Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Accidental or Purposeful Action: Sacrifices for the Greater Good

I feel so clever that I came up with that meme all on my own;] First one ever! Not that that is necessarily something to be proud of...but I feel in context of Milton it is the "one job to do" of all "one job to do"'s.

This particular conundrum is actually one of the main reasons I decided to take the Milton course. I think this little seeming paradox is fascinating. God told them to be fruitful and multiply but told them not to eat the fruit...which in our LDS faith we generally believe is what gives them the knowledge of how to do that ("plenishing" the earth I mean). Milton's account obviously depicts differently.In fact, it is pretty evident from the text that Adam and Eve fully expect other people to join them.
Here is some evidence...

"Our pleasant task enjoined, but till more hands
aid us..." (Loc. 19407).
"As wide
As we need walk, till younger hands ere long
assist us..." (Loc. 19436).
     [I think that one is funny. We've been alive all of one week and we can't wait to get other people down here to help us out with all this work!]

"...till men
grow up their provision, and more hands
Help to disburden nature of her birth."
(Loc. 19733).

Evidently they think more people are coming. But do they just expect them to poof out of thin air? There is an open ended gray area exposed in Book IX regarding how the other spirits and their bodies are going to get to Earth. Does everyone wake up in Eden? But no one is going to die? (because there is no way we are eating that fruit...hmmmm, maybe they should start discussing overpopulation problems...)

But in all seriousness, Adam and Eve know there are more people to come. Which brings into question Adam and especially Eve's intelligence. The circumstances under which God has put them in Eden are such that they know they are under some sort of "test" (don't eat the forbidden fruit, tend the garden, I'll check up on you later.) From my personal study of the Creation, the accounts of Genesis, etc, as well as from our discussion of men and women and their different yet alternating roles, it is Eve that has the primary problem of figuring out these two conflicting commands.

Cue decision dilemma diagram!
Disclaimers: These are my own ideas.
I am not an artist.

Milton shows that Eve has a rather degrading view of her own intelligence. But other accounts beg otherwise. I think the fact that Eve could realize that one commandment couldn't be followed without breaking another shows a great deal of common sense and pragmatism. And it wasn't necessarily the easier or most obviously rewarding option. Heavenly Father wouldn't have sent down just any spirits to be the first man and woman on the earth. I think He would have sent his best!
Although I understand Milton's depiction, I don't agree with it. Milton says the earth groaned when the fruit was eaten and dark clouds and winds filled the sky. I believe that instead, this was a moment of rejoicing. Maybe the earth groaned, because, yes, now pain could be felt and it was afraid of the tremendous things that were now to come, but now there was a chance for humanity and the world to be exalted to a higher sphere than even Eden had retained.

This turned into a bit of a Sunday School lesson...but I mean it all the same.
What do you think of all of this? Eve's intelligence and choice, the state of mankind after and before the fall, what this means for life afterwards...?


  1. One way that I have heard this conundrum taught between following the commandment to multiply and the commandment to not eat the fruit is to compare it to driving someone to the hospital and seeing a red light. It's against the law to drive through a red light, but if you stop the person in your car won't make it in time and may die, so you have to break a "lesser" law in order to save a life. In a sense that is what Eve did: she broke a lesser law to save all of our lives (since without the Fall none of us could have been born).

  2. Exactly! That is a great analogy!