(editorial note: I have decided that a summary of each part of the Bible that I discuss would be helpful for those just skimming through, so I will post a summary at the beginning of each post to give an idea of what the post covers. Thanks, Ron)
Genesis Chapter 2 contains the end of the first creation story, and begins the second creation story. It is with Gen 2 that the Bible starts contradicting itself when viewed as a literal word of God.
The segue into the second creation story Leaves a lot to be desired, because it is actually just the end of the first one.
Gen. 2:1-3 Is just telling us that in a somewhat redundant way, that the all-powerful God was tired after working all week and had to rest. So, to excuse his having a day off, he makes the Sabbath a holy rest day and, since he knows all, he rather ingeniously made Saturday the Sabbath so that professional football players could work on Sunday and not go to Hell. Praise be to God, lets all Tebow before him in thanks for our day of football.
So ends the story of creation, however, for some reason he scraped that creation without telling Moses (traditionally considered to be the author of the first five books of the Bible i.e. Pentateuch) and started over. Since this obviously confused Moses, he left both stories in.
This story is written with more detail and in a more poetic way. Most biblical scholars say that this is because the two stories were written by two different people in two different times basing their stories on two different sets of other mythologies. But, all good fundamentalists know that this is simply not true.
The story starts out by telling us that what follows is the order of creation on the day that God created everything. (Gen.2:4) Obviously God had learned from his earlier attempt and managed to do it all in one day this time.
So, this time he starts with the Earth and sky already fully formed, but barren and quite dry. (Gen.2:5)
To correct this, he causes fog to come out of the ground and get everything wet, (Gen. 2:6) he then takes some dirt and creates a man. (Gen.2:7) In his previous attempt he created man and woman at the same time and did it after he had created everything else. It seems that he thought this would work better. But he was mistaken, which he admits later.
God then does some gardening and calls his new garden Eden. He puts the mudman in this garden along with all the pretty trees, the trees that produce food, the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Gen 2:8-9) We can also safely assume that he made all the other plants at this time, though it doesn’t specifically say so.
Genesis 2:10-14 describes the rivers coming out of Eden, and the mineral rich lands around them which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really important except that this geography lesson puts the Garden of Eden somewhere in modern-day Eastern Turkey, meaning that all mankind and every animal on the planet started in Turkey.
Then God puts the man in the garden again (I’m assuming he wandered off while God was growing the trees and had to be brought back) and makes him the head gardener/groundskeeper. (Gen 2:15)
Then God tells the man that he can eat from every tree in the Garden (Gen 2:16) except for one: The Tree of Knowledge. God then tells his first recorded lie, when he tells the man that if he eats of this tree he will die that very day. (Gen 2:18) This fib will be covered in another post.
In Genesis 2:18 God realizes the mistake I mentioned earlier and says “…It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet [old English phrase meaning: helper] for him.” It is unclear who he is talking to, but it’s probably the female companion from chapter 1. See the post on Chapter 1 for an explanation of this unknown female.
So to keep the man company and give him help in the garden what does God do? He creates all the land animals and the birds. Doesn’t seem like they will be much help, but as the saying goes: “God works in mysterious ways.” This is the creation of the World’s first pets. He then presents the man who, out of the blue, has acquired the name “Adam” with all of the animals and has him name them, thereby craeting the World’s first zoologist. (Gen 2:19) No mention is made of the animals in the water, so I’ll assume that God kept the ones he created before, and then put them in the waters of the new Earth. Who named these animals is unclear.
Adam then names all 6-10 million insect species, 6-7 million species of land animals, and roughly 10 thousand different birds. How he did this in one day, and what all of these names were we do not know. Luckily he didn’t have to name fish and marine mammals because that would have been another 27,000 or so. Once he had compiled his species list, it became apparent to God that Adam’s 24-34 million companions (2 of each species) weren’t very good company, nor much help with the Garden. (Gen 2:20) Note: I used numbers for every species alive today, but if every species of animal that has ever lived was created that day then Adam had to name an estimated 24-34 billion different animals. How this many animals fit into a small corner of what is now Eastern Turkey is unclear.
So, to correct his helper mistake, God put Adam into a coma, cut him open, took out one of his ribs, then sutured him back up. (Gen 2:21) It seems that God’s supposed ability to do surgery and heal people without cutting them open hadn’t developed yet. No Benny Hinn for Adam.
