Answering Genesis 1 and 2 Contradiction Claims

Update 2016-04-06: A month or so ago, in the middle of a few comments on other things, I let Tyler know I wanted to see a reply to this post. He had just had a son, so I expressed understanding if he didn’t have the time. After all, it took me three months to write my own. He didn’t express anything to the effect that he would. He remarked something about it being too long-winded. At any rate, I often comment on his Facebook posts, acting the Devil’s Advocate to his Theistic-Evolutionist posts, and soon afterward I noticed my recent comments weren’t there. In fact, they were all gone. I couldn’t find a trace of them, not even in my own activity log. I also noticed I can longer comment on any of his posts. I suppose he got tired of someone raining on his parade and bringing up unfortunate points that he’s not willing or able to deal with (backup link). Touche. As I told Tyler many times, you can’t just keep making bold claims without backing it up. He has another post, “10 theological questions no young-earth creationist can answer” (backup link), which sparked my interest. I started to write a response to that while I waited for him but it turned out there are two other very involved write ups on it (here and here) that Tyler did not officially respond to. Surprise, he prefers to respond in the comments ensuring his readers never have to bother with the icky details of the back and forth all truth discovery requires. Tyler fails to see the need to backup his large claims in a studious, rigorous and repeated manner. This post, then, stands as a testament to Tyler’s unwillingness to argue for his position in a way that all could make up their minds in an objective manner which claims were right and which were not. I will, however, be happy to continue our back and forth should Tyler ever wish to respond to this post on his own blog.

Answering Genesis 1 and 2 Contradiction Claims

I’m continuing the back and forth I’ve been having with Tyler, of God of Evolution.com, and his article on supposed Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions to which I’ve responded over here. As we had discussed, Tyler responded to my piece with a follow up entitled Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions. The following are a collection of his claims, attempting to prove Genesis 1 and 2 are mutually distinct and mutually contradictory creation accounts, with which I take issue and present responses to each.

Toledoth

Claim

“There are seven (not 10, as the CMI article claims) uses of this particular form of the Hebrew word in Genesis. In six of these cases (5:1, 6:9, 10:1, 11:10, 11:27 and 25:19), it introduces a genealogy. The only time the word doesn’t introduce a genealogy is — you guessed it! — Genesis 2:4.

The point being, there is nowhere else in Genesis that this word does what YEC proponents claim it does, that is, introduces a more “zoomed-in” retelling of a story that was told (and completed) immediately before it.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Tyler claims toledoth always introduce their section and that they do not conclude what came before. This is important because the Genesis 2:4 toledoth appears to introduce what follows as “the generations”, or ‘the account‘, with the apparent implication that it is a distinct and authoritative narration of the process of creation. This brings in contradictions between the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 creation narratives that are not present when the Genesis 2 account is understood as a more detailed look at day 6 of Genesis 1.

Response

“These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Genesis 2:4‘generations’, a toledoth

Regarding the toledoth point, Tyler said the toledoth issue is “an unpersuasive point to begin with.” Initially, I was tempted to agree, but having put considerable time into researching what views are out there, I’m inclined to believe this is perhaps one of the most important points in support of interpreting the Genesis 2 account as a supplemental history to Genesis 1 and not a stand-alone account. I will attempt to show why this is a better take below.

Before I go too far, however, I would like to point out what should be an obvious point: We are not especially intelligent. Those who came before us were not especially daft. Regardless of our knowledge gap, in being able to translate the original language forward, readers of all eras can identify the toledoth implications of Genesis 2 and they can also resolve these without much worry.

It was never necessary to make much of a fuss because from a plain reading of Genesis 1 the reader knows God already created everything and so what follows is reasonably what it says, an ‘account’, but an additional, different account, something that adds and doesn’t contradict what you already know. From the reader’s perspective, the people for whom the author is trying to be understood, this is the simplest and most straightforward reading. There’s a saying, ‘If the plain sense makes good sense seek no other sense lest you make nonsense.’

It should make one think twice that it only becomes necessary to force an interpretation of the Genesis 2:4 toledoth when one would like there to be a contradiction, such as those who would like to prove the Documentary Hypothesis, or those who would like to prove that a ‘plain reading’ can’t make sense from the text and so would like us to be able to read it differently to support a different view of our origins (ie. evolution).

I will also point out one more thing before we continue: While the text may be inspired the chapter and verse divisions are not. I will return to this thought below.

