Regarding Genesis 1 and 2, I’ve often heard an offhanded and basically unsubstantiated comment to divert attention away from creation and evolutionary debates. Indeed, reading my own blog, you might see a variation of that very comment when I discuss conclusions from the text: the emphasis is not on the What or the How as much as the Who.
That is still true. The text is emphasizing the person of Elohim over the celestial objects, over the waters, over mankind—but some have used that very real main point to detract from the fact that the text does actual contain “what” and some “how” in it as well. Yes the text says that the Who is Elohim but it also expressly says What He did (he created) and how (by speaking).
And yet, even while heavily emphasizing a Who these same people often come up with an alternate What and an extra-biblical How. It’ is not that God is creating—that occurs in verse one—they might say, it’s that He’s assigning roles for his created temple (indicated by the word “rest”). So they’ll read the English word “Let” and “Make” and they see assignment as in “Make me a King” or “Make me the Art Director for this job”. The person isn’t being created into a King or an artist but they’re being assigned to that role. And, they’ll add, the text is absolutely silent on the process (begging the question, methinks): Science—God’s second book of revelation—tells us how all things were made.
Now the assigning of roles might apply in some of the days (The fourth day for example and the assigning of roles to the lights to govern; the sixth day and the assigning of people to govern over the earth) but what role is there being assigned to light in verse 3? The passage says it was dark then God said “Let there be light” and then there was light—that’s no assigning at all but creation (it wasn’t there—now it was).Same thing with the vegetation. God doesn’t merely assign the role of Earth as vegetation producer; rather he says it and it happens (and it was so…the earth brought forth vegetation Gen 1:11).
And it really doesn’t even take into account the fact that there is no “Let” before the “there be” in this passage in the sense of assigning roles whatsoever. What it says is “Be” which as a divine utterance that brings things into being. This even applies in Gen 1:14 where we see the words “Be Lights”. So even if you hop down to verse 20 where one might try to argue heavily that the waters produced these creatures, we see that God creates all of them just as he created the heavens and the earth in verse 1 and 2.
Now as to the how (if it was an evolutionary process or not) I think it’s pretty safe to say that the passage doesn’t tell us that the creatures in the waters came about by divine selection and mutation. In the verses that matter (v 26) the verb bara (to create) which might mean made-from-pre-existent material is used, but also we see, another word coming to the fore (barak to bless) which indicates an obvious alliteration. The text is actually pretty clear that God created the creatures following after their own kind, from lesser creatures (crawling things) to the greater creatures (moon, stars, man).
Lastly, this idea of the word “rest” automatically indicating God entering into his temple needs to be examined but that’s outside of the scope of this post.