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The Bible says that the Earth was created by God. In its own words, it actually affirms that:
“In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1; 1-2 NRSV)
The earth was created together with heavens in the beginning. The Bible doesn’t say explicitly what “heavens” mean and what exactly had been created in “heavens”. Whilst for Earth, very few details are given, for heavens, there isn’t any description. Complete secrecy or lack of imagination? According to the Bible, God didn’t see fit to disclose anything about His world, and its population, in the book of Genesis. That brought humanity to countless speculations about angels, Satan’s revolt, and so on. A whole religion is created on the approximations about what “heavens” really means, because the book of Genesis doesn’t give us any clue about the issue. The religious imagination is based on the extreme scarcity of the texts of the book of Genesis.
The lack of information about “heavens” can bring one to the conclusion that by “heavens” the writer of Genesis chapter 1 meant something much simpler than is commonly believed, no angels or the Kingdom of God, but only the cosmic space.
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If “heavens” meant something more complicated such as the Kingdom of God, some more information about it would be expected to be found in the stories of creation. But even if that were true and “heavens” was understood to mean the cosmic space and nothing else, the creation of a space for cosmic bodies without the existence of the dome of the sky is absurd, it is a blatant contradiction which by itself disqualifies any truthfulness in the stories of creation. When the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, “heavens” would have existed, according to the book of Genesis, in the lack of the dome of the sky which separated the waters from above from the waters from the earth.
At the beginning everything had been under waters, including the atmosphere of the earth, and there hadn’t been any sky, therefore no “heavens”. There couldn’t have been any “heavens” at the outset of creation because God had created the dome of the sky only on the second day of creation, according to the book of Genesis, and without sky no “heavens” would have been possible regardless of what we mean by “heavens”. The Bible literally says that at the beginning it was “heavens” without the dome of the sky and all that existed had been covered by the waters of a primeval sea.
The whole complexity of cosmology, geology, biology, anthropology etc. is concentrated on two pages of the Bible. In this case lack of information is equals to no real information. What could be the cause of this poorness of information? Lack of information contained by the book of Genesis could have one main cause. The authors of the texts didn’t have any information about the origins of the earth and universe. Keeping to a very general level, an author or an editor could have diminished the danger of giving some imaginary details which could contradict each other and make the stories inconsistent. Nevertheless, the authors or the editors of the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis have fallen into this trap in spite of the very few details which are given. As a matter of fact, little details which can be found in the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis don’t harmonise well with one another and are of a peripheral importance.
In the book of Genesis the creation of the universe is only the stage for the main drama, the relation between God and His children. When the drama ends the earth will also disappear and a new earth will replace it. (Revelation 21; 1)
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Neither the creation of “heavens” and the earth nor the apparition of humankind has anything to do with real facts, but it has a logic in which true cosmology doesn’t find any place.
In the book of Genesis, God is presented like a craftsman happy with His work. At the end of a specific activity He found that His work was good and at the final of the entire development the results of His work were even very good. Even if God declared His creation to be very good He wanted to destroy the most important part of it through the waters of the Flood. Looking to our world, we can conclude that something was wrong with the creation from the beginning, at least from a moral point of view, and we cannot attribute all sufferings on the earth to humankind. Sufferings and death existed before the apparition of humankind on Earth generated by natural catastrophes such as earthquakes generated by the movements of the tectonic plates, illnesses, or others. To see the earth as an idyllic place without destructive natural events or illnesses before the apparition of the first human beings is a hypothesis contradicted even by the Bible, because before the creation of humankind other biological beings were created.
After ending His task God took a rest and His rest is a commemoration of His creation. The book of Genesis doesn’t tell us what God was doing after His rest, after the Sabbath. Did He start a new creation in another universe? Was the creation of our universe God’s first work, was it the last? Did God work only once in His entire eternal existence, for six days? In order to correctly evaluate the importance of our universe we should know if God had created only us or if He creates new universes all the time. It is also important to know how other universes, if they exist, resolved the problem of good and evil. Such knowledge would help humankind to see our universe in a much broader context and also to understand God much better. Isn’t the knowledge of God the sense of human salvation? The Bible says that it is. At the same time it must be said that the book of Genesis doesn’t contain such information which would be a true revelation for humankind.
Can God be the Almighty Creator of the universe and, at the same time, can He, as a Creator, cease to create anything else? A Creator who doesn’t create is not a Creator anymore. It is very difficult to accept that the Creator, with incredible creative powers, had created only once, a creation which, in a way, betrayed Him, and after that He stopped creating.
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God is presented as the Creator of a single creation or process of creation. An infinite God would be an eternal Creator who would generate new creations continuously. The quality of God as a Creator and the uniqueness of His creation which proved to be imperfect seems to contradict one with the other. There are so many questions to which the Bible doesn’t give us any answer. These are important questions if one really wants to understand God and the process of creation of our universe.
The real world is a very dynamic one in which new worlds including new universes are likely to appear all the time; it isn’t a static existence in which only one universe was created once and for all as the book of Genesis seems to imply. The Bible induces the opinion that God would have created only our universe, which is unique in the entirety of existence, but this is contrary to what the modern sciences theorise. This aspect is important if we want to understand how unique our world is, and how unique is our story in the cosmos. At the same time, Jesus said that God still works. (John 5; 17 NRSV)
If God works all the time, having only periods of rest, what is He doing? Is He sustaining only the work that He already did in our universe? What does it really mean that God sustains the universe and what is the scientific implication of such a fact? Where do we find in the mechanisms of the functioning of the universe, following scientific research, the principle of God’s sustenance? If this principle is real there must be an element, exterior to the nature of things, which is required for all reality to function, the principle of God’s sustenance. A modern scientist, Steven Hawking, affirmed that there isn’t such an element and God’s existence is not necessary for the universe in order for it to be as it is.
Does God continuously support or survey the universe and does He really intervene for the prevention of any cosmic catastrophe? Cosmic catastrophes happen all the time. The stars die, they explode and create heavier elementary particles, such as iron, without which even man could not exist. In other words, a certain amount of destruction in the cosmos was necessary for the existence of our civilization. New stars are created all the time so the expression “end of creation” implied by the book of Genesis is not exact.
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The universe changes all the time, it is not destined to be forever in the same configuration as the Bible implies. The universe expands, is evolving, it is not static, and it is not created around the earth in order to be at its service. The universe wasn’t “ready” at the end of sixth day of creation and the rest taken by God at the end of His creation doesn’t make any sense, if it is compared with the dynamic of the universe.
The problem is that despite of what the book of Genesis maintains the creation of the universe doesn’t have any end, it is a continuous creation which contains also moments of destruction. For the human beings, a rest day makes sense, but for God such a pause is absurd. How would the creation have been supported during the Sabbath if God rested for one day? If the entire creation is reliant on God for its continuous sustenance, one day off for Him would have been a disastrous event for the creation. If God really sustains in existence His creation all the time, He couldn’t have taken a day off from this activity. At the same time, if the world wasn’t created in six days but it appeared and evolved in a much longer period of time and still continues to evolve, the Sabbath day doesn’t have any realistic support.
Some religious people say that God created on the fourth day all matter for the stars which assured the conditions for them to be continuously generated, but this isn’t what the Bible says. The stars would have been created in the fourth day to be signs and to illuminate the nights, and that wouldn’t have been possible if only the matter for stars was created then. Either all stars were created by God on the fourth day as the texts from the book of Genesis assert, or they are generated by the laws of physics all the time. One version contradicts the other. We can see what the truth is by studying the cosmos with technical means. Moreover, when God created the earth He had to create at the same time the matter for the constitution of the earth, but earth and stars are created from the same matter, which would have been created on the first day and not in the fourth day. If God created the matter of the earth on the first day, why did He create the stars only on the fourth day, if the matter was already there, three days earlier? There is no logic for that. The daylight, therefore the sun, was needed for the process of creation from the first day and the rough material would have been there. Why didn’t God use that existing matter and create all that was needed from the beginning? The book of Genesis doesn’t answer to that question.
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According to the book of Genesis the earth was in the begging a formless void and it was created by God in this way, and that formless void is expressed in the Bible through the formula “Tohu vav bohu”. Why would God have created the earth as a formless void first instead of an organised planet ready to receive life? At first glance it doesn’t make any sense. I try to answer this question using the established solutions in the religious literature.
What meaning can the affirmation that planet Earth was without form when it was created by God have? Was it not spherical? Was it like a pile of cosmic material thrown randomly into space and looking like an asteroid but with the difference that it was submerged under water? Did God in the beginning create a pile of matter in the middle of water? It is what the Bible says about the initial creation of the earth. In cosmos, all planets and stars are naturally organised into spherical bodies. Before reaching a mature stage, in the solar system, planets were rotating piles of gases which cooled and solidified. Nevertheless, being in the stage of floating gases, the earth couldn’t have been submerged in liquid water because in those conditions the rotating gases which later generated the planets of the solar system, couldn’t have taken the form of spherical celestial bodies.
Was the earth a kind of strange asteroid in the middle of a primeval ocean or was it a spherical planet from the beginning of its creation by God? From the way in which the book of Genesis describes the creation of the earth, under the primeval sea, the planet couldn’t have followed the usual course to become a spherical celestial body being shapeless and submerged in water.
Why are the planets spherical? The following text explains why celestial bodies having a certain dimension become spherical:
“One of the effects of mass is that it attracts other mass. When you have millions, and even trillions of tonnes of mass, the effect of the gravity really builds up. All of the mass pulls on all the other mass, and it tries to create the most efficient shape… a sphere. For smaller objects, like asteroids, the force of gravity trying to pull the object into a sphere isn’t enough to overcome the strength of the rock keeping it in shape. But once you get above a certain mass and size, the strength of the object can’t stop the force of gravity from pulling it into a sphere. Objects larger than about 1,000 km in size are able to pull themselves into a sphere.”
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The earth couldn’t have first been a pile of matter similar to an asteroid, and from this matter became a spherical planet, because an asteroid is much smaller than a planet and asteroids don’t become planets. The quantity of matter formed by dust and gases had to be of sufficient dimension from the beginning so as to constitute the future planet. In its solid form planet Earth was never a formless void in the sense of a shapeless pile of matter as the book of Genesis says.
Why would God have created a heap of formless matter as a planet, such as the book of Genesis says that He did? Planets are big enough to determine by gravity their spherical shape. Under the action of gravity such a big quantity of matter, as was that of the earth, would have been made into a sphere even if at the beginning it was only a formless pile of gas.
If God created in the beginning a pile of gas and dust and this is the meaning of the expression “formless void” used by the book of Genesis, this gathering of matter couldn’t have evolved into a spherical planet because that compound would have been under the waters of the primeval sea, according to the Bible. A rotating pile of gas under water doesn’t make sense. Whoever says that science and religion don’t diverge about the creation of the earth is wrong, they are very far from one another. Only on the third day did the dry land appear from under the waters of the primeval sea in the book of Genesis.
“9 And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 9-10 NRSV)
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In the Bible the initial heap of cosmic matter was covered by the waters of the primeval sea and the book of Genesis doesn’t say when and how it became a spherical planet. How could the earth have transformed itself from a heap of matter into a spherical planet under water? The alleged phenomenon would have needed to happen before the separation of the waters and the creation of plants. If that was correct it would mean that in the first two days of creation when the earth was still under water it would have been transformed from a pile of matter in a spherical planet. This is very unlikely, it is an absurd scenario imposed by the narratives from the book of Genesis.
When someone thinks of the earth at the beginning of its existence, in the biblical perspective, he or she must not think to a sphere but to a heap of matter, regardless of how deformed, covered by water. Why would God have created all other planets and stars spherical and only created the earth formless at the beginning? On the fourth day of creation the sun, moon and stars would have been created as functional spherical celestial bodies, if not they couldn’t have given light which was the purpose of their creation. If the creation of sun, moon and stars had begun and ended in that day there wasn’t enough time for their evolution from piles of gases to solid celestial bodies. This again is a contradiction between science and the book of Genesis, the former postulating a long process in the formation of the stars and planets but the latter proposing that they were created from the beginning in the form that they are today. We can find at this point a discrepancy in the stories of creation from the Bible which say that the earth wasn’t created from the beginning as a spherical planet as it is in our time but a shapeless pile of matter unlike the sun, moon, stars and all other planets in our solar system. Why would the earth have been created as a less complete celestial body in comparison with other planets if from the beginning it was destined by God for a higher mission? It is what the Bible says but it doesn’t make sense.
When speaking about evolution one shouldn’t think only to the biological evolution which allowed the human species to emerge from less evolved biological beings, because evolution is a general concept which speaks about phenomena within the perspective of their dynamic in time. Time is of the essence for evolution. Things didn’t come to be what they are at once from a process of divine creation, but they evolved from less developed to more sophisticated beings.
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The stars and planets followed the same rule. They didn’t come to be what they are in a so-called ready-to-go manner from one day to another but they followed many stages before being what they are at the present time. This ready-made manner of creation is contrary to the way in which the study of cosmos shows us that the universe works.
Evolution cannot be negated as a process and is visible all around us. Even an individual human being evolves in his or her lifetime from a baby to an adult and finally rolls downward toward physical decay. Stars also continue to evolve all the time from piles of gases to celestial bodies and after a long period of time they die. This evolution is real and visible, it isn’t a trick of the sciences in order to trap faithful people and the solution isn’t to be blind to it and to deny the evidence. Today, different stages of the formation of stars can be observed in the sky, starting with piles of gases on their way to becoming stars and ending with stars which have exploded, changing dramatically their form.
In another interpretation, the place occupied by the earth would have appeared to be a formless void because it would have been covered by water, and the water would have been like a universal formless void. In other words, the primeval sea would have had no boundaries and would have covered everything, and for this reason the earth also would have looked like a formless void. Everything was a formless void, a sea without a form or without a defined contour covering everything, earth, and the place for the sky.
If we want to get an image of what the Bible says about the beginning of creation, that picture is totally confused and the only point of reference is a mythological one which is contained by the alleged presence of the primeval sea at the time.
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That primeval sea is a common element for Jewish mythology and for other mythologies of other nations in that epoch. It means that God would have created the life on Earth fighting against the authority of a mythological personage symbolised by the primeval sea, the latter being the symbol of evil in many cultures.
Tohu va bohu shouldn’t be seen as referring exclusively to the physical form but also to the function of the earth at that stage. Being formless or shapeless, the earth would have also been empty, unpopulated. There are two elements in the expression tohu va bohu, used by the book of Genesis in order to emphasise the degree of the decay in which the earth would have been at that time.
There is also the opinion that by formless it should be understood that the earth was insufficiently organised to be a suitable environment for life. This of course cannot change the clear reference to the lack of physical shape of the earth at that date of creation..
This is another way of avoiding what the Bible says. The spherical form isn’t sufficient for the existence of life, consequently the two conditions mustn’t be confounded. All planets are spherical; they aren’t formless but nevertheless many are insufficiently organised to be a suitable environment for life. One condition refers to the physical form and the other to other necessary conditions for the existence of life.
The word “tohu” refers firstly and fore mostly to the physical shape and not to the deficient functions of a certain planetary environment, and recognises that the first condition for matter to be able to host more evolved life is to be organised as a spherical planet. “Bohu” would refer mainly to the functional characteristics such as emptiness or desolation.
The origins of the Jewish people are in Mesopotamia and Abraham came from Ur, a city situated on the banks of Euphrates. For this reason, one shouldn’t be amazed by the closest relations between Mesopotamian culture and Jewish culture, including their mythologies. The words “tohu” and “bohu” are not Hebrew but most likely they are Sumerian words. In the Sumerian language nouns commonly end in -u but in the Hebrew language -u is a verb ending.
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Tohu and bohu are nouns, not verbs, therefore their origin is rather Sumerian, showing the influence of that mythology on the book of Genesis.
“The Gap Theory”, suggests the angels were created “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1), rather than during or after the creation week, and that Satan and his demonic followers had fell prior to Genesis 1:2. Chalmers grounds this theory in the reinterpretation of words used in Genesis 1:2, and their relationship with other passages of scripture.” In this understanding, Genesis 1:2 could, or should read: “But the earth became or “had become” without form and void.” The expression “without form and void” has been translated from the Hebrew phrase “tohu vav bohu.” The words tohu and bohu are also found in Isaiah 34; 11, but they are interpreted in the sense of confusion (tohu) and emptiness (bohu). Thus “tohu” can also mean “confused”, and “bohu” can mean “empty”. “Confused” and “without form” share in common a lack of order, in a place where there should be order. Perhaps, then, the text could be read as follows; “But the earth wasin disarray, andempty.”
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Jeremiah 4:23-26 also uses the phrase “tohu va bohu”. This is the biblical text:
23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. 25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled. 26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger. (Jeremiah 4; 23-26 NRSV)
What is interesting, though, is that it refers to cities, and what’s more it seems that these cities had received judgment from The Lord – “all the cities thereof were broken down (in disarray) at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger”.
In the eyes of those who spiritualise the expression “tohu va bohu”, perhaps these cities represented the homes of the angels who had fallen. The word “choshek” has been interpreted, in most translations of the Bible, as “darkness”, and when we read it we assume this is a natural darkness (i.e. before the creation of natural light), but the word “choshek” is also used in Exodus 10:21 to describe the darkness The Lord brought upon Egypt, which was so dark it could be felt. Thus, again, in this kind of spiritualised interpretation, Genesis 1:2 could be read: “Butthe earth was in disarray, and empty; and spiritual darknesswas upon the face of the demonic realm.”
Allegedly, according to the Gap Theory, Satan brought in disarray a previous order of the earth, about which we know nothing. God came on the first day of creation and started to restore it. If the darkness brought by Satan was physical and not only spiritual it means that there had already been a physical light on Earth previous to that darkness, and before the creation of the light on the first day, according to the book of Genesis chapter 1.
The Gap Theory implies that before darkness was light on Earth, but the book of Genesis doesn’t say that and doesn’t allow us to infer that. In order for Satan to bring disorder a previous order had to exist, but that order necessarily entails the existence of physical light.
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Spiritually speaking, light means order and darkness means decay. At the same time, a physical light, not only a spiritual one, was needed for the existence of a previous order. Such a light would have been created by God and would have been mentioned by the Bible.
Spiritual light and material light are two very different things and they mustn’t be confounded. If physical darkness and disorder came together, nothing like that is actually said by the Bible. But what is darkness? It is the absence of light, no more and no less. Satan couldn’t have annihilated the alleged physical light which God would have created in the beginning before the first day of creation. Spiritual darkness can be generated by the absence of God but physical darkness must be related to a physical light.
In the process of biblical creation, the sun wasn’t in place until the fourth day according to the book of Genesis and a previous order, presumed by the Gap Theory, had to be realised in a physical darkness or under a provisional light. Another provisional light without sun would have been needed; one that would have been switched off by Satan, but such a hypothesis looks very improbable. Two provisional lights, one before the earth, would have been brought to chaos by Satan, and the other one from the first day of creation until the fourth day when the sun would have been created is an absurd theory. Nevertheless, a physical light created by God couldn’t have been switched off by Satan, but He didn’t create such provisional lights.
As a matter of fact, the order in the creation couldn’t have been completed before the sixth day. The creation couldn’t have been finalised at the beginning of it and the order couldn’t have been fully in place from the beginning. What order would have been brought in disarray by Satan? It would have been only a partial, incomplete order and without human beings who were created on the sixth day of creation.
The Gap Theory is in contradiction with the creation in six days. In the economy of the Bible, the state of “tohu va bohu” was God’s creation, and not Satan’s creation. Satan couldn’t have destroyed something which the Bible doesn’t allow us to presume would have existed, an order before the first day of creation.
The representatives of a spiritual interpretation of the expression “tohu va bohu” maintain that:
“It is clear, then, that the angels were created before ‘the beginning’, and that Genesis 1 is not a history of the origins of the entire cosmos, but just of our world – the ‘physical realm.’ If Satan and his followers have rebelled against The Lord, then they have sinned. They can no longer be in his presence and thus they have ‘fallen from the sky like lightning.’ Where did they land when they fell? The Lord cast Satan and his followers into a hell from which he withdrew his presence. The earth was in disarray, and empty; and spiritual darkness was upon the face of the [demonic realm] The Lord created Earth and withdrew his presence from it, but then upon this he created the Earth we know, as is described in Days one to six. Thus Satan and his followers live in the deep, the abyss, the demonic realm, ‘underneath’ the good but fallen creation we inhabit.”
The Bible doesn’t contain any information about what happened in the “heavens” in the beginning and how and why Satan succeeded in upsetting God, and why he was cast out from heaven. At the same time, we really don’t know, from the narrative of creation, exactly in what moment Satan was thrown out from the sky. Was it before or after the creation of light? Satan fell from the sky like lightning so he probably fell after the creation of light because it is improbable that he had been the first light of the creation. That would set Satan’s fall after the creation of light in the first day and not before it.
“18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.” (Luke 10; 18 NRSV)
I don’t find merits in the theory by which the expression “tohu va bohu” would mean a void and an emptiness brought to the earth by the evil angels. The Gap Theory must completely disregard the text from Exodus 20; 11 in order to become sustainable. At the same time, this theory doesn’t have enough support in other biblical texts.
The narratives from the book of Genesis tried to describe literally the origins of the universe and there isn’t anything which must be read beyond the written text.
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All creation including the creation of heavens was made in six days, according to the Bible. For this reason, it is difficult to maintain that anything at all was created before the six-day period of time.
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” (Exodus 20; 11 NRSV)
“It is vital to believe in six literal days for many reasons. The foremost reason is that allowing these days to be long periods of time undermines the foundations of the message of the Cross.”
Ken Ham also argues that the second part of the text contained by 2 Peter 3; 8 cancel the first part and the provision that for God one day is like one thousand years is annihilated by the assertion that one thousand years are also like a day..
“8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” (2 Peter 3; 8 NRSV)
How can one know if the seven days are to be considered literally or not? One argument is about the regular successions of evenings and of the mornings. As long as we don’t have another option for the interpretation of the words “morning” and “evening” we cannot give but a literal interpretation of the days of creation. Another argument is based on the meaning of the Hebrew word used for “day” in Genesis chapter 1 which is “;yom”. The meaning of the words, in the Bible depends on the context in which they are used. Every time the word “yom” is used with a number or with the phrase “evening and morning”, everywhere in the Old Testament, it always means an ordinary day. In Genesis chapter 1, for each of the six days of creation, the Hebrew word “yom” is used with a number and also with the phrase, “evening and morning”. The most reasonable conclusion is to say that “yom” in Genesis chapter 1 means ordinary days.
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In the biblical stories of the creation, the universe had been created by God inside a huge expanse of water when there was no sky or earthly atmosphere. On the second day of creation waters were separated and, according to the biblical texts, part of them remained “above” the sky and the other part covered the earth. According to the book of Genesis, the waters from “above” must be still there, but in reality they aren’t there and that also questions the accuracy of the stories of creation. We know for certain that such waters from “above” don’t exist and the idea of the primeval ocean or sea is an invention which circulated widely amongst the ancient mythologies. This observation, by itself, is a reason to invalidate the factual truth of the stories of creation from the Bible. Surely, the world wasn’t made in the depths of a universal ocean and such an ocean never existed. This is a misconception based on mythological grounds.
Who created the primeval sea? Because God didn’t have any reason to create the primeval sea, it should be considered as always being there without a beginning. Metaphorically, when God brought light over darkness and when He separated the waters which were above the sky from the waters from under the sky, He established order, replacing a previous disorder which was depicted by the expression “Tohu vav Bohu”.
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God being the guarantor of order and justice in the universe, He couldn’t have created disorder hence that previous state of disarray wasn’t created by Him.
Besides what the book of Genesis says explicitly about what was created in the period of six days of creation, it is also presumed that a primeval sea had been there also and planet Earth was submerged in it in the beginning of its creation. The dome of the sky, which separated the waters from above and the waters from below, had been created on the second day of creation, according to the book of Genesis. In order to understand what sky really means in the context of the biblical narratives one has to understand first where the place for the so-called waters from above was.
In point of fact, there are not big quantities of water hanging loosely in outer space. In the account of the book of Genesis, before the creation of the dome of the sky, in its place was the primeval sea, in which the earth would have been submerged. From the biblical account, we don’t know how big and how deep this primeval sea would have been but we know that it would have occupied the place for the entire earthly atmosphere and for outer space.
When God started the Flood He would have opened the “windows of the sky”. Those “windows” would have been at the limit of the earthly atmosphere in order to allow rain to come to the earth. If they were in outer space it wouldn’t have been possible for a huge quantity of rain to come over the earth as the Bible says that it happened. A primeval sea surrounding the earth at the beginning of creation was never there, contrary to what the Bible says, and if it was there the light couldn’t have been created on the first day of creation as the book of Genesis maintains, because the existence of a functional light presupposes empty space.
At the same time, the existence of the primeval sea is a necessary supposition if we have to understand the separation of the waters from “above” from the waters covering the earth. The book of Genesis chapter 1 also assumes the existence on the first day of the creation of a light which couldn’t have travelled too far under waters and couldn’t have generated the first morning and the first evening. At the same time, the Bible speaks about “windows” of the sky from which God let loose the first rain on Earth with the occasion of the Flood. Those “windows” and an important amount of water couldn’t have been either at the limit of the terrestrial atmosphere or in outer space because that space isn’t filled with water.
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It was either a primeval sea at the periphery of the earthly atmosphere or in outer space, or God created the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day in that space. Both options don’t go together unless one admits that on the fourth day God would have created sun, moon, and stars again under the waters, but that would be absurd. If the earthly atmosphere was surrounded by the deep waters of a primeval sea, which would have been separated on the second day of creation from the terrestrial waters, then the light from the celestial bodies created on the fourth day couldn’t have reached the earth. The author of the biblical texts didn’t know anything about the circulation of the water in the atmosphere, hence how rain is produced on Earth.
According to the book of Genesis, God would have created the light in a period of time when the earth was covered by the sea waters and before the creation of the sky. This is widely impossible if one considers how the oceanic waters are understood by sciences to have appeared on Earth:
“The huge volume of water contained in the oceans (and seas), 137 × 107 cubic km (about 33 × 107 cubic miles), has been produced during Earth’s geologic history. Earth gradually changed the properties of its atmosphere, producing a gaseous mixture rich in carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and molecular nitrogen (N2). Photodissociation (i.e., separation due to the energy of light) of water vapour into molecular hydrogen (H2) and molecular oxygen (O2) in the upper atmosphere allowed the hydrogen to escape and led to a progressive increase of the partial pressure of oxygen at Earth’s surface. The reaction of this oxygen with the materials of the surface gradually caused the vapour pressure of water vapour to increase to a level at which liquid water could form.”
It is hard to accept that waters were created in darkness if light is considered to have had an important function in the formation of the oceans. In the book of Genesis it is written that before the creation of light, darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
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Before the creation of the light, waters would have covered everything but in darkness, according to the Bible. Someone could reply that God said, and miraculously the waters came into existence. If so, where is this written in the texts? No mention of the creation of water is given in the book of Genesis.
If God did everything despite the laws of nature, why did He set all those laws in place to govern nature? God governs nature through the laws of nature, not chaotically as the book of Genesis says.
In order to understand nature as God’s creation we need to understand the laws of nature and through them to understand God. If miracles are understood as God’s intervention against the laws of nature, those miracles are an exception because nature is governed by laws and without them nature cannot function predictably and cannot be known by humankind. The most extraordinary miracle is the existence of the laws of nature and the possibility for humankind to know them. God wouldn’t have denied this extraordinary miracle by acting randomly and unpredictably during the creation of the universe.
Some scientists maintain that water had come to Earth brought by meteorites, but not even the meteorites would have been created until the fourth day, and that is obvious because all the celestial bodies were created on that day according to the book of Genesis.
The link between chaos and waters is a mythological motif and doesn’t have anything to do with scientific explanations. The motif of the primeval sea which would have occupied the entire universe at the beginning, is widespread in ancient cultures. In several mythologies waters symbolising chaos have been seen as the beginning of all things, and this fact makes the connection between biblical narratives and other mythologies very obvious:
“In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is a chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzu (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is ‘creatrix’, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Choaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.”
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Some biblical scholars see a connection between Marduk’s slaying of Tiamat and the biblical account of Yahweh’s conquering the primordial sea-monster Leviathan.
It is not difficult to see the connection between chaos and waters, they went together in the Mesopotamian religion and they were linked also in the Jewish account of creation. Both mythologies had tried to explain the same thing, the origins of the earth. Tiamat is at the same time a chaos monster and a goddess of the ocean, so waters in the Mesopotamian religion were a symbolic indication of chaos. The same symbols were reiterated by the Jewish narratives of creation. Waters brought chaos later on by generating disaster and death, when the Flood is said to have happened. For the Egyptians also, waters had been linked with disorder:
“All the Egyptian versions of the creation myths have in common the idea that the world had arisen out of the lifeless waters of chaos, called Nu. This element was likely inspired by the flooding of the Nile River each year; the receding floodwaters left fertile soil in their wake, and the Egyptians may have equated this with the emergence of life from the primeval chaos. In Heliopolis, the creation was attributed to Atum, a deity closely associated with Ra, who was said to have existed in the waters of Nu as an inert potential being. Atum was a self-engendered god, the source of all the elements and forces in the world, and the Heliopolitan myth described the process by which he “evolved” from a single being into this multiplicity of elements. Atum appeared on the mound and gave rise to the air god Shu and his sister Tefnut, whose existence represented the emergence of an empty space amid the waters.”
Several mythologies used the same symbols in order to narrate the apparition of the earth and the book of Genesis contains them also. Beside the book of Genesis, there are other biblical texts which refer to the creation.
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They are probably older than the book of Genesis and they strengthen the hypothesis that the stories of creation from the Bible are a transposition of other Near-Eastern myths. Those biblical texts are found in Psalms, the book of Job and the Prophets. For example, in Psalm 74 is written:
“12 Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the earth. 13 You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food* for the creatures of the wilderness. 15 You cut openings for springs and torrents; you dried up ever-flowing streams. 16 Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries* and the sun. 17 You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74; 12-17 NRSV)
According to this Psalm, God had divided the sea by His might, He had broken the heads of the dragons in the waters, and He crashed the heads of Leviathan. Many heads, not just one – a monster of the sea. Reading this passage, one may think that they resemble the Babylonian story of creation:
“In the beginning, neither heaven nor earth had names. Apsu, the god of fresh waters, and Tiamat, the goddess of the salt oceans, and Mummu, the god of the mist that rises from both of them, were still mingled as one. There were no mountains, there was no pasture land, and not even a reed-marsh could be found to break the surface of the waters.”
Apsu and Tiamat had initially parented two gods and finally they had a great-great son named Ea, who became the most powerful of all gods. Following Apsu’s intention to kill Tiamat’s children, Ea found out about that plan and he had slain Apsu. Ea had been the father of Marduk, the four-eared, four-eyed giant who was god of the rains and storms. With a bow and arrow, Marduk had killed Tiamat.
“After subduing the rest of her host, he took his club and split Tiamat’s water-laden body in half like a clam shell. Half he put in the sky and made the heavens, and he posted guards there to make sure that Tiamat’s salt waters could not escape.
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Across the heavens he made stations in the stars for the gods, and he made the moon and set it forth on its schedule across the heavens. From the other half of Tiamat’s body he made the land, which he placed over Apsu’s fresh waters, which now arise in wells and springs. From her eyes he made flow the Tigirs and Euphrates. Across this land he made the grains and herbs, the pastures and fields, the rains and the seeds, the cows and ewes, and the forests and the orchards.”
The separation of the waters from above from the waters from below, and the creation of land on an earth which would have been entirely covered with water, are common elements in the book of Genesis and the Babylonian story of creation. They both are myths and don’t have anything to do with God’s inspiration or with the real way in which the universe and humankind came into existence. Concerning the creation of humankind, the two stories also have important similarities:
“With Kingu’s blood, with clay from the earth, and with spittle from the other gods, Ea and the birth-goddess Nintu created humans. On them Ea imposed the labor previously assigned to the gods. Thus the humans were set to maintain the canals and boundary ditches, to hoe and to carry, to irrigate the land and to raise crops, to raise animals and fill the granaries, and to worship the gods at their regular festivals.”
Human beings were made from dust in the Bible and from clay and other materials in the Babylonian story of creation. In the book of Genesis humankind had been settled by God in the Garden of Eden in order to take care of it. The idea is the same in both narratives. Humankind had been created in order to serve God and to work towards the maintenance of the Garden of Eden. In the stories of creation from the book of Genesis this aspect is less emphasised but it is still present in the texts.
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“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” (Genesis 2; 15 NRSV)
In the book of Job we find another reference to God and waters:
“12 By his power he stilled the Sea; by his understanding he struck down Rahab. 13 By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.” (Job 26; 12-13 NRSV)
The piercing of the “fleeing serpent” symbolises the creation of the earth from the slaying of a water serpent, which represents the primordial chaotic waters. The same theme appears in Isaiah in which the battle between God and the serpent will continue until the end of days.
“On that day the Lord with his cruel and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will kill the dragon that is in the sea.” (Isaiah 27; 1 NRSV)
Was Leviathan killed, or not, in the past? Seemingly he will be punished again on “that day” according to Isaiah. The “fleeing serpent” isn’t Satan as he was depicted by the Christian theology. The “fleeing serpent” is a symbol which brings to attention the same theme of creation from chaos which is found in other Near-Eastern mythologies. This symbol appears also in the book of Revelation from the Bible, but this time with the influence attached to it by the Christian theology. The ancient serpent coming from chaos symbolised by the primeval sea isn’t what he was in the Near-Eastern legends anymore; he was transformed into Satan, the personage so much detested by all believers:
“3 Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth."
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Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Revelation 12; 3-4 NRSV)
“1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names.” (Revelation 13; 1 NRSV)
“3 So he carried me away in the spirit* into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.” (Revelation 17; 3 NRSV)
The final victory of God over the serpent is also His prevalence over the initial chaos and over the waters which until the last book of the Bible are seen as the symbol of His enemy. This victory is prefigured metaphorically by the image in which the sea will disappear forever.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” (Revelation 21; 1 NRSV)
We can see the cosmic fight between good and evil which started in the book of Genesis with God initially ordering the chaos symbolised by the waters of the primeval sea. God’s imposition of order was transposed in His fight against an angel who had been created by Him, this created angel being Satan. The serpent which symbolises chaos in the Bible cannot be equated with Satan because initially the Devil was created a perfect angel with no relation to a chaotic state.
Equating Satan with the dragon Leviathan with seven heads and ten horns that is related to chaos, generates an important inconsistency of the Bible. In the beginning, God would have slain the dragons in the waters which represented chaos according with the Psalm 74, and He would have crushed the heads of the Leviathan. At the same time, Satan was in the beginning a perfect angel, hence he couldn’t have been the representative of chaos.
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The same dragons killed by God according to Psalm 74 reappear in the book of Revelation. The dragon appears to be the same because the apparition from Revelation is the old dragon with many heads, and not a new one. In such a case is wrong to equate Leviathan or the dragon from Revelation with Satan. The evil is a necessary ingredient in mythology and is the opposite of the good.
In the Bible we have two different stories about the battle between good and evil which have been artificially compacted into just one very confused theology. Either Satan is one and the same as Leviathan, the dragon which will reappear during the times depicted in Revelation, or Satan is a new personage. Nevertheless, Leviathan was slain by God when He started to organise the chaos and separate the waters of the primeval sea, according to Psalm 74. Strangely enough, in spite of being slain by God the dragon didn’t die but he will reappear in the future as it is written in Revelation. In most interpretations of the book of Revelation the old dragon with many heads seems to be one and the same as Satan, but initially the latter was an obedient angel having a harmonious presence and not seven heads.
There isn’t much clarity about the relation between Leviathan and Satan or the fight between good and evil in the Bible. Both Leviathan and Satan had their followers, other dragons and fallen angels, but the former was slain by God in the process of creation while the latter will be thrown into fire at the end. I see here a theology of good and evil in evolution starting with old Near-Eastern mythologies and evolving into the battle between God and the angel of evil. At the same time, there is an incompatibility between Leviathan the monster which was slain by God according to Psalm 74 and Satan, who will be thrown into the lake of fire of the end of the days. Which of them is the representative of evil in the universe? When and by whom was Leviathan created? Did God create two agents of evil? The answer comes from the mixture of mythological traditions but the confusion between those myths doesn’t give a coherent description of the battle of good and evil in the universe.
The language of the stories of creation from the book of Genesis is the same mythological language through which other cultures from the Middle-East expressed their views about the origins of the universe. Even if the content of the narration is different in scope, the mythological form is similar, and also the symbols which are used.
In all stories of the creation of the universe, an external and all-powerful god or gods generated all that is. Basically, the principle is the same; everything is explained by an external intervention, which is responsible for the existence of the universe and earth, and not by forces which are inherent in matter and energy. In reality, matter and energy are “alive” and “creative”; they aren’t dead and they have an internal determination which set them in motion.
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What is meant by “heavens” in the context of the book of Genesis? This notion can have more than one meaning and it is important to see in what way these meanings are compatible with other biblical texts, and first of all with all the texts from the book of Genesis. In the first book of the Bible, the sky, without which no physical heavens would have been possible, would have been created only on the second day, but in spite of that the creation of “heavens” would have happened on the first day of creation. The creation on the first day of “heavens” would have been prohibited by the lack of space. This situation doesn’t have anything to do with miracles. To create “heavens” before the sky as Genesis chapter 1 says is not a supernatural action, it is an absurd situation. This is also an obvious contradiction which shows the incompatibility between the descriptions offered by the book of Genesis and reality.
“1 In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1; 1-5 NRSV)
And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky.
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And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Genesis 1; 6-8 NRSV)
Anyone can compare the two texts. There isn’t anything else in them other than what is written. We have on the first day the “heavens”, meaning the atmosphere of the earth, outer space and God’s place, and only on the second day was the dome of the sky created. If this isn’t a contradiction I wonder what it is.
On the first day of creation or in the beginning, no physical “heavens” could have been created with the lack of sky. Consequently, the book of Genesis got it wrong. Under the waters, “heavens” are not what we mean by them. What kind of physical “heavens” would have been created deep under the waters of the primeval sea? The image generated by the book of Genesis in connection with the beginning is the initial chaos, the waters which would have covered everything, earth, the place for the sky, and all.
Noah’s Flood would have been a repetition on a smaller scale of the initial “flood”, the watery chaos which would have covered the earth. The mythological sense of the second Flood would be that when God became upset with His creation He returned the earth to the initial chaos from which the whole creation started. Of course, these aren’t real facts but mythological imagination.
The majority of the biblical commentators see the following meanings of the plural “heavens” used by the book of Genesis:
“Contrary to popular belief in the contemporary Church, according to Scripture there is not one, but three Heavens in the Universe created by God in the beginning (CP Gen 1:1). Note that Heavens is plural (except KJV Bible, where it is recorded in the singular form Heaven, although it is also plural in the Textus Receptus Mss from which KJV Bible is translated). The first Heaven is the atmospheric Heaven. This is the atmosphere surrounding the surface of the earth - the locality of the clouds (CP Gen 1:6-8; Psa 77:17-18; 104:1-3, 13). The second Heaven is the vast stretched out expanse of sky above earth’s atmosphere where the sun, moon and stars are located – the Firmament (CP Gen 1:14-17; 15:5; 22:17; Psa 19:1; 150:1; Isa 13:13). The Third Heaven, or Heaven of Heavens, is the dwelling place of God – Paradise – where Jesus sits at God’s right hand on the Throne of Heaven (CP De 10:14; 26:15(A); 1Ki
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8:27, 30, 39, 43, 49; 22:19; 2Chr 6:18; 18:18; Neh 9:6; Psa 80:14; Isa 14:12-14; 40:22; 66:1; Eze 1:22-26; Amos 9:6; Mt 5:34; 6:9; 7:21; Lu 23:43; He 4:14-16; Rev 2:7; 3:21; 4:1-11).”
The first heaven is the atmospheric heaven; the second heaven is the vast stretched-out expanse of the sky above Earth’s atmosphere, and the third heaven, or heaven of heavens, is the dwelling place of God – Paradise – where Jesus sits at God’s right hand on the Throne of Heaven. There isn’t any way that they could have existed before the second day of creation so the first line of the Bible which says that in the beginning God created the “heavens” and the earth, is wrong. Even the place in which God’s Kingdom is located couldn’t have had any meaning without the existence of the first two aspects of what “heavens” is understood to be.
John Wesley, an important religious figure, understood heavens as the world, including the whole frame and furniture of the universe. Wesley in his apologetic attitude has maintained that the whole frame and furniture of the universe had been created before the creation of the sky but the book of Genesis places the creation of the sun, moon, and stars which represent the most important part of that furniture, in the fourth day. In other words, no material heavens could have been created before the creation of the sky and Wesley was wrong. How could the whole frame and furniture of the universe have been created without a location for the celestial bodies? The sky, outer space, is a necessary condition for the existence of the furniture of the universe. The postulate advanced by the Bible is utterly impossible and it doesn’t require one to be a big specialist in astrophysics to see in the book of Genesis that the sky was created only on the second day of the creation and, consequently, in the first day there weren’t such things as the frame and the furniture of the universe.
There is a stark contradiction between what the book of Genesis says about the creation of the “heavens” and the creation of the dome of the sky. The creation of the “heavens” would have happened, according to the book of Genesis, before the creation of the dome of the sky.
Wesley’s notes on Genesis 1; 1 contain the following text:
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“1:1 Observe here. 1. The effect produced, The heaven and the earth - That is, the world, including the whole frame and furniture of the universe. But ‘tis only the visible part of the creation that Moses designs to give an account of. Yet even in this there are secrets which cannot be fathomed, nor accounted for. But from what we see of heaven and earth, we may infer the eternal power and godhead of the great Creator. And let our make and place, as men, mind us of our duty, as Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth under our feet.Observe 2. The author and cause of this great work, God. The Hebrew word is Elohim; which (1.) seems to mean The Covenant God, being derived from a word that signifies to swear. (2.) The plurality of persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The plural name of God in Hebrew, which speaks of him as many, tho’ he be but one, was to the Gentiles perhaps a favour of death unto death, hardening them in their idolatry; but it is to us a favour of life unto life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, which, tho’ but darkly intimated in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed in the New.Observe 3. The manner how this work was effected; God created, that is, made it out of nothing. There was not any pre - existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters, and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing.Observe 4. When this work was produced; In the beginning - That is, in the beginning of time. Time began with the production of those beings that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity. Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity?”
I reproduced this rather lengthy quotation from John Wesley’s work because it is symptomatic with regard to a certain attitude towards the understanding of the book of Genesis. “Whole frame and furniture of the universe” cannot be an acceptable interpretation for the first line from the book of Genesis, and that is because all which is covered by this expression – sun, moon, stars, and other celestial bodies – were created on the fourth day, according to the Bible. If the book of Genesis was the result of God’s inspiration it would be impeccable in all details, but instead it is a contradictory description of creation. It is the book in which so many details don’t harmonise with each other.
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What says Wesley in his texts? We are human beings, and for this reason we shouldn’t ask any difficult questions, rather we should believe. But do we have to believe any absurdity, only because God’s name is attached to it? The beauty of God and His character are seen in the extraordinary order of the universe and not in the absurd accounts of creation given by the Bible.
What does “heavens” mean, in Genesis chapter 1? John Wesley didn’t try to explain that, but passed over it, as if he didn’t notice any contradiction. He replaced explanations with a moral teaching about the secondary role of human knowledge in connection with God. If God didn’t want to be known, why did He send revelations? If He wants to be known correctly why do we get such absurdities? It is possible that God didn’t send anything to humankind about the creation of the world, giving us the chance to know everything about this topic through His revelation in nature.
