Are weeds punishment or curse from God?

The problem with Biblical criticism is that one you remove one element the rest can collapse like a house of cards. If all the claimed punishments for eating the apple could be proved as natural occurrences would that invalidate the whole story?
I wonder whether I even have to validate the existence of weeds? (Or birthing pains for that matter)
People seem to rush to pitch Genesis 1 against science. Why not the Garden of Eden?

I am at church so I will leave it here for now.

Any comments so far?


an apple??? seriously?

And what do you mean by Biblical criticism?

What is this house of cards you are describing? The Bible? Biblical criticism?

Where does this idea of weeds being a punishment or curse come from?

How are “weeds” more than a completely subjective category? Surely you cannot be saying that plants are doing evil. Do you imagine a paradise where everything like plants simply align themselves with our desires without any exertion of effort? I never thought to interpret the words of Genesis in this way. And this sounds like a dream and not any kind of reality.

Do you read a lot of stuff from “Answers in Genesis?” Why?


No. I just assume (possibly in error) that most people who believe the Garden of Eden story know the details of it.

Genesis 3 (Bible Gateway NIV)
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

IOW weeds. Although technically speaking the thorns and thistles were there first.

In this case, disputing details (eg 7 day creation)

A literal or historical view of the Garden of Eden. (Including all Sinful baggage)

There is a cognisant dissonance in proclaiming Evolution and a literal Garden of Eden.

The Garden story does not comply with modern science. So why do people (Claimed scientists) treat it as history or physical fact?


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Despite disagreeing on much, I would grant you the liberty of referring to the traditional apple while knowing full well the Genesis narrative stated only fruit.

But it did send me looking up how the apple image got going. Fun fact - it turns out that Latin word for apple and evil are both malum, which was too good of a coincidence to pass up.

‘Paradise Lost’: How The Apple Became The Forbidden Fruit

Was the ‘forbidden fruit’ in the Garden of Eden really an apple?

As for weeds and childbirth, I think those stand in for the perpetual human predicament. We find ourselves in a fallen world, where nature can be pitiless and we must seek God’s providence.

IOW the world stinks. We do not need the bible to tell us that.

The problem (as I see it) is that the Garden story is a theological justification for it, and it just does not compute with a caring (and competent) god. There is so much misconception and poor science in it that it makes Genesis 1 look positively scientific. Yet people here are quite happy to take it as literal having completely dismissed the (first) Creation narrative.


I do not argue for a literal view of Genesis 1-11( and you should know that by now)

Historical and literal are not the same.

Few accounts of historical events are literally accurate and their accuracy drops over time. There are a variety of reasons for this. The languages change. The records changes. The earliest events in human past were remembered in oral traditions. The fact that the stories of these events are not literally accurate do not mean historical events are not described by them.

Who said that you do?

I do not agree with your unconventional view of unholy habits either, but that is not the topic of my discussion here.


What is a weed? It is a (wild) plant growing where it is not wanted.
I have weeded such plants from protected areas and gardens that are wanted plants in other type of conservation areas. The only difference between a weed and a wanted plant is where they grow, is it a site where the plant is wanted or unwanted.

What is good at one site and situation, may be bad at another site and situation. This principle could also be applied to other matters than plants.

wild plants would probably not be considered weeds before the cultivation of plants started - if thistles grow in natural environments they should not be a problem. After starting cultivation, especially in fields reserved for agriculture, previously neutral plants started to look like enemies (weeds).

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Who said anyone said I do?

I never said anything about any “unholy habits” either. But it is a plain fact that people have habits which are self-destructive – very hard to break even when they are ruining a person’s life. Now you may think God doesn’t care about such things, but I think He does.

Regardless of whether you choose to label a view conventional or unconventional, I certainly don’t agree with your view of unholy mistakes which you think are deserving of divine punishment.

Hmm. Talk about discussing minutia and trivia.

When God claims that thorns and thistles will grow do you think that He meant that we would grow them deliberately? No. He meant that they would be a nuisance and add to our work.

It is not about whether they are weeds or not, but whether their growing is a direct consequence of Adam’s actions. IOW are they a punishment or curse from God?

Their growth is part of the working of nature, which might make them providential if you want to go there (And there are some here who do) but, that does not mean that their creation had anything to do with Adam.

When man plants he is superseding what was already there. So, technically it is man planting something that does not belong rather than the so-called “weeds” that were almost certainly there already. We cannot blame God for that. Can we?

On a side note. The massive wheat field of North America or Russia are no less destroying natural habitats than what is going on in the rain forests. It is just that the areas taken over are not considered ecologically significant. Tell that to the Buffallow and any other creature that inhabits them. Every time Man builds, plants, or destroys he is affecting the natural ecology. And we cannot complain if Nature tries to get it back. Or blame God that it does either.(But that is the claim of Genesis 4)


You have got it backward

I do not claim that. Genesis 4 does. And that is the whole point of this thread.


I do not support YEC-type interpretations. Generally, I think the question is nice because it makes you look at weeds, man and creation from a different viewpoint. What humans do, changes the subjective status of wild plants and animals, from lovely flowers and creatures to weeds and pests.

Reminds me of an occasion when my mother found plenty of beautiful flowers at the edge of a cereal field. The owner of the field was close so my mother asked if she can pick some flowers from the field. The farmer answered “sure, they are just weeds and I’m coming tomorrow to spray the field with herbicides to get rid of the weeds”.

