Things that are not in the Bible: ‘In the creation account, God creates Adam and Eve, the world and everything in it in six days.’

Dan Gilgoff, religion reporter for CNN, unfortunately has reason yet again to be reporting on “creationism.”

As part of this report, Gilgoff recites a common bit of boilerplate about what creationists believe. It’s a helpful summary of those beliefs, but it also includes one common, but still indefensible, error that would be easily corrected by anyone actually bothering to read the first two chapters of the book of Genesis.

This is a pet peeve of mine, and it may seem like a minor point,* but it actually turns out to be rather important, contributing to all sorts of other mistakes based on this one.

Here’s Gilgoff. I’ve put the false sentence in bold:

Most creationists believe in the account of the origins of the world as told in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

In the creation account, God creates Adam and Eve, the world and everything in it in six days.

For Christians who read the Genesis account literally, or authoritatively as they would say, the six days in the account are literal 24-hour periods and leave no room for evolution. Young Earth creationists use this construct and biblical genealogies to determine the age of the Earth and typically come up with 6,000 to 10,000 years.

No. Adam and Eve are not part of the story of God creating “the world and everything in it in six days.” The book of Genesis does not say that “Adam and Eve” were created on the sixth day.

The first chapter of Genesis tells a six-day creation story and Adam and Eve do not appear in it. The second chapter of Genesis tells a one-day creation story and Adam and Eve are characters in that second, separate story.

This is not complicated. Bibles are not hard to find, and Genesis is not hard to find in those Bibles. And yet, over and over, we hear this same assertion repeated — that God created “Adam and Eve” on “the sixth day.”

Wrong story. Different story. Genesis simply does not say that. It doesn’t matter if you claim to read Genesis “literally” or historically, or allegorically, or mythically, or theologically — it does not say that.

Here is what the first story in the first chapter of Genesis says happened on the sixth day of the six-day creation it describes:

This is not a scene from Genesis 1.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind 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, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.

Aaand scene. End of story. No Adam. No Eve. In the first story and the first chapter in Genesis, God creates “humankind” on the sixth day of creation. Humankind was created “male and female” and is spoken of as plural throughout this story, but the story never says that only two humans were created on the sixth day. (Two doesn’t seem like much of a multitude.)

That same word for humankind — adam — reappears in the second story that begins in the second chapter, but there it appears as a proper noun, as the name of an individual character, Adam. In our English translations of Genesis, that Hebrew word adam is always translated into English in the first story — “humankind,” or “mankind,” or “man” — because there it is plural and clearly not an individual’s name or a proper noun. In the second story, however, the word is presented differently. It is capitalized and left untranslated to indicate that here — unlike in the first story — it is being used as the name of a single individual.

The same word is translated differently because it has a different meaning. It has a different meaning because it is being used differently in a different story.

Now, the creationists whom Gilgoff otherwise describes accurately go to great lengths to argue that the second creation story in Genesis is not a different story, but merely the same story told — inexplicably — a second time in different words. They twist themselves in knots to harmonize the two stories, blurring the stark differences in time and sequence. The question they never seem able to answer is, if these two stories were meant to be harmonized, then why didn’t the writer(s) of Genesis harmonize them? Or, at least, why didn’t the writer(s) make the two stories harmonize-able?

Why does Genesis give us two stories instead of one? For creationists, the answer seems to be that it’s for the same reason that God hid all those fossils in the Burgess Shale — to test our faith.

I don’t think that’s right. We have been given two stories. One tells us about God’s creation of humankind, spoken into being on the sixth day as the capstone of the creation of this world. The other tells us about God’s creation of Mr. Humankind, hand-shaped out of the dust on the first day as the cornerstone of the creation of this world. Two different stories with two different agendas — two different lessons. Pretending otherwise is likely to lead to getting both of those lessons wrong.

I don’t think this is splitting hairs. I think this matters in all the ways that Mr. Humankind — Adam — has come to matter for Christians thinking about everything from redemption to human rights.

In the documentary Hellbound, Ken Miller has a frustrating but revealing discussion with a couple of folks from the infamously hateful Westboro Baptist Church. Miller says something about humans being made “in the image of God” and Westboro Guy cuts him off. Westboro Guy says no, only Adam was created in the image of God. Everyone else, he says, is created in the image of Adam. And thus, WG explains, it’s perfectly cool to hate everyone else.

Westboro’s perverse theology has far, far more wrong with it than just that it fails to distinguish between the stories in Genesis 1 and in Genesis 2. But that confusion plays a role in their larger confusion.

