Once upon a time there was a garden. A man lived in it, and a woman. They were the only two people; in fact, they were the first people. Everything in the garden was perfect. It was full of many of different kinds of animals, but everybody got along. The being that had created it all made sure each creature had enough to eat, so there was no cause for alarm. All was at peace.
The man and woman were particularly special to their creator. It told them that they could eat fruit from any tree in the garden, and it let them give names to all the animals. There was, however, one rule, one particular tree that was totally off limits to them. It was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you eat from this tree, the creator had said, you will die.
Since the man and the woman already had everything they needed, the rule didn’t bother them that much. But, it did make them curious. One day the woman was feeling particularly inquisitive, and she found herself strolling back and forth in front of the forbidden tree. As she made her way around the lush, low-hanging branches, she heard something unusual--a hiss. It was the serpent speaking to her from behind a screen of leaves.
The serpent had a reputation for being a particularly cunning creature, but the woman had no reason to be rude. She walked toward the spot in the tree from which the voice was coming, and listened. What she heard shocked her. The serpent told her that the tree was not, in fact, deadly. It said that the creator was not protecting them, but itself. When you eat the fruit from this tree, the snake whispered, you will immediately have access to all of the wisdom in the universe, and you will surpass the creator in power. That is why your creator has banned you from eating this fruit, the serpent said, and it offered her a piece.
The woman ate it, and waited. Not only did she not die, she began to feel more powerful, just as the serpent said. She left to find the man, taking the half-eaten fruit with her. At first the man was angry with her, and could not believe her insolence. Seeing how excited she was, though, and hearing what the serpent had told her, he decided to try the fruit for himself. The moment he bit into it, they both were startled by the sudden sound of footsteps in the grass. It was the sound of their creator coming toward them.
The man dropped the fruit, and they both looked at the ground where it lay. In doing so, they both noticed for the first time that they were naked. The truth was that they had been naked from the beginning, but it had never bothered them before. Now they were ashamed. The man quickly pulled the woman behind a clump of bushes. They squatted in the dirt, hoping the creator would pass by without seeing them, for they had broken the one and only rule. Soon the creator was standing in front of the bushes behind which the man and woman were hiding. The creator knew they were back there, and it called them out. The man and the woman slowly emerged and stood there, humiliated.
The creator asked them both why they were hiding. The man responded that they were embarrassed about their nakedness. The creator asked how they found out that they were naked and whether they had done the one thing that was prohibited. The man pointed his finger at the woman and said she had tempted him beyond his ability to resist. Indignant, the woman quickly explained what happened with the serpent and the tree, pleading that she herself had been the one tricked first.
The creator would not pardon either the man or the woman. Because of their disobedience, it instead designed a special curse for each of them--curses their descendents would continue to inherit for all time. In addition, since the creator could not remove the shame of their exposure, it killed one of the animals in the garden and used the skin to make some clothes to cover the people. Once the man and woman were dressed, their creator banished them from the beautiful garden that had been their home, and they were never allowed back in.