Putting the Garden of Eden in Iraq is a bad idea
Copyright © 2015 by Brian Bixby
And so God created man, and saw that it was good. He said to Man, “You are the greatest of my creations, made in my image. I will give you free will. And because you are not a German metaphysician, I will even explain that to you. Free will means you can choose to do one thing or another. Unlike the beasts of the field, you are not compelled to follow your nature.”
Man was, like, real jazzed about this. He asked, “So I can do anything I want?”
God said, “Yes, indeed. But . . .”
Man thought to himself, “Here it comes. I knew there had to be a catch to this.”
God continued, “Well, sometimes you can choose what you will. But other times you will have a choice between good and evil, and you must choose the good.”
Man was puzzled. “What are good and evil, God?”
God muttered to himself, “Oh, yeah, forgot I don’t want him to be like a god and know that, even though I created him in my image, that of a god. Sometimes I just trip myself up on these things.” To Man, he replied, “Ah, forget that good and evil business. Just do what I would want you to do.”
Man thought about that a bit. “So I get this freedom, but I’m not supposed to actually use it except the way my creator wants me to. Now I know where Mary Shelley will get the idea for Frankenstein in a few thousand years.” But to God, all he said was, “Right on, boss. But . . .”
“Oh, no,” God thought to himself. “I give the guy free will, and now he’s going to get pushy, is he?” So in hopes of diverting Man from whatever he was going to ask, God says to him, “Man, I am going to give you a name. You are Adam.”
Adam didn’t quite know what to make of this. “Ah, God, ah, thanks for the name. But you do realize that Adam and Man are the same word in the language I’m speaking? So it’s not like this actually does anything for me.”
God started to get irritated. “Look, Adam. I’m your damn creator, and you’ll not get lippy with me. Besides, you’ll need the name when there are more of you.”
Adam reacted with amazement. “More of me? What are you going to do, clone me? And can I have the technology patent for that, by the way?”
God had had enough. “Shut up, Adam. Forget what I said about more of you. You wouldn’t understand.”
Adam wasn’t happy, but he knew better than to argue with God when God was in a bad mood. So he waited until the next day to raise the question he’d wanted to ask before God gave him his name.
God had decided to keep Adam busy by naming the animals. Adam found this pretty boring, but he went along. He wanted God in a good humor before making a request. Once they got finished with the naming, Adam said to God, “Ah, God, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about. I mean, you’re fine and all, but you’re not around all the time, even though you’re supposed to be ubiquitous or omnipresent or something like that. I want a companion, someone I can talk with, someone that . . . eh, won’t talk down to me.”
God’s first thought was, “Ingrate!” But he was in a good mood, mostly, so he said, “You can have any of the animals of the land, of the air, or of the sea, Adam. Which one do you want?”
“Ho, boy,” thought Adam. “God doesn’t have a clue, does he?” But he knew it wouldn’t pay to say as much, so he tried to be diplomatic. “Look, God, some of those birds are darn pretty. But they don’t really do anything for me. Some of them aren’t even good eating. Same for the other creatures. And, God, really, cats? Why are they so pretty and mean-spirited? And tell me you delegated design of the camel and the platypus to a committee and I’ll believe it. None of the creatures of the earth, the air, or the waters will do. What I want is an equal, someone I can talk to, maybe even someone with that free will you gave me,” and in a whisper to himself added, “that I’m not actually free to use without you getting mad.”
God was already a few steps ahead of Adam here. He was going to enjoy this. So he said to Adam, “Really? Here she is. Her name is Eve.” And Eve stepped out from behind God.
Adam was surprised. “Where was he hiding?”
God realized Adam didn’t know the difference between men and women, so he was patient. “You say ‘she’ when you refer to Eve, Adam. Trust me on this. And I put you to sleep and made her from a rib I took out of your body.”
Adam was amazed. He looked down at his chest. “Hey, no surgical scar! And I have all these other ribs. Can you make more of these Eve things from them?”
