Saturday, September 29, 2012
Argument From Reproduction
Here's a little theological problem I have been mulling over in my mind. It's one Christians never seem to notice, although I don't see why not, because it's kind of an obvious question.
God’s ability to control human reproduction is seen throughout the Bible. One of the most notable instances is when Abimelech took Sarah into his harem, to God's great displeasure. While she was there God “closed up all the wombs in the house of Abimelech.” (Genesis 20:18)
Given God's power to do this, one must wonder, why didn't God control Eve's reproductive capabilities too? Why didn't he keep Eve barren and close up her womb? That way sin wouldn't have ever entered into the world.
In fact, God could have simply collected the data on Adam and Eve and the effects of the free will he gave them. Oops, it didn't go as planned. Free will made them awfully hard to control, constantly disobedient, and full of mood swings. He could have called it good and then let them die of old age, happily, in the garden. End of experiment.
Instead, God willfully lets them suffer 'The Fall'. Then he lets sin be inherited so that the progeny of Adam and Eve, i.e. the whole of the human race, is destined to be cursed by this strangely genetic affliction of ancestral sin.
It's a strange problem.
Because a loving God which had control over women's reproduction would simply have halted it. Or, knowing that God has power of human reproduction at the genetic level (as his impregnating the virginal wife of Joseph shows us) he could simply have created the offspring of Adam and Eve without sin--much like how past theologians have claimed the baby Jesus was born without sin. Clean slate. Easy-breezy, if you're God.
Knowing God had that power, but did not use it to sterilize Adam and Eve, means he is not a loving God. That's the consequences of a literalist interpretation anyway. One Christians would have to account for. What's more is, it implies God wanted to curse humanity with sin. In fact, knowing he could have prevented it two different ways means he actually went out of his way to ensure events would unfold in a way which would forever curse humanity with sin.
Personally, I having studied the Garden of Eden myth, and I think it's just that. A myth. As a myth, it makes sense. As a metaphor for growing pains, obeying ones parents, and then leaving the house and growing up. It makes sense. There's some underlying history of a Kingly Adam woven into it which historians can purse out. And still it makes sense. There's some pagan talking snake lore too. As a myth, it all makes perfect sense.
As a literal story, however, it creates huge theological problems for the Christian. Probably because it doesn't make a lick of sense. Which is to say, it is nonsensical, implausible, and absurd all at the same time when it's viewed legalistically.
By the way, I call this the Argument From Reproduction. It shows that God is genuinely malevolent by his own acts. If this is denied, then it shows that either the Christian is ignoring their own scripture in favor of a deity of their own imagining, or else they are taking the liberal perspective that the events surrounding Adam and Eve is truly part of an age-old myth.
If the Adam and Eve story is a myth, then there is no such thing as "Original Sin." It would be rendered only a metaphor for the natural evils we perceive in the world. Nothing more. Nothing mysterious. Certainly nothing supernatural.
If it's the other option, of a malevolent God, then Christianity is a bankrupt religious ideology from the very first chapter of the very first book. In other words, from day one--it's conception (pun intended).
This puts pressure on the fundamentalist to accept the Adam and Eve story as a myth--otherwise they are stuck accounting for a cruel and crooked God--and why they would worship that God--and why they would twist, contort, and distort the term love to describe what is obviously an evil entity which is going out of its way to cause eternal pain and suffering--all the while having the power to put an end to it but refusing to do so. That's the God literalists are stuck defending.
Anyway, just thought of it and felt I should throw it out there. Maybe somebody can use it in a debate against a theologian sometime or, if you're Christian, it might give you some food for thought.