Our Odd View of the Tree of Knowledge


#1

I’ve been thinking lately about the odd view we have of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

First, let me say that I understand that many here believe there was no literal tree, but that it represented a larger idea of the choice to sin or obey, or some other allegory. I’m not really speaking of that view, although my thoughts may pertain in some way to it, because the reasons they give for the question I’m about to ask are often similar. I’m speaking instead of people who view thew tree as a literal object in the garden that Adam and Eve were forbidden from eating.

Many people have asked some variation of the question, “Why did God create the tree of knowledge, anyway? Why didn’t he just not create it, so man would have not been able to sin?” There are other related forms of that question, I’m sure you can think of some you’ve heard over the years.

The general answer that is given is something like this: “God placed the tree in the garden to give us free will, so we could choose to love him and obey him, or to go our own way. He is a loving creator and didn’t want to create us as robotic slaves.”

John Piper, a Calvinist, approaches it from a different perspective but with, I think, the same basic idea. He says: “So what was God saying in prohibiting the eating of one tree out of a million trees? He was saying, “I have given you life. I have given you a world full of pleasure, pleasures of taste and sight and sound and smell and feel and nourishment. Only one tree is forbidden to you. And the point of that prohibition is to preserve the pleasures of the world, because if you eat of that one you will be saying to me, ‘I’m smarter than you. I am more authoritative that you. I am wiser than you are. I think I can care for myself better than you care for me. You are not a very good Father. And so I am going to reject you.’ So don’t eat from the tree, because you will be rejecting me and all my good gifts and all my wisdom and all my care. Instead, keep on submitting to my will.”

Both of these answers seem nonsensical to me. Both of them have, at their core, the idea that God placed the tree in the garden to give man the opportunity to sin if he chose to.

The reason this doesn’t make sense is because this wasn’t the first or only breakable commandment that God had given Adam. The first breakable commandment God gave Adam was “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” and “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”

Are we forgetting that sins of omission are just as sinful as sins of commission? Adam could have chosen to disobey God by:

  1. Not multiplying (selfishness)
  2. Not subduing the earth (laziness)
  3. Not dressing and keeping the garden (irresponsibility)

My point is, the tree was not needed to give Adam the choice to sin. He was free and had opportunity to disobey God without its existence.

So, the question remains then, why did God create the tree if he knew if would kill them?

Consider this:
We don’t know why he created it. He didn’t tell us.
Let me illustrate. Let’s say a mom creates a batch of cookies and places them on the counter, and tells the kids, “I’m going to the store, don’t eat these cookies.” The kids, of course, eat them. The mom comes home and punishes the kids. Later, the kids debate amongst themselves as to why the mom even made the cookies if she didn’t want the kids to eat them! Was she trying to test their obedience or give them freedom to choose? Was she trying to maximize their pleasure in the things they WERE allowed to eat (as John Piper might say)?

No, the simple answer that the kids, because they’re immature and don’t understand everything yet, didn’t get, was that they were made for after dinner, and eating them first would ruin their appetite which was ultimately bad for their health. So they were made for a different TIME. Another answer might be that they were made to be brought to the neighbors, not for the kids. So they were made for different PEOPLE.

The example above shows that we, as immature humans, cannot understand the myriad reasons why God might have created the tree. Maybe he would have let us eat off it later, at an appropriate TIME. Maybe the tree was necessary for different CREATURES in the ecosystem (food for gods, as the serpent suggested?). I’m just spitballing ideas but my main point is that God didn’t tell us, just like a parent doesn’t always tell a child, usually because they just wouldn’t be capable of understanding it.

Maybe the fruit of the tree was a vital part of the ecosystem, but was just poisonous to humans. Aren’t there lots of things in the creation that fall into this category: necessary, but dangerous?

If Adam had continued to live, and visited the edge of a cliff, wouldn’t God warn him: “Adam, thou mayest walk all over the earth, but thou mayest not walk off that cliff, for in the day thou walkest off the cliff, thou shalt die.” If Adam had walked off a cliff, would we be asking, “Why did God even create that cliff? Maybe God created the cliff to show Adam he had free will, or to emphasize all the places Adam COULD walk.”

Why do we have to make the story so weird and mystical (and, by the way, so human-centric), when it makes much more sense to take it at its practical, face value?


