A while back, I got the following question from a fellow Biblical Creationist with an honest concern:
“How do you respond to the question about the seemingly inordinate amount of things that happened on one day in Genesis 2?”
A lot of folks object to a literal, historical Creation Week by trying to claim that there were too many events that took place on Day 6 for them to be literal days. Context is everything.
There is one single exception to the literal use of the word “yom” as a 24-hour solar day in Genesis 1 & 2: Genesis 2:4…
“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens…”
Here, the word “day” means “time,” but since God already made the overkill point that those days were normal solar days [I recommend you read Six Solar days, or Why God Took His Time for a further discussion of the literal Creation Week], we know that this “time” refered to is the 6-day Creation week.
Let’s take a closer look at Genesis chapter 2.
It’s important to remember that chapter divisions aren’t inspired, merely useful for looking up verses or memorization. The first three verses of chapter 2 rightly belong with the thought of Chapter 1.
Verse 4 begins one of the “generations” of Genesis. The next one, the generations of Adam begins in Chapter 5. This section begins the generations of heaven and earth when they were created, which is a fancy way of saying, “Here’s where the first people came from.” The setting is contained in verses 4 thru 6, noting that when God created everything, there was no rain but instead a mist that watered the earth and there was no man to till the ground. Our original job was husbandry.
Verse 7 again picks up the creation of Adam, letting us know the events we’re reading now occured on Day 6. Day 6 was a very busy day, comparable to Day 4 where “He made the stars also,” almost as an afterthought. On Day 6, he created land animals, man from the dust of ther earth and planted the Garden of Eden.
Here’s a big, but oft overlooked point. Eden was a garden. God planted it. He made trees to spring up, both pretty ones and ones with good food to eat – and two special trees which form the backdrop for Chapter 3.
Verses 10-14 simply let us know the landscape and riverways.
Verses 15-17 relates how God told Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and told him the consequences of disobeying the One Rule.
Verses 18 onward describe the creation of Eve. It’s noteworthy that God here [and in Genesis 2:7] adds detail to Genesis 1:27′s understatement: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
What gets a few people is this whole business of Adam naming the animals, particularly verse 19: “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air.” God had already created all of the land animals [creeping things, cattle and beasts of the earth – Gen 1:24-25]. Now he forms the beasts of the field [a sub-set of beasts of the earth], birds and cattle from the dust of the earth and brings them before Adam to see what he’ll name them. Were these real live creatures? or simply clay images of the real McCoy? I have this sort of sci-fi fantasy image in my head of God sculpting each creature with a wave of his hand and sending them hovering in front of Adam. In my mind’s eye, each clay creature is moving as it would in real life. Maybe it even becomes real, live flesh as Adam gives it a name. Ah, they need to make a decent movie about Creation and the Flood… sigh.
Anyway, it’s important to note that God didn’t bring every creature to Adam, just birds, cattle and beasts of the field. One assumes that since he’d created them each according to their kind [again, Gen 1:24-25] and there hadn’t been enough time for variations to occur within the kinds that he simply had to name the original archo-kinds.
In any case, Adam’s first day at school set the precedent for all school days: he fell asleep in class.
Putting together the events of Genesis 1 and 2 for Day 6, we find that:
1. God creates all land animals by fiat.
2. God forms Adam from the dust of the earth.
3. God plants a garden and puts Adam in it.
4. God prohibits Adam from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
5. God forms cattle, birds and beasts of the field out of the ground for Adam to name.
6. God creates Eve from Adam’s side.
7. God gives away the first bride.
Some folks seem to find a contradiction between God creating birds on Day 5 by fiat and forming birds from the ground on Day 6 [or land animals being created by fiat of Day 6 and formed from the ground in the naming passage], but they do not consider that these were simply specific representatives for Adam to name. As a separate event, the use of separate means of creation [fiat verses sculpted] and the acknowledgement that the events [for birds] took place on two separate days offers no honest contradiction.
Instead we find two complementary accounts, the second filling in additional detail of the first.
God bless, and stay in the Word!