Knowing Good and Evil. How did they know it was evil so?

So I’m going round in circles with this one.

I want to back up a bit first, to the question of the origin of Evil.

The Catholic teaching as I understand it, seems to say that evil became a ontological phenomenon when Lucifer chose ‘not-God’. I say ‘not-God’ rather than evil, because evil was the manifest result of choosing not-God it didn’t exist in reality proper, only in potential. We don’t know why Lucifer would have chosen to reject God, seeing as an angels intellect is far superior to ours, Lucifer must have known how futile it was to reject God, yet did it anyway.

I am happy in my own self to simply agree here that, evil was not something God created, and is essentially a Mystery that we cannot comprehend. The Mystery being essentially, why or how could an perfect angel created by God reject him?

We can’t say he was created imperfectly, because then God would be at fault, nor can we say there was some potential for evil in Lucifer, because evil did not exist yet. So how did it happen that Lucifer chose to reject God?

But lets leave that aside for a moment.

I just don’t get the Garden story.

Simply put, if Adam and Eve had not yet knowledge of evil, how did they know what death was? Death is the result of sin, which is the choice to do evil no?

‘You shall surely die’.

But God what is death?
Death is the result of sin.

What is sin God?
Sin is to choice to do evil.

What is evil God?
You don’t know yet because you haven’t eaten the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

If they had no knowledge of evil, surely they had no idea who and what it was that was speaking to Eve (evil) - and therefore would be blameless for following Satan’s instructions.

They didn’t know what they were about to do was evil surely, since they had no knowledge of such a thing?

Apparently they had no knowledge of Good either, which is very confusing, wouldn’t it be the same as saying they had no knowledge of God? The very one who was speaking to them.

What kind of understanding, knowledge, or vision did they have in fact?

Many thanks,

Adam and Eve KNEW they were disobeying God
when they took of the fruit of the Tree of the Know-
ledge of Good and Evil, and they KNEW that they
will lose life and “die” when they do it, yet they chose
to disobey and betray God’s trust in them.

There are different kinds of “knowing,” but the two main types are thinking and experiencing. We can know in our mind that dirt tastes gross without eating it, but we can also know it tastes gross by actually eating it.

Also, a child can know in their mind that disobeying their parent is a bad thing, even if the child doesn’t know why or doesn’t carry out the act of disobedience. They can know in their mind that touching the stove will hurt, but they can also actually know by touching the hot stove.

Adam and Eve could have had some good idea of what death was, including seeing plants and animals die (because these were not protected from death), or just by knowing choosing “not-God” is self-destructive. If God is the source of my life, wealth, etc, to choose “not-God” is to choose to lose all this. We all know that death is a bad thing even though none of us have actually died. When we do eventually die, we will get to experience just how perverted a situation it is for our body to be separated from our soul.

Adam and Eve had several special gifts, one of which was great knowledge, Q 53 at link.

Ok wait now, so we ‘KNEW’ what evil was before we ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Isn’t it generally understood that evil only came into our existence (non angelic/spiritual) AFTER we ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

If we had great knowledge, then we are in the same dilemma as the angels who fell. Why would someone who has great knowledge, go ahead an continue with such a foolish act? If you were truly wise, and had great knowledge, and saw clearly the horror of what your actions were going to cause, you would not do that action.

If you did do that action, even with all your wisdom, that would be an evil choice, evil would have all ready have had to exist within our realm of knowing, in order to choose it. So what exactly did we come to know when we ate of the tree?

Also, in my mind, if they had great knowledge, and decided to eat anyway, either a) they had some sort of inclination towards evil all ready (yet had not known evil because they had not eaten the fruit yet) or b) they were weak, and could easily be swayed by the serpent.

Both suggest that we were created in a not so good state to begin with.

I’m confused now, so there was death in eden? Just not human death? So in heaven do trees, and dogs die?

Isn’t death known to be the enemy period?

I guess this question boils down to.

