Why did God need to plant the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden in the first place?

I mean Mormons say that God was in fact having a hidden desire for Adam and Eve to disobey His words and partake of that tree so that they could later be tested in the midst of sinful world whether they would seek God or merely enjoy the worldly pleasures.

When I confronted one Mormon on this point by saying that it seems a bit contradictory for God to have forbidden Adam and Eve to do something that He in fact wanted them to do, he confronted me with this question: otherwise, why do you think God planted that tree in the garden of Eden while He didn't want Adam and Eve to partake of that tree?

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    Are you looking for answers from a Mormon perspective, or just Christian answers in general? – Mason Wheeler Oct 2 '11 at 17:28
  • @Mason - Just Christian answers in general. – brilliant Oct 2 '11 at 17:43
  • What's funny about this situation is that, in greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity. Fire meaning knowledge. Satan gave fruit from the tree of knowledge to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve meaning humanity. Not the only stories to talk about a being giving knowledge to humanity. Kinda trippy. Just saying. Dont want to offend anyone. – user6484 Nov 6 '13 at 12:24
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    @user6484 - (1) It is just like there had been many ancient cults and religions before Christianity with their own mother and the son of God. I personally am not bothered by that because, as it can be seen from NT, demons knew perfectly well who Jesus was and even to a certain extent were aware of the God's plan timing: "And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Mat. 8:29). Thus, if the dark world is aware – brilliant Nov 7 '13 at 0:00
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    @user6484 - (2) of that, it's very possible that its leader would want to create numerous fake religions imitating the real one in order to try to bring down its validity. – brilliant Nov 7 '13 at 0:02

I believe that your question is very closely related to the one of "How could an omnipotent God who hates sin allow sin? If He's omnipotent, couldn't He have prevented us from sinning?"

The answer to that, of course, is that God gave us free will because He loves us, and because He wants to be loved in return. Our love for Him wouldn't be real love if it were forced. We'd be little better than robots, programmed to behave a certain way.

I believe that the tree was planted there because without it, Adam and Eve wouldn't have had the choice to obey or disobey Him, and without choice, there can be no true obedience, or true love, only mindless followers with no will of their own.

I don't believe He wanted them to eat it at all, but He knew that they would. He knows all of history; past, present, and future. We may not understand why He did certain things, but we can be sure that He has His reasons, and that His wisdom is far higher than ours. (1 Corintians 1:25, 1 Corinthians 2: 16)

  • (1) Your answer actually corresponds to the first and the last chapters of the book of Job. In the beginning Satan is telling God that Job is good and faithful just because God provided him with everything necessary for being faithful. Satan expresses doubts about Job's real faithfulness. It's interesting that God allowed Satan to test Job, which, by the way, has something in common with Satan's testing Eve and Adam in Eden. In the end of the book we see that – brilliant Oct 2 '11 at 18:46
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    (2) Job kind of failed - he almost began to curse God - however, God's appearing to him and realization of God's greatness (which is also what you said about in the end of your answer) brings Job back to obeying Him and accepting His will. – brilliant Oct 2 '11 at 18:47
  • @MasonWheeler There is no evidence He exists. There's good evidence He (the Biblical God) does not exist, however (eg: the book of Genesis vs. scientific evidence of the origin of the Universe and mankind). Really, how difficult would it be for an all powerful being to reveal himself to everyone? (and by that I mean reveal himself in a way that doesn't require everyone to be ready to accept him) – user729 Oct 3 '11 at 14:35
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    @Atheist: Very difficult indeed, if it would screw up the entire plan. If everyone has absolute proof, then faith goes out the window, which negates the opportunity to learn to live by faith. No self-improvement and no spiritual growth. And there is abundant evidence of God's existence; it's just that the evidence is personal and spiritual in nature, not scientific. If scientific evidence is the only evidence you will accept as valid then you're starting out with an incompatible set of presuppositions, which makes having this sort of discussion with you, and making it productive, difficult. – Mason Wheeler Oct 3 '11 at 14:39
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    @Atheist: That would actually make a good question for the site. You should ask it; you'd get better responses than you could here in comments. – Mason Wheeler Oct 3 '11 at 14:47

God planted the tree for the same reason he has done everything else on this planet.

So that he might be glorified all the more.

God is an intensely selfish God. He demands worship and honor and glory. He has created this world as a vessel so that he might be worshiped. He ordained the rebellion of Satan so that he might have an enemy and show his power in victory over it. He planted the tree in the garden so that he might have an imperfect people that he could redeem and show his power all the more.

God does not make mistakes, his creation was perfect by design, he allowed it to be corrupted by design, he has redeemed his people by design, and he will glorify his chosen people by design.

The tree existed to kick off the events so that God could show how much he loved his people and in that be glorified all the more. It allowed him to show his mercy and love to a fallen creation. He was gracious to them by not destroying them, and poured out his love by sacrificing his son. And in the future so that his son may return triumphant and bind Satan once and for all. The tree existed so that God would be glorified.

