The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

Use this forum to discuss the June 2023 Philosophy Book of the Month, Killing Abel by Michael Tieman
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The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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This topic is about the June 2023 Philosophy Book of the Month, Killing Abel by Michael Tieman



A central element in many Judeo-Christian narratives is the Garden of Eden. Traditionally depicted as a paradise created by God for Adam and Eve, it serves as the stage for humanity's first act of disobedience, resulting in our exile into the world we now inhabit. The question that often arises is: How should we interpret the Garden of Eden? Is it a historical place, a metaphorical construct, or a blend of both?

In this book, the Garden of Eden is portrayed in a way that invites us to consider these questions. The story is grounded in the Genesis narrative, yet the author's imagination fills in gaps, providing us with a vivid and detailed image of Eden. One particularly intriguing aspect is the precise geographical location of the Garden, which is suggested to be in Eastern Africa.

This portrayal stirs a fascinating philosophical debate. If we accept the Garden as a real geographical location, what does it mean for our understanding of the Bible and its teachings? How does this affect our conception of the divine and the human condition? On the other hand, if we see the Garden as purely metaphorical, what lessons can we glean from this metaphor?
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

Post by Akangbe Opeyemi »

I believe that the Garden of Eden can both be a geographical location and can also be seen as a metaphor. Things are spiritual and what is present in the physical can as well be present in the spiritual.
The Garden of Eden may be a place present on Earth but as God can do anything, He can keep it hidden from human eyes. Just because we think it should be in Eastern Africa doesn't mean we will find it there and just because we can't find it doesn't mean it is not there. “2Cor.4.18 - While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." It just proves our God is a Supreme Being.

And it can as well be a metaphor since we can't prove its existence here on Earth. It is just how divinity is.
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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Akangbe Opeyemi wrote: June 15th, 2023, 6:00 pm I believe that the Garden of Eden can both be a geographical location and can also be seen as a metaphor. Things are spiritual and what is present in the physical can as well be present in the spiritual.
The Garden of Eden may be a place present on Earth but as God can do anything, He can keep it hidden from human eyes. Just because we think it should be in Eastern Africa doesn't mean we will find it there and just because we can't find it doesn't mean it is not there. “2Cor.4.18 - While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." It just proves our God is a Supreme Being.

And it can as well be a metaphor since we can't prove its existence here on Earth. It is just how divinity is.
You raise some really interesting points, and I appreciate your perspective. The notion of the Garden of Eden being both a geographical location and a spiritual metaphor is indeed compelling. Your reference to 2 Corinthians 4:18 adds a powerful dimension to this discussion, reminding us of the distinction between our transient, tangible world and the eternal, unseen realm of the divine.

The idea that the Garden of Eden may be a hidden place on Earth is intriguing. It's true that, as you've noted, if we accept the omnipotence of God, it could be within His power to shield it from our sight. However, let's also consider the flip side: perhaps the Garden's 'hiddenness' is not due to it being concealed by divine intervention, but rather a testament to our limited human understanding and perception. In other words, maybe the Garden exists in a form or dimension that we simply aren't equipped to perceive or comprehend.

As for the possibility of the Garden being a metaphor, I agree that this interpretation carries its own set of rich implications. Viewing Eden as a metaphor might suggest that it represents a state of being or consciousness rather than a physical place—an initial state of innocence and unity with the divine, perhaps. It could symbolize the spiritual journey of humanity, starting from a state of perfect communion with God, experiencing a fall, and then seeking a return to that lost divine unity.

In the context of 'Killing Abel', the author's decision to portray the Garden in a certain geographical location could be seen as a literary device to bring the narrative to life. It doesn't necessarily confirm or deny the literal existence of the Garden, but serves to engage readers and stimulate thought and discussion—much like we're doing now.

