An Ancient Strategy, Part 1
The following series was written by my friend, and fellow Christian thinker, Hiram Diaz:
Introduction: If there is one book of the Bible whose content never ceases to grab my attention in new ways, it is the book of Genesis. Recently, as I reread the Fall Narrative, I began to think over the dialogue between the serpent and Eve (Genesis 3:1-5), which is, in effect, an ancient, conversational debate over the authorship, content and authority of the Word of God. I found that the relevance of the dialogue lays primarily in its presentation of 1.) how skeptical enquiry typically proceeds, 2.) the logical fallacies that believers should look out for when engaged in debate, and 3.)the serpent’s claim that God’s law is the product of a despot who commands abstinence only for the sake of maintaining His own privilege and power.
While all three of these points are universal (i.e. for all times and all peoples), the third is particularly compelling in that it is not similar to what many contemporary critics of the Bible would say, but nearly a direct quote from any one of their writings. What we encounter in the serpent’s final critique of the Word of God is almost wholly in step with the claims of postmodern critics of the Bible. Many, if not all, of these critics see it as the product of a privileged male class who sought to maintain their power and privilege by forcing the marginalized of their society (e.g. women) into subservient roles via the threat of violence and/or explusion from the community altogether. Ironically, this case is made by pointing to the Fall Narrative!
This criticism of God’s Word as being the mechanism of the oppression of marginalized groups within society, moreover, has found clear articulation in films such as Zeitgeist and The Da Vinci Code, and secondarily in popular (non-academic) atheistic literature (e.g. the works of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins). However, the attack, as I will show, is far from novel. Contrary to contemporary caricatures of the Fall Narrative that would seek to equate it with the stock mythologies of its day, I will demonstrate that it is a detailed and complex analysis of an ancient strategy of attack launched against the Word of God by the enemy, and subsequent enemies, of God Almighty.