Question of the week: Are the two trees in the Garden of Eden literal physical trees or are they figurative trees to represent larger theological concepts?
My answer: Note that God physically cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and then sent two angels to physically block Adam and Eve from gaining access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22–24). These actions imply that the tree of life had some physical form with some physical fruit. Evidently, eating of its “fruit” or “leaves” would give humans who were and are subject to entropy (decay) a means to reverse the consequences of that decay.
That Adam and Eve had never partaken of the tree of life while they were in Eden suggests that a short period of time transpired between their creation and their initial acts of rebellion against God. Evidently, they had not yet experienced enough decay in their physical bodies to see any need to eat from the tree of life.
The tree of life is mentioned in Bible passages outside of Genesis (Revelation 2:7, Revelation 22:2, Revelation 22:14, Revelation 22:19). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is mentioned only in Genesis. Whether it was a physical tree or not, God gave Adam and Eve two choices. They could learn about good and evil through direct instruction from God or they could personally experience the difference between good and evil. They chose to personally experience the difference and they (and we) suffered the consequences. However, God is using those consequences to achieve an even greater good. I wrote about that greater good in Why the Universe Is the Way It Is.1
Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 147–206.