Friday, July 11, 2014

Debunking the Claim that the Book of Genesis Contradicts Itself

Greetings, mortals!  During my time interacting with you, many have confronted me with supposed "contradictions" in the Bible.  The favorite "contradictions" of apostates, atheists, and infidels seem to be the order and manner of creation in the Book of Genesis.  "Did God create man before beasts, or beasts before man?  Did He fashion waterfowl of the water, or of the ground?"  I wanted to take time out from my usual work of concealing God's Creation in mundane phenomena (and blogging about it) to address and resolve these questions.

Because if you don't stop asking them, trust me, you will go to Hell.

What is the order of creation in Genesis?

According to Genesis 1, God Created all that is, seen and unseen, in this order:
  1. Heaven (Gen 1:1);
  2. A formless Earth, which was nothing but a dark ocean on which God walked (Gen 1:2);
  3. Light;
  4. Night and day, after which the first day and night passed (Gen 1:4-5); 
  5. A firmament to divide the waters above and below, which firmament He called Heaven (Gen 1:7-8);
  6. Dry land on Earth, created by gathering all the waters below the firmam...uh, also one place. (Gen 1:9-10);
  7. Grass, herbs, and fruit are brought forth from the Earth (Gen 1:11-12);
  8. Night and  Then, the seasons, days and years (Gen 1:14);
  9. Light upon the Earth (Gen 1:15);
  10. The Sun to rule the day and the Moon to rule the night, plus the stars (Gen 1:16);
  11. Um, okay.  Then Light upon the Earth.  Again.  This time by way of setting the Sun, Moon and stars in the firmament of Heaven (the Heaven under the half of the dark ocean from item 5, above, not the Heaven in item 1, which is geographically unrelated to said dark ocean), thereby separating night from day.  Again.  (Gen 1:17-18);
  12. Every creature that has life is made from the waters, including whales, fish, waterfowl, and every single creature that moves. (Gen 1:20-21);
  13. Ohh, boy. Um, at this point, God creates the creatures of the land, as distinct from every single creature that moves, from the earth. (Gen 1:24-25);
  14. Finally, God makes men and women in His image and grants them dominion over all other creatures of the land, sea, and air. (Gen 1:26-30).
Okay, that went somewhat less smoothly than I expected it to.  But have faith!   All these "contradictions" will be proven to not be contradictions at all, because all things are possible with God.  On to Genesis 2!  

We pick up right where we left off.  Genesis 2 acknowledges that "[t]hus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them," adopting in total the recitation of Genesis 1.  It continues with the following additional matters of Creation:
  1. God rests on the Seventh Day (Gen 2:2).
  2. He sees that...ah, Christ.  He sees that while the grasses, herbs, and fruit are in the ground, the ground has not yet been tilled and it had not yet rained, so none of those plants, which He, in his omnipotence, willed forth from the Earth in Gen 1:11-12 actually came forth. (Gen 2:5);
  3. God fashions one man, Adam, from the dust of the earth.  Adam is utterly alone. (Gen 2:7);
  4. God wills forth trees in Eden (this time successfully). (Gen 2:9);
  5. God places Adam in Eden to tend it. (Gen 2:15);
  6. Because Adam is utterly alone, God forms from the earth all the beasts of the earth, again, and fowl of the air...again.  But from earth, not water. (Gen 2:18-20);
  7. Finally, God creates the one and only woman from Adam's rib (Gen 2:20-23).

What are the apparent contradictions?

  1. First there was Heaven and Earth but Earth is a dark ocean.  Then God creates a firmament that horizontally bisects the dark ocean, which firmament He declares to also be Heaven.  So Heaven is Created, then Created again, this time with a portion of the dark ocean of the Earth on top of it.
  2. The Earth is lit on at least two separate occasions and night and day are created and separated, like, a bajillion times.
  3. Grass, herbs, and fruit are called forth from the Earth, and God sees that they are good.  Then, they're in the Earth again till the land is tended and/or God calls them forth in Eden alone.
  4. Every creature that moves, swims, or flies is created from the water before men & women.  Then beasts of the land are created of the earth, also before men & women.  Then men & women are created and given dominion over all the creatures of the Earth.  Then Adam is created, but is utterly alone.  Then everything that crawls, walks, or flies is created from the earth -- after Adam.
  5. As just mentioned, men & women are created after all other living creatures.  Then Adam is created before all land-based animals and birds, and Eve is created after.  No mention is made of sea life.

Wow.  That's quite a list.

Shut up, mortal, I'm thinking.

Are these contradictions?

No.  Clearly not.  God is omniscient & omnipotent.  His Creation was, and is, perfect.  So why the "contradictions"?  Let's take them in order.

1. Creation of Heaven, then an ocean-only Earth, then Heaven in the middle of the Earth-ocean.

Some would say that this is a capitalization error -- that the firmament separating the part of the ocean-only Earth that remained ocean from the part that became land and sea is "the heavens," meaning the sky, not Heaven.  But not me.  God, in revealing His perfect Word, did not abide such errors.  That's why the Bible contains none.