On the other side, the authors and editors of the ancient Scriptures have considered the stories of creation a necessary part of any religious writings. Almost all big religions contain the creation of the world, its beginning, and where is the case, its end. How could an important religion such as the Jewish tradition lack the creation of the world? It would have been very hard to build a religion without the foundation given by the creation stories. According to this logic we have in the Bible narratives about the creation of the universe which are contradictory and nonsensical and which are considered to be inspired by God but are only a human creation.
In other words, the stories about the creation of the world are the foundation myths of most religions, and for this reason a similar myth had to be laid as the foundation of the Jewish religion, in order to transform it into a credible system of religious beliefs. If someone would consider that the book of Genesis is too original to be human, I would say that it is too naïve and contradictory to be divine. The human imagination isn’t too poor to be able to invent stories similar to the narratives from the book of Genesis. The stories of creation from the Bible are filled with the same religious symbols as other legends from the Near East about the same theme, plus the idea that man would have been created or fathered by a supernatural human being having an unlimited power.
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Religions concern with the spiritual aspect of the human condition, gods and goddesses (or a single personal god or goddess), the creation of the world, a human being’s place in the world, life after death and how to escape from suffering in this world or in the next. Every nation has created its own god in its own image and resemblance.
The description of the creation of the world, from the book of Genesis, must be seen in the wider context of the world religions. It is a religious explanation of the existence of the universe. The explanation was required by human curiosity and the need to establish a system of religious beliefs and wasn’t sent by God from heaven.
According to the book of Genesis, God created first His own realm and after that the human world, and only on the fourth day of creation did He create the cosmos. In order for God to exist He needed His own space but that space had to also be eternal, uncreated because he couldn’t have created His own space from outside space. There isn’t anything outside space to have real existence, therefore not only God is eternal but His space also. In other words, God couldn’t have created His own space; He needed it to always be there.
What was before the creation of God’s heavens? Was He without a realm or a Kingdom? It was a time when God was alone, without heaven? The idea of the creation of heaven, as a spiritual realm at the beginning, brings one to a very absurd conclusion. God wouldn’t have always had His own space or Kingdom; it was a time when God was not the Creator and when space as we know it hadn’t existed. If God is an infinite Reality one would expect that He would have always had His own space. The book of Genesis contradicts this assumption when it says that there is a beginning of creation and the Kingdom of God is included in that beginning. That beginning would have been the starting point of God’s entire creation, angels, Paradise and so on. The necessary conclusion from the creation of “heavens” at the beginning is that God wouldn’t have eternally been the Creator, therefore He would have been for an eternity only a potential God.
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He didn’t have always His own Kingdom because there is a beginning in time when He started His creation.
On the other side, one can ask about the relationship between God and space in general. How could heaven, presumably God’s own space, be created at the beginning and have a limited extension in space if God is an infinite Reality? If God is infinite is He not everywhere? God cannot be confined in a limited space because He is spatially infinite and the space of the cosmos cannot be a spatial limit for Him, and neither could the inexistence of the cosmic space have been another limit.
In other words, it is more than absurd to believe that God would have created, at the beginning of the creation, space per se, because He couldn’t have existed at that time without space already in place. God outside space is a strange concept and an impossible reality. If God started the creation at a certain point in time, this is the moment when He became an actual Creator therefore He wouldn’t have been a Creator for eternity. Nevertheless, God couldn’t have started the creation with “heavens” because without “heavens”, understood as God’s place, He couldn’t have created anything. God is in “heavens” and where there isn’t “heavens” He also isn’t there. Before the beginning there wasn’t “heavens” as the book of Genesis says, hence the biblical narratives of creation make God’s existence impossible.
One could say that “heavens” refers in the first chapter of the book of Genesis only to the earthly atmosphere and to outer space, but not to God’s space or Paradise. I would disagree because without the sky, meaning the earthly atmosphere and outer space, there isn’t any other space in which God could have had His Paradise.
The only physical location found for God by the book of Genesis, which is not a very generous space, and probably not suitable, is the face of the waters. Nevertheless, God would have sent the wind over the face of the waters but the waters couldn’t have had a face or surface if the sky hadn’t been created at the time. In order for the waters of the oceans and seas to have a surface swept by the wind from God, a space between the waters from below and the waters covering the earth would have been an absolute necessity. Let’s compare the following two texts:
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“In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1; 1-2 NRSV)
“6 And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Genesis 1; 6-8 NRSV)
According to the second text, above outer space are the waters from above, hence it couldn’t have been God’s Paradise. The entire story is absurd from the beginning to the end. If “heavens” would refer only to the earthly atmosphere and to outer space, above them the space would be filled with water, according to the book of Genesis, and such a place wouldn’t be suitable for God’s Paradise, hence “heavens” in all three dimensions has to be in the sky, not above the dome of the sky. Above the dome of the sky is only water, it is what the narratives of creation form the Bible state.
The relation between the contents of the two quoted biblical texts is that in order for the first one to be possible the second one had to already be in place. As a matter of fact, in the book of Genesis the order is reversed and that completely invalidates the entire story. First “heavens” were created and only after that the dome of the sky was set in place. In the meantime, the daylight was also created, again in the absence of the sky and of the sun. The stories of creation aren’t only totally incredible but they are utterly absurd. Heavens before the light and the sky, daylight in the depth of the waters without sky and its natural source, the sun or waters above the sky represent a unique collection of nonsense which couldn’t have been inspired by God.
From where did God send the wind? God couldn’t have sent the wind from the sky, because the book of Genesis tells us that there wasn’t such a place until the second day. Where were the angels, where was Satan, if it wasn’t sky? If in heaven dwell angels and in future will also be the saints, heaven has to be understood as a sort of physical location because angels and saints exist in space and time.
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According to the book of Genesis, we have the earth covered with waters and also a wind swiping the face of the waters, but without sky the waters from above and the waters covering the earth would have been in continuity with no free space between them. Only an empty space would have allowed free movement of the wind but that space would have meant the existence of sky. Without sky, waters of the primeval sea would have been a compact expanse of water filling the infinite space until the second day of creation. Having an infinite extension in space, such waters couldn’t possibly have had any face or surface.
If heaven, understood as the Kingdom of God, is a world of heavenly beings or angels, what is their consistency? Are they made from light? A positive response probably would be the most common answer to this question. How is it that at the beginning the light was not yet created, and the earth was in darkness, but the angels were made from light? Is it possible or rational to have spiritual heavens but not yet light? Did God create light twice, once for heavens and once more for the earth? Was there a heavenly light before the creation of the light which had replaced the sunlight until the fourth day of creation? The account from the book of Genesis doesn’t say anything about a heavenly light. The impression is that the light created on the first day of creation refers to the first light in the universe and it was made after the creation of “heavens” and the earth. Nevertheless, the angels would have been created at the beginning before the light and before the sky.
The “heavens” with a lack of sky, and also the earth, were under water at the beginning, under same universal expanse of water, and “darkness covered the face of the deep” therefore we don’t have any basis on which we can presume the existence of angels as beings of light before the alleged creation of the light in the first day of creation. If God dwells in an unapproachable light He was always surrounded by light, therefore light is eternal and not created, as the book of Genesis says. At the same time, if the angels were formed from light and their existence was previous to the creation of daylight, God would have created light before the moment indicated by the book of Genesis.
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In other words, if “heavens” were created before the daylight and as the angels in “heavens” probably are entities of light, light would have been created at the same time as “heavens” and that means that light was created sooner than the Bible says.
Most importantly, speaking about the creation of “heavens”, in Jeremiah 4; 23, it is written that while the earth was waste and void, the “heavens” had no light. Strangely enough, the Bible tells us that “heavens” were created in darkness, because light was created after the creation of “heavens” and only after the creation of Earth. If by “heavens” Jeremiah understood both the spiritual heaven and also the terrestrial atmosphere and outer space as he should, he contradicted the book of Genesis which says that light was created before the sky.
“23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.” (Jeremiah 4; 23 NRSV)
We know, from the book of Job, 38; 4-7 that heavens were created first and only afterwards the earth was created.
“4 ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings* shouted for joy?” (Job 38; 4-7 NRSV)
The information that the “heavens” had no light, from Jeremiah 4; 23, strengthened by the assertion that light was created only after the creation of Earth, from the book of Genesis, sustains the idea that “heavens” in the book of Genesis were created in darkness. This is nevertheless impossible because the presence of God brings light and “heavens” would have been illuminated by His light, according to the description of heavens made by the prophets and by the apostle John. If God was in heaven, light was also there, but Jeremiah says there was no light there.
“16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6; 16 NRSV)
The Bible is very confused regarding what was in place at the beginning of creation. Some references speak about chaos and darkness and others about God dwelling in light. The order of creation is reversed and we find in the book of Genesis the creation of “heavens” before the creation of sky, even if the existence of “heavens” necessarily needs the existence of sky. We also find the creation of daylight without the space in which it could have travelled and without its source, the sun.
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In Wesley’s view the fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters, and the beasts and man out of the earth. At the same time, the earth and those waters were made out of nothing. A question still remains. If the earth and waters were made out of nothing, why was “something” needed as a “substrata” for the creation of the fish, fowl, beasts and man? It is just another inconsistency, as many others. God either created all His creatures out of nothing or He needed a raw material for some of His creation.
Creation out of nothing is not thought by the Bible. If God created the universe, He created it out of Himself, out of His own resources, energies or powers, which have generated something else. Nothing comes out of nothing, and God can be seen as the most original source of existence.
Theophilus of Antioch was the first Christian writer to give explicit arguments in favour of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo which van Bavel usefully summarises as follows:
“1) If not only God but matter also were uncreated, as held by the Platonists, God would no longer be the creator of everything and the only Lord; 2) If matter were uncreated and unchanging, it would be equal to the immutable God;
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3) If God had created the world out of pre-existing matter, that would be nothing special; for human beings also can produce something new out of existent matter.”
Such arguments were seen to be persuasive and the later Christian thinkers accepted the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo which remained the established Christian teaching on creation. As Rowan Williams said, this doctrine is at the heart of St. Augustine’s accounts of creation, because it has the merit of combining a simultaneous defence of God’s transcendence of the material world but at the same time His connection with it.
Augustine gave to the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo a larger extent and his analysis was very profound in many details. Creation from nothing for Augustine was, as a matter of fact, a creation made from formless matter which had been created from nothing.
“First there was made confused and formless matter so that out of it there might be made all the things that God distinguished and formed. He goes on to say that ‘therefore, we correctly believe that God made all things from nothing. For, though all formed things were made from this matter, this matter itself was still made from absolutely nothing’....”
Augustine’s views on nothingness are very interesting. Nothingness isn’t anything at all but is a negative principle which explains the human penchant towards negativity. The created beings are good because they are created by God but they have also a dark side because this creation had been made from nothing and this is the principle of evil. Being and non-being are the two sides of reality, and whilst being is good, non-being has an opposite qualification. Thus, the ‘nihil’, far from being literally nothing, about which nothing meaningful may be said, actually plays a crucial and indispensable role in Augustine’s account of the world, its being, its creation and its relationship to God. It is that which accounts for the world’s corruptibility and tendency toward nothingness, and it continues to make its haunting ‘presence’ or ‘absence’ felt in the undoubted ‘presence’ of evil in the world, a ‘presence’ which is itself an ‘absence’.
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The idea of creation from nothing has a very strong theological connection with many other theological commonly agreed issues, but, in my opinion doesn’t have any metaphysical or scientific support. In my opinion, the principle of creation from nothing, developed by the Christian thinkers, is not what the first 2 chapters of the book of Genesis try to tell us. God, in the biblical context, must be seen as the cause of all things, and not only a catalytic or transformative Force of “nothing” in “something”. He causes things from His own Reality, generating them as an effect of His powers.
The created world is generated by words, which can transform, in a rational or ordered way, energies in deeds. By what mechanisms has this transformation been produced? We don’t know. An agnostic attitude is probably the most rational one in this regard. Nevertheless, “nothing” is not able to receive any command; it is one of its characteristics. “Nothing” cannot react because there isn’t anything to react in it.
God is a cause, generating effects from that cause. The universe was caused by God as a seed causes the growth of a flower. The universe had its potentiality in God therefore the world had existed in its seed in Him before becoming an actual reality. All elements needed for the existence of the universe had to be present in God, before its creation.
Everything which exists has a cause in another existent thing, not in absolute nothingness. Saying that God had created all that is from nothing doesn’t mean anything because it doesn’t establish any causal relationship between nothing and what it is. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, there are four types of causes – material causes, formal causes, efficient causes, and final causes. Absolute nothingness cannot account for any of these types of cause. If God is at the same time the material cause, formal cause, efficient cause, and final cause of the entire existence, nothingness doesn’t play any function in creation.
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Energy can transform itself in matter and matter in energy as Einstein has shown in his formula, E=mc2.
“Einstein theorized that matter and energy are interchangeable. Matter takes up space, has mass and composes most of the visible universe around us. Energy, on the other side, takes multiple forms and is essentially the force that causes things to happen in the universe. Yet both matter and energy are variations of the same thing. Each can convert into the other. According to Einstein and to the first law of thermodynamics, a fixed quantity of energy and matter exist in the universe.”
Can energy by transformed in matter? The answer is yes and is given in the following quotation:
“So yes, humans can manufacture matter. We can turn light into subatomic particles, but even the best scientists can’t create something out of nothing.”
If not energy, what else can convert into matter? One thing can be said for sure. Absolute nothingness, no particles, no fields, no space, no laws, no nothing cannot be transformed into anything because there absolutely isn’t anything in it. Absolute nothingness is only a concept which can never be instantiated in reality. For this reason, creation from absolute nothing by God is only an absurdity which doesn’t do any good to the Christian faith.
What are spoken words and how can they become matter? They are only sounds with a certain meaning or significance. They are symbols, communicated messages. Can words generate matter by transforming themselves into it? Not to the common knowledge. God didn’t transform words into matter, but He had materialised ideas based on His rationality, for this process, using matter and energy. Did God create matter and energy from absolute nothingness?
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He surely didn’t because absolute nothingness cannot exist. How God would have created energy and matter, we don’t exactly know, but before their existence there was something in His Reality which could have been transformed into energy and matter. If not, the direct chain of causality between Him and the created world would be broken. If God is a pure spiritual Reality and spirituality is the opposite of matter, it is hard to imagine how matter can be produced by pure spirituality. Are matter and spirituality interchangeable in a similar way to the manner in which matter and energy are interchangeable? Before humankind can demonstrate this kind of interchangeability, creation from nothing is only a speculation.
God asked the earth to bring forth vegetation. But earth which is matter without consciousness doesn’t hear and is not able to interpret symbols. Probably it is more rational if we understand that God prepared earth for the process of growing vegetation by endowing it with all needed ingredients for the process. The book of Genesis is far from explaining how the universe came in place.
The concept of the creation from nothing, existent in both religion and science, demonstrates a limit of human comprehension. It is hard to imagine an infinite existence with no beginning or end. This existence may or may not have its own Consciousness; the answer will depend on the person engaged in the spiritual experience with that Consciousness.
At the same time, creation from nothing is a principle no less confusing than the principle of the eternity of all existence. Nevertheless, Thomas Aquinas, a very important theologian of the thirteenth century, considered that all things must have a beginning, there cannot be an infinite regress of causation, and consequently a Prime Mover is a necessary concept. In the natural finite human logic, this seems to be right, but in point of fact, presuming the Prime Mover is a way of transferring the need for causation to a transcendental Reality. If all things have a cause, the Prime Mover has to have a cause also. The idea that the Prime Mover doesn’t need to have a cause cannot be in any way demonstrated other than by rejecting the impossibility of an infinite regress of causalities. At the same time, it is very difficult to sort out problems at the level of the infinite dimension of reality using only a logic based on the finite human dimension.
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If there is one exception to the principle of causality that of the Prime Mover there can be others, and also the entirety of existence, the existence per se can be such an exception. Dividing reality into necessary existence and contingent existence doesn’t sort out the problem because God as a necessary existence needs His creation in order to be the Creator. God cannot be the Creator without His creation and being Creator is one of His most important attributes.
The creation from nothing is a principle loosely exemplified in the Bible and about which science has already pronounced itself by the laws of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics specifies that the total amount of energy in a closed system cannot be created or destroyed (though it can be changed from one form to another). Matter, instead, can be both created and destroyed by transforming it into energy. Mass became another form of energy that has to be included in a thorough thermodynamic treatment of a system. At the level of the universe, it is important to define what meaning a closed and an open system has and which better describes our cosmos.
Is the universe a closed system? How about the entirety of existence as an infinite reality, can it be considered a closed system? The universe is a closed system if it isn’t influenced by anything outside it.
If there are a plurality of universes, before knowing what the relation between them is, it is difficult to describe our universe as closed or open. On the other side, when we talk about the entirety of existence or the existence per se there isn’t anything outside it, it is an infinite system therefore the notions of closed and of infinite must both be integrated by the same equation.
God didn’t do things from “nothing”, as Theophilus of Antioch understood “nothing”, because never was there such a non-reality as absolute nothingness. Probably, all material existence comes from an infinite and constant energetic source. If God exists and if He is eternal there isn’t such thing as absolute nothingness because He doesn’t equate with absolute nothingness.
Is energy in space or outside space? Does energy have mass? I tried to find an answer to these questions in the scientific literature but I got mixed opinions.
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Most answers are related to the photons, a form of energy; consequently if photons occupy space, energy must be said to occupy space also, and if photons have mass, energy has mass. One thing can be said; where there isn’t any space, light cannot travel and cannot be there for the simple reason that in this case there isn’t any “there”.
God firstly needed space in order to create something and space is the condition of all creation. Space cannot be created from outside space or from a state of no space at all because for its physical existence every reality needs space. The idea that God could have created space from outside space is absurd but is the necessary consequence of the affirmation that first of all He would have created space, and the entire creation started with His creation of space. If God was outside space He couldn’t have existed as an objective existence.
Space being already out there, the creation was done in the context of something and not out of nothing because space is something, not nothing. God couldn’t have created space out of nothing because He is eternal and necessarily He occupies space, therefore space also must be eternal and co-existent with Him. God’s existence completely out of space cannot be a Reality but only a concept in the minds of intelligent beings living in space. God couldn’t have created anything from out of space, from absolute nonexistence, because such a concept can never become real. The assertion that God would have created space in the beginning of His creation is nonsensical as far as He is eternal and He occupies space. Space must be also eternal if God is an eternally existent divinity.
If God wasn’t infinite in space something else must be at the limits of His space, but He doesn’t have any limits. That something cannot be absolute nothingness understood also as inexistence of any space, because space per se, not the space of a certain object, cannot be limited by absolute nothingness. Space per se can be occupied or can be relatively empty but it is infinite in its extension. God eternally occupies an infinite space or He isn’t an infinite Reality.
Creation out of nothing is an absurd proposition as long as any creation would have been realised in a spatial context. Besides the infinite space, there is also the individual space of every object which is linked with time, in the way that was explained by Einstein.
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In order to be consistent with the biblical account, one must accept that we don’t need the idea of nothing, in any way, for the explanation of God’s creation. God didn’t need a certain “nothing” in order to create “something” and that “nothing”, no space, no energy, no matter, no fields, and no laws, couldn’t have replaced existence per se.
Roger E. Olson summarises very well the possible visions about the relation between God and His creation:
“Creation out of nothing is the only alternative to four alternative beliefs about creation that are absolutely untenable for Christian thought. One is pantheism or panentheism—belief that God and the world are either identical or interdependent. In either case the world is part of God or so inextricably united with God eternally that God is dependent on it. (Here “world” refer to creation, the universe, finite reality.) Another alternative belief about creation is that God created the world out of some pre-existing matter that he did not himself create. In that view God “created” by organizing an eternal something that was chaotic and stood over against him. Yet another alternative belief is that God created the world out of himself in which case the world is made of “God stuff”—God’s own substance. Finally, a mostly modern, secular view is that some world (or substance, energy) has always existed and God, if he exists at all, has nothing to do with its origin or development.”
It is understood that creation out of nothing is an important element of fundamental Christian beliefs and it sustains other important teachings of Christianity inclusive of the teachings of the gospels. Even if it isn’t taught by the Scriptures one must support the principle of creation out of nothing, if not many Christian teachings would be questioned. One such fundamental thesis in doubt if creation out of nothing is rejected, is that God doesn’t depend on His creation for His actuality. This of course is false because God depends on the existence of His creation in order to be an actual, not only a potential Creator. The affirmation that God doesn’t need anything is absurd as far as He needs to be loved by human beings and displayed tremendous energy and sacrifice to reveal His love to humankind.
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To say that God wants us to love Him but He doesn’t really need our love is a deformity which is very present in some Christian movements. God doesn’t endorse the imposition of any religious dogmas or doctrines on people by other people. One should try to understand all possible interpretations of the biblical texts and choose whichever seems to him or to her closer to his or her spiritual experiences. God needs our love as much as we need His love and without humankind Christ couldn’t have been embodied in a human being making visible the Father’s love. God wants to be known by conscious beings able to understand Him.
According to Roger E. Olson, if one doesn’t believe in creation out of nothing he or she casts doubt on the principle of gratuity of grace..
The Bible doesn’t teach creation from nothing, but the creation from chaos, which is symbolised by the primeval sea. The book of Genesis is silent as to the origins of the primeval sea and it is absurd to think that God would have created chaos from within Himself before creating an orderly universe. God being a rational Reality, He wouldn’t have created chaos, so the chaos represented by the primeval sea couldn’t have been created by Him.
Comparing the theory of the Big Bang and the creation of the universe from a primeval sea, the result is a huge difference in the quality of the explanations given by science in comparison with the texts of the Bible. Scientific explanations are by far much better supported and much more credible than the narratives of creation of the universe and of humankind from the book of Genesis.
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 www.physicsforums.com › Physics › General Physics
From the primeval sea to the creation of the earth, there is another step in the process of creation. There is a biblical text in Job 38; 4-7 in which certain words are attributed to God which reminds us of the primeval sea from which the earth would have been extracted. In the text, God asks on what are the bases of the earth sunk? Such words couldn’t have been said by God, because the earth doesn’t have any bases sunk on anything. Nevertheless, such bases can be linked with the primeval sea from which the earth would have been extracted.
At the beginning everything was under water, flooded, no terrestrial atmosphere, no stars, no sun or moon and very importantly, no sky. It is an error to try to imagine the earth, as it is today, a spherical planet covered by water, rather one should imagine the whole sky covered by water, earth included. A very interesting image about the beginning is depicted in the book of Genesis. On one side, we have God, and on the other side we have an immense ocean, which engulfed even the sky. One should notice that the dome of the sky was created only in the second day and without sky the image about the beginning of the creation from the Bible describes an impossible situation, no light, no morning and evening, no sun, no moon, no stars, hence no “heavens”.
From the Almighty Creator of the universe another order of creation was expected, a rational one. Why did God need water at the beginning as a raw material, for the creation of the universe? There wouldn’t be any reason for that. The existence of a primeval ocean encompassing the entire universe doesn’t have any scientific support. According to the book of Genesis, not only the stars and other celestial bodies were not created in the first day, but even the place for them wasn’t there.
How would God have possibly created the sun, the source of the daylight, from the first day, if the sky, the suitable place for the sun, was not in place? In the book of Genesis, the daylight was created on the first day and the sun only on the fourth day. There wouldn’t have been any place for sun on the first day of the creation; there was no sky, in the biblical story of the creation on that day. How could daylight have been created without the sky and how was the first morning and evening, described by the Bible, possible? A morning and an evening under the waters of the primeval sea would have been impossible in spite of what the book of Genesis states. The entire story is an incredible mixture of inconsistent details.
The order of creation, from the book of Genesis, doesn’t have anything to do with the factual reality. On the first day, even if on paper we have the heavens and the earth we don’t really have the basic conditions for the existence of neither the heavens nor of the earth.
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We have an immense surface of water instead, a primordial universal sea. The earth in the form of dry land appears only on the third day, after the separation of the waters.
“6 And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. 9 And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 1-10 NRSV)
Many speak of an intelligent design, in the creation of the universe, but this intelligent design cannot refer to the biblical account, which is not intelligent at all. An intelligent design excludes absurd or impossible situations. Daylight under water, before the creation of the sky, morning, and evening without sky and sun, and the earth a solo planet, created under a universal primeval sea, is not at all an intelligent design is an absurd and naive design. A more intelligent design, it seems to me, is the generation of all that is from an initial state of almost infinite density and temperature, a singularity, which expanded and became our universe. This Big Bang theory can explain much more intelligently the apparition of the universe, because it is the expression of a rational and intelligent chain of events. Adding to that, this Big Bang theory is based on direct observations of cosmic past events, which left traces until today.
For me, the main problem with the creation of the earth is the separation of its creation from the creation of the whole material cosmos, from the stars and all celestial bodies. This partition in the process of creation brings us to numerous contradictions and even absurdities. We can see and the sciences confirm that the earth is a part of a much bigger reality which is the universe, and the two must be seen together and having the same origin. The universe and the earth followed the same process of creation in a certain order; they didn’t appear randomly in a chaotic way. The whole universe and the earth are indestructibly linked in the same process of their apparition and development based on the
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natural laws and not on mythological storytelling. They are connected as the whole and its parts and the latter cannot exist without the former, not even for a split second, but even less for three days.
In the book of Genesis, the earth is seen as being prior in existence and detached from the other celestial bodies, and that is strongly contradicted by modern cosmology with numerous solid arguments. Without the universe, the earth cannot exist because our planet is a product of the evolution of the entire cosmos. First it was the beginning of the universe about 13.7 billion years ago, and only after that one of its by-products, our planet, formed to be what we know today, starting around 4.5 billion years ago. To place the creation of the earth before the apparition of the universe is an irrational and inaccurate thing. This is another contradiction of the book of Genesis.
The planet Earth and the vegetal life on it couldn’t have appeared before the stars as the book of Genesis says, because many material elements found on Earth would have been initially produced in the stars. Cosmos was made originally from hydrogen and helium, hence all heavy materials were produced in stars which had to be much older than the earth. This idea was initially advanced by Carl Sagan who famously said that “we are made of star stuff”. The following quotation explains in few details this idea:
“His statement sums up the fact that the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago. Because humans and every other animal as well as most of the matter on Earth contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff, said Chris Impey, professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona.”
As Chris Impey competently said, “all organic matter containing carbon was produced originally in stars”. Plants are constituted from organic matter and they use CO2 for their nutrition.
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Plants cannot live without CO2 hence they couldn’t have survived the third day of creation without an element which is produced in stars, but stars would have been created only on the fourth day. Science explains very well how the heavy elements are created inside stars using the laws of nature, so the narratives of the creation of plants and even of the animals from the book of Genesis are an absurd description. This quotation explains why the earth, the plants and animals and the human beings couldn’t have been created as the book of Genesis says:
“Once the universe was created by the Big Bang, the only abundant elements present were hydrogen (H) and helium (He). These elements were not evenly distributed throughout space, and under the influence of gravity they began to “clump” to form more concentrated volumes. Evidence of this uneven distribution can be found in the anisotropies detected in the Cosmic Background Radiation (CMB) by the COBE satellite in the early 90’s. These clumps would eventually form galaxies and stars, and through the internal processes by which a star “shines” higher mass elements were formed inside the stars. Upon the death of a star (in a nova or a supernova) these high mass elements, along with even more massive nuclei created during the nova or supernova, were thrown out into space to eventually become incorporated into another star or celestial body.”
In order for the planet Earth, or for the plants which would have been created before the creation of stars, to contain some elements, or in the case of plants to feed with carbon dioxide, the stars would have needed to be created before the earth, but also some of them had to become nova or supernova, and should have thrown out into space elements with a higher mass. This is a reason why we need long periods of time for the evolution of nature.
The creation of stars on the fourth day and their explosion in the same day is something preposterous. Even so, it would have been too late for the formation of the earth or for the constitution of the plants. It is also contrary to the story of the creation of the stars from the book of Genesis because the creation of the celestial bodies was considered by God to be good. How good could the creation of the stars have been if
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they were created to illuminate the nights together with the moon and to be signs for the inhabitants of the earth, but some of them would have exploded the day in which they were created? The creation of the stars wouldn’t have been really good.
Even if some stars exploded in the same day they were created, the cosmic distances being huge, the heavy elements couldn’t have reached the earth in order to become components of the marine animals and birds which were created on the fifth day.
There is also another aspect which shows that the earth wasn’t created apart from the solar system. The earth and all the other planets from the solar system orbit in the same direction around the sun, all of them being made from the same gases and cosmic debris.
“There are two outliers in the solar system which seem to break the rules about conserving momentum — Uranus and Venus. Uranus spins on an axis of almost 90-degrees (on its side). Venus meanwhile spins the opposite direction as Earth and the other planets. In both cases there is strong evidence that these planets were struck by large objects at some point in the distant past. The impacts were large enough to overcome the angular momentum of the bodies, and give them a different spin.”
Creation in two stages, first the earth and after that, on the fourth day, the universe, is extremely problematic because it seems like a double creation or a repetition of the creation of the earth on another level, where many other planets, similar to our planet, were created. Why would our planet have appeared on another day of creation than countless other planets in the universe, if all planets have the same way of taking shape? There isn’t any reason for that. It was the same processes that determined the apparition of all planets in the universe; planet Earth was generated by the same mechanisms as other planets were.
At the same time, the creation of the cosmos in two stages would have meant two different steps in the creation of the basic material from which the cosmos had been made. Matter had appeared, in a certain moment of the history of the universe, and that moment is a part of a chain of events which didn’t happen twice in the same way in the same universe.
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Matter overcame antimatter after the Big Bang and this process of creation of matter happened once, not twice.
Many planets were created in the same stage of the evolution of the solar system, and not only the earth. All planets from our solar system passed through the same cosmic process and have the same origin. There is also the opinion that the earth belongs to a group of planets from our solar system which are the youngest in comparison with other planets from the system, hence other planets were formed before earth. All planets were formed from the same nebula of gases, not simultaneously but at different times over millions of years.
There are other strong reasons for the dismissal of the account of the creation of the earth from the book of Genesis. Our sun is a second-generation star, meaning that other stars had formed before it. The sun formed before the earth, being at the centre at the nebula of gases and other materials from which our solar system was constituted.
“Our sun is at least a second-generation star. How do we know? We know because the sun and Earth and everything around us on Earth, including our own bodies, contain chemical elements heavier (more complex) than hydrogen and helium. All chemical elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are thought to have formed inside stars, via the process of thermonuclear fusion that enables stars to shine. These elements or metals were released into space via supernova eruptions.”
If the earth was created after the creation of our sun, and our sun is a second-generation star, it is obvious that the creation of the stars didn’t happen after the creation of the earth as the book of Genesis declares. Creation of the stars after the earth is in sharp contrast to scientific data. We have to discard either almost all cosmological science or the description of the creation of the earth, sun, moon and stars, from the book of Genesis because they don’t go together.
The sun from our solar system not only gives us light and heat but also was a catalyst for the formation of the earth, hence the existence of the sun was a condition for the apparition of the earth. The following quotation explains how things happened:
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“Basically, scientists have ascertained that several billion years ago our Solar System was nothing but a cloud of cold dust particles swirling through empty space. This cloud of gas and dust was disturbed, perhaps by the explosion of a nearby star (a supernova), and the cloud of gas and dust started to collapse as gravity pulled everything together, forming a solar nebula — a huge spinning disk. As it spun, the disk separated into rings and the furious motion made the particles white-hot. The center of the disk accreted to become the Sun, and the particles in the outer rings turned into large fiery balls of gas and molten-liquid that cooled and condensed to take on solid form. About 4.5 billion years ago, they began to turn into the planets that we know today as Earth, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and the outer planets.”
The apparition of the earth before the sun is an absurdity as big as the creation of daylight before the sun, and both are stated by the book of Genesis. The earth is so inextricably linked with the solar system that they cannot be seen as being created in “two different days of creation” or two stages of creation disconnected between them or connected in a reverse order, as the book of Genesis says. Again, we face a disruption in the order of creation. The entire biblical mythology aimed to explain how earth appeared and only secondly how the universe emerged, as if what was closer to the writer was more important than what was farther from him. In other words, the attention was concentrated on Earth, seen as the most important, and only after that all celestial bodies found a place in the whole picture, subservient to the earth.
Nevertheless, besides the sun, the moon and the stars there are many other celestial bodies about which the book of Genesis doesn’t say anything, for example, other planets similar to the earth. They are not stars because they are not massive enough and for this reason the pressure inside of them couldn’t cause a nuclear reaction. On the other side, according to a definition given by a scientist “a star is usually defined as a body of gas which is large enough and dense enough that the heat and crushing pressure at its centre can produce nuclear fusion.”
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Let us imagine what happened with the earth in the first three days of the creation following the stories from the book of Genesis. It was alone, surrounded by water, for one day. After that the earth, for another two days, was surrounded by the empty dome of the sky and over the sky, again, water. On the fourth day, suddenly, a huge universe was created around the earth in order to illuminate it and to serve as signs for it. When reading those stories one may understand that the earth is so important that an entire universe was made only for it.
In the real world, the planet Earth is so small compared with the universe that one may ask why such a huge universe was needed only to illuminate and show the seasons for Earth. There is a disproportion which gives a contradiction. Comparing the earth with the universe, one can understand that the latter is more important than the former on the cosmic scale and also from the point of view of origins or duration.
Billions and billions of celestial bodies are too many only for the use of the planet Earth. There must be something more in the explanation of the existence of such a quantity of celestial bodies besides their utility for the planet Earth. It seems that the book of Genesis doesn’t give us the correct story. If the universe is so big the reason for its existence isn’t only to serve the earth. Moreover, the universe is expanding. Why is this expansion necessary from the point of view of the earth? The expansion of the universe doesn’t make any sense if the earth and the universe were created as the book of Genesis says.
How about the alleged daylight from the first day, where was it on the second day? It would have to come out from the water and be placed on the dome of the sky, created in that day, but unfortunately without a source. How would the light have come out from the water and be placed in the sky on the second day of creation? The story looks very absurd but that is what the book of Genesis presents and what many commentators wrongfully pretend to be inspired by God. The light would have been created on the first day of the creation but the sky only on the second day. Moreover, the sun would
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have been created on the fourth day. Someone just switched on and off the light, for three days, until the source of it was created, the sun. In the first day of creation the created light was under waters because there wasn’t yet sky.
The earth being alone in space couldn’t have allowed its illumination from an artificial light. At least one other celestial body would be needed in order to illuminate a planet like earth and to generate mornings and evenings, and also two rotation movements of the earth – one around the source of the light and another one around its own axis – are also necessary, to light the whole planet. That presupposes a mechanic of two physical entities attracting each other by gravitational forces.
A very improbable artificial light created on the first day of creation would have had to be orbited by the earth, while the planet also spun around its axis in order to illuminate its entire surface, but the sky wouldn’t have been there in order to make possible such a trajectory. A light illuminating the earth under the waters of the primeval sea and generating morning and evening is the most absurd proposition about the origins of the planet Earth.
One can be sympathetic with the narratives of creation from the book of Genesis only until one looks at the sky and compares it with what the book says. When one does that, he or she understands that the earth is only a very tiny part of the visible universe and it is impossible to accept that such immensity would have been created only in service of the earth. If there is such a thing as the centre of the universe it is very hard to identify. The earth doesn’t rotate only around the sun, but also it spins at the same time as the solar system around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy to which it belongs.
The motivation for the creation of the stars given by the Bible must be wrong because there are many invisible celestial bodies which couldn’t have been created for the illumination of the earth or as signs, because they cannot be seen from the earth. Their light cannot be seen with our eyes, without technical means, and such technical means were available starting only with the recent past. More than 99% of the celestial bodies we can see with our eyes are stars in our galaxy (or planets).
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This is a good analogy:
“Without telescope or binoculars, filters or crystal balls, what are we seeing when we look at a night sky full of stars? How far into space are we seeing? Put into an analogy, if the entire surface of the earth represents the expanse of the Milky Way galaxy, then the region encompassing the stars visible to our unaided human eyes would be roughly the size of California–with most of them contained in an even smaller area. In short, most of the celestial bodies that we see in the sky are not only the closest things to us in the universe; they’re pretty much the closest things to us merely in our own galaxy!”
Why would God have created such a huge universe which doesn’t correspond to its declared purpose? The earth uses only a very tiny part for its lighting and astronomic signs. In this way, it is obvious that the function attributed to the stars in the book of Genesis is wrong. This is what the Bible says about this function:
“14 And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Genesis 1; 14-19 NRSV)
Many stars are not in the firmament only to illuminate the earth, because the lights of many stars aren’t seen from the earth, or they have to travel a long period of time in order to reach it. The purpose of the creation of stars presented by the book of Genesis, is not in accord with the astronomic facts, is a naive invention, and is bound to generate confusion. To illuminate the earth and to be useful as signs for the earth, the universe wouldn’t have to be constituted of billions of stars and countless planets.
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If someone believes that the lights from the stars, which were created on the fourth day, according to the Bible, reached the earth in the same day, they must think again, because the light from the closest star, Proxima Centauri, travels to the earth in 4.22 light years.
If God created the stars on the fourth day, their light didn’t reach the earth on the same day but long after their creation. The creation of the stars was unfit for the purpose allocated to them, by the biblical texts, for a very long period of time and for the majority of them was not suitable at all. The stars invisible to our eyes cannot lighten the earth at all and cannot constitute signs in any way, hence they haven’t been created by God to illuminate the earth as the book of Genesis maintains. If they were created to illuminate the earth and to constitute signs they have been placed too far from the earth, so there was a mistake in their design when comparing with the purpose of their creation declared by the Bible.
Why would God have created so many stars which were meant to illuminate the earth, stars not seen from it, or visible stars which were seen only after a very long period of time? To me, there is one convincing answer. God didn’t create the stars for the illumination of the earth, as the book of Genesis declares, but He acted as the theory of Big Bang predicts. God is the force behind the Big Bang who organises the matter and uses it as the fabric of what he wants to create.
One part of the universe is visible from the earth with unaided eyes and another part isn’t. Not even the most sophisticated instruments available to humankind can bring us to the edge of the universe which extends much further than we can see.
“Galaxies extend as far as we can detect... with no sign of diminishing. There is no evidence that the universe has an edge. The part of the universe we can observe from Earth is filled more or less uniformly with galaxies extending in every direction as far as we can see - more than 10 billion light-years, or about 6 billion trillion miles. We know that the galaxies must extend much further than we can see, but we do not know whether the universe is infinite or not. When astronomers sometimes refer (carelessly!) to galaxies
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“near the edge of the universe,” they are referring only to the edge of the OBSERVABLE universe - i.e., the part we can see.”
The stars had been created on the fourth day according to the book of Genesis but became visible much later and long after the sixth day, when the creation was over. Strangely enough the biblical texts say that the creation was finished but the light from the stars didn’t yet appear on the firmament. Much more rational and credible are the scientific explanations in which the creation of stars is a continuous process and not only a one-day job. Stars are generated during our days as well as in the past so their creation wouldn’t have been achieved at only one stage in the evolution of the universe.
Earth is a part of a whole, of a complex system, in which it completes the structure to which belongs. Earth cannot be conceived isolated from its cosmic environment, existing on its own, without other celestial bodies. Earth cannot be seen as the first, and the most important cosmic body, like a sort of centre of the material universe, its most essential part. Understanding earth in this manner is motivated by a religious purpose but doesn’t have anything to do with facts.
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 www.livescience.com › Space
 www.livescience.com › Space
 www.livescience.com › Space
 earthsky.org/.../how-and-when-did-the-first-planets-form-in-our-univers...did the first planets form in our universe...
 www.universetoday.com/76509/how-was-the earth-formed/-
 www.physicsforums.com › ... › Astronomy and Astrophysics
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In the story of creation from the book of Genesis, even if the sky was not generated yet, God had created daylight. This light surely couldn’t have travelled through the atmosphere as it does today because the atmosphere wouldn’t have been created at the time when the light was created. On the first day of creation the daylight had to travel through water in order to reach the earth, and even if the sky was not there, very curiously, there was a morning and there was an evening, and that was the first day. How can that be possible? It looks like a joke. It is not a joke; it is the biblical account of the creation of the universe. Through this description, the book of Genesis depicts a very strange and impossible situation. No sky for light to travel unopposed, no sun yet, the source of the daylight, but a beautiful shiny day.
On the first day, when daylight was created, there was no terrestrial atmosphere and the space was filed with water, but despite that, there was brilliant daylight. The earth was not yet brought out from the water and the sun was not yet created but the daylight was present even if the object to be illuminated, the earth, was a formless void submerged under water. This is a perfect absurdity.
What was the purpose for the creation of light on the first day in the book of Genesis? If God had created in darkness the heavens and the earth, before the creation of light on the first day, why didn’t He create the light earlier to be useful in the process of the creation? God would have done that if He created the world in six days but He didn’t realise His creation as the Bible says. Obviously creating in light is better than creating in darkness.
Unlike a human creator, God would have made the heavens and the earth in complete darkness because the book of Genesis tells us that light was created after their formation. Why wouldn’t God have used light from the first moments of the process of the creation? In other words, it is strange that God would have created daylight only after the creation of heavens and earth. The Bible clearly says that it was darkness immediately after the creation of heavens and the earth. Darkness couldn’t have been created by God as such because darkness is only the absence of light; it was there before the start of creation. There is a fundamental inconsistency in the creation of the heavens and the earth in darkness.
Up to a point, the process of the creation of the universe is similar to a human creation but the preparation of the raw material is usually done in good visibility conditions by man. One may say that God doesn’t need light, as human need it, but creation and darkness seem to be two opposite terms. By its nature creation is light and brings light and darkness has a negative connotation. When this negative side is associated with the creation of heavens and earth one can conclude that indeed the biblical narratives were very much under the influence of ancient mythologies in which a creator brought order to an inherent havoc in the initial universe.
Could water have existed before the creation of light and of the stars which generate light? The book of Genesis maintains that water covered the earth before the creation of light but that is an impossibility.
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Water is made from hydrogen and oxygen and those elements are components of the stars. Hydrogen and oxygen come from luminous stars, hence the presence of water in complete darkness, which is the assertion of the book of Genesis, doesn’t have any consistency. The existence of any water, including the primeval sea, would have required the pre-existence of the stars.
Oxygen is created inside the stars and they are shiny objects which therefore produce light, and without this chemical element there isn’t water. If we take the stories of creation literally we have to observe that what they say is contrary to the laws of nature and is only the expression of human imagination detached from the knowledge of how things are in reality.
If one wants to believe that God miraculously produced water without light, he or she has to admit also that He would have created the chaos which would initially have dominated the world, because water in complete darkness symbolically means disorder. This is an unavoidable dilemma from which one cannot escape when trying to miraculously explain the texts. Either God had created the chaos of the primeval sea supernaturally before bringing order into the creation, or naturally water couldn’t have existed without light hence there wasn’t any chaos at the beginning of creation.
If God created an initial chaos, it is Him and not Satan who is responsible for the evil in the world. Of course, God isn’t in reality responsible for the evil in the world because He didn’t create water without light, because such a thing is contrary to the laws which control the universe created by Him. The natural laws set in place by God in our universe prevent the existence of water without light therefore describing the creation of the universe in the way that it does, the book of Genesis presents a fantastic situation which is far from how the reality works.
The water which allegedly had covered the earth before the creation of the light which is depicted in the Bible, is only mythological imagination because the stars were created only on the fourth day of creation, and in that situation oxygen couldn’t have been present from the first day in order to constitute water.
