The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

The temptation of the Tree of Knowledge

Many people repeat the mantra - why did God tempt Adam and Eve? Yet, these are the same people who balk at being controlled by a supposed supreme being, and walk away from the Bible shaking their heads in disgust. The question must then be asked, do you want a God that attaches strings on you and moves you around like a robot, or do you want a God who gives you not only free will, but also the confidence and respect that an autonomous and free person deserves? He gave us that respect. And it really isn't about respecting us, but recognizing that he made us like him, with the freedom and ability to make our own choices - wrong or right.

You see, God didn't just leave that tree there as the only tree on Earth. He made all kinds of trees, and plants and animals and rivers and streams for us to enjoy. He created paradise and perfection. And free will. And in order to have free will, he gave us the ability to exercise it. So on the entire Earth, filled with healing plants, peaceful animals and perfect weather and the Tree of Life, we humans decided to gravitate towards the one thing we were told we couldn't have. Yet there was no fence. Instead, the fence we broke was God's trust and confidence. We decided to not just walk but to run to the tree that we were forbidden to eat from.

And Satan was ready. Right at the beginning he was doing what he does best, waiting for an opportunity. He loves opportunities. It's the only way he can get anything done. That dragon was wrapped around the Tree of Knowledge, his beady little eyes glittering with lust for his first human victim.

Along came Eve. God's gift to Adam. Adam was a man and represented God in his relationship to man. Adam had a great role to play and a beautiful woman perfect in every way. Eve did not get the short end of the stick though. Adam may have been first, but the woman Eve had the incredible privilege and gift of being able to give birth to their children. This must have been God's way of balancing the scales. The father may love their children as much as the mother, but men will never know what it is like to have a life growing inside of them, to care for the child in the way only a woman can. That was a privilege reserved for women. I think then in this way we can begin to understand why God chose to punish Eve especially by giving her pain in childbirth. Pregnancy and mothering children is still beautiful, but we can never get away from the act that descended us into sin making it so that pain and grief are mixed in and a part of the whole experience.

That punishment was not meant to single out women only, but instead, as the human race and the Earth was changed by the first sin, both men and women suffered the loss of perfection and beauty and paradise. Humanity chose not only on that day, but over and over again, to do evil to God and each other. God did afflict Eve with a special punishment that's true, just as the Devil will receive a punishment far greater than those souls he tempts and choose to follow him into Hell. But still ever single person who chooses for evil and against God will suffer punishment, because ultimately the choice is ours.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not put in the Garden of Eden maliciously by God to make us stumble, he put it there because he loved us enough to want us to have complete and total freedom to choose him. Without that tree, we would be nothing better than automatons, puppets and brainless monkeys parroting God. And for him, he wants thinking living breathing feeling people to want to draw closer to him, because they love him and because they recognize him as supreme and worthy of all glory. Without this, he could never be happy. And that tree is proof of his justice and love and willingness to let us make up our own minds. Without that terrible tree, we would never be totally free..

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HOOWANTSTONO profile image

HOOWANTSTONO 7 years ago

Good stuff spot on


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Hoo, glad you like it.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Hi A.M This is a beautiful story.


Zollstock profile image

Zollstock 7 years ago from Germany originally, now loving the Pacific NW

A flowing, informative Tuesday morning read. Here's why I am puzzled: if humans are the pinnacle of creation, then wouldn't it have made sense to make them infallible? I am with you on the free will concept, but if we were meant to be so perfect, shouldn't we have had the good sense to choose right from the start?

And – forgive my ignorance here – I have not so much viewed childbirth pain as punishment related to the tree and associated temptation (a wise woman once told me that it is “pain with a purpose” and therefore, productive and good). Women have experienced other grave repercussions throughout human history, in my opinion: stereotyping as conniving/weak/unclean and widespread social fears of female influence and human sexuality (the Malleus Maleficarum, written, endorsed, and executed exclusively by men comes to mind). I do see childbirth/mothering as a gigantic blessing, probably the biggest of them all. On the other hand, women did “get the short end of the stick” especially because organized religion often prescribes avenues for male control of female behavior to reign in those perceived social and sexual dangers. Makes me want to stomp my foot and say “no fair!” ;-)


Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 7 years ago from HubPages, FB

Thanks for great hub.

I agree that greatest blessing for mom is to have a children. It is not only to give the birth but to raise them. Mom can give to children only mom could.

Another idea I have to share is that many things which we did not know God stated not necessary commissioned. The reason for labour pain could be twofold. 1. to seek the shelter for birth entering to bad environment (outside of Garden), 2. Build in nature but in Garden sheltered with the Glory of God. Besides, if man will stay in fellowship with God He would tell to Eve she is going to have a baby and what to do then. I delivered many babies. Many woman would not come to hospital for help unless they have a pain :-).


yes2truth profile image

yes2truth 7 years ago from England

"The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not put in the Garden of Eden maliciously by God to make us stumble, he put it there because he loved us enough to want us to have complete and total freedom to choose him."

Not to be malicious, but still all for God's Glory and at the same time Him knowing they would always choose that tree. So in effect they had no choice and they were never going to eat of the Tree of Life. The Lord Jesus Christ was always the Lamb slain BEFORE the foundation of the world so Adam and Eve were always going to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - again as I said, no choice.

"Without that tree, we would be nothing better than automatons, puppets and brainless monkeys parroting God."

Can you explain that remark in The Light of the Potter and the clay?

Can you also explain how slaves to sin are anything but slaves and just do as they are told by the master sinner - the Devil? No choices.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Gypsy!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Zollstock, thanks for the compliments on my writing style. Now on to the difficult questions you posed. I can only offer an opinion - so do not take this as completely Biblical. I think if he had made man infallible, we would have been God too. But we were meant to be his creation, not his brothers.

