Splendor of Creation: A Biblical Ecology - Ellen Bernstein

Article number: 082981664X
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At the core of the environmental crisis is a great divide between mind and body, between head and heart, between human and nature. This divide is not new. The world's religions and mythologies have always told stories of humanity's separation from nature. But today the split is so vast that its consequences on the environment are potentially catastrophic.

The Jewish mystics of the seventeenth century said that when Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they set in motion the rift between humanity and nature. In the beginning, the world was whole and the creatures knew their place. Adam and Eve lived a peaceable life in the Garden of Eden. God had invited Adam to enjoy all of the fruits of the Garden -except for the fruit of the tree of knowledge. If you eat from it, you will surely die.

Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge. They let themselves be seduced into thinking that the knowledge tree would bring them superior powers; that knowing more would mean being more. They challenged the original order and goodness of the universe by taking something that was not theirs to take. The fruit of the tree of knowledge was God's sacred property. It was not for people to eat or use.

Adam and Eve did not die a bodily death for their transgression (at least not immediately), but they did die a spiritual one. They were expelled from paradise and condemned to a life of suffering. They would be alienated from each other and the land for the rest of their lives. In taking what was not theirs, they upset the balance of nature and ruptured their own interior balance. We choose a path that leads to spiritual death and nature 's ruin whenever we take what is not ours, whenever we believe that our portion is not enough, whenever we assume that knowledge is a commodity we can consume.

Yet, just as we have the power to spoil the creation, we also have the power to make it whole. We have the power to mend the earth and to mend ourselves, to sew the pieces back together again. Mending the earth and our selves demands sustenance and vision. It is a lifelong task. It requires lifelong love.

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