I think it plays a role in a lot of larger confusions.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* Especially since Gilgoff’s report is about a U.S. Congressman, Rep. Paul Broun, Republican of Georgia, who sits on the House committee for science and technology. This man — a public official who oversees science policy for a nation of more than 300 million people, said this:

All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

Paul Broun believes in a global conspiracy of smart people determined to keep people like him from Jesus. Or something. All he’s really sure of is that the earth is younger than Jericho and that scientists are evil people.

TPM’s Benjy Sarlin first publicized this story: “Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA): Evolution, Big Bang ‘Lies Straight From The Pit Of Hell’.” Wonkette’s Doktor Zoom chimed in with commentary that gives Broun all the respect he deserves. And then various people who respect either religion or science (or both) piled on with condemnations of Broun’s ignorant disregard for truth, fact, God, the Bible, literacy, intelligence, the physical world, etc.

Here are some of my favorite responses:


"Important to remember that we didn't just appear at this point.Hispanic immigrants have been a ..."

Unspoken testimony
"And I just realized the Soros shit is projection on Koch Brothers & Murdoch."

Unspoken testimony
"Alright, I'm off to go swear at the President. I'll be back."

Unspoken testimony
"Yes. When we finally confronted such a person (a member of a small religious group) ..."

Unspoken testimony

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  • Jenny Islander

    I suppose that if you believe that Christianity means shouting hateful things at people all the time, doing drive-bys on blogs would be like shouting at as many people as possible simultaneously, and thus a fit activity for “the last minutes.”   But how can Shirley Phelps-Roper be sure that she is grinding salt into the wounds of the bereaved, as decreed by Fred–I mean, the Bible?  Shirley, shouldn’t you be ranting on some blog somewhere whose owner just posted notice of a death in the family?

  • …Leviticus 18:22; Genesis 19; Judges 19-21; Romans 1; Romans 9-11; Jude 7; 2 Peter 2-3; Amos 4:11 and so much more….

    The slavery of clobber verses, indeed.

  • Jenny Islander

    So I checked up on the verses Shirley Phelps-Roper dropped into her post to see whether it really was her and not somebody making a subtle joke.  As expected, they’re all about Sodom and Gomorrah, or not being a slave to one’s physical appetites, or words that the KJV translates in ways that sound naughty nowadays, or foreign customs that Jews are not to pursue, or Paul talking about human agency vs. divine agency and the nature of the covenant with Abraham, or that one time a rape and murder touched off a civil war that almost destroyed the tribe of Benjamin . . . so, in the mind of Fred Phelps, they are all about PENISES. 

    So I think it’s really her.

    Were we even talking about the Phelpses before she showed up?  What’s all the straw-man and catching-in-error stuff about?

  • Joshua

    Not that funny maybe. Actual velociraptors were a hell of a lot smaller than portrayed in Jurassic Park, so people wouldn’t actually be able to ride on one’s back.

    A little after the movie, a new species related to velociraptor was discovered called utahraptor, that is more-or-less like what was portrayed in the movie.

  • Lunch Meat

    God hates fags and God will NOT HAVE fag marriage.  He made that clear when he destroyed the antediluvian world. Christ warned, when you do that again, you will know that the end is near.

    What an interesting and valuable contribution to the conversation. Hey, let’s make a deal! In 17 years, when the first same-sex couples married in Massachusetts are celebrating their 25-year anniversary, if Jesus has indeed returned to destroy America, I’ll pay you $1,000. If he hasn’t, and in fact Massachusetts is a wonderful example of peace, happiness and harmony in the world, then we get to point and laugh at you like the liars and false prophets you are.

  • Barack Obama

    Great post, Fred. I’m a huge fan of your blog, but being President of the United States of America means that I usually don’t have time to comment. 

    I just wanted to say that I think it’s pretty astounding that your readers all completely trust that the person posting as Shirley Phelps-Roper isn’t a troll, considering that your comment system allows people to post under any name they want. I, however, am clearly not a demonstration of this, and am most certainly Barack Obama.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, we know she’s a troll. It’s just that the family to which she claims to belong seems to sincerely hold the beliefs she claims to have, and those are abhorrent beliefs that have a great deal in common with beliefs that are less abhorrent but much more popular, and pointing out all the ways in which the beliefs she claims and the beliefs related thereto are abhorrent and wrong is therefore a worthwhile way to spend some time regardless of whether she is who she says or believes what she says.

    And you are not half as clever as you think this trick demonstrates you to be.

  • JustoneK

    well, I’m convinced.

  • Joshua

    But are you the same poster as Nicolae Carpathia? That would get the tea partiers fired up nicely.

