The Question: Why would God, who knows everything past, present and future, bother creating people when he knew they would sin? Why let Satan into the Garden of Eden to tempt them? Why put a tree there they were not ‘allowed’ to eat out of in easy reach? He set humans up for failure did he not?
That’s an excellent question.
Something to keep in mind is that the Bible states we cannot fathom God’s plans or designs (Job 11:7, Romans 11:33, Isaiah 55:8-9, Isaiah 40:28), so while we can try to come up with human reasoning and understanding, ultimately God is God and we will never truly understand Him.
That being said, it doesn’t mean there are not some things we can clue in to that may help give us a better understanding of why God may have done these things, or at least hint at His reasoning.
The Bible says we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27, Colossians 1:15). So with that in mind let’s take a look at us as humans. We love to create things, regardless of whether they are useful or have purpose or not. We are also social beings who desire companionship and fellowship (Genesis 2:18), although you don’t really need a Bible verse to show that as it’s obvious across all cultures throughout the world…
If we are made in God’s image, and we love creating things and we desire companionship, as such it stands to reason that so does God. So some of the ‘reasons’ God probably created the world and universe and humans was because he enjoyed creating (Genesis 1:31, Proverbs 8:22-31) and also because he desired fellowship and companionship with sentient, free-willed beings (Revelation 3:20, Genesis 3:8). After all, he sent his one and only son to sacrifice himself so that we may be reconciled to Him; if He didn’t desire a relationship with us, why would He have done that? The Bible teaches about the love God has for us, and instructs us on how to live in harmony with God and create, maintain and develop a personal relationship with Him, so we can be assured that God desires a relationship with us.
So that may shed a bit of light on the ‘why’ did God create anything to begin with, but then the question remains as to why bother putting in a tree they were not ‘allowed’ to eat of within easy reach in the Garden? Or, why allow Satan to enter into the Garden and tempt them?
This is a more difficult question to address and a lot of answers I believe anyone could give for this would be mostly speculation as I don’t think the Bible really addresses this particular question, so keep that in mind.
First off, I think that part of having free will means that there must be both a choice to do right or wrong, or to obey or disobey. So lets say if God did not put a tree in the Garden that he told them they were not allowed to eat out of, and if He did not allow Satan to enter the Garden and tempt them, they really wouldn’t have free will, would they?
Yes, they would still be in control of themselves and be able to make choices, but there would have been no ‘wrong’ or ‘disobedient’ choice to make, so essentially they would be ‘forced’ into obedience or doing the ‘right’ thing because no other option existed. We know that God desires us to love him, and that love cannot be forced, so I think that it was in a sense necessary to have the option for them to disobey so that through obedience they could show their genuine love and trust for God.
I’ll use the analogy of a child and parent again as I think that is the most effective comparison of God and humans we have that we can relate too. How does a parent feel loved by their child? Or another way of wording it; what does a child do to make it known to their parent that they love them?
If you reverse the question (What does a parent do for their child to show them that they love them?) it become very easy to answer and any of us could rattle off a bunch of things; for example, a parent provides for their child, protects their child, cares for their child in times of trouble, provides guidance and direction for their child, teaches their child discipline, morals and skills, etc, etc. These things all show to a child that their parent loves them.
You’ll notice I didn’t include verbal confirmations of love. That was intentional, and here’s why: verbal confirmations of love do not show or prove to a child that their parent loves them. Telling a child (or anyone for that matter), ‘I love you.’ means absolutely nothing to them if it is not based on a foundation of actions.
So, back to the question of how does a child show their parent that they love them… I believe it is through actions. If a child says they love their mom or dad but continually disobey and disregard them, does the parent feel loved by their child (I say ‘child’ here but I’m thinking in terms of a teenager or young adult, someone old enough to make their own decisions)? A child shows love to their parent the same way anyone shows loves to anyone else, through actions, not just words.
So, knowing God desires love, could he have actually had it without Adam and Eve having a choice to disobey Him or without them being tempted? I believe not.
I don’t think God ‘set us up for failure.’ I believe God gave us free will and we choose disobedience. In the same way, I don’t believe God isn’t ‘good’ because He ‘lets’ bad things happen to ‘good’ people. Bad things happen to both good and bad people, because of the choices we make and the evil that is in the world as a result of our choices.
God has always desired and continues to desire a personal and meaningful relationship with us, based on real love, not forced or coerced. He showed us through actions by sending his son that he truly loves us and wants the best for us, it is up to us to respond and accept His gift.