Before the beginning there was a garden called Eden, and in that garden lived man. And it came to pass that man had a thought, and the thought took the form of a serpent which said: "Hey, now, if you eat this here apple, you'll have the knowledge of good and evil and become as God. Check it out!"

And man took the apple and sniffed it with anticipation, saying: "Well now, I don't know. It's forbidden to eat of this fruit; and if I do, I'll probably get in trouble."

"No way," says the serpent. "If you're as God, how could you get in trouble?"

And man said, "Hmm," and took a bite, assigning the blame to a part of himself he decided not to understand anymore.

Thus did he acquire an awareness of good and evil, right and wrong, okay and not-okay. He saw what was worthy of his love and what was not. He could separate people, things, events and ideas one from the other and establish preferences and priorities. He could act to bring about changes in what he saw.

And through the conflicts and alliances that resulted therefrom, he came to experience happiness and sorrow, kindness and cruelty, sickness and health. And he used these things to help define himself and those around him. All this was possible now after eating of the apple.

And he believed himself as God.

Yet despite the enormous fun he was having with his new awareness, the man felt somehow guilty for having cast himself from the divine presence in order to experience it. In some deep corner of his mind he suspected he'd thrown away something supremely valuable and irreplaceable. Naturally he blamed this on the serpent, for hadn't it tempted him into eating of the apple in the first place?

Still, though he sometimes questioned the value of the gift and the propriety of his own acceptance of it, he never once doubted the reality of good and evil themselves, or that an awareness of these things would make him as God. Which was odd. Somehow it had slipped his mind entirely that whatever else the serpent might be, it was first and foremost the father of lies. At no time had it ever spoken the truth about anything.

This is pretty fortunate when you come to think of it. For the serpent also said that once eaten, the apple could never be given back.