Trying to understand the temptation in Eden


So, a parent sets up wondrous pile of presents under the Christmas tree, including one big one wrapped in the sparkliest gold paper you’ve ever seen. Inside that box is a rat carrying a disease that causes painful genetic mutation. Before leaving to go to the store on Christmas morning, the parent reminds the children, “Whatever you do, remember not to open the gold, shiny one.”

What kind of weird parenting is that?

As an important point of consideration, let us reflect on the fact that any need to test the child’s obedience or to respect their free will or whatever could have been accomplished with a present that merely covered them with skunk smell, or gave them burning itching hives, or whatever. Still a messed-up theory of parenting, but far short of kicking them out of the house and cursing them and their children and their grandchildren ad infinitum to shorter lives with more pain and more work and an innate tendency to make further stupid decisions.


This is not a very accurate description of what took place in the Garden.

The first mistake is thinking the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil was a bad thing. The tree and it’s fruits were good; however, Adam and Eve were not ready for them and could not partake of them without suffering consequences. Another mistake that gets made is assuming that God would never allow them to eat the fruit . For all we know He would have allowed them to eat this fruit at a later time; however, at that time they would surely die if they ate of it. The other mistake that gets made is we always tend to represent Adam and Eve as victims of foul play, which is hardly the case. A parent that turns on the rang is not a bad parent when their 18 year old child disobeys and burns themselves as a consequence of touching the element on the stove. It would also be illogical to say the element on the stove was a bad thing because it burnt the hand of the 18 year child who knew better not to touch it.

In any case Adam and Eve were not kicked out the garden for making a mistake but because the did not repent of their sin and ask God for forgiveness. Adam did not assume responsibility for what happened and was therefore unfit to be a leader of a place like Eden and so would now be a leader in a new world that had corruption in it.


I’ve never heard that theory about asking for forgiveness rather than disobedience. Is there a source? More importantly: “At that time they would die if they ate of it.” - That sounds bad (good later doesn’t cancel being bad now). Why not wait and put the tree in the Garden later?

The 18 year-old will have learned about fire and pain from a thousand places and in smaller degrees. If not, then they are not the developmental equivalent of 18 in that respect. What is more, what parent would turn on a nuclear appliance that would damage the child and all of their descendants?


There is no theory that the tree was put so that Adam and Eve would fall and the test would be to ask for forgiveness. What I was saying is that Adam and Eve never asked for forgiveness for what they did. They are doing what you’re doing which is playing the blame game instead of taking personal responsibility for their actions. The only people that play the blame game are the ones who know the difference between right and wrong and are trying to avoid punishment for their actions.

The 18 year-old will have learned about fire and pain from a thousand places and in smaller degrees. If not, then they are not the developmental equivalent of 18 in that respect.

You make another mistake in thinking that one has to experience something in order to have sufficient knowledge that it is not healthy for them. If you break your leg do you only go to doctors that have broken their leg because they are the only ones that can know that breaking a leg is not conducive to your health and well being? No someone can have sufficient knowledge to avoid something harmful or deadly without having to experience it first hand. You have no case that supports your accusation that Adam and Eve did not have sufficient knowledge to make an informed decision. The only other way you can challenge or try to justify their disobedience is to claim the source of their information was not trustworthy. Yet I hardly doubt that you’re going be able to show that God was not a trustworthy source of information.

What is more, what parent would turn on a nuclear appliance that would damage the child and all of their descendants?

You mean could damage their child and their decedents if used incorrectly? Well the answer is any parent! A nuclear appliance is not an evil thing simply because it has disastrous consequences if it is misused. And a parent is not a bad parent for having such an appliance. The question is what 18 year old child would choose to misuse this nuclear appliance after being giving sufficient knowledge of the consequences as to what would happen as a result of its misuse? The answer? A disobedient child!


