The first man Adam grew in knowledge by studying God’s handiwork and following his instructions. In fact, Eden was a laboratory of sorts, a workspace where Adam could develop his intellectual abilities and get to know God better, even as he honed his skills as divine steward.
Most likely, however, Adam’s journey to self-awareness, understanding of his environment, and knowledge of his Creator and commission required some time. It is doubtful that his mind functioned instantly at full capacity like that of Trinity in the film The Matrix. She simply popped into consciousness fully aware of herself and the setting, and then accessed complete knowledge of whatever kind downloaded directly to her brain. No, a scenario of immediate and comprehensive understanding is not likely in Adam’s case. At least it is not obvious. Indeed, it is plausible that the learned much about himself and the world by means of observation and inference.
In fact, it seems Adam had to learn. He had to first develop his cognitive capacities. Most likely, after Adam took his first breath and opened his eyes, he did not jump to his feet (assuming he was lying down), and exclaim, “Where am I? What is happening? Who is in charge here?” Indeed, he might not have possessed the capacity to use language at all. He probably did not yet possess a developed sense of self or situational awareness.
How, then, did Adam learn about himself as a sentient being? What and how did he learn about his environment as creation? What did Adam surmise about God and how? How did Adam become God’s apprentice king, architect, economist, and philosopher of the garden?
A partial answer to these questions relates to the kind of world that God created. He made a SMART world designed for thinking. It was measurable, manageable, and malleable. Further, Adam was situated within a web of meaning conditioned by Yahweh Elohim. Adam’s calling and stewardship determined the content, method, and motive of Adam’s thought. Everything about his environment was necessarily God-centered. Everything about the world pointed to the Creator, like a magnet points north. As John Amos Comenius stated long ago, “As the whole world is a school for the human race . . . so every individual’s lifetime is a school from the cradle to the grave.”
Now, think about your life and your environment―its social, cultural, psychological, and physical dimensions.
The scriptures tell us that the world is a workspace where we can develop our intellectual abilities and get to know God better, even as we develop skills as stewards of God’s creation.
How have you experienced God as your divine teacher? Listen to Psalm 19 as it describes two spheres of God’s instruction―the world and the word.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
Cleary, the benefit from divine pedagogy is mental piety. Learning from God, fosters self-awareness and Godly fear, which is the root of knowledge (Prov 1:7):
Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.