Why did God create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
By David B. Capes
A friend of mine recently asked me this question:
I’m often asked questions like this: why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden if he knew that Adam and Eve would disobey him? I’d be interested to know how you answer that question.
Here is how I responded:
You ask an important question, a question theologians, philosophers, and believers have been puzzling over for hundreds–if not thousands–of years. There is much we do not know about that time, so whatever we say about it must be held humbly. People of good faith debate whether we are to read Genesis 1-3 as literal history or as a metaphor broadly of who created us, why, who were are as human beings, and what has gone so terribly wrong. Regardless of how you read it, there is a looming question: why did God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden if he knew that Adam and Eve would disobey him?
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I don’t know if there is AN answer to that question, but I do have some thoughts which may be helpful. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts. He said that God’s thoughts are as high above our thoughts as the stars in the heaven. So whatever God had in mind when he did it is not available to us, unless God’s chooses to reveal it to us plainly. Genesis 3 tells us what God did but not why.
Of all God’s creatures human beings are made in his image. This means, among other things, that we have a will of our own and make choices. Animals cannot choose. A species of bird driven by instinct to build a nest in the trees cannot decide to burrow beneath the ground for its home. Human beings, though, uniquely fashioned from the earth are not only able to make decisions, they must. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was there, in part, to provide humans with a choice…
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