Like a sculptor with perfect talent, his work amazing work reflects him, but also serves to shine for him, so we are like an addition to God’s glory. And he could not resist making us because like that sculptor, he had a need to create, to do what he was meant to do. The amazing thing to consider then is that he had no audience but the angels, and we are all created to show his glory, but also to enjoy his glory and interact with him and each other. No statue or art or architecture could ever do that!

On the childbirth pain and punishment thing, I have to be extremely careful and sensitive here. It would be very wrong to assume that God made woman responsible for the fall of humanity from perfection to sin. The woman and the man were both responsible, and the Devil also had a part to play. But Eve went looking for the tree, or perhaps was drawn in after walking by, but in any case, she got close enough for the Devil to entice her with something she already wanted. He helped seal the deal. My belief is that because women had the great and special blessing to bear and mother a child, he didn’t take it away but allowed sin to put a sour cap on it. Men can never know the pain women must endure, nor grasp the joy most women have being responsible for such beauty. So the idea is that when God gives you a special blessing, there is an equal punishment for trampling on his love and care and blessings. This is demonstrated through his relationship with Israel, and in the New Testamant where it says in Luke 12:48: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:”.

Men are supposed to be the spiritual heads of the house, but the nature of the relationship is supposed to be like a team. Each party has certain obligations to the other, and without both of them, it doesn’t work properly. Therefore, there is nothing preventing women equal rights as human beings or in being able to vote or even lead - except in a spiritual capacity.

Men are physically stronger and more inclined to physical action, but over the ages have used this for an excuse to abuse women and disrespect them, when instead they should use their natural leadership qualities to bring peace to the house, to protect and defend the family and lift them up. Perhaps the man is the head of the house, but this also means we have great responsibilities to serve the family just as Jesus - God himself, washed the feet of his disciples, (the dirtiest lowliest job at the time), and later laid down his life and endured the sins of the world for us. Being a real man is not meant to be a picnic, but the evil in men’s hearts have taken advantage of women’s physical weakness and misinterpreted the forbidden fruit incident to bring women down. I must step off my soap box now :-)


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Vladimir for adding and expanding to my hub as usual. You added another part that I hadn’t even considered but would seem very true.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks for reading and commenting yes2truth.

Could you expand on the idea that Jesus was “slain” before the world existed? I’m not saying that is not so or that it is so, but I want to know how you come to that conclusion scripturally. I can conceive that there is no boundary of time for Jesus as he is God, but this does not prove that God constructed events that are contrary to his wishes, he is just aware of them. The very fact that we live in such a sad state is evidence that God has given us freedom.

Yes, God did know what our choices would be, but what about 2 Peter 3:9: “(The Lord is) -not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” So if that is true, can we assume that everyone will be saved? I have some friends that think so. And that’s the danger of taking verses out of context. I understand what you are saying - there are many verses about history being set, but that is because God knows the outcome. He didn’t make us to suffer, but meant for us to glorify him. Over and over scripture shows us that we need to make a choice to follow Jesus. Since it can’t be both and I know you and I agree that the Bible is complete and completely right without error, it is good to look at the context, (“line upon line, precept upon precept” - paraphrased), and we cannot both have a choice and not have a choice. Lucifer was created to be the most beautiful of angels and to be the head of all God’s angels, meaning that God never created him to be evil, he made that choice himself. Why bother preaching the Word if we’re all slated to go in one direction or another? Why waste that time? We are here to glorify God, but it is our choice how we spend that time.

Do you want to sin? I know you don’t, but do you think God wants you to sin? Of course not, but you are free to make that choice, and the decision to sin hurts God and it hurts you. So, in context: God, not willing that any should perish, has made some to perish?

No. If you think about it in terms of God’s love for us, recognizing that salvation is a decision that every person must make, it is right to understand that God responds to our feelings and inclinations toward him. In Romans, it talks about those who completely turn from God, and God lets them go their way, and they become the greatest sinners. This speaks of a personal choice, and God’s response. Same with Pharaoh. Notice that God hardened Pharaoh's heart each time he wrestled with his decision to let God’s people go, making him take the next step in response to his decisions so God could show his glory.

Looking at all this, God created those for destruction those that hated him from the beginning. He knows who they are, and they are being used for his glory as well. Don’t forget that sinners are going to a place they were never meant to go, because they choose to follow their master - Satan. But it also says we were all slaves to Satan - that would be the “old man”, before we are saved.

You remember when you were saved and so do I. It was a decision to follow Christ. I think you are partially right about not having choice as Satan’s slave - he rules over his followers with impunity when he wants, while once we are saved, God quietly beckons us, and sometimes punishes us - for our own good, but we are able to choose to sin over God. This life we are living is all about choice and helping others to see and make that choice.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Another fine Hub, Brother. I enjoyed it and it is the Truth. Thanks.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you very much James! Thank you for stopping by.


Zollstock profile image

Zollstock 7 years ago from Germany originally, now loving the Pacific NW

Alexander Mark,

I have finally returned to this hub. Thanks for the elaborations – my qualm wasn't so much with scriptural details but with the way they have been interpreted (and put into action) throughout the ages, predominantly by men. That has put a real damper on the perception of female morality and societal worth, in my opinion. I can see how the Bible defines and perpetuates women's roles as mothers, wives, and leaders (thank you for that one!) and how, in theory, male-female dynamics following the Bible could create safe and happy families.

I will have to disagree with your remarks about men's more pronounced physical strength (it's not all about muscle – consider who is, in fact, giving birth), and I think that sexual dynamics and societal expectations have led to women's quiet acceptance of male domination and abuse, and that those dynamics are only now slowly beginning to change. Is there anything in the Bible about men's physical disciplining of women and children?

