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Is God Immoral For Creating The Tree Of Knowledge?

Q: I think that God deliberately set Eve up for sin. He knew that Eve would eat from the tree and doom mankind forever. He made the tree anyway. Therefore, it seems that God is to blame for sin. Couldn't God have made the tree in such a way that it was impossible for Adam and Eve to reach the fruit? Couldn't God have made the snake unable to talk? Couldn't God have kept the snake away from Eve? Why didn't He?

-Barry

A: You have presented a string of objections here, so I will address each one of the objections briefly. Before I do this, however, I think it is important to address a larger problem with this objection. At several points, you seem to assume that Eve bore no moral responsibility for a choice that she freely made. As long as human beings have free will to obey or disobey God, we will be responsible for those choices. I think that understanding this is the key to answering your objection.

Let me give an illustration that may help this. I had a friend one time who was acting suicidal, so I invited him over to the house one day, hoping to keep an eye on him. Before he came over, I removed all of the sharp objects that I could find from the house, as well as anything else that I thought he might be able to use to hurt himself. I knew that, if he really wanted to hurt himself, he would find a way. But if I am around, maybe he wouldn't try anything. If he wanted to hurt himself, I could make it difficult on him, but not stop him completely without tying him up and sitting him in a soft, padded corner, thus effectively removing his ability to move freely. The house looked far less full by the time I finished cleaning it up. My friend came over, and ultimately ended up going to get some help for what he was going through. The question that has to be asked, though, is this: If he had decided to hurt himself, and found a way to do it, would I be responsible for his choice? Of course not! I was there to help, and I most definitely did everything that I could to help him. While this analogy is not perfect (none really are), I think it helps illustrate that people are responsible for their own actions. Would you rather God have tied Eve up and put her in a corner somewhere so that she would not eat the fruit? Would you rather God remove your free will, effectively making you a robot, rather than allow you to make free choices? That is the dilemma. God can only remove our ability to choose evil by also removing our ability to actually choose good.

Did God deliberately set up Eve to sin? Let me answer your question with a question: Did God make Eve sin? Did God force Eve to sin against her will? Of course not! A quick survey of Genesis 3 makes it clear that Eve was acting of her own free will in eating the fruit and giving the forbidden fruit to Adam. Adam, as well, was acting on his free will whenever he chose to eat it. Eve could have chosen differently. She could have chosen to walk away. She could have chosen to go eat some other fruit. She could have chosen any number of different courses of action. The same can be said about Adam. Just because Eve ate the fruit of the tree doesn't mean that Adam had to. As long as human beings have free will, we will make decisions to do both good and evil. This doesn't mean that God is responsible for our bad choices. It means that we are.

Couldn't God have made the tree in such a way that it would have been impossible for Adam or Eve to reach the fruit? If He wanted to hinder their ability to make free choices, I suppose. Yet a universe in which mankind has free will is of much more value than a world full of robots. To take away Eve's choice to do evil would be to hinder her ability to choose good. In other words, you cannot stop people from choosing evil without also stopping them from having the freedom to choose good. If it were impossible to do evil, then it would also be impossible for anyone to really "choose" good. They wouldn't have a say in the matter. I wonder how long you would be willing to put up with someone telling you that you HAD to choose good all the time, and left you no way to make your own free decision. With all due respect, I don't think that you would like to live in that world for very long.

Couldn't God have made the serpent unable to talk or kept the serpent away from Eve? This objection appears to be irrelevant if Eve was exercising her own free will in eating the fruit. Again, did God force Eve to eat the fruit of the tree? No. As a human being exercising the free will that God gave her, Eve was liable for the consequences of any decision that she made. God was even good to mankind after Adam and Eve sinned. He provided us a free way away from evil through Jesus Christ, despite the fact that He was under no obligation to do so. That doesn't sound like an "evil" God. That sounds like an incredibly good God.

In conclusion, I would argue that mankind is responsible for their own actions. Any attempt to blame God for our bad decisions is just a deflection on our part. Imagine if someone accused of grand theft tried to convince a jury of his innocence by proclaiming, "If the owner of the automobile hadn't left it there in the first place, I would not have been inclined to steal it. Therefore, it's HIS fault. He should be in handcuffs, not me!" I don't see too many juries being persuaded by this argument. Why should we think this argument would work for Eve, or for any of us? We shouldn't, because we are each responsible for our free will decisions.

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