What we human beings did not possess before the midpoint of our earth evolution was freedom of choice between good and evil. Now we cannot talk about good and evil in the subordinate kingdoms of nature. It would be ridiculous to discuss whether a mineral wanted to crystallise or not; it crystallises if the appropriate conditions are present. It would be equally ridiculous to ask whether the lily wants to blossom or not; or to ask the lion to abstain voluntarily from killing and devouring other animals.
Only with man, only in our phase of evolution, do we speak about what we call freedom of choice. Only to human beings do we ascribe the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. How man got this capacity is described in the Bible, in the great symbol of the Fall, in the scene of the temptation, where the Devil or Lucifer appears to Eve and persuades her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Through that, man obtained free will; with it he began the second part of his evolutionary path. We can no more inquire into freedom, good and evil for man prior to that evolutionary mid-point, than we can for minerals, plants and animals.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93 – The Temple Legend: Lecture 14: CONCERNING THE LOST TEMPLE AND HOW IT IS TO BE RESTORED – Berlin, 5th June 1905
Translated by John M. Wood