Most are aware of the constant and relentless attacks that are aimed at the creation account found in Genesis chapters one and two. It used to be that such brain washing was primarily found in institutions of higher learning. However, efforts to teach there is no Creator and cause people to believe that all things just happened and evolved through a process of natural selection are now being focused on the high school, junior high, and even elementary school age children. Moreover, many of the attacks relative to Genesis one and two are originating from within the religious community, as more religions are accepting theistic evolutionary beliefs and teachings. In this study, we want to briefly revisit the Genesis’ account of creation. We want to compare Genesis one and two, especially since some are claiming there are irreconcilable differences between Genesis one and two.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” according to Genesis 1: 1. Here the Hebrew word “bara” is used for “created.” “Bara” along with the Hebrew “yatzar” are the words used to describe God bringing into existence different matters (“yatzar” is translated “formed” in Genesis 2: 7). These terms do not of necessity suggest to bring into existence out of nothing, ex nihilo. However, the circumstances of creation show that there was nothing material before creation; hence, God created the heavens and the earth from nothing. The Bible is replete with references to creation and the fact that all things came into existence at the fiat of God (Jn. 1: 1-3; Ps. 136: 4-9; Jere. 51: 15; Acts 17: 24). In the Genesis account we find all the requisite conditions for creation. Science informs us that there are five elements that are necessary to “creation.” They are: time, energy, force, space, and matter. All these conditions are seen in the statement, “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There was “time” (“in the beginning”), “energy” (“God”), “force” (“created”), “space” (“heavens,” ASV), and “matter” (“the earth”).
There were six days of creation, each day involving gradation. The six days of creation were 24-hour consecutive solar days that brought into existence all things created.
The first day. The heavens, the earth, light and darkness were created on the first day (Gen. 1: 1-5). At first, the universe is in the most basic and elemental form until the Holy Spirit began to “move” (vs. 2). It is of interest that the Babylonian, Egyptian, Phoenician, and Indian mythologies all present the world beginning in darkness and in a basic stage. Some think they have discovered a contradiction because the sun and moon are mentioned as being created on the fourth day (vs. 14-19). There are several explanations offered to explain this alleged contradiction. Many scholars believe that since light is a mode or condition of matter that the light mentioned is light or luminosity that was the result of incandescence (any solid body can be rendered incandescent by being heated up to between 700 and 800 degrees Fahrenheit). It is certain that it was not until the fourth day that the sun became the permanent appointed center of radiation for the moon.
The second day (vs. 6-8). The second day involved the “firmament in the midst of the waters” and the “division of the waters from the waters” (vs. 6). The language indicates the formation of earth’s atmosphere, by which the earth is encircled (vs. 7, 8). Commentator Matthew Henry has the following comments on the second day:
“We have here an account of the second day’s work, the creation of the firmament, in which observe, 1. The command of God concerning it: ‘Let there be a firmament, an expansion,’ so the Hebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the earth, between it and the third heavens: the air, its higher, middle, and lower, regions—the celestial globe, and all the spheres and orbs of light above: it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed, for that is called here the ‘firmament of heaven’ (v. 14, 15), and as low as the place where the birds fly, for that also is called the ‘firmament of heaven’, v. 20” (Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary).
The third day (vs. 9-13). Day three involved the distribution of land and water and the production of vegetation. The “dry land” God called “earth” (Hebrew, the flats, in opposition to “firmament,” the heights) and the “gathering together of the waters,” he called “seas” (vs. 10). Vegetation is introduced in verse eleven. God pronounced his work “good” (vs. 12).
The fourth day (vs. 14-19). Regarding day four, allow me to quote the Pulpit Commentary: “With this day begins the second half of the creative week, whose works have a striking correspondence with the labours of the first. Having perfected the main structural arrangements of the globe by the elimination from primeval chaos of the four fundamental elements of light, air, water, and land, the formative energy of the Divine word reverts to its initial point of departure, and, in a second series of operations, carries each of these forward to completion – the light by permanently settling it in the sun, the air and water by filling them with fowl and fish, and the land by making animals and man. The first of these engaged the Divine Artificer’s attention on the fourth creative day” (Vol. 1, pg. 20).
Day five (vs. 20-23). The waters and the air that were separated on day two, are on day five filled with their respective denizens. Notice how God created sea creatures and fowl separately and independently. In other words, while all creation shares commonality, birds did not evolve from fish! Appreciate also the fact that with the different creatures, God assigned a proper habitat in keeping with the design of the creature. Each creature brought forth “after their kind” (vs. 21).
The sixth and final day of creation (vs. 24-31. Day six involved the production of the higher or land animals and the introduction of man. Man is clearly seen as the apex of God’s creation (vs. 26, 27). Man was not created ex nihilo but was made out of the dust that was created on day one (cp. Gen. 2: 7). Man had breath or life (Hebrew nephesh, corresponding to the Greek psuche, soul) just as all the animals (vs. 30). However, man is singular in that man is created in the image and likeness of the Creator himself (vs. 26, 27). Man is more, consequently, than dust and life; man has an eternal spirit (I Thes. 5: 23, 2 Cor. 4: 16 ff.).
It is of great importance that the universe and the earth had a beginning, they did not evolve over aeons. Since the universe had a beginning point in time, it is running down (in keeping with the second law of thermodynamics, see Hebrews 1: 10-12). It is also evident from the Genesis’ account that creation was not only ex nihilo but also ex deo (full grown). This is important to notice not only in the refutation of organic evolution, but also because the universe and all things therein were mature (aged) at the time of their creation (such could explain some of the “dating problems”).
