Sunday, May 25, 2014

How God Made the Earth: Part 1

How God Made the Earth: Part 1

Hi, and welcome to another edition of modeling scripture. After going over the source material, I'm going to cut this model into two pieces. There is just too much information presented for one long blog post. Even the first part is really long due to it covering the entire chapter of Genesis 1. I do hope that you will read the post, or at least read the notes and get the feel of the order of creation and where we go wrong in reading this particular scripture.


Day 0: Forget your current knowledge.
Day 1: Light and Darkness.
Day 2: Firmament to divide the waters above from the waters below.
Day 3: Gathered waters below, formed land, created plants.
Day 4: Sun, moon, and stars; placing them in the firmament.
Day 5: Flying things and sea creatures (fish, etc...)
Day 6: Land creatures, insects, man, and woman.

It can be really difficult to understand the Bible for what it says instead of what we think it should say. It can be as difficult as leaving out a lifetime of education and taking the Bible at its word. After all, even before many of us started school we had learned the basics of astronomy. I learned about the sun, moon, stars, tilt of the Earth, and seasons long before I ever covered any of those topics in school. And to this day, astronomy is still one of my favorite pastimes.

But we have to forget all of our modern knowledge. They didn't have that knowledge in biblical times. They were brilliant people, but they didn't have our education, or scientists, or books. They didn't even have printing presses at the time. There were no mass produced books to purchase and teachers being paid to educate you simply for showing up at a school building. Every piece of knowledge you knew had to be painfully acquired from either your own experience or someone else that you could convince to teach you. That's one of the things that made the Bible so compelling: it was supposed to be divine knowledge direct from the creator or the world sent to all people without error. If the Bible was correct, you could actually learn real knowledge in bulk for, perhaps, the first time ever.

So let's look at how the author or authors of Genesis thought the Earth was created.

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

So far so good. Notice right from the start there was already water, a void, and darkness.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Now we're making some headway. We now have light and dark. But here is where you have to set some of your knowledge aside. We don't have a sun, moon, or stars yet. This light doesn't have any source. It is just there. And not only is it there, it has been separated from the dark.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Now the preexisting waters from Genesis 1:2 have now been split by a firmament. Some of the water went above the firmament and some of the water went below the firmament. So what in the world is a firmament?

The word "firmament" is used to translate raqia, or raqiya`, a word used in Biblical Hebrew. The connotation of firmness conveyed by the Vulgate's firmamentum is consistent with that of stereoma, the Greek word used in the Septuagint, an earlier translation. The notion of solidity is advanced explicitly in several biblical passages.
The original word raqia is derived from the root raqa, meaning "to beat or spread out", e.g., the process of making a dish by hammering thin a lump of metal. Raqa adopted the meaning "to make firm or solid" in Syriac, a major dialect of Aramaic (the vernacular of Jesus) and close cognate of Hebrew.

So we have this dome-like thing -- probably solid -- that separates the water above from the water below. And this inverted bowl, or dome, he called Heaven.

Now the next day there is a little bit more going on, so we are going to take it in two parts.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

We finally have what we think of as Earth. Prior, their might have been a "heaven and earth" but they weren't what we think of as Earth since it had no land.

You have to forget what you learned about a spherical earth with water sitting on the outside. That isn't the model used by the Bible. The Bible seems to have all the dirt and water just sitting out there in the chaos -- or void -- waiting to be made into something. It is almost like raw materials waiting in a bin somewhere for a craftsman to make something out of it.

Now that God created land, he then got busy with putting things on it.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

In the later part of the third day God put all the plants and trees on the Earth. There was light and dark (day and night) from the first day, but there isn't anything causing the day and night. That wasn't an oversight though. We know that our day and night are caused by the rotation of the Earth, but they didn't know that in biblical times. They didn't know that the sun is the source of out light, and without the sun there wouldn't be enough light or heat for anything to survive.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

And now we have the sun, moon, and stars. The sun was created to rule the day, the moon was created to rule the night, and He made stars as well. Now we've had light and dark since the second day, but now we have the sun. Here is another place where you have to leave your present knowledge out of what the Bible says. The sun was created to rule the light. It doesn't have to be the originator of the light and heat that get to the Earth. It is more of a decoration that was put there for signs, seasons, days, and years. Think of it as a signpost telling you what the light and heat are going to do. Don't think of it as the source of light and heat.

The same is true for the moon. Forget your knowledge that the moon is simply reflected light from the sun. The moon was given its own light so that it could rule the night. As far as the stars go; since the sun, moon, and stars are all set in the firmament, the stars are more like little sparkly lights that are placed on a Christmas tree for pure entertainment (oh, and signs etc...). You have to forget the fact that they are the same size or larger than the sun and just farther away. They are hung in the firmament like cellphone charger lights stuck in your ceiling.

And now, on with day five:

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

I would like to make a note here about the firmament. The fact that the birds can fly in the "open firmament" tells us that the firmament isn't all that far above our heads. We don't exactly know how thick it is yet, but we know that it isn't all that far up there.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

The fifth day was kind of busy, but it didn't have a lot of description. All the winged fowl and all the creatures of the sea. Since the model put forth in Genesis only includes land and sea, then every creature that lived in the water had to be made on the fifth day.

And now on with the sixth day, which was a lot like the fifth day except for the land instead of the sea.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

That was the last part of God's creation. He makes everything that goes on the land. He made all the cattle, beasts, and creeping things. Right at the end of the day -- or at least the end of His creation -- He created man and woman in his image. Creation is now finished. The only thing left to do is give us some directions and place humans in charge as a sort of landlord for the Earth.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

And there you go; creation in a nutshell. Even though the entire creation is covered in one chapter containing just thirty-one verses, it is still insanely difficult for me to keep my present knowledge from contaminating the clear directions from Genesis. As soon as I quit thinking about it my mind fills in the sun as the source of light and heat, water only being available on the land instead of half of it over a firmament, land coalescing first prior to liquid water, stars that are gigantic yet so far away that they look like dots and some farther than we can see, a reflective moon instead of a moon with its own light, and the list goes on.

Regardless of how difficult it is to keep straight, Genesis chapter 1 has all the raw material to assemble into our model of creation, which we will get to in How God Made the Earth: Part 2.

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