Contradictions Between the Genesis Creation Stories

Joseph Alward

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"There is no way of preserving the literal sense of the first chapter of Genesis, without impiety, and attributing things to God unworthy of him."
-- St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

The First Creation Story

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.   And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the

(It is clear that the "light" the author of the verses above is talking about is daylight--the light that causes "day," which obviously is the sun. So, the author of the verses above is talking about God having created the sun on the first day.) Some apologists argue that the "light" described here was not light from the sun, but some other "light," but that doesn't make sense, otherwise we would have to believe that God turned that "light" off at the end of each day to allow the darkness of night. That's ridiculous, of course. The author of this verse clearly was speaking about the sun.

And God said, Let there be lights in the....heaven to divide the day from the night [and] give light upon the earth..... And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day (this is obviously the sun) , and the lesser light to rule the night (the moon) rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

The "greater light" is obviously the sun, which the author of this verse believed was created on the fouth day. It looks like a different author wrote this verse. It couldn't have been the same author who wrote the first few verses of Genesis, because that first author thought that God created the sun on the first day. Why are there two contradictory accounts? The answer seems to be tht the editors three thousand years ago evidently wanted not to offend the apparently two different cultures whose traditions conflicted, so they just included both stories of when the sun was created.

And God created [animals, then he created] man in his own image... male and female created he them... And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  

           Note: God made the animals, then he made man and woman.

The Second Creation Story

In the verses below, the deity is no longer called "God," as he was in the verses above.  In the passages above (the first creation story), the deity is never once called "Lord"; he was called "God" few dozen times, but never once "Lord." This is strong evidence that the author of the verses below came from a different tradition, one in which their deity was called "Lord."

Genesis 2:7

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground....

And the LORD God said,

It is not good that the man should be alone [so]...the LORD God [created animals]...but for Adam there was not found a [suitable companion]

                    Man:    "I'd like to have a wife."
                    God:    "Alright, but they cost an arm and a leg."
                    Adam:  "What can I get for a rib?"

...[so] the LORD God...took one of his ribs [and] made he a woman.


 In the first creation story, animals are created before man:

Genesis 1:25-26

God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 
 Then God said, “Let us make mankind...

However, the author of the second creation story believed that man was created after the animals:

Genesis 2:18-19  

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
  Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals

There are other contraditions in the creation stories. Interested readers can find them themselves by visiting Genesis 1-2

(For more contradictions in the Bible, click here to read two contradictory accounts of the flood.)