  • Barack Obama

    I don’t give a shit about the various benefits and worthwhile-ness of discussing these issues. You don’t feed a troll. That is rule number one of the internet. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Meh, I just flagged away (does that even do anything on Patheos?) Being from the land of the unfree I’m perfectly happy to mark hate speech for deletion.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Strangely enough, countering trolls’ arguments, one, entertains me, two, proves to onlookers that this is not a place where the trolls’ arguments are taken as gospel truth without challenge, and three, keeps the trolls from taking over the place. This probably has something to do with why I’m still talking to you.

  • P J Evans

     Could use editing to improve its readability and coherence.
    Also, the gays I know are generally nice people and better Christians than you seem to be.

  • The_L1985

     I honestly think it’s a case of “I was told a paraphrase of Gen. 1&2 as a child, and never bothered to look it up because clearly I already know what it says.”

    After all, while I knew about Rahab’s role in helping Joshua, I was an adult before I actually read the book of Joshua and found out that she was a prostitute.

  • The_L1985

     There are not enough likes in the world.

  • The_L1985

     That doesn’t make sense either.  Chapter 1 has YHWH creating the universe, and planet Earth, and all the people, plants and animals.

    Chapter 2 has YHWH creating the earth, putting Adam on it, then bringing the animals to Adam to see what he would name them.

    If you can’t understand that those are 2 different stories, you have a problem.  Why would anyone create the same earth twice?

  • The_L1985

    “It is misleading to call אֱלֹהִים “grammatically plural,” because even
    though it is morphologically plural, it takes a singular verb—notice
    וַיִּבְרָא and בָּרָא, rather than ויבראו and בראו, which would be
    required if אֱלֹהִים were truly plural.”

     I honestly think this is a case of the narrative evolving as the religion evolved.  Early Judaism, from what archeologists can tell, was probably henotheistic rather than pure monotheistic.  (Henotheism = “Other gods exist, but we only worship our god because he’s the best!”  Monotheism = “There is no god but our God.”)

  • The_L1985

    “At the end of the day, all your blather and hopes of catching us in
    error, won’t change Leviticus 18:22; Genesis 19; Judges 19-21; Romans 1;
    Romans 9-11; Jude 7; 2 Peter 2-3; Amos 4:11 and so much more”

    It also doesn’t change Luke 6: 27-42, Matthew 25:31-46, or any of the other 3,000 verses that boil down to “Don’t be a dick.”

    Also, I’m pretty sure you’re not the real Shirley.  Please stop trolling the thread.

  • The_L1985

     I could handle feathers, but this really disappoints me.

  • Mrs Grimble


    As Ronald Reagan said, the eight most terrifying words in the English
    language are, “To understand, you must see the PowerPoint presentation”.

    Nowadays it’s “You MUST watch this Youtube video!”

  • Carstonio

    Wait – when did Reagan make that PowerPoint comment? That software didn’t come out until more than a year after he left office. 

  • Mrs Grimble

    Actually, I suspect that was the real Shirley P-R dropping her comment bomb here – the whole writing style, plus the Bible knowledge, is just too accurate for the average troll.  
    BTW, I have just noticed that her birthday is  October 31st.  Sometimes the jokes just wrote themselves don’t they?

  • Shirley Phelps-Roper

    One more thing – if you discern a mystery and you don’t have understanding, you will LOVE Deut 29:29 it generally says – The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children so that we can keep the commandments. Put like this – OBEY GOD and wait upon him for wisdom and understanding. – he giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. ASK – seek, OBEY.

  • Shirley Phelps-Roper

    PS. About that “Coming Out” shall we stick with the COME OUT from among them and be Ye separate and touch not the unclean thing and THEN God will be your Father and you his children. Plus that serious Rev 18:4 COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE that you be not partaker of her sins AND recompense. #DoTeRead #DoTheRoar Love you.

  • zzxjoanw


    I’m so sorry you’re afraid. Remember, God is Love.

  • Carstonio

    Excellent point about fear. I strongly suspect that people who abuse their children are motivated at least party by fear of their own parents, and that may be at work with Fred Phelps.

    TW: description of abuse

    When we were younger it was a barber strap. That thing got so shredded
    at the ends that it would wrap around the sides of our legs and tear the
    skin. It was kind of like a cat o’ nine tails. When I was about 8 or 9
    he introduced us to a Mattock handle, which is a farming instrument or
    tool that you use to pull up roots, and it’s got an axe head on one end
    and a hoe head on the other end. It’s big. You know, take a baseball
    bat, add maybe 30 percent to that…
    …He would beat us anywhere from the lower part of our back down
    to behind our knees and he swung it hard, he swung it like a baseball
    bat. And oftentimes what would happen is there would be eight or 10
    strokes and then he would go into a 10- or 15-minute screaming session
    with what we were doing wrong and how it was defying God and that we
    were evil. You know all of these religious-based threats and insults to
    the children and then he’d go back to the beating and by then the skin
    has stretched tight from the damage. So the next blows would just split
    the skin and so you’d get blood.