Is this a flaw in Old Earth Creationism?
(Phil) #2

Great post, though my take on it is that the tree is symbolic or allegorical. It seems that we tend to look at sin as outward actions (or inactions), but if you look at Jesus’ teachings, God is more concerned with the intent of the heart or will. The whole anger=murder, lust=adultery type thing. And the sin of Adam was not really eating the fruit, but rather wanting to be like God.


#3

I agree with you.


(George Brooks) #4

@nobodyyouknow

I think you’ve done a fine job of presenting answers to questions I’ve never thought about before. Nicely done!

Just to add to the stack, here are my thoughts on the “Tree of Life”:

Many skeptics see the Eden story as merely another case of a growing religious class taking rival stories, and bending them to the purpose of their particular God.

This was certainly common enough, anciently and more recently:
a. The Greeks adopted a Phoenician hero/god as Herakles (aka Hercules to the Romans).
b. The Catholics absorbed pagan Saturnalia into its high holy day for the birth of Jesus.
c. And many an ancient Church was built right on top of a pagan holy site - “decapitating” the
ancient beliefs, and frequently turning the local god into a Catholic Saint!

So it should not be unreasonable to think that the Levite Priesthood wouldn’t hope to
obliterate their opposition by turning pagan stories into God-inspired allegories about
the nature of Yahweh.

But when crafting an allegory, sometimes a detail is missed here or there, because trying
to anticipate every story plot “hole” detracts from what the writer really wants the reader to
remember. And sometimes an unrealistic plot twist is intentional! - - to tell the reader that
the story is not supposed to be interpreted literally.

Jonah being in a fish for 3 days is a pretty good example - - an obvious example - - of
an implausible plot that tells the reader - - there is some other reason to read this, because
it is obviously not supposed to be a story about something that literally happened.

So what part of the Eden story is our “signal” that it isn’t supposed to be seen as a real
story? I think the most glaring candidate is the “logic” of testing Adam’s morality before
he knows about Good and Evil.

@nobodyyouknow makes an excellent case that even without a Tree of Good & Evil, there
were still other ways for Adam to have sinned.

So the irony here is that only a sin involving the Tree of Good/Evil would have the double-impact
of simultaneously teaching Morality itself! - - and the serious consequences of disobeying Lord Yahweh!

The story is not about God Testing humanity – it’s about God Teaching humanity morality!
Yahweh wasn’t just a god – he was the ultimate God of morality And this was the ultimate Teaching Moment… as Adam and Eve were taught, so are the readers taught. Even Zeus was not considered the author of Morality.

The odds are high that the scribe that constructed that story knew that the details of the episode
were not historical. Especially since one of his main purposes was to make the reader understand
that humanity themselves were participants in their mortal circumstances and dilemma. It wasn’t
simply God doing something to humans.

The Sumerians have a roughly equivalent story where the human traveling to the realm of the Gods
is offered food/drink that will make him immortal. But because he is suspicious of the offer, he
rejects it - - and thus humanity was forever denied “being as the Gods”. Again - - humans are
depicted as participants in their fate from time immemorial.

One of the most important indicators that the story of Eden is a story about humans being
taught morality is that for centuries, the Jewish interpretation never included what would ultimately
become a Christian fixation: “original sin”. If that was the point of the story, I think at least one
Hebrew prophet would have mentioned it.


(Daryl Anderson) #5

I think the story is allegorical, but that doesn’t make the question any less interesting. I think the tree exists to describe each person’s “fall” into sin. We all sin when we redefine and rationalize right and wrong (“good and evil”) to do what our sinful/selfish nature influences us to do (“the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom”). Whatever pleasure results from our bad choices is temporary at best. The actual result is guilt, shame, and alienation from God (spiritual death that ultimately leads to physical death). The ancient Israelites repeatedly disobeyed God’s commands (frequently led astray by the evil influences in their world: not talking snakes, but pagan neighbors) and the results were always bad, eventually leading to the Babylonian Exile (cast out of the garden). The original audience would have recognized the warning posed by partaking of what God had forbidden. They gained that “knowledge of good and evil” by their pattern of disobeying God. A forbidden “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is a perfect allegory for Israel’s fall into sin… and each person’s fall into sin.


