Knowledge is Weakness The phrase “knowledge is power” implies that with knowledge one’s potential or abilities in life will surely increase. Having and sharing knowledge is generally regarded as a basis for improving one’s reputation and thus power. In this modern sense, knowledge seems to be a positive notion that improves quality of life, but in fact through the study of biblical text it is clear that the acquisition of knowledge has not always brought positive results. In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were the first people to recognize that the result of knowledge is harmful and so is the “power” it brings.
The consequence of knowing is not power; knowledge is a damaging force that is not all good like the modern western world believes, but rather it creates fear, weakness and makes life more difficult. Adam and Eve’s desires to know good and evil causes them to be fearful and disgraceful, not powerful like god. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, a wonderful place where they could “eat freely out of every tree” except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2. 16). Everything god created was good, and no evil existed in the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve were specifically warned not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die. When Eve learned from the serpent that the forbidden fruit would make her “like god” and give her “knowledge of good and evil”, they disobeyed god’s instructions. Incapable to control their hunger for knowledge, Adam and Eve ate the fruit that god specifically forbid them from enjoying. They immediately realized they were naked and when god came looking for them they hid since Adam and Eve were “afraid because [they] were naked. Adam and Eve’s actions, a direct result of their desire to know, made them afraid and shameful, not powerful. Instead of existing forever in a garden where everything was good, the knowledge that Adam and Eve gained has afflicted man with fear and disgrace that cannot be undone. Adam and Eve are shunned from the Garden of Eden, and their lives become tremendously more difficult due to their unrelenting desire to know. They lived in a place where a gracious god gave them fruit to eat, and everything was good.
When the serpent explained to Eve that she could be like god and know good and evil, she could not curb her desire to become “wise” (Gen 3. 6). Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree and gained knowledge about good and evil. God realized that Adam and Eve had disobeyed him, and he punished them severely. The punishment included being shunned from their home in the Garden of Eden. Women would now have great “pain in childbirth” and men will toil the land for their own food (Gen 3. 16).
This new knowledge did not make them powerful, but instead the consequences made them weak. The lives of humans became exponentially more difficult due to the knowledge that Adam and Eve gained. Adam and Eve became weak because of their new knowledge, not powerful like western society believes is the result of knowledge. The knowledge that Adam and Eve received after eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil does not give them power but has a polar opposite effect.
Once they disobey god to pursue knowledge, they become fearful and weak. There is good knowledge and bad knowledge; though the modern world seems to forget the biblical example of Adam and Eve which demonstrates how dangerous the pursuit of knowledge can be. There is a dark side to knowledge, and the results that it brings can be disastrous. One must never forget the example of Adam and Eve which commands us to be aware of the knowledge that we pursue and the implications that that knowledge has.