From ‘The Last Island’:
Kerryn pointed to the Bible.
“I started reading from the beginning,” she said. “All about Genesis, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the fall from grace. And it just jumped out at me, what it’s about. Why Adam and Eve fell and were cursed, why we fell from the garden, why Cain killed Abel, and why countries are divided and why people are divided, and why this island is divided, and why and why and why, until finally why I did what I did. It’s a chain reaction.”
I leaned my chair on an angle against the wall and sipped a beer. I knew all about being cursed, of course, having been thoroughly lectured on original sin. I didn’t see how that could help her but had to admit I was curious.
“From Adam and Eve to you. Please tell me.”
“The first stories of the Bible are about the transformation of society from a hunter-gatherer, take what is God-given way of life to an agricultural, work the soil, accumulate land and goods way of life. Adam and Eve had everything they needed, but they wanted more. They messed up and their descendants, that’s you, me, the fisherman, almost everyone, were cursed by God to scrape and dig and struggle to survive.”
Her voice cracked, and I sensed for the first time the suppressed emotion which weighted her words.
“Listen to what it says…” She picked up the Bible and flipped through the first few pages. “‘The Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.’ So, Adam and Eve are banished from the garden where they had everything and are now forced to till the ground, to become farmers. Then later Cain, a tiller of the ground, kills his brother Abel, a shepherd, a hunter-gatherer, because God is not pleased with Cain’s offering. God knows that the farmers will become too many. He knows the farmers will overwhelm the hunter-gatherers, killing them if they have to, until there is no place left for them. The Bible actually lists them, who begat who. It wants us to know. It goes on and on, for pages and pages. The beginning of the Bible is about agriculture and population growth as destiny, leading to inevitable territorial wars, as the need for fresh land overwhelms everyone and everything until there is no place left to live, simply and freely and without harm.”
“Like in a reserve?”
“Like dolphins do. It’s all right here in the Bible. The price we pay for Adam and Eve’s desire, mankind’s desire, the colossal expansionary threat that we’ve all lived under since Cain. Don’t you see? I had to strike back, had to do something. So maybe we could start again. Maybe we could make our way back.”