The Genesis 1 creation account conflicts with the order of events that are known to science. In Genesis, the earth is created before light and stars, birds and whales before reptiles and insects, and flowering plants before any animals. The order of events known from science is just the opposite

This question is about the cosmic events (stars, planets, etc). The current question is about the animals.

I checked the bible again

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So according to bible, birds are created before land animals (like reptiles). Science says that reptiles are are around before birds. Birds evolve out of reptiles.

How do we reconcile this?

I could match that ground animals mean mammals but that's pretty much stretching it. I could think that fish indeed show up first, and they are keep evolving even after the animals are being created. However, birds are descendants of ground reptiles.

So science says the sequence seems to be

  1. fishes
  2. reptiles (including ground reptiles)
  3. birds
  4. mammals

while Genesis says the sequence is

  1. fishes and birds (day 5)
  2. ground reptiles and mammals

Hmm... almost a match but not quite.

  • This is not duplicate. I am not asking the discrepancy in general. I am asking the sequences of animals.
    – user4951
    Jan 27, 2013 at 8:21
  • 2
    If you edit to make it more clearly about the animals, including in the title, we can reopen. (Also, you should cast this as why Genesis and science disagree, not why Genesis says something different than "what happened". Your wording implies that the torah account can't be what happened, but that's not a given here.) Jan 27, 2013 at 23:53
  • I am not saying that the torah account can't be what happened (it depends on how we interpret it). I am saying that the scientific theory is so strong there is no way it doesn't happen that way.
    – user4951
    Jan 28, 2013 at 1:56
  • I think you presumed that I think "hence" the torah must be wrong. No. I am open minded here. I mean how do we reconcile literally. I am impressed that a 5k years old book can get something "almost correct". But we need to go more than almost for God claims right?
    – user4951
    Jan 28, 2013 at 5:36
  • 2
    And Genesis 2 says the order is heaven & earth, rain, man, herbs and trees, land animals, birds, woman.
    – A L
    Jul 18, 2013 at 0:46

8 Answers 8


The Rambam says that the details of the chapter of the Creation (I suppose, Gen. 1 and 2) should not be taught to the masses lest they misunderstand or twist what it means (Guide to the Perplexed, 2:17). An implication may perhaps be drawn that the literal reading is not all that there is to the story of Creation and that, perhaps, it should not be taken as literal 24 hour days. It may not be discussing chronological order of physical creation but rather a more mystical discussion of the order of potential for creation. Some commentators say that the potential for everything was created in the six days, but it wasn't until the events in Genesis 2 that their reality was realized. And that reality might have been realized in a nature-veiled setting of 4.5 billion years of Earth, from guiding conditions for the first life to form until the desired present-day beings exist, all from a seemingly natural history.

  • When did Rabam lives?
    – user4951
    May 27, 2013 at 1:55
  • @Jim Thio 12th century.
    – Aaliyah
    May 27, 2013 at 2:27
  • And he said that long before Darwin... Hmmm... Impressive. What's his reasoning? That it doesn't make sense?
    – user4951
    May 29, 2013 at 7:29
  • @JimThio I doubt the Rambam believed in common descent. However his words could be understood to mean that he wouldn't rule it out either.
    – Aaliyah
    Jul 25, 2013 at 23:38
  • Nahmanides makes a similar point in the beginning of Genesis
    – Baby Seal
    Feb 4, 2014 at 4:48

This question was the root of an argument between Dr. Gerald Schroeder and Rabbi Natan Slifkin. Dr. Schroeder insists (in his book Genesis and the Big Bang, and in many public lectures) that the order of creation in the Torah is meant to be taken chronologically and is correct. He explained the flying creatures which existed before the land animals to be referring to certain species of winged insects which existed before land dwellers evolved (I don't know enough science to evaluate the veracity of that claim).

Rabbi Slifkin was bothered that, aside from it not being the straightforward implication of the text, this leaves the creation of actual birds absent - if the mention of "birds" on day 5 was insects, then actual birds were left out. Rabbi Slifkin instead proposed (in The Science of Torah, later revised into The Challenge of Creation) that the order of the days of creation is not meant to be taken as an actual chronological order, and that the Torah is merely just referring to "powers" of creation.

Rabbi Slifkin's approach sparked a raging debate in the Orthodox world, which I don't want to get into but am only mentioning as a way of pointing out that his approach was not by any means universally accepted.


Who says they must be reconciled?

God can create a one day old tree with rings.

