History's Greatest Mysteries (2020) s05e02 Episode Script

The Garden of Eden

Tonight, the search for the
biblical birthplace of man.
God created Adam and
Eve and placed them
in this Garden of Eden
that no one knows exactly
where it’s located.
Is the Garden of Eden a tale
to explain human creation,
or could it be a real place?
The three major Western
religious traditions,
Islam, Christianity,
and Judaism,
all say it existed.
All the way from Genesis
through the Gilgamesh Epic,
for some 4,000 years, we have
a memory of a place like Eden.
If the Garden of Eden
did exist, where was it?
Now, we explore the top theories
surrounding the location
of this paradise on earth.
Genesis talks about four
rivers that come together.
If we can kind of chart
out where those rivers are,
maybe we can find out
where the Garden of Eden
was actually located.
It only makes sense
to turn to this place
where humans lived for
thousands of years.
This is what the book of
Genesis is describing.
This is where you find
the Garden of Eden.
This is the search
for the Garden of Eden.
The first
book of the Hebrew Bible
is the Book of Genesis.
There’s no dispute that
the word Genesis means
"in the beginning,"
and it tells a story of
the creation of the world.
It starts out by indicating
that God gives order to chaos,
that within the context of
six days, God maps it all out.
Separates light from dark,
separates land from water,
gives existence to
various creatures,
and out of dust, God
creates the first man, Adam,
and breathed into him
the breath of life.
So we read in the creation story
that God created
humankind, Adam and Eve,
and then placed them
in the Garden of Eden,
and that this place
should be understood
as being a beautiful,
life-giving oasis.
God plants trees,
beautiful trees,
good for Eden, all
around the garden,
and in the middle of the garden,
he plants the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil.
God tells them, "Go
about your business",
enjoy this paradise,
but the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil,
you don’t mess with that.
"You eat from that
and you will die."
Everyone knows
what happens next.
Eve encounters this serpent,
according to the narrative,
and the serpent tells Eve,
"I know what God has said,"
but if you eat this
fruit, you won’t die.
You’ll just get really smart.
You’ll have the kind of
knowledge that God has,
"and that’s what God fears."
She eats, she gives some
to the man who was with her,
he eats, and sure enough,
the serpent was right.
They don’t drop dead.
Their eyes are opened.
They see that they’re naked,
and they’re ashamed,
and they’re fearful,
and they hide from
God behind a tree.
According to
the account in Genesis,
Adam and Eve cover
their nakedness
by fashioning fig
leaves into loin cloths.
And God says, "Who
told you you were naked?
Did you eat from the tree I
told you not to eat from?"
They admit it
and God kicks the man and
the woman out of the garden.
And this changes everything.
God says, "This paradise
you can no longer have."
When God chucks the man
and the woman out of Eden,
he stations cherubim to
guard the way back in.
The cherubim are frightening,
hybrid creatures,
and God stations
them East of Eden.
But where on
Earth did this biblical story
of man’s expulsion from
paradise take place?
Where can we locate
the Garden of Eden?
For those who are determined
to find the physical location
of the Garden of Eden,
they will turn to Genesis.
In the early
chapters of Genesis,
there are a couple of
geographical markers
that relate where Eden
was or may have been,
as per the writer of this
section of the narrative.
The story specifies that God
plants a garden in the East.
Now, the writers are in Israel,
in the East means
somewhere East of Israel.
It is written in Genesis
that a river went out of
Eden to water the garden,
and from thence, it divided
and became four headwaters.
We are given four rivers,
the Tigris, the Euphrates,
the Pishon, and the Gihon.
And we know in our day and age
where the Tigris and
the Euphrates are,
but we don’t know exactly
where the Gihon
and the Pishon are.
We can do our best to
make educated guesses,
but we do not know the
location of those rivers.
We do not know if
topography is the same.
And so this brings
up another question
as to whether those
rivers still exist,
when they stopped existing.
