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Author Topic: Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil  (Read 2724 times) Average Rating: 0
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Truth_or_Bust
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« on: April 29, 2006, 05:23:26 PM »

Greetings,
Here is a basic question that was put to me but I did not know the Orthodox position - if there is one - to this item.

God knowing all things in advance, why was the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil placed in the garden with Adam and Eve if they were not to eat from it?

Interested in reading the responses.

God Bless,
S
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2006, 05:59:45 PM »

Something else... why did he let the snake talk to them if he knew that they would be too spiritually immature to resist the temptation? Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2006, 07:24:16 PM »

And why did He make the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge "pleasing to the eye"? I'm sure there would never had been a Fall if the Tree of Knowledge were a broccoli bush!  Wink
Seriously though, what makes you say that Adam and Eve were too spiritually immature to resist temptation? According to the account, God walked with them and communed with them in the Garden. Their relationship was so strong, that after Adam and Eve realised what they had done, they tried to physically hide from God, and God went looking for them. Such a relationship with God and such a level of communing with Him is the goal of spirituality, and Adam and Eve had it. It is far easier to disobey and sin against a God you don't see or hear than a God Who walks around your neighbourhood in the afternoon and regularly chats with you face to face.
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2006, 07:58:13 PM »

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Seriously though, what makes you say that Adam and Eve were too spiritually immature to resist temptation?

Because the books I've read on Orthodox anthropology say they were immature, adn obviously they did fall into temptation. Smiley  That's sort of besides the point though, even if you take the part about being spiritually immature, the question would still remain as to why God would let them alone with the serpent if he knew what kind of trouble they'd get into. God had the Israelites kill the everybodyites in the holy land, why didn't he have Adam or Eve crush the head of the snake before he was allowed to work his mischief? Granted, this is really more of a rhetorical, philosophical question, since we all know that, for better or worse, God isn't just going to solve all our problems (or prevent all chances of falling) for us.
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2006, 08:02:54 PM »

Greetings,
Here is a basic question that was put to me but I did not know the Orthodox position - if there is one - to this item.

God knowing all things in advance, why was the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil placed in the garden with Adam and Eve if they were not to eat from it?

Interested in reading the responses.

God Bless,
S

God is love. He created us in His image. His gift to us out of love is that we choose Him freely. He knew full-well that some would not choose that gift, but He still, out of love gave us the gift. That is how loving He is that He gives us a gift even when He knows we won't say 'thank you'.

'Free Will' would not be really 'free' if we are all bound to make one choice. There has to be a real choice for us to make (it would be pointless if we're given two opitions that result the same).
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2006, 08:03:37 PM »

Something else... why did he let the snake talk to them if he knew that they would be too spiritually immature to resist the temptation?
How were they spiritually immature?
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2006, 08:04:24 PM »

I think they were both spiritually and mentally immature. After all, what do children commonly do? Name things with their own words. That's the job God gave Adam. After that Adam complained he had no helper, not realizing that God was there for him. Instead, he wanted someone more "like him," reminiscent of a "playmate." Further, if they were already jam packed full of knowledge, they wouldn't have even needed the Tree of Knowledge. It all points to immaturity.

And that is a good point about temptation, Asteriktos. We have to be given the choice, or we have no choice.
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2006, 08:05:22 PM »

I agree. From a philosophical point of view, there's little point in claiming Adam and Eve were given free will if they had no choices with which to excersise it.
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2006, 08:08:07 PM »

I think they were both spiritually and mentally immature.
"Intellectually immature" I could perhaps agree with, but I still have a problem with "spiritually immature".
If we consider a lack of "knowledge of good and evil" to be "spiritually immature", why then would God order Adam and Eve to remain in such a state?
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2006, 08:17:35 PM »

I think they were both spiritually and mentally immature. After all, what do children commonly do? Name things with their own words. That's the job God gave Adam. After that Adam complained he had no helper, not realizing that God was there for him. Instead, he wanted someone more "like him," reminiscent of a "playmate." Further, if they were already jam packed full of knowledge, they wouldn't have even needed the Tree of Knowledge. It all points to immaturity.

And that is a good point about temptation, Asteriktos. We have to be given the choice, or we have no choice.

I think the question gives a clue to the answer... "Why would God allow them to be tempted if they were spiritually immature?" Indeed, why would He? What kind of God would He be to do such a thing; it seems rather not like a truly loving God offering them a real free choice. Therefore on those grounds alone I would suggest that He did not allow such a choice to them - while they were spiritually immature. They were mature enough.
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2006, 08:18:58 PM »

"Intellectually immature" I could perhaps agree with, but I still have a problem with "spiritually immature".
If we consider a lack of "knowledge of good and evil" to be "spiritually immature", why then would God order Adam and Eve to remain in such a state?

