Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Free Choice: Pre-Write

Thesis: In Paradise Lost, God forbids Adam and Eve to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil much in the same way that governments or other higher powers practice censorship and forbid certain ideas from the public as address in Areopagitica. 

--Why doesn't God want Adam and Eve to have knowledge of Good and Evil?
          Most likely, he is trying to protect them. He wants them to enjoy their lives without them having to experience or really know about evil. I kind of get upset about this--God gives them free choice, so He is almost setting them up to fail in the first place, especially because he gives them the commandment (along with not eating the fruit of that tree) to multiply and replenish the Earth. Is that possible without becoming moral (which eating the fruit would cause)? 
          Anyways, this kind of "protection" from knowledge is similar to what is addressed in Areopagitica. Much of the texts that are banned from readers go against the church or are of some heretical nature. The root of the reason of wanting to ban these kinds of works is actually good--to protect people from the evils outside of the church that might make them fall away. We are deprived certain knowledge because it's assumed that we would be unable to handle it without being negatively influenced by the content. 

--Choice is taken away when we are unable to actually choose good over evil.
          I addressed this in another one of my posts: "No reason or agency is involved when we choose good over evil, simply because evil is not available to us by our mothers." (Obviously, the wording would change with the situation.) Isn't knowing someone is choosing good over evil because they personally rejected evil and chose to be opposed to choosing good because they didn't even know there was another option? How beneficial is censorship in the end? We are "good people" because we were led to it, but is that sincere goodness? Besides, sin still exists, even if the books about it are taken away. You can only be protected so much.

          This is a pretty short paper, but I'll probably set it up like this:
          Opening paragraph: thesis
          Body Paragraph: description of situation in Eden, motives behind denying knowledge of good and evil, what eventually happened. 
          Body Paragraph: description of points made in Areopagitica about censorship, why it exists, why it may be wrong, how it's depriving us of real choice.
          Body Paragraph: explanation of how God's actions can be considered censorship, whether it was called for/justifiable.
          Closing paragraph: yada yada yada...

Good citations to use:
"One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge called,
Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidden?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord;
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know,
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By ignorance, is that their happy state,
the proof of their obedience and their faith?"

This was a really interesting one from Of Education:
"The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright..." 'that they may with some judgment contemplate upon moral good and evil.'"
I'll want to find some way to use that.

"They are not skilful considerers of human things who imagine to remove sin by removing the matter of sin."

"'To the pure, all things are pure;' not only mean and drinks, but all kinds of knowledge whether of good or evil; the knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the will conscience be not defiled."

"What wisdom can there be to choose, what continence to forbear without the knowledge of evil?"

"A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believes things only because his pastor says so or the Assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy."


  1. One thing to possibly look at with this topic is the perspective of Satan on this issue. If I recall, when Satan first sees Adam and Eve and learns of the commandments to not eat the Forbidden Fruit, and he questions why God should keep them from knowledge. This view of Satan may add an interesting angle to your argument.

  2. I really like your comparison of God to government, it's a dynamic that could have some interesting perspectives from both sides of the issue.

  3. Our topics our similar! Though, I agree with Elaine, I like how you are making more of a parallel between God and the government. It should bring out some interesting parallels. You seem really well organized in what you are planning to do, the set up sounds very functional and like it will readily get the information and argument across. Good luck!