You are currently viewing Response To Keaton Halley’s Critique Of The Lost World Of Adam and Eve (Part 1)

Response To Keaton Halley’s Critique Of The Lost World Of Adam and Eve (Part 1)


On a young earth creationist website,, I stumbled across a paper criticizing The Archetypal view of Adam and Eve put forth in John Walton’s book The Lost World Of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and The Human Origins Debate. The paper is titled “John Walton Reimagines Adam and Eve” and is written by Keaton Halley. You can read “John Walton Reimagines Adam and Eve” by clicking here. In this blog post, I will be responding to Halley point by point. For the sake of my readers’ time, I’ll divide this blog post up into two instead of having one really lengthy response.

Halley rightly says near the beginning of his article that “Walton at least believes that Adam and Eve were a historical couple. But, he says, they were not necessarily ‘the first human beings, the only human beings or the universal ancestors of all human beings” (p. 103). In 2009, Walton held that there was both ‘material and spiritual discontinuity’ between Adam and prehuman hominids’ But now he is comfortable with the idea that Adam was ‘born of a woman’ (p. 76) and that, as N.T. Wright says in his contribution to chapter 19, ‘perhaps … God chose one pair from the rest of the early hominids’ (p. 177).” — Halley rightly summarizes some of the points Walton made in The Lost World Of Adam and Eve and I was pleased to see the lack of straw man arguments as is so typical of most young earth creationist authors. Halley goes on to write “However, Walton is severely misreading the Scriptures, erecting his case on a foundation of errors in judgment, logic, and exegesis.” and that his review will explore just a handful of Walton’s missteps. Let’s examine Keaton Halley’s responses to see if The Archetypal View Of Adam and Eve really is unbiblical.

Does John Walton Subvert Inerrancy? 

Keaton Halley writes “While claiming to believe in biblical inerrancy, Walton denies it in practice. He engages in doublespeak— saying, on the one hand, ‘Inerrancy pertains to that which the text affirms’ but, in the preceding paragraph, claiming that ‘the text affirms’ a falsehood—that people literally think with their hearts—an idea which he ‘can safely set aside’ (p. 201).” — Well, it’s a straw man, but at least it’s a small one. Walton does indeed affirm biblical inerrancy, as do I. I also define inerrancy as “The Bible in inerrant in all that it affirms” or “The Bible is inerrant in all that it intends to teach”. So, the question is; does The Bible intend to teach physiology, cosmology, biology, or any other scientific facts? Was part of what The Holy Spirit wanted to convey to the Israelites accurate cosmology and physiology? If so, then finding that the text says that we think with our entrails would indeed be an error. However, if The Bible only intends to record salvation history (e.g Adam and Eve cast out from the garden, the calling of Abraham, the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt, the death and resurrection of Jesus, et. al.) as well as theology (how to get saved, the attributes of God, et. al), and morality (e.g The Ten Commandments), then inerrancy isn’t undermined if you find false scientific ideas in The Bible.

In order for false science to undermine inerrancy, you need to discern whether the science is integral to the message the Spirit of God wanted to convey or whether it’s an irrelevant background feature of the text. This is why Walton thinks he can safely set aside the idea that we think with our entrails; no theology hangs upon such an affirmation. Look at some of these texts for example;

“Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

“Create in me, a pure heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:3 (KJV)

Does the theological message of these passages hinge on whether or not we literally think with our hearts? No, of course not. If you were to substitute the word “heart” for “brain”, the message would remain the same. God is saying that the thing you think with is what you need to use to trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5), what King David wanted God to purify (Psalm 51:10), and can be deceitful due to its corruption (Jeremiah 17:3). The physiology of the heart language is a mere incidental detail. It can be set aside and the scripture’s message remains in-tact.

The same goes with the Ancient Near Eastern cosmic geography. When Proverbs 8:27-28 says  “When he [God] made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep…” one of the points of the passage is that God created the sky. The fact that God created the sky is true regardless of what you think the sky is made of. The ancients believed the sky was a solid dome,1 and God accommodated His message to that belief.

As Walton pointed out in both The Lost World Of Genesis 1 and The Lost World Of Adam and Eve, some cosmic geography had to be accepted.

Halley goes on to say “In biblical imagery, however, the ‘heart’ was an idiom for the mind, just as
today it’s an idiom for love—no one thinks that the blood pump literally ‘loves’.” — But this is reading our modern perspectives into the biblical text. Yes, when we use heart language today, we mean it metaphorically. This is likely due to the same reason people still name their kids Adam, David, Jeremiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Daniel, etc. The Bible has had an immense cultural influence on Western thinking. We say things like “follow your heart”, “my heart is broken”, “I give my heart to you”, and so on and we know we mean them metaphorically. We know the literal heart is just a blood pump. But we cannot assume that those in the Ancient Near East knew what we know. Were they really aware that the heart language they employed was metaphorical and not literal? The burden of proof rests on Halley to show that they did. And that burden is not met by showing how we use “heart” language today. That is anachronistic, which is exactly the type of eisegesis Walton strives to avoid. 2

I am not unsympathetic to those who are uncomfortable with finding Ancient Near Eastern cosmology in the biblical text and thinking this poses a threat to biblical inerrancy. As I’ve written elsewhere, I too struggled with this idea. However, I have come to terms with it, primarily because of the time the staff at BioLogos took to respond to my concerns in “From the Mailbag: Why would God allow scientific errors in the Bible?” By Christy Hemphill,  Gregg Davidson,  and Ted Davis
on  September 15, 2016. I highly recommend that you read that article.

Halley rejects the idea of accommodationism on the ground that God never tolerated false thinking and often corrected it in scripture. He points to the fact that Jesus often corrected peoples’ misinterpretations of biblical passages in the gospel accounts. However, in all cases in which God/Jesus corrected someone’s interpretation of scripture or other incorrect thinking, it had to do with theological or moral matters, not scientific matters. I cannot think of one instance in which God in The Old Testament or Jesus in the New Testament corrected someone’s scientific beliefs. Perhaps having perfect cosmology and physiology isn’t needed to live the kind of life God wants you to live.

The Forming Accounts Of Adam and Eve

Halley writes “For Walton to maintain his thesis that Genesis is silent about the material origin of humanity, he must explain away the accounts of God forming Adam and Eve. Thus, his ‘core proposal’ is that those accounts ‘should be understood archetypally’— meaning they speak not just about individuals but about a larger group to which the individuals belong (p. 74). Regarding Adam, then, Walton claims that there is nothing unique about the fact that he was formed from dust. The Bible says that people in general were made from dust and return to dust.” — 

Halley has correctly summarized Walton’s view. Adam and Eve are archetypes of all mankind and all womankind respectively. They are historical individuals, but certain descriptions of them are not just true of them alone, but they are true of all of us. Being formed from the dust is not just true of Adam alone, it’s true of all of us. Being formed from the side of man is not just true of Eve alone, it’s true of all of us. Let’s take a brief look at the biblical evidence for this, shall we?

Genesis 2:7 says “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” The Hebrew word translated as “formed” is “Ysr” and “Ysr” does not always necessitate a material act of formation. Zechariah 12:1 is one example using the human spirit, something incorporeal.

John Walton, in The Lost World Of Adam and Eve, provides other examples. The following bullet points are excerpted from Walton’s book.3

• God speaks of events that are taking place as having been formed (NIV: “planned”) long ago (2 Kings 19:25//Isaiah 37:26; cf. Isaiah 22:11; 46:11; Jeremiah 18:11).

• When God forms the heart, the statement is not referring to the blood pump but to thoughts and inclinations (Psalm 33:15).

• God formed summer and winter (Psalm 74:17).

• A corrupt administration forms (NIV: “brings on”) misery for the people through its decrees (Psalm 94:20).

• Our days are “formed” by God (Psalm 139:16).

