It is impossible to taste the sweet without having first tasted the sour. This is one of the many lessons found within Genesis 2.0 and more specifically the story of Adam and Eve. It is also from this twisted tale of betrayal and deceit that we gain our knowledge of mankind’s free will, and God’s intentions regarding this human capacity. There is one school of thought which believes that life is mapped out with no regard for individual choice while contrary belief tells us that mankind is capable of free will and therefore has control over hisown life and the consequences of his actions. The story of Adam and Eve and the time they spent in ?paradise? again and again points to the latter as the truth. Confirming that God not only gave mankind the ability to think for himself but also the skills needed to take responsibility for those thoughts and the actions that they produced.
Within the Garden of Eden God placed two exquisite trees. Each quite different in its purpose, however both proved to play an integral role in the tale of mans beginning. Perhaps the better known of the two, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, was the only one, which God imposed a contingency upon. ?You many freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of if you shall die.? Is this to imply that knowledge is perhaps more important and therefore more closely guarded than life?
After just a first reading this may seem to be true, however upon further analysis it becomes apparent that God’s intention was not to imply that knowledge was more significant than life, but instead that it cannot be appreciated without first possessing knowledge of both good and evil.
See the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.
God knew that since both Adam and Eve had now gained knowledge of both good and evil they would soon learn to really appreciate life and all it has to offer. And for this reason the couple was expelled from paradise. Had Eve ignored the serpent and refused to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil perhaps civilization would still exist as nirvana. However happiness and in effect perfection is relative. A beautiful spring day is only as beautiful as the worst storm you have experienced.
In exchange for knowledge and as a result of Eve’s actions man was required to labor for his food, while his companion, woman, was to bear the pain of childbirth. But perhaps the most significant consequence that came from eating the apple from the forbidden tree was mankind’s mortality. ??until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.? Before this passage nowhere was death, or an end to life, addressed. Of course the presence of the tree of life within the Garden of Eden suggests that mortality may be an issue, however an uncertain one at best. When the story begins the option of immortality does exist for all of God’s creatures, but once Eve chooses to disobey the orders given to her this option is eliminated.
Does this mean that Eve’s actions were bad? The bible itself doesn’t seem to take a position on this, and perhaps this is so because it is the wrong question to be asking. Instead what should be focused upon is why God chose to place the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden if he was simply going to forbid its being eaten? Maybe he wished to see what mankind would do when faced with such an option. Would they choose the tree of life? Or would they choose what they had explicitly been told to stay away from, the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Regardless of the decision, by creating the choice itself God has instilled upon mankind free will.
Free will allows man to play a significant role in his own fate. This is not to say that the story of Adam and Eve completely dismisses the theory of destiny, but it suggests that man is certainly capable to controlling his future. This coupled with the earlier notion of man being punished for his disobedience explains why God allows bad things to happen. Either it is his lack of intervention in an attempt to allow man free will, or in specific cases a direct result of man’s insubordination.
However the question then still remains as to God’s motivation for threatening both Adam and Eve regarding the tree of knowledge. It was an obvious attempt to limit the same free will that he opted to bestow upon mankind. Either it was an honest effort to warn the couple of the consequences their actions would have, or perhaps God chose to play on man’s instinct to do that which he has been told not to do. One of man’s more basic human natures is to be intrigued by the forbidden. By explicitly telling Adam and Eve to stay away from the tree of knowledge, God in effect inhibited man’s free will.
All in all the actions of Eve were neither good nor evil, but instead necessary. Through her actions she brought to light the evils of the world, and as a result man is able to appreciate that which is good. Moreover one cannot blame Eve for what she did because although as we have seen God did instill upon mankind free will, he used his threats as a means of manipulating this gift. Although there were many trees in the Garden of Eden, having the tree of knowledge of good and evil forbidden created mystery for Eve, and therefore drew her to it over the tree of life. And once both Adam and Eve choose with their own free will to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil immortality is no longer an option. Now that man is knowledgeable enough to appreciate immortality, God removes it as an choice. In a way this story shows us the flaws of both man and God. Man in that he is tempted by that which is forbidden and does not always respect the orders of those in a position of authority; And God is shown to be somewhat devious and perhaps even malicious at times.