Returning to the Genesis 2:4 teledoth, the dominant view (I would hazard) of the authorship of Genesis, the Documentary Hypothesis (which has serious problems), mixes up authorship demarcation in the single thought expressed in Genesis 2:4; that is, “These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created” looks like the previous ‘author’ so it is thought to conclude what came before while “in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” looks like the next ‘author’ so it is thought to introduce the next section. Interestingly, their own gaffe helps support the view that Genesis 2 is not a stand-alone creation account because they place ‘These are the generations’ or ‘This is the account’ as part of what precedes and so nullifies the implication that Genesis 2 is another account of creation.

The view favoured by creationists, which I’ll call the ‘Tablet Model’ as Answers in Genesis does, makes a reasonable case that toledoth thoughts (that is the sentence or part of the sentence rather than the specific word toledoth or ‘generations’) are subscripts, not headers, and that they refer to what was written above on the original tablet. The next thought is presumed to come from the next tablet and a new author. This colophon view (in-depth article; layman article here) is actually supported by archaeological evidence.

If you read the wikipedia article, you will notice the introduction closes with “the hypothesis received some support from R. K. Harrison (1969) but otherwise remained without acceptance in scholarly circles.” This statement is in regards to the ‘tablet theory’ while I am trying to highlight the archaeological evidence that “ancient narrative tablets usually ended in colophons” and “many more colophons have been discovered among Babylonian cuneiform texts.” Please note again that the Documentary Hypothesis has issues with Genesis 2:4, which end up supporting the claims in this post, and it’s many other serious issues which I’ve linked above.

The hiccup, but far from fatal flaw, in the Tablet Model view, is that it’s not always an apples-to-apples comparison against the Documentary Hypothesis because of the Tablet Model’s focus on the toledoth formulations (ie. author, place, location commonly found in these verses) rather than the toledoth word occurrences. When the two ideas are considered together, however, you can begin to see how toledoth may in fact be seen as referring to what came before and thus alleviate the apparent problem of the Genesis 2:4 toledoth.

The key to understanding the Tablet Model is grasping that the subscript colophon, evidently always on the end of tablets, indicates the extent of what that author of that tablet knew at that point in time. The following table and paragraph quickly summarize the colophon claims as described by the article Who Wrote Genesis? Are the Toledoth Colophons? See the chart under the heading “Moses’ Editorial Skills”.

colophon-passagesGenesis 2:4a is a plausible summary thought of the Genesis 1 creation account. Genesis 5:1 is a plausible colophon by Adam for his line on his tablet up to the time he died. Genesis 6:9a is a plausible colophon by Noah; and would Noah have really said “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9b) about himself? Genesis 6:9b is likely the division where the next author inserted that superlative. Genesis 10:1 can be understood as a colophon by Noah’s sons indicating the extent of what they knew of Shem, Ham and Japheth up to Genesis 9:29. Genesis 11:10 can be seen as a colophon by Shem as looking back to Genesis 10:21-32 which talks about Shem’s line. Genesis 11:27 similarly can be seen as a colophon by Terah referring back to Genesis 11:10b-26 which talks about what was known of Terah’s line line to Abram. Genesis 25:19 is seen as a colophon by Isaac and Ishmael as the concluding thought of the author of what they knew of Isaac mentioned in Genesis 25:5-6 before they died.

By understanding the toledoth formulations as colophons, subscripts on the end of tablets, we realize they refer to what came before and that means Genesis 2:4 indicates that what came before was the “toledoth” (‘the generations’ or ‘the account’). Genesis 2 no longer carries the implication from Genesis 2:4 that it is a second, stand-alone, authoritative account of creation.

Remember what I mentioned above, the text is inspired but chapter and verse divisions are not: This doesn’t support the colophon view itself, but may help those who find it difficult to see text from a subsequent chapter referring to the previous chapter as in Genesis 2:4. It’s a simple mental hurdle but a hurdle nonetheless if it’s the first time you’ve heard this.

I took quite some time to digest this proposition above and I now feel this makes much more sense, both a stronger and clearer sense, of the Genesis text than either an uninformed plain reading or of the Documentary Hypothesis. I encourage all those interested to consider the subscript colophon claim, its archaeological support, and its literary support from the text in the article mentioned above.

