GENESIS CHAPTER 3 KJV
First things first. There are two distinctions here: good from bad, and right from wrong. Do you grasp the difference? Not everyone does, for reasons I'm about to get into. But here's the difference: good from bad is about outcomes. Good outcomes, bad outcomes. Happiness, suffering. On the other hand, right from wrong is about actions: right actions, wrong actions. The connection is cause-and-effect: if you do what is right, you will - more often than not - have a good outcome. If you do what is wrong, you will likely suffer evil consequences. And if you do only what you are told, then it's up to whoever you obey to be aware of all this.
The Serpent does not quite straight up lie to Eve. (He comes very close with "Ye shall not surely die" - but note the careful, pettifogging wording!) The real poison is when he tells the straight truth: "your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Eve is quite simply bamboozled. She falls for a sleight-of-tongue that most adults would see right through. The Serpent confuses her with more information than she can handle, and she is easily confused indeed. Trying to wrap her head around this new information, she forgets God's command. She just can't keep it all in her head at the same time. One gets the sense that she doesn't even understand God's warning. Die? What's that? She knows nothing of death at this point. It's an abstraction to her. This is the original sin: the wrong sort of innocence.
And Adam? He eats the fruit simply because his girl says to. That's a good enough reason for him. Would it be a good enough reason for you? You could argue that this is all Adam's fault because he failed to be the head of the household. But Adam is not mentally equipped to be the head of the household. He is a boy, not a man.
Adam and Eve are not adult personalities. They are children. They cannot grasp the full implications of the choice before them. Up to this point in time they are very well behaved children, but that doesn't last.
It seems to me the very nature of their obedience is the problem. They don't obey God because they choose to obey. They obey only because it never occurs to them not to. They are impressionable, and thus easily led astray. They do what God tells them to because He tells them too - no other reason. Then they do what the Serpent suggests (he doesn't flat out command it) because he suggests. They fall for temptation because they have no practice resisting temptation, and no understanding of what temptation even is. It simply doesn't occur to them to go against whatever they're being told at the time by whomever.
Before the Fall, mankind robotically does what is right, and thus never suffers evil consequences. Not knowing bad, he has no basis of comparison to appreciate good. He takes his easy, orderly existence in the Garden for granted. Not ever doing wrong, he has no basis of comparison to know what makes right right. Adam and Eve are sheltered children.
After the Fall, Man knows good from bad, but has lost track of what very little he knew of right from wrong. Once he knew how to tend the Garden, but now he is cast out of the Garden into unfamiliar territory, with no map. He is lost.
Much of human civilization can be seen as a failed effort to build a new Garden. The trouble is, we don't know how. It wasn't Man who laid out the first one. So we try for the Garden and end with a concrete jungle.
Before the Fall, Man knows that he is commanded not to eat of that tree, but he is incapable of grasping just why that is, and thus cannot appreciate how important the command is. (Remember: if you've never seen death, "die" is just a word.) Before the Serpent befuddles Eve, it never occurs even to wonder why the command exists. Mindless obedience substitutes well enough for moral seriousness - until the Serpent comes along.
Suppose Adam and Eve had had a larger mental capacity? Then knowing good from bad might not have harmed them. But then they never would have fallen for the Serpent's manipulations in the first place. The warning was the sort that is best appreciated by those who are the least in danger. It's like the "do not eat" stamp on packets of silica gel. Anyone who would heed that doesn't need to be told in the first place.
And why does that Tree even exist? God made a point of putting that thing right in the center of the Garden. Perhaps it was there for some future date, when Adam and Eve would have become able to handle it. Perhaps all the pain and horror of human history is the result of Man growing up too fast.
The moral: it is harmful to tell the truth to those who cannot grasp it. Lesser intellects should not be given more information than they can process.
The other moral: you can't shelter your children indefinitely. Sooner or later, one way or another, children have to grow up. And growing up is the death of innocence.
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