We simply do not have enough
information concerning
where these two
rivers may have been.
According to the biblical text,
the Garden of Eden is East,
and so you have to think about
the vantage point of those
who were writing.
And for some of those
who were writing,
pushing towards the
East and thinking
in terms of two of the
rivers that are outlined,
Euphrates and the Tigris,
they would argue that
where those are situated is
where you find the
Garden of Eden.
This is where the Bible
is trying to direct us.
In ancient times,
Iraq was part of a land
500 miles East of Israel,
known as Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia is the
ancient Greek word
for the land between
the two rivers
of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
It’s the land in Central Iraq,
not altogether too far from
the great cities of today,
such as Baghdad.
And the ancient city of Babylon,
is actually relatively
near to Baghdad.
What archeologists
have established
were the first cities
in human history,
such as Ur, were built
within this fertile space
between the two rivers.
Ancient Mesopotamia was part
of what’s called the
Fertile Crescent.
There were sections of
this area that were fertile
because there was water running
through the Fertile Crescent.
It was a fruitful location.
It produced a great deal
just like the Garden of Eden.
And there’s one town
within this once vibrant region
that claims to be the location
of the Garden of Eden.
This is the town of Al Qurnah.
Al Qurnah is about
60 miles North
of the city of Basrah
in Southern Iraq.
It’s between the Tigris
and the Euphrates rivers.
It’s a place then that certainly
Christian archeologists
and scholars in
the 19th century,
very much began to associate
with the place where the real
Eden might have been located.
In Al Qurnah, we
have a sign that says,
"The tree of Adam,"
purporting to be the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil.
Even today, in Al Qurnah,
local Iraqi Christians and
Muslims still go on pilgrimage
to the tree of Adam.
But it’s doubtful
a tree could live that long.
Science tells us that
the oldest living tree,
an ancient bristle cone
pine in California,
is a little over
5,000 years old.
For Al Qurnah’s tree of Adam
to have been growing
in the Garden of Eden,
it would have to be
far older than that.
In the mid 1980s, an American
scientist proposes a theory
which backs the hypothesis
that the Garden of Eden was
in present day Iraq.
Dr. Juris Zarins, he is
involved in a dig in the 1980s
where his team starts to do a
lot of satellite photography
of the Persian Gulf.
From these satellite photos,
Zarins sees an area
of kind of these wads,
these riverbeds that
are now completely dry.
But thousands of years
ago, they were not.
So if you look now at any map,
Google Satellite, Google Earth,
you’re not gonna find the
same geographical locations
or the same
geographical features
as you found thousands and
thousands of years ago.
There’s been climate change,
things have kind
of moved around,
places that were dry were
completely flooded out.
One of the really
surprising things though
about the Middle East
is how dramatically,
the geography has changed
in the last 10,000 years.
So many parts of the world
that are submerged now,
were really just above ground.
One of those places
that was above ground
was the Persian Gulf.
Dr. Juris Zarins,
an archeologist from
Missouri State University,
he says there’s a reason
that we can’t find
the Garden of Eden,
and it’s because it’s
in that part of Iraq
that lies underneath the
water of the Persian Gulf.
And today,
much of this area of Iraq
is nothing like the lush
paradise described in Genesis.
We need to understand that
this was a long, long time ago
and with the Ice Age, there
were really profound shifts.
From Zurins’ perspective,
as the the glaciers
melted and began
to contribute their water
to the Persian Gulf,
the waters would have
risen and covered the space
where the Garden of Eden was.
He notes that the
people who lived
in that area were
who had to move as
the waters rose.
So Zurins presumes
that the people
who were living in the place
now covered by seawater,
would’ve moved Northwest
into the Tigris and
Euphrates river basin
that we’re familiar with today.
This isn’t in the Bible, but
some of the legends are is
that the Garden of Eden ends
up being kind of washed away
in the flood, because there
was a world before the flood
and there was a world after.
