Oregon Magazine

 Was there a Garden of Eden?
Science and Creation Myth
 by Eric Blair

"A myth is defined as somebody else's religion" -- Joseph Campbell

The creation vs. evolution drama continues. From here it looks like the God people are slowly winning.  When you think about that, it's a logical outcome.  A supreme court that opens up with a prayer comes off as a bit hypocritical when it says that religion has no place in publicly-financed institutions.  That's a bit like a fox passing a law against hawks eating chickens.   It is fascinating to watch as this conflict proceeds in America.  In the media, the battle is portrayed as the forces of rationality and logic (science) against the forces of irrationality and ignorant bigotry (religion).  Like everything else the mainstream media tells you, this description is a load of crap. 

The truth of the matter is that Galileo wasn't put under house arrest because he denied the Copernican system.  Except for Genesis, which is a dynamite scientific treatise on the evolution of the universe and life on earth, the bible doesn't say a damn thing about astronomy. Comets as portents, and that Shakespeare sort of thing, yes, but other than that, it leaves the subject for other publications.  The Catholic Church of Galileo's day had a number of officials who were proponents of the sun-centered point of view.  Science wasn't their problem.  Their problem was arrogance of another kind.  Like professors in modern American universities, they thought their behinds should be kissed on a regular schedule.  It wasn't what Galileo said that got him into trouble, it was the way he said it.

He wasn't politically correct. 

If modern academics could put conservatives under house arrest like Galileo, they would.  The reason they would like to has to do with fundamental scientific questions.  They can't answer them.

In the beginning

The Garden of Eden comes along quite late in the creation story of Genesis.  A lot took place before Adam and Eve.

Back a good astrophysicist into a corner, and at the point of a gun, he will admit that even when the model of universal creation he supports is a currently-favored expansion type, he doesn't know what preceeded it, or what initiated it.  He will always start with  some form of, "Here is what began to happen."  The sentence structure is strikingly similar to "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."   No technical explanation of the process there, either.

The expansion theory he will describe to you will be one of two basic types.  It will be a process that generates either a single, or multiple, universes.  A version of the latter involves a very compact initial mass of perhaps six Earth pounds (no explanation how it got there)  which suddenly begins to grow in size.  (No reason available.) Various atomic particles with various charges, and associated with various fields, spontaneously pop out of nothing, adding to the vector  (a vector is a "field," or volume of force, with velocity.  Velocity is a term which includes speed and direction).  What was just a potential, a series of scalar values, like random numbers drawn here and there on a sheet of paper, for some unexplained reason becomes a volume filled with things (quanta, or little lumps of mass/energy) doing things. (God only knows why.)

After a while in this model, multiple bubble universes appear, each of them going into a rapid expansion phase of its own, their internal energy eventually coalescing into matter, and forces like electromagnetism.. Sad to say, none of the folks in any of these universes ever get to break bread with any of the folks in any of the other universes.  Astrophysical bubble universe anti-immigration  laws cannot be violated.  There are no bubble universe illegal aliens.  Astrophysics is against multi-culturalism.

It's a bit different than the supermassive primordial ylem theory, which also involves a sudden expansion, but involves the creation of just a single universe. In either case, however, they might as well say that God waved his hand, or that in the beginning there was a giant state fair, and suddenly the cotton candy began to expand into universes made of pink, fluffy sugar. (Illus is a link to a NASA page.)

As I implied earlier, this is because their own laws of physics, by their own admission, do not allow examination of any event that takes place in the vicinity of any relativity-based theory of universal creation ever postulated  I could explain why that's true in each case, but won't.  I'll just explain one, so you'll understand the basic premise. 

In the primordial ylem (creation of a single universe) model, all the  mass of the present universe was crammed into a ball.  Something with the diameter, perhaps, of our solar system  Maybe even smaller, like Jupiter.  That kind of mass jammed into that small a volume is called a black hole.  Light, the fastest thing known, can't escape the border (called the "event horizon") of an object like that.  Therefore, nothing can. The internal gravity is so strong that all the known forces break down in there. Electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force -- they all are overwhelmed.  With them goes even the statistical predictability of quantum physics. The human scale predictions of Newtonian physics aren't even in the game.

Science is based on predictability.  The term used is "replicate."  A theory must predict that if you perform an experiment, you will see results the theory describes.  This observation must be able to be duplicated by other scientists.  When those two conditions are met, you have science.

But, as explained above, based on the currently understood laws of physics, inside a black hole there are no currently understood laws of physics.  The outcome of no experiment can be guaranteed.  All scientific models about the creation of the universe are about conditions like this, therefore by definition all postulations concerning original cause are so much imagination.  Pure supposition.  Not a whit of proof is available to support any of them.

In truth, if you are given the choice of the universe suddenly appearing out of nothing or being created by a super-intelligence like God, the more logical of the two is God -- if for no other reason than that it works.  (Makes sense.  Is logical.) 