God was childishly happy about how cool he was, and how much smarter than Adam. “No, Adam. One to a customer. Keep that slogan in mind. You’ll be hearing more of it.”
Adam had been looking over Eve a bit more, and frankly didn’t quite get what was wrong with her. So he said to God, “What’s with the weird fat deposits on her chest and ass? And why does she have an innie between her legs when I have an outie?”
God was getting frustrated again in a hurry. No way was he going to explain predestination to Adam at this point, let alone sex. So he lectured Adam. “Look, it’s not polite for you to make personal observations like that about a girl you just met. You’re going against my will, Adam, but I’m not going to call that a sin, just you being rude. I mean, how would you like it if Eve criticized how much more hair you have on your body?”
Eve spoke for the first time. “Well, now that you mention it . . .”
God turned to Eve. “Shut up, Eve.”
Eve was shocked. Talk about manners! She looked over to Adam. He shook his head. Eve was smart enough to realize that meant she shouldn’t push the matter.
God, not noticing this little interchange, figured he’d sorted everything out. “Look, you two. See what a nice guy I am? I’m sending you on a permanent honeymoon . . . well, vacation. You’re going to the Garden of Eden, all expenses paid.”
Eve asked, “This isn’t some shady deal like a vacation timeshare is it? And just where is this place?”
God thought to himself, “And I thought Adam was being difficult!” To Eve, he said, “No gimmicks, Eve. And the Garden is right over there.” He pointed to an elegant bridge over the River Euphrates. Eve squealed with delight, and headed off to enter the garden.
Adam was going to follow, but God pulled him aside. “Adam, a few things you both need to know.”
Adam nodded. “All right,” he thought to himself, “now I find out what the catch is. As if I don’t already know.” And he said to God, “God, you know we just got finished naming things. That’s the Euphrates. We’re in Iraq. This place is going to be a hellhole in a few thousand years. I’m not sure I want to spend eternity here.”
God waved his hand as if to dismiss the problem. “No to worry, Adam. It’ll be taken care of. No, what I wanted to do is warn you not to eat from two of the trees in the Garden of Eden. Don’t eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’ll kill you, or at least make you into a philosopher. And don’t eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, because then you will live forever.”
“What?” Adam sensed an agenda here he didn’t like. “But I already will live forever. You told me so. So what difference does it make?”
God decided to try a bit of sophistry on Adam. “See? It won’t make any difference to you since you’ll live forever, so don’t eat it.” Adam didn’t seem to be biting, so God added, “Trust me on this, Adam.”
Adam sighed. He knew what it meant when someone said “Trust me.” So he nodded, and went off to the Garden of Eden.
Now the Serpent, clearly a symbol of sublimated sexual desire, came to Eve and said, “Trust me. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is tasty, and God lied to you about dying if you ate it. Or maybe Adam just got God’s advice wrong. You know how gossip is.”
Eve thought about it. Nothing else in the Garden was hurtful, so why should the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (whatever that meant) be so? And God hadn’t told her! If it had been really important, he would have! So Eve had a bite. It was like doing LSD, but more fun. Eve found she could actually make moral judgments. Now she knew why she’d resented Adam’s criticism of her breasts and buttocks as weird! And naturally, he should understand, too. So she snuck some pieces into a fruit salad she gave Adam.
Adam ate, and Adam knew. And Eve explained just what Adam had done wrong. And Adam thought to himself, “Great. We’ve probably pissed off God. And my very first moral thought was hearing Eve tell me I was mean. Like, how could I have known? I didn’t know what good and evil were then.”
Now God, despite being ubiquitous, was not around while all this was going down. When he came strolling into the Garden of Eden to see Adam and Eve, they knew they’d be in trouble, so they hid. But, hey, they’d just invented hide-and-seek, and weren’t very good at it. God found them immediately. “Why are you hiding?” God asked Adam. God always addressed Adam first, because Eve was a girl, and while she might be Adam’s companion, she still wasn’t his equal.
