“Good morning, children!”
“Good morning, Shirlee,” replied Ginny, Mark, and John. “Continuity,” mumbled Tom. The Dullards grunted.
Shirlee glanced around the Sunday School room. Pastor Gardner had put plastic over the leaky windows, helping to cut the chilling drafts, for which Shirlee was grateful. It’s hard to focus on the Bible when there’s a cold draft on your neck!
But now the plastic crinkled and billowed each time the wind blew, sounding as though someone — or something — was moving around, just out of sight. Come to think of it, Shirlee usually felt that way in Dunwich.
“Last week, we talked about The Seven Days of Creation. Your last Sunday School teacher may have told you that Adam and Eve were the first humans, and that God made them and the Garden of Eden in those first seven days. But that’s not what the Bible says! Genesis 1:27 tells us,
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
“So, God created a whole bunch of people! Adam wasn’t the first person . . . He was the first Jew!”
“The first Jew, Shirlee? But the Bible doesn’t say that,” Mark pointed out.
“Mark, do Jews worship God?”
“Um . . . not really, I don’t recall Adam building altars or performing sacrifices.”
“But Adam knew God was in charge, right?”
“Then he was a Jew.”
“So he wasn’t part of the batch created in Genesis 1, then?”
“No. Genesis 2 tells us about the Garden of Eden and when God created Jews.”
God created Adam. He makes him out of dirt and breathes the breath of life into his nostrils. Just like you might blow in the nose of a Resusci-Anne doll when learning CPR!
God then created the Garden of Eden, and put Adam in it as the caretaker. God said to Adam, “You can eat from every tree in the garden except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of that tree, you will die that very day!” (Gen. 2:7-17)
Since God wasn’t able to be around all the time, He decided that Adam should have an assistant. It’s just like you leaving your dog home all day while you’re at school. Your dog gets lonely, left all alone! So you leave the radio on, or you get a puppy to keep him company.
So God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)
“Help meat?” asked Ginny. “What does that mean?”
John spoke up. “Maybe God wanted Eve to help Adam with his mea-”
“JOHN THOMAS WARD!” Shirlee was standing up, face beet red. “It’s M-E-E-T, and you know it!”
“Eva butcher?” Tom asked timidly.
Ignoring Tom, Shirlee turned back to Ginny. “God wanted to provide Adam with a ‘help’, or assistant, who was ‘meet’, or appropriate to Adam’s needs.”
“So ‘helpmeet’ isn’t a word?”“Not really. Some modern people, who don’t understand English very well, have taken the two words, a noun and an adjective, and mashed them into a single word, a noun. Like the way some people do with ‘a lot‘.”
“So I should tell my Mom to be a help meet for my father, not a helpmeet, right, Shirlee?” Mark was smirking.
“Well, maybe . . .” Shirlee thought a moment.
“Do you hate me, Shirlee?”
“Of course not, Mark, why would you think that?”
“Because if I told my Mom that, she’d help me meet Jesus right quick!”
Shirlee joined the children in laughing. “Fine, fine, very funny. As I was going to say, maybe it’s best for you to worry about your own behavior, and let God tell your Mom what to do. Let’s get back to the story, OK?”
God tried making all kinds of animals for Adam, and had him name each and every one of them. But he couldn’t find a suitable assistant among the bunch! (Probably because very few of them had opposable thumbs.) (Gen. 2:18-20).
Since God wasn’t having any luck making Adam an assistant from dirt, He gave Adam a strong anesthetic and tore out one of his ribs. From this, He made a female for Adam, and gave her to him as a present. (Gen. 2:21-22)
“Adam was made from dirt. So, why do you suppose God couldn’t make a good assistant for Adam from dirt?” Ginny always asked such good questions.
“He didn’t want to. Pure and simple.”
Now Mark’s hand was up again. “Why do you think people are offended at the idea of descending from chimpanzees, when the Bible says we are descended from dirt?”