No, what happened here is that God created Heaven.  Then He took part of Earth and simply made more Heaven, with a saltwater pool in the middle.  It's now a favorite attraction of those saved through Christ.

2. Light created; night and day divided.  Then night & day again, along with seasons, years, and days.  Then light upon the Earth.  Then light upon the Earth again, which is subsequently separated into night and day.  Again.

Okay, now, there are those who would argue that this is the kind of additive repetition of elements is indicative of Genesis being a story passed on orally and eventually transcribed.  But that's incorrect.  Here's what really happened, all of which is entirely consistent and not at all contradictory.

First, God Created Light, which He separated into night and day.  Then, He separated the dark ocean of Earth with Heaven.  The light had been above the dark ocean and lit its surface, but now there was light, then light-absorbing water, than Heaven, complete with a ground, and then more dark ocean.  What remained of Earth's dark ocean -- that which would become the land and sea -- was again dark.  Not because there wasn't light, mind you, but because that light was occluded by half the dark ocean and Heaven.  The second Heaven, not the first one.

Moving on.

Then, after calling forth photosynthetic plants -- we'll discuss that in the next subsection -- God creates the categories of night and day, along with seasons, days, and years.  He just doesn't put anything into them yet.  They're Platonic forms, sitting there, unused.  Then He creates light upon the Earth, so the Earth is lit, but then takes that light to make the Sun, Moon, and stars, and His omnipresent hands blot the light out in relation to the Earth.  It's as simple as that.

Finally, He places the Sun, Moon, and stars in Heaven (the second-but-equally-as-Heaven Heaven, not the first Heaven, which is no more Heaven than the second one), and the Earth is not only lit, but the categories of Earthly night and day are put to use.

See?  No contradictions at all.

3. Grasses, herbs, and trees are created and called forth from the Earth, and God sees them upon the Earth, but then they're not present except in the Earth, and not only have to be tended and rained upon to come forth, but have to be called forth by God a second time in Eden specifically.

As you'll recall, God called these photosynthetic plants upon the Earth, which He subsequently lit.  But then He had to block that light to separate it into the Sun, Moon, and stars.  There was just enough time for those plants to spread their seeds before dying for total want of light.  So they were there, then died, and the second generation of plants was in the Earth waiting for rain and care.  As for the plants in Eden, God just re-did His work.  Obviously.

But, wait, why would an omniscient being not plan ahead so he didn't have to do the same thing all over--

Mystery of faith.  On to the last two, which I'll explain together.

4 & 5. Everything that moves, including fowl, is Created from the waters.  Then land creatures, a subset of everything that moves, are created from the earth.  Then men & women are Created and given dominion over every creature of the earth, sea, and air.  Then, somehow, all the living things are gone and God makes Adam alone.  Then God makes all the beasts of the land and air from the earth and gives Adam dominion over them (making no mention of creatures of the sea).  Then God makes Eve.

I'll be honest with you, this is the most difficult "contradiction" to confront.  Not because it's a clear inconsistency in a Creation myth derived from similar creation myths of religions that preceded Judaism.  No sir, because that's not the case.  It's difficult to confront because it is somewhat inconsistent with what we'll call "modern concepts of morality prohibiting omnicide."

Like I said above, God called forth all those photosynthetic plants.  They die for want of light.  Then he Creates all the beasts of the sea, air, and land from the waters, and finally, his greatest Creation: men & women.  Those men and women were unfortunately naked, exposed, surrounded mostly by salt water and unfamiliar with desalinization techniques, and unable to rely on any plants at all for food (because, as I mentioned, all the plants are dead already).

While men and women were able to hunt and kill some smaller herbivores without tools, weapons, or defenses against injury, those herbivores themselves had nothing to eat.  They quickly died off.  That left the omnivores -- and especially carnivores -- desperate for food.  As you may know, men and women are somewhat less than capable in unarmed combat against other animals.  So, while mankind had dominion over all other creatures, hunger doesn't care about concepts like dominion.  Humanity was thus slaughtered.  

Shortly thereafter, following their descents into scavenging and cannibalism, all the other creatures of the land and air died off as well.  Creatures of the sea, which did not depend as heavily on photosynthetic plants, survived -- which is why they're not mentioned as being created again.  Look at that! Consistency in Genesis.

And so it came to pass that God started over again with Adam.  He made sure Adam had plenty of viable plants to live on in Eden.  He also made sure that the animals, seeing themselves named by Adam, were clear on the whole dominion thing and let Adam (and Eve) be until Eve screwed it all up.

There you go.  No contradictions at all -- because of some minor issues involving light and photosynthesis, God's perfect Creation descended into an orgy of starvation and slaughter, and required a bit of a reboot.

Okay, holy shit, I'm going to be sick.  And again, how could an omniscient, omnipotent God not plan ahead so he didn't have to--

Mystery of faith.  Get with the program.

There you have it, mortals.  Genesis contains no contradictions at all, because Almighty God is a loving God who gets everything right the first time.

Farewell, and as always, I look forward to your comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment