In Genesis 1 beasts are clearly created before man and woman on the sixth day. But when we turn to chapter 2 it appears they (as well as birds) are created after man but before woman: that is, the Hebrew and the logical sequence of the narrative all suggest this—so much so that if all we had were chapter two, there would be no question as to the order in which beast, bird, and mankind were created. Now, if one held Scripture as the sole authority for one’s beliefs, he would conclude that both were true. I do not mean he would dismiss the two as contradictory accounts—I mean he would maintain that contradictions were completely reconcilable with his conviction that Scripture were inspired. If such a person actually I exists, I have never met him; for one of the few philosophical maxims that remains today is the principle of non-contradiction—if the Bible is truly inerrant, then it must be free of contradiction: hence the several maneuvers made by pious Christians to reconcile the apparent discrepancy. Some conclude that, despite the Hebrew and the narrative sequence, the beasts and birds mentioned in chapter 2 are referring to creatures already made. Others, like myself, maintain that the two accounts are chiefly thematic, rather than historically chronological (obviously there is chronology involved: wherever there is a narrative there must be sequence. But the point of Genesis 1 and two is not to give an historical account of creation). Whichever is right (if either) is not the point of this OP. The point is that both readers feel the need to reconcile the two chapters of Genesis with the principle of non-contradiction; but whence does this principle derive? It cannot derive from Scripture. Even if we found a Hebrew or Greek (or Aramaic) word corresponding to the English “contradiction” within a proposition condemning the concept, still this would merely be one more proposition at odds with certain other propositions. The fact is that the principle is derived not from Scripture but from Reason. The shortest reflection on this discovery will show that very few Bible readers truly embrace Scripture as their sole or even highest authority. Wherever there is a discrepancy in Scripture, it is reason which has exposed it; and wherever there is felt the need to resolve it, it is reason which issues this demand. Wherever a solution is offered, it is reason which has discovered it. Both the threatened principle, the need for a solution to the threat, and the solution itself all find their source in Reason, not Scripture. But this is just another way of saying that Scripture is obligated to something other than reason. If Scripture is truly inspired, it must meet certain criteria; criteria imposed upon it from without.
The practical result of this thesis is small but important. The answer to such rhetorical outbursts as, “Who are you to determine which parts of Scripture are literal and which are not;” or “Who are you to question Scripture?!” is, “I am a thinking person, endowed by God with Reason.” But it would be better to drop these accusations altogether: for, as the old saying goes, wherever a finger is pointed at someone else, three are pointed at one’s self. We are all demanding of Scripture certain characteristics to meet our own definition of “inspired”. I do not require of it inerrancy; some do. But the principle of non-contradiction is, to some degree, always operating.