Darkness to Light Home Page
Books and eBooks by the Director
Someone posted a list of 168 supposed Biblical contradictions in a "Christian" Newsgroup. I asked the poster for his permission to use the list as the basis for an article. He said I could. So I transferred the list to my handheld PC (H/PC) to start working on it.
Now since I am working on my H/PC, I am generally away from my main software and hardcopy, Biblical resources. But what I do have on my H/PC is the New King James Version (NKJV) in my PalmBible. Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quoted verses will be from this source.
Plus on my H/PC I have the full text of the Literal Translation of the Bible (LITV) copied off of the Web into Pocket Word files (with Jay Green's, the copyright holder's, permission). Plus I also copied into Pocket Word files the New Testament for my own version, the Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT).
I decided to work mostly on these "contradictions" with only these limited resources to show that most of the time it really does not take much research to respond to supposed Biblical contradictions. Admittedly, I have probably studied this subject more than most. So some of my responses come from my memory of having researched such things in the past. But other responses are simply the result of basic Bible knowledge, the kind of which any student of the Bible should strive to attain.
I will check other sources as the need arises. But since I am working mostly with limited resources at my disposable, it is possible that with more study someone might come up with a "better" response to a particular "contradiction." That is fine. The only thing that needs to be demonstrated when dealing with supposed contradictions it to show it is possible to interpret the verses in a manner which shows they are not contradictory, without doing injustice to the text.
In other words, it simply needs to be shown there is no "necessary" contradiction, that other ways of legitimately taking the verses are possible. In some cases I myself will give more than one possible reconciliation. I do not need to decide which one is "correct." All that is needed to show alternatives are possible.
Since the list is lengthy, and sometimes my responses will be so also, this article will be posted in several parts as slowly I work my way through the list. Which items are listed in which part may be re-arranged as I post the parts to try to keep them relatively even. The supposed contradictions are in purple and enclosed in single "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My responses are in black.
>1) Genesis 1:3-5 On the first day, God created light, then separated light and darkness.
Genesis 1:14-19 The sun (which separates night and day) wasn't created until the fourth day.<
This one would be better answered by a creation scientist. But to make the question even more difficult, let's add, how could there be plant growth on day three if the sun wasn't created until day four given that the sun is necessary for plants to grow?
Several different theories have been proposed. The first is the sun was created one day one when God said, "Let there be light" (1:3), but for some reason it was "obscured" from the earth. It was on day four that whatever was obscuring the sun was removed.
But the word "create" is the same as used elsewhere. And this idea still doesn't answer the question of night and day being separated and plant growth. If the sun was obscured these would still not have been possible.
Another possibility is the "days" of Genesis one are not chronological. They are simply being used as a "literary outline" with similar topics groups on the same day. However, by giving a specific order to the days, it does appear the days should be taken chronologically.
So a better answer is the "light" created on day one was some light source other than the sun. And it was with the earth rotating in regards to this light source that day and night, and plant growth originated. The earth's sun and moon were then created on day four and the previous light source removed.
Exactly what this light source was, and why God used it rather than just creating the sun on day one, I cannot say. But again, many different theories have been proposed as to the nature of the original light and its purpose. I refer to the reader to the various creationist Web sites. They should be able to provide further details in matters such as these. Links to such sights are at Creation and Evolution sites.
>2) Genesis 1:11-12, 26-27 Trees were created before man was created.
Genesis 2:4-9 Man was created before trees were created.
>3) Genesis 1:20-21, 26-27 Birds were created before man was created.
Genesis 2:7, 19 Man was created before birds were created.
>4) Genesis 1:24-27 Animals were created before man was created.
Genesis 2:7, 19 Man was created before animals were created.<
I'll take these three questions together because they are all basically claiming the same thing: the creation account in Gen 1:1-2:24 differs from the creation account in Gen 2:5-25. The response is simply, Gen 2:5-25 is NOT a second creation account .
Gen 1:1-2:24 is recording the creation of the heavens and the earth. Gen 2:5-25 is recording the creation of the Garden of Eden. So two completely different events are being discussed. The first is the general creation of the universe. The second is the more specific record of the creation of one spot on the earth. So the two cannot be contradicting each other as they are discussing different events.
Another possibility is that mentioned above, that the days of Genesis one are not chronological.
>5) Genesis 1:26-27 Man and woman were created at the same time.
