The Creation Account: Was God Confused?

It has been suggested to me that a topic I should blog about is the seeming contradiction between Genesis 1 & 2. An interesting topic–one I’ve encountered in the past from unbelievers on more than one occasion.

That being said, though, I need to explain the position I have when I approach the word of God with any kind of difficulty in mind.

  • I believe the word of God is perfect & infallible; when it speaks, it speaks rightly.
  • I believe that the word of God has been translated to us perfectly and without error, according to the promise of God.
  • I believe that any difficulty had in the word of God is on our end, for who is man that he should comprehend without difficulty the mind of an omniscient Almighty.
  • I believe that God meant what He said and said what He meant, and that the Bible is literal unless is specifically states otherwise (i.e., by describing things as allegory or parable for us, or by defining what certain symbols mean).
  • I believe that the Bible is a wholly complete book, and that to understand it properly, it must be rightly divided and that individual passages and teachings must be compared with the rest of the word to get a complete picture.

On to Genesis 1 and Genesis 2…

Genesis 1

The order of creation:

  1. Matter, space, and time (v.1).
  2. Light (v.3).
  3. The First Heaven, the sky (v.6-8).
  4. Land appears (v.9).
  5. Plants (v.12).
  6. Stars, the sun, the moon (v.14-16).
  7. Sea life, birds (v.20).
  8. Land animals (v.24).
  9. Man & woman, the pinnacle of Creation (v.27).

Genesis 2

The order of creation:

  1. Man (v.7).
  2. The Garden of Eden (v.8).
  3. The plants of the Garden (v.9).
  4. The rivers of the Garden (v.10-14).
  5. The animals of the Garden (v.19).
  6. Woman (v.22).

It is claimed that the order of creation is different in each instance, that two contradictory Creation beliefs are tacked onto each other and both ascribed to Moses. The Jews apparently “just accepted this” because after all, they were “just stories.”

The Jews also worshipped a golden calf while Moses was talking with God. What the masses believe matters not.

But, if you look at the order of creation, there isn’t anything contradictory. Genesis 1 serves as a broad overview, and “thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them,” concludes Genesis 2:1 with regards to the preceding chapter. However, with 2:4, a more detailed look is given to the most important part of “the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens…”

The focus moves from that of the whole world to a Garden, eastward in Eden. God describes for us how the man (who was more concisely mentioned in chapter 1) was placed in this Garden after his creation, how he considered many animals for a help, and how God had to specially form a woman to fulfill man’s desire for companionship. All this is described in significantly less detail in chapter 1.

The reconciliation is easy and requires no trick of the text. The creative acts of God mentioned in Genesis 2:4-25 take place in the Garden of Eden, a much narrower scope which is summarized in brief in Genesis 1 by simply saying that God created man and woman.

Genesis 2 does not seek to rewrite the order of creation (for if it did, there would only be a Garden of Eden, which man eventually became banned from. Clearly, there is more than the Garden!).

Genesis 2 seeks to complement Genesis 1 by adding the details which are more pertinent to us–where we came from, what are our origins, and who were our first parents?

Truly, any supposed contradictions within the word of God are caused by either unbelief, a failure to study, or willful ignorance. May we not be guilty of any of the three.

21 thoughts on “The Creation Account: Was God Confused?”

  1. “The focus moves from that of the whole world to a Garden, eastward in Eden.”

    Where does it say this? I believe this is your addition to the text.

    There is nothing in the text to support your easy reconciliation.

    There are two different accounts of creation and your argument comes down to “It is the word of God which is inerrant and therefore this explanation is valid regardless of textual evidence because it solves the ‘problem'”

  2. Genesis 2:4 — “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth…” Through to verse 7, we have a summarization of Genesis 1, finalizing with the completion of man.

    Genesis 2:8 — “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden…” The remainder of the chapter focuses on this garden, what God put there, etc.

    No addition to the text necessary. It says what it says.

