Lately, I’ve been pondering the two different Creation stories in Genesis. The first is in Genesis 1 and is a beautiful poem describing how, in six days God created the world and life on it (men and women included), and proclaimed that it was “very good!” The second creation story is the ever-popular Adam and Eve story. And, yes, I believe (as do most scholars and theologians) that these are stories, myths told to explain the origin of humanity. Every religion has their creation stories.
In my pondering I’ve come to the sad conclusion that nothing good came out of the Eden story. Nothing. And I have at least three good reasons.
First, because Adam was created first and Eve was then created from his rib, as his helpmate, his companion, women have been relegated to the position of second best ever since. It didn’t help Eve’s case at all that she was painted as naive and foolish enough to listen to a talking snake and deliberately disobey God. Then she led Adam astray! Gasp! Now people have been suffering for it ever since. Darn woman. The message is clear. The woman was never God’s first choice, and she was prone to messing up, so from then on she was put under man’s control. Thus it was and thus it has been ever since.
The second reason I believe nothing good came out of Eden is that this story was twisted by Augustine to create his theory of “original sin”. Original sin is the concept that because Adam and Eve committed that first sin by disobeying God, for which they were cast out of the garden and cursed, every human since has been born with the stain of that first sin. Within two chapters we went from being created “very good” to being sinful and not good enough. Unfortunately, the one humanity has been ingrained to believe is the latter. We have lost our true identity as God’s Beloved. We have forgotten that we were knit together in our mother’s womb, that we are wonderfully made (Psalm 139;13-14). So, instead of spending our lives trying to live into the beautiful, unique person God created us to be, we spend our lives living with guilt and shame for not being good enough for anyone, much less God.
And if these two reasons weren’t enough to believe that nothing good has come out of Eden, I’ll add to the list the denigration of a powerful feminine symbol. With the snake being cast as the antagonist in the story of Adam and Eve, patriarchal religion effectively stripped the snake of its ancient role as a symbol of the divine feminine. For thousands of years, the snake symbolized a woman’s wisdom, prophetic ability, strength, power and authority. In one fell blow, this myth stripped the snake of its power for women and has been maligned as an evil, conniving, manipulative being ever since. Fascinating, isn’t it?
As for me… I think I’ll stick with the first creation story.