And as for spiritual leadership being assigned to men only – I see a new and semi-controversial hub forming!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Zollstock, thanks for reading the response and commenting again.

By physical strength I meant the ability to lift and move heavy objects. This is also the unfortunate reason that abuse can happen. You are right, women have more strength when it comes to pain and longsuffering.

I do not think there is anything in the Bible about men disciplining women, that to me is repulsive on a personal level because it demotes women to a state of childishness. The Bible does say that a father is not spare the rod lest he spoil the child, (I don't think it was made of iron), but it also has a lot to say about fathers teaching children. Nevertheless, no one is better equipped to deal with young children than women in those crucial early stages of life.

I have heard many times over that women prefer a strong decisive man to take lead, and I think this is natural - the way God intended. I also believe there are plenty of exceptions to this natural law, but I think male leadership is related to the Bible's assertion that women should not preach. It is very obvious to me that men and women have different natural abilities. It is probably due to the fact that men do not realize the woman's worth that some women feel the need to make themselves equal to men.

I'm sorry, I have no plans to write about woman leadership, I just like to write about the Bible when the Spirit and or muse strikes me. I don't want to create controversy, just teach what the Bible says, and as in the case of this hub, comment on a Bible event. But I am grateful for your challenges and comments. You make me think and I'm glad you can read hubs like this even if you don't agree :-)


thefount profile image

thefount 7 years ago from North Central Louisiana

I found this hub to be very enlightening. Thank you!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks for visiting and commenting thefount, always good to see a friend.


Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas

You said, The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not put in the Garden of Eden maliciously by God to make us stumble, he put it there because he loved us enough to want us to have complete and total freedom to choose him. Without that tree, we would be nothing better than automatons, puppets and brainless monkeys parroting God. And for him, he wants thinking living breathing feeling people to want to draw closer to him, because they love him and because they recognize him as supreme and worthy of all glory. Without this, he could never be happy. And that tree is proof of his justice and love and willingness to let us make up our own minds. Without that terrible tree, we would never be totally free..

I really appreciate this explanation. I have taught Bible studies in the past and never thought about the tree in just exactly this way. You have written a beautiful discussion and I agree with you. Sandra


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you so much Sandra, that's quite an endorsement, I know you love the Lord, and now I see a Bible teacher too. I always love your hubs as you encourage both the believer and non-believer. Your comment is much appreciated.


Dhany 6 years ago

Im a muslim , and I liked it sooo MUCH !


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Wow, thanks for stopping by and commenting Dhany. Islam and Christianity and Judaism share similar roots so I'm glad you liked it!


SamAntone 6 years ago

You seem to be a very insightful thinker. I, too, enjoy getting into biblical subjects.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks SamAntone, appreciate the visit.


Aamna Aamad profile image

Aamna Aamad 5 years ago from Pakistan

very well written Alexander Mark i agree with you completely.....We shouldn’t only care about the balanced feed our bodies rather we must be more careful to listen to the feeding of our spirits.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Hi Aamna, thank you for your comment. I admit I don't understand how your comment relates to this hub, but I appreciate the positive remark. Thanks for the follow, I'll be by to check out your hubs soon.


Aamna Aamad profile image

Aamna Aamad 5 years ago from Pakistan

Feed of body is wordly or somehow sanic desires, but food of spirit is godly.


Suz 5 years ago

You really should read the C.S. Lewis space trilogy. It relates to this.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Up until recently I had no idea that Lewis did sci-fi. I will read them for sure.


CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 5 years ago from Castaic

Beautifully written, Alexander! Very insightful and deep in meaning. I completely agree with you that God gave us the freedom to make up our minds and decide to do good or evil. But because of greed and wanting to be more powerful than God, both Eve and Adam decided to disobey God, which in turn, we all have to suffer because of it. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Keep writing. God bless!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you very much for your kind words and I agree with you CarolineVABC!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Angel, I have denied your comment because it doesn't relate to this subject. Thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate it.


TrahnTheMan profile image

TrahnTheMan 4 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

I hesitate to comment because I wouldn't call myself a religious person but I think the way you express this has validity in both religious and secular realms. I enjoyed the mental stimulation it prompted in me.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

TrahnTheMan, thank you very much for commenting, I'm glad it was a benefit to you even if not the way I intended :-)


stessily 4 years ago

AM, Beautifully done! I'm especially drawn to the concept of the metaphorical fence: "Yet there was no fence. Instead, the fence we broke was God's trust and confidence."

Also, your last paragraph offers a compelling explanation of free will, ending with that powerful last sentence: "Without that terrible tree, we would never be totally free."

Beautiful!

Kind regards, Stessily


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Stessily, thank you. It's a controversial turn-around on our culture of coddling I think. People often defend themselves against the concept of God by saying that if God existed, why doesn't he stop all the pain and suffering? I for one am glad he didn't stop Jesus's terrible suffering on the cross, because without it, God could never have provided a way out for us to be cleansed of our own earned sin.

We know that God doesn't want us to suffer, but I think one of the greatest, if not THE greatest sign to us that he loves us is the fact he gave us free will. He certainly didn't bring sin into the world, but he also didn't want puppets to worship him, so in his wisdom, he provided for us the ability to choose our path.

I hope that makes sense, and I'm glad you found the best things about my hub again to bring to bring into the spotlight!


Felixedet2000 profile image

Felixedet2000 4 years ago from The Universe

There is more to the nature of punishment given to Eve by God than meet the eyes. The punishment serve the nature of the sin well, not just mere eating of that apple that snake is staring at in the pix.

The tree in the middle of the garden is figurative not literal please.

The sin is the sin of fornication between the serpent and Eve. not eating of any fruits like apple or mango. The bible never mention the name of the fruits and you will wonder why?

That's because people don't want us to know the truth, but thank God the truth has been reveal for those that are discerning enough.

nice piece.


Romona hodson 4 years ago

I dont really know why done what he did to women but it was not all fair ! I've heard that story for the first time when i was a little girl and started my monthly period and was told that it was a curse that god put on women for the first sin.


Romona hodson 4 years ago

I also dont think women of today's world were there when eve done this and women of today s world had nothing to do with it and are just carrying the punishment and did not ask to be put here anyways.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

To the commenters above, my apologies for not answering sooner. Felixedet2000, thank you for the compliment and commenting. I have heard this idea before, but I don't know of any correlating scripture to support it. There is also nothing to indicate it was a figurative tree that Eve and Adam ate from. Also, you have to think about this, if Eve was tempted to fornicate with Satan, then what was the fruit that Adam ate from? If we choose to explain that away, we will have to come up with more and more figurative explanations. The biggest problem with that idea is, if the fruit was figurative, then was Jesus's sacrifice also figurative? Was he actually treated to a nice hot bath in Pilates' house while feasting when he was under "house arrest"? No. Jesus hung on a cruel cross, bled and died under the weight of our sins.

As far as God not mentioning the type of fruit, God doesn't explain everything to the last detail at all times because it is not necessary for his purposes. What about the thorn in Paul's side? We don't know what it is, but the importance is that it was there and it kept him in check before God. The Bible says, "tree," "fruit," "serpent." That's enough for me.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Romona, I know from a human point of view that the entire human race being punished seems unfair, but think about this way. God promised the Israelites when he made them his people, that their relationship would be a blessing and a curse. We know that God doesn't want them to be cursed, but because they received a special blessing from God, they also became responsible for losing that blessing, and when they did, they were in a worse situation than anyone else on Earth. It's like the saying, "with great power comes great responsibility." Unfortunately, the sins of the father are passed down, consequences are a part of life, good and bad. Adam and Eve were responsible for the beginning of the human race and they blew it.

Consequences are a natural part of life, but God's salvation is a supernatural part of life. He loves us so much, he doesn't want us to die in our sin, but to be with him forever where there is no pain and suffering - so he sent Jesus. If you think we don't deserve punishment, we don't deserve Jesus either! But God balances the scales if we are willing to accept the gift.


Bella 4 years ago

AM beautiful! For long people have always said why did God allow adam and eve 2 sin, d ans is simple it's in romans8:2o-21"4 d creation was subjected to futility not of it own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope, that oneday,d creation will be set free 4rm d bondage of corruption to attain d glorious liberty of d children of God" d fruit adam &eve ate 4rm was demselves.we are trees,men are tree of life & women tree of death(knowledge of good&evil).sex was d fruit.dats why a child is said 2 be d fruit of d womb.tanx


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you Bella, that's an interesting perspective and interesting trivia about the, "fruit of the womb." But I have to heartily disagree with you because God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply BEFORE they had eaten the fruit (Genesis 1:22) - surely we don't want to blame God for sin!

Also, there is no Biblical evidence to suggest that the fruit was anything other than fruit. Eve plucked it off the tree, ate it, and it was called fruit. That is some heavy evidence for the fact it was simply fruit.

Sex is meant for good, for pleasure and procreation and to bring men and women together, it is not inherently evil.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Interesting hub, Alexander. I spent 1975 - 1987 in Sacratomato in my middle years after getting out of the Army. Started my first two businesses there, Armageddon and Games People Play.

I look at Adam and Eve and the Tree of Live purely as metaphore, for I have my own idea of what God is and what our place is in the great scheme of things. I think God created the Universe and in doing so humanity (and any other alien equivalents) in order to experience what it is to be God.

God created everything there is, I think we all agree on that, but I maintain, God did not create Good and Evil, those are relative terms. Humanity created Evil by saying this thing is not Good ... we said that, not God. If you say well God wrote the Bible and in it He defined Good and Evil, I will say God wrote the Koran and God wrote the Bhagavad-Gita and He defined a different Good and Evil in it and you know what, we would both be right. And that is because God is letting us define our own Good and Evil through the Free Will God gave us.

If God is telling us what Good and Evil are, why bother giving us Free Will to decide on our own what it is in the first place? That is why, coming back in a full circle, I think Adam and Eve and the Tree of Life is a metaphore.

BTW, it is great to see a hub lasting three years and still getting great comments.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

I like the term Sacratomato! But you know the proper way to say it is Sacramenno right? I think you're a tough cookie to start businesses here, attitudes are so harsh here, I can't wait to move out. What kind of businesses are those? I'm guessing some sort of game related biz?

You certainly live up to your name Esoteric - that is an interesting thought that God created sentient beings to experience godhood. In a way you're right, because we see as gods, we have the ability to reason as gods. But having that ability is like giving an automatic weapon to a monkey - we weren't meant to have it.

I don't know if God actually created evil, I don't think so and I don't think he made the evil tree, I think it had to be because Satan had free will too - and God believes in freedom so much that he allows us and the angels to decide to do evil, that which is completely contrary to God and his will.

I cannot comment on the Koran and the Bhagavad-Gita, I am presenting what is in the Bible only, and I cannot agree that all religions have the same God because the root philosophies disagree. God defined evil by giving us the law of love and the ten commandments for example.

I believe you see free will as a God like freedom, to completely choose our destiny. I define free will as the ability to choose to side with my creator or against him. Since God created me, I know that being with him will be the absolute fulfillment of my being, being against him will be the complete reversal and entirely unpleasant. I freely choose to be with him.

THAT is free will - choice. Defining ourselves by standards we create is basically lying to ourselves. Our universe has already been created, and we can't deny physics or spirituality as God has made it, but we can choose to be in harmony with God or not.

I feel bad that we have such opposing beliefs, but I very much appreciate the read and the comment, thank you for the compliment also!


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Yes, wargame related actually. We, a friend and I, opened, what had been a direct mail wargame industry, up into the retail market by becoming a distributer of various manufacturers of adult-level, board wargames; that was in 1975 when I mustered out of the Army. In 1978, we started up Games People Play on Fulton Ave, in Filco Plaza, I think the name is, a retail store that catered to the wargame and adult-level game market, including a few of the more "fun" adult games. Later, when the craze hit, we expanded into Dungeons and Dragons, etc. We just started carrying the premilinary computer games when everything collapsed in 1982 under the weight of the 1981 recession; the whole gaming industry just disappeared in a year. Fortunately, we sold Armageddon in 1979.

Back to religion. Part of the problem in communication lies in definition of terms and the limits on internally places on the use of terms when thinking about them. Take creation for example. I gather from what you have said, Good and Evil are things that have been created; which is something I thought until recently. I know longer think that because it no longer makes any sense that God would have created either one.

Instead, God created human beings on Earth free to make choices. God also gave humans the ability to analyze those choices and rate them one against the other and produce a scale. One one end, humans used the reasoning ability God gave them and called it Good, based on their own understanding of things, and therefore, the other end must be Evil. That way, through the choices that human beings made, God is able to experience Good and Evil.

You also say he gave you [Christians] the law of love and the ten commandments. From my point of view, God gave you, and all other humans and many mammels as well, the ability to love, and to hate, to have empathy, and to be callous; all of those things are built into the character God gave us. But, most of all, God gave us the ability to decide and make relative choices among them to better get along with each other which, I would think is more pleasing to God, than the alternative, although that would be acceptable to, if that is what we chose to do. Why do I say that? Because the moment we think that God "wants" us to do one thing over another, and God is going to "punish" us for making the wrong choice, then that throws the idea of "free will" right out the window, don't you see. God will probably be happier if we choose to be with God, but will happy nonetheless if we choose not to be for that is why God created us ... to make that choice as we experience our own life.

As to the Ten Commandments themselves. All religeons have some version of six of those Commandments, there is nothing original in them. It is the first four Commandments that separate Christians from others. They, in effect, declare the Christian God is the only God to the exclusion of all others; I wonder what the God of the Hindus, or the God of the intelligent creatures who populate some planet in the Andromeda Galaxy (same God for all three, the way see it) thinks of that concept?


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

In the context of this hub, I have to argue the point that the Bible disagrees with the idea that we are created as beings that can completely choose our own reality and that God is indifferent to the rules he laid down for us.

As far as your reasoning goes, I would say that it is logical from your point of view. The argument: how can we truly have free will if we are bound by rules and laws? is a good one from a philosophical perspective, but I am most definitely bound by my belief in the word of God and how he is described in the Bible.

All I can tell anyone is that God drew me to meet him, and he drew me to a faith that falls in line with the Bible, and therefore the context of my arguments remain there. And that is why I define free will as the ability to choose one side or the other.

I look at it this way, if we had the ability to create our own reality, then why are the laws of physics and all the parameters that come with existing in the plane you and I exist in so immutable? Even spiritual laws - I believe that leaving your body, fortune telling and so on are very real possibilities, but they are not things that human beings ought to pursue if they want to please and obey God. And all the things that God tells us not to do have very significant consequences in varying degrees. Point being is that I cannot change my reality - our reality except in the parameters we have to work with. For me it follows that God is right and my choice to follow him must be rewarding in the end.

Free will is a choice between good and evil - but the analogy is of a parent and child. A good parent will use punishment wisely (not brutally for their own satisfaction) because they want to teach their children a way of life that is good for the child and therefore when they do the wrong thing the punishment is inherent according to the wrong action taken by the child. So we can continue to freely choose to harm ourselves, thinking it is good, or we can follow the counsel of the wiser, older parent and benefit.

Naturally the analogy of parent in comparison to God is flawed because eventually the child will grow up and make his own choices and will find his own way of doing things is better for him in some cases than his parents' instructions. But that's because we are human, and we are flawed (parents AND children).

Some food for thought: what if there are alien races out there that may have many different religions on their planet, but we find that they too have one religion that parallels Christianity perfectly? General religious morality is a popular concept in modern thinking, but it somehow precludes the idea that Christianity would exist on other planets. I don't believe there is any other sentient life out there, so there probably aren't any religions at all on any other planet!

Yes there are many morals and principles that are similar in most religions - but there are always significant differences between all religions, otherwise they wouldn't exist. I can find points of agreement with Muslims, but they deny the need or existence of a messiah (although they do admit the existence of Jesus and call him a prophet). The need for a messiah is central to my religious beliefs and new religions such as "Chrislam," require followers to compromise certain core values.

Going back to the main theme, free will is the ability to exercise freedom of choice between different things. And you can also choose to create your own perspective on life, but that is a choice as well.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

And you are spot on with most of what you say Mark. You have chosen how you want to believe, in the way you want to believe, with all of the restrictions and freedoms that go along with it; including the idea that God will punish you for chosen the wrong course.

I am saying, obviously, that it is not God punishing you, but you punishing yourself for taking what you percieve to be what God told you is the wrong choice - that stays consistent with the idea of free will in my book. But, for you, you have chosen a different course to satify what seems logical to you, and that is free will as well, just as you stated in your closing sentence just put in a slightly different context.