  3. But where does it say that this is a summarization of Genesis 1?

    And regarding “The animals of the Garden (v.19)”, that’s not what v.19 says.

    A literal reading does not yield reconcilable accounts. Only your interpretation imposes a reconciliation.

  4. Where does it say that it isn’t a summarization? The possibility that it is a summarization is enough to logically conclude that the text doesn’t necessarily have to be contradictory.

    That the possibility exists is enough; whether one accepts the possible explanations is up to the individual.

    For instance:

    And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:1

    And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 24:1

    Seemingly contradictory accounts of the same event. Did God or did Satan cause the census?

    To one eager to doubt the word of God, no reconciliation exists because they are unwilling to obey the Lord and “compare spiritual things with spiritual.”

    Satan and God may have had the same idea, with differing motives.

    God may have used Satan directly.

    That even those two possibilities exist means that the differings in the text aren’t necessarily a full-stop error.

    Bob went to the store where he bought peanuts, milk, and juice. He returned home in his Taurus.

    On Thursday, Bob, Alice, and their daughter Susan went to Kroger where they bought some groceries. Susan drove them back to their home on Central.

    Two descriptions, very similar to many Bible “contradictions,” but they are not contradictory. Rather, they compliment one another. Such is the nature of many scriptures that are far too quickly rejected.

  5. Where does it say that it isn’t a summarization? The possibility that it is a summarization is enough to logically conclude that the text doesn’t necessarily have to be contradictory.

    That the possibility exists is enough; whether one accepts the possible explanations is up to the individual.

    For instance:

    And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:1

    And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 24:1

    Seemingly contradictory accounts of the same event. Did God or did Satan cause the census?

    To one eager to doubt the word of God, no reconciliation exists because they are unwilling to obey the Lord and “compare spiritual things with spiritual.”

    Satan and God may have had the same idea, with differing motives.

    God may have used Satan directly.

    That even those two possibilities exist means that the differings in the text aren’t necessarily a full-stop error.

    Bob went to the store where he bought peanuts, milk, and juice. He returned home in his Taurus.

    On Thursday, Bob, Alice, and their daughter Susan went to Kroger where they bought some groceries. Susan drove them back to their home on Central.

    Two descriptions, very similar to many Bible “contradictions,” but they are not contradictory. Rather, they compliment one another. Such is the nature of many scriptures that are far too quickly rejected.

  6. So your worldview is built on “possibilities”.

    Your inerrant Bible is only inerrant because you choose to believe in “possibilities” that are not supported in the text.

    In your going to the store example, there is nothing in the two accounts that contradict each other. This is not the case in the passages you are explicating.

  7. Every world view is built on “possibilities.”

    Genesis 1 and 2 seem very plain to me. I read them, and I can tell the changes in thought between 1 & 2… It’s obvious to me. I didn’t have to look up some cookie-cutter defense or anything else.

    However, and though it seems like a cop-out to many, spiritual things are spiritually discerned (i.e., the simple things of the word only confound those who think they know better). God promises the Holy Spirit as a teacher to those who would believe; with the Author of the Book guiding oneself, it’s that much harder to get lost within its pages.

    It is because of that there are things like “The Skeptics Bible” full of indefensible attacks on the Bible. Lost people are incapable of grasping its meaning.

  8. Every world view is built on “possibilities.”

    Genesis 1 and 2 seem very plain to me. I read them, and I can tell the changes in thought between 1 & 2… It’s obvious to me. I didn’t have to look up some cookie-cutter defense or anything else.

    However, and though it seems like a cop-out to many, spiritual things are spiritually discerned (i.e., the simple things of the word only confound those who think they know better). God promises the Holy Spirit as a teacher to those who would believe; with the Author of the Book guiding oneself, it’s that much harder to get lost within its pages.

    It is because of that there are things like “The Skeptics Bible” full of indefensible attacks on the Bible. Lost people are incapable of grasping its meaning.