(Brian Dau) #6

I thought a lot about the nature of the tree when I was writing my novel Creation and Fall. Here’s what I came up with, which isn’t necessarily what actually happened, but which is at the very least a plausible modern reinterpretation:

After the serpent had tempted Adam and Eve, Adam thought, “If she eats it, I will do the same, because I could not bear to be apart from her; we must share in the same fate. She will not die alone, but neither shall she have knowledge which I do not share.”

Seeing Adam nod his head, Eve plucked the fruit from the tree. It gave way with a soft, crisp, barely audible snap. Adam watched, dumbfounded, as she closed her eyes and took a small bite of the fruit.

She chewed it briefly and forced herself to swallow it, almost gagging. It did not taste sweet, but bitter and piquant, and she grimaced as the taste of it seemed to fill not just her mouth, but her entire being. Her eyes watered uncontrollably.

Adam stood by, uncertain, but still said nothing. He merely gazed at his wife, trying to discern what effect, if any, the fruit had upon her. He took her in his arms, but still remained quiet, studying her face.

After only a few moments, a slow smile spread across Eve’s face, and her eyes seemed to twinkle with delight and mischief. “It is delicious,” she said, dreamily. “Wonderful…” She took another bite, larger than before, and although the taste was still bitter the bitterness was somehow pleasing to her. Her smile widened, and her face was beaming. “It is working! I am becoming wise… I feel… amazing!”

Eve rapidly finished eating, broke off another one of fruits, and gave it to her husband, saying, “Take this, and eat it, and become like God!”

So although Adam was afraid, he did as his wife asked, and ate of the fruit. As he did so, he said to himself, “She has told me that the fruit is good for food, so if any ill comes of this, she is to blame.” Like Eve, he had trouble swallowing it, because it had such a strong taste, unlike any fruit or vegetable he had eaten before. He almost spit it out, but observing Eve as she took another bite of the fruit, he forced the acrid fruit down his throat.

Adam stood without moving. Time did not seem to pass, or, rather, the amount of time that had passed from his eating of the fruit seemed indeterminate. Somewhere he saw his wife dancing around the tree, plucking at the low hanging fruit. Looking down, he saw the fruit still in his hand and he wanted another bite before quite understanding why. He had the sensation of vast understanding, and power, though also of not being able to articulate exactly what it was that he understood, or why it was that he felt power. All he knew was that he wanted more of the fruit, and so he finished the fruit in his hand. Though it was bitter and strong, its taste seemed to awaken his senses. He quickly joined his wife in gathering the fruit from the tree, lest she gather more than he.

The two of them continued picking and eating the fruit, in silence, and their appetite for it seemed insatiable. For a moment Eve considered saying “let’s climb the tree and get more,” but the words wouldn’t come, and an instant later the unspoken suggestion vanished from her lips. Nevertheless, she began to climb the tree, eating as she went unsteadily up, the juice of the fruit dribbling down her face and onto her chest. Adam clambered up after her, using both his hands and feet to make his way up, awkwardly clinging to the withered branches of the tree while maintaining his grip on the fruit he had not yet devoured. They lost awareness of one another, and focused on plucking and eating more of the fruit.

When at the same time they each spied the fruit hanging far off a thin branch, and saw that the other had also seen the fruit, they became aware of one another not as helpmates, but as competitors. Although there was still fruit higher up the tree in other branches, they each desired the particular fruit that hung precariously from the far branch, and they rushed recklessly at it.

Eve arrived first, because she had started closer to the fruit’s position, and she lunged wildly to reach it. Her hands were slippery from the juice of the fruit, and so she lost her grip momentarily on the branch she clung to for support. As she saw Adam coming, she stretched her arm out as far as it would go, and though she could just touch the fruit, she could not grasp it. Adam almost fell, but swung his arm around the branch and pulled himself up. However, the shifting weight, along with a dizziness that had overtaken Eve as she consumed more of the fruit, caused Eve to flip, and she fell headfirst into the mud below. Adam paid her no heed, but put his weight on the thin and withered branch in hopes of reaching the fruit. His grip slipped away as the branch broke under his weight, and he too fell headlong into the muck.

Before they lost consciousness, Adam and Eve each heard the serpent hiss as it said, “Now you are like me.”

