Do Genesis 1&2 contradict each other?


And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. (Genesis 1: 6-8) (Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition).

The works of the six days of creation of Genesis chapter 1 and identifying those works can be followed with relative ease but the work of the second day and its interpretation appears historically to be troublesome or difficult as it appears even in the works of the Fathers of the Church who give various interpretations to the work of the second day of creation. Even today among biblical scholars, catholic or protestant, various interpretations are given. I hadn’t thought about this to much until about a month or so ago, following some thread here on this forum, the issue surfaced and made me think about it and do some research about it. I enlisted the help of St Thomas Aquinas and his exegesis of the work of the six days of creation found in his Summa Theologica, Part I.
Concerning the work of the second day of creation, St Thomas offers two explanations gathered from the Fathers of the Church. Firstly, some fathers explain the firmament as the starry heaven. Secondly, others explain the firmament as the cloudy region of the air in which water is condensed and falls to the earth to water it. According to the first explanation, waters have been placed by God above the starry heavens. This is the interpretation given even today by some modern biblical scholars and found in at least some catholic bibles such as the New American Bible. In fact, it seems to be the mainstream interpretation of modern catholic biblical scholars. The second explanation we could simply call the earth’s atmosphere in which the waters above the earth are collected in the clouds and falls to the earth in the form of rain, snow, or hail. In the Summa Theologica, St Thomas offers these two explanations of the firmament but he doesn’t seem to give a personal opinion of one over the other but seems to simply say that the scriptures lends itself to both.

At this point, I began to search the Holy Scriptures for clues as to the meaning of the making of the firmament on the second day which God calls heaven. What precisely did Moses mean by the firmament? It obviously had to do with the separation of the waters which covered the earth in the early stages of God forming the universe. The difficulty of the interpretation of the work of the second day lies in that God calls the firmament heaven and the firmament is mentioned in the works of days 4 and 5. At the same time, God seems to have already created the heavens in the beginning, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). But, the heavens had no light as we can understand by the words “and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2. And then God created the light and separated the light from the darkness. And there was evening and morning, one day (Gen. 1:3-5). By this Aquinas understands that the ‘formlessness’ of the heavens, that is, being without light, is given formation by the creation of light. For light gives beauty to the heavens and the heavens are the source of light. We can also reason that by the creation of light which God called day, and He called the darkness night, and there was evening and morning, one day, that according to the understanding of the former peoples and ancients, the heavens were set in a diurnal motion. Now, if the heavens weren’t made until the second day, how could there be a first day of which the Scriptures speak of in Gen. 1:3-5 and where is the light and darkness or day and night?



Do they?


Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:14?
Day and Night? Day and Night?


Genesis 1:2

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:14

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.

The first represents an earlier stage of creation, the second a later stage. I see no contradiction.


Genesis 1:3. Oops


Genesis 1:3

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Again, what is the contradiction. First there was darkness. Then, light was created. The “lights in the firmament of the heaven” in Genesis 1:14 would be the addition of many stars across the galaxy. Adding a scientific understanding of where light comes from, Genesis 1:3 would suggest (and assuming in all this we are taking a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis 1) that Earth’s Sun was created before other stars. Scientifically that might not be the case which brings us into the question of how literally the creation account is to be taken. But it does not present a contradiction in the text itself.


If you want to see a real contradiction, compare Genesis 1 with Genesis 2:

Genesis 1:

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[c] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[d] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

Genesis 2:

1 In the day that the Lord[a] God made the earth and the heavens, 5 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 one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,** and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal 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. **

So did God create the animals and then create man or did He create man and then the animals?


Got a thread with the question.


The Genesis Creation account is not a modern scientific explanation of Creation. It probably explains the method of creation but not the actual order of events. To explain the actual order of events in a Scientific fashion would require a book written by God that would have so much information that no human being could comprehend it. So to make it simple for the ancients to understand creation, it was written metaphorically. So if you contextually interpret the Scriptures, there are no contradictions. Only when you force the texts into a literal context do you create contradictions that are not there.


Only if you insist on a literal and uncontextual interpretation of them. If you understand the context, there is no contradiction.

Catholics do not interpret the Bible literally like Evangelicals and Christian Fundamentalists, we interpret the Bible contextually.


Considering that we know from science that man and the other great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans) share a common ancestor within the last fourteen or fifteen million years, even the method of creation described in Genesis is not accurate since God did not form man “from the dust of the ground” as a separate and distinct creation from our animal relatives the other great apes.


How do you know that man was not created from the dust? Where does all life come from?


No. The two creation accounts communicate the same ideas. Here is an example.

The first creation account gives us the hierarchy of God’s creation based on the order in which they are created. First the light and darkness, then the seas and land, then vegetation, then the birds, beasts and man last. Those created first serve those created later and those create later are stewards of those created first.

The second creation story tells us the same thing but based on who names whom. Man gets to name the beasts and God names man. Those who are named serve those who name them. Those who name are caretakers and protectors of those who are named.

This is just an example of how the different narratives in Genesis 1 and 2 communicate the same thing. We see the same themes, order of creation and naming, throughout the Bible.



While there are two versions of Genesis someone-or perhaps more than one someone-had a pretty good handle on what made the universe go “POP.” Astronomers are yet making discoveries that make the creation of God’s earth, sea an sky less obtrusive. It is a mystery and will remain o mystery, as it is intended. At the end of time, if mankind is still be trapesing about, some one will still be trying to open up God’s Book of Creation, 101.


I said that we were not created at least with respect to our physical bodies as a separate creation from the animals since we share a common ancestor with other animals. If God created anything from the dust, it was an animal which was the common ancestor of both humans and animals.


Small correction: “we Think we know from science” that all that stuff happened. Do not rely too much on science remaining unchanged in the future. Consensus has been overthrown before and it is not impossible for it to be overthrown again. I’m not saying it Will be, just that it’s possible. Scientific consensus is currently against a six day creation. It is hard to imagine that it might ever be in favor of it again. But it is not impossible. Even if scientists did start to think there was a six day creation, though, that would not make it a teaching of the Church. The Church is silent on the question because we cannot add dogmas that God didn’t give us, and He didn’t give us a dogma that creation took six days.

Also, depending on what you mean, I think one can say that Genesis 1 is accurate even if you don’t believe in a six day creation. The Prince and the Pauper is a work of fiction, and one might say it is an inaccurate depiction of 1500s England. But, if the author was trying to portray a Fictional version of 1500s England, then you can Also say it is Not inaccurate: it is an accurate portrayal of a fictional idea. Similarly with the Bible: if it is intended to portray an idea that is non-scientific, and if it succeeds, then it is accurate.

There is no historical error where there is no history recorded. If the six day account of Genesis is not intended to report science, then one can defend the thesis that it is not scientifically inaccurate: there is no scientific error where there is no science reported.


“Let there be light” refers to Jesus or the angels, depending on which Church Father you read.

Jesus is the Light of Men who existed consubstantial with the Father before anything was created so it could be Jesus.



I disagree. God exists outside of space and time. Therefore the Creation of the Universe from beginning to end, was done by God’s spoken word perhaps even a single thought.

It may appear to us who are trapped by space and time that we “evolved” but what how does creation appear to God? I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know that an Omniscient God knew how it would turn out.

Each of us are an individual creation of God. God is our author…we just are tinkering around trying to figure out what he did. He probably finds comic relief in our arrogance regarding how much we think we know.


Explained it better than I tried. Good job.

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