[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Fri Jul 4 11:54:42 EDT 2008


Re: [Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)No, Michael: one may be witness to external evil, without internally partaking of it. (We don't "experience" evil: either we *are* evil, or we perceive its existence externally to ourselves.) Eve had no experience of disobedience, of doing an evil thing, to which to relate the events of her dream: she just knew they were inconsistent with her reality, alien to the life she lived in Eden, and uncomfortable to witness, even in an unconscious state.

Recognizing something as "not good" is not the same thing as knowing it is evil--but that's the logical yardstick Jesus uses in his confrontation with the devil in the wilderness. Anything born of Satan--even the most innocent seeming suggestion--is not-God, and therefore not to be obeyed. We warn our children against adults who show up at their schools saying we've sent them to pick the child up--against adults who proffer candy, or offer them a lift--all seeming authority figures whom a child might obey without question, not seeing the harm to which he or she might come as a result. That's Eve's situation in Eden: there are only two authorities to whom she owes obedience, God and Adam. She may or may not see the guile in the serpent, but ultimately, it's irrelevant: he's not-God, and not-Adam (and since she has the advantage of having been forewarned about a third agent who is to be avoided, she has even less excuse for entertaining his "suggestions").

What Eve experiences after the dream is not guilt, but anxiety--a general sense that something is wrong, without really knowing what it is. Again, this is her first experience of a sensation outside the Edenic norm, and it's an unpleasant one. From a fallen perspective, we call it "guilt" because we read into it her narcissism and the signs of her resentment of Adam's superiority--so the dream becomes, in effect, what Freud would have called a subconscious acting out of a sublimated desire--but Eve's understanding of human psychology is not so sophisticated. To someone who has never in her conscious life had such thoughts, nor been aware of the fatally competitive streak in her own psyche, such a disruption of the status quo would naturally be quite upsetting. But as Adam tries to tell her, though the dream may have involved evil, Eve's immediate repudiation of it demonstrates that it did not come from within her, from any desire of her own, and being witness to it has not tainted her. "Evil unapprov'd" is external: it's only when we participate in it that it becomes part of us.

Best to all,

Carol Barton
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