Satan brought Adam and Eve to a low place, a deserted valley, filled with nothing but rocks baking under the intense glare of the sun. The serpent crawled in and out of the spaces between these, kicking up a hot dust that stung their eyes. Their heads were swimming from the effects of the fruit, and as they sat up they each vomited out undigested bits of it, which spattered on the rocks of the hot desert. Their bile evaporated almost immediately in the sun’s extreme heat. Their mouths were scorched by the acrid aftertaste.

They retched again and again. Even as they heaved, they looked up yearningly at the fruit now high above them, out of their reach forever. When the spasms in their stomachs subsided, they collapsed, each instinctively curling up tightly into balls to minimize their skin’s surface area. Despite this the sun’s hot light seared their very bones. They clamped their eyelids shut against the fire, but it penetrated nevertheless so that bright blood redness filled their sight. They would have groaned, but they still could not speak or even utter a sound, so they convulsed, stupefied by pain and fear, while Satan accused them.


(George Brooks) #7

@Brian_Dau

A perfectly fine sequence, but I think you missed some places for clues even earlier.

  1. Eve is able to decide God must have been mistaken about touching the fruit if she sees the Serpent handling it without dying. While she might have wondered if God’s warning only applied to humans, not thinking about every possibility is not the same as sin.

So she touches it … which was, as we point out above, not perfectly rational. But having touched it and not dying, obviously eating it is less problematic.

Her having eaten from it creates the same conclusion in Adam: God must have been mistaken.

Etc. etc.


(Brad Kramer) #8

@nobodyyouknow thanks for starting this great thread. This is such an interesting and important topic. Every time I read through the “Eden” chapters, I feel like I have new questions and insights.

A brief thought about the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”: In a weird way, it seems to represent adulthood. Consider these facts:

  • Adam and Eve’s state before the Fall strongly resembles childhood. They are naked and unashamed, they have been recently created, and they are in a botanical nursery.
  • The “knowledge of good and evil” is associated elsewhere in the OT with coming of age. Consider Deuteronomy 1:39 in the KJV:

Moreover your little ones, who you said should be a prey, and your children, who in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in there, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

In a sense, the “Bar Mitsvah” ceremony for boys was about acknowledging they now had the knowledge of good and evil and were thus now a “son of the commandments” (English translation of that phrase). This is roughly equivalent to the ill-defined “age of accountability” I was taught growing up (around age 12, if I remember) after which your sins would send you to hell.

  • The consequences of the curse are weirdly similar to adulthood itself. They are kicked out of the nursery, Eve is told about the pains of childbirth, and Adam now has to till the ground.

Here’s another perspective from a Jewish website on the tree: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2568/jewish/The-Tree-of-Knowledge.htm


(George Brooks) #9

Excellent… Adulthood is very much the “buzz kill” that the expulsion from Eden story indicates!


(Daryl Anderson) #10

There would seem to be two rather significant problems with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil representing adulthood. First, it was explicitly forbidden by God. Doesn’t it seem like the tree represents something we should not do? There is nothing wrong with reaching adulthood. Second, the passage cited from Deuteronomy 1:39 (as well as Isaiah 7:14-16) does exempt children from moral accountability, but that is not the case with the tree. In fact, God says “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” God certainly holds them morally accountable, right from the start.
Also, the consequences of the curse do not correspond to adulthood, but to the consequences of sin: they experience guilt and shame, are alienated from God, from one another, and from their environment; they experience pain and ultimately, death.


(Brad Kramer) #11

There’s nothing wrong with wearing clothing and experiencing pain in childbirth and tilling the ground either, yet those are consequences of the curse.

I think both of us could be right, in a way. The author of Genesis might be using the metaphor of childhood into adolescence to help people understand why humans cannot live in the edenic state anymore. There’s a rupture of innocence that accompanies the passage of childhood into adolescence with clear consequences, yet this rupture is very much part of the human experience. We lack the ability to grow up with our innocence intact, and will not have this ability until the New Creation.

I guess I’m in the camp of people who sees the Fall as a tragic inevitability, which is influencing my interpretation here.

However, I concede that your counterarguments are important and valid, and I should have brought them up in my initial posts.


(Jay Johnson) #12

Could not agree more.