But scientists can't bring themselves to face the truth.  They have become the priests, bishops and cardinals of the Age of Secularism.  They have established themselves in the federally financed temples of the Church of Education, an institution very much like the hierachy of the once-official Church of England.  They condemn any faith other than their own.  God is heresy to them, and must be expunged from the society.  Those who wish to receive a degree must worship only at the alter of "pure" science -- which, by the parameters established by the priests, themselves, cannot answer the most important questions of all.. 

Thus, for answers, you must turn to religion.  Perhaps the greatest description of the universe comes to us from ancient myth.  The famed mythologist, Joseph Campbell (quoted at the beginning of this essay), who often compared ancient tales to the "realities" of science, was once talking about the subject at a meeting.  Afterwards, a woman came up to him and said, "All this science you talked about is wrong.  The universe is an island sitting on the back of a giant turtle."

"And what," Campbell cleverly asked, "is the turtle standing on?"

"Nice try, young man," said the woman, "but it's turtles all the way down."

The Garden of Eden

Out of these barren lands of  hellish heat, mirages, olive groves and the oasis, these desert lands bordered on the west by the mare of middle Earth and on the east by the Red Sea, have come three great religions -- all of which claim the approval of the same deity.  The tribes from the ancient land of Judah, which adjoined the city-states of  Ben-jamin and Uru-salim, worshipped Him first, and some of these call Him Yaweh.  The Christians worshipped Him next, and call Him God, and sometimes, Je-hova, although there are some Christians (like some Jews) who will not speak or write His name, at all, because Man is profane, and his utterances are not clean of sin.

Lastly came Islam, the followers of which call the one god,  Allah.  Thousands of years after the men of Judah, and hundreds of years after the followers of Joshua bar-Joseph, also known as Jesus of Nazareth, and as the Christ, there came the Prophet, the son of a wealthy man who lived also in the desert lands on the east of the Mediterranean.  Mohammed (or Muhammed) was the name of the son

Mohammed had a vision.  An angelic emissary told him that his mission was to give to his variety of semitic people, Arabs, entry into the faith of the one true god.  Prior to Mohammed the religions of the Arabs were multi-theistic.  They had many gods.  To bind his followers to the one god, he instructed them to face Jerusalem, the holy city of Jews and Christians, when they prayed. 

But, that all changed when Mohammed visited the ancient city of Medina.  His proclamations of ordination by the one god were rejected by the Jews.  Mohammed thence instructed his followers to face in a different direction during prayer.  The new center of Islam was the black rock of Arabia's Mecca, which until Mohammed and his followers took the site by the sword was a place of worship of many gods.  (The black rock is a meteorite.  A chunk of debris from space) 

The irony is that Moslems believe that Mohammed's final ascent to Heaven was not from Mecca, but from a stone in the city towards which they first prayed, and then rejected -- Jerusalem. . This stone is located at the top of the Temple Mount, beneath the "Dome of the Rock," which was a Jewish synagogue until Moslems destroyed the building and made it into a shrine.  (Not a mosque.)  This place is referred to by some members of all three faiths as the location of the Garden of Eden. 

Scientists, of course, chuckle at that.  But, then scientists have chuckled at many things.  Newtonian physics.  Relativity.  The idea that man could fly. The possibility that man could visit the moon. The existence of the Coelacanth and the Nautilus. The concept of organ transplants.  Dick Tracy's wrist radio.  The list is endless, the record rich with the numbers of scientists who scoffed at all these ideas.  I think it has to do with an inability on their part to grasp how humans generate concepts.  The human mastery of the physical universe is based on the human talent at the abstract.  Cave paintings that represent animals.  Numbers that represent physical events.  Fairy tales that represent the elements, even the actual history, of human existence. 

Scientists, as a rule, do not understand that the universal language of Man is not words.  All the tongues ever invented were used to teach the actual universal language of Man -- the symbolism of myth.  There's a reason why the first stories children hear are parables and fairy tales.  They contain the basic information a human needs to live long and prosper.

Your DNA, as with the DNA of all human beings on the planet, originated within a group of Africans that numbered no more than 2,000 people.  Why?  Obviously this little group didn't remain a little group.  It became the largest group of all -- in fact, the only group of all.  In Darwinistic terminology, it had an edge when it came to survival, and so, reproduction.  In biblical terms, they were  a fruitful people, and multiplied.

What was the edge these people had?  Probably, they had two edges.  They could walk upright (and so their hands were free for other uses) and they could think in the abstract.  Devise the concept of time and use it as a tool, visualize a non-natural use for natural objects and develop the components of a language that allowed information to be passed on to others -- and so into the storage of sequential human memories.

Those abilities allowed them to learn how to farm. 

A professor from Rutgers (by the name of Blumenshein, if memory serves) proposed that scavenging animal kills for marrow during drought was the key.  All sorts of animals, from hyenas to vultures do that.  Man watched, and imitated. But, scavengers did not inherit the Earth.  Farmers did.  Other scientists have said the upright stance, the ability to walk long distances, and so deal with climate change in a modular manner (from forest patch to forest patch)  was what set Man up for the future.  In a variation of that, some say the upright stance allowed Man to migrate to distant lands where the hunting, gathering or scavenging was better, so that was the ticket.