So, is the story
of Adam and Eve’s expulsion
from Eden, a symbolic departure
from a flooded homeland,
or could the Garden of
Eden be someplace else?
What the garden points to is
our most intense relationship
with the divine.
Some folks will say you
have to look in Jerusalem,
that this is where God
is most forcefully felt.
The Bible
describes the Garden of Eden
as a land of lush vegetation,
filled with animals
and abundant food,
a true paradise on earth.
But where on Earth exactly?
There’s four rivers
coming out of Eden
to water the garden.
So you can see the garden
in the center of Eden
and four rivers coming
from Eden into it.
The Book of Genesis
makes it clear
that one of the
four rivers there
in the Garden of
Eden is the Gihon,
and we don’t really
know where the Gihon is.
However, there is actually a
spring that’s called the Gihon,
a word that means in,
fact, gushing up of water,
and that spring is
located in Jerusalem.
So some may have
identified this word
with the same Gihon
that’s in the narrative
at the beginning of
the Book of Genesis.
And so that may lead people
to identify the location
of the Garden of Eden
with Jerusalem in Israel.
You have to understand
the symbolic significance
of the garden.
What the garden points to is
our most intense relationship
with the divine.
And so some folks will
say, "Ah, that’s Jerusalem.
That’s the Temple
Mount in Jerusalem."
For nearly 3,000 years,
the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
has been one of
the holiest sites
of the Jewish, Christian,
and Muslim faiths.
It’s where the first and second
Hebrew temples were built.
As the Book of Kings tells it,
the Jerusalem temple was
built by King Solomon
in about 1000 BCE, that is
before the time of Jesus.
We know a little bit about
this temple, it’s rectilinear,
and it’s got progressively
smaller rooms,
and each one of these rooms,
as you move into it,
becomes more holy.
And the holiest place
in the Jerusalem temple,
is the Holy of Holies,
and that is where the Ark
of the Covenant was kept,
and it was also thought to
be really the throne of God
and that God lived in
the Jerusalem temple.
And there are two places
in the Hebrew Bible,
in the Old Testament,
where God is said to
be physically present,
one is the Garden of Eden
and the other is the
Jerusalem temple.
Part of this whole
creation narrative,
is the idea of God
communing with human beings.
Eventually, we see God
having a special presence,
God’s glory in the temple, he
had a special presence there.
This is set up to be the place
where God will commune
with humankind,
not dissimilar to
the Garden of Eden.
Is it possible
the ancient biblical author
had the temple in mind
when describing Eden?
What’s interesting
about how the tabernacle
and the temple are constructed
and you know, the
story of the Torah,
is that there’s an immense
amount of garden imagery.
If we were to go into that
temple that Solomon built,
this is a cedar
wood-lined building.
Look at the walls,
I’m seeing palm trees,
I’m seeing flowers, I’m
seeing pomegranates.
I’m indoors, but I
feel like I’m outdoors.
And if I was permitted to
go past the guardian curtain
that would lead to
the Holy of Holies,
what I’d see on the of the
Covenant, two cherubim.
In the Holy of Holies,
two giant statues of
cherubim guarded the ark.
In the first creation
story in Genesis,
God stations the cherubim
at the exit to Eden
so that no one can
turn and enter again.
So for some folks
who are interested
in finding a physical location
for the Garden of Eden,
the Temple Mount is
the proper location.
But you can also look
at the Temple Mount
for the Garden of Eden,
and think about it in terms
of just being a metaphor.
Could the Garden of
Eden story have been
actually just sort of a
metaphor for Jerusalem
and the most important
building in Jerusalem,
which was the Jewish temple?
It is recorded history
that the temple was
destroyed in 587 BCE.
After the destruction
of their temple,
the conquered Hebrew
people are carried off
into exile in Babylon.
According to the narrative,
when Adam and Eve are
forced out of the garden,
they head East.
When the temple is destroyed,
the people of God also
move East to Babylon.
