Many critics of the Bible assert that the book of Genesis contains two accounts of the creation of the earth and mankind. Liberal or not, any reading of the book of Genesis will invite the reader to answer to many inconsistencies generated by the juxtaposition of Genesis chapters 1 and 2. It seems that these two accounts are the work of different authors writing in different time periods. It is also obvious that the narratives contradict each other in many particular details. The two different records involve Genesis 1; 1-31; 2; 1- 3 and Genesis 2; 4-25. One of the foundational assumptions of this viewpoint is that the Pentateuch was not authored by Moses. Presumably, several ancient writers contributed to this collection. These authors are referred to as J, E, P, and D. It is the view of the critics that all of these writings were collected by a “redactor”.
This theory, known as the Documentary Hypothesis, started to take central stage in the 19th century when Jean Astruc, a French physician, claimed that he had isolated certain “source” authors in the Pentateuch. The view was expanded by many others and by the end of the century numerous biblical commentators had adhered to this concept. Genesis 1 is said to be a “P” document dating from the Babylonian or post-Babylonian captivity period, while Genesis 2 is supposed to be a “J” narrative from the 9th century B.C. The arguments in support of this viewpoint are twofold. Firstly, it is the claim that the two creation stories show evidence of different styles of writing. Secondly, it is argued that the accounts conflict because they reflect divergent concepts of deity and a mixed order of creation.
In this work I do not insist on certain differences coming from names such as the use of a different name for God, Elohim or Yahweh Elohim, in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, or considerations regarding stylistic problems. Even if they are important details I only acknowledge them and leave these discussions for the numerous specialists in this domain.
I am mainly interested in what are real contradictions from the point of view of an internal logical coherence which is required by any story in order to gain its credibility. There are basic irreconcilable contradictions and differences which come from the logical consequences of the assertions contained by the texts.
While I don’t minimise the importance of an exhaustive analysis of all types of stylistic differences or textual divergences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, I also consider that the logical inconsistencies are very important and they plead the case against the existence of only one story of creation contained by the Bible.
Things which are presented as facts by the Bible don’t correspond with each other and are incongruous to the point that they annihilate one another when trying to harmonise them. Probably the most disqualifying aspect in the attempt to realise a harmonisation of the two stories is their sequence of time. In Genesis 1 all happened in seven days but in Genesis 2, in one unique period of time. Genesis 2 cannot be seen as a synthesis of Genesis 1 because the latter reverses almost every detailed presented by the former. If one tries to harmonise the narratives from Genesis 1 and 2 in the way in which so many harmonists do, he or she has to be able to assemble them in one single story with a unique sequence of time. I try to do that in this study in order to see if such unification is possible or not.
I will use the sequence of time offered by Genesis 1 in which I will try to insert the story told by Genesis 2. If this endeavour is not possible given the inconsistencies contained by the texts there is a problem which cannot be ignored.
Some critics of the unity of the biblical account of creation maintain that it is a useless attempt to try to harmonise the two stories of creation from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, because they cannot stand together.
“Any artificial attempt to reconcile these marked differences of style, outlook and subject-matter is bound to fail. The recognition that they belong to different periods, the second story being obviously the older and looking back to a still earlier time, is a sufficient and natural explanation of their inconsistency.”
In spite of this conclusion I wanted to do what certain readers do in their minds when they read the book of Genesis. They combine the two stories in one. Is there any chance to see only one creation story when reading the conflicting materials from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? I was hoping that it is an easy task and the two stories can be read as one, until I tried to assemble the particular details of both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. It was impossible to synchronise all details from Genesis chapters 1 and 2 in a way in which they will not contradict each other – it doesn’t matter how hard I tried.
To the beautiful and brimming with poetry legend of the creation of man and woman in Genesis 2, was later added a very empiric cosmology only to demonstrate that Jahveh was a universal God who created the entire universe and that He isn’t only the Jewish divinity.