Would love to hear more of your thoughts on this. How does the portrayal of the Garden of Eden in 'Killing Abel' affect your understanding of these concepts?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

Post by Slayton Natasha Tillett »

Your view shows how stories like the Garden of Eden can have both a real and a deeper meaning. It's like saying there might be a special place like Eden somewhere, but it's also about understanding bigger ideas beyond just what we can see and touch. This means there's more to it than meets the eye, teaching us about spiritual stuff that's not always easy to grasp.
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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Slayton Natasha Tillett wrote: February 7th, 2024, 6:21 pm Your view shows how stories like the Garden of Eden can have both a real and a deeper meaning. It's like saying there might be a special place like Eden somewhere, but it's also about understanding bigger ideas beyond just what we can see and touch. This means there's more to it than meets the eye, teaching us about spiritual stuff that's not always easy to grasp.
Indeed, the duality of the Garden as both a physical and a metaphorical entity allows for a rich tapestry of interpretations that span the literal to the allegorical.

However, delving deeper into this notion, one might question the implications of tethering spiritual truths too closely to historical or geographical realities. If we anchor the metaphorical richness of Eden solely in its potential as a real place, do we risk constraining the broader, more universal truths it might represent? The power of metaphor, especially in spiritual texts, often lies in its universality and ability to transcend specific times, places, and cultures. By focusing on finding a physical Eden, could we inadvertently limit the scope of its teachings about human nature, divine intention, and the complexities of moral choice?

Furthermore, considering the Garden of Eden as purely metaphorical raises another set of philosophical inquiries. It challenges us to consider the nature of truth within religious narratives. Is the truth of the Garden's story measured by its historical accuracy, or by the depth of understanding it provides about our relationship with the divine, with one another, and with the world around us?

This leads to a reflection on the essence of faith itself. Faith often navigates the delicate balance between the seen and the unseen, the known and the mysterious. In embracing Eden as a metaphor, we are invited to engage with faith not just as a belief in historical events, but as a deeper trust in the lessons those stories impart about our spiritual journey.

In this light, how do you perceive the balance between historical truth and metaphorical truth in shaping our spiritual understanding? Can the search for a literal Eden enhance or diminish the spiritual lessons the Genesis narrative seeks to teach us?
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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I think that it is factual and that the garden is a symbol of a higher power. It is where creation began.
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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Ije Bons wrote: March 17th, 2024, 7:53 pm I think that it is factual and that the garden is a symbol of a higher power. It is where creation began.
Thank you for sharing your perspective. Your view that the Garden of Eden is both factual and symbolic of a higher power offers an interesting lens through which we can explore this ancient narrative.

Considering your belief in its factual basis, I'm curious about your thoughts on the possible physical location of the Garden of Eden. This book hints at Eastern Africa as the geographical setting. Do you align with this suggestion, or do you envision another location for the Garden? Moreover, what aspects of the Eden narrative compel you to see it as a starting point for creation?

How do you think the location of the Garden of Eden, whether in Eastern Africa or elsewhere, impacts our understanding of the biblical story and its teachings on the divine and human nature?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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If you are a historian dredging the Genesis story for primary sources then you seek a real place some where around the Near East.

If you seek a story about the conditions of human life then you read those into the story.
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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Belinda wrote: March 18th, 2024, 11:06 am If you are a historian dredging the Genesis story for primary sources then you seek a real place some where around the Near East.

If you seek a story about the conditions of human life then you read those into the story.
Thank you for your insightful perspective. Your distinction between historical and allegorical interpretations provides a valuable framework for understanding the multifaceted nature of the Garden of Eden narrative.

Given this, for someone who approaches the concept of the Garden of Eden from a logical and rational standpoint, how would you suggest they navigate this narrative? Should they lean more towards scrutinizing its historical authenticity and geographical specifics, or should they delve into the metaphorical and philosophical lessons it may impart about human nature and life's existential questions?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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Sushan wrote: March 19th, 2024, 1:07 am
Belinda wrote: March 18th, 2024, 11:06 am If you are a historian dredging the Genesis story for primary sources then you seek a real place some where around the Near East.