The moment of the creation of daylight in the book of Genesis doesn’t in any way correlate with the rest of creation. The author of the texts didn’t know anything about the way in which nature works; he or she wrote a fable, and not the first chapter from the history of sciences.
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When there is a source of light above a dense and deep layer of water, light can traverse that water with difficulty and for a relatively short distance. The book of Genesis speaks at the beginning about water everywhere, no sky, and no place for a source of light. A formless watery void covered the earth but also the place occupied later by the sky, at the beginning of creation. How could the presence of the primeval sea have helped dissipate the darkness? If the waters from above, let’s say from above the actual sky, were in continuity with the waters covering the earth, forming together an immense expanse of waters, as the narrative says, what is the possibility that a source of light, placed somewhere in the area where the sun is today, could have reached the earth? It would have been impossible. Moreover, such a place for the skylight was not there because the sky was not yet created at the time when the daylight would have been made. This story of the Bible is an impossible hypothesis, and religious faith cannot make it otherwise.
Daylight travels under water only for a short distance and in the depth of the primeval sea it couldn’t have been morning or evening. From the following quotation one can see the limits of the movement of light under water:
“Sunlight entering the water may travel about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into the ocean under the right conditions, but there is rarely any significant light beyond 200 meters (656 feet). The ocean is divided into three zones based on depth and light level. The upper 200 meters (656 feet) of the ocean is called the euphotic, or “sunlight,” zone. Only a small amount of light penetrates beyond this depth. The zone between 200 meters (656 feet) and 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) is usually referred to as the “twilight” zone, but is officially the dysphotic zone. In this zone, the intensity of light rapidly dissipates as depth increases. Such a miniscule amount of light penetrates beyond a depth of 200 meters that photosynthesis is no longer possible. The aphotic, or “midnight,” zone exists in depths below 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). Sunlight does not penetrate to these depths and the zone is bathed in darkness.”
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How could the daylight have subsisted in the interior of an immense expanse of water in order to generate the first day on Earth? If waters were not yet separated by the dome of the sky they had to be a continuum which occupied the entire space – today we call it the sky. The Bible literally says that the daylight was created on the first day, before the separation of the waters and before the apparition of the dome of the sky, and that means that the daylight was created under water.
“In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1; 1-5 NRSV)
When comparing Genesis chap. 1, verses 1-5 with Genesis chap. 1, verses 6-8 we can notice without any obstacle how absurd the book of Genesis is:
“And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Genesis 1; 6-8 NRSV)
First we have light, day and night, consequently morning and evening on day one of creation and only after that on day two of the creation, we have the earthly atmosphere in which the light can propagate freely. The notions of morning and evening don’t have any meaning without sun and much more without sky. From the first day to the fourth day all mornings and evenings in the book of Genesis are only fairy-tale. Without sun and without the trajectory of Earth around the sun, it couldn’t have been either morning or evening on Earth.
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These phenomena are given by the ellipse of the trajectory of the earth travelling around the sun. In other words, the light coming from the sun is not equal to itself all day long, but changes during the day. In the morning, it has a certain intensity and in the evening, another. For this to happen, an elliptic movement of the earth around the sun must occur.
Even to speak about daylight, without sun, is nonsensical. When the sun was not there, it is useless to speak about mornings and evenings because these phenomena cannot be attributed to something else other than the sun, unless another “surrogate” or “artificial” sun was there. But where is it now, this replacement sun, and why would God have created a “surrogate” and not the original sun from the first day of creation? There isn’t any reason for such a cumbersome development in the history of the universe.
An artificial light couldn’t have replaced the sun because between the earth and the sun there is a certain dynamic which is given by the masses of the two. Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation says that the force of gravitational attraction between two objects depends on a gravitational constant, their masses and the distance between them.
A surrogate sun would have needed to be exactly the same size as our sun, and to be placed at the same distance from earth in order to allow the dynamic of our planet around the sun. Moreover, a surrogate sun would have to be identical to our sun in order to preserve the same conditions which allow the existence of life on Earth. If this is right we are in a very strange situation described by the book of Genesis. A surrogate sun identical to our sun would have been the source of light for our planet for three days. After three days, the surrogate sun would have disappeared without a trace and in its place the new sun would have done exactly the same thing. On day four, God would have created all celestial bodies, but in the sky there already would have been an identical copy of the sun. In that day, God would have destroyed the surrogate sun and created another sun, identical to the first, in its place. God being the most intelligent Person in all existence, He wouldn’t have used such an unintelligent design for His creation.
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As a matter of fact, the way in which the book of Genesis describes the creation of the cosmos is an absurd one and that is one reason to reject it. Another strong reason which determines the unacceptability of the plan of creation depicted by the book of Genesis is that it is contrary to the laws of nature.
The proof that the author of the biblical texts intended to refer to regular daylight, given by the sun, and not to something else, is the use of the phenomena of morning and evening as the form of partition between day and night. The creation of daylight on the first day of creation, described by the Bible, is about the sunlight and shouldn’t be confounded with something else. The problem is that this light had been created, according to the Bible, before its natural source, before the sun and before the creation of the sky. In this way, the causal relationship between the sun and its light is broken in an unexpected and absurd way without any possible spiritual explanations.
In the story presented by the book of Genesis everything was set in place for the earth to be able to harbour human life from the beginning, except the indispensable source of light and also heat, which is the sun. The sun was created, according to the Bible, only on the fourth day. Moreover, the book of Genesis recognises the sun as being the real source of the existence of days, but the book speaks about the existence of days before the creation of the sun. There couldn’t have been any earthly days before the creation of the sun and even the notion of day cannot find its place in the story. Before the creation of the sun the division between the first, second, and third day wasn’t possible.
14 And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, ... (Genesis 1; 14 NRSV)
The existence of the light without sun in the book of Genesis, is probably a reaction against the Egyptian religion, in which the sun had a tremendous importance. The sun was deliberately reduced in importance by the Jews just because it occupied an important function for the Egyptians. This shows that the book of Genesis wasn’t inspired by God but is a creation of the Jewish writers careful to take an important step, far from the religion of Egypt.
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God is bigger than the sun, He can do much more than the sun can do and He can do everything even in the absence of the sun. He can create the light, as the sun does, and He can separate day from night. Being bigger than the sun, God didn’t need it at the beginning of His creation. This probably was the logic of the writer or writers of the narratives of creation, from the book of Genesis.
When discussing the problem of light in general a first question must be asked. Is the light in general something which was created or it was always with God? Can anyone imagine God being in darkness? If God is surrounded by light, as the Bible says, how could He create a place in the universe, the earth, surrounded by darkness? (1 Timothy 6; 16 NRSV) Where was God in the moment of the creation? Was He at the place of His creation or far away? If He took some dust in His metaphorical hand, when He created man, He had to be there, at the place of His creation.
If God, who is surrounded by light, was physically in the proximity of the earth, it is hard to imagine why His surrounding light didn’t overlap with the created light, which separated the days from the nights, transforming the surroundings into an area of permanent light during the process of creation. In that situation, there would have been only days, not nights. No night would have been possible in a place where God was physically present, because the light which surrounds Him casts out all darkness. We know that from the book of Revelation. (Revelation 21; 23) God had to retract Himself from His creation during the nights and come back in the morning in order for the nights to be possible.
After the heavens and the earth, one of the first things created by God, according to the book of Genesis, was the light. This is the beginning of the Bible; it is the first chapter of it. God, in a human language, ordered someone or something to produce light. We should imagine that until that moment there was a thick darkness; no light existed before and no universe. It was only the earth covered with water and darkness.
The book of Genesis speaks about a light without a source, which had been created on the first day. This would have been a created light and not the eternal light which surrounds God. This light was separated from the darkness in a strange way.
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Day and night were considered to be two different entities even if darkness is nothing other than the absence of light. In point of fact, in order to separate the light from the darkness the former had to be switched off and reignited the next morning.
God created the daylight first, according to the book of Genesis, and necessarily waited some hours before the separation of the day from the night. That separation had to be an artificial switching off of the light because the earth wouldn’t have been able to naturally follow a cosmic trajectory around the sun in the absence of the latter, and also because it would have been under water. A day has 24 hours but there was nothing there in order to automatically measure this period of time. God had to measure the time Himself and reignite the created light. How did He calculate the length of the day? What did He use as reference point? What kind of day was it? Was it a short day and a long night as in winter time, or the other way around? We will never know and such a question cannot be answered because the solar system wasn’t there.
The miraculous creation of light by God had, at the time, no physical support, namely the sun, in order to be reproduced again and again, every single day. In order for the light to reproduce itself rhythmically a source of it was needed. If there wasn’t a physical source for the light, God had to recreate light every single day, because self-sustaining light cannot switch automatically from darkness to illumination.
A light without source, a miracle, existing without any physical provider, alternating periodically with darkness, a flashing light illuminating the earth from within the waters, is an absurdity. God didn’t program nature to work like that.
We know now that the cause of the alternation between day and night is the rotation of the earth around its own axis. Until the second day the earth was under water. Being encircled by water, the earth couldn’t have spun around its axis, so how could there be day and night? When day and night were created, the sun and the stars were not in place, the sky was not there and the earth was submerged under water. If an artificial light was created on the first day, without sky, the light had to function under water, but it couldn’t have reached over 200m depth. The basic necessary conditions for the existence of a morning and an evening were not there.
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The spinning of the earth around its axis has scientific explanations and it couldn’t have happened under water, with a lack of sky, on the first day of creation:
“Why is everything in the Solar System spinning? And why is it mostly all spinning in the same direction? It can’t be a coincidence. Look down on the Earth from above, and you’d see that it’s turning in a counter-clockwise direction. Same with the Sun, Mars and most of the planets. As the Solar System spun more rapidly, it flattened out into a disk with a bulge in the middle. We see this same structure throughout the Universe: the shape of galaxies, around rapidly spinning black holes, and we even see it in pizza restaurants. The Sun formed from the bulge at the center of this disk, and the planets formed further out. They inherited their rotation from the overall movement of the Solar System itself.”
The Bible tells us that God saw that the light was good and declared it accordingly, only after its creation. In other words, when God had created the light, He was not sure that it was good and only after its creation did He see that it was really good. God wouldn’t have known in advance the effects of what He did but He concluded this only after a certain act of creation was done. How could light be anything other than good? Can the light be bad? God Himself is surrounded by light, consequently light can only be good. Nevertheless, the source of light wasn’t entirely good because it would have been changed after only three days.
According to the book of Genesis, God had chosen a very improbable, I would say extremely irrational way for His creation, and that contravenes with what the apostle Paul said about the possibility of knowing God from His creation. (Romans 1; 18-21) How can one know anything about God from His creation if the Bible negates the sun as the source of daylight, even only for the first three days of creation? The book of Genesis maintains that God had created the daylight before the sun. Where in God’s creation, in nature, are there traces for such a thing? God’s creation, when observed by scientific means, doesn’t speak about such an event, consequently knowing Him from nature is different than what the book of Genesis says about the creation of the cosmos.
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The biblical narratives of creation seem to be constructed in contradiction, even with the simplest data of scientific observations. If God set rules for nature, He did that in order for them to be followed and not to be broken. God wouldn’t have given an example of disregard for the laws of nature made by Him. These counter-observational stories prohibit any sincere and reasonable attempt of understanding the process of creation in six days, from the study of nature. As depicted in the narratives of creation, God didn’t demonstrate His unlimited power, but a certain weakness by choosing an absurd method for the creation of the solar system. The absurdity of this manner of creation is demonstrated by what sciences discovered in nature. For this reason, the book of Genesis represents a serious obstacle for the human endeavour to know God through the study of nature.
How can one believe that God created the universe in six days, in the order described by the Bible, when what the book of Genesis says He did was contrary to many physical laws? Generally speaking, it is not difficult for a believer to admit that God does miracles, but they must have a rational finality, for example, the raising from the dead of Lazarus by Jesus. Miracles aren’t absurd phenomena and their purpose cannot be an irrational one. What rational finality can be in the stories of creation of light without the sky and before the creation of the sun? There isn’t any rational motivation in the way in which the book of Genesis describes the creation of the universe. Why would God have inspired the writing of creation stories which don’t correspond to scientific observable facts? God couldn’t have inspired narratives which contradict the functioning of nature created by Him. From the study of nature one can understand how it was created and its apparition didn’t happen as the Bible says that it would have happened.
The narratives of creation can be evaluated from the way in which they correspond with the observable facts and not the other way around. The viability of the results of scientific research cannot by deemed by comparison with the biblical accounts. If the observable facts aren’t in agreement with the narratives of creation, this doesn’t mean that they are wrong, rather the narratives don’t present correctly the origins of the universe.
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Did God act deliberately in an irrational way, for example, by creating the daylight, and only after a while the sun, with the aim to hide rather than to reveal Himself to humankind? This is hard to accept and contrary to the principle of revelation. It is easier to consider that God didn’t inspire the book of Genesis than to imagine that He inspired it deliberately in a way contrary to facts. If He inspired the narratives of creation only as parables the problem with absurdity still remains. Why would God have inspired absurd things as parables? That would diminish greatly the value of the message.
If the book of Genesis is an inspired book, Apostle Paul’s assertion that God can be known from the study of nature is not true. This is to me an important problem of the book of Genesis. Why would God have chosen to go, in the process of His creation, against all that man can know about the universe through direct observation? Most probably, it was not God who did that, but the human inability to explain nature a few thousand years ago. It is more likely that God didn’t reveal the origins of the universe at all to the writers of the book of Genesis, but the editors of the texts considered as an obligation the insertion of such stories in their texts.
God had revealed the origins of the universe directly in nature and it is impossible for nature not to reveal Him, if He would have made the most important contribution to the existence of the universe. God left to human sciences the interpretation of this revelation. Revealing the origins of the universe in nature and not in ancient texts would have been the rational way to transmit knowledge to humankind because the texts are submitted to ageing, limitations given by language, editing through the lenses of certain theological views, and countless misinterpretations. Opposite to the book of Genesis, the nature is a living book open all the time to everyone for analysis and research.
The narratives from Genesis lack not only consistency, but they also lack essential details, they aren’t explicit enough to be credible. Without explanations, the effect set before the cause doesn’t have any sense and there isn’t any reason to believe the account of the Bible about the creation of the world. It is true that sometimes faith presupposes belief in things which are hard to believe, but they shouldn’t be unbelievable because they are absurd. After all, the dynamic of the relationship between sun and earth is a natural and not supernatural phenomenon, and it is studied and very well explained by science.
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Why would God allow the existence of an incredible story of creation in the first book of the Bible, knowing that many will stumble on that story? Is that a sort of trap, for the unbelievers? In this case, one could presume that God either does deliberately irrational and absurd things or uses irrational stories. If that were true, and I believe it isn’t, what is that saying about Him? What God do we have? From my personal point of view God couldn’t deliberately misinform humankind about the origins of the universe by inspiring an untrue story of creation, hence the conclusion is that He didn’t inspire such stories about creation at all.
In the ancient world, all religions generated a certain explanation about the origins of the universe. All this effort, even if scientifically inexact, was necessary in order to open a certain perspective towards the most important human questions. How did the universe emerge? It was created by God or by other deities. It was the most obvious answer at the time, not only for Jews but also for many other peoples. It is true that almost all religions contain explanations about the origins of the universe, but unfortunately for them this particularity contributed to their desuetude. This area of knowledge is now very crowded, the modern sciences doing the same thing with much better results. The crises of religions started when the modern sciences began the inquiry about the origins of the universe and of humankind.
The problem of the creation of light is very important when evaluating the consistency of the narratives from the book of Genesis and it cannot be overlooked when analysing the literal interpretation of the texts.
The book of Genesis is very important both for theology and also for the relationship between religion and science. The following passage summarises the importance of this book:
“The Book of Genesis has sometimes been called the “seed-plot” of the entire Bible. Most of the major doctrines in the Bible are introduced in “seed” form in the Book of Genesis. Along with the fall of man, God’s promise of salvation or redemption is recorded (Genesis 3:15). The doctrines of creation, imputation of sin, justification, atonement, depravity, wrath, grace, sovereignty, responsibility, and many more are all addressed in this book of origins called Genesis.”
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Nevertheless, the book of Genesis in the first chapter fails to explain credibly the creation of light. The same book contains many contradictions and absurdities. Of course, it is not God to be blamed for this mess; it is about mythology, where the reality doesn’t count and all is just metaphor. It is also about human ignorance and the tendency to explain empirically the origins of the universe, by people who don’t have the least information about nature and cosmos. Can anyone be blamed for not believing these stories, and can anyone be condemned to eternal suffering in hell because they are not naïve and don’t take any irrational assertion at face value? I really don’t think such a resolution would be fair. None should be punished eternally in hell if he or she cannot believe that the daylight was created before the sun.
The tendency to spiritualise the whole story doesn’t work. There is an opinion that the light, created in the first day, wasn’t the light we know today. That light was in fact the glory of God, His own light. I reject such an explanation. The record of the book of Genesis speaks clearly about the light of the day, and not another light. If the light from the first day was the light of the glory of God, this one doesn’t allow darkness, because in God’s presence there cannot be physical darkness. The Bible is saying that, in another text, unequivocally:
“3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22; 3-5 NRSV)
Where the light of God is present there cannot be night, consequently the light from the first day of creation isn’t the light of the glory of God, because where His light shines there isn’t place for nights. As I mentioned already the light of the glory of God couldn’t have been created at a certain moment in time because that would imply that He was in darkness before that, but such assertion is unacceptable.
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God’s own light is not the light created on the first day of creation because the light of His glory isn’t created, it is eternal. God’s light cannot be other than an eternal light and a continuous one.
Some opinion maintain that God in fact created the “heavens and the earth” in the beginning and that heavens means all stars, the sun, and the moon. The earth was covered with a thick cloud, which stopped the light from reaching the earth. When God said, “Let there be light,” He didn’t create the light, but He removed the cloud and allowed the light to come to the earth. The sun and light would have already been created in the beginning. If not, what meaning can the creation of heavens have? God didn’t say that He created only the earth, but together with the earth he created heavens. On the second day God separated the waters from above from the waters from below, meaning that He separated the cloud from the surface of the waters.
There are many problems with this interpretation of the texts. The clouds exist within the sky, not outside it. If God had created the light on the first day before the creation of the sky, no clouds could have existed on the first day in the middle of the primeval sea. Clouds can be removed from the sky but when the light was created there wasn’t any sky.
Where does the idea of clouds come from? There is a text in the Bible which apparently supports this idea:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? ...When I made a cloud its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band.” (Job 38; 4-9 NRSV)
This kind of opinion doesn’t solve any problem and only adds to the confusion, because no cloud could have been removed from the earth as far, as for the presence of clouds the first condition is the existence of the sky.
As a matter of fact, the most important obstacle for the creation of light in the first day was the inexistence of the sky on that day.
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The narration from the book of Genesis doesn’t allow for the creation of heavens on the first day because all was covered by water, and the dome of the sky wouldn’t have been created yet. In order to have cosmos and to have earthly atmosphere supporting clouds, first the sky was needed, but the sky wasn’t there until the second day.
The book of Genesis speaks also about a foundation of the earth in waters, and that is incorrect information:
“6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings* shouted for joy?” (Job 38; 6-7 NRSV)
Probably the writers of the book of Genesis imagined the earth as floating on water. The dry land would have come out partially from water and started to float. This illustration is in contradiction with another biblical affirmation that the earth hangs on nothing.
The opinions which try to explain the unexplainable, regarding the creation of the daylight before the sun, were summarised by Don Steward as follows:
“Possible answers are: 1. Begun But Not Completed - Some Bible students believe the sun was begun on the first day but not completed until the fourth. 2. Did Not Appear: It has been suggested that the sun was created the first day but did not appear until the fourth. 3. Special Creation: There are many who believe that God created another light source before He created the sun on the fourth day. 4. Light From Empty Space? - Even modern science has theorized that light can come from empty space such as black holes. One of the effects of black holes is that they emit light. 5. Wrong Understanding Of Text - There is one other possible solution to this problem-the Bible doesn’t say there was light before the sun. It is quite possible that when the author of Genesis 1: 1 said In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth the phrase heaven and earth included the sun.”
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All of these options come with fantastic motivations and some of them contradict even the text which they profess to defend. There are two particular opinions that necessitate commentaries. Donald Chittick comments on this matter:
“If modern scientific theory insists on the possibility of light coming out of empty space (in other words, without light bearing objects), it is inconsistent to criticize the biblical idea that light existed on the first day of creation without sun, moon, or stars . . . The fact that Genesis talks about light existing before the appearance of the sun, moon, and stars seem rather to be evidence of divine authorship of the Bible. It was inconceivable to pagan thinking that life could exist without the sun and its light. Hence pagan religions worshiped the sun as the source of light and heat . . . The Bible is unique in stating that the sun is of secondary importance (Donald Chittick, The Controversy, Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1984, p. 151).”
The book of Genesis speaks of a created light which was named “day” therefore it is about daylight and about mornings and evenings, not about another kind of light. At the same time, light which came from empty space would have presupposed the existence of the sky, which entails outer space also. It would have been impossible for light to come from empty space because when the book of Genesis says that the light would have been created, the sky, hence the empty space, wasn’t there, being created only on the second day of creation.
Even if a light came from empty space, under the condition that such empty space would have existed from the first day, the existence of mornings and evenings would have necessitated a certain dynamic which wouldn’t have been assured by any light, but only by the existence of a celestial body generating that light.
At the same time, modern scientific theory cannot experiment in any way with the presence of light in empty space, because in nature there isn’t such a thing as completely empty space. Sometimes light can come from stars which have already disappeared, considering the huge distances between them and earth and the enormous length of time which separates the emission of the light and its arrival on Earth.
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Any light in space has a source even if it long ago vanished. The light needs a source for its existence, a source able to generate photons. Light without the entity which produces photons would be nothing but darkness.
The author of the quoted text doesn’t take into consideration what the Bible is saying. Before the second day, when the sky was created, there hadn’t been empty space to produce any kind of light. The earth was under water, where it couldn’t have spun around its axis, and any light under water couldn’t have been able to generate the cycle of day and night. Everything was covered by water, and a space filled with water is not an empty space.
Expressing another opinion John H. Sailhamer writes:
“In v. 14 God does not say, Let there be lights . . . to separate, as if there were no lights before this command and afterward the lights were created. Rather the Hebrew text reads, And God said, ‘Let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate.’ In other words . . . God’s command assumes the lights were already in the expanse and that in response to his command they were given a purpose, to separate the day from the night and to mark seasons and days and years . . . It suggests that the author did not understand his account of the fourth day as the creation of lights; but, on the contrary, the narrative assumes that the heavenly lights had already been created in the beginning (John H. Sailhamer, Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, Frank E. Gaebelein General Editor, Grand Rapids Mi: Zondervan, 1990, p. 34).”
On the first day of the creation everything was covered by the primeval sea. There wasn’t any place where heavens could have been created, if by heavens one understands the cosmos with celestial bodies. The place for the cosmos, the dome of the sky, was created only on the second day. On the first day when the light was created, according to the book of Genesis, there couldn’t have been any cosmic bodies which could enlighten the earth due to the lack of a place for them in a non-existent sky. Nevertheless, the separation between day and night isn’t given only by the existence of the cosmic bodies but is also given by the dynamic of the earth and of the sun.
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It is without doubt that the book of Genesis tells us that God made the sun on the fourth day and not on the first day. Only to go from absurd to more absurd, the author of the article proposes that the sun and other celestial bodies had been created on the first day of the creation, but they started to have a purpose for their existence only on the fourth day, and that function was to separate days from nights. If indeed the function was given to the sun only on the fourth day of creation, how can it be explained that during the first three days the sun would have separated the days from the nights, generating mornings and evenings? In other words, how could the sun have separated the days from the nights in the first day without having this mission which was given to it only on the fourth day? At the same time, as another alternative interpretation, if the sun already had a purpose in the first three days of creation why would God have given it the same purpose only on the fourth day? The answer is that the texts about the creation of light before the sun are so absurd that none can find rational explanations for it.
Another online publication Christian Courier admits that:
“Nor can it be argued legitimately that the sun, moon, and stars were “created” on the first day of the initial week, and then were simply made to “appear” on the fourth day, as advocates of the Gap Theory have attempted to establish. There is no basis in the Hebrew text for that conclusion.”
In the same publication, there is also the acknowledgement of the close ties between the Genesis and the Babylonian creation story known as Enuma Elish:
“In this narrative there are some striking similarities to the Genesis account (though the latter is the original, while the former is a degraded descendant). Significant, in view of this present study, is the fact that in the Babylonian record, “light” existed before the creation of the lightbearers (see Charles Pfeiffer, The Biblical World, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966, pp. 224ff). Again, let us emphasize that though Enuma Elish is highly mythological, it obviously retains a remnant of truth inherited from the sacred record.”
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It is hard to say which is the original and which is the descendent but both narratives make the same mistake. Neither of them advances a credible story of the origins of the universe. As Peter Enns remarked in his book The Evolution of Adam, placing the book of Genesis in its ancient context can be useful for the understanding of the nature of the texts, and can give a better perspective about what one can expect from this kind of text. Even if those stories of creation didn’t directly inspire one from the other, nevertheless they come from the same cultural environment, which inspired them both.
The book of Genesis cannot be understood other than in its own cultural Near-East framework of mythological texts because its message tried to reach an audience with a certain level of knowledge about nature which was specific for that time.
Another aspect deserves to be approached. There is, in our days, a tendency to confound the light generated by the Big Bang, consequence of a huge discharge of energy, with the light of the first day of creation. The light generated by the Big Bang was before the creation of the earth, but the light mentioned in Genesis 1; 3, happened ulterior to that creation. At the same time, the light of the Big Bang wasn’t separated from darkness, and didn’t alternate with it forming days and nights. The two very different phenomena have two different explanations and they cannot be confounded.
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 oceanservice.noaa.gov › Ocean Facts
 https://www.christiancourier.com/.../882-what-was-that-light-before-the-s...- Christian Courier
In relation to the creation of the celestial bodies on the fourth day of creation, the author or authors of the book of Genesis could have made such an error only because they didn’t know how the universe really works. At the same time, God surely knew how the universe works so either He didn’t inspire the book of Genesis or He deliberately has misled us about the issue.
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The first option is the correct one because God cannot lie and be perfect at the same time. Taking into consideration the huge distances between the stars and the earth the light from the stars couldn’t have reached the earth and become visible in the night after the fourth day of creation. In this case, it isn’t clear why God declared that their creation was good. How good was the creation of the stars, in the fourth day, if their light was unable to reach Earth, in the same day? It wasn’t that good.
When the closest star to the earth had been created by God, according to scientific measurements, its light needed at least four years to come to the earth. According to the book of Genesis, during this time human beings were also created and they probably needed signs for their orientation during the nights, but the signs weren’t there. At the same time, birds which would have been created on the fifth day would have also needed the stars for their navigation during the night, but the light of the closest star would have arrived on Earth four years too late.
One of the closest stars to the earth is Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. Part of a triple-star system called Alpha Centauri, Proxima is 4.22 light-years from the earth. Alpha Centauri is actually the brightest star of the three in the system, and so the system is named after this star. Alpha Centauri is part of a closely orbiting binary about 4.37 light-years from Earth, but Proxima Centauri (the dimmest of the three) is an isolated red dwarf star 0.15 light-years from the binary.
The stars, created on the fourth day, were useless as lighting bodies for a long period of time. A light-year is a unit of distance. It is the distance that light can travel in one year. Light moves at a velocity of about 300,000km each second. So in one year, it can travel about 9.5 trillion kilometres. In other words, one light-year is equal to 9,500,000,000,000 kilometres. The distance which separates Proxima Centauri from the earth is given by multiplying 9.5 trillion kilometres by 4.22.
If God created the stars on the fourth day, their light didn’t reach earth the same night, so at the beginning they were useless. Some creationists tried to find a solution to this problem in the idea that God would have created the universe already mature and the light would have been created in transit. This isn’t a good explanation for the lack of purpose of the stars created in the fourth day of creation and I quote:
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“The only problem with assuming that the light was created in-transit is that we see things happening in space. For example, we see stars change brightness and move. Sometimes we see stars explode. We see these things because their light has reached us. But if God created the light beams already on their way, then that means none of the events we see in space (beyond a distance of 6,000 light-years) actually happened. It would mean that those exploding stars never exploded or existed; God merely painted pictures of these fictional events. It seems uncharacteristic of God to make illusions like this. God made our eyes to accurately probe the real universe; so we can trust that the events that we see in space really happened. For this reason, most creation scientists believe that light created in-transit is not the best way to respond to the distant starlight argument.”
This is also an acknowledgment that the age of the universe cannot be reduced to 6,000 years – it is much older. Another attempt, which purports to explain long distances in the universe and their effect on the narratives of creation, is contained by the following quotation:
“Suppose that our solar system is located near the center of a finite distribution of galaxies. Although this cannot be proven for certain at present, it is fully consistent with the evidence; so it is a reasonable possibility. In that case, the earth would be in a gravitational well. This term means that it would require energy to pull something away from our position into deeper space. In this gravitational well, we would not “feel” any extra gravity, nonetheless time would flow more slowly on earth (or anywhere in our solar system) than in other places of the universe… This being the case, clocks on earth would have ticked much more slowly than clocks in deep space. Thus, light from the most distant galaxies would arrive on earth in only a few thousand years as measured by clocks on earth.”
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According to astronomic observations our solar system is not located near the centre of a finite distribution of galaxies, but somewhere inside the Milky Way galaxy, not even in the centre of it. The idea of a gravitational well in which is located our solar system, is a fantasy.
It is hard to imagine the earth in the centre of a finite distribution of galaxies if it isn’t in the centre of its own galaxy, the Milky Way. If we imagine a dinner plate as the Milky Way, and draw an imaginary line from the centre of the plate to the outside, then we’re located about halfway along that line.
A few thousand years, measured by clocks on Earth, even if it makes the time shorter, doesn’t, nevertheless, solve the problem. In any case, the light from the stars didn’t reach the earth in the same day. One can see that the creationists don’t have any answer to the problem of huge distances in the universe, because for them the earth is about 6,000 earthly years old and this is a very short period of time for the universe, and in this period of time nothing has been changed in an essential way. About 6,000 earthly years ago the universe was not dramatically smaller than today, probably just a little bit smaller, and that wouldn’t have affected the flow of time to an important degree.
The lights of the stars were not there on the fourth day, in order to lighten the earth during the night, and more importantly to be signs in the sky.
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Many critics of the Bible assert that the book of Genesis contains two accounts of the creation of the earth and mankind. Liberal or not, any reading of the book of Genesis will invite the reader to answer to many inconsistencies generated by the juxtaposition of Genesis chapters 1 and 2. It seems that these two accounts are the work of different authors writing in different time periods. It is also obvious that the narratives contradict each other in many particular details. The two different records involve Genesis 1; 1-31; 2; 1- 3 and Genesis 2; 4-25. One of the foundational assumptions of this viewpoint is that the Pentateuch was not authored by Moses. Presumably, several ancient writers contributed to this collection. These authors are referred to as J, E, P, and D. It is the view of the critics that all of these writings were collected by a “redactor”.
This theory, known as the Documentary Hypothesis, started to take central stage in the 19th century when Jean Astruc, a French physician, claimed that he had isolated certain “source” authors in the Pentateuch. The view was expanded by many others and by the end of the century numerous biblical commentators had adhered to this concept. Genesis 1 is said to be a “P” document dating from the Babylonian or post-Babylonian captivity period, while Genesis 2 is supposed to be a “J” narrative from the 9th century B.C. The arguments in support of this viewpoint are twofold. Firstly, it is the claim that the two creation stories show evidence of different styles of writing. Secondly, it is argued that the accounts conflict because they reflect divergent concepts of deity and a mixed order of creation.
In this work I do not insist on certain differences coming from names such as the use of a different name for God, Elohim or Yahweh Elohim, in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, or considerations regarding stylistic problems. Even if they are important details I only acknowledge them and leave these discussions for the numerous specialists in this domain.
I am mainly interested in what are real contradictions from the point of view of an internal logical coherence which is required by any story in order to gain its credibility. There are basic irreconcilable contradictions and differences which come from the logical consequences of the assertions contained by the texts.
While I don’t minimise the importance of an exhaustive analysis of all types of stylistic differences or textual divergences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, I also consider that the logical inconsistencies are very important and they plead the case against the existence of only one story of creation contained by the Bible.
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Things which are presented as facts by the Bible don’t correspond with each other and are incongruous to the point that they annihilate one another when trying to harmonise them. Probably the most disqualifying aspect in the attempt to realise a harmonisation of the two stories is their sequence of time. In Genesis 1 all happened in seven days but in Genesis 2, in one unique period of time. Genesis 2 cannot be seen as a synthesis of Genesis 1 because the latter reverses almost every detailed presented by the former. If one tries to harmonise the narratives from Genesis 1 and 2 in the way in which so many harmonists do, he or she has to be able to assemble them in one single story with a unique sequence of time. I try to do that in this study in order to see if such unification is possible or not.
I will use the sequence of time offered by Genesis 1 in which I will try to insert the story told by Genesis 2. If this endeavour is not possible given the inconsistencies contained by the texts there is a problem which cannot be ignored.
Some critics of the unity of the biblical account of creation maintain that it is a useless attempt to try to harmonise the two stories of creation from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, because they cannot stand together.
“Any artificial attempt to reconcile these marked differences of style, outlook and subject-matter is bound to fail. The recognition that they belong to different periods, the second story being obviously the older and looking back to a still earlier time, is a sufficient and natural explanation of their inconsistency.”
In spite of this conclusion I wanted to do what certain readers do in their minds when they read the book of Genesis. They combine the two stories in one. Is there any chance to see only one creation story when reading the conflicting materials from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? I was hoping that it is an easy task and the two stories can be read as one, until I tried to assemble the particular details of both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. It was impossible to synchronise all details from Genesis chapters 1 and 2 in a way in which they will not contradict each other – it doesn’t matter how hard I tried.
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To the beautiful and brimming with poetry legend of the creation of man and woman in Genesis 2, was later added a very empiric cosmology only to demonstrate that Jahveh was a universal God who created the entire universe and that He isn’t only the Jewish divinity.
Contrary to Harrison’s opinion, I would say that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are not a general and a more particular view of the same history of creation; they are two different stories unrelated to each other, written by two different writers in two different periods of time. Harrison writes:
“It is a mistake to assume that the two Genesis narratives are duplicates, for they actually complement one another. The first outlined the broad process of creation and showed how all things emerged from the creative power of God, while the second paid greater attention to the creation of man and set him with his mate in a specific geographical location.”
It is true that Genesis chapter 1 is a story which is full of contradictions and absurdities but, at the same time, the results of the attempt to gather in the same package Genesis chapter 2 make the offense to rationality even worse. I will take few examples of contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2.
What was the first thing created by God according to the Bible? The biblical texts present the following order of creation in the first day:
Genesis chapter 1:
“In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1; 1-2 NRSV)
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Genesis chapter 2:
“…In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— (Genesis 2; 4-5 NRSV)
Was there any water on Earth or not at the beginning? Genesis 1 says that the earth was covered with water but Genesis 2 maintains that a stream would rise from the earth and water the whole face of the ground.
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In Genesis 2 the primeval sea present in Genesis 1 is replaced by a stream of water which would have watered the whole face of the ground, but being only a stream, wouldn’t have been able to cover the entire earth. The contradiction is obvious because in Genesis 1 only on the third day would the land have been liberated from under water by God, but in Genesis 2 the fields, hence the dry land, had existed from the beginning.
This period can be contextualised in the first day of creation because both texts refer to the creation of heavens and earth, and that would have been realised in the beginning, meaning the first day of creation. We have to bear in mind that according to the Bible the entire creation was done in six days and no previous period of time before the six days is allowed by the texts.
Both stories agree that heavens and earth were created in the beginning of the creation, but the order of their creation is reversed between Genesis 1 and 2. In Genesis 1 heavens would have been created first and in Genesis 2 earth was the first one to be created. Where they don’t agree is the state of the earth on the day of this beginning, and about what happened immediately after this commencement. In Genesis 2, even if the stream allegedly had watered the whole face of the ground, the herb of the field wouldn’t have had enough water for their existence. This assertion is nonsensical. The rain would have been replaced with a stream of water so the lack of rain wasn’t a good reason for the absence of uncultivated vegetation. Verse 6 in Genesis 2 contradicts verse 5.
In Genesis 2, in contradiction with Genesis 1 we have dry land from the beginning and not an earth covered with water. The stream of water cannot be equated with the water which had been separated by God through the dome of the sky, because in Genesis 1 the water would also have been located above the sky, not only on Earth as it was in Genesis 2.
“7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.” (Genesis 1; 7 NRSV)
Unlike Genesis 1, in Genesis 2 the sky was present from the first day, making the existence of the dry land possible from the beginning. The stream of water without the dome of the sky doesn’t make any sense.
In order to erase this contradiction one must show that in Genesis 2 the story starts at a different moment in the process of creation than the first day in Genesis 1. Nevertheless, they both indicate the immediate instances after the creation of heavens and the earth. What meanings can these phrases from Genesis, chapter 1 and chapter 2 have, “in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth” and “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” if not to establish the beginning of the sequence of time? The details given by the texts cannot be overlooked. They say when the actions happened. It was either water covering all the earth, including the place for the future sky, or it was dry land and a stream which watered the whole face of the ground. Both options don’t go together in the beginning of creation.
What is the meaning of the expression the stream of water in Genesis chapter 2? There are two possibilities. Either it was a river going all over the earth or it was a kind of mist covering the whole earth. The stream of water has to be linked with the following text from Genesis chapter 2:
“10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches.” (Genesis 2; 10 NRSV)
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The stream of water which would have watered the entire surface of the earth couldn’t have been identical with the river which would have flown out of Eden to water the garden. Genesis 2 texts are in contradiction in this regard. We know that Tigris and Euphrates, two of the branches which have flown out of the Eden mentioned by the book of Genesis, don’t water the entire surface of the earth. The other two were Pishon, which would have flown around the land of Havilah, and Gihon which would have flown around Cush. Neither the main river nor its four branches would have watered the entire surface of the earth or the whole face of the ground as the Bible says it.
What is the definition of a stream of water? It is mainly defined as “a body of water flowing in a channel or watercourse, as a river, rivulet, or brook”. What isn’t clear is how the stream of water could have watered the whole face of the ground. With the extent of the whole face of the ground and the impossibility of one stream of water covering it, another interpretation has to be taken into consideration. Here are a few different translations of the word “stream” in Genesis 2:
“New International Version – but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.
New Living Translation – Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land.
English Standard Version – and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground.
New American Standard Bible – But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
King James Bible – But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
Holman Christian Standard Bible – But water would come out of the ground and water the entire surface of the land.
International Standard Version – Instead, an underground stream would arise out of the earth and water the surface of the ground.
NET Bible – Springs would well up from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
Jubilee Bible 2000 – But there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
King James 2000 Bible – But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”
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We can see modern efforts to give a sense to the expression “stream of water”, and some translations speak of a kind of mist coming out from the ground, which is different from the deep layer of water depicted in Genesis 1. In Genesis 2 the earth was not a formless void covered by water but was constituted of forms of geographical relief including fields. I would infer that in Genesis 2 we already have the light in place because total darkness is not enumerated amongst the conditions which stopped the plants growing.
At the same time, it is wrong to assert that Genesis chapter 2 doesn’t contain references to cosmology because doubtlessly it does. The proposition “in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” is enough cosmology and has almost the same cosmological extent as Genesis 1; 1-2 which is also very concise. In a sense, Genesis 2 is less nonsensical than Genesis 1 from a cosmological point of view because it asserts that heavens were made at the beginning, including sky and celestial bodies, but is absurd in the way in which it describes the creation of nature. Genesis 2 does not add new steps after the creation of heavens such as the creation of sky or of the celestial bodies, but describes man who would have been created alone, without a partner, in spite of the fact that all animals would have been created in pairs. Despite the existence of animals in pairs, man would have tried to find a helper for him amongst animals, as if animals wouldn’t already have help.
In Genesis 1 we have the expression “face of the deep” but in Genesis 2 we have the formula “face of the ground”. That also makes a difference and shows the incompatibility of the story from Genesis 2 to Genesis 1. The two metaphors express two different things. The deep from Genesis 1 means something different than the ground from Genesis 2. The deep means deep waters but the ground is dry land.
The absence of rain in Genesis chapter 2 should count for nothing because the stream would have watered the entire earth anyway, replacing rain if it were a mist. The problem remaining is the absence of man, but even this is a superfluous problem because many plants don’t need man for their growth. In the fields don’t grow only cultivated plants, but all sorts of plants.
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The plants cultivated by man were initially uncultivated or wild plants. They were selected for cultivation by humankind according to their needs but previously to that they didn’t need man for their growth. The book of Genesis is wrong when saying that the absence of man would have influenced the existence of plants. Genesis chapter 2 presupposes that waters were already separated on the first day of creation and the earth waited for man to till the ground, but this contradicts what chapter 1 says.
According to the book of Genesis rain would have come to Earth only after the Flood when the rainbow also would have appeared for the first time on our planet. If the existence of rain conditioned the existence of plants, as Genesis chapter 2 says, without plants there couldn’t have been animals and humankind, because both of them would have had the green plants for food. Without rain there can be no plants, and no plants means no animals and no humankind, and with rain coming on Earth only after the Flood, the result would have been that in the absence of rain humankind wouldn’t have thrived on our planet before the Flood. In this case, the Flood wouldn’t have been necessary at all because no human beings would have disobeyed God. The equations which can be constructed on the basis of data provided by the book of Genesis, cannot give but a false result.
Following the logic of the book of Genesis, from the moment when man was created nothing would have stopped the apparition of cultivated plants except the rain. We have a text from which we can see that rain would have come on Earth only after the alleged Flood and that refers to the apparition of a rainbow on Earth for the first time after the Flood.
“13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9; 13-15 NRSV)
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The clouds aren’t brought by God every time they appear in the sky as the book of Genesis states but by the dynamic of the atmosphere, and rainbows aren’t always present when it rains. Rainbows have a scientific explanation they aren’t a supernatural phenomenon as is wrongfully mentioned in the Bible.
“A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.”
The text of Genesis 2; 5 says that plants and in a narrow interpretation only the cultivated plants couldn’t have arisen on Earth in the absence of rain but they should if animals and humankind used green plants for food. Before the cultivation of plants human beings and animals would have needed to find comestible plants in nature. The absence of man on Earth didn’t stop herbivorous animals finding nutrients in nature. The science tells us that plants and animals were present on Earth before humankind but the book of Genesis, chapter 2, contradicts that.
According to Genesis chapter 1, plants were created on the third day of creation before the creation of man, hence the absence of human beings wouldn’t have influenced the existence of plants as Genesis chapter 2 incorrectly declares. At the same time, the cultivated plants, being before their cultivation plants which grew spontaneously from the ground, the presence or absence of man couldn’t have determined their existence on Earth but only their cultivation. When were the plants created? Here are the two relevant biblical texts:
Genesis chapter 1:
“11 Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.” (Genesis 1; 11-13 NRSV)
Genesis chapter 2:
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“8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; andthere he put the man whom he had formed. 9 Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2; 8-9 NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 2 the plants would have been created only in the Garden of Eden and not on the entire surface of the earth contrary to Genesis chapter 1. Before Eden, no plants would have been created on Earth by God in the absence of rain and because there was no one to till the ground. In Eden, it was the river which would have watered the Garden and also the man who was placed there. Only in the Garden of Eden would both conditions necessary for the existence of plants, required by the book of Genesis chapter 2, have been gathered – the source of water replacing the rain and the presence of man.
