Book: Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
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The Gods remember that they had created a tree whose fruit brings the knowledge of good and evil. They eat the fruit, and thereby gain the knowledge they need to “tend the garden without becoming criminals and without earning the curses of all who live in our hands.” In essence, this knowledge is “the knowledge of who shall live and who shall die” (160).
When the gods realize Adam - the first man - is awaking, they recognize his specialness and decide to give him a goal for life: to find the Tree of Life. However, they worry that he might grow impatient in his quest and choose to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Though the tree would never give him the same knowledge it gave them (since he was just a man), it would dangerously create the delusion that he did have that knowledge. Operating under that delusion, he would be able to justify anything that pleased him as "good" and anything that impeded him as "evil" (162). They worry that such a predicament would cause destruction, since he would see any limitations as evil and thus expand until he devours the world. Considering himself equal to the gods, Adam would exempt himself from the law that governs all other species, believing that any suffering he caused must have been ordained by the gods. Realizing all of this, the gods chose to prohibit Adam from eating of the tree of knowledge.