  9. “Every world view is built on ‘possibilities.'”

    Very true. Nice to see you acknowledge that. One would never know reading your blog that you understand that there are “possibilities”.

    It is great that you believe you have found “truth”, but the admission of “possibilities” must lead to an acknowlegement that others may find equally valid “truths” that work for them.

    “I read them, and I can tell the changes in thought between 1 & 2… It’s obvious to me.”

    That doesn’t give it any more legitimacy than different ways that others may read it. How you read it is dependent on who you are psychologically, etc. and where you are on the spiritual road. It is your truth, it is not THE truth.

  10. No, I don’t acknowledge that any other world view is proper or truthful. However, to those who believe them, they are built upon possibilities for them.

    I accept the word of God, not because it is possibly the word of God, but because it is. To an outside, my views are “possibilities” (or impossibilities, to some).

    However, the very nature of the word of God and who God is Himself show that even the best science cannot prove His existence or His actions.

    Now, that isn’t to say the Bible isn’t right. It spoke of using running water to wash hands, life depending on blood, the Earth being suspended on nothing, the ocean currents, and much more all long before science ever caught up.

    But belief, salvation, and standing firm in an absolute truth doesn’t require proof. Blessed are those who believe and have not seen. Secular science will never accept the Bible’s view of creation because of their rejection of anything science cannot prove, the miraculous. By definition, the miraculous lies outside science. So why expect them to reach the conclusion that God already told us when they are doing all they can to confine things to the physical.

    Perhaps that is why God told us He created.

  11. No, I don’t acknowledge that any other world view is proper or truthful. However, to those who believe them, they are built upon possibilities for them.

    I accept the word of God, not because it is possibly the word of God, but because it is. To an outside, my views are “possibilities” (or impossibilities, to some).

    However, the very nature of the word of God and who God is Himself show that even the best science cannot prove His existence or His actions.

    Now, that isn’t to say the Bible isn’t right. It spoke of using running water to wash hands, life depending on blood, the Earth being suspended on nothing, the ocean currents, and much more all long before science ever caught up.

    But belief, salvation, and standing firm in an absolute truth doesn’t require proof. Blessed are those who believe and have not seen. Secular science will never accept the Bible’s view of creation because of their rejection of anything science cannot prove, the miraculous. By definition, the miraculous lies outside science. So why expect them to reach the conclusion that God already told us when they are doing all they can to confine things to the physical.

    Perhaps that is why God told us He created.

  12. “However, the very nature of the word of God and who God is Himself show that even the best science cannot prove His existence or His actions.”

    Because there is no test. Religion is not science, science is not religion. They approach the world with completely different methodologies.

    “Now, that isn’t to say the Bible isn’t right. It spoke of using running water to wash hands, life depending on blood, the Earth being suspended on nothing, the ocean currents, and much more all long before science ever caught up.”

    I believe there are many instances in history of writers being out in front of science. Science has often lagged behind the brighter minds due to the drag of the Bible.

    You are really focused in all the science rejecting God stuff. I’m not sure why. You seem to understand that God is not subject to scientific enquiry (because God is not testable), yet your “tone” seems very critical of science for this “rejection”.

    Am I misreading you?

    I would point out that there is literally mountains of science that is not found in the Bible, but that few, if any, dispute.

  13. Now reading my post, I wish I could edit.

    I overstate the “Science has often lagged behind the brighter minds due to the drag of the Bible.”

    I would phrase it “…frequently due to the drag of the Bible.”

  14. Because there is no test. Religion is not science, science is not religion. They approach the world with completely different methodologies.

    The Christian’s Methodology: “Accept God at His Word. Everyone else will catch up eventually.”
    The Evolutionist’s/Athiest’s/Secularist’s Methodology: “Sinful man studying a cursed world using only half the picture, ‘that which can be seen.'”

    Am I misreading you?