It is true that the existence of a river in the absence of rain is a very problematic proposition but the idea is that the lack of conditions for the existence of plants from Genesis 2; 5 was compensated only in the Garden of Eden, hence one cannot justifiably assume that there were plants, inclusively fruit trees, all over the earth in the context of Genesis 2. Those two images, from Genesis 2; 5 and Genesis 2; 8-9, had to be understood together as the two facets of the same coin.
Let’s reiterate the text from Genesis chapter 2:
“In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; …” (Genesis 2; 4-5 NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 2, plants would have been created after the creation of man contrary to Genesis chapter 1. This anomaly is explained by the absence of man on Earth. All plants can be divided into two major categories, plants which grow naturally and plants which are cultivated by man. To what category does Genesis chapter 2 refer in verse 5?
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From the point of view of their creation both categories are in fact one. All plants have appeared on Earth in the form of uncultivated plants containing the same biological material. Cultivation doesn’t mean creation. Some kinds or species of plants were used for cultivation by human beings but all kinds would have been created by God on the third day of the creation, according to Genesis chapter 1. We have here an obvious contradiction between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis 1 plants were created before humankind and in Genesis 2 plants were created after the creation of man.
Much confusion is generated by people who want to harmonise the two stories of creation and to demonstrate that there are no contradictions between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. They say that cultivated plants are plant species whose existence depends on the presence of man. The cultivation of plants obviously appeared only after the creation of man, but the existence of all plants doesn’t depend in any way on the existence of man.
It is wrong, however, to accept that before the creation of human beings there couldn’t have been plants in the fields of the sort which were later cultivated, only because man would have been absent. To me, the text in Genesis chapter 2 does not say that before the creation of man there weren’t cultivated plants, but it literally says that there weren’t plants at all in the fields, cultivated or not, and that not only because of the absence of man but also because of the lack of rain. Of course, the lack of rain would have affected all plants cultivated or not, but the stream of water would have replaced the rain. For this reason, in my opinion, by the stream of water from Genesis chapter 2, verse 6, we have to understand the river from the Garden of Eden, which couldn’t have solved the watering of plants all over the earth.
Even when man had been created the absence of rain would have prevented the existence of cultivated plants anyway. The stream which would have risen from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground couldn’t have replaced the absence of rain on the entire surface of the earth if it was a kind of river. The expression which refers to the stream when applicable to the river from the Garden of Eden “watered the whole face of the ground” is an exaggeration and is contradicted by the context, according to which such a river couldn’t have replaced the rain.
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“Plant of the field” is a generic expression. At the same time, about the herbs of the field, it is said that they wouldn’t have sprung up. The verb usually generates the image of spontaneity, growing without cultivation, in a natural way. The text refers to plants and herbs which may be cultivated or not and regardless of their cultivation they would have grown in the field if there was rain. I reckon that the text of Genesis 2 refers to all plants cultivated and uncultivated because beside cultivated plants, on the same fields, uncultivated plants always emerge, for example weeds, hence never would only cultivated plants grow in a field.
There weren’t cultivated plants before the creation of man, according to the story of Genesis chapter 2, but there also weren’t weeds or other plants which grow without being cultivated by man, because no plants could have grown in the absence of rain. The book of Genesis doesn’t speak about other rivers on Earth besides the one streaming through the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis chapter 1, we are informed that humankind ate from the beginning “every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.” There isn’t any word about the cultivation of plants in Genesis chapter 1, and humankind before starting to cultivate plants would have eaten plants found in nature.
Are the categories of plants mentioned in Genesis 2 circumscribing all possible plants on Earth? I would answer negatively. They surely don’t comprise the plants from the seas where the presence of humankind and the absence of rain wouldn’t have had any consequences.
It is plain that Genesis chapter 2 proposes the creation of plants after the creation of man, contrary to Genesis chapter 1, and in a reductionist manner not taking into consideration what would have happened into the sea.
There are of course attempts to justify the viability of Genesis chapter 2 but these attempts often maintain inconsistent principles with the Bible. The book of Genesis tells us that God created all plants on the third day but some people propose that suitable plants for cultivation or plants with thorns were not in that category. The following quotation is an example of those attempts:
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“Many mistakenly believe that Genesis 2: 5-6 refers to the third day (Genesis 1: 11-13) of the creation week because of the plants mentioned. However, these two specific plant categories mentioned in verses 5 and 6 (i.e., shrub of the field, plant of the field) are very different than the plants created on day three (fruit trees, grass, plants yielding seed). The shrubs of the field were plants with thorns, which only came about after man sinned. The plant of the field refers to cultivated plants. These were not in existence on the third day, because man had not been created, and obviously had not fallen yet to bring about thorns.”
The assertion that plants which were cultivated by humankind weren’t created on the third day because man hadn’t been created at that time, is contrary to the Bible. This assertion contradicts the book of Genesis chapter 1, which says that all plants were created on the third day and does not leave another time for the creation of cultivated plants. Only plants created on the third day could have been cultivated after the creation of man. Those plants had to be in the fields before the creation of man, according to Genesis chapter 1. If plants with thorns were created after Adam and Eve’s alleged Fall, Genesis chapter 1 in which all plants were created in the third day, is wrong.
There are obvious contradictions between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2 which shouldn’t happen if both were the record of the same historical facts. In Genesis chapter 2 plants had been created only in the Garden of Eden, but in Genesis chapter 1 they had been created on the entire surface of the earth. This is a problem because in the Garden was created only “tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” How about the other trees, which are not good for food? Where and when were they created? The Bible doesn’t say in Genesis chapter 2. If God had created plants before man on the whole surface of the earth as Genesis chapter 1 says, and if He only replanted some of them in the Garden of Eden, some plants also had to grow and some herbs had to spring up in the fields on the day of the creation of man, contrary to Genesis chapter 2.
Genesis chapter 2 underlines the idea that everything was created for man, plants and animals alike. In this logic, nothing on Earth could have been created before the creation of man. Contrary to that, in Genesis chapter 1 plants and animals were created before humankind. This is an obvious contradiction between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2.
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God would have created man from the dust of the earth. The message is that humankind unlike God is perishable and formed from destructible matter. Man is unlike God in Genesis chapter 2 and in opposition with Him. In Genesis chapter 1, man is like God and together with woman is the pinnacle of His creation. In Genesis chapter 2, creation does not finish with man but starts with him. As a matter of fact, the order of the creation does not follow any historical facts but a theological message.
The situation in Genesis chapter 1 where humans are created at the end of the creation is highly significant. In Genesis chapter 2 man is created at the beginning of the creation of nature on Earth because it is seen as less important, and not the dominant factor of all that was on Earth.
In Genesis 2, God seems to be more terrestrial or more directly implicated in relation to humankind. The missing element of man’s dominion over the earth is an important difference between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis 1, human beings are the substitutes of God on Earth but in Genesis 2 they are only servants with the task of tilling the earth, gardeners of the Garden of Eden. As servants, human beings would have had a limited knowledge about the world; some knowledge would have been kept only for God. Genesis 1 and 2 don’t carry the same theological message.
The attempt to place Genesis 2 within the limits of the first day of creation in Genesis 1 is failing even if Genesis 2 uses a similar opening formula as the first chapter of the book of Genesis but reversing it. If Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are one story of creation and not two, the proof for that would be their perfect synchronisation. In one way or another they must fit, one with the other, their scope doesn’t matter. If they don’t fit, the conclusion is that they contradict each other and are not one but two different stories. The endeavour to combine Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is rational and legitimate because some people are pretending that all those texts have the same author and that they say the same things.
What day other than the first day in Genesis chapter 1 could describe the starting point of Genesis chapter 2?
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I don’t see it, but it must be established in order to open the possibility that Genesis is one story of creation contained in two different descriptions, one general and the other one more detailed. For this reason, I will try different options. Let’s admit for the sake of the demonstration that the starting point of Genesis chapter 2 is inserted in the third day of the creation after the separation of waters and before the creation of plants, when there was already dry land.
Let’s say that on day three, after the separation of the waters, but before the creation of plants, God created man and after that He planted a Garden in which He placed the created man. In this setting God planted the Garden, as Genesis chapter 2 declares, creating the plants after the creation of man. God also created animals and on day six He created woman.
What is the major contradiction regarding this point? Genesis chapter 1 clearly states that mankind, male and female alike, were created on the sixth day after the creation of plants and animals. Man cannot be understood to have been created on the third day of creation because the Bible says that male and female were both created on the sixth day.
One can also investigate another possibility. Let’s see if Genesis chapter 2 could be a detailed description of the sixth day from Genesis chapter 1. If we want to establish a place in the sixth day of creation for Genesis 2, we have to choose the moment either before or after the creation of the animals. According to Genesis chapter 2, man was created before the animals. That is doubtless, it doesn’t matter how one speculates with the tenses of the verb “make”. After the creation of man, in Genesis chapter 2, God tried to find a helper for man and that is the reason for the creation of animals. In relation to man’s creation, the creation of animals was in the future in Genesis chapter 2, as an intention expressed by God. None can deny that. God didn’t say that at the moment of the creation of man He had tried already to make a helper, but He said that He will find a helper.
In Genesis chapter 2, animals were created by God for the purpose of finding a helper for man. If the correct tense here would be past and not future, as many harmonists try to demonstrate, “had made” instead of “will make”, God was in the situation to try finding a helper for man even before man’s creation. This is an absurd proposition. Genesis chapter 2 says that God first created man and only after that He tried to find a helper for him in the ranks of animals.
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“18 Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ 19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man* there was not found a helper as his partner.” (Genesis 2; 18-20 NRSV)
Why would God have tried to find a helper for man before man’s creation? It doesn’t make any sense. The conclusion that a helper for man couldn’t have been found amongst the animals was detached only after all animals were presented to man, and that clearly situates the creation of animals after the creation of man in Genesis chapter 2. This is in contradiction with Genesis chapter 1 in which animals had been created before humankind.
Man not only assisted in the presentation of all animals but he named each one of them. This method of naming of animals would have been very defective because it would have left many animals unnamed. Adam couldn’t have named the marine animals without entering deep water for them and such marine animals couldn’t have left their environment in order to be named without losing their lives.
In Genesis chapter 1 man and woman both have dominion over the animals, but in Genesis chapter 2, man didn’t get any dominion over the animals, he tried to find a helper as a partner amongst them. Why would man have tried to find a partner amongst animals if man and woman were created in the image of God, according to Genesis chapter 1? A helper as partner for man in no way could have been found amongst animals or looked for in that place in the context of Genesis chapter 1, because if man was made after God’s image his partner would have needed to be in God’s image also.
The book of Genesis chapter 1 clearly states that both man and woman would have been created in the image of God. Animals hadn’t been made in God’s image, only humankind, according to the book of Genesis. It would have been offensive to try to find the image of God in the ranks of animals as Genesis chapter 2 says. It is evident that Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 do not have the same author and are not the expression of the same theology.
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If God created the animals before man in the way in which Genesis chapter 1 describes, He would have known that a helper for man couldn’t have been found there. In such a case the creation of man alone without a wife after the creation of animals would have been pointless. In Genesis chapter 1 because animals were already created before the creation of man, humankind has been created in one pair because a helper for man amongst them couldn’t have been contemplated. In other words, the creation of humankind is also contradictory between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis chapter 1, we have the creation of animals and after that of humankind in one pair, but in Genesis chapter 2 we have the creation of man, looking for a helper amongst animals, not finding a helper amongst animals and finally the creation of woman.
There are two stories of creation and not just one in the book of Genesis, and there are very important differences between them about the creation of animals and humankind also. Which story of creation from the Bible is inspired by God and which isn’t inspired? They cannot be both inspired by God if they contradict each other. Being both absurd in the way in which they present their details, it is more likely that none of these stories of creation from the Bible are inspired by God. Even their metaphorical messages are not the same therefore most probably they weren’t inspired by God as parables with spiritual signification.
If God created plants on the third day, as Genesis chapter 1 states, on the whole surface of the earth, when did He plant the Garden of Eden? There is a single answer, if we consider Genesis chapter 2; God would have planted the Garden of Eden on the sixth day after the creation of man. Nevertheless, in Genesis chapter 2, man was created “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” and not at the end of creation. The order of creation is different between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 and that makes the insertion of Genesis chapter 2 in chapter 1 impossible.
The point is that if Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 were the same story looked at from different perspectives, the Garden of Eden would have been a special place with vegetation on an earth already filled with plants before the creation of man, a Garden in a garden.
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If the nature of the entire earth wasn’t yet affected by Adam and Eve’s sins, the whole planet would have been a garden according to Genesis chapter 1, and the building of the Garden of Eden in chapter 2 would have been useless.
If plants were created before the creation of humankind, according to Genesis chapter 1, there isn’t any reason for Genesis chapter 2 to declare that there weren’t any plants in the fields before the creation of man. Regarding the creation of plants, Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 are totally incongruent.
In Genesis chapter 2, God didn’t rest after His work as He did in Genesis chapter 1. He continued to work after the creation of man and woman by overseeing His creation and throwing humans out of the Garden of Eden. In Genesis chapter 1 the creation of mankind was the last act in the process of creation but in Genesis chapter 2 the last act was the punishment of humankind after Adam’s Fall.
When would God have rested in Genesis chapter 1 when we compare the story with Genesis chapter 2? Was it after the creation of woman or after Adam’s Fall? When did God say that all His creation was very good, after the creation of Eve or after the humans’ Fall? The creation was not that good if in it the seed of evil was already present and if mankind fell immediately after it. After the creation of human beings God had no reason to rest because they would have been in a situation to fail Him.
The question of when God would have rested in the context of Genesis chapter 2 is important if one wants to synchronise Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. Before the creation of woman, the work had been incomplete and the adjective “good” was unsuitable. Satan could have used God’s resting day in order to tempt humankind but this raises the question, why would God have left His creation without protection even for a day? These are only speculations because God didn’t create the world in six days and didn’t rest the seventh day as the Bible says. If He made the world in this way He wouldn’t have had any reason to rest knowing that Satan was interested in disrupting His creation. At the same time the creation of humankind wouldn’t have been good as Genesis chapter 1 states if immediately after its creation they disobeyed God.
The existence of God’s statement at the end of Genesis chapter 1 that the creation would have been very good while Satan was free to influence that creation is an undeniable contradiction of the book of Genesis.
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Satan was a part of God’s creation and his rebellion would have been enough reason to prevent the evaluation of creation as very good. God’s creation would have been flawed by the presence of Satan in its midst, and in the end the entire edifice would have been affected by this presence.
Notwithstanding, not everyone recognises two stories of creation in Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. The following quotation explains very well that view:
“The question also stems from the wrong assumption that the second chapter of Genesis is just a different account of creation to that in chapter 1. It should be evident that chapter 2 is not just ‘another’ account of creation because chapter 2 says nothing about the creation of the heavens and the earth, the atmosphere, the seas, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the sea creatures, etc. Chapter 2 mentions only things directly relevant to the creation of Adam and Eve and their life in the garden God prepared specially for them. Chapter 1 may be understood as creation from God’s perspective; it is ‘the big picture’, an overview of the whole. Chapter 2 views the more important aspects from man’s perspective … Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are not therefore separate contradictory accounts of creation. Chapter 1 is the ‘big picture’ and Chapter 2 is a more detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve and day six of creation.”
First of all, it is not true that “chapter 2 says nothing about the creation of the heavens and the earth, the atmosphere, the seas, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the sea creatures, etc.” As I already have shown, Genesis chapter 2 refers to the earth and heavens and that is a clear cosmology. Heavens entails sun, stars and moon, and the atmosphere. It is also a reference to the land. The omission of sea animals doesn’t mean that Genesis chapter 2 did not refer to the creation of animals because it doubtlessly does. In point of fact, Genesis chapter 2 uses the creation of the earth and the heavens as a temporal indicator in order to clarify the sequences of creation.
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“4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.Another Account of the Creation In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens …” (Genesis 2; 4 NRSV)
The narration from Genesis chapter 2; 4 cannot be placed on the sixth day of Genesis 1, and it places itself in the day one. I agree with Tyler Francke, the author of the following quotation, who expresses a substantial view on the problem of contradictions in Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2:
“The second creation story opens with an introduction (Genesis 2:4) that closely mirrors Genesis 1:1: ‘This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.’ The verse in no way indicates that what follows is simply a more detailed look at creation from a different perspective, as YECs claim; it says, This is the account.”
Francke also remarks quite pertinently that the effort of using grammar in justifying some absurdities is pointless because Genesis chapter 2 presents God’s intention to create a helper for man in future tense. The two myths of creation from the Bible aren’t meant to be harmonised; they are two different ideas about the creation of the world.
I also agree that the two myths of creation from the book of Genesis cannot be harmonized in order to set them together as one story. This observation bears important consequences regarding the inspiration of their texts. Two texts, contradicting each other, cannot both be inspired by God. None of them is inspired by God if each of them is inconsistent in what it declares and is far from what scientific discoveries show.
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 www.josh.org › ... › Study & Research › Answers to Skeptic’s Questions
 www.josh.org › ... › Study & Research › Answers to Skeptic’s Questions
In Genesis chapter 1 the creation of plants on the third day wasn’t hindered by the inexistence of man on Earth as it was in Genesis chapter 2. In Genesis chapter 1 the absence of man to till the ground was not a reason for God to prevent Him from creating plants, all vegetation, including ones which later were cultivated by man. All plants had been created before the creation of humankind. If in Genesis 1 the absence of man was not an impediment to creating plants, all kinds of plants, why did it become an obstruction in Genesis chapter 2? The motivation linked to the absence of rain is also superfluous. If there was not rain that means that no plants at all could have grown before the Flood because there wasn’t any rain on Earth before that event, according to the biblical texts. Why are there so many contradictions between the first two chapters of the book of Genesis? Only one reason deserves to be taken into consideration. Genesis chapter 2 is not a more detailed view on creation, a complement to Genesis chapter 1; they are two different stories and not one.
Until the fourth day of creation, the sun was not there but the earth was full of plants. If one uses the same amount of rationality that is used in everyday life, he or she will ask the elementary question, how can the plants live without the sun? Light was created on the first day according to the book of Genesis, but how about the complex conditions, which cause the plants to grow? The idea of a spiritual light which would have lit the earth before the natural sun, providing light for the plants, is nonsensical because a spiritual light couldn’t bring heat.
How did God plan the creation of the whole universe, chaotically or carefully? According to the narratives from the book of Genesis the creation of the universe happened with the highest degree of confusion. How can anyone believe the stories about the creation of the universe and reject, at the same time, the orderly explanations given by science? When comparing irrational explanations with rational ones, a rational mind doesn’t have any reason to choose the former. According to the book of Genesis, God had created the world without a plan and very mixed. The creation items appeared in existence randomly, sometimes effect before causes.
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Regarding the creation of plants on the third day, it is very strange that plants were created before animals and not in correlation with them, because some plants need the presence of insects, such as bees or others, for their pollination. There are two different kinds of plants:
“Wind pollinated flowers are different in structure from insect pollinated ones. Insect pollinated flowers have: large, brightly coloured petals - to attract insects, often sweetly scented - to attract insects, usually contain nectar - to attract insects, moderate quantity of pollen - less wastage than with wind pollination, pollen often sticky or spiky - to stick to insects, anthers firm and inside flower - to brush against insects. Wind pollinated flowers have: small petals, often brown or dull green - no need to attract insects, no scent - no need to attract insects, no nectar - no need to attract insects, pollen produced in great quantities - because most does not reach another flower, pollen very light and smooth - so it can be blown in the wind and stops it clumping together, anthers loosely attached and dangle out - to release pollen into the wind.”
According to the book of Genesis, God had created insect-pollinated flowers before creating insects, and that is odd. God created the plants on the third day, some of which needed insects in order to be pollinated, but He created the pollination factors, the insects, only on the fifth day. Again, the order of creation is an absurd one, as on many other occasions.
God asked the earth to put forth vegetation but He didn’t do the same thing with the sea. There are many plants living in water but the Bible doesn’t say a word about their creation. The method indicated by the book of Genesis for the creation of plants is at least incomplete. As a matter of fact, not all plants can be inscribed in the categories presented by the book of Genesis. In the following biblical text, we are presented with the kinds of plants made by God:
“9 And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’
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And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.” (Genesis 1; 9-13 NRSV)
Some plants don’t multiply through seeds but through spores. This quotation explains:
“Ferns, mosses, liverworts and green algae are all plants that have spores. Spore plants have a different life cycle. A parent plant sends out tiny spores containing special sets of chromosomes. These spores do not contain an embryo or food stores. Fertilisation of the spores takes place away from the parent, usually in a damp place. An embryo is formed and a new plant grows from it. New Zealand has about 200 species of ferns and over 500 species of moss.”
According to the description found in the book of Genesis, all plants multiply through seeds, either yielding seeds or fruits bearing seeds, but this is false information because not every plant grows from a seed. Some plants, like ferns and mosses, grow from spores. Other plants use asexual vegetative reproduction and grow new plants from rhizomes or tubers. Those plants aren’t enumerated by the book of Genesis and that demonstrates that in its texts there isn’t any revealed knowledge by God, but only an empirical collection of ancient observations.
Again, the Bible is incomplete in its record showing the ignorance of its writers regarding biology. Encompassing all plants in the category of plants with seeds, the book of Genesis simplifies its view on nature and gives an incorrect account of the genesis of plants. Who created all other plants, other than the plants yielding or bearing seeds? God would have created only plants yielding seeds or fruits bearing seeds, according to the Bible.
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In nature, there are many carnivorous plants, but the Christian doctrine is telling us that there wasn’t death in God’s creation until Adam’s sin. The carnivorous plants which would have been created on the third day of the creation, wouldn’t have waited until Adam’s Fall in order to eat; they would have killed insects or other small animals before that, but from what the texts of Genesis indicate they would have starved for two days until the animals were created. It must be a mistake in the doctrine regarding the moment when death entered into creation because besides carnivorous animals the creation also comprised of carnivorous plants, and they were also created on the third day of creation. If God didn’t endow animals and plants to eat meat, it must have been nature which did it. The following passage brings some clarifications regarding the carnivorous plants:
“Carnivorous plants are predatory flowering plants that kill animals in order to derive nutrition from their bodies. They share three attributes that operate together and separate them from other plants. Carnivorous plants: Capture and kill prey - Have a mechanism to facilitate digestion of the prey - Derive a significant benefit from nutrients assimilated from the prey.”
The existence of carnivorous plants before the creation of their food is another example for the illogical way in which the book of Genesis describes creation. Carnivorous plants are real and couldn’t have been generated by anyone else but by God in the context of the Bible. They speak about the complexity of nature, whose multiplicity cannot be reduced to the simplistic narratives about the creation of plants found in the book of Genesis.
According to the book of Genesis all plants had been created by God on the third day of the creation. This is the biblical account and tells us that death would have entered into creation on the day in which plants and animals were created by God, and not as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s Fall. When the first animal had eaten the first plant, or the first plant had eaten the first animal, death entered into creation. That instant would have happened before the creation of man because plants and animals would have been created before that.
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On the third day, God created plants but unfortunately according to the book of Genesis He created plants only for dry land and not in the seas. When were the plants from the seas created? The kinds of plants which were created by God on the third day are clearly specified in the book of Genesis and they are limited only to land plants. We wouldn’t know anything about the origins of the vegetation of the sea if our knowledge was based only on the biblical texts because the Bible doesn’t tell us anything about that, and that knowledge is important in connection with the origin of life on our planet. We need science to fill this gap and to give us a complete record of how things happened, and for this reason the Bible cannot replace science. In the marine environment, there are herbivorous and carnivorous entities, and because there were always carnivorous animals in the sea it is inconceivable that all marine organisms fed only on green plants as the Bible says.
The book of Genesis maintains that all animals on planet Earth would have had green plants as their food, but if we compare this statement with reality it is false.
“In the marine environment, the most significant primary producers are large, plant-like macroalgae and microscopic phytoplankton. Both serve as food sources for a variety of marine organisms. Marine herbivores feed on different types of large, fleshy macroalgae (red, green, and brown), which are distinguished from each other by their different photosynthetic pigments. Planktivores or filter-feeders feed on free-floating phytoplankton.”
The food for herbivores in the marine environment isn’t only green plants as the Bible says but red, green, and brown macroalgae and phytoplankton. The red algae, or Rhodophyta, are marine plants that live mainly in shallow waters and deep tropical seas. A few also occur in freshwater.
Certain types of fish often take quite a liking to the red algae. It not only absorbs the excess nutrients from the water, but also serves as a great source of food for fish.
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The idea that animals exclusively eat green plants is wrong and shows the ignorance of the authors of the book of Genesis. As a matter of fact, animals eat all kind of plants with different colours. To describe all fish as eaters of green plants is ridiculous. The biblical text says that all animals which have the breath of life had to eat green plants:
“30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.” (Genesis 1; 30 NRSV)
“Everything that has the breath of life” is an expression which contains all animals which live on land, on air, and on water.
There is an opinion which sustains that the allocation of the plants for food was not a limit but a common feature for all animals. This is an absurd attempt to give sense to the biblical text. There clearly are numerous animals which don’t eat plants as their everyday food even if they can occasionally eat very few plants to ease their digestion. They don’t eat those plants “for food” in the sense that they don’t require the nutritional elements from those green plants. At the same time, the Bible clearly says that the eating of meat was allowed only after the Flood.
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“3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9; 3-4 NRSV)
If everything was allowed as food from the beginning there wasn’t any need for new permission after the Flood. The permission was new and not a renewal of an old permission. The old permission was only about the green plants – “just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” The permission to eat “everything” was given only after the Flood. Not only that but also the eating of meat was restricted only to flesh without blood. At the time when God had allocated green plants as food for animals and humankind, there wasn’t any discussion about the eating of meat because if there would have been such a possibility He would have cautioned humankind not to eat blood.
The description given by the Bible about the food which could have been eaten before the Flood is unrealistic. The book of Genesis is not truthful in the description of the ancient world and it serves only theological purposes, trying to depict an ideal or paradisiac world which would have been disrupted by the sins of the first human beings. The earth was never a paradise but a field for endless struggles, but this reality doesn’t go well with the principle of God’s creation. If God created the world as a kind of war zone this raises many moral questions. Maybe God isn’t only good or generous; He can have a very complex nature, as complex as the complexity of the surrounding reality.
As a matter of fact, the book of Genesis doesn’t present God as love as does the N.T. because He almost destroyed humankind and the earth through the Flood. Love isn’t a good explanation for the annihilation of millions of human beings taking also in consideration that after the Flood the world was even worse. Eating animal flesh after the Flood would have made the world more violent, not more peaceful, and with God’s approval.
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We can only hope that the narratives regarding the apparition of animals on Earth are much more coherent. Let’s check on that also:
“20 And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. 24 And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 20-25 NRSV)
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The text doesn’t account for the animals which live in freshwater but only for the animals from the seas. This is another omission in the description of creation by the book of Genesis. There are also other observations which are solid reasons to reject the idea that these texts are the result of an inspiration from God.
The texts are telling us that God created from the beginning three main branches of land, animals, cattle, creeping things, and wild animals. For the writers of the book of Genesis, it is obvious that cattle were not the same as wild cattle because if they were they would have been included in the same category. At the same time, domesticated cattle were initially the same species as wild cattle. Cattle were in the beginnings wild animals, but in the intention of the author of this text of Genesis, all domesticated cattle, big and small, would have been created already domesticated by God, they wouldn’t have been wild animals submitted to a process of domestication by humankind.
How about domesticated dogs or poultry which are not cattle and which are mentioned under the category of wild animals? Either all domestic animals come from wild animals of the same kinds and had been submitted to a similar process of domestication by man, cattle included, or all domestic animals had been created domesticated from the beginning by God, dogs or poultry as well. This is an inconsistency. There isn’t any reason why some domestic animals would have been created already domesticated and other domestic animals would have been created initially wild. We know that all domestic animals were domesticated from wild animals by man, they weren’t created domestic by God.
The problem is that Genesis says that from all domestic animals existent on Earth God created only cattle to be domestic, all others being domesticated by man. Taking into consideration their utility for human beings, other domestic animals, for example, horses or poultry, were as important as cattle for human life, hence they would have been created domestic by God as well if He had created some animals already domesticated.
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In point of fact, the text refers to domesticated animals which are cattle and to wild cattle as being two separate kinds of animals created by God. Domesticated cattle and wild cattle aren’t two different categories of species of animals; the former derive from the wild cattle by domestication. The Bible is again wrong when it presents the same kinds of animals as being different kinds.
Human beings were destined, from the beginning, to eat plants, vegetables, and fruits, and not products coming from cattle. Why keep cattle if they were not used for human consumption? Cattle need human work and effort in order to be raised. If humans ate only plants this effort was useless. After their creation, human beings were destined to eat only green plants and no animal products such as milk, eggs, or meat. If big cattle were used only for work and not for food why would small cattle like sheep or goats have been kept knowing that they cannot work? According to the book of Genesis God created all domestic cattle from the beginning, not just ones which could have been used for work. Actually, not God, but man transformed animals through domestication and that was a process guided by the evolution of human societies.
Even if cattle were not used for food, but only for work, the idea that some animals were genetically created as domestic animals and others as wild animals, like different species or categories, is strange. From the point of view of genetics, domestic animals in the same species are identical to wild animals and it is hard to believe that God created some individual animals already domesticated as far as domestication is linked with behaviour induced in animals by humankind. The book of Genesis tells us that God created kinds of domestic animals, but domestication of animals focuses on individuals, not on entire kinds of animals, hence there are wild cattle and also domestic cattle. For every domestic animal a correspondent in a wild animal can be found. Wild cattle are larger members of a scientific grouping that also includes antelope, goats, and sheep.
There wasn’t any reason for God to create domestic sheep in a world where they were purposeless.
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Throwing cattle alreadyd omesticated into a wild world even before the creation of humankind probably wasn’t God’s intention, but that would have happened if the story of the creation is exact. Again, we are confronted with a reversed order of creation and that is sheep before sheep keepers. Domestic cattle without human beings to take care of them couldn’t have been a real possibility. We have to take into consideration that the first human beings were placed by God in the Garden of Eden to till the ground and not to be sheep keepers.
Domesticated sheep and goats before the creation of humankind would have been victims of the carnivorous wild animals. If animals were created in pairs being destined to multiply, one pair of all domestic animals would have been eaten by the carnivorous animals created at the same time. Even the principle of creation of animals in pairs maintained by the book of Genesis is senseless, because in such a situation the carnivorous animals would have destroyed the only two existing herbivorous animals of each kind, bringing them to extinction. The same situation is also described after the Flood when two of all kinds of herbivorous animals would have descended from Noah’s ark together with carnivorous animals. Only after the Flood was the consumption of meat allowed by God, according to the book of Genesis. In reality, there always were carnivorous animals which ate meat, if all animals had been created by God as the book of Genesis states.
Did God create cattle only to become the object of sacrifices for religious rituals? In this case animals for sacrifices would have been created even before Adam and Eve’s sins, but sacrifices were set in place in order to redeem sins. Did God know that Adam and Eve would have needed animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins even before their Fall? If cattle which couldn’t have been eaten by humankind before the Flood, and some which couldn’t have been used for work, had been created only for religious sacrifices, God would have known for sure even before the creation of humankind that Adam and Eve would become sinners. Humankind didn’t stand a chance; they were doomed from the beginning to fail. What would that say about God? He had known beforehand that Adam and Eve would disobey Him but He created them in spite of the unending human suffering and death which would have been determined by their unavoidable sins.
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The idea of free will becomes a joke if God knew before the creation of human beings that they surely would fall from grace. The creation for religious sacrifices of sheep and goats before humankind would be a sign that Adam and Eve had been doomed to fail before their creation.
The creation of some animals already domesticated is another contradiction from the book of Genesis. Domestication came through a long process of adaptation of some animals to human activities. Domestication is not genetically born but is a set of characteristics of an animal’s comportment. In other words, biologically, animals don’t separate each other in domestic and wild. They have the same genes if they are from the same species. Domestication is a way of treating and training the animals and is not a natural determination. For domestication two factors are needed and not only one. Those two factors are animals and human beings who care for them. Even a cat or a dog will become wild again, if it is left in the wilderness without the presence of man.
How could some animals already be domesticated, from the beginning of their existence on Earth, in the absence of humans? To me, that is very unlikely because domestic animals, cattle included, need a lot of care and attention from their keepers, but they would have been created before the creation of humankind according to Genesis chapter 1. At the same time it probably was impossible for humankind to take care of all domestic animals on Earth while they were living in the Garden of Eden. A domestic animal which is not cared for becomes wild and this would have been the case of the cattle created by God on the sixth day before the creation of humankind.
In order for the picture to be complete we are informed by the book of Genesis that even if human beings weren’t allowed to eat meat until the Flood they killed animals as an offering to God.
“3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4; 3-5 NRSV)
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“Fat portions” is an expression which brings about the idea of food. Why did they kill animals if they didn’t eat them? They could kill animals for their skins but wild animals would have been an easier source and they wouldn’t have needed to raise them in numerous flocks. Nevertheless, the text speaks about “fat portions” of the firstlings. Abel offered meat to God and not skin. It is hard to understand why Abel used meat as an offering to God if he didn’t eat meat. If the main product of his flock wasn’t meat but skins, why did he offer meat? What made him believe that God would “consume” meat symbolically if he didn’t do it? What interest could have God found in animal meat, an object which was prohibited for human and animal consumption? Moreover, in the O.T., a part of the flesh of an animal which was sacrificed was usually eaten by the priests. In the N.T. also, Jesus, who was the Lamb of God, symbolically asked His disciples to eat His flesh and to drink His blood. The eating of the meat of the sacrificed animals was a kind of transposition of the sinners in the situation of the animals, but the eating of animal flesh wouldn’t have been permitted before the Flood hence the entire symbolism of the sacrifice was in doubt. It is rather more probable that the sacrifices made by Abel and Cain are pure invention introduced in the texts of the Scripture only after animal sacrifices became usual for the Jewish people.
In the book of Genesis, God appreciated Abel’s offering even if consummation of meat was prohibited at the time and even if He spoke negatively about the violence in the world. This is a contradiction because killing animals would have contributed to a violent world even if those killings had a religious purpose. Even if God didn’t accept violence He was, nevertheless, more open to Abel’s animal sacrifice than to Cain’s non-violent offering. The proper sacrifice would have been the one made by Cain because he would have sacrificed the only product acceptable for food, which was plants.
Only after the Flood were human beings allowed to eat meat, but Abel would have sacrificed an animal before the Flood and offered to God the “fat portions” from it. Abel didn’t see meat as something unclean which must be avoided but as something worthy to be offered to God. In the real world, this doesn’t make sense. Sacrifices were a kind of food for God and He couldn’t “have eaten” a food which was prohibited to humankind if He didn’t want to give a bad example to human beings, in respect to violence and killings.
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“6 Say to the rebellious house,* to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: O house of Israel, let there be an end to all your abominations 7 in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You* have broken my covenant with all your abominations.” (Ezekiel 44; 6-7 NRSV)
In Ezekiel God speaks about His food but before the Flood meat was an unacceptable kind of food. How could God have accepted animal meat as food if He didn’t allow it for consumption? The story of Cain and Abel is pure fantasy and probably was demanded by the need of the writers to base the rituals of sacrifices on a much older foundation. In this regard, the book of Genesis contains a contradiction between the prohibition of eating meat before the Flood and bringing meat as a sacrifice to God by Abel.
Another exaggeration of the book of Genesis is the domination of human beings on the animal world. The fear and dread of humans doesn’t rest “on every animal of the earth and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground and on all the fish of the sea”. They weren’t “delivered into the hands” of humans, contrary to what the book of Genesis says. Are lions, leopards, or other land predators fearful of human beings? In the wilderness, they attack humans when they have the occasion to do so. Are sharks fearful of man? The predator animals including sharks use human beings as food when they find the occasion to do that.
“2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” (Genesis 9; 2-3 NRSV)
Another strange aspect of the creation of animals is the creation by God of abhorrent animals. Those animals wouldn’t have been needed for the completion of an ecosystem because such biological structure doesn’t have any place in the context of the biblical narratives.
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After all, in the book of Genesis all animals would have been herbivores. This is the biblical text:
3 You shall not eat any abhorrent thing. 4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain-sheep. 6 Any animal that divides the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two, and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 7 Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock-badger, because they chew the cud but do not divide the hoof; they are unclean for you. 8 And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses. (Deuteronomy 14; 3-8 NRSV)
Why did God create things which are abhorrent? It is much more understandable to believe that they were not created directly by God, but they are a by-product of the evolution of nature. The contradiction is that God said all that He created was good, but in Deuteronomy some animals created by Him are considered to be abhorrent things.
According to the book of Genesis the first shepherd on Earth was Abel:
“2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.” (Genesis 4: 2 NRSV)
In many versions of the Bible cattle is translated as livestock. For example, in the New International Version, New Living Translation, English Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, International Standard Version, and World English Bible, we find this understanding. At the same time, sheep and other cattle needed a shepherd; they couldn’t be without human guidance. At least 18 years had to pass before the domestic animals would have got a shepherd, until Abel would have been able to take care of them. Domestic animals, the cattle without shepherds, cannot be a correct statement because they were domesticated to be under the supervision of human beings. If no humans took care of domestic animals they would become wild, taking care of themselves, and only then if they hadn’t been entirely destroyed by predators.
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Abel would have had to domesticate some animals again in order to become a shepherd, if all domestic cattle created by God weren’t alive any more. In this way, the creation of cattle by God would have been purposeless if this narrative was real.
Why would the work division between cultivators of land and shepherds have become necessary immediately after Adam’s Fall? Abel was a bachelor, having as a family his father, mother, and brother. He didn’t need an entire flock only for his clothes and his family garments. Cain had to work the land but Abel raised animals. Abel couldn’t have given animals for work to Cain because he raised sheep, not big cattle, as he was a shepherd. In that particular context sheep were useful only for skin but what happened to their meat after the killing? Abel offered some of their meat to God. He would have thrown the rest of the meat at the bin. He had offered to God what he normally threw in the bin. How many skins were needed for the garments of five people? Not enough to justify the keeping of a herd of animals. The proportion between the very small population on Earth at that time and the need for keeping a herd of animals in order to respond to the needs of that small population is not right.
Would it be reasonable to believe that Abel and Cain were separated by their occupations in two main divisions of human activities instead of working as a family together with their father and mother, taking care of their entire work? Humans always associated in groups – they didn’t work and live as isolated individuals. If they were working as a group there isn’t enough grounds to believe that Abel and Cain would have initiated the first big division of work of humankind as the book of Genesis seems to declare. Those divisions started when entire families would have become dedicated to one activity more than to another. In one small family of four or so people the presence of two branches of human activities, well defined therefore relatively separated, with only one member of the family to be responsible for it, is something illogical.
The book of Genesis tells us that all animals had been destined to eat vegetation, but we know that some animals are predators, they eat only meat. From the way in which animals are constructed we can see that some of them are built to be predators and others are structured to defend themselves from such predators.
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For example, were hedgehogs created by God? If the answer is yes, why did He create them with the potential to defend themselves against other animals if at the moment of their creation there wouldn’t have been any danger for them from predators because all animals were herbivores? If all animals were assigned for vegetal consumption what animal would have been interested in attacking a hedgehog as prey? No human would have attacked them either. No vegetarian animals would have eaten hedgehogs. However, hedgehogs are prepared to face a predator attack just because in the real world predators were always present. In the world of herbivores, described by the book of Genesis, such a natural protection wasn’t needed therefore wouldn’t have been created by God. If God had created the hedgehogs as they are He did that knowing that the created world contained predators from the beginning.
“Large owls, including the Eurasian eagle owl, commonly feed on hedgehogs. Several members of the Canidae family, including wild and domestic dogs, foxes, and jackals, may attack and eat a hedgehog. Indian gray mongooses are known predators of at least one species of hedgehog, the Indian hedgehog. Mustelidae, the family that includes ferrets and weasels, are known predators of hedgehogs.”
Even if hedgehogs have such armour they often fall prey to many predators, but nevertheless they can protect themselves against others. There wasn’t any reason for God to create such sophisticated defence for so many animals if no predators could attack them and eat them. There are many defence systems against predators which tell us that such predators did always exist.
“Throughout millions of years of evolution, animals have evolved numerous ways of defending themselves against predators. Obviously, being able to flee a predator is the choice of many prey animals we can consider. However, there are some often overlooked but interesting methods of defense which involve deception and chemistry. These include using toxic chemicals, camouflage and mimicry.”
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This protection is real and can have only two causes. Either they were created by God or by nature through evolution. Which is more likely? If God had allocated only the green plants as animal food until Noah’s Flood, theoretically there shouldn’t have been predators from the moment of creation until the Flood. If there were no predators no mechanisms against predators were needed. Notwithstanding, these mechanisms exist, which means that either God created animals with them and the Bible is wrong about the nature of food allocated to all animals and human beings, or they were not created by God but by nature.
Evolution tells us that predators evolved at the same time as herbivores and in connection with one another. Taking that into consideration one should notice that creationism doesn’t have a good answer for why the animals were equipped against predators, despite a lack of this kind of animal. The mechanisms of defence against predators are not only small adaptations to the environment, but they are involved in the structural constitutions of the animals concerned, defining what kinds of animals they are.
The reference to predators or carnivores includes plants, birds, land animals and marine animals. Who created them if all animals had to eat only green plants from the moment of their creation until the Flood, according to the book of Genesis? This is a big contradiction of the Bible. God would have created predators but would have allotted them vegetation as food. If God didn’t create predators but they evolved from herbivores after the Flood, that means new species were created through evolution, other than ones that were created by God.
Creation of animals had been done by God within the limits of kinds or species. However, an animal which is structured as herbivore, if it is transformed into a carnivore it becomes a member of a new species. Either God created all species of land animals on the sixth day as they are today, or many species evolved from what God created that day and became other species. If they evolved to be other species nature is also a creator beside God the Creator. Regarding animals’ existence on Earth, creation without evolution doesn’t make any sense.
The biological differences between herbivores and carnivores are huge.
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The dentition, the form of the maxillaries, the stomach, the size of the body, the whole structure is adapted, in the case of herbivores, in order to allow them to eat vegetation, and the same is also valid for carnivores, which eat meat. In spite of that, the narrative concerning the creation of animals, from Genesis, affirms that God created all animals to eat vegetation, and not meat, but this cannot be right, because today we have carnivore animals, which don’t eat vegetation, and on the other hand we have on Earth herbivorous animals which are not endowed to eat meat, so they cannot become carnivorous.
Even if sometimes herbivorous animals can accidentally eat a small quantity of meat, this cannot be their main source of nutrition and the differences between them and carnivorous animals remain determinant. Some herbivores can occasionally eat insects or carcases of death animals but this doesn’t change their main way of feeding. Herbivores aren’t endowed for the killing of other animals. The most important difference between herbivores and carnivores is that they occupy different places in the food chains; the former are prey and the latter are predators. There are also omnivore animals, which eat plants and meat as well, but the problem in relation with the book of Genesis is mainly the existence of the predators commencing in the sixth day of the creation.
In the sea and on land God created animals which can be described as monsters or beasts:
“21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 21 NRSV)
“25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 25 NRSV)
This kind of description is contradictory from the point of view of feeding only on plants, food ascribed to all animals immediately after their creation.