“Because the Bible doesn’t say we are descended from chimpanzees. It says God made us special!”
“Out of dirt.”
“We are His special creation, not a random accident of mutations!”
John spoke up. “God cloned Adam. Why do you think there are so many Christians who are against all forms of cloning? God did it, why shouldn’t we?”
“No, John. God didn’t clone Adam, He made Eve from Adam’s rib.”
“Yes, John, Eve would be a clone,” Mark interrupted. “What else would you call it? God used Adam’s own genetic material to make Eve, through asexual methods. That makes her a clone.”
“Call it what you will, Mark,” moaned Shirlee. “It’s not like modern cloning, where atheists want to make armies of mindless automatons.”
“What science fiction have you been reading, Shirlee?” Mark was laughing at her. “Attack of the Clones was a Star Wars movie, not a news report!”
The class tittered nervously, not sure how Shirlee would respond. A flash of her eyes above her reading glasses silenced the group. “Any other questions, or may I continue?”
Along came the very clever serpent. (Gen. 3:1)
“Wasn’t the serpent the Satan, Shirlee?” Ginny had heard this story before.
“Your last Sunday school teacher may have told you that Satan came into the garden disguised as a talking snake, Ginny, but the Bible doesn’t say that! It just says that the serpent was very clever.”
“Clever enough to talk?”
“Yes, that’s pretty clever, isn’t it! But since Satan is described in other parts of the Bible as a serpent, and we don’t see talking snakes anymore, people have interpreted the serpent to be Satan.”
The serpent had some important information for Eve. It asked her if God had told her she could eat from any tree in the garden. She said, “Well, we can eat from any of the trees except that one in the middle of the garden. He says that we shouldn’t eat from it or even touch it, because we will die.”
The snake knew this wasn’t true. (I think he had already eaten from it himself!) He said, “No, you won’t die. God just knows that if you eat from the tree, you’ll be like Him and know good from evil!”
That sounded pretty good to Eve, because she was naked and not very intelligent and figured she could change for the better.
Shirlee paused. “Now, while there’s no evidence that Satan was the snake, it’s possible that the snake’s descendants aren’t all serpents. The snake may well be an ancestor of Oprah, who also teaches people ways to improve themselves without God.”
So, Eve ate the fruit and found that, contrary to what God had said, she didn’t die! Not wanting to be superior to her husband, she gave some to Adam to eat.
>POOF!< The magic fruit made them able to understand good from evil. For the first moment, they knew the difference between right and wrong!
“Was it wrong for Adam and Eve to eat the apple?”
“Ginny, who said it was an apple? The Bible doesn’t. It was a special fruit.”
“OK, was it wrong for them to eat the magic fruit?”
“Of course it was, God told them not to.”
Mark had his ‘logical’ look again. “But Shirlee, if Adam and Eve didn’t know good from evil, then how could they know that it was wrong to disobey God until they’d already done so?”
“Well, Mark, that’s a very good question. And . . .”
“Continuity! Continuity! Continuity,” chanted Tom, pounding his desk. This time, a couple of the other Dullards halfheartedly thumped their desks as well.
“Tom, please . . .”
“Ginny, could you calm your cousin down, please?”
Ginny rubbed Tom’s head. “Shhhhhh. Shirlee’s going to finish the story, OK? We know, we know, continuity.”
“Continuity,” was Tom’s sullen reply.
Adam and Eve suddenly realized that they were prancing about naked, and that God — who had made Adam from dirt and cloned him to make Eve — might SEE them naked! So they made aprons for themselves out of fig leaves, thus beginning the garment industry we know today.
Later that day (Genesis 3:8), they heard God walking in the garden and hid from Him. God called out to Adam, asking where he was.
“God knows everything, right?”
“Yes, John. That’s what it means to be ‘omniscient’, to know everything.”