I am not equating the two, only saying that they were both. Just as sinless infants are close to God, so were Adam and Eve. That hardly means either were very spiritually mature, though.
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2006, 08:20:25 PM »

I think the question gives a clue to the answer... "Why would God allow them to be tempted if they were spiritually immature?" Indeed, why would He? What kind of God would He be to do such a thing; it seems rather not like a truly loving God offering them a real free choice. Therefore on those grounds alone I would suggest that He did not allow such a choice to them - while they were spiritually immature. They were mature enough.

Depends on what you consider "spiritually mature enough." Is there such a thing? You are asking for everyone to make the right decision everytime, what saints, even, did that?
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2006, 08:27:14 PM »

Depends on what you consider "spiritually mature enough." Is there such a thing? You are asking for everyone to make the right decision everytime, what saints, even, did that?
It doesn't matter what I or you determine is "spiritually mature enough." It matters that God would allow people to be put to a test that they weren't capable of passing. As I said, if you think God is one who would allow such a thing, then that is up to you. I don't believe God would. And as God knew them, they would have been capable of passing the test.
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2006, 08:44:33 PM »

When I speak of the concept of pre-lapsarian immaturity as part of your Orthodox theology, I am thinking of quotes like these:

Quote
If, however, any one say, "What then? Could not God have exhibited man as perfect from beginning?" let him know that, inasmuch as God is indeed always the same and unbegotten as respects Himself, all things are possible to Him. But created things must be inferior to Him who created them, from the very fact of their later origin; for it was not possible for things recently created to have been uncreated. But inasmuch as they are not uncreated, for this very reason do they come short of the perfect.

Because, as these things are of later date, so are they infantile; so are they unaccustomed to, and unexercised in, perfect discipline. For as it certainly is in the power of a mother to give strong food to her infant, [but she does not do so], as the child is not yet able to receive more substantial nourishment; so also it was possible for God Himself to have made man perfect from the first, but man could not receive this [perfection], being as yet an infant.

And for this cause our Lord in these last times, when He had summed up all things into Himself, came to us, not as He might have come, but as we were capable of beholding Him. He might easily have come to us in His immortal glory, but in that case we could never have endured the greatness of the glory; and therefore it was that He, who was the perfect bread of the Father, offered Himself to us as milk, [because we were] as infants. He did this when He appeared as a man, that we, being nourished, as it were, from the breast of His flesh, and having, by such a course of milk nourishment, become accustomed to eat and drink the Word of God, may be able also to contain in ourselves the Bread of immortality, which is the Spirit of the Father.

And on this account does Paul declare to the Corinthians, "I have fed you with milk, not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it." That is, ye have indeed learned the advent of our Lord as a man; nevertheless, because of your infirmity, the Spirit of the Father has not as yet rested upon you. "For when envying and strife," he says, "and dissensions are among you, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? " That is, that the Spirit of the Father was not yet with them, on account of their imperfection and shortcomings of their walk in life. As, therefore, the apostle had the power to give them strong meat--for those upon whom the apostles laid hands received the Holy Spirit, who is the food of life [eternal]--but they were not capable of receiving it, because they had the sentient faculties of the soul still feeble and undisciplined in the practice of things pertaining to God; so, in like manner, God had power at the beginning to grant perfection to man; but as the latter was only recently created, he could not possibly have received it, or even if he had received it, could he have contained it, or containing it, could he have retained it.

It was for this reason that the Son of God, although He was perfect, passed through the state of infancy in common with the rest of mankind, partaking of it thus not for His own benefit, but for that of the infantile stage of man's existence, in order that man might be able to receive Him. There was nothing, therefore, impossible to and deficient in God, [implied in the fact] that man was not an uncreated being; but this merely applied to him who was lately created, [namely] man. - Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4, 38, 1-2

Quote
This being He placed in paradise--whatever that paradise may have been (having honoured him with the gift of free will, in order that good might belong to him as the result of his choice, no less than to Him Who had implanted the seeds of it)--to till the immortal plants, by which is perhaps meant the Divine conceptions, both the simpler and the more perfect; naked in his simplicity and inartificial life; and without any covering or screen; for it was fitting that he who was from the beginning should be such. And He gave Him a Law, as material for his free will to act upon.