Contrary to Harrison’s opinion, I would say that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are not a general and a more particular view of the same history of creation; they are two different stories unrelated to each other, written by two different writers in two different periods of time. Harrison writes:
“It is a mistake to assume that the two Genesis narratives are duplicates, for they actually complement one another. The first outlined the broad process of creation and showed how all things emerged from the creative power of God, while the second paid greater attention to the creation of man and set him with his mate in a specific geographical location.”
It is true that Genesis chapter 1 is a story which is full of contradictions and absurdities but, at the same time, the results of the attempt to gather in the same package Genesis chapter 2 make the offense to rationality even worse. I will take few examples of contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2.
What was the first thing created by God according to the Bible? The biblical texts present the following order of creation in the first day:
Genesis chapter 1:
“In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1; 1-2 NRSV)
Genesis chapter 2:
“…In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— (Genesis 2; 4-5 NRSV)
Was there any water on Earth or not at the beginning? Genesis 1 says that the earth was covered with water but Genesis 2 maintains that a stream would rise from the earth and water the whole face of the ground.
In Genesis 2 the primeval sea present in Genesis 1 is replaced by a stream of water which would have watered the whole face of the ground, but being only a stream, wouldn’t have been able to cover the entire earth. The contradiction is obvious because in Genesis 1 only on the third day would the land have been liberated from under water by God, but in Genesis 2 the fields, hence the dry land, had existed from the beginning.
This period can be contextualised in the first day of creation because both texts refer to the creation of heavens and earth, and that would have been realised in the beginning, meaning the first day of creation. We have to bear in mind that according to the Bible the entire creation was done in six days and no previous period of time before the six days is allowed by the texts.
Both stories agree that heavens and earth were created in the beginning of the creation, but the order of their creation is reversed between Genesis 1 and 2. In Genesis 1 heavens would have been created first and in Genesis 2 earth was the first one to be created. Where they don’t agree is the state of the earth on the day of this beginning, and about what happened immediately after this commencement. In Genesis 2, even if the stream allegedly had watered the whole face of the ground, the herb of the field wouldn’t have had enough water for their existence. This assertion is nonsensical. The rain would have been replaced with a stream of water so the lack of rain wasn’t a good reason for the absence of uncultivated vegetation. Verse 6 in Genesis 2 contradicts verse 5.
In Genesis 2, in contradiction with Genesis 1 we have dry land from the beginning and not an earth covered with water. The stream of water cannot be equated with the water which had been separated by God through the dome of the sky, because in Genesis 1 the water would also have been located above the sky, not only on Earth as it was in Genesis 2.
“7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.” (Genesis 1; 7 NRSV)
Unlike Genesis 1, in Genesis 2 the sky was present from the first day, making the existence of the dry land possible from the beginning. The stream of water without the dome of the sky doesn’t make any sense.
In order to erase this contradiction one must show that in Genesis 2 the story starts at a different moment in the process of creation than the first day in Genesis 1. Nevertheless, they both indicate the immediate instances after the creation of heavens and the earth. What meanings can these phrases from Genesis, chapter 1 and chapter 2 have, “in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth” and “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” if not to establish the beginning of the sequence of time? The details given by the texts cannot be overlooked. They say when the actions happened. It was either water covering all the earth, including the place for the future sky, or it was dry land and a stream which watered the whole face of the ground. Both options don’t go together in the beginning of creation.
What is the meaning of the expression the stream of water in Genesis chapter 2? There are two possibilities. Either it was a river going all over the earth or it was a kind of mist covering the whole earth. The stream of water has to be linked with the following text from Genesis chapter 2:
“10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches.” (Genesis 2; 10 NRSV)
The stream of water which would have watered the entire surface of the earth couldn’t have been identical with the river which would have flown out of Eden to water the garden. Genesis 2 texts are in contradiction in this regard. We know that Tigris and Euphrates, two of the branches which have flown out of the Eden mentioned by the book of Genesis, don’t water the entire surface of the earth. The other two were Pishon, which would have flown around the land of Havilah, and Gihon which would have flown around Cush. Neither the main river nor its four branches would have watered the entire surface of the earth or the whole face of the ground as the Bible says it.
