When read in sequence there are many contradictory statements between Genesis chapter one and two. The origins of the world and order of creation are for example different. Although within the same holy text, the two chapters provide contrasting theories on creation. This creates problems with understanding the nature of God and how uniqueness and powerful he is. These contradictions mean that there are varying views and understandings even between people within the same church. They are also often the basis for the doubt held by many believers and are used to question the foundations of the religion as a whole.
Many Christian beliefs are based around the idea of creatio ex nihilo, creation from nothing. Yet the very first lines of their ancient text contradict this. They imply that in fact God was “hovering over the waters” before beginning the creation of the earth. 1f water was already inexistence then God did not create from nothing. Some Christians believe this statement to be a metaphor to help us understand. The waters represent the unknown and unseen, the concept of complete nothingness is too difficult to understand so waters are introduced.
Some point to the phrase “the earth was formless” to show that perhaps creatio ex nihilo is incorrect. God doesn’t create the world but molds it into a more recognisable form; he changes from being a creator to being a designer. Many argue this makes the concept of God less impressive, for if God is not the only eternal thing he is no longer unique and this anthropomorphises him, this comparison to human form lessens his supremeness. The earth is not God’s idea but more his interpretation. A potter can only form things to a certain extent with clay placed in front of him as God could only create the earth we have now from the chaos of matter that he was first faced with. This limitation means the world is not a creation of God’s but the best he could do with what he had, this concept shows a God similar to Plato’s demiurge and less like the Judeo-Christian concept of god that is shown to be much more powerful and impressive.
In Genesis 1 the order of creation is: light, land, vegetation, day and night, creatures of the sea, birds, livestock, wild animals and finally humans. Although humans were made in God’s image they are the final addition to God’s world. The phrasing of this produces confusion for God says, “in our image”, this suggests that there is a group of Gods rather than one ruling over all. This is often seen as God’s recognition of human presence becoming inevitable, so when he says, “our” he refers to him/herself and humanity. In chapter 2 of Genesis the order of creation is much different. Rather than humans creation being the final addition they are the very first creation from which all else is based. Also the verse says the “Lord God made the earth” which suggests creation ex nihilo rather than order from chaos. Equally different from the first chapter, God only creates man originally and women come much later. This has led to the more common interpretation of the Bible as a myth and teaching rather than the story of what actually occurred. These contradictions are often the basis of many of the criticisms leveled at Genesis.
The difference between God the creator and God the builder is very important and is the basis of all Christian belief. Although there is confusion within the text it is interpreted as being a theory of creatio ex nihilo, separating God from all else in existence, the contradictions could be due to the authors telling of the story, such as God ‘walking’ through the gardens could just be due to them trying to allow the connection between people and God as it allows for a clearer view of God.
God’s omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence are central to his superiority over humans, they are what make him God like and unique, without them he would not be God and not the supreme being that human’s hold faith and belief in praying to. Yet if God is truly omniscient then why did he plant the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden from which Eve was tempted to eat the forbidden fruit. 1f God is omniscient he would have known Eve would eat the fruit and therefore deliberately tempted her, if this is correct then it brings in the morality of God.
If God knew all this then he deliberately caused Eve pain which would be an evil act, and thus God is not pure goodness, but flawed like the human race. This would mean that God is either not omniscient or not omnibenevolent as he would be unable to be both and yet allow or create this situation, if God is not one of the things said to be his nature he is neither as impressive or God. Secondly if God is omnipresence how can he take a physical presence and walk through the Garden of Eden and have a face to face conversation with Adam. As soon as God takes a physical form like when he breathes into Adam’s nostrils in chapter 2 he is less divine and less unique. God is worshipped because he isn’t human, because he is separate and omnipotent, a force that is beyond human understanding. Do we share in his ‘image’ in form or morality? Do both make him less impressive? If we share in his nature does that not mean he also shares in ours? These questions allow us to question how special and separated from humanity God truly is.
God is shown to be a perfect being so he would therefore only be able to create perfectly using creatio ex nihilo if this is true then how is the world no longer perfect? He is omniscient and omnipresent so would be able to see all possibilities and therefore be able to prevent imperfection by being omnipotent.