It’s just a myth, as I’m sure you are aware. Borrowed from Sumer to boot. Myths can be interpreted in many different ways, that’s why they stick. My interpretation is a naturalist one: that the fruit of knowledge symbolizes the advent of what anthropologists call “behavioral modernity”, aka the invention of symbolic language and the behavioral revolution that followed. “Behavioral modernity” is generally dated 50,000 years ago, or older, somewhere in Africa.
Now, that seems like a good thing, rather than a ‘sin’. It gave our species a clear edge over others: symbolic communication means you can coordinate, plan ahead together, transmit knowledge and complex skills from one generation to the next. Language made us semi-gods. In the myth, Adam named the animals that God made, and that’s presented as a big deal.
But it’s also what started us on our trajectory to decimate other species around the globe (large mammals in particular, like mammoths). The arrival of modern humans in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas had a discernable negative impact on megafauna. Horses were wiped out from the Americas for instance, together with many other species, at a time when the first humans made their way into the place.
So we ‘spoiled’ each paradise when got into, one after the other. Because of our knowledge. So it was a bit of a curse too.
Language is also necessary for the formalisation and communication of rules, hence it’s logical to assume that the first formalised moral codes appeared once symbolic language was well established. So the “knowledge of good and evil” is linked to behavioral modernity. But with moral codes comes shame, the repression of the sexual drive (as may be required for the stability of increasingly large societies) and with it the practice to cover one’s genitals, which is not universal but frequent amongst human societies, including those who gave rise to this myth.
Adam and Eve biggest discovery after they eat the forbidden fruit is that they are naked
, and they feel ashamed about it and cover themselves. This is clearly seen as the cut-off point in the myth.
And so perhaps the Genesis myth echoes our nostalgia for a long-gone era when we were only beasts, we weren’t encumbered with all these rules, and everybody was frolicking around naked without any shame in a yet unspoiled environment.