God then took the rib which he had surgically removed from Adam, left for a while, turned the rib into a woman, and brought her to Adam for his approval. (Gen 2:22)
Adam looked at her and decided to call her “Woman.” (Gen 2:23) I know what you’re thinking, not a very imaginative name. Makes you wonder if he called elephants “long noses“, or called kangaroos “hoppies.” But, like I mentioned earlier, we will never know.
In Genesis 2:24 the author inserts an editorial note saying that the bit about Woman’s creation is the reason that men should leave their parents’ house when they get married. So, for all of you parents out there who are still housing your married sons you can point to this verse and tell him to leave.
The chapter ends with the author telling us that Adam and Woman were wandering around naked and proud of it. (Gen 2:25)
So, in summary, the second creation story tells us that when God recreated everything he changed the order up a little bit.
In the first story the order of creation was: (Numbered by day)
- A blob of water which would become the Earth, light, day and night, evenings and mornings.
- Dry land and the sky.
- All the plants.
- The Sun, Moon, and stars, (though no galaxies, asteroids, comets, or any other such nonsense) along with days, seasons, and years.
- Water animals and birds.
- Land animals, then men and women at the same time.
- Took the day off because he was tired.
The second time around the order of creation was:
- A complete Earth with light, seas, dry land, and I’m assuming (as they’re never mentioned) the Sun, Moon, and stars.
- Then he creates fog.
- Then he creates Adam.
- God then creates all the plants and trees as well as the Garden of Eden.
- God then creates all of the land animals and birds.
- God then created Woman.
- No rest day mentioned, it seems it was easier this time.
I mentioned before that this chapter along with Genesis 1 gives us out first Biblical contradiction. If you look at the orders of creation it becomes quite apparent what I meant. If, as literalists will tell you, the two stories are just one story with a summary followed by a more detailed account then the two accounts should contain the same order, but they don’t: first everything takes six days, then it only takes one day; first plants are created before people then they come after Adam but before Woman; first birds and land animals are created at separate times, then they’re created at the same time; first birds are created before man then they are created after him; first men and women are created at the same time after birds then they are created at different times with birds coming after man but before Woman.
These same literalists will point to my usage of “then” when talking about chapter two instead of the word “and.” They often say that since “and” is used instead of “then” that I can’t say with authority that the order is incorrect. However, 2:18 clearly says that Adam is “alone” which means there were no other creatures around. Then in 2:19-20 the animals and birds are created and Adam names them “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” meaning Adam was still lonely. So, at this point we have Adam created, then animals created then we move on to the creation of the female named Woman. The order is laid out quite clearly. And, besides, if everything was created at the same time as these literalists suggest by pointing to the word “and”, what does that do to the whole ‘six days of creation’ story? It destroys it, that’s what it does to it.
Another qualm they will have with my explanation is my saying that the second story all takes place in one day. I say this because 2:4 says it. Literalists often say that “day” could mean an era or any other such measurement and does not have to mean a 24hr cycle of rotation by the planet. In principle I agree. The problem is that if chapter 1 is also correct and part of the same story, then the 24hr ‘day’ was clearly created on days 1 (Gen 1:5) and 4 (Gen 1:14) before any animals or people were created, so that argument holds no water, unless… .
According to Biblical scholars these two stories are different, written by different people, at different times, in different parts of the Middle East, and when from the 5th-16th centuries the Catholic Church compiled and edited the early manuscripts into what we call the Bible (the first standard version we would recognize today as the Bible was compiled in the 10th century), they left both stories in so that various points in each story (e.g the Sabbath, and the Tree of Knowledge) which come up throughout the Old and New Testaments will have a basis. These conflicts wouldn’t have really been a problem at the time as the vast majority of Christians were illiterate, and laymen weren’t allowed to read the Bible because it was assumed that your average Joe wouldn’t understand the thing and that would cause problems and possible divisions within the Christian community; something we now know was an accurate assumption.
The scholarly explanation makes sense, and study of early manuscripts supports it, but, like most things for which there are mountains of evidence, literalists reject it. And, the idea espoused by some Christian sects (e.g. the Catholic Church) that the Bible is part fable and part truth brings up a whole separate set of problems with its being considered divinely inspired.
Anyhow, next we move on to Genesis chapter 3 and the Fall of Man and the stories get interesting for a while.