Fun with the Bible: The Harmony of God’s Creation in Genesis 1

Common Misconceptions about the Creation Story

When you ask most people what God created on each of the six days of creation (remember, the seventh day was for chillin’ like a villain), they will generally answer incorrectly. Test this out. Don’t ask your local biblical scholar, of course, just someone who is aware of his or her religion, goes to church or synagogue occasionally and might have something to say. Day by day, his/her answer may go a little something like this:

1. The universe

2. Land and water

3. Sun and Moon

4. Plants

5. Animals

6. Adam and Eve

Now, that wouldn’t be a terrible guess, mind you. In some fashion or another those things were created, the order is not terrible, and they managed to fill six days. Of course, my made up answer might be a little biased since I know what really happened. They may skip one or two, wind up with Adam and Eve on day 4 and then have to backtrack and think about what happened in those last few days. “Uh, pot and beer, dude? Hehehe.”

The Beautiful Symmetry of Creation

In any case, I’d like to take a moment to show you what God created on which days (not that you couldn’t read it for yourself), just so that you can see the inherent harmony in the plan and in the mind of the author of Genesis 1.

1. Night and Day                          4. Sun, Moon and Stars

2. Sky and Water                          5. Birds and Fish

3. Dry land and Vegetation           6. Animals and Humankind

Now isn’t that special? Do you notice anything?

The way I laid it out should give away the beautiful symmetry of creation, how everything created in the first three days is complemented by what is designed for it specifically in the latter three days. The Sun, Moon and Stars make Night and Day a reality. The birds and fish populate the sky and water and then animals and mankind (or mammals, if you will) populate the dry land and utilize the vegetation. Beautiful!

One thing you might notice is that there’s no Adam and Eve. That’s right, in Genesis 1, the creation of humankind is the simultaneous existence of man and woman and what’s more, they look like God because they were created “in His image.” That means what it says. Notice also how humanity is the culmination of creation.

Some Differences in the Creation Story of Genesis 2

If you look at Genesis 2, which happens to be an entirely different creation story – that is, a competing story, not a complementary one – you will notice that initially some stuff is around and so is God and then God makes man and the rest of creation comes from man. All the animals and finally the woman (eventually Eve) come from man’s existence. Moreover, that story is “sloppier” in the sense that it does not provide us with the distance, majesty and order of the first creation story. In Genesis 2-3 God “forms” man and breathes life into his nostrils. Very physical and image oriented. In Genesis 1 how does God create everything? With his words: “God said.” Very different ideas of God who create different things for different reasons. Fascinating stuff.

Imagine the Cosmos

Also, what do the cosmos look like before God began creating in Genesis 1? Can you envision it? If you want to know what the cosmology of the author (or original teller of this tale) was, try to visual what’s happening in the first 10 verses.

First, there is basically nothing but water. God makes light and separates it from dark but how does he create where we end up? Starting with Genesis 1:6 imagine a snowglobe being inserted into the water – this is the “separation of the waters from the waters.” Why would ancient people think that water was above and only a dome kept us from it? Think about lying in an empty field at night: looks like a dome, huh? Plus, during the day the sky is blue and when it rains, water comes from it – like the water dome is leaking. This was the vision, and after the snowglobe separates the waters, God can make land in the bottom water for us to hang out on.

Summary

What do you think about all that I’ve just said? Is there anything else you’d like to point out for us? Does anything not make sense that you’d like to discuss further?

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5 Responses

  1. I should read the bible so I could comment more appropriately.

    Genesis 1 is more complicated and comprehensive, more God IS.

    Genesis 2 is more Man is made in the Image of God, and makes God more related to man.

    I feel as though Genesis 2 is a stepping stone to inaugurate the ignorant into a religion. A simpleton can’t relate to the “Voice” that brought light into this world. But, he/she can relate to a “man-god” sculpting creation with his bare hands like clay.

  2. Thank you for your comment Dante’s snowball, though I’m not entirely sure if your distinction holds. The God’s portrayed in the two chapters of Genesis may be different, but the difference is not about who is to be persuaded or inaugurated into a particular religion. These stories were not conceived of with the cynicism that your comment implies; they simply represent two different ways that ancient Israelites conceived of their God, YAHWEH.

    For 2500 years people have insisted that these differing conceptions of God are due to the fact that God is all things and that the Bible, perfect as it is, simply reflects those differing existences. However, close scrutiny and study will reveal that these are actually two different stories of creation told by two different people with two different conceptions of God: one who is distant and the other who is a bit more “hands-on.”

    Your comment about the ease with which people may be able to relate to a sculpting God may have some merit in that this God is portrayed as more accessible.

  3. The “symmetry of creation” above was very interesting. Creation stories of a culture also inform the rest of the theology and can be interesting starting off points in understanding a particular theological world-view of a people or religion.

    BTW–Eve is not mentioned (by name) in the Quran!. I was a bit surprised about that.

  4. Glad you liked that, Kay. I also found it to be fascinating that Even is not mentioned by name in the Quran, as the ignorance of an early Quran Read-a-Long post will testify!

  5. You hit the nail on the head. It makes God more accessible. If you confine the infinite concept of God into a more corporeal “builder” than an intangible “voice”.

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