Eve, knowledge, and free agency

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We were discussing 2 Nephi 2 in Gospel Doctrine class today. Naturally, part of the discussion revolved around Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

It started with the instructor asking if the freedom to choose existed in the Garden of Eden. Surprisingly, I heard a lot of vocal yeses. I did hear some nos, but they were definitely fewer. I brought up the fact that no one forced Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good of evil; they chose to eat it. As a result, the freedom to choose must have existed.

One class member stated Adam and Eve were innocent, thus not knowing fully the consequences of their decisions. Someone else responded to that saying they may have been innocent, but they were not stupid.

This same person suggested that Eve consciously decided to eat the fruit in order to fulfil the commandment they had to have the children. Of course, he said it in a way that made it seem that women are always more spiritual than men (emphasizing that Adam was not thinking about children as much), and the instructor responded, “Isn’t that typical?”

Typical indeed. That sort of sexism really gets my blood going.

Anyhow, I pointed out that every source we have regarding the discussuion between Satan and Eve was about Eve gaining knowledge. Never once did they discuss the idea to have children. Even 2 Ne. 2:18 supports this:

Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

In fact, it wasn’t even until after she had eaten the fruit that she even raises the topic of children. Presumably, this means she didn’t even consider such long term issues until after gaining more knowledge.

15 thoughts on “Eve, knowledge, and free agency

  1. Here’s the question: Satan is the one who says she’ll gain knowledge and decieves her. So was it God’s will that she and Adam gain knowledge?

  2. Of course it was.

    In Moses 4:28, God confirms that the very thing Satan had told Eve:

    the man is become as one of us to know good and evil

  3. I have always struggled with the questions asked during your lesson. I have never felt there was enough in the scriptures to answer these questions, yet many members have various answers/theories they ascribe to.

    Somtimes I wonder if we are just looking past the mark. It wasn’t meant for us to know the exact thoughts and reasoning in Adam and Eve’s mind when making the decision to eat the fruit. The important lesson is that God provided a way for the Fall to be the catalyst that put the plan of Salvation in motion.

  4. “It wasn’t meant for us to know the exact thoughts and reasoning …”

    Are you saying that the thinking has already been done? So don’t worry about it?

  5. It wasn’t meant for us to know the exact thoughts and reasoning

    But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss it. This isn’t gospel essentials class after all.

  6. I apologize. My comment was meant as a question, but I typed it as a declarative statement.

    I see no problem with discussing it. But my question is with all of the different conclusions members have reached are we looking past the mark and trying to expound upon what just isn’t there? Is there enough information in the scriptures to draw a strong and supported opinion on what Eve’s thoughts were in partaking of the fruit? Or are all of us just grasping at straws that fit our paradigm?

  7. One common sentiment in Mormon culture regarding this issue that bothers me is the statement that Eve knew what she was doing when she took the fruit. I am unable to find any scriptural support for this within the standard works. All the references I found (OT, PoGP, and BOM) state that Eve was “beguiled” = deceived. As this post points out none of Eve’s statements about the good results of her decision occur until after she has partaken.

    I think the tendency to believe and pass on this idea may come from a feeling that to admit the possibility of being deceived lessens our respect for Adam or Eve. It may also tie to the desire to present this action as transgression and not sin. Finally, it may relate to a desire to present women as better than men in that Eve was smart enough, even prior to taking the fruit, to understand the consequences and not to be fooled by Satan whereas Adam’s blind obedience was the wrong choice.

    In my personal opinion, it does not lessen Adam and Eve to allow for them being deceived. It could be argued that the scriptures are unclear about Eve’s motivation for taking the fruit. Since Satan presented truth and falsity in his argument for her taking the fruit – it will make you wise, it will not make you die – we can’t be sure which part convinced Eve. That’s why I am upset when a non-scriptural interpretation is passed off as the official word.

  8. Out of curiosity, have any general authorities made definitive statements about Eve’s motivation for partaking of the fruit?

  9. Both Adam and Eve partook of the fruit on the advice of Satan. In doing so, they knew they had sinned. “Transgression” means to knowingly disobey and reject a former commandment already given them. People either sin in ignorance or sin in “trangression” having already known the law and going against it. Partaking of the fruit itself was not so much the sin as to the reason of what led them to partake of the fruit. They were led to partake of the fruit based on the temptations and lies of Satan. This of coarse was in direct violation of law- a law that caused them to then be penalized. This penalty was physical and spiritual death.

    The plan of salvation could then be instituted or put to work. It has been debated that God already knew the plans of satan and knew beforehand that he would tempt Eve to partake of the fruit and so thus he commanded Adam and Eve not to partake of it knowing beforehand that Satan would come tempting them to partake and thus yeild unto satans will.

    It is also debated that even without Satan to tempt Adam or Eve, the plan for man to fall was already in place and that partaking of the fruit itself does not require an evil person to make that happen. After all, they could just make that decision themselves without a person there for that purpose. It is obvious that Satan did not understand the plan because he thought to thwart god by making adam and eve partake of the fruit.

    I think another interesting bit is the angle that the fruit of the tree of good and evil was just too irresistable. Sure, they were given a command not to eat of it and in doing so they would transgress the law and sin, but the whole scenerio may be that it was just a matter of time before their natural curiosity overcame them and they partook anyway. Kind of like placing candy in front of a child and then telling them not to eat it and then leave the room indefinately. Only a matter of time and they will sooner or later eat the candy and thus- disobey.

    Another thing to remember is that the plan of salvation was already in place before the world was even created and before Lucifer even fell. This plan was also fully understood by all of us before both of those events happened. This tells me that partaking of the fruit/ man’s fall into mortality would happen no matter what irregardless of whether Lucifer fell and became Satan or not.

  10. I was right with you until “irregardless”… ;)

    “It is obvious that Satan did not understand the plan because he thought to thwart god by making adam and eve partake of the fruit.”

    I’m not sure that anything like that is obvious.
    Maybe he was part the the plan? Maybe it didn’t matter? Maybe this is all figurative and not literal, and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans?

    The way you interpret the scripture, you’d think you were reading a history book and not the Bible – a piece of literature well know for using allegory.

  11. “It is obvious that Satan did not understand the plan…”

    According to my understanding of the characteristics of Satan, he would be smarter than that. In fact, aren’t we always warned about how cunning Satan is? If he isn’t brilliant, than what would be so scary about him? I can’t really picture him as some guy who just doesn’t get it.

  12. Can you picture him as a guy who’s not as intelligent as the God who has all knowledge and wisdom? I don’t see why it’s hard to imagine Satan being outsmarted by a superior Being.

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