If Adam and Eve had not eaten from the tree of good and evil how are they to know the good in God.
I’ve heard it argued that evil is parasitic, and that while one can know ‘good’ without the existence of ‘evil’, evil needs good to survive. In others words, good is self-existent, but it is only in the contrast that one knows evil.
Do you think that argument holds weight?
What a great question, I’ve never seen it phrased the way you did.
Let me place the verse you meant here.
Gen 3:5 NKJV
(The serpent said) “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The Hebrew phrase for good and evil, according to scholars, is a literary tool where they put opposite terms together to generally means “everything”.
To paraphrase, it is the Knowledge of Everything.
With this in mind, it could be said that the pre-fall state is a more restricted knowledge condition. And it should be safe to say Good is probably included in the pre-fall knowledge state. And Evil probably is excluded. (All my opinions, feel free to give counter-views)
But lest we are misled, the true sin here is “you will be like God” (an act of rebellious pride). It is not a recent atheistic new-age thing to be our own gods. But it is as old as the Fall! Lucifer also wanted to be like God, so do countless people in histories, even Christians subconsciously try to play God so many times. I plead guilty too!
The “know” may not be just a passive know, but actually a very active know. Meaning when we play god, we determine for ourselves, what is good and what is evil. Instead of adhering to God as the single moral reference point.
It is this Subjective Morality that atheist upholds, that is exactly the consequence of eating from the tree in an attempt to be like God, determining good and evil.
I hope this sheds some revelation light to your question. I’m always welcome for anyone to correct me if I’m wrong.
Blessings in Christ,
@joehancl I agree with @KMac that evil is inherently parasitic. I also think that the Bible is clear that it is the person who does what is righteous who understands good and evil, whereas the person who does what is evil understands neither. If Adam and Eve had obeyed, they would have truly understood good and evil in a far more profound way than when they disobeyed - sin leads to confusion; not clarity. Here are some thoughts I’ve found helpful. Christ grant you wisdom
Proverbs 28:4-5 - Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
but those who heed it resist them.
Evildoers do not understand what is right,
but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
Romans 1 - For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.” C. S. Lewis
Why Put Tree in the Garden
“Concretely, the tree represented for Adam the choice between submitting to God’s law or pursuing moral autonomy : Fearing the Lord (the beginning of wisdom), or judging for himself what good and evil are. Learning obedience would result in greater wisdom, maturity, and freedom. That is what the serpent tempted Adam and Eve with: “You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). That is, you shall judge for yourselves. You will no be in the position of children, having good and evil dictated to you. The serpent tempted Adam and Eve with the prerogatives of autonomous, mature adulthood, before they had learned submission to God—and he tempted them to achieve this by way of disobedience . But it is important to understand that it could have been achieved with obedience as well , without the consequences of sin—and that is the tragedy. Adam and Eve were indeed destined to rule creation. Becoming like gods was not a bad thing or a bad desire. But this was to be achieved in the same way the rule of Jesus was achieved—by submission to God (Philippians 2:8-9).”