Creation? Which Creation?

Keith Reilly By Keith Reilly, 14th Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Philosophy>Other

A critical evaluation of the Biblical Creation story.

Creation? Which Creation?

The Bible is held to be the Holy Scripture in Christianity. No matter what doctrinal disputes arise between Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, all agree on the Bible being their cardinal text. Whether the stories within the Bible are interpreted literally or allegorically, the Bible is held as the inerrant basis for Christianity. Suffice to say, this veneration has made the Bible a target for Christianity’s critics, and it has proven to be an easy target.

People point to the Bible as rife with contradictions, however, and dispute it’s claims to inerrancy on that basis. On face value, that seems unfair, as the Bible is more of a library than a single book. Between it’s covers are stories, songs, poetry, letters, history, literature in addition to religious instruction. A compendium with that broad a sweep, having no single author, is likely to contain some contradictions.

But the charge is not made on that shallow a point: the contradictions occur within the individual works and often emerge in the most glaring fashion. One of the most prominent contradictions is contained within the first book of the Bible, Genesis. And it is on one of the most cardinal elements of Judeo-Christian theology: the Creation.

For your reference, the passages in question are Genesis 1:25-27 and Genesis 2:18-22.

The first passage tells us that God created man after having created the other animals and that the first woman was created simultaneously with the first man. Here are the relevant passages:

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And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image.... So God created man in his own image.

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So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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The second passage directly contradicts this, claiming that God created man before having created the other animals and that the first woman was created only after the first man and the animals (in that order) were created:

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And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 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.

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And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 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 the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

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Ronald D. Witherup, in his book Biblical Fundamentalism: What Every Catholic Should Know, states that fundamentalists object that the two accounts do not contradict each other, stating that the first passage is poetic while the second fleshes out the story in more detail. The contradictions, according to Witherup’s fundamentalists, are more apparent than real.

Quite frankly, this “criticism” seems more apparent than real!

Chronologically, the two stories contradict each other: how can they reconcile “man being created simultaneously with woman after the beasts” with “man created first, then the beasts, then woman”? This isn’t a matter of fleshing out detail: the details provided in each separate passage are clear enough, and in direct contradiction to each other. Excuses about “translation” don’t alter this problem, which is one of detail, not of interpretation.

So with the above in mind, we are entitled to ask any Christian when they invoke the Creation story…

Creation? Which Creation?

Tags

Bible, Catholic Church, Christianity, Contradiction, Creation, Creationism, Criticism, Genesis, God

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author avatar Keith Reilly
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author avatar Steve Kinsman
13th Aug 2011 (#)

I lean toward the Big Bang myself. Very well reasoned, Keith. Thank you.

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