John Lennox is a British mathematician and philosopher of science who is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford University and Pastoral Advisor of Green Templeton College and Fellow of Wycliffe Hall.
Michael Shermer is a science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic—read much more about him and his pseudo-skepticism here.
Here is the exchange between John Lennox and a member of the audience:
Atheist: Why would you choose to worship a creator God who forbade man to actually eat from the Tree of Knowledge…this sort of deity who would have kept you dumb?
Lennox: That’s a very good question. I’ll tell you why it’s a good question; I notice it was asked, originally, by a snake. [and the crowd goes wild!] That is not implying any offense at all [and the crowd goes wild, again!].
Atheist: None taken.
Lennox elucidates the issue and the deeper context of Genesis. He notes that it was not “the Tree of Knowledge [period]” but “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”:
Atheist: In the Hebrew it’s called 'ets ha da'ath and da'ath means knowledge not good or evil.
Lennox: Is good or evil not mentioned?
Atheist: No, it is not.
Lennox: At all?
There was some crosstalk and then John Lennox states, “Okay, I stand corrected then” and follows up with the proper reply, “I’d like to find out about that afterwards.”
Well, let us find out about that.
As you can see at these links for the concordance to Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 2:17 (and/or the video found here and attached to this article) the verses, indeed, state 'ets da'ath and yet they continue directly with towb ra' which put together, literally, reads tree knowledge good evil.
Into this literal or rather, formal, translation the following words are added for the ease of reading: the, of the and of as in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (incidentally, the “ha” referenced by the Atheist is Hebrew for “the”).
By the way, with regards to da'ath, the article Darth Vader and the Kabbalah? may be of interest.
Thus, the premise is faulty as it is a satanic doctrine; the original lie, deception and sin.
What we have hit upon is a tactic that I call linguistic elitism. The tactic is premised upon this sort of thought: certainly, the English transitions have good and evil but the Hebrew—which you likely do not know nor can you quote it whilst I can—states _______________ (fill in the blank with whatever text is being discussed).
This is not to disparage relying on the original languages, certainly not. It is merely a word of warning to be on the lookout for such a tactic and to double check the claim (you can find this tactic employed by the Catholic Mark Miravalle with regards to the Greek for “one” as in “one mediator”—see here).
Lastly, this entire thing is fallacious as the Bible is literally saturated with encouragement to gain wisdom, seek knowledge, etc. You can find this detailed in detail in the article Dan Barker and Bertrand Russell: The Dynamic Duo of Demonstrably Deleterious Delusion
“Let us reason together,” says the LORD