Plot Hole: Original Sin? Huh?

Sorry if this amounts to flagellating a fallen freiberger, but I was kind of inspired by a Café thread, as well as a discussion on another site.

Taking the convergent story of the “fall of man” in the biblical Genesis, I have this question: Eve allegedly committed the first (original) sin, but what was it?

Jehovallah instructed Adam, and by proxy Eve (who had not been invented yet) that of all the trees in the garden, he was not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (“Eve” <-> “evil”, curious assonance), because he would die if he did. Essentially, it identified the fruit of that tree as toxic, which means the instruction was not of a moral nature but of a cautionary one. In fact, in his state of innocence, could Adam even grasp the concept of morality (which he later earned as a consequence of eating that same fruit)?

So, now we have the dragon, which tells Eve that Jehovallah is a lying bastard (true enough), that the fruit of that tree will not in fact kill her, it will teach her stuff. She gnoshes down on the fruit, finding it to be tasty and the dragon to be correct. AFAICT, There is no moral lesson to be had here, other than that it is ok for the deity to fib.

But here is where it falls apart: Eve has eaten this fruit, hence she now has knowledge of good and evil in her belly. Yet, she proceeds to encourage Adam to chow down on this fruit as well. If it were wrong to eat it, she would now know that and would realistically refrain from spreading wrongness in the world.

Either eating the fruit was not sinful, or Eve was just a nasty person. The original mother of all humanity was bad? Granted, Jehovallah subsequent actions do seem to impugn her character, but we have already learned that he was a lying prick (as also shown in stories that follow).

Basically, for humans, prior to eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, there was no such thing as sin or morality for them. How then could Eve have even sinned if she could not understand the very concept of sin? How could her act be construed as sinful when the original injunction was framed as a toxicity advisory with no specific moral imperative (which she would not have been able to fathom in the first place)? And most importantly, why the hell did she and Adam not start off with the Tree of Life (Pak jokes notwithstanding)?

Don’t think it is a plot hole, IMHO the tale is tailor made to justify the structures of the patriarchy of those days.

It was made to make the point that woman is the reason for the fall of man and therefore all that old business follows: being subservient to man, and many other injustices of those days towards women were justified because of what Eve did. Because, Eve should had know better after eating the apple.

It isn’t absolutely clear that Eve obtained knowledge of good and evil before Adam did. The Bible says that she ate, and gave Adam to eat, and that the eyes of both were opened.

The effects of the fruit might not have been immediate. The text can be read in a number of ways.

There’s no plot hole

The fruit gave knowledge of Good and Evil. There is no suggestion that it gave the requisite wisdom, experience, compassion and fortitude to *use *that knowledge.

In condensed form, pre-fruit humans had a dependent relationship with God. God told them what to do, they obeyed, and God provided for all their needs. Humans had neither the need not the ability to discern moral issues. They simply listened to God, who was always morally right.

Presumably humans at this stage didn’t even have the ability to understand *why *something was morally right or wrong. Like small children, they were told that some things were naughty and shouldn’t be done and they didn’t do those things, and they were told that some things had to be done and they did them. Humans were like children, lacking any real capacity to understand complex moral argument.

Post-fruit humans understood morality. They could utilise moral reasoning and make decisions on what was right or wrong according to their own standards. At that stage they became like humans are right now. But there is no suggestion in the text that gained any other abilities. Just like modern adults, Eve gained knowledge of good and evil. She no longer did things because she was told to to by God, she did them because could decide for herself whether something was right or wrong.

But that was the only ability she gained.

She didn’t magically gain any precognition about the *consequences *of evil actions. She, and her descendants, had to be told that later by God, or find it out by experience.

She didn’t magically gain the ability to reliably choose to do Good over doing Evil. Or to choose between two actions, both of which were both evil.

She was faced with, for example, the choice of growing old and dying alone in the wilderness or tricking Adam into eating so he would be banished with her. She knew which one was an Evil act, but she didn’t magically gain the self-control to condemn herself to save her spouse. Just as many people today would choose to drag their spouse into their shit in order to not die alone, so did Eve. And she presumably did it for the same reasons: she justified it by telling herself that God would forgive them both if she tricked Adam into it. Or she justified it by saying that Adam owed it t her. Or she may have just panicked, and self-preservation and desperation drove her to committing what she knew was an evil act, just as it has for so many other people throughout history.

The point being that we, as humans, can know perfectly well that an action is morally wrong, and still commit that act. Knowing that something is wrong, even perfect knowledge, doesn’t prevent us from undertaking the wrong action through fear or justification. Eve only gained one superpower: an ability to know what was right and what was wrong. She didn’t gain the perfect wisdom and empathy and clairvoyance and self-sacrificing nature that we all know is required for any human to never undertake an act that they know is morally wrong.

Or to put it in simple terms: Eve was exactly like we are today. How many people today commit acts that they know are morally wrong? I know I’ve done it, and I’m sure you have too. And we’ve grown up in a world where we have been faced with this dilemma endlessly, and have the experience and wisdom to both think about it in advance and contextualise it when it presents itself. Eve had never been faced with such a choice in her life, had never had anyone to learn from and had no reference point aside from her own morality.

Hardly surprising she made a bad call when her very first moral dilemma was literally life-or-death: choose good and be condemned to a thousand years of starvation and loneliness before dying childless in the wilderness or choose evil and drag your husband in with you.