“So wouldn’t He know exactly where Adam was, and what Adam and Eve had been up to? Was He playing a game?”
“Could be, John. Maybe he wanted Adam and Eve to confess, instead of confronting them. Just like He wants you to confess your sins to Him now. He already knows what you’ve done, because he’s always watching you.”
“Always?” John looked a bit disturbed.
“Like Santa Claus?”
Shirlee sighed. “Yes, Ginny, just like Santa Claus, only God’s real. Santa Claus is just a story.”
“So wait, if God knows everything, He knows the future, right?”
“That He does, John!” Shirlee grinned, pleased that John had such a good understanding of God’s infinite power.
“So before He created Adam, He knew that the snake would talk Eve into eating the magic fruit and that Eve would talk Adam into it, right?”
“I suppose He would have to, yes.”
“So if He already knew it was going to happen, and knew that Adam and Eve couldn’t know it was wrong to disobey until after they ate the fruit, doesn’t that mean He created sin? On purpose? And then punishes people for it?”
“That’s an interesting take on it, John! Let’s come back to that one.”
“What, no answer, Shirlee?” Mark snickered. “If God knew exactly what would happen, that means He set up Adam and Eve for the ‘fall’! After all, without knowing good from evil, they were incapable of sin.”
“Entrapment, entrapment, entrapment,” muttered Tom.
“Hush, you!” Shirlee snapped.
Tom, fidgeting uncomfortably and staring at his hands, whispered, “Entrapment.”
Adam came from his hiding place and admitted what he had done . . . that the woman had given him fruit from the tree and he ate it.
Once Adam had blamed Eve, she spoke up and said that the snake had tricked her.
“As you can see, class, failing to take personal responsibility for our decisions isn’t a new thing. Everybody wants to blame someone else.”
Now, God was very angry. He cursed the snake to go on his belly forever. No more legs for snakes!
Then, God told Eve that she’d have great pain in childbirth, and always be a servant to her husband.
“Wasn’t Eve created to be Adam’s assistant anyway?”
“Yes, Ginny, she was.”
“How is this a change?”
“He added the pain in childbirth part, and made sure that all women would always be servants to their husbands.”
God then cursed Adam, saying that since he couldn’t obey a simple command, he’d have to work for a living to raise food for himself.
God tore the skins off some animals to make outfits for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). Thus began the fashion industry.
“Do you think God killed the animals before He took their skins to make clothes?”
“Mark, that’s disgusting. And cruel. What kind of sick monster do you think God is, anyway?”
“The kind who would invent sin, introduce it to the world, and then punish people for it by burning them alive for eternity?”
“That’s called Godly justice, Mark. Try not sinning, then you won’t have to worry about Hell.”
Cherubim, terrifying four-faced and four-winged creatures, with flaming swords to guard the Tree of Life.God then said, “Look at this, the man is like us now, and knows good from evil; next, he might eat from the Tree of Life too, and live forever!” (Gen. 3:22) So, He cast Adam and Eve out of the garden, and posted
“Any other questions? What now, Mark?”
“God told Adam that if he ate from the tree, he would die in that very day (Gen. 2:17). The snake told Eve that if she ate from the tree, her eyes would be opened and she would be ‘as gods, knowing good from evil’ (Gen. 3:5). Who was telling the truth, Shirlee?”
“The snake knew that he was telling Eve to sin!”
“But who was telling the truth? The snake, or God? If you’re not sure, here’s a hint: Genesis 5:5.”
“Wait,” Ginny said. “The snake was smarter than people? I thought humans were the special creation, not snakes!”
“This snake was smart, Ginny. It probably ate from the tree itself.” Shirlee paused, unsure how to continue. The clang of the old, cracked church bell broke the awkward silence. “Oh, service is over. Time to go! See you next week!”
Shirlee grabbed her coat and made for the door, glad to be heading home to Kingsport . . . and relieved none of the children had asked why God referred to Himself as “us”.