Further Reading

You may be interested in a slightly middle-ish view Frank DeRemer entitled Structure, toledoths, and sources of Genesis in which he describes his less rigid view of toledoth formulations. As it concerns us, he believes Genesis 2:4 is a special “indivisible syntactic unit” intended to “link [God’s] two parts [Genesis 1 and 2] in an artful way, with another [Personal Toledoth] of exceptional form.” DeRemer even asserts it is wrong to take the Genesis 2:4 toledoth “as the colophon of the prior section or as the title
of the next section”
but by using the toledoth as a link between two sections it supports the view that the author (God) was continuing a story and we can reasonably assume no author intends to tell a story which itself is internally contradictory.

Shrubs vs Plants and Trees

Claim

“I don’t think “of the field” (Hebrew: hassadeh) is a qualifier that requires any additional explanation. In that link, you’ll notice the exact same phrase is applied to the animals God makes — oops, I mean “had made” — in verses 2:19 and 2:20, and I’ve never heard a young-earther say this refers only to domesticated animals or some other small subset of the animal kingdom.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Tyler claims the qualifier ‘of the field’  is immaterial for the purpose of differentiating Genesis 2:5’s ‘shrubs’ and Genesis 1:11’s ‘plants and trees’ and therefore it does not help support the view that Genesis 2 focuses in on different specifics on day 6 as opposed to standing alone as a separate and distinct account of creation.

Response

“Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation [or grass]: seed-bearing plants [or grass] and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.” Genesis 1:11vegetation [or grass], plants [or grass], trees

vs

“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.” Genesis 2:5shrub, of the field, plant [or grass]

The first word, ‘shrub’, we can safely say has no ambiguity with Genesis 1’s ‘grass’ or ‘trees’. Contrast ‘shrub‘ with ‘grass‘ or ‘tree‘ and you will see the difference. It is clear ‘shrub’ is something different that was not yet ‘in the earth.’ This word is not a problem.

The second word, ‘plant’, is the same as the word from Genesis 1 and so we need extra information to determine if we’re talking about the same plants: If we are then there’s a duplication of ordered information and potential contradiction which might lead the reader to resolve the issue by thinking Genesis 2 is a separate account, unrelated to what happened in Genesis 1; But, if we’re not talking about the same plants as Genesis 1 we reasonably conclude we’re talking about details that add to and provide more detail to what came before. We need clarification.

Clarification is exactly what we get and it’s all in the very same thought expressed in verses 5 and 6: (1) We get ‘shrubs of the field‘, and lest we ignore the first ‘of the field’ Hebrew adds emphasis by repeating ‘of the field’ in ‘plants of the field‘; and (2) the reasons why these particular shrubs are not around yet, that is, (a) no rain, and (b) no one to cultivate these shrubs and plants; the ‘grass’ and ‘trees’ of Genesis 1 (a) had a “mist…to rise from the earth” (Genesis 2:6) for water, and (b) do not need cultivation. It is silly to imply, as Tyler does, that the same water of Genesis 2:6, which “used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground“, is unable to water ‘plants and trees’ of Genesis 1 and therefore to conclude that Genesis 2 is a separate, distinct creation account. It is more reasonable to understand the text as saying that these particular plants, ‘of the field’, needed both rain and cultivation to grow. In this view, there is no contradiction with Genesis 1 and we understand Genesis 2 as following with more detail on events of the former chapter.

We can now logically conclude, due to Genesis 2:5’s clarification, emphasis, and internal rationale for its own ‘plant’ word repetition, that we are to understand the chapter as now looking at particulars of the Genesis 1 creation account.

The qualifier ‘of the field’ does, in fact, impart meaning critical to understanding the verse because of its integration with the full construction of the thoughts expressed in Genesis 2:5.

Claim

“In that link, you’ll notice the exact same phrase is applied to the animals God makes — oops, I mean “had made” — in verses 2:19 and 2:20, and I’ve never heard a young-earther say this refers only to domesticated animals or some other small subset of the animal kingdom.

And, just in case Gallant would like to argue that domestic animals are being talked about here, the same phrase is also used in Genesis 3:1, in reference to the serpent. Pretty sure he wasn’t anybody’s pet.”  -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Tyler claims Genesis 2:5-8 “presents a problem — there are no plants — and gives two reasons for this: there is no water, and there is no man to take care of them. In verse 6, God provides the water, and in verse 7, he provides the man. And, in verse 8 — voila! Plants,” implying (1) Genesis 1:26’s man is not available, and (2) that because man is not available therefore God must create him and, if so, Genesis 2 is a separate and distinct account of creation.

