I’ve been asked to answer the question, why has no one discovered the tree or life or the cherubim who were stationed at the entrance to the garden of Eden (Gen 3:24)?
There are many interrelated reasons why this is so.
1.We need to locate the garden in time and space. The narrator situates the garden somewhere in Mesopotamia (Gen 2:10-14). And, indeed, a river valley would be a logical place for God to plant a garden, since the river system would supply a natural irrigation system.
But where in Mesopotamia? Upper or lower Mesopotamia? The natural landmarks are a bit difficult to pin down at this distance in time.
Rivers can change courses or dry out over time. Natural resources can become depleted. Place names can change.
Some scholars locate Eden in lower Mesopotamia. Indeed, they place in what is today the Persian Gulf.
It that event we couldn’t find Eden because Eden is under water!
The alternative location would be somewhere around modern Armenia.
2.On a traditional dating scheme, Eden was planted about 6000 years ago.
For an explanation of how that ballpark figure is calculated, see here:
In the 19C, W. H. Green famously argued that the genealogies have missing links. See his “Primeval Chronology”:
If you find his exegetical argument plausible or persuasive, that would extend the timeline to some degree, although—even if you think the genealogies have gaps—it would violate the narrative viewpoint to turn Adam into a caveman living in Lascaux or Kenya 200,000 years ago.
OECs also extend the timeline by challenging the diurnal sequence of Gen 1 in various ways. That’s not my own position, but I’ll take a rain check on that debate for now. For some counterarguments, see here:
What all can happen in thousands of years?
3.Since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, it went untended. What happens to a garden when it’s left untended? It becomes overgrown. Reverts to a state of nature.
Eden would eventually blend into the surrounding wilderness, like those ancient, Mesoamerican ghost towns which were reclaimed by the forest—only Eden had no permanent structures.
4.In a fallen world, nothing lives forever. Trees die. Even redwoods and bristlecones have a finite lifespan.
5.Parts of the Middle East have become desiccated over the millennia. A forest can turn into a desert.
6.Then there’s whatever impact the flood would have had. How much of the flora could survive submersion for a year?
The loss of groundcover could also mean the loss of topsoil when the floodwaters began to recede.
And if Eden was located in the highlands of Armenia, it might also be subject to considerable erosion.