• Israel is formed by God (Isaiah 43:1, 21; 44:2, 21, 24; 45:11; Jeremiah 10:16; 51:19) as a people. Obviously, the individual homo sapiens that comprised the nation of Israel pre-existed the nation of Israel itself, therefore the “Formation” of Israel is not a material act of bringing new material things into being from non-being. The people who comprised Israel pre-existed Israel, yet the text says that God “formed” the nation of Israel.

In his book The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate, Professor John Walton writes “More than half of the occurrences are shown by context to be unrelated to material. Many of the occurrences listed above communicate how God ordains or decrees phenomena, events, destinies, and roles. Most of the occurrences not listed here could easily be translated by alternatives like ‘prepare,’ ‘ordain’ or ‘decree.’ …We, therefore, discover that our predisposition to understand ‘form’ as a material act has more to do with the English translation than with the Hebrew original.”4

*The Forming Account : Dust – The referent to dust simply means that man was created mortal. This is supported by a biblical passage in the very next chapter (Genesis 3:19), in which God says to Adam and Eve “Dust you are and to dust you will return”. Obviously, this is drawing from the imagery of decomposing bodies, which ancient Israelites would have been aware of as they collected the bones of their dead to put them into ossuaries a year after burial. It is not true only of Adam and Eve that dust they are and to dust they will return, it is true of all of us. What is true of all of us? That we are created mortal. Moreover, Psalm 103:14 says “For He [God] remembers how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14 says we are all dust. We are all formed from dust. Psalm 103:14 strongly implies that being formed from dust is not something unique to Adam, but true of all humankind. Moreover, The Apostle Paul alludes to this archetypal nature of Adam and Humanity when he contrasts Adam with Jesus in his first letter to the Corinthian church. In 1 Corinthians 15:47-48, Paul writes “The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.” (emphasis mine). Ecclesiastes 3:20 also supports the conclusion that when The Bible uses “dust” language of humanity, it is referring to our mortality. Ecclesiastes 3:20 says “All go unto one place. Are all of the dust and all turn to dust again.” (KJV). Wait a minute. All are of the dust”? Sounds like something true of more than just Adam if you ask me. Sounds to me like Eccelsiastes 3:20 is saying every person is formed from the dust.”

Further evidence can be found in Job 10:9: “Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?” Here, Job says to God that He molded him from clay. Obviously, no one thinks that Job was miraculously transformed from a clump of clay into a living human being. Nor does anyone think that Job himself thought that. While “clay” is not the same word as “dust”, it certainly indicates that ancient peoples’ could know full well that they were born through the process of natural procreation, yet say of themselves that God formed them out of earthly material. If Job being formed from clay doesn’t mean Job didn’t have a Mom or Dad, then why should Adam being formed from dust mean that Adam didn’t have a Mom or Dad. However, notice that Job does say “Will you now turn me to dust again?This implies that Job believed he “was dust” at a prior point in time, since He asks God if he’s going to turn Him to dust “again”. How can anything happen “again” unless it happened a first time?

What all this leads to is the conclusion that God created Adam to be mortal, and this trait that Adam has is true of all humanity. It is not only true of Adam. I am made from dust. You are made from dust. The Psalmist explicitly said that we are all formed from dust. Job said he was.

Now, lest you think this interpretation contradicts what Romans 5 says about human sin bringing death into the world, do note that Genesis says that God placed a tree of life in the garden and specifically says that He had to ban Adam and Eve from re-entering the garden, otherwise they would eat of the tree of life and live forever (see Genesis 3:20). If Adam and Eve were inherently immortal, they wouldn’t have needed a tree of life. So the very presence of the tree of life suggests that Adam and Eve were created inherently mortal. This does not come into conflict with what Paul says in Romans 5 because obviously if humanity is cut off from the remedy of death, death would come to us.

*The Forming Account: Rib

Halley wrote “As for Eve, Walton says she was not the result of surgery performed on Adam’s ribcage, even though that’s what the text indicates.” — Well, sure, if you only read Genesis 2 in an English translation with your modern awareness of surgery and anesthesia and don’t take into account how the relevant Hebrew words are used in other places in The Hebrew Old Testament, I’m sure you would interpret the passage as indicating that God put Adam under so he could remove a piece of his side and make woman.

