses in about 12 years. Ah, the benefit of hindsight.
A combination of having children, getting older, growing as a person and becoming less selfish, as well as the pursuit of a closer relationship with God have provided insights I couldn’t have conceived of prior. I’ve gained insights into myself, insights into my blessings, my failings as person (and God’s love of me anyway), and specific to my topic for today, God’s plan for us.
One of the things I’ve discovered is that no matter how much you try to warn your children about something dangerous or tell them to stop doing something that you know is likely to harm them, they will do it anyway. Sometimes it’s due to negligence (deliberate or accidental), sometimes it is due to them getting wrapped up in the excitement or zeal of life. Other times it might be temptation introduced by a sibling or other party, or it could even just be a random wild hair.
Whatever the cause, they will completely “forget” that they aren’t supposed to run down the hallways, or jump on the couch, or that they have to wash their hands after going potty. Children have to be reminded dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of times of the “rules” before they finally sink in. And I’ve got sweet kids with (generally) really good intentions. Parents out there will know exactly what I’m talking about.
With that in mind, hypothetically speaking, if I were to leave them alone in the house for a weekend and tell them “You can eat all the bananas, peaches, and cherries in the house, but whatever you do, you mustn’t eat the pomegranates!”, the result would be predictable, especially if there were external nefarious influences (such as a jealous spirit that was hell-bent on their personal downfall).
Even without the omnipotence of God, a God whom by virtue of the fact that they created space-time and could therefore foresee the future and even alter the past, I would argue that the results are predictable. While I possess no supernatural clairvoyance, my earthly powers of observation tell me that the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of children doing the exact opposite of what they are told to do in many cases, as they explore and test boundaries, which I would argue is a natural consequence of growing up.
Unfortunately sometimes actions come with consequences, and some consequences are inconceivable until they are experienced (therein lies the true curse of humanity, that we are at times incapable of accepting lessons that we didn’t personally learn the hard way).
Similar to children, Adam & Eve may not have understood the consequences of their actions (despite being warned by God) until Adam and Eve learned the consequences of their actions, which unfortunately was too late. My two year old daughter does not understand what harm inserting something into an electric socket could have brought her. We’ve scolded her and put her in timeout and sent her to bed. We’ve covered sockets and tried to explain to her how she could be hurt, but it’s at her eye level, and in her mind, sticking the arm of of magic-clip doll into an electric socket must have seemed like a good idea at the time (thankfully, it wasn’t conductive).
What I propose is God had to have an inkling beforehand that man was doomed to commit the Original Sin. That’s not to say it was God’s fault, but they probably could have predicted the outcome of leaving Adam and Eve alone in a garden with a couple of trees that they were forbidden from eating from, in the presence of at least one antagonist. So the question becomes, why would they do so?
Part of the Reason is Due to Free Will
I propose that the reason is due to free-will. If they desired, instead of creating mankind, God could have created completely semi-sentient robots that were functional, human-like in appearance, and 100 percent obedient and therefore incapable of violating commandments. These robots would presumably follow all the rules, recite the correct things at the correct times, and would never act out of turn. But God didn’t create us as robots, because that would have eliminated the concept of free will, and I believe as much as anything, that God wants us to have free will. I believe one reason God wanted that is because God wanted us to choose to love him and be one with God spiritually, not be forced to.
Not only did God know we weren’t going to always make the right choices, God may have known that in the case of the Original Sin, that mankind wouldn’t make the correct choice when left alone. Choices, good or bad, obviously have consequences. In the case of bad choices, those consequences can sometimes bring some level of suffering, and God had to know this. That got me thinking, how could a being who loves us so much allow us to make choices that he knew would lead to some level of pain and suffering?
The very simple answer is, some things we simply have to learn on our own. Things that he can’t tell us or teach us directly (see children not listening references above), or times when warns us but we don’t listen, we have to experience for ourselves. There are times when I will let my children gently fail if it will teach them things that I couldn’t get them to listen to.
In my next post, I will discuss another reason for our temporary presence in this realm- I believe we are sent here to learn how to become better neighbors in heaven.