Genesis 2:7, 21-22 Man was created first, woman sometime later.<
As mentioned above, Genesis one is recording the creation of the universe. As such, events are presented in a very simple form. Not much detail is given. Genesis two is more limited in scope. It is only recording the creation of the Garden of Eden. So it provides more details.
In Genesis one, man and women are presented as being created at the same time by the literary device of "telescoping." It is looking at the events from far away. So just as two mountaintops look as if they are almost touching from a distant, events separate by time appear as if they are together when viewed from a distant, as this literary device does.
But when looked at closer, the distances between the mountaintops can be seen. In the same way, when looked at closer the events that occurred in between the creation of the man and of the woman can be seen.
So the differences between the two accounts is in how specific they are. When covering an event as sweeping as the creation of the universe, it would be expected that many details would be left out. This does not make the account of the creation of the universe "contradict" that of the Garden of Eden; it is just less detailed on this point.
>6) Genesis 1:28 God encourages reproduction.
Leviticus 12:1-8 God requires purification rites following childbirth which, in effect, makes childbirth a sin. (Note: The period for purification following the birth of a daughter is twice that for a son.)<
The simple answer to this one is Genesis one is recording events that occurred before the Fall (recorded in Gen 3), while Leviticus occurs long after the Fall.
The reason for the purification rites for childbirth are much debated. One possible answer is the purification is needed because a sinner has been brought into the world (since we are all born sinners since the Fall). So the purification is needed for the one giving birth to the sinner.
The reason for the purification period being twice as long for giving birth for a girl as for a boy is also much debated. One possible answer would be since the girl will grow up and give birth to a sinner, then her birth requires a longer purification period.
>7) Genesis 1:31 God was pleased with his creation.
Genesis 6:5-6 God was not pleased with his creation. (Note: That God should be displeased is inconsistent with the concept of omniscience.)<
Again, Genesis 1 is recording events before the Fall, while Genesis 6 is recording events after the Fall. So God would be "pleased" with the unfallen creation but "displeased" with the fallen creation.
As for the difficult question of God's omniscience, yes it is true: God knew the Fall would occur before He created. So why did He create in the first place? And why would He be "displeased" when something happened that He knew would happen? The answer one gives to these questions will differ greater based on ones particular theology (i.e. whether one is an Arminian or a Calvinist, and even what type of Calvinist).
Another point has to do with the ascribing of human emotions to God. Some believe God experiences real emotions, just as humans do. But personally, I do not. And this question is one of the reason why I do not.
To ascribe "displeasure" to God does seem to imply He did not know what would happen. The same would more apply to "feelings" such as anger. We get angry when someone happens we did not anticipate or that we cannot do anything about. But given God's omniscience and His omnipotence, nothing ever happens that He did not know would happen or that is out of His control. So His "anger" cannot be the same as ours.
I believe the ascribing of human emotions to God is similar to the Biblical practice of ascribe human body parts to God. Since God is Spirit (John 4:24), He does not have fingers, hands, arms, eyes, and definitely not wings! But God is described as having all of these in various places in Scripture (see Exod 31:18; 32:11, Deut 4:34; Amos 4:8; Ruth 2:12).
This practice is known as "anthropomorphism." It comes from the Greek word anthropos meaning "person" and morphe meaning "change." So it means to "change" God into a person, in metaphoric sense. It is done so that our finite minds can better understand the infinite God by describing Him in terms we can understand.
Similarly, God does not have emotions in the sense that humans do. But the Bible ascribes them to God so that we can understand Him with our finite, and emotional, minds.
So putting the above together. Before God created He knew that people would rebel against Him and the world would end up in a "fallen" state. But He created anyway because He knew He would, by His grace, save some from their sins. He would thus be glorified by those being saved.
So when He pronounced the universes as "very good" at the end of creation (Gen 1:31), it was an expression of His nature, not a feeling. It is telling us the universe that coincided with His sinless nature.
But when the Fall occurred, and the universe fell, and people continued to rebel against Him, by the time of Noah, He was "displeased" with the creation. This "displeasure" was not an emotional reaction to what had happened. It is is an expression of the fact the the now sin-filled world no longer coincides with God's holy nature.
So there is no contradiction between God telling us a sinless world coincides with His nature and a sin-filled world not coincide with it.
Now an Arminian would answer the above in a totally different manner. But the main point is, Gen one is before the Fall and Gen six is long after it. And there are different ways of explaining how God's omniscience is not contradictory to creating a world He knew end up in a fallen state and thus being "displeased" at it.
>8) Genesis 2:4, 4:26, 12:8, 22:14-16, 26:25 God was already known as "the Lord" (Yahweh or Jehovah) much earlier than the time of Moses.
