Garden of Eden

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Michelangelo's depiction of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge and expulsion from Eden

According to the first story of Genesis, the Garden of Eden is the utopian garden where God put the first humans Adam and Eve to live. The problems associated with the garden are discussed along with original sin.

It is believed to have been located in Mesopotamia, based on the scripture at Genesis 2:10-11,13-14 Bible-icon.png which says:

"10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates."

If these rivers really did originally run through the garden, the Great Flood which would most likely have changed the geography to a point that these rivers would be unrecognizable at best.

Contents

Tree of Knowledge

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For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is, according to the Bible, a tree that God placed in the center of the Garden of Eden. Eating its fruit gave one knowledge of good and evil. This is contrasted with the idea that Adam and Eve were created without such knowledge. The problems associated with the tree are discussed along with original sin. God forbade Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of knowledge Genesis 3:3 Bible-icon.png. Strangely, God does not place the same restriction on the Tree of Life.

The Tree is often described as an apple tree, and so apples are often used as symbols as sin or temptation. The original myth, however, makes no reference to what specific fruit grew on the tree.

God puts hardly any barriers in the way of Adam and Eve eating from the tree. This makes God rather negligent in his design! Why not put the tree in some far away location? The only explanation is that God set up Adam and Eve to fail. [1] The fruit was "good for food and pleasing to the eye" Genesis 3:6 Bible-icon.png

If the tree of life provides knowledge, isn't that a good thing? Why is God against knowledge of this kind?

How the tree of knowledge's effects are passed on to Adam and Eve's descendants is not explained.

Tree of Life

The garden also contains the Tree of Life. After the exile of Adam and Eve, God posted angels and a spinning sword (an object not yet invented at that point in history) to guard the garden and prevent mankind from returning. (Genesis 3:24 Bible-icon.png)

"And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.'"

Genesis 3:22 Bible-icon.png

Is God really that insecure that he cannot bear to have others like himself?

Don't people in heaven live forever? Isn't that a bad thing, according to Genesis? The contradictions abound.

The serpent

Why did God create an evil talking serpent? Genesis 3:1-4 Bible-icon.png

"The Devil is merely the idleness of God on that seventh day"

Friedrich Nietzsche

Arguably, the serpent in the story never lies but God apparently does: Adam and Eve do not die on the day from eating the fruit, as God had said Genesis 2:17 Bible-icon.png: Adam is said to live 930 years (Genesis 5:5 Bible-icon.png). Apologists claim the day was on "God's time scale" and not a normal day, [2] which is special pleading. And just as the serpent said, they learn what good and evil are, thus becoming a little bit more like God.

The snake talks Genesis 3:4 Bible-icon.png, which is clearly absurd. Why do snakes no longer talk? It is a clear instance of mythological writing in the Bible that is not intended to be taken literally.

Although it is common to associate the serpent with Satan, the text says no such thing.

Without death

Many Christians believe that death did not exist in the Garden of Eden.

"the belief of all ages has been that death is the penalty of sin, that the race became first subject to death through the commission of the primordial sin [3]"

God designed as if he planned to expel Adam and Eve

The Garden of Eden was a harmonious place; God created all creatures to be herbivores. Genesis 1:29 Bible-icon.png [4] However, there are many strange design choices that God made if Eden was a benign place:

  • Why do some creates with sharp teeth and claws? [1]
  • Why do humans have an immune system when they were intended to live without disease? [1]
  • Why do some animals have camouflage?

These examples are evidence that God planned to expel Adam and Eve from the beginning. Alternatively, the characteristics of animals are better explained by evolution.

What if Adam and Eve remained in the garden?

If Adam and Eve did not eat from the tree of knowledge but remained in the garden, it would presumably fill to bursting (being a place without death). [1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 If Man Obeyed God
  2. [1]
  3. Vos, G. 1975. Biblical theology: Old and New Testaments. Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Banner of Truth., p. 36
  4. [2]
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