Hero and Villain,
You raise a lot of questions surrounding Adam and Eve and the first chapters of Genesis, and I would like to deal with all of them.
Before I start, though, are you aware that there are a lot of Bible-believing, Christian scholars and scientists who think that the first few chapters of Genesis are intended to be symbolic/poetic accounts rather than factual/historical accounts? To these people, what is most important is not the factual details, but rather what those details mean and teach us.
I do not agree with that position, but I do not have a lot of problems with it as long as the main ideas are maintained. For instance, a lot of Bible-believing scientists would say that God created the universe billions of years ago by means of the Big Bang, and then God created life by means of a lengthy evolutionary process. Scientists like Hugh Ross believe that they can see these scientific processes described in the symbolism of Genesis 1. What matters most to me is that these people still believe that God created the world and that human beings have value, since those are the main points of Genesis 1-2.
Even though I do not agree with this perspective, I bring it up because I want you to understand that some of the points you make are accepted by many Bible-believing Christians. They agree with some of what you say. Also, I want you to understand that some of your points do not trouble me as much as you might have thought. I have Christian friends who say the same things, and yet still believe that the Bible is true!
On to your actual points.
You state that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are contradictory accounts. Genesis 1:26-30 gives an account of God creating Adam and Eve. Then Genesis 2:4-25 gives a second account of God creating Adam and Eve. There are several options for reconciling this double account. In my view when I read Genesis 1-2, it seems clear to me that Genesis 2:4-25 is merely a more detailed account of Genesis 1:26-30. Genesis 1 gives an overview summary of the creation of the entire universe. Within that summary, the creation of Adam and Eve is also summarized. In Genesis 2, the book zooms in to the events of the sixth day of creation and describes those events again, but in greater detail.
You ask why the book would give two accounts of the same event back to back. I cannot answer something like that with absolute certainty, but I can give a couple of suggestions. First, I think it is the right question to be asking. You are supposed to be wondering why the book goes into such detail about the creation of Adam and Eve. It has to do with the central place that God has given human beings in his creation. Second, if you skim through the book of Genesis, I think you can see that it is divided nicely into small chunks designed for oral retelling. Genesis is not just intended to be read straight through. It is also organized in such a way that individual stories can be told in a standalone fashion. As a reader you can choose to read Genesis 1-2 in one sitting, or the two chapters can be divided and read separately.
You wonder about the number of ribs. The Bible does not give us any reason to believe that Adam had 25 ribs to begin with. I would assume that he had 24 just like anybody else. After God removed one of his ribs, he would have had 23. All of his children would have had 24. If you removed one of my ribs and if I had any more children, my child would be born with 24 ribs. Removing a rib does not change the genetic material.
Did God create Eve as a clone of Adam? Since God used Adam’s rib to create Eve, was Eve like Adam’s clone? Well, Eve could not possibly be Adam’s clone if only because she was female. We have no idea what God did with Adam’s rib in order to create Eve. Did he use Adam’s DNA but then change the Y chromosome to an X? The Bible does not say one way or another. Since God created Adam from dirt, I think it entirely possible that God could have used Adam’s rib in such a way that Eve was very different genetically.
Why did God make man out of dirt and woman out of a rib? Why does God change up his method of creation? Again, I think this is the right question to be asking. God doesn’t do these things because he is an absent-minded mad scientist. He has a reason. There are reasons why God makes man out of dirt. It teaches humility, the circle of life, etc. There are reasons why God makes woman out of a rib. Some possibilities are that since she is taken from the side of man, she is his equal and companion. She is taken from region of the body associated with feelings and the soul, implying that the relationship between man and woman is close and personal. She is made of the same stuff as man, so again she is equal. Paul comments on how it makes a beautiful symmetry, since every man after Adam was born of a woman, but the first woman came from a man – another circle of life thing.
Was there incest in the Garden of Eden? You have mentioned incest in the Garden on several occasions. I think you have two reasons for mentioning it. First, if Eve is Adam’s clone, then is it incestuous for Adam and Eve to have intercourse? Again, Eve could not be Adam’s clone, and she may not have even been a female version of Adam’s exact genes. Even if she was, what I have to say below, applies.
Second, I believe you may be implying the common problem of where Cain got his wife. How did Adam and Eve’s children find husbands and wives? Did they all marry siblings? It is actually nowhere stated where Cain or Seth found their wives. It is theoretically possible that God created wives for both of them. I kind of doubt that, however. We do know that Adam and Eve had other children besides Cain, Abel, and Seth (see Genesis 5:4), so I would assume that both Cain and Seth married their sisters.
Wait, what? Isn’t that incest? Well, if it is incest, then there is a good chance that even according to atheist scientists the human race is the product of incest. There is some possibility that scientists can prove that all human beings trace back to a common mother known as Mitochondrial Eve (and perhaps even a common father). Whether or not this can be proven scientifically, it just seems obvious that in an evolutionary scheme a new species must initially multiply by “incest,” or else they cease to be a unique species. The issue of incest is as much a problem for people who do not believe the Bible as it is for people who do believe the Bible.
But why does the issue of incest not bother evolutionary biologists? For one thing, there is a matter of necessity. If you are the only two homo sapiens and you want to perpetuate your species, you must procreate and have your children procreate with each other. For another thing, there is the lack of danger of genetic issues. One of the main reasons for banning incest is that excessive inbreeding causes genetic deformities and other genetic problems. However, early on in the history of a species, there has not yet been enough inbreeding to make this an issue. As portions of the population divide up and only breed within their isolated group, the gene pool becomes more and more limited, and then genetic issues are more likely in incestuous relationships.
You can actually see this in the Old Testament. God does eventually put a stop to incest, but it is only after the gene pools in the various people groups have become more limited. Although God does not entirely explain why he bans incest, I think he was well aware of the genetic dangers involved, and I think that would have been one of his reasons.
So, a question for you, how do you explain the “incest” among your early ancestors?