Or stars millions of light years away with the light reaching here immediately.

also, evolution is just a theory. in my opinion it takes ALOT of FAITH to believe that life forms can evolve from inorganic molecules.

consider a upgrading windows XP to windows 8, something far less complex than upgrading a fish to the simplest flying bird or a three chambered heart to a four chambered heart. now type some random letters in the windows XP code. Is it possible that through trial and error you can upgrade the code? remember evolution must be advantageous each tiny step. Big changes are not possible through random mutations due to complexity.

yet, you'd need big complex changes to upgrade things since lines of code are all interdependent. changes must be coordinated with lots of other changes. there's a limit to what trial and error can accomplish in something like this

I recommend you check out the book "Not by Chance" by MIT Physicist Dr.Spetner

UPDATE: I found an article which explains in more details this fatal flaw in evolution. see: http://theoligarch.com/richard-dawkins-aliens.htm

Regarding the below comment, Gravity is not theoretical, gravity is proven and actual. Nobody can doubt its existence. If you want to test it, try jumping off something. On the other hand, evolution even after 100 years of research remains theoretical - it has not been proven. On the contrary, the more research is done, the more doubt on its validity as the above link shows.

  • 3
    Gravity is also just a theory. I recommend you check out all the works of Ivy League scientists who endorse evolution.
    – Double AA
    Jan 26, 2013 at 23:24
  • 2
    In any event, you just proposed a reconciliation. You suggested that the universe was created looking exactly as if it were billions of years old. So from a scientific perspective (ie figuring out how nature works) we are fully justified in treating the world as billions of years old, and making experiments and drawing conclusions based on that, because the world looks and behaves exactly as a billion year old world would. So who needs them to be reconciled? Apparently you do.
    – Double AA
    Jan 26, 2013 at 23:29
  • 1
    Look at free market. Imagine a government trying to create microsoft, apples. It won't work. But let to evolve by themselves under great system, great things happen.
    – user4951
    Jan 27, 2013 at 8:18
  • 1
    Your recent edits answer my previous comment clearly in the negative. Perhaps you should look into that field before you go telling others what a scientific theory is.
    – Double AA
    Oct 23, 2013 at 7:19
  • 2
    there's a clear distinction between the theory of gravity and the theory of evolution. gravity is actual and proven, evilution remains theoretical. you're using semantics to instigate trouble.
    – ray
    Oct 23, 2013 at 9:00

It occured to me while reading the Gen 1, that reptiles may be implied by the verses.

First check out this answer. The exegetical approach used therein is the one I am attempting to use.

Next, note the wording of verse 20, when water life and flying things are introduced:

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים--יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם, שֶׁרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה; וְעוֹף יְעוֹפֵף עַל-הָאָרֶץ, עַל-פְּנֵי רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם.

And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.'

And then in verse 21:

וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הַתַּנִּינִם הַגְּדֹלִים; וְאֵת כָּל-נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת אֲשֶׁר שָׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם לְמִינֵהֶם, וְאֵת כָּל-עוֹף כָּנָף לְמִינֵהוּ, וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, כִּי-טוֹב.

And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that creepeth/ moveth, that the waters swarmed, after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

The creeping things were not mentioned from the outset. This is as opposed to day 6:

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה לְמִינָהּ, בְּהֵמָה וָרֶמֶשׂ וְחַיְתוֹ-אֶרֶץ, לְמִינָהּ; וַיְהִי-כֵן.

And God said: 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.' And it was so.

וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים אֶת-חַיַּת הָאָרֶץ לְמִינָהּ, וְאֶת-הַבְּהֵמָה לְמִינָהּ, וְאֵת כָּל-רֶמֶשׂ הָאֲדָמָה, לְמִינֵהוּ; וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, כִּי-טוֹב.

And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good

also note a distinctive pazer mark above הָרֹמֶשֶׂת, which separates the phrase "and all the creeping things" From "That the waters swarmed".

Verse 21 could very well have read as follows:

וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הַתַּנִּינִם הַגְּדֹלִים; וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר שָׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם לְמִינֵהֶם, וְאֵת כָּל-עוֹף כָּנָף לְמִינֵהוּ, וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, כִּי-טוֹב.

And God created the great sea-monsters, and that which the waters brought forth, after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

שרצו‏ is translated by Onkelos as ארחישו‏, which can mean to bring forth, (look it up!)

Thus I assert that the phrase וְאֵת כָּל-נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת, refers to other crawling things, those that came most directly from water, (hence the juxtaposition), namely land reptiles.

And should you say, let the verse say "and that which the waters brought forth", here the verse tells of the actual creation of water life. By the actual creation of land creatures, (verse 25). it also mentions רמש‏ and it is separate from other types of animals. Just as it is separate there, it is separate here.

Also, note the phrase נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה, living creature, that is used in verse 20 and 24, when introducing new life forms. This same phrase is present in verse 21, on our creeping things, suggesting a new distinct life form. see verse 25 on day where the phrase is not used when the creative process is described. Just as those refer to new life forms, so does this.

The obvious question, of course, is why crawling things are mentioned both on day 5 and on day 6. To that question I would say that there are indeed many crawling things, such as rodents or insects, that are in a different category of crawling things than land reptiles, (land reptiles being more closely related to amphibians and to water life), that are meant by the mention on day 6.


