I started reading the Bible (I have at least five copies in my home) and while reading Genesis a thought occurred to me. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil and were banished by God from the Garden of Eden. Several questions popped into my mind about the situation I had just read
- Why did God place this tree in the garden?
- God is omniscience, so why did he allow the snake in the God
- God punishes Adam and Eve for gaining knowledge, did plan for humanity involve us just being ignorant for all our days?
These three questions always plague my mind, there are some that I have provided answers to the first two questions. This from the ‘School of Christian Thought‘ Blog
You ask an important question, a question theologians, philosophers, and believers have been puzzling over for hundreds–if not thousands–of years. There is much we do not know about that time, so whatever we say about it must be held humbly. People of good faith debate whether we are to read Genesis 1-3 as literal history or as a metaphor broadly of who created us, why, who were are as human beings, and what has gone so terribly wrong. Regardless of how you read it, there is a looming question: why did God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden if he knew that Adam and Eve would disobey him?
I don’t know if there is AN answer to that question, but I do have some thoughts which may be helpful. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts. He said that God’s thoughts are as high above our thoughts as the stars in the heaven. So whatever God had in mind when he did it is not available to us, unless God’s chooses to reveal it to us plainly. Genesis 3 tells us what God did but not why.
Of all God’s creatures human beings are made in his image. This means, among other things, that we have a will of our own and make choices. Animals cannot choose. A species of bird driven by instinct to build a nest in the trees cannot decide to burrow beneath the ground for its home. Human beings, though, uniquely fashioned from the earth are not only able to make decisions, they must. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was there, in part, to provide humans with a choice: to obey the Voice of God or not. Had there been no choice, there could be no obedience. The ongoing question for us is whether we will choose to follow, love and obey the One True God. Yes, I think God knew that some people would choose to follow. Others would choose to follow their own designs. That is not a failure in God but in us. Had God made us so that we could only love him, then it would be no love at all. Love is at the heart of creation.
Another matter which comes to mind. The knowledge of good and evil seems like a good thing to have, but the question is: where should this come from? The “sin” of Adam and Eve is that they want to be “like God.” This means that they do not want to depend on God for the guidance of what is good and evil. They want to know it for themselves, which makes them the judge. They want the option in the future to say what is good and what is evil. In fact, God is the only judge in these matters. The Hebrew word translated “knowledge” may imply “knowledge by experience” rather than theoretical knowledge. God did not want young Adam and Eve to know evil by experience. As a parent, I can understand that. I want my adult son to “know” that adultery is evil and will harm him and his family, but I don’t want him to have to experience it to know it. Adam and Eve, however, chose disobedience; they apparently wanted to experience for themselves good and evil. That experience changed them and the world in profound ways.
Here’s a second from Rational Christianity
Though Adam and Eve lacked knowledge of good and evil before eating from the tree, that doesn’t necessarily mean they had no understanding of obedience and disobedience, or that they were totally ignorant of right and wrong – any more than the presence of the tree of life meant they were dead until they ate from it. Even today, we lack a complete understanding of good and evil – we continually debate and question various moral issues – yet we are not completely ignorant of good and evil either. God explained to Adam both what he was not to do (eat from the tree) and what the consequences of disobedience were (death) in Genesis 2:16-17. In other words, God taught them that eating from the tree was wrong, so they did know it was wrong, even if they were ignorant of other ethical matters. Eve clearly understood the command and the negative consequences, for she was able to explain it to the serpent.
Some have objected that Adam and Eve wouldn’t know what death was. However, God was able to communicate with them, apparently using spoken language, as soon as they were created. It would make sense for God to give Adam the command about the tree almost immediately, before Adam had the chance to eat from any of the trees, yet Adam was able to understand what God said, even if he hadn’t yet eaten anything. If God was able to give Adam and Eve the understanding of language, he could also have given them an understanding of what death was before they witnessed death themselves. (Interestingly, they may have witnessed animal death before eating the fruit – see Did Death Occur on Earth Prior to Man’s Sin? by Bert Thompson.) Additionally, Eve at least understood that death was something to be avoided, for she gave death as the reason why they were not to eat the fruit, and the serpent persuaded her by telling her she wouldn’t die.
Another way of looking at this is to consider the moral state of young children. Children lack moral knowledge and need to be taught right from wrong. Yet children are not completely devoid of moral knowledge, either: they know that when another child cuts in front of them in line or takes the toy they were playing with, they have a right to object. Children don’t have to be taught that there is such a thing as right and wrong, or that hurting people is wrong. They don’t have to be taught to feel guilty when they do something wrong. What they do have to be taught is which particular actions are wrong or will result in someone getting hurt.
