Tag Archives: creation

The Garden of Eden

Where was the Garden of Eden? I get asked that question sometimes when I give a talk. Over the years, I’ve changed my response.

The second chapter of Genesis records that “God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8. In the garden was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9. “A river went out of Eden to water the garden,” and divided into four rivers: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. Genesis 2:10-14.

Today the Tigris and Euphrates are major rivers that flow from Turkey through Iraq. Does this mean the Garden of Eden was in Iraq, or perhaps at the headquarters of the rivers in the mountains in Turkey? I think not.

The reuse of names from the Bible is common, so the reuse of old names proves nothing. Today, there is no place of Earth where one river divides into four. And one cannot ignore the Flood of Noah. The Flood obliterated the prior landscape; today, much of the Middle East is covered with two miles of sedentary rock; rock laid down by the receding waters of the Flood. Yes, the ark landed in the mountains of Turkey, mountains pushed up by the volcanic activity accompanying the Flood, as were all mountain ranges on Earth. But the Bible doesn’t say where the ark was built, and the ark was severely tossed during the months of the Flood. The Ark could have come from anywhere, and its landing place in the mountains of Turkey does not help locate where it came from, much less suggest the location of the Garden of Eden.

But the Bible does give a powerful clue. The more I study the Bible, and I certainly have a long way to go in that process, the more I find recurrent themes and patterns. These themes and patterns connect and unify the Bible. I am told there are 1800 connections between the Old and New Testaments, prophecies of things to come and references back to prior sections.

Of all these themes and connections, the most important relate to the life and death of Jesus. The overriding metanarrative of Christianity is Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Resurrection. The Fall came after Adam and Eve stole from the tree of God, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Redemption came after Jesus had died on the “tree” of man, on a wooden cross of suffering and death.

Is it possible both trees were located on the same spot? I think yes! God placed Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, five miles south of Jerusalem, where the sacrificial lambs for the Temple were raised. There is tremendous symbolism in this: Jesus, the “sacrificial lamb of God,” was born in the town where the sacrificial lambs of man were raised. Jesus was born in a manger, probably a cave, exactly as a newborn sacrificial lamb. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Sacrificial lambs had to be perfect and, to protect the clumsy critters from injuring themselves, the shepherds would wrap them in swaddling clothes, probably scraps of used priestly garments.

If God went through all that trouble to connect the birth of Jesus with his mission to be the sacrificial Lamb of God, why wouldn’t he connect Jesus’ death? By dying on the “tree” of man, by giving himself to the tree of man, Jesus healed the break that occurred when Adam and Eve stole from the tree of God. If the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an apple, then in a sense Jesus put the apple back on the tree, he paid the price with his life.

Is it possible that both trees were located on about the same spot? Yes! Why would God choose any other place? No other location would so powerfully connect Jesus’ death to his mission.

If you demand scientific evidence for the location of Eden, you will find none. But if you look at the Bible as a whole, if you realize it is connected from the beginning to end, then I suggest only one place fits. I suggest the Garden of Eden was located below present-day Jerusalem.

Thanks for reading.
Doug Ell


I’m excited about this post. I’m also worried. Some of this is going to sound strange, to go against what you might think is firmly established, and you might reject it without considering the evidence. Please keep an open mind and let’s see where modern science takes us.

When I was a kid, I was enthralled by dinosaurs. I still am. They were real, yet more fantastic than many fictional creatures. I remember admiring the brontosaurus; a gigantic plant-eating creature with an enormous tail. A brontosaurus, or a cousin of a brontosaurus (there’s a lot of confusion over the names of dinosaur species, for reasons I won’t get into here) found in Argentina was 130 feet long and weighed 100 tons! That’s well over ten times the weight of a large elephant. Dinosaur fossils are all over the world.

Scientists have found these fossils contain not just bones, but soft tissue, original dinosaur proteins. Proteins are complex formations of amino acids linked together, and they decay over time. Crudely stated, flesh rots. Scientists have found collagen throughout dinosaur fossils. Collagen is a structure protein that helps build bones, tendons, and cartilage. Scientists have found also dinosaur skin, complete dinosaur cells, dinosaur blood vessels, and even dinosaur ink!

How is this possible? I was taught, and most likely you were taught too, that dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. Yet soft tissue has been found in fossils of dinosaurs that supposedly became extinct over 200 million years ago. For that reason, initial reports of dinosaur soft tissue were laughed at. But the findings are so numerous, so detailed, and so amazing that they are now accepted. Scientists have found soft tissue in dinosaur fossils.

If you search the internet on this subject, you may find suggestions that perhaps iron in some of the specimens helped preserve the soft tissue. One experiment added iron to soft tissue, sealed it, and the soft tissue survived for two years. But I, for one, don’t think you can extrapolate that into a conclusion that soft tissue can survive for hundreds of millions of years. These fossils weren’t sealed, they were buried alive in water and rock, and then subjected to pressure, heat, and cold. More careful experiments have found that, even under ideal conditions, soft tissue cannot possibly survive for one million years.