Adam knew how to lie now, but he’d had no practice, so he simply said, “We disobeyed you, God, and ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But chill out, man. It’s a good thing, apart from disobeying your orders. We now know about good and evil, and can talk to you about them, too. It beats naming fish.”
God was angry. He thundered, “For disobeying me, you two will not live forever. You will die!”
Eve was outraged. “I thought you told Adam we’d die from eating the fruit. And now you tell us it’s really your decision instead? What a cheat!”
Adam could see God getting more steamed up, so he decided on a more innocent question. “Like how long before we die?”
God spat out the words, “You will die after 930 years of life, Adam.”
Adam muttered to himself, “Hey, that’s not so bad.”
Eve felt she should be treated the same as Adam, so she asked the same question. “How long do I get to live, God?”
This drove God into a rage. What was he, the host of Twenty Questions? Besides, he didn’t recall offhand how long Eve was predestined to live. So in his wrath, he replied, “How long will you live? That’s the least of your worries, Eve. From now on, you will mate with Adam and conceive children, which you will carry in your belly for nine months and give birth to them through a long, painful procedure.” God knew all about anesthetics, but he wasn’t going to make it easy for Eve.
Adam thought to himself, “Oh, so that explains why I’m an outie down there and she’s an innie. Suspicious, that. Makes me wonder if God was planning this all along.”
Eve didn’t think it was fair that she should have to suffer, but she saw an escape hatch. “Well, God, for your information, I am just not going to let Adam stick his little Adam into me. So I’ll never get pregnant. How do you like them for apples?” Speaking of apples, Eve was getting hungry again.
God realized he looked like a fool. So he doubled down. “Joke’s on you, Eve. You will lust after your husband.” Eve looked confused, so God explained, “Adam, your husband.”
“Oh.” Eve didn’t know why Adam needed another name. Just one of those God things, she supposed. And then suddenly Eve got the first sexual arousal in history. She forgot about being hungry for food. She looked over at Adam, and couldn’t wait to wrap herself around his man-flesh.
The next thing Adam knew, Eve was all over him. But this meant nothing to him. She was his companion, and while he now understood what God planned in the way of reproduction, he didn’t feel that for Eve. “Women,” he thought to himself, “insatiable creatures of lust. How pitiful.”
God watched this. He was finally getting a good laugh out of these two. But his punishment for Eve wouldn’t work if she never got pregnant, and that wouldn’t happen unless Adam got it up. So he conferred lust on Adam, too.
In one moment, Adam went from contempt of Eve for her sexuality to crowning himself as the world’s best love machine. Not that he consciously thought that; by this time, all his blood had rushed to his crotch, and the only thing he could think to do was nail Eve to the ground and make the two-backed beast. This worked out the way these things usually do. Adam fell asleep after, while Eve was trying to talk to them about their relationship. She would have dragged God into the discussion, but he was gone. God may have created sex, and given it to so many creatures, but he was a prude at heart. Most spinsters are.
So God went off and set up safeguards so Adam and Eve couldn’t eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life and reverse God’s sentence on them. And then he came back to deal with Adam and Eve. He saw them lying there naked, and said to them, “What kind of animals are you? Have you no shame? Cover up your, um, unmentionables!”
Adam had been sleeping, and was only groggily waking up, so Eve answered God. “What are you talking about, God? Why would we cover up the parts of our body that are so enjoyable to use? They are good parts. What are you, some sort of Victorian great-aunt or something?”
God fumed. “Just wait, Eve. In nine months, you’ll be screaming as you bear your first son, Abel.”
Eve lit up. “It’s going to be a boy? Adam will be so happy. I think I can put up with a little pain for that. And if I get this sort of fun as the preliminary, well, ho, boy, I think I got a sweet deal out of this.”
God could not contain his anger. “You fools! Well, I’ll show you. I’m evicting you from the Garden of Eden. Hereafter, you have to struggle to make a living. You’ll have to work, the both of you!”
