Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #44 Garden of Eden?

This article continues a series examining R.E. Pucket’s article “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer“.  R. E. Pucket was a faithful Christian for much of his life. However, as he began to expand his reading and investigate arguments against faith, he became convinced that faith was irrational. This impression was strengthened by the fact that Christians with which he interacted largely told him that he should believe for belief’s sake, and that faith trumped rationality.

Pucket now spends a significant amount of time interacting with born again Christians who he feels are trying to convert him and win his soul. He rebuffs these attempts by presenting arguments that seem to stymie these Christians who in turn make vague appeals to “God’s Plan” and blind faith.

In his article, “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer” on Yahoo voices (later re-published on bukisa), Pucket lists out some of the arguments he has found that Christians seem to have no rational, logical answers for, and invites the readers to inspect their faith in light of these questions. Says Pucket:

“Don’t get me wrong, they will have an answer for them. You will find, however, that their answers have no basis in verifiable fact or evidence whatsoever, and will be largely based in their blind faith forsaking all reason.”

This series of articles will examine all fifty of Pucket’s questions, one per article, and offer responses to these questions.

One of the important things that the Pucket list teaches is the danger of dogmatism. If a system of belief stands or falls on every minute doctrine or teaching within the system, then disarming one of these causes the whole thing to fall.Christianity has undergone inspection by hosts of intelligent and thoughtful people over its 2000-year history. Some, like Pucket, have come to the conclusion that it was untenable. Many more have explored different ways of thinking about and applying Christian ideas that do not involve abandoning the system. The very fact that Christianity is a system of thought that allows individual thinkers to explore it, rather than to blindly embrace it, at least suggests that it is not a system of intellectual tyranny.

This author suggests that many of things about Christians popularly believe may be found faulty without the entire system being destroyed. For Christianity to be untrue, it would have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that either humans do not require some sort of salvation from evil and suffering, or that no such salvation has been provided.

The answers provided to the questions in this series may not always be punchy rejoinders, magic bullets, or truth bombs. They may be far from convincing to a skeptic; however they do show that Christianity is at the very least internally consistent and existentially plausible.

A variety of the Christian views that Pucket attacks in these questions are held by a very specific sect of Christian believers, and by no means characterize the whole of Christian views. The questions also occasionally make broad statements which either mischaracterize Biblical teachings, or are backed up with no supporting evidence. Where these mistakes are made, the responses are largely aimed at correcting these mischaracterizations. This is not to say that the attack has no merit, but the attack would need to be re-worked to fit a proper representation of that belief.

Finally, it is worth noting that the questions are sometimes phrased in highly emotive or sarcastic forms. These articles will attempt to respond to the fundamental objection being raised, rather than the tone in which they are presented, however the questions themselves will be presented in their original form.

Why provide temptation?

44 – If God created everything, then why did he create the tree of knowledge of good and evil and put it right in the middle of the Garden of Eden for Eve to eat of its fruit if he didn’t want her to?  Furthermore, why did God create the serpent that tempted Eve? Uh-oh, it sounds like another possible set-up. 

 

 

 

First, it is important to point out that there are a significant number of Christians – including Evangelicals – who hold the Garden of Eden story as more symbolic than literal. One of these was C.S. Lewis.

When Adam and Eve were created, they were created in innocence. They naturally related to and obeyed their Creator. While this was certainly a blessing, it was not a conscious choice on their part. The presence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil gave them the option to disobey. This is important because without this option, they would have been forced to obey mechanically with no free will. The option to disobey meant that their obedience was willful rather than unwilling, and that their relationship with their Creator was a loving one rather than a mechanical one. It would have been unloving of God not to place the tree in the garden.
It would be wrong to assume that Adam and Eve had no real comprehension of the consequence of eating the fruit.

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’’”

It was not Eve’s failure to comprehend the consequences of eating the fruit which led to her disobedience, rather it was her choice to disbelieve God and believe the attractive lie that the serpent told her.

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