Sunday, June 24, 2018

Is God stupid for putting Adam and Eve to test in Paradise?

The Fall of Adam and Eve as depicted in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. Credit:  By www.heiligenlexikon.de/Fotos/Eva2.jpgTransferred from de.wikipedia to Commons by Roberta F. using
CommonsHelper., 9 September 2007 (original upload date), Original uploader was Nitramtrebla at de.wikipedia,
Public Domain, Link

During his speech in Davao City for the 2018 National ICT Summit, President Rodrigo Duterte said:
Who is this stupid God? Estupido talaga itong p***** i** kung ganun. You created some—something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work.... 'And God doubted His creation.' So tinesting (testing) niya. Tinawag niya ‘yung ahas. [whistles] 'Come here.' Tapos binigyan niya ng apple, ipinakagat niya doon sa bunganga. Tapos sabi niya sa ahas, 'Dalhin mo itong apple doon kay Eve and tempt her to eat it, taste it....."So ang g***** ahas, walang utak… Pareho diyan sa—karamihan diyan sa gobyerno ganun man. Mga ahas sa ganun. Dineliver doon kay Eve. And Eve, because apple eh. Naka-balot pa ‘yung parang foam na net. 'Made in China.' Ang ginawa niya—kinain ni Eve. Tapos si Eve ginising si Adam. Siguro katatapos lang. Kumain ka rin. So kinain ni Adam. Then malice was born."(GMA News)

RESPONSE


God created Adam and Eve as perfect. Before their Fall, the first couple were bestowed by God with preternatural gifts: (a) impassibility (freedom from pain), (b) immortality (freedom from death), (c) integrity (freedom from concupiscence, or disordered desires), and (d) infused knowledge (freedom from ignorance in matters essential for happiness) (Catholic Answers). As the Catechism says:
375 The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original "state of holiness and justice".250 This grace of original holiness was "to share in. . .divine life".251 As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.252 The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,253 and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called "original justice". 377 The "mastery" over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence254 that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason. 378 The sign of man's familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.255 There he lives "to till it and keep it". Work is not yet a burden,256 but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation. 379 This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God's plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents. (Catechism 375-379)
But Adam and Eve were not "something" but "someone". They are persons made in the image and likeness of God:
1700 The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son1 to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity. (Catechism 1700)
God endowed Adam and Eve with free will. This is a great gift that only God can give. Scientists, for all their efforts toward machine learning and artificial intelligence, can only create automatons or robots who decide based on certain well-defined algorithms—even if these algorithms contain tossing coins or probability functions. That is, robots can only decide based on the programs that run them. They do not have free will. But not so with humans: humans can choose to do good and avoid evil or vice-versa. Thus, because they have free will, Adam and Eve can choose either to love God or not.  Love should really be a free choice; otherwise, it is not love, but mere words uttered by prostitutes or their robot equivalents.

But how does one know if a man truly loves a woman or vice versa? Beren, for the love of Luthien, took a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth and lost his hand in the belly of the wolf Charcaroth. Jacob, for the love of Rachel, worked 14 years tending the flock of his father-in-law Laban (c.f Gen 29:18-26). Medea, for the love of Jason, helped him obtain the golden fleece guarded by the bronze man Talus.Thus, love, for it to be true, must first be tested by deeds, for not all that glitters like gold is gold—it may just be pyrite or fool's gold. That is why gold is tested by fire. We can be sure our President was also subjected to different tests by his wives and girlfriends before they agreed to accept his love and give themselves to him. For the woman not to test the love of a man before giving herself to him  as Dido did to Aeneas is a sure sign of stupidity: Aeneas later left her and Dido committed suicide on their love bed on top of a burning pyre.

But God is not as stupid. So for Adam and Eve, God made a simple test of obedience to determine their love for Him:
You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden 17 except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. (Gen 2:16-17)
This test sounds simple, but a variation of it is still being used by psychologists in the form of marshmallow test:
The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University.[1] In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.) In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores,[2] educational attainment,[3] body mass index (BMI),[4] and other life measures.
Instead of a marshmallow, God used the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If Adam and Eve will not eat it, they can receive eternal life. If they eat the fruit, they will surely die. And to ensure that Adam and Eve will make a definite choice, God allowed a serpent to tempt Eve.

The serpent was not as stupid as our President believes, because the serpent was the form that Satan took in the Garden of Eden. Before his Fall, Satan was Lucifer, the light-bearer—the most powerful and beautiful of all the angels created by God. When the angels were give the choice after their creation to love God or not , Lucifer chose not to love and serve God, but wished to surpass God Himself. So he was sent to hell. As Isaiah wrote:
How have you fallen from the heavens, O morning star, son of the dawn! How are you cut down to the ground, you who mowed down the nations! 13 3 You said in your heart: "I will scale the heavens; Above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly, in the recesses of the North. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will be like the Most High!" 15 Yet down to the nether world you go to the recesses of the pit! (Is 14:12-15)
Because angelic knowledge far surpasses human knowledge, the singular choice of angels to love God or not is for eternity, i.e. angels cannot change their choice. So when the serpent tempted Eve, it is actually Satan with all his angelic knowledge put to use to distort the words of God:
Now the snake was the most cunning* of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” 2 The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 a it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” 4 But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!b 5 God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know* good and evil.” (Gen 3:1-5)
Satan is saying the truth here—but not the whole truth, and so lied. Adam and Eve truly did not immediately die after eating the fruit, but they lost the gift of immortality and became subject to pain, disease, and ultimately death. Adam and Eve truly will become like gods who know good and evil, but only after being sent out of Paradise as a punishment for disobedience.

The sad thing is that Eve failed the marshmallow test. Satan made an enticing marketing pitch for his "Apple" product and Eve fell for it, rationalizing her choice along the way. Or as marketers would say: "People buy with their emotion and rationalize with logic." And Adam succumbed to Eve's influencer marketing. As the Bible says:
The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen 3:6)
And so Adam and Eve fell into sin. From the state of Original Holiness and Justice, they fell into Original Sin and all their preternatural powers stripped away from them. Perhaps, Adam was stupid for listening to his wife, Eve. Perhaps, Eve was stupid for listening to the advice of a serpent. But the serpent was not stupid because he was Satan, the angel of lies, and the blaming buck stopped with him:
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” 13 The LORD God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”e 14 Then the LORD God said to the snake: Because you have done this, cursed are you among all the animals, tame or wild; On your belly you shall crawl, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.* f (Gen 3:12-14)
God was not stupid for allowing all these things to unfold. In His infinite wisdom God created us and gave us free will to either love him or not. We are not his slaves. God wishes us to be His friends and share in His divine life. As Christ said:
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.i 13 * No one has greater love than this,j to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,* because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.k It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.l 17 This I command you: love one another. (Jn 15:12-17)
Love requires risk, because the offer of love can be rejected. God was not stupid when He took the risk. It was just tragic that Adam and Eve spurned His love by disobeying his simple commandment of not eating the fruit of of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Such disobedience led to suffering and death, not only for Adam and Eve but also for their descendants. But here is the good news: Christ opened heaven for us through his death and resurrection. As St. Paul said concerning the Sacrament of Baptism:
"We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life." (Rom 6:4)
That is why the Church acclaims during Easter:
O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer! (Easter Exultet)
And the Easter readings continue with the Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday on Christ's descent into hell (sheol):
"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled. Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son....‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.....‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.... ‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God."
God was not stupid when He placed Adam and Eve to test in Paradise. And God was not stupid to save Adam and Eve from sheol by dying on the cross. These only sound stupid because of our limited minds, because we can never fathom how much God loves us. As St. Paul says:
"Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?m 21 * For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,n 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,o 24 but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (1 Cor 1:25)