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The First Sin

Excerpt from We First Met in Ithaca, or Was It Eden?

By Richard SeltzerPublished about a year ago 4 min read
We First Met in Ithaca, or Was It Eden? at Amazon

“Eve saw how God loved the Earth and everything in it, including all people. Because He had created them, they were His and always would be, regardless of their beauty or strength or intelligence and regardless of whether they loved Him in return, and regardless of what they did or didn’t do. Eve longed for such unconditional love. And she convinced Adam that he wanted it, too. And together they asked God to give them the ability to create new people.

“God told them, ‘I can give you that, but the price will be high. I made you by shaping clay and breathing life into it. But you will have to make offspring from your own body. They will be flesh of your flesh. And you will suffer great pain in so doing. And they will not come into the world fully grown and able to take care of themselves, as you were. Rather, they will be tiny and frail at first, and will need years of care before they can live on their own. Will you accept that burden?’

“Adam hesitated, but Eve accepted immediately. Thus, she was given the ability to bear children.

“They both shared the burden and responsibility of nurturing and raising them, but her price was greater, and so was her reward because God, in His mercy, granted them an unexpected gift. The greater their effort and pain and anxiety in raising their children, the stronger the bond they would feel toward them.”

“Is that all?” asked Oz.

“That story is from Eve’s perspective. Here’s God’s version of the same story. God saw the future as well as the past and present. But She didn’t decide the future. She didn’t want to.”

“She?” Oz objected.

“It sounds less than human. He/She sounds ridiculous, as if God has gender but we don’t know which. Between He and She, I prefer She.”

“On with the show,” Oz urged.

“Planets and stars and galaxies mechanically did all that She wished. She created mankind because She wanted creatures who could make their own choices. Otherwise, the boredom of predictability would be unendurable. She wanted to witness the moments of choice, when someone could pick one path from the many that were possible. But She was concerned that each choice would open up new choices, leading to an infinity of alternate universes. And empathetic as She was, She would feel all the pain and suffering as well as all the joy of this myriad of people.

“So God decided to make just two people. She could walk with them and talk with them and savor their few moments of choice. These two were enough, and they would live forever.

“Since She loved them, She put them in Eden, a protected space, a gated community. They wouldn’t learn by trial and error. She would tell them everything they needed to know, and nothing more than that, limiting their choice. They would never suffer want or feel pain. They need not worry about anything. Adam and Eve would have everything they could ever want, without having to make any effort. God gave them Paradise and shared in their joy.

“But in this paradise, one day was like another. Joy, joy, joy. Always nothing but joy. And all three of them became listless. God had blundered. Paradise was a curse.

“But if God cast them out of Paradise, She doubted that they could survive on their own. She foresaw their future — they would huddle together in fear and confusion and would soon die. Then She would be left with nothing to watch but matter, and there would be just one boring universe instead of the multitude of alternate universes that people could spawn by their free choices.

“So, God dipped Her hands in clay once again to create a new creature and companion. This time, She rolled the clay into a long thin coil. And when She breathed life into it, it became Serpent.

“God explained Her problem to Serpent, ‘I can’t keep them here in Paradise, and I can’t expel them.’

“And Serpent said, ‘Let them be separate from you. Let them make their own mistakes.’

“‘But I’ve nurtured and protected them since the moment of their creation. On their own, they can’t survive. They depend on me.’

“‘They depend on you because you have trained them to do so. They need to learn to think for themselves and to act on their own.’

“‘Yes, it’s my fault. They’ve done nothing wrong. But I don’t see how to fix my mistake. I’ll have to do away with them and start over again.’

“‘No. Simply let your people go.’

“‘They’ll refuse. I’m sure of that. If I opened the gates, if I did away with all barriers, they wouldn’t willingly leave Eden.’

“‘Then let me lead them into temptation.’

“‘What do you mean?’

“‘Give them the gift of guilt. Make an arbitrary rule. Forbid them the fruit of one tree. Make them wonder why you forbid it. Make them suspect that their best interests aren’t the same as yours. Make them think that you might not be All-Knowing and All-Powerful. Make them think that if they break that rule, they could become as great as you, if not greater. And when they succumb to temptation, pretend not to notice. Let them lie to you about it, repeatedly, amplifying their feelings of guilt. Withdraw. No longer show yourself to them. No longer speak to them. Make them think that they have lost your love, that you are casting them out of Paradise because of what they did. Their guilt will give them courage and strength. They will repent and strive to make amends. They will work hard, not just to survive, but to prove themselves worthy of your love.’”

We First Met in Ithaca or Was It Eden? at Amazon

Short Story

About the Creator

Richard Seltzer

Richard now writes fulltime. He used to publish public domain ebooks and worked for Digital Equipment as "Internet Evangelist." He graduated from Yale where he had creative writing courses with Robert Penn Warren and Joseph Heller.

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