Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
I recently watched an old Star Trek episode. The title of the episode is “TheApple.” In this episode, the Enterprise crew encounters a planet that seems Edenic, with a people who seem happy but culturally stagnant. These people live to serve what they believe is their god, though we discover that it is a really powerful computer that both provides for the people and protects its domain from outsiders. I won’t go into the details, but the episode raises questions about innocence and progress. Ultimately, Kirk, McCoy, and Spock, play the role of the serpent, opening the eyes of the innocent. They do this by destroying Vol, which allows the people of Vaal (Ba'al?) to begin the road to “progress.” In reviewing their experience, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy ponder what has happened. Kirk makes reference to the story of Adam and Eve being driven out of Paradise, to which Spock replied:
"Precisely, Captain. And, in a manner of speaking, we have given the people of Vaal "the apple" - the knowledge of good and evil if you will - as a result of which they too have been driven out of paradise."
As we read the story of Eden in the twenty-first century, do we long for the innocence and sense of dependence on God that marks life in the Garden? Or are we grateful that the first couple ate the forbidden fruit and gained knowledge of good and evil? Is having our eyes opened to things God had chosen not to reveal a good thing? In other words, would you agree with McCoy, that knowledge and freedom is better than innocence and protection? Or is Spock correct, that despite their lack of progress, was it their place to intervene, especially since the people seemed happy with their lot? In other words, had they played the role of the Tempter?