Friday, September 02, 2011

Two Creation Accounts? Is There a Contradiction in the Genesis Account of Creation?

We receive lots of emails every week from people about cults, movements, teachers, religions, the Bible, but every fall as soon as colleges get started we see more than one question about the supposed contradiction in the early chapters of Genesis about creation. Sure enough two days ago, right on schedule, the question came again...

"I was reading this text book for my mythology class and it says that there are two creation stories in the Bible. I looked it up and sure enough, it seems like there is. This is really shaking my faith. Why does the Bible say that man was created on the sixth day, after plants, and then says Adam was created before plants??? Are there really two creation stories??? I feel like this is contradictory. PLEASE HELP."

Good Bible commentaries and books on apparent difficulties in the Bible have long addressed this issue and we suggest every Christian home own one of these for future run ins with problems like this, but how can we explain the difference in the order of creation events between Genesis 1 and 2? Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe offer a concise response in their book, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties:

PROBLEM: Genesis 1 declares that animals were created before humans, but Genesis 2:19 seems to reverse this, saying, "the Lord God formed every beast of the field and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them," implying Adam was created before they were.

SOLUTION: Genesis 1 gives the order of events; Genesis 2 provides more content about them. Genesis 2 does not contradict chapter 1, since it does not affirm exactly when God created the animals. He simply says He brought the animals (which He had previously created) to Adam so that he might name them. The focus in chapter 2 is on the naming of the animals, not on creating them. Genesis 1 provides the outline of events, and chapter 2 gives details. Taken together, the two chapters provide a harmonious and more complete picture of the creation events. The differences, then, can be summarized as follows:

GENESIS 1: Chronological order / Outline / Creating animals                          

GENESIS 2: Topical order / Details / Naming animals

Additional help on this issue by our friends at Answers In Genesis can be found here.