Intelligent life on other planets, I don't doubt there is, the odds favor it. Would there be a religion that looks like Christianity? The odds favor that as well.

To me, there is a great divide between the physical reality of the universe and the one created with our minds. ALL religions are created by the mind, there is nothing physical about them, unless you happen to believe God and Nature are one-in-the-same, as I do. The Bible, the Koran, the Bagavad-Gita, the sayings of Bhudda, etc all come out of the mind of man (litterally man) for the use by man to assert control over the lives of men and women. The evidence of that is to see how they are used in today's societies.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, moral compasses are needed by humans and these Great Books help provide that compass. But, they are nevertheless products of man's mind and suffer the flaws of that origin.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

You are right that humans love to have power over others! This is one of the biggest reasons I have for not going to any church right now. Today's churches seem to all be about performing cultural mantras and rituals and inclusion is based on your level of agreement on cultural cliches - at least that is my perspective. I can tell you that following the Bible is completely adverse to that, and it may be why you have the philosophy you do. Thanks for the great comments and responses.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

You are perceptive, aren't you :-)

I added a piece to the Creation vs Evolution hub you might find interesting. It doesn't have much to do about religion but more about centering yourself in the Cosmos.


Lynn 4 years ago

AM, regarding God's decision to give us free will, I believe a parable found in the book of Luke agrees with you. Jesus told of two debtors, one who owed tens times the amount of the other. Their creditor, however, forgave them both.

Jesus then asked who would love the creditor most, and clearly, the answer is the debtor who was forgiven for more.

After struggling out of very deep-rooted sin myself, I know I could not trust and love the Father so much if I did not have the freedom to sin. I wouldn't understand the way He loves us if He hadn't saved me from my choices. Basically, the farther we stray with our free will, the closer we return. (IF we return, but I can't really approach that subject until I understand it more.) Freedom is a stumbling block because of the way we use it, but an enormous gift in the end.

Anyway, your writing is a gift as well! Thanks for the awesome hub. (And sorry for the length of this comment.)


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

My Esoteric, I will check out your Creation VS Evolution hub, I love exploring that topic.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Lynn, forgive me for taking so long to get to your comment (that goes especially for Esoteric too!). I do not mind lengthy comments at all, in fact I am grateful for your post, it is so very true. I found myself agreeing that freedom is a stumbling block at times, but like you wrote, in the end it is the greater gift. What a beautiful example you chose - I found it in Luke 7:41-43. If I were to rewrite this, I would include this passage and how it connects with freedom.

I am glad you shared about God's love despite our sin, even more the heaviest sins - ALL is forgiven.

Thank you for contributing to this hub and also the kind comments to me, you have blessed me today.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 22 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

After reading all the comments I feel like I cannot comment more, but I will. I like the way you put this hub. It is generic enough to fit any Christian but specific enough to witness of he love of God and the respect He has for no person. Or I should say He does not play favorites in regard to the worth of souls which are precious to Him.

I vote this up and just like that you have a new follower!

I would like to expand upon Christ's pre-mortal life, but this is not the space in which to do it. I agree that He is the God who created heaven and earth; yet, I am sure our reason for for so agreeing are different.

I know that you were no explicit in so saying that about Jesus, but I read that you believe God is Jesus so I made a connection. I like what you said about Lucifer also. As I mentioned, I liked this hub!


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 22 months ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Rodric29, I enjoy reading comments like yours, although I have read your profile, I have not taken the time yet to read some of your hubs, but if I find the time, I will enjoy leaving some of my own comments on your hubs as well.

You are correct that we have differing views, I saw you are LDS and I was particularly interested in your hub about blacks in the LDS church. But I believe that a non-Mormon making a judgment about the church is a bit like when non-Christians say to Christians that they shouldn't judge, pulling a phrase out of the Bible without understanding the context and the more important themes of the Bible. I do not have one doubt that your hub will be as elegantly written as your comments here.

I appreciate your respectfullness very much. This hub was all about God giving us free will and countering the arguments that God was the tempter in this story. If your perspective about Jesus's pre-mortal life can add to this hub, then by all means, write away. But I will also not remain quiet on the subject.

I am very grateful for the follow and your comments, it is a pleasure to know you already. I promise to try and read some of your work. For now, I will hit follow already.

I have another long workday ahead of me tomorrow asnd I am already falling alsspe at the keyboard so I am signing off for now.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 22 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Here is my problem, not with Christianity, but with the practitioners belief they understand the Bible of it. In all sincerity you said "... pulling a phrase out of the Bible without understanding the context and ... of the Bible."

I would assert that there isn't one Christian who "understands" the [true] context in which a given statement is made. As to the themes, I would argue almost all "thinking" people do understand "the more important themes."

An example of my first point about context I would offer the "In the beginning God created the heavens and earth ..." phrase with which Genesis starts. Except for atheists, who have no alternative, I doubt anybody disagrees with this theme, I know I don't in my own particular belief system, but virtually everybody, especially Christians, disagree about the specifics.

Most fundamentalist Protestants believe in the literal interpretation, "the heavens and earth were created in 7 physical days." Other fundamentalists relax that a bit and allow each day is an eon. Other, more liberal Christians, go so far as to believe Genesis 1 is a simple metaphor. Why is it important? Because disagreement over the context of statements made in the Bible has led to actual wars between different Christian factions with millions of dead as a result.

One of the reasons I decided, in 5th grade, that Christians didn't have the right answer is simply because they couldn't agree on what the right answer is. At that point, I decided to wait until they got their act together, but, as I grew older it became obvious they never will. That is why I went searching for something that made more sense.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 22 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Alexander Mark, thank you for you invitation to share. I will directly and expect you to voice your view being that you have provided the venue for us to share!

