How Long *were* They in the Garden?

If you take the Biblical story of Adam and Eve literally (as opposed to figuratively or allegorically) there is one possible explanation for the world as science sees it that I’ve never, ever heard anyone propose. This shocks me as it seems to be a convenient answer that fits with the science. The Bible tells us that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree (not the apple…) they had to die. This means that prior to that, they were immortals.  At least that’s the only possible reading of the story of Adam and Eve that doesn’t make God a liar.

God tells Adam and Eve that if they “eat from the Tree they will surely die.”  When God catches them, he doesn’t kill them.  However, he does curse them – Adam gets to toil the Earth and the soil will be a pissy little thing, even with the eventual discovery of irrigation a few thousand years later.  Eve is cursed to no longer be Adam’s equal and to have pain in child birth.  They’re kicked out of the Garden and eventually they die.

So I posit the only way to understand God’s original warning is that if they eat it, they will be capable of dying and, logically, if they don’t eat it they will live forever.  Now, since that part of the Bible is rather short and since we’ve already seen the entire Universe (or maybe just Earth) created in a week, I think that most people read this as if Adam and Eve were scarcely done being created when they were rushing to disobey God.  I mean, at the very least, in all the times that I’ve read the story, I’ve assumed that it happened at most within a month.
But what if Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden for 4 Billion years (or however old the Earth is) ?  Wouldn’t that mean that we could have the best of both worlds?  Outside of the Garden there are dinosaurs and all these other creatures living and dying and leaving fossils.  Meanwhile Adam and Eve are chilling for an extraordinarily long time in The Garden.

In some ways this makes the commission of Original Sin even more likely, right?  I mean, if there’s this tree that you aren’t supposed to eat from and it’s sitting there for BILLIONS of years, wouldn’t you eventually be tempted to go see what all the fuss is about?

In the end, I’m not really advocating this as a serious point except that I’m surprised no one has ever brought it up.  It seems to be to appease both the fossil record and the Biblical accounts.  And, of course, there the fact that other than serving as a story for the reason why we sin, does the factual truth of Adam and Eve affect the message of the Bible as a whole?  I think, it’s actually been the most fractious part of the Bible, if you ask me.

2 responses to “How Long *were* They in the Garden?”

  1. See, if we handed this to a science fiction writer, it would work out as: Adam and Eve lived for so many hundreds of thousands of years that they literally went insane, because the human brain isn’t set up to last so long. And they agreed together to eat from the tree not as an act of defiance, but because that was what they thought God wanted them to do when they got tired of immortality. In addition, the tree *DID* make them smarter – and they thought that having more knowledge would be a benefit to withstanding eternity.

    What they could not forsee was that intelligence would make eternity worse, not better, so their insanity accelerated. Thus, mankind, once the innocent and beautiful ape, has been replaced by the savage, blood-thirsty, lurching troll we find today.

    As for God, he was mostly angry with himself. The consequences of the tree were built in, right up to damnation. He did not intend that to be punishment – rather it was an unavoidable side effect for the tree’s intended purpose. God could not tell that it would end this way because even if you’re omniscient, you can’t know the consequences of something that’s never been done before. So he went off and made other worlds, where he was more careful not to repeat the same mistake. But to ensure that his more perfect creations can never be contaminated by we, the only imperfect alphas, he set the incredible reaches of the distance of space as a barrier. Light years of space travel mean nothing to an immortal, but they’re daunting to sentient creatures who only live around a century.

    See, that’s why I don’t comment on religious matters more often. I’ve read too much Harlan Ellison to approach the subject without being warped.

  2. Awesome, awesome comment. Glad I checked to see if there were any. Of course, a Science Fiction writer might also have come up with a Shaggy God story

    Or a religion for all actors to belong to.