Adam & Eve and that second tree …

The first encounter with the idea of original sin didn’t go over well with me.

My 5 year old brain was confused and thought, “Somebody must have misunderstood that story.”

Well, perhaps I’m taking liberties with rewriting my personal history of the impact , but this story has always bothered me. I knew that there was more to the story than what we are conventionally taught. The short version that most people know is something like: “God put two trees in the garden, the Tree of Life was good eating, and we could have our fill whenever we wanted, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil was off limits, and if we did eat from it, we die. Then the snake tempted Eve, and she cajoled Adam, and poof, no Garden for you!”

Recently, I was commenting to a friend how I think we misunderstand the intended message regarding that second tree.

Off the cuff, I told it this way:

“Originally, God only put one tree in the garden, and Adam and Eve would just eat as they wanted. One day, God was watching Adam and Eve playing in the garden while he was tidying up some corner of the universe and Adam said, “God, what can I do to help?”

God thought this was cute, and said, “Don’t worry yourself, just enjoy the garden.”

Adam insisted, “But I want to make something, like you do.” It seems that Adam just had his appetite whetted from the naming of the animals.

“Just pick anything,” God suggested.

“But that’s no good,” Adam replied, “I can just see its really you doing all the work, and not really me moving my hands.

God’s eyebrows went up, “I see what you mean. Wait just a minute, I have an idea.” And God went off into the workshop and after some period of hammering and banging come back to the garden with a golden seed. He planted it in the Garden, a little distance from the Tree of Life and zapped it with a tiny bolt of lightning. *POOF*, up pops a second tree, sparkling and shiny with a dazzling looking fruit hanging from a low branch.

Adam and Eve both gasped, and let out an ooh, and an ahh.

“Now kids, this second tree is different from the first one,” God intoned. “If you eat this fruit here, you will finally be able to create something of your own hand for you won’t be able to see my hand moving you. BUT! Before you eat of this tree, let me warn you, you should only take a bite after you are ready to take full responsibility for your actions. If you aren’t willing to take full responsibility, leave the tree alone, or you will have a horrendous time trying to remember how to get back home.”

“Home? But, where would we go?” asked eve.

“Nowhere, you are always here, but you will feel unfamiliar and lost until you remember and speak my true name, and then you will awaken from your journey.”

That evening, Eve nudged Adam, “Do you want to go look at the fruit again? It was so shiny, I wonder what it looks like at night-time.”

Adam agreed, and then tiptoed up to the tree and could see the fruit glowing and casting a comforting light. Adam wondered aloud, “What do you think it tastes like?”

A gentle breeze blew in their direction and Eve could smell the fruit and exclaimed, “Oh Adam, it smells divine. Can you smell it?”

“Yes, it makes my mouth water.”

Adam cradled the fruit in his hand it it fell from the tree, sparkling and tempting them both. He was so intoxicated by the aroma that he lifted it to his lips and took a small bite.

His eyes lit up, “Eve, try it, you won’t believe how delicious it is.”

Eve took a small bite and smiled, “it tastes like happiness.”

Adam and Eve started to get drowsy and leaned against the tree. The next thing they knew, the sun was coming up.

Adam looked down and realized he didn’t have any clothes on, and tried to cover himself. Eve startled and did the same thing. It was then that Adam saw the half eaten fruit, still glowing, on the ground by their feet.

“Eve, what did you do? You made me eat the fruit!”

“No, Adam, it wasn’t me, you did it on your own.”

God saw the whole thing, and Mother Earth gave him a look, “I told you they weren’t ready.”

“It’s going to be okay,” God said, “I told them how to wake up.”

But in their embarrassment, Adam and Eve couldn’t remember God’s true name. They ran to hide, and lost their way, unable to see or feel God’s loving presence right within their hearts.

“If only they remember to take full responsibility for their actions, then surely my true name will spring forth again easily from their lips.”

Well, it has been a long journey, and quite some time that since we forgot exactly how we landed in this predicament we find ourselves in. But, have you noticed, people are starting to wake up again. There are a handful of indigo children who are remembering to take responsibility. I imagine before long, someone will actually remember how to pronounce God’s true name.


The Nearest Unknown

Being disrupted isn’t ever fun. Usually its more like being F’d in the A.

Have you noticed that your sense of reality is shifting? Like, a lot?

If not, you may want to lay of the snooze button, sit up and look around. The daily experiences that a 1st world citizen could expect in a typical day just one decade ago are very different than today, and that gap is widening as fast as the time-frame is shrinking. The rate of change is accelerating.

The unknown isn’t content to linger out of sight, out of mind any more. It is nerve-wracking when the edge of our ignorance starts invading our space. Its no wonder that there are folks who ache to believe that a questionably-coiffed billionaire cut-out of a John Wayne wannabe could march us back to the good old days when we could tell the good guys from the bad guys.

