The origin of the world has been a topic for discussion since the early days of theology. We can all see this matter around us; the sun, moon, trees, and wildlife, but where did it all come from? The first book of the Bible, Genesis, gives two separate explanations for this phenomena. In Genesis 1:1 through 2:3 the first account of creation is given, and in Genesis 2:4 through the end of chapter two the other explanation for creation is described. These two stories depict creation in different ways, but the underlying story in Genesis 1 and 2 are fundamentally the same.
In the first story of creation, Genesis 1:1 to 2:3, creation is depicted in a very orderly manner. Everything from how the universe was created to the making of humankind is laid out on a day-to-day agenda. The story consists of seven days, and thoroughly describes exactly what God created on each day. The second story does not have a certain laid out pattern as to the order of creation. It does state basically the same points of creation as in the first story, but it does not put everything in such a strict pattern of events. Both stories begin by describing what the universe was like before the time of creation. The first version depicts a formless void or basically a shapeless space. It is suggested that there is water in this space, because it is stated that a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. The second version says In the day that the Lord God made the Earth and the Heavens suggesting that there wasnt anything in the universe until God created it. This version also says that the water came from beneath the earth to water the whole face of the ground. Whereas, in the first version God created a dome to separate waters that were already in existence, and then God gathered all the water inside the dome into one place so that dry land would appear.These two versions accomplish basically the same goals, how the world was formed and what the universe was like before creation, but they accomplish them each in its own way.
Another variation between the two stories is in the order that nature is created. In Genesis chapter one, God first created light. Then God created the sun, moon, and stars. Next, all sea creatures are created. After that God created all the Earth creatures. God then created humankind (male and female) to rule over all that he had created. Finally God rested. In the second story God first creates the Heavens and the Earth from which water rises up to water it. Then God creates man, Adam, out of the dust of the earth. After that God creates all the animals of the earth. Finally, God creates a woman for Adam out of one of Adams own ribs. This version suggests that God only created two humans, and from them the entire population of the world was produced. Whereas, in the first version God created a number of humans, male and female, to reproduce and spread out over all the Earth. The order in which different things are created also differs between the two versions. For instance, man was created directly after the creation of the Earth in the second version, but in the first version man was the last thing that God created. Also, plants and animals were created before humans in the first version, but in the second version plants and animals are created after man. Once again, the same goals are accomplished through each story, the order in which everything in the world was created, but each in its own way.
Each story also gives a depiction of God. In the first story, God is an extremely powerful being that has the ability to bring things into existence just by speaking. This divine word is stressed over and over in the first story showing Gods awesome power. For instance Then God said Let there be Light; and there was light. Even though God is depicted as this awesomely powerful being, it is suggested that there is friendship and a level of equality between God and humans. God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them. By showing that humans are created in the likeness of God, it suggests that humans are almost on an equal level with God. There are still passages showing that God is Superior to humans, but God is very pleased with his creation of humans. In this first account, God is also given a number of human characteristics to help humans relate to God. For example God saw that it was good, Then God said, and God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day. These verses give God human characteristics such as sight, speech, and even fatigue. Not to mention that God has the same image as human beings, because all humans were created in Gods image. This first depiction of God puts an emphasis on the human aspects of God to help those who believe in God better relate to him. It also suggests that there is a close relationship between God and humans, and yet at the same time God possesses powers beyond imagination.
The second version of creation depicts God a little bit differently. First of all, God has to actually form a human being out of dust. Man doesnt magically appear when God speaks, but rather God has to physically mold him out of dust. This version says, Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree and also out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air. This suggests that God must, once again, physically mold everything in nature out of the Earth. There also isnt a suggestion of a friendship factor between God and man. It says that God wants what is good for man, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper as his partner, but God is definitely depicted as being very superior to human beings. God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and keep it, and also the Lord God commanded the man. These verses suggest that God uses humans to work in his creation and keep it nice, and also that God commands humans to do certain things. This second version of creation depicts God as being superior to humans, because God uses humans to do work for him. Also, God is shown to be less powerful than in the first version where God has the power of divine speech. Just as God is depicted in these stories of creation there is also given to us a description of human beings.
In the first version, God makes humans the rulers over all creatures on the earth, and gives them all the plants on the earth as food. God also says that humans and all he has created are good. And God saw that it was good is a line that is said five different times during the first story of creation giving us the impression that humans were very pleasing to God. The second version gives a different depiction of human beings. This version never compares the human image as to that of God, but rather that man is made from dust. Man is also given more responsibility in the second version. Man has to till the garden and keep it up, and also he is given the responsibility of naming every living creature on the face of the earth. Man is in favor with God in this version also, but not to the extent of the first version. The second version never says that God is pleased with man or of anything that God has made. It is only said that God wants what is good for man, showing that God cares for man, but does not necessarily enjoy him as in the first version.
These two separate versions of creation give a good explanation for the existence of the world, but they also raise an important question. Why would the Bible, the foundation of Jewish and Christian religion, give two different accounts for creation? It seems odd to have two contrasting views on such an important subject. I dont know that there is an answer as to why there are these two different versions. I believe the reason to be that the writers of the Bible want to stress the underlying story that God is the creator of all things. Even though the stories are different from one another they both stress the fact that God is very real, and there is a powerful being out there to which we owe our entire existence on this planet. This shows that we should be thankful to God, because without him we wouldnt even be here. I also believe that these versions show that the Bible is a guide to Christians and Jews not a factual history book. These different stories of creation show that the facts in the Bible might not be exact, and the stories are given only to stress the fundamental beliefs of Christianity and Judaism. God is the creator of all things, and for this we owe him our deepest respect and gratitude.
In conclusion, the first two chapters of Genesis give an explanation for the existence of the universe. Even though the way in which the world is created differs from chapter one to chapter two, the fundamental principles behind the two stories are the same. I believe that this is the main point that the writers of the Bible are getting across to show that we should dedicate our lives to God, because he has given us life. Life is precious, so we should do our best to give back to God all that we are capable of in order to show our gratitude for this precious gift we have received. Even though we may fall short of perfection at times we should still strive to please God, and show him that he has truly created something beautiful.