Satan’s Fall

Prerequisites: Animals Don’t Kill themselves, Rethinking Eden

The Fall in Eden was not the first sin. It was the first human sin. 

Before humanity, there was a rebellion in heaven. And that was lead by Satan. Before the rebellion, all was well. The question is, what changed? In a perfect world, what could change? Where did Satan get his first desire for sin?

Here’s how I think it happened. 

First, in heaven there are some initial conditions. So let’s go through those first.

  • Time exists.
  • The angels in heaven are free in mind, body, heart, and soul. So while there is no sin, it is still possible.
  • Free beings have the ability to think for themselves using the concept of ‘if.’ I call it comparing future realities. To think about to possible outcomes and decide what do next based on that preferred future.

The problem is what Satan did with this ability. The preferred future reality was one where he was greater than God. Therefore, God was in the way of his preferred future reality. He wanted to be God, and thus hated God, and the current state of heaven. The hypothetical what if I was God, created a new possible universe where Satan ruled, and he preferred that universe.

You said in your heart,

I will ascend to heaven;

above the stars of God

I will set my throne on high;

Isaiah 14:13

Once this hypothetical world was preferred to heaven, Satan could begin to think about and act out a plan to overthrow God. But it all started with a hypothetical, and a desire to be better.

Think about adultery. A man has a perfect life with a perfect wife and family. He sees a woman and prefers her to his wife. He sees a reality with her as better than a reality with his own wife. So the standard changed. His perfect life is no longer perfect because his standard was no longer what he had, but this new unattained reality. He wanted.

Satan’s issue was similar. He had beauty, wisdom, and position in heaven,  but he imagined a reality where God was not in charge. Where he was king. And he preferred that reality to his current one. This created the want. The standard changed. And the rebellion was born.



Rethinking Eden

In Christianity, there is one story from which all other stories flow. One act that dooms all of mankind. It’s the story of Eden. It takes place in Genesis three. And it’s a familiar story: in Eden, life was presumably perfect. Adam and Eve, were in God’s presence, and had only one job: not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

But why was there a tree in the first place? For moral agents to love, there needs to be a choice. This was their choice, and their test.

Here’s God’s warning to Adam and Eve:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Here’s the temptation from the serpent:

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Notice that Eve says that ‘you must not touch it’ which was not included in her warning from God. I think this was Eve’s mechanism to protect her from eating from the fruit. If there is only one thing in your universe that you can’t eat, why not just not touch that thing. It seems like a smart boundary to make. 

But Eve touches the fruit and doesn’t die. Of course, in reading the story, we know that she wouldn’t die. But if she had convinced herself that touching the fruit would kill her, it didn’t. She had sinned in her own mind, but nothing happened. So why not eat the fruit?

Then Adam clearly sees that Eve is still alive after eating the fruit. Eve now knows good and evil, but he doesn’t. Eve is more like God than him. So if eating from the Tree didn’t kill her, and now she was more like God, wouldn’t it be wrong for him not to eat the fruit?

You see, under a more careful reading, the temptation was much more clever than I imagined. I always thought that the Fall was preventable. Maybe it wasn’t.