Response

I can understand Tyler’s apparent unfamiliarity with creationist material when he says “I’ve never heard a young-earther say this refers only to domesticated animals or some other small subset of the animal kingdom.” One of the main problems as creationists see it, after all, is the lack of teaching on this very topic. All that said, the major creation organizations do talk about this very thing as this is a very old controversy and it’s been covered many times before.

CMI touches on this in their article, Naming the animals: all in a day’s work for Adam: “Adam was not required to name any of the sea creatures, or any of the creeping things. And as the beasts of the field were not specifically mentioned in the creation list, we can regard them as being a subdivision of the beasts of the earth. That is, Adam was required to name only some of the total land animal population of his own day.

ICR says in their article, Adam and the Animals: “Note that the animals so named included only the cattle, the birds, and the field animals. Not included were the “beasts of the earth,” the “creeping things” and the “fish of the sea” (Genesis 1:24, 26). Thus the vast multitudes of marine animals and insects, as well as reptiles and amphibians, were excluded. The cattle evidently were the domesticable animals (horses, sheep, cows, etc.) and the “beasts of the field” were animals that would live in the wild in the Garden of Eden and its nearby fields.”

Finally, AIG states in their article, How Could Adam Have Named All the Animals in a Single Day?, “Note that Scripture explicitly states that Adam named all the “livestock” (Hebrew behemah), the “birds of the air” (Hebrew oph hashamayim) and all the “beasts of the field” (Hebrew chayyah hassadeh). There is no indication that Adam named the fish in the sea, or any other marine organisms, nor any of the insects, beetles or arachnids.”

Tyler mentions ‘of the field’ being used “in reference to the serpent” of Genesis 3:1 and that this might detract from the proposed importance of the phrase ‘of the field’ as a critical qualifier as discussed above. It’s arguable, looking at the various translations and word ordering, whether ‘of the field’ can be applied to the serpent or whether it is a comparison against “any beast of the field,” but, on the other hand, I would ask what problem arises labeling the serpent, referring to the animal, as ‘of the field’? As CMI put it (see full quote above), the “”beasts of the field” were animals that would live in the wild in the Garden of Eden and its nearby fields.” There’s no value judgement placed on the animal. We place value judgement on the obvious high-jacking of the serpent form because of the evil one who did it, namely Satan.

As we see, the qualifier, ‘of the field,’ is important for each instance it is used in Genesis 2. Its usage further emphasizes that Genesis 2 follows on Genesis 1 with more detail about the the creation man, in particular. The text is shown to go out of its way, when read carefully, to show that it is not a separate, distinct account of creation, but rather further details on day 6 events.

Further Reading

An Understanding of Genesis 2:5 provides an in-depth write up of Genesis 2:5, its interpretation, and its place in relation to Genesis 2’s shrubs and plants ‘of the field’ and, in greater context, with Genesis 1’s ‘plants and trees.’

Creation of Animals for Adam

Claim

“Unlike in Genesis 1, Genesis 2 contains no mention of days, mornings or evenings that separate out the various creative periods. And, as you can surely see, the order of the two is completely different. Genesis 1: Plants and trees, fish and birds, land animals, men and women. Genesis 2: Man, trees, land animals and birds, woman.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, As different as morning and evening: Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

“Creation of animals: It is perfectly congruent for (a) God to have created all animals in Gen 1:24 and for God to have created more of those animals to have Adam name them (to see God actually creating things and to discover none are like Adam), and (b) to take the text to mean that they had already been made and that God “brought” them to him which is the wording of many translations.” -Matthew of Selah.ca, A response to…As different as morning and evening: Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

“No, it isn’t “congruent.” Genesis 1 says God made birds on one day, then animals on the next, followed by humans. According to the YEC hermeneutic, Genesis 2 says God made birds, then on the next day, animals, then one man, then more birds and more animals, then woman.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Tyler claims here that Genesis 2 presents an order of creation at odds with Genesis 1 which he asserts supports the view that Genesis 2 is intended as a distinct, stand-alone account of creation.

Response

On the sixth day, God created land animals, followed by man, “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). The supposed out-of-sequence animal mentioned in Genesis 2, then, are the birds. Ignoring, for now, the arguments made above–which show Genesis 2 follows chapter 1 with more detail about day 6 and thus eliminates day-creation contradictions–I will look at the text in this section, in particular, to show that Genesis 2 is a complementary addition to Genesis 1 and not a separate, distinct and therefore contradictory account of creation.