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    @Atheist - note that he does not "need" worship. He merely likes/wants/demands it. Its not that God needed to create, he just wanted to. He could have just destroyed Satan (or even not ordained him) but he wanted to glory from that and thus he has allowed him to exist (and in fact ordained for him to exist in the first place). – wax eagle Oct 3 '11 at 13:45
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    @Atheist I think what we have here is a failure to understand the implications of a perfect/omnipotent/omniscient being. Trying to compare God and how he works with our human existence (including your example) is pretty feeble. However lets go with a different comparison. Lets look at God as a king. He has subjects from all over the land. As his subjects come in to him they put gifts at his feet. Some bring what they can, he treasures even the lowest gift (for instance someone who makes rag balls brings their finest creation, still just a rag ball). However a man comes and brings no tribute. – wax eagle Oct 3 '11 at 14:01
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    -> cont'd. The man who brings no tribute is thrown in jail and hanged. If God is a king and deserving of our worship then we should bring to him whatever we have, even if all we can do is present him with rag balls. – wax eagle Oct 3 '11 at 14:02
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    @Chelonian - intrigued by this. I'm a Christian and I worship God because he is worthy of my worship. Yes he is intensely selfish, its part of his perfection and yes he demands worship this is because of his power. While those terms often have negative connotations in this context they are not negative. – wax eagle Oct 3 '11 at 17:24
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    @Chelonian: It is a bit of a troubling concept at first, because we -- seeing through the lens of human ego -- view such a positon as being haughty and arrogant, but if we can sidestep emotional type biases and look at it objectively, what else should God encourage us to esteem utlimately but Him? – Steven Oct 3 '11 at 19:02

Your question really about the tree (to which I think screams being a metaphor) or is it about the nature of GOD and what his motives were/are?

A very basic tenet of Christian theology and of what we know of GOD through the self revelation in Jesus is that GOD is love and knows how to love without showing favoritism or with any dubious motive.

Would we who are evil set up our own children for such a fall and thus kick them out? No, of course not. Therefore, if we who are evil know how to be good to our children, then how much more so will GOD who is perfectly good and perfectly loving. Let's not bring GOD down to our level, or worse, make Him out to be more of a monster than we are. I am certain that the father in the parable of the prodigal son did not set his child up to be rebellious, and so I dont think Christian theology would say that GOD did the same to Adam and eve in the garden.

  • So, basically, what you are saying is that we don't really know why He planted that tree, but we know for sure that He did that not with a view to set us up so as to send some of us into eternal tormenting, right? – brilliant Oct 2 '11 at 17:51
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    Yes, but I guess for some people that is not a clear cut enough answer, but I think we should fight for maintaining that GOD is a mystery rather than try to explain him too much. – jchaffee Oct 3 '11 at 13:48
  • There isn't a Mormon StackExchange. Since Mormons self-identify as Christian, questions about them and answers from their viewpoint are specifically on-topic here whatever other groups may think of them or their views. See Who are considered Christians here? in our FAQ. – Caleb Oct 4 '11 at 8:38

If we study the book of Romans where it teaches that sin is the outcome of law, it meant that eating that particular fruit of the knowledge of good and evil was not a sin until God made it a law not to eat it. It also teaches that where there is sin, grace is much more abound.

As a Christian we all know that God is too wise to make a mistake and too loving to be unkind. There are no hidden agendas as to why god planted this tree in the garden. The answer is simple, God is loving but also Justice and how just can he be if he created mankind with free will and not given him the choice to choose between obeying or disobeying him? Law and Grace are two different covenants. The Law covenant that God made with Abraham requires grace whereas the Grace covenant that Jesus Christ made with the whole world does not require the law at all.

  • If we study the book of Romans where it teaches that sin is the outcome of law, it meant that eating that particular fruit of the knowledge of good and evil was not a sin until God made it a law not to eat it This is useful. Got lost with the rest of the post. – user13992 Aug 22 '14 at 5:00
  • "... the book of Romans ... meant that eating that particular fruit of the knowledge of good and evil was not a sin until God made it a law not to eat it" - Well, God forbade humans from eating from that tree (= made it a law for them not to eat from that tree) BEFORE they ate from that tree (no wonder Adam later became afraid of God and hid from Him). In other words, in case with Adam and Eve there was no such time when, after the moment of partaking of that tree, it would still not be a sin for them. So, I kind of don't see how that point of the book of Romans is relevant to my question. – brilliant Aug 22 '14 at 23:37

Wood did not have any mystical powers, It was a symbol of God's sovereignty. Something similar as is flag of one country at the embassy or government building.

With that tree, God told the people: "Earth and everything else that I have provided you is mine and only if you obey me you will live forever. Otherwise, in the day you refuse to show obedience, you will start to die." (read Genesis chapter 2, paragraphs 15-17) It was a reasonable request - Adam & Eve could eat fruits from any other tree, eat to satisfaction.

God did not want them to take the fruit from the tree, he is not contradictory to himself. He wanted the people and their children see the tree every day and to remember that they must be obedient to God because he knows what is best for our own good.

The Bible is simple and not complicated. ;-)

  • -1 What do you mean "Genesis chapter 2, paragraphs 15-17?" My translation of Genesis 2 has only 13 paragraphs. Please provide actual verse references. – Flimzy Oct 24 '11 at 9:13
  • I also think that your last sentence is incredibly out of place, and completely wrong. The Bible is incredibly complicated in many ways. – Flimzy Oct 24 '11 at 9:14

You ought to understand that there were so many good trees and plants in the garden of Eden, moreover, there was the tree of Life. God never commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of life yet He warned them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Man was created as a free moral agent… their destiny was in their hands and unfortunately they CHOSE to disobey even in the face of a strict warning. Gen. 2:16 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. That God intended for man to fall is tantamount to blasphemy. Our God is a good and loving God He will never lure man whom he has created in His image and after His likeness to destruction. It is a matter of CHOICE. God gave a similar commandment to the children of Israel in the wilderness. Deut 30:19-20.

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    So, the question is still there: Why on earth He needed to plant that dangerous tree in the garden? – brilliant Apr 13 '14 at 4:35

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