God is Love. He perfect, omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnibenevolent (all good). Being Love in his very essence, he gives freely of himself to another, for the sake of the other, expecting nothing in return.
God created us precisely because He is Love, and desired to share himself with us freely, expecting nothing in return. In those notes I go over a few other pagan creation accounts, which were concerned with giving and explanation of the world around us, why we are often rotten people. Across the board, the pagan stories show us being tools (literally), or jokes, or accidents – never anything special. We’re universal byproducts, if what they teach is correct. The Jews lived in this culture, and were steeped in it. When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, they had as of yet no official religion, and were adopting the religion of the Egyptians, and thus living in spiritual bondage to false gods, not just physical bondage.
What the accounts of genesis show us (and bear in mind that there are two accounts, one in Genesis one, and one in Genesis two) are primarily the beauty of humanity, and also the consequences of our primordial falling away from God.
“The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.” (CCC 390)
Genesis one gives us six days, arranged thus:
4) Sun, Moon, Stars 5) Birds and Fish 6) Animals, then Man.
1) Light and Dark 2) Sky and Water 3) Land, then plants
On the 6 consecutive “days” of creation in Genesis, we see an ordered plan (not the random chaos of the pagan accounts). The first three days are the base days, the 2nd three days are the things which rule over the first. Sun and Moon to control “light and dark”, Birds and fish to rule the “sky and water” , Animals to live on the land and eat the green plants, and man to rule over all, and eat the fruits of the earth (poetically, not the vegetables, and none in this account ate meat).
Now Genesis 2 presents us this:
1) Light and Dark 2) Sky and Water 3) Land, then MAN…Then garden…then animals…then woman.
Both taken literally, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 would have a GLARING contradiction…but this is the divine author tipping his hand a bit, to show that they do not both have to be taken LITERALLY, but not being literal does not mean the same as being false. If I said that BCs football team “slaughtered” Baker’s football team, you’d not expect body parts strewn out upon the field, but rather a large score discrepancy (eg. 60 to 3). So too the divine author guided the accounts to underline certain key points. The first has man created last, as the pinnacle of creation. The second has him created before all other creatures, and all other creatures being created FOR HIM.
Consider also this: What is a day? 24 hours? Determined by what? The sun and the earth’s rotation, yes? Was there a sun on day one, two, or three? No. So when the scriptures call this a day (“yom” in Hebrew), it seems to again be a tipping of the cards to show that what is meant is beyond the mere literal reading.
NOW: that said, it is possible – that is, it does not imply a logical contradiction – that even without a sun God COULD have created everything in a literal 24 hour period. But if he did this, something funny would happen:
When God created Adam, how old did he make him? 20s? 30s? Younger? Older?
Nope. If this account is understood literally, then Adam would have been ONE DAY OLD at creation. But God didn’t create a zygote, a clump of cells, on the ground. He created a man. So Adam (which, incidentally, simply means “man” in Hebrew) was created with THE ILLUSION OF AGE. This does not imply any contradiction, either. And if he COULD create man with this illusion of age, he could do it to the entire world, so that though created in 6 literal 24 hour days, the whole universe would APPEAR older than it is. This is possible.
BUT, if he could created the whole thing to look older than it is, then I see no reason to suppose he couldn’t just create it with ACTUAL AGE. And, again, creating a literal, step by step account of creation was not the plan all along.
So while it is “permissible” to think that it was a literal 24 hour day, and it would be rather nice to see actual scientific proof of such a fact, one’s faith ought not to hinge on this, as sadly so many Christians today have their faith hinge upon it. Thus you get websites like “answersingenesis.org“, which most of the world laughs at. St. Augustine wrote aptly:
“It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation” (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1:19–20 [A.D. 408]).
“[A]t least we know that it [the Genesis creation day] is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar” (ibid., 5:2).