If Adam and Eve were made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), then God made them super smart in the first place. After all, God made them to be in charge of the whole earth and keep it in order. They would have to be really smart to do that. But if they were so smart, what was the point of that tree in the garden?
In every culture there is a certain point at which young people are considered adults. In America that point is a person’s eighteenth birthday, at least according to the law. Do you ever wonder why it takes 18 years before people legally become adults? Are we any smarter at age 18 than at age 5? We have a lot more education at 18, but our potential to learn and think and do things is already built into us when we are born. Our whole life is the story of how we fulfill that potential (or not).
Think about this: the law says young people can’t start learning to drive until age 15, and can’t have a driver’s license until after their 16th birthday. That is because our society understands that at 15 most people are physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to start driving. We can’t let someone drive at age 10 because they are by no means ready.
God made Adam and Eve with amazing mental, physical, and emotional abilities already built in, but they needed to grow and develop to be ready for the responsibility of running the world. A huge part of their development was the test of that very strange tree: God had to give them the choice of sticking with His program or going off on their own. Satan was right when he said, “God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5).
God intended that they learn about good and evil, and a whole lot more. He wasn’t keeping that from them any more than we would keep a young person from learning to drive. He was training them up so they would be ready for the responsibility of that knowledge. What our ancestors did was to short-circuit God’s training plan and grab the knowledge on their own terms.
And ever since then the human race has been like a 10-year-old driving his father’s Escalade through heavy traffic on the freeway.