So, this is a question I have long puzzled over. It was one of the first things that pushed me toward apologetics, because I was asked it in college and I didn’t have an answer. And neither did anyone at the church I was attending at the time. They told me to tell my friend that “those things don’t matter. All that matters is that Jesus loves you, and died for your sins.” Not really helpful in discussing theology with a skeptic…
I find the discussion on the fact that Adam and Eve would have still learned knowledge of good and evil through obedience to be interesting, and I’ll have to explore the shared articles, but I eventually came up with my own answer to this question. It is purely my own speculation - there is nothing in Scripture that I can point to and say “This is why” but - I think it’s a plausible thought.
As Michael Ramsden said in one of his lectures on value, God knew from before he began the creation process that our fall and redemption would cost him everything, and he still chose to create us. Also, one of the lectures by Vince Vitale said something along the lines of “What if this type of world, where sin and evil is possible, is the only type of world that would create the people and character the God intended us to be/have?”
These discussions, combined with the fact that I was babysitting my tiny nephew on a daily basis for a while, watching the many bumps and bruises he experienced, led me to form the following theory. God created us with the ability to feel pain, and while that would seem cruel, it is a feature necessary for protection and survival. We learn almost everything in life from pain of some sort. So what if, by setting this world up in the way that He did, God is creating a group of people who will still have free will into eternity, but who, once freed from the bondage of sin and the flesh, will fully appreciate what they have in God’s goodness and protection and will never, ever desire to go against his will again?
Essentially, Adam and Eve were like naive toddlers. They had never experienced pain, evil, or death. And God, like the parent who says “Don’t touch that! It’s hot and it will burn you,” or “Don’t go out in the street. You will hit by a car and die,” was saying to Adam and Eve quite clearly that if they disobeyed him, the consequences would bring agony and pain. But as complete innocents without the true understanding of either the full goodness of God or the full pain evil, they were not capable of understanding the enormity of the consequences. Like the child, if they had simply obeyed and trusted God, they would have been spared enormous pain and death, but the truth is that we learn best through pain, and we become wiser because of it. The child who burns her hands on the stove will run in the other direction the next time someone says “Don’t touch that!” She will hopefully also learn to trust the adults around her in other ways too, so that the most devastating consequences - like being hit by a car - can be avoided. It is interesting that even as adults, we still learn the most thoroughly; we mature the most spiritually, through pain and trials.
So, in summary, because of Adam and Eve’s decision not to trust God, humankind cannot not sin. It is part of who we are no matter how hard we try, and every day, we feel the sting and consequences of living in a world in these conditions. Those who love and desire God, and the peace and righteousness and holiness that he offers, look forward to that day when they will be released from our sinful flesh and be raised perfect and without sin. Being free of our sin nature and being reunited with God will be glorious beyond belief. And having once lived in a world where sin and evil are the order of the day, where being righteous is a daily battle; having experienced the consequences of separation from God, and having done our best to stay faithful and fight the good fight, we would never, for any reason or purpose, want to come back to this. If, in the world to come, God tells us that a certain choice would result in “death” - we will grasp the true horror of going against him and know exactly what that means. We will trust him implicitly, and we will be trustworthy, though we will still have free will.
What if God created a world and the beings in it in such a way to ultimately create the children, friends, bride, etc. who would be fit to rule and reign with him freely and of their own sincere desire? Once free of the sinful flesh, we would never choose disobedience again. Does that make sense?
I think this was alluded to in some of the earlier conversations, and I’m looking forward to reading more on how this same thing could have been accomplished through obedience, because I’ve never thought about what that would have looked like.