Why did I have to inherit Adam and Eve's punishment of eating from the tree, when no decision (excluding the "earthly Jesus") from any other person in my life can make an impact on whether I will able to go to heaven? After all, we should all have free will... right? Ponders: Shouldn't I have had the choice of whether I wanted to live this kind of life? Why is Adam and Eve's decision placed on a higher level of importance? Did God deceive man? Meaning, if he knows every decision one will make, then why did he plant the tree in the first place. Isn't this just as bad as Satan tempting man?
[SIZE="3"]Why should a reasonably educated person interpret any of the Bible's creation story literally? It is absolutely clear this story descends from ancient tribal culture traditions, and can therefore only be understood today in that context. The literally religious may disagree, but humanity has learned enough to justify our quickly labeling that sort of thinking as nonsense and/or deluded in order to allow us to move on to the meaningful discussions a philosophy forum should exemplify.
Today we react to religious claims about the Bible from people who are treating all facets of that collection of books the same. But each book of the Bible represents a distinct period of history, a distinct set of influences behind it, a distinct mind's attempt to record or philosophize something . . . all of which is crucial to our understanding of what we read. There are in the Torah, for example, known redactions believed to have been "adjustments" by priests to (rather self-servingly) emphasize the importance of the priesthood: Documentary hypothesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Each of the Gospels too reflect the priorities and beliefs and circumstances of the authors; Mark's views are very different from John's because they are two different people living in two different times in two different Christian communities. How can we ignore the environmental conditions and personalities of those authors when we interpret their words?
Since we know the Adam and Eve story originated in olden Semitic tribal life, then ancient Semitic religious beliefs and practices are a good place to look for where and why the Adam and Eve story originated. This Wikipedia short article has a lot of good references one can follow for study: Ancient Semitic religion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
As you can see, it is highly likely the tribal cultures interacted extensively in trade and war, and so also were exposed to the various explanations for our existence. The Akkadians and other Semitic peoples who later rose to power in Mesopotamia adopted many parts of Sumerian culture, mythology, and religion, and this in turn shaped thinking and storytelling in the region for thousands of years. That means much of what was to become the early religion of Israel was almost certainly influenced by all their experiences with larger Middle Eastern cultures in the Black Sea area, Mesopotamia, Canaan, Egypt, etc.
On the other hand, whether or not the Adam and Eve story had its roots in some other culture's mythology (as does the great flood story) is not as important as the philosophical implications. Common sense tells us that early Jewish thinkers wanted a creation story that explained how a God can be so great, yet we humans can be such beasts (and that was especially true 3000 years ago). Somehow Adam and Eve had to have brought it on themselves, the early philosophers decided, and so we have original sin. Of course, that story has now been incorporated into grand theological themes which renders it virtually nonsense. As you yourself seem to say, the idea makes little sense when considered in light of all we know about reality and ourselves. But we don't have to read the great literature of the Bible so superficially.
One of the most interesting practices found in Judaism is that of extracting every bit of insight and wisdom from a story. If I were to interpret in that spirit and so try to find a way to have the story make sense, I would say that being born into a body has consequences. While a body seems to give the advantage of individualizing us, plus the brain seems to teach us how to think, we also are subject to selfishness (the dark side of individuating?) and the animal drives of the body . . . not a bad definition for "sin."
If the ancients were trying to provide an explanation for what's behind our selfish and animalistic drives, the Adam and Eve story seems a pretty good one to take lessons from. Interpreting from their cosmology: God gave us a temporary physical life, but it has a dark side that if blindly followed will produce a selfish, indulgent brute (a "sinner"); avoid the serpent in us, and follow the deeper nature, the "image of God" we all are inside, and we can then be part of God instead of part of the beast.