What if the Garden of Eden is a metaphor for the most basic difference in philosophy – the difference between obedience and choice. Ignorance supports obedience. Knowledge makes choice possible.
I’ve always sided more with Lucifer than God especially after reading parts of Paradise Lost by Milton in college. God and Lucifer may be equally arrogant, but I side with Lucifer’s will to self-determination over God’s requirement of obedience and submission. As Lucifer is quoted in Milton’s poem, “”Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Moreover, in the case of Adam and Eve, is it free will if you don’t know what your choices are? Is ignorance innocence and thus desirable? Is someone virtuous who’s never been tempted or tested?
Much of the fantasy and mythology that I love to read is base on the premise of good v.s. evil. However, those fighting for good want freedom rather than obedience and those fighting for evil want to obedience maintained by ignorance. That has been the goal of most religious institutions since the beginning – to control or suppress information and choice, thus ensuring ignorance and obedience.
I am currently finishing the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. While he sets his story in another (fantasy) world, he has that world overlapping with all the others (including ours) and has taken the question to visible extremes. God the Creator is absent and the first angel that he created is ruling as the Authority and his Church is attempting to subjugate all conscious beings. I see this as propaganda suppressing knowledge and dissent. Eve and Mary are both identified with characters in the stories with other characters perhaps figuring as Adam and Lucifer and Lilith.
I also found another assumption in the story interesting. The characters all have a soul which is separate from the body and that soul elevates their consciousness beyond that of creatures and makes them people. Most characters in the story have souls that exist outside their bodies as animals called daemons and are visible to other people. Later in the story, characters from other worlds are proven to carry their souls inside themselves and invisible. Separating body and soul is what actually leads to death – when one dies so does the other. Does dust sustain, restrain or diminish the individual? Is it soul food?
I’ve always liked the phrase, “We are spiritual beings having a material experience.” This seems a variation on: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience,” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I swing between viewing my life as killing time between birth and death or accomplishing and experiencing things as fully as possible. Guess that could be called depression or optimism … but the books certainly ask deep questions in entertaining and unusual ways.