THE GARDEN OF EDEN
[The human being must] realize that, like a gipsy,
he lives on the boundaries of an alien world.
Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity
THIS chapter describes people’s attempts to control their anxiety in this world by generating the hope, the belief, the illusion that they are at the center—perhaps even that they are the very center and purpose—of the universe. These attempts have played a major role in shaping the myths, religions, belief systems, arts, and ways of thinking of all human communities we know, and they are important motive forces in forming contemporary civilization. The symbolism of the center, of paradise, and of the garden is discussed in detail.
Western civilization has always struggled to maintain the conviction, belief, or illusion that it is at the center of the universe, even that it is the very center, the purpose, the meaning of the universe. In all likelihood, this aspiration was present in most civilizations, but Western civilization seems to have been the most successful in developing this myth of centrality. Throughout the centuries this has been one of the most powerful shields against the terror of having to live in an alien world at the mercy of