It’s possible that Adam and Eve’s initial state was similar to this. In other words, they had the foundations of moral knowledge: they knew there was such a thing as right and wrong, and if one of them had hurt the other, they probably would not have regarded the act as morally neutral. However, they lacked specific knowledge (e.g. they didn’t recognize the difference between modest and immodest dress), and therefore learned some things when they ate the fruit. Their relative innocence still didn’t provide them with a valid excuse, as their awareness of morality coupled with God’s explicit instruction meant they knew it was wrong to eat the fruit.
So the answer that both of these authors can agree on is Adam and Eve choose disobedience and that is why they were punished very harshly.
To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fromt he tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life
it will produice thorns and thistles for you
and you will eat the plants of the field
by the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground
since from it you were taken
for dust you are
and to dust you will return
Now in this biblical passage, God punishes both Adam and Eve for disobeying, Eve he punishes by increasing her labor pains. Now during childbirth the pelvic widens to allow the baby through the birth canal. Now the moving of the pelvic region is judging from this passage is already painful but God decides to increase the pain to punish the mother of mankind. So God continues his punishment of pain to Adam in which he will painful toil the ground to grow his food and God even cursed the ground but says that the earth is actually cursed because of Adam. Also the plant life will produce thorns and thistles, so before I guessing by this statement plants lack thorns and thistle but now plants grow them because Adam is punished. I find God wanting to give his creations painful punishments quite interesting sorta like Christian Grey.
Now the second question is God pretty much knows all, why did he allow the snake in the garden if he knew that the serpent was gonna tempt Eve;was it a test? Now the snake is also seen as Lucifer the fallen angel the adversary to God. So why, this all could have been avoid if someone revoke Lucifer’s access to this garden.
Here is an answer from Carm
When God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were both innocent and good. Yet, God allowed Satan into the Garden knowing that Satan would tempt Eve and that they would both end up sinning. Why did He do that?
On my radio show, an atheist called in and tried to trap me by posing a moral dilemma. He was smart enough not to appeal to his own atheistic moral standard, so he tried a different tact. He asked if I believed it was wrong to put a murderer and child molestor in a room with a child, knowing how bad the guy was and knowing what could happen. I said that it would be wrong to do so. He then applied that to God allowing Satan in the Garden and how that it is also wrong because God knew what would happen. Unfortunately, the criticism doesn’t work. Here’s why.
First of all, Adam was not a child. He was a grown man. He had, to some degree, knowledge of right and wrong because God had told him not to eat of the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. In other words, Adam had been given a Law to follow that in itself included the option to obey or disobey. That is what the issue is about–not physical size in comparing a full grown bad guy and a small defenseless child. Adam made a moral choice, a wrong choice. So, the analogy doesn’t work.
Second, let’s work with the analogy and make it a little more accurate. Would it be okay to put a grown man in a room with a murderer? Why not if the man were strong and capable, etc? I’ve been in rooms with murderers when I did prison ministry. Was that wrong? No. Furthermore, all that happened in the Garden between Satan and Eve was a discussion. So, let’s modify the analogy a little more. Would it be okay to put a murderer in a room with a man if the only thing that could happen was they were going to have a conversation? I see no problem with that–even if you know the bad person is very clever. But don’t forget, to maintain the analogy the “good” person knows full well what the right choice is supposed to be. So, he is not defenseless or helpless.
Third, applying my opinion about a bad man and a child to the issue of God’s allowing Satan to talk to Eve does not invalidate the morality of what God did. The atheist would have to establish that it was morally wrong for God to allow the devil to tempt Eve. But how is he going to do that? If he appeals to the Bible for his standard, that won’t work because according to the Bible, God does no wrong; and he has His reasons for allowing people to be tempted. If the atheist appeals to His own reason, then He’s only expressing His opinion.
Fourth, God didn’t cause Adam to sin. Adam freely chose, when presented with the fruit from his wife, to rebel against God. Adam fell because he freely chose to disobey God but second because he listened to his wife who had also freely chosen to disobey. It was a choice that they both made in full knowledge of what was right and wrong. It is not an issue of a child molestor in the same room with a kid.