Yes, which virtually all societies around the globe recognize. In modern times, we even must codify it into juvenile law, setting an age at which juvenile offenders can be held legally responsible for their crimes. Texas, for example, sets the age at 10.

Kierkegaard agreed with you. Here’s his view, from The Concept of Anxiety:

The account in Genesis gives also the right explanation of innocence. Innocence is ignorance. This is by no means the pure being of immediacy, but it is ignorance. The fact that ignorance regarded from without seems as though designed to become knowledge is entirely irrelevant to ignorance.


(Daryl Anderson) #13

Yes, I think we’re not that far apart. I also believe the fall was a tragic inevitability in the sense that each person will fall into sin and require a Savior. I also believe the story conveys why we are not living in an edenic paradise, however, I think God is saying that it is His intent that humans live in a loving relationship with Him eternally in paradise but our free choice to disobey Him has postponed that reality (God’s intent is always fulfilled eventually) until the New Creation (note the allusions to Eden in Revelation 2:7; 22:1-5, 14).

I guess I’m resisting the idea that the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents the “rupture of innocence that accompanies the passage of childhood into adolescence” because, to me, that seems to trivialize the serious consequences of disobeying God. I know that’s not your intent. I’m just explaining why I seem stubborn on that point.


#14

Maybe we should say that entering adulthood doesn’t cause us to fall- entering adulthood causes us to understand sin, which we inevitably choose to commit. Entering the kitchen doesn’t cause us to gain weight. It presents to us a plate of cookies, which we inevitably eat.

Jesus entered adulthood and did not fall. He was presented with sin, but kept his innocence intact.

So adulthood itself is not exactly the same as the fall. But what happens when we enter adulthood AND consequently choose to sin is strongly correlated to what happened to Adam and Eve.

Great insight here. I never thought about God basically telling Adam, “Get out of my house and get a job!”

And salvation is a type of returning to child-like innocence. We are “born again” and “become like little children” to enter the kingdom of God.


(Michael Peterson) #15

I would argue that many (if not most) Old Testament and Hebrew Bible scholars would argue that when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they became sexually aware and procreative - at least that’s what the underlying Hebrew suggests.

You might want to read the commentary here and here. The latter is taken from a survey compiled by Gordon Wenham in his Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1-15 beginning on page 63.

The rationale is this: because the procreation of immortal beings in an enclosed garden would lead to catastrophe, the primordial couple needed to be expelled from Eden.


(Jay Johnson) #16

You’re right that it is a common opinion, but it’s definitely a minority opinion. Even if we grant that particular understanding of the meaning of the tree, however, the story arc still takes Adam & Eve from childhood to maturity.

Good point. Never thought of that connection before.


(Albert Leo) #17

@beaglelady

Surely this statement needs qualifying. We now believe that God’s “character” is exemplified by Empathy, Compassion, and Abounding Love. Surely it is not sinful to want to possess these qualities, even if only to the small extent made possible by our evolved nature. When Genesis was written, the Jews had not totally discarded the idea that theirs was a jealous God whose power could be contested.
Al Leo


(GJDS) #18

This is the overriding question - we need to understand the “why” of all creation by God, then we may be in a position to ask specific questions. A great deal of theological ink has been used to try and comprehend the “why” of Creation. Early theological discussion accepted that angels (spirits) had chosen to sin against God by desiring to be god themselves.

I think that a great deal of difficulty arises when questions are asked within a context of materialism (often under the guise of biological evolution) - however the entire Bible is based on the premise that God is Creator, and that imo is the starting point for enquiry.


(Marvin Adams) #19

To all scientists, let it be translated not as the tree of knowledge, but as the tree of moral realisation.
The fall is clearly the central philosophical part of the bible about the conflict of being human and to get the understanding of the concept of sin, e.g to claim moral judgement based on ones self. To describe metaphysical concepts in pictures of physical concepts has been one of the great achievements of the author of Genesis in creating a poetic picture of the mind using the tree as the symbol for the concept of emergence including the fruits coming from trees.
Considering that the teachings are meant for children and grownups and the illiterate and the literate alike, when debating it at a intellectual / metaphysical level it is helpful to rise above the tree.