It comes when God questions Adam and Eve. Remember that Adam and Eve hid themselves from God signifying that a change has occurred within them after they had sinned. When they could not repent of their first sin they committed this other sin by trying to cover it up. God gave them this opportunity to acknowledge their sins but they could not acknowledge with what truth God was searching for from them. I sense Adam and Eve committed more sins than just this first sin.


I try to think of it as a natural consequence of having the gifts of reason, free will, and a conscience. There is a consequent temptation to “make our own rules” concerning what is right or wrong, then trying to live by them. This in effect may be what “eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” is. Another possibility is our thinking that because we know what is good or evil, we can manipulate these rules somehow to our benefit, instead of doing the good for its own sake, “virtue is its own reward”.



Do you believe the story is true?


We don’t know what test the angels were given before some of them rebelled. God did not tell us just what that test was.

In the story of Adam’s test, it is similar to that of the angel’s test, it was one of disobedience that was based on pride. The tree was a symbol in the story which was brought in to illustrate the test. If a person wishes to believe it to be a real tree it is permissable, but most scholars say this is just a way the author has of introducing the sin of disobedience and the turning away from God.

The story is not told to be technically true, but a way to tell the truth in story form. The church does hold that there was only one man and one woman in the beginning since there was only one set of parents that began human generation.

What the details were, we don’t know. The story is told so that we may know what happened to mankind in the beginning, and what we have inheirited from our first parents…sickness and death, physical as well as spiritual, as well as a promise of a saviour from these.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.


Sure, they could generalize about harmful things from other experiences of injuries without experiencing each kind of injury. The question is, had they ever disobeyed God on other occasions to learn it had bad consequences? How could they have generalized, then?

I disagree, there is no way I would have a nuclear device in my kitchen knowing that if my daughter forgot one time to turn off the switch before coming into the room, or got in a hurry, or whatever, that it would surely give her and all her descendants a painful, heritable mutation, I would not have the stupid thing in the house. ?!]

Again, here, what “sufficient knowledge of the consequences” did God give them? In the story he doesn’t say, hey, if you don’t fess up, and you did this thing, then . . .


Sure, I’m not one to buy it as a literal story. The problems remain, though, as to the extent to which they were or were not given a chance to learn gradually by the experience of escalating consequences and corrective instruction—certainly a problematic issue in our case, in a classroom with a board full of rules, a student appointed monitor, and no visible or auditory presence of the teacher. Here we have the issue of Adam & Eve being “alone” in the garden and getting in trouble between visits from God. Bad parenting, bad teaching…


You’re looking at it the wrong way. First of all, it wasn’t the fruit itself that caused those things, but the **act **of disobedience. Second, I believe that tree looked no different from all of the other trees in the garden, and whatever kind of fruit was on that tree, there were several other trees that had the same exact fruit that they were allowed to eat, so they could see what an apple tasted like by eating from the other apple trees. So there was no big mystery or temptation going on. God just used a tree as a way of giving them a choice between good & evil, obedience and disobedience. It’s like God saying you can eat at all of the McDonald’s and fast food restaurants you want to eat in but the one McDonald’s on the corner of 9th street, don’t eat there. But any other restaurant or fast food place you can eat at, and that McDonald’s serves the same kind of food as all of the other McDonald’s, just don’t eat at the one McDonald’s on the corner of 9th street. That’s all I ask. There was no big mystery or temptation it was simply a way of giving them a choice to obey or not.

I also believe that once they resisted the devil and did not disobey God, their decision would have been sealed forever, that tree would have been destroyed and we would all be living in a perfect world based on their decision and the devil would have to leave mankind alone forever. It goes both ways. Just like how their decision brought the fall of all mankind, their decision to obey would have put us all in a perfect heaven on earth experience for all of mankind forever. He had to give them the choice before they had children otherwise there would be two types of people on the planet, those born after their sin with the sin nature and those born before their sin without the sin nature. And that wouldn’t be good. God knows what He was doing.