The unity and harmony between Genesis chapter one and two. Many claim Genesis one and two are so different that they exclude each other and cannot be reconciled. Some believe that they are so dissimilar in teaching that they actually contain two different accounts of creation or that chapter two contains the account of a “recreation” or second creation. Some do not see the “two different creations” as separated by time but parallel; hence, the theory of parallel worlds.
After a close consideration of these alleged contradictions between chapter one and two of the Genesis’ account of creation, there are essentially five supposed discrepancies (the following was arranged and succinctly worded by the scholar Kalisch). I shall now state them and then examine them. (1). In chapter one, vegetation is immediately produced by the will of God; in the second “account,” its existence is made dependent on rain and mists; (2) in the first the earth emerges from the waters and, therefore, contains necessary moisture; in the second it appears dry and sandy; (3) in the first man and his wife are created together; in the second the wife is formed later, and from a part of man; (4) in the former man bears the image of God, and is made ruler of the whole earth; in the latter his earth-formed body is only animated by the breath of life, and he is placed in Eden to cultivate and to guard it; (5) in the former the birds and beasts are created before man; in the latter man before birds and beasts. These five comparisons constitute the so called insoluble contradictions between chapters one and two.
Contradiction number one. Genesis 2: 5 emphasizes the fact that the vegetation of the earth did not naturally occur but was a creation of Jehovah Elohim. Genesis 2: 5 does not contradict Genesis 1: 9-13 but rather augments it by showing that before the vegetation was created on the third day, there had to be moisture (2: 6). God arranged for the moisture and thus prepared the ground for the vegetation which sprung up at the close of the third day (Gen. 2: 5, 6).
Discrepancy number two. Some believe they have found an incongruity between the description of the new earth in Genesis one being moist and in the dry condition of the earth mentioned in Genesis 2: 5. Some have even argued that the wet earth could not have become so arid in just three natural days; hence, the days represent long ages. However, it is not difficult at all to visualize the extreme dry conditions when we realize the highly igneous (heat, again, the “light” of Genesis 1: 3 may have been produced by the extremely heated matter) condition of the earth at the time the dry land was upheaved and the waters were gathered into the subsiding valleys. There, no doubt, was a never subsequently duplicated amount of steam and vapor that would result in enormous and rapid evaporation and hydration. Such a dry condition by day three as revealed in Genesis 2: 5, rather than creating doubt adds credence and harmony to the creation account.
Contradiction number three. Regarding the creation of the first couple, Genesis 2: 7, 18-25 does not contradict Genesis 1: 26, 27 but only supplies detail. Adam and Eve were “made…at the beginning” (Matt. 19: 4). It must be realized that the account in chapter one does not say or assert that Adam and Eve were created together or at the exact same moment. However, both Adam and Eve were created on day six (Gen. 1: 24-31). Chapter two supplies the detail that Adam was made from the dust and Eve from a “rib” of Adam (Gen. 2: 7; 21, 22). Chapter two also presents information as to Adam’s loneliness that “precipitated” God forming Eve (Gen. 2: 20 ff.). As seen, Genesis two stresses the earthly origin of the body of man (vs. 7). We are told that there are about fourteen chemical elements that are the chief components of living flesh, among them hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. It happens that these are the same elements of the earth itself (cp. I Cor. 15: 47).
Some contend that the event of chapter two could not have all happened in the period of one twenty-four hour day (vs. 7-25). Again, I remind all that Jesus said Adam and Eve were made at the beginning and Genesis one states Adam and Eve were formed on the sixth day.
Alleged disharmony number four. Rather than appreciating the additional information found in chapter two about God forming man from the dust and animating Adam by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life and man thus becoming a living soul, some think rather they have discovered contradiction number four. Adam’s body was formed from the dust; whereas Adam’s spirit is in the image of God (Gen. 2: 7; 1: 26, 27). The added fact that Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to keep it is not in opposition to the fact Adam was placed over all the lower creation (Gen. 2: 15; 1: 26). Chapter two affirms that the progenitor of all men was as the inferior animals in that he had life or breath (Gen. 2: 7 cp. 1: 30). Chapter two, however, reveals to us that Adam was created differently than the animals, God himself breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2: 7). The act of chapter two, verse seven is tantamount to man being made in the image of God (Gen. 1: 26, 27).
Conflict number five. Some insist that Genesis 2: 19 has reference to the actual creation of animals and birds (at that point in relative time). Thus, they conclude that Adam was then created before the animals and birds. Hence, a contradiction exists between chapter one and chapter two (cp. Gen. 1: 20 ff. and 2: 19). I submit that Genesis 2: 19 does not record the relative time but simply the fact of the creation that occurred antecedent to Adam. Chapter one supplements chapter two, in this case, in providing the relative time of the creation of the animals, days five and six (preceding Adam, Gen. 1: 20 ff.).
As we noticed earlier, creation in the Genesis’ account is presented as ex deo or mature, ready to produce (Gen. 1: 11, 12; 21, 22; 28). Chapter two presents man as initially able to comprehend and respond to commands (Gen. 2: 16, 17). Primeval man was also created a social being and having the faculty of speech (Gen. 2: 18-20). The Genesis account makes it plain that man did not evolve over vast periods of time from the lower animals but was unique and singular in his origin (Gen. 2: 7, cp. 1: 26, 27).
In closing, Genesis chapters one and two are admittedly different. The question is how do we view and define these manifest differences. After carefully examining Genesis chapters one and two, the existing differences are seen to exist not in essential content contradiction but in design differences. Genesis one presents the full account of creation, from the formless earth to the creation of man. Genesis two is supplemental in design. Genesis two particularly supplements regarding the earth from the standpoint of man (Gen. 2: 5 ff.). Thus, the focus of chapter two is on the creation of the third day from the consideration of man’s subsequent contribution (Gen. 1: 11-13, 2: 20).