Has the Bible's Garden of Eden been found -- and restored? This question can't be answered definitely, but it's certainly worth exploring, especially in light of the ongoing news surrounding the first Iraqi national park.
The world's most well-known garden is described in the Old Testament as a place of perfection -- one in which God is said to have placed Adam and Eve. For those who believe in its literal existence, Eden has been a focus of debate, particularly surrounding where it was located.
Now, despite ongoing violence in the region, NewScientist is reporting that the "'Garden of Eden' has been saved." The country's Council of Ministers recently approved its first national park, restoring Mesopotamian marshes in Iraqi's southern region.
The name of the new park, according to Nature of Iraq, the group that advocated for its creation, is the Central Marshes of Iraq. NewScientist continues:
This vast wetland of reed beds and waterways, home of the Ma'dan Marsh Arabs, is widely held to be the home of the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden, the paradise where Adam and Eve were created and from which they were subsequently expelled.
After the Gulf war in 1991, Iraq's president, Saddam Hussain, used dykes, sluices and diversions to cut off the country's two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. This drained 93 per cent of the marshes, largely obliterating the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East
Earlier this year, The New York Times, too, reported that Bible scholars consider this land to be where the Garden of Eden once stood.
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Certainly, no one can be sure the area really is the Biblical home of Adam and Eve, but there is one profound fact worth noting. Despite the marsh's disappearance for years, all 278 species that were recorded on the land survived, finding the few spots that had water and sustaining themselves there.
Miracle or simply nature's resiliency at work (or both)? You decide.
Not all of the land came back to vibrancy, though, as surrounding nations like Syria, Iran and Turkey are still restricting water from the Tigris and Euphrates, NewScientist reports.
"With this action, Iraq has acted to preserve the cradle of civilization," said Azzam Alwash, founder and President of the Board of Directors of Nature Iraq. "It is now the duty of the world to help Iraq maintain these wetlands for the future generations by helping Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran to reach an equitable agreement on the sharing of the waters in the basin of the Tigris and Euphrates."
Nature Iraq also said that international agreement over water supplies will be essential to ensuring that the marsh comes fully back to life. And the hope is that, one day, tourism will help fuel the money needed to sustain it.
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Genesis 2:8-9 gives an account of what the Garden of Eden was like. It was supposedly a picture of perfection, as it had all that mankind would need to survive.
"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed," the Bible reads. "Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground -- trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
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(H/T: Big Think)