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. 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.
Genesis 2:19, NIV

vs

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Genesis 2:19, KJV

From the text we can narrow our focus to the word “formed”  which imparts implication to the text depending on whether it is translated in the pluperfect tense (ie. NIV) or the past tense (KJV). In the pluperfect tense, we understand God to have already made the animals at an earlier time which he then brings to Adam for naming. This agrees with the creation of animals and birds in the then past tense, that is Genesis 1. In the past tense, we understand God to form animals and to bring them to Adam in the same tense, that is in relatively quick succession, as opposed to some unrelated creative act (ie. Genesis 1 creation and a separate Genesis 2 creation). This second interpretation might lead some to conclude that where Genesis 1 indicates birds were created on day 5 and animals on day 6, Genesis 2 indicates they were created together, and so there appears to be a contradiction. The past tense translation is in question, but need it be?

I submit that, regardless of the translation of tense, there is no contradiction with Genesis 1. I say this because (1) the pluperfect tense can be interpreted to agree between Genesis 1 and 2 even if you think Genesis 2 is a separate, distinct account; and (2) the past tense translation only becomes a problem when the reader interprets Genesis 2 as a separate, distinct creation account, and we have already discussed in detail why it is more likely to be simply more detail added about day six, above. This is why I said,

Creation of animals: It is perfectly congruent for (a) God to have created all animals in Gen 1:24 and for God to have created more of those animals to have Adam name them (to see God actually creating things and to discover none are like Adam),

and

(b) to take the text to mean that they had already been made and that God “brought” them to him which is the wording of many translations.

Either translation of “formed” is acceptable. There is no textual reason to constrain God to creating the entirety of the animal kingdom in the days of Genesis 1 without leave to create anything more after that.

While Tyler would like to see Genesis 2 as a separate and distinct account of creation, that preference does not come from the text, itself, on careful inspection, neither does it pass the keeping it simple principle: The text flows from an account of creation (all created things in Genesis 1), to the details of a specific creation (man and woman in Genesis 2), to the details of a specific event (the Fall in Genesis 3), and onward through the history of mankind from the events mentioned in the previous chapters.

Lest we forget and ignore the critical silence of the following chapters (Genesis 4 and beyond) which give no hint to any supposed multiple creation accounts or the consequences arising from them as mentioned in the first two chapters: There is no mention of multiple creations; There is no mention of multiple original peoples; Adam and Eve are the still the first two living; Serpents (the animals) were still created on day 6; and on and on scripture continues as if everything flowed from one to the next without any contradiction. There is no textual indication that Genesis 2 is a separate and distinct account of creation from Genesis 1.

Claim

“Creation of animals: It is perfectly congruent for (a) God to have created all animals in Gen 1:24 and for God to have created more of those animals to have Adam name them (to see God actually creating things and to discover none are like Adam), and (b) to take the text to mean that they had already been made and that God “brought” them to him which is the wording of many translations.” -Matthew of Selah.ca, A response to…As different as morning and evening: Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

“Not to mention the fact that verses 18 and 20 very clearly explain what the primary purpose of verse 19 is. It’s not to “see God actually creating things and discover that none are like Adam.” It’s to create a suitable helper for man.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Tyler claims the primary purpose of creating animals is not for Adam to “see God actually creating things and discover that none are like Adam” but for God to “make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:19)

Response

Tyler is mixing up goals, “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18b), with methods,”[God] brought [the animals] to the man to see what he would name them” (Genesis 2:19b). Tyler makes an unsubstantiated leap when he claims that verse 18 and verse 20 explain the primary purpose of creating the animals: A first reading might lead one to agree with Tyler but when one takes the text at its word you can take note of the objective facts: (1) God sets out to make a helper for Adam, (2) He then makes or brings animals to Adam to have them named, (3) no suitable helper is found among the animals, (4) God creates Eve who evidently fulfills the suitable helper role.

In his reading, Tyler has ascribed intentionality to God that is not present in the text, itself. Tyler can be excused for presuming it is implied by the sequence of the text but that argument doesn’t carry the weight he needs to support the assertion that Genesis 2 is a separate and distinct account of creation.

