"We do not naturally seek God’s purposes and, therefore, we do not naturally pursue agendas leading to human flourishing. However much good we do in spite of ourselves, however much progress we make by God’s grace, we cannot achieve heaven on earth. Adam and Eve had that opportunity. They were freely offered another tree in the garden: the Tree of Life. But that isn’t the fruit they ate.
Even though we are the children of Adam, banished to wander “east of Eden,” we still want the Tree of Life. We still want to create a world of immortality and perfection. But we want it on our terms, not God’s. The Psalmist describes our collective war against God in vivid terms:
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters’ (Psalm 2:1-2).
“Chains” and “Fetters.” That is how we, left to ourselves, see God’s order and purpose. And so we rebel against his order and his purpose. We pretend that the world is not really the way God made it. We act as though God’s design can be re-written, as if it were not a matter of built-in hardware, but simply software that we can hack into and re-imagine. We create magic formulas and make our own virtual reality where the Fall never happened, we are not corrupted, utopia is do-able, and God doesn’t exist anyway! Remember the title of John Lennon’s song? Imagine. The trouble is that sooner or later reality will, as Bavinck put it, “scoff at these fantasies."