Episode 22 – Adam and Eve: Self-Consciousness, Evil, and Death

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Lecture 4 in my Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories lecture series. I turned my attention in this lecture to the older of the two creation accounts in Genesis: the story of Adam and Eve. In its few short paragraphs, it covers:

1. the emergence of human self-consciousness;
2. mankind’s attendant realization of vulnerability, mortality, and death;
3. the origin of the capacity for willful evil, as the ability to exploit that newly-realized vulnerability;
4. the emergence of shame as a consequence of that realization;
5. the shrinking from divine destiny that occurred when shame emerged; and
6. the beginning of true history, with the self-conscious toil that life in history entails.

Impossible. Amazing. Breathtaking.

The only story that can perhaps match it in terms of impact per sentence is that of Cain and Abel, which we discuss in the next lecture: number five in this twelve part series.


  • LucyZ

    Dear professor,
    at this lecture you talk about J K Rowling and the quidditch game, and you wonder “how does she know”.
    Try analysing the books and the movies by the 7 stages of Alchemy, this will give you a key to understanding the source of her knowledge.

  • Phillip Cowan

    Has anyone found a solution to enable listening to this lecture, or know what is the issue?

  • md yes

    The iTunes podcast download on my iphone as well as the direct feed above on windows 10 computer both stop playing around 8:40. Is anyone else experiencing trouble with this feed? Thank you

  • Jim O’Connor

    I am not able to play this through iTunes or the lefthand link in Safari past about minute 8 or so. I’m trying the SoundCloud link now. I am able to get into minute 9 at least on that file.