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The debate over the location of the original Garden of Eden rages on with no apparent end in sight. Encouragingly, what were once thought to be divergent paths hewn out by the Bible and Science in connection with explaining the origin of man are paths that actually intersect at the Garden of Eden. Deeper exegetical studies of the Bible working in tandem with remarkable scientific advances overwhelmingly support the conclusion that the nexus of the two paths is rather substantial. In plain English, Science and the Bibleâ€”more than ever beforeâ€”agree that all humans that have ever lived came from one man and one woman. Aside from knowing their names, the big question now is: What was their address?
What the Bible Says: According to the Hebrew Scriptures God made a beautiful paradise and called it the Garden of Eden. A certain river that separated into four heads â€˜issued out of Eden.â€™ (Gen 2:8-12) This was no doubt the Nile River, and one of the four heads retained this name or shared the name â€œGihon.â€ The Gihon or Nile River â€˜encircled the entire land of Cush.â€™ (Gen 2:13) While â€œCushâ€ was the Hebrew name, the Greeks called it Aithiopias (English, â€œEthiopiaâ€) and the Romans labeled it Aethiopiae. The World Book Encyclopedia (1988 Edition) notes that even today â€œThe Blue Nile [is] one of the two main branches of the Nile [that] has carved out a deep valley in Ethiopia.â€ â€œEthiopiaâ€ means â€œRegion of Sun-burnt Faces.â€ Therefore, the people in this part of Africa were black. (See Jeremiah 13:23) Seventy percent of the main Nile River flows from Ethiopiaâ€™s Blue Nile. The other supporting branch is Sudanâ€™s White Nile.
There are compelling reasons to believe that the Gihon was the Nile. A Jewish contemporary of the apostles of Jesus Christâ€”a first-century diplomat, Pharisee, military commander, scholar and historian named Flavius Josephusâ€”linked the Gihon with the Nile. (Jewish Antiquities, I, 39 [I, 3]) Worthy of note, too, is that the Nile is exclusive to Africa, originating in Tanzania and snaking its way as the longest river in the world all the way to the Nile Delta near Alexandria, Egypt, and finally into the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, Tanzania is associated with the Nileâ€™s largest source, Lake Victoria. This lake is Africaâ€™s largest; the worldâ€™s largest tropical lake; and the worldâ€™s second widest freshwater lake. And since the Nile (or Gihon) issued from the Garden of Eden, Equatorial Tanzania was most likely the home address of the first human pair. Lake Tanganyika, also in Tanzania, is the worldâ€™s longest fresh-water lake, and the second deepest lake in the world. Eden, interestingly enough, was around lots of water. (Incidentally, Mount Kilimanjaro, Africaâ€™s highest, is also in Tanzania.)
Moreover, Alexandria, a Nile city founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C., was where about seventy custodians of the Hebrew Bibleâ€”some of them no doubt Black African proselytesâ€”translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. The resultant African book, the Septuagint, was the Bible Jesusâ€™ followers used when they preached to and taught persons who spoke or read Greek. All New Testament writers quoted the chronicler of Genesis, the African Moses (who was also African-educated), some 200 times. None of them objected to the Septuagintâ€™s translation of â€œCushâ€ to â€œEthiopia.â€ And what about the other three river heads? They were no doubt African based: (1) The Pishon, â€œencircling the entire land of Havilah.â€ Havilah was named after Cushâ€™s son (Gen 10:6, 7); and was near Egypt (Gen 25:18); (2) the Hiddekel (or Tigris) and (3) the Euphrates are names of rivers in southwestern Asia that notorious Nimrod likely absconded from Africa. There is scientific support for this conclusion.
What Scientists Say: U.S. News & World Report â€œMysteries of Scienceâ€ Special Collectorâ€™s Edition (July 2009) under the heading â€œBack to the Bibleâ€ says: â€œDNA evidence corroborates the idea that all humans descend from just one couple.â€ In more technical terms it states further: â€œThe Y chromosome is therefore passed down essentially unchanged from father to son, generation after generation.â€ â€œMitochondria are bequeathed unchanged from mother to child (and a manâ€™s mitochondria are not passed on to his children.).â€ Whatâ€™s the bottom line? Although scientists give them the impersonal labels of Common Male Ancestor (CMA) and Common Female Ancestor (CFA), the magazine arrives at this revealing conclusion: â€œThe metaphor is hard to avoidâ€”this is Adamâ€™s Y chromosome, and Eveâ€™s mitochondrial DNA.â€
But where do scientists say Adam (CMA) and Eve (CFA) lived? National Geographic and IBM teamed up on a project called the Genographic Project. â€œScientists from IBMâ€™s Computational Biology Center, one of the worldâ€™s foremost life-sciences research facilities, use advanced analytical technologiesâ€ to â€œdiscover new patterns and connections,â€ and to sort through â€œhundreds of thousands of genetic codes.â€ When they retraced human lineage to the first human pair, the fascinating genetic odyssey took them to Africa. What country in particular? Equatorial Tanzania, where they found fossilized human footprints. And while the Flood may have dramatically rearranged the earthâ€™s topography in some instances, the aforementioned genetic map of the human family would be immune to its catastrophic effect.
Of course, although more and more scientists are abandoning evolution in favor of intelligent design, most are still credulous believers in the atheistic theory of evolution despite the overwhelming preponderance of evidence disproving it. And some scholars donâ€™t like the fact that life started in Africa. Take for example Eric H. Cline, author of the book, From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible. In the â€œSecrets of the Bibleâ€ Collectorâ€™s Edition of U.S. News & World Report (March 2009), he is reported to have said: â€œMesopotamia seems a much more likely location, despite the early origins of humanity in Africa.â€ (Emphasis mine.) As for Mesopotamia, Assyria, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, â€œmtDNA Marker Nâ€ shows that this line of humans migrated straight from Eden to Mesopotamia. This allows for Nimrod not only to defy Jehovah by building the Tower of Babel in the area (Gen 10:8-12), but to make it the new Eden by giving surrounding rivers Edenic names. (Admittedly, my theory.)
These conclusions notwithstanding, when paradise is finally restored on earthâ€”wherein the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the handicap with runâ€”it will be on â€œgreen grass with reeds and papyrus plants,â€ just as it was in the Garden of Eden, along the Nile. (Isaiah 35-5-7) Peace and blessings to all. Amen.