If you seek a story about the conditions of human life then you read those into the story.
Thank you for your insightful perspective. Your distinction between historical and allegorical interpretations provides a valuable framework for understanding the multifaceted nature of the Garden of Eden narrative.

Given this, for someone who approaches the concept of the Garden of Eden from a logical and rational standpoint, how would you suggest they navigate this narrative? Should they lean more towards scrutinizing its historical authenticity and geographical specifics, or should they delve into the metaphorical and philosophical lessons it may impart about human nature and life's existential questions?
The historian who uses the Garden of Eden narrative as a primary source looks first for the provenance of the narrative itself. The history of the narrative includes comparison with other creation narratives and investigation of those sources too.
Next, the historian looks for unwitting clues from the Genesis story as to what 'garden' meant to people who recorded the story. It's probably a middle eastern story so 'garden' is likely to refer to a place where food crops were grown safe from animal damage , maybe a vineyard or olive grove, barley or even primitive wheat perhaps .It would also be a place where there is or was a water source, and be inhabited by a society that was settled enough to build fences ,plant crops and belong to a male owner. who had powers over the workers. I'd expect a few locations in the middle east would fit these conditions during a period of hundreds or even thousands of years.
The story of the G of E has an agricultural background : the word 'garden' is a key concept, so the historian would need the services of a climatologist.
I don't know if apples could grow in the terrain and climatic conditions of the time, and as a historian I' d need to investigate this, as the importance of the apple may indicate editing by a people who lived in a temperate climate, or even authorship by such a people.

I am sure that the G of E creation story would be typical of myths that told about the conditions of human life. I myself am too biased by my liking for the story of the G of E to be able to comment on the anthropological perspective of the ancient religious myth; I'd not be able to stop myself reading into the story the very important psycho- sociological view of human nature. I don't refer to the sub theme about the relative inferiority of women, but to the theme of man's ability to adapt his culture as seems fit to him at the time, not loyalty to old traditions as personified by God. It's a creation story from a society in transition. As such it yields an important insight into how
human psychology and the prevalent means of subsistence are interlinked.
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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Belinda wrote: March 19th, 2024, 6:08 am
Sushan wrote: March 19th, 2024, 1:07 am
Belinda wrote: March 18th, 2024, 11:06 am If you are a historian dredging the Genesis story for primary sources then you seek a real place some where around the Near East.

If you seek a story about the conditions of human life then you read those into the story.
Thank you for your insightful perspective. Your distinction between historical and allegorical interpretations provides a valuable framework for understanding the multifaceted nature of the Garden of Eden narrative.

Given this, for someone who approaches the concept of the Garden of Eden from a logical and rational standpoint, how would you suggest they navigate this narrative? Should they lean more towards scrutinizing its historical authenticity and geographical specifics, or should they delve into the metaphorical and philosophical lessons it may impart about human nature and life's existential questions?
The historian who uses the Garden of Eden narrative as a primary source looks first for the provenance of the narrative itself. The history of the narrative includes comparison with other creation narratives and investigation of those sources too.
Next, the historian looks for unwitting clues from the Genesis story as to what 'garden' meant to people who recorded the story. It's probably a middle eastern story so 'garden' is likely to refer to a place where food crops were grown safe from animal damage , maybe a vineyard or olive grove, barley or even primitive wheat perhaps .It would also be a place where there is or was a water source, and be inhabited by a society that was settled enough to build fences ,plant crops and belong to a male owner. who had powers over the workers. I'd expect a few locations in the middle east would fit these conditions during a period of hundreds or even thousands of years.
The story of the G of E has an agricultural background : the word 'garden' is a key concept, so the historian would need the services of a climatologist.
I don't know if apples could grow in the terrain and climatic conditions of the time, and as a historian I' d need to investigate this, as the importance of the apple may indicate editing by a people who lived in a temperate climate, or even authorship by such a people.