What is the definition of a stream of water? It is mainly defined as “a body of water flowing in a channel or watercourse, as a river, rivulet, or brook”. What isn’t clear is how the stream of water could have watered the whole face of the ground. With the extent of the whole face of the ground and the impossibility of one stream of water covering it, another interpretation has to be taken into consideration. Here are a few different translations of the word “stream” in Genesis 2:
“New International Version – but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.
New Living Translation – Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land.
English Standard Version – and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground.
New American Standard Bible – But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
King James Bible – But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
Holman Christian Standard Bible – But water would come out of the ground and water the entire surface of the land.
International Standard Version – Instead, an underground stream would arise out of the earth and water the surface of the ground.
NET Bible – Springs would well up from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
Jubilee Bible 2000 – But there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
King James 2000 Bible – But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”
We can see modern efforts to give a sense to the expression “stream of water”, and some translations speak of a kind of mist coming out from the ground, which is different from the deep layer of water depicted in Genesis 1. In Genesis 2 the earth was not a formless void covered by water but was constituted of forms of geographical relief including fields. I would infer that in Genesis 2 we already have the light in place because total darkness is not enumerated amongst the conditions which stopped the plants growing.
At the same time, it is wrong to assert that Genesis chapter 2 doesn’t contain references to cosmology because doubtlessly it does. The proposition “in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” is enough cosmology and has almost the same cosmological extent as Genesis 1; 1-2 which is also very concise. In a sense, Genesis 2 is less nonsensical than Genesis 1 from a cosmological point of view because it asserts that heavens were made at the beginning, including sky and celestial bodies, but is absurd in the way in which it describes the creation of nature. Genesis 2 does not add new steps after the creation of heavens such as the creation of sky or of the celestial bodies, but describes man who would have been created alone, without a partner, in spite of the fact that all animals would have been created in pairs. Despite the existence of animals in pairs, man would have tried to find a helper for him amongst animals, as if animals wouldn’t already have help.
In Genesis 1 we have the expression “face of the deep” but in Genesis 2 we have the formula “face of the ground”. That also makes a difference and shows the incompatibility of the story from Genesis 2 to Genesis 1. The two metaphors express two different things. The deep from Genesis 1 means something different than the ground from Genesis 2. The deep means deep waters but the ground is dry land.
The absence of rain in Genesis chapter 2 should count for nothing because the stream would have watered the entire earth anyway, replacing rain if it were a mist. The problem remaining is the absence of man, but even this is a superfluous problem because many plants don’t need man for their growth. In the fields don’t grow only cultivated plants, but all sorts of plants.
The plants cultivated by man were initially uncultivated or wild plants. They were selected for cultivation by humankind according to their needs but previously to that they didn’t need man for their growth. The book of Genesis is wrong when saying that the absence of man would have influenced the existence of plants. Genesis chapter 2 presupposes that waters were already separated on the first day of creation and the earth waited for man to till the ground, but this contradicts what chapter 1 says.
According to the book of Genesis rain would have come to Earth only after the Flood when the rainbow also would have appeared for the first time on our planet. If the existence of rain conditioned the existence of plants, as Genesis chapter 2 says, without plants there couldn’t have been animals and humankind, because both of them would have had the green plants for food. Without rain there can be no plants, and no plants means no animals and no humankind, and with rain coming on Earth only after the Flood, the result would have been that in the absence of rain humankind wouldn’t have thrived on our planet before the Flood. In this case, the Flood wouldn’t have been necessary at all because no human beings would have disobeyed God. The equations which can be constructed on the basis of data provided by the book of Genesis, cannot give but a false result.
