Questions On The Garden of Eden

A few questions, all related to the Garden of Eden, as the Bible describes it in Genesis 1-3.

Modern studies prove that man originated out of Africa. Would this not refute the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden being near the Euphrates river?  The modern theory called the ‘Out of Africa’ theory, as I understand it, is determined by doing DNA studies of native peoples throughout the world and determining that people originated from a group in Africa. Keep in mind that if this is true, it is based on people who are now in Africa. Just because they are now in Africa does not mean they originated there. People could have migrated from near the Euphrates to Africa.

What of the four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2? Most of these we cannot find? This seems to prove that the Genesis account is not historical.  First, Genesis mentions four rivers, two of which are the Tigris and the Euphrates. We know where these are, at least where they are today. The other two we do not know, and have no record of these. That we do not have a location for two rivers does not prove they did not exist, nor does it say anything one way or the other of the historical nature of Genesis. Overall, this section of Genesis does not read like a myth, for it is a descriptive account of where the rivers flowed, what lands they went through, and what minerals were found there. It does not read like an allegory.

What of the angel with the flaming sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24? Surely you do not think there is still an angel standing in a field somewhere, waving a flaming sword. I don’t know about you, but I have not seen any angels with swords. Surely you do not think the angel would still be there after all this time? Genesis does not say he is still there.

But more directly to the point, Genesis 3:24 says the angel was guarding the way to the tree of life. Such language does appear somewhat figurative, but we must be careful not to read into the text what is not there. Even if we take the passage literally, there is no reason to believe a literal tree would still be alive. Such a question does not seem to prove anything one way or the other.

What about Genesis 1:29-30 where it says men and animals were only herbivores, and the implication is that sin caused animal death. Why would God punish animals for man’s sin? Why would there be evidence of animals eating meat before man?  First, the text does not explicitly say that animals did not eat meat before Adam and Eve sinned. Gen. 1:30 could be a general statement, to the effect of ‘I have given the forest to the animals for food’ or similar, as would be common in many descriptions. Yes, Romans 5 does say that death entered through Adam’s sin, but this could mean man’s spiritual death, not animal death. The theory of spiritual death would align well with God’s promise that the day they sinned, they would die (Gen. 2:17). When they sinned, they did not immediately die physically, but were spiritually dead, separated from God. Thus the central teaching of the Christian faith hinges upon Adam’s separation from God, not upon animal death.

As for why the animals would suffer for sin, the message of the Bible is that sin is so horrible that it affects all those around us. Our sin affects those we love, not just ourselves. Thus sin affects even the plants and animals, as God says in Gen. 3:17-19.

Why wouldn’t God have just killed Adam after they sinned, and started over? Why does God do anything? He does not tell us why. This does not make it unreasonable, illogical, or false. If I were to speculate, I would say that God loved people and had a greater purpose, which He did not share with me.

Why would God create Adam, knowing he would sin? Would this not make God the author of sin? Again, we do not know why God does what He does, for He does not always tell us. God is wiser and does not tell us His plans, just as a wise parent does not tell her children all her plans. But this does not prove that God does not have a plan.

As for God being the creator of evil, this is not so. God created a good thing, e.g., man with freedom to choose. Man took this good thing and used it in an evil way. The only other alternative would have been to create man without the ability to choose, which would have resulted in a lesser good. God always does what results in the greater good, even if it means allowing man to freely choose sin. Forced love is no love at all; love must be chosen freely.

 

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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