Part 5: Back to Basics iii.
Featuring: Anthony Norris III and Steven Lot
Norris: So, if we can continue the story, what happened next is that Jehovah banished Adam and the woman from the garden —
Socrates: So that they couldn’t eat from the tree of life and live forever, right?
Lot: That’s correct. Their actions had condemned them to death, so Jehovah enforced that sentence by banishing them, cursing Satan and the earth.
Norris: Certainly you can understand this part, at least?
Socrates: No, I’m sorry, but this part makes the least sense of all.
Lot: [Astonished] How is that?
Socrates: Remember Jehovah’s “original plan”?
Lot: For mankind to live forever on a paradise earth.
Socrates: Yes. And now, due to his own negligence, humankind had become sinful and lost out on immortality.
Norris: They brought it on themselves.
Socrates: Partially. But, in any case, Jehovah had a simple, efficient, immediate way to restore everything and accomplish his purpose!
Norris: And what, pray-tell, might that have been?
Socrates: Why, to let them eat from the tree of life, of course!
Norris: I need that drink, after all.
Lot: Me too!
[Socrates pours them their drinks.]
Norris: Look, let’s finish the story so you can at last understand Jehovah’s love for mankind in giving the life of his son to ransom us. Then we’ll have discharged our duty.
Socrates: Please, enlighten me.
Lot: Well, now that they were sinners, they had lost their perfection. They were subject to death. And we all know that an imperfect parent can’t produce perfect offspring. So, Adam and Eve passed on sinfulness and death to all their descendants: including you and me. That’s why we die.
But Jehovah, in his infinite love and mercy —
Socrates: I hate to interrupt you again —
Norris: [Under his breath] Not really, you don’t.
Socrates: It’s just that we know that acquired characteristics are not inheritable.
Lot: What does that mean?
Socrates: Let’s say that I was raised well, by a loving family. But I turn to a life of crime, and I also learn to play the harmonica while in prison. Will my son be a harmonica-playing criminal?
Norris: Of course not.
Socrates: Correct. And this is because the characteristics I acquire during the course of living my life do not impact my DNA, which was fixed at my birth. I can only pass on to my offspring the DNA I was born with, and I can’t change that DNA no matter what I do.
So too, Adam and Eve could not pass on sinfulness to their offspring. If they were created perfect, as you tell me they were, then perfection is all they could possibly pass on to their offspring.
Norris: That’s just science talking.
Socrates: Well, forget about science for a moment, and think about justice. Does it seem fair to punish us with death for something our ancestors did?
Lot: You’re right—it doesn’t seem fair.
Socrates: And doesn’t your Bible itself say that the son will not be punished for the sin of the father?
Lot: Yes, but Jehovah gave us an out: in his infinite love and mercy, he sent his son to the earth, to be born of a woman and become a perfect man, and die for our sins: ransoming mankind from their sentence of death, and removing the curse upon the earth!
Socrates: Wait a moment. You’re saying that Jehovah had his son killed in order to forgive us for something we didn’t do!?
Lot: [Sheepishly] Well, yes.
Socrates: When he could’ve just let the first humans eat from the tree of life?! He chose to have his son killed instead?
Norris: He couldn’t have chosen to let them eat from the tree of life; his word is law. He was bound by his word to punish them.
Socrates: An all-powerful, all-knowing law-maker, who is powerless to change his own law!?
Socrates: So, although you say freewill got us into this mess, Jehovah himself lacks freewill; he wasn’t free to act in harmony with his plan. He was a slave to his own law.
Norris: Yes, but the important thing is that he lovingly adapted his plan to allow for our freewill.
Socrates: So Jehovah regards interfering with a person’s freewill as a greater evil than the murder of his own son?
Socrates: Then why do we read in the Bible that Jehovah “hardened Pharaoh’s heart“?
Norris: Jehovah didn’t interfere with Pharaoh’s freewill; his heart hardened because of the message declared to him by Moses and Aaron from Jehovah.
Socrates: And what about King Saul? The Bible says that Jehovah not only “gave him a new heart” but changed him into a new man!
Norris: Jehovah was just amplifying Saul’s natural tendencies towards good.
Socrates: The same King Saul who later, despite Jehovah’s “amplification of his good tendencies,” tried to murder David? And who proved so corrupt that Jehovah replaced him with David as king?
Or, consider the builders of the tower of Babel. Jehovah violated their freewill when he messed with their minds in order to prevent them from completing their “sinful” construction project!
So, it seems that Jehovah was ready willing and able to interfere with a person’s freewill whenever it suited him. So, why not interfere with the first human couple in order to save them — and us, and his son — from death?
If it was okay in the case of King Saul, why not take Adam and “change him into a new man”? Was the leadership of the nation of Israel of more concern to Jehovah than the plight of every person ever born?
What parent would hesitate to interfere with a young child’s freewill by stopping them from running into a busy street? What loving parent would punish their young child with death the first time they heard the word “NO!” and failed to respond to it?
Finally, let’s say that I were to accept all that you gentlemen say, and joined your organization. Would I not then have to set aside “independent thinking” and do whatever you tell me to do, even if it made no sense to me?
Norris: Yes; Jehovah requires obedience of his subjects.
Socrates: But isn’t that surrendering my freewill?
Lot: In a sense, yes.
Norris: You freely surrender it, though.
Lot: And gladly, in Jehovah’s service.
Socrates: So the end result of all of this is that we give up the freewill that Jehovah regarded as of paramount importance that humans keep! The very thing that he sacrificed his son over!
As we’ve seen, Jehovah had at least five better, more sensible, courses to follow than the one you say he did follow:
- Ban Satan from the garden in the first place.
- Interfere with Adam and Eve’s freewill to prevent catastrophe.
- Change the law he had made.
- Forgive Adam and Eve on the spot, due to their naïveté and his beneficence.
- Have Adam and Eve eat from the tree of everlasting life after they’d sinned.
So, either your god isn’t as smart as this mortal man you see before you, who has come up with these five better solutions, or your story is false.
You call your story “The Truth,” but I’m sorry, gentlemen; I just don’t get it. Your road seems to be filled with nothing but dead-ends, or switchbacks that turn 180 degrees back upon themselves so that we end up in circles going nowhere.
Don’t miss the exciting conclusion of this discussion in Part 6!