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Sea monsters don’t eat green plants. Blue whales eat mostly krill. Fin whales eat krill, copepods, squid, and a variety of small schooling fish. Humpback whales, Bryde’s whales, and Minke whales prey mostly on krill and small schooling fish. Sharks, another kind of marine monster, surely don’t eat green plants. Sharks primarily feed on smaller fish but some species prey upon seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals. When God had created animals He ascribed them plants for food. Why would He have endowed some animals with the biological characteristics specific for eating plants and other animals with some very different characteristics proper for meat consumption, if from the creation until the Flood all animals ate vegetation? It is not important when the switch from eating plants to eating meat was really made, because in any case for a long period of time all animals ate plants according to the book of Genesis. The biblical text maintains that the licence for eating meat was done after the Flood. Before the Flood lions, panthers, wolves, hyenas, sharks and many other predators were condemned to eat green plants which was different to the kind of food for which they had been built.
Why would God have created two very different kinds of animals, knowing that for a rather long period of time all had to eat only vegetation? Why wouldn’t He have created only herbivores if He allocated only green plants as food for animals? Did God count on evolution of the species to such a degree that He planned for some herbivores to become carnivores? How and when was the switch made? Let’s consider for a moment that only after the Flood consumption of animal meat was allowed as the book of Genesis says. All animals were herbivores until the Flood. After the Flood, some herbivores would have evolved from what they were to develop strong jaws, another type of stomach and so on. Such an evolution, if possible, would have taken many millions of years. Let’s imagine that from a deer, through evolution emerged a hyena. It is very unlikely. The hyena has its ancestors in other similar animals, extinct in our days, but not necessarily in some herbivorous animals. In any case, the hyena is different to any herbivorous animal. If we believe that all vegetation would have disappeared after the Flood then all animals would have had to become carnivores, not only a number of them.
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If it is true that God finished His creation in six days, He would have created herbivores and carnivores from the beginning if He created animals according to their kinds. Herbivores and carnivores are two very different kinds of animals; they don’t switch suddenly from one to the other. If He created only herbivores but some of them became carnivores, through a process of transformation, after the Flood, this implies a profound and complex evolution. Six thousand years of animal evolution, even less if we consider the Flood, cannot explain such a transformation. Either God didn’t create animals according to their kinds as they are today and many of them are the product of evolution, or He created carnivores on the sixth day, giving them vegetation to eat, but that is absurd. Rather God created herbivores and carnivores from the beginnings through evolution and the book of Genesis is wrong in asserting that all animals were created at the same time on the sixth day and all ate green plants for a while. Evolution of species took a long period of time and wasn’t restricted to the time allocated by the book of Genesis for the creation of animals.
To eat only vegetation, for carnivores is impossible. They are not adapted for this way of feeding, for rumination of the cud, food regurgitated from the first stomach to the mouth and chewed again. The entire body structure of carnivores is constructed in such a way as to enable them to be predators, but such predators cannot feed with plants as their main food. There isn’t any rational reason why God would have created carnivores on the sixth day if they had to eat only vegetation. God created all animals after their kind and a kind means there are some important characteristics which give to a certain species its identity. Predators eat mainly meat and that is a radical difference from herbivores which eat plants.
Carnivores don’t come directly from herbivores which would have preyed on other animals after the Flood, because herbivores don’t prey on other animals. Were the plants scarce after the Flood? Even so, herbivores couldn’t hunt, kill, and eat another animal because they weren’t equipped with the biological tools for this purpose. The predators, according to the book of Genesis, ate meat immediately after the Flood and not only after a very long period of time – hundreds of thousands of years. God, as the book of Genesis presupposes, had created from the beginning, herbivores and carnivores, when He created every species with their own characteristics on the sixth day of creation.
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Small adaptations would probably be accepted by the creationists but not a profound structural modification of the animal.
Let’s say for the moment that all animals were herbivores until the Flood as their allotted food required them to be. What happened after that event? Who “told” animals that they must eat meat? What particular reason pushed the animals to quit vegetation as a food and to start eating meat? We know from the book of Genesis that after the Flood, humans were allowed to eat meat; was this authorisation given for the animals too? How was this authorisation transmitted to them and in what way would it have become effective if genetically there wasn’t any change? Is it possible that so many animals became predators after the Flood, following a decree from God? That change would have equated with a new creation similar to the one from the sixth day. The animals obviously don’t have consciousness and it is impossible that animal species would have been persuaded by God to change their behaviour. God has difficulties in convincing human beings to change their comportment but convincing an animal to change its alimentary habits would have been impossible. Other mechanisms would have been needed and the real engine for change couldn’t have been other than evolution.
How could a herbivorous animal be transformed into a carnivore overnight, without changing its whole body structure? The Bible doesn’t tell us that God recreated animals after the Flood, or that He created new animals. This possibility seems to be unrealistic, in the context of the Bible, and that is true because according to its texts the creation was completely finished in six days. Panthers and hyenas weren’t made after the Flood, but during the sixth day of creation. God could have miraculously changed entire species and could have transformed them into carnivorous animals, but that would have meant a new creation of the animal regnum about which the Bible doesn’t say anything at all, and which is unacceptable in the light of Genesis chapter 1. In the chapter 1 of the Bible it is written that God finished His creation on the sixth day and no other period of time is given for another creation in the biblical texts.
Someone could say that God did His creation in six days and after that, evolution took over and modified this creation in ways completely driven by nature.
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This combination between creationism and evolutionism doesn’t legitimise either of the two and increases the degree of ambiguity about the origins of animals on Earth. It was either creation or evolution in the Darwinian sense but if evolution took over God’s creation and modified it radically His declaration that the creation was very good doesn’t make any sense.
There are nevertheless some opinions that carnivores existed before the Flood. The following quote expresses such an idea:
“Actually, there is a hint in the Bible that there was pre-Flood carnivory, although I won’t be dogmatic about it. That is, when Cain was enraged that God (YHWH) rejected his sacrifice, God counseled him that “sin is crouching at the door” (Genesis 4: 7b). God pictures sin as ‘crouching’, but this means ‘ready to spring forth’. The same imagery is used in Genesis 49: 9, “he crouched as a lion”. Indeed, in Genesis 4: 7, the verb rōbets (רבץ) is masculine to agree with the implied wild beast, not feminine to agree with ‘sin’. So sin is like a lion waiting to pounce on Cain and consume him. Such imagery could indicate that animal predation had already started by this time. This time could be a little under 130 years after Creation—Eve regarded Seth as God’s replacement for Abel murdered by Cain (Genesis 4: 25), and Seth was born when Adam (and Eve) was 130 (Genesis 5: 3).”
In this view, the book of Genesis offers some hints that shortly after the creation certain animals were already predators. If such is the case, this is an argument to support the idea that God had created the predators from the beginning because it would have been impossible for some species to evolve radically in such a short period of time. If God created the predators and if He created the animals before the creation of humans, as the book of Genesis says, death entered into creation before Adam and Eve’s Fall and without any connection to that. Death is the natural creation of God and has nothing to do with Adam and Eve’s disobedience. One can safely maintain that death wasn’t triggered by the Fall of man, but death and suffering were on Earth from the moment of creation. The inconsistency within the biblical text is obvious. It is impossible to harmonise the existence of carnivorous animals before the Flood with the kind of food that the book of Genesis says God had ascribed to all animals, and that was green plants. Here we have the biblical texts:
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“29 God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1; 29-31 NRSV)
What food was ascribed for the fish and other marine animals, according to the texts? To every beast of the earth and to every bird of the air God had given as food every green plant. How about the sharks or marine lions? Did they also eat green plants? How easily do they find such plants in the water? The following quotation gives an answer:
“Sea Lions are carnivorous which means that they love to consume meat. The main source of food for Sea Lions is fish and a very large amount of it! There are several types of fish that they will eat including herring, mackerel, pompano, salmon, and capelin. What they will have access to depend on where they live. They also enjoy consuming squid that is often found in the water. They are able to survive well in the water because they aren’t really picky about what they consume as long as it is plentiful and it contains meat.”
Sea lions never ate green plants. How about other fish and aquatic living creatures? Did they all eat green plants? It is obvious that something like that didn’t happen. Carnivorous fish ate other fish and most sharks and other marine predators also ate the flesh of other aquatic creatures. This isn’t a minor adaptation to their environment; this is the way in which they are built. All sharks, according to the book of Genesis, would have eaten green plants until the Flood and after that when meat consumption was allowed most of them became predators, with exactly the same body structure.
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This is pure fantasy because nature doesn’t work like that. Having the same kind of teeth, made for tearing flesh and not for eating green plants, sharks always ate the same kind of food, for which they were biologically fit.
To maintain that Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought death into the creation is false and shows that the story of Adam and Eve is only a myth and not a real fact. Before the creation of the Garden of Eden death was on Earth, generated by God’s creation, through nature, and not by human fault. This is God’s world, a reality in which death was a usual phenomenon and was not a cause of some mistakes made by humankind. In point of fact, even the eating of fruits means death and destruction for those particular vegetal elements. It is not an animal death but the idea is the same, the consumption of living creatures by other living creatures. To maintain that there was consumption of fruits before Adam and Eve’s Fall but not biological death is a naivety and a contradiction in terms. Green plants were also alive before being eaten by herbivorous and carnivorous plants and animals ate meat.
How about the animals, were they really good as the book of Genesis says that God would have declared? They were not, because some of them were carnivores, but they were asked to eat vegetation and that means that they would have been built in an unsuitable way for their living conditions. Either God wrongfully created some animals to be carnivores and asked them to eat plants, or some herbivorous animals transformed themselves for unknown reasons after Adam and Eve’s Fall or after the Flood, and became carnivores. The most realistic probability is that God didn’t directly create herbivores or carnivores but they emerged in parallel through the evolution of nature.
We ought to ask if radical evolution of created entities such as animals is possible in the biblical vision. What is the authentic relation between creation and evolution? Could species created by God have evolved in such a way that they would have become other animal species? What is the limit of the adaptation of animals to the environment? One limit is the sudden modification of an animal from herbivore to carnivore or the other way around, a phenomenon entailed by the book of Genesis when it describes a dietary change after the Flood.
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The Bible doesn’t speak about evolution of the species in numerous generations; it was about some animals, which being structured to eat plants started to eat meat after the Flood. As a general rule an individual animal won’t radically change his feeding habits in a short period of time. A dog can eat a bit of grass sometimes as a medicine for the wellbeing of his stomach, but the same dog won’t systematically exchange meat for grass even if he is starving.
When did some herbivores become carnivores, after Adam and Eve’s Fall or after the Flood? Adam and Eve’s Fall wouldn’t have had anything to do with dietary behaviour of animals in spite of what many commentators maintain for theological reasons. In the book of Genesis, the moment in which a change in dietary habits appeared would have been the aftermath of the Flood. The idea that Adam and Eve’s Fall would have had anything to do with meat consumption doesn’t have any biblical support. If meat consumption was related to Adam and Eve’s Fall the approval for it would have been given immediately after their Fall and not after the Flood.
In the Christian teachings is well established the principle that death entered into creation after the failure of first human beings. Nevertheless, if God had created animals according to their kinds He had also created carnivorous animals which are differentiated by important characteristics from herbivorous animals. Those carnivorous animals would have eaten meat before the creation of humankind because they had been created previous to human beings and they couldn’t wait to feed only after Adam and Eve’s Fall.
Animals ate according with their biological structure generated by their natural evolution. A universal Flood, if it was an historical reality, would have determined an ecological disaster, but it is only a legend and nothing has happened after the imaginary Flood. Nevertheless, even a universal Flood cannot explain the sudden transformation of some herbivores into carnivores. In my opinion herbivores and carnivores evolved in parallel in the context of the continuous balancing of the ecosystem. If God had directly created all species of animals of every kind, He made herbivores and carnivores as different kinds of animals and from the moment of their creation carnivores started to eat animal flesh.
There are also some opinions which maintain that in the Bible there are arguments which favour the idea that God created carnivores on the sixth day. The following quotation will present succinctly this opinion:
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“The book of Genesis describes the order of creation and the kind of creatures that God created. Many young earth creationists believe that God did not create carnivores, but that some animals evolved or mutated to become carnivorous after the fall of man. Genetically, this is impossible, and if God somehow caused it to happen, it is never mentioned in the Bible. God created at least some of the carnivores on the sixth day. Here is the relevant passage: Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts [chayah] of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. And God made the beasts [chayah] of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1: 24-25)”
The author of this comment uses the Hebrew word chayah in order to demonstrate that the Bible says that God would have created carnivore animals on the sixth day of creation. This word is used in the biblical texts most often to indicate animals which eat flesh:
“We can examine how the Hebrew word (chayah) is used in the rest of the Bible…… An examination of the Hebrew word chayah indicates that in the vast majority of uses, the word refers to animals that eat flesh. It seems likely that the creation account of Genesis is referring specifically to the carnivores, especially since a prominent herbivore (cattle) is specifically mentioned in the same verse. If chayah were meant to refer to herbivores, cattle could be left out, since they would be included in the chayah term.”
If God had created carnivores, He brought animal death into His creation before the creation of man. Death was in creation before Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God so the idea that Adam and Eve had to die because they sinned doesn’t have any support. Adam didn’t die because he had sinned but because he was mortal; death wasn’t a punishment for human disobedience to God but a natural thing for man who was created from dust.
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Adam and Eve’s mortality, in the context of the book of Genesis is proven by the reference to the tree of life. An immortal being wouldn’t have needed the tree of life in order to get immortality. Their punishment wasn’t their death but the interdiction of access to the tree of life which would have offered them the eternal life. It is not the same to say that one will die following his or her disobedience or to say that because he or she was disobedient he or she will not live forever. Death isn’t a punishment but a natural thing. This is another theology closer to the biblical account.
Adam and Eve didn’t die following their disobedience to God, they were only prevented from living forever in the Garden of Eden. They didn’t die the day they disobeyed God, neither physically or spiritually; they were not allowed to eat from the tree of life and live eternally. When would Adam and Eve have needed to eat from the tree of life in order to live forever, if they hadn’t disobeyed God? After a certain period of time, unspecified by the Bible, Adam and Eve would have needed to eat from the tree of life even if they had obeyed God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because of their sins they were condemned to live a mortal existence on Earth in conformity with their created nature.
God had created the world with death in it and death would have been present in the creation even if Adam and Eve had been obedient to Him. The presence of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden is an argument for this conclusion.
God created an evolving world. The natural world had its own evolution before the emergence of human beings on Earth. Herbivores and carnivores were the kinds of animals which emerged through evolution before the apparition of human beings.
Accepting for the sake of demonstration that the Flood was real, we may ask if after the Flood there would have been a shortage of vegetation. What was the cause which pushed herbivores to become carnivores? Why didn’t all herbivores become carnivores if the vegetation had grown extremely scarce? If the Flood had been real all vegetation found under water for several months would have disappeared because under water the light doesn’t go too far and photosynthesis cannot be realised. If it was such a drastic shortage of vegetation why weren’t all animals transformed into carnivores?
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How did large herbivores like some dinosaurs still find plants if the shortage was that dramatic? The continuity in the existence of so many large herbivores contradicts the idea of the reality of the Flood because after the Deluge most vegetation if not all would have disappeared from Earth with a lack of suitable conditions for photosynthesis under deep waters.
What was the criterion of differentiation between herbivores which wouldn’t have been transformed into carnivores, and animals which would have become carnivores after the Flood? No such criterion could have been in place if all animals had eaten green plants before the Flood. In reality herbivores and carnivores were generated by nature following a very long process of evolution and selection and they were integrated in a large system in which both of them had and still have a function to accomplish.
From the camp of young earth creationists comes the naive opinion that carnivores are as a matter of fact herbivores which changed their behaviour. Daniel Criswell, Ph. D writes:
“Although the origin of predation is poorly understood, it is incorrect to attribute to young-earth creation the assertion that predatory animals quickly and recently evolved the physical features necessary for predation. It is a common fallacy that carnivores evolved from a change in form and function. No physical evolution was required to change herbivores to predators--it was merely a change in behavior.”
The author of the text considers that a change in animal behaviour was enough to explain the important differences between the morphological structures of herbivores and carnivores. If only the behaviour is responsible for the differentiation between herbivores and carnivores, what would have triggered the change in behaviour? Was it an alleged scarceness in vegetation? Such a dilution had to affect all animals and not just some. Following a drastic reduction in vegetation all animals had to become carnivores, changing their behaviour, but they didn’t because they couldn’t. The differences between herbivores and carnivores are profound and determined by their biological structure, and their behaviour is influenced by these structural characteristics.
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Omnivorous animals can use their canine teeth either for tearing apart the flesh of another animal or the flesh of a fruit. At the same time, there are carnivores which don’t eat fruits. Lions, for example, will not replace a meal of meat with some apples, even if they are on the brink of starvation. In the wilderness lions’ behaviour can be carefully observed. Do they replace meat with vegetation when they are really hungry? They don’t. Lions and some felines do feed on grass, to clear out their system (vomit), but grass doesn’t get digested properly (which is why they vomit), since they have a carnivorous digestive tract. To digest plants, animals need to have a longer digestive tract, opposite to those which digest meat. The following quotation explains:
“Lions can’t eat fruits and vegetables. It is due to several reasons. 1: Eating is instinct behaviour which is predetermined by genes. If you try to feed fruits to one day old lion, it would not eat fruits. 2: Teeth of lion are built in such a way that it can’t eat grasses and vegetation. Lion’s teeth are pointed to capture and kill prey, they can’t crush vegetation. 3: Stomach of lion is unable to digest cellulose which is present in plants. For digestion of plants cattle have symbiotic organisms in stomach which are absent in lion. 4: Intestine of lion is too small to digest cellulose of plants, herbivores have much longer intestine.”
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 animals.mom.me › Wildlife and Exotic Animals
 www.sealion-world.com › Informationa
What is the relevance of this discussion? Is it important if lions eat only meat for the consistency of the book of Genesis? It is important and shows that the book of Genesis is wrong when asserting that God had created all animals after their kinds and at the same time that all animals were destined to eat only vegetation after their creation. If animals had been created in kinds on the sixth day of creation as the book of Genesis states, it would have been impossible for some of them to eat only plants. This is an incorrect assertion and it couldn’t have been inspired by God. Much information given by the book of Genesis is incredible, irrational and false and its falsifiability can be demonstrated by simple facts. The existence of predator animals destined to eat plants after their creation is an example of false and absurd information found in the Bible.
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Nothing can be further from the truth than the proclamation that God would have created two very different types of animals but attributed them the same kind of food. Why would He have created in this way? There is one answer, which could explain this dilemma. Not God but nature generated animals and their way of feeding. This rather lengthy quotation is necessary to understand better the differences between herbivore and carnivore animals and the need for an evolutionary explanation in order to give sense to the existence of nature on Earth.
“All animals have teeth that are adapted to eating certain types of food. For instance, herbivores, because they are plant eaters, have strong and flat molars that are made for grinding leaves and small or non-existent canine teeth. Carnivores, the meat eaters of the animal world, have very defined canine teeth for tearing at meat, combined with a sometimes limited number of molars. Omnivores, because they eat both meat and plants, have a combination of sharp front teeth and molars for grinding. Herbivores have teeth that are highly specialized for eating plants. Herbivore incisors are sharp for tearing plants, but they may not be present on both the upper and lower jaw. Carnivores have a set of teeth that are very different from herbivores’. This makes sense, because they also have a different diet. A carnivore will use its teeth to kill a prey item before eating it. The sharp incisors and pointed canine teeth are perfectly designed for both incapacitating and eating a meal.”
The biblical description of how animals were created and of how they behave is only a fabrication. According to the book of Genesis all animals had been created by God on the fifth and sixth days of creation. He wouldn’t have created the animals organised in particular kinds only to enable them to evolve into other kinds of animals different from what He had created. If the animals were created only as a transitory stage of evolution God’s creation couldn’t be considered as having ended in six days as the book of Genesis says. God also declared the creation of animals as being good. “Good” in the context of the creation stories from the Bible can be considered to mean also complete or finished.
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Did God create species in transit or in evolution or complete, non-evolving animal species? If the former situation is the case what was the initial form in which animal species had been created? In my opinion, the book of Genesis tells us clearly that God would have create stable species which couldn’t have been transformed into others even if they would have suffered some adaptations, such as the colour of the coat.
“24 And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 24-25 NRSV)
The text is clear in asserting that wild animals and cattle are two different kinds of animals. The adjective “good” when applied to carnivorous animals would have meant their extraordinary ability to kill their pray and for herbivores their biological structure which enables them to eat plants. If all animals were herbivores there isn’t any reason why God would have changed something which had been declared “good” from the beginning of creation. Animals which were good on the sixth day weren’t good anymore after the Flood. If the Flood was a real event God would have recreated or created anew the entirety of nature on Earth after the extreme devastation caused by the waters, but the Bible speaks only about the change of dietary habits.
If God created carnivore animals on the sixth day He generated extraordinary biological creatures able to kill in an efficient way:
“Carnivores can be told by their enlarged canine teeth, by the presence of three pairs of incisors in each jaw (with rare exceptions), and by the shape of their molar teeth. In humans and in many other mammals, the molars are flattened and are used for grinding food. In most carnivores (except for bears and pinnipeds), the last premolar of the upper jaw and first molar of the lower jaw are sharp and bladelike, and slide past each other like the blades of scissors when the animal chews. These modified molars are known as carnassial teeth. Molars farther back in the jaw are usually either missing or highly reduced. These features are adaptive for a carnivorous diet, to tear and cut meat; note that bears, which are almost all omnivorous, have re-evolved crushing molar teeth.”
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There are many other differences between herbivores and carnivores in relation to their digestive tracts, saliva, stomach size, stomach structure, intestine and liver. All these differences show that it is absurd to think God would have created carnivorous animals and allotted them to eat the food which is specific for the nourishment of herbivores. The evolution of the animals followed a long process of adaptation to the environment and natural selection, and didn’t happened suddenly, with some species of evolved herbivores becoming carnivores from one day to another after the Flood. The book of Genesis is undoubtedly wrong when assuming that God would have created all animal species on Earth according to their kinds, and that He assigned for carnivores the same food as for herbivores.
Carnivores which eat only green plants is a proposition which is as absurd as daylight happening without the sun. Herbivores which became carnivores after Adam and Eve’s Fall or after the Flood by suddenly changing their dietary habits is also an idea which shows that the book of Genesis isn’t inspired by God but is the product of human ignorance. The biological differences between herbivores and carnivores are very important but all this information wasn’t known by the authors of the book of Genesis. Here are more such differences:
“Herbivores have long digestive tracts because it takes a long time to absorb nutrients from the plant material which they eat. They also have a large caecum which helps, along with enzymes, breakdown the plant material and cellulose. Carnivores have shorter digestive tracts as they can obtain nutrients from the meat they consume more quickly. They have a relatively small caecum as their diet only consists of small amounts of plant material. A carnivore’s saliva does not contain digestive enzymes. Herbivores saliva is alkaline, containing carbohydrate digestive enzymes. Stomachs differ greatly between carnivores and herbivores. Carnivores have greatly enlarged stomachs which encompass between 60 and 70 percent of their entire digestive tracts, while herbivores have much smaller stomachs as they generally are required to process smaller amounts of food.”
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Very important also are the processes which happen in the stomachs of herbivores and carnivores, which differentiate them greatly and make them dependent on a certain kind of food and not another. It is impossible to accept that such different animals would have eaten the same kind of food until the Flood.
God through evolution didn’t create animal species isolated, but all plants and animals are linked in trophic levels or food chains. Each food chain ends with a top predator, an animal with no natural enemies like an alligator, hawk, or polar bear.
God through evolution and contrary to what the book of Genesis affirms would have created an ecosystem in which plants and animals play their role and help each other to survive and not only as parallel series of biological beings. Many living creatures are a source of food for other living creatures, either animals or plants. Without this food chain the survival of so many species would be impossible. All living creatures accomplish a certain role in the process of sustaining the ecosystem. For example, herbivores eat plants and fruits and after that they spread the seeds at a long distance.
Carnivores eat herbivores and in this way they find the nutrition they need. If the herbivores multiply too much through lack of enemies they can create an important imbalance by destroying the vegetation. For this reason God, through nature, also generated carnivores which limit the number of herbivores and ensure the survival of vegetation. The book of Genesis implies that this ecosystem didn’t exist before the Flood, when all animals and also humans ate only plants. This was not a sustainable ecosystem.
For example, if one tries to imagine the herbivore dinosaurs and the huge quantity of plants eaten by them and also their multiplication without limits, one can understand why a limit to their multiplication was necessary. Carnivores kept the number of herbivores under control and allowed the survival of plants, and in this way the continuation of life on Earth. The eating of plants by all animals is nonsense and if one tries to extend that image to fish, birds, and animals of the sea, one can see clearly that this is an absurdity.
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This is another serious reason the stories of creation from Genesis are unacceptable. They present a world based exclusively on the consumption of plants without trophic levels but such an environment would have been unbalanced and self-destructive. Nature works different than the book of Genesis presents.
“Charles Elton, an Oxford ecologist, first conceptualized food webs in the 1920s, speculating that wolf removal would unleash hordes of deer. These insights gave rise to the 1960s “green world” hypothesis, which held that plants prevail because predators hold herbivores in check. Profound food chain effects — caused by adding or removing top species — are now known as “trophic cascades.” In a classic 1966 experiment, biologist Robert Paine removed the purple seastar, Pisaster ochraceus — a voracious mussel-feeder — from an area of coastline in Washington state. Their predator gone, mussels sprouted like corn in Kansas, crowding out algae, chitons, and limpets, replacing biodiversity with monoculture.”
In the last period of time, more and more data are accumulating only to show how important predators are for the equilibrium of an ecosystem. But Schmitz, who grew up north of Toronto where wolf-hunting was a way of life, thinks the process is underway:
“Piece by piece, it’s taken 20 years to accumulate the evidence, and the culmination is in that Science paper — that the world is driven by predators as well as nutrients. We have to pay attention to their health and well-being if we want a healthy ecosystem. Simply eliminating them because we want more prey or because we don’t think they’re important is very misguided.”
An ecosystem without predators is an absurdity and the Bible clearly maintains this idea when it says that all animals had to eat only vegetation after their creation. Such an idea shows that the writers of the book of Genesis didn’t understand what an ecosystem was and how it functioned.
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This is not God’s work because the level of knowledge contained by the texts isn’t very advanced but it is really low.
What could have replaced the existence of the ecosystem until the Flood? Because the narratives of creation from the book of Genesis are incredibly naïve and absurd, people have to invent all kinds of scenarios in which God is imagined to intervene in the world in the most incredible ways. For example, someone could say that God replaced the ecosystem by killing a number of herbivore animals systematically. If God had done such a thing He wouldn’t have had any reason to complain about the level of violence in the world before the Flood because that violence would have been committed by Him, not by human beings or by animals.
“12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.” (Genesis 6; 12 NRSV)
The complaint is false in every way. It is false if God created carnivorous animals on the sixth day. It is also false if God needed to systematically kill some herbivorous animals in order to reduce their number because in this case the only one who would have committed violence would have been He.
Without predators nature cannot exist in lack of vegetation. The image of a world in which humankind and animals would have eaten only plants and in which the ecosystem would have been absent is the image of an idealised world which doesn’t have anything to do with the real world. Such an image has to be rejected strongly as authentic history and if anyone thinks that it can be used for a religious purpose in order to indicate a peaceful God who doesn’t like suffering, that is his or her problem. The need for the ecosystem shows clearly that God didn’t create nature in the way described by the book of Genesis, but the world has evolved from less developed biological beings to superior ones. Life took all possible turns trying all possibilities in the process of evolution and in this way a balanced ecosystem on Earth appeared. Top predators are the key to ecosystem survival:
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“Constant predation of the top consumers prevents a population from growing larger than the system can support. Removing a top predator can often alter the gentle balance of an entire ecosystem. Here’s an example of what can happen: When an area floods permanently and creates a series of islands, not all the islands have enough resources to support top predators. Top consumers are left to gobble up nutrients and experience a reproductive boom. The boom is felt throughout the system, though, as the booming species out-competes others, potentially driving the lesser species to extinction and reducing biodiversity.”
The oceans are populated with many predators, which don’t eat green plants, as the book of Genesis maintains. Did God create herbivorous sharks which after the Fall of man became predators? It is not agreed amongst biblical commentators when some animals became predators. Some creationists maintain that animals become predators after the Fall of man, but others, taking into account that before the Flood meat consumption was prohibited, have to admit that predators came only when the consumption of meat was allowed. Again, to endow animals with all characteristics for eating meat but to give them plants as food is nonsense.
How did God create the animal species? It is possible for animal species to change their attributes and become other species? Is in this case God’s creation modified by nature? Does nature co-create new species by changing the kinds established by God? Did God create animals to change or to remain the same? According to the Bible animals were created according with their kinds. What does that mean? Did God create all species of animals on the fifth and sixth day or did new species appear after the end of the creation week? If God created all animals in the creation week and the creation was at its end after the sixth day, as the book of Genesis claims, on what grounds can one maintain that the creation would have continued and new species such as the carnivore ones would have been created after that period of time? The biblical text announces:
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2; 1-3 NRSV)
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The narrative of the book of Genesis, concerning the creation of animals, contradicts all empirical observation anyone can make. Did a herbivore lion transform into a carnivore one? If the answer is positive this transformation amounts to the creation of a new kind of animal, but all kinds would have been created in the period of six days of creation. A herbivore lion would be a very different species from the carnivore lion that we know. In point of fact, such a lion would not be a lion at all but some other animal, and if the former was created by God the latter was created by nature therefore the book of Genesis is wrong when describing the creation of all land animals on the sixth day.
Some Christians believe that we can accept modifications in the structure of species or kinds, as the book of Genesis identifies them. The same biblical commentators consider that the so-called fixity of the species, as Darwin perceived the Bible to be saying, is not taught in Scripture. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t even widely taught in the Church before the eighteenth century. Sylvia Baker quoted by Don Steward writes in “Bone of Contention”:
“The idea that species cannot change was certainly not an article of the church before the eighteenth century. It was then considered quite in accord with the Bible to believe that they could change, though not in the direction of greater complexity. It was not until the eighteenth century that the view became widespread that species cannot change, that they are fixed or immutable. The man responsible for promoting it was Linnaeus, who is famous as the first man to introduce systematics to biology. He maintained that species as he had defined them represented the kind of the Bible and therefore could not be changed. This view became widely accepted, insisted on, and carried to absurd limits. (Slyvia Baker, Bone of Contention, Revised edition, Sunnybank, Queensland, Australia, Evangelical Press: 1976, p. 7).”
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There is a big difference between species and varieties inside certain species. There are varieties inside species but a tomato cannot become a watermelon, as John Klotz maintains. It doesn’t matter how many varieties of tomatoes there are, they still remain tomatoes and not something else. Nevertheless, herbivore lions and carnivore lions wouldn’t be two varieties of the same species but two very different species. The idea is that a herbivore lion isn’t a lion but an animal about which we don’t know anything. John Klotz again quoted by Don Stewart comments:
“We also need to recognize that the language of the Bible is the commonsense, everyday language of our newspapers. This language does not change; technical scientific language does change . . . . We may have new species of tomatoes, but they are still the same kind. There may be changes within the species, yet tomatoes have not developed into cantaloupes or watermelons. There may also have been changes within the dog kind, but these have not developed into lions or bears (John Klotz, Studies in Creation, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1985, p. 76).”
The modifications entailed by the transformation of a herbivore animal into a carnivore animal cannot be considered by any standards to be a modification within the same species. Everything is different, from the morphological structure of the animal to its behaviour. To take the example of tomatoes, this time tomatoes will not be tomatoes anymore, but a kind of watermelon. Don Stewart concludes that some modifications within the limit of a species are acceptable by the standards of the Bible but not the evolution of species from one to another:
“Hence, what Darwin discovered was not contradictory to what the Bible has to say about kinds. The Bible teaches “the fixity of the species” in that each biblical kind can only reproduce within certain fixed boundaries. Change within a kind, however, is consistent with biblical teaching. Today, whenever kinds are crossed, the offspring is always sterile. For example, a donkey and a horse produce a sterile mule. A lion crossed with a tiger produces a sterile liger. Charles Darwin saw this problem and wrote in The Origin of Species.”
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Creationists admit changes but not from a biblical kind, to another, but within the limits of a certain kind. Nevertheless, herbivorous and carnivorous animals are different kinds and not varieties of the same ones. Don Stewart extended his conclusion with the following observation:
“The Bible allows for change or variations within plants and animals. Change is evidence for microevolution or selection. What creationists are denying is the existence of any evidence for macroevolution. They reject the procedure of using evidence for microevolution as confirming the theory of macroevolution. Unfortunately, a great many people believe that evidence for microevolution proves macroevolution. This is by no means the case. Furthermore, the Bible limits the amount of change which can happen. Cats cannot mate with dogs, pigs with apes, etc. This limitation is exactly what we find in our world. Hence, the Bible is certainly not unscientific when it says that kinds of plants and animals are limited in the degree in which they can change.”
If this is true it means that the transformation of a herbivorous animal into a carnivore was impossible because they are different kinds. This transformation entails macroevolution at its highest level. By limiting the amount of change that can happen and at the same time maintaining that a fundamental transformation was necessary, given by the way in which animals feed, this shows that the Bible is certainly unscientific. Some commentators contradict the Bible when trying to defend its concepts. The Bible implies that some herbivorous animals would have been transformed into carnivores after the Flood in spite that all kinds of animals would have been created on the sixth day. That means that some kinds of animals would have become other kinds, and also signifies that some kinds of animals such as carnivores wouldn’t have been created by God. This of course questions the entire account of the creation in the Bible.
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This conclusion isn’t similar to the one accepted by very important commentators of the Bible who had an important influence on their generations. The problem isn’t only that the book of Genesis is wrong but also that many apologists of the Bible fundament their dogmatic conclusions on the literal interpretation of the narratives of creation contained by it. John Calvin, the well-known reformer, commented on his notes on Genesis 1; 24:
“I say, moreover, it is sufficient for the purpose of signifying the same thing, (1) that Moses declares animals were created ‘according to their species:’ for this distribution carried with it something stable. It may even hence be inferred, that the offspring of animals was included. For to what purpose do distinct species exist, unless that individuals, by their several kinds, may be multiplied?”
Prior to the Latin Vulgate Basil, a renowned theologian and father of the Church, discussed species as the biblical kind. In the late 1600s Matthew Henry uses species as kinds. He affirmed that there would be no new “species” created after creation week was completed. The point is that species originally meant biblical kinds from the Bible.
Today the discussion is about definitions. What does “a kind” mean? “Kind” means a certain identity beyond which animals cannot change. There are many species of dogs but all of them are dogs, not cats. That what-ness that makes an animal what it is represents a kind. Kinds are different in their essential characteristics. At the same time the morphological traits of herbivores are essentially different from that of carnivores and these biological traits surely signify the particularities of kinds. In other words, herbivorous animals are different kinds than carnivore animals because both have a different identity beyond which animals cannot change.
If God created herbivore lions, which would be understandable if they really had to eat only green plants, He wouldn’t have created carnivore lions, which appeared only late after the creation week. In this case, the facts show us that the creation didn’t end in six days as the book of Genesis says, and many animal species have appeared in existence through evolution if they weren’t the result of God’s creation.
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This is an argument which validates the theory of evolution against creationism but doesn’t exclude God’s existence. It dismisses the way in which the book of Genesis accounts for the creation of the animal world and strengthens the theory of the evolution of the species as the real explanation of the origin of the nature. Moreover, it is more sensible to believe that herbivores and carnivores evolved together during a long period of time in the context of the ecosystems of the earth than to believe that all animals were once herbivores, both because the latter proposition is contradicted by the findings of sciences and because of the way in which the Bible describes their creation. Sciences discovered that the existence of carnivorous dinosaurs occurred long before the existence of human beings on Earth.
Nevertheless, this observation changes drastically the Christian theology regarding the explanation of death in the world. If we take into consideration that God would have created also all viruses and bacteria within the creation week and before the creation of humankind we can understand that even the source of so many illnesses would be His creation. An earthly Paradise before Adam and Eve’s Fall is an absurdity in the presence of numerous deadly viruses and bacteria.
It would be wrong to cling to a theological explanation which is invalidated both by an analysis of the coherence of the biblical texts and by scientific research, and it is better to modify our theological views regarding the way in which the world came into existence, accepting all rational consequences our findings bring.
The earth would have been a paradise if after their creation all animals including birds ate only green plants and didn’t eat each other. This wasn’t the case and besides many land and marine carnivores, there were many birds on Earth which were also carnivorous:
“There are about 10,000 living species of birds and the cross the spectrum from meat eater to purely plant eater. The carnivores eat only meat, usually small animals and other smaller birds. Species of birds that are carnivores include owls, eagles, hawks and falcons. The omnivores eat both meat and plants, but the meat is more likely to be from small insects and worms. Species of omnivorous birds include, chickens, robins and ostriches.
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The herbivore eats only plants, but for birds this usually means fruits, berries, nuts and seeds. Herbivorous birds include cockatoos, macaws and parakeets. Different bird species have differently shaped beaks because each species has evolved a beak design that suits its diet and lifestyle. Beaks function somewhat as human tools do, and they help the birds to access food. While some birds have beaks suited for a variety of foods, most possess beaks that display some level of specialization. For example, many birds have evolved short, stout beaks for cracking open nuts and seeds.”
Eating meat is a widespread dietary habit, hence is found in plants, marine animals, birds and land animals. The biblical account, according to which there was a time when animals had eaten only plants, is wrong and brings theology to false conclusions.
There are many contradictions in the biblical narratives of creation. The origin of the birds is given in a contradictory way in the book of Genesis:
“20 And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 20-21 NRSV)
“19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2; 19 NRSV)
Comparing these texts one can see that in the first one the birds came out directly from the air. In the second one in Genesis 2, God formed every bird of the air out of the ground. The manner of creating animals is different between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. In Genesis 1 God said: “Let the waters bring forth” and “Let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky” but in Genesis 2 “out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air”. This is an obvious contradiction. It is not the same story.
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In the first one it was not God directly but the waters and earth, at His command, which produced the animals. In the second one, God formed out of the ground every animal of the field and every bird of the air. There are two different and contradictory stories of creation of animals in the Bible. It is impossible that both were inspired by God. More likely none of them have a divine source.
Were the animals created immortal at the moment of their creation? Did they die because of Adam’s Fall? It is a very unlikely hypothesis. All plants and animals were endowed by God, according to the book of Genesis, with the ability to multiply. If death wasn’t a limit for this multiplication, at a certain moment in time the earth and waters would have been overcrowded by so many plants and animals living forever. Death was a regulator of the excess in multiplication and in fact death is a biological apparatus for evolution also. Without death evolution is not possible, because the new and better adaptations cannot come into place unless they replace the old ones. God would never have created living beings immortal with the ability to multiply in a limited space, as Earth is. Plants were surely not immortal if they were to be eaten by animals. It is not written in the Bible that God created animals to be immortal, so the entrance of death into creation only after Adam and Eve’s Fall is an incorrect doctrine. The following quotation refers to animal mortality:
“It is unknown whether pre-fall immortality affected just humans or all organisms on earth. Animal immortality is argued by some due to the fact that animals were not given as food at the creation. Likewise, God’s own description of the created world was in terms of “very good”, which to many is contradictory to the suffering which frequents death. On the other hand, the possibility of immortal animals is immediately rejected by others because accidental death occurs on a regular basis for many small organisms today. For example insects are killed frequently under foot, or swallowed by accident. However, under examination such distinctions between humans, and other creatures do not hold-up. Accidental deaths are similarly likely for humans as almost any other organism. There may be no generalized scenario that would cause the death of another organism that could not also happen to humans.
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Any natural incident that could kill a bug, could also certainly kill a human. Humans are one of the most environmentally fragile of all organisms on earth, but the exoskeleton possessed by the average insect can handle several hundred times its’ weight, and the fossil record is filled with animals which upon chance contact could crush humans as easily as we do bugs today.”
The book of Genesis doesn’t speak about immortality on Earth before the Fall. The assumption for immortality is based on the kind of food which would have been allocated for human beings and animals, but that information is nonsensical. One reason is the presence of carnivores which had to kill other animals in order to feed themselves. Another reason was the presence of the tree of life as a condition of getting immortality. To that we can add also another reason which is a very reduced lifespan of some insects.
“Despite being prolific, with over two and a half thousand known species scattered across the globe, the Mayfly depends on quantity, rather than quality of life for their survival on earth. These aquatic insects have the shortest lifespan known, with their life expectancy ranging from just a half an hour to one day, depending on their species. In fact, their sole purpose in life is to hatch, and reproduce.”
Living only few hours, some insects would have died naturally before the creation of humankind and their alleged Fall. In this way death would have entered into the creation before Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, and it wouldn’t have been triggered by the attitude of the human beings.
To the first three arguments invoked already another one pleads also against the existence of immortality at the beginning of creation. Accidental death of insects and other animals would have also been a cause of death before the alleged Fall of man. If we imagine blue whales, when open their mouths they swallow around 220 tons of water in a single full mouth. When they did that before the creation of humankind they surely also swallowed numerous living beings:
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“Blue whales are the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth. These magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 100 feet (30 meters) long and upwards of 200 tons (181 metric tons). Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant. Their hearts, as much as an automobile. Blue whales reach these mind-boggling dimensions on a diet composed nearly exclusively of tiny shrimplike animals called krill. During certain times of the year, a single adult blue whale consumes about 4 tons (3.6 metric tons) of krill a day.”
Can anyone imagine blue whales eating only green plants? Such an image is so absurd that by itself it disqualifies the veracity of the text of the book of Genesis, and also the declaration of the N.T. that death had entered in the world through Adam and Eve’s sins.
Another example can be Spironosaurus:
“Spinosaurus was the biggest of all the carnivorous dinosaurs, larger than Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus. It lived during part of the Cretaceous period, about 112 million to 97 million years ago, roaming the swamps of North Africa… Spinosaurus ate mainly fish and that was deduced not only after its skull but also studying it chemically.”
Spinosaurus’ huge size is a motif to imagine that it could have killed small insects or small animals accidentally only by its movement from one place to another. The same is available for other large animals. Spinosaurus would have done such accidental killings before Adam and Eve’s Fall also. The death in creation before Adam and Eve’s sins changes everything in the Christian theology.
If man wasn’t immortal before the alleged Fall, needing the tree of life in order to become immortal, animals were also mortal. It is absurd to think that humans were mortal but animals were immortal. If humans were mortal, animals were also mortal, and they all needed the tree of life in order to become immortal. Again, the point is that death was not introduced in the creation by human sin as Apostle Paul maintained.
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“12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law.” Romans 5; 12-13 NRSV)
Paul was wrong because God’s creation presupposes death, which is a natural thing. If death is considered to be the payment for sin and God’s creation implies death in its very nature, sin also is in the fabric of things created by God. There isn’t any reason to see the human species that morally decayed following Adam and Eve’s alleged disobedience to God. because those sins never happened and death is a natural thing introduced into the creation by Him, not by humans’ Fall. There isn’t any reason to be ashamed any more that we are human beings with ancestors who were disobedient and consequently they died, because they would have died anyway because they were mortal.
What would have happened if the animals were immortal, and also other forms of life, for example viruses, would have lived forever and at the same time they would have multiplied unbridled? It isn’t clear from the book of Genesis if only human beings would have been called to immortality or all living creatures. If Adam and Eve were obedient to God and if they had lived forever, what would have happened with the other living beings unaffected by the Fall? Let’s us imagine the following scenario. Adam and Eve were obedient to God; death wouldn’t have entered into the creation as Apostle Paul said and all animals would have been immortal also. No reason for God to call the end of the world if humankind were all in accordance with Him. Nevertheless, the earth has a limited extension and if multiplication hadn’t stopped the planet would have been spatially insufficient for so many beings. In the end, God would have needed to impose a ban on multiplication which is strange because the human beings and animals are endowed for multiplication and they were asked by God from the beginning to multiply. The recommendation for the multiplication of biological beings given by God in Genesis chapter 1 and death entering into the creation only after Adam and Eve’s sins, is another contradiction of the book of Genesis, in the context of life on Earth.
