In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are told there is one tree that they shall not eat of, with a most unusual name: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now why would that be a bad thing to eat of? Isn’t it good to know the difference between good and bad?
Here’s the problem: notice that it says, “If you eat of this tree, you will be like God.” Only God knows what’s really good and what’s really evil. And the great pride and arrogance of religion…is to think that we know.
The arrogance of knowing. “I know who’s going to heaven.” “I know who’s going to hell.” “I know who’s right; I know who’s wrong.” Let me tell you something: what characterizes evil is that evil is always absolutely certain. Evil suffers no self-doubt. It brooks no criticism. “I am right and I know.”
We who are trying to live what we hope is a good life have to live in the hinterlands called faith, where we’re never absolutely sure we’re right. Dang it! Who wants that?!
And if you think of most religion that’s ever turned you off – and there’s a lot of it that should – it’s always lead by people who are absolutely sure that they’re right. They suffer no self-doubt. They have the whole truth. They know who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell. They know who’s right and who’s wrong. They’ve got the world neatly divided up. And of course they’re always right and the rest of the world and the other religions are always wrong.
What a waste of time.
And we’re warned against it in the very first chapters of the Bible.
*This is an excerpt from a sermon preached by Richard Rohr at Holy Families Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico on the first Sunday of Lent: March 5, 2017.