Arguing that animals were created after man is simply a misreading of the text. In Genesis 2:19 we are told that: "Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky."
The creation narrative found at the very beginning of the Book of Genesis is presented to us in two main parts. Genesis 1:1-2:3 chronicles the six-day process of creation, beginning with the creation of light, ending with the creation of human beings, and explaining how God rested on the seventh day. Genesis 2:4-2:24, on the other hand, begins with the creation of Adam.
Some argue that the two accounts represent two entirely different creation stories which contradict each other on the order of creation. Let's take a look at if this is really the case.
Does the Genesis Creation Account Really Contain Two Different Stories?
There is little reason to suppose that the two creation accounts in Genesis are not speaking about the same act of creation. They may differ in scope and in focus, but the two narratives are clearly meant to be complementary. The first account takes an overarching, universal view of the entire creation process. It ends with the creation of human beings but does not focus on them in any special way. The second narrative essentially picks up where the first one leaves off, and focuses on the special place of humanity in the created world. The two stories talk about the same event, though with a focus on different details.
Do the Two Accounts Contradict Each Other?
Even if we take the two creation narratives as complementary, some still argue that they present a different order of creation. The first account seems to say that God created plant and animal life before He created human beings, while the second seems to suggest that humans came first.
Christian scholars have noted that the contradiction regarding plant life disappears when one considers that two different Hebrew words are both translated as "vegetation" in the two accounts, but that, in the second account, a better translation would be "agricultural vegetation." This means that natural vegetation could have already existed before the creation of man, as presented in the first account.
Arguing that animals were created after man is simply a misreading of the text. In Genesis 2:19 we are told that: "Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky." This doesn't mean that God created all of the animals right then after he created Adam, but that he already "had" created them and was now going to bring them to Adam.
Not Losing Sight of the Real Purpose of the Creation Narrative
Even though we have established that the two accounts do not contradict each other, we should resist getting too tangled up in semantics and translations. The purpose of the Genesis creation narrative is to reveal that there is a creator behind the universe and everything in it. "And God saw that it was good" we read after each step of creation in the first Genesis story. These spiritually inspiring words are there to show us that creation is fundamentally good and enormously loved by God.