Creation- What has God said in Genesis 1 and 2? Did He give two stories of Creation?
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
We should listen whatever is said after that.
Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams[b] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…
Then God Develops Adam
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 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. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
This is a beautiful story. We know it well.
How Can We Understand Creation?
A casual reading of Genesis 2:4-22 gives us a sense that God made man and then made a garden for him and gave him the job to work it. God saw Adam working and thought he needed company. I sense from God’s letting Abraham wait 20 years for the birth of Isaac that God would give Adam a chance to feel lonely before moving to satisfy that need.
Then God moves into the process of introducing Adam to all the animals. God would then work with him to get to naming when Adam has no such experience.
I think a 1-month process of Adam growing in his understanding of need and then actually deciding on all the names would be fast. 5 years would not be unreasonable. The Bible does not say. However, this is a casual story of discovery and growing. The story leads into the man welcoming the woman who he has longed for in the long process of working the garden and naming animals.
How About Chapter One
Now. in chapter 1 we have a quite different story of creation.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
In this story God made man and woman together and spoke to them together giving them the earth. It all happens on the late afternoon of the busy 6th day.
The Two Stories of Creation Do Not Fit Together
If you try to jam all that happened in the 2:4 story above, you have a very unrealistic story. You must pack the whole story with Adam working the garden and then feeling lonely. Then, God introduces all the animals to find one suitable for the man. Finally, God creates the woman and introduces her to the man one late afternoon on the 6th day.
Small other note is the name for God is different in Genesis 1 from Genesis 2. It seems likely that two different people wrote these dramatically different stories. Likely Moses had both these stories from his culture and used both with God’s guidance.
So why did God put two distinct stories into Genesis side by side without any apology or explanation? If Moses was writing, I would tell Moses to choose one or the other, but not choose both.
However, God is in this. He put two beautiful creation stories one after the other without apology.
It seems that God is showing us that the details of pre history are not His point. God sees that both these stories have merit. Story 1 has God making the whole universe by speaking and doing it very well.
Two Stories of Creation, Really?
Story two shows a story of God making Adam and working with him and maturing him to know that he is lonely. It is also valuable because we see that work is not punishment, but rather the blessing of God.
We see in the chapter 2 story that making men and women was not just about procreation. At some deeper level, the man and woman needed each other. Story two also shows how the two fell in chapter 3.
In Chapter 1, the man and woman are created together. They appear more equal leading into the start of chapter 2.
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so, on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet…
Story 2 also presents the story of what gets created when in a different order. It feels so different how God takes on creation in the second story.
What Was God’s Intent?
Given that God did not see fit to get the science or history of pre-history just so, I think we need to relax on what happened in the beginning. The stories together shows God as the bigger than life Creator and then a caring friend in the garden of Eden. It shows why we know what is good but cannot do it. To try to fix a chronology does not seem reasonable. God did not care, so why should we?
Let’s Calm Down On What Happened When in Creation
I think we need to have some humility in talking about pre-history with the non-Christians. Note our own internal history from God has no interest in this question. I think God would have done a much better pre-history story if His intent was for us to stand and die on the chronology.