Adam was fully awake now. He sat up and put his arm around Eve. “Did God say you’ll be giving me a son?”
Eve smiled and nodded.
Adam turned to God. “Well, the laboring sounds crappy, but at least we’ll be doing it together with each other and our kids. So I won’t fight the eviction in court. Besides, you’d stack the jury. Can hardly get one made up of my peers, now, can I, being the only two humans alive at the moment?”
God could not believe this! He roared, “Just for that insolence, I’m going to curse you and all of your descendants. You’ll all go to eternal punishment in Hell for being disobedient.”
Eve couldn’t contain her scorn. “So much for the loving and just God you claim to be! And what if our descendants decide to toe your line, anyhow?”
God’s voice took on a sinister tone as he replied, “They will be born spiritually contaminated, already disobedient to me. I’ll call that original sin.”
Adam, whose earlier life with God meant some theology had rubbed off on him, thoughtfully observed, “That kind of undercuts this gift of free will you gave me, doesn’t it? It’s hardly free will if my descendants are predisposed to disagree with you, now, is it? Oh, well, better than being your obedient zombie slaves, which is what I guess you really wanted.”
Eve stood up. “C’mon, Adam, let’s go. Never mind the theological mumbo-jumbo. If God were a woman, I’d swear she was a dried-up spinster with permanent PMS who’s just jealous of us.”
God got so mad that he contemplating killing Eve right then and there. But he realized he’d already predestined her to be the mother of the human race, and being dead would kind of void that prophecy. So he glared at them the whole way out of the Garden of Eden, and then teleported the Garden out of Iraq to Atlantis.
Adam and Eve worked all of their lives until they retired to Florida and sponged off their kids. The real tragedy of their life was when their son Cain killed their son Abel. However, they lived several hundred years after this, and had more children, so they got over their loss. Still, there was always a place in their hearts for their lost Abel.
Eve was still a knockout until she was well into her six hundreds, and took to wearing clothing as her sons reached sexual maturity. Bad enough that her kids committed incest all the time (what else could they do?), but Eve didn’t want to tempt her boys into fighting their father. Adam also took up clothing, primarily because he didn’t want Eve to see him get a hard-on looking at his daughters. The practice spread, and now most people wear clothing.
Excellent. I have only one point to contend. The Garden of Eden was not in Iraq. Abraham was in Iraq; the Garden of Eden was EAST of there. In China, India or . . . Afghanistan? And on a personal note, I had no travail to bring forth my children. Does that mean I’m not suffering from Original Sin? Or is it that I inherited ‘childbearing hips’—you know, of the curvaceous kind? Or . . . perhaps we women with curvaceous hips aren’t part of the Accursed Eve’s Line. Or perhaps we’re not really human. There could be green-skinned aliens hidden within our attractive design. And here’s my major complaint against the Biblical account: Why weren’t there aliens in the Garden of Eden? If God created the Universe, he must have created Martians and Vogons and Klingons as well—not to mention those nasty double-jointed double-jawed beings Sigourney Weaver encountered in outer space. And I doubt they had the audacity to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, so they’re still in God’s good books, the preferred amongst his many creations. Which thought doesn’t help me sleep well at night. Which thought might explain the increasing incidents of alien sightings. Which thought . . . .
Well, EXCUSE me, but some people haven’t read their Bible very carefully. It states clearly that the Tigris and Euphrates originate in the Garden of Eden. Now admittedly that puts Eden in Turkey, only near Iraq, but Adam was imperfect, so we shouldn’t expect geographical excellence on his part, when clearly Americans, God’s chosen people (TM), are so poor at it.
And trying to tempt me into SIN with those curvaceous hips . . . well, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, sister, but you never tell a man that, not unless you’re trying to seduce him. (Off the record: are you?) Clearly you are a she-demon, an incubus, and damned in eternity. (Again, off the record, are you trying to seduce me? It’s important for me to know because . . . well, don’t worry about the reason.)