That is a good note. There is currently a political fight in EU about a proposed directive that all countries in the EU should restore 20% of their area to halt the loss of biodiversity. Our country has lots of forests (>75% of the land area), so the directive would affect forestry and the industry dependent on forestry. There has been complaints that if we must restore 20% of the forested land, why do the southern European countries not face a similar demand - 3000 years ago much of Europe was forested, until Rome started to destroy those forests. Why should we not demand that all EU countries must restore 20% of their land area to forested land?

There is no balance of Nature, continuous change is the rule in Nature. What is the temporal reference point determines what is the goal of restoration. 15’000 years ago a thick ice layer covered this land. If we would use that as the reference point, we should remove all plants and terrestrial animals to restore the land to something that resembles the reference point.

The massive wheat and corn fields are detrimental to biodiversity, especially because of the use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. Much of insect biomass and biodiversity has been lost because of the use of the poisons in agriculture and many bird populations are endangered or gone locally extinct because of the intensive farming. From the viewpoint of biodiversity and ecological values, 20% of agricultural fields should be restored to something that resembles the ecosystem before the start of the cultivation + the use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides should be reduced to a fraction of the current use. That is not going to happen at a large scale because there is a great need for the food produced in those areas. The only possible exception may be if climate change turns these areas to drylands that do not anymore allow profitable growth of cereals.

Much as I appreciate the acknowledgment ad the ecological side issues it does distract from the thrust of the thread.

The point here is that the Bible is taking personally (From a human standpoint) and “blaming God” (Or Adam) for what amounts to natural phenomena. And the whole theology of sin and death is based on this. Remove the “Blame” or causality and the whole theology falls flat.

Death and sin were not caused by Adam, even if he actually existed.

However, this does not negate the sacrificial act of Christ or invalidate it. Sin still exists and therefore the “cure” is still necessary. What is wrong is the defferance away from self, that is the cry

“It’s not my fault!” (Adam did it)
“It’s not my fault!” (I was born sinful)

(Dare I say, “It’s not my fault!” The habit is inbred?)

If it is not your fault you do not need to repent or get forgiveness!
(good luck with that)

“I am only repenting because I have to!” (I haven’t actually done anything deliberately)

And the converse is

“You are sinful!” (because see above) “You must repent!”

I don’t mind repenting for my own sins but I will not repent for anyone else’s be it Adam’s or not.


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I agree.
If we can accept that sin and death are not caused by Adam, then the focus switches from the story of Adam and Eve (‘original sin’) to our relationship with God, that we have sinned against God and others, and we need the forgiveness in Christ.

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It also removes all judgments about Heaven, Hell, or the need to repent. If I think I do not need to repent it is down to me. (That is not a statement of fact or my self-opinion) That applies to everyone else. It is not our place to declare that everyone has sinned and therefore everyone needs to repent.


Are you proposing that not everyone needs salvation then? (Meaning that since he didn’t sin he already acquired it somehow)Interesting .

I am proposing nothing on the subject other than it is not our place to determine it.

And therefore we cannot act on such a judgment.

How you personally take it about yourself is completely up to you.
(I think Pascal’s wager may come into play. Better safe than sorry!)


Or you could charitably and graciously respond to the central point he is making instead of nitpicking at insignificant details.

The garden story (and probably the fall) is myth. Cancer, death, disease, natural disasters, drought, suffering, crawling snakes, pains of childbirth and all that jazz has existed for hundreds of millions of years (some of them for billions). I’d guess most Christians who don’t understand science blame the first couple and humanity as a whole for these things. It’s a great story and I wish I was ignorant enough to believe it. The real world God created is vastly unlike this fairy tale. In fact, these Christians are ultimately deeming aspects of creation God called “good” (his handiwork) to be the products of human sin! Chew on that.

I don’t find it remotely tenable to disregard 90% of the details of the garden story and try to salvage it by claiming it refers to 2 literal people. It’s based on older Mesopotamian myths and had multiple meanings.

An objective reader would hardly look at a neutral text and do this or force our modern views on the text and claim it means “spiritual death.” Biased Christians trying to salvage something from the Garden story because the force of Paul’s arguments refer to Adam in a literal sense as does Luke’s genealogy (it’s a genealogy!) are what’s driving this issue.

There is nothing demonstrable about the garden story (aside from sin in the world) and every detail we can test turns out to be false. Unless we want to claim asinine things like the existence of trees corroborate details in the garden story.

It’s myth. Talking snakes, magic fruit and immortality trees. Myth. Paul must be reworked and that requires reassessing our current model of Biblical inspiration. It’s easier to just back-peddle and try to retain 10% of the Biblical narrative as authentic. The other option is hard, requires real though and comes with a paradigm shift. That is understandably difficult with thousands of years of Church history standing against you. But it is the “correct” answer.


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I’ve always taken this particular point to be a synecdoche where ‘childbearing’ is taken as figurative for the family in general. This would be consistent with the picture we see throughout the rest of Genesis, where there is not much focus on labour pains, but a lot of focus on family pain. There are a whole bunch of examples I could point to, but for the sake of expedience, here are a few that come to mind:

  • Cain and Abel
  • Noah and Ham
  • Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael
  • Jacob and Esau
  • Rachel and Leah
  • Joseph and his brothers

I am not convinced that is justifiable in terms of the way it is written. Besides, if you are going to dismiss 90% (see above) there is little point in trying to rectify the other 10%. The ultimate question is “what do we take from the Garden of Eden narrative?”

I am not sure that any notion of punishment is left. So defining birthing pains becomes obsolete. God is not responsible for the behaviour of our chiildren any more than He is responsible for your precise actions.