But, let’s be responsible exegetes. Let’s not only look at our English translations, read our modern concept of surgery into the text, and let us see how the relevant Hebrew words are used in other places in The Hebrew Old Testament.

Halley says “Rather, as Adam went into ‘a deep sleep’ (Genesis 2:21), he dreamt about being
divided in two, with one of his halves becoming Eve. According to Walton, the archetypal truth this conveys is that ‘All womankind is ‘from the side’ of all mankind’ (p. 80)” — Correct.

Genesis 2 says God put Adam into a “deep sleep” and took a “rib” from his side to make Eve. The Hebrew word translated as “rib” is “Sela” which often refers to the side of a mountain or the side of the temple (See chapter 8 of The Lost World Of Adam and Eve for the biblical examples). What this implies is that God didn’t just take a piece of Adam’s side (rib), but took his entire side! He broke Adam in half! That’s pretty radical surgery, right? Well, as I pointed out in “Hermenuetics – Part 3: The Cultural Context” and in “The Cosmic Temple View Of Genesis 1”, we need to interpret scripture the way its original author and audience would have understood it. They wouldn’t have had any concept of anesthetized surgery. Anesthesia hadn’t been invented yet, so they wouldn’t have viewed God putting Adam to sleep as a sort of divinely caused anesthesia to keep him from feeling pain as He extracted one of Adam’s ribs.

So if anesthetized surgery isn’t what the text has in view, what is? Several commentators and Old Testament scholars do not believe “rib” is an accurate translation of “sela” because there is a Hebrew word for rib and it’s not sela. God put Adam into a tardemah and took Adam’s sela to make Eve.

The Hebrew word translated as “deep sleep”  is “Tardemah”. Several examples in the Septuagint translation of Old Testament instances of this phrase refer to a trance someone would go into to receive a vision from God (Abraham, in Genesis 15:12; Eliphaz in Job 4:13; Daniel in Daniel 8:18; 10:9; cf. Job 33:15) As John Walton notes “the Septuagint translators chose to use the Greek word ekstasis in Genesis 2:21. This word is the same as the one they used in Genesis 15:12, suggesting an understanding related to visions, trances and ecstasy (cf. the use of this Greek word in Acts 10:10; 11:5; 22:17 [NIV: “trance”]).”5

What the use of the word tardemah and sela suggest is that God put Adam into a trance, a visionary state. In this state, he saw a vision of God taking him and cutting him in half to make a woman. The point of the vision is that woman is ontologically equal to man.

Eve serves as an archetype for women. Just as all men are created mortal (from dust), all women are made from the side of all men (i.e all women are ontologically equal to men). Matthew Henry echoes this sentiment when he writes “Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”6 To be equal with man, to be under man’s arm to be protected, and to be loved by a man are true of all women, not just Eve. This was God’s intention for all women, not just Eve.

We can conclude that The Bible does not speak to the material origins of Adam and Eve, nor of humanity in general. Therefore, The Bible does not demand that we take a de novo view of Adam and Eve’s creation. Adam and Eve could have had parents, grandparents, great grandparents. Indeed, Adam and Eve’s ancestry could go back to lower hominids such as homo erectus, homo habilis, and Australopithecus. In other words, Genesis 2-3 does not rule out human evolution from lower primates.


Does John Walton Commit The False Dichotomy Fallacy? 

Halley wrote “While there is some merit to Walton’s claims about archetypes, the problem is that he regularly sets up the archetypal and individual interpretations as though one must choose between them. For example: ‘Once the forming accounts are recognized as archetypal, they cease to be meaningful in terms of chronology or history of material human origins” (p. 200). This is a false dichotomy. While Walton recognizes that Adam himself is both historical and archetypal, he doesn’t consider that ‘being made from dust’ can be both as well. But biblical archetypes often work this way. All believers ‘have been crucified with Christ’ (Galatians 2:20), yet this is only figuratively true of us because it was literally and historically true of Jesus.”