Did Adam and Eve all ready know of, and have an awareness of what evil was, prior to eating the tree of knowledge of good and evil? If they did, what exactly was it that we came to know if we all ready knew what evil (and therefore good also) was?

According to the above posters also, we had some idea of death was. Do you think if we had a notion of what death was like we would choose it? I think we would have to be lacking severely in ‘great knowledge’ to choose death, if we somewhat knew of it.

I’ve just been listening to Bishop Robert Barron’s video on Original Sin. In it he talks about God having in his own being the criterion and measurement of good and evil, which means that the prerogative of knowing good and evil is God’s alone. In eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (or in other words, in disobeying God) Adam and Eve tried to claim for themselves the prerogative of determining good and evil. Sin is essentially turning ourselves into God. When we take upon ourselves the determination of what is good and what is evil we are trying to appropriate what rightly belongs to God.

Don’t take a too literalistic approach to the Genesis story. Of course death existed before the fall, but the death God was talking about was the death of our mortal souls. Up until then his creatures were not accountable because they had no free will. Adam and Eve were given that supreme gift and God was cautioning them what would happen if they abused the gift.

It also says that the eating of the forbidden fruit
TURNED MAN’S focus inwards, that’s why they
were conscious of their nakedness.

Yes, did you have a question about that?

The root of ALL our problems, IMO is
selfishness, Christ died so that we will
no longer live for ourselves, but for Him
who died and rose again ON OUR BE-
HALF. 2 Cor. 5:15

You say selfishness, I say greed. In the end it’s the same thing: we decide we know better than God and so we do what we want. And because we want it we convince ourselves that it’s good. That’s what John Paul II meant when he said we make ourselves the arbiter of good and evil.

Adam and Eve allow themselves to be deceived.

Genesis 3:22
And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

The Hebrew word used for “knowing” has a secondarily meaning implying “declaring”

"The man has now become like one of us, “declaring on his own what is” good and evil

The mystics have speculated the reason why an angel would have chosen evil.

God created the angels superior to humans. Yet, God took the form of a human and gave his gifts to them. The angel has free will, and with this will became jealous - so jealous that he wanted to PUNISH God by destroying those humans that he loved so much. So, he persuaded them into evil to hurt God. And, it worked. All of nature became stained by this evil.

We must remember that Jesus was created at the beginning. So the angels knew of him and God’s plan before Jesus actually came to be with man. When Jesus came, he was actually repairing the damage that this angel had caused.

This is a very sinister thing. An angel so jealous that he wants revenge on God, to harm him and hurt him. But, more innocently, It is like two siblings who quarrel for their Father’s affection. The older one feels hurt by the attention that the young one gets, so he hurts the young one to punish the father.

This is all the complexity of our God who exists in the form of a relationship (Father, Son, Spirit). He shows us that the way out of these traps of evil is love for the Father and love for each other. Love is the glue that holds us together. But it can come apart. This is true for all his creations, including the angels.

Solomon, who was one of the wisest men of his time
chose idol worship, following his wives’ gods!!
We must be careful who we marry or be close friends
with, they can influence us to do evil.

I’m sorry this doesn’t make sense.

Gods plan for the salvation of mankind was in RESPONSE to our fall which had its origins in Satan temping us. What your saying is that the angels knew God had become man to save them from a fall which Satan had instigated.

In other words if Satan had not instigated and tempted adam and eve to fall, there would have been no incarnation in the first place - hence no reason for Satan to be jealous. It doesn’t make sense, it just doesn’t, it just goes round in circles. Think about it.

Something like this.

Why did Jesus incarnate?

To destroy the works of the devil, death, evil, and sin.

Why did Satan rebel against God?

Because God became incarnate as a Human. Or because God is a human.

Why did got become a human, or why is he also man?

He is also man in order to raise mankind from his fall and captivity to Satan.

How did man fall ?

Man fell because Satan who was jealous that God was to become (is man), and man was to become God through Jesus. He would not serve.

