In an effort to better examine why the claims of creationists don’t hold up to even the most basic scrutiny, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the two illogical and conflicting creation stories from the first two chapters of Genesis. This is actually something I have wanted to do for at least the last two years. Virtually every point I will make here are points that I have made many times in conversations with christians (family, coworkers, friends, neighbors, etc), but until now I had never compiled them all into one place.
If you’re like most people you know the basics of the story, 7 days, adam and eve, yadda yadda yadda; but you probably do not know that the bible tells the story of the creation of life twice, and in a different order each of those times. You likely have not really ever examined the words carefully to notice that as written, it is actually a logical impossibility. Hopefully somewhere in the next few hundred words, you’ll have a better understand of exactly what these first two chapters of “the best selling book in history” actually say.
Before I begin, for those who are interested in the best scientific understanding of the creation of the universe, the solar system, life, and mankind I would like to point you to a series of videos from Potholer54, “… Made Easy”. There you will get a quick glimpse of the current understanding of the evolution of the universe, our world, and life.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.2 Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
I hate to skip ahead, but this has perplexed me, and many others, for many years. As we see, on the first day light, the earth, water on the earth, and the “heavens” are created. But if we look ahead to day four, “god made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars”. So if the stars, the sun, and the moon are not created here, what EXACTLY constitutes “the heavens”? And what is the source of “the light”, and can we still see this light today?
As most people realize, what we consider a day is how long the earth takes to rotate on it’s axis one time. And what we consider “day time” would be while the portion of the earth we are on is facing the sun, while “night” would be while the portion of the earth we are on faces away from the sun. So if the sun has not yet been created, it begs the questions, what was the definition of “day”, “night”, “evening”, and “morning” at this point in the creation? How can any of these concepts exist without the sun to give them meaning?
So what we have at the end of “day 1” is the earth covered in water. We also have light coming from some source other than the sun or other stars. And we have measurements of time that correspond to things which are not actually in existence.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Most people understand this to mean the creation of the atmosphere. And read as such it makes sense. Except for the pesky fact that without a source of heat, such as the sun, and with no air pressure, such as the lack of an atmosphere, water can not remain in a liquid state. Water in such an environment would rapidly boil, turning to gas, then instantly freeze turning to ice crystals. This would have already happened on the first day when this water was created. So at this point to speak of “water” would be illogical.
Now at the end of “day 2” we have an atmosphere to separate ice crystals in the sky from ice on the surface of the earth.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
On day three we see that land has been created, and plant life has arisen on this land. This despite the fact that plant life as it exists on earth requires energy, which comes from the sun. And even the most basic reading of the text will show that the sun is not created until the next day. Again we are seeing another logical impossibility in the story of creation, actually managing to have exactly one per day. We’re batting 1.000 so far, can we keep it up.
And to end “day 3” we have land and plant life.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
I briefly touched on day four earlier, but there is still more to talk about from this section. As mentioned earlier, what we call a “day” is how long the earth takes to rotate on it’s axis one time. However this passage claims that the stars (and presumably the sun) “mark seasons and days and years”. To put it this way implies that the seasons, days, and years are independent of the stars, including the sun; when in reality the seasons and years are 100% dependent upon the sun, in that they are measurement of the earth’s place in location to the sun.
We also finally get to the point where much of what has previously happened becomes possible. The idea of life, liquid water, and light are now finally feasible due to the sun’s place in the universe.
That is not to say this passage is without it’s own problems. Far from it in fact. It seems as if the moon is said to be it’s own source of light, as was commonly understood in ancient times. However as we know the moon actually reflects light from the sun and does not generate it’s own light. Perhaps some would call this a minor quibble, but it shows a clear pattern with this story. Mainly that this is exactly that, a story created at a time when our understanding of the world and the universe was mostly guess work, and now understood to have been wrong.
So at the end of “day 4” we now have the sun, the moon, and the stars.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
On day five we see the creation of all seafood, I mean sea life, and birds. Of course I have to point out the flaw here, and for the first time I am not going to refer to just straight logic, but this time I am going to bring in science. But first, a quick overview of the creation of life so far according to the bible. Plant life on the land (1) THEN sea life (2) and birds (3) THEN (as we’ll see on the next day) land animals(4) and mankind (5).