Could it be
that the Garden of Eden’s
story is a metaphor
for the exile of the
Jews from Israel,
and the loss of the great temple
where God and man coexisted?
An event as
cataclysmic and traumatic
as the Babylonian exile,
the destruction of
Jerusalem is bound
to be remembered and
imagined and processed
in all kinds of different ways.
One possibility
is that the story
of the Garden of Eden
symbolizes the Jerusalem temple.
What we see in the
exile of the people
from the temple building all
the way through their exile,
we see the pattern that
we end up seeing also
in the first couple chapters
of the Book of Genesis,
that is God communing
with human beings,
disobedience, exile.
And there’s also some
really strong themes
about why we might have
lost the Garden of Eden,
that there’s gonna
be a new Eden.
And so that’s why some
people have really hit
on the idea of maybe
it’s being Jerusalem
where the Garden of Eden was.
So to think about
Jerusalem as the location
for the Garden of Eden,
on the level of metaphor,
works for a whole lot of folks.
The search for the
Garden of Eden often focuses
on Middle Eastern lands,
where the biblical
stories take place.
But some Eden explorers
have taken another approach.
While some point to this
kind of physical geography
as the way to locate
the Garden of Eden,
some turn and argue,
it’s best to try to
locate the Garden of Eden
based upon the early
presence of humans.
Even in science publications,
there’s discussion
of the Garden of Eden
as a metaphor of the
origin of humans.
If the garden of
Eden’s story is an explanation
of human creation,
then logically,
might the real paradise be found
in the cradle of humankind?
Given that our
oldest human fossils
actually all come from Africa,
maybe we should think
of the Garden of Eden
as having been in Africa.
It’s not Iraq, it’s Africa.
The science would suggest
this is the birthplace.
It only makes
sense to some folks
who are looking for the
garden to turn to this place
where humans lived for thousands
upon thousands of years.
That this is what the book
of Genesis is describing,
this is what the
garden is all about.
Some scientists believe
that the answer to human
origins is not really just
to be found in
the fossil record,
but actually in human genetics.
In 2019, a
scientific breakthrough ushers
in a new theory about the
birth of homo sapiens.
We have very early
bone and skull fragments
from South Africa,
and those date back to
about 260,000 years ago.
So in 2019,
an Australian geneticist,
Dr. Vanessa Hayes,
actually goes to South Africa
and wants to trace
back the DNA of humans
to try to see if they can get
back to the earliest record
of human beings looking
at them genetically.
There are two types of DNA,
nuclear DNA, which comes from
both the mother and father,
and mitochondrial DNA,
which only comes down
through the maternal line.
And it stays stable.
So tens of thousands of years,
you can still trace
back mitochondrial DNA.
So it becomes a
really powerful tool
for tracing back human genetics.
Using mitochondrial DNA,
Dr. Hayes sought to trace
back the genetic timeline
to the exact spot where
modern humans first emerged.
One element in that
genetic sequence, L0,
can be traced back
through mothers,
all the way back to one mother,
the so-called Mitochondrial Eve.
You know, the best science
now tells us that Adam and Eve,
if they existed in the past,
even in the relatively
recent past,
would most likely be
ancestors of everyone,
including everyone
in the Americas.
So Dr. Hayes engages
in this large study
where she looks at
the mitochondrial DNA
of a sample base of about
1,200 indigenous Africans.
What the study has done,
is followed the L0 sequence
back through 200 South Africans,
and compared it to more than
1,000 Africans from the North,
and determined that
Mitochondrial Eve likely is
to be located in Kalahari
desert of Botswana.
For a whole lot
of folks thinking
in terms of the Garden of Eden,
within the context of Botswana,
you’ve got two things
that are undeniably
significant for them,
long-standing presence of
humans and a lush environment.
The Kalahari Desert in Botswana
is a very, very arid dry place,
but it wasn’t always so.
300 to 200,000 years
ago, it was wetlands.
