In Genesis, the serpent and the trees that grow in the Garden of Eden can be understood as being plot devices that move the story of Mankind’s creation as a perfect creature, who falls and is saved and redeemed by its Creator. The Serpent is symbolic of the cunning wickedness of evil. We are tempted to usurp God’s authority by appropriating what belongs to Him, to become gods by our own power, eating from the tree that holds the knowledge of good and evil.
Science, which expands our knowledge of the world around us, presents us with a vision that can also be considered a literary device. The images that we manipulate are symbols that people may take for reality. They are the means by which we connect with what is physically around us, entities as molecules, quarks, space-time.
In Genesis, human attributes are represented by the concept of trees; the ideas, the symbols and theories of science are all fruits of a tree in the Garden that would represent the reality of our participation in the world. The trees also include art, music, philosophy, sports and festivals, and their fruit are God’s gifts of which we partake and which now cause us suffering in their absence. They manifest themselves in time and space, spiritual in nature and taking physical shape within the relationship that is our being in the world. They too are grown from the dust of the earth, in the very structure of our brains, which when they are intact, may allow for their expression as mental phenomena. As we contemplate such things, we are eating of one such fruit whose origin is the spirit, actualized here and now in the world. What better way to visualize that truth of our existence.
With his first choice and subsequent acts, the serpent, evermore rejecting the eternal Divine Source of existence, has relinquished his arms, his capacity to love, to give and create. He silently slithers in the dust, that to which we will all return and which he is said to eat for his sustenance, the purveyor of transient and illusory goods. As God’s messenger destined to bring us news of the Light, Lucifer cannot but fulfill that destiny in spite of himself; turning from God, he does so by seducing us from that heavenly light, only to reveal the true depth of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.