The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Creation Myths: Internal Difficulties

Most skeptics tend to dismiss the story told in the first three chapters of Genesis as so obviously mythical as to be unworthy of any serious discussion. Therein lies the main difficulty-most fundamentalists do not! Thus we have no choice but to look at the accounts closely.

Two Contradictory Creation Stories

Let us start by pointing out that that there are actually two separate and different stories of creation contained in Genesis. The first is given in Genesis 1: 1-2:4 while the second is given in Genesis 2: 4-24. That these two stories are actually different (mutually exclusive accounts) we will show below:

According to the first creation story the whole universe was made in six days, while on the seventh day, God rested. The table below gives the order of creation as described in those verses:

DayRelevant VersesThings Created
One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Genesis 1:1-5
Genesis 1:6-8
Genesis 1:9-13
Genesis 1:14-19
Genesis 1: 20-23
Genesis 1:24-31
Light
“Firmanent” (the sky)
Dry Land, Seas, Plants
Sun, Moon and “the stars also”
Fish, “sea monsters”, winged bird.
Cattle, “creeping things”, beasts and finally man.

Given below is the second story.

Genesis 2:4-9, 18-19
In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 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 man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground, then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food...
...
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast 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 every living creature, that was its name.

The two stories contradict each other in many areas:

  • The order of creation: The reader will notice that the order of creation is completely different from the first story in Genesis Note the wording italicised. Man, according to Genesis chapter two, was made before any plants and animals were created. There is no ambiguity with the wording. It is clearly stated that there were no plants of any kind when man was first created. It was also clearly stated that animals were created after man was created as helpers for the human! According to Genesis chapter one, plants created in day three and animals in day five and six with man being the last item of creation on the sixth day.

  • The creation of man and woman. According to Genesis 1:27 man and woman were created simultaneously.

    Genesis 1:27
    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

    Yet the story in Genesis 2 was that woman was created as an afterthought; only after God was unable to find a suitable helper for Adam among the animals:

    Genesis 2:20-22
    The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman

  • Other contradictions. There are other contradictions[1] between the two stories which we will simply list down here:

    • In the first account, water first covered the earth and dry land was not made until the third day (Genesis 1:9-13). In the second account, the earth was dry land before a mist came up from the earth and watered the whole earth (Genesis 2:5-6)
    • The first story tells of the creation of the universe in seven days. Yet the second story implies that all was created in a single day[2] (Genesis 2:4 In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens…)
    • In the first story, the man and woman was allowed to eat any fruit (Genesis 1:29 and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food), yet in the second story he is prohibited from eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17 & 3:3).
    • The reference to God in the first account was simply Elohim (normally translated as God) while in the second account the creator is always referred to as Yahweh Elohim (usually translated as Lord God).[3]
It is quite obvious that we are looking at two contrary accounts of the creation of the universe. And if they are contrary, at least one must be false-i.e. just by looking within the Bible itself we have shown that at least one story is a myth.

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Other Problems

There are further problems with the story of creation in Genesis chapter one[4]:

  • We know today that the phenomenon of night and day is caused by the rotation of the earth moving different parts of the earth away from or towards the sun. Yet, we are told that there was evening and morning from the first day-but that the sun was only created on the fourth day!

  • Why does God need to “separate the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:18) on the fourth day when there was already “evening and morning” on the first day ? (Genesis 1:5)

The second account too has its own internal problems:

  • We are confronted with a talking serpent. (Genesis 3:1-5) This, prima facie, is a mythical element.

  • Secondly we are confronted with a fruit from a tree that can convey knowledge. (Genesis 2:16 & 3:1-7). While it can be argued that eating fruits form part of a proper nutritional diet and thus will enhance intelligence and there are certainly plants which produces hallucinogenic substances, it surely is stretching credulity a bit far when one asserts the existence of a fruit which actually gives knowledge. Thus we have another prima facie mythical element.

  • Next we are confronted with the fact that it was the serpent who spoke the truth instead of God. Given below is God’s warning:

    Genesis 2:16-17
    And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 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."

    Now the serpent contradicted this and told Eve that they (she and Adam) will not die (Genesis 3:5). And since Adam lived to a ripe old age of 930 (Genesis 5:5), God was obviously telling a little fib in Genesis 2:16.

We have thus accomplished our first task; we have shown that the creation accounts are filled with contradictions, mythical and pre-scientific elements.

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References

1.McKinsey, Biblical Errancy, p354-356
2.Graves & Patai, Hebrew Myths: p25
3.Graves & Patai, Hebrew Myths, p24
4.McKinsey, Biblical Errancy, p356-357

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