It was very, very green.
The wetlands there were actually
part of a giant lake system
that was as large as England
called Lake Makgadikgadi.
Based on the fossil record,
this wetland was home to an
abundance of fish, birds,
and other animals
large and small.
Around 130,000 years ago,
Lake Makgadikgadi dried up
and the people who were
living in that area
would’ve been forced, really
kind of expelled from that area
to go and find where
they could survive.
So once again, we have an
interesting, kind of mirroring
with the story of
the Garden of Eden
where they’re cast
out of the garden
that gave them everything,
where they need to go
and they need to find
a new way to exist.
Some researchers believe
the existence of 315,000 year
old homo sapien fossils found
in other parts of Africa,
contradict the Botswana theory.
Ultimately, the
birthplace of humankind,
remains a matter of scientific
debate and further discovery.
It’s a tremendously
complex question
where human beings
originated from
and we just don’t
know the answer yet.
In the search for
the Garden of Eden,
scientists and
scholars have looked
to some of the oldest sites
in human civilization.
But it’s a shepherd
in Southeastern Turkey
in the summer of 1994 who
stumbles upon a temple
more than twice as old as
any ancient ruins ever found.
Did he accidentally
rediscover the Garden of Eden?
There’s a shepherd who
was tending his flocks
in the sort of mountainous
area in Southeastern Turkey,
and his foot sort of hits
something hard on the ground.
It’s a rock, and he bends down
and brushes away the debris
to see what he’s got there.
And he finds a large stone,
it’s kind of carved,
and it turns out that’s
not the only stone.
There are many others like it.
We have now discovered a temple,
which very well may be the
oldest temple ever discovered.
We call it Göbekli Tepe,
which is just a word
for potbellied hill.
By 1995, a year later,
this site has
caught the interest
of international archeologists,
and there’s a dig
there that is initiated
by a German archeologist by
the name of Klaus Schmidt.
When Dr. Schmidt’s team arrives
on Göbekli Tepe in 1995,
they begin to unearth
giant T-shaped megaliths,
some still standing,
surrounded by many millennia
of earth and rocks.
It’s a huge site.
We have 22 acres of
excavated territory,
and we think that maybe only 5%
of it has actually
been uncovered.
Göbekli Tepe is really a
series of temple structures.
At the center of each
one of these structures,
are two massive,
T-shaped monoliths.
They’re massive,
they’re 16 feet high,
they weigh tons.
And the most mind-blowing
thing is how old it is.
The carbon dating results appear
to fundamentally change the
timeline of human civilization.
The discovery of Göbekli Tepe,
has really revolutionized
how we start to think
about early human history.
It very likely dates
to between 12,000
and 14,000 years ago.
That would make it about 6,000
years older than Stonehenge,
probably about 7,000 years
or more older than
the pyramids of Giza.
That’s thousands of years
before the birth of agriculture.
What that means is
that this extraordinary
structure was built
by hunter-gatherers,
who were very likely
wearing animal skins
and who hadn’t
invented the wheel yet.
Göbekli Tepe’s
most remarkable features
are its ornate carvings.
Carvings which could
link this ancient site
to the story of Adam and
Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The megaliths are
carved very beautifully
with all kinds of images,
mostly of animals.
In fact, snakes are among the
most commonly depicted animals
at Göbekli Tepe.
There seems to be some consensus
that what we have
at Göbekli Tepe
could reflect a very
complex mythology.
These serpent
carvings aren’t the only
possible connection to
the Book of Genesis.
There is one other
geographical notation
in the Garden of Eden mythology,
which is that it is in the East.
Very likely what that means
is East of the Holy Land,
but West of Assyria.
That location, which is
also along the lines
of Tigris and the Euphrates,
would place the Garden
of Eden probably closer
to Southeastern Turkey
than in modern Iraq.
It’s clear that the
region around Göbekli Tepe,
has been a place
of sacred geography
for Muslims, Christians,
Jewish people,
and indeed the earliest
of the Neolithic peoples
who made that transition
from hunter-gathering
to living in cities in that
region of Northern Mesopotamia,
and what is now
Southeastern Turkey.
And now, this is
pre-agrarian Göbekli Tepe,
but according to Schmidt,
the site marks this kind of
transition of hunter-gatherers
as a culture into
an agrarian society.
So when we think about the
Garden of Eden mythology,
it represents a world before
the rise of agriculture.
Maybe this Garden of Eden story
about these primordial
hunter-gatherers, right?
Adam and Eve being cast out
and having to till the soil
and work the soil for a living,
that story is very
profound about this change
in human civilization that
we know actually was factual.
While archeologists
believed the builders
of this massive complex
were hunter-gatherers,
the civilization that
occupied the same land,
thousands of years later,
was far more advanced.
The Sumerians invented
irrigation systems
that made that part of the
world fertile and lush for them.
The Sumerians were the
first agriculturists.
They were the first
people to grow food.
The Sumerians also developed
the oldest known written
language in the world.
They were able to actually
write down their
great mythologies.
These stories were able to be
spread beyond the boundaries
of the Sumerian empire.
between 2100 and 1200 BCE,
a Sumerian writer produced
the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Scholars believed the Epic
of Gilgamesh predates Genesis
by about 1,000 years.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
is a Mesopotamian story
about a man who goes on a quest
to find the secret
of eternal life.
He makes it as far as
a special mountain,
the mountain of the sunrise.
The sunrise, meaning,
in the East.
Gilgamesh makes it
through the mountain
and finds himself
in a jeweled garden.
We see so many similarities
between the Epic of Gilgamesh
and the story of
the Garden of Eden.
There’s the key
role of the serpent
in ensuring that humankind is
going to stay mortal forever.
There’s the jeweled
garden, this sacred realm,
this unique location where
immortality is kept and guarded.
It’s not a place any human
being can ever really find.
The Garden of Eden
that’s written down
in the Book of Genesis,
could refer back to
earlier written precedents,
like the Epic of Gilgamesh.
And if you want to
tie Göbekli Tepe back
to the Garden of Eden story,
some say the location
of the Garden of Eden
might actually have been
in Southeastern Turkey.
In the late 19th century,
a new theory emerges
placing the Garden of Eden
in one of the most unlikely
locations imaginable.
In 1885, William F. Warren,
who’s the president of Boston
University, a theologian,
actually argues that maybe
the Garden of Eden
used to be at the
top of the world.
William Warren’s book,
"Paradise Found, The
Cradle of the Human Race
at the North Pole,"
opens with a redrawn world map
on which all the continents
are arrayed around
the Arctic Circle.
If you take a globe
and flatten it out,
his argument was, you get
the North Pole at the top
and everything else
seems to move around it.
And for him, it lent
support to his argument
that the North Pole is
the top of the world.
It is the birthplace
of humanity.
For Warren, the similarity
in the perspective
on a Garden of Eden-like place,
the idea that you have a
similar story being told
in all of these
different places,
suggests a common starting point
that eventually spread
over the entire world.
Warren lives in an era
when new scientific
evidence begins
to reveal that
before the Ice Age,
the Earth was not as cold.
If we look at a world
that is much, much older
than maybe we had
thought it was before,
we’re suddenly gonna see
changes in glaciation.
We’re gonna see changes
in geologic record
that suggests this world
was a warmer place
than it had been before,
which by the way,
isn’t necessarily out of harmony
with the Book of Genesis,
which I think suggests
a different world
that we had before.
Warren believes a warmer Earth
means the North Pole would
have once been a livable place.
And a study published
in the journal "Nature"
in 2006 may support his claim.
The study, based on
core samples taken
from more than 1,000
feet below the floor
of the Arctic Ocean,
concluded that over
50 million years ago,
the Arctic had an average
temperature of 74 degrees.