As pointed out elswhere, the fall is a poetic description of puberty, e.g. the realisation of the self that is the requirement for making your own value judgement. The disobedience, e.g. the rejection of authority over the self when it comes to moral jugements is the central teaching here, as the core function that makes up the “self”, the ability to make your independent value judgement from consciousness. In the absence of onmiscience it brings you in conflict with the absolute value judgement as we form our own and unless we realise that discrepancy and thus hand back our self we are living in sin. It is not about disobedience but about authority in the judgement which is not about having children or no or refusing to go somewhere but about moral judgement.

If you are a parent you will experience / have experienced that paternal struggle of your children becoming their own self, how after years of washing them and seeing them naked they suddenly think their bit’s fall off if you see them naked under the shower and want that fig leaf. You will also (hopefully) experience their love after all that struggle of puberty, when they are independent and then realise how different it feels to be accepted by that now independent child “willingly” which only can happen if they are free.
However by separating our self from Gods eternal self makes us a mortal self by definition. Thus our death is not a punishment of God for our disobedience but a logical consequence of our action. God knows the problem and showed us the way back and how to regain imortality in Jesus, to see how we can become one again with God by accepting his authority over us, in suffering and death. Jesus died for us not as a trade deal to make God happy but to demonstrate to us that if we put ourselves back under Gods authority that we can endure all suffering and become immortal by learning to live again in anyone’s heart and give our self back. It is something we learn when growing up by giving our self away to those we love, to our spouse and then to our children to our parents and eventually to our neighbours. And we can only give away our self, e.g. love, if we possess it. Pity on those who think love is about the gratification of the self, to expect to get ones wishes fulfilled as a sign of someone elses love and think it their right to expect to have your wishes fulfilled. But then that is how we teach love in the material world by giving others what they wish for and not what they need.

The big sin of Adam was actually not the one of taking authority over the self, as that in the end is a learning process we have to go through in order to grow up and return to God, but the denial of the being one and not taking responsibility for it, be humble and repentant. Sarcastically said, Men still do what Adam did in the beginning in Genesis 3:12, they blame the woman :slight_smile: and therefore implicitly God for giving her to him - or for giving us the wrong kind of genes. Funny that, when feminists want to be equal to men, I always wonder why they want to sink that low, and why they do not see that they already are there by fulfilling their own prophecy. They already have become like the ones they aspire to be - by blaming the others :slight_smile:
Now moderators, please see the irony in my comments and don’t think I believe all men and women to be like that - have a smile yourself and have a nice day everyone and enjoy the season -ing. Sure God smiles at us as well, as we do when we love your children however silly they can be. It is easier for him, as unlike us he has the benefit of being able to offer us unlimited comfort when he takes us in his arms, a peace that is beyond our comprehension, but not beyond our imagination as we can experience when we take someone in our arms for giving comfort.

Big hug to everyone and thanks for giving us the gift of the hug


(G Ack) #20

I can not believe the timing of this question. I have been struggling with this concept for a while, and is something that from time to to I go back to and try to research, but inevitably give up because I am unable to find the answers that appease my questioning. I love the answer that the fruit is for other beings and perhaps for us at a later time. Part of my question has always been, God says, “don’t eat from that tree you’ll die.” But death did not exist within the world. Death would have no meaning to Adam and Even. If I told my son he was free to eat anything in the kitchen except the cookies because he’ll surly get a disease if he eats only the cookies, then (he’s 5 of course he eats only cookies) he eats only cookies and I let him, I then blame her for having diabetes. Who’s truly to blame for my sons preventable diabetes?

I have only been able to think of a few reasons why sin was needed to be “learned” not imputed into a creation from beginning. I believe creating a being with the ability to sin, would force Gods hand to create sin, which would be against the nature of God. Not against his ability to do so, just against his nature, and against who He is.

Or, evolution played a role and we were sinful, natural ape like creatures first, learned of God, and turned back to nature and away from Him.

But I think the tree, from a biblical perspective, was needed because:

  1. Creating a being with true understanding of good and evil would be against Gods nature.
  2. True free will involves knowledge of both good and evil without that knowledge is not free will, its random choice.
  3. God gave to us one of the greatest gifts, that being the ability to choose between Him and Darkness. And, one of the most important things we can do as believers is to give it back. God with this amazing grace takes it from us and we say, “Take this cup from me Father it is far too much for me to bare.”