The true essence of the Serpent of Eden aka there is something wrong with our minds
There are many reasons to believe that the narrative of the Fall of Man actually has nothing to do with current theistic religions nor their doctrines. It can be called a pre-scientific explanation of the origin of man. And the explanation is psychological one. What it really says is that religions were originally born out of the problematic nature of human psychic development.
There are countless interpretations of Adam and Eve. My hypothesis offers one more. According to it, the story of Adam and Eve aptly illustrates the first humans i.e. the origin of man. I do not claim that this is the correct interpretation, but that it appears compatible with my observations. I confess that I find the story extremely intriguing. I would argue that the early Semitic tribes from whom the story is likely to have come were well aware of what was wrong with man. I think it let us know that once, in the distant past, people were able to explain our singularity much better than today, even though we have a thousand times more information available than the people in those days.
Interpreted in the following way the story gives an interesting perspective on the emergence of modern humans. We can see two separate stages for human “evolution”. One stage being when man is created by God, and the other when Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. As a matter of fact, H. sapiens does not appear in the world when God creates man, but only when Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The first creation means the creation of our ancestors. The latter means homo sapiens and explains why man diverged from the path of earlier species. Even though God created man in his own image, man was not willing—or was unable—to be like this image. This means that they were unfit to live in nature like other beings. We can clearly see that the story depicts the emergence of our species as a separation—separation from nature and separation from the animal world. It also describes amazingly well what qualities led to the separation. Let’s take a look!
The Fall of Man identifies the human mental growth disorder
Adam and Eve by Peter Paul Rubens 1628-29.
In these paintings, Adam and Eve can well be seen as “Heidelbergs” before the hereditary growth disorder spread to the entire species and permanently transformed us into adolescents. The serpent depicts the gene defect that will make us human. Note that, in Rubens work, the “serpent” is child-headed! It is also worth noting that, according to the story, animals belonged to the Garden of Eden and stayed there. Therefore, Eden cannot mean anything else but nature. This makes sense, because that is precisely how we feel about nature: we are outsiders, to whom the secret circle of nature is off limits. Accordingly, the expulsion from paradise equals culture and civilization, which we have provided only with things appropriate for juvenile understanding.
The fruit of the tree of the knowledge (of good and evil) teaches the art of judgment. It is indeed necessary for children, but not for adults. Judgment means more than just the distinction between good and evil. It also signifies the distinction between ugly and beautiful, existing and non-existing, similar and different, changing and unchanging things. It signifies distinctions measured in numbers, distances, sizes, times, and places. It signifies everything we can do by comparing things with each other. In other words, it signifies cognition and that means we are not adults. Of course, the distinction between good and evil, or morality, is the most despicable form of cognition. Adam and Eve wilfully violated the prohibition, even though they had been warned that breaking it would result in death. They would be “doomed to die”. If we consider that this mistake was actually made by the Heidelbergs, we can say that prophecy was correct. They really did die out! Or partially at least, only the “bad seeds” were saved.
If we’d understood the fruit as a symbol of cognition, it would be difficult to find a good explanation for the scheming snake, which entices Adam and Eve to eat that fruit. However, if we examine the story in terms of human emergence, we can see how the gene defect slithers into the human mind in the form of a serpent. The serpent is an apt metaphor for a traitorous gene that had the means to poison the entire human family by transforming it mentally juvenile in perpetuity. It is obvious, of course, that the people who created the story could not imagine anything like genes, let alone genetic defects. However, they understood that the problem had to do with human creation! Otherwise, the creation and the fall of man would be separate stories. The gene defect is guileful but also part of nature, just like the snake. It was created with good intentions as everything else in paradise, but it caused an accident.
The biblical serpent can be explained
Although people back then could not have any knowledge of the genes, they did know that at some point the human had evolved in the wrong way. They just guessed that this was the case because, on the one hand, it was difficult to explain the experiences known to the enlightenment of some of the few people in other ways, and on the other hand, because man had separated from nature.
Ccultures come into existence
Adam and Eve also learned to be ashamed of their nudity and to hide the marks of the natural adult body made by God. It is obvious that it was not nudity that was forbidden in Eden, but only that nudity was considered shameful. Shame is a juvenile characteristic! Just as Adam and Eve are ashamed of their natural corporality and hence hide from God, civilisation turns its back to the origin of its own species and creates moral rules (knowledge of good and evil) to steer man away from his brutal adult past. Then it defines the Garden as wild, chaotic, undeveloped, and low, and to be avoided. Accordingly, civilization is perceived as a quest for higher and advanced spirituality. In urban cultures this is reflected in the gods that were tamed and purified, made clean and tidy. This was done for practical reasons: irrational and instinctive deities were all too crude and shameful for a spiritually rejuvenated and orderly society. Rather, the gods were deemed as heroic, shiny, and unattainable rulers. Paradoxically, civilisation despises adulthood, or Eden, but it declares admiration for it in arts, religions, and wisdom. Eventually, the problematic relationship between man and nature was deliberately hidden under many layers of scholarly and administrative doctrines until it became a taboo. Still the mission of civilisation has remained the same: through education, civilisation eradicates the irrationality, instinctiveness and immorality inherent in archaic adults. It builds the wall between nature and man. It is obvious that the God in Eden is the god of nature. If not nature itself, it is far from being a god of civilisation. The story of Adam and Eve speaks strongly against our juvenile characteristics that we all carry for some strange reason. It is worth noting that children should not meddle with religion or psychedelics, as these are for the ailing adults only.