The First Superstition

Studies in Genesis 3

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5 ESV)

We are shown the birth of the first superstition. By eating the forbidden fruit, the Deceiver implies two things will happen. First, Eve’s knowledge will become complete. Secondly, with the addition of complete knowledge will come divinity. The Deceiver is saying she will be another God. This is a lie.

Superstition is an absurd religious belief or practice meant to manipulate either nature or God, or both, into doing that which is against both the laws of nature and the person of God. Such superstition relies upon the misinterpretation of evidence and willfully believing something which cannot be true. Adam and Eve had enough knowledge to know the fruit of the tree, any tree, was meant only for food. They also had enough intimate knowledge of God to know they could never be completely like Him in His person. They had those qualities which allowed them to know God both intellectually and intimately. They were His authority on the world but had no authority anywhere else.

Here, we learn something about the Deceiver. We already know he (I am moving away from the term “it” for the Deceiver is called “he” in Scripture) was created by God. We know he was able to enter and control a physical animal. We know he did not have the image if God, yet was intelligent, understood morality and was willful. We can surmise he did not have dominion. We now know he was in rebellion against God, had done something forbidden him by God because he wanted to be equal to God. I draw this opinion-conclusion from his words to Eve. He wants her to rebel against God just as he rebelled against God. He wants her to think she can be like God just as he thinks he can be like God. This line of thought and action suggests a hatred for God and everything God has created, including himself.

David, in Psalm 7, gives us the formula followed by the Deceiver, and consequently by all who are in rebellion against God. “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies” (Psalm 7:14 ESV). First comes the desire to rebel against God. This desire is not instant nor arbitrary but deliberate and focused. Next, is the time needed for the rebellion to grow to viability. Both “evil” and “mischief” are translated “trouble.” But “evil” includes idolatry and wickedness while “mischief” suggests deliberate labor toward a specific end or conclusion. Finally, the result of active rebellion is deception, fraud and betrayal.

While the Deceiver was already in rebellion against God he planted a seed of rebellion in Eve. Either Eve, and Adam, were already contemplating their place before God, questioning their relationship with Him, or he, the Deceiver, spent some time cultivating, planting and feeding the superstition. Both concepts are possible. But, we do not know. Genesis tells a story of a single meeting between the serpent and Eve. We must be careful to not add to God’s words.

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