Following the logic of the book of Genesis, from the moment when man was created nothing would have stopped the apparition of cultivated plants except the rain. We have a text from which we can see that rain would have come on Earth only after the alleged Flood and that refers to the apparition of a rainbow on Earth for the first time after the Flood.
“13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9; 13-15 NRSV)
The clouds aren’t brought by God every time they appear in the sky as the book of Genesis states but by the dynamic of the atmosphere, and rainbows aren’t always present when it rains. Rainbows have a scientific explanation they aren’t a supernatural phenomenon as is wrongfully mentioned in the Bible.
“A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.”
The text of Genesis 2; 5 says that plants and in a narrow interpretation only the cultivated plants couldn’t have arisen on Earth in the absence of rain but they should if animals and humankind used green plants for food. Before the cultivation of plants human beings and animals would have needed to find comestible plants in nature. The absence of man on Earth didn’t stop herbivorous animals finding nutrients in nature. The science tells us that plants and animals were present on Earth before humankind but the book of Genesis, chapter 2, contradicts that.
According to Genesis chapter 1, plants were created on the third day of creation before the creation of man, hence the absence of human beings wouldn’t have influenced the existence of plants as Genesis chapter 2 incorrectly declares. At the same time, the cultivated plants, being before their cultivation plants which grew spontaneously from the ground, the presence or absence of man couldn’t have determined their existence on Earth but only their cultivation. When were the plants created? Here are the two relevant biblical texts:
Genesis chapter 1:
“11 Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.” (Genesis 1; 11-13 NRSV)
Genesis chapter 2:
“8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; andthere he put the man whom he had formed. 9 Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2; 8-9 NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 2 the plants would have been created only in the Garden of Eden and not on the entire surface of the earth contrary to Genesis chapter 1. Before Eden, no plants would have been created on Earth by God in the absence of rain and because there was no one to till the ground. In Eden, it was the river which would have watered the Garden and also the man who was placed there. Only in the Garden of Eden would both conditions necessary for the existence of plants, required by the book of Genesis chapter 2, have been gathered – the source of water replacing the rain and the presence of man.
It is true that the existence of a river in the absence of rain is a very problematic proposition but the idea is that the lack of conditions for the existence of plants from Genesis 2; 5 was compensated only in the Garden of Eden, hence one cannot justifiably assume that there were plants, inclusively fruit trees, all over the earth in the context of Genesis 2. Those two images, from Genesis 2; 5 and Genesis 2; 8-9, had to be understood together as the two facets of the same coin.
Let’s reiterate the text from Genesis chapter 2:
“In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; …” (Genesis 2; 4-5 NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 2, plants would have been created after the creation of man contrary to Genesis chapter 1. This anomaly is explained by the absence of man on Earth. All plants can be divided into two major categories, plants which grow naturally and plants which are cultivated by man. To what category does Genesis chapter 2 refer in verse 5?
From the point of view of their creation both categories are in fact one. All plants have appeared on Earth in the form of uncultivated plants containing the same biological material. Cultivation doesn’t mean creation. Some kinds or species of plants were used for cultivation by human beings but all kinds would have been created by God on the third day of the creation, according to Genesis chapter 1. We have here an obvious contradiction between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis 1 plants were created before humankind and in Genesis 2 plants were created after the creation of man.
Much confusion is generated by people who want to harmonise the two stories of creation and to demonstrate that there are no contradictions between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. They say that cultivated plants are plant species whose existence depends on the presence of man. The cultivation of plants obviously appeared only after the creation of man, but the existence of all plants doesn’t depend in any way on the existence of man.
