Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#259 - Were plants created before or after humans?

Response by TreeFinger

Plants were created before humans.
Gen 1:11-13 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Plants were created after humans.
Gen 2:4-7 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, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 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 soul.

Gen 1:27, 31 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The chronological account made in Genesis 1 states that plants were made on the 3rd day, and then man was made on the 6th day, so plants were created before humans.

Genesis 2 reveals to us greater details into the creation of Adam, the garden (and its plants), the animals in the garden and Eve during the 6th day. This seemingly contradicts the creation of plants on the 3rd day before man rather than the creation of plants on the 6th day after man.

The creation of the garden on the 6th day required some specific plants for that were designed for man. They were pleasing to the sight (Gen 2:9), maybe to show Adam Gods awesome creative power and remind him of His glory and power, as was the behemoth and leviathan used for this purpose to Job (Job 40, 41). These may also be made pleasing to the sight in relation to Rom 1:20:
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
So that man is left without excuse because God has made Himself knowable to us through His creation from the very beginning of it. They were good to eat from (Gen 2:9), which implies that all other plants that were made on the 3rd day were not 'good' for man to eat from or that these plants were better or superior in some way so that they would classify as ‘good’ to eat for man ('good' is traslated here in the same way as through the whole of Genesis 1, which is used to mean perfection. So God has made the garden of Eden with plants that are perfect for man to eat from.) In Gen 2:8 it does not state that God created plants on this day on the earth (which Gen 1:11-13 clearly states and is done so on the 3rd day), but reads:
Gen 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
To plant a garden you first need plants, otherwise God would have created plants from scratch at the time when He planted the Garden of Eden. These plants were readily available as they were created on the 3rd day. Another difference between the creation of plants in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is that in Genesis 1 plants were created to fill no specific area, it was the general creation of plants to fill the earth. Although plants in Genesis 2 were planted to form the Garden of Eden in a specific location, this difference shows more evidence towards each passage not referring to the same creation of plants. There was in fact a general creation of plant life on the 3rd day of creation (Genesis 1), then on the 6th day of creation God planted the Garden of Eden specifically for man to live in (Genesis 2).

This 'so-called' contradiction is related to #8
#8 Two contradictory creation accounts?


How long did creation take?

Genesis 1:3-31, Genesis 2:1-3
(Six days.)

Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

The entire account of creation during Genesis 1 is entirely chronologically, this concludes with Genesis 2:2, stating that the work was finished on the seventh day, clearly indicating in relation to Genesis 1 that the heavens and the earth took 6 days to create.

Genesis 2:4
(One day.)

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,

This concludes Genesis 1 by saying that the heavens and the earth were created in one day, ‘in the day that…’ this contradicts the whole chronological account of creation listed in Genesis 1.


We know from Genesis 1:2 that in the beginning ‘the earth was without form, and void’, this was before the first day took place in Genesis 1:5 when God made light (this was not light from the sun or any star, as they were not made until Genesis 1:14-19 on the 4th day), this pre-supposes that the earth was made before or was made during the 1st day. The heavens were first made during Genesis 1:14-19 on the 4th day. Although the Bible is a very literal book, it also uses in some cases metaphors, similes, symbolism and poetry.
To be able to decipher whether the verse or phrase is literal or not, we need to compare these verses or phrases to others in scripture that are similar. Otherwise we would not know whether or not some verses or phrases are literal, which causes many conflicts and contradictions within the Bible. If we are able to find all possible meanings to the original Hebrew/Greek words used, we may exchange the meanings until we find one that does not contradict or conflict with other passages.

The Hebrew word used for ‘in the day’ in Genesis 2:4 is ‘yome’:

From an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literally (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figuratively (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverbially): - age, + always, + chronicles, continually (-ance), daily, ([birth-], each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever (-lasting, -more), X full, life, as (so) long as (. . . live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently, + remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+ age), (full) year (-ly), + younger.

We know that ‘in the day’ cannot be literal; otherwise this would mean that the heavens and the earth were created both in 1 and in 6 days. If we compare how this phrase is used throughout the Bible, we see it can be used in many cases are figuratively:

Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

This is obviously figuratively used because if Adam and Eve were to die the literal 24 hour day in which they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we would not be here today.

Leviticus 14:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,
Leviticus 14:2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing…

The cleansing of a leper takes a whole 8 days to complete, if we were to take ‘in the day’ to be literal, we would come across a contradiction by definition of cleansing to be an 8 day process whilst the cleansing of a leper being ‘in the day’ of the cleansing. This is clearly not a literal day, but a figurative day referring to the period of 8 days it takes to be cleansed.

Numbers 6:9 And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it.

Another example of this regarding cleansing rituals. Here we have an example of a seeming contradiction within a verse if we were to take ‘in the day’ as being literal. This is because cleansing in this manner takes 8 days, with a sacrifice on the 8th day, and so he is not cleansed until the 8th day. But he only shaves his head on the 7th, so ‘he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing’ simply means that he shall shave his head on the 7th day, during the period of time it takes for him to be cleansed (8 days).

Numbers 25:18 For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor's sake.

Here we have a good example of ‘in the day’ representing a period of time, as a plague does not last for a single day (and not in this case), but for a period of time, specifically stating that ‘in the day’ is referring to the plague.

So we see that ‘in the day’ can easily be used figuratively if the context allows for it. So the heavens and the earth are in Genesis 1 created in 6 days (chronological), which does not allow in Genesis 2:4 for it to be also created in 1 day, therefore ‘in the day’ used in Genesis 2:4 is used figuratively.