And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens."

Genesis 1:20

 

Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

Genesis 2:19

 

The Claim: Genesis 1 says God created the animals out of the water, whereas Genesis 2 says God created the animals out of the ground. That's a contradiction.

 

The Explanation: The claim is mistaken here. Genesis 1:20 is talking about the fish and sea creatures (and later the birds). Genesis 2:19 is talking about the beasts of the field, aka the land creatures, and not all animals altogether. If Genesis 2:19 was talking about all the animals, there would not be a distinction made between the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. The appropriate passage in Genesis 1 is this:

 

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds - livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:24-25

 

Genesis 2:19 is clearly linked to Genesis 1:24-25, and not Genesis 1:20, which talks about the sea creatures. One other difference to note is that Genesis 1:20 describes the 5th day of creation, whereas Genesis 1:24-25 describes the 6th day of creation. However, this difference in days still does not create a contradiction with anything in Genesis 2, because Genesis 2 does not reference the specific days of creation.

 

To give a simple summary, there are 3 main classifications for animals that these 3 passages talk about. They are:

 

1. The fish and sea creatures

2. The birds of the air

3. The beasts of the land

 

Genesis 1:20 is referring to groups 1 and 2, Genesis 2:19 is referring to groups 2 and 3, and Genesis 1:24-25 is referring to group 3. There are no contradictions here.