Is Satan really the bad guy in story of creation?

by evilApostate 30 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • evilApostate

    I wanted to take an objective look at Satan in the story of creation. This is not meant to offend those of you who are still christians. I'm agnostic btw. If this is too long then just read the summary below.

    In the story of creation it is stated that, "Thus Jehovah God made to grow out of the ground every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food and also the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and bad." [Gen 2:9]

    I interpret the above to mean that there were two trees:

    1) The tree of life in the middle of the garden

    2) The tree of the knowledge of good and bad

    Later on, Jehovah spoke to Adam saying, "Jehovah God also gave this command to the man: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.”" [Gen 2:16-17]

    I interpret the above to mean that eating from the tree of knowledge of good and bad causes death. However, they can eat from all other trees, which I presume includes the tree of life.

    Now, after Eve was created she was asked by the serpent if God told them not to eat from every tree in the garden. She replied by telling the serpent that they may not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden (i.e. The tree of the knowledge of good and bad). Christians interpret the serpant and Satan to be one and the same.

    Here comes the interesting part. The serpent told Eve, “You certainly will not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” [Gen 3:5]

    I interpret the above to mean:

    1) The tree of the knowledge of good and bad does not cause death

    2) The tree of the knowledge of good and bad grants some form of enlightenment; presumably knowing the difference (and being able to choose) between good and bad.

    As we know, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. The scripture reads, "Consequently, the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something desirable to the eyes, yes, the tree was pleasing to look at. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward, she also gave some to her husband when he was with her, and he began eating it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made loin coverings for themselves."

    I interpret the above to mean:

    1) The serpent told the truth. Adam and Eve's eyes were opened as promised.

    2) In order for Eve to make an alternative choice other than what God had commanded, she needed a competing idea to be introduced to her. The serpent revealed to her the option of eating from the tree; before, the option was never even considered. Also, the scripture uses the word, 'consequently', which suggests that Eve could not choose to eat from the tree without the serpent's suggession (i.e. She lacked freewill).

    The story continues with Jehovah finding out that they ate from the tree. He eventually says,"

    Then Jehovah God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are the cursed one out of all the domestic animals and out of all the wild animals of the field. On your belly you will go, and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel.”

    To the woman he said: “I will greatly increase the pain of your pregnancy; in pain you will give birth to children, and your longing will be for your husband, and he will dominate you.” And to Adam he said: “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you must eat the vegetation of the field. In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”"

    Above we see that the following was betowed upon mankind:

    1) Birthpains

    2) Death

    3) Men dominating Women.

    4) Thistles and thorns

    The serpent was also cursed to crawl on its belly.

    Nowhere, does it state that eating from the tree of knowledge caused pain and death. Instead it states that God caused pain and death to mankind becaused they obtained enlightenment (presumably freewill as pointed out earlier) from the tree.

    The scripture then states, "Jehovah God then said: “Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad. Now in order that he may not put his hand out and take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live forever, —” With that Jehovah God expelled him from the garden of Eʹden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken. So he drove the man out, and he posted at the east of the garden of Eʹden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning continuously to guard the way to the tree of life."

    Now, above we see that Jehovah was displeased that man became like him. He banished Adam and Eve from the garden so that they may not also eat from the tree of life and obtain everlasting life. It would seem that Jehovah was the bad guy while the serpent tried to help humans to progress.

    Below, I summarise my analysis of the story.


    1) There were two trees; the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.

    2) Prior to eating from the tree of knowledge man lacked free will.

    3) Eating from the tree of knowledge did not cause death. God did.

    4) The serpent helped man to obtain enlightenment and become like God.

    5) God banished man from the garden and gaurded the tree of life with cherubs to prevent man from breaking the curse of death.

    Please discuss.

    Btw, did anyone know that Satan is not really a name but a title? It simply means,"the opposer".

  • westiebilly11

    Reading this again has made me notice something I never have before.....Gen 1 verses 26-28..Man was made in God's/A N Other's image (image meaning what??)...yet Gen 3 v 4 etc says that only after eating the fruit would man then be 'like God' one of us. etc etc..mmm.Seems odd to me....

  • David_Jay

    Yes, Jews as well as Catholic/Orthodox Christianity understand the term "Satan" to merely refer to an "adversary" or "accuser." For instance, the official US Catholic Bible, the NABRE, refers to the "Satan" of Job as "the satan" with a detailed footnote explaining that the individual spoken of is not to be immediately identified with the "Satan" of Christianity.

