Snyder, George L Snyder, Lenore Snyder, God, ethics, morals, religion
The Garden of Eden
Does the garden described in the Bible really exist?
Did the garden of Eden ever really exist?
Is it possible to find this garden?
If we find it, could we enter?
We all know the story. Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden. God had created a marvelous place for them. One day, Eve met the tempter who convinced her that there was more to life than what she had experienced so far. She then convinced Adam that he should do the same. God ‘discovered’ their transgression and banished them from the garden. An angel was posted guard to prevent them from ever reentering. Now the garden is not available to you or me.
Read Genesis 3
Let’s go search for the garden. If we study the Bible to find the location, we also read that there was a guard set in place that would not ever allow anyone to enter. This guard, an agent of God, would be there forever to keep us out. If you believe the Bible is accurate enough to find the place, you must also believe that you cannot enter.
- Why even bother looking if you know you cannot enter?
- Will it be enough for you to stand outside the ‘gate’ and look?
- If you cannot enter, how can you prove you really found it?
- If you did find the ‘tree of life’ you would not be able to eat of it.
- How would you feel if you noticed that there are inhabitants and you are excluded?
- Do you really want to be told by an angel wielding a flaming sword that you do not qualify?
- Would you start a war to defeat the guardian so you could possess the garden?
- How important is it to you to find this place that might not even really be a place but a state of existence? Or a myth? Or if it is a place, you cannot see it? Or if it is only a state of mind? And if it is a real place, you have been told by God that you cannot enter?
Are you daft? Or in current terms: Duh!
But what is the Garden of Eden? Come with me while we explore this wonderful place that God created for Adam and Eve, then banished mankind forever from its pleasures.
Take your most beautiful pictures and show them to a blind man. Take him into your world through photography. He cannot go there. He is blind. The world of your photographs does not exist for him. Cannot exist for him. Show him the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. What does he see?
Play Beethoven’s wonderful music to a friend who is deaf. There too, you have found someone who cannot enter that world.
Man was not driven from the garden by spirit warriors wielding flaming swords. It is the very nature of what man became that separates him and the garden. You and I are creatures for which the garden cannot exist. The garden is part of what the human race may once have been, but can never return to.
Once we became able to know of our nakedness, we could no longer know the garden. Once we could see the difference between right and wrong, we could no longer see the garden.
The garden is a place that is part of the mind of what man once was but can never be again. With the acquisition of the character of what we now are, the existence of the garden is forever removed from us.
Not by God or angels, but by our very own nature. Our ability to gain knowledge.
Travel back in time and stand beside the inhabitants of the garden prior to ‘the fall’ and you will still not be able to be in the garden. Walk around the original inhabitants. Have them walk around you. Bring in a musician and dance with the original inhabitants. Even then you will not be in the garden but they will be. You will not be able to see the garden, for you are something foreign to the garden. The garden is something foreign to you. It is not part of your universe.
Does the garden exist? Once there were no people who could be aware of it, it ceased to exist, at least for those who no longer could see it.
Did it ever really exist? I suppose that should be a matter of faith. If your faith requires the existence of the garden, then it exists. It has to. If your faith does not require the existence of the garden, then don’t bother yourself with a meaningless question. The existence or nonexistence of the garden is unimportant for the lesson presented to us by God in the story.
Does it exist? I would like to proclaim the existence of the garden. If by chance on some other world (for God creates continuously) there is a race of people who are in that place of their development that is appropriate for the garden, then for them it does exist.
My youngest sister had Downs Syndrome. Some times I think that perhaps she lived in the garden. Take this concept, explore it, what do you think?
There are similar stories in other cultures, similar paradise lost stories. Read the literature of different religions to see what the story is. It is the people that separate themselves from the garden. The changes in the people separate them from the garden in such a way that there is no possible return.
They had already found the garden untenable prior to being ‘discovered’ by God. This is not a capricious act of some angry being. This is a characteristic of the very fabric of our existence.
In the story of Oden (also known as Woden) He sacrificed an eye for knowledge and wisdom. This is not something that can be undone.
Remember. We are only blind men trying to see the elephant.
Now, let’s go stand on the ground that once was the garden. Because the garden has been neglected so long, the trees have all gone bad or died. The tree of life may have become the tree of death. Look out, don’t step on that snake! Oh, no, I forgot. One of the original inhabitants of the Garden of Eden was the serpent, the tempter, the Devil.
How could the serpent be there and we are not good enough to enter? Why did God ever allow the tempter to approach Eve in the first place? Oh! I forgot. The elephant is like a great snake.
I do not believe God had to drive Adam and Eve from the garden. I believe that they became aware of the change in themselves, the change that excluded the garden from them, the change that made it impossible to even see the garden except in their imaginations. They woke from a dream. Or, perhaps they realized that the impression they had of the garden was something God had given them in their minds. Like Oden’s eye, it cannot be undone.
Explore these ideas in your own time, in your own way. Discuss them with your family and friends. If you disagree with me, then tell me.
• Is it necessary for the garden to be an actual place?
• Is it necessary for the garden story to be other than a lesson to humanity?
• If the garden story is a lesson to humanity, what is this lesson?
Here is the story of Enkidu as written in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamish.
The god Anu creates Enkidu of clay and puts him out in the wild forest where he runs naked with the animals. Enkidu has the strength of dozens of wild animals. He loses his innocence, strength and wildness through the wiles of the woman Shamhat. This innocence, strength and wildness is lost forever to him, but in compensation he gains understanding and knowledge.
Is this not another story that parallels the Garden of Eden story in the Bible? The lesson here is laid out somewhat differently, but you should be able to see that it is the same story. Just told from a different viewpoint.
This story was carved into clay tablets slightly prior to the time that Moses started to write down the history and traditions of the descendants of Abraham. Although none of the animal skins used by the scribes of Moses can be found, most of these clay tablets are still in existence.
As a side note, the Epic of Gilgamish was very popular during the time the Israelites were in Mesopotamia trying to reassemble their own history.
Now let’s go back to the garden. Pluck that forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. Hold that forbidden fruit in your hand. Bring it to your mouth, your tongue touches the skin and you taste the flavor. A taste only but it is enough to separate you from the garden.
• How many thousands of years and now your teeth are just now making a dent in the skin of the fruit?
• How many thousands of years more before your teeth penetrate the fruit and the juice squirts into your mouth?
• How many millions of years more before you manage that first bite, chew, and swallow?
• How many millions of years more before you take that second bite?
• Today is still just day six, God is still creating you.
What if the Garden of Eden story is really the third creation story?
1. Without mankind, creation is not complete.
2. Without companionship, man is not complete.
3. Without knowledge, humanity is not complete.
Discuss these three creation stories. They are, after all, Genesis 1, 2, and 3.