Walton never argued that because the formation accounts of Adam and Eve are archetypal that they, therefore, cannot be literal as well. He only argued that Genesis 2 makes no claims for material human origins. These formation accounts are telling us what humans were created to be, not what humans were made from. Indeed, the preposition “from” isn’t even in the original Hebrew. That was added by English translators. You could translate Genesis 2:7 as “God formed Adam from the dust of the earth” or “God formed Adam who is the dust of the earth.” Walton’s argument is that, whatever view we take of the material view of Adam and Eve has to come from outside The Bible since The Bible doesn’t go into detail the material manufacturing process. So, Keaton Halley is free to continue to hold the de novo view, but I’m free to be an Evolutionary Creationist as well. Since The Bible is silent on the matter, science must decide.

Halley wrote “Plus, we were literally made from dust in a collective sense due to the fact that we all go back to Adam.” — But this statement begs the question in favor of the de novo view of Adam’s creation. Might the biblical authors be saying we were “formed from dust” because Adam was made from dust and we were birthed from him? Possibly. But that’s an inference drawn from the presupposition that the de novo view is true. Thus, Keaton Halley reasons in a circle.

Biblical Arguments For The De Novo View 

Keaton Halley wrote “Furthermore, there is textual evidence that Adam was formed from dust in a unique, historical sense. For one thing, the references to others’ formation from or return todust occur in poetic passages, while Adam’s formation in Genesis 2:7 is historical narrative.”

This isn’t a very convincing argument. For one thing, why do so many people insist on separating poetry from history? Psalm 51 is poetry but it clearly talks about the historical event of David having Uriah killed and then committing adultery with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11). That’s what David is asking God to forgive him of in the Psalm.

Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 15:47-48 isn’t poetry. This is an epistle. It’s not in the Poetry genre like Psalms, Job, and Ecclesiastes are.

Thirdly, the fact that Genesis 2 is historical narrative doesn’t rule out poetic or metaphorical elements being present in the text. As Michael Jones of Inspiring Philosophy frequently points out in his discussion with young earth creationists, no one takes the entirety of Genesis 2 as woodenly literal. Genesis 2:24 says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (NKJV). No one interprets this verse as saying that a man and his wife are going to be fused together like siamese twins. This is clearly a metaphor for sexual union. So if “becoming one flesh” is a metaphor for sexual union in Genesis 2, why can’t “made of dust” be a metaphor for being made mortal?

“Also, taking v. 7 as a nod to Adam’s mortality may be anachronistic, since it’s not until 3:19 that God spoke of reversing the process and sending Adam back to dust.” — So interpreting scripture in light of scripture is anachronistic? Please.

With regards to Eve, Halley wrote “But if the text doesn’t describe Eve’s material origin and only points to the universal truth that women are natural counterparts to men, then we have no idea where Eve came from. She along with other women might have been around before this time. If so, then why could Adam not find a suitable helper and why would he be in a position to name the entire gender—saying, ‘she shall be called Woman’—if females were already a category familiar to him and they preceded him?”

I’m surprised that the first question in this quote even came up as Walton addressed it in his book. Walton has an entire chapter explaining that Adam and Eve were a priest and priestess serving in sacred space (the sacred space being the garden of Eden). Walton wrote “This was a huge task, and God, therefore, observes that it is not good for man to be alone. This does not suggest that no other people exist, only that Adam alone had been given the task of carrying out this commission in sacred space—formed for the role as discussed in connection to that verb above.11 Neither should we assume that the comment has to do with loneliness versus companionship and the psychological need for a “soul partner.” Likewise, we cannot import the idea resident in the statement of the blessing of the last chapter and conclude that Adam is in need of a reproduction partner. That is not under discussion in Genesis 2, and he would not be looking among the animals to resolve this. Rather, God is stating that the task is too large for him to do on his own—he needs an ally to help him in sacred space.12 Because of the nature of the task of serving in sacred space, the only appropriate ally would be one that is Adam’s ontological equal. One of the potentially confusing elements in the text is how the animals fit into what the text is conveying. They would have little connection to the concept of sacred space or priestly roles. In light of the position I am proposing, God brings the animals to Adam, and as he reflects on their roles and functions and names them, he finds that none of them is his ontological equal. God then shows Adam in a vision that woman is his ontological equal, and when he awakes she is brought to him and he recognizes that fact: bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh—she is comparable to man. The text then explains that, because of this ontological pairing, man will routinely leave the close biological relationship with parents to reforge what is an ontologically rooted relationship (Gen 2:24).”7

