A common accusation made by Gnostic sympathizers against orthodox Christians is that Christians equate knowledge with sin. For example, in The Gnostic Bible, the editor Marvin Meyer writes of "the fundamental biblical notion that knowledge is sin." But is this notion as biblical as Gnostics assert? On the contrary, such proclaimations represent a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bible in general and the book of Genesis in particular.
For example, in Exodus 31 the filling of Bezalel with the Spirit of God is said to occasion wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skill. In Job 36 resistance to knowledge is associated with an untimely death. In Proverbs 1 the despising of knowledge is labelled foolish. In fact, the whole book of proverbs is a treatise on the desirability of knowledge and wisdom. No, the Bible is not anti-knowledge. If we seek understanding of the Bible, if we seek knowledge of God, we need to look closer.
What does Genesis actually say? This is something Gnostic sympathizers rarely quote in full: "The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." It is important to observe that God does not call the second tree the "tree of knowledge" in an unqualified Gnostic fashion. God called the second tree, very specifically, the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil". And since humanity was already "very good" according to God, what of good and evil was being kept from them? Why, only the knowledge of evil! This tree then, was Pandora's Box.
To know the Bible is to know that knowledge is not sinful in an of itself. What is sinful is deciding that you know the difference between good and evil better than God. For this is arrogance, this is unrestrained ego. This is where Gnostic sympathizers misunderstand Genesis. What the book of Genesis seeks to awaken in us is knowledge of the consequences of choosing self-centricity over Spirit-centricity.
From what I have read and seen I am under the understanding that Islamic art forbids lifelike portraits. So I asked some Muslims, how does that square with apparent Islamic acceptance photography, including Facebook selfies?
One said, "It forbids anything that could be used as an idol, a prohibition against polytheism. Photographs and such that are not worshipped are fine. Of course, the legalities are nuanced and there is a range of opinions amongst the scholars on the matter." Another said, "The prohibition is against recreating creation - my words. So Islamic paintings, strictly speaking will not be of people or animals. This is why florals and geometric design feature so heavily. Of course, you can find a number if exceptions if you're looking for them. I have never heard a prohibition on three dimensional objects though, just anything with a soul."
Hey, just thought of another interesting question. What about parasites - tapeworms, gut bacteria, leeches? If everything God created was good, what does their existence imply? Does it suggest a gap between our standards of goodness and God's? How do we explain their parasitic nature? Is this something that they acquired after the fall? If it was always there, how do we reconcile their feeding off us, eating us, drinking us, with standard interpretations of the fall?
The ace of cups has some fascinating imagery from a Christian perspective. This illustration comes from the Illuminated Tarot, which in turn is derived from the Rider Waite Tarot.
You will notice that the chalice has streams of living water flowing from it. That a white dove, representing the Holy Spirit, is decending upon it with a communion wafer, inscribed with a cross, in its beak. The cup in turn is held by the hand of God, eminating from the clouds.
This wealth of communion imagery reveals this cup is the grail, the cup of the last supper of Jesus of Nazareth.