    Well, let me put it this way. The scientific method does not take into account the untestable, the unverifiable, etc. That’s fine. It’s great that the science behind my asthma medicine, my car’s engine, and the microprocessors of my computer is built upon verifiable knowledge. Science is a great thing.

    But because science rejects miracles, I don’t expect it to ever (at least in my lifetime) point to a miraculous Creation or to Adam & Eve as I know them. It relies on the unverifiable, the miraculous… faith.

    I would point out that there is literally mountains of science that is not found in the Bible, but that few, if any, dispute.

    And there are hundreds of miracles that have taken place throughout history that science will never be found in the science text books (save for the miracle of life, even if the origins are mistaken).

    What many fail to remember is that not only does the word of God present a perfect picture of God, but nature serves as a form of revelation itself, according to Romans 1. It points to the Godhead. It testifies that He is. To study nature and simultaneously reject God is to stumble over the simplest evidence He has given us–the world. I know you don’t reject that there is a god (which is great!), but many do. And they blame their unbelief on the biggest sign they have. In that regard, science is not enlightening; it is blinding. Progress means nothing if the cost is even one soul.

    …frequently due to the drag of the Bible.

    I can think of no scientific fact (not theory or hypothesis) which runs contrary to the word of God. So if the Bible has been blamed, it is due to a misunderstanding or a traditional belief and not to what the Bible has actually said.

  15. Because there is no test. Religion is not science, science is not religion. They approach the world with completely different methodologies.

    The Christian’s Methodology: “Accept God at His Word. Everyone else will catch up eventually.”
    The Evolutionist’s/Athiest’s/Secularist’s Methodology: “Sinful man studying a cursed world using only half the picture, ‘that which can be seen.'”

    Am I misreading you?

    Well, let me put it this way. The scientific method does not take into account the untestable, the unverifiable, etc. That’s fine. It’s great that the science behind my asthma medicine, my car’s engine, and the microprocessors of my computer is built upon verifiable knowledge. Science is a great thing.

    But because science rejects miracles, I don’t expect it to ever (at least in my lifetime) point to a miraculous Creation or to Adam & Eve as I know them. It relies on the unverifiable, the miraculous… faith.

    I would point out that there is literally mountains of science that is not found in the Bible, but that few, if any, dispute.

    And there are hundreds of miracles that have taken place throughout history that science will never be found in the science text books (save for the miracle of life, even if the origins are mistaken).

    What many fail to remember is that not only does the word of God present a perfect picture of God, but nature serves as a form of revelation itself, according to Romans 1. It points to the Godhead. It testifies that He is. To study nature and simultaneously reject God is to stumble over the simplest evidence He has given us–the world. I know you don’t reject that there is a god (which is great!), but many do. And they blame their unbelief on the biggest sign they have. In that regard, science is not enlightening; it is blinding. Progress means nothing if the cost is even one soul.

    …frequently due to the drag of the Bible.

    I can think of no scientific fact (not theory or hypothesis) which runs contrary to the word of God. So if the Bible has been blamed, it is due to a misunderstanding or a traditional belief and not to what the Bible has actually said.

  16. The Evolutionist’s/Athiest’s/Secularist’s Methodology: “Sinful man studying a cursed world using only half the picture, ‘that which can be seen.'”

    What does this mean? Is it possible for a evolutionary biologist to be a Christian? Or should that be “Is it possible for a Christian to be an evolutionarly biologist.”

  17. What does that mean? Well, it is of course from the perspective of one who believes in a literal Genesis/John 1 account of Creation. I don’t find it surprising for those who choose to ignore the statements of the Bible to come to wrong conclusions on their own. This is so for a number of reasons… The heart is deceitful above all, the Earth is cursed and does not reflect the original Creation, Satan and his minions are constantly at work to deceive and cast doubt upon the word of God, and so on. Left alone, without the abiding presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the word of God, the truth will always be out of reach.