Exodus 6:2-3 God was first known as "the Lord" (Yahweh or Jehovah) at the time of the Egyptian Bondage, during the life of Moses.<
The traditional way of dealing with this apparent discrepancy is to say God's name was not fully known during the "Genesis" days. It was only with his revelation to Moses that the fullness of the meaning of Yahweh was revealed.
But I believe a much better idea is proposed by P.J. Wiseman. in his book Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis. I discuss some of the ideas in this book in my short article Word Plays in Genesis.
Here, the pertinent point of Wiseman's theory is that Moses did not WRITE Genesis, rather He TRANSLATED it. Biblically this idea does make sense as Moses is never said to have written Genesis in Scripture. When verses from the other four books of the Torah are quoted or referred to, Moses name is often mentioned. But it is never mentioned when referring to verses in Genesis (compare, for instance, Matt 19:4,5 with 19:7,8).
Wiseman's theory is that Moses translated Genesis from records kept on a series of stone tablets: each written by the participants or eye-witnesses of the events themselves, starting with Adam (with God revealing Genesis one and two to Adam). Adam passed his tablet onto Seth, who passed his and Adam's tablets onto his descendants on through Abraham and his descendants, down to Joseph.
Joseph then deposited the tablets in the library of Pharaohs court. Moses then, being raised in Pharaohs court, had access to the tablets and took them with him when he fled Egypt. Then being a Hebrew he translated the tablets from whatever language they were originally written in into Hebrew.
When he came to the name for God in these tablets (whatever that was) he just naturally used the name that God had revealed to him to translate the original text by.
Whether the specifics of Wiseman's theory are correct or not is no the important point; what matters is Abraham, for instance, did not speak Hebrew. He was the "founder" of the Hebrew race, but the language would have developed slowly along with the race.
So when the Bible records Abraham as saying the name "Yahweh", he was actually speaking the equivalent name for God in whatever language he spoke. Moses just used "Yahweh" to translate that word.
This is similar to what we see in Bible translations today. No one in the Bible ever said the word "Lord." It is an English word, and English did not develop as a language until the Middle Ages, which was long after Biblical times. But Biblical persons are recorded as saying "Lord" since that word is used to translated Yahweh (and adonai) in the OT and theos in the NT.
>9) Genesis 2:17 Adam was to die the very day that he ate the forbidden fruit.
Genesis 5:5 Adam lived 930 years.<
Three different ideas have been proposed to answer this one:
a) Adam did die, spiritually, the day he ate the forbidden fruit. It was for this reason that he is trying to hide from God (3:8). The intimate fellowship he had experienced with God was broken. He was "dead" in the sense of being separated from God.
b) [2Peter 3:8] "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Adam died within one thousand years of eating the forbidden fruit. So he did die within one "God-day."
c) God was simply gracious. He could have killed Adam the day he ate the fruit. It would have been perfectly just for Him to have done so. But by His grace, He did not. Instead, God killed two animals in the place of Adam and Eve when He made them "tunics of skin" (3:21). By doing so, God set in place the principle of of subsitutionary atonement. This principle would be seen in subsequent animal sacrifices and find its ultimate fulfillment in the death of Jesus Christ, when the promise of Gen 3:15 was fulfilled.
Of these three views, the first is most popular. The second is "stretching" things a bit. But I personally agree with the last. It "fits" with the grace of God and the idea of substitutionary atonement seen throughout the Bible.
>10) Genesis 2:15-17, 3:4-6 It is wrong to want to be able to tell good from evil.
Hebrews 5:13-14 It is immature to be unable to tell good from evil.<
In Genesis 2:15-17, 3:4-6, nowhere does it say it is "wrong" to be able to tell good from evil. There was no "evil" before the Fall. Adam and Eve were not to "know" good and evil in the sense of not experiencing it. But since they disobeyed God, evil entered the world, and they experienced it, and we now all experience it.
So now, with evil in the world, we are to "discern good and evil." As always, one cannot compare what the Bible says before the Fall with what it says after the Fall and ignore the effects of the Fall! The Fall changed everything.
This article is
Newsgroup "Contradictions" - Part Two.
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
Newsgroup "Contradictions." Copyright © 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).
The above article was posted on this Web site July 3, 1999.
The Bible: General "Contradictions"
Text Search Alphabetical List of
Pages Subject Index
General Information on Articles Contact Information
to Light Home Page
Click Here for Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla