A Psycho-ontological Analysis of Genesis 2-6

Archive for the Psychology of Religion 29 (1):87-125 (2007)
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Individuals operating within the scientific paradigm presume that the world is made of matter. Although the perspective engendered by this presupposition is very powerful, it excludes value and subjective experience from its fundamental ontology. In addition, it provides very little guidance with regards to the fundamentals of ethical action. Individuals within the religious paradigm, by contrast, presume that the world is made out of what matters. From such a perspective, the phenomenon of meaning is the primary reality. This meaning is revealed both subjectively and objectively, and serves—under the appropriate conditions—as an unerring guide to ethical action.The ancient stories of Genesis cannot be properly understood without viewing them from within the religious paradigm. Genesis describes the primary categories of the world of meaning, as well as the eternal interactions of those categories. Order arises out of Chaos, through the creative intermediation of Logos, and man is manifested, in turn. Man, a constrained Logos, exists within a bounded state of being, Eden. Eden is a place where order and chaos, nature and culture, find their optimal state of balance. Because Eden is a walled garden, however—a bounded state of being—something is inevitably excluded. Unfortunately, what is excluded does not simply cease to exist. Every bounded paradise thus contains something forbidden and unknown. Man's curiosity inevitably drives him to investigate what has been excluded. The knowledge thus generated perpetually destroys the presuppositions and boundaries that allow his temporary Edens to exist. Thus, man is eternally fallen. The existential pain generated by this endlessly fallen state can undermine man's belief in the moral justifi0ability of being—and may turn him, like Cain, against brother and God



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