Based on Darwin's Theory and the DNA evidence that exists today, this is balderdash.  All these suppositions explain is some possible ways that variations on a theme, upright apes, held on for a while.  If he did not represent a gigantic step beyond that level, Man would have gone the way of 99% of the species that ever existed on Earth -- to extinction.  (Or, would today be what they say he was then, a monkey hiding in the forest of the night, a slave to natural cycles and events, few in numbers, terrified and unimportant.) 

That does not describe the history of Man.

With the exception of the now widely accepted premise related to the sudden, seemingly-spontaneous appearance of some species, Darwin's theory has elements of value.  The key to reproduction is survival.  The key to survival is an environment that doesn't kill everything in sight, and a safely accessible food supply.  Until the man of God's Eden came along, all of the above was subject to the whims of nature.  Ice ages, droughts, floods, volcanic eruptions, changes in the energy output of the sun, incoming lumps from space -- none of them could be controlled by any living thing. Beyond growing a thicker fur coat or making a nest in a dead tree to get out of the rain, few of the effects of nature were even under the partial control of any species

Then came Man, the farmer. 

Darwin said that God's process of evolution created him in a gradual series of tiny steps.. Scientists have devalued the God part, and assigned evolution to chance.  An interesting aside to that is the approach to the problem taken by a world famous scientist and atheist -- Arthur C. Clarke.  In his classic film, 2001, Clarke offered the "monolith" as the the cause of the transformation from ape to reasoning being.  An obviously artificially-constructed slab of solid material with the dimensions one by four by nine (the squares of the numbers 1, 2 and 3), this device perfectly exemplifies the titanic religion avoidance fixation of modern science.  It borders on a pathology. 

An explanaton of the gigantic difference between man and animal must be provided.  The transformation spans such a gap that it is completely understandable to psychologists that Man, as they see it, invented a god to explain it.  Since God is not acceptable to science, some other reason for the leap must be provided.  Most scientists hide behind revised non-God evolutionary milennia.  Clarke used a slab created by extra-terrestrial intelligence.  Somewhere way down deep, the most anti-religious scientists are nervous about God.  First Cause is the reason.  First Cause isn't fair.

Getting back to the upright farmer, he can migrate as climate changes, just as the people of the American dust bowl did..  But, if this upright farmer learns how to analyze and then manipulate his surroundings, and so bypass the vagueries of climate, he can thrive in places where hunter-gatherers or even scavengers will eventually fail.  The first, and still most important, of those manipulations was irrigation.

Homo Habilis, the handyman or tool maker, was not the Man of the Garden. Nor was Homo Erectus, the wandering scavenger. .  The human group that came to dominate the Earth was the first one whose members consisted of farmers -- Homo Agricolae.  The Garden of Eden was the first place Man domesticated animals and plants, and gained some kind of control of his surroundings..  That explains the symbolism of classical Garden of Eden graphic art -- trees laden with fruit and pacified animals living in proximity and peace with Adam and Eve.  Even the terminology of religion supports the premise.  One propagates a faith.  That is a word from the world of agriculture.  .

Agriculture tamed the Earth and gave all the growing things and creatures thereon to Man.

Long before recorded history, members of this group which ended up dominating the genetic makeup of everyone on the planet  -- perhaps no more than a few families -- left Africa, walking north.  The first lands they came to were what we now call the Middle East.  It is in this region -- the lands adjacent to the Eastern Mediterranean sea, including the Jordan Valley, portions of Turkey, Persia and Egypt, --  that agriculture began.  Thus, the Garden of Eden was here.

All that is called civilization began there.  The taming of the wild, the beginning of cities, the climb from irrigation to the moon and beyond. 

Some geneticists have said the entire human race can be traced back to one female member of that group that left Africa.  She was, according to them, the mother of all the nations of the world. 

It is a tale of rich complexity, beginning 30 millennia before the birth of Christ. Of climatic shifts from moist to arid to moist, with consequent migrations eddying back and forth across, and up and down the Middle East. And of myriad peoples. There were hunter-gatherers whom agriculturists displaced. There were prehistoric Ubaidians who built cities, Sumerians who invented writing and the Assyrians who absorbed Sumer's writing as well as its legend of a luxuriantly lovely land, an Eden called Dilmun. Finally there were Kashshites in Mesopotamia, contemporaries of the Israelites then forming the state of Israel. (source)

The descendants of this Eve, then, spread thence to all the planet, even back into Africa where their genetic structure also came to dominate completely.  There is not a living soul on Earth who is not a relative of hers.  Not one.

I like to imagine that this farmer's wife's first offspring were two sons.  One was named Cain, and one was named Abel.  I can hear their cries of birth in the quiet of the fields and orchards at the foot of the Temple Mount.  And I can see her husband, Adam, looking with pride on them.

I am always pleased, but not surprised, when science after much fussing around, arrives at this or that religious story or classical myth..  Buddhism and Chaos theory.  Ancient chinese philosophers and the expanding universe.  On the broad scale of things, no matter which way science turns, sooner or later it bumps into a saint or a philosopher.  For another example of the strange confluence of science and religion, read: In the Beginning: Genesis and Science

2002 Oregon Magazine  Many of the graphics link to their source.