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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Is Genesis Deterministic?

We see early on in Genesis that the presumption of choice is given to man, and hence he can be warned to avoid certain actions:

2 בְּרֵאשִׁית

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying: 'Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat;
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'

Indeed what, particularly,  in  Rabbinic theology is known as “free will” is  the fundamental belief in our ability to make clear choices between good and evil.

However, this is not always so clear cut, and does not always seem to be part of God’s Homology. [Homology is God’s theory of human behaviour, just in the same way that we call our own theories of God “Theology”].

Hence, we see only a few pages later, in Genesis 6:

5 And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.
7 And the LORD said: 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.'

Not only does the species of human or Homo Sapiens lose its ability to balance good and evil, but God regrets having made us in the first place!  It seems like an experiment gone wrong rather than a planned creation.

Ch. 8 is even more radical in  its implication:

21 And the LORD smelled the sweet savour; and the LORD said in His heart: 'I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

The Creator in Genesis is not only stating that the Human programme is corrupt from its youth, but that this is reason not to  bring punishment on us again!  This seems to contradict all we know about religion in general and the Torah in particular.

The Torah later on tells us of blessings or curses for our acceptance  or  rejection of the Torah laws.  Human nature has not changed though, as we see in the frequent admonitions of the neviim.
So to the same extent that we can claim that the Torah teaches Free will, it also seems that we have not the ability to exceed our hardwired genetic programme, which is intrinsically evil, and hence should not in theory be culpable for being ourselves.

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