The verse, even read simply, as is, could imply that the water brought forth crawling things that crawled on the land. Note that birds are mentioned last by the verse.

The the verse would mean:

And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that creepeth, that the waters brought forth, (meaning both things that are still in the water, and things that went on to the land, directly from water), after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

So perhaps we can say that the verse alludes to crawling things that came forth from the water and became birds, land reptiles.

Lastly, I think it is poignant that God blesses water life on day 5, but not life on day 6. See verse 22. The next blessing is given to man in verse 28. Is land life not blessed?

Perhaps we can say that Land life, and in fact all life, originating from water, (except plants), was already blessed by God, in verse 22, so further blessing would have been redundant.

And one last thought, the name of the cantillation mark I mentioned above, the pazer, פזר‏, means disperse, which perhaps hints at a dispersal of species from water!

Dr. Schroeder, Rabbi Slifkin, and a baby seal?! :D


According to Rashi's commentary on Genesis, the order of events presented therein is not to be taken literally.

He concludes a long comment on 1:1 with:

על כרחך לא לימד המקרא סדר המוקדמים והמאוחרים כלום

Perforce, you must admit that Scripture did not teach us anything about the sequence of the earlier and the later [acts of creation].

He backs this claim up by citing certain difficulties that would be presented if we assume that the Scriptural account does teach us the sequence of events. One is that the first creation mentioned, "the heavens," are in turn a product of fire and water, neither of which was previously mentioned as having been created. Another is that water is mentioned explicitly in 1:2, but again, is not listed previously as having been created.

Later, on 1:14, which reports the creation of the luminaries of the heavens, Rashi comments that they, along with all of the other items mentioned in the Creation account, were actually created on the first day, and just subsequently arranged.

מיום ראשון נבראו, וברביעי צוה עליהם להתלות ברקיע, וכן כל תולדות שמים וארץ נבראו מיום ראשון, וכל אחד ואחד נקבע ביום שנגזר עליו, הוא שכתוב (פסוק א) את השמים, לרבות תולדותיהם, ואת הארץ, לרבות תולדותיה

They were created on the first day, and on the fourth day, He commanded them to be suspended in the sky, and likewise, all the creations of heaven and earth were created on the first day, and each one was fixed in its proper place on the day that was decreed upon it. That is why it is written: "with the heavens (אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם)" to include their products, "and with the earth (וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ)," to include its products.

So, it turns out that according to [the tradition transmitted by] Rashi, the actual creation of all things took place before the day-by-day account described in Genesis 1, with a sequence not reported in the Torah at all. Genesis 1 recounts these items being "fixed into place," but it is not at all obvious what that means, given that they were created already.

With the actual sequence of creation now off the Scriptural table, there's no way to impeach it with observed evidence.


The verse's words read as follows:

And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.'

One could argue that there is an implication of the sea creatures finding their way on to land and eventually becoming birds. The only thing missing is the transitional species.

I don't think it is unreasonable to say that Gd only mentioned the species of creatures that were extant at the time of Adam's creation. So the transitional forms from amphibians to reptiles to birds, being extinct by the time of Adam's creation, were not mentioned at all.


First note that there is a grouping of animals into sea, air and land animals

This is part of the paralleling between "days" 1-3 and 4-6 of creation. The first 3 days describe the creation of the infrastructures and the next 3 days describe the "hosts", the things that fill and realize those infrastructures:

light/darkness || sea/sky || land (with vegetation)

luminaries || fish/birds || land animals

(Cassuto on Genesis)

This paralleling entails a) grouping all land animals together and b) describing them on day 6, in parallel to day 3.

In addressing man, the Torah grouped the less important ground reptiles with the more important livestock.

Indeed, livestock (cows, sheep,etc) evolved after birds.


Science proves nothing concrete re: creation because no scientist was there to observe, repeat, falsify. If you examine fossils you find that there is not a strict order of their appearance worldwide. It appears a lot of water was instrumental in drowning a lot of living things including plants - not strictly in accordance with text books.

Suggest each one who has an opinion do a detailed and scientific study on this. I took several years out of my life to do this, and even as a layman, can conclude that the biblical account taken as written is very feasible.

BTW, Genesis chapter two does not conflict with one. Two begins when the earth had not yet sprouted plants briefly established that point in time, then jumps over to day 6 when God created man. Then God creates more plants for the Garden in Eden on that day 6, (there is no mandate that He could not do that additional creation of plants and trees and the Hebrew text reads that way - for it was not yet day 7 when He rested from all creation). Whereupon, the text reads that God also created ADDITIONAL birds and beasts of the field again no mandate that He could not do this. Nothing in the text says that God compartmentalized certain categories of living beings such that He could not / would not create some more of the same at a later time! Then God created woman on the 6th day. Then He rested on the 7th day. See no conflict.

I've posted this here: http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/gen2_observe.htm

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