There is actually
really good evidence
that these places
often were very lush
in the very, very distant past.
So that encouraged
some speculation
about the idea
about Adam and Eve,
maybe being in the
Garden of Eden back then.
Warren was looking for a
place for the Garden of Eden.
He presumed that you needed one
where we had lots
and lots of sunlight,
a better place than
the North Pole.
Because the Earth rotates
on a tilted axis as it
revolves around the sun,
the North Pole has six
straight months of daylight,
followed by six
months of darkness.
Warren sees the dark
half of the polar year
as a time for
spiritual reflection.
There is this romantic
idea that you would be there
and you would be directly
under the heavens,
in communication
with the heavens,
and you would watch
this with the stars
and everything
swirling around you.
So this was a kind
of connection,
between the heaven and Earth,
that sense of being at the place
where God was when he
separated the firmaments,
and he put the heavens
above and the Earth below.
In Islamic tradition, the
Garden of Eden is the garden
from which humans were
expelled before history.
And when Adam and
Eve were expelled,
they were separated in
different parts of the world.
For Dr. Warren, as
the North Pole changed,
as it became colder and colder,
changes in the
natural environment
forced folks to flee,
to migrate to areas that
better supported life.
Warren connects
that ancient Ice Age migration
from the North Pole to stories
of man’s expulsion from Eden.
For Warren, as he looks
at these traditions
around the world,
and he sees them as evidence
of a memory being
kicked out of paradise
and moving down
towards the equator.
And for him, the
Adam and Eve story
that we have in Genesis,
was that story in Israel.
It’s important to recognize
in the 19th century,
folks knew very little
about the North Pole.
And so for a lot of folks,
this was a real
possibility based upon
what they assumed
concerning the North Pole.
And so for some folks, his
argument was persuasive.
’Til his dying day at age of 96,
Warren maintained the Garden
of Eden was at the North Pole.
However, skeptics point out
that the period when the North
Pole had a tropical climate,
predates the rise of man.
What he points to in terms of
that area being able
to support robust life,
we’re talking about roughly
50 million years ago.
There wasn’t really
anything like a human
or even a monkey or
an ape at that time.
And there’s another factor
that makes Warren’s
theory less likely.
The North Pole itself
is really just ice
through and through.
If you melt it away, there’s
no ground there.
Ever since
satellite images began
to be taken of the
Arctic 40 years ago,
it’s been determined
that up to half
of that ice has gone away.
And the prediction is that
by 2040, it’ll be gone.
And if that happens,
now, we’re gonna
watch Warren’s theory,
quite literally melt away.
In the spring of 1820,
in Western New York state,
a 14-year-old
Joseph Smith claims
that God came to
him in a vision.
In 1820, Joseph Smith was
given a revelation by God.
Now, Joseph Smith
lived in the heart
of what’s called the
Second Great Awakening.
It was a time of
religious revival.
And so young Joseph really felt
that he was called as a prophet.
Joseph Smith says
that, you know,
God, the Son, and the Father
came to him in a vision,
and also the Angel Moroni
came to him as well.
And told him that all these
other churches were wrong.
In 1823,
Smith claims to have
another revelation
in which an angel leads
him to find a series
of gold plates buried
for more than 1,400 years
in the hills of
Palmyra, New York.
Joseph Smith said that these
golden plates were written
in an otherwise unknown language
he called reformed Egyptian.
And he spends some years
translating these golden plates,
and that’s how we get
the Book of Mormon.
Which is like this testament
of when Jesus actually came
to the Americas after he rose
from the dead, and kind of
proclaimed the gospel there.
The Book of Mormon not
only lays the foundation
for the beliefs of
the Mormon faith,
but it also describes
Middle Eastern tribes
that leave the Middle
East and arrive in America
about 589 BC.
According to Mormon belief,
an Israelite named Lehi
journeyed with his family
from the Middle East
to the Americas around 600 BC.
