Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible
HUMANIST ACCUSATION: Genesis 1:20 says the fowl were created out of the waters; Genesis 2:19 alleges they were formed from the ground.
You should already know how to figure out the answer based on what you have learned in the previous chapters. Genesis 1:20 describes the creation of birds and in Genesis 2:19 God is showing the birds to Adam to see if any might be a suitable helper. See? The answer is simple
However, let’s not move on so quickly. As Satan did, the humanists have misrepresented what God said. That is not something we can just let pass. Let’s read the verses the humanist is referencing. Here this the first one:
Then God said, Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. - Genesis 1:20 (NASB)
This is straightforward. God spoke, and it happened. He filled the lakes and oceans with fish and created the birds (and other flying things) so that they could fly through the skies. All of them created by God speaking them into existence, not by God making them out of water. I am using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) translation. However, maybe the humanists are reading a different translation. Let’s see what the KJV says:
And God said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” - Genesis 1:20 (KJV)
I suppose the phrase “let the waters bring forth” could imply fish, and possibly fowl that fly, were created from water.
You may have noticed that the NASB translation is different from the KJV. No, the Bible was not changed. The KJV is an English translation done nearly 400 years ago. Language changes. The meaning and use of English words change and current translations reflect that.
I recently heard someone claim the Bible is like the telephone game, each English translation is based on the previous translation in a long chain going back thousands of years. With each new version, they claimed, errors invariably are introduced and accumulated over time. That is absurd. New translations are made directly from the oldest and best Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) manuscripts. For example, when the King James was translated (1611) the Dead Sea Scrolls had not yet been discovered. The Dead Sea Scrolls date from the third century BC and they were discovered in the 1940’s. They are typically consulted for modern translations . BTW, the Dead Sea Scrolls did not change anything in the Bible. God has preserved His word throughout the millennia.1
Also, consider this; if the English Bible was translated in the manner of the telephone game, each new translation being based on the previous English translation, and new translations in other languages proceeded in the same way, think about what would happen. After a while the Spanish, German, and the various Asian and African language versions would read differently than the English version. They would gradually diverge in different directions as errors crept in. However, what you read in Spanish, Russian or French is the same as the English Bible. Not because they are translations of the English, but because they use the same Hebrew and Greek source materials.
Have you ever wondered what the original Hebrew says, if it was literally translated? Unlike Greek (the original language of the New Testament) Hebrew translated word-for-word is difficult to read in English. Some languages are like that. Here is a word-for-word translation of Genesis 1:20.
And birds life that has the moving creature the waters Let bring forth abundantly God And said God And created of the heavens firmament the open in the earth above [that] may fly the waters teemed [with] which that moves living creature every and great sea creatures.” - www.BibleHub.com/interlinear/genesis/1.htm
Hard to read, isn’t it? There are languages in use today that are similar, in that the word order is very different from how we speak in English. As a result, an exact word-for-word translation does not work well.
However, translating the Hebrew directly to English reveals the structure of the original. It is a structure that is common in Hebrew. It starts with a broad overview, the creation of flying things (birds)2 and fish. Then it provides some details: these came about because “God said.” Then there is still greater detail: the moving creatures in the water are to reproduce abundantly, and the birds are to fly in the sky. Finally, it returns to a broader view again, the waters are teem-ing with every kind of moving creature, including—emphasizing here that there was every kind of sea creature—great sea creatures. This “hourglass” structure is common in Hebrew. A broad view at the top, a narrow view in the middle, and returning to a broad view at the end.
The original language makes it clear flying things and fish were not created from water. They were spoken into existence.
I apologize for jumping into the Hebrew. We did not need to go there to prove humanist’s accusation is false. However, it is interest-ing to see how structure, in addition to words, can be important to understanding the meaning. If you need help understanding a verse, there is a way to get another view of the verse without knowing He-brew… look at multiple quality translations. For example, I am us-ing the NASB in this book. You could also check the KJV (as we did), and that helped reveal the source of the problem. Other good translations are the NKJV, ESV and CSB. You do not need to buy all of these; you can read them online at web sites such as www.BibleGateway.com or www.BibleHub.com. The archaic wording and structure of the KJV, although perfectly clear to people 400 years ago, is not clear to most of us today. Reading the NASB it is clear that scripture IS NOT saying God created fowl out of water. God spoke them into existence as He did with everything else.
I have spent much more time on this than I anticipated, but I hope you have learned a little about Bible translation. Let’s move on to the second verse they reference:
Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.” - Genesis 2:19
Once you have read the verses the humanist references, what next? Read the context of those verses.
What is the context of verse 2:19? It is day six of creation. In a search for a helper for Adam God is showing Adam all the animals, and Adam is naming them. How does God do this? One option would have been to teleport the animals to Adam’s location. That, however, was not the option God chose... and besides, it might have been a little traumatizing for the animals.
What God did was to form an example of each animal, and each type of bird, from the ground. This was not a new creation. It simply was God's way of showing the animals and birds to Adam.
There is no contradiction here.
According to Genesis 6:19-22, God ordered Noah to bring of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort . . . into the ark. Nevertheless, Genesis 7:2-3 relates that the Lord ordered Noah to take into the ark the clean beasts and the birds by sevens, and only the unclean beasts by twos.
Do you have the answer? Do you know the first step in getting the answer? That's right... read the verses.
Tap or click here to read the verses and get the answer...
Footnote 1: Read the notes in the front of your Bible to learn which sources were used in making the translation you are reading.
Footnote 2: The Hebrew word translated as “birds” in English actually is referring to flying things in general. God classifies life in a different way than we do. This applies to “fish” also. Our human created classification system distinguishes between fish and mammals that live in the water. God does not make that distinction.
Everything is falling apart, nothing makes sense anymore. What's happening?
What is happening is that the world has turned away from God. When nations turn away from God, strangely enough, God turns His back on them. We find out what it is like to live without God.
There is only one thing to do... repent, turn to Jesus Christ in obedience. Jesus said:
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. - John 14:15
This can only be done on an individual basis. Don't look to others turning to God and making things better for you. YOU must repent, turn away from disobedience. Love God! Obey what He says. Read the Bible to find out what He says.
It happens one person at a time, starting with you. Don't put it off today. Turn to Jesus Christ, God who came to earth in human flesh to save us from the penalty we've earned as a result of our disobedience (sin). He will do it! ...
BUT ONLY when you believe this is true and put your trust in Jesus. Trust Jesus today. Repent (turn away from what the world wants and to what God wants).
Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” - Matthew 4:17