The biblical Fall of Man is an awful and fateful myth. We still do not know any intelligible facts. That is, we still do not know what or how anything happened that long a time ago. We rely on hunches, on smoke to tell of a fire somewhere, on an interpretation of relatively recent historical affairs and personal experiences to conjecture a cause, thus solely relying on the exclusively human faculty of extensive imagination. People are not always able to tell the difference between smoke and fog. We then only know that we do not see clearly.
Yet, the myth continues to condition our everyday lives in extraordinary ways. Will that ever come to an end? The truth, it is said, will set you free. Can we ever uncage ourselves from the virtual shackles around our minds as put on by prophets and saints? The East does not believe in a Fall of Man as explicitly as it is stated in Christian theology, and Asian people do not seem to be worse of. What is the point of perpetuating a cheesy myth?
Tom, do you really believe that people want to be free from the fog of mythology, that is, free to be responsible by and for themselves? Sort of being present, with less of the immensely popular features of fantasy entertaining their minds, with no devil or ancestors to blame for their calamities, that is, realizing their own participation in their fates?
Oh my, some folks will probably be happy to have the cavernous space of their mind filled by religious conjecture. Catholic theologians saw to that, they were especially known to have written volumes of books on the issues, enough to fill a public library many times over. Having that much time at hand to do so is really unimaginable in this day and age of Facebook and TikTok.
Oh yes, I let it rip once. Just google The City of God or my Confessions. With these works, I basically wrote the book on God’s love. Should all be included with the other books of the Bible.
A lot of people do not question the efforts of saints and theologians much, people are in awe instead and go along with these now ‘time-tested’ mythologies. Forgone conclusions, or dogmas, make life so much easier for the modern man.
“What went wrong at the beginning of human history?” some people still might ask. Is that not a fair question?
We will never really know, there will never be any facts. What is the likelihood of this or that interpretation, how coherent does this or that interpretation sound? Those are the question, I believe.
Is life an accident? Not to the faithful. Is God still alive? Is consciousness, or self-awareness, an accident? Who knows? Mysteries abound. But a lot of them have been unraveled. People used to believe that the earth is flat, remember. Many still believe that women are second-class citizens.
I think that a newfound ability for language, for distinct speech, for the sharing of experience, promoted the development of the mind of humans of both gender. It may have been an evolutionary accident. You know, unless thought is spoken or written down, it will vanish in a jiffy and make no lasting difference. At some moment in history, humans came to better remember the past and to better anticipate the future – like no other creature, and we began to talk about the past, present, and future to make them real – like no other creature. That set us apart.
You know that Newton said that space and time are real stable existents, outside of man’s mind. That is, we live within space and time. Leibnitz, to the contrary, said that space and time instead are projections of our imagination, and if existing at all, they do so only as relations between things. Einstein picked up on Leibnitz, not Newton. Kant, on the other hand, thought that the past, present, and future are necessary figments of our imagination only. Mindboggling, is it not?
So what? That does not make a difference for this discussion. Early humans came to understand the past, present, and future in practical terms. That is what made a difference. Better imagination actually helped early humans survive and prosper.
The mind was set free into conjecture, that is, to imagine, to speculate, to fantasize and all. We began to look at ourselves and came to recognize novel choices that could be had, decisions that were not just informed by animal instinct but by longer-term cognitive speculation.
Are you trying to lecture me?
At its core, the Fall of Man is about human sexuality. But there is more to the story of sexuality than that. Noteworthy, we can see astonishing differences in sexual behaviors between chimpanzees and bonobos – close relatives as members of the Great Apes family, and capacitated by perhaps rudimentary minds compared to humans. Early humans, likely hard to recognize as such, may have split from chimps about 5 to 7 million years ago.
Like most animals, chimps are bounded by sex drives and instincts in the service of reproduction. Bonobos use sexuality to also foster social cohesion in their social organization, that is, it appears that sexuality is divorced from reproduction and, early on, took on the mantle of recreation in these primates and not only in humans.
Make love, not war? Did that social behavior emerge before or after the Fall of Man?
Obviously, we do not know when that peculiar social behavior emerged, as in contrast to the entire bonobo linage.
Before or after the Fall? How come so few think about these pressing mysteries?
Hello, I have said much about these pressing matters.
Yes, and thank you for that. And Tom, when will the Rev. Moon’s words on the subject be elaborated on by you?
Soon, for sure. Please give me some time. I need to keep setting the context first. But I do not recall the Rev. Moon saying much in regard to any facts involving the Fall of Man.
Did I not reveal that the Fall of Man was an illicit sexual act between the archangel and Eve, and subsequently between Eve and Adam? That is, God told Adam and Eve not to have any sex for now, and certainly not with an angel. That event brought about Original Sin, a condition that is still passed down from generation to generation.
Whoa, Rev. Moon. We did not know that? Not just disobedience, but actual sex? That is serious.
