In today’s feedback, CMI’s Lita Cosner and Don Batten answer questions about how to interpret specific points within the early chapters of Genesis.

S.V. from New Zealand writes:

Concerning how adam and other animals could live forever, God mentions that they did and could eat from ‘the tree of life’. Since the ends of our dna molecules run out, perhaps. This tree would provide fruit that would supply the neccesary ingredients for the ends of the molecules or perhaps had the ends whole in itself (im not a genius but hopefully you get what I mean). They would then eat this fruit which enabled their cells to divide indefinitely. When they left the garden the ends would’ve started to run out and they died. In revelation it states that god will make a new tree of life and a new tree of knowledge of good and evil. We will also live infinitely there too.

Lita Cosner responds:

Dear S.,

Since we don’t have access to the Tree of Life and can’t test its effects, we can’t know precisely what its function was. However, there would be considerably more to immortality than simply keeping the telomeres from getting shorter (cancer cells can divide forever, after all, and that isn’t considered a good thing). Mutations (both inherited genetic mutations, and somatic ones accumulated throughout one’s lifetime) would have to be prevented. There would also have to be no possibility of infectious or ‘lifestyle’ related diseases such as atherosclerosis or other degenerative diseases that were not repairable merely by ‘cells dividing). And it’s hard to think of how a fruit could confer invulnerability—the ability to not be injured by any accidents, etc.

For these and other reasons, some of us lean toward a symbolic view of the Tree of Life. This view says that like the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, the Tree of Life was an actual tree with a symbolic meaning; access to it symbolized Adam’s perfect relationship with God and continued immortality. Conversely, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil wasn’t poisonous or evil in and of itself; the fruit itself didn’t confer death. Rather, the only way that Adam could eat of the tree was in disobedience and rebellion, so eating the fruit brought death not because the fruit was deadly, but because the rebellion was deadly.

Others of us lean toward an actual function of the Tree of Life in granting immortality, though it’s difficult to say exactly what that was. One reason is that God removed Adam and Eve from access to the Tree ‘lest they eat and live forever’. This would suggest that God designed the Tree to grant life in some sense, and it would do so even after Adam and Eve had sinned. Also, when it re-appears in Revelation, its leaves are ‘for the healing of the nations’, and we will eat of its fruit, suggesting that it will have some positive health-giving function even in a perfect creation where there is no death or pain or suffering (though again it’s difficult to say for certain how such things will work)….

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