What drove Eve to succumb to the serpent’s temptation? The text says, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it” (Ge 3:6).
Was the tree good for food? (Ge 3:6). Was it a means for obtaining wisdom? No, far from it. The fruit on this tree was poisonous. Previously, God said, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Ge 2:16).
Eve, however, isn’t thinking about objective truth. In fact, she’s being pulled away from objective truth by the allure of subjective aesthetics. She saw that the tree was good and delightful to look at (Ge 3:6). The appeal isn’t truth. The appeal is a mirage. God says, “You are this, and here is what you must do to be this.” But Eve says, “I would rather be that, and here is what I’ll do to become that.” Eve was wrong, of course, and would never achieve what she thought she could achieve by twisting her God-ordained purpose and identity.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul says Eve was deceived (2Co 11:3). She was seduced by a lie, which she converted into a real possibility within her own mind. She attempted to create reality from her psychological desires, but of course, reality is reality whether we want it to be or not. Yet, this basic truth hasn’t stopped people from embracing their psychological desires as reality. You’re likely familiar with René Descartes’s first principle of philosophy, which is, “I think, therefore I am.”
According to the biblical worldview, our psychological desires do not become reality. It is quite the opposite, in fact. The book of James tells us, “Each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire—“ that is, any desire that does not conform with God’s will and purpose (Jas 1:14). “Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (Jas 1:15). In other words, if we deny reality in pursuit of our psychological desires, we will not find a more satisfying life. Instead, we’ll find death.
Let’s say I desperately want to be a bird. More than that, I believe myself to be a bird. Clearly, I’m not a bird. God’s word says I’m not a bird. I’m a human being, which should be self-evident, but I believe myself to be a bird nonetheless. Now, what would happen if I act upon that desire? What if I climb to the roof, flap my arms, and jump? Would I fly? No, I don’t have wings. Despite this delusion I have about myself, I’m not really a bird. God created birds, and he created human beings, and I belong to the latter. If I follow my desire too far, I will die. “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (Jas 1:15).
Granted, my illustration may seem absurd—who would believe himself to be a bird?—but it accurately reflects the prevailing philosophy of the time and culture in which we now live.
Think about it. Maybe only ten years ago, if I had gone to a doctor and said, “I feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body,” that doctor would have correctly diagnosed me with a psychological disorder. He would have attempted to bring my irrational mind back into line with the reality of my body. Today, however, that same doctor may attempt to mutilate my body to bring into line with my irrational mind. Western culture in the 21st Century says, “You think, therefore you are.”
To be clear, this worldview doesn’t necessarily reject God outright. The deist, for instance, embraces the existence of God, or a god anyhow, but may still reject the notion that God created us for himself. The biblical worldview says we are created by God for God. The prevailing worldview today takes issue, at the very least, with that last part. It rejects any notion that God designed us in a particular way for a particular purpose. Like Eve, it lifts man to the position of God, puts self at the center of the universe, and promotes a false idea that we can be whatever we want to be. It says there are no rules, limitations, or consequences.