Why shouldn’t we have “the knowledge of good and evil”?

Surely it’s good that we know the difference between right and wrong, so why did God create a tree forbidding Adam and Eve from seeking that knowledge?

God’s explanation in Genesis 3:22 is that man, having eaten the forbidden fruit, “has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Becoming like God was the problem. But God deliberately made man in his own likeness, so “becoming like him” in his likeness in something would surely be a good thing, wouldn’t it?

But did it turn out that way? Did it turn out to be a good thing for humans to suddenly know everything about good and evil like God does? No, because it overwhelmed them, it was too much all at once. Adam and Eve were like children at this stage of their lives, only just starting out on this incredible voyage God had in mind for them, and they had no clue as yet what they needed to know. So God started them off slowly, learning the secrets of the soil, first of all, by having them take care of a garden. And that, in God’s wisdom, was the best way for them to begin: Start off with basics, learn by hands-on, and don’t get in a hurry.

And it worked wonderfully. In his child-like innocence Adam trusted his “Dad,” he did everything God said, and the work and learning progressed. Imagine, then, if that had continued, and humans from Adam on had trusted God and followed along at his pace, believing he knew best.

But the chance for Adam and Eve to speed things up and take off on their own, rather than hobble along at God’s pace, was hugely appealing. Why not get all the knowledge they needed to know all at once, so they could quit messing around with soil and jump straight to all that God knew about nuclear physics or quantum mechanics? So they went for it. But what happened?

They immediately lost their child-like innocence and trust. They suddenly grew up into mature, independent adults, where instead of happily running around naked like children, they suddenly became aware of sex and sexual differences, which totally overwhelmed them. They didn’t know how to react, just like children who get all embarrassed when they catch their parents kissing.

God knows what knowledge we need when, and he gave us brains that learn in stages, not all at once. The question that faces all us humans, then, is, “Will we trust God to teach us at his pace and in his time, because he knows what’s best for us – including what we need to know about good and evil?”


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