Original sin is the Christian doctrine that humans inherit a tainted nature and a proclivity to sin through the fact of birth. The doctrine of original sin began to emerge in the 3rd century, but only became fully formed with the writings of Augustine of Hippo (354–430), who was the first author to use the phrase “original sin.” Augustine’s conception of original sin was based on a mistranslated passage in Paul the Apostle’s Epistle to the Romans, and scholars have debated whether the passage supports Augustine’s view.
Although the human condition (suffering, death, and a universal tendency toward sin) is accounted for by the story of the Fall of Adam in the early chapters of the book of Genesis, the Hebrew Scriptures say nothing about the transmission of hereditary sin to the entire human race.
Yes, the Apostle Paul and the early Church Fathers, establishing the intellectual and doctrinal foundations of Christianity, made a big deal out of the Fall. They were most likely intuiting that it was an event related to human sexuality as that was what they put down after all. It seems to be a no-brainer nowadays.
An implicit act of sexuality or not, many priests, monks, theologians and all those trying to demystify the narrative perceived disobedience and issues like the expulsion from Eden and death as more gravitational than any underlying act. 17th-century English poet John Milton was an exception. In his epic poem Paradise Lost, he presents Adam and Eve as having a romantic and sexual relationship while still being without sin. They do have passions and distinct personalities.
Read my books, especially my confessions. Influenced by the Apostle Paul, I strongly affirmed the existence of original sin, the need for infant baptism, the impossibility of a sinless life without Christ, and the necessity of Christ’s grace. And do not listen to Pelagius.
Pelagius (AD 390 – 418) was a theologian who advocated free will and asceticism. He was accused by Augustine of Hippo and others of denying the need for divine aid in performing good works. They understood him to have said that the only grace necessary was the declaration of the law; humans were not wounded by Adam’s sin and were perfectly able to fulfill the law without divine aid. Pelagius denied Augustine’s theory of original sin. Adherents of Pelagius cited Deuteronomy 24:16 in support of their position. Pelagius was declared a heretic by the Council of Ephesus in 431. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism.
And listen to my speeches.
In my strenuous efforts to find the answer to the fundamental problems of humankind, and the root of the universe, I realized it was the sexual organs. Once I realized it was them and thought the whole matter through, I found that the harmony of heaven and earth was swirling around the sexual organs. It is an amazing fact.
Yes, it seems that no other religious figure had the guts to so enthusiastically speak of the sexual organs as you. I need to give it to you, credit where credit is due, although I think it is a bit of grandstanding. Koreans seem to be very inclined toward that.
Tom, please no mean comments.
I just wish for a more factual interpretation of the Fall of Man because I do not buy anymore into the unending shame and guilt caused by the mere invention of hereditary sin and the subsequent relief offered by people setting themselves up as religious authorities.
Tom, you’re my man, almost. Sin is real, but yeah, religious authorities are dubious folks.
Dr. Luther, by all means, a human sensation of shame or guilt does not necessarily presume or have to assume the inexplicable condition of hereditary sin. Please stop perpetuating these fantasies.
I think that you, Rev. Moon, succinctly singled out sexual organs as the fulcrum of amorous relationships, and then found the story of Fall of Man in the Bible and Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost to be a very supportive myth to exploit in building followership. You correctly, if not backwardly, connected point Z with point A, sort of, while dismissing the many points in between. But yes, your entire folklore is very appealing. Milton’s Paradise Lost, the retold story of the biblical Fall of Man already alluding to sex, must have helped. You took it all one step further, I mean, who is not intrigued by religious sex.
Wasn’t his community not once alleged to be a sex cult? Something like that? What on earth establishes more loyalty between people and families than religious sexual rituals?
We want real answers.
See? We do not live in divided, post-war Korea as part of a small Christian group of energetic up-and-comers. And we are too spoiled by modern promiscuity to believe – line, hook, and sinker – in traditional values of chastity and marriage. We want someone to explain to us not what the role of sexual organs and God’s love are, but what erotic love between two humans is and how it can last, all without having to resort to Christian fearmongering and proverbial truths.
That is, we still do not know anything about the sexual behavior of early humans or whether or not they recognized love as such, that is, understood already that love is not lust, but a mixture of different elements including reciprocal attraction and mutually beneficial choices over time.
But if bonobos acted, at some time, beyond the mandates of Mother Nature, that is, engaging in sex for not only strict reproductive purposes, should we not imagine that early humans had done so as well? That is, simply having sex because they liked it – for better or worse? I mean, when did recreational sex emerge in the historical record, that is, in contrast to procreational sex? Only with Adam and Eve?
Tom, you are now conjecturing, you are speculating just as well as I did once, and the other prophets of old.
Yes, I do. I do not know how to refute the old mythologies any other way. We’ll probably never know as we cannot go back in time and no artifacts of those days have remained. But is my understanding, my emphasis not a bit more coherent, a bit more likely to be the case?
Augustine, if everybody around you tells one that the narrative of the Fall of Man makes sense, metaphor or not, it will make sense to one. That is how uncritical folks can be in regard to religion. But I am saying that it makes little sense. Don’t you know any better by now?
