Adam and Eve were placed in a special environment where they had all they ever needed. They were also created perfect in that they knew how to make all the right decisions, were not judgmental, and their relationship with each other and God was unselfish. They were the model for the family, relationship, and marriage.
When God created the world, He clearly defined right from wrong. All moral issues were objective and not subjective. There was one, obvious, absolute morality. One could choose to do the wrong thing, but that choice was clear. In their home, “the garden”, was a tree that God told Adam and Eve not to touch. The tree had a tremendous alluring power, primarily in how it affected the senses: Eve first listens to the snake’s seduction. She is then attracted to the look of the tree. She then takes the fruit in hand and tastes it. As the verses say: “And when the woman saw that the tree was… a delight to the eyes… she took of the fruit, and did eat…” (Genesis 3:6).
When Adam and Eve ate from the tree, it triggered a new modus operandi for the entire human experience: senses became more powerful than the intellect. And because all sensory delights are subjective, many choices become personal rather than universal. Adam and Eve were aware of what they were doing. They knew that the Tree was off limits. They were not lacking anything in the Garden of Eden so, what did they feel was missing that they chose to disobey God?
It is said that there are two ways to attain wisdom: either to learn about it intellectually, or to acquire it through life experience.
From a sensory perspective, the thrill of experience is unmatched. But at the same time, it is fraught with danger. Do we really need to experience every drug and every decadent activity to know that it’s not for us? We’ve all seen how the result of these experiences can carry the danger of permanent physical and/or emotional scarring. So why do we make these bad choices?
God’s discussion with Adam and Eve after their sin is not about punishment, but about consequence. God says: If this is the choice you are making then this is how your life will play out. Adam and Eve’s choices have (unfortunately) affected all their descendants, for all generations.
The story of the Tree of Knowledge is the ongoing story of humanity. We are convinced of the correctness of our actions. And when we err, God presents another chance to realize and admit our mistake. If we do, we draw closer to God than ever before. But if we egotistically defend our position, then we further carve an identity separate from God.
Even though Adam and Eve did not choose correctly, we still can. And in doing so, we can rectify that original sin, and bring about a return to Eden, the ultimate era of heaven on earth for which we all so desperately yearn.