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?

  • 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. Dec 31, 2011 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, 2011 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, 2011 at 8:54
  • 6
    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. Dec 31, 2011 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, 2014 at 0:41

4 Answers 4


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.

  • Adding further support, the NIV has "for when you eat from it" (italics mine). Dec 31, 2011 at 22:20
  • Although this may be inferring more from the English than is warranted by the Hebrew, I agree with the conclusion.
    – user32
    Jan 2, 2012 at 1:02
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    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. Jan 4, 2012 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. Jan 5, 2012 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. Jun 15, 2013 at 15:42

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.

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    It's too bad I can't vote this up more than once. Jan 4, 2012 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, 2012 at 16:29
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    @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.
    – user32
    Jan 6, 2012 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, 2012 at 16:15

If we read the story literally, God comes out of it very poorly. An omniscient God knew what the consequences of putting the tree in the garden must inevitably be. He still put it there; so he deliberately engineered human disobedience. To then punish all humans through all generations, because their earliest ancestor failed a test that God knew he must fail before he even set the test is the act of a God whom we might worship out of fear but who is certainly not worthy of our love.

The Fall story is a myth. That doesn't mean that it is not true. It means that it is not about one historical event. It is about eternal truths that happen in each of our lives. We each acquire moral sense (a knowledge of good and evil), we each have to come to terms with our mortality, we each have to take responsibility. Have you ever thought of the Garden of Eden story in relation to childhood? The young child is kept safe. Its needs are met. It plays and has no worries. It happily runs around naked because it isn’t self-conscious. It’s innocent. Then we grow up. We become self-aware and we gain knowledge. We realize that people get ill and die and that those we love and we ourselves will suffer and die too. We have to take increasing responsibility for ourselves and we get things wrong. We go though the difficulties of puberty and adolescence, which often involves challenging parental authority as we seek self-determination, and most of us have to leave the nest and work for a living. Eventually we may have families of our own.

  • Is this the position of a given Christian denomination? If so, of which one? Can you cite evidence to that effect? That's the kind of answer this site (which is primarily designed as an academic study of theology) requires. Nov 26, 2014 at 17:28

"And you shall call his name Jesus, and He save his people from their sins" Matthew 1

The real, eternal name of G-d is Jesus, or perhaps some 1st-century Hebrew or Aramaic variant thereof. The point is, the very N-me of G-d means, "He who saves from sins". The N-me of G-d is eternal and cannot change. The fact that a saving deity exists makes it inevitable that somebody, somewhere will sin and will require saving. So yes, the Fall was inevitable.

But is that bad? Consider the contrapositive: if sin never happened, then, logically, G-d as we know Him would not exist.

What if Job was never tested? His faith would have never been proven. And likewise, G-d's love would have never been proven if Jesus had not been sacrificed, a la Abraham and Isaac at the mountain.

What if Adam and Even had never sinned? Your life would be a lot easier, certainly, and you could easily improve yourself and let go of irresponsible and bad habits without difficulty. More significantly, you would be surrounded by perfect, idyllic, flawless people. You would never be able to bless those who curse you, because nobody would curse you. You would not be able to love your enemies, because you would have no enemies. Consequently, you would not be able to reflect the glory of G-d in the way He intended. The creation of the universe, and the creation of man, would have ultimately been a fruitless endeavor.

But G-d didn't create you for that.

Just as it was necessary for Job, and Abraham, to be tested, it was necessary for G-d H-mself to be tested. Jesus was tempted as we are, and never sinned. He was not simply tempted by the devil in the wilderness, but he was tested every day of His Life. I will love my enemies. I will share the truth. I will be willing to lay down my life. Not my will, but Yours be done.

"All who dwell on the earth will worship the beast, whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world." Rev 13:8

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