Regarding Christ and His divinity, it is my view and belief that Jesus Christ is none other than Jehovah mentioned in the Christian Old Testament. Of course this comes as no surprise to many since many Christians believe that Jehovah came to us in the form of Jesus Christ. I, however, also believe that Jehovah rules in conjunction with the Father, Elohim and the Holy Ghost. (In my faith, we restrict the use of Elohim to God the Father.)

Under the direction of God the Father, God the Son, Jehovah, created the heavens and the earth. Since He was commanded to create it, He was also chosen to suffer, die and resurrect on humanity's behalf.

Jesus Christ was chosen by God the Father in a council in heaven to create a place for the spirits of men who I also believe existed with God before the world was created.

God the Father's purpose was to send us, the spirits, to an earth where we would gain experience so that we could return and receive Glory with Him and Jesus Christ in the heavens, to be joint-heirs with Christ.

Since my faith is based on continuing revelation and the Bible is one of several canonised records, I cite extra-Biblical records as examples of this teaching--particularly Abraham 3:24-25 "...And there stood one(Jesus/Jehovah) among them(us) that was like unto God(Elohim/the Father), and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them...."

Though she is not a prophet, Barbar Winder captured very well the purpose of this life in my belief and contention here:

"This was to become a testing ground; we would come to an understanding of good and evil, of happiness and suffering, of joy and pain. We knew the plan. We desired it; we endorsed it. We defended it. We even fought for it!

With eagerness and excitement, we came to earth to learn-each of us having our own particular set of circumstances with trials and temptations to overcome.

We were not left without hope. Our Savior, through his atonement, has made it possible for us to obtain salvation. He will not leave us helpless as we struggle to overcome the adversities of this life.

There are so many kinds of challenges: the frustrations and disappointments of disobedient children or a difficult marriage, the loneliness of an empty house when one is so eagerly seeking companionship, the long upward road to repentance, or the difficulty of keeping a positive attitude and counting our blessings even in times of hardship.

The example of the Savior's life and the teachings that he left us are patterns for us to follow. He faced trials similar to those we experience; he handled each situation in a perfect manner. In the wilderness of Judea and the Garden of Gethsemane, we witness two of the most grievous temptations of Christ, but during no part of his days in the flesh was he free from temptation. Otherwise his life would have been no human life at all. We read in Mosiah, "And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer" (Mosiah 3:7)[This can be found in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ].

He knew disappointment, and he knew discouragement... Which of us has not known disappointment, discouragement, and despair? That is one of the tests for all of us. "

I know it was a long quote, but it is worthy of the repeat here. Sister Winder really captures my faith on this issue.

************

My Esoteric, as long as there are people who take the interpretation of scripture as a private matter there will be differing religious groups. Scripture is not for private interpretation. It is for God to reveal through his holy prophets.

Since most people do not believe there exist prophets anymore who speak for God it is easy for a church to pop up here and there with some great and popular interpretation.

Think about how difficult it would be if a prophet says specifically that the creative days referred to unknown or unrevealed periods of time instead of 24-hour periods for people to argue. God would have spoken as in Amos 3:7, surely God doeth nothing without revealing His secrets to His servants the prophets (paraphrased).

Of course, it would behove you to read the entire book so as to place context to that tidbit that I used for my purposes here. Though I believe I am correct in apply that verse, it is nice to know how it was initially used.

I did the same thing that you did about Christianity except I became an agnostic briefly before seeking out Islam. Fortunately for me I found The Book of Mormon, which converted me to Jesus Christ. I later found the church associated with that book and joined it. I accept the title of Christian now knowing that it means more than just my religion but my desire to follow the principle of Charity, which is the pure love of Christ.

To know the truth we should seek it from God directly. Seek, ponder and pray. That way we have no one who stands between us and the truth but ourselves.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 22 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Actually, I have read the Bible cover to cover 2 times in my life, once as a 5th grader, which is why I began to look elsewhere for a better answer, and again as a young adult. Also, I have reread many sections in the intervening 45 years.

But for the moment, let's pick on this statement of yours; "Scripture is not for private interpretation." Given there are no prophets today, or since Jesus' time then your statement implies the Bible is unknowable by anybody for by what authority do the various church, writ large, officials have that let them speak to what the Bible means? It seems to me that in 100% of the cases, any interpretation they have is their personal point of view, isn't it?

Taking that a step further, how can there be any revelation, other than a personal one, at all after Jesus died? Since God doesn't talk directly to the masses, who is there who can reveal anything to anybody else?


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 22 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

My Esoteric, I applaud you for reading the Bible. I encourage you to read it ten more times. Then ten more times after that. It is one of those books that each time you read it you gain different perspective to help with your personal understanding of God.

Also, you are correct that without a prophet personal interpretation is all there is. Fortunately God does continue to call prophets in these days. Currently there are 15 authorized prophets of God with one being chief among them in authority. His name is Thomas S. Monson.

When it comes to interpreting the scriptures, Monson is the man who would do so as God's mouthpiece. As far as personal revelation, each person can receive revelation from God concerning those who he or she has stewardship. Parents for children, Presidents for countries, leaders for groups and so on regarding the direction they should go as long as those things work within the revealed word of God. It is easy to know if the revelation comes from God because it will not conflict with revealed truths.

I believe in continuing revelation. I believe that God has called prophets since Christ and will continue to choose them.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 22 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Tell you what, when the rest of the Christian community comes around to accepting Monson's interpretation as being the "only truth", then I will reconsider.

