16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (Genesis 2)
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,[a] knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3)
What evil, God?
What evil, snake?
Eden was perfection, was it not? At least, that’s what I was taught. What evil was there to see if Eve took a bite? In a paradise, what darkness was present for the humans to even bear witness to? What did you know then that our theologians don’t know now?
For if Eden was such a pinnacle of perfection, and humanity it’s pure tip, then there would have been no evil to know, much less speak of. All Adam and Eve would have seen would have been more life. Evil was not known in this world, was it?
God, you separated the waters from the waters — tehom. The abyss. The chaos waters. The flood. What dwelled in those waters that you needed to create holy space away from them?
It’s a perplexing notion, snake, that you would tempt Eve with knowing good and evil when evil supposedly didn’t exist. You, snake, are not Lucifer — even if you pretend to be. Rather you’re only a crafty animal. Do you know the answer: what evil was there for the first humans to know if there was supposedly no evil present?
Ahhhh, there’s a speck on our tepid theology.
We’ve become so lukewarm, so numb, to the traditional tellings that we lack the ability to question such glaring wonderings. From what I see, all Adam and Eve would have been able to see in the garden, after imbibing forbidden fruit, was more life. If evil truly didn’t exist in Eden, it would have needed to exist outside of Eden — or outside of space and time — for them to have any knowledge of it.
If this is so, then Eden was not perfection. Eden was not God’s prescriptive ideal for humanity. Oh what a fall…we have idolized Eden, clinging to being “very good” as our return to innocence, when all along you, God, had a greater plan and a greater story.
How limited our vision and insight.
For the fruit to have been forbidden at all, evil needed to have already been present in the Garden.
And so it was.
But that’s not what we tell ourselves.
And we strive so hard to return to a place that never existed in the beginning.
The question is: where do we go now?