It’s like a weird time travel movie, where Satan is essentially causing his own fall.


Doesn’t make sense.

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia puts it better than I can.

Although nothing definite can be known as to the precise nature of the probation of the angels and the manner in which many of them fell, many theologians have conjectured, with some show of probability, that the mystery of the Divine Incarnation was revealed to them, that they saw that a nature lower than their own was to be hypostatically united to the Person of God the Son, and that all the hierarchy of heaven must bow in adoration before the majesty of the Incarnate Word; and this, it is supposed, was the occasion of the pride of Lucifer (cf. Suarez, De Angelis, lib. VII, xiii). As might be expected, the advocates of this view seek support in certain passages of Scripture, notably in the words of the Psalmist as they are cited in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore Him” (Hebrews 1:6; Psalm 96:7). And if the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse may be taken to refer, at least in a secondary sense, to the original fall of the angels, it may seem somewhat significant that it opens with the vision of the Woman and her Child. But this interpretation is by no means certain, for the text in Hebrews 1, may be referred to the second coming of Christ, and much the same may be said of the passage in the Apocalypse.

It would seem that this account of the trial of the angels is more in accordance with what is known as the Scotist doctrine on the motives of the Incarnation than with the Thomist view, that the Incarnation was occasioned by the sin of our first parents. For since the sin itself was committed at the instigation of Satan, it presupposes the fall of the angels. How, then, could Satan’s probation consist in the fore-knowledge of that which would, ex hypothesi, only come to pass in the event of his fall? In the same way it would seem that the aforesaid theory is incompatible with another opinion held by some old theologians, to wit, that men were created to fill up the gaps in the ranks of the angels. For this again supposes that if no angels had sinned no men would have been made, and in consequence there would have been no union of the Divine Person with a nature lower than the angels.

This article on the devil from the new advent site, just shows how clueless we are towards the reason of the original fall of Satan, and then us.

We don’t know why an angel (speculated as one of the highest) fell.

We know he did fall, and tempted us, Adam and Eve.

We don’t really know how it is possible for us to have fallen either really, because we did not know Good or Evil at the time.

How can we do an evil act, and be punished for it, if we didn’t know what we were doing was evil (because we had not yet eaten from the tree that would tell us, and let us know what evil was).

Or did we know what evil was?

To you.

When you encounter a transcendent being it does not make sense from your point of view. That is what makes it transcendent. Remember that this confusion is because we live inside of linear time (or at least we perceive that we do). For beings that live outside of time, all of this happens together, not sequentially.

Linear time is merely a construction that helps us understand our particular view of creation where we perceive time and space to be independent. But they are not. We know this both theologically and scientifically.

Their choice was to obey God -out of a recognition of His supremacy and holiness-of His perfect wisdom, of His perfection-or disobey Him, scorning Him, preferring* themselves* to Him as the catechism teaches. Adam & Eve were not yet perfected themselves, otherwise their own holiness would be complete. They were perfect as to their created natures-‘perfectly man’, so to speak, but until their wills were aligned with God’s they still had a “best choice” to make. That is their/our part of man’s *justification. *Another way of saying this is that they did not yet love God with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, which would’ve produced obedience ipso facto:

**1732 As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.

This *binding *is exactly what we’re here to learn why and how to accomplish-why Adam was wrong, why and how we should should choose otherwise.

Another way of saying this is that they did not yet love God with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, which would’ve produced obedience ipso facto.

In an un-fallen state, in the garden of eden, when we walked with God, how is it that we could choose something other than God, if we knew God was the most perfect Good, and was all that He is, how could we have made such a poor choice?

God must not have given us a full understanding of Him, otherwise we would not have been able to choose otherwise, who would choose anything other than God?

It’s harder to choose God now, whilst we are in exile from Him, but when he was right there, how could we choose to not love him? If we were aware of his perfection, why would we choose something less perfect?

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