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If by sin we understand violence and destruction, there never was a time on Earth without sins from the moment the first predators appeared on our planet. This apparition was anterior to the creation of humankind, according to the book of Genesis. If by sin we have to understand disobedience to God we have to notice that in reality humankind didn’t appear on Earth through Adam and Eve because they are legendary, not real personages. The first humanoids would have acted according to their nature, being violent and killing prey, which would have assured their survival.
Sin didn’t come into the world through one man and death didn’t come into the world through sin, but death came into the world through God’s creation. Adam and Eve, two mythological personages, never sinned if they never existed on Earth but human beings sinned from their first apparition on Earth because sin is written in human nature. The problem with many Christian doctrines is that their premises are wrong and they cannot be right if their premises aren’t right.
If Paul’s premise was wrong the entire theology based on the principle of death coming as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s Fall must also be defective. At the same time immortality is possible and God can give it to the elect. For the natural world death is natural, it is not a punishment for sin. Immortality is possible through Christ even if the two first human beings, Adam and Eve, never had existed on Earth.
There are biblical texts which refer to the future immortality of the animals.
“19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8; 19-21 NRSV)
That would mean nature would have been created as a kind of paradise, but this image doesn’t correspond to data from reality. For the future, the Bible describes a very idealistic picture about the relationships between animals and that is a sort of comeback to the initial idealised world.
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“6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11; 6-9 NRSV)
The same problem arises. The lion doesn’t eat straw like the ox because it is a predator animal, a carnivore, not a herbivore. It is important because if the text in Isaiah wanted to transmit something it cannot, nevertheless, be taken as the real image of a future reality. This earthly heaven is an idealisation of nature, no more and no less, and this idealisation was used in the book of Genesis also, where it is written that all animals have eaten green plants. If the lion eats straw it is not a lion any more, but a sort of ox. In order to be described as a lion an animal must be a predator, and even if it is raised by man in a zoo or on special farms, the lion will eat meat and no straw. It will be friendlier with humans, accustomed to them, but it will not change its way of feeding. A herbivore lion wouldn’t have any of the features which give identity to the animal which we describe as lion, hence a herbivore lion would be a contradiction.
Another behaviour coming from a natural instinct and which contradicts the paradisiac image of nature before an alleged Fall of humankind is sexual cannibalism. This sexual cannibalism of some animals has nothing to do with the Garden of Eden or with man disobedience; it is a development of nature.
“Sexual cannibalism became a hot topic of debate among biologists in 1984. Scientists from Cornell and the University of Texas at Austin proposed that it evolved because the males of some species could get an evolutionary advantage from being eaten. Their bodies could nourish the mothers of their offspring, raising the odds that those offspring would successfully hatch and grow up to produce their own offspring, thus carrying on the father’s genes.”
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Bees also display carnivorous behaviour and most likely they always did that:
“Bees can be ruthless relatives. Bumblebee queens eat their offspring’s eggs, and honeybee workers make meals of their siblings’ eggs. But this ritual, gruesome by human standards, makes a bee family more productive. Although worker bees are usually unable to mate, as females they can lay unfertilized eggs that emerge as males, if given the chance. The same applies to wasps and ants. But many don’t survive. Workers are prone to eating their siblings’ eggs—an act scientists call “policing”—when their mother queen mates with multiple males. In these species, including the honeybee, most workers are half-sisters, and more related to their brothers (sons of the queen) than nephews (sons of other workers). Half-sisters show no mercy, devouring their nephews.”
This type of behaviour supports a theory by William Hamilton according to which closely related animals cooperate but more distant or unrelated animals tend to be hostile to one another. Genetically, close relatives are considered to be more valuable carrying similar genes.
Who did create this type of behaviour? Was it God or nature? According to the texts of the book of Genesis, God created a paradisiac world in which humankind and animals would have eaten only plants, and that would have determined the avoidance of sufferings in the world. At the same time, nature isn’t structured in that way and never was, and we can see that from the manner in which it functions. The insects which eat eggs as well as the products of plants are not determined to behave like that by humankind, but by their organisation. Even if Adam and Eve had existed on Earth their disobedience to God couldn’t have influenced the comportment of bees.
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At the same time the division of all living beings only into plants and animals, which is made by the book of Genesis, is incomplete. The book of Genesis divides all living beings into plants and animals but there are beings which are neither plants nor animals. Are bacteria plants or animals? This is a question which the following quotation answers well:
“Bacteria are tiny living beings (microorganisms) - they are neither plants nor animals - they belong to a group all by themselves. Bacteria are tiny single-cell microorganisms, usually a few micrometers in length that normally exist together in millions. A gram of soil typically contains about 40 million bacterial cells. A milliliter of fresh water usually holds about one million bacterial cells.”
The description given by the book of Genesis in connection with the creation of animals is extremely simplistic and for this reason lacks any informational value. For example, bacteria aren’t included in the process of creation in any way but their existence isn’t unimportant.
“Bacteria consist of only a single cell, but don’t let their small size and seeming simplicity fool you. They’re an amazingly complex and fascinating group of creatures. Bacteria have been found that can live in temperatures above the boiling point and in cold that would freeze your blood. They “eat” everything from sugar and starch to sunlight, sulfur and iron.”
A suitable classification of living beings includes five or six kingdoms of such beings. In the past, all living things were classified into two kingdoms, plants and animals, but not anymore. The point is that the book of Genesis separated the biological world, beside human beings, into plant and animals. The problem is that some biological entities are neither plants nor animals but the authors of the book of Genesis didn’t know that. There isn’t any indication in the texts of the Bible about things which weren’t known in the common knowledge of that time. The book of Genesis didn’t give us any revelation which discloses the secrets of nature.
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The real knowledge of nature came through scientific research, not by the revelation of the book of Genesis.
“Animals included every living thing that moved, ate, and grew to a certain size and stopped growing. Plants included every living thing that did not move or eat and that continued to grow throughout life. It became very difficult to group some living things into one or the other, so early in the past century the two kingdoms were expanded into five kingdoms: Protista (the single-celled eukaryotes); Fungi (fungus and related organisms); Plantae (the plants); Animalia (the animals); Monera (the prokaryotes). Many biologists now recognize six distinct kingdoms, dividing Monera into the Eubacteria and Archeobacteria.”
Did God create bad viruses which are responsible for so many diseases? Not having a real solution to this question, many creationists repeat somehow the pattern used in relation to herbivore and carnivore animals. God created good viruses but after Adam and Eve’s Fall viruses became bad, causing diseases which can kill people. Here is an extract from such an opinion, signed by Dr. Jean Lightner:
“Given our current knowledge of viruses, it is quite reasonable to believe that disease-causing viruses are descended from viruses that were once not harmful. It has been suggested that they have played an important role in maintaining life on Earth—somewhat similar to the way bacteria do.”
There isn’t any reason to believe that all viruses would have been inoffensive at the beginning of their creation and in time they became dangerous. It is true that viruses can mutate and can become extremely dangerous but this information would have been known by God when He created them. The viruses which are supposed in the context of the book of Genesis that would have been created by God, were in any case potentially harmful for humankind.
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It is also true that using the most advanced results of scientific research some viruses can be used as a tool against dangerous bacteria which are hard to cure with antibiotics. Nevertheless, in order for some viruses to become useful for humankind an important scientific effort took place for a long period of time. Only in our days, viruses can be used to do some good, but for millennia they killed countless human beings indiscriminately. Did God create killing viruses with the idea that after thousands of years a very developed human science would use them to destroy bacteria, another biological being created by Him? A positive answer is somehow strange. In my opinion, the existence of viruses wasn’t a moral decision taken by God, it is the product of the evolution of nature.
If God created viruses only as a good thing, how could all viruses have become bad on their own? Viruses were never good and bad, they are a kind of entity which evolves like anything else, and adapts to conditions, but they can be incredibly bad for human lives.
In relation to bacteria, many of them are useful to humankind but not all. That some bacteria and viruses remained good and other bacteria and viruses became bad after Adam and Eve’s Fall is a theory which cannot in any way be validated by reality if it doesn’t present with clarity the criterion on which these differences would have been possible. To use a moral criterion, Adam and Eve’s Fall, for the evolution of viruses and bacteria is nonsensical.
Are the viruses plants or animals? The question is very important because the book of Genesis tells us that God would have created only plants and animals beside human beings as biological entities. But if not God, what could the origin of viruses have been? In the context of the book of Genesis only God could have created viruses because He is the only Creator.
What is bacteria and what is a virus? This quotation explains it in a clear way:
“Bacteria are single-celled, prokaryotic microorganisms that exist in abundance in both living hosts and in all areas of the planet (e.g., soil, water). By their nature, they can be either “good” (beneficial) or “bad” (harmful) for the health of plants, humans, and other animals that come into contact with them. A virus is acellular (has no cell structure) and requires a living host to survive; it causes illness in its host, which causes an immuneresponse. Bacteria are alive, while scientists are not yet sure if viruses are living or nonliving; in general, they are considered to be nonliving.”
It is true that the book of Genesis is not a scientific book but if taken literally is able to distort reality and create a false image of how nature came to be. This is important because human beings are a part of nature, and if one misrepresents human origin one cannot understand many other things about human existence.
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The narratives of the creation of humankind are also marred by contradictions between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2. When was man created? Two biblical texts dispute among them the moment of creation of humankind. In Genesis chapter 1, humankind was created after the creation of animals but in Genesis chapter 2, man was created before the creation of animals and woman after their creation. These are the biblical texts:
“26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind* in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,* and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ 27 So God created humankind* in his image, in the image of God he created them;* male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1; 26-27 NRSV)
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“In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when … 7then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground,* and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2; 4-7 abbreviated NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 2, man had been formed on Earth in the beginning of creation but in Genesis chapter 1 he was created together with woman at the end, on day six. Even if the creation story in Genesis chapter 2 isn’t divided in sequences or days of creation one can suppose that the entire story took some time and wouldn’t have been consumed in only one day, if by day one should understand a 24-hour day. If we consider the huge number of animal species existing on Earth, naming them by man would have taken more than a 24-hour day. There are radical differences between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2 about when the man was created and where he had to live immediately after his creation.
Even if in Genesis chapter 2 the man created by God was established in the Garden of Eden immediately after his creation, in Genesis chapter 1 humankind had dominion over “the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”. How could humankind exercise dominion over the whole earth if they were destined to dwell in the Garden of Eden? The two stories contradict each other. Humankind was destined in Genesis chapter 1 to live on the entire earth but in Genesis chapter 2 to live in the Garden of Eden.
The special dwelling for humankind on Earth, the paradise, would have been the Garden of Eden, and living there forever would have been their initial fate. But if they followed that happy destiny they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to exercise dominion over the entire earth. In other words, disobedience to God about the tree of knowledge would have been a necessary condition for humankind to be able to exercise dominion over the fauna of the entire earth because obedience would have meant an eternal life in the earthly paradise. If disobedience to God was the condition to respect His command in connection with dominion over the animals, the messages of the narratives of creation from the book of Genesis are inconsistent.
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In Genesis chapter 1, humankind had to fill the earth as a task given by God but in Genesis chapter 2 the life outside the Garden of Eden was a punishment and not a blessing. God blessed human beings, sending them to multiply and to fill the entire earth in chapter 1, and He cursed them, sending them to live on the entire surface of the earth when they had been thrown out from the Garden of Eden, in chapter 2. This is a discrepancy which devalues both stories of creation from the book of Genesis.
In Genesis chapter 1, human beings had to eat “every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit” and all these plants were found uncultivated by man in nature but in Genesis chapter 3 human beings would have fed from agriculture in very heavy conditions.
“17 And to the man* he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it”, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.” (Genesis 3; 17-18 NRSV)
In what way would the curse of God have changed His initial indications? Do we have to understand that after the curse man couldn’t have eaten uncultivated plants or fruits, but only cultivated plants? Why bother cultivating the land in the epoch when there were only two people on the earth and so many uncultivated vegetation good for food was available? According to Genesis chapter 1 the fruit trees had been created on the entire surface of the earth. God’s curse from Genesis chapter 2 is based on the assumption that fruit trees would have been created only in the Garden of Eden, but this presupposition is categorically denied by Genesis chapter 1 in which fruits were available on the entire earth.
If plants for eating grew everywhere uncultivated, Adam didn’t need to cultivate plants for his family and the commandment from Genesis 3 is absurd unless all uncultivated plants would have been rendered unfit for human consumption, for example if they would have become poisonous, but the latter proposition is absurd.
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None had established and none had enforced the prohibition of eating those uncultivated plants, according to the book of Genesis. Such prohibition was organised only in connection with the tree of life. The curse regarding human nutrition after the Fall seems to be nonsensical as far as the fruit trees and other nutritious vegetables would have existed not only in the Garden of Eden but on the entire surface of the earth.
In Genesis chapter 1 all uncultivated plants good for food would have been created on the entire surface of the earth, therefore once Adam and Eve were thrown out from the Garden of Eden they didn’t need to change their feeding habits. They could have found in nature outside the Garden the same food as consumed by them in the Garden. From the beginning, God had given to humankind as food “every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.” Taking this into consideration, after the exit from the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve could have returned to this food which was plentiful on Earth without the need to cultivate the ground.
“11 Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.” (Genesis 1; 11-13 NRSV)
In these verses the entire earth had to put forth vegetation but in the following ones God would have determined the apparition of plants only in the Garden of Eden:
“8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2; 8-9 NRSV)
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The cultivation of plants for food is seen in Genesis 3 as a curse but in Genesis 2 man was placed in the Garden of Eden to do just that, to till the ground, before the Fall. In other words, before and after the Fall Adam had the same occupation. What sense would a curse which didn’t change anything have had? In the Garden man had to eat fruits but in Genesis chapter 1 he had to eat all plants. If one considers that fruits were not a limitation and man could have eaten plants in the Garden also, tilling the ground was an identical occupation both inside and outside of the Garden.
What was the object of the curse? Was all the land in the Garden fertile but all the land outside the Garden infertile? It is hard to accept such an unrealistic assertion. The valleys of Tigris and of Euphrates were doubtlessly very fertile and a “paradise” for their inhabitants, but it wasn’t the only such earthly “paradise” because the valleys of the Nile and of other rivers were also “paradises” for human beings. In the valley of the Nile, the land being fertile, God’s curse of the earth never was realised. In many places on the earth human beings would have managed to avoid the effects of God’s alleged curse of the ground and they could use the ground in a productive way.
Moreover, thorns and thistle would have existed after the creation of plants on many areas of the earth before Adam and Eve’s Fall, but that couldn’t prevent humankind from obtaining good agricultural productions. When were thorns and thistle created if not on the third day of the creation? Are we allowed to infer that thorns and thistles evolved from other species of plants when surveying the perspectives of creationism? The book of Genesis indicates only the third day for the creation of plants.
The literal creationism is inconsistent with its own opinions. Either God created all species of plants or the species evolved from one to another. Plants with thorns and plants without thorns are usually different species of plants. To guess that God would have created plants with thorns and thistle after the third day, meaning after Adam and Eve’s Fall, is contrary to the texts of the book of Genesis chapter 1 hence the book of Genesis contradicts its own statements.
Adam and Eve’s sins didn’t happen within the first six days of the creation, but sometime after that because everything was very good at the end of the creation. Nevertheless, if Satan’s revolt in “heavens” already happened in the creation because “heavens” were a part of the created world, God’s creation wasn’t as good as the Bible says.
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Again, there are two different stories, in one of them God had asked human beings from the moment of their creation to fill the earth and in the other one filling the earth was not a blessing but a collateral consequence of the human Fall. In order to fill the earth the first human beings had to leave the Garden of Eden.
“16 To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ (Genesis 3; 16 NRSV)
Filling the earth would have been impossible if Adam and Eve obeyed God and would have remained forever in the Garden of Eden. Genesis chapter 1 and 2 gives each of them another purpose for the creation of humankind. The former sees humankind as multiplying and occupying the entire earth but the latter understands humankind as destined to live forever in the Garden of Eden. Living in the Garden was something beneficial as opposed to quitting the Garden which was a punishment, but this penalty was the only chance to fulfil the human fate established in Genesis chapter 1.
If God initially had established man in the Garden of Eden, which was delimited from the rest of the earth, why did He give to mankind as food, according to Genesis chapter 1, every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, an area much more extended than the Garden of Eden? It is not a rational proposition. Either God had established human beings in the Garden of Eden according to Genesis chapter 2 from the beginning, or He had given them dominion over the whole earth and as food all the plants on the planet, as Genesis chapter 1 says. The two versions contradict each other.
The Garden of Eden would have been created before Adam and Eve’s Fall, according to Genesis chapter 2, even if the entire earth was similar to the Garden of Eden, peaceful and inhabited only by herbivores, according to Genesis chapter 1. Being without sin the entire earth would have been a paradise filled with fruit trees and other plants. Why build a Garden in a place like a garden? There wouldn’t have been any need for the Garden of Eden if the nature on Earth was created as Genesis chapter 1 sets forth.
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This is a clear discrepancy between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis chapter 1 the entire earth would have been a Garden of Eden but in Genesis chapter 2 only a limited area of the surface of the earth would have been reserved for the Garden.
In the first story of creation the entire earth would have been destined as a dwelling place for humankind from the beginning of creation, and they had to multiply and to fill the entire earth, and that would have been a blessing. In the second story of creation, multiplying and filling the earth by humankind would have been the effect of a curse and would have happened in a hostile world.
If humankind initially would have been destined to live only in the Garden why did God create fruit trees all over the earth before the Fall? The impression generated by Genesis chapter 2 is that man and woman were created to live in the Garden of Eden forever and only after the Fall they had to leave the earthly paradise and dwell in other places on Earth. Only if God had known previous to their creation that humankind would be disobedient would He have created plants all over the earth to be used by human beings after their Fall.
A much more realistic explanation is the one given by science in which the apparition of life happened on the entire surface of the earth when the right conditions were in place. The biological forms of life have evolved and they have started to occupy the marine environment, the dry land, and air. The story of the Garden of Eden is the reflection of human understanding in the most incipient phase of human civilization, having nothing to do with reality.
It is not debatable if Adam and Eve would have had the ability to have children before the Fall, but the question is whether we have any arguments to maintain that they would have had children or not. It is worth quoting the following opinion:
“So I think there is a pretty solid line of evidence that Adam and Eve did have children before the Fall, even if Cain and Abel (or Cain and a twin sister) were the only ones.”
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In my view, Adam and Eve aren’t real personages but only mythological ones, therefore the problem related to their children is only a hypothetical issue. At the same time the book of Genesis doesn’t state if Adam and Eve would have had children before the Fall, even if this information is important from the point of view of their attitude toward God. If the children of Adam and Eve were real, would they have disobeyed God and eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or not? The question is important being that all human beings have their individual personality. For example, Abel was a positive character from the point of view of his attitude to God. Would he also have disobeyed God by eating from the tree of knowledge if he had been in the situation to choose? If he had disobeyed God he couldn’t have been considered a righteous man as allegedly he was deemed to be. The point is that the book of Genesis tells us that even if Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, their child Abel was a righteous person.
It is undisputable that being depicted as standard human beings by the Bible, Adam and Eve could have had children before the Fall, but the book of Genesis doesn’t say anything about children before the Fall. This brings one to the conclusion that Adam and Eve’s temptation happened immediately after their creation.
The existence of children and at the same time living in the Garden of Eden forever is a contradiction given the limited space of the Garden and the multiplication of the human races. Sooner or later human beings would have needed to leave the paradise and to live on the entire earth. If mankind, being obedient to God, had multiplied only in the Garden of Eden, at a certain point the Garden would have become overcrowded. That could have been a very strange situation; the Garden being overcrowded but the rest of the earth being unpopulated with human beings. No feasible solution to this conundrum appears. Living outside the Garden was a punishment and living inside the Garden forever would have been impossible for so many human beings.
Humankind was asked by God to be fruitful and multiply therefore failing or not, due to an important increase in population after a certain period of time, human beings would have left the Garden of Eden and would have lived on the entire earth.
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Without being driven by God outside the Garden, human beings would have left it anyway, the place being too small for the entire human population developing in time. This is a detail which is important if one wants to see the inconsistency of the book of Genesis. Genesis chapter 1, in which humankind had to multiply and had dominion over the entire earth, doesn’t correspond to the Garden of Eden if human beings had multiplied according to their nature. The presumption that Adam and Eve wouldn’t have multiplied if they had been obedient to God and would have abided in the Garden of Eden eternally without offspring, is irrational and is contradicted even by the Bible.
“24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2; 24 NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 1 human multiplication was a blessing but in Genesis chapter 2, multiplication inevitably equated with a punishment because in the end it would have led to the leaving of the Garden of Eden by many human beings.
Another difference between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 is that the woman in chapter 2 is the reflection of man, but in chapter 1 she is the reflection of God. If woman had been made from the beginning in the image of God as Genesis chapter 1 says, she is not the reflexion of man but of Him. If woman was taken from man’s rib she is just a helper of man and she was created mainly for him. In point of fact, both man and woman are helpers for each other and the concept of woman being more a helper for man than man a helper for woman, is absurd. This also is a very important inconsistency which generated incredible inequalities in human history.
According to Genesis chapter 2, all animals were made in pairs but only man was created alone. This is very strange. God knew what kind of helper each animal needed and created them accordingly, but He wouldn’t have known what kind of helper man needed. God would have tried to find a helper for man only after He created him. He wouldn’t have known initially that man also would have needed his pair. God would have created man alone and after that He would have tried to find a helper for him within the ranks of animals. That is the message given by Genesis chapter 2 but not by Genesis chapter 1.
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This is of course a legend, because God cannot be as ignorant as chapter 2 says. Genesis chapter 2 tried to explain and to justify why man and woman were unequal in ancient societies. The status of women makes an important difference between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2.
Remarkably, Genesis chapter 5 uses the same formula used by God when He created mankind in chapter 1: “he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image”. This formula opens the way for a new understanding of the book of Genesis chapter 1. God is not the majestic Being, aloof from His creation, He is the father of mankind in a similar way to that in which Adam was the father of Seth.
“3 When Adam had lived for one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. 4 The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5; 3-4 NRSV)
God is Adam’s extra-terrestrial Father and Adam is Seth’s terrestrial father, both sons bearing the likeness and therefore the image of their parents. Probably God was seen by the author of Genesis chapter 1 as a celestial-like human being who created all that is. This is the real innovation brought about by the book of Genesis chapter 1; man is not created by strange deities as other religions would maintain, man is created by another man, but a different man, an All-powerful and creative Man.
Apostle Paul set forth in one of his epistles:
“7 For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection* of God; but woman is the reflection* of man.” (1 Corinthians 11; 7 NRSV)
Apostle Paul was incorrect both in relation to Genesis chapter 2 and in connection to Genesis chapter 1. Genesis chapter 1 declares plainly that woman was made in the image and likeness of God together with man. Apparently Genesis chapter 2 opens the door for a different understanding but the image of God or His likeness would have been out of limits for human beings in chapter 2.
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Humankind was punished for wanting to be like God, meaning in His likeness or after His image by knowing the good and the evil as He does. Only when human beings ate from the tree of knowledge, contrary to God’s command, did they become like Him, therefore it wasn’t His will that humankind be like Him:
“22 Then the LORD God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’— 23 therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.” (Genesis 3; 22-23 NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 2 the pursuit of the likeness of God was considered a sin. It doesn’t make any rational sense to prohibit knowledge which is in the nature of things and which is good for humankind. If human beings were really made in the image of God in Genesis chapter 1 why were they prohibited to be like Him by knowing good and evil in Genesis chapter 2? To me this is a very important contradiction and an essential difference in theology between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2.
If human beings were the reflection of God before their Fall as stated in Genesis chapter 1 they didn’t need the knowledge of good and evil in order to be like Him, as Genesis chapter 2 declares, they would have had the knowledge of good and evil from the beginning. It was impossible to be, at the same time, in God’s likeness as Genesis chapter 1 pretends but not knowing the difference between good and evil, according to chapter 2. God knows the difference between good and evil and this moral knowledge is decisive for someone who is said to be like Him. If human beings really were in the likeness of God before the Fall they would have known the difference between good and evil and they would have been able to choose easily the good against the evil.
At the same time, even after the Fall humankind wasn’t like God but they were sinful, unlike Him in spite that they had eaten from the tree of good and evil, and that is contrary to what Genesis chapter 2 says. They still didn’t become like Him because they became sinful. This was a predicament impossible to be avoided by the first human beings.
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To become like God, knowing good and evil but being sinful, or remaining obedient to Him but not being like Him in lack of the knowledge of good and evil.
In Genesis chapter 2 God didn’t want human beings to be like Him, knowing good and evil. This is another contradiction between Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. If God wanted a real likeness between Him and humankind He wouldn’t have prevented human beings eating from the tree of knowledge and knowing the difference between good and evil. In the lack of this knowledge human beings couldn’t have been in the likeness of God therefore the book of Genesis chapter 1 is wrong in saying that He created humankind like Him. According to Genesis chapter 2, God didn’t create humankind in His likeness, it became like Him only by disobeying Him. There is a huge difference in the way in which Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2 understand the likeness of God.
In Genesis chapter 2, each animal was formed from the ground and man also was created from the dust of the ground. What is the difference between creation from the dust of the earth and out of the ground, the manner in which man would have been created and animals were created? There is not such difference. Man got the breath of life from God but obviously the animals also had to get the breath of life directly from Him. The omission of the expression breath of life for animals doesn’t bring anything extra to the creation of man. Without breath of life animals would have remained only ground.
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The book of Genesis tells us that Eve had been tempted by a serpent to eat from the tree of knowledge. What was the reason for humankind’s Fall? It was the curiosity, the thirst for knowledge. Why is the curiosity, the knowledge, something wrong? How can anyone know God’s moral nature if he or she doesn’t know what is good and what is evil? Knowing God, according to the Bible, and knowing His moral nature, is the sense of the eternal life. (John 17; 3) How can anyone know God and establish if He is good or if He is evil if that person doesn’t know the difference between good and evil? To be in the likeness of God means firstly to have a moral nature like Him, but that is impossible unless one has a good knowledge of what good and evil mean.
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About the knowledge of the good and evil there is a big contradiction when comparing Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2. In Genesis chapter 1 mankind was made in the likeness of God but in chapter 2 the aspiration of humankind to be like God, knowing good and evil, was harshly punished. The text in Genesis chapter 1 sets forth:
“26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind* in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,* and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ 27 So God created humankind* in his image, in the image of God he created them;* male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1; 26-27 NRSV)
Contrary to the declaration found in Genesis chapter 1, in Genesis chapter 3, verse 22, man became like God following the acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil and not from the beginning of his creation. According to the book of Genesis humankind would have been created in a blissful ignorance, a situation similar to that of the children who depend totally on their parents. At the same time, children don’t always remain in that stage of development, they turn into mature human beings and in this way they become like their parents. A similar process would have happened with Adam and Eve; they would have followed the natural stages of human development in their way to become like God, their divine Parent. What is strange in the biblical texts is that God would have tried to stop this natural process of human development, preventing the first human beings becoming like Him. No good parent does such a thing and this divine intervention in the course of human history according to the book of Genesis would have generated a colossal drama.
God didn’t offer the knowledge of good and evil freely to humankind and the price for the possibility to acquire this knowledge was their eternal lives. If they wanted to be like God they had to die because living eternally and being like Him would have been an unwanted competition against Him.
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“22 Then the LORD God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’— 23 therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.” (Genesis 3; 22-23 NRSV)
The texts from Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 3 contradict each other. Humankind was made either in God’s likeness from the beginning of their creation or they became like Him against His will after eating from the tree of good and evil. Both statements don’t go together.
In the continuation of the story, Eve was allegedly deceived by a serpent but that animal was telling the truth and truth can never be deceiving. Everything said by the serpent happened in practice. After eating from the tree Adam and Eve really became like God, knowing good and evil as the serpent said, and that was confirmed by God.
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Man did not die on the same day, as God said in Genesis chapter 2, neither physically nor spiritually, but he lived for many centuries ahead.
“15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (Genesis 2; 15-17 NRSV)
In Genesis chapter 3 the reader is informed how Eve has been deceived by the serpent:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ 2 The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ‘ 4 But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,* knowing good and evil.’ 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” (Genesis 3; 1-7 NRSV)
Many commentators maintain the opinion that man and woman died spiritually the same day after eating from the tree, but this is contradicted by the Bible which says that the Spirit of God dwelled in the human beings long after the Fall. (Genesis 6; 3) It is obvious that when the Spirit of God dwells in some persons those persons cannot be dead spiritually.
Was woman informed about the command given by God, asking man and woman not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Woman has known the command and repeated it to the serpent. She understood that she should not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the Garden nor shall she touch it or she shall die.
Did woman understand death? If death entered into the creation only after human beings’ Fall nothing was there to prepare her to understand death, and unless she would have known what the command meant in its essence, it didn’t have any meaning for her. Woman couldn’t have known if death was something good or something evil because she couldn’t have known the difference between good and evil. God had asked human beings to understand the difference between good and evil before they could have known what the good and the evil meant. Again, we are confronted in the book of Genesis with a reversed order.
Was blind obedience to God something good or something evil? How could mankind have done that kind of moral evaluation if they didn’t know what good and evil was? Blind obedience is usually wrong. Did God create human beings with the curiosity for knowledge in their nature or with the tendency toward blind obedience? Adam and Eve have chosen knowledge and not blind obedience. They have reacted according to their inbuilt nature created by God.
The principle of freedom of choice wouldn’t have had any meaning for Adam and Eve if they didn’t know the difference between good and evil.
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The only guiding principle would have been their natural curiosity. Real choice cannot be made if one isn’t able to choose between the good and the evil, and there isn’t any freedom in lack of moral choice.
What was the wrongdoing done by the serpent? The serpent is obviously a mythological personage because only in the myths a serpent can talk. Did Eve notice that animals don’t talk or was she very naïve and considered a talking serpent a normal thing? A talking animal would have been a very surprising thing for a normal human being. If a lion or another animal would have started to talk, would that have been unsurprising for Eve? In a natural reality, an animal which could talk would have been an extraordinary thing even for Eve, but that is possible only in a mythological narrative. Not only that a serpent cannot talk, not having the necessary vocal apparatus in order to utter the words, but it cannot think such a complex plan as the deception of human race. Those two aspects are downplayed by incredible explanations offered by some commentators:
“Because there is no other place in Scripture that reveals Satan or demons can cause animals to speak, it makes more sense that the serpent could make the sounds capable of speech and Satan used this to his advantage. In essence, Satan likely used this feature that the original serpent had and caused it to say what he wanted. Although this may sound farfetched, there should be caution about limiting what God did or didn’t do in the perfect Garden. There is a possibility that many other animals had the ability to “speak” before the Curse. Many animals have types of sound-based or mimickry forms of communication today.”
A perfect Garden is just another euphemistic expression for a world in which Satan could have acted unhindered. The Garden couldn’t have been perfect if within its limits Satan was able to make operational his plan. A place where the evil would have been present wasn’t a perfect place.
In order to be able to use words, human beings have evolved for a very long period of time and this evolution has involved mainly the morphology of the language apparatus.
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The presumption that before Adam and Eve’s Fall many animals would have been able to utter words but they lost this ability after the Fall, is contradicted by the fact that long after the alleged Fall parrots can mimic human language. They didn’t lose their ability following the alleged human Fall. At the same time, they are an exception in the world of animals. It seems that their vocal apparatus exceptionally permits such a feat, but if it would have been a Fall, parrots also would have lost their ability to utter words. In any case the alleged Fall couldn’t have had the power to change God’s creation by generating new species of animals. An animal which can talk is very different from an animal which cannot talk. The animals cannot talk but if they could that would have influenced their evolution. The use of language has changed the human condition dramatically and would have done the same thing with other species also if it would have been a reality.
Many commentators identify the serpent with Satan who would have taken the body of a serpent and would have spoken to humans. In another opinion, Satan would have spoken with a human voice in the presence of Eve and of the serpent and that could have created the illusion that the animal speaks, but the animal couldn’t have had any active involvement in the story. If the serpent was used only as a screen it wasn’t any reason to punish it. Why don’t serpents speak any more? That is because serpents don’t possess the morphological apparatus for this activity.
Beside the Fall of Adam and Eve another incredible explanation is that in connection with the curse addressed to the serpent by God:
“Of course today, serpents don’t speak, but the Curse in Genesis 3:14 probably had something to do with this. Recall the physical changes in Genesis 3. Perhaps this is the reason the particular kind of serpent that deceived the Woman did not pass along the ability to speak or may have even become extinct since the Fall.”
If not all serpents had the ability to speak why were all serpents cursed to move on their belly? It doesn’t make sense. A serpent with legs isn’t a serpent and the extinction of the kind of serpent which would have tempted Eve contradicts God’s curse regarding that serpent.
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“14 The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’ (Genesis 3; 14-15 NRSV)
What enmity could there have been between the offspring of the serpent and a woman’s offspring, if that kind of serpent was extinct? The answer is obviously a negative one.
Usually humans are afraid and very suspicious of serpents but Eve had been very courageous and engaged in conversation with the animal in an unusual way. It seems that before going on their bellies serpents could have walked, so the serpent which deceived Eve would have been different from what we understand today by the name serpent. The problem is that such an animal would have been very different because we name by the word serpent those animals which usually go on their bellies. A serpent with four feet or other kind of walking members would have been a kind of crocodile or alligator. Such an animal would have generated repulsion in Eve, taking also into consideration that it would have been a wild and not a domestic animal. The book of Genesis says that “the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made.” Being a wild animal the serpent would have been avoided by humankind.
The serpent promised knowledge to Eve and she rightly understood knowledge of good and evil as a desirable thing. As a matter of fact, knowledge of good and evil is what gives humankind their humanity and separates them from animals. The serpent did not lie to Eve but for Satan that is an extraordinary thing. He said that humankind wouldn’t die if they ate from the knowledge of good and evil, and that the knowledge itself was something good and would have allowed humankind to be like Good. Everything which the serpent spoke would have happened exactly as the serpent said. Humankind didn’t die according to God’s words and human beings became like Him and He declared it.
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Before jumping to the conclusion that the serpent was one and the same personage with Satan, one should analyse the serpent as a mythological character in other Near-Eastern mythologies where the serpent is not connected with the biblical Satan. What was in the mind of the author of Genesis chapter 2 when writing about the serpent? Did he understand the serpent as a mythological character, an animal able to speak, or as Satan the enemy of God? The serpent doesn’t look like a negative personage in Genesis chapter 2 but more like a positive one. Bringing knowledge is a positive thing by any standards.
Adam and Eve did not die after eating from the tree, not even spiritually, because they remained in contact with God. Spiritual death means separation from God but this wasn’t the case of Adam and Eve after their Fall. As a matter of fact, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the reason for a moral and spiritual rebirth rather than for spiritual death. Spirituality without morality, the knowledge of good and evil, is the most absurd proposition. The hope of eternal life did not die either, even if access to the tree of life was blocked.
The serpent brought the knowledge to humankind and that was the most important moment in their existence. Without knowledge humankind wouldn’t have been complete conscious beings.
At this point the only problem caused by the serpent was that he determined human beings to become like God, but seemingly He did not want them to be like Him. According to Genesis chapter 2, God had preferred man and woman to remain in a state of ignorance, not knowing the good and the evil. God wanted to keep man and woman in a sort of childish innocence retaining the knowledge of good and evil only for Him. God created a man and a woman but He wanted to prevent them from discerning what is good from what is evil. Why? Human beings without the ability to discern what is good from what is evil would have been no more than some evolved animals without consciousness.
What danger would have emerged for God if humankind possessed the knowledge of good and evil? The Bible gives us a very strange story. It implies the well-known principle that information is power and God did not want to give knowledge to people. Knowledge is power and God wanted humankind to be entirely dependent on Him.
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If this is true the idea that God gave humankind free will is absurd because free will without the knowledge of good and evil doesn’t mean anything. According to Genesis chapter 2 God had created man and woman who were destined to blindly obey all commands, but the serpent changed this plan and invited humankind to modify their status and to know what is good and what is evil through their actions.
God had interdicted any contact with the tree of knowledge for humankind but, at the same time, He placed the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. If God wanted to prevent humankind eating from the tree He could have left that tree out of the Garden of Eden. The presence of the tree would have been a continuous temptation for humankind even if the Bible says that God doesn’t tempt anyone.
“13 No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1; 13 NRSV)
James wasn’t right saying that God doesn’t tempt anyone because the book of Genesis maintains that He had tempted Adam and Eve by placing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden. The Bible also says that the knowledge of good and evil was a real temptation for the human beings, therefore this is an instant in which God would have tempted someone.
God had created humankind with a certain nature visible also today and He tested them using that nature. God made curious human beings on Earth and He expected them not to be inquisitive and thirsty for knowledge.
The value of such a test would have been very much diminished because the persons who were tested wouldn’t have had any preparation for it. The human nature is hostile to blind obedience.
The serpent offered to human beings exactly the same thing which Genesis chapter 1 declares was already done, the likeness of God, but He would have interdicted them reaching this standard in Genesis chapter 2.
In Genesis chapter 1 God would have created humankind in His likeness, therefore the offer to be like Him couldn’t have raised any suspicions to human beings.
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Genesis chapter 3 implies that God would have tested humankind by prohibiting them from His likeness which would have come by eating from the tree of knowledge. In such a case, blind obedience would have determined human beings to remain forever inferior entities, never being like God and never knowing good and the evil.
In the context of the book of Genesis the desire of human beings to reach the full potential created by God in them, which was His likeness, was legitimate and its condemnation is nonsensical. The command not to eat from the tree of knowledge was against this potential. Obedience to God when the command was contrary to what God created in human beings, His likeness, would have been a negative attitude. In other words, Adam and Eve obeying God about the tree of knowledge would have meant at the same time contradicting the manner in which He created them. This is another contradiction in the book of Genesis working between the manner of creation of humankind in Genesis chapter 1 and the interdiction to eat from the tree of knowledge in Genesis chapter 2. Eating from the tree of knowledge would have made human beings like God but that was exactly the manner in which humankind was created in chapter 1. Why interdict that which was already granted? It is nonsensical.
Let’s us accept for the moment that eating from the tree of knowledge was only a test. Once this test was passed successfully God would have allowed humankind to eat freely from that tree. This solution has a flaw because the knowledge of good and evil would come logically before the test and not after it. Any test presupposes the ability to choose between two or more possibilities but for a successful outcome the knowledge of good and evil was a necessary element. People who cannot tell the difference between good and evil must not be asked to do any test.
Freedom presupposes the ability to differentiate between many choices on the basis of moral criteria also. Adam and Eve weren’t moral persons if they didn’t know the difference between good and evil, they were somewhere far from ethics. At the same time the freedom of choice is individual by definition. Adam and Eve’s obedience to God wouldn’t have been a guarantee that all their offspring would have chosen the same attitude toward Him. In other words, Adam and Eve’s choice to obey or to disobey God regarding the knowledge of good and evil would have been their personal choice and not necessarily the option of each human being living on Earth.
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If one assumes that what Adam and Eve did was the only reasonable path for all human beings this mean that it was an inevitable choice determined by human nature, therefore the first human beings couldn’t have been blamed for it.
In lack of a real choice between good and evil Adam and Eve would have disobeyed God as a result of their human nature, and that would mean that human nature is disobedient by definition. It is obvious that blind obedience isn’t in human nature and as the story of Adam and Eve shows, it wasn’t in that nature before the Fall either. The question is to know if Adam and Eve had a real choice between obeying and disobeying God, or if disobedience was the only choice given human nature as it was created by God. Was human nature different before the Fall than after the Fall? What basis do we have to infer that human nature was different before the Fall, than it is today? We don’t have any foundation for such a judgement. Being Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, we can infer that human nature would have always been inclined towards rejection of blind disobedience.
In my opinion, Adam and Eve didn’t have a real choice to obey or disobey God. Because of their nature inclined toward disobedience and scientific curiosity and due to their inability to separate what was good from what was evil, Adam and Eve didn’t have a real freedom to select another alternative than the one they did. They wouldn’t have understood the concept of death and they went for knowledge as their prime choice. That would have been the most suitable alternative because only through knowledge one can find solutions to any problem.
Between trust in authority and personal research of truth it seemed to Adam and Eve that the latter was more desirable. This wasn’t a choice made in full consciousness but the intuition of what they had to do in order to realise the potential set by God in them. Adam and Eve would have chosen what they considered to be good for them and wouldn’t have known what was good for God. They reckoned that God would understand their desire to be like Him. Why would God ask us to trust Him blindly rather than to know Him? In my opinion and contrary to what the book of Genesis states, God didn’t want our blind obedience to Him but He wants us to choose the good following the knowledge of good and evil.
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At the same time, the knowledge of good and evil didn’t come after Adam and Eve ate of the tree but it is the result of a long historical development. Every one of us can choose the good over the evil and overall is what human societies do. In human history we can see a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil and after a long experience with confrontations and disasters humankind have chosen to strive for peace and cooperation rather than for wars and destruction.
Was the command given by God to Adam and Eve good for humankind? Living forever in ignorance couldn’t have been a good thing for the human beings. The story of Adam and Eve which is only a fable is the narrative of failing authority against scientific curiosity and that was and still is the underlying dispute within human civilization.
In the legend from the book of Genesis chapter 2 God had tempted mankind into disobedience when He placed the tree in the Garden. They follow the temptation and disobeyed Him but this was the only way in which they could have gained free will. Only by knowing the difference between good and evil could mankind have reached a certain level of intellectual maturity and gained access to free will.
Free will presupposes also the ability to choose between good and evil in a certain situation. Humankind couldn’t have known if obeying God was good or evil, they didn’t exercise their free will when choosing what the serpent had proposed to them. Their curiosity was the only criterion when humankind had chosen to listen to the serpent. Again, we find in the book of Genesis a reversed order of things. First comes free will and after that comes the knowledge of good and evil. The right order is first the knowledge of good and evil and only after that, the free will.
According to Genesis chapter 2, God had asked humankind for unconditional obedience which replaced the personal discernment of every one of them. Man and woman didn’t have the right to listen to their own desires, to their own choices, but they were limited by God in the free manifestation of their will. A choice followed by a punishment it isn’t a free choice.
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Without the knowledge of good and evil man and woman were not in a situation to appreciate or to discern the value of obedience to God and they wouldn’t have known anything about the war which would have happened in the heavens. They were like children, without responsibility, unable to discern good and evil, and they weren’t fit to stand judgement or to be punished for anything. A person without discernment, not knowing the value of good and evil, cannot be punished and will not be punished for his or her behaviour.
God asking man and woman to obey unconditionally, without having the capacity to discern between good and evil, is a very strange thing. If a father knows that his son is immature and unable to discern this, he will not set a sort of trap in his way, a danger which, in his innocence, out of curiosity, his son could reach. God, according to the book of Genesis, didn’t follow this rule. He planted, in the Garden of Eden, a tree, which was dangerous for His children and which could be reached by them, out of curiosity. God created living beings endowed with curiosity but would have blamed those beings for that curiosity.
