Can the Garden of Eden ever be considered a perfect idyll?
Think of a world without suffering. Where nothing interrupts the direct line of communication with God. A world where there is plenty of food and relationships are healthy. A place where work occurs without effort and most importantly, there is no death to spoil the party. But is the early world of Genesis consistent with what we understand about our physical environment today? Moreover, is it perhaps a case of wishful thinking over the stark reality of life in the real world?
Perfect World syndrome?
The traditional understanding of Genesis is that people began life inhabiting a perfect world – an environment without disease or bacteria or natural disasters within it – nor anything else that might cause them harm. But is this a world that is ideal for humans? After all, the position is problematic given our understanding of the physical world today.
Issue of gravity
Let’s begin by considering gravity which exists for our benefit. After all, spinning through space at thousands of miles per hour, we should all be very grateful that it allows us to live, work and play without fear that one day, by jumping too high, we will be carried off into outer space. We are probably also grateful for the benefits gravity provides in facilitating us to abseil, skydive, snowboard, ski, etc. Indeed, gravity is an essential element in the hydrological cycle enabling evaporated moisture to return as droplets of water (rain) rather than disappear upwards into our atmosphere. In short, gravity has a lot of benefits.
But there is another side to gravity that we sometimes fail to consider in which people die in avalanches and flash floods– but more about that in the next post:
Extracts adapted from ideas in ‘The God of the Cruel World’ (Bob Eckhard)