15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Why would God even put the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden? Did He want them to partake of it? Was the Fall necessary so that Adam and Eve could propagate children and give rise to each of us? But would that mean God’s plan of good required an act of evil first?!
I have heard all these questions about the story of creation, and I’ve even asked a few of them myself. But they are questions that have no answer in our scriptural accounts, and thus dwelling on them can only be an agitation and distress. The fact is, we really have very little information about what happened in that Garden, and it is entirely conceivable that we are missing 99% of the bigger story. There could very well have been much more drama between God, Satan, Adam, and Eve, but we were only given a very narrow window of it. Thus anyone that tries to extrapolate all the details from these small pieces is on a vain quest.
But I don’t believe that this narrow-slice view is an accident. When it comes to stories like these, there is a great strength in brevity. It makes them more universal. By stripping away any extraneous details we are left with a message that is applicable to each of us, no matter how different we are. Like Adam, each of us recognizes that there was forbidden fruit that we were warned against, that we were told would destroy us, that we obediently avoided for a time…but which we ultimately did partake of. And when we felt something break inside of us and weren’t sure where to go from there, this story pointed the way.