Now, this is going to sound extremely strange; perhaps its unbiblical, and I’m not saying I believe it, but it’s kind of interesting to think about:
I have sometimes wondered whether there really was any physical difference between Eden and the world we live in. I have wondered whether the conditions of life were greatly different, though perhaps more primitive than now. Discontent, something we all now share, is in the mind. Is it possible that the state of innocence was simply that; a state of innocence; a state in which our first parents had a complete faith in providence; fully accepting God’s will in every way. Maybe they were cold sometimes, and hungry, but accepted that, trusting that God would provide as He felt best for them. Adam walked and talked with God. Can we not? Can we not hear Him if we listen and accept what He says? If we fully and totally accepted the will of God, would we not be happy even if suffering came our way?
But the Bible says man was not destined to die in the state of innocence. Well, that’s true now. Perhaps Adam and Eve knew perfectly well that they would leave their bodies but would live.
And what was the forbidden “fruit”; the knowledge of good and evil. The “knowledge”. The word means many things. It means intellectual apprehension of facts or believed facts. It means participating in them. It means making distinctions between good and evil. Was this simply a decision that, no, we would no longer simply accept what God sent our way; we would decide what we believed (rightly or wrongly) was good and what was evil. We would insist on deciding for ourselves. We would insist on knowledge in the sense of experiencing both good and evil. And, insisting on experiencing them, and experiencing them, we became disconnected from God. We became discontented. We became unaccepting.
Animals do not know good and evil. They recoil from perils, but do not understand death or try to avoid it per se. Was there perhaps a time when human beings, though being fully human, shared this innocence; this lack of “knowledge of good and evil”? I can’t help but wonder. And I can’t help but wonder if that story isn’t an analogue for the entire experience of a human being. We are capable of innocence. We are capable of accepting providence. We are capable of talking to and hearing God. We are capable of having no fear of death. But we have the spirit of rebellion in us, and do rebel.
Some scholar will probably show why this can’t be, and that’s fine. But I can’t help but wonder.