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Jul 12, 2023
In General Discussions
First, thanks to the Executive Committee for making available to us Giegerich's 6/23 article responding to Marco's article that included a discussion on the Genesis story of the Fall--which later the Church as interpreted as original sin. Giegerich makes a valuable point that there is a more psychological reading of this story than one of punishment by God for disobedience. He emphasizes the salutary outcome of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit: acquisition of knowledge and an emergence from a dreaming bubble of innocence into real life. But I believe Giegerich overlooks an important aspect of the story. The story of the Fall emphasizes not only the acquisition of knowledge but also the initiation of suffering. Again, this can be looked at simplistically as a punishment for disobeying God, which was later seen by the Church as the first (or original) sin. But more psychologically the story points to the origin of suffering. What is suffering? We have to distinguish suffering from pain and unpleasure. Any animal experiences pain but does it experience suffering in the human sense? Clearly, the Genesis story states that woman will experience pain in childbirth unlike before because of Eve's trespass into knowledge. But it also points to another sort of suffering: women being subjected to and ruled over by men. This is psychological suffering, unknown in the non-human animal kingdom. What then makes for genuine human suffering (apart from simple pain)? I'll leave that unanswered for the moment other than to note that in Buddhism and other Eastern religions suffering is linked to desire (and delusion). And what prompted Eve to eat the fruit? Desire--both in its physical, sensual form and its intellectual form, the desire for knowledge. We have then this tripartite relationship of "desire-knowledge-suffering," as well as expulsion from communion with God. Note that in the Garden, God walked around together with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). I would suggest that the story of the Fall is more than just a psychological portrayal of coming down to earth from the "cloud cuckoo land" of Paradise. It also speaks more broadly to the complex relation between consciousness/knowledge, desire and suffering.


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