Do Genesis 1 and 2 Contradict Each Other?

A concerned reader wonders how to respond to an issue that has created doubt in her husband's faith. Tim Chaffey, AiG-US, addresses his concerns.

"My husband recently had a discussion with one of his professors regarding Hebrew scriptures in Genesis. My husband has concluded that because there seems to be [contradiction] between the order of creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 that the Bible is not flawless. I do not share his conclusion and would like to have an answer for him. The scriptures in question are Genesis 1:1–2:3 vs. Genesis 2:4-22. He has claimed to be a believer for 10 years, but now believes that man has mucked up the Word of God and that the Bible is not completely accurate and has flaws. Could you help me?" –R.H., USA

This is a common argument used against the traditional understanding of Genesis (i.e., God created everything in six normal-length days approximately 6,000 years ago). This argument attempts to show that inconsistencies exist between the first two chapters in the Bible. Critics and skeptics use it in their efforts to show the Bible cannot be trusted. Some Christians who believe in billions of years use it in trying to show that these chapters should not be understood in their plain sense. However, the argument is based on a misunderstanding of Genesis 2.

Genesis 1:1–2:3 provides us with a chronological account of what God did on each of the days during Creation Week. Genesis 2:4–25 zooms in on Day Six and shows some of the events of that day. Let's take a look at what happened on Day Six, according to Genesis 2, and we'll see there is no discrepancy here.

  • Adam is created (Genesis 2:7)
  • Garden of Eden created (Genesis 2:8–9)
  • Description of river system in Eden (Genesis 2:10–14)
  • Adam put in Garden and given instructions (Genesis 2:15–17)
  • Adam names some of the kinds of animals (Genesis 2:18–20)
  • God creates Eve (Genesis 2:21–22)
  • Description of Adam, Eve, and marriage (Genesis 2:23–25)

The particular issue that people have with Genesis 2 is that the order of the creation of man, animals, and trees seems to be contrary to the order stated in Genesis 1.

Genesis 2:7 describes the creation of man.

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)

Following the creation of man, Genesis 2:9 mentions that God created trees, including the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

[You can finish reading the rest of this article at Answers in Genesis. Click here.]