I am sure that the G of E creation story would be typical of myths that told about the conditions of human life. I myself am too biased by my liking for the story of the G of E to be able to comment on the anthropological perspective of the ancient religious myth; I'd not be able to stop myself reading into the story the very important psycho- sociological view of human nature. I don't refer to the sub theme about the relative inferiority of women, but to the theme of man's ability to adapt his culture as seems fit to him at the time, not loyalty to old traditions as personified by God. It's a creation story from a society in transition. As such it yields an important insight into how
human psychology and the prevalent means of subsistence are interlinked.
Your approach as a historian to the Garden of Eden narrative is both thorough and enlightening. By examining the provenance of the narrative, comparing it with other creation stories, and considering the agricultural and societal context, you provide a comprehensive view that deepens our understanding of this ancient text.

Recent scholarly work, such as the discussions in the Journal of Biblical Literature, supports the idea that the Garden of Eden story reflects broader mythological themes common across various cultures, emphasizing the narrative's role in explaining human conditions and societal changes.

I appreciate your insight into the narrative's reflection of a society in transition and its anthropological and psychological dimensions. This perspective aligns with modern interpretations that view the Garden of Eden not just as a religious or historical account but as a profound commentary on human nature and societal evolution.

I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on the interplay between human psychology and subsistence means, especially in the context of ancient narratives like the Garden of Eden. How do you think these stories continue to shape our understanding of human nature and cultural development in contemporary society?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

Post by Belinda »

Sushan wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 3:18 am
Belinda wrote: March 19th, 2024, 6:08 am
Sushan wrote: March 19th, 2024, 1:07 am
Belinda wrote: March 18th, 2024, 11:06 am If you are a historian dredging the Genesis story for primary sources then you seek a real place some where around the Near East.

If you seek a story about the conditions of human life then you read those into the story.
Thank you for your insightful perspective. Your distinction between historical and allegorical interpretations provides a valuable framework for understanding the multifaceted nature of the Garden of Eden narrative.

Given this, for someone who approaches the concept of the Garden of Eden from a logical and rational standpoint, how would you suggest they navigate this narrative? Should they lean more towards scrutinizing its historical authenticity and geographical specifics, or should they delve into the metaphorical and philosophical lessons it may impart about human nature and life's existential questions?
The historian who uses the Garden of Eden narrative as a primary source looks first for the provenance of the narrative itself. The history of the narrative includes comparison with other creation narratives and investigation of those sources too.
Next, the historian looks for unwitting clues from the Genesis story as to what 'garden' meant to people who recorded the story. It's probably a middle eastern story so 'garden' is likely to refer to a place where food crops were grown safe from animal damage , maybe a vineyard or olive grove, barley or even primitive wheat perhaps .It would also be a place where there is or was a water source, and be inhabited by a society that was settled enough to build fences ,plant crops and belong to a male owner. who had powers over the workers. I'd expect a few locations in the middle east would fit these conditions during a period of hundreds or even thousands of years.
The story of the G of E has an agricultural background : the word 'garden' is a key concept, so the historian would need the services of a climatologist.
I don't know if apples could grow in the terrain and climatic conditions of the time, and as a historian I' d need to investigate this, as the importance of the apple may indicate editing by a people who lived in a temperate climate, or even authorship by such a people.

I am sure that the G of E creation story would be typical of myths that told about the conditions of human life. I myself am too biased by my liking for the story of the G of E to be able to comment on the anthropological perspective of the ancient religious myth; I'd not be able to stop myself reading into the story the very important psycho- sociological view of human nature. I don't refer to the sub theme about the relative inferiority of women, but to the theme of man's ability to adapt his culture as seems fit to him at the time, not loyalty to old traditions as personified by God. It's a creation story from a society in transition. As such it yields an important insight into how
human psychology and the prevalent means of subsistence are interlinked.
Your approach as a historian to the Garden of Eden narrative is both thorough and enlightening. By examining the provenance of the narrative, comparing it with other creation stories, and considering the agricultural and societal context, you provide a comprehensive view that deepens our understanding of this ancient text.