Well, yes. And I told the popes, but they’ll keep quiet. They do not want any pandemonium in the streets.
It is just a matter of time before the walls come down. Some already have. I was never afraid.
I do like your enthusiasm and positivity regarding human sexuality. You just haven’t gone far enough, Rev. Moon. Why does your church still say that one must go to the Unification Marriage Blessing in order to be able to go to Heaven? What’s up with that? Is that meant to be literal or just a metaphor as well?
Yes, please. There isn’t much out there regarding the Fall of Man as including sexual acts. The Gnostics had some of these unorthodox ideas and were subsequently labeled heretics. And I should not be that surprised, it is all just conjecture. Who wants to embarrass him or herself.
What would you tell a believer who says that he or she takes the narrative of the Fall of Man just as a metaphor, sort of as a proverbial story, a symbolic image only? Most regular faithful aren’t taking anything literal anymore.
Yes, many will say that. However, even recognized as a mere metaphor, the narrative of the Fall still influences our outlook on life and love, our attitudes about life and love. The image of the Fall has burned itself deeply into the psyche of contemporary man. I myself cannot get away from that, having been a Unificationist for so long. I struggle with it. The vision of the Fall of Man, also depicted in old paintings, the act of human disobedience to divine authority, still impacts my view of life, love, and marriage, and that of too many others.
I’m not surprised.
I say mercy. Adam and Eve are depicted as almost modern people, as sexually mature and with no body hair. Isn’t all that not a bit of a stretch of the imagination? I mean, where, when, what and how? I have written countless plays to show how complex the issue of erotic love is. It cannot be done in a few paragraphs as it stands in the Bible. And the subsequent way it was elaborated on by the church fathers like Augustine gave little more than rise to prejudices against amorous desires and the carnal cravings of the body.
You’ve got it, boy. People are traumatized by the Christian religion of old.
More to the point, though, I think that the myth of the Fall of Man is undesirable for me because, I suspect, it is used to justify the existence of God as a necessity, to justify God’s authority as a necessity, and to debase the human being as a pitiful minion in need of redemption. The myth is perpetuated as a means to manipulate people by taking advantage of the frailty or volatility of natural sexual dispositions.
You are not the first to say that, Tom.
Instead of enabling me to artfully live by and with myself, theological mythology tells me that it cannot be done all the way, that I should not be my unrestrained self, and that I better succumb to the religious authorities and their mandates of Heaven.
I mean, really, people must have noticed that human sexuality is a most volatile thing. Without real human love to reign in sexuality, it alone will run wild before anything else. No wonder that a narrative like the Fall of Man made it into the books of the Bible and got utilized by many people in history, including St. Paul and St. Augustine, to advance their biases and prejudices.
A few have expressed inklings that the Fall of Man had something to do with sexuality. Very, very few were as explicit as the Rev Moon. Certainly, nobody came to call out the sexual organs as potential, cosmic troublemakers as did the Rev. Moon. His far-reaching conjectures strike an easy chord with many people, especially the illiterate and those with a disposition for nostalgia.
Let’s put an end to that. Amen. Halleluja. Adju.
Unrestrained? Are you talking about me?
Mind your own business, James. Many people are indisputably better of by being guided by us. They deeply feel the love of God in their lives and care little about authority or not. And you, Tom, are the oddball trying to spoil it for them.
Surely not us.
Uncaged is the issue, not unrestrained.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I understand that. Humans cannot live without guardrails, myself included. The young must learn from the older. I have come to be comfortable making up some of my own rules, though, and know that everyone does that to some degree as well.
Sorry for the oddball comment.
Existentialists like Kierkegaard and Sarte talked much about the alienation and anxiety that freedoms like ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’ harbor. But for many, the immense benefits of safety in numbers truly outweigh the risk of being isolated. The faithful will not stray too far from the church. And fans, the perhaps less faithful, find safety in numbers by idolizing actors like me. There is a lot of herd mentality out there.
Over the last few decades, I have, however, worked hard on uncaging myself from unnecessary beliefs, including a few loyalties. And no, I am not done yet, it seems to be a long and winding road…
Climbing up the ladder? Meet me at the top.
Making the leap of faith? I couldn’t.
Working on self-realization? People are into it.
I do not know, fellas. To the point, though, it is what theologians call High-Christology that I object to, not to what they call Low-Christology. It is dogma, that is, the absolute mandates of Heaven as decreed by highest-ranking religious authorities that bother me, and not the charitable love enacted by those ‘living for the sake of others.’
I am getting distracted by this bickering. Can someone please relate the historical version of man’s sexuality and love to the narrative of the Fall of Man? None of us Asians know what you are talking about. We are not Judeo-Christians. What and how did whatever happened really happened? Why do we need to know? Tom, you did not go far enough in your ruminations.
Sorry, still working on it. Please stay put…
Ok, patience is a virtue…
The author of this blog, Tom Froehlich, is a graduate of the Unification Theological Seminary (Class of ’83) and is infatuated with musing about the phenomenon of lasting erotic love in human affairs.
Photo credits to: Unsplash