  • Jenny Islander

    “If you discern a mystery and you don’t have understanding” sounds like in-group jargon to me.  Can you rephrase that in plain English?  Is the point of “If you discern a mystery and you don’t have understanding” that we, not having grown up with Phelps’s particular set of buzzwords, won’t have the insider’s emotional response and therefore can be dismissed from thought as lesser beings?  That’s a rather common technique used in cults, by the way.

    Also, what is the point of extracting a single sentence from the midst of Moses’s long discourse about the two ways, the blessing and the curse?  Does it prove something?  To whom?

    And, once again, were we even talking about you in any way shape or form when you decided to accuse us of trying to prove you wrong?  Are you sure you’re at the right blog?

    (And how exactly is pointing out that “God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day” is not actually in the Bible a straw-man argument?  Against what?  Against poor reading comprehension?)

  • Vermic

    TW: description of abuse

    Fred Phelps is basically a trigger warning given human form.

  • mcc

    “separate and touch not the unclean thing”

    Oh, honey. You are way too late on this one.

  • Consumer Unit 5012


    my mom helpfully explained to me that cavemen evolved from apes, then
    God created adam and eve, and their sons interbred with the cavemen,
    which is how the only two humans at the beginning of the story could
    have three children, all of them sons, and there still end up being a
    human race.

    That’s also the ‘explanation’ in a book I had as a kid named Science Made Stupid.

  • Consumer Unit 5012


    my mom helpfully explained to me that cavemen evolved from apes, then
    God created adam and eve, and their sons interbred with the cavemen,
    which is how the only two humans at the beginning of the story could
    have three children, all of them sons, and there still end up being a
    human race.

    That’s also the ‘explanation’ in a book I had as a kid named Science Made Stupid.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I’m mildly surprised that he hasn’t tried to murder anyone he sees who he believes to be gay.

    I’m not.  I’m inclined to agree with the theory that the Phelpses are a bunch of grifters whose entire business plan is to be so odious that every so often someone will take a swing at them, or throw garbage, or do something to them that they can sue over.  Not for nothing are all of them lawyers.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     That’s horribly unfair, Lunch Meat.  Why should we have to wait 17 years to point and laugh at the Phelpses when we can do it right now?

  • Well, the shift from henotheism to monotheism isn’t even archaeological, it’s right there in the text if you’re looking for it (most commonly cited verse: “Thou shalt have no other gods *before* me.”)

    As for narrative evolution, that is certainly a valid way to look at it. It’s just that some people claim that the E Source as we have it is polytheistic, and I don’t think you can argue for that. That it shows signs of having evolved from a polytheistic source, sure, but by the time it reached the form we have it in it Elohim already refers to just one God.

  • Artemis

    I fail to agree. Maybe it is the wording in the copy I am looking at, but the second story seems to simply detail out the first story a bit more. I mean – my copy says our image, and male and female he created them – and it’s the “our” that gets me. Them sounds like Adam and Eve – only the two. Our sounds like God and a few of his drinking buddies messing about creating the world. The second story then explains how all the plants were created, without rainfall, and how man was made from dust.  
    Are you saying there are two seperate events during which God & his buddies create all the worlds plant life? Truly – the “our” must be taken literally as the rest, yes?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Genesis 1: plants, then animals, then man and woman simultaneously.

    Genesis 2: man, then plants, then animals, then woman.

    This is one of the many reasons why we do not take Genesis literally. Though attempting to reconcile the two accounts produced one of my all-time favorite stories, in which the Genesis 1 woman is Lilith, the Genesis 2 woman is Eve, and the reason Adam prefers Eve to Lilith is Lilith insists on being treated as Adam’s equal and Eve is more submissive.

  • As I pointed out during a recent discussion (maybe in this post?) when I learned/realized that the word for Lord, elohim, is actually plural in form, many languages use something roughly equivalent to the so-called “royal we” when speaking of their exalted beings.  So, no, there’s no reason to think that “our” must include someone besides God.

    ETA: Ah yes, it was indeed this post, towards the end of the first page, and confirmed early in the second.

  • Fcowan51235

    Lots of lost souls on this forum. I wished you would read the Bible and follow the one and only God, and his son Jesus Christ. There is a day of judgement coming, and if you don’t surrender yourself to God, on that Day, it will BE TOO LATE! Praying some on the forum sill see the Real Light, not some nonsense coming from a Prideful Person that thinks he/she is the only answer..Pride is just another Sin!

  • EllieMurasaki

    some nonsense coming from a Prideful Person that thinks he/she is the only answer

    Fcowan51235 has achieved enlightenment!