You can identify Tyler’s interpretive leanings when he says, “Verse 18 identifies a problem — man is alone — and God sets out to rectify this by saying he will make a helper. God makes a bunch of helpers (verse 19), but decides none of them are suitable (verse 20).” Tyler (a) assumes God’s making or bringing animals to Adam is ‘making a bunch of helpers’ but the text does not say that–Tyler can only read this view into the text–and (b) Tyler asserts that God ‘decides none of them are suitable’ but that deciding is not from the text, either.

Now, if Tyler’s view is not correct, I certainly grant a plain reading of Genesis 2 also leaves open the question of what the purpose of the creation of animals was. I submit, as do the major creationist organization, that the reason can be gleaned from the implication of the text when it says “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found” (Genesis 2:20) and, when finally presented with Eve, Adam says “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23). We can deduce from the text that Adam was expressing satisfaction at the conclusion of a process: The search of the animals for a suitable helper.

It is only when we have an interpretive bias that we begin to read into the text what is not actually expressed in the text. The plain reading of Genesis 2 does leave us with the question of why name the animals but as intelligent readers we easily understand from the text that God wanted Adam to experience for himself that none of the animals were like him.

“This view makes verses 19 and 20 bizarre and irrelevant. If God knows from the beginning that he needs to make woman to serve as a suitable helper for man, why spend all the time talking about stuff he previously made that wouldn’t serve as a suitable helper?” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Exactly: Why? Tyler has a problem no matter which way he goes: Why did God create all those “helpers” if He already knew they wouldn’t serve as a suitable helper (as per the quote above). In Tyler’s view, on the other hand, why did God create new animals but then decide “none of them are suitable.” Either way verse 19 and 20 are “bizarre and irrelevant” in Tyler’s interpretation.

“(b) Like Genesis 2:4-8, 2:18-22 is a straightforward narrative. Verse 18 identifies a problem — man is alone — and God sets out to rectify this by saying he will make a helper. God makes a bunch of helpers (verse 19), but decides none of them are suitable (verse 20). So he makes woman, and gives her to the man (verses 21-22).” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

“These guys can play fast and loose with verb tenses all they like, but it doesn’t change the fact that they really are screwing up the story.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

I submit that it is not the creationists who are “screwing up the story” but rather those who make claims like “God makes a bunch of helpers (verse 19), but decides none of them are suitable (verse 20)” as neither assertion is actually in the text, itself. God did not make any more helpers other than Eve. God created or brought animals to Adam for naming. Reading anything more into that needs more support from the text itself and in the form of making sense of all that happened – as the creationist position does by explaining why Adam named all the animals during this process. God did not decide none of the animals were suitable. He’s the creator of the universe, He knew none would be suitable. It was for Adam’s benefit, seeing God creating things and giving Adam the experience of seeing none of the animals were like him and could be a “suitable helper.”

The interpretation of the text that takes the text at its word and also makes sense of all of the text at once is the creationist position: God knows “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18) God creates and brings animals to Adam for the two-fold purpose of showing Adam He is the creator (Adam doesn’t yet know God is the Creator of all these things) and letting Adam experience for himself that no other animal yet created was a “helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:19-2) These two points are deductions from the text that help make sense of the text as opposed to Tyler’s view which creates a problem with God’s omniscience. God then creates Eve and Adam responds: ““This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23) Note God did not say whether or not a suitable helper was found for Adam, but Adam said it, and he said this about none of the animals.

Real, Eternal Value Intended by the Original Authors

Claim

I hope young-earth proponents really do accept the theological and existential truths of Genesis 1-3, as they claim to, because those are the only ones that really matter … It adds nothing to the text if you take that list of deeper truths, and add onto the end, “Oh, and it also literally happened that way, too.” It adds nothing. Maybe you have a couple history factoids to add to your memory banks, but it’s not going to change the way you pray, the way you think about God or the way you live.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Tyler believes that theological and existential truths, and not historical truths, are the only truths of Genesis that matter.

Response

The history of Genesis is critical to the integrity of the faith. That actual, factual people, places, events and things, appear in Genesis is essential to the text that comes after, to the audience, and to our interpretation and understanding of the nature and relationship between God and man. Without the historicity of Genesis, the theological and existential truths gleaned become meaningless. We ride on the shoulders of great theologians who figured out the things we are now forgetting – and it is these very things which hold up the ground on which we wish to stand.

