Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said,‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” –Genesis 3:1-5
Fresh from the soil
We were beautiful and true
In control of our emotions
‘Til we ate the poison fruit
And now it’s hard to be
Hard to be
Hard to be a decent human being …
Childbirth is painful
We toil to grow our food
Ignorance made us hungry
Information made us no good
Every burden misunderstood –David Bazan
Nate and I sat for two hours in the sculpture park yesterday, at night, watching the microscopic ferries and boats on the other side of the bay, keeping an eye on the moon. It was big, crescent. We landed there? And Mars? You are so small.
We talked about a lot of things, but a topic we keep falling back to was creation–done by the hand of God, a bang, or a hand-produced bang. Or whatever.
I can begin this conversation, but I can never end it. I get scared, part-way through; I freeze.
Because I know what I believe. I believe in the Great Metaphor of Genesis. I believe that there’s no heresy in saying that God and evolution are both true–that the earth is old and it took mutation and adaptation to get us from sludge to homo sapien. OK.
But I still freeze up. Why? I think it’s because there’s still that part of me that believes that science can nullify God’s truth, that somehow science can disprove God.
I never really believed this; I’ve always been fascinated by evolution, astronomy. But when I get in the position to defend Christianity, I find myself wanting to side with the fundies. I want to say, Well, hey, man. Maybe the earth is young. Maybe dinosaurs didn’t exist. Maybe the devil put those fossils there to trick us.
This is silly, because I don’t really believe it.
So I thought to trace these thoughts a bit–this fear, really–and it came back to my fear of the Genesis story of Adam and Eve.
The only tree Adam and Eve couldn’t eat from was the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Huh. So the fall of man is due to–knowledge?
And at first this thought was debilitating. Because I love knowledge. I thrive on knowledge. But what if knowledge is what’s keeping me from God, instead of knowledge drawing me closer to Him? Maybe knowledge–of science in particular–will lead me to denying God’s existence.
This is silly, too.
I don’t find Bazan’s lines (from the above song), “Ignorance made us hungry, information made us no good” to be true interpretations of Scripture. The problem isn’t just information or knowledge or wisdom; that’s not what that tree represented. It’s misguided knowledge. It’s useless information.
I learned this from theorist Neil Postman who calls the environment we’re in one of “information gluttony.” We have access to so much information (Google, iPhones, TV) that, frankly, we don’t know what to do with it all. It all has become useless. The question is not “what do we do with this information, now that we have it?” but rather, “how do we get more?”
It’s like in Vonnegut’s Galapagos, when the know-it-all robot Mandarax is finally tossed, like Adam’s discarded fruit, into the ocean. It was useless. Knowing Shakespearean quotes, out of context, is useless. It did not help the islanders survive. It did not make their lives any easier, any fuller.
So this comes back to my fear that information is somehow going to keep me from God. It’s not. Misguided information, sure. How you wield information–or anything–can take something neutral and make it destructive.
But the thing about God is, He is Mystery. And though I find comfort in that–too much comfort, maybe–I need to remember that he is also Knowable. Science is a way to unravel the mysteries of this earth and, subsequently, God, not a way to disprove Him. (Because, how?)
All truth is God’s truth. Or as George MacDonald said, truth is truth, “whether out of the mouth of Jesus or Balaam” (or his ass).
I’m not sure when this happened, but somewhere down the line Christians got afraid of knowledge. We used to be scholars; now we lie to our kids, telling them that all of this is just a trick, A TRICK!, from the devil. Because God isn’t big enough to create through evolution. As if God needs us to prove Him.