Ken Ham: Where Was the Garden of Eden?

Today we have a rare treat for you. It’s a brilliant essay by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. At the website of his online ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), ol’ Hambo grapples with a question that has kept so many of us awake at night.

The essay is Where Was the Garden of Eden Located? With a bit of bold font that we added here and there for emphasis, Hambo starts like this:

Most Bible commentaries state that the site of the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East, situated somewhere near where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today. This is based on the description given in Genesis 2:8–14:

[Hambo’s scripture quote:] The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden. . . . Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon. . . . The name of the second river is Gihon. . . . The name of the third river is Hiddekel [Tigris]. . . . The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Then, after a big quote showing how the problem confused John Calvin, Hambo says:

Calvin recognized that the description given in Genesis 2 concerning the location of the Garden of Eden does not fit with what is observed regarding the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. God’s Word makes it clear that the Garden of Eden was located where there were four rivers coming from one head. No matter how one tries to fit this location in the Middle East today, it just can’t be done.

We recall seeing claims that with the aid of satellite images, it can be seen that there were once four rivers flowing into the Persian Gulf, but we can’t find any links to reputable sources. All we could find was this video from the History Channel: Decoding the Past: Mysteries of the Garden of Eden. Anyway, Hambo ignores all of that, no doubt because referring to man’s wicked thoughts will lead only to the Lake of Fire. Relying solely on scripture, he informs us:

The worldwide, catastrophic Flood of Noah’s day would have destroyed the surface of the earth. If most of the sedimentary strata over the earth’s surface (many thousands of feet thick in places) is the result of this global catastrophe as creationists believe, then we would have no idea where the Garden of Eden was originally located — the earth’s surface totally changed as a result of the Flood.

Ah, that explains it! Let’s read on:

Therefore, no one can logically suggest that the area where the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today is the location of the Garden of Eden, for this area is sitting on Flood strata containing billions of dead things (fossils). The perfect Garden of Eden can’t be sitting on billions of dead things before sin entered the world!

Certainly not! But then Hambo mentions another mystery:

This being the case, the question then is why are there rivers named Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East today?

Great question! He continues:

In my native country of Australia, one will recognize many names that are also used in England (e.g., Newcastle). The reason is that when the settlers came out from England to Australia, they used names they were familiar with in England to name new places/towns in Australia.

[…]

In a similar way, when Noah and his family came out of the ark after it landed in the area we today call the Middle East (the region of the Mountains of Ararat), it would not have been surprising for them to use names they were familiar with from the pre-Flood world (e.g., Tigris and Euphrates), to name places and rivers, etc., in the world after the Flood.

Okay, but we’re still left with the aching question — Where was the Garden of Eden? Hambo deals with that in his final paragraph:

Ultimately, we don’t know where the Garden of Eden was located. To insist that the Garden was located in the area around the present Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is to deny the catastrophic effects of the global Flood of Noah’s day, and to allow for death before sin.

Aaaargh!! This is most unsatisfactory. We came to AIG — that’s Answers in Genesis — because we were expecting answers. Instead, we find only mysteries. What good is Genesis if it gives us faulty information? If pre-Flood geographical descriptions are useless, what else in Genesis may be wrong? One may as well be a Darwinist.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Ken Ham: Where Was the Garden of Eden?

  1. It’s like he’s not even trying anymore. Either that or he realizes his followers are so brain dead they’ll believe any semi coherent collection of sentences he tosses out.

  2. Well, I think the Book of Mormon tells us that The Garden was in the New World. But for some reason I doubt Mr. Ham would consider that a trustworthy source.

  3. This explanation reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot where one robotic law causes a problem which is then solved by creative use of another robotic law.

  4. @Troy

    Great now I have the thought of Zeroth Law of Fundementalism dancing in my head

  5. Why do Hambo’s Literal interpretations always require non-literal embellishment? Could it be a lack of creativity or a pathological need to try and deceive people? Both combined I suspect.

    Genesis makes no mention of the topographical changes that the a global flood may have caused. Hambo’s creative writing exercises seem to always claim a literal context just before he wanders off into non literal non sense.

    It must be a strange sense of loathing to know a medium such as the internet can be a cash cow and at the same time be the medium that exposes his confidence tricks.

  6. Pete Moulton

    “…when the settlers came out from England to Australia, they used names they were familiar with in England to name new places/towns in Australia.”

    And thus we have the fine city of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. I wonder how much that bothers ol’ Hambo.

