Don’t Go Talking Adam and Eve at the Zoo Reptile House

Eve found plenty of fault with Adam during their sabotaged marriage but one charge she was never able to make stick was, ‘You never listen to me.’ Nor, for that matter, was a certain snake ever able to say that of her.

It’s not every day that a snake talks. Even if you are new on the planet, encountering surprises each day, it still seems that a talking snake would knock your socks off, assuming you were wearing any. It’s why I like the snake depiction in Paradise Lost, by the poet John Milton, published in 1667.

It’s not really the snake speaking; it is a rebellious spirit creature using it as though a ventriloquist his dummy. Milton’s twist on the snake is that it is anything but dumb. Persuading Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, it says, ‘Look what it did for me. And if it can give speech to me, a common snake, just think what it can do for you!’ Oh, yeah. It’s all speculative; you can’t go there with any certainty, but it does make good sense. You can picture it happening this way.

At the reptile house of any modern zoo, however, you will find no attendants to tell about Eve and the snake. They would be fired if they did, most likely, though it’s a little hard to tell; probably that statement has never been tested. They’ve all been through college and have emerged with degrees in zoology, marine biology, conservation biology, wildlife management, and animal behavior, and the like. They are all strictly evolution-oriented. Every vestige of creation-belief has been pounded out of them. Don’t go telling them about Eve.

Not that the animals suffer on that account. They do far better than when I found a downed robin chick as a boy and tried to nurse it back to health with grass to sit on, hot dogs to eat, and a few twigs to remind them of trees. The zoo care is first rate, and it was not long ago that I heard a tiny child discussing with its mother about ‘habitat’—a word I certainly never knew as a child. But don’t even think about original serpents pulling the wool over Eve’s eyes here. It is not allowed.

The wildlife graduates that don’t find zoo employment find it instead in video production. There, they employ powerful AI tools to detect just when you are about to cry out in astonishment ‘Creation!’ ‘Design!’ at some breathtakingly dazzling animal behavior. Heading off the words while they are yet in your throat, the narrator gushes: “How absolutely incredible that natural selection works to produce such amazing behavior!”

Others present animal packs and herds as though criminal gangs, killing, maiming, and eating each other. ‘Don’t you dare even think of Bambi!’ they glower. ‘The fight for survival is all you need to know about.’

All the same, zoos are light years ahead of what they were when I was a boy, back when they were essentially jails for animals. ‘They are still jails for animals,’ my brother mutters, who will not visit on that account. But if you take into account their endeavor to save the nature that their fellows destroy, they’re earn one’s appreciation. It’s not everything, but it’s a fine stopgap until Revelation 11:18 is realized and the time comes for God to “bring to ruin those who are ruining the earth.” Zoos slow them down a little bit. Just like my cousin says about the vintage Mustangs he restores. If you put such-and-such a price on them, people come beating down your door, but if you add 20K to it, “that slows them down a little.”

At the Columbus zoo, the elephants roam through a huge U-shaped enclosure, with spectators peering from the peninsula thus formed in the middle. Zoo workers call them from one end of the enclosure to another—keep them moving, is the idea, just like in the wilds. Also like in the wild is food that requires them to use their ‘problem-solving skills.’ Some is suspended. Some must be unraveled or opened in various tricky ways. They will show their feet on command, and the idea here is so those foot bottoms may be inspected for health. They all respond to their names. The elephant named Rudy has a slinking aspect to its gait that, combined with a bobbing head, makes him look like a teenager trying to act cool. Just a mannerism, the volunteer told me. He does it especially when excited or glad.

Creative people are hard at work. “How do you know if an animal is venomous?” asks posters in the Columbus reptile house. “If it bites you and you get sick, the animal is venomous” is the chipper heads-up. And when workman were building something or other at the Syracuse zoo, the accompanying legend described their habitat: coffee and donuts during the day; television in the family room during the evening.

They’ll tempt you with zoo membership upon entering most of them. The fee is more than for a single entrance, but you afterwards get in as many times as you like for free. Moreover, half-price is the fee at any other participating zoo. That’s how we came to be in both Columbus and Syracuse. Periodically, my wife and I have to get away and plot a course to some new locale. We don’t go just for the zoo, but while there we always check out that zoo.

