Saturday, August 23, 2008

To Be Smarter than God: Eve's Sinful Wish?

In “Paradise Lost,” John Milton suggests that when Satan tempted Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that Eve’s motive—rather than the mere act of eating the fruit—her motive was the real sin. Milton portrays Eve’s sinful motive as not just that she wanted knowledge and wisdom (which are good things), but that she greedily wanted to be as smart as God . . . or, perhaps even better, to be smarter than God . . . or, maybe best of all, to be God . . . to supplant or replace God. The scriptural account shows that Satan did tempt Eve with, “ye shall be as gods (see Genesis 3:5, Moses 4:11); the account in 2 Nephi 2:18 says, “ye shall be as God.” And that was how Satan tricked Eve into eating the fruit, by suggesting that she could become a god (or The God) with as simple an act as eating fruit: “For a quick and effortless route to godhood, eat this.”

It has been a few years since I read “Paradise Lost,” but even now I cannot revisit—either in the scriptures or in the temple—the account of Eve’s temptation without remembering Milton’s characterization of Eve. However, for my part, I believe that Eve’s motives were innocent because while living in the garden, she was still in a state of innocence. The reason I think about what Milton said is because sometimes I seem to be the one guilty of thinking that I am smarter than God.

Usually in retrospect, I discern that I have argued with the Spirit, saying “I don’t want to do that” when the Spirit prompted me to do a particular thing—usually a hard thing. And then I further hardened my heart against the prompting with a determination to do what I wanted to do instead, which is a path that I think is smarter or less difficult or more attractive or better just because I thought of it (and this is pleasing to my self-image as a highly intelligent person). Smarter than God? Right.

Eventually, after trying to do things my way, I discover that I am actually dumber than dirt because dirt actually obeys when God commands. And the Spirit always knows better than I do what I should do. Yes, we are to study things out in our minds—but as a first step, not as the only step. After thinking up my plan and deciding what I am going to do, the Spirit almost always suggests a better plan. Gently suggests. Does not force. “Here is an idea . . .” the Spirit whispers. “I don’t want to do that!” I say, slamming the door shut on the Spirit.

By acting like I think I am smarter than God, I am also supplanting or replacing God in my life. When God is replaced by a prideful intellect, intellect becomes my God. My intellect becomes my God. Therefore, I am my own God.

Some of the saddest words in the scriptures are these: “the Spirit of the Lord hath already ceased to strive with [them]; and they are without Christ and God in the world; and they are driven about as chaff before the wind” (Mormon 5:16). ‘Without Christ and God in the world’—by choice we cast ourselves out of the Garden.

6 comments:

Chris said...

FIRST!

shydandelion said...

You are such a fruit cake! I liked that, Mom. I guess I have been guilty of being my own god. And I have to say, that I am probably the meanest, most angry god ever. Eeya...

Trillium said...

I know how you feel. Just as scary is a puny, naked and blind god (me)—one whom no truly intelligent person would follow: “canst thou run about longer as a blind guide? Or canst thou be humble and meek, and conduct thyself wisely before me? Yea, come unto me thy Savior.” (D&C 19:40-41) The magnificent truth, of course, is that we are Gods-in-training. How wise, then, to accept the Heavenly out-stretched hand: “be thou humble and the Lord thy God will lead thee by the hand.” Otherwise, we may not just find ourselves in the hands of a vicious, hateful, malicious, spiteful and sneaky devil—we may be one. YIKES!

shydandelion said...

*Staring* now I am all paranoid...

Katscratchme said...

I think you have named your blog all too appropriately...

Zaphod said...

Someone aptly said a long time ago that the real purpose behind getting a Ph.D. was to come to an awareness as to how much you really don't know. I know that was the case with me. When people who seemed to know less than you about a subject, it is tempting to think vainly about your accomplishments. While I was writing about Tolkien, I knew that I only knew a little bit, but there were people who wanted to fawn on me because I knew something. Now that I am writing about other things, things that really matter. I find that I am drawing closer to Father. That is a wonderful thing, so long as I remember that it is because of Him that I am in contact and not because of me.