It is wrong, however, to accept that before the creation of human beings there couldn’t have been plants in the fields of the sort which were later cultivated, only because man would have been absent. To me, the text in Genesis chapter 2 does not say that before the creation of man there weren’t cultivated plants, but it literally says that there weren’t plants at all in the fields, cultivated or not, and that not only because of the absence of man but also because of the lack of rain. Of course, the lack of rain would have affected all plants cultivated or not, but the stream of water would have replaced the rain. For this reason, in my opinion, by the stream of water from Genesis chapter 2, verse 6, we have to understand the river from the Garden of Eden, which couldn’t have solved the watering of plants all over the earth.
Even when man had been created the absence of rain would have prevented the existence of cultivated plants anyway. The stream which would have risen from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground couldn’t have replaced the absence of rain on the entire surface of the earth if it was a kind of river. The expression which refers to the stream when applicable to the river from the Garden of Eden “watered the whole face of the ground” is an exaggeration and is contradicted by the context, according to which such a river couldn’t have replaced the rain.
“Plant of the field” is a generic expression. At the same time, about the herbs of the field, it is said that they wouldn’t have sprung up. The verb usually generates the image of spontaneity, growing without cultivation, in a natural way. The text refers to plants and herbs which may be cultivated or not and regardless of their cultivation they would have grown in the field if there was rain. I reckon that the text of Genesis 2 refers to all plants cultivated and uncultivated because beside cultivated plants, on the same fields, uncultivated plants always emerge, for example weeds, hence never would only cultivated plants grow in a field.
There weren’t cultivated plants before the creation of man, according to the story of Genesis chapter 2, but there also weren’t weeds or other plants which grow without being cultivated by man, because no plants could have grown in the absence of rain. The book of Genesis doesn’t speak about other rivers on Earth besides the one streaming through the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis chapter 1, we are informed that humankind ate from the beginning “every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.” There isn’t any word about the cultivation of plants in Genesis chapter 1, and humankind before starting to cultivate plants would have eaten plants found in nature.
Are the categories of plants mentioned in Genesis 2 circumscribing all possible plants on Earth? I would answer negatively. They surely don’t comprise the plants from the seas where the presence of humankind and the absence of rain wouldn’t have had any consequences.
It is plain that Genesis chapter 2 proposes the creation of plants after the creation of man, contrary to Genesis chapter 1, and in a reductionist manner not taking into consideration what would have happened into the sea.
There are of course attempts to justify the viability of Genesis chapter 2 but these attempts often maintain inconsistent principles with the Bible. The book of Genesis tells us that God created all plants on the third day but some people propose that suitable plants for cultivation or plants with thorns were not in that category. The following quotation is an example of those attempts:
“Many mistakenly believe that Genesis 2: 5-6 refers to the third day (Genesis 1: 11-13) of the creation week because of the plants mentioned. However, these two specific plant categories mentioned in verses 5 and 6 (i.e., shrub of the field, plant of the field) are very different than the plants created on day three (fruit trees, grass, plants yielding seed). The shrubs of the field were plants with thorns, which only came about after man sinned. The plant of the field refers to cultivated plants. These were not in existence on the third day, because man had not been created, and obviously had not fallen yet to bring about thorns.”
The assertion that plants which were cultivated by humankind weren’t created on the third day because man hadn’t been created at that time, is contrary to the Bible. This assertion contradicts the book of Genesis chapter 1, which says that all plants were created on the third day and does not leave another time for the creation of cultivated plants. Only plants created on the third day could have been cultivated after the creation of man. Those plants had to be in the fields before the creation of man, according to Genesis chapter 1. If plants with thorns were created after Adam and Eve’s alleged Fall, Genesis chapter 1 in which all plants were created in the third day, is wrong.
There are obvious contradictions between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2 which shouldn’t happen if both were the record of the same historical facts. In Genesis chapter 2 plants had been created only in the Garden of Eden, but in Genesis chapter 1 they had been created on the entire surface of the earth. This is a problem because in the Garden was created only “tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” How about the other trees, which are not good for food? Where and when were they created? The Bible doesn’t say in Genesis chapter 2. If God had created plants before man on the whole surface of the earth as Genesis chapter 1 says, and if He only replanted some of them in the Garden of Eden, some plants also had to grow and some herbs had to spring up in the fields on the day of the creation of man, contrary to Genesis chapter 2.
