Adam and Eve

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Adam and Eve

I'm relatively new to this forum, so forgive me if this has been covered before. I would very much like to know if there is an answer to this confusing aspect of the Bible, when Adam and Eve are instructed not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (I know there is other crazy stuff going on in terms of Biblical errancy in Genesis, but I really just want to talk here about this one thing.)

Genesis 1:29-30 wrote:
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground -- everything that has the breath of life in it -- I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

Genesis 2:8-9,15-17 wrote:
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the grown -- trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ... The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Genesis 3:4-7 wrote:
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

So then, around Genesis 3:14 and on, God curses the serpent and Adam and Eve for having eaten the fruit from this tree.

I have a few questions about this (what is up with the nakedness, for example -- why did God make them naked if anyone with "the knowledge of good and evil" would think that nakedness had to be covered up) but like I said, I really want to focus on this issue about good and evil. Am I correct in understanding that to eat from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" is to gain knowledge of good and evil, which is to say, the knowledge necessary to discriminate between good actions and evil actions? If that is correct, isn't it also necessarily true that prior to eating the fruit from this tree, neither Eve nor Adam had the capacity to tell whether it would be good or bad to eat the fruit from the tree? Sure, following God's orders is presumably a good thing in this story, but how could Adam and Eve have known that if they didn't have "the knowledge of good and evil"? Someone without clear understanding on this topic might easily have gotten confused by what God says in Genesis 1, that any fruit with seed in it is theirs for food. Basically, in every way, it seems astoundingly unreasonable and unfair for God to punish Adam and Eve for this.

Is there any explanation anyone's heard about how to make sense of it? I don't really expect one, but I'm curious if this is an issue that Christians ever grapple with. It must be scary to have a God who is mad at you for knowing the difference between good and evil.

You can call me Z.

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As a former theist, I could

As a former theist, I could try or at least explain it as I understood it then (mind you it is quite imperfect). I took it to be a parable about the idea of responsibility versus innocence. In essence, if you don't know what good and evil are, if you don't understand the difference then any action is done in innocence, the person isn't evil, they merely don't know any better. The fruit represented them kind of seizing the idea of morality, in doing so they saw themselves naturally as sinful. God recognized this and punished them for eating from the tree, I had sort of thought that it might have meant to be less a punishment and more a matter of 'the world as you have it now doesn't work as you now have a new view and perspective.' Though a friend who was a student of gnosticism actually said that it might mean that if they had eaten that fruit they had the power to challenge God. But either way, that would be the best way I could try to argue it but on reflection I do see all the problems with it, then again I always viewed Genesis as more allegorical than literal.