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Clearly, God really did want Adam and Eve to avoid the Tree of Knowledge.

But that brings us back to our question: Why would the Lord want to deny humanity an understanding of good and evil?

By any measure, that's a pretty strange name for a tree -- but if that's what the Bible calls it, then that's presumably what it is: It somehow conveys a "knowledge of Good and Evil," an ability to distinguish right from wrong to those who partake of its fruits. In a sentence, it is this: "Why would God want to deny this knowledge to people? Are human beings better or worse off, for their knowledge of "good and evil"? Did God really want to create a society filled with such people?

Is knowing right from wrong an asset or a liability for humanity? Clearly, people are better off when they know the difference between right and wrong.

The Almighty becomes angry, and hands out various punishments: The snake?

No more walking upright for him; he must crawl on his belly and eat dust. Generations of her kind will endure pain in conception and childbirth. He and his progeny will have to work by the sweat of their brow to make bread.

As I mentioned earlier, many Biblical stories have their "elephant in the room": An obvious, slap-in-the-face question that is so basic and so deeply troubling that until you find a way to deal with it, you really can't claim to have any understanding at all f the story you are reading.

If you are uneasy, can you identify exactly why you are uneasy?

Rather, the very existence of such a tree seems to create a basic contradiction in the story as a whole.

Here's why: What happens immediately after Adam and Eve eat from the tree whose mysterious fruits confer knowledge of "good and evil"?

Hopefully, you've read it with fresh eyes, and asked yourself that very basic of questions: "What is strange about this picture?

" Before getting to your conclusions, let's take a moment to revisit the basic storyline together.

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