IMAGINE yourself in a garden. There are no distractions, no
sounds of chaotic city life drifting in over some nearby
wall. This garden is vast, and nothing intrudes on its peace.
Better yet, your mind is clear of worries, your body untroubled
by any trace of illness, allergies, or pain. Your senses are
free to take in your surroundings.
You feast your eyes first on the vivid hues of the blossoms,
then on the sparkle of a stream, then on themyriad greens of
foliage and grass in sun and shadow. You feel themild breeze
on your skin and smell the sweet fragrances it carries. You
hear the rustling of leaves, the splash of water tumbling over
rocks, the calls and songs of birds, the humof insects at work.
As you picture the scene, do you not long to be in such a
People around the world believe that mankind had its start
in a place like that. For centuries,members of Judaism, Christendom,
and Islam have been taught about the garden of
Eden, where God put Adam and Eve to live. According to the
Bible, they had a peaceful, happy existence. They were at
peace with each other, with the animals, and with God, who
kindly gave them the hope of living forever in that lovely environment.—
Hindus too have their distinctive concepts about a paradise
in ancient times. Buddhists believe that great spiritual leaders,
or Buddhas, arise in such golden ages when the world is
like a paradise. And numerous religions of Africa teach stories
that bear a remarkable resemblance to that of Adam and
In fact, the idea of an early paradise has been pervasive
in mankind’s religions and traditions. One author noted:
“Many civilizations believed in a primordial paradise that
was characterized by perfection, freedom, peace, happiness,
abundance, and the absence of duress, tensions,
andconflicts. . . . Thisbelief gave rise in
the collective consciousness to a profound
nostalgia for the lost but not forgotten paradise
and to a strong desire to recover it.”
Might all those stories and traditions stem
froma common root? Is it possible that mankind’s
“collective consciousness” is imprinted
with thememory of something real?Was
there actually a garden of Eden in the distant
past and a real Adam and Eve?
Skeptics scoff at the idea. In this scientific
age, many assume that such accounts are
mere legends andmyths. Surprisingly, not all
the skeptics are secular. Many religious leaders
promote disbelief in the garden of Eden.
They say that there never was any such place.
They say that the account is merely a metaphor,
amyth, a fable, a parable.
Of course, the Bible does contain parables.
Jesus himself uttered the most famous of
them. However, the Bible presents the account
about Eden, not as a parable, but as history,
pure and simple. Yet, if the events described
never occurred, then howcan the rest
of the Bible be trusted? Let us examine
why some are skeptical about the garden
of Eden and see whether their reasons are
sound. Then we will consider why the account
shouldmatter to each one of us.