Scientific curiosity of men and women makes human society what it is today, a developed technological world, so curiosity cannot be that bad. Referring to the Fall of humankind, the story from the book of Genesis chapter 2 tells us that the only thing which separates us from God is the knowledge of good and evil. When we have this knowledge, we are like God. (Genesis 3; 22) The only thing to which we still do not have access is the tree of life. The Bible tells us that through knowledge, man can be like God, therefore evolution of scientific knowledge following a long progress will propel man into a similar situation to that of God. The book of Genesis chapter 2 says that God is what He is, because He is more knowledgeable than us, because He knows the reality more deeply than us, and can better discern between good and evil. Nevertheless, we now are like God in an essential way because we know good and evil, according to the book of Genesis.
God told Adam that eating from the tree of good and evil would attract death for the wrongdoer. Any threat was without significance for someone in the situation of man and woman in the Garden of Eden. They didn’t know what good and evil was and consequently, didn’t know if death was something good or something evil.
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Man and woman didn’t have any experience with the death of others and they couldn’t have had the ability to understand what death could have been. They were not afraid of death, because for someone who doesn’t understand life properly, the understanding of death would be even more difficult.
For the first human beings, the balance oscillated between the desire to progress by knowledge and the threat of death. Before their Fall none would have died in the created world, according to many commentators, and the thought of death couldn’t have provoked Adam and Eve in any way. If death meant anything for Adam and Eve this has to be interpreted as death being a tangible presence in the world before the Fall. Another contradiction in the book of Genesis is between the threat of death addressed to Adam by God and the idyllic world depicted by the texts in which animal death wouldn’t have been present.
Nevertheless, fear of death never stopped human beings from taking risks in their enterprises for knowledge and progress during the entirety of human history.
All human progress was and is possible only through knowledge. What kind of being did God want to develop from the man He created from dust? Did God want to realise a passive, undeveloped human being or an intellectually evolved person, able to understand Him? Christianity tells us that the sense of eternal life is the knowledge of God, but the knowledge of God is precisely the knowledge of good as opposed to evil.
Good and evil could be known from two different perspectives, God’s perspective and humankind’s point of view. It is not always the same thing. Is it sure that what God wants for humankind is exactly what human beings also expect from their future? The assumption in Genesis chapter 2 is that not all that is good for humankind’s progress is also good for God. The serpent had another understanding. Man and woman had to know good and evil in order to be like God. Was Satan condemned by God because he also wanted to know good and evil? We cannot know that with precision because we don’t really know why Satan would have revolted against God. The much-used motive of Satan’s pride for his revolt is too general to give us any concrete reason why the fallen angel would have rebelled against God. This of course is the study of a legend, not of certain real facts.
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The good thing can be qualified as more valuable only in comparison and in opposition to the evil thing, and without knowing anything about evil none can know why something good deserves this name. To define the goodness of something, that something must be differentiated from evil by some characteristics. The knowledge of God is in fact the knowledge of good and evil, and nobody can really appreciate the goodness of God if he or she doesn’t compare it with the malice of the evil. The lack of knowledge of good and evil could have been a serious motive for a revolt in the “heavens” because not knowing evil, some angels couldn’t have appreciated God’s goodness. At the same time, one can expect that the love of the created beings for God surpasses the lack of knowledge of good and evil, but the alleged revolt in the “heavens” contradicts this expectation.
Why would God have condemned the knowledge of good and evil? The whole idea of the religion is the moral ability to choose, with the help of God, between good and evil. What merits has anyone who follows the good, only because he or she doesn’t know about evil or he or she is determined by someone else to act like that? One third of the angels in heaven followed the good until they encountered evil, then they went after evil. At the same time, two thirds of the angels followed the good even when they encountered evil and their choice was an informed one. At the same time, Satan left traces of doubt in their minds and this process would have triggered God’s entire plan of the creation and salvation of humankind.
Man and woman hadn’t been tested in the book of Genesis for their inclination toward good or evil but for their attitude toward ignorance and knowledge. The story of creation from Genesis chapter 2 is irrational and meaningless because it asserts that humankind could have known God without the knowledge of good and evil. Without knowing Him it would have been impossible to establish a perfect relationship with Him.
The suspicion engendered by human knowledge was present all the time, in the history of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The book of Genesis promotes the idea that knowledge separates us from God. This principle looks clear to me because after human beings ate from the tree of knowledge even God admitted that humankind had become like Him, knowing good and evil.
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Choosing between two possibilities offered by God wasn’t a sin but exercising of the right to choose. Human beings could have obeyed God and lived eternally in ignorance or they could have disobeyed Him, become knowledgeable, but be confronted with death. God would have given human beings a choice between eternal life and death but neither of these choices would have been an offence against Him.
God would have asked man not to eat from the tree of knowledge not because eating was an offence to Him, but because knowing good and evil was incompatible with eternal life.
“22 Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’—” (Genesis 3; 22 NRSV)
Human beings at the time wouldn’t have done anything other than eat from the tree of knowledge and that was enough to consider them inapt for eternal life. This is also a contradiction because in the context of the N.T. the knowledge of good and evil isn’t an obstacle to eternal life any more, if someone chooses the good and rejects the evil. Adam and Eve were condemned before having the chance to choose the good and turn down evil, after knowing them. This condemnation is in contradiction with morality.
What did Adam and Eve do wrong? There are two possible answers which give two theologies. First, they disobeyed God and that is their guilt, no matter what the object of God’s command for them would have been. Disobedience per se was wrong and would have been punished with the interdiction of eternal life. Second, disobedience per se wasn’t important because it didn’t in any way affect God, but determined only humankind’s fate. God would have offered a choice to Adam and Eve and choosing either way wasn’t guilt, no matter in what direction the choice would have gone. The problem wasn’t disobedience because both choices would have been open to humankind; the issue was the knowledge of good and evil which would have given humankind the possibility to be like God.
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God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge was only advice, not an absolute interdiction, because the first human beings wouldn’t have been prepared to face the responsibility of obeying an order which would have determined their lives.
If one knows the good and the evil he or she has to show clearly his or her preference for the good before being allowed to live eternally. Adam and Eve would have needed their entire life in order to express unequivocally their choice for the good. In my opinion, the second theology is what is contained in the book of Genesis chapter 2.
The first theology which is propagated by the official doctrines of the Christian denominations, isn’t the right one and demonises all human beings for alleged sins committed by the mythological personages Adam and Eve. All human beings can live eternally if they choose the good rather than the evil, no matter if they believe in the existence of Adam and Eve or not.
God would have ordered man not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and told him the consequences that act would have entailed. At the same time, Adam and Eve’s disobedience didn’t produce the effects anticipated by God therefore the entire story is in doubt. Adam and Eve didn’t die because they ate from the tree of knowledge but because they couldn’t have reached the tree of life, and they didn’t have the time and occasion to prove their commitment toward the good.
Disobedience to God wasn’t a sin but a legitimate alternative generated by Him. Two different ways toward God were opened to humankind – a short one through obedience and a more complicated but much more fulfilling path through personal experience and acquiring of knowledge. Both ways were equally legitimised by God and none of them was sinful. Nevertheless, whoever wants to go on his or her own in life cannot have eternal life unless he or she is faithful to God’s values. This commitment is based on a voluntary attachment to certain moral values and not on a blind submission to authority. The faithful people know well the difference between good and evil and they choose the good over the evil in complete consciousness.
What would Adam and Eve have had to regret? Did they have to regret that they chose the evil against the good? They didn’t make such a choice hence they didn’t need to regret it.
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Did Adam and Eve need to display remorse because they chose the path of knowledge against the avenue of blind obedience and ignorance? They didn’t need to express such remorse because without the knowledge of good and evil human beings wouldn’t be the developed conscious beings that they are today. Repentance for choosing knowledge against ignorance doesn’t make any sense, hence Adam and Eve wouldn’t have needed to repent for their choice regarding the tree of knowledge. Only repentance for choosing evil over good makes sense.
God did not abandon humankind after their disobedience but only tried to stop man and woman reaching the tree of life. The first human beings weren’t ready to eat from the tree of life but they also weren’t prepared to not eat from the tree of knowledge.
Only when humankind knows everything that God knows and when we are eternal beings, we will be like Him. Eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge wasn’t enough for humankind to be like God in spite of what the book of Genesis states. Being like God necessarily means knowledge of eternal life. Eating only from the tree of knowledge of good and evil but not from the tree of life isn’t enough to become like God, because one of His essential characteristics is eternity.
How did God know that man ate from the tree? He did not find that directly but indirectly through a logical deduction. The human beings became aware that they were naked. They realised suddenly that being naked is something wrong in God’s eyes. Did God create human beings naked or wearing clothes? How did the first human beings know that there was another possibility beside nakedness if they were created naked? What was wrong with nakedness? If it was wrong why did God accepted nakedness from the beginning? Was human nakedness something shameful? What is the logic of people becoming shameful of their nakedness? If being naked was something shameful the conclusion would be that God created a shameful thing, namely human nakedness, and until the Fall man and woman were in a shameful situation but without knowing it. This is the conclusion proposed by the book of Genesis; it is implicit in its texts. In a Garden where man and his wife were alone, nakedness shouldn’t have been a problem, hence their shame is nonsensical. Only when human beings multiplied on Earth would nakedness in public have been a problem, being contrary to social norms.
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This story is a cultural understanding coming from the period of time when wearing clothes was the norm and nakedness was considered to be shameful. If the story was true, how can the nakedness of many African tribes be explained? Are they not ashamed to be naked in the same way Adam and Eve would have been ashamed in the Garden of Eden? Aren’t those Africans also the offspring of Adam and Eve? Didn’t the Africans also open their eyes as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience? The story contained by the book of Genesis is only a fairy tale. All the details of the story regarding Adam and Eve are inconsistent from a rational point of view.
The story is a mythological explanation of how people started to wear clothes at a certain moment in their history. If nakedness was shameful God would have clothed man from the moment of his creation. God didn’t take it to be shameful and without the imaginary Fall of humankind they would have been naked for eternity. Not knowing the good and the evil and being naked for eternity is the image of a primitive or tribal human being.
In the perspective of the book of Genesis nakedness was shameful only if one had known that it was shameful, but this is a moral relativism which is not expected from God. Why was humankind unhappy with their nakedness? The book of Genesis says that they opened their eyes after their Fall. This is a very strange statement and presumes that until the Fall they had their eyes closed morally, but that is a contradiction to their alleged state of moral purity before the Fall. To be in a bad situation without realising it isn’t proof of a high morality. If the human beings had their moral eyes closed, as the book of Genesis sets forth, they couldn’t have been responsible for their response to Satan’s temptation, hence they shouldn’t have been punished. With their moral eyes closed they wouldn’t have properly recognised the reality which they had to face.
For unknown reasons the crafty serpent didn’t think that tempting humankind to eat first from the tree of life would have created much bigger problems for God than eating first from the tree of knowledge. As a matter of fact, Satan wasn’t a very good strategist. Eating from the tree of life first would have given man and woman an indefinite time to accede to the tree of knowledge. Access to the tree of life was free from the beginning and was blocked only after the Fall.
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In the real world, the serpent if it were the craftiest of all animals would have tempted Eve to eat first from the tree of life and only after that it would have pointed toward the tree of knowledge of good and evil. At the same time, the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis don’t describe the real world but only a legendary one.
The creation story from Genesis chapter 2 starts from the human condition. The narrative points to the fact that man and woman were not eternal but they should have eaten from the tree of life in order to live forever. The book of Genesis chapter 2 presents two heroes, Adam and Eve. They have been very courageous and the increase of their knowledge was very important for them, even more than their lives. They were willing to take great risks in order to acquire knowledge and nothing could be more dignifying than that.
Knowledge of good and evil and all kinds of other knowledge are inseparable. In the history of Christianity many scientists had to sacrifice their lives in their search for knowledge. Allegorically everything started when Adam and Eve accepted death as the price for their thirst for knowledge. Unfortunately, the Church through its representatives didn’t take that story only as an allegory but rather as an historical fact which would sometimes have justified its hostile attitude toward scientific knowledge. After all, God punished the research for knowledge of good and evil, according to the book of Genesis, therefore His religious representatives would have been entitled to do the same thing, chastising any inquest for scientific knowledge.
What interest would the serpent have had to open human eyes? Did he want to start a revolution of knowledge? Was the serpent the precursor of modern scientists? The history of the sciences at its beginnings was a struggle between religious authority and honest research for knowledge. Those authorities were many times against the human pursuit for knowledge unhindered by imposition of authoritative rules.
What general conclusion, with moral consequences, can be extracted from the text of Genesis chapter 2? God had wanted to hide some information from man, because knowledge could have awakened humankind, causing them to ask uncomfortable questions. The alternative to knowledge would have been blind obedience to God.
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In the logic of Genesis chapter 2 the knowledge of good and evil was a barrier set by God in His interest, not for humankind’s benefit, because it wouldn’t have been any advantage for humankind to not know the difference between good and evil.
Through this barrier, God protected Himself from human beings who were His potential rival. Without the knowledge of good and evil Adam would have remained an uneducated man used only for the work in the Garden of Eden, and Eve would also have lacked education. There isn’t any indication in the book of Genesis chapter 2 that Adam was treated as the child of God, he was established only to till the ground in the Garden. This isn’t what happened in the real world, this is what the story of Adam and Eve’s Fall depicts would have happened.
Does the story of humankind’s Fall make any metaphoric sense? God created a man and a woman, who could have become His potential rivals, in the case that they wouldn’t have submitted totally to Him. At a certain moment in time they didn’t obey God and were considered a potential threat for Him if they were to become able to live forever. These creatures could have threatened the privileged position of God as the only one who knows the good and the evil and for this reason they were driven out from the Garden of Eden. This legend speaks about humankind confronting God and being punished for that. Of course, such a situation would have been highly improbable in the real world because God isn’t a man to envy humankind, even if He had been portrayed as a man by the book of Genesis chapter 2.
There is a stark contradiction between the dogma of God knowing the future and God’s love for humankind which is a fundamental teaching in Christianity. God knows the future, He knows everything beforehand, and He would have known the unavoidability of the Fall of humankind before that happening. God not only knew previously the possibility of the Fall but He also knew in advance that humankind wasn’t prepared to pass the test, therefore He was aware of the unavoidability of humankind’s failure. Adam and Eve were doomed to fail from the moment of their creation because their nature would have been stronger than their immature minds. In this situation, an eternal punishment for so many human beings contradicts drastically the principle of God generously loving the entirety of humankind.
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Adam and Eve’s immaturity is demonstrated by the motivation of their decision:
"It was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3; 6 NRSV)
They didn’t take into consideration any negative consequences of their choice. They didn’t have any arguments against God’s command not to eat from the tree. They didn’t analyse and balance the positive with the negative side of their choice. The most serious of the arguments was “that the tree was to be desired to make one wise”. Nevertheless, the desire for wisdom couldn’t have been other than good and the first human beings left everything aside for it.
The woman was struck by the appearances of the fruit in the first place in the same way children are impressed by what they see. In the second place, she sensed her need for wisdom. Paradoxically, even if they hadn’t been wise, intuitively they made a wise choice. Human beings wanted to complete their personalities and to become whole persons.
The first human beings didn’t live in an important city but in a garden. They were the creation of God with no preparation for life whatsoever, without the knowledge of good and evil and with no wisdom. Why did God create human beings knowing that they would fall from grace and that they would suffer and die, and most importantly that the majority of them would be tortured in hell forever, if He really is love? The lack of a reasonable answer to this question dissolves completely any value or credibility of the story regarding Adam and Eve because such an attitude cannot be characterised as love. Love for few and hatred for many gives an unbalanced equation of God’s dealings with humankind because hatred is much more extended than love.
God is presented by the Judeo-Christian tradition as bearing a huge responsibility for the creation of an environment for pain and tragedy on our planet. Knowing the future, God would have known also that the man and woman created by Him would not have been prepared to resist the devil’s temptation, but in spite of that He planted the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.
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Why were the first human beings unprepared to resist the temptation? Mankind did not have free will or discernment before knowing good and evil and their eyes were opened morally only after they had eaten from the tree of knowledge. It is absurd to maintain that humankind would have been alive from a spiritual point of view before the Fall and that they would have died spiritually after it. What kind of spiritual life previous to the Fall would have been that in which their eyes were closed morally? Being closed morally, their eyes would have been closed spiritually also because spiritual life without moral consciousness is an antagonism.
Who was responsible for the creation of the serpent? God created the serpent together with all other animals knowing that the serpent would become the vehicle of the devil. With huge power comes a big responsibility also. Knowing that the serpent would be used by Satan, God could have taken measures to avoid that situation but He didn’t. God would have created the serpent as an instrument to be used by Satan, and no other purposes for its creation can be envisaged unless he had been a part of an ecosystem, but before the Fall there wouldn’t have been an ecosystem on Earth, according to the book of Genesis.
God would have created all necessary conditions for the Fall. He created Satan, the Garden of Eden, the serpent and the tree of knowledge. All ingredients were carefully set in place waiting for humankind to fail.
By creating the serpent God would have empowered Satan with what he needed to follow his strategy. In law, someone who provides the means for the action to the author of an illegal action is an accomplice. God would have been an accomplice to the deceit of humankind according to what the book of Genesis implies. This doesn’t mean that God would have proceeded in that manner in the real world; it only means that the story of Adam and Eve leads to absurd logical consequences and this is another reason for which it cannot be real. God couldn’t have deliberately generated all the conditions for humankind’s Fall because He would have protected His creation, therefore the entire story of Adam and Eve is a myth without a rational base.
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Man and woman were threatened with death, but the death didn’t come on the day of their Fall, as God said. The serpent promised to Eve that she and Adam would not die in the day they ate from the tree of knowledge, as God said, and he was truthful with that information. After eating from that tree Adam and Eve didn’t die straight away, as the book of Genesis declares that God said:
“… 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die’.” (Genesis 2; 17 NRSV)
The text presents God addressing to man a threat which didn’t materialise. At the same time, the serpent was truthful when offering a guarantee for humankind’s lives following the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Adam and Eve didn’t die on the day of their disobedience, hence the serpent was right and God was wrong. They didn’t die either physically or spiritually. If Adam and Eve had died on the day they ate from the tree of knowledge, much drama would have been spared to humankind. If God had kept His promise as He should, that would have prevented billions of human beings going to hell and suffering for eternity, but He broke His promise with tragic consequences.
God could have created another man and another woman who had a new chance to obey Him but He preferred to keep Adam and Eve alive and to allow them to give birth to countless candidates for eternal hell. Why would He have done that? Probably, because any human being that God created in the same conditions would have disobeyed Him. In this context, any replacement of Adam and Eve with other human beings would have given the same result. If God was sure that any created human being would have disobeyed Him before knowing the difference between good and evil, why would He have asked blind obedience of humankind? Blind obedience without the discernment between good and evil doesn’t bear any moral value. The story of the book of Genesis doesn’t make sense and the reality of humankind’s origin is very different from what the Bible says.
In the real world, God would have allowed human beings to know the difference between good and evil before asking them to make any choice.
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As a matter of fact, God does exactly that and He doesn’t condemn anyone for unbelief in the story of Adam and Eve but He judges how everyone chooses between the good and the evil, after he or she becomes able to make the distinction between these two.
It is true that the book of Genesis says that Abel was a righteous man even if his human parents, Adam and Eve, were sinful. The difference between Adam and Eve and Abel is that the latter knew the difference between good and evil, and his parents didn’t understand that distinction. If one knows the difference between good and evil he or she can choose the good not the evil conscientiously, but the lack of this knowledge prevents a true choice.
This is the only reasonable conclusion. This conclusion strengthens the opinion that Adam and Eve’s disobedience would have been inescapable within the logic of the biblical narratives.
The serpent also spoke the truth when asserting that:
‘4 But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,* knowing good and evil.’ (Genesis 3; 4-5 NRSV)
The serpent was right and after eating from the tree of knowledge Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened:
“7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” (Genesis 3; 7 NRSV)
Did Adam and Eve die spiritually even if they didn’t die materially on the day they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Spiritual death would mean the end of spiritual life. Adam and Eve didn’t have any spiritual life before their Fall if their eyes were closed morally because they didn’t know the difference between good and evil. Their spiritual side was the breath of life received from God but not only for them but animals also. God didn’t retract the breath of life from them on the day they sinned. Even after their disobedience God didn’t abandon them and Abel and Cain made offerings to God. People making sacrifices to God would have been proof that they weren’t spiritually dead.
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If by spiritual life one would understand the presence of God in their lives, such presence continued after their Fall. For example, God had a dialogue with Cain after Adam and Eve’s Fall meaning that His presence among humankind wasn’t retracted after the disobedience of the first human beings.
At the same time God said that His Spirit will not dwell forever in man and that people will live only 120 years. Nevertheless, for 120 years God’s Spirit was dwelling in the human beings therefore people weren’t spiritually dead. Before this declaration was made, the Spirit of God was present in humankind for a long period of time, meaning that He didn’t leave human beings after their Fall therefore they didn’t die, neither physically nor spiritually, on the day they ate from the tree of knowledge.
“3 Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not abide* in mortals for ever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ (Genesis 6; 3 NRSV)
If humankind had an authentic spiritual life before the Fall, experiencing God’s love, that would have been a strong motivation not to disobey Him, but they were disobedient and this is a clear basis from which the quality of their spiritual life can be deemed.
What was man’s punishment for his disobedience? From the Garden of Eden, man was removed, in order to till the ground outside of it. In the Garden of Eden man was settled in order to till the ground, meaning to prepare it for the raising of crops, by ploughing or harrowing. It is hard to imagine and it is in contradiction with Genesis chapter 1, a situation according to which in the Garden there wouldn’t have been weeds, and they would have appeared on Earth only after the Fall. If the weeds had appeared only after mankind’s Fall, Genesis chapter 1 is wrong in affirming that all plants were created on day three.
After the Fall man changed the place of work but not the nature of his activity. From tilling of the ground in the Garden, man had to toil the same ground outside of it, but there wasn’t any important difference, between the two kinds of work. Any ground was always filled with weeds and the river from the Garden watered the inside but also the outside of it.
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If there hadn’t been any significant difference in the nature of man’s activity after the Fall what was his punishment in connection with his lifestyle? As a matter of fact, man hadn’t really been punished for his disobedience with the change of his lifestyle because this change referred only to the place of his activity, not to its characteristics.
What was different in the Garden of Eden than outside? According to Genesis chapter 1 the entire earth was the same with no notable differences between the areas situated on similar geographical coordinates. Edible fruit trees were everywhere, not only in the Garden, and the ground had a similar consistency all over the world. The story of the removal from the Garden of Eden is a fable with no reasonable consequences.
Fertile ground was all over the world, not only in the Garden of Eden. The allegation from Genesis chapter 1 that after mankind’s Fall God transformed all ground to be infertile cannot be right. The argument that such a thing didn’t happen is that many places on Earth in the past were endowed with very fertile ground, for example the valley of the Nile. Moreover, the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates did not disappear after mankind’s Fall and their valleys remained a fertile ground until today. What would have disappeared was the Garden of Eden, or rather it wouldn’t have been there at all.
The place of the Garden of Eden is the area where past civilizations had developed and those areas have been inhabited by humankind from ancient times to the present. God would have driven humankind out from the Garden after their Fall but they weren’t exiled in the middle of a desert and Abel became a sheep keeper and Cain a farmer. For this reason it is reasonable to consider that Adam and Eve together with their offspring would have lived next to the Garden of Eden on the banks of the river which flowed out of Eden to water the Garden. In that area, the quality of the ground would have been similar to the one from the Garden. Even if the first 11 chapters from the book of Genesis give as little detail as they can, the texts abound in contradictions.
What caused the temptation of the woman? It was the serpent. The serpent wanted to give knowledge to man and woman in spite of God’s intention to keep man and woman in ignorance. Which is better, knowledge or ignorance? This is a fundamental question approached intuitively, not explicitly, by the Bible.
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The solution of the book of Genesis is that ignorance is bliss. To me this is a false solution because knowledge increases the quality of human life but ignorance is the cause of all evil. Knowledge is always better than ignorance if someone wants to confront realistically daily problems. The book of Genesis doesn’t explain in a meaningful way the Fall of humankind. The entire story is contradictory and absurd.
Was the ignorance a way to preserve a kind of natural innocence of humankind and was knowledge of good and evil a way of losing innocence? For how long would God have wanted to keep man apart from the knowledge of good and evil? Was it forever? Man and woman living happily in ignorance, tilling the ground in the Garden of Eden but ignoring the vast reality of the universe, is an idyllic situation but not necessarily a meaningful one.
The knowledge of evil doesn’t mean the option for evil or the support of it. This observation is contrary to the philosophy of Genesis chapter 2 in which the pursuit of knowledge of good and evil is considered to be the root of all evil on Earth. In point of fact, good and evil have interfered from the beginning of God’s creation in an intricate dialectic and the only way to avoid evil is to know about its damaging effects. The existence of carnivorous animals together with herbivores from the beginning of creation is an example of how good and evil work together in the creation. Their concerting actions generate an equilibrated natural environment, in other words an ecosystem.
What would Satan’s fate have been if woman and man had resisted his temptation? Would he have given up with his temptations immediately after the refusal? Probably, Satan wouldn’t have given up the temptation of humankind and some of Adam and Eve’s offspring, not knowing the difference between good and evil, would have fallen unavoidably sooner or later into his traps.
The work of the devil didn’t start with humankind. A perception of a certain imperfection of God’s love drove one third of the angels to distance themselves from Him. How can anyone revolt against a perfect love? The value of love as a principle is in question. According to the Bible this revolt wouldn’t have been an accident or an isolated event because one third of all angels in heaven followed Satan and rebelled against God’s authority.
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The situation was recorded by the Bible but not the motives of the separation in details. The entire story is very strange and presents an unlikely situation.
I always wondered what arguments Satan would have used, in his debate with God. How could Satan have persuaded one third of the angels to turn against God? The angels of the sky were created by God, they knew God through a direct experience with Him, they felt His love for them but despite all this they were persuaded by Satan to follow him. This is the core of the understanding of the Bible, the fight between good and evil. To explain everything through Satan’s pride is much too simplistic. Could Satan’s pride infringe on God’s love in the minds of a third of all angels? The explanation of how this would have happened in reality is a huge problem.
What arguments can anyone use to convince someone else, who experienced the goodness and beauty of God, to change that for something else? God is love, according to the texts of the Bible, and who would trade love for hatred, and most importantly on what grounds? This situation questions the relationship between God and His creation. This alleged inability of God to retain the love of a part of His created angels contradicts the biblical assertion that He is love. The story of Satan’s fall from the sky is very blurred in the Bible.
Without witnesses of the debate between God and Satan we don’t really know the object of the controversy, but we can speculate on the basis of the presumption that God represents good and Satan represents evil. If this presumption is too simplistic and good and evil aren’t so clearly separated one can modify the presumption and draw other conclusions. One thing is undisputable and this is that good and evil influence each other and each evil action generates a reaction which sometimes may also look evil.
What arguments did Satan use to convince the angels that he was right? How could Satan be so persuasive with the angels who saw God directly and experienced His perfect love? God’s love was not enough for the angels? Did they want something other than love, for example knowledge? Is love not the supreme value of the Kingdom of God? Was this love not plain enough for the fallen angels? God’s love for them didn’t mean happiness for all angels? This is inconceivable by any standards. For a fallen angel to renounce God’s grace and to be convinced by some illusory promises made by Satan to follow him in his revolt is something improbable.
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If the story of the fallen angels was real there would be some secret elements about which the Bible says nothing. Maybe God’s love wasn’t that visible or was understood by the angels as constraint. Is the story about Satan’s revolt a narrative of how love can fail when used as supreme argument in cosmic administration? An important number of angels had chosen knowledge of good and evil against God’s love, obtaining in this way a feeling of freedom, a real or a false one.
Following Satan’s revolt God considered necessary a demonstration for the loyal angels, He wanted to show that He is good and the devil is bad. Even if Satan did not attract all angels on his side he sowed doubt in all angels’ minds, both loyal and rebelled. Nevertheless, no new demonstration of God’s love could have been made if man and woman hadn’t fallen from grace. If Adam and Eve hadn’t fallen Jesus wouldn’t have come to Earth and He wouldn’t have died on the cross, and the project of salvation couldn’t have happened. In other words, Adam and Eve’s Fall has been a necessary element for God’s plan to demonstrate once more His love to the angels. God wanted to definitively conquer the loyal angels whose minds had been corrupted by doubt following Satan’s revolt, and to this end He needed the Cross.
God is love, says the cross of Calvary, even if the fallen angels won’t agree to that. For them God represented an authority from which they tried to escape. At the same time they entered under Satan’s authority which is not at all desirable, as I see it.
Either God didn’t forecast Satan’s revolt or He was aware of it but He accepted it. Being Omniscient, God would have anticipated the consequences of the creation of Satan but He also could have used him for His ends. If He created the devil regardless of his future revolt God is responsible also for the existence of the evil in the world. Either God is Omniscient and He knew about Satan’s revolt or this rebellion came as a surprise and He isn’t Omniscient.
The Omniscient God who knows the future and is above His creation couldn’t have been challenged by one of His created beings. Knowing the future and creating Satan who determined in the end the death of Christ on the cross, is an inconsistency which shadows the biblical narratives. If God knows the future He allowed that future to happen for unknown reasons but with visible effects. What could God have achieved through Satan’s revolt? A demonstration of His might.
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This is another contradiction between the two stories of the creation. In Genesis chapter 1 we are informed that God’s entire creation was very good but in Genesis chapter 2 we can see that the serpent, part of God’s creation, was evil. The serpent wasn’t very good from the beginning of the creation because unlike other animals he could serve as an instrument for evil. Satan, as a revolted angel, wasn’t very good either because in him was found the seed of evil. They both had been created before God declaring His creation to be very good, according to the book of Genesis.
Regardless of when Satan had revolted the roots of his opposition had to be imbedded in God’s creation. It is wrong to lay all responsibility for evil on Satan’s shoulder. The devil was only a created being, he was not responsible for the way in which he was created. Satan needed reasons for his revolt and without arguments he couldn’t have convinced so many angels about his cause. Even if Satan misinterpreted certain facts or elements of God’s authority he needed a number of coherent arguments in order to be credible. What were those arguments? The Bible doesn’t say anything about what had happened in heaven when Satan revolted against God but we can guess that it was a battle between authority and the pursuit of knowledge.
In Genesis chapter 1 God rested immediately after the creation of mankind, on day seven, and He wouldn’t have done that if a revolt was troubling the horizon. The satanic revolt in heaven would have happened either during the six days of creation or immediately after the sixth day of creation, but before the temptation of humankind by the serpent. It could have happened on the seventh day during God’s rest. Nevertheless, all elements of evil would have existed before the end of the sequence of the six days of creation.
When Satan would have revolted against God is a question to which commentators try to find an answer. Robert L. Odom cites Ellen G. White with a text which refers to this aspect:
“Satan was once an honoured angel in heaven, next to Christ. . . . But when God said to His Son, “Let us make man in our image,” Satan was jealous of Jesus. He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man, and because he was not, he was filled with envy, jealousy, and hatred. He desired to receive the highest honors in heaven next to God. Until this time all heaven had been in order, harmony, and perfect subjection to the government of God.—Early Writings, p. 145.”
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This interpretation places Satan’s revolt after the creation of man but not necessarily after the creation of woman. That revolt would have happened immediately after the creation of man, during the period of six days of creation. Notwithstanding, God would have declared that the creation was very good.
If man hadn’t been created as the Bible says, Satan couldn’t have been unhappy that he wasn’t asked by God regarding that creation. That couldn’t have been the reason for Satan’s revolt, if that revolt happened in reality.
Placing Satan, without any biblical arguments or any kind of other argumentation, in the situation of being God’s counsellor, is wrong. No angels would have counselled God about what to do in His activity in any case. For this reason, Satan couldn’t have expected to be consulted in connection with the creation of humankind. Probably no angels would have been asked about anything regarding the governance of the universe. That we can know for sure from the Bible:
“11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,* having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1; 11-12 NRSV)
God who accomplishes all things according to His counsel wouldn’t have asked for Satan’s counsel. Did God consult Satan’s opinion when He had created the universe? Of course He didn’t because Satan wouldn’t yet have been created. We don’t know when Satan would have been created by God but he couldn’t counsel God about the creation of angels, including of course his own creation. To place Satan near Christ in importance is an absurd thesis because He is eternal but Satan is a creation.
If asked to have an opinion on the problems of the governance of the universe, Satan would have been part of a democratic system in the “heavens”.
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Being prevented from exercising his right to opinion, Satan would have had a legitimate claim against God. At the same time, one should bear in mind that the Kingdom of God isn’t seen by the Bible as a democratic but it is understood as an autocratic system.
God had taken a decision without consulting the created beings in connection with the creation of man. Did Satan want to be consulted about this decision? That would have been a fight for democracy in the Kingdom of God.
The lack of democracy would have been the motive of Satan’s revolt in the “heavens” in which he attracted a third of all angels. It is clear from the Bible that God rules on the basis of His own principles without asking counsel from any of His creatures. A monotheistic religion is usually based on the duality between good and evil in which the good is promoted by God.
God’s existence without the existence of an agent of evil would place the entire responsibility for the evil in the world on His shoulders. Nevertheless, God knows both the good and the evil and one can ask how He discovered the evil if He is entirely good. Did God learn about the evil from Satan? It is difficult to accept that Satan would have taught God anything. The eternal God wouldn’t have waited until the creation of Satan before understanding what evil means. The Bible says that God knows both good and evil, it doesn’t maintain that God didn’t know what evil means. If God is Omniscient He didn’t learn what evil means from Satan.
The good and the evil are both in God and He had to make a choice between them as human beings do. God had to choose the good rather than the evil when He created the universe. Creation or construction is good, senseless destruction is evil.
Satan could have asked for a more democratic way of governing the universe but he couldn’t have tried to replace God as the Sovereign. None can compare with God, not an angel and none else if He is the uncreated energies who created all that is as theologians believe. If there isn’t a possible comparison there isn’t also the chance for confrontation between God and Satan. They belong to two different dimensions of reality, the infinite and the finite dimensions. In order to be envied by Satan, God of the Bible has to be a Being in the same ontological category as him, for example, as two human beings envy one another.
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Writing about the text in Isaiah 14; 12- 15 Troy Lacey states:
“It is obvious from the text that Satan’s sin was pride. He was so beautiful, so wise, and so powerful as an angel that he began to covet God’s position and authority. He chafed at having to serve God and grew angry and rebellious. He did not want to serve, he wanted to be served; he, as a creature, wanted to be worshipped. How starkly contrasted to our savior Jesus Christ, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).”
I am very suspicious of this type of reasoning which is so widespread because it doesn’t explain at all why so many angels would have supported Satan’s movement against God. If Satan’s pride when comparing himself with God is nonsensical, the pride of ordinary angels who revolted against Him is absurd. The fallen angels would have had their own motivation in rebelling against God and that motivation cannot be explained only by their fidelity to Satan. Their motivation couldn’t have been generated by their wish to be like God.
In the book of Genesis we have a classical story about a fight for power between two leaders of comparable means. This cannot be the description of the Almighty God who cannot be compared with anyone else therefore cannot be challenged by anybody. This fight for power reproduces in another form the classical war between gods found in other mythologies but doesn’t open the understanding of the unique God.
The commentators emphasise a close relation between Satan’s revolt and humankind’s sin. The same author, Troy Lacey, writes in connection to that subject:
“They didn’t just ignorantly decide to eat the fruit, nor did they eat it because “the Devil made them do it.” Satan’s outright lies and cunning half-truths brought something to the surface of Eve’s mind that fateful day.
- 262 -She realized that to “be like gods” meant not having to serve God, it meant being equal to God. It meant that she felt as if God had deliberately kept her and Adam in the dark regarding their “divine potential.” Why should they tend God’s garden in Eden when they could be as gods themselves? Why should they have to obey God if they were also gods? The quickness with which Adam acquiesced to Eve’s offer of the fruit may possibly show that he too harboured these same feelings, or it may mean that Adam, though knowing Eve had sinned willfully decided to throw his lot in with her by deliberately eating from the fruit. Eve had been deceived, Adam had not. In any event, we know that it was Adam’s sin that was responsible for the Fall and the Curse (Rom. 5:12). The sin of pride that led to Satan’s fall had now infected the hearts and minds of Adam and Eve, and the result was the same: shame, loss of wisdom, ruin and death.”
Not having to serve God and being equal to Him are two artificial arguments used in the article. God is a serving divinity and this is determined by His love. We can see that clearly in the life of Jesus therefore to be like God means automatically to serve. Where did Satan see and envy the situation of being served by others? Seeing the service made to God by His creatures, Satan would have been impressed and he would have wanted the same treatment applied to him. There is a contradiction between the understanding of God as love and the idea that He is a Supreme Leader worshiped by everyone. From this contradiction starts the principle of Satan’s revolt.
Seeing service as a one-way road coming only from God’s creation is a very bad theology which generates spiritual damage. God was the first who gave service to humankind. At the same time, none can be equal to God no matter how much he or she wants it. This is an ontological problem. If God is the origin of all things this origin cannot be erased and replaced with a creature. God is an irreplaceable Reality or He isn’t God the Almighty. For this reason, God is unique and cannot be equated with any being. This is another fundamental contradiction of the Bible; either God is the unique source of life and He cannot be equalled by anyone, or He is a Ruler who can be envied and who is susceptible to be contended by someone else.
In my opinion, in the context of the Bible, humankind would have been created after Satan’s fall and as a result of his rebellion.
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Human beings were needed to allow God to demonstrate once again His love for His creation, and that was done at the Cross of Calvary. Without human beings on Earth Christ couldn’t have taken a human body and couldn’t have died on the Cross. Was the Cross important for the angels also? The Bible says that at the Cross God defeated Satan, therefore without the Cross one cannot speak about Satan’s failure. If the Cross never happened Satan wouldn’t have been completely defeated by God.
Some commentators remark that Satan is not a match for God who is All-powerful; he couldn’t have been in a real battle with Him. There is a contradiction between two principles, on one side God who is considered All-powerful and on the other side Satan who could have won a battle against Him. Winning a small battle against God would have made the description “All-powerful” unsuitable. This contradiction is emphasised in an article which can be found on a site named precious-testimonies.com under the title “How Jesus defeated Satan at the Cross”.
At the same time, the book of Genesis maintains that Satan won a battle against God when he succeeded in deceiving Adam and Eve. Following this deceit Satan would have attracted the eternal condemnation to hell of billions of human beings and that is a huge victory against a loving God. This win would have raised questions about God being All-powerful if the story of Adam and Eve was real and not only a myth. The book of Genesis contradicts the image of God being All-powerful.
The creation of humankind would have been a necessary step for God to show His love for His creation at the Cross. Without humankind and their Fall that event couldn’t have happened. The creation of humankind and the embodiment of His Son as a human being was the price that God had to pay in order to assure His victory against Satan. Incomparable as He is, God wasn’t indifferent to angels’ opinions and that is based on His love. God didn’t crush the rebellion against Him but He adjusted His attitude toward the created world. These aren’t facts, it is what the Bible maintains and it is a profound contradiction.
The world will never be the same as the one existing before Satan’s rebellion against God. Good and evil influence each other and in these stories we can see not only how good influences evil but also the way in which evil determines changes in the good.
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This dialectic between good and evil is reduced simplistically by many commentators.
It is unclear if the author of Genesis chapter 2 understood the serpent as a personification of a force of evil acting behind him, or just as an allegoric figure in its own right. Most probably, the latter option is the proper one.
We have references to Satan in Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28 but the texts are obscure. Satan is a complex figure with influences from Persian mythology:
“The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions are monotheistic faiths, which means their followers believe there is only one God. That God has a powerful adversary known as Satan, or the Devil. Satan’s role changed over time, as the three religions developed. At first he was a creature under God’s control with the task of testing people’s faith. In time, however, Satan came to be seen as the prince of darkness, ruler of all evil spirits, enemy of both God and humankind, and source of treachery and wickedness. The name Satan comes from a Hebrew word meaning “adversary.” It first appears in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. In the book of Job, God allows this adversary—sometimes called Samael in Jewish literature—to heap misfortunes on Job to see whether Job will turn against God. Judaism was influenced by the dualistic Persian religion in which good and evil struggle with each other for control of the universe and for power over human hearts and minds. The Jewish Satan took on some characteristics of Ahriman, the Persian god of evil and ruler of demons.”
Satan revolted against God and would have attracted a number of angels as his followers. God had thrown them from heaven but after Satan’s revolt He would have allowed the devil to take the body of a serpent, to enter the Garden of Eden and tempt the human beings. God had known that Satan cannot be trusted, but regardless of that He would have allowed him to enter the Garden. Even if the Garden of Eden could have been protected against any intrusion by cherubim, it wasn’t guarded against Satan.
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The temptation of humankind was a necessary step in the complex plan of God’s creation. It seems that the Fall was a necessity which allowed God to demonstrate His love for His creation. God’s Son, Jesus, wouldn’t have died for the redemption of humankind without the Fall. The necessity to demonstrate God’s love shows a lack of evidence of it because what is obvious and visible for all doesn’t need demonstration. It is a fundamental dogma that the cross of Calvary was needed to show God’s love for His creation.
In the book of Genesis God was able to throw Satan from heaven but wasn’t capable or willing to stop him entering the Garden of Eden. If God was able to ban Satan from the Garden of Eden why didn’t He do it? The conclusion is that God allowed the temptation of humankind in spite of what the Bible is saying, that He doesn’t tempt anyone to sin. (James 1; 13) It is true that God didn’t directly tempt humankind but He set in place all elements for that temptation.
The Bible is confused about the location of Satan’s revolt. Was it in heaven or in the Garden of Eden? A biblical text places the location of the revolt in the Garden of Eden. As we know the Garden of Eden was on Earth and not in heaven.
“11 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: 12 Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: You were the signet of perfection,* full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire,* turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings.* On the day that you were created they were prepared.” (Ezekiel 28; 11-13 NRSV)
According to the most widespread interpretation, Satan, and not the King of Tyre, would have been in Eden, the Garden of God, and the devil is presented in his glory and not as a fallen angel. We know that the King of Tyre couldn’t have been in the Garden of Eden because he didn’t belong to the same generation as Adam and Eve.
Was Satan in the Garden of Eden personified as a serpent or an angel full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, or both? This of course is a contradiction because once in the Garden of Eden Satan would have already been thrown from the “heavens”, losing his prerogatives and his spectacular outfit.
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“18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.” (Luke 10; 18 NRSV)
How did Satan fall from the “heavens” if he was on Earth in the Garden as a glorious angel? In Eden, the Garden of God which was situated on Earth, Satan would have been covered with many precious stones, but Jesus saw him being thrown from heaven. Either Satan was thrown out from the “heavens” and fell like a flash of lightening or he was a signet of perfection in t/span>he Garden of Eden. These are two different versions which don’t harmonize with one another and shadow the truthfulness of the biblical texts regarding Satan.
Man was also in the Garden, which was planted after his creation. Did man and woman not know about Satan’s revolt if they all were in the Garden? The Garden, in Genesis chapter 2, was planted by God after the creation of man, hence Satan’s revolt would have started after man’s creation according to Ezekiel 28.
We don’t have any argument which would plead for the thesis that there would have been duplicate of the Garden in the “heavens”. Moreover, the Garden of Eden described in connection with Satan was a material, not a spiritual realm, with precious stones and gold.
Why would there have been a Garden of Eden in the “heavens” if man was only on Earth? The Garden would have been planted only after man’s creation and man had to till it and keep it. We don’t have any biblical or rational argument to support such an idea. The Garden of Eden would have been placed only on Earth and that Garden was the region where God spent some of His time, according to Genesis chapter 2.
