The Pope has gotten into the business of denouncing fake news, and we can all applaud his effort. His example of the first fake news, however, has a problem.
The AP reported on the Pope’s annual social communications message (which I read about in the Tampa Bay Times, January 25, 2018). Pope: ‘Fake news’ is evil, journalists must search for truth .
Francis writes that the first fake news dates from the biblical beginning of time, which Eve was tempted to take an apple from the Garden of Eden based on disinformation from the serpent.
“The strategy of this skilled ‘Father of Lies’ is precisely mimicry; that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments,” Francis said of the snake.
The Pope is citing from the second creation account that begins with Genesis Chapter 2, verse 4, and continues into Chapter 3. In case you’ve forgotten your Sunday school lessons from 60 years ago, here are the relevant portions, which I take from the pew bibles at my darling wife’s Presbyterian Church, the New Revised Standard Version:
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but you of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall die.”
And from the beginning of Chapter 3:
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.'”
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5“for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eye, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
Reading these lines, I assert that by the plain meaning of the words interpreted as in ordinary English, God lied to Adam about the consequences of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Adam did not die on the day he ate the fruit. I also asset that the snake told Eve the truth, that she would not die if she were to eat the fruit.
I claim that the truth is an absolute defense to the change of “fake news.”
I am confident that the Pope knows these lines, that God lied to Adam, and that the snake told the truth to Eve. Why does he assert that the snake “deceived” Eve? Why did “The Father of Lies” tell Eve the truth?
A good question, and we should ask Francis.