This Law was a commandment as to what plants he might partake of, and which one he might not touch. This latter was the Tree of Knowledge; not, however, because it was evil from the beginning when planted; nor was it forbidden because God grudged it to men--let not the enemies of God wag their tongues in that direction, or imitate the serpent. But it would have been good if partaken of at the proper time; for the Tree was, according to my theory, Contemplation, which it is only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter upon; but which is not good for those who are still somewhat simple and greedy; just as neither is solid food good for those who are yet tender and have need of milk. - Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 45, 8
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2006, 08:48:37 PM »

It doesn't matter what I or you determine is "spiritually mature enough." It matters that God would allow people to be put to a test that they weren't capable of passing. As I said, if you think God is one who would allow such a thing, then that is up to you. I don't believe God would. And as God knew them, they would have been capable of passing the test.

The fact is that they were capable of making the right choice, just as we are today; they weren't destined to fail. They simply made the wrong choice.
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2006, 08:49:45 PM »

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And as God knew them, they would have been capable of passing the test.

I don't think that anyone denies that they were capable of passing the test. What is at issue is that God knew, with more certainty than we can possibly understand, that they would not pass the test. If you saw your twelve year old child about to cross the street, and a big truck was rambling down the road, you would know that your child is capable of seeing the truck; the question is not whether they are capable, but what actually happens. Would you take the chance of your child getting hit and ruining everything, just to test whether he learned his lesson about looking both ways? And now what if you knew for certain that he wasn't paying attention and was going to get hit... ?  But that leads back into a free will/omnipotence/omniscience debate which has been gone over a half dozen times this year already... . . Wink
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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2006, 08:54:56 PM »

I don't think that anyone denies that they were capable of passing the test. What is at issue is that God knew, with more certainty than we can possibly understand, that they would not pass the test. If you saw your twelve year old child about to cross the street, and a big truck was rambling down the road, you would know that your child is capable of seeing the truck; the question is not whether they are capable, but what actually happens. Would you take the chance of your child getting hit and ruining everything, just to test whether he learned his lesson about looking both ways? And now what if you knew for certain that he wasn't paying attention and was going to get hit... ?  But that leads back into a free will/omnipotence/omniscience debate which has been gone over a half dozen times this year already... . . Wink

Hehe, I must have missed that debate. Is it even Orthodox to say anything against God being omniscient and omnipresent?

Anyways, it is true that a parent would stop their child, but for how long? How much intervention before you, not the child, is in control? If God put Adam in an eternal box, he'd be a prisoner, not a son. If Satan, who was one of the greatest beings God ever created fell, then would Adam ever be "ready" to go on by himself?
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« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2006, 09:00:49 PM »

If you saw your twelve year old child about to cross the street, and a big truck was rambling down the road, you would know that your child is capable of seeing the truck; the question is not whether they are capable, but what actually happens. Would you take the chance of your child getting hit and ruining everything, just to test whether he learned his lesson about looking both ways?

Justin,
This is an analogy of the Fall from our human point of view. But I wonder if it is how God views the Fall from an Eternal, Omniscient "point of view" full of Foreknowledge?
The Fall may seem like a catastrophic disaster to us, but I wonder if the Fall is the Eternal equivalent of a fall in a slapstick comedy caused by slipping on a banana peel- where a haughty man walks down the street in his finest suit and is humbled by slipping and landing on his backside.
Landing on your backside is a good way to remind you that you are not a god.
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« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2006, 09:49:59 PM »

The fact is that they were capable of making the right choice, just as we are today; they weren't destined to fail. They simply made the wrong choice.
I agree. Therefore we don't need to worry about definitions of 'maturity'
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« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2006, 09:52:10 PM »

Justin,
This is an analogy of the Fall from our human point of view. But I wonder if it is how God views the Fall from an Eternal, Omniscient "point of view" full of Foreknowledge?
The Fall may seem like a catastrophic disaster to us, but I wonder if the Fall is the Eternal equivalent of a fall in a slapstick comedy caused by slipping on a banana peel- where a haughty man walks down the street in his finest suit and is humbled by slipping and landing on his backside.
Landing on your backside is a good way to remind you that you are not a god.
Also as far as a analogy is concerned it fails insofar as whilst one has a choice in crossing a road, the part about being hit by a truck was not a matter of choice.

I think when Adam and Eve made the choice, in order for it to be a real choice that they must have known to a degree the consequences of making that choice.
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« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2006, 09:55:54 PM »

I agree. Therefore we don't need to worry about definitions of 'maturity'

It is important, however, for soteriological concerns, even though it doesn't, as you pointed out, matter much for this specific issue.
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