Continuing the discussion on God and evil, from a popular and/or layman’s perspective, is very important. Recently, I have answered a series of five questions discerned from a skeptic of Christianity. I hope these issues will at least open up the plausibility of the Christian worldview from the popular perspective. Today, the topic is:
Why did God create the tree in the Garden of Eden?
The objection runs like this: If God is all-knowing, then He knew that by creating the tree, and prescribing a commandment not to eat of it, that Adam and Eve would freely sin against God, thereby introducing moral evil into the world. So why would He do this?
As hinted at in other answers, a love relationship requires a free moral agent. If that is the case, then by definition the free moral agent must be free either to sin or to obey the command of God. If there is no command given, then while they are still an inherently moral agent, they've not functionally achieved this. In short, they cannot truly love what they do not obey. Thus, a command was placed in the Garden. The tree was not infused with magical properties; instead, the idea is that by disobeying the command (eating the fruit), one would become "wise" (e.g., knowing) with respect to the difference between good and evil. That difference can only be known by experience for moral agents (moral creatures who are not themselves the standard of moral goodness). They could know only the good by obeying, but the experiential knowledge referred to of evil and its difference from good could only come from eating the fruit.
Now God knew they would disobey. Plausibly, any moral non-divine creature will do so. So why did He plant the tree and give the command? Because man needed to be tested in order to be a true moral agent. He failed the test. But never fear: God so ordered the world that He would bring in His only Son, to die on the cross--He also did that out of love! The Christian worldview not only accounts for justice, but also love, in its reconciliation of the world to Christ and abolishment of evil. Can your worldview say the same?