Vicar’s Reflection: Sunday 5th March 2017, Lent 1
Why should God not want us to know good and evil? This question bugs a lot of people about the Genesis story (Gen 2:17) My take on the meaning of this is that the knowledge being spoken of in this story is not head knowledge. It is dynamic, and defining knowledge; the knowledge that bestows power. Knowledge, words and power are inseparably linked. The story gives examples of such knowledge. Firstly, in the way God uses his word to create: “Let there be light – and there was light!”. And when Adam names the animals (Gen 2.19): God creates the animals and waits for the man to pronounce their names, thus adding to the sum of knowledge. Another form of knowledge is the intimacy from which life is created (Gen 4.1). This is knowledge as power to pro-create. So, when the Genesis story is concerned about humans having knowledge of good and evil, the concern is about humans being tempted to take the place of God to define what is good and evil in a way that suits our selfish concerns. When we humans redefine good and evil to suit ourselves tragedy and all kinds of evil follow. Napoleon Bonaparte, the Communists, the Nazis all tried to remake society by a redefinition of good and evil. Powerful individuals, or political or religious movements that attempt to redefine what is good or evil through social engineering should make us all just a little nervous. The story of Adam and Eve casts a long shadow.