Did Eden Exist?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Reader: Is the Garden of Eden literal or is it metaphor? I know for a fact that it was metaphor. Here is why below: Adam and Eve is a parable. Because there was no first human, but there may have been a mitochondrial Eve. But that was somewhere else in another country. Adam and Eve is a story about the first dawn of civilization. But there was art 25,000 years before that. It was symbolic. This is so because the Rabbis in the tenth century laid down he following principle: “If a biblical narrative is incompatible with established scientific fact, it is not to be read literally.” Gerald Schroeder is of the same opinion. So is Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Rabbi: People exist. Thus, we had ancestors. They must have existed on some parcel of land, and therefore, I see no reason to dismiss this land from being Eden, or that we descend from Adam and Eve. How was Adam made "from the dust of the land?" I don't know God's process, whether is was instantaneous as God made the universe according to Rambam, or another method, like evolution. Human remains dating 194,000 years old would indicate an evolution, as Adam is 5779 years old. We don't deny science or facts. Alternatively, a 194,000-year evolution does not preclude God from creating Adam "from the dust," as a new line of humans, without ancestors.

Nonetheless, as Rabbi Chait stated, we take all the Torah says as literal, unless it is impossible to do so. Otherwise, as Rabbi Chait said, “Perhaps God too is a metaphor!” What determines where one draws the line?