‘Whenever you remove a fence, pause long enough to consider why it was put up in the first place.’ – G.K. Chesterton, paraphased

The first and foremost question we should consider is why, here in Genesis, we should forego reading the text at its word while, in the rest of scripture, we tend to more easily take the text at its word? Why is that? Certainly, the six-day creation and global flood are just as super-natural as the parting of the Red sea, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego alive and well in the fiery furnace, the virgin conception, Lazarus raised from the dead, Jesus raised from the dead, the lame walking, the blind receiving sight, and more miraculous things. At what point do we say, “we now believe scripture starting at such and such a verse and chapter?” More importantly, on what grounds would we say that? What is the measure of your hermeneutic?

The major creationist organizations, AIG, CMI, ICR, employ the historical-grammatical method:

“This method presupposes that human beings are rational creatures capable of linguistic communication, and that linguistic communication is meaningful and objective. Historical-grammatical exegesis involves a systematic approach to analyzing in detail the historical situation, events and circumstances surrounding the text, and the semantics and syntactical relationships of the words which comprise the text.” The Bible and hermeneutics

Put another way, this approach primarily attempts to determine what the author was saying, what the message was the author intended to be heard, what the audience would have heard, and how the audience would have understood what the author said.

It is clear from the preceding sections that the author actively intended the audience to understand the historical aspects as we would from a surface reading. That is, a plain six-day creation, as we understand days, with Adam and Eve created on day 6, and Genesis 2 providing more detail on day six from Genesis 1.

A second question we should ask is what impact to our theology occurs when Genesis is not understood as an accurate historical account:

I hope young-earth proponents really do accept the theological and existential truths of Genesis 1-3, as they claim to, because those are the only ones that really matter…” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

The problem with saying theological and existential truths are the only truths that matter is that they are connected with and actually supported by the actual people, places and events of Genesis actually occurring in space and time as described.

“The issue is not whether a person can be a Christian and believe in evolution, but what that person has to abandon theologically and biblically in order to hold to his belief in evolution. While it is possible to believe in God and evolution, this does not mean that you can believe in both with a consistent and coherent understanding of Scripture.” The Consequences of Denying a Supernatural Creation of Adam

For example, as AIG notes in the article quoted above, “Bowler, unlike many Christians, recognizes that evolution not only destroys the creation of Adam but also the concept of original sin and the atonement of Christ.

In what way have “all died” due to Adam, as in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Do we say Adam was really not the “first man” in verse 45, “The first man Adam became a living being.” How did sin enter the world through one man and to all people through one man unless he was the real and first man in history as in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…” Surely, Paul is wrong in Romans 5:14 and death was already in the world, “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses,” but then how does it follow that Jesus gift of righteousness follows Adam’s non-existence and non-existent sin in verse 17, “by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

We have only looked at original sin and atonement theology here, and in very little space, and we have already created a mess of scripture. It is clear from the text what the author (Paul) is trying to convey but his very argument depends on the historicity of Adam as recorded in Genesis.

As you can read for yourself, the theological problems created by a non-historical reading of Genesis extend all throughout scripture to theological issues dealing with salvation:

“Christians need to consider what Jesus’ death achieved if evolution is true and physical death and suffering were already present in an evolving world before Adam disobeyed God. The consequences of these ideas are apparent. Once we reject the biblical revelation that God created his world “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and that physical death never came about because of Adam’s disobedience then there really is no need for the Cross, atonement, or a new heaven and earth, as biblically all of these are needed because death and suffering entered into the creation through Adam’s disobedience toward God in Genesis 3 (Romans 5:12–21, 8:19–22; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; Revelation 21:4, 22:3).” The Consequences of Denying a Supernatural Creation of Adam

We must question statements made by Jesus when he talks about origins, and this calls into question his deity:

“The denial of the supernatural creation of Adam also calls into question the reliability of the Lord’s teaching. In Mark 10:6 Jesus said, “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’” The statement “from the beginning of the creation” is a reference to the beginning of creation and not simply to the beginning of the human race. Jesus was saying that Adam and Eve were there at the beginning of creation, on Day Six, not billions of years after the beginning. Jesus understood from the text of Genesis that Adam was created at the beginning of creation, which is directly opposed to the evolutionary opinion of the origin of man.” The Consequences of Denying a Supernatural Creation of Adam

Once you have called into question original sin (which original sin?), atonement (for what and whose sin?), and the very words of Jesus, who claims to be God (but He’s wrong about His own account of creation?), you have got some serious problems. Your theology falls apart if you take the bible at its word, or else you begin to try to reinterpret scripture away from its plain meaning in order to get things to fit…but they don’t really ever fit back together nicely ever again because scripture is so integrated in what it’s saying.

