Three creation accounts
Many critics of the Bible claim that it begins with two contradictory creation accounts. They say that chapter 1 describes a six day creation in which plants and animals are created before humans and chapter 2 describes the creation of plants and animals after the first human was created.
Actually the first two chapters of the Bible contain three creation accounts and if you study them carefully you will find there are no contradictions between them.
The first account is Genesis 1:1.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
We learn from this that God created everything. The next verse begins the account of how the earth was created.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
This is followed by a period of six days in which God created the earth and a seventh day on which he rested. In this time it was only the earth that was created, not the rest of the universe. The belief that God created the universe during this time is based on a misunderstanding of what God did the fourth day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
It says that God placed lights in the sky. It does not say that he created the bodies that produced the lights at this time. This section begins with the earth in complete darkness. This darkness was probably the result of a cloud cover over the earth that kept any light from reaching it. On the first day, when God said, “Let there be light,” the cloud cover thinned enough so that light could reach the earth but sun itself couldn’t be seen. On the fourth day God removed the clouds completely so that the sun, moon, and stars could be seen. For more about this subject, read this post:
Opinions differ over whether the days were literal 24 hour days. The days were literal days but they might not have been 24 hours long.
Man was created on the sixth day. The account of how the earth was created is followed by a detailed account of his creation. It begins with these words:
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Some see a contradiction between the statement that no plant of the field had been created and the previous statement that God created plants on the third day. The reference to plants of the field only means that God had not yet created those plants that require human effort for their cultivation. And the creation of animals is mentioned after the creation of man but it isn’t clearly stated just when that creation took place.
Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
Chapter 1 describes the creation of the earth in chronological order. Chapter 2 focuses on the creation of man and other parts of the creation are mentioned when they affect man.
Here is how the creation of man is described in chapter 1.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
It describes man as having been created both male and female on the sixth day, but chapter 2 tells us that some time elapsed between the creation of the man and that of the woman. Since Adam named all of the animals during this time it seems unlikely that all of this could have happened in a single day. So how could man have been both male and female on the sixth day? Here is the description of the woman’s creation.
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Was the rib one of the bones that we call ribs or was it something else? Here is a post I wrote that I believe answers this question: Adam’s rib
The Bible begins with three creation accounts: the creation of the universe, the creation of the earth, and the creation of the first humans. If you study them you will find there are no contradictions between them.
There are parts of the Bible that seem to contradict each other if you don’t read them closely but if you study them you will find they agree. The fact that God wrote the Bible this way shows that he wants us to search for the truth.