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Adam and Eve Were Set Up
Some years back I got into a debate about Adam and Eve, God and the question of free will. I always loved that chat (stimulates the gray matter upstairs), so I thought I’d dig around for my notes and review this question again.
First and foremost, the “existence” of God was taken as a given – whether you believed in a supernatural deity or not was irrelevant. We were debating the story of Adam and Eve, their dealings with the serpent in the Garden, and what part God played in all of this. Basically, there were two items we focused on: the idea that God is aware of everything and knows what will happen no matter what, and the idea that humanity has free will.
My take on this was/is as follows: if God knows everything that you have done or will do, then you do not have free will. The concept of “free will” only applies if you know the definite outcomes of every choice, but in general we only know the probabilities. In some cases it’s merely a question of cause and effect: if a guy releases a penny from his hand it will fall to the ground. However, outcomes are not always certain: if a guy kicks a thick wooden door without shoes on, he may hurt his foot. If a guy eats at fast food joints every day for a month, his health will probably get worse. Because everyone is different, “results may not be typical”. Further, the outcome of a lot of other choices is not so obvious: if I take a job that pays less but has great benefits will I improve my standard of living? This can’t be answered because there are simply too many variables – we just do not have all of the information. But God does. He already knows what will happen.
So…if God knows every single choice you will make, then you do not have any choice at all. It doesn’t even matter what the supposed “options” are that you are given: Get married or stay single? Take the job with tons of benefits or the job with high pay? Eat a jelly or glazed donut? Big or small, all decisions for your life are already known in advance, you’re really just along for the ride. Free will is a direct contradiction to this concept – if you can make choices, then God cannot know everything you will do. The idea that God knows all takes limitless possibilities and reduces them to just one: his.
This fits in nicely with the “God has a plan” ideology. God has set everything in motion, and you are following a path that has been laid out for you. Nothing you do or say will change your fate. Praying or asking for guidance about what to do is irrelevant. No matter what you do, all of your “choices” God already knows about, good or bad. God is the only one who knows if you will succeed or fail, and since it is “part of God’s plan” then your fate is therefore out of your hands. If you are fated to die in a car crash as a crack-addicted prostitute with two bags of dope in the trunk, then that’s simply part of God’s plan – he planned for you to die that way. What you think about it is clearly not important.
If this is the case, then both Adam and Eve were set up for failure. God put them in Paradise knowing they would betray him, and then just sat back and waited until it happened. Thus, they were absolutely doomed from the start to be kicked out of the Garden of Eden. The omnipotent, omnipresent, supposedly benevolent God knew all of their actions in advance, didn’t do anything to prevent them from occurring, and then screamed at them for doing what he knew they would do all along. This God is not benevolent, he’s sadistic! His yelling at them about messing up had to be the most impressive bit of acting in the entire history of the world.
If Adam and Eve actually had free will, then God would never have known they were going to disobey him, and his rant would therefore have been justified. However, the book of Genesis shows that God doesn’t know what is going to happen. God makes everything, but then humanity continuously goes against him, which is clearly upsetting to him. The events in Eden contradict the notion that God is all-knowing, but they do give credence to humanity having free will. Adam and Eve may have been innocents that were duped by the serpent, but it seems pretty certain that an all-knowing God and free will simply cannot co-exist.