Genesis chapter 2 underlines the idea that everything was created for man, plants and animals alike. In this logic, nothing on Earth could have been created before the creation of man. Contrary to that, in Genesis chapter 1 plants and animals were created before humankind. This is an obvious contradiction between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2.
God would have created man from the dust of the earth. The message is that humankind unlike God is perishable and formed from destructible matter. Man is unlike God in Genesis chapter 2 and in opposition with Him. In Genesis chapter 1, man is like God and together with woman is the pinnacle of His creation. In Genesis chapter 2, creation does not finish with man but starts with him. As a matter of fact, the order of the creation does not follow any historical facts but a theological message.
The situation in Genesis chapter 1 where humans are created at the end of the creation is highly significant. In Genesis chapter 2 man is created at the beginning of the creation of nature on Earth because it is seen as less important, and not the dominant factor of all that was on Earth.
In Genesis 2, God seems to be more terrestrial or more directly implicated in relation to humankind. The missing element of man’s dominion over the earth is an important difference between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis 1, human beings are the substitutes of God on Earth but in Genesis 2 they are only servants with the task of tilling the earth, gardeners of the Garden of Eden. As servants, human beings would have had a limited knowledge about the world; some knowledge would have been kept only for God. Genesis 1 and 2 don’t carry the same theological message.
The attempt to place Genesis 2 within the limits of the first day of creation in Genesis 1 is failing even if Genesis 2 uses a similar opening formula as the first chapter of the book of Genesis but reversing it. If Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are one story of creation and not two, the proof for that would be their perfect synchronisation. In one way or another they must fit, one with the other, their scope doesn’t matter. If they don’t fit, the conclusion is that they contradict each other and are not one but two different stories. The endeavour to combine Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is rational and legitimate because some people are pretending that all those texts have the same author and that they say the same things.
What day other than the first day in Genesis chapter 1 could describe the starting point of Genesis chapter 2?
I don’t see it, but it must be established in order to open the possibility that Genesis is one story of creation contained in two different descriptions, one general and the other one more detailed. For this reason, I will try different options. Let’s admit for the sake of the demonstration that the starting point of Genesis chapter 2 is inserted in the third day of the creation after the separation of waters and before the creation of plants, when there was already dry land.
Let’s say that on day three, after the separation of the waters, but before the creation of plants, God created man and after that He planted a Garden in which He placed the created man. In this setting God planted the Garden, as Genesis chapter 2 declares, creating the plants after the creation of man. God also created animals and on day six He created woman.
What is the major contradiction regarding this point? Genesis chapter 1 clearly states that mankind, male and female alike, were created on the sixth day after the creation of plants and animals. Man cannot be understood to have been created on the third day of creation because the Bible says that male and female were both created on the sixth day.
One can also investigate another possibility. Let’s see if Genesis chapter 2 could be a detailed description of the sixth day from Genesis chapter 1. If we want to establish a place in the sixth day of creation for Genesis 2, we have to choose the moment either before or after the creation of the animals. According to Genesis chapter 2, man was created before the animals. That is doubtless, it doesn’t matter how one speculates with the tenses of the verb “make”. After the creation of man, in Genesis chapter 2, God tried to find a helper for man and that is the reason for the creation of animals. In relation to man’s creation, the creation of animals was in the future in Genesis chapter 2, as an intention expressed by God. None can deny that. God didn’t say that at the moment of the creation of man He had tried already to make a helper, but He said that He will find a helper.
In Genesis chapter 2, animals were created by God for the purpose of finding a helper for man. If the correct tense here would be past and not future, as many harmonists try to demonstrate, “had made” instead of “will make”, God was in the situation to try finding a helper for man even before man’s creation. This is an absurd proposition. Genesis chapter 2 says that God first created man and only after that He tried to find a helper for him in the ranks of animals.
