In the center of the Garden of Eden were two trees. There was the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 2, God told the man he was free to eat of any tree in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he was not to eat. The Bible doesn’t say how many trees there were, only that he had made all kinds of trees to grow up from the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
The Genesis account doesn’t tell us everything. We also do not know the proximity of the tree of life from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It might be said that if both trees stood in the center of the garden, then to be near the tree of life was to also be near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The shade of one might have merely been a stride or two from the shade of the other. But one tree was forbidden and the other was not. Access to the tree of life meant being near to, but not eating from, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant you could no longer access the tree of life. When it came to the two trees standing in the center of the garden, it was one or the other. You absolutely could not have both.
I was pondering all this while we were down at the lake today. It’s interesting to me how the human interest in wisdom and knowledge is tied to the fall into sin. Genesis 3 says the woman saw three things regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was 1) a delight to the eyes, 2) good for food, which are the two things the Bible tells us about Eden’s trees back in Genesis 2. The last thing the woman sees was that the tree–the tree of the knowledge of good and evil–was to be desired to make one wise. So she ate from it.
The world is full of wisdom and knowledge. It’s almost like the living situation on earth has been reversed. Before, there was a plethora of trees to eat from and be satisfied, and only one to avoid. Now, there is no shortage of human wisdom and knowledge out there. Years upon years of time and generations have produced book after book, thought after thought, podcast after podcast, information after more and more and more information.
The homeschool world talks a lot about fostering a love of learning in our children. This is causing me to ask the question, “What IS true learning?” I look around at my house and see all the wonderful books on my shelves. To even read one of these, to know it inside and out, and truly understand it would take years and years of time and study. There’s a level of mastery that can never be reached, a hunger that can never fully be satisfied. This leads me to believe that while worldly learning is great, it isn’t everything it’s being made out to be. I want to take an English class, and read all the classics, and get lost in a documentary immersing me in any given point in history. Yet today I thought, and it again became clear, I can have worldly knowledge or I can have the tree of life.