October 15, 2018

Where Is The Garden of Eden?

It has been frequently speculated there was a real physical Garden of Eden somewhere within the Fertile Crescent. It was watered by a river flowing from Eden. From there it separated into four other rivers: the Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. The garden provides the setting for the story of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman on earth. When Eve yields to temptation, disobeys God, and encourages Adam to share her sin, they are both banished from the Garden of Eden.

It’s a story with a message. If we disobey God’s instructions - the spiritual rules of the Cosmos - we will be punished. For Adam and Eve, their idyllic life was over. Henceforth they would have to work the soil in order to have enough to eat; and they would suffer the anguish of knowing both good and evil.

Of course it is just a story. The Garden of Eden never existed and the idea humanity started with a single couple has several biological, archeological, and historical problems.

But should we dismiss the story as a piece of fiction? Does it prove the Bible was not created by God, word for word? Or as an alternative, does it prove God did not at least influence the theology of the Bible?

No, no and no. Think about what God is trying to accomplish. Think of the primitive cultural setting within which the early stories of the Bible were first told; then passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth by story tellers, teachers, and priests; and finally converted to text after man invented the written word. The story had to be easy to remember. It had to be told within the context of familiar cultural references. And it had to convey a message of lasting value.

Which it has.  So.  Critics miss the point... The Garden of Eden may not exist... the story of Adam and Eve may not be credible to a 21st century audience... but the message lives on. Did God achieve his objective?

If God wanted to tell this ancient story to a 21st century audience, he would probably describe this earth of ours, this remarkable planet among millions of planets in the Cosmos, the only one we know that supports abundant forms of life...  as being our garden of Eden. But the message would be the same.

We have the means and intelligence to make our earth a paradise. We also have the unfortunate potential of moral failure. If we yield to the temptation of excess and ignore the spiritual rules of the Cosmos, we risk bringing about our own demise through disease, conflict and famine.

Thus we may ponder: Is this unique planet meant to be our garden of Eden? Will moral failure lead to eviction? Will we be the cause of our own demise?

God’s message has not changed.


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