Until then, I like my own answer which is that God is the blueprint contained in that little bit energy which exploded in the Big Bang. The implication is that God and the Universe are one and the same thing. Trying to explain otherwise ties you up in knots.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 22 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Saying that God and the universe are one and the same thing implies that we will also become one with the universe in the end and therefor become God. Is that not a Buddhist concept?

Do you espouse Buddhist beliefs?

I know it is hard to share what I believe because I fear that others will mock or reject me in some way. I believe that is one of the reasons people enjoy the anonymity of the internet. If I am not directly tied to the things that I believe then others are not really rejecting me.

I am purposefully specific here. I assure you that I am not in knots. I would love to share more of what I believe to willing readers and read more of your beliefs.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 22 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

Several belief systems think God and the Universe are one in the same; for me, I simply call it Pantheism (but without the ceremony and mysticism common to almost all religions). I combine mine with known science, mainly quantum mechanics, which offers, to me at least, an unbroken stream of logical explanations of what I observe.

For example, I don't have issues trying to explain the goodness or badness of tragedies like 9/11. I am not trapped by such questions "why would God let this happen?" or less common "why did God do this to us and the innocent babies?".

Nevertheless, we all have belief systems which make the most sense to us, and barring some revelation or epiphany, people are happy with their choice. The problem I have, of course, with all monotheistic religions is that each and every one has a fundamental precept that their way is better and everybody should be like us. In the past, each of those religions have killed many people trying to make them believe the way they do ... it still goes on, unfortunately. Protestants are after Catholics in Northern Ireland (boiling just


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 21 months ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon Author

Esoteric, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I only have the time to answer the first one right now so I will start there and read the rest later.

You are absolutely right that many Christians differ greatly in opinion about the details of the meanings of scripture. I am not immune to life experiences adding to my understanding of Scripture and even changing how I understand it in some cases. The problem comes when Christians start out on the road of belief with preset ideas of how that belief should be filtered.

As an aside to respond to something you wrote, what wars specifically are you talking about that have been started by real believers - those who follow the Bible? The Catholic religion is not Christianity (although I am certain there are real Christians in the Catholic church) because they follow many man-made rules that God never gave us in the Bible. In the Civil War, sadly Christians and siblings killed each other but this was not a religious war.

I did not come from a Protestant background, my mother was a Catholic and my dad just didn't care much and so I only had a bare understanding about God until a Mormon (Rodric will like this) told me to seek God, to ask him for understanding. I did. I sought him out with prayer. Eventually, the pieces of God's workings on my life came together and by the time I sat down at a production about heaven and hell, I knew what I wanted to do and asked Jesus into my heart.

In all this, men have taught me principles about the Bible, but everything I have taken in have been things that have pointed me toward the Bible. I never clung to human beings for answers about the truth I sought for very long because as you point out, we are fallible. If you depend on people for the answer, you'll never have one. It is better to seek God and to look for signs of him in the people that speak to you about Him. It is even better to talk directly to Him, rather than just people. No Christian should promise a verbal response from God, but I can say that if you want the truth, you will find it.

It was a shock to me when I learned that my faith rested on the Bible, because like you, I trusted nothing man-made. But when I did start digging into the Bible, I started to see who God was, and I figured out that if God is real, and He gave us His words, then He would be able to keep that Bible pure enough to know the truths He wants us to have.

We can debate endlessly about Creationism and the Gap Theory and so on, but I will likely never convince you or anyone else that the God created the world in a literal 6 days. But I can tell you that if you dig into the Bible yourself and take it seriously, you can get your answer, and that you will if you still want God in your life.

I know I'm witnessing and prosyletizing here, but this is my sincere response to your comment. I'll get back to the conversation between you and Rodric later :-)


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 21 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I almost feel like I am being rude to address another person about this discussion than the author of the hub as I have hitherto (You like How I did that old English!) done, but thanks Alexander for that witness and submission. Sharing our beliefs with each other with sincere honest intentions and respect creates ways to better understand our own beliefs. Your witness of Christ makes my witness of Him stronger as we support His divinity and atoning sacrifice for humanity.

My Esoteric, I went back to read the back-and-forth with you. If I appeared to be condescending, I apologize with all my heart. My comments read in such a manner to me and I promise you that any praise or question I I put to you was sincere an without guile.

I will be better about phrasing my comments.

Esoteric, you mentioned that you will consider what I have shared here about my beliefs regarding modern prophets if Christianity as a whole were to accept the idea of modern prophets. I think that I understand you sentiment.

I assume that you think it is not possible to speak to God as a person speaks to another person in conversation; am I correct?


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 21 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

I had a long comment to Alexanders great reply, but poof, off to bit heaven it went. I will try again later.

Rodric, Please know, I find nothing condescending you your words, although I guess I did at the time; my reply was pretty sharp, sorry.

Yes, you are correct, I don't Here is why. To converse with God, in any manner, means that God is something separate from the Universe. And if God is its own entity, then it is limited in some fashion. The obvious limitation is that God is not the Universe, by monotheistic (not just Christians) beliefs. If God is not the Universe, then God is not infinite because that piece is missing from God.

That is why, to me, the only option is for God to be the Universe because when you add whatever came before the Big Bang (which is what I conceive of God being) to whatever lies ahead, to include any other dimensions that we are blind to, then you have just defined the infinite.

I laid this out in a couple of Hubs on my beliefs, but essentially, God coalesced into that infinitely small particle of energy that burst into what we know and are today. God's plan, His blueprint, as it were, was encapsulated in that particle and has been playing out ever since.

This doesn't mean I believe in predestination either because one aspect of God is quantum mechanics. And, within that theory is a nifty little randomizer called the Uncertainty Principle which keeps everybody guessing as to what comes next.

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