There were two trees in the Garden. One was called the Tree of Life. But what about the other one?
We are told that it was labeled the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Quite a lengthy, complicated name wouldn't you think? But that is exactly what it was intended to be – complicated, confusing, even misleading.
I've been thinking more about that tree lately and something occurred to me, something in the way that serpent who hung out in that tree talked about the God who didn't want our parents to participate or have anything to do with that tree or its serpent. Do you remember the very first thing that came out of his liberated tongue?
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1)
Now before we get caught in the fast track of explaining what we think was going on here or how it all went wrong, simply think about the implications and psychology behind why he might say this.
First of all it was clearly intended to be blatantly false which in turn he planned for Eve to react by attempting to correct his misinformation. Maybe she assumed he was ill-informed, which of course was not at all the case. But there is no doubt that the way in which this question was framed was something akin to a sting operation, a loaded question meant to avoid detection of the real purpose for the conversation.
So, let's just take it at face value and see what a simple, unaffected, pure mind might be led to assume given such a question. Eve knew that God had told them plainly that they could eat from all the trees of the garden freely, all except from this particular one. That meant that they had an amazing variety of choices from which to select anytime they might feel like eating. It is important to place ourselves into that spot in the sequence of the story to gain vital insight into why the serpent selected the words that he did to seduce Eve into confusion and distrust of God.
Very likely Eve was not standing there gazing at this tree because she was particularly hungry and couldn't find anything to eat. We don't know what she was doing there but it most likely wasn't to find better food. All of the fruits from in direction one might look was tantalizing, tasty and most likely ripe and delicious. The word that comes to mind that might best describe what they enjoyed is the word 'choices.'
Yes, that's it! Choices! Adam and Eve had more choices for mealtime than possibly anyone has ever had since the creation of the world. I wish I could taste some of those options and see what some of that fruit looked like, smelled like, even felt like. All of it was probably very nutritious, and with such an amazing variety one would never suffer from malnutrition or disease due to nutritional deficiencies. And on top of all that the Tree of Life was apparently right next door to where she was standing, possibly within sight or maybe even within reach.
Now there is a curious comparison to take into account as well. The tree she was curious about, that tree that they had been warned to not eat from, was a tree with a name that implied more choices than simply one word like the name of other tree. Maybe it was intended to make the Tree of Life look boring in comparison. Maybe Life is just to simplistic a name to compete with a much classier name like this tree sported. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now that had nearly endless possibilities to elicit wonder, to ponder over, to arouse curiosity and contemplation. Hey, that's exactly what Eve was doing as she stood there in front of that tree. She was curious, maybe even a little nervous, though at this point she knew nothing about fear yet. That would come soon enough though.
But consider again the words of introduction offered by the occupant of this tree. “God says you can't eat from any tree anywhere? How sad. How tragic even! He must be awfully stingy to fill a garden full of such tempting trees weighed down with attractive fruits and then forbid you from enjoying anything that might make you feel good. Why, with a God like that in charge of your life, it will not be long before you are crawling around looking for grubs to eat or trying to eat grass or whatever you can find other than delicious fruit.”
Did the serpent say all of those things? Well, think about it, all of these ideas and much more are readily implied in the way his initial question was calculated to come across. In short, “my tree offers you genuine choice allowing you freedom to do what you wish, while apparently God refuses to allow you complete freedom by forbidding you to think for yourself or evaluate independently whether or not this tree is as bad as He makes it out to be.
“My tree offers you real choice while the other tree and the God you depend on by eating from that tree, offer one thing and one thing only. Now how in the world can you ever be truly free to choose if the only other important tree in the garden has just one name? My tree offers you access to infinite knowledge, something vital if you are ever to learn how to really distinguish between what is good for you and what is not. This is the tree of choice, not just boring Life only. How will you ever know if what I am telling you isn't true if you are not allowed to check it out for yourself? Is God threatening you with severe punishment if you go crosswise to His wishes? If so, how does it feel to live under such chaffing control? Why, maybe He is such a demanding deity that He really won't let you eat of anything anywhere unless He personally hands it to you and gives you permission to ingest it.”
So there we have it. Two trees in a massive garden full of other trees heavy with luscious fruit. But the two core trees have everything to do with what version of God you will choose to embrace, “a God who offers only life and life alone, or a god who offers you endless variety of choices on a broad spectrum ranging from fabulously exciting to... well, you don't even know anything about evil yet. So what's holding you back from gaining a little personal knowledge to decide for yourself what is in your best interest? That's what I am offering you here, not death, but rather enhanced knowledge and freedom to choose between options, unlike that other tree offers you.”
So maybe this tree might also be seen as The Tree of Choice. And this in contrast to The Tree of Life.
Choice versus Life. Now where have I heard than somewhere recently? Well, maybe that is an unrelated topic, or is it?
Never mind Eve that God said if you eat from this tree of Knowledge that death will follow, not only for you but for your as yet unborn children as well. In fact, it will not be long after you eat from this tree that your descendants will make it a matter of policy and frame it as an issue of freedom for women just like you to be able to choose for themselves if they want to kill their own unborn children. Choice, that's it! Choice. This is the tree of freedom of choice, where anyone is allowed to indulge in both good and evil and learn firsthand what they want to embrace without any interfering, meddling God messing in their affairs. You don't really want to continue to live under the restrictions of that other system, do you? They call that just Life. Choice versus Life. Which do you choose?
Well, she chose choice. And the rest, as they say, is history.