By Amal Ben Hadda
This belief has come from various interpretations of biblical texts. Unfortunately, this traditional biblical story has often caused conflicts, especially in traditional societies. It has negatively affected the teaching of scientific theories regarding the origin of humanity.
It has also lowered the status of women and, as a consequence, it has created gender inequality within religion. The extent of these social problems raises the question of how to reconcile such beliefs with reason in order to mend the relationship between science and religion.
An objective reading of the root text of this creation story is necessary to examine its traditional interpretation. Bereshit, the first chapter in Genesis of the Torah mentions the creation of “the” Adam (h?-’?-??m) at verse 1:27. The word Adam is written with the Hebrew definite article (h?-) in the original text where it refers to the first human creatures as being male and female. God asked these humans to live on Earth and to procreate under his blessing (1:28). Then, Adam received the so-called breath of God (2:7).
Afterwards, what is believed to be the first woman “’iš-š?h”, later named Eve, appeared from Adam’s side or rib (2:22).
This reading leads to a series of questions:
- What is the meaning of “Adam”? Would it refer to a group of human beings, male and female, as mentioned at first in the original text? Or is it just one person, male, as is commonly believed?Did any physical or physiological changes occur to Adam after having received the “breath of God”?
2. What is the difference between the female human in verse 1:27 and Eve, the woman from verse 2:22
3.Why is this first female human nearly absent in the traditional version?
The missing details in the traditional version are largely due to the misogynistic belief that women are not equal to men. The religious texts refer to the female equally created as male by the name of Lilith and describe her as a rebel and sterile. They even demonize her because of her supposed disobedience to men. However, this version does not exist in the original text of the Torah.
It is important to note that the scriptures and the definitions of religious rules have been interpreted from a male’s perspective. The absence of women in interpreting religious texts has led to some misogynistic analyses.
This story of the origin of humanity is one example among many that seemingly justifies inequality between men and women. Women as equal to men is perceived as an evil plan that should not be allowed and the version of the woman being created from Adam’s rib has been interpreted as meaning that women are subordinate to men. As a result, women’s rights to equality have been corrupted because of the three monotheist religions.
These anti-feminist texts have not only stigmatized women and led to gender-based discrimination, they have also created a controversy between science and religion. This debate has divided the scientific communities into “the evolutionists” and “the creationists.”
One side advocates the belief in evolution’s theory of natural selection, while the other advocates divine creation. The theory of intelligent design emerged to combine both scenarios by considering the existence of an intelligent designer who created and continually monitors the species’ evolution.
This religion-science controversy has caused some traditional societies, such as certain Muslim countries, to remove any explanations about the origin of humanity other than creationism from their schools’ curricula. However, such attitudes are primarily justified based on inherited beliefs and are not necessarily religiously motivated, as Eve isn’t even mentioned in the Quran.
Finally, original sin seems to still be an issue. Currently, taking from the tree of knowledge means stripping women of their rights due to religious reasons while rejecting any other ideas even if they have been empirically proven. Scientific theories should be taught in schools, regardless of religious and traditional beliefs. Religious texts should be fully revised and should involve women so that the interpretations are balanced by having both male and female perspectives.
Humanity and faith both need science in order to thrive and to progress.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
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