This week we conclude our examination of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil by understanding why eating the fruit of the Tree led to death for Adam and Eve (and consequently, for all of us).
It’s easy to see what has become of humanity since the fall of man (just watch an episode of “Real Housewives”). But what were things like before Original Sin?
Before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they were in a state of complete innocence. They lived and thought only in the moment. They “walked with God” daily and thus received constant direction from Him. They never had to think about tomorrow or “what to do next”, because God was always there to tell them. Their only obligation was to obey.
The Bible makes a point of saying that they were naked and unashamed. They didn’t know the implications of being naked because they never thought that far ahead! They ran around naked and free in their naïveté without giving any thought to what would happen next. They were like babies in that sense (or college kids on spring break).
So what happened when they ate from the Tree? Well, as advertised, they gained knowledge of good and evil – of creation and destruction.
They knew what they didn’t know
Does this mean that Adam and Eve did not know what creation and destruction were before they ate the fruit? No, they knew about creation because God undoubtedly explained the origin of the world to them, plus Adam knew that Eve had been created. They knew about destruction because they witnessed it on a small scale whenever they ate fruit from the other trees (“destroying” it in the process).
But the complete definitions of good and evil are creation and destruction in the long-term. That is what Adam and Eve gained knowledge of: the long-term!
When they disobeyed God, they voluntarily disconnected themselves from His influence. Their constant “life guide” was gone. They were on their own for the first time in their existence. They were no longer led by an intelligence that was always and completely right and just. They had to figure out what to do next based on their own imperfect judgment and thought processes.
Their brains were re-wired
The human brain is in a constant state of creating and “rewiring” itself based on our thoughts and experiences. This is most dramatically true with infants because their lack of experience gives them the most new neural connections to make. As heretofore-innocent beings, Adam and Eve were in a similar position.
When they had to think long-term for the first time, brand new connections would have begun to form in their brains. They began to process long-term cause/effect relationships and they started to understand the ramifications of what they had done. They were able to imagine a future in which they were separated from God. They became afraid, and they hid.
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they began to see all the long-term implications of their nakedness – desire, sexual intimacy, joy, pregnancy, heart break, child rearing, guilt, jealousy, etc. (basically, they took on the opposite mindset of a kid on spring break).
When they experienced this flood of knowledge and the guilt associated with it, Adam and Eve committed the first religious act by covering their “shame” with fig leaves.
So what WAS the forbidden fruit?
What was it about the fruit that caused this? Did it have some type of “magical” composition? Did it contain a deadly brain toxin (could this have been the origin of high-fructose corn syrup)? No, I think that it was just regular fruit. What made it significant was God’s command not to eat it, which entailed the choice to stop living with moment-by-moment direction from Him. It was the choice that disconnected Adam and Eve from God, not the fruity goodness.
God told Adam that in the day that he ate the fruit, he would die. How could God accurately make that prediction? Because He knew the causes that would lead to the effects. God knew that Adam and Eve were not always and completely right and just, so when they gained the knowledge of the long term and had the burden of decision, they would choose to pursue death by being comparative.
But God, being just, had to give them the opportunity to be contrastive – to repair their brains and live. Instead, they predictably chose to be comparative. They chose death.
And thus all of their descendants (us) follow the same pattern. We are all born innocent, however, since we are born without a connection to God, we all quickly gain knowledge of the long term. And since we are not always and completely right and just, we (like our original ancestors) choose to be comparative. We all eventually commit Original Sin and our brains become wired to pursue death. We damage our brains and compound and escalate that damage as we gain more experience.
Well that’s not terribly encouraging
But fear not. All is not lost. In the next post we will conclude our study of the first dispensation by examining the curses that God placed on Adam, Eve, and the serpent after Original Sin. The curses are the source of many of the struggles we face today, but in the midst of the curses He pronounced, God also gave us our greatest hope for redemption. Next time.
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