The one tree God instructed Adam not to eat from is the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. God told Adam that if he ate from that tree he would positively die. This is the same tree that Satan, making a showing as a serpent, later convinced Eve that eating from this tree wouldn't result in death but would result in being like God by knowing good and bad.
Common misconception is that this tree's fruit was an apple. The Bible does not give this information.

As with much of the Bible, this is one great story.

Here you've got Adam and Eve, wandering around naked, happy as pigs in mud. Then there's this tree that they're not supposed to mess with. And what is it called? The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Could it be any more simple? You're a stupid animal. You feel no guilt. You eat, multiply and die. No one cares. No remorse; just being. (See Zen.)

But you notice this tree that you hadn't seen before. There's pretty things there that looks good to eat. And in one fell swoop (as in the scene from 2001 when the monkey throws the bone into the air in a mixed emotion of superiority and terror) you have become what we call


Why put the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden? Two words: free will. God wants us to obey him freely, not just because there's no other option. For that reason did he put the tree in the garden. Adam and Eve exercised their free will, ate of the tree of knowledge, and were consequently punished.

If you're not going to give people free will, why create them in the first place? It only makes sense if you're psychotic.

See also: missing the point

I've always felt that God wanted us to eat the fruit all along, and that once we took the first step towards recognition of good and evil, we were ready to leave the womb of Eden and mature into complete human beings. His 'punishment' was just a form of tough love.

I'm in no position to speak for God, but I know I'd be pretty PO'd if my own progeny were still living at home and not doing anything useful with their lives after 6000 years. I think I may be alone in this belief.

Here's the thing though: Most of you seem to be saying that it was not until after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge that they were given free will. But keep in mind, God had commanded them NOT to eat from the tree. If they had no free will at this point, how were they able to chose to disobey him?

The classical and modern Jewish commentators address this question and conclude that the "Knowledge of Good and Evil" which Adam and Eve acquired was not free will at all. According to Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin (and many others) they were created with free will, but also with perfect perception, so that every choice they had to make was simple. An analogy is made to the choice I have right now: Will I or won't I drown myself in the fishtank a foot and a half to my left? Now, assuming I am not suicidal (whether or not that is a valid assumption is not the point), I will obviously choose not to. Why? Because I clearly see that one choice is good for me and the other is bad for me. (In that case, if the choice was so clear, why did they still sin? The inconclusive answer of "curiosity" is given. I mean, maybe I just feel like finding out what it feels like to drown.) This is as opposed to the "knowledge" of good and evil that Rabbi Chaim says was foisted upon Adam and Eve after their sin. He understands the knowledge of evil as the "evil inclination" (yetzer hara). Meaning, whereas beforehand Adam and Eve could make decisions objectively, now they had desires within them that made them subjective.

OK, this is where I take Rabbi Chaim's line of reasoning and twist it 180 degrees, simply by following it to its natural conclusions. The tree is referred to in the Bible text as "The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil". Obviously, there is a symmetry between good and evil (claiming a symmetry such as this one is not my own trick, it is a typical exegetical method). So, if after the sin Adam and Eve first acquired an evil inclination, they must have first acquired a good inclination (or conscience)then, too. Rabbi Chaim says, "The (evil) within a man himself, and makes it seems to him as if he himself (man) is the one who do the sin." Meaning, the evil inclination has a will of its own. Naturally, man/woman does not want to sin. Satan, or this evil will, convinces him/her to sin. In that case, a person's good inclination, or conscience, is ALSO an external consciousness, and man/woman does not naturally want to do good!! He/She does not naturally want to do anything, except to survive and do what is best for him/herself.

And who are these two entities battling for a person's loyalty? Could it be, God and Satan? Or could it be, a cruel, devious creator who takes the place of two opposite wills implanted within a person's brain and pulls each of us in two directions at once?!?
I think that the the title "tree of knowledge" also refers to the Norse myth about Yggdrasil, spelled in a variety of ways, the tree of knowledge was geographically as well as mentally and spiritually at a higher plane then the realms of the high elves and dark elves.

Amtgard, is said to have been derived from the Norse Myth of the Isengard, also sometimes called Ausgard, Ausgart, etc. Isengard is, the guarding level between the dark elves and the high elves and the high elves are the followers of the tree of knowledge or as it is sometimes called the tree of life.

A ancient metaphorical explanation for the phenomenon of consciousness in pre-human organisms, forever separating humans from their animal (non-sapient) ancestors.

Many mythologies in geographically separated cultures feature trees in a central role, such as Yggdrasil, the Norse World Tree, Ahuehuete, the Aztec Tree of Life, the Buddhist Bo Tree, and Disneyland's Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom.

Carl Sagan wrote an interesting treatment of this metaphor in The Dragons of Eden, a book about the roots and evolution of consciousness.

The popular interpretation of this story is that Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of good and evil when they ate from the tree. However, there are other rather interesting interpretations.

For example, in terms of the story God is the one who defines what is good and what is bad. Genesis mentions only one rule that God set down: not eating from that particular tree. Therefore, only one thing was defined as bad: eating from the tree.

Therefore, by this interpretation, it was not necessary to eat from the tree to gain the knowledge of good and evil; the tree's very existence provided that.

Thus we have an interpretation which doesn't actually contradict anything in Genesis, but also removes all of the mysticism from that particular section of the story; no magical gaining knowledge from a piece of fruit or anything like that.

The Knowledge of Good and Evil seems to be of high importance for God in terms of creating the Earth. Creation, as described in Genesis, appears largely to be a process of distinction between one thing and another by various processes. The whole thing would be a lot more satisfying if Moses had gone into details about how YHVH went about creating the heavens and earth, or if he could have provided a detailed CV so we could go back and figure out which things were created by God and which might be the work of other, perhaps more competent deities, if any, but he doesn't go there, so we have to just guess.

At any rate, the first real detail we get about creation is that God saw light and said it was good. That doesn't mean that he also decided that darkness is bad, mind you, only that one of God's essential labors during creation was the identification and sequestration of things displaying distinct characteristics. Arbitrary distinctions and nomenclature seem to be beneath God's talents, as those tasks, at least as they were applied to animals and women, are delegated to Adam. Could it be that Adam was intended as a mere tool of the creation process, a bit of automata?

Reading Genesis, I can't help but get the feeling that God had a few more balls in the air than just creating the earth and the heavens. He gets pretty annoyed when Adam & Eve gain knowledge, and to me, annoyance implies some degree of inconvenience, perhaps of the oh-shit-what-did-I-just-do variety. If this was a catastrophic error on Adam's part (as the church likes to remind us), how much more of a screw-up was it for The Man, and, more importantly, to whom was he accountable?

The idea that someone might find out about that unfortunate fruit incident and be pissed is borne out when God says, " has become as one of us..." Us? US? Unless God had a divine turd in His pocket, to whom was he referring, and why would he care? Is all of God's conduct throughout The Bible an effort to cover up his mistake? Could His conspicuous absence in the modern world be a result of his doing time in some Penitentiary of the Gods? Wouldn't it be worth our time to plan some sort of prison break? Maybe that's what he was hoping for when he left a couple of trees that were capable of bestowing divine gifts upon his Homunculi. I think it's clear, based on my interpretation, that what God wants from us is a gigantic cake (chocolate, I think) with a big file in it, or perhaps, if we could lay hands of some fruit from the Tree of Life, a large-scale rescue mission/break-out attempt. The guy's taking heat for something we did, right? Seems like the least we could do.

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