    Is it possible for a Christian to be an evolutionary biologist? I’m going to say yes, but with a caveat. To do so would require the Christian to disbelieve not only Genesis, but also the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself about God creating Adam and Eve directly. However, at this point, it should be noted that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. If one can willfully choose to deny the word of God, one is willfully choosing not to exercise faith. And since we are saved by grace through faith, they ought to be especially encouraged to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling” and to “make their calling and election sure.”

    Is it possible for an evolutionary biologist to be a Christian? Well, anyone can be with a simple exercising of faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of the gospel. However, I would hope that when the old man is passed away and that person’s soul is reborn in a sinless state, they would allow the Spirit to lead them unto the truth of Genesis.

    While many many who profess faith may try “to see God working in the evolutionary processes” or to have Him act as the primordial cause of the first spark of life… Well, they may be seeing a god there, but it certainly isn’t the one who has manifest Himself in the word of God. And all counterfeits have their source with Satan and their finality in the lake of fire.

  18. What does that mean? Well, it is of course from the perspective of one who believes in a literal Genesis/John 1 account of Creation. I don’t find it surprising for those who choose to ignore the statements of the Bible to come to wrong conclusions on their own. This is so for a number of reasons… The heart is deceitful above all, the Earth is cursed and does not reflect the original Creation, Satan and his minions are constantly at work to deceive and cast doubt upon the word of God, and so on. Left alone, without the abiding presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the word of God, the truth will always be out of reach.

    Is it possible for a Christian to be an evolutionary biologist? I’m going to say yes, but with a caveat. To do so would require the Christian to disbelieve not only Genesis, but also the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself about God creating Adam and Eve directly. However, at this point, it should be noted that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. If one can willfully choose to deny the word of God, one is willfully choosing not to exercise faith. And since we are saved by grace through faith, they ought to be especially encouraged to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling” and to “make their calling and election sure.”

    Is it possible for an evolutionary biologist to be a Christian? Well, anyone can be with a simple exercising of faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of the gospel. However, I would hope that when the old man is passed away and that person’s soul is reborn in a sinless state, they would allow the Spirit to lead them unto the truth of Genesis.

    While many many who profess faith may try “to see God working in the evolutionary processes” or to have Him act as the primordial cause of the first spark of life… Well, they may be seeing a god there, but it certainly isn’t the one who has manifest Himself in the word of God. And all counterfeits have their source with Satan and their finality in the lake of fire.

  19. I’m going to say yes, but with a caveat.

    Sure sounds like a no to me.

    I would hope that when the old man is passed away and that person’s soul is reborn in a sinless state, they would allow the Spirit to lead them unto the truth of Genesis.

    But that sounds like a yes.

  20. It’s only a yes if the “truth of Genesis” is evolution, which no one could ever get from Genesis unless their means of interpretation comes from a fallible man instead of from the word of God itself. Genesis was never abused like it is today until churches started lifting the supposed knowledge of man above the revelation of God.

    Again, it is possible to be saved and believe in evolution. I don’t think it’s possible to do it comfortably unless the Spirit actually gives up on trying to teach you, nor do I think it can be done rightly. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and to supplant the creation by things which are not seen by an evolutionary process which we can apparently still observe today destroys faith.

    It is possible to be saved and lie, cheat and steal as well; it doesn’t make it right.

  21. It’s only a yes if the “truth of Genesis” is evolution, which no one could ever get from Genesis unless their means of interpretation comes from a fallible man instead of from the word of God itself. Genesis was never abused like it is today until churches started lifting the supposed knowledge of man above the revelation of God.

    Again, it is possible to be saved and believe in evolution. I don’t think it’s possible to do it comfortably unless the Spirit actually gives up on trying to teach you, nor do I think it can be done rightly. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and to supplant the creation by things which are not seen by an evolutionary process which we can apparently still observe today destroys faith.

    It is possible to be saved and lie, cheat and steal as well; it doesn’t make it right.

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