Recent scholarly work, such as the discussions in the Journal of Biblical Literature, supports the idea that the Garden of Eden story reflects broader mythological themes common across various cultures, emphasizing the narrative's role in explaining human conditions and societal changes.

I appreciate your insight into the narrative's reflection of a society in transition and its anthropological and psychological dimensions. This perspective aligns with modern interpretations that view the Garden of Eden not just as a religious or historical account but as a profound commentary on human nature and societal evolution.

I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on the interplay between human psychology and subsistence means, especially in the context of ancient narratives like the Garden of Eden. How do you think these stories continue to shape our understanding of human nature and cultural development in contemporary society?
I have researched neither of those interesting questions.

I think the first question needs an anthropological view. And as to your second question I think ancient myths satisfy poets and philosophers but not modern people who seem to not understand the uses of religious or poetic myths. The mythologising of popular celebrities , footballers ,singers, nationalism, and Trump, is what most people prefer to religious or poetic myths .
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

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Belinda wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 5:06 am
Sushan wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 3:18 am
Belinda wrote: March 19th, 2024, 6:08 am
Sushan wrote: March 19th, 2024, 1:07 am

Thank you for your insightful perspective. Your distinction between historical and allegorical interpretations provides a valuable framework for understanding the multifaceted nature of the Garden of Eden narrative.

Given this, for someone who approaches the concept of the Garden of Eden from a logical and rational standpoint, how would you suggest they navigate this narrative? Should they lean more towards scrutinizing its historical authenticity and geographical specifics, or should they delve into the metaphorical and philosophical lessons it may impart about human nature and life's existential questions?
The historian who uses the Garden of Eden narrative as a primary source looks first for the provenance of the narrative itself. The history of the narrative includes comparison with other creation narratives and investigation of those sources too.
Next, the historian looks for unwitting clues from the Genesis story as to what 'garden' meant to people who recorded the story. It's probably a middle eastern story so 'garden' is likely to refer to a place where food crops were grown safe from animal damage , maybe a vineyard or olive grove, barley or even primitive wheat perhaps .It would also be a place where there is or was a water source, and be inhabited by a society that was settled enough to build fences ,plant crops and belong to a male owner. who had powers over the workers. I'd expect a few locations in the middle east would fit these conditions during a period of hundreds or even thousands of years.
The story of the G of E has an agricultural background : the word 'garden' is a key concept, so the historian would need the services of a climatologist.
I don't know if apples could grow in the terrain and climatic conditions of the time, and as a historian I' d need to investigate this, as the importance of the apple may indicate editing by a people who lived in a temperate climate, or even authorship by such a people.

I am sure that the G of E creation story would be typical of myths that told about the conditions of human life. I myself am too biased by my liking for the story of the G of E to be able to comment on the anthropological perspective of the ancient religious myth; I'd not be able to stop myself reading into the story the very important psycho- sociological view of human nature. I don't refer to the sub theme about the relative inferiority of women, but to the theme of man's ability to adapt his culture as seems fit to him at the time, not loyalty to old traditions as personified by God. It's a creation story from a society in transition. As such it yields an important insight into how
human psychology and the prevalent means of subsistence are interlinked.
Your approach as a historian to the Garden of Eden narrative is both thorough and enlightening. By examining the provenance of the narrative, comparing it with other creation stories, and considering the agricultural and societal context, you provide a comprehensive view that deepens our understanding of this ancient text.

Recent scholarly work, such as the discussions in the Journal of Biblical Literature, supports the idea that the Garden of Eden story reflects broader mythological themes common across various cultures, emphasizing the narrative's role in explaining human conditions and societal changes.

I appreciate your insight into the narrative's reflection of a society in transition and its anthropological and psychological dimensions. This perspective aligns with modern interpretations that view the Garden of Eden not just as a religious or historical account but as a profound commentary on human nature and societal evolution.

I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on the interplay between human psychology and subsistence means, especially in the context of ancient narratives like the Garden of Eden. How do you think these stories continue to shape our understanding of human nature and cultural development in contemporary society?
I have researched neither of those interesting questions.