“18 Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ 19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man* there was not found a helper as his partner.” (Genesis 2; 18-20 NRSV)
Why would God have tried to find a helper for man before man’s creation? It doesn’t make any sense. The conclusion that a helper for man couldn’t have been found amongst the animals was detached only after all animals were presented to man, and that clearly situates the creation of animals after the creation of man in Genesis chapter 2. This is in contradiction with Genesis chapter 1 in which animals had been created before humankind.
Man not only assisted in the presentation of all animals but he named each one of them. This method of naming of animals would have been very defective because it would have left many animals unnamed. Adam couldn’t have named the marine animals without entering deep water for them and such marine animals couldn’t have left their environment in order to be named without losing their lives.
In Genesis chapter 1 man and woman both have dominion over the animals, but in Genesis chapter 2, man didn’t get any dominion over the animals, he tried to find a helper as a partner amongst them. Why would man have tried to find a partner amongst animals if man and woman were created in the image of God, according to Genesis chapter 1? A helper as partner for man in no way could have been found amongst animals or looked for in that place in the context of Genesis chapter 1, because if man was made after God’s image his partner would have needed to be in God’s image also.
The book of Genesis chapter 1 clearly states that both man and woman would have been created in the image of God. Animals hadn’t been made in God’s image, only humankind, according to the book of Genesis. It would have been offensive to try to find the image of God in the ranks of animals as Genesis chapter 2 says. It is evident that Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 do not have the same author and are not the expression of the same theology.
If God created the animals before man in the way in which Genesis chapter 1 describes, He would have known that a helper for man couldn’t have been found there. In such a case the creation of man alone without a wife after the creation of animals would have been pointless. In Genesis chapter 1 because animals were already created before the creation of man, humankind has been created in one pair because a helper for man amongst them couldn’t have been contemplated. In other words, the creation of humankind is also contradictory between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis chapter 1, we have the creation of animals and after that of humankind in one pair, but in Genesis chapter 2 we have the creation of man, looking for a helper amongst animals, not finding a helper amongst animals and finally the creation of woman.
There are two stories of creation and not just one in the book of Genesis, and there are very important differences between them about the creation of animals and humankind also. Which story of creation from the Bible is inspired by God and which isn’t inspired? They cannot be both inspired by God if they contradict each other. Being both absurd in the way in which they present their details, it is more likely that none of these stories of creation from the Bible are inspired by God. Even their metaphorical messages are not the same therefore most probably they weren’t inspired by God as parables with spiritual signification.
If God created plants on the third day, as Genesis chapter 1 states, on the whole surface of the earth, when did He plant the Garden of Eden? There is a single answer, if we consider Genesis chapter 2; God would have planted the Garden of Eden on the sixth day after the creation of man. Nevertheless, in Genesis chapter 2, man was created “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” and not at the end of creation. The order of creation is different between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 and that makes the insertion of Genesis chapter 2 in chapter 1 impossible.
The point is that if Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 were the same story looked at from different perspectives, the Garden of Eden would have been a special place with vegetation on an earth already filled with plants before the creation of man, a Garden in a garden.
If the nature of the entire earth wasn’t yet affected by Adam and Eve’s sins, the whole planet would have been a garden according to Genesis chapter 1, and the building of the Garden of Eden in chapter 2 would have been useless.
If plants were created before the creation of humankind, according to Genesis chapter 1, there isn’t any reason for Genesis chapter 2 to declare that there weren’t any plants in the fields before the creation of man. Regarding the creation of plants, Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 are totally incongruent.
In Genesis chapter 2, God didn’t rest after His work as He did in Genesis chapter 1. He continued to work after the creation of man and woman by overseeing His creation and throwing humans out of the Garden of Eden. In Genesis chapter 1 the creation of mankind was the last act in the process of creation but in Genesis chapter 2 the last act was the punishment of humankind after Adam’s Fall.