Fifth, if someone doesn’t like the
idea that God knew they would be tempted and would fall, and therefore says it was wrong for God to let it happen, then what he would be requesting is that God not allow people to fall into sin, no matter what. Think about it. Freedom of choice means that temptations will occur. Robots with no free will are not tempted; they can only respond according to their programming. But Adam and Eve were different. Being made in the image of God, they had free will which, for them, necessitated the option of rebellion, an option that was provided by the devil. If it hadn’t been he, it would have been something else later on! Furthermore, if a person says that God should have stopped Satan from tempting Eve, then shouldn’t that same person be consistent and say that God should stop all evil? Why stop at with the Devil in the Garden? Shouldn’t the person also want God to stop all murders, all rapes, all lies, and all evil thoughts? Shouldn’t he then remove the ability from anyone and everyone regarding the free will choice to rebel and do what’s wrong? After all, at what point do you want to stop and say this bad thing is okay to occur, but that thing is not?
Finally, why did God let Satan into the Garden knowing what would happen? Because it was His will to do so. Just as it is our will to see how our children will respond to situations knowing that they will fail, we do so because that is what it means to grow, to learn, to exercise one’s free will, and to take responsibility for our actions.
Here is another from Beacon Apologetics
Atheists love to bring up this argument stating that it would be wrong for God to do so, knowing what would happen. The first question I would like to ask the atheist is “from what moral standard would you be coming from?” If you present the argument as it being wrong for God to do so, then you must be coming from a moral standpoint.
Adam had a good grasp of what right and wrong was. He was an adult and had the free will to chose whether or not to take a bite of the fruit that Eve presented him with. It all boiled down to the freedom that God gave Adam to choose. The freedom to choose opens up the door for sin to enter, you make that choice.
God knew that Adam would sin. Adam and Eve were not automatons. They were tempted and the rebellion nature came through.
It was God’s will to allow Satan into the garden. Do you not think that even as parents we allow our children to do things that we know they will fail at, why would God be any different? It is by our failures that we grow and learn.
What can be derived from this statements is similar to how parents raise their children. Parents give their children rules and expect them to be obeyed. Example a little kid tries to touch the stove, but mom states that its hot. The child is curious and thus touches the stove learning that mom was right and now has a burned hand. So God pretty much gave his children one rule and they disobeyed which resulted in them being kicked out of the Garden of Eden into an unknown world – kinda like sending your kids off to college.
Now my last question, is one that puzzles me the most. The tree of Good and Evil provided knowledge to Adam and Eve which they did not possess. Now Adam and Eve had a pretty basic understanding like this is good to eat but this tree is bad but when it comes to stuff like nakedness obviously they didn’t posse the knowledge that they were till they ate of the fruit. So if the first man and woman never ate from the tree would all the discoveries and technological advances we have today even be possible? would mankind have still spread across the various continents forming different languages and races?
Here is a response from Kitaine
Consider this – If Adam and Eve would not have disobeyed God, they would have continued living in Eden – in paradise. They would have had children, procreated and filled the earth. They would never die….
So if they never died, then they never go to heaven…and they live forever in paradise on earth. That was God’s original purpose for man…wasn’t it? The bible says it was. It says that we die because Adam and Eve sinned. So if they never sinned and ate of that fruit – then surely they would have lived forever in paradise on earth.
This then leads me to ask the question of you, Why would God change his purpose for man? Why then would he say, “Ok – now you die and go to heaven?” or you disobeyed God, so “now you die and go to hell?” It doesn’t make sense that he would change his whole purpose for mankind.
God is not taught to be a being that changes his mind. He is shown to be very firm in his convictions. God then backs this up with many scriptures in the bible. As many of you shall recall the many scriptures speaking of everlasting life, that death shall be no more, that the wages sin pays is death..
If Adam and Eve never ate the fruit we would still be in paradise and just living blissfully apparently. I mean is sounds nice just siting all day under the sun eating fruit and having sex with your partner does sound like it would be nothing but fun but then what? would mankind just be in the garden obeying God for all eternity since we wouldn’t know death because mankind never ate of the fruit. Besides Adam and Eve there are other stories in which mankind is granted knowledge such as the story of Prometheus.
I’m sure that as I continue reading the bible I will have more questions that probably won’t be answered or have answers that don’t make sense at all. There is statement in Genesis that does tickle my brain
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and live forever
What does God mean which he says like one of us ? If God is the only god then why does he use the word ‘us’? another statement that tickles my brain is this
You shall no other gods before me
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.
Why is God jealous of other deities, if he is truly the one and true God then he should have nothing to fear from other deities. Now some may say that the Lord is refering to demons like Satan but demon and god are two different entities
God: is conceived as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith. The concept of God as described by theologians commonly includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence.
Demon: a supernatural, often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology and folklore. In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an unclean spirit, a fallen angel, or a spirit of unknown type which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism.
So who are these other gods that the Lord doesn’t want us worshipping and why? that is a question that would have to be answered in my next post.