Monotheism loathes intelligence, that sublime gift defined as the art of connecting what at first and for most people seems unconnected. Intelligence reveals unexpected but undeniable causalities; it produces rational, convincing explanations based on reasoning; it rejects manufactured fiction. With it's help, we can spurn myths and fairy tales. We need no posthumous paradise, no salvation or redemption of the soul, no all-knowing, all-seeing God. Properly and rationally directed intelligence wards off magical thinking.
The advocates of Mosaic law, Christian tale-spinning, and their Koranic clones share the same fable on the origins of negativity in the world. In Genesis 3:6- common to the Torah and to the Old Testament of the Christian Bible- and in the Koran (2:29) we find the same story of Adam & Eve in a paradise where a God forbids them to approach a tree while a demon urges disobedience. In this monotheistic version of the Greek Pandora fable, a woman (of course) commits the irreparable, and her act spreads evil all over the world.
The story, in normal circumstances just good enough to earn a place n the roster of fairy tales or cautionary fables, has had incalculable consequences for human civilizations! Loathing of women and the flesh, guilt and desire for atonement, the quest for an impossible amends and submission to necessity, fascination with death and passion for suffering- all so many occasions for activating the death instinct.
What do the files on this story tell us? We find a God who orders the primal couple not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Clearly we are in the presence of metaphor. It took the church fathers to sexualize the story, for the text is clear: eating this fruit removes the scales from our eyes and allows us to distinguish between good and evil, and thus resemble God. One verse (Genesis 3:6) mentions "a tree to be desired to make one wise." Defying God's prohibition meant preferring knowledge to obedience, seeking to know rather than submitting. Or in different terms: opting for philosophy against religion.
What does this ban on intelligence mean? You can do anything in this magnificent garden except become intelligent- the tree of knowledge- or immortal- the tree of life. What a fate God has for man: stupidity and mortality! A God who offers such a gift to his creatures must be perverse.... Let us then praise Eve who opted for intelligence at the risk of death, whereas Adam did not realize right away what was at stake. The bliss of ignorance!
What do the poor wretches learn, once the lady tastes the sublime fruit? They see reality. Reality and nothing else. Nudity, their natural state. And with their freshly acquired knowledge, they discover their cultural allotment: the choice of fig leaves (rather than grape leaves) to cover their nakedness was symbolic of a future cultural heritage. Worse: they discover the hardship of daily life, the sorrow in every destiny, the battle between the sexes, the gulf forever separating man and woman, the inevitability of backbreaking toil, the pain of childbirth, and the sovereignty of death. Once liberated from their state of ignorance, they avoid the additional transgression that would have given them eternal life (the tree of life grew next to the tree of knowledge), for the one true God- decidedly gentle, good, loving, generous- spared them that fate by expelling Adam & Eve from paradise. And we have remained outside forever since.
Lesson number 1: if we lose the illusion of faith, the consolation of God, and the fables of religion, if we prefer seeking knowledge and intelligence, then reality appears to us as it is, tragic. But which is better? A truth that removes all hope of immortality yet saves us from losing our life altogether by only living it half alive? or a story that briefly consoles us but makes us waste the only thing we really possess: life here and now?
God was not content with that one prohibition on the forbidden fruit. Ever since, he has revealed himself to us only through taboos. The monotheist religions live exclusively by prescriptions and constraints: things to do and things not to do, say and not to say, think and not to think, perform and not to perform. Forbidden and authorized, licit and illicit, agreed and not agreed: the religious texts abound in existential, dietary, behavioral, ritual, and other codifications.
For obedience can be measured only by proscriptions. The greater their number, the greater our chances of falling into error, the fewer our chances of attaining perfection, the deeper our guilt. And it's a good thing for God- or at least for the clergy who identify with him- to be able to manipulate this powerful psychological tool. Everyone must at all times know that he must always obey, must conform, must do all as he should and as religion demands. Not to behave like Eve but, like Adam, to submit to the will of the only God.