So, you think you have the story of The Fall all figured out, right? Adam and Eve, God says don’t eat the apple. Snake says why not? Go ahead, do it. Etc. Lesson in obedience, God laid out the test, we failed. Boom, you’re out of the Garden. So we all inherited Adam’s sin (Eve’s didn’t count?) because we all would have done the same thing. That’s the deal, right? Wrong.
It was a setup. It wasn’t an apple tree, you know. “…but you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Why do you suppose it was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Follow the story.
Adam and Eve ate some of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (snake’s fault), and from that point became aware of their nakedness. They experienced guilt and hid from God, because they knew they had done wrong. The catch is, they could not have known it was wrong until they tasted the fruit. They couldn’t taste the fruit of knowledge until they had knowledge. Before that, they were innocent beings, not knowing good from evil.
Everyone seems to have missed the point of the story. It is not that mankind is inherently evil, and chooses to do evil. It is not about free will. The point is that mankind was innocent, like the other creatures, until we reached a point in our development at which we could understand the difference between good behavior and bad, when we could know that something was right or wrong, rather than just pleasurable or painful. In the Genesis account, God made the rule, and provided the serpent to tempt Eve, and Eve to tempt Adam, so that they would know, after the fact, that what they did was wrong. It was a necessary step in our development.
“Tasting the forbidden fruit” was the awareness that some things are bad and some are good. That was the fruit of the knowledge we had finally grown into. That’s when we became mortal, in this sense: before that, we knew it was painful when a loved one died. After, we knew it was wrong. Death acquired a painful new meaning, and thus life became much more precious. That’s the point. It’s the story of how we grew up, lost our innocence, and gained consciousness. How we became human.