Short answer: God wasn’t saying “Oh shoot! Adam doesn’t have anyone to mate with! That’s not good. I better make one.” He was saying “Adam doesn’t have anyone to help him manage sacred space. I better prepare someone to be his assistant.”

As for why Adam should be in charge of naming the whole gender, I say why not? A question is not a refutation. We can ask why God commanded the Israelites to march around Jericho for 6 days prior to attacking it (Joshua 6). Doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s an interesting question, but it doesn’t pose any interpretive problems with the conquest narratives. We could also ask why God chose Adam to name all of the animals. Why didn’t God name all of the animals himself? After all, He created them.

None of what Halley has said in his paper has given me any reason to believe that Genesis 2 is teaching that God created Adam and Eve de novo.

*The Argument From Patching Up

Halley notes that the biblical text states that after God put Adam to sleep, took his side, and made Eve, God closed up the place with flesh. He says that this detail wouldn’t make any sense if this incident were taking place in a visionary experience. Halley said that the only reason to mention this detail is that actual surgery took place and the author wanted the reader to know that God patched Adam back up.

This argument is really weak. This could be a part of the vision. This could be something Adam saw happen to himself prior to waking up. This would be like saying that because Acts 10 describes the animals on the sheet being drawn back up into the sky that Peter must have seen actual animals descend from the sky, rather than experiencing this in a vision.

*”Adam Formed First, Then Eve”

Halley wrote ” In 1 Timothy 2:13, for example, Paul makes a theological point about the roles of men and women based on the chronology of their origins. He says, ‘Adam was formed first, then Eve.’ But this would be incoherent if Paul understood Adam’s ‘formation’ as a declaration of mortality rather than Adam’s individual coming into existence. Walton even admits that Paul is not using Adam and Eve archetypically in this verse (p. 95) but fails to recognize how this contradicts his interpretation of Genesis.”

In 1 Timothy, Paul was refuting Gnostic heretics in Ephesus who were teaching Eve was a divine spirit who gave Adam wisdom. Paul is saying women teachers should conform to Genesis. And whether Genesis is literal, metaphorical etc has no bearing on that distinction. But wouldn’t Paul’s argument hinge on Adam being materially made before Eve? No. He’s saying that Genesis is the text to teach from. Eve was deceived, not a teacher of enlightenment, and wasn’t the author of Adam.

Look at the verse in context. “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” – 1 Timothy 2:12-14

*The Argument From 1 Corinthians 11:8-12 

Halley says that in 1 Corinthians 11:8–12 (a passage Walton does not address), Paul says that just “as woman was made from man, so man is now born from woman.” Halley says that Paul distinguishes between what happened in the past and what happens today, yet treats both as historical events, indicating that Eve’s formation did not happen in some symbolic dream world but in reality.

I feel the force of this argument more than the others in Halley’s article, but I’m not so sure it’s a silver bullet against the Archetypal view. One might say that, since the woman-being-made-from-man’s-side imagery is meant to convey ontological equality, Paul is simply reinforcing that point by pointing out that men could not exist if not for women. We owe our existence in part to our mothers. Male and Female have a symbiotic relationship in the biological economy.

Addressing The Arguments Against Genesis 2 Being A Sequel To Genesis 1 

I agree with Halley that the first two arguments Walton gives for Genesis 2 being a sequel to Genesis 1. I agree that pointing out the supposed contradicting order of sequences of Genesis 1 and 2 aren’t very strong arguments, and authors like Hugh Ross have given very plausible answers for how the two sequences could be harmonized. That said, the rest of the arguments Walton gives, I find to be very compelling.

