In my view, there are several fundamental conflicts that underlie the human condition.
- There is the conflict of the individual verses the group.
- There is a conflict between the biological needs of men and women.
- There is a conflict between the physical and spiritual realm.
Nobody wants to be honest about these conflicts which makes reaching reasonable compromises impossible. That leaves us with little option for resolution.
The story of Adam and Eve and original sin and getting kicked out of the garden of Eden and having to till the Earth I believe was a metaphor for the beginnings of agriculture which took humans from very tiny groups that lived by hunting and foraging and had little time for anything else, to the beginning of civilization where the production of food was efficient enough that there was time for other things.
The beginning of agriculture created a situation where functioning more on a group level and less on an individual level lead to great efficiencies in food production, distribution, and allowed the production and distribution of other goods and services.
Before, the only thing that was important to an individual was his or her own survival, after agriculture, the survival of individuals strongly depended upon the survival of the group of which they were a member and anything that disrupted that groups survival was sin.
Humans are unique among species in the length of time it takes for our young to become independently viable. Our brains develop much slower than any other species and it is that slow development that allows our brains to be shaped by our environment to a much greater degree and that had lead to our success as a species.
That slow development also means it is much more important to our survival for both parents to be involved in our upbringing. As infants and children, we are much more dependent upon our parents than are the offspring of other species.
Men produce million of sperm each day. When men mate, their reproductive machinery isn’t tied up. They can mate with someone else and produce another offspring the next day. Women produce an egg a month. If they mate, their reproductive machinery is tied up for at least nine months. Given this, it is biologically more important to them that an individual offspring survives than it is to men. The choices of a mate with genetics that favor survival of their offspring more important. This creates a biological conflict between the sexes.
The physical realm exists within time and the spiritual realm exists outside of time. In time, in the physical realm, entropy exists. Over time things deteriorate and become less organized, and that includes humans. You look at any young person, you see smooth skin and sharply defined features. As we age, our skin becomes less smooth, or features less well defined. Our DNA deteriorates and the efficiency of all of our cells declines, eventually to the point where life can no longer be supported.
In the spiritual realm, time doesn’t flow, it just exists, as another dimension. In that realm everything exists. Living things don’t die or reproduce. There is a conflict between our physical self and our physical mortality and our physical need and desire to reproduce and our immortal spiritual selves which has no such need or desire.
All of these conflicts exist and nobody wants to acknowledge them. Spiritually focused want to believe that everything just blinked into existence and deny the physical reality and our physical evolution through time. Physically focused people want to deny our spiritual existence and can not or will not try to look at our world from a perspective outside of time. And there is little compromise between these groups.
We all tell each other and often ourselves lies, refuse to acknowledge that these conflicts exist, let alone try to come to any sort of reasonable compromise.
It would be healthy for us to explore these conflicts, to have a dialogue, and where possible to reach some reasonable compromises. It would help us understand each other. It would help us live more securely, peacefully, with less stress and anger in our lives.