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Answering The Atheist
August 12, 2001 / Volume 1, Issue 23

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
There is a problem with the creation accounts: Here is the order of the first (Genesis 1), the Priestly tradition:
Day 1: sky, earth, light
Day 2: water, both in ocean basins and above the sky(!)
Day 3: plants
Day 4: sun, moon, stars (as calendrical and navigational aids)
Day 5: sea monsters (whales), fish, birds, land animals, crepy-crawlies (reptiles, insects, etc.)
Day 6: Humans (apparently both sexes at the same time)
Day 7: Nothing (the Gods took the first day off anyone ever did).

Note that there are "days", "eveings" and "mornings" before the Sun was created. Here the Deity is referred to as "Elohim", whcih is plural, thus the literal translation, "the Gods". In this tale, the Gods seem satifsied with what they have done, saying after each step that "it was good."

The second one (Genesis 2), the Yahwist tradition, goes:
Earth and heavens (misty)
Adam, the first man (on a desolate Earth)
Plants
Animals
Eve, the first woman (from Adam's rib).

Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
The questioner sets Moses against himself in Genesis chapters 1 & 2. It would seem to me that if there was a contradiction between the two accounts, Moses ought to have caught it prior to finishing his work. Yet Moses seemingly made no effort to correct any supposed error, nor did he acknowledge any such error.

Genesis 1 provides a chronological order of creation. The tasks of each day are for our knowledge of the creation account. Genesis 2 is not a chronological account, nor is there anything in the text which would cause us to consider it to be. It is noteworthy that in Genesis 2, Moses records the works of God's creation in relation to man.
-- God planted a garden and put the man in it (v 8, 15)
-- God brought the beasts of the field before the man to be named (v 19-20)
-- God took a rib from man, and created woman for him (v 21-25).

The questioner makes some false assumptions and assertions which ought to be addressed:

Regarding Day 6, the Scripture does not say that man and woman was made "...at the same time..." They were created in the same day, but not at the same time.

Regarding "days", "evenings", and "mornings", the questioner scoffs at the idea that such distinctions could exist before the Sun was created. Do we need to see the sun for it to be day? Must we see the moon for ti to be night? If so, the extreme artic has no night through the summer months, and no day through the winter months. However, 1:3-5 mentions God's establishment of Day and Night. Moses' mention of "evenings" and "mornings" coincides with the Jewish clock, wherein the days run from sunset to sunset.

Indeed, Elohim is plural. The same word is used in Deuteronomy 6:4, where Moses writes, "Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD." The question then is how can more than one be one? Well, in marriage, two people are one flesh (Genesis 2:24). In the church, many are one body (1 Corinthians 12:12). Lukewise, three persons of the Godhead are one God. All three persons of the Godhead were active in creation (Genesis 1:1-2, 26; John 1:1-3).

Finally, the questioner assumes that Adam was brought into a desolate Earth. Did he not read that the Lord placed him in the garden? That doesn't sound desolate to me. Perhaps such reasoning is the product of the supposed contradiction between chapters 1 & 2. If the questioner would understand that Moses' purpose in the two chapters is different, he might have an easier time understanding the specifics in the text.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible & here