“Man’s sin was to partake of the forbidden fruit,” I have heard many preachers say. “It would have been better had he listened to God instead of Satan.”
Um, no, it wouldn’t have. If Adam and Eve were literal humans (they weren’t), then their choice to obey God would have been deterministic. I’ll show you why shortly. I will also discuss why the fall from grace should be seen as a positive experience, not a negative one. In fact, without it, we’d never have evolved consciously or experience true free will; fortunately, our brains were built to exploit the “fall from grace” to our fullest potentials.
Let’s begin with our foundation scripture.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).
Trees represent the self. The Tree of knowledge of good and evil is a symbol for the evolution of our souls as we experience physical consciousness. The fruit of this tree is our actual experiences. These experiences are literally food for the soul. Just as you eat and your digestive track breaks down nutrients for energy, your soul digests your life experiences and gains further awareness through causal outcomes. The tree of knowledge is “desired to make one wise” because without our life experiences to teach us our faults and new levels of awareness, even that which is divine would remain ignorant.
I already mentioned that our physical brains were constructed to help us grow through experience, and that it would not have been possible for a literal Adam and Eve to obey God with free will. Let’s explore why.
How the Human Brain Learns
Science used to teach us that the brain we were born with determined our thoughts, behaviors, and level of consciousness as we became adults. While there might be some truth to this, it certainly isn’t the entire picture. Brain science now teaches us that the brain continues to evolve as we focus on new tasks and thought processes. It’s referred to as neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections based on experience. Basically, every time you learn something, new neural circuits are developed in your brain.
The truth of the matter is that the physiology of our brains is largely determined by our life experiences. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mental, emotional, or physical activity; the brain essentially maps new patterns the more we repeat an experience. The result? Better precision and performance.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we are born with about 100 billion neurons. The number of potential pathways that can be established within these 100 billion neurons is truly mind boggling.
Jon Lieff, M.D., has stated:
“It has been a daunting task just to map the 10^9 DNA base pairs in the human genome, and the number of neuronal connections is a million times greater (10^15). Moreover, since connectomes [mapped neuronal connections] are based on life experiences, each person will have a shifting set of connections…”
While this is an impressive show of numbers about the potential of our brain, I really want to focus on Lieff’s statement about neuronal connections and life experiences. It is our experience that determines how the brain wires itself, and it is the makeup of this wiring that affects how consciousness is expressed through our bodies.
There’s a statement that goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” You may remember the first time you tried to drive a manual transmission. At first it was awkward. You probably grinded some gears. It might have even sounded like you were trying to dump the transmission into the street, but with enough practice, you learned to shift gears smoothly and effortlessly. For me, now it’s as easy as walking. Why? Because the experience of practicing caused new neurons to fire and neural pathways became established. Precise information about how to accomplish this task soon began to flow easily between the brain and body.
The amazing thing is that this process isn’t limited to physical activity. It includes how we express our thoughts and emotions as well. A minute ago I talked about increased precision and performance in regards to a physical activity. In the realm of mental-emotional consciousness, we could say that experiences in these areas can increase neuronal pathways to expand and increase the detail and depth of our understanding of the conscious experience we call life. All of this information now brings us to an important epiphany about Adam and Eve.
The limited condition of Paradise
It is impossible to evolve consciousness through theoretical knowledge. Direct experience is the only viable avenue.
Let me ask you a question: could you truly understand forgiveness if you never had the opportunity to forgive someone?
As self-aware individuals subject to duality, we are immersed in a wide array of experiences. All of us have probably undergone some level of health and sickness, fear and courage, pride and humility, happiness and depression, love and hate, etc. The list goes on. Isn’t it all these varied conscious experiences that helped you evolve emotionally, mentally, and physically?
Most religious people wouldn’t think of the Garden of Eden as a limited experience. But, while certain aspects of the Garden sound blissful, overall it wouldn’t have been a very conducive environment for consciousness evolution. Eden would have had no death. No physical disease. No pain. No sorrow. No depression, etc. In essence, no negativity. Therefore Adam and Eve knew would have lived in a very limited conscious experience.
