Biblical order of creation

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In the book of Genesis, God creates the universe. Many creationists who take Genesis literally use a peculiar argument in which they claim that the order of creation in Genesis exactly matches what scientists know today.


  • Day one: God creates heaven and earth, and light and dark.
  • Day two: God creates the firmament.
  • Day three: God creates land in the water, then plants.
  • Day four: God creates the sun and moon; then, as an afterthought, he creates the other stars.
  • Day five: God creates water animals, then birds.
  • Day six: God creates land animals, then Adam.
  • Day seven: God rests.

At this point, theists go into a convoluted attempt to shoehorn this with modern science, claiming that this is exactly the order in which all our modern science tells us things came into existence. Since it is highly improbable that Moses, writing the Old Testament, would happen to get all the particulars so right, he must have been inspired by God.


Actually there are several things in the ordering that don't make sense.

  1. If the sun, moon and stars were created on the fourth day, where was the light coming from on day 1? Was the universe filled with ambient light?
  2. What firmament? Apologists invented this as a way of explaining the great flood, but it is not a scientific concept.
  3. If God created plants on day three before the sun, how did they get food?
  4. The Genesis account doesn't jive with the scientific one. Although research does indicate that water life evolved before land animals, birds evolved after land animals. Also, plants didn't evolve until long after the sun was born.
  5. There are actually two creation accounts in Genesis. The first is from Genesis 1 Bible-icon.png and is the account listed above. The second is from Genesis 2 Bible-icon.png in which the earth already existed and God created everything in the following order: water, man, the Garden of Eden, plants, rivers, animals, woman. Some creationists say that the first account is the real creation and the second is just limited to the creations that took place in and around the garden, however, Genesis 2:5 Bible-icon.png states that nothing had yet been created on the entire earth, thus making the two accounts separate.

Those issues aside, getting some things in the correct order is hardly miraculous. It is true that there are many possible permutations of the order of creation as presented, but only a small subset of those permutations make any sense. For instance, does anyone seriously believe that the Bible authors might have written that "First God created people, then he created light and dark, then he made the sun, then animals, and then the earth, and then the universe which contains it last of all"?

The differences between the two stories can be illustrated with tables:

Feature Creation Story #1 Creation Story #2
God's name God (elohim) The Lord God (yhwh elohim)
God's mood Happy At the end, annoyed
Scope Cosmic Localized
Creation methods Commanding, separating Physically forming
Creation organization Systematic Improvised
JEDP identification P (priestly) J (Yahwist)

The first creation story has a system of creating environments, then creating inhabitants, as this table shows:

Environments Inhabitants
Day 1 Day 4
Day Sun
Night Moon, stars
Far Terrestrial
Day 2 Day 5
Sea Aquatic animals
Sky Flying animals
Near Terrestrial
Day 3 Day 6
Land Land animals, humanity
Plants "You may eat these"

Day 7: God was so happy about what he had done that he decided to take the first day off in the history of the Universe, which thus became the first Sabbath.

The second creation story goes

  • God creates Adam
  • Adam is lonely
  • God creates animals for him
  • Adam names them, but he is still lonely
  • God creates Eve for him
  • Adam is less lonely now
  • A certain mischievous snake convinces Adam and Eve to eat the very enlightening fruit of a certain tree
  • God gets sore at all three of them

These tables and the last list were originally at the Beacon Library (now defunct).