The future paradise will be also installed on the new earth and not in the heavens, and that strengthens the idea that the old paradise was the Garden of Eden which was situated on Earth.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21; 1-2 NRSV)
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If the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven on the new earth, that means that the paradise would be on that earth, hence we don’t have any reason based on biblical texts to believe that there will be a paradise in the “heavens” also, and that place will host human beings.
The New Jerusalem isn’t a heavenly Garden, a celestial Eden, it is a city, it is the place where God will dwell together with human beings. This is the most important element of the paradise, the presence of God in the same place with the elect human beings. Nevertheless, there are connections between the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis and the New Jerusalem. According to the book of Revelation, inside the New Jerusalem will also be the tree of life.
There are also differences between the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem. In the Garden, Adam had to toil the ground but in the city the streets are made from gold. The city will be surrounded with a great wall and twelve gates and that is unspecific for a garden.
Why would the New Jerusalem need a great wall and twelve gates if there will be nothing on the new earth to threaten the security of the saved human beings? Some people will be saved for eternal life and others will go into the lake of fire. None other than God, His Son, the elected human beings and the faithful angels will be on the new earth. God would regain an undisputed authority over the entire universe following Satan’s defeat. No walls or gates to protect the eternal city, New Jerusalem, will be needed. The images from the book of Revelation generate a confusion comparing the future eternal city with an ancient fortress.
“15 The angel* who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles;* its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits* by human measurement, which the angel was using.” (Revelation 21; 15-17 NRSV)
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If none will threaten the security of the New Jerusalem on the new earth, the high walls of the city will be useless. Even if the gates of the city will never be shut the situation doesn’t change the conundrum because the gates will be guarded by angels.
At the same time if Satan was such an important personage in the Garden of Eden, Eve would have heard about him and about his intentions. Did Eve not identify Satan’s voice when she heard the serpent talking to her? She had to know that Satan was God’s enemy if the entire revolt had happened in the Garden of Eden. The book of Genesis didn’t tell us that Adam and Eve would have been implicated in the events generated by Satan’s revolt or that they knew about them, but if that event was real the first human beings would have been necessarily aware of them and would have known the difference between good and evil before eating from the tree of knowledge. The book of Genesis implies that Adam and Eve didn’t know about Satan’s rebellion but in Ezekiel is written that the revolt happened in the same Garden.
It is hard to equate the serpent from Genesis chapter 3 with Satan from other texts of the Bible; they look like two different personages. In Genesis chapter 3 the serpent was an animal living in the Garden of Eden and not a spiritual being. It was a special animal and not a banal one, because unlike other animals, the serpent could speak.
According to the book of Genesis one may assume that the serpent was an animal, which initially had legs. That is a logical conclusion because after the temptation of woman, the serpent was doomed to go onto its belly. For the serpent, going onto its belly was a consequence of the curse and not an innate natural characteristic of that animal.
One may ask if all species of serpents were condemned to go onto their belly, after the temptation of woman, or only the individual which perpetrated the temptation of Eve.
Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpents that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears.
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According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica serpents are one of the species which go upon their belly, and I quote:
“Snake (suborder Serpents), also called serpent, any of about 2,900 species of reptiles distinguished by their limbless condition and greatly elongated body and tail. Classified with lizards in the order Squamata, snakes represent a lizard that, over the course of evolution, has undergone structural reduction, simplification, and loss as well as specialization. All snakes lack external limbs, but not all legless reptiles are snakes.”
Did all reptiles become legless after the temptation of woman or only the suborder of the serpents? Lizards, as well as other reptiles, are limbless, but they are not serpents and consequently they shouldn’t have been affected by the curse of the serpent, which tempted woman. Why do lizards move on their bellies if they weren’t responsible for woman’s temptation? It is clear that the entire story with the temptation of Adam and Eve is a fable and doesn’t have anything to do with real facts. All reptiles go on their belly, at least this is the norm, and they were created within the six days, according to Genesis chapter 1. If they had been created before humankind the reptiles wouldn’t have been recreated as new species after humankind’s Fall. The reptiles go upon their belly not because one of them has tempted Eve but because this is the characteristic of their kind.
According to the book of Genesis God didn’t punish one individual serpent for its behaviour but He condemned many species of serpents to go on their belly. If the “Squamata” is a new order emerged after the temptation of woman, the creation was not finished in six days and the text in Genesis chapter 1 is wrong when it maintains that the process of creation would have ended when the sixth day of creation expired. Adam and Eve couldn’t have been tempted by the serpent and failing during the six days of creation, and at the same time at the end of them the creation being declared very good.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.” (Genesis 2, 1-2 NRSV)
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If the order of “Squamata” in which the serpent is included had certain limbs before the human Fall, and as a result of the Fall and of God’s curse moved on the belly, He recreated a certain part of the animal regnum after the sixth day of creation, but this is in contradiction with Genesis chapter 1 which professes that the entire creation was finished in six days. To admit that an entire species of animals were condemned to go onto their belly because one individual tempted Eve is preposterous. This assertion would be even more absurd if we accept that Satan, not the serpent, was the real tempter. Satan was an angel, not a serpent, and he would have used the animal for his ends. Satan hid himself under the guise of a serpent. In such circumstances the animal was a victim, not a perpetrator, and there wouldn’t have been any reason to curse all species of serpents for that. Of course, that is a fable and doesn’t have any sense taken as real facts.
According to Genesis chapter 2, the snake from the Garden of Eden not only spoke unlike other snakes but also had legs which were lost after the temptation of Eve and God’s curse. In the real world, probably, snakes do not resent as a curse going upon their belly, they are very well adapted to this kind of movement which does not generate any inconvenience for them.
“14 The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’ (Genesis 3; 14-15 NRSV)
The point is that serpents could not have legs and also be serpents. If the serpents went onto their bellies after God’s curse and as a consequence of the curse, how did they move before the curse? If the serpents moved with legs they were not serpents at all but other species of animals. The allegory with the serpent invalidates the whole story of the Fall of humankind as a factual account.
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The story from Genesis chapter 2 is not accurate and it cannot be trusted as a scientific fact. God’s curse of the serpent is a mythological and also an inconsistent story. At the same time, serpents, of course, don’t feed with dust, as the text from the book of Genesis says. Genesis chapter 2 is an allegory about creation which doesn’t have anything to do with what really happened in the human history.
According to the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis adopted by many believers, the devil entered a serpent and realised the temptation of woman. The animal serpent was not responsible for tempting Eve but Satan was, nevertheless the animal was cursed and punished. The animal was cursed to go upon the belly and not Satan. It is unfair to punish an animal for something for which it isn’t responsible. Punishment does not apply for whichever cannot bear a responsibility. God can do what He wants but He is just and He doesn’t punish anyone who is innocent. This is one of the columns of the Kingdom of God.
The text doesn’t allow us to make the shift from the animal to a spiritual power. It is about an animal, not a spirit, an animal which moves on its belly. In mythologies serpents can talk but of course they cannot do that in reality. The mythological symbolism of the serpent was so complex, in the ancient world, that to limit it only to the biblical interpretation is a form of unwarranted reductionism.
In the O.T. the serpent is in conflict with God, but not with man and woman. He is seen as a bringer of light of the knowledge, something similar to Prometheus, the Greek hero, who brought light to humankind. In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, a figure who is credited with the creation of man from clay and who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity. The theft of fire is an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence and as a champion of mankind and in many ways, he is similar to the serpent from the book of Genesis.
The figure of serpent, in the book of Genesis, cannot at all be understood to be isolated from the whole mythological environment, in which the book of Genesis was written.
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“The serpent, or snake, is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols. Snakes have been associated with some of the oldest rituals known to humankind and represent dual expression of good and evil.In some cultures snakes were fertility symbols. In other cultures snakes symbolized the umbilical cord, joining all humans to Mother Earth. The Great Goddess often had snakes as her familiars - sometimes twining around her sacred staff, as in ancient Crete - and they were worshiped as guardians of her mysteries of birth and regeneration. Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing.”
What is the function of the serpent, in the book of Genesis chapter 2? It is an ally of man and woman, an opponent to God, he is on humans’ side. In Genesis chapter 2 not only the serpent but humankind also is an opponent to God. In mythology gods were seen sometimes as positive and sometimes as negative figures. In the Judeo-Christian traditions, God is presumed to be a positive figure, even if He, in the O.T. almost destroyed the human race, through the Flood, killed all first-born children of the Egyptians, and their army, destroyed many ancient civilizations, in order to offer to Israel the promised land. In the O.T. God was presented as a positive figure for anyone who obeyed His laws but very destructive for His human enemies. In the N.T. God is presumed to love His enemies and not to destroy them.
The snake, in the book of Genesis, wanted to open the gates of knowledge for humankind, to show them God’s reasons and strategies, in His dealings with humankind. Of course, the mythological figure, the snake, could be suspected of having its own agenda but this is not necessarily contrary to human interests.
In the Christian tradition we are asked to take sides, to be either on God’s side or against Him, meaning to be on the side of the devil. What would it mean to be just on the human side, to try to understand the universal confrontation between good and evil, from a human perspective? What were God’s reasons, depicted by the Bible, and what were the devil’s motives, according to the same book? What was the issue of the debate between God and Satan and what were the arguments of both sides? The Bible does not give all these answers.
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The struggle for power between God and Satan in the Judeo-Christian tradition looks like a battle between a human King and His vassal. It is not the relationship between the infinite God, the Creator of all things, and one of His creatures, no matter how special this created being was. No creature can replace God and if any created being can do it He is not how the Judeo-Christian traditions describe Him. In those traditions God is Almighty, Omniscient and Omnipresent and most importantly the source of all life. God is unique and He is irreplaceable and His situation is incomparable with anyone else’s. This is a dilemma. If God could have been replaced by Satan following his revolt, all His attributes taught by the Christian doctrines and dogmas are false. At the same time, Satan is described as a very intelligent angel and if this is true he would have understood from the beginning that he couldn’t have won a battle against God. Either Satan is not that intelligent or God is not the unique source of life and can be replaced by one of His creatures.
In the understanding of Christian theology God is not only a King who can be dethroned. He is the existence of all existent things. Such incomparable Reality is degraded by the way in which it is seen by most interpretations of the Bible, mainly those which take literally its texts. If God could be eliminated by a creature He is not infinite but only a finite Reality because an infinite and Omnipresent Reality cannot be eliminated or subdued. This is another inconsistence of the book of Genesis.
At the same time, God couldn’t have been troubled by man who endeavoured to know good and evil. This is the expression of a mythological human understanding of God who cannot be treated as a possible competitor in a universal fight. The infinite God cannot be challenged by the attitude of human beings in their natural request for knowledge. The conflict is not between God and science but it is between a limited understanding of God by many commentators of the Bible and the human knowledge which cannot and should not accept limitations. God doesn’t prevent human beings from knowing Him; the eternal life means an infinite knowledge of Him.
The idea of Satan being the enemy of God in the way presented by the classical theism renders incredible the entire plot of the Bible.
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In a gnostic view things become relatively different with the Demiurge who wouldn’t have tried to replace the Father in His unique situation as the essence of the entire existence, but who tries to become a lesser god dominating humankind.
The indubitable conclusion of many interpretations of the O.T and N.T., is that Satan is an adversary or accuser. In the New Testament, it is interchangeable with “Diabolos”, or devil, and is so used more than thirty times. “He is also called “the dragon,” “the old serpent” (Rev. 12:9; 20:2); “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30); “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4); “the spirit that now work in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). The distinct personality of Satan and his activity among men are thus obviously recognized. He tempted our Lord in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He is “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (Matt. 12:24). He is the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way. His power is very great in the world. He is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Men are said to be “taken captive by him” (2 Tim. 2:26). Christians are warned against his “devices” (2 Cor. 2:11), and called on to resist him (James 4:7). Christ redeems his people from him that. (Heb. 2:14).
One of the most quoted biblical texts about Satan is the following:
“12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon;* 14 I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit.” (Isaiah 14; 12-15 NRSV)
Parallels are drawn to the passage in Isaiah 14; 4-17 that mentions the morning star that had “fallen from heaven” and was “cast down to the earth”. In verse 12 of this passage, the Hebrew word that referred to the morning star was translated into Latin as Lucifer. With the application to the devil of the morning star story, “Lucifer” was also applied to him as a proper name.
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The Jewish Encyclopaedia states that the myth concerning the morning star was transferred to Satan by the first century before the Common Era, citing in support of this view the Life of Adam and Eve and the Slavonic Book of Enoch 29:4, 31:4, where Satan-Sataniel is described as having been one of the archangels.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, the quoted biblical passage refers more to the king of Babylon than to a spiritual power and that is obvious when reading the whole of chapter 14 of the book of Isaiah. Being in heaven before being cast down to the earth, Satan couldn’t have “laid the nations low” because he couldn’t influence the nations without God’s approval. Angels don’t “lay the nations low”, only a human king or God can do that.
Apparently, Satan’s functions in the Kingdom of God would have been linked with guarding God’s throne, not with leading nations on Earth. At the same time, metaphorically, the text of the Bible could have paralleled the king of Babylon with Day Star. Moreover, the king of Babylon would have been in a situation to “lay the nations low” and he probably did that. A powerful earthly king could have dreamt to become a kind of false god and to be like the Most High, and history recorded many rulers who behaved as gods over their nations or over other occupied nations.
If the Day Star is the same personage as Satan, not only did he say in his heart that he will ascend to heaven, but it was already in heaven if it had fallen from it.
Another passage worth quoting concerning Satan’s identity is found in Ezekiel. This time the quotation is extensive in order to comprise all relevant elements:
“11 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: 12 Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: You were the signet of perfection,* full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire,* turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings.*On the day that you were created they were prepared. 4 With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you;* you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the stones of fire. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub drove you out from among the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries. So I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more for ever.” (Ezekiel 28; 11-19 NRSV)
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The text looks like it points towards the king of Tyre. If the text refers to Satan, the serpent from the Garden of Eden, the description of Satan, in the book of Ezekiel, contradicts the depiction of the serpent, in the book of Genesis. Verse 13, from the book of Ezekiel chapter 28, speaks in such terms about the serpent, which categorically contradicts the book of Genesis; hence it isn’t about the same personage. In the Garden of Eden Satan would have taken the form of a serpent or hid behind such an animal, according to Genesis chapter 1, but in Ezekiel 28, in Eden, the garden of God, every precious stone was the devil’s covering.
If Satan was in the Garden of Eden, covered in precious stones, he was not a serpent, an animal, because no animals are covered in precious stones. A special angel covered in precious stones was a material creation, not only a spiritual power hiding behind an animal, in this case a serpent.
What trade could the serpent have done, as an animal, in the Garden of Eden? The serpent didn’t do any trade in the Garden of Eden and that place wouldn’t have been destined for trade. Satan also, if different from the serpent, wouldn’t have done any trade in the Garden of Eden and the king of Tyre who could have done plenty of trade, couldn’t have lived in the Garden.
The two descriptions of Eden and of Satan from Ezekiel and Genesis are incompatible with one another.
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The idea of making trade in the Garden of Eden occupied by only two human beings, Adam and Eve, is an absurd one. Nothing is adding up in the story of Satan and of the Garden of Eden.
In the book of Ezekiel, Satan would have been destroyed in the sight of all who saw him, but in other texts of the Bible the devil will endure until the end of the world. Which one is true out of the two different visions about Satan? Probably nothing is true because serpents don’t talk and aren’t covered in precious stones, and Satan didn’t do any trade in the Garden of Eden. Ezekiel 28, 11-19, doesn’t refer to Satan but can metaphorically speak about a rich king who tried to suppress other neighbouring nations.
In Genesis chapter 3 and Ezekiel chapter 28, Satan was punished twice. In the former he was condemned to go onto the belly and to eat dust, and in the latter he was turned to ashes. Obviously the serpent from Genesis 3 and Satan from Ezekiel chapter 28 are two very different personages. Being consumed by the fire, the personage from the book of Ezekiel cannot be Satan because the devil will be thrown in the lake of fire at the end of the days, hence he has not been consumed by the fire yet. The proposition from Ezekiel chapter 28, verse 18, “so I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you”, speaks of a past event but Satan is still alive.
One may say that the text in Ezekiel addresses two different questions at the same time. One question would be the fate of the king of Tyre and the second one, Satan’s revolt. In my opinion the text can be taken as referring only to the king of Tyre because nothing in Ezekiel 28 is such that it cannot be connected to that king. The signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, covered by every precious stone, placed with an anointed cherub as guardian and walking among the stones of fire, could very well be a metaphorical description of the king of Tyre if he was a rich person.
In any case, the text from Ezekiel 28 brings forward a metaphor which doesn’t really say anything about Satan’s revolt against God. Another text of the Bible has to be quoted to complete the image of humankind’s Fall in connection with Satan’s fall:
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“3 Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule* all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. 7 And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12; 3-9 NRSV)
As we can see, the text equates Satan with the serpent as being one and the same personage. Taking this observation into consideration, all contradictions between Genesis and the other biblical texts about Satan’s Fall are even better demonstrated. The description of Satan is very different between Genesis and Ezekiel, or between the former and the book of Revelation.
On the other side, if God is perfect in His character, as we are led to believe, what appearance of a fault or pretext could have been used by Satan against Him? What formal accusations could have been brought against Him by the devil in front of all the angels? God’s perfection should exclude and render derisory any accusation against Him. Either God is perfect, and that was obvious for the angels, or He is not perfect, having some apparent imperfections and Satan has used them. Nobody can revolt against perfection, because there is nothing to argue against it. If, nevertheless, someone would have done that, none would have followed and the contender would have remained alone. Not so with Satan’s revolt. He not only was followed by a third of the angels, but also the other two thirds remained with doubts and God would have considered it necessary to develop a very complex plan, in order to dispel their incertitude.
This is the understanding of many Christians. God had created man and woman, in order for Satan to have a stage on which he could demonstrate “in vivo” his theories about freedom and rights.
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The earth was created as a laboratory for the devil’s works in which he was doomed to fail in his attempt to demonstrate a better order than God’s. The faithful angels couldn’t have imagined fully Satan’s promises for another type of government and they needed to see those propositions happening under their eyes on Earth. Without the social experiences made on Earth the faithful angels would have kept in their minds some of Satan’s words and the effects of his revolt would have reverberated forever in God’s Kingdom. Satan’s experiences on Earth would have had, as a result, the conclusion that total independence from God isn’t good because it leads to chaos and destruction.
In reality such demonstration couldn’t have been conclusive because democracy is proven to be better than any authoritarian system, the former bringing personal achievements for much more individual human beings than the latter. At the same time religion didn’t help too much in bringing peace and stability in the world and the name of God was used many times for justifying despicable atrocities. On the other side, mortal life and eternal life are two very different things and it is difficult to judge the value of an order based on eternal life after what happens in a mortal life. When changing the coordinates from eternal to mortal or from mortal to eternal, the mentalities of the conscious living beings would have changed radically.
The fundamental problem is the birth of evil in the world. God could have avoided the apparition of evil in His creation. Evil has a cause and cannot be reduced to one person or one angel. One third of all angels in the heavens followed the evil and rebelled against God. The cause of evil is considered to be pride, the effect of having beauty and personal power. Satan would have been proud and he would have forgotten his place in the creation, and he would have wanted to be like God. Nevertheless, this seems to be an inconsistent interpretation of the fight between good and evil in the Bible. God knows everything beforehand therefore He would have known Satan’s future before the development of the events. Satan’s revolt couldn’t have happened as a surprise for God if He really knows everything.
If God doesn’t know the future and He didn’t know ante factum that Satan would revolt against Him, He isn’t the Almighty presented by the doctrines and dogmas. God could have known at least that an excess of beauty and power can bring someone to pride.
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The creation of Satan as a special angel, as a defender of God’s throne, couldn’t have had any reasonable motive because He didn’t need to be defended from anyone before the revolt. Either God doesn’t know the future and Satan’s revolt wasn’t predicted by Him, or He knows it and He willingly created Satan as a potential agent of evil. The reason could have been the realisation of a complex plan in which humankind also has a place. If God created Satan knowing his potential for evil He is the source of evil in the world.
Many possible scenarios can only try to make sense of an unbelievable story, that of the battle between good and evil from the Bible. It is hard to believe because it contains many illogical elements. One is the revolt of a creature against the Creator and the pretention of that creature to win such a battle against an infinite Reality. Another discrepancy just mentioned is the creation of Satan as a potential factor for the generation of evil. The entire story doesn’t make too much sense and can be inscribed in the mythological genre. If the battle between God and Satan is real, there are many components totally unknown to humankind; hence the Bible doesn’t present authentic revelation in this regard in order to make sense of the story of Adam and Eve.
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 www.mythencyclopedia.com › Pr-Sa
Cain was Adam and Eve’s first-born child. Abel was the second child recorded by the texts. At the beginning of the book of Genesis only the births of men are mentioned and except Eve women aren’t referred to at all, not even generically. For the first time, after Eve, women were mentioned when the sons of God married with the daughters of man. After the Flood the situation changes and the women from Noah’s family are at least mentioned. Eve is the only notable woman in the stories of creation before the Flood. Because she isn’t regarded with contempt by the text of the book of Genesis, quite the opposite, the modern reader will hardly understand why the same attitude toward other women, Adam and Eve’s daughters, granddaughters, and so on, wasn’t also adopted. Probably that can be explained by the fact that the lines of heredity were constituted through males and the religious legacy was transmitted through them. Consequently, through them genealogies were established.
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“Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced* a man with the help of the LORD.’ 2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.’ (Genesis 4; 1-7 NRSV)
I doubt very much the veracity of this story for many reasons. In the first place, why would Abel have been the keeper of sheep? In one generation of only one man and one woman and of their two sons, a new independent occupation was established – sheep keeper. This affirmation is hazardous and lacks any relation to reality. In the real world, at the beginning of history, human beings had been gatherers and hunters and raising animals was only a late occupation. If Adam was a tiller of the ground his sons were expected to work with him and to inherit his occupation which was seen by the book of Genesis also as a punishment for Adam. If Adam’s sin had been transmitted to all his offspring the punishment would have been conveyed also to the entirety of humankind. Notwithstanding, Abel didn’t suffer the same punishment as Adam even if he inherited the effects of Adam’s sin. Abel became a sheep keeper and didn’t need to till the ground. After Abel, many other men didn’t suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin, therefore the curse of the ground wasn’t really efficient.
All human beings have to suffer the punishment for sin, even until today, but that “punishment” wasn’t really retribution for Adam and Eve’s sins because it was established before the Fall of the first two human beings, according to the book of Genesis.
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“15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” (Genesis 2; 15 NRSV)
Work, of course, is not at all a punishment in real terms, it is the way in which mankind defines itself. Nevertheless, the book of Genesis brings confusion about this so-called punishment:
“17 And to the man* he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it”, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ (Genesis 3; 17- 19 NRSV)
It is true that Adam’s punishment is a bit strange. It wasn’t Adam directly punished, but the ground. The ground being cursed indirectly, Adam had to suffer the consequences. How could the ground be cursed if it is only matter, a much lesser entity than the tree cursed by Jesus? How does this curse function in our days? There are areas of the earth with fertile ground and other areas are infertile, but in general the earth is generous with human beings, not hostile, and would have been that way even when the humankind had appeared on Earth.
Did the curse lose its power over time and we cannot see its effects in our days? Could human beings with their technologies change God’s curse on Earth? The curse of the ground is a part of the fable about Adam and Eve with no connection to a real situation. The climate changes in time on Earth, therefore different geographical areas would have been more or less fertile and more or less suitable for crop cultivation over millennia. The quality of the land on Earth is a natural issue, not a supernatural one. If we conclude that the agricultural value of the land is a supernatural matter that would mean humankind through their technologies can change what would have been decided by God.
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Many geographical areas on our planet contained fertile ground in the past as it is remembered in recorded history. Adam normally would have eaten uncultivated green plants, according to Genesis chapter 1. Punishment for Adam was relative because he could eat fruits just as before the Fall, because the fruit trees didn’t disappear from Earth and according to Genesis chapter 1 they wouldn’t have been confined to the Garden. In what manner would have humankind been determined to eat only agricultural products? The idea is that in Genesis chapter 2 the fruit tree “that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” would have been planted only in the Garden of Eden and humankind being cast out from the Garden, they wouldn’t have had access to the fruit trees anymore and they would have been determined to eat only agricultural products. This is another discrepancy in the book of Genesis because Adam could have found fruits outside the Garden of Eden in accordance with Genesis chapter 1.
Any punishment ended when people were allowed to eat meat after the Flood, and by changing their diet they were not obligated to eat only plants any more, either cultivated or not. In Genesis chapter 1 people had to eat every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and of every tree with seeds in its fruits, in Genesis chapter 2 they had to eat fruits and in Genesis chapter 3 they were painfully destined to eat only cultivated plants. The jump from uncultivated to cultivated plants in the human diet after the Fall, according to Genesis chapter 3, doesn’t make any sense because it is hard to understand why Adam and Cain would start to cultivate plants if the uncultivated ones including fruits were still available, unless we consider that useful plants would have been created only in the Garden of Eden and outside would have been created only plants with thorns and thistles. Even if that was the necessary conclusion from Genesis chapter 2 and chapter 3, this is inconsistent with Genesis chapter 1 because in Genesis chapter 1 the entire earth put forth vegetation including fruit trees.
“11Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1; 11-12 NRSV)
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Between the earth putting forth vegetation and God planting a Garden, the difference is obvious and generates two different understandings of human history. Adam’s punishment apparently makes sense in Genesis chapter 2 but is totally nonsensical in Genesis chapter 1 where humankind could eat fruits from all over the earth even if they had been cast out from the Garden, and they didn’t need to cultivate plants for their nourishment.
Because the book of Genesis is not a realistic book but a collection of legends, the facts are not in concordance with one another. The people were allowed to eat meat and other animal products only after the Flood but they started to keep sheep straight after Adam’s Fall. A theological link was needed from the animal sacrifices prescribed by Moses’ laws back to the creation and Fall of humankind, and that is probably why the story of Cain and Abel ended in the book of Genesis.
Humankind did not eat meat until the Flood and keeping sheep would have been an occupation linked with meat consumption. Raising sheep could have been useful for providing animal skins but the skins of wild animals would have also been available, making sheep keeping useless. The first garments made for humankind by God were produced from animal skins and they couldn’t originate from animals which had been raised by Abel because he hadn’t yet been born.
In order to use animals’ skins as garments some skills were needed. Animal skins needed to be stretched, dried, and tanned and for that another division in human occupations which isn’t mentioned in the Bible would have been required.
If we take into consideration processing animals’ skins as the object of a craftsmanship, at the time on Earth there would have been more human occupations than population. Two men would have been tillers of the land, Adam and Cain, and one man, Abel, would have been a sheep keeper. If land farming and sheep keeping were mentioned as two different human occupations why wasn’t the craftsmanship of animal skins also mentioned as a distinct profession, and also the fourth one which is garment tailoring? This is an element of another great division of human occupations constituted by all craftsmen. The answer is because the stories from the book of Genesis don’t have anything to do with reality.
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Human garments were first fig leaves, and after that they were made by God from skins. Probably He taught humankind how to process animal skins. Nevertheless, keeping sheep only for skins was not practical as far as the skins could be found in nature and the need for skins had to cover, at that time, only the needs of four recorded persons – Adam, Eve, Abel, and Cain. One author writes about the issue of what reason Abel could have had to keep sheep:
“Abel was a keeper of the flock – some Bibles say sheep, but it could equally as well be goats since they are related. Recall that this murder took place after the Fall when they were required to wear clothes (Genesis 3:20), and sheep or goat hair was used to make clothes. That was one reason for “keeping the flock.” The second reason is that goat’s milk or even sheep’s milk was always the drink of pastoral peoples; moreover, milk tends to go sour quickly in hot climates but when converted to cheese it becomes a staple food for desert travelers. The third reason for “keeping the flock” was for the atonement sacrifice. The reasons for this and the instructions do not appear until Leviticus chapters 16 and 17. However, the atonement sacrifice was undoubtedly introduced by God to Adam just after the Fall. There is a brief reference to the atonement sacrifice when Noah received from God seven of each clean animal and seven of each clean bird as part of the cargo for the ark (Genesis 7:2). Since only males were used for the sacrifice, there would have been six males and one female of the animals and similarly of the birds.”
All the reasons invocated to answer why Abel was the keeper of a flock are meagre against criticism. Humankind had to eat only plants according to Genesis chapter 1, and after the Fall Adam had to eat the products of the ground, and that was presented as a limitation. No milk was authorised for human consumption if we have to take the texts of the book of Genesis seriously. Milk is an animal product and cannot be included in what Adam was allowed to eat, plants of the field. About the use of skins for garments, the problem is the discrepancy between the needs of a very small population, four people, and the efforts required for organising and keeping a herd of animals.
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“However, the atonement sacrifice was undoubtedly introduced by God to Adam just after the Fall.” This sentence isn’t justified by the biblical text because Adam didn’t make any sacrifice to God. Animal sacrifices offered to God weren’t prescribed by the Bible until late in Jewish history. Nevertheless, an important point of these sacrifices is eating the sacrificed animal. That was true for the Passover and for any other sacrifices of cattle in the O.T. in which the priests or the persons offering the animals were involved by taking for their consumption a part of the sacrifices. Abel being a vegetarian, he couldn’t have eaten the meat of his sacrifice and in this way his sacrifice couldn’t have been perfect. The eating of the sacrificed animal meant the identification of the sacrificed animal with the person making the sacrifice, and the animal being punished instead of the guilty person. This identification explains why Jesus asked His disciples to eat symbolically His “flesh” and to drink symbolically His “blood”.
The book of Genesis says that God had directly created domestic animals, but domestic cattle don’t differ genetically from wild cattle, unless they are genetically modified by man in our days. The domestication of animals started with wild animals and it wasn’t a question of “other kinds” of animals but of a process of changing animal behaviour.
We are again in front of a dilemma. All domestic animals created by God with the lack of a keeper would have been devoured by predators before Abel’s birth or would have become wild. Why did God create cattle, domestic animals as opposed to wild animals, without the presence of man to take care of those domestic animals? God wouldn’t have done that in spite of what the book of Genesis says.
To domesticate other animals from wild animals, Abel would have needed an important motivation and plenty of time. Abel would have already had garments for his use so he wouldn’t have been motivated by this purpose. Starting to domesticate animals only for sacrifice would have meant that he had anticipated years before that he would make offerings to God. In the context of the Bible this is improbable because Adam didn’t make any sacrifice and Abel couldn’t have known anything about such a requirement from his parents. If it was a spontaneous gesture of thanksgiving towards God, Abel wouldn’t have premeditated it many years in advance by raising animals for sacrifice.
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In other words, raising domestic animals to be sacrificed to God would have presupposed a system of established rituals in place but such tradition isn’t described by the Bible. Abel’s parents didn’t make any sacrifice to God and after his death no-one else is recorded to have made sacrifices until Noah.
In opposition, we have biblical texts from which we can conclude that there wouldn’t have been any sacrificial law until Moses. A sacrificial law would have been a necessary framework for Abel to raise animals with the precise purpose of ritual sacrifices. Not eating animal products, not needing skins on an industrial scale, and without norms about religious sacrifices, Abel wouldn’t have needed to be sheep keeper. On the other side, if ad absurdum domestic cattle wouldn’t have been eaten by predator animals, they would have needed a herdsman immediately after their creation, consequently the first sheep keeper would have been Adam and not Abel if the story is to make any sense.
Before Moses the law of sacrifices wasn’t there and before Noah God didn’t make any covenant with humankind. An entire theology is based on the idea that there was a period in human history without the existence of a law. We cannot contradict that theology by presuming that God would have asked Abel to keep a herd and to make animal sacrifices for his redemption but without a covenant and a law of sacrifices.
If the story was real Abel’s sacrifice would have been an occasional one, a thanksgiving from his work results, and we aren’t allowed by the texts to infer that he would have kept a herd of animals for normative sacrifices prescribed by God.
“13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law.” (Romans 5; 13 NRSV)
Taken into consideration Apostle’s Paul theology, Abel didn’t have any reason to offer any sacrifice to God for his sin because he wasn’t a sinful person, but even if he did unwillingly sin, his sin was not reckoned because there was no law. Even the original sin wouldn’t have been taken into consideration according to Paul’s theology.
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Being righteous, Abel didn’t need any sacrifice for sin and his offering doesn’t make any sense unless he would have made a voluntary offering for thanksgiving. The point is that Abel and Cain who are only legendary personages would have needed the law in order to know about the types of sacrifices to be offered to God, and any thanksgiving sacrifices would have been judged from their intention not from their form, in lack of precise norms which would have described them. God established precise rules for those sacrifices only after a certain period of time after Noah’s Flood.
“There are five main types of sacrifices, or offerings, in the Old Testament. The burnt offering (Leviticus 1; 6:8–13; 8:18-21; 16:24), the grain offering (Leviticus 2; 6:14–23), the peace offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11–34), the sin offering (Leviticus 4; 5:1–13; 6:24–30; 8:14–17; 16:3–22), and the trespass offering (Leviticus 5:14–19; 6:1–7; 7:1–6). Each of these sacrifices involved certain elements, either animal or fruit of the field, and had a specific purpose. Most were split into two or three portions—God’s portion, the portion for the Levites or priests, and, if there was a third, a portion kept by the person offering the sacrifice. The sacrifices can be broadly categorized as either voluntary or mandatory offerings.”
In order to make sacrifices Noah didn’t need to keep a flock, so Abel also wouldn’t have needed a herd in order to make an offering to God. Weren’t all animals under man’s dominion according to Genesis chapter 1? Noah just took some animals freely from under his dominion and sacrificed them. Why didn’t Abel proceed in the same way instead of becoming a sheep keeper? The answer is given by the inconsistent way in which the story is presented by the book of Genesis.
After the Flood, killing animals and eating them was allowed, but before the Flood eating them was prohibited. The problem is the context in which Abel was a keeper of sheep. Counting as human beings on Earth was him, his father, his mother, and his brother Cain. How many sheep did they need to raise in order to kill them only for skins used for their garments if they didn’t want to use wild animals’ skins? For skins, they didn’t need too many animals, probably four and not too often.
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Cain and Abel made offerings to God for the first time when the incident between the brothers occurred. Not too many sheep were needed for only one sacrifice. After this single time, Cain murdered Abel and nobody else was left to keep the sheep. It is strange, isn’t it? After Abel’s departure, an entire branch of professional occupations vanished with a lack of people to follow it. Adam and Cain had to toil the ground, they weren’t sheep keepers. This is a strong argument which shows that they wouldn’t have used animal by-products such as milk as their food, because if they had, they wouldn’t have renounced it at once. Adam was cursed to eat the products from the ground and drinking milk from the animals would have meant a negation of the curse. Raising animals when they were prohibited for eating is just another contradiction of the book of Genesis.
What happened with the herd of animals after Abel’s death? Adam and Cain continued to toil the ground and the animals were pushed to take care of themselves without any sheep keeper. They were forced to live in wilderness if no men were caring for them. In a realistic natural environment, sheep without a sheep keeper would have become prey for carnivorous animals. In this way, the new-born profession of sheep keeper would have disappeared shortly after its apparition on Earth.
The veracity of the story of Cain and Abel is threatened by the details it contains. When one tries to see the whole image of the drama, depicted sketchily by the book of Genesis, one understands that the entire picture is factually unbelievable and the details don’t fit with the background. This is only a legend and the few details that it contains are only ornamental and are not to be taken as facts. The story doesn’t stand precisely because of the details that it contains.
At the time the story of Cain and Abel would have happened, there would have been only one family on Earth and reasonably they would have had to work together in all categories of activities in order to survive. When the climatic conditions required or when the timing for certain agricultural work was suitable, they all had to work on the field and alternatively in the mornings and afternoons they had to feed their animals. A big division of work between sheep keepers and land farmers in the middle of the same small family is only a fantasy. Cain and Abel would have both been farmers and sheep keepers if they were brothers living in their father’s household. Their common farm would have included several activities attended to by all members of the family.
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The division of work in farming the land and raising animals appeared only later when the human population grew importantly and people started to interchange their products. In time, another division also appeared between commerce and craftsmanship. For any division of human activities more than four people on Earth were needed. Even if there were several sisters of Cain and Abel unrecorded by the book of Genesis, the situation wouldn’t have changed.
If Adam had been the father of the household formed by four members, according to the book of Genesis, he and only he would have decided what offerings were proper for God because he was the familial authority. Adam and Eve had seen God and spoke with Him and it is without any logic that they didn’t make any offerings to Him on record in the book of Genesis. What could have Adam offered to God if he made offerings? According to the book of Genesis, he was a tiller of the ground, as was Cain, and as a tiller of the ground Adam had to offer to God an offering of the fruit of the ground, as did Cain.
Both Cain and Abel offered to God the product of their work and basically there was nothing wrong with that. How could Cain offer meat to God if he did not have an animal herd, according to the book of Genesis? Cain could have taken some meat from the common household to be offered to God but in the context of the Bible the two brothers have worked separately, not as a team. In the narrative of the book of Genesis, meat wasn’t the product of Cain’s personal work and an expression of his effort. Cain had offered to God the only thing that he possessed. At the same time, cereals offered to God were not seen as an unsuitable offering in the Mosaic Law and they were also offered to Him together with animal sacrifices.
In order to balance correctly the biblical texts, a few quotations from the Bible are needed:
“16 You shall observe the festival of harvest, of the first fruits of your labour, of tiller hat you sow in the field. You shall observe the festival of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labour. 17 Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
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18 You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my festival remain until the morning. 19 The choicest of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God.” (Exodus 23; 16-19 NRSV)
Cain was repelled for an action that later on was commended by God as an obligation for the Jewish people. Exodus 23, verse 19 prescribes as an obligation exactly what was considered to be unacceptable in Cain’s behaviour. “The choicest of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.”
Cain brought to God an offering of the fruits of his ground. Why had he been frowned upon? Here we have a situation in which something was first considered to be wrong and afterwards was prescribed as an obligation. Maybe the quality of Cain’s offering wouldn’t have been the best but the ground being cursed, it was probably impossible to obtain a better quality. The consistency of the biblical texts is given also by the way in which they fit with one another during the entire O.T. There are two inconsistencies at this point. The same kind of offerings as Cain’s were later prescribed by God, and good quality couldn’t have been realised from cursed ground.
Was the absence of any offering an alternative for Cain? Such an attitude could have been interpreted as not being respectful toward God. Cain didn’t have any other choice but to offer to God the fruit of the ground as thanksgiving and this eliminates his responsibility in respect to the object of the offering. The Bible says that God asked Jewish people to do the same thing for which Cain was rejected.
“When anyone presents a grain-offering to the LORD, the offering shall be of choice flour; the worshipper shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it, 2 and bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests. After taking from it a handful of the choice flour and oil, with all its frankincense, the priest shall turn this token portion into smoke on the altar, an offering by fire of pleasing odour to the LORD. 3 And what is left of the grain-offering shall be for Aaron and his sons, a most holy part of the offerings by fire to the LORD.” (Leviticus 2; 1-3 NRSV)
The idea of bringing cereals as an offering to God is reiterated again in Leviticus:
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“9 The LORD spoke to Moses: 10 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall raise the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may find acceptance; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall raise it.” (Leviticus 23; 9-11 NRSV)
Why was God angry with Cain’s offering? The book of Genesis doesn’t explain that. A reason for God not being happy with Cain’s offering could have been that his offering wasn’t a direct symbol of the human redemption, in other words it was not bloodshed. The concrete manner in which the offering was made couldn’t have played a role in God’s rejection because as we know from the book of Genesis, there weren’t established rules for offerings at the time hence no rule was broken. Abel made an offering to God through faith and not through law. We know that Apostle Paul treated differently faith and law. If a law for the offerings wasn’t in place Cain made his offering also through faith, because there isn’t another alternative. It was either from obligation or through faith. Regarding this issue, any other interpretation about the difference between how Abel and Cain made their offerings is not based on the Bible.
If the offerings had been made through faith they weren’t required directly by God, and there was not a clear and precise form for them.
“4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable* sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith* he still speaks.” (Hebrews 11; 4 NRSV)
In John’s first epistle we find that Cain committed an evil deed when he offered to God. The offering couldn’t have been evil by any standards, only the killing of his brother was an evil action.
“11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him. Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1John 3; 11-12 NRSV)
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Why didn’t Cain get approval for his offering if it was also made in faith? There isn’t any reasonable answer for that. One can be tempted to blame God for His reaction but that is a mistake because this is a fable, not a story based on reality, and we can know that from the lack of any sense in that narrative.
How would Cain have fallen under the devil’s influence? He was rejected by God because his offering was unacceptable even if such an offering was later prescribed by Him through Moses. The book of Genesis doesn’t allow us to conclude anything about Cain’s life. It is not about his life but about his offering. If it had been about the way in which he lived, the book of Genesis needed to explain that. God’s attitude toward Cain generated Cain’s behaviour with Abel. It doesn’t matter about the motives, God’s rejection of Cain’s offering is the reason why Cain would have taken the wrong path. God’s acceptance of Cain’s offering would have eliminated the concurrence between the brothers.
Even Jesus referred to Abel, according with Mathew:
“34 Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35 so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.” (Mathew 23; 34-35 NRSV)
The word spoken by Jesus can be seen as a confirmation of Abel being a historical personage, but it isn’t such a thing. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, are mythological personages and their story appears to be very far from historicity, as far as any other myth. Could Jesus endorse a myth as a parabolic modality of expression? He used parables many times in His mission on Earth. Of course He could do that. It is well known that Jesus used many parables in order to get His message through and He could use the story of Cain and Abel as another parable to advance His argument.
Peter Galling pointed to three different reasons why Cain’s offering was rejected by God: the difference in the type of offering; the difference in the quality of offering; the difference in the heart of who offered.
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The same author also makes this commentary:
“Can we even be clear that either Cain or Abel knew exactly what would be pleasing to God as a sacrifice ahead of time? Even with all this circumstantial evidence, we don’t absolutely know that God required a blood sacrifice of Cain. We can’t say for certain that the quality of Cain’s offering was inferior. And we can’t prove Cain’s heart was in the wrong during the sacrifice itself. Although the scriptural account does seem to point to each of these reasons, we can’t be emphatic about any of them. So, what’s the ultimate answer to God preferring Abel’s offering? We must come to grips with one thing: God, as Creator, is sovereign over His creation. While there are proximate reasons for God’s decrees, what ultimately makes “right” right and “wrong” wrong? God’s sovereign choice.”
I referred already to the first reason reiterated by the text. The second reason seen as an explanation for the rejection of Cain’s offering is the poor quality of the offering. The products of a cursed ground couldn’t have been other than of low value. Probably the implicit message of the texts was that the land being under curse, its products couldn’t have been other than rejected by God. This possible connection was later contradicted by other biblical texts in which the first products of the land were offered to God in a ritualistic manner even if they were extracted from cursed ground.
This quotation explains this approach:
“Abel’s animal offering was from the firstborn (meaning the best because it is first) of his flocks, but all we read about Cain’s offering is that he brought “some of the fruits of the soil.” Some interpreters understood this to mean that Cain’s offering was second rate—not of the firstfruits. In fact, that Cain offered “some of the fruits” seems to violate Leviticus 2:14, where offering the first fruits of the grain is commanded.”
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This is an important example of how the interpretation of the texts of the book of Genesis can be radically influenced by different translations. Only some translations used the expression “some of the fruits” and I wonder if this selection of words isn’t deliberately directed toward the justification of an absurd story. Here are several translations of the text from Genesis chapter 4, verse 3:
“New International Version
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.
New Living Translation
When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD.
English Standard Version