The story of The Fall has been and always will be the bane of biblical literalists. I have never heard a sermon preached that dealt with the entire story. It’s as if Genesis 3:22 & 23 doesn’t exist! Consider the facts as reported in the NIV.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it…
And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
What is to be learned from this story if taken as literal truth?
God told Adam and Eve that if they ate or even touched fruit from the tree, they would die, but they didn’t!
The Snake said, “When you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”. It happened.
According to the story, even after The Fall, Adam and Eve could have lived forever as long as they had access to the tree of life. However, God didn’t want these two, disobedient, newly minted “gods” to live forever, so He kicked them out of the Garden, and made their lives, the lives of their descendants, and the lives of all other flora and fauna on the earth so difficult that they would have to ceaselessly recycle their immortal genetic material.
If taken literally, the story suggests that Adam and Eve were simply higher order animals before The Fall. Their disobedience made them “gods.” If the story is taken literally, Eve’s disobedience happened because God created a wife that was endowed with more curiosity, daring, and desire for wisdom than her husband had previously exhibited. If the story is taken literally, Eve’s disobedience was a crucial evolutionary step in the creation of not only human beings but free will, i.e. “knowing good and evil.”
And what about the Snake? If the story is taken literally, it was a talking animal innately devious and hateful enough to create unimaginable disaster. Why would God create such an animal?
He didn’t, of course.