I think the first question needs an anthropological view. And as to your second question I think ancient myths satisfy poets and philosophers but not modern people who seem to not understand the uses of religious or poetic myths. The mythologising of popular celebrities , footballers ,singers, nationalism, and Trump, is what most people prefer to religious or poetic myths .
Thank you for your candid response. Your perspective highlights the necessity for an interdisciplinary approach, particularly anthropology, to fully grasp the depths of these ancient narratives and their implications on human psychology and societal development.

It’s intriguing to consider your observation that contemporary society may have shifted its myth-making focus from traditional religious and poetic narratives to the glorification of celebrities, nationalism, and figures like Trump. I would like to elaborate a bit more on that.

1. Celebrity Culture: The intense media focus on celebrities has created a new form of myth-making. Celebrities are often elevated to larger-than-life statuses, their personal lives becoming the subject of widespread public fascination. This can be seen in the way figures like Kim Kardashian or Beyoncé are not just entertainers but cultural icons whose lifestyles, fashion, and personal decisions influence and captivate millions globally.

2. Nationalism: The rise of nationalism in various parts of the world, such as the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom or the "America First" sentiment in the United States, represents a form of myth-making where the nation-state becomes the central narrative. This form of nationalism often harks back to a glorified historical past and promotes a narrative of exceptionalism and superiority, influencing people's sense of identity and belonging.

3. Political Figures like Trump: Donald Trump's presidency exemplified a shift in myth-making to political figures who disrupt traditional norms. Trump's narrative as the outsider who challenges the status quo resonated with many who felt disenfranchised by the political system, creating a mythic persona that garnered strong emotional responses, both positive and negative.

These shifts in myth-making reflect broader changes in societal values and how individuals seek meaning and identity. Unlike traditional myths that often conveyed moral or existential lessons, modern myths may be more about aspirational lifestyles, national pride, or personal identification with charismatic leaders. This transition indicates a transformation in collective consciousness, where the sources of cultural narratives and identity have diversified and adapted to the digital age and globalized society.

Considering this, do you think that this change in myth-making and the types of heroes we idolize has an impact on our collective consciousness and societal values? How might this influence our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world, compared to the impact of ancient myths like the Garden of Eden?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

Post by Belinda »

Sushan wrote: June 4th, 2023, 11:03 pm This topic is about the June 2023 Philosophy Book of the Month, Killing Abel by Michael Tieman



A central element in many Judeo-Christian narratives is the Garden of Eden. Traditionally depicted as a paradise created by God for Adam and Eve, it serves as the stage for humanity's first act of disobedience, resulting in our exile into the world we now inhabit. The question that often arises is: How should we interpret the Garden of Eden? Is it a historical place, a metaphorical construct, or a blend of both?

In this book, the Garden of Eden is portrayed in a way that invites us to consider these questions. The story is grounded in the Genesis narrative, yet the author's imagination fills in gaps, providing us with a vivid and detailed image of Eden. One particularly intriguing aspect is the precise geographical location of the Garden, which is suggested to be in Eastern Africa.

This portrayal stirs a fascinating philosophical debate. If we accept the Garden as a real geographical location, what does it mean for our understanding of the Bible and its teachings? How does this affect our conception of the divine and the human condition? On the other hand, if we see the Garden as purely metaphorical, what lessons can we glean from this metaphor?
I glean the message to beware of all myths because the exegesis of all known myths reveals that they were produced by fallible human beings who wanted and want to influence others .

Those people who seek durable or eternal truths from myths probably know they won't find these truths in the glorification of celebrities, and they don't care as eternal truths are not what they want. It is when people seek credible and durable truths that they need important myths that seem to be analogies with life . Some of these analogies can be got from novels, poetry, and pictures especially, I think, especially perhaps those that use symbolism. People who regard The Bible as literature can sometimes use the Biblical myths as literature, and in that regard The Bible is hard to beat. However it's best to approach The Bible and its myths with hermenuetical precautions because many people still believe in a supernatural way of being.