And since Adam and Even didn’t experience a childhood, what would the physiology of their brains be like? We have already learned that our brains from neuronal pathways through our experiences. To create Adam and Eve as full grown adults would mean that God would have had to preprogram everything into their minds. Even the exclusive positive experiences in the Garden would not have been enough to give them any depth of understanding that we have the opportunity for today. We learn and grow through adversity.
“Though he were a son [Jesus], yet he learned obedience through the things that he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
Thus Adam and Eve would have been robots, and robots don’t have consciousness or free will. Therefore, anything God had preprogrammed into Adam and Eve would have made their actions God’s responsibility, not their own! So how could God justify a punishment?
All this leads us to an important question: If God told them not to eat of the forbidden fruit because they would die, do you think they could even remotely comprehend the consequence of their actions? They had never seen, known, or experienced death. Do you think the consequence of God’s command about death would have had any meaning to them?
“But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in that day…ye shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
Can’t we grow up and realize that this story goes much deeper than any superficial literal interpretation could convey?
I believe it’s obvious that we need to be in a valley before we can reach a mountaintop. In the literal interpretation of Adam and Eve, God placed them on the mountaintop first. There was nowhere to go but down! Hence, “the fall!”
Freewill is not something that can just be created out of thin air. Freewill and evolved consciousness is the by-products of experience. The fall from grace was about the need to experience, not the justification for a punishment. It was a blessing, not a curse.
Reconciling the fall from grace with truth
The story of Adam and Eve wasn’t meant to be literal, it was meant to teach us the meaning of incarnation in the physical plane. True, sometimes life is hard, but in the grander picture of eternity, every experience is for our own good as we develop higher consciousness. This is what the resurrection of Christ is really about. The end result of the scriptures—something the Gnostics and mystics understand well—wasn’t about salvation from the death of God’s son, but through the resurrection of his life. That life can be our life when we take up our cross and evolve consciously as Christ did.
Levels of free will
Let me ask you a question: who has greater level of free will, the person who knows and understands that they have two roads to choose from or the person who is aware that there are actually three? Or four? Or five? Not only did Adam’s fall (metaphorically speaking of course) give mankind more choices, it gave him the ability to really choose something in the first place!
“And both of their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked…” (Genesis 3:7).
In other words, as soon as they partook of the fruit of experience, they developed a deeper sense of awareness.
If I have the knowledge that I create my own reality, then the possibilities I want to manifest become endless. However, if I don’t know that I create my own reality (that I am god), then I am limited to creating what my subconscious beliefs and thought patterns dictate. These beliefs and thought patterns are locked inside our skulls and neural pathways that need replacing with new neural pathways. I still have free will, but it the degree and scope of my freewill is limited.
We have all heard that children are more impressionable than adults because they don’t come with preconceived notions and beliefs. Therefore, whatever we input into children can have a huge influence on how they grow and develop. If you teach your child that they can do and be anything through positive reinforcement, you are giving them a good foundation for achieving great things in life. By teaching them this information, the neural pathways are developed in their brains allowing them to truly believe and express this great truth. But if you have taught them to be rigid, fearful, and close-minded (often done without the conscious intention of the parent), you are stunting the conscious experience in the child.
What do I mean by close-minded? How about religion for starters? Many strong beliefs (convictions) can stunt conscious growth. Negative beliefs close off the potential we have within us to experience higher states of consciousness because as these negative mental and emotional neural pathways have been established, the person is all but destined to express and receive this negative reality. It gets worse. When a person develops a strong mental pattern of associated beliefs, it’s harder to undo them. In fact, you can’t actually undo a belief. You have to replace it with another by establishing a much stronger neuronal pathway. Eventually, the old pathway will lose energy and die, especially when the influence of the new one is greater than the old, but it is difficult process to walk out. Ask anyone with a strong habit.
There’s good news though. The brain can be rewired. It was built that way. With enough practice and focus, our brains can map new neural pathways for unlimited potential. I firmly believe that the human brain has an unlimited capacity to learn and experience reality in a new way. Let us take advantage of this gift of life.