There are people who believe that Adam and Eve did the right thing. That Genesis is not meant as literal history.
The exit from Eden is a parable about the transition from a state of nature to a state of artificiality. The accrual of technology and social constructs leads to a certain loss of innocence. It is also a parable about growing up, which is a similar process.
Manchild in the natural state does not know he is going to die someday any more than a dog – or a preschooler – thinks about end of life issues. As far as he is concerned he is immortal and right now is forever, very much like a child. Knowledge reveals to him that he is going to die and in that sense, he loses his immortality. Womanchild doesn’t know about the pain that pregnancy and childbirth will bring, so it never preys upon her minds. What child worries about such things?
Eden is that ideal comfortable home where all our needs are taken care of. Real life homes are never so kind to their chldren but I believe that even 3,000 years ago, most parents did what they could. I believe that parents have struggled with childrearing since the dawn of humanity. I believe the longing to return to a pretechnological state of grace has existed as long as technology has existed.
God put that tree in Eden for Adam and Eve to eat of. Or it could have been just the force of natural selection. The enlargement of the cerebral cortex was our evolutionary “apple.” The parable does not require a religious interpretation to work.
“The knowledge of good and evil” was the concept that those things even existed. Animals in nature just follow their instincts. There’s no morality about life in nature. You do what you need to do to satisfy instinctive survival and reproductive inperatives. Beyond that, humans were pretty much stuck with working out the rules on their own. If you note, nothing in the Bible said anything about God instucting Adam and Eve in the specifics. It was Adam and Eve who decided they needed that fig leaf, not God. In the Biblical version, one can see figleaves as a human invention, the first technology.
The serprent was doing God’s bidding. God was certainly bright enough to know that declaring a fruit to be forbidden means that as soon as the children’s curiosity outgrew their fear, eating the apple was inevitable. Once a child learns what he/she needs to survive in the world, you may need to kick them out of the house if staying at home is too comfortable.
That knowledge was the basis for creating civilization with all of its good and its evil. We have yet to see the final result.
That thing about clothing? That was something Adam/Eve thought up. Along with a bunch of other ideas, both good and bad. God never mentioned it.
“But this by no means signifies that impurity of body is identified simply with partial or total nudity. There are circumstances in which nudity is not impure. If someone uses it to treat the person as an object of pleasure – even if it is by bad thoughts – he alone is the one who commits an impure act. Impurity of body only occurs when nuditity plays a negative role with respect to the value of the person. One can say that what happens then is a de-personalization.”
Pope John Paul II