Of Water or of Land?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Those who reject the inspiration of the Bible have searched it tirelessly for hundreds of years in attempts to find a legitimate contradiction or discrepancy. Time and again their efforts have done nothing to strengthen their case, but have done much to strengthen the Bible’s credibility. In what appears to be skeptics “grasping for straws,” one of their latest allegations has been to assert that a contradiction exists between Genesis 1:20-22 and 2:19. These infidels claim that 1:20-22 teaches that birds were formed out of the water, whereas 2:19 teaches that they were formed out of the ground. What, if anything, can be said about their allegations?
The simple fact of the matter is that those who claim such a contradiction exists have misquoted the text and misunderstood its wording. We readily admit that Genesis 2:19 teaches that “out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air.” However, contrary to skeptics’ accusations, Genesis 1:20-22 does not contradict this statement. Rather, it reads: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound (swarm, ASV) with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind… And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth’ ” (NKJV). Where does this passage say that birds were formed from the water? It does not. It simply teaches that God caused some living creatures to appear in the water, and He caused birds to fly above the Earth. This passage does not teach that the waters were the cause of the fish, but the element of the fish, just as the air is the element of the birds (Barnes, 1997).
Bible scholars and apologists consider this “alleged Bible contradiction” such a lame attempt to disprove the Bible as the Word of God that relatively few have even bothered responding to it. Surely, they recognize that at some point in time common sense will allow everyone to see the shallowness of the critics’ accusations. The only reason this brief article was written is so that those who are contemplating the Bible’s inerrancy will not blindly swallow the critics’ allegations without first carefully reading what the passage says and what it does not say.
Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).