There exists an archaeological site in South- East Turkey called Gobekli Tepe, which is dated at close to 12,000 years old . . . pre-dating the Biblical account of the creation of man by at least 6,000 years. The site is notable for it's religious temples, built by people with only simple rudimentary tools etc. Because of the artistic depictions relating to fauna and flora of the time, archaeologists believe this site was developed by ancient humans during their hunter-gatherer phase prior to the development of pasturalisation. The environment would have been particularly lush and productive . . . teeming with enough resources to support a large hunter-gatherer population during the inhabitation and construction of this site . . . much like a "Garden of Eden". The location also closely matches the Biblical description.
You can read an interesting article about the site here . . .
And some interesting characteristics of the site here . . .
This early "civilisation" was in all liklihood abandoned due to population pressures and the eventual pasturalisation of the land. The change this brought to the environment would have eventually altered it's nature through over-use and over-grazing of "domesticated" animals, leeching it of it's cycle of nutrients and eventually reducing it to yeilding "thorns and thistles". Pasturalisation and farming of the area would have led to a harsher lifestyle and eventual abandonment. Greater competition for resources would give rise to increasing conflict during this period.
Added into the equation is the climatic conditions that would have existed around that period. The holocene glacial retreat began about 14,000 years ago. During the earlier parts of the ice-melt phase, large lakes and seas would have formed and re-formed giving rise to vast and cataclysmic flooding. Earth temperatures continued to rise until around 7,000 years ago when they reached their inter-ice-age peak. During this part of the holocene period, average temperatures were about 1-2 degrees warmer than today.
There's a good concise article on the Earths climatic history here . . .
It get's interesting when we introduce the description from the Bible along with other ancient masoretic writings. Ancient Mesopotamian and Mid-Eastern archeological writings add plenty to the picture. The lack of scientific insight into natural phenomena gave rise to the attribution of local and global climatic changes, and subsequent levels of prosperity, to supernatural entities . . . Gods.
It is reasonable to conclude that the period of abundance that the population inhabiting the site at Gobekli Tepe enjoyed, and subsequently abandoned, was carried on through folklore (as did the incidence of cataclysmic flooding). The loss of prosperity from simple gathering (Adam and Eve style), that led to the harsher pastoralisation, glacial flooding, and the increase in conflict, would likely have been attributed to divine intervention/punishment, and been the object of appeasement and sacrifice.
The Earth may well produce more productive conditions in the future, as the cosmological cycles continue to bring periods of warmer and colder conditions. But the natural history of man as we know it thus far, provides a reasonable and understandable picture, of the ancient perceptions of a paradisaical "Garden of Eden" once lost . . . as well as the cataclysmic flooding of the period. Any scientific concept of a future "paradise" must be viewed within these same parameters.