Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Given that:

  1. Life of man continued in eternity in Eden
  2. During this time the tree of knowledge was present
  3. At any given point in time, man had the free will to make the choice: I will eat the forbidden fruit

it seems like a mathematic inevitability that the probability of eating the fruit = 100% as time → infinity?

I might be thinking of this too naïvely or simplistically but it seems like regardless how figurative or literal you take the account, the core issue still stands?

Unless 1. is not as simple as it seems and eternity is a more complex notion than simply time continuing indefinitely as we understand time now? Or 2. is debatable, i.e. the tree could have only been a one-time test which would not have continued into eternity?

share|improve this question
2  
I think you're coming at it from the wrong angle - Mathematical odds. Even a one in a gazillion chance would mean it's not "inevitable", just highly unlikely. However, from a different angle - God knew it would happen before He created us, therefore, it was inevitable because God cannot be wrong. –  David Stratton Dec 31 '11 at 6:02
    
@david that's probably as good an answer as this questions going to get! Interesting idea though kLy, thanks –  Waggers Dec 31 '11 at 8:25
1  
@david That's taking quite a predestination stance over free will isn't it? And a one in gazillion chance isn't quite a fair chance to man, I'd say? Can anyone explain why this was downvoted though? –  kLy Dec 31 '11 at 8:54
5  
Just because God knew they would eat it, does not mean he forced them to eat it. That's not a denial of free will. God knowing what choices we will make in advance does not mean they are not our choices. –  David Stratton Dec 31 '11 at 19:21
    
@DavidStratton: In Luke 15:11-31, the father does not ask the younger son to leave; to the contrary, the father wishes that the younger son could simply be happy staying on the farm but recognizes that he cannot, unless or until he discovers for himself that life with his father really is better than life apart. Eden is the farm before departure; Heaven is the farm after the return. –  supercat Feb 6 at 0:41
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Well, let's have a look at the actual text.

Genesis 2: 16-17

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.

Verse 17 is particularly interesting. "In the day that thou eatest thereof" is not an "if" statement but a "when" statement. This makes me think that yes, it was part of the plan, and that Satan's temptation did not consist of getting them to eat the fruit per se, but of getting them to do it before they were ready (whatever else that would have consisted of.) Unfortunately, the Scriptures are silent on any further details.

share|improve this answer
    
Adding further support, the NIV has "for when you eat from it" (italics mine). –  El'endia Starman Dec 31 '11 at 22:20
    
Although this may be inferring more from the English than is warranted by the Hebrew, I agree with the conclusion. –  Lawrence Dol Jan 2 '12 at 1:02
1  
I'd be really careful with this assertion. The oldest manuscripts we have are in Greek [not Hebrew], and there are forms of the conditional that aren't typically translated with "If." I think you're right, but in a scholarly debate, you're opening yourself for what we call in ping-pong, a slam. –  Affable Geek Jan 4 '12 at 21:01
    
I'm pretty sure this is not the general Christian view. I don't see any references to indicate that this is anything other than the personal opinion of the answerer. –  DJClayworth Jan 5 '12 at 4:06
    
Ah, I don't fully agree with this, are you saying Satan disrupted God's plan, that's doubting the omniscience of God. –  Chibueze Opata Jun 15 '13 at 15:42
add comment

I think this question reflects a common error in our thinking which I call temporal lock - that is, we have a great tendency to reason about the eternal things of God from a temporal and limited perspective.

God is the great "I Am" - the eternal present. God's eternity certainly is more complex than time continuing forever; it's timelessness. God is not bound by time; he does not exist within time as we know it - our time was created by him when he created the universe: Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning..." (emphasis mine).

It's clear from the laws of physics of this universe that it was never designed to exist eternally. The laws of thermodynamics ensure that the universe, much less this planet, cannot sustain life indefinitely. Equally, consider what was to happen once mankind had fulfilled the command to multiply and fill the earth - then what? It seems apparent from the creation itself that this entire universe is an interim endeavor. While it is feasible that God could have stepped in and done something supernatural, it's more reasonable to postulate that this creation is temporary and is designed for a purpose, which once achieved, will negate the reason for its existence.

It's not so much that mankind would inevitably sin, but that in God's experience, there is no other reality. God knew from all eternity that man would sin and what he would do about it - the plan of salvation was in the heart of God before (whatever "before" means in God's dimensional existence) this creation ever was.

If one reasons this through to its logical conclusion, in the face of a perfect eternal being, one must conclude that this creation, the fall and Christ's redemptive action is a necessary interim step in God's ultimate plan for our eternity. An eternity in which mankind has perfect communion with God, has free-will and the capability to love, and yet is incapable of sinning.

share|improve this answer
1  
It's too bad I can't vote this up more than once. –  David Stratton Jan 4 '12 at 2:26
    
God knew from all eternity that man would sin and what he would do about it - this is doubtful when one reads the Genesis further, where it is said that God "regrets" having created men, so, he literally starts project "Man 2.0" with Noah, while extincting all others. –  Ingo Jan 5 '12 at 16:29
1  
@Ingo: That's a good point, one which I have long pondered. But I am not convinced that surprise is necessary to experience regret. I have have many occasions with my kids where I knew I was going to regret some action, but deemed it the best course nevertheless and proceeded with it. I would suggest that our understanding of the way in which God experiences regret is flawed. –  Lawrence Dol Jan 6 '12 at 21:15
    
An easier explanation is that the expression "GOD regretted ..." is a rationalization of the men that used to tell or write down the story of the Great Flood - we know that, for example, the Gilgamesch Epos (where the Great Flood saga is also told) is older than the OT, hence the OT authors (so to speak) had to fit it somehow to match their culutral-religios environment. –  Ingo Jan 7 '12 at 16:15
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.