Why did God create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

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?

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: to obey the Voice of God or not. Had there been no choice, there could be no obedience. The ongoing question for us is whether we will choose to follow, love and obey the One True God. Yes, I think God knew that some people would choose to follow. Others would choose to follow their own designs. That is not a failure in God but in us. Had God made us so that we could only love him, then it would be no love at all. Love is at the heart of creation.

Another matter which comes to mind. The knowledge of good and evil seems like a good thing to have, but the question is: where should this come from? The “sin” of Adam and Eve is that they want to be “like God.” This means that they do not want to depend on God for the guidance of what is good and evil. They want to know it for themselves, which makes them the judge. They want the option in the future to say what is good and what is evil. In fact, God is the only judge in these matters. The Hebrew word translated “knowledge” may imply “knowledge by experience” rather than theoretical knowledge. God did not want young Adam and Eve to know evil by experience. As a parent, I can understand that. I want my adult son to “know” that adultery is evil and will harm him and his family, but I don’t want him to have to experience it to know it. Adam and Eve, however, chose disobedience; they apparently wanted to experience for themselves good and evil. That experience changed them and the world in profound ways.

Now it is your turn. How would you answer?

90 responses

  1. With my good heart I do not understand the division in life the beautiful the ugly the rich the poor thr healthy the sick the loved the ones never loved unfair none asked to come here none are responsible for the war in the beginning of good and evil the riddles in scriptures the unknown what happens to one after death the oppositions of the bible the horrific crucifixion of the lord for our saving I dont understand we were put here no fault of ours evil was allowd to stay to tempt. Man all want to have fun all want to be loved its normal ?????? Was there a mistake somewhere in the plan god said it was good but not perfec

  2. I believe that satan was already here and the bible doesn’t state that God placed the tree there. It says he made all the good trees come from the ground and in the midst of the garden was the tree of good and evil which I believe could denote it was already there. The enemy satan was already there in the earth so when I hear good and evil who else would have knowledge of both aside from him and God. I see it as the tree represents the kingdom principles of evil that deceive men and cause separation from God or the spirit and now we will be ruled by those principles of the devil or flesh! The moment that man partook of the tree or flesh he became separated and now fear, guilt, shame etc entered man and now he (man) becomes Gods enemy because God is light and when He shines on the man he immediately feels judged but when we was in the light with God he didn’t experience these attributes. The enemy was in heaven with God and experienced good which is God and when cast out he was in complete evil! This is my take

  3. I believe the tree represents the ability to choose good or evil. There must be opposition in all things. Adam and Eve were in a state of pureness. They had to eat the fruit as to know what it was like to know good from evil. Otherwise what is the point of being on the earth if it is not to learn how to obey Gods commandments? If Adam had not fallen what would have been the point of Christ’ atonement?

    • The tree of life of good and and evil was a part of the garden. It needed to be there. It might have been a necessity. Really no one knows. If Adam and eve had obeyed God we would have an everlasting life here on earth. This was the intention God had for us in the beginning. We didn’t have choices.We as humans were set. God said be fruitful and multiply .There was no sin at this time.Adam was the father of the human race. Now with the atonement it is Jesus Christ and only a few who have the faith that Jesus died and rose the third day shed his blood for us sinners will be forever with him.

  4. An awsome work you have done,it spread light upon many of my doubts which were uncleared till date,i also have many doubts in holy gosel.help me to clear them if u can,k.god bless u al.

  5. So the reason why the tree of knowledge is there is the same reason why a toaster has a setting on it that will char the toast to an unrecognizable crisp which no human would eat. It’s a design flaw that no one questioned. Usually when you design a machine you want to minimize the ways it can be accidentaly misused and maximise the chance that it will be successfully used.

  6. This is a study of Genesis chapters 2 and 3, comment and feel free to critique.

    To start off the study, the garden of Eden, based on the rivers described in Genesis 2 just before the first man was put into on earth, is also in the same close general region out of the entire world that Jesus lived and died, Jesus who was prophesied to come just after the first man ate of the tree, that was being watered from the same rivers, before there was even one birth on earth.

