Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Forbidden Fruit

Written by: on November 7, 2019


15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it. 16 Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”[1]

The first humans were warned about consumption that would in turn consume them. The seeds within the forbidden fruit would grow and become unmanageable as they were seeds of insatiable self-gods. The allure was strong, the deceit believable, the outcome generational.

Scott Galloway, in his book The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, describes some of the continued effects of human consumption of the forbidden fruit. Galloway is a Clinical Professor of Marketing at the NYU Stern School of Business and Founder of L2inc. He was named “One of the World’s 50 Best Business School Professors” (Poets & Quants) and elected to the World Economic Forum’s “Global Leaders of Tomorrow,” which recognizes 100 individuals under the age of 40 “whose accomplishments have had impact on a global level.” He has served on the board of directors of companies such as Eddie Bauer, The New York Times, and Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.[2]

Galloway covers the last twenty years of the rise of the four giants that have become household names: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. He asks if these entities are “the Four Horsemen of god, love, sex, and consumption? Or are they the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse?” and he answers, “yes to both questions.”[3] Through his satirical humor and dire descriptions he makes a strong case for an apocalyptic outcome after the four succeed in their ultimate mission. Though it would be easy to point fingers at the drivers behind the four, we must also look at the fingers pointing back at ourselves, the consumers when 64% of us have Amazon Prime, Google is used like prayer, smart phones are our permanently glued to our hands and Facebook our relational community. Galloway argues that “Fundamental to business is the notion that in a capitalist society the consumer reigns supreme, and consumption is the most noble of activities. Thus, a country’s place in the world is correlated with its level of consumer demand and production…Consumption has taken the place of shared sacrifice during times of war and economic malaise. The nation needs you to keep buying more stuff.”[4] Then there’s the fact that we consumers have become addicted to luxury. “The list of the four hundred wealthiest people on the planet, minus inherited wealth and finance, includes more people from luxury and retail than technology or any other industry.”[5]

Billion-dollar companies are consuming smaller companies without regulation, human jobs are being replaced by robots, and stealing IP only to conform it for profiteering has become the norm. Galloway reveals the seeds planted early in America’s history of stealing from Britain’s textile industry and then created ways that prohibited Europeans from protecting their IP which led to other areas of thievery thus leading Galloway to argue “theft is in our DNA.”[6] These early seeds of the forbidden fruit have grown into the mega orchards of the four and consumers are buying bigger barns to store the crops.

Galloway concludes his work by asking the question, “Yes, and Now What?” God sternly gave the answer to that question when addressing the first consumers of the forbidden fruit, the result would surely be death. This death was more than physical, it was death to their relationship with God and one another. Abundant life and love would be replaced with a relentless selfish pursuit and independence, a fight to rule over one another, and fruitfulness would only come about through toil, pain and sorrow. The four bring death to the weaker companies, are held to a different business standard, exploit our privacy, and have become so large that we are paralyzed into believing there is nothing that can be done about it. We also may close our ears to the warnings regarding the mental and physical health concerns being brought to light as a result of our smartphones and social media, not only to adults but to our children.

Galloway’s answer is to break up the big four, but I wonder what could happen at a grassroots level if consumers took charge of our lives and passions rather than being ruled by consumption? What if we set boundaries for luxury and let self-control rule rather than addiction? What if we learned contentment with godliness as our great gain? What if the seeds were planted for good to help those in need rather than being amassed for greed? What if we just say no to the forbidden fruit?


[1] Genesis 2:15-17 NET

[2] https://www.stern.nyu.edu/faculty/bio/scott-galloway

[3] Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (New York: Portfolio/Penquin, 2018), 2.

[4] Ibid., 16.

[5] Ibid., 68.

[6] Ibid., 154.


About the Author

Tammy Dunahoo

Tammy is a lover of God, her husband, children and grandchildren. She is the V.P. of U.S. Operations/General Supervisor of The Foursquare Church.

15 responses to “The Forbidden Fruit”

  1. Good stuff here Tammy. Thanks for this. I had initially wanted to include in my original post a study done by Harvard Business School that studied the relationship between wealth and happiness. It showed that for every $25K increase in wealth a corresponding unit of happiness also increased. That I found interesting in the study can be summed up as follows:

    1. There’s a diminishing returns effect in that the more wealth one obtains the lesser the rate of increase in happiness obtains.
    2. There seems to be no ceiling to contentment. The study interviewed thousands of millionaires, the wealthy to the super wealthy and all of them could see happiness increase with more wealth, even though they all admitted to nothing changing in how they lived. We’re just never satisfied.

