TalkingSnake

If the first talking snake had kept shtum, we wouldn't be here. Eve wouldn't have eaten the forbidden fruit. But she listened and was curious. So she fell into humanity, thank God. Good old snake, say I. I celebrate its independence of mind. Satan? Neh, that's a later interpretation. The snake was part of the divine purpose. God allowed it into the garden, aware of its linguistic abilities. He knew what would happen. Jesus commended dove-like innocence. AND the wisdom ... of the snake.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Gardening notes

There is an annoying plant in my garden. Looks as if it might be related to the stinging nettle and, like it, spreads by extending runners just below soil level. Its main growths are 18” spikes which bear rather drab, purply flowers at the height of summer. It has a strong, unpleasant smell and left to itself gets everywhere. Well behaved it is not. A weed? Not sure, but I treat it as one.

I don’t know its name. I am the only gardener in the household, so when I see it I grumble and do the necessary. I think “oh it’s that again”. There are other weeds in my garden and I don’t know their names either, but I know what to do with them.

My point is a simple one. In the absence of anyone else with whom I need to communicate, it is unnecessary for me to give names to things I encounter. Why then should Adam, at the time the only language-user in the garden of Eden, name the animals? I can give a perfectly good answer to this from my non-literalist perspective, but I wonder if a literalist can.

I can imagine some creationist or other stepping right into my elephant trap here: aha, he would say, but there was another language user: God!

What a foolish person that creationist would be, failing to realise that by so responding he would have committed the sin of anthropomorphism, that is to say, portraying God as just like a human being only bigger and better, using language in just the way we do. Come on now: when God speaks to you does he say “different from” (good English English) or “different than” (good American English)? Creationists: your God is too human. Mine is Other.

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