Are we the only ones to ever have had that idea? Not at all. Here is a site that even undertakes to rate all the zoos.


******  The bookstore


Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

My Meeting Notes (and Stray Thoughts): Week of September 19, 2022

Watchtower study: An Ancient Prophecy That Affects You

Theme Scripture: “I will put enmity between you and the woman.”​—GEN. 3:15

Four parties in the verse: the woman, the seed of the woman, the serpent, and the seed of the serpent. One by one the study article explored the identity of each one.

(See article here on how to handle Adam and Eve. It’s not the easiest sell in these parts)

Para 2: Everyone liked the illustration of the spine that holds pages of a printed book together. Rip it off, one bro said, and you’ve got loose pages everywhere. The info they convey is still present but you can’t make any sense of it.

Para 1: “What did Jehovah do soon after Adam and Eve sinned?” (Genesis 3:15) He had the repair outlined immediately. Many comments on this point, also included here.

Para 4: Ha. There is that drawing of the ‘original serpent,’ Revelation 12:9 identifies as Satan, pondering how the first couple is kissing up to God. You can almost hear him think how he’d like himself some of that.

An aside that has nothing to do with anything, that isn’t in Genesis, but it makes sense and I like it: Paradise Lost (John Milton) presents the serpent saying he can speak because he ate from that forbidden tree. ‘Look what it did for me!’ he coaxes the woman, trying to get her to do the same. I mean, somewhere you have to come to grips that, even in the opening days of Eden, a snake talking would knock your socks off. Milton’s guess is as good as anyone’s.

Para 7: Galatians 4:26 is discussed: “The Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” Is this ‘the woman?’ Jerusalem, the capital city of God’s ancient nation. ‘Jerusalem above’—today’s counterpart over his people’s anywhere?

Someone mentions artwork— FADC30C6-F5D4-4983-A7B7-81A35349E3B6I have seen example of this at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art—of Mary crushing the serpent. Some discussion of why this doesn’t quite cut it as the ‘woman’ of the prophesy. On one such tour of the Met, led by someone from Bethel, a fellow in the group asked me, ‘Are you Sheepandgoats?’ Whoa—how in the world would he know that? Turns out I had just related a story I had also posted on this blog. To this day we keep in occasional touch.

Photo: Immaculata, Antonio Cesera in Wikipedia

From the Midweek meeting: 1 Kings 13


“He followed the man of the true God and found him sitting under a big tree. Then he said to him: “Are you the man of the true God who came from Judah?” He replied: “I am.” He said to him: “Come home with me and eat bread.” But he said: “I cannot go back with you or accept your invitation, nor may I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.17For I was told by the word of Jehovah, ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there. You must not return by the way you came.’” At this he said to him: “I too am a prophet like you, and an angel told me by the word of Jehovah, ‘Have him come back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (He deceived him.) So he went back with him to eat bread and drink water in his house. (13:14-18)

That’s quirky. The liar himself calls him out, as though against his will, and the deceived fellow is eaten by a lion! Any way we can make hay out of this one?


“So the chairman said ‘Stand for announcements’ and Truetom, who always does what he is told, kept standing. But next to him was a brother who said, “Sit down, you goody-two-shoes. What! You would prove yourself righteous overmuch?” 

“I dunno,” Truetom said, “The brother said to stand. I think I should.”

”It’s not so bad,” was the reply. “It’s just a small thing. Come on, show a little backbone and sit.” (He deceived him)

”Well—if you say so,” said Truetom and he sat.

”Ha!” his neighbor said, “You failed the test!” And a lion sprung from the row behind and devoured Truetom so that only his fingers were left to tap out this post.”


***Looking forward to the mask-disposal party coming up at the end of the month. I’ll just slip mine off a little prematurely, and. . . .gasp!
So THAT’s how Fred Flintstone got is two tone face.


