This article is just one in a long series addressing questions posed by agnostic blogger Larry Simons in his article entitled, 31 Questions Christians Can’t Answer. For the rest of series click here. Enjoy!
#9 If God is all-knowing, why did God ask Adam where he was and whether he had eaten fruit in Genesis? (If the answer to this question is “so God could test Adam’s integrity”, why would God not have already known this since he is all-knowing and knows the hearts of man?)
I want to start with a more fundamental question, why does anyone ask any question? I think there are four basic reasons:
1) To obtain information previously unknown to the questioner but known to the questionee
2) To reveal information known to the questioner and known to the questionee for the benefit of the questionee or a third party
3) To solicit the help of the questionee in obtaining information unknown to both questioner and questionee
4) To reveal information to the questionee, previously unknown to them, yet known to the questioner, often for the purposes of teaching a lesson
If God is attempting to obtain information from Adam that He didn’t previously possess then this justifiably raises doubts about His omniscience and even His overall power. If God was attempting to reveal to Adam information previously unknown to him, but known to God, this at least begins to fit the narrative as it’s read. God is essentially saying, “let me help you see why you did what you did there, naive human.” This, however, assumes that Adam and Eve were both ignorant of the one and only thing God commanded them explicitly NOT to do. Not likely. If God was requesting Adam’s help in finding information that neither he or God were currently in possession of then not only is God not all-knowing, but He’s also actually kind of dumb.
But, if God was asking Adam to bring to light information that each of them already knew then what we have here is the first and one of the grandest teachable moments. We can actually see in the text as God takes Adam through several stages of stripping away untruth and half truth (“… the woman you gave me…”) to reveal the full truth of Adam and Eve’s willful and knowing disobedience of God’s law. This type of questioning is not unprecedented in the Bible, especially in the Gospels. A few examples are:
~Mark 2: 1-11, Jesus is brought a paralytic to be healed but instead tells him “son, your sins are forgiven” when He knows that the teachers of the law questioned His actions in their hearts He questioned them saying, “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘get up, take your mat and walk’? (He does also heal the paralytic, by the way)
~Mark 12: 14-17, Jesus is asked if believers should pay taxes to Caesar. He asks for a coin and asks who’s image is upon it. His conclusion, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s”
~Luke 18: 18-19, A man, described as a certain ruler, asks “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He does not initially respond to the central question, but asks one of His own, “Why do you call me good? None is good but God alone.”
~John 18: 33-34, When Pilate asks Jesus “Are you the King of the Jews?” His response is to ask, “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?” The boldness of this question can not be overstated. To Pilate this could have easily sounded like he, the Roman governor of Judea, was being accused of being the puppet of the chief priests when the relationship was supposed to be the other way around.
These are only a few examples among many. It seems Jesus often wanted to not only respond to the requests that were made of Him, but to also cause the questioner to examine his own reasons and assumptions in making the request. To the teachers of the law he was saying, to the one who can forgive sin, healing is no great feat. To the questioner on taxes the unasked follow up question is, whose image is upon you. To the certain ruler the question is, are you sure you’ve come to the right place? And to Pilate the question is, is this question really the question you should be asking, I’ve claimed to be so much more.
My assertion is that God’s question to Adam is like these questions by Jesus. the question makes the statement, I told you not to do this one thing and you did it. I told you what would happen if you did. It establishes the base line for us upon which we have built the doctrine of original sin.