So when did dinosaurs live? You have two conflicting theories. The original theory, what I was taught, was that we can date rocks accurately by measuring their radioactivity, and that’s how we know the dinosaurs became extinct many millions of years ago. But, and I don’t want to get into this too deeply right now (maybe a later post), radioactive testing is far from exact. Rocks created by volcanic explosions in human history (like Mount St. Helens) have been dated as millions of years old. A lot of assumptions go into radioactive dating, including how much radioactivity the rock had when it was formed. Radioactive dating also yields inconsistent results, depending on what radioactive isotope is being measured. One way scientists date objects is by carbon-14, which has a half-life of 5,000 years (half of it decays every 5,000 years.) This means after 100,000 years the amount of carbon-14 will be too small to detect. Yet carbon-14 has been found in all fossils, so the radioactive dating of fossils by carbon-14 indicates they are not millions of years old.

You might ask why, if dinosaurs lived just thousands of years ago, there are no records of people coming into contact with them? Well, and this may surprise you (as it did me), there are! Dinosaurs have been found painted on cave walls. Here is a website that collects pictures.

I hope you take the time to read it carefully. You will see an intricate stone carving of a stegosaurus on a column of an 800-year-old temple in the jungles of Cambodia. How did that happen? Some suggest dinosaur paintings were just the work of primitive imaginations. But why do these drawings, from all over the world, look like the modern reconstructions? Look at that stegosaurus carving carefully. Obviously, the artist had a real stegosaurus for a model.

Two dinosaurs are mentioned in the book of Job, which may be the oldest book in the Bible. Here’s God speaking in Job 40:15-18:

Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold, his strength is in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron.

Tail stiff like a cedar? Cedars in the Middle East grow to 40 feet. What kind of animal has a tail 30 or 40 feet long that sticks out straight? Only one I can think of is a brontosaurus. No animal currently living comes close.

There are many reports of people encountering dinosaurs. Alexander the Great reported seeing a huge hissing dragon in a cave. Roman historians report flying serpents with deadly poison. Other examples are given on this website.

I made a serious mistake when I wrote Counting To God. I accepted the standard theory of deep time and millions of years, and I refused to look at evidence it could be wrong. I am now transformed by the evidence. I am now convinced that Adam and Eve and Noah were real people for a multitude of reasons.

You may say, so what? Who cares whether dinosaurs lived thousands of years ago or millions of years ago. But if you are a Christian, or considering the Christian faith, it’s very important. This post is already longer than most, so if you want to explore that issue, and see even more evidence that dinosaurs lived among us, please watch the movie “Is Genesis History?” It’s available on Netflix.

Thanks for reading.

Let’s Be Thankful

In this week of Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks to God.

We don’t normally put our lives in historical perspective, but the average person in the United States today has a quality of life superior to that of even royalty as recently as 100 years ago. We have better food and nutrition, better entertainment, better medical treatment, better transportation, and on and on. Personally, I’m not willing to give up modern dentistry.

Compared to earlier generations, we are incredibly spoiled and easily annoyed. We drive around in our modern cars, with radios and GPS and heated seats, and get annoyed if we get delayed in traffic. We complain if our restaurant meal is not hot enough or exactly what we ordered. We get enormous benefits from our society and government yet love to complain about taxes. Consider that, for almost all of human history, when the sun went down, there wasn’t a lot to see. Average life expectancy in the Bronze and Iron ages was 26. In medieval England, even if you made it to age 21, and even if you were a member of the aristocracy, you could only expect to live to age 64.

So let’s be thankful for what we have. Let’s also be thankful for a universe that reveals evidence of a Creator in so many ways, such as the fine-tuning of the constants of nature, the origin of life, and the creation of new species. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been understood and observed by what he made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

Thanks for reading.

Pope Francis

As you may have read, Pope Francis recently made some interesting remarks on evolution and the Big Bang. The media coverage of those remarks has been pretty confused, to say the least, and often hostile.

Here’s what I believe the Pope actually said (translations may differ):

“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything. However, it was not like that… And thus creation went forward for centuries, millennia and millennia until it became what we know today, in fact because God is not a demiurge [demigod] or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities.”
“The Big Bang, which is today posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creation; rather, it requires it. Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

Now the Pope is not a scientist, but I think he got it pretty right. The Big Bang is a theory of creation. It stuns me how often people don’t get that. I was on a syndicated radio program, and the host said to me something like – “Religious people believe in creation, but scientists have the Big Bang Theory.” The Big Bang is all about creation – all of time and space and matter and energy created in a single instance from absolute nothingness. It is scientific verification of the first words of the Book of Genesis. Until the 1965 discovery of relic photons from the Big Bang, many scientists objected to the Big Bang Theory because they said it was too religious. Now that it is mainstream, accepted science, atheists somehow want to pretend that it is contrary to God.

As for evolution, the key point to keep in mind is that the Pope is using that word in its normal sense – as a process of change. He certainly isn’t referring to Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution. What the Pope is saying is that life evolved over billions of years into what we see today, that all of life was not teleported onto this planet, that God worked over billions of years to create each species. That is absolutely consistent with the scientific evidence. As I’ve noted before, Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution has been emphatically disproved in recent years, although you won’t find much evidence of that in the popular media. But mainstream evidence, such as the findings of 450 scientists working on the ENCODE project to map the human genome, that our DNA is mostly or entirely functional and has more than one level of information buried in it, clearly disproves unguided evolution.

So the Pope got it right. I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I’m finding a lot about Pope Francis to like.

Thanks for reading.