Most democratically minded folk discount the the garden of Eden account as myth. One of several reasons, I suggest, is their Bill of Rights that states that on religious matters individuals are accountable to no one but themselves, and certainly not to a forbidding God who descends from heaven to a garden he created to admonish the first human beings he created for picking and eating a piece of fruit. Another reason is, of course, that modern knowledge is much more sophisticated than biblical times. The idea that the root of evil lies in our disobedience to a holy God has been jettisoned. For this reason, the enlightened regard the Genesis story of the first sin and its disastrous consequences as nothing but a story, and, if not an evil one, not such a good one.
But let me turn my attention to the story itself. Owing to the fact that many (believers and non-believers) have not read the story, or not read it carefully, they are under the impression that there was only one important tree in the Garden; the one with the apples. Actually, there were two.
There is the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We read in Genesis (2:8-9): And Lord God planted a garden in Eden, at the east, and He set there the man whom He had formed; and Lord God caused to sprout from the ground every tree desirable for appearance, and good for food, and the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Further in the chapter (Genesis 2:16-17), God forbids Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge: The Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof thou shalt surely die.
In Genesis 3:8-12 we read that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) and their minds were opened to evil. As result of their disobedience they were ashamed: And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
So we see that Adam was permitted to eat of the tree of life. The tree of life must have had properties to sustain everlasting life, because if Adam had not disobeyed God, Adam would never have died spiritually or physically; spiritually died as soon as he sinned, to be followed eventually in physical death as well. The tree of life (also mentioned in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22:2) is for those whom Christ has redeemed, and in so doing, reversed the sin of Adam.
Genesis 3 (verse 24) ends: So he (the Lord God) drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
The tree of life was initially not forbidden, but when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge (of good and evil), the tree of (everlasting) life was forbidden to them too. So we see that the two trees served different functions, but it was the tree of knowledge that was the occasion of man’s sin; the occasion for sin, not the cause of sin. The cause was man.