Thursday, June 11, 2009

Biblical Creation Chronology

One of the challenges that I have often given creationists is to create a chronology of the order of creation that does not include any contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Doing so highlights problems caused by contradictions.

Here is a chronology of the events as listed in Genesis 1.

Day 1

Event 1: God created heaven and Earth.
Event 2: God created light.
Event 3: God separated light from darkness.
Event 4: God called the light day and the darkness night

Day 2

Event 1: God created an expanse and separated the water into two parts, one above the Earth and one below
Event 2: God called the expanse "sky"

Day 3

Event 1: God created dry land
Event 2: God called the dry land "land".
Event 3: God called the remaining waters "sea"
Event 4: God saw that it was good.
Event 5: God let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees.

Day 4

Event 1: God created a greater and lesser light in the expanse of the sky
Event 2: God created the stars
Event 3: God set the stars in the expanse of the sky

Day 5

Event 1: God created the aquatic animals and the birds
Event 2: God blessed the animals and told them to multiply

Day 6

Event 1: God created land animals
Event 2: God created man and woman in his own image
Event 3: God told the man and woman to increase in number
Event 4: God gave man dominion over everything
Day 7

Event 1: God rested.

Here are problems (i.e. contradictions) when comparing that chronology to Genesis 2:

1. Originally there was only dry land. Then water was created after that. This contradicts the Genesis 1 events of day 3 where land was created from water.

Here’s the specific text from Genesis 2:4-7 –

When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground- the LORD God formed the man…

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 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.
Man was created before the plants. Yet in Genesis 1 the plants were formed three days before man was created. The text supporting that has already been given.

2. God formed the animals after man.

Here’s that text from Genesis 2:19-20:

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. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

3. God created woman at a different time and after man.

Here’s the text supporting that from Genesis 2:20-23:

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 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 and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

4. The animals were created between the creation of Adam and Eve. The passages supporting this have already been given.

It’s worth noting as an inconsistency that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 disagree on the name of the creator. Genesis 1 calls the Creator simply “God”. Genesis 2 uses “Lord God”. That may seem trivial but it certainly strongly implies, at a minimum, two different authors. Most Biblical literalists, including Jews as well as Christians, believe that one author – Moses – wrote the entire Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.

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