When would God have rested in Genesis chapter 1 when we compare the story with Genesis chapter 2? Was it after the creation of woman or after Adam’s Fall? When did God say that all His creation was very good, after the creation of Eve or after the humans’ Fall? The creation was not that good if in it the seed of evil was already present and if mankind fell immediately after it. After the creation of human beings God had no reason to rest because they would have been in a situation to fail Him.
The question of when God would have rested in the context of Genesis chapter 2 is important if one wants to synchronise Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. Before the creation of woman, the work had been incomplete and the adjective “good” was unsuitable. Satan could have used God’s resting day in order to tempt humankind but this raises the question, why would God have left His creation without protection even for a day? These are only speculations because God didn’t create the world in six days and didn’t rest the seventh day as the Bible says. If He made the world in this way He wouldn’t have had any reason to rest knowing that Satan was interested in disrupting His creation. At the same time the creation of humankind wouldn’t have been good as Genesis chapter 1 states if immediately after its creation they disobeyed God.
The existence of God’s statement at the end of Genesis chapter 1 that the creation would have been very good while Satan was free to influence that creation is an undeniable contradiction of the book of Genesis.
Satan was a part of God’s creation and his rebellion would have been enough reason to prevent the evaluation of creation as very good. God’s creation would have been flawed by the presence of Satan in its midst, and in the end the entire edifice would have been affected by this presence.
Notwithstanding, not everyone recognises two stories of creation in Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. The following quotation explains very well that view:
“The question also stems from the wrong assumption that the second chapter of Genesis is just a different account of creation to that in chapter 1. It should be evident that chapter 2 is not just ‘another’ account of creation because chapter 2 says nothing about the creation of the heavens and the earth, the atmosphere, the seas, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the sea creatures, etc. Chapter 2 mentions only things directly relevant to the creation of Adam and Eve and their life in the garden God prepared specially for them. Chapter 1 may be understood as creation from God’s perspective; it is ‘the big picture’, an overview of the whole. Chapter 2 views the more important aspects from man’s perspective … Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are not therefore separate contradictory accounts of creation. Chapter 1 is the ‘big picture’ and Chapter 2 is a more detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve and day six of creation.”
First of all, it is not true that “chapter 2 says nothing about the creation of the heavens and the earth, the atmosphere, the seas, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the sea creatures, etc.” As I already have shown, Genesis chapter 2 refers to the earth and heavens and that is a clear cosmology. Heavens entails sun, stars and moon, and the atmosphere. It is also a reference to the land. The omission of sea animals doesn’t mean that Genesis chapter 2 did not refer to the creation of animals because it doubtlessly does. In point of fact, Genesis chapter 2 uses the creation of the earth and the heavens as a temporal indicator in order to clarify the sequences of creation.
“4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens …” (Genesis 2; 4 NRSV)
The narration from Genesis chapter 2; 4 cannot be placed on the sixth day of Genesis 1, and it places itself in the day one. I agree with Tyler Francke, the author of the following quotation, who expresses a substantial view on the problem of contradictions in Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2:
“The second creation story opens with an introduction (Genesis 2:4) that closely mirrors Genesis 1:1: ‘This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.’ The verse in no way indicates that what follows is simply a more detailed look at creation from a different perspective, as YECs claim; it says, This is the account.”
Francke also remarks quite pertinently that the effort of using grammar in justifying some absurdities is pointless because Genesis chapter 2 presents God’s intention to create a helper for man in future tense. The two myths of creation from the Bible aren’t meant to be harmonised; they are two different ideas about the creation of the world.
I also agree that the two myths of creation from the book of Genesis cannot be harmonized in order to set them together as one story. This observation bears important consequences regarding the inspiration of their texts. Two texts, contradicting each other, cannot both be inspired by God. None of them is inspired by God if each of them is inconsistent in what it declares and is far from what scientific discoveries show.