Some church leaders teach
that during the
great biblical flood,
humanity on the ark was
carried back across the ocean
to the Middle East.
As Smith builds his following,
he claims to have another visit
from God on July 20, 1831.
According to Mormon history,
in this revelation, God
shows him the real location
of the Garden of Eden.
God reveals to him that
the Garden of Eden wasn’t
actually in Mesopotamia.
Although Smith didn’t
name the location
in his translation, he told
many early followers of his
where the site actually was.
It’s not uncommon for
religious communities
to think theologically
about their location
as being powerful, important,
connected to the biblical text.
And that is the
case for the Mormons
who argued that God
told Joseph Smith
that the Garden of Eden
wasn’t over there somewhere.
It’s not Turkey, it’s not
any of those locations.
The Garden of Eden is
actually in Missouri.
In 1831, Smith
establishes a Mormon outpost
in Jackson County, Missouri,
near the town of Independence.
Smith says God
revealed this location
as the site of the
Garden of Eden.
Mormonism, as the
American religion,
quite naturally places the
Garden of Eden in America.
After all, that is the
birthplace of the religion.
It’s the birthplace of the
prophets of the religion.
So if a Mormon is looking
for the Garden of Eden,
chances are that they’re
looking in Missouri.
According to Mormon tradition,
Adam built two altars in
this Missouri Garden of Eden,
an altar of sacrifice
and an altar of prayer.
And in fact, if you
go to that area today,
you’ll find that those stone
altars are still there.
The ones that Adam himself
was said to have built.
For a time,
Smith and his followers
settled in Missouri
to be near their
lost garden paradise,
but tensions with their
non-Mormon neighbors
grow violent and
they’re forced to move.
After they were asked to
leave Missouri by the governor,
they ended up going
a little bit north
and settling just to
the north of Missouri.
Smith and his flock settled
in Nauvoo, Illinois.
But in 1844, Smith and
his brother were arrested
and jailed in
Carthage, Illinois.
An angry mob attacked the jail
and shot Smith and
his brother to death.
Two years later,
Smith’s successor,
Brigham Young, leads
the Mormons west,
finally settling in
Salt Lake City, Utah.
But a group of Joseph
Smith’s original followers,
actually don’t go with
everybody out to Utah,
and they stay put,
and they’re still there in
the area around Independence,
and they’re known as
the Community of Christ.
They’re still there
in the promised land.
Official Mormon teaching
hasn’t abandoned the idea
that the Garden of
Eden is in Missouri.
Joseph Smith believed
that when Adam and
Eve were kicked out
of the Garden of Eden,
which he had near
Independence, Missouri,
they moved 70 miles to the North
to a valley called
which is translated the Valley
of God Where Adam Dwelt.
So Joseph Smith has suggested
that Adam will return to
this place, Adam-Ondi-Ahman,
in order to prepare for
the Second Coming of Jesus.
Starting in 1947,
members of the Mormon
church began purchasing land
in Missouri near the Valley
of God Where Adam Dwelt.
As of 2021, the church owns
approximately 3,000 acres there.
We really have no reference
in the biblical text
to places in North America,
no reference to any place
that could have been
maybe even misunderstood
as North America.
And why is it important
to locate the actual
Garden of Eden?
Human beings have been
asking since day one,
where we came from.
It’s important to us
as contemporary readers
because we are inquisitive.
We wanna know, we want this
to also be part of our story.
And so that’s why I think
we’re asking this question.
While researchers and
scientists continue their quest
to find the cradle
of human life,
for many people of faith,
there’s no point in searching.
Because it’s written in Genesis
that after Adam and
Eve were banished,
God blocked man from
ever returning to Eden
by posting an angel
to guard the entrance,
an angel with a flaming sword.
So even if someone
does locate the garden,
they may have a challenging
time trying to get in.
I’m Laurence Fishburne.
Thank you for watching
"History’s Greatest Mysteries."
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