We are not better than medieval but we are modern, not medieval, people.
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Re: The Garden of Eden: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor?

Post by Sushan »

Belinda wrote: March 25th, 2024, 3:16 pm
Sushan wrote: June 4th, 2023, 11:03 pm This topic is about the June 2023 Philosophy Book of the Month, Killing Abel by Michael Tieman



A central element in many Judeo-Christian narratives is the Garden of Eden. Traditionally depicted as a paradise created by God for Adam and Eve, it serves as the stage for humanity's first act of disobedience, resulting in our exile into the world we now inhabit. The question that often arises is: How should we interpret the Garden of Eden? Is it a historical place, a metaphorical construct, or a blend of both?

In this book, the Garden of Eden is portrayed in a way that invites us to consider these questions. The story is grounded in the Genesis narrative, yet the author's imagination fills in gaps, providing us with a vivid and detailed image of Eden. One particularly intriguing aspect is the precise geographical location of the Garden, which is suggested to be in Eastern Africa.

This portrayal stirs a fascinating philosophical debate. If we accept the Garden as a real geographical location, what does it mean for our understanding of the Bible and its teachings? How does this affect our conception of the divine and the human condition? On the other hand, if we see the Garden as purely metaphorical, what lessons can we glean from this metaphor?
I glean the message to beware of all myths because the exegesis of all known myths reveals that they were produced by fallible human beings who wanted and want to influence others .

Those people who seek durable or eternal truths from myths probably know they won't find these truths in the glorification of celebrities, and they don't care as eternal truths are not what they want. It is when people seek credible and durable truths that they need important myths that seem to be analogies with life . Some of these analogies can be got from novels, poetry, and pictures especially, I think, especially perhaps those that use symbolism. People who regard The Bible as literature can sometimes use the Biblical myths as literature, and in that regard The Bible is hard to beat. However it's best to approach The Bible and its myths with hermenuetical precautions because many people still believe in a supernatural way of being.

We are not better than medieval but we are modern, not medieval, people.
I appreciate your perspective on the nature of myths and their role in shaping human thought. Your cautionary stance towards interpreting myths, recognizing them as products of human imperfection with the intent to influence, is a critical reminder of our need to critically engage with these narratives. This viewpoint aligns with modern scholarly discussions that often emphasize the constructed nature of myths and their socio-cultural functions. For instance, the study of Greek mythology reveals not only the ancient Greeks' attempts to make sense of their world but also their desire to convey moral, philosophical, and existential ideas that resonated with their societal values.

Your assertion that we, as modern individuals, should not consider ourselves superior to our medieval predecessors, yet acknowledge our distinctiveness, speaks volumes about our approach to historical narratives. It's a reflection of the ongoing discourse in contemporary historiography, which suggests that while we have advanced in technology and scientific understanding, the fundamental human condition, encapsulated in these myths, remains constant. This idea is evident in the continued relevance of classical literature and mythological stories in today's cultural and educational contexts, demonstrating their timeless appeal and the universal aspects of human experience they capture.

The analogy with life that you mention, which can be extracted from novels, poetry, and symbolic artworks, is particularly potent in our era. These forms of expression often provide a more nuanced and layered understanding of human nature and societal dynamics than the straightforward narratives of celebrity culture and political mythology. For example, the symbolic representation of human struggles in the works of authors like Franz Kafka or the poetic explorations of identity and existence by Rumi continue to offer profound insights into the human psyche and societal conditions.

I concur with your view on approaching biblical myths with hermeneutical precautions. This is a necessary measure to distinguish between literary appreciation and theological belief, allowing for a more inclusive and reflective engagement with these texts. The challenge lies in maintaining this critical balance while exploring the depths of these narratives to extract meaningful lessons applicable to our modern lives.

How do you think we can best apply the lessons from these ancient myths to address the complexities and challenges of our modern world?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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