Now the basic time-line of life on earth, with (very approximate) dates, looks something like:
3.8 billion years ago: simple cells (prokaryotes)
3 billion years ago: photosynthesis
2 billion years ago: complex cells (eukaryotes)
1 billion years ago: multicellular life
600 million years ago: simple animals
570 million years ago: arthropods (ancestors of insects, arachnids and crustaceans)
550 million years ago: complex animals
500 million years ago: fish and proto-amphibians
475 million years ago: land plants
400 million years ago: insects and seeds
360 million years ago: amphibians
300 million years ago: reptiles
200 million years ago: mammals
150 million years ago: birds
130 million years ago: flowers
65 million years ago: the non-avian dinosaurs died out
2.5 million years ago: the appearance of the genus Homo
200,000 years ago: humans started looking like they do today
25,000 years ago: Neanderthals died out
As we can see here the order (just looking at those 5 things listed above) would be more accurately: Sea life (2) THEN plant life on the land (1) THEN land animals (4) THEN birds (3) THEN mankind (5). It doesn’t take an expert to realize the problems with this story. Even those who want to accept evolution, and say that the story of genesis is an allegory (such as the catholic church) meant to be taken as not referencing seven literal days can not get around the order being wrong.
But according to the story, at the end of “day 5”, we have sea life and birds.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Quick question, when did worms and other creatures that live IN the ground get created? The story has mentioned sea life, birds and “creatures that move along the ground”, but never mentioned those which live IN the ground.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Pay close attention to this order here; it will be important as we reach the second chapter of genesis. first land animals were created and THEN mankind.
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
It’s also important to pay attention to this particular sequence of events. Man and woman are both created together, then god talks to these people.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
And at the end of “day 6” we have land animals and mankind. And with that it seems as if everything has been created.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested [a] from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Adam and Eve
Here we begin the second telling of the “same” story. Although as we will quickly see the details have changed, calling into question the idea that the source can be anything other than bronze age men trying to understand the world around them.
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens- 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth [b] and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth [c] and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams [d] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground-
This seems to be a tad confusing. Is this saying the earth was covered in nothing but water (as the “day 1” of the earlier account claimed) or is this saying that there is land and the rivers of the world came in to being? It might seem like a minor point, but the next sentence will make it very important.
7 the LORD God formed the man [e] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Now for man to be created from the “dust of the ground” must mean that our previous question has been answered: land existed and THEN water came in to being. This is of course the first contradiction, of many, with the earlier account. In this instance we see land, then water, then man, while in the previous incarnation of the story it was an earth covered in nothing but water, then land two “days” later, then much more and finally man as the last thing created three “days” after land.
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
Another sentence, another contradiction. Earlier we saw that on the third “day” that plant life, including trees and fruit bearing plants were created, and then the final thing created was man, on the sixth “day”. Here it is clear that the plant life, and specifically the trees and fruit bearing plants was created after mankind, as a place for man to live.
In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin [f] and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. [g] 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
There is a WHOLE other issue for another post here; but for now I will say that while this is not a contradiction or logical impossibility, it does show what the writers of the old testament considered to be “bad”, knowledge.
18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
Wait a minute, do I see another contradiction? No, actually I see two. The first, and most obvious, is that in this version of events, mankind was created first, and THEN animals were created, to keep man company. But in the earlier account from the first chapter of genesis we saw animals were created first and THEN mankind.
The second contradiction is a bit more subtle, but no less important, if one believes this book is somehow special. In the earlier account we saw that animals were create, then men and women (together), and THEN finally god spoke to those first humans (genesis 1: 27-28); while here we see man created, then animals, then god speaks to man before the first woman has come into existence.
But for Adam [h] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs [i] and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib [j] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
Finally we have the first woman, and with her comes another contradiction. As already pointed out, in the earlier account man and woman were created together, and yet here there is a time lapse between the two.
You’d think that whoever compiled these two stories into one book would have taken the time to read them both to avoid such obvious and glaring contradictions between them. They were in serious need of a good proof reader, and apparently just did not have the budget for one or something…
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman, [k] ‘
for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Phew, I think we made it through finally. It actually seems to have taken me more words to point out the flaws in the story, then there are in the story itself. Either I’m just not very concise or this story has more holes to fill than than a porn convention.
So what is our finally tally? (Some of the “problems” actually fit under more than one category below, but for the sake of this tally I am only counting each “flaw” in the story under one category)
Logical Impossibilities: 3
Flawed Science: 2
Other Miscellaneous Problems: 1
Two chapters in and we have 12 major problems, not counting the issues around the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which I have covered in another post.
After I finished writing this post I happened to stumble across a series of videos from The Bible Skeptic on the same topic. These videos seem quite well done, so I thought I’d share them here for you. While many of the points presented here overlap a number of my own points, these videos take more of scientific approach, comparing genesis to our own understanding of science, and focus less on it’s own internal contradictions with itself and the logical impossibilities within the story.
What Genesis Got Wrong: Part 1