The Beginnings of Risk

Original Risk

adam_eveIn the biblical story of Adam and Eve, God indicates to the newly-formed human couple that they are welcome to make use of anything in the idyllic Garden of Eden, with one exception. They are forbidden to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The punishment for breaking this rule is death.

Thus, eating of the forbidden fruit represents the first recorded risk in human history.

Despite the mortal danger, Eve is quickly influenced by the snake to partake of the forbidden fruit. The crafty snake tempts her with the promise of Knowledge, and provides an assurance that the Knowledge will protect her from punishment.

By plucking that first fruit Eve becomes the first risk-taker in recorded human history.

For their trespasses Adam and Eve are evicted from the perfection of the Garden of Eden and thereafter must fend for themselves (with blood, sweat, and tears). All future generations of humans are condemned to the same fate.

By influencing Eve to take the forbidden fruit, the snake arguably becomes the first advisor to give his client bad advice.


Original Risk Management

noahs_arkIn the biblical story of the Ark, God informs Noah that he intends to bring on a massive flood to wipe out the corrupt human society and make a fresh start. Noah is instructed to build a huge seagoing vessel and to save a pair of each living creature.

None of us can be certain whether Noah believed God’s threats, but in building the Ark Noah became the first active risk manager. If we believe the story, the building of the Ark didn’t influence the likelihood of the flood, but it did mitigate the damage, for Noah’s family and for every species of animal that was saved.

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