One argument Walton gives is that if Genesis 2 were simply a more detailed version of Genesis 1’s Day 6, then how in the world could all of the activity in Genesis 2 have taken place in 24 hours. This argument is one I’m familiar with, as it’s one I used to support the Day-Age view. Day-Ager Richard Deem explains the problem as follows “The text indicates that God planted a garden. This garden was not planted full-grown, since the text says that the trees were caused to sprout or grow (Hebrew tsamach). The amount of time allowed for the garden to grow is not stated, but would presumably take longer than 24-hours. After the garden had grown sufficiently, the man was placed into the garden to cultivate it. By this time, the trees were producing fruit so that Adam could eat. This process takes a period of time greater than 24 hours. Next, Adam was given the assignment of naming the birds, cattle and wild animals. The list includes only birds and mammals and does not mention fish or other lower life forms. Even so, it would require that Adam name at least 14,600 species (8,600 species of birds and 4,000 species of mammals). This would require Adam to name more than 10 species per minute (assuming he had the entire 24 hours). For those who believe in a young earth, it would require that Adam name not only all of the existing birds and mammals but all the ones in the fossil record also (since they would all have to be alive on day 6 – since no animal death occurred before the fall). This type of assignment would almost certainly double the number of animals Adam had to name. However, Adam did not have the entire 24 hours, since part of it was required for the planting and growing of the garden, Adam tending the garden, and God putting Adam to sleep to create Eve. Realistically, Adam would have to name at least 20 species per minute, including all the species found in the fossil record. Following this naming of the animals, no suitable helper was found for Adam. So, God put Adam to sleep, took at piece of Adam’s side, and created Eve. Adam’s response to Eve’s creation is also telling. Upon seeing Eve for the first time, Adam says “at last.” This is not exactly the response one would expect from a person who had waited for less than one day.8

This could either mean (A) The Day-Age view is correct, at least regarding day 6, or (B) That Genesis 2 is not talking about the same events as Genesis 1. Based on other evidences about both Genesis 1 and 2, I would opt for the latter. What does Halley say in response to this? Only that “they’ve been answered long ago” and refers to  Batten, D. (Ed.), The Creation Answers Book. I haven’t read that book, so I can’t comment on that. What I can say is that I’ve never encountered a rebuttal to the above argument that was even the least bit persuasive.

Halley’s response to the Toledot argument doesn’t take into account that Walton distinguishes between “recursive” and “recapitulation”.

Halley apparently thinks that what Jesus says in Matthew 19 rules out Genesis 2 as being a sequel. Halley argues that in Matthew 19, Jesus connects the “one flesh” couple in Genesis 2 with the “male and female” of Genesis 1 and says that God established marriage “from the beginning” (Matthew 19:4, 8). Therefore, Adam and Eve couldn’t have been born generations down the road. However, Walton does not argue that there’s a long gap period between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, simply that Genesis 2 comes after the temple inaguration/functional creation described in Genesis 1. How long does Genesis 2 come after 1? The text doesn’t say, and Walton doesn’t pretend to know the answer. It could be a day, 2 days, a week, or 100 years. Halley’s argument from Matthew 19 would show at most that Genesis 1 and 2 take place very close together in time.



This is the end of the first part of my response to Keaton Halley. The second part will be published tomorrow. So far, I haven’t found anything to make me reconsider going back to the fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis 2.


1: See Michael S. Heiser, “Genesis And Ancient Near Eastern Cosmology” —

2: John Walton is not alone. Michael Heiser, Peter Enns, Kyle Greenwood, and Tremper Longman III are among others who strive to understand The Old Testament in its ancient context and divorce interpretation from our modern pre-conceptions.

3: Walton, John H.. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (p. 72). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

4: ibid.

5: Walton, John H.. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (pp. 79-80). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

6: Quote taken from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.

7: Walton, John H.. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (pp. 109-110). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

8: Richard Deem, “The Literal Interpretation Of The Genesis One Creation Account”,

Liked it? Take a second to support Evan Minton on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply