Apparently the next thing that God does after creating humans is give them a command to take over the world He has given them. Frankly, it occurs to me that in naming the "discrepancies" between the first two chapters, this speech is a bit of an oversight. It not only seems important enough, but quite fitting with the theme to have repeated it in the next chapter, at least as a paraphrase. The closest the Bible comes is verse 2:16, which really doesn't sound much like it at all. I guess it shows how these things are personal that the SAB has no problem with this omission. I haven't noticed one yet, but I'm sure that the SAB has noted parallel passages that feature omission of important information; it's the frosting on the skeptic's cake, really.
This speech is repeated in the story of Noah, but there, it's different, and much speculation has gone into what the differences mean, one interpretation of which the SAB notes on the following verse. The SAB does note that many Christians use this commandment to justify destroying the environment and being cruel to animals. I already commented on that in yesterday's post, but the SAB also brings up the issue of birth control.
Does "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth," mean that people are not to use birth control, but rather to breed like rabbits? There may be various views on the matter of which I'm not aware. I know the Catholic Church, the most famous for being anti-birth control is of the opinion that trying to disassociate sex from procreation is inherently wrong; that's not to say that the RCC is against sex as being recreational as well within the bounds of marriage, but that it has both facets to it, and neither should be shut out. (I'm oversimplifying here since I'm not a Catholic. If you're a Catholic reading this, please don't blast me, rather post a comment to clarify the Church's position as you understand it.) Most Protestants seem to be of the opinion that birth control is okay. While marriage and sex are concepts that are to a great extent designed with procreation in mind, that doesn't mean that having children is a requirement. A lot of it has to do with personal attitudes about child rearing, resources and other issues. If you can't afford to feed a child (or aren't willing to), it's irresponsible to not use birth control. If you think the earth is already "replenished" enough, you might choose not to have children. My opinion is that the earth could handle a higher population if we learned to use our resources better, but I don't think we have.
So, God gives us plants to eat in the next verse. This is the point that's different from the speech in Noah, where God notes that He is giving them an order/permission to eat meat. Many people have speculated that God intended man, and perhaps even all animals (from verse 30) to be vegetarians at the start. That doesn't mean that God intended us to be vegetarians for all time, however. I think at this time, the real sentiment is that eating is something that can be done without killing. That will eventually change when sin enters the picture.
It's noted that God says "every tree" is for mankind to eat, but in the following chapter, God forbids the eating of one tree in particular. Is this a contradiction? Yes and no. If you look at it from a purely grammatical standpoint, it is confusing, but I don't think it's at all intractable. I have a number of speculations on what might explain this, but I think what's really going on is this: In chapter one, when God is saying that all trees that have fruit are okay to eat, He's talking about kinds of trees. In chapter two, He's pointing out a particular tree as an exception. It's like if my wife had a rose garden, and you asked me for a rose from it, and I said, "All the roses in the garden are beautiful, and you can pick any kind of rose that you want. But the dark red rose with the yellow spots in the back corner is special to my wife, and I'd rather you don't touch that specific one." I talk more about the nature of this tree in the next chapter, or maybe chapter three, we'll see.
So God is now finished, and He notes that it's "very good". In response to this, the SAB notes, "He purposefully designed a system that ensures the suffering and death of all his creatures, parasite and host, predator and prey." I guess the idea here is that it's hard to see how this is "very good". First of all, it's really a matter of opinion as to what's good or not. Many atheists feel that the world would be better off without human beings on it, and then nature could be left to itself. If leaving nature to itself is a good thing, then the very thing which the SAB seems to be noting as a counter to the world being "very good" seems good to some atheists. I think imposing labels of "good" and "bad" on animals is sometimes a sketchy thing; I'd be hesitant to label animals' actions with human moral labels.
More importantly, I think we've forgotten the previous verse. There was no "parasite and host, predator and prey" at this time. It was really a sort of hippyish paradise with mankind and all the animals just hanging out, having a good time, eating fresh veggies and fruits. There was no death, no war, no hate, and when you think about it, no religion. Straight out of "Imagine" by John Lennon, really. At the time, it was indeed "very good". Of course, this ends chapter one, and it won't last for long...