I think you are saying if you were God you would have done it a different way. A lot of people begin to think that way and they start saying things like why is there sickness in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? What they are really saying is they don’t understand God (and who of us COULD?). And if they were God, they would do things a whole lot differently. They might even say, “It’s not fair that this is the way the world works…” Pride might be the culpret.


Of course there was a big mystery and temptation. Why THAT one? Why is it at the center of the garden, instead of mixed in with all the others? What is so different about it? And, clearly there was, because their eyes WERE opened when they ate of it.


I’m not merely saying I would have done it a different way. I’m arguing that while we can say “it was good” or can say “God is like a Father,” we are hard-pressed to reconcile the use of those words with what they refer to in the actual world of experience.


“…they were or were not given a chance to learn gradually by the experience of escalating consequences and corrective instruction…”

This describes a human being that is in moral disaray today, attracted by worldly glitter and pleasures, and tempted on every street corner.

It was quite different with Adam. He didn’t have this pull to sin, in fact, quite the opposite, he had been free from sin and temptations were not delicious to him as they are to us.
His inclination was toward good, whereas we suffer concupesense which pulls us toward evil.

So he being in grace, strong in virtue, and attracted to good and to God, had very little reason to do what he did. The mystery is…why did he did it at all. He had the supernatural gifts of faith, hope, charity, the preternatural gifts which are freedom from death and disease, and the gift of an intelligent and powerful mind, freedom from difficulty in his work since he was bright mentally, emotionally sound, and strong in body. And with all the defects eliminated in him, he probably was a very comely man. He had all the advantages anyone could ever want.

Yet … instead of trusting in God who loved him, showered him with gifts, and made him his adopted son, and would then make him a home in heaven forever, he failed.

But even after all of these advantages God gave Adam, when Adam sinned, God even promised him one more chance to make the outcome happy…a saviour.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.


There was a source of the angel’s sin given to St. Maria Faustina by the Lord Jesus when she asked why God punished the angels as soon as they sinned. Jesus commented to her it was because of their profound knowledge of God and He said that one angel has more knowledge of God than all the saints together in the Church has ever produced. It seems the Lord has given us a clue about why they became fallen because an angel has no recourse to repentance meaning as Bishop Fulton Sheen use to say, it is impossible for an angel to change its mind. An angel’s nature was not made to sin at all while man’s nature was given this possibility to repent. The sin of the angels were immediate and quick as Jesus testified when He said He saw the devil fall like lightening meaning it was quick and from an incredible high height of sanctity.


Interesting points. Really. Yet, we cannot say he was inclined to the good because he had no conception of good or evil - isn’t that part of the point in the story? It seems a little like penalizing a kid for mistaking an integral and a derivative when they have never studied calculus. Of course, in this case it is self-referential, so approaches a paradox. Why would we expect a kid to know calculus if we hadn’t taught them? And why would we land on them with a whole pile of consequences when they got it wrong?

In this case, as well, it is not even like a baby step, it’s like that dream where you show up to class and it’s the final exam, and you haven’t been there all semester. 1 question exam, integral or derivative? If you fail, you are out of college and go work as a day laborer on a farm somewhere.


Do you own a microwave oven??:shrug:


I don’t think the story literally means that Adam and Eve had no conception of good or evil. Otherwise they could not have made a meaningful choice – ie it would not have been a mortal sin (which requires knowledge as well as consent and grave matter) and only a mortal sin makes one lose grace.

It wasn’t some kind of surprise gotcha test.


True, it is definitely pride to think you could do things better than God did them. That’s basically what people are saying when they say things like why does God allow this and that and why did He do things this way or that way. They are saying** I **could have done it better and more fair etc. A mere little brained human thinking they can reason or figure things out better than God, the creator of the universe. If that’s not pride, I don’t know what is!

Their eyes were opened when they disobeyed, eating the fruit signified putting their signature on it, signing the document, agreeing to the terms & conditions. God told them what would happen if they disobeyed, but they signed the document anyway. That’s what opened their eyes, not the fruit itself. The fruit just symbolized agreement or no agreement, obedience or disobedience.

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