One more question we should ask is how a non-historical reading of Genesis affects us existentially, that is, how we act in real life based on what we think we know about scripture and the historicity of Genesis, in particular:

“[A historical Genesis] adds nothing. Maybe you have a couple history factoids to add to your memory banks, but it’s not going to change the way you pray, the way you think about God or the way you live.” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

Actually, it does effect the way you live, if you’re like most rational people who see a clearly “wrong” account of our origins in Genesis and decide that if the god of the bible can’t even get the first book right then why believe any of it?

You see, our children are smart. If the science teacher presents the evolutionary story as the real history of the world supported by ‘science’, what would you reasonably expect if they are not adequately presented with the alternative explanation that better accounts for the facts and science supporting the Bible’s historical record?” – What percentage is acceptable to you?

Ideas have consequences. Ideas about interpretive choices have consequences, too. CMI and AIG have long talked about the statistics of youth leaving the church and the various reasons for that: Why is the church losing its young people?, What percentage is acceptable to you?, Church Youth Need a New Approach!, Today’s Youth—Walking Away from Truth, Already Gone. One of the major reasons that come up again and again is the clear and obvious contradiction between biblical origins and secular origins. Our children are smart. They recognize the problem and realize that the god talked about in the bible doesn’t mesh with a god who can’t even get his story of creation right. They don’t live with cognitive dissonance. They abandon what clearly isn’t being supported by logical argument to them. They abandon the bible. They abandon the supposed god of the bible.

I hope young-earth proponents really do accept the theological and existential truths of Genesis 1-3, as they claim to, because those are the only ones that really matter…” -Tyler of God of Evolution.com, Continuing the discussion about Genesis 1 and 2 contradictions

If theological and existential truths, and not historical truths, are the only truths that matter then we now see they fall without being based on a historical Genesis. You have nothing left to stand on once the historicity of Genesis is removed. You can either force an interpretation of scripture, which causes too many problems with the rest of scripture, or, as many reasonable people have, you abandon the faith as clearly full of errors and obviously not the proclamation of any god worth following.

Further Reading

Three Reasons Why Genesis Matters, Genesis: Real, Reliable, Historical, Should Genesis be taken literally?, Genesis: Does It Matter?, The Consequences of Denying a Supernatural Creation of Adam, Compromises and Consequences – The Genesis Account,

Conclusion

Tyler, from God of Evolution.com, has asserted that Genesis 2 is separate and distinct account of creation, and is not, as creationists claim, a more detailed look at day 6 of the Genesis 1 account of creation. Tyler makes further claims in support of his view, including the usage of toledoth to indicate what follows in Genesis 2 is an authoritative creation account; the order of creation in Genesis 2 contradicting the order of creation in Genesis 1; word tenses and meanings supporting a present-tense creation in Genesis 2 negating the proposition that Genesis 2 internally follows Genesis 1; and that the existential and theological truths are not negatively impacted if Genesis is not a historical account of creation. For each of Tyler’s claims, I have provided a detailed response.

For toledoths, we have discovered their actual historical usage supports the view that they conclude what came before rather than introduce what comes after, meaning the Genesis 2 toledoth concludes Genesis 1 and simultaneously introduces the account of creation on day 6, in particular. This shows the two chapters are meant as a unity and not as separate and distinct accounts of creation with contradictions.

We have discussed the order of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 and looked at the language and what it was intended to convey. We discovered that the particular language supports either God bringing animals already created in Genesis 1 or God creating new animals for a specific purpose, either of which are compatible with Genesis 2 being a complementary, detailed view of day 6 of Genesis 1. There is no reason to assume Genesis 2 contradicts Genesis 1 or that Genesis 2 is a separate and distinct account of creation.

We also talked about the historicity of Genesis being critical to and supporting existential and theological aspects. While Tyler claimed the historicity did not matter at all, we found out that it does matter not only for the way people live but also theologically. We discovered that existential and theological truths collapse without the history being real.

As we’ve seen, there is a very, very strong case to take Genesis at its word. Furthermore, the integrity of the bible is broken when you view Genesis as non-historical. I hope this has helped shine perhaps a different light on the scripture and encourages you to trust the bible at its word.

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria

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