  7. A prophecy about this would seem appropriate,if not a prerequisite considering all the vague attempts,in retrospect,to show fulfilment of so many other ones. However,impossible as it is to prove something,God,creation,resurrection,angels,souls,and the location of the Garden of Eden,this has never been a problem for Hammy and co. These things all just obvious DUH,if you’re open minded enough,and use science like god and the bible intended. To prove god and the bible.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    I remember an example of the difference between dogs an chickens … chickens will try to stick to the shortest path to food, even if a fence is in the way, the dog has enough common sense to run around it. Same way Hambo sees point A and B, and must draw a straight line between the two. No wonder he doesn’t believe in transitional fossils.

  9. It should be easy to find the Garden of Eden. Just look for the cherubim and the flaming sword.

  10. If the river-names listed in Genesis 2 conveyed nothing even to the ancient Hebrews (or were downright confusing due to recycling of names), one has to wonder why they were included in the text at all. Why not simply write: “four rivers branched out of Eden”, with no names included?

    It is actually somewhat amusing to try to figure out what kind of geography the Genesis writers had in mind. To the extent any sense can be made of the descriptions, “Eden” seems to be imagined as being somewhere in Anatolia, maybe south of Lake Van, in present-day Turkey. (I’ve seen Jehovah’s Witness publications with maps that boldly place “The Garden of Eden” here, sometimes with a query following, sometimes not.) The Tigris and the Euphrates don’t really branch off from a single river, but at least take their rise in somewhat the same geographical area.

    Some thoughts from a note to Genesis 2:10-13 in a scholarly translation of the Hebrew Bible (by Michelet, Mowinckel and Messel, my translation from Norwegian): “The geogr[aphical] notions are unknown to us; Eden seems to be lying at a high altitude, far to the NE, Africa must be imagined as connected to South Arabia and eastern Asia, the Indian Ocean thus being imagined as dry land. [The rivers] Pishon and Havila are apparently remote, unknown, requiring a more detailed description. .. H[avila] must be imagined as being in South Arabia … or Abessinia (10:7), Pishon is conceivably (a hazy notion of) the Indus.”

  11. I’m trying to picture Noah opening the door of the ark and stepping off onto a plain of mud of unknown depth “containing billions of dead things”. That must have been a memorable moment, yet strangely there is no mention of it in the bible.

    Since all of this is based on oral history, I suspect story tellers through the generations embellished freely on their tales, and the priests who finally wrote them down just recorded the basic outlines – sometimes two versions of the same tale – expecting those who followed to stick to the core outline but add as needed for the sake of entertainment. If that is so, then Ham is just continuing a long tradition of taking the core myths and making up more entertaining stories out of them. His problem is that he pretends it’s all true, and won’t admit that he is just making stuff up.

  12. “In a similar way, when Noah and his family came out of the ark after it landed in the area we today call the Middle East (the region of the Mountains of Ararat), it would not have been surprising for them to use names they were familiar with from the pre-Flood world (e.g., Tigris and Euphrates), to name places and rivers, etc., in the world after the Flood.”

    Hence, when Noah and family went on holiday to Yorkshire, they established a little hamlet and called it The Land of Nod.

  13. H.K. Fauskanger writes: “It is actually somewhat amusing to try to figure out what kind of geography the Genesis writers had in mind.”

    I have it all figured out. Besides the Tigris and Euphrates, the other two rivers were the Mississippi and the Amazon. Before the Flood there was no Atlantic Ocean. Those rivers all met at Atlantis, and that’s where the Garden of Eden was located.

  14. H.K. Fauskanger writes:”… the Indian Ocean thus being imagined as dry land.”

    It all fits. Before The Flood, the Indian Ocean WAS dry land. And that’s the location of the Garden of Eden.

    It seems so simple in retrospect

  15. Please see my comment here at 2.55 am BST on 21 August. Basically, Ham’s argument appears to me to contain a huge flaw of logic (yes, really):
    http://forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2967&p=46790#p46790

  16. Charles Deetz ;)

    Gotcha Ashley. Billions of dead things should be on TOP of Eden, not under it. So it could be anywhere.

  17. Ole Hambo said (my emphasis added):

    If most of the sedimentary strata over the earth’s surface (many thousands of feet thick in places) is the result of this global catastrophe as creationists believe

    “If”? “If? What happened to the “Bible is inerrant”? That the “Bible is infallible”? So what’s with the “if”? Did you have a global catastrophe or not? Make up your mind, man!

  18. @anevilmeme: “I, Fundy”

  19. Ken has improperly phrased the question. I have found not only a garden, but several gardens of Eden. Coincidentally, not all that far from the proposed ark park. Eden, NC between Smith’s River and Dan River, near Matrimony Creek.
    Thanks to google earth, we can finally put this to rest.