“There is only one sin,” suggested Kosuke Koyama, “Exceptionalism.”
Looking again at the Genesis stories of creation and fall (Gen.1-4) through these eyes seems to go to the heart of the story of humanity and the rest of nature.
The Garden of Eden is a natural paradise. All the creatures are living in harmony within the limits of nature itself.
Then, without explanation, a pernicious idea intrudes. The serpent suggests to the humans that they can become the exception to creaturely existence. “You will be like God! You will be the exception to the rest of us. You will know what no creature can know. You will be like the Creator. You will know good and evil.”
There has been no thought of evil in the Genesis paradise before the sin of exceptionalism breaks the unity of all creatures under the reign of the glad Creator who had declared it all ‘good”.
Only two chapters later, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” [Gen. 6:5-6].
In a similar vein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atom bomb, declared, “There are no secrets about the world of nature. There are secrets about the thoughts and intentions of men.”
With a wisdom and passion akin to the Genesis writer, Oppenheimer opined after watching the first nuclear explosion, “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”
One can hope and pray that the wisdom of Genesis, Oppenheimer, and Koyama will turn those with their fingers on the buttons of nuclear arsenals away from the power of the serpent’s deception, and make a sad Creator glad again.
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 11, 2017.