    God blessed the seventh day, and Sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
    And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
    the LORD God commanded THE MAN, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for IN THE DAY that THOU eatest thereof THOU shalt SURELY die.

    (in Gen 2:15 3:11 and 3:17 the command was exclusively and strictly to THE MAN not to eat, the Lord never EVER used to command word with the woman, when the Lord questions her “what is this you have done”?, He does not say to her “because you did not listen to your husband and ate the tree you were commanded not to eat) Romans 5 the MAN brought sin into the world, NOT her
    And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
    the woman is NOT NAMED EVE, the mother of ALL LIVING, until AFTER Adam eats and HE brings death, THEN ADAM names her Eve mother of all LIVING
    Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had MADE. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
    (the subtil serpent KNOWS something of God’s instructions, which means God either LET Satan watch while God was talking to Adam or God told Satan, its either or )
    And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

    (in her mind TOUCHING and EATING it she MIGHT die, at this point it does not matter if Adam told her wrong or she said them wrong on her own, what matters right now is she was not with Adam for instructions when given to Adam by God, continuing…..)
    And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
    For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

    (the subtil serpent repeats back to her the ORIGINAL CORRECT INSTRUCTIONS about “In the DAY and surely dying”, this makes her think she will not die if she eats of the tree)

    And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat,
    and gave ALSO unto her HUSBAND with her; and HE did EAT.
    AND the EYES of them BOTH were OPENED, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
    Gen 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his WIFE, and were not ashamed.

    (NOTE: these are the first times the word Wife and Husband is used in the bible, notice how they are used as the first time here instead of using “the Man/Adam/Woman in these two verses….ALSO, at the same time in both of these verses the word Naked appears for the first times in the bible, and his own wife still doesn’t have a name)

    The Wife gave to her Husband to eat and it is WHEN HE ate, per God’s own instructions to HIM, apart from the woman that GOD HAD YET MADE, that it was HE who would DIE in the DAY that HE ate, and IN reading the Subtil serpents words to the woman means the serpent knew how to get one to eat before the other.
    Thus how the serpent was “subtil” in his lie.
    Now Adam(husband) and his wife, not yet named Eve (the mother of ALL LIVING so is that a coincidence?) are before God naked and ashamed, and not dead physically as God said would happen IN the day HE ate, so either God tricked Adam or He died spiritually, lost direct contact with God.
    THUS if HE did NOT eat then SIN would NOT ENTER the world THUS stop saying the following because it does not matter: Adam sinned first, however, the woman did not respect God’s chain of command, She was under his subjection, she was spiritually weaker, Eve overstepped her boundaries. Her being deceived is NOT sin UNLESS HE Eats!

    Remember that BEFORE Adam and his wife were MADE meaning before ADAM ate of the fruit, from the tree that God MADE, God had RESTED from ALL the work he CREATED AND MADE.

    (Adam does NOT FIND OUT ABOUT the tree of life until AFTER, and AGAIN the instructions were exclusively and strictly at THE MAN eating the tree, lest HE put forth HIS hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. Any talk of now “they” Adam and Eve could of ate from the tree of life is man made up error.
    God sent HIM forth, God drove out the MAN. Adam’s wife, now having a name, Eve mother of all living, went out with him as she was his helpmeet.
    God cursed the ground because of Adam and God personally cursed the serpent, but does not use the word “curse” towards the woman, why? Because Jesus was not going to be born from of a curse.

    The curse on the earth Adam brought, not Adam and his wife.

    The woman was deceived, the man disobedient, a difference.

    All the animals were on earth before Eve, God brought to Adam to name all the animals. If Adam eating the fruit was against God’s true plans, how were all the predators going to eat? Examples Eagles and all the cats supposed to eat greens? With those fangs sharp beaks and claws? The male Lion is called the King of the Jungle.
    Jesus is also called the King, interesting the world names the Lion this apart from Jesus

    Its also called the Lion of Judah, the symbol of the Hebrew tribe of Judah (the Jewish tribe). The tribe consists of the descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob.