    The redeeming story in all this is that the research also pointed out that the most happy of these super wealthy individuals were the ones who are giving away most of their wealth like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

    Anyway, thought that was interesting. The Four Horsemen will never be satisfied with their current status. Each of them will just want more and more of the pie until something catastrophic happens.

    By the way, I agree with Galloway with his assessment of FB being the most precarious of the four.

  2. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    I love your construct of the garden of Eden and the forbidden fruit. Galloway’s suggestion to the break up of The Four will only move the underlying issues in new directions (not better). You are spot-on, we the church must model saying no to the forbidden fruit. We do not have to mindlessly give into the god of consumption.

    • Tammy Dunahoo says:

      Thanks, Harry. I think you have chosen the correct word, “mindless.” We use these technology giants without thought. I am reminded of Newport’s Deep Work and why this type of thinking is so important.

  3. Mario Hood says:

    Such a great connection Tammy. I always come away with more to wrestle with after reading your post. The saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I don’t think we ever consider the slow death we might be experiencing or the death of freedoms we once had. There may be somethings I need to “put to death” in order to see Christ resurrect them to a new image.

    • Tammy Dunahoo says:

      I agree, Mario, I am concerned it is slow death, somewhat like the frog in the kettle. I just hope we wake up before its too late especially for our children and grandchildren.

  4. Karen Rouggly says:

    I appreciated this, Tammy. It’s a good reminder of the fact that those at the top are really only doing what we (the consumers) are asking them to do. They aren’t doing anything that doesn’t resonate, in fact, we when don’t like what they do – they stop the project, they change direction. I think we forget the power that we have, and your post was a good reminder of it!

    • Tammy Dunahoo says:

      Exactly, Karen. It is supply and demand and we create the demands. I keep asking myself what moderation looks like so that the convenience is appreciated when needed but not relied upon or used without thought.

  5. Mary Mims says:

    Tammy, I love the connection to the forbidden fruit. I think it is also interesting that work was one of the outcomes of sin. I think in that God knew that we would work harder and harder to achieve more and more. What a cycle! Thanks for the reminder that we need to say no.

    • Tammy Dunahoo says:

      Thanks, Mary. There are some interesting articles and books about the theology of work and what God intended. Our broken world is seen in the vicious cycle and we fail to understand the depth of the sabbath principle.

  6. Great post Tammy and very sobering, its puts the blame squarely where it belongs, we’re all culprits and more finders point to us than the one pointing to The four. I like the way you relate it to the forbiden fruit story. As Christian leaders, what evils are we abetting by our silence and inaction, are we playing the blame game and refusing to take our responsibility to call them out and act?

    • Tammy Dunahoo says:

      Thank you, Wallace. I was made keenly aware of the need for discretion in our consumption through this week’s reading. We can all make a difference.

  7. Andrea Lathrop says:

    Tammy – thank you for this. It is difficult to boil this book down to our own personal day to day lives and choices. I need your thoughts and your challenge on this. We are going through a difficult thing with our son because of a social media issue – he barely has any access and we have learned a valuable and painful lesson with it. It’s just not worth it. There is no good or fun that can outweigh the potential pain of making a poor choice in a low moment that gets memorialized by the internet. I don’t want to live under a rock but I refuse to let culture dictate what is good for my kids – and me. We can live better lives with less dependence on these things. This book was a wake up call – in a different way than Newport – to be more thoughtful about these four.

    • Tammy Dunahoo says:

      I’m sorry, Andrea. Those are not fun moments to walk through with our kids. When we keep things from them for their good, they tend to react like the first couple did thinking God was withholding good things when in reality just the opposite is true. That’s hard for teenagers, especially, to understand.

  8. Digby Wilkinson says:

    So, are you saying that perhaps we should eat from the other tree in the garden, the tree of life? Have you ever wondered why God dropped that tree in the middle of the garden, right alongside the weed of the knowledge of good and evil? and why we didn’t even sample it? Is there a link to John 10:10? I’m wondering what to make of it?

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