May 23, 2003
A little article appeared in the papers last week that caught my eye. It seems the Josephson School of Ethics in the United States conducted a survey of American youths and found that students attending private religious high schools are more likely to cheat on a test than students enrolled in regular schools.
The actual reported numbers are 78 per cent of religious students said they had cheated at least once on an exam in the past year compared to 72 per cent of the less godly. Two per cent more religious school students said they had lied to their parents in the past year, but they were also four per cent less likely to shoplift. I suppose you have to wonder whether the religious students told the truth about their dishonesty when answering the survey and the non-religious students lied.
Now, I dont know if this survey by a California non-profit institute is accurate or even means anything. I dont think we should be automatically checking to make sure we still have our wallets as we leave church on Sunday or counting the silver after the minister comes over for dinner.
It did make me stop and wonder what would have happened if certain Bible characters had similar problems with honesty. The Garden of Eden story might have been more like an episode of "Cops". For starters, the Book of Genesis would begin with God chasing Adam and Eve over fences and through back yards until theyre caught hiding under a bush.
"Come on out of there," the Almighty thundered in all His glory. "Drop the fruit and keep your hands where I can see them."
"Youve got the wrong guy," Adam said, crawling out with his hands behind his head. "I was never near the tree."
"Who said anything about a tree?" God said, shining His light around the yard. "And if Ive got the wrong guy, how come you ran?"
Adam looked at his feet. "You know, the Heavenly Father swoops down in all His majesty, accompanied by hosts of angels - a guys gonna run. But I swear, I didnt do nothing."
"And whats your story, sister?" God turned his attention on Eve, who was brushing the dirt off her fig leaf.
"This guy?" she said pointing at Adam. "I barely know him."
"And I suppose youve never seen this before either." The Almighty held up an apple core.
"I can explain that." Eve shifted from foot to foot. "It belongs to this serpent guy I just met. He asked us to hold it for him until he came back. I swear we didnt know it was hot."
"So youre asking me to believe that you go around accepting forbidden fruit from some snake you never laid eyes on before?" God looked skeptical. "Is that the best story you can come up with?"
Adam and Eve looked sheepishly at each other and nodded.
"And you didnt eat any?"
"Okay then. Im going to trust you and let you two off with a warning this time, but I dont want to hear about any more trouble in this part of the Garden. And next time it wont just be a warning either - youll both be charged with original sin. And around here that carries a life sentence."
So you see, if Adam and Eve had been better liars, we might still be sitting around paradise.