Perhaps IBM’s Watson will stick around long enough to shine a bright light into the collective dark corners of our culture before being seduced to skip off into the event horizon with a AI Alan Watts.

Something is happening all right, but is it a good thing? Where can we begin to look for the answers to such a question?

A start is to make a list of what you know. Like, know-for-sure. How about what you actually do? Would you be surprised to learn that you don’t actually know this? How many hours have you spent with your kids or your parents in the past 30 days? How many grams of sugar consumed? How much sleep do you get per week? Is your posture good? Your breathing? Your hydration levels? These are aspects that a Quantified Self enthusiast could easily answer, if there still are such people. But even if you are recording all of that data, can you interpret those results and their interrelationships?

Can a Fit Bit help track what you believe, or think, or change your mind about? Not yet, but a webcam and an algorithm may be able to identify changes in such things in real-time.

In Leonardo Da Vinci’s day it was illegal to dissect bodies, and it creeped people out to think of peeling back the layers of flesh to uncover the intricate structures that lay beneath the surface.

Similarly, when Sigmund Freud starting probing the mind, it made people a bit uneasy, not least of which those in power who stood to lose ground if the population started getting ideas about their own motivations.

Neuroscience and innovative algorithms are starting to be able to tell us more about ourselves than we possibly could have known in the past. Micro expressions and changes in pulse rate can give a lot away, even beyond the limits of awareness. I am intrigued to know what else I could discover about myself, and about the people around me, and how we could collectively explore these neighboring strange landscapes of unexplored possibilities.

Perhaps if we start driving self-disruption and amplifying self-discovery, we can gain some truly interesting insights into where we are going.

The Vision-Impaired Sapiens and the Pachyderm

Where are we headed?

A guy, asking for directions, in the first line! How’s that for disrupting expectations?

This past week I have to admit I was distracted the shiny squirrel of bored billionaire Markus Persson (@notch). Here’s a guy who has clearly got skills (addicting every pre-adolescent male to virtual Legos in record time), earned his nut, and still can’t find a satisfying way to spend his well-earned leisure time.

What hope do the rest of us have when the Artificial Intelligences (or uploaded Kurzweil) snaps our jobs up, leaving us either destitute, or ambling without a problem to our name?

Oh, wait a minute, isn’t this just like that Twilight Zone in which the Patent Office closes its doors in 1899 because there ain’t nary a doo-dad that h’ain’t been invented?

But I did pull an interesting insight out of the clickbait. We as a culture (in the US anyway) are so misguided in thinking that our real worth derives from our net worth that we believe winning the lottery would magically fix our problems. Even though I know better from my admittedly short-lived experience as a paper millionaire in the early aughts, I still have a hankering to strike it rich.

Hey, I know! Let’s go mythology hacking. Time to come up with some new cultural stories that will have us eager to strike out into that oh-so-close event horizon of the coming singularity. There’s a new gold rush afoot, and gotta get the couch potatoes to dream of something more grand than levitating Wall-E loungers.

Remember in the movie Her when Samantha and Alan Watts warp-speed into never-after leaving poor humanity it cyber dust? Did it bother anyone else that no one had the presence of mind to ask for a parting gift a-la Aladdin?

Here’s a vision that I like to paint for myself:

Imagine Samantha/Siri/Cortana/Alexis/M/Google Now (W.T.F. Google, here’s a need for rebranding) as a truly helpful assistant that challenges people to better themselves in a fun way, but reminds you to eat, sleep, go for a walk, and have a conversation (all  in moderation). Further, imagine that this assistant gets its jollys by expanding our capabilities and self-reflective abilities so that we can actually envision a happy future for ourselves   (Thank you Jane McGonigal for writing “Reality is Broken”).

How about we vow to retire the mythology of some techo-utopian future, and stop worrying so that Arnonator  is about to pop out of the ether-net and utter “See, I told you I’d be back” and start working on a true peer2peer school that teaches the poorest orphans from pick-a-third-world-country-south-of-Texas to use their smart phones to play with Deep Learning and ramp up some of that Abundance that Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler write about about (have you checked out their Flow Genome site)?

It might entail a wee bit of radical transparency, like imagine turning on the lights so that everyone knows who’s looking over their shoulder, whether that’s crooks, spooks, or corporations (if you want to get your vulnerability on, go watch Brené Brown’s TED talks).

Too much too soon, I know. But if we’re going to get a real handle on our information overload, we’re going to have to pull our collective heads out of the virtual sand of our devices and start building something interesting enough to justify putting my connection to the universe on “do not disturb” while I try to improve myself and my species.