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

When Did Satan Go Bad? According to John Milton

What is mortal man that you keep him in mind?” the psalm says. “You made him a little lower than godlike ones [angels]” Psalm 8:5

The fallen angel from John Milton’s 1667 poem, Paradise Lost, plots revenge with his fellow fallees. All of them are smarting at being cast out of heaven. He tells of a rumored secondary creation of God, only “somewhat inferior” to themselves, only a little lower. ‘Maybe we can sabotage them,’ he suggests at the supernatural counsil. It’s pure revenge. What better to get back at the God who cannot be outpowered? That new human creation God says will be made in his image, so that when he looks at them he sees himself? Maybe it can be made into Satan’s mutinous image instead.

Does the Bible state the Devil was already cast out from the heavens at this point and was thereby plotting his revenge? Or was it his ruining the human race that caused his ousting? The Book doesn’t rule out the first, through it doesn’t specifically say it either. Since it doesn’t specifically say it, Watchtower publications play it safe. They confine themselves to what it does specifically say and indicate the ousting came after the fall in Eden. John Milton, however, speculates that Satan, chief of the outcasts, had been outcast for some time. Their rebellion against God, and punishment, was a done deal prior to Adam’s creation.

In Paradise Lost, Satan’s scheme to ruin Jehovah’s newest creation wins wide approval with the debased horde. They have nothing much up their sleeve anyway. One of the more warlike fallen angels bearing the name of a warlike deity wants to counterattack and fight till the probable death; anything is better than the place of torment they have been banished to. One of the more timid fallen angels suggests that they should just do nothing, for if they fight further against God maybe their punishment will be even more severe. Nobody thinks they can defeat God. His almighty status his accepted by all.

There’s plenty of speculation in Paradise Lost. If you’re going to dramatize Bible accounts, you have to do that to some extent; the Book is scarce with details in many a place. That’s why the ‘bad attitude’ kid in the new Daniel movie catches the apple from that hussy and his expression all but says, “Whoa—They don’t do that back home! I could get used to this!” while Daniel and loyal friends continue grim-faced in their resolute march. It’s filler. Make it consistent with the overall theme and you should be okay.

But can you do it to the extent Milton does? The Witness organization speaks favorably of John Milton. He is one of the “good guys.” He knows God’s intention was [and is] for a paradise earth. He also sees through the Trinity doctrine. He knows that when a person dies, the soul dies as well. He gets all this because he is a diligent student of the scriptures. I don’t see where his “filler,” massive though it is, is inconsistent with the overall Bible theme.

His portrayal of the snake talking to Eve resounds to me even better than ours. ‘Like a ventriloquist throwing his voice’ is how JW publications have put it. Well, okay, but don’t you think coming across a talking snake would really confound a person? Everything is new to Eve in those early days, so maybe she just takes it in stride, but even so… I like Milton’s account better—even if you can’t go beyond what is written.


Don’t worry, I won’t be starting a new sect over it. Exactly when rebellion began is not something you start a sect over. But I like it better that Satan ruins the first human pair as an act of revenge rather than a package of little premeditation. Yes, I’ve explained that James 1:14-15 passage of “being drawn out and enticed by his own desire,” [in Satan’s case, a desire for prominence, even worship]. “Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn sin, when it has been carried out, brings forth death.” It gets the job done. But there is not the prerequisite hatred in that explanation as there is in Milton’s poem, and the ruining of Adam and Eve seems such a hateful act.

Milton relates that in response to Eve’s surprise the snake attributes its speaking ability to eating from the tree of knowledge! Formerly, it was just a dumb snake. Now it can speak! And he dangles the prize before her that ‘If eating off that tree did this for me, just think of what it will do for you!’ No temptation could be more enticing.

He is a liar and the father of the lie. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition. (John 8:44) There is a lie right within his first question, a recent speaker pointed out. It is a lie calculated to engender discontent: “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” so as to implant the idea of, “Wow, he won’t let you guys do anything!” It finds its counterpart today in those who carry on about what those in the faith won’t do, stretching it to convey that they can’t do anything, as though the guard rails of the highway are in reality a strait jacket to stifle human freedom.


Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'