I was thinking about Genesis today. It’s part of my normal thing to think about different parts of the Bible. I think about it because, it’s silly to take it seriously. But it is even more silly when atheists think they’ve found little “gotchas” in places where the Bible contradicts itself. I hate this kind of thing because the Bible is supposed to be a religious book. It isn’t really much of one as far as I’m concerned, but it is meant to answer the ultimate questions that we humans have. And above all, it is meant to answer the ultimate question, “Why does anything exist at all?”
This is an unanswerable question—at least it is for our little brains. It doesn’t matter how you look at it. Even if you follow someone like Lawrence M. Krauss who claims that something exists because “nothing is unstable” you have to ask, “Why does this nothing that is unstable exist?” Or more simply, “Why is nothing unstable?” I think about this stuff far more than is healthy. And my thinking always ends up thinking about a universe that was always and forever will be creating and destroying itself. That, of course, makes no sense at all to us.
What’s the big deal? There are all kinds of things in the universe that make no sense to us. It is almost laughably easy to create logical paradoxes. Consider the Barber Paradox, “The barber is a man in town who shaves all those, and only those, men in town who do not shave themselves.” The problem is that this means the barber does and does not shave himself. This is just two logical bits of data and we have a paradox. The fact that the universe seems always to have existed but can’t have doesn’t seem that big of a problem to me.
That brings us to Genesis. One of the favorite bits of atheist lore (which I have used many times myself) is that in Genesis 1, Eve is made at the same time as Adam and in Genesis 2, Eve is made later from Adam’s rib. I don’t think this is a great observation. Existence itself makes no sense. Logic itself makes no sense. Why should the Bible make any sense? And more important, why does anyone think that a logical inconsistency disprove the Bible? It turns out, it is even worse than this.
If you look at the two verses of Genesis, they don’t really disagree. It is just that Genesis 1 tells the story much more briefly. This is all that it says about the creation of Adam and Eve (Verse 27):
Okay, so God created them. But did he create them at the exact same instant? I don’t necessarily read it that way. In Genesis 2, it is much more involved. In Verse 18, God notes that it’s bad for Adam to be alone, so he decides to make a “helper” for him. But it isn’t too pressing. God spends the next two verses forcing Adam to name all the animals. Then he makes Adam go to sleep and creates Eve from his Rib and all that. But if you just wanted to tell the story of the creation of man without getting into the animal naming and the rib operation, wouldn’t you write it more or less as it is in Genesis 1:27? I certainly would.
My point is that all this stuff about the Bible being inconsistent just isn’t that useful. In this instance, it doesn’t even seem particularly contradictory. What’s more, most Christians aren’t fundamentalists and so don’t believe the Bible in a way that would be helped by this argument. And the fundamentalists are a lost cause anyway. Bringing up picky arguments like this just make atheists look bad. No one will ever be convinced by such details, even when they are accurate.