Audaces fortuna juvat

Working towards my dream

Is Knowledge a Source of Sin?

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007


As I’ve mentioned before, I am reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost in my AP Literature class. And as I read through the text, I inevitably had to ask this question to myself. Is pursuit of knowledge a sin? Here come some direct quotes from Paradise Lost.

“But of the tree whose operation brings / Knowledge of good and ill, …”
“…, shun to taste / And shun the bitter consequence: ”
“…, inevitably thou shalt die, / From that day mortal, and this happy state / Shalt lose, expelled from hence into a world / Of owe and sorrow.”

and as God pre-noticed, Eve and Adam who ate the fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Ill” causes their expulsion.

“For still they [Adam and Eve] knew, and ought to have still remember’d / The high Injunction not to taste that Fruit, / Whoever tempted; which they not obeying, / Incurr’d, what could they less, the penaltie, / And manifold in sin, deserv’d to fall.”

There is an interesting quote that I’ve found from the post, Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. D. H. Lawrence says, “That was the birth of sin. Not doing it, but KNOWING about it. Before the apple, [Adam and Eve] had shut their eyes and their minds had gone dark. Now, they peeped and pried and imagined. They watched themselves.” I basically agree with Diane (the author of the post) and D. H. Lawrence. Is knowing what is good and bad wrong? Is it more dangerous to recognize evil than to be unaware of its existence?

Being unaware of “evil” does not necessarily means that that person does not do the “evil” act. It would rather mean that that person may not have a chance to stop the wrong doing. Knowledge itself is not bad. It is bad when it is misused. Knowing what is “evil” can be a sword with two blades. On one hand, one can pursue the good and avoid doing the evil. Unless you know what is bad, how can you stop the bad? On the other hand, one can do the evil act more effectively. Personally, I believe that the good use of knowledge prevails. Wouldn’t that be the reason why schools exist? We learn, bettering ourselves.

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Photo Credits: “Tree of Knowledge” by bw14 on Flickr

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