    The Lion of Judah is also Jesus in Revelation 5:5
    The Book of Revelation scripture alone is proof lions were “MADE NOT” to eat greens
    Thus it was in Gods FULL plans for Adam to eat

    A full bible study along with this paper is going to be contrary to the way the Garden of Eden has been taught by ALL the major Christian leaders today and in history from Calvinism to Arminianism to Catholicism, so you are going to have to use this paper and study Genesis chapter 2 and 3 on your own, it’s not easy altering lifelong held concepts.

    To say otherwise that all this was not God’s plan means that when The Lord prophesied in Gen 3:15 the coming of a Savoir, is to say that it means God implemented plan B, and all the work that God created, made, and then rested before man was even on earth was foiled against God’s wishes by Satan, whom he let into the garden and talked with a beast that God himself created and made.
    That is silly isn’t it? And now all you are thinking of right now is “they had a free will so it’s their doing”……………While they did, it’s also important to note that everyone alive today would of done the same thing??? Yes you would, thus it was God’s plan

    If you are without sin and brand new on the earth, and God tells you something will happen if you do this, but the one and only other person on earth, the woman doesn’t die when she eats off that one tree are you not going to also go what the? and eat of it?
    Yes you would.

    It’s your free will to comment and critique 😉

  7. Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If they were free from evil and living in the paradise that was the Garden of Eden before rebelling, can we really call the act disobeying God? Did Adam and Eve really know of the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit? They had no knowledge of “evil” until they ate the fruit, so were they really deserving of their punishment?

    Why was the tree there to begin with? God is powerful and all-knowing so he should have seen it coming. If he didn’t want the fruit to be eaten, he shouldn’t have placed it there. It serves no purpose just sitting there; fruit is meant to be eaten. Otherwise, it is useless.

    Some say he placed it there to “test” them. I find that very manipulative and something to be expected from a God that perhaps didn’t love us as much as the Christian God supposedly does. It’s on par with holding a cookie in front of a child’s face and then smacking them once they reach for it– very manipulative. Why have the tree (cookie) there to tempt Adam and Eve (a child) in the first place, knowing of the risks? It’s very silly to me. Imagine a father saying to his son, “Hey, Jimmy! Look at this nice loaded gun I have. It’s very dangerous, so don’t touch it. By the way, I am going to put it very close to you, in your lunchbox where you could be tempted or accidentally touch it. But remember, don’t touch it!” You would think him a terrible father, wouldn’t you? Why does God get a free pass?

    Genesis 1:31: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” If everything was good, where did bad come from? Did God also create sin, and evil? He is the creator, so he had to. Why did he do this? He placed everything in the Garden, including the serpent.

    Going back to the tree, some say this “test” was because God gave Adam and Eve free will to choose, and wanted to see how they would use it. Well, why give someone free will and then punish them for choosing the option you didn’t want? It’s to be expected that some will choose a less desirable path– that is the risk one takes when giving another free will. So why punish them? Just save yourself the trouble and make them robots. It’s like all of us being sinners who go to Hell if we do not repent. Why make us faulty and then complain about our faultiness?

    Feel free to comment. I mean no disrespect, I just think the Bible has very many loopholes to be true. Don’t even get me started on the universe being created in six days, man being created from dust, and a talking snake– absolutely RIDICULOUS!

  8. I did eat of the tree of knowledge. I did not die. Instead I did remember my past life. Its all about the choise. The blue pill or the red pill… God did gave us free will…

  9. Adam and Eve did not have regular conversations with God. God placed the couple in the garden and gave them instructions on how to tend it. But this is the real question; if they imagined that they could figure out how to live life from the knowledge gained by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, why could they not imagine that they could have gotten better information from God himself? God planted the tree like He does everything He does, for a reason. If you know God you can figure out the reason. If you only know of God you will remain in darkness. Matthew :7–Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you;…

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