The Knowledge of Good and Evil … January 07, 2013

Genesis 2:16–17

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 …but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Preconditions: For the sake of this post we shall pretend that this God, the one of the Bible, exists.

God

Why did God object to Adam and Eve having knowledge of evil?

There are many who say that if He didn’t want his new creation to know the knowledge of good and evil, why did He put the tree of such knowledge in the Garden of Eden to tempt them. The answer is that He wanted to test their loyalty, or so it is said. He wanted them to choose between obeying and disobeying. Of course, being Omniscient, He already knew the choice they would make. So, why the test? An omniscient God eliminates the existence of free will. Things will play out in sequence. So, presuming God didn’t know how they would choose, can we also presume that though Christians claim their God is omniscient, He is not.

Let’s proceed on that line of thought, i.e., that God is not, was not, omniscient. Why put it there, the tree, and forbid his innocent creations from consuming its delicious fruit? He must have truly wanted to know if they would obey Him. He also must have known that even without the magic tree they would eventually develop a knowledge of good and evil. They were, after all, created in the image of God. God evidently had knowledge of good and evil, right? God created everything, He said, good and evil included. Without knowledge of evil He couldn’t have done such a bang-up job creating it.

It is clear that God would have preferred that His two little creatures choose not to partake in the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He knew that to withhold such knowledge would have been futile in any case. Why did He prefer humans not have such knowledge?

Perhaps He was afraid. God-almighty afraid? Well, obviously, since He didn’t know everything, as demonstrated by His desire to test Adam and Eve, He may have not been so powerful, either. Maybe He figured out that these creatures, having been endowed with God-like powers of intellect, might come to the conclusion that He was not as good as advertised. They might learn of His exploits, of His true nature, and in time (gasp) judge Him! They might discover just how imperfect a God they worship and cease to follow His dictates.

The crimes of God, in light of modern human thinking, is a lengthy list.  From baby killer to genocidal maniac, destroying entire races. God is not the lovable old man with a white beard as depicted in paintings or bedtime stories. A court would certainly condemn such a felon to an eternity in some dank and dark gulag. Compared to God even Satan is a near saint. After all, it is Satan that God knew would eventually give humankind the knowledge he had forbidden. God killed millions, as documented in the holy book, supposedly inspired by God Himself.

Satan meanwhile, is credited with very few deaths in comparison, maybe 10 to 30, and usually those due to bets placed by God. “I surely bet Job will never break” spoke God. “How much you wanna bet” Satan replied. “I’ll give you central air-conditioning in your flat if Job breaks” answers God, fingering his chin. How else to explain the persecution committed upon a loyal follower such as Job other than a mere whim or wager. This certainly would not prompt anyone to follow too closely the edicts of God for fear of being tested, having your family annihilated, then replaced with some strangers.

Whoever made this all up did a shoddy job, didn’t they? We have to remember though, the Bible consists of many books written by many authors and over time it has had books deleted and added, alterations made, and the people responsible tried the best they could to piece the whole thing together into a coherent story. Their best efforts failed.

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