Question about homo sapiens and the forbidden knowledge

If Adam and Eve were homo sapiens from 200,000 years ago, how did they get the knowledge of good and evil? Humans were already conscious so wouldn’t have they already had the knowledge of good and evil?

Great question. I would think so. In fact, I think that animals, depending on their development, may well have varying senses of good and evil, too. I think, personally, that the story was symbolic. I don’t think it was literally true. Thanks.


Romans 5:13 answers it.

Before the law, sin already existed, but before the law sin was not something people were held accountable for.

Eating fruit is not a sin. But if God says not to touch or eat a specific fruit then it has become a sin if you do. Adam and Eve were given very few rules. It seems they kept those rules until being deceived. So most likely they already understood good and evil. But until that point they had not decided their will is better than Gods will and eat the fruit.


Good point. Yet, there were innumerable opportunities to do what they knew could be wrong–unkindness to each other, etc. Would that not qualify as well?

I’m sure they did sin. I have no reason to believe they were perfect. The fact that they could be deceived meant they were not perfect. However, it seems that God did not call all those other things sin yet. Same as we can see chimps being cruel to each other. But I doubt God considers it a sin.

I feel we can see that in the story as well. Would not the sin had first been to even think God was wrong before moving on? When it says sin entered through one man, Adam, is that not also weird since it was actually Eve who did it first? Everything seems to infer that there is more to the story than simply eating it. I think a clue is how the pattern is used further down when David spied on Bathsheba. Before he did anything, he first lusted in his heart after her while she was bathing.

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The even bigger question is if Adam and Eve were homo sapiens from 200,000 years ago, how did the author of Genesis know about them 196,600 years after they existed?


By the evolution of morality, yes Aidan. Which goes back millions if not billions of years. Minimally we’ve ‘only’ been behaviourally modern human[s] for 50,000 years, but I agree, we’ve been significantly so for eight, sixteen times that. Little monkeys are moral. So are elephants and octopi. They know what fairness is, reciprocity, cheating. All higher animals do. Competition and aggression are easily observed in worms and insects. Even plants. So is co-operation. Politeness.

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Sin existed before .God created them with the capabilty of right or wrong.Thats why in my opinion they were different from every other homosapient

Why in the world would you think A&E were 200,000 years ago? Are you trying to fit them into the slot of “first homo sapiens.” Not only is that contrary to the scientific evidence regarding the minimum population of the species in times past, but I think this attempt to attribute our humanity to a genetic mutation is highly misguided. And more importantly putting them that far back in time would make them practically irrelevant to the beginning of human civilization – or indeed significant for much of anything at all. What do you imagined changed 200,000 years ago that would be so important?

Therefore I would place A&E 6,000 to 12,000 years ago around the beginning of human civilization.

We do not get knowledge of good and evil from a single source but from many sources, including personal experience. Surely you don’t think any of it came from eating a magical fruit. To be sure many feel they have acquired wisdom about good and evil from a relationship with God. And that sort of knowledge does seem to come from particularly inspired individuals or groups.

All living things are conscious to varying degrees, but this doesn’t follow. I don’t see much of a link between consciousness and knowledge of good and evil.

Do animals have knowledge of good and evil? Do animals sin?

Animals do not have language – that is the only real difference. They have instincts. Some have instincts for tools. Some have instincts for social behavior. So I would not say that they do not have morality. I think that is wrong. There are reasons why some things are better behaviors especially among social animals. But I doubt they conceptualize such things with the abstracts like “good” and “evil.” So I guess it depends on what you want to call “knowledge of good and evil.”

As for whether animals have sin, it probably depends on how you define sin. I define it as self-destructive habits. And I am pretty sure that animals form habits just as we do and it is all too likely that some of them are self-destructive. But I do think that language and the abstract thought which goes with it adds a significant dimension to all of this.

So what about the development of language. Since there are pretty clear interactions with genetic evolution that has certainly been going on for a long time. But that doesn’t mean there are not critical milestones in the transition from communication to an abstract capable language with representational capabilities rivaling DNA. I would suggest memes such as “person” and “love” as well as “good” and “evil” may be very significant in providing the substance needed for the human mind as a living organism in its own right with its own needs and inheritance.

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why should the knowledge if good and evil be forbidden? Would the God in your theological understanding not want his children to know good from evil? Did he not tell them it was not good from the tree of the “realisation of good and evil” because it wold make them mortal?

I always wonder how many people reading the bible are still stuck in puberty that they do not recognise its poetic description in the story of the fall. Are our children conscious before puberty? Are they not allays fighting the battle with the devil wanting to be like their parents / the grown ups by doing what they are told not to do, like taking drugs for example of having sex for fun?

The story is about rejecting authority over the self by defining yourself in your own body, thus becoming mortal as not defining yourself as part of the eternal life but as your own. Thus your mortality is the logical consequence of that step, not the act of revenge of a loving father. The tree is actually not called the tree of knowledge or wisdom as it is sometimes thought of, as ig a loving father would want his kids to remain stupid, but the tree of “realisation of good and evil”. It is a wonderful poetic pun, as realisation is about becoming aware of it as in experiencing it on yourself, but also means making it real.
To accuse a father of not wanting to understand what is good and evil is different from a father not wanting his children to experience good and evil. Put yourself in the situation of the father. Would you not want to shield your kids from that experience and not want to take responsibility for their actions if you love them? Would you want them to do as you you wish or give them free will?

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It wouldn’t. But neither would it be acquired by eating a fruit or anything else so simple and quick. There is however something superficially similar that can be. This is the authority to dictate what is good and evil. That is something that can be acquired fairly easily… like being elected or chosen for a political office, or becoming the parent of children. And as we know all too well… having such authority doesn’t mean that we have any substantial knowledge to back it up.

He would want us to know this.

No. He did not say any such thing. He only said not to eat of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” for on the day they eat of it they would surely die.

No… the Hebrew word is hadda’at and it is always translated as knowledge or in 1 Kings 7:14 something which added to understanding enables one to accomplish things (some translate this as skill or cleverness but this could also simply be knowledge).

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it is one of the limits of language - or translation
the German translation is “Baum der Erkenntnis” thus more akin to recognition or realisation. It can not be exchanged with “wissen” Ich kann dich kennen, aber ich kann dich nicht wissen. It is a bit like that you can know something but you do not understand it, as knowledge does not imply understanding or experience.

The other interesting note on the fall is about death being a novelty factor to the world as it only came into existence after the fall. This would imply that God in his infinite wisdom presented Adam and Eve with a threat they could not understand as the concept of death would not be known to them. So no wonder they ate from the tree :slight_smile:

Further thoughts. In the story A&E were conscious for some time without the knowledge of good and evil. What difference does pushing that back 196,004 (get it right Christy!) years make? If you are using them figuratively for our first conscious ancestors then that is another question. What would the knowledge of good and evil have been, if anything, in the first minimally conscious minds? What degree of consciousness is necessary for the knowledge of good and evil? I have memories - consciousness - of being a year old and two years old, the latter involves the dawning of ‘morality’ in consciousness.

Your question is a rich vein to mine for meaning of every noun and one adjective, at least: What do you mean good, evil, the knowledge of them, conscious.

The issue wasn’t then becoming aware of good and evil, the issue was them trying to be God and take control of their life outside of Him. The story is clear, God gave them the command to not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden and to trust God the Father. They were tricked by the serpent in that God was lying and leaving them out from something good and that they had to take control and not God. That was the issue of the story in Gen. 3. Humanity already had the idea of good and evil.

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