As you may well know, I tend to get sucked into discussions with atheists from time to time. Some of these discussions are more logical and friendly than others are.
On this particular occasion, I was asked what were the minimal criteria for being a Christian. I made a list of simple requirements, which were approved by several believers and atheists. One objection came from one of the atheists, who said, “I’m surprised to see that you think belief in creation is a requirement.”
I instantly thoughout that this requirement should be an obvious one… So let’s see where he’s going with this.
“Well, Genesis 1 and 2 kind of imply that our God is a creator God, does it not?” I replied.
He responded, “But don’t you see the contradiction between Gen. 1 and 2?”
Okay… Now I could see where this is headed. Long story short it came down to this (quote):
James, I’m not sure how I can be clearer, but I’ll try. I never said anything about whether or not the days in 1 are literal. In 1, plants are created on the third period (or day), while men & women are created on the sixth day (or period). In 2, man is manufactured from dirt first thing, then God plants a garden (“creating” plants), then woman is created last. No honest reading of this, literal or figurative, shows anything but a contradiction.
Before, I share my response, please allow me to clarify a few things. First, we must consider what the gentleman is asking. He’s not asking proof of God’s existence. He is merely pointing out a contradiction he perceives in the Bible, for which reason he suggests (implicitly) that if I were honest and smart, I would not believe in the God presented in this Bible, since the Bible is the revealed word of God.
We had already established numerous points before we got to the point where Tom (let’s call him) said what I quoted him saying above. My objective is simply to show that there is no contradiction between the two passages. He has already allowed me the leverage of giving the passage a less that literal meaning (which it deserves when you consider something I wrote earlier this year). To meet my objective, I chose to illustrate the abscence of contradiction between the two accounts of creation by way of this feigned dialogue (below). Please pardon the breezy manner in the dialogue. I use humor to soften the style (a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down).
My response to Tom follows:
First, let’s make clear what we understand a contradiction to be, Tom. When there are two propositions, where one flatly denies what the other affirms, these propositions contradict each other. For instance, ” It is raining, right here, right now,” vs “It is not raining, right here, right now”; or “All men are blond,” vs “This man is not blond.” If the accounts in 1 and 2 produced opposing propositions like the following (even by inference) there would be a contradiction: “God created man and woman simultaneously,” vs “God did not create man and woman simultaneously” … all plants aside for the time being.
Assume account one is already written, God has the script and it is the morning of ‘day 6’.
Angel: Watcha gonna do today, God?
God: According to Genesis 1, I am going to create man and woman.
Angel: Good. They’ll have plenty to eat since you already made plants.
God: Right. But check this out. I am going to *plant* a garden using the best plants I’ve already got, so they can just chill and grab fruits, veggies, and nuts when ever they want.
Angel: Dude! Nice job with that mud! It’s Adam. Where’s Eve?
God: Not so fast, Chuck. First Adam’s got to start naming stuff. Enter garden… SHAZAM
[… Time passes. Still day six.]
Angel: Nice job God. Still no Eve… Just wanted to warn you, you’re about to contradict yourself.
God: Not possible. See Adam taking a nap. He’s not warn out from naming all the animals. He’s lonely and depressed. He needs Eve.
Angel: So why did you not create Adam and Eve simultaneously?
God: First, nowhere in my allegorical 6 day account does it say I have to. Second, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
END OF DIALOGUE
Where is the contradiction? It’s not there. My point is that the Gen 1 account speaks of a general creation with respect to mankind on a periodical “Day 6.” No mention of a man first, or a woman second, or a simultaneous both, OR EVEN whether God created only two individuals or if he “shazamed” a whole community at once in this account. The Gen 2 account gets specifically into the account of Adam and Eve’s creation. It does not address the issue of man and woman’s creation in the same way, yet it also can be made to fit with the Gen 1 account as the dialogue above shows, since the Gen 1 account does not go into any specifics.
Finally, my approach above is not dogmatic, but rather dialectic and indirect. I am not being asked to argue from the Bible to prove God exists (something an atheist would never have you do in the first place). I am being told to accept a contradiction in the Bible as a contradiction. The problem is that I don’t see the contradiction, because there isn’t one there (Sorry, fella!).