Thursday, May 27, 2010
ToB: The Alternative Between Death and Immortality Enters the Definition of Man
"It's human nature. Look, Eve walks around the Garden of Eden happy as can be, not even thinking about apples. Then one day God says, 'Oh, by the way, everything here is for you, enjoy, frolic, eat, but whatever you do, stay away from the apples.' Next thing you know, all Eve could think about is those juicy red apples. Which leads me to believe even God didn't understand women." - Marshall Mann, In Plain Sight, Jailbait
The final 'element' of man is death. Man is conscious of himself as a person. He knows that he is separate from the rest of creation, related more closely to the Creator than to the animals he is surrounded with. He is aware that he has a choice. That free will exists.
However, being told that a thing called free will (assuming it was spelled out in such terms, which it really wasn't...) is not the same as comprehending the notion of free will. In the same way, being told that you will die if you perform such and such an action does not confer comprehension of what it means to die.
Up until this point, one assumes, nothing has ever died. I even heard once a theory that Adam and Eve (assuming a literal reading of the text) were vegetarians until after their fall.
Along comes God and says, 'Look around. Look at all the awesome stuff I've made. It's all yours. All of it. *Except* this tree. This one, right here. In the center. Like I put a bullseye on it. Isn't it shiny? The fruit just *glistens*. Right. Well. Don't touch it. I mean it. If you do, you'll die.' To which one expects that Adam and Eve would just nod their heads. 'Of course, Lord. We won't touch it. Why would we even want to?' And then, in 'private', mutter between themselves, if they even thought about it, 'What's 'die'?'
One must have a concept of a word to understand it. Look, pretend, for a second, that I am God. I know it's an extreme stretch, but roll with it for a second. I'm God, and you're the first humans I've created. I show your around the great place, and then I show you a banana tree. And I say, 'If you eat this fruit, you'll glorb. For certain, glorbing will happen the second you eat it.' And, because I am awesome and full of Godliness, you nod and smile, and promise not to eat the banana. However, in the back of your mind (and the front too), you're wondering just what the hell 'glorb' is. Is it bad? Is it good? Perhaps 'glorb' tastes good. You don't know, because you don't know that the state you are currently in is the opposite of 'glorb'.
For a real world example, lets take the breaking of a bone. I was told, over and over again growing up not to do this or that thing because I'd break something. I knew that breaking something was theoretically painful, but I had no context to apply to this thought. When I was about six, my best friend and I wanted to play on her jungle gym. It had just rained, and so we came up with the brilliant plan to throw a blanket over the monkey bars. The idea was that it would absorb the water, and we could play safely. Anyone see the flaw in that?
Well. I tried the monkey bars, and I can't tell you if I missed the bar and got blanket, or if I got the bar and it as just wet and slippery, but down I went like a ton of bricks. Broke my arm near the wrist. And now, when I hear the word 'break', I know exactly what that means. I have contextualized the word and have real life experience to apply to it.
So. God says, 'eat this and you will die.' We hear the word die, and we feel association for the word. We understand, at least in part, the concept of death. The majority of us have had a friend or a family member die. We've experienced the pain of this loss. We comprehend that death is the absence of life. It is the opposite of what we have at this moment. We know that when someone dies, they are gone from us and we cannot see them, touch them, speak to them again. Not until we too experience death.
But at the time, at this very beginning of life, what meaning did 'die' have? They didn't know what it meant. It was a word without context. It could have meant anything.
The important factor, there, was not so much the consequence, but the fact that they were given a choice. Choose to eat or not to eat. God had said not to eat, and had said that something would happen if they did. The act of choosing was when they would have context for the concept of this 'free will' thing. And only later, after that, would the context for 'die' become clear.
Was it the first animal they had to kill for its skin that made the concept of death sink in? The death of their son Abel? Do we even really understand death now? We know what it means to us, from the outside of it. But we have yet to experience it, personally. It is still, partially, an uncontextualized word. And it will remain so until our time comes.