Arbitrary Fruit # 1

Pastor John's picture

Genesis 2:17 & 3:5 "...but from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat...   [The Serpent said] for God knows that in the day you eat of it...you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

In Genesis, the forbidden fruit grew on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I've often wondered why God named it that way.  Was there something mystical about the fruit that it somehow altered their consciousness and started the process of death at the same time?  For many years that was the only explanation -- however unsatisfying -- I could come up with.  There is, however, a better explanation.

Gaining knowledge -- the gathering of information and understanding -- isn't bad.  In fact, the Bible tells us to "seek after knowledge" (Proverbs 2:1-5).  But the phrase "knowledge of good and evil" doesn't refer to that kind of knowledge.  The choice Adam and Eve made to eat the fruit was a choice to replace God as the one who decides between what is good and what is evil.  By eating of the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve made themselves (and by default the rest of us human beings) the sole authority on what is right and what is wrong.

This has resulted in such things as "might makes right" becoming the rule that some societies run by.  Other societies have focused on meticulous adherence to a system of laws.  Today's world is tending toward the “do your own thing” idea where there is no such thing as “right” or “wrong”, just do whatever you think is okay.  Of course, it is easy to see why none of these (or any other philosophy that attempts to delineate right and wrong) work.  If the strongest in the crowd determines what is acceptable then the strong man will be happy and everyone else will be oppressed.  (Think dictator here.)  If we live in a legalistic society in we will constantly be faced with our own inability to measure up -- and likely be ruled by a self-serving oligarchy of elites to boot.  (Think the pre-Christ Jewish society on this one.)  The "do your own thing" philosophy doesn't take long to descend into anarchy and all the blood and death that brings.  (Think the French Revolution here.)

So, nothing works!  Ever since Adam and Eve’s ill-fated decision, we've been trying to find a model to help us discern between good and evil and nothing works.  And nothing works because everything we come up with is arbitrary.

And that brings us to the topic for my next blog post.  Stay tuned!