How many people today would be unaware which is the moral thing to do when faced with that choice? Yet how many are prepared to drag their spouse into their shit in order to avoid dying alone?

In summary, there’s no contradiction. You are assuming that knowledge of Good and Evil somehow comes with the ability to always choose Good. But that is neither explicit nor implied in the text. We are descendants of Eve, we have all her abilities. And while I certainly have the ability to discern morality, I don’t have any ability to always act morally, especially when doing so will cause my own death.

Now you can say that the author should have expanded more on the reasons *why *Eve chose the Evil option, despite knowing that it was wrong. But that’s not a plot hole. The fact is that we could come up with a thousand plausible reasons why she did it, with real world examples of people doing similar`things.


First of all I love it when people say things like “Eve=Evil” because it truly reveals the shallowest of ignorance. Reminds me of the Christian lady who was anti-Christmas saying “Santa is an anagram for Satan” and then getting it pointed out to her that “Santa” is Spanish for saint. Pure ignorance. The Hebrew word for “Evil” isn’t “Eve”, Evil is just the English translation of the word. Sorry, no weird wordplay there. You need to go deeper.

And yes, eating the fruit did kill her, it took a few decades but death eventually did take her and Adam. Had they not eaten, they would still be alive because they were never meant to die originally. They had eternal life abiding in them. That’s what the “fell” from, the Grace of eternal life. So eating from the tree did kill her.

God never lied to her, the serpent did.

But you won’t accept this, I can tell by the tone of your post. There is no post that can be posted in answer to your original post that will convince you to a different way of thinking because you are not seeking truth, you are seeking validation for your folly.

Where exactly does genesis say that?

There’s also the plot hole where Eve is punished for doing something wrong (eating the fruit) before she could have know it was wrong, since she had not eaten the fruit yet that would give her the knowledge of good and evil.

Adam and Eve weren’t punished for eating of the fruit that gave them knowledge of good and evil.

Interesting. Was mankind’s biggest sin actually eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge? ne could argue that the greatest sin was man’s desire to be God-the thing that drove Faust to sell out to the devil.

She disobeyed God’s command. There is no plot hole.

But she didn’t know it was wrong to disobey God.
Plot hole still there.

A baby does’t know, on its own, not to crawl onto railroad tracks. But if the train hits it, it still dies.

No plot hole.

Are you saying humans have to be taught what is right and wrong?

The plot hole just got bigger.

Somehow, I think imbuing God with the same lack of free will as a train opens more theological problems than it solves.

Incidentally, Eve and evil have unrelated etymologies. Yfel, the word evil came from existed in the germanic languages long before the story of the Garden of Eden ever made it to Europe. The similiarity is interesting but coincidental.

I am not Catholic, but it’s my understanding that original sin doesn’t literally mean the first sin, it is the idea that humans are born in an inherently sinful state and require redemption to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Now, speaking my my perspective, as a Christian but not as a Biblical literalist, I see the story as purely allegorical. Eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents a point at which we are able to make moral decisions and, thus, are burdened with the consequences of our moral choices. The death of which God speaks is the idea of spiritual death, whereas the serpent is refering to bodily death, and hence the whole idea of eventual salvation for eternal life. This also explains why it would have been bad for man also to have eaten from the tree of life. At this point, we have the ability to make moral decisions, but we have not yet reached the point in our development to have the wisdom to make those decisions.

And yes, the Bible says Adam and Eve are punished for this action, she is cursed with painful childbirth, and he is cursed to work the land to live. Personally, my interpretation of this, and much of the wrathful appearance of God in the Old Testament for that matter, is really just our perspective. Not unlike the child who doesn’t really understand that a particular behavior is wrong and is either punished or just experiences the natural consequences of a bad decision and takes those consequences as punishment. That is, as we became aware of our moral decision making, we started to make connections between actions and apparent consequences. We make bad decisions, we see pains and difficulty, and we interpretted them as the wrath of God.

This is because our ability to make moral decisions stems from seeing a connection between our choices and the consequences of those choices. It is a good moral choice if we like the results, and a bad moral one if we don’t like the results, but we also have a tendency to make poor correlations as we still see in modern superstition. Before that, point we failed to make those connections, and so these ideas of consequences for choices was a foreign concept.

No. They just had to obey God. They didn’t.

Again, you are just saying that it was wrong to disobey God.
They didn’t know that.

From what I have read, this is one of the biggest common misunderstandings of Genesis. (Besides the fact that it wasn’t an apple and wasn’t a snake.)

Adam and Eve are warned about eating the fruit from “the tree at the center of the garden,” but it is not entirely clear whether this is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or the Tree of Immortality. Let’s assume the tree at the Center and the Tree of Good’n’Evil are the same and the one God warns them not to touch.

However, Genesis 3:22-23 clearly says they are banished LEST they eat of the tree of Immortality. That’s not quite the same thing as being punished for eating the first fruit.

I can’t quite tell whether this is serendipitous (or merely whimsical) bad spelling, or a rather clever and learnèd joke. :slight_smile:

None of this is accurately described as a plot hole. It’s vague or unhelpful instructions from Yahweh and details that just aren’t included in the story. If you wanted to look at plot holes, you could examine discrepancies between the two versions of the Garden of Eden story in Genesis.