You read about Lilith? Adam’s first wife. Joined at the hip to God’s creation. She refused to be the submissive partner and so sold her soul to the Devil to be permanently parted. Yea, Go, Lilith, Go! Does that answer?
Not the first time I’ve been called that. I remember our ‘Bible Knowledge’ teacher at school had a positive aversion to me. But then she was the daughter of the Dean of Norwich Cathedral. I presented too much of a challenge for her (because, shame on me, I did read the Bible!)
This comment reminds me of something I’ve always toyed with intellectually..or maybe just aimlessly. I had often wondered if God had other experiments other than the one on Earth designed to draw his creatures to him. We have our own stories as laid out in Genesis. Humans on Earth must be inherently willful since God sent his own son, the last messenger, to pay the price for us should we only accept that payment. So in our vast universe filled with galaxies, perhaps there is another sun with a planet which would support sentient life…wouldn’t it just really be a terrible waste of space? So whose to say that God didn’t have a presence on alien planets with intelligent life resembling us Earthbound humans or not?
So when I encountered a story entitled “When the Serpent Failed”…which was hilariously along those lines by Pierre Boulle, I had to source out the book containing the short story. It is entitled “because it is absurd (on earth as in heaven)”…yes lower case. I have to confess to not reading any of the other stories having bought it for the one. Must say have to rectify that? He is the author of ‘The Bridge Over the River Kwai’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’.
Wonder if we can find ‘When the Serpent Failed’ online somewhere? You both would LOVE the short story!! Or we must get the out of print whole book!!
And may I suggest in turn that you might want to check out James Blish’s “A Case of Conscience.” Blish posits a world in which the indigenous intelligent life never “fell.” But that doesn’t turn out to be quite what you might think it is, or means. The protagonist is a Jesuit exo-biologist on the human mission to this planet, investigating it to see if relations between it and humanity should be opened up.
Hmmm sounds interesting to me!! I will pursue reading it!!
Blish actually took three stabs at tackling the Problem of Evil. “A Case of Conscience” was his science-fiction approach to original sin, “Black Easter” and its immediate sequel “The Day After Judgment” were his fantasy takes on the relationship between Good and Evil, and “Doctor Mirabilis” was historical fiction on the pursuit of secular knowledge as sin. They all make for interesting reading, whether one is Catholic (as Blish was, and it shows) or not.
There is far more material that I have not read than have, and Blish is a writer I have neglected. You have me looking forward to his writing!!
A diverse oeuvre, from ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ to ‘Planet of the Apes’, passing by Godly matters. Though maybe that’s what inspired the latter. But it is true. If we allow there to be a god/God[?], then we must allow said being to be God of all creatures upon all planets in all galaxies. We cannot be selective. That’s the essence of prejudice and ultimately leads to genocide.
Well I do have to say if not for Mr. Boulle, I may never have considered the consequences of an obedient Eve.
I think if you believe there is a God, you must believe that his ability to create is unlimited and completely at His will and spans greater distances than we can probably conceive. In reality, as individuals we can only be responsible to do our best within our likely dim understanding of the infinite.
[BTW] That was agreement
Science fiction has also considered the other alternative: that while there are many forms of intelligent life out there, the Messiah came only once, as a human. One of the more amusing possibilities on that line was Poul Anderson’s “The High Crusade,” in which a bunch of Crusaders get kidnapped by a flying saucer, only to take it over and establish a Crusader empire in space.
But I’d have to say that a multitude of intelligent species seems likely, and one would expect a universal deity to give them all equal chances at salvation (except the Daleks).
Despite being a fan of Poul Anderson, of old, I confess I’ve not read that one. And I do like that comment of Daleks (almost British!)
Not much of Boulle’s work is in print, and what is does not include the collection you cite. And I doubt it can be found online, as the translation (Boulle wrote in French) is no doubt copyrighted. That said, I’ve found it in Harvard University’s library system, so I’ll have to put it on my list.