The myth of the fall

A major idea in the Christian tradition is that human beings live in a ‘fallen’ state.  The idea is that, through original sin (which took place in the Garden of Eden), humanity fell from it’s original state of union with God, experienced by Adam and Eve before they made the decision to eat the ‘forbidden fruit’ from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, a decision which corrupted their nature and brought sin into the world.  Christians believe that we all inherit sin nature, or separation from God, due to the actions of that first created man, Adam, when he ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Many believe that the serpent in the story, who tempts Eve to take the forbidden fruit, is The Devil or Lucifer – an angel which itself has fallen from God.

There is no doubt that this story has mythical qualities, even if many Christians do believe it to be literally true.  For our purposes, we are concerned with the relationship between God and man, and whether or not there has been a fall away from God, as the story suggests.

It is difficult for me to understand how anything can exist in a state of separation from God.  What is it that creates, sustains, moves, and animates the world, if not God?  Would a tree really know how to grow itself, without God being the active agent that grows the tree?  I cannot understand how this would be so.  And to take another, human, example, how is it that a human being could possibly know how to beat their heart, flow their blood, grow their hair and nails, digest food, or any of the other processes that we experience as part of our aliveness, without God being the doer of these actions?

It seems to me that the idea of a fall is illogical, because God is clearly in control of everything that happens.

Christians come up against the contradictions inherent in their belief in free will time and time again.  I have heard Christians say that God is responsible for them finding a great church, or giving them a baby, or a new job.  But those same Christians maintain that it is their human free will that chooses to sin; to walk away from church, to abuse their baby, or to lie about their job.  It is surely obvious that Christians are disastrously unclear about what is God’s action in the world, and what is free human action.  I have never known a Christian to be able to speak coherently about the things that God is doing, as opposed to the things that humans are doing.

The problem with the Christian vision is that free will is ascribed to human beings, when in reality, we cannot possibly be free.  If God is omnipotent, as most theology supposes, then God must be responsible for all action and not some action.  Everything that happens must be the result of God acting in the world.

There never was a fall away from God, and there never will be.

A much more sensible approach to theology is to realise that God is necessarily everywhere and in everything.  Once we admit this truth, we can then start to form a worldview and a theology that is logical, because it relates to reality, rather than to a myth that cannot make sense of the way the world really is.

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