Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 571–579 | Cite as

Eve and the Serpent: A Rational Choice to Err

  • Sidney W. A. DekkerEmail author
Original Paper


In dealing with inexplicable disaster, like the untimely death of a child in a hospital, we increasingly turn to the justice system for accountability and retribution. While seemingly sensible, criminalizing human error has a range of negative consequences. But it does offer “good” narratives of failure as the result of human fault—even at the cost of guilt. Such narratives allow us to pinpoint a cause: people made a rational choice to err and should be punished. This allows us to imagine ourselves in control over random, meaningless events. This paper traces Judeo–Christian roots of such regulative ideals in Western moral thinking, by examining the Genesis account of Eve and the Serpent, and St. Augustine’s interpretation of it.


Human error Sin Eve Serpent 


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Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TFHSLund UniversityLjungbyhedSweden

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