The Father allows temptation into the Edenic bubble, which is to say the outside world is not completely prohibited. The purpose of temptation is to allow the son to choose the father. Indeed, the purpose of the Prohibition is to let the son choose the Father. And the purpose of Absence is to let the son choose the Father. Choice is all; there is no friendship when the two have not yet chosen each other.
If there is no choice there is no person. It is not possible to create a person and not endow him with choice. “Person” and “chooser” are nearly tautologous. This means that creation of the good and the existence of evil, and so the possibility of good becoming evil, are a single moral and intellectual complex, and the struggle to believe in the good in the face of the existence of evil is rooted in a superficial grasp of the Good.
“Choice” is a word that different people hear differently. The decadent substitute for choice is manipulation. And when all you have known is manipulation — when you have never been loved — “choice” feels false to you, or perhaps cold, in contrast to the too-warm webs of emotional blackmail which read, after a lifetime, as normal. You are cynical about such a word, because you came to realize, years after childhood, that you never really had free choices, just courses of action chosen by others and falsely depicted to you as your choices. (All the words from the theological glossary are like this: many people know the word, but have no experience of the reality, and so are bitter when the word is used.)
There is no choice without distance. There must be a vacuam, with the real possibility of filling it with alternate stories. If it is not possible to imagine and then create a story other than the friendship with the father, then there is no choice. There is no personhood and no friendship without having rejected alien stories in favor of this friendship story.
Distance, among persons, means occasional absence. So not all the absence of God is a result of the Fall. Some is, but notice from the text how He withdrew a distance from us as soon as He made us, and before we had offended Him. So existence as we now experience it is an ambiguous mixture of pre-lapsarian distance and post-lapsarian distance. The one we should embrace as the freedom of creation, the other we should hate as alienation. But one of the many existential puzzles is these two distances are fuzzily tangled.
The confused tangle – of distance as gift and distance as bitter exile – is used by the devil to throw a pall of resentment over the human mind toward God in all His distance, so that the soul tends to hate God for the very core of His goodness. Hating God because of His goodness is the uniquely Satanic sentiment in our culture. It spreads.
You cannot have the gifts and reject the Giver — not because the Giver won’t let you, but because you CANNOT. The gifts won’t function forever in the absence of the Giver. But the Gift must LOOK like you can have it and reject the Giver, or the choice is not free.
Satan is commonly, in the folk imagination, depicted as a spinner of fantasies. But this is a vulgarization. No, what Eve sees, as he points the tree of knowledge out to her, is really there.
The tempter’s special skill is emphasis and proportion. He seldom makes stuff up; he actually just emphasizes his own facts. He is a spin-meister, in the sense of the modern political guru.
Temptation is the offer to see facts differently than the Father sees them. To see different is to be tempted; to not hide your eyes is to eventually sin, and die. Facts are formally false when they are used to draw false conclusions or paint distorted pictures. They are still facts, but they are not true.
“Their eyes were opened…”
If you choose to see differently than the Father, your eyes sclerose and go finally dark. Death is simply a continuation of the process of temptation.
Of course this all flies in the face of the modern dogma that all potentialities are good and to be expressed, which actually is a continuation of what Arthur Lovejoy called the Principle of Plenitude.
Notice that no-one actually ever believes this nonsense about anyone else, they just believe it about themselves. I have a deep dissatisfaction within me that my potential as a human being is wasted, and so I must follow my heart and run off with my secretary. But no-one ever responds to that argument with anything other than a snort and a slap when they are the victim. Our instincts are true; self-actualization is an ethical justification for exactly nothing.