    As to the rest, it may surprise you that the Jewish way of viewing this story of Adam and Even is that it doesn’t end at Genesis 3:24 but at Genesis 11:9. While Jews can differ greatly in how literal or symbolic they view the details of the subject, the following is what is generally understood about the Creation story in Scripture.

    The Creation story is told in a series of stages based on the cosmology the Jews shared with their Mesopotamian neighbors:

    • the universe is a vast sea or abyss of waters,
    • from the waters a dome is made to hold the waters back in order for the world to be made,
    • the first world is erased by these waters in order to make room for our present world,
    • all peoples are assigned to their proper place by tribe or people or (as in the case of the Bible) language.

    The “Adam and Eve” story is the second act of the first world created. It is likely not literal in detail, though some Jews believe that the persons were. “Adam and Eve” are merely set into the Mesopotamian cosmology paradigm, but the drama has Jewish theology lessons centering around the need for Torah observance. Instead of the trees representing actual forms of botany or an act of “original sin” being described, Jews see the story as merely telling us that humans tend to act independent of their Creator. The “serpent” is not “Satan the Devil,” just a serpent that “speaks” as part of the lesson (much like the animals in Aesop’s tales speak in those moral lessons).

    The world that results from Adam and Eve is made to fit into the Mesopotamian cosmology in which it was believed that the deities grew angry with the world and wiped it out by releasing the cosmological waters upon society in order to create the current world. It grows darker and darker until the Noachin flood wipes away all things (not because of the “serpent” but because Adam and Eve’s children are immoral), and the Hebrew “history” can thus be made to fit the accepted “science model” of the universe and its origins. Lastly the current world gets divided into nations by language (a dramatic device, far from being a true historical, direct action of God).

    The story ends in chapter 11 with a genealogy that leads to the history of Jewish patriarch, Abraham. The setting is that God is responsible for all peoples having their unique language, cultures, and countries, and no less the Jews--whose story gets told from this point onward.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses (and most literalist Christians) read the stories as separate events in history while in reality they are just one, “the” story of “how the universe (which back then was just the world) came to be” according to the accepted cosmology of the day. The Jews merely pasted their own characters and religious lessons onto the paradigm, but the complete story is Genesis 1-11:9. This make demands upon the story that do not allow for the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation of a “fall from grace” that occurred in a literal garden due to a conversation with a snake over which tree to eat from. Who wouldn’t want to eat from God’s tree, anyway? It would be better for you that any other? (And really, does God really need a tree to eat its fruit?) It’s too silly even from a pure mythological reading to allow the narrative to be reduced to Watchtower literalism.

    This doesn’t mean that “Satan” is a mere Christian invention, even though the serpent in the Garden of Eden is not identified with the Devil (nor is “the satan” of Job--which in that book is merely an angel raising issues for the sake of argument). But as time passed, Judaism came to suspect that humanity was not without some challenger that it could not simply ignore.

    While today some Jews see “the Devil” to be nothing more than the imperfection or dark side within each of us which we naturally attempt to overcome, Second Temple era Judaism already acknowledged a “Satan the Devil” of sorts, a “fiery hell” and even Purgatory (this Catholic notion actually comes directly and mostly unfiltered from Judaism). The Tanakh is only a static picture of past theological concepts, absent of the actual Torah influence or tradition (often called the “Oral Torah”) which was the mainstay of Jewish religion. Without this, all reading of the Tanakh is greatly incomplete.

    Later redacted into the Mishnah and expanded via the Talmud, the concept of evil was sometimes personalized into dark spirits and demons not unlike those embraced by Christianity. By the time of Jesus, the idea of a “chief” or “leader” of the demons was already in place. The term “Satan” is merely a label borrowed from Hebrew as this being (if he exists) does not actually have the name given to him by humanity.

  • zebulon

    Great post,

    My take.

    I was raised a Lutheran. At about age 16 I started not only questioning religion but what you posted.

    I look at it this way, what being does not want another being to have knowledge or freewill? Answer, a slave owner.

    Knowledge is power, it creates freewill and the awareness to realize someone has power over you.

    Sounds like an organization we know, does it not? I view it as that simple.


  • Pete Zahut
    Pete Zahut

    Besides the obvious absurdities of the account of Adam and Eve, the questions I always had as a kid were.

