There are people who shorten the description and call it the Tree of Knowledge. The result of eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was sin and death. Hence, they claimed Knowledge is bad and should not be pursued. They also cited 1 Co 8:1 knowledge puffs up to support their case.
Let take a closer look at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. What is the key word here ? Knowledge or Good and Evil? Knowledge is the higher qualifier and Good and Evil is the finer descriptor. Knowledge covers much greater scope than "Good" & "Evil". Or to put it another way, "Good & Evil", Moral, is only a small part albeit a very important part, of knowledge. We cannot drop the finer descriptor of "Good and Evil" and just talk about knowledge. Just talking about Knowledge would be wrong - it is too generalized. The key descriptor is about a specific kind of knowledge of "good and evil".
A better descriptor for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, given by others, include "Tree of Laws ", "Tree of Knowledge of Sin" or "Tree of Moral". Tree of Life is compared against Tree of Laws as "Grace" vs "Laws" for salvation.
Some preacher remarked that man, after eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, got to know that there are good and evil things, but they lack the discernment to tell the good from the evil. God gave the Laws later to reveal the sins. But in Romans 2, we know the sense of right and wrong is built into our conscience and man can't argue that they don't know.
For me, I prefer to name the tree, the "Tree of Knowing Good and Evil", to prevent it from being just shortened to knowledge. The Chinese version of the Bible has, I think, a better translation, as the "Tree of Discernment of Good and Evil"(分别善恶的树). Eating the fruit of this Tree shows that man want to be the judge of good and evil. Man want to be his own judge of what is good and what is evil. God is kept out of the picture. This, to me, is the greatest rebellion against God. The true judge of all, should be God and not man. The created being, man, cannot be the judge. Only the Creator, God, can be the judge.
Is Knowledge Good or Evil?
Knowledge should be judged good or evil by the content. Any knowledge that excludes God or exalts against God is bad, worldly and even demonic. Knowledge that originated from God (e.g. Bible ) and Truth are good and Godly. Jesus tells us that we must know the truth and the truth will set us free. Knowledge from the Devil is bad and evil. Knowledge from man cannot be judged that way but must be by content.
Back to 1 Co 8:1 "knowledge puffs up". If you read accurately, and from the context, you will realize that not all knowledge puffs up but only a particular kind of knowledge. Which kind ? It is explained in the next verse 1 Cor 8:2, the kind that thinks he knows everything. The ESV translation qualifies with "This 'knowledge' puffs up". ALT also qualified with 'such knowledge'. Knowledge does not puffs up. It is the person who think he knows all gets puffed up.
The foundation of knowledge, or true knowledge, begins with acknowledgment of God.
- Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- Isa 33:6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
Knowledge that comes from God - Bible is good. There is not much argument against it. But if the knowledge comes from man, can we, conclude from its origin, that it is therefore no good and worldly? I don't think so. The existence and nature of God can be seen from His creation. Man in pursuing the truth, will be able to discover portion of the truths of God. The golden rule of love, taught by Jesus, can be found in many cultures. We can find many teachings of Lao Tze and Confucianism that agrees with the Bible. Putting in another way, Biblical Knowledge extends the teachings of Lao Tze and Confucianism. The Lao Tze' and Confucianism discover the laws or way of the universe and human behavior but did not discover the giver of the order and the personification of the dao (The Way) in Jesus Christ. They will be thrilled to have know Jesus. Pursue Knowledge and learn to discern the good and evil. This is maturity.
See also Knowledge Tree of Good and Evil - Looking from Tree of Life