Most of us know the story of Adam, Eve, and the apple - how a man eats a piece of fruit, gains the knowledge of good and evil, and is subsequently condemned to grow his own garden.
But it's not so simple.
There's something about good and evil that we all want to know. Ask a common man, and he will most likely tell you that if he knew beforehand which choice was good and which choice was bad, he'd have chosen the good one. Most of us would say that if we only knew what God knew, it would be easier to pick the better way. It would be easier to do the good thing, knowing both good and evil. It would take away the mystery. It would take away the wondering. It would take away the unknowing of the consequences. We would clearly know - A is good, B is bad. So let's choose A.
That's what most of us would say. If only we could know...
And you'd think that's what God would want, too. You would think God would be happy that His people would clearly know good and evil. It would certainly make faithfulness easier. I choose good because I see clearly that it is good, and it is in alignment with God's desire because it is good. Therefore, I am more easily God's because it's clear what being God's means, and what the benefit is of choosing the good thing.
Problem of evil = solved.
So it's hard for me to believe that God had a big problem with man knowing both good and evil. Of course, it's more idyllic for man to know only good. It's more ideal for him to rely only on good and not have to make a choice between the two at all. It's better that a man does not have to weigh his options because there only seems to be one viable option - good. Of course that's better. But in terms of "still not that bad," isn't it okay to know both? If we are stable, as altruistic, as pleasure-seeking, as moral as we claim that we are, knowing good and evil is not such a bad thing because, we believe, we would still choose good. We would only know that it doesn't come so easy.
Then what's the real issue with the apple? I don't think it's good and evil at all; I think it's fear.
It's fear because knowing good and evil, man suddenly becomes aware how dangerously close they are to one another. Because knowing good and evil, the difference between the two doesn't seem so dramatic any more. A hair to the left of good, evil lies in wait. It's the interplay of the two in the world that is dangerous and knowing this, man cannot help but be afraid.
He's afraid because he understands how fine the line is, how narrow the road. He's afraid because he knows how one breath in the wrong direction changes the wind toward evil. He's afraid because for all the good he once saw around him, he now sees the evil, too, lurking behind every good thing. And he fears that unknowingly, he may cross that line.
He cannot enjoy the good any more. It's foolish to be carefree with the good because carefree is only inches away from careless, and carelessness gives itself to evil without even realizing it. He cannot trust anything in his world because just beyond what his eyes see, they see something else entirely. All of a sudden, the world is not good or evil; it is good and evil and in some strange way, the two cannot be separated. It's not so clear-cut as black and white; it's shades of grey. Shades that dull his eyes to both.
That's what I think the trouble is with the fruit. It's not that the tree produced knowledge of good and evil; were it so, it would not be so terrible for man could still choose good. It's that the tree produced the fruit of fear, and man no longer feels safe any more. Not feeling safe, it's hard to say what a man will do.
Because a man can be faithful in many things, but the one thing he cannot be faithful in is fear. And he can never un-know the danger that he now sees.
This fits, too, with what we know of God. He spends the rest of His Word trying to teach man to recognize good and evil, to do good and to stay away from evil. Knowing the difference can only be of assistance to our faithfulness.
But He also spends the rest of His Word trying to teach man to stop being afraid, and this...this is much harder. Because man knows now how close-knit this world is, how good and evil play together, how the two are woven so tightly as to be only shades away from one another. He knows how close, in any moment of good, that he is to evil and it instinctively makes a man hold his breath. In stifled breath, he cannot breathe the air of the spirit. His faith falters.
Man often says if only he knew what God knows...but it's not so simple. Knowing what God knows does not widen the road; it narrows it. You realize what a fine line you're walking.