    Jehovah having to station angels at the entrance of the garden, indicates that without the angels present, Adam and Eve could have snuck in there without God knowing it and eaten from the fruit and have become immortal. If that's the case, what does that say about God being all knowing and all seeing? Doesn't the Bible say that not a sparrow falls to the ground without him knowing about it? Why would he need guards at the entrance of the garden to prevent this?

    If God stationed angels at the entrance of the garden of Eden, does that mean there was a wall or fence around the rest of the garden ? Why didn't perfect Adam and Eve go a few miles down from the entrance and climb the wall or devise some way to get at the tree?

    What happened to the tree of life...where did it go ? If God go eventually got rid of the tree, why didn't he just do that in the first place instead of stationing angels to protect it and risk the possibility that Adam and Eve might eat from it ?

    To me, this story always had more holes in it than Sponge Bob.

  • Crazyguy

    This story is a bastardized New telling of the much older story from the Enuma Elish. In the original story Enki is the God that we would assume is Satan and Enlil his half brother is the God that is depicted in this story as Jehovah. There are many similarities between the two stories yet the Bible writters changed things around a whole bunch and added to his writings aspects of other stories from Sumeria some still being from the Enuma Elish.

  • fulltimestudent

    Haha !

    There is little evidence (outside of the Jewish documents incorporated into the bible) that belief in a spiritual opponent to YHWH existed before the second temple era (that is, after the Babylonian exile of the Jewish elite).

    Most scholarship sees the rise of belief in two figures who are opposed to each other and spoken of in terms like good and evil, and light and darkness as the influence of Zoroastrianism on the Jewish elite.

    The garden of Eden story in Genesis is pure mythology, best described as a foundation myth.

    Crazyguy's explanation is also importatn in understanding how Jewish thought developed.

  • jwleaks

    In mainstream Christianty and JW theology the attempted murder of Jesus as a child and the ultimate death of Jesus has always been attributed to the outworkings of Satan. However Satan had no motive and nothing to gain from orchestrating the events that led to the death of Jesus.

    Consider (based on objective JW theology) the following arguments:

    Satan had everything to gain by protecting Jesus both in infancy and in adulthood.

    • If Satan protected Jesus then their would be no ransom sacrifice, no resurrection, no new system, no armageddon.
    • Further the prophecies of Jesus would have turned out to be false.
    • God would have been revealed to have been a liar.
    • Satan would still be the ruler of the world and he would not have been cast down.
    • God's kingdom would have been brought to nought.
    • There would be no fulfillment of the holy writings in the old testament.
    • The would be no new testament.
    • The so-called universal issue would have been won in favor of Satan himself.

    Jesus would still be alive today unless he died of an accident. The bible actually contains no evidence that Satan played a part in the death of Jesus. There is no charge, no trial, no impartial verdict. JWs claim Jesus was subjected to an unfair and unlawful trial. However Satan was judged and condemned with no trial.

    In the garden of Eden Satan was judged guilty of killing Jesus, an event of which had not happened. Satan was judged and sentenced to death before he had committed the alleged murder. Besides this the actual alleged murder victim was with both god and Satan and the other angels in heaven. He could have spoken up and testified that he had not been murdered or killed.

    To prove god a liar and a false accuser all Satan had to do was protect Jesus life while he was on Earth. This then raises the question "Who actually had motive to kill Jesus and who gained from his death?"

  • ttdtt

    So instead of the JW liturgy that "Satan Lied to and Tricked Eve" God himself says that all Satan said was truthful.

    At this the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die. 5 For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.”
    Jehovah God then said: “Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad. Now in order that he may not put his hand out and take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live forever,

    God also gave man a head start on WAR and KILLING by introducing the first weapon of mass destruction. The Sword! Now even in Star Trek they would never do that cuz it's against the Prime Directive.

    So he drove the man out, and he posted at the east of the garden of Eʹden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning continuously to guard the way to the tree of life.

  • prologos

    the story really has nothing to do with creation as such, but is a crazy creation itself. obviously, there are no talking, walking snakes. Humans are really divine, made in the image of god, but then becoming even more so , because their diet now included fruit of the knowledge tree. Taking 960 years to die is rewarding though, if you could have been diced in seconds by the swords. s-words, swindle words.

    Even the bible's specific creation story, Gen 1:1 is wrong, off by 1000 000 000 years.

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