We live in a world where ‘science’ has proven that God does not exist and the Bible is nothing more than ancient folklore – right?
Well, actually no. True science and the Bible will never be in disagreement because they both have the same author!
It is, therefore, fascinating when we come to the opening chapters of the Bible to find that many of sciences ‘discoveries’ have been preempted by God’s Word, hundreds and even thousands of years before science has stumbled upon them. In fact, the more we discover about the world around us, the more comfortable we become with the opening chapters of Genesis!
This week, as we continue our study in Genesis chapter 1, we look at ‘the firmament’ and consider why life on Earth seemed once to be so much different than it is today. What accounts for the super-size plants and animals in the fossil record? If the climate around the world is now very different to what it used to be, what caused the change?
I hope the notes below encourage you to undertake your own study of God’s unchanging Word!
The audio teaching accompanying this post can be listened to on this web site by clicking on the following link:
Genesis 1:6 – Day 2
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.
As we move on to the second day of Creation we find God putting something called a ‘firmament’ in between the waters above (whatever they are) and the waters below (which we are told in verse 10 are the seas). The word ‘firmament’ comes from the Latin firmamentum, and implies solidity. In Hebrew the word is ‘Raqia’, and literally means ‘to stretch, spread out, beat or tread out, or a solid expanse’.
Firmament actually occurs 9 times in this chapter and seems to be used to refer to two distinct ‘expanses’. In verses 14-17 we will find that God places the sun, moon and stars in the ‘firmament of heaven’; thus, in these three instances, the firmament of heaven would seem to refer to ‘outer space’. So immediately this poses the question, how can space be described as a solid expanse? We’ll come back to that in a moment.
For now, let us consider this firmament that divides the waters above from the waters below. There are a number of suggestions that have been proposed, but the one that fits the Biblical description best is the idea that there was once a water canopy that God placed around the Earth. The ‘solid expanse’ spoken of in this verse was simply what held it in place. Of course, the question must be asked, is that something supported by science? The answer is surprising yes!
What would be the effect of such a canopy? Firstly, it would regulate the temperature on Earth, causing a greenhouse-like environment and uniform temperature around the world. There is strong evidence to support this, from coal seams at the south pole, to Mammoths with undigested tropical food in their stomachs – yet now frozen in places like Siberia. This, in turn, would also increase the atmospheric pressure (more Oxygen & CO2) which would have a significant impact on anything living. Studies have shown that, at one time, the oxygen content of the atmosphere was once up to 50% greater than it is now. This would cause things to grow bigger and could elongate lifespans. In an article in Time Magazine (9/11/87 p.82) it was stated that “…earth’s atmosphere contained about 50% more oxygen than it does today”. An article on the University of London’s website documents the fact that they have found oxygen trapped in amber (fossilised tree sap) that is double the level currently in our atmosphere.
There is abundant evidence to show that things did once grow to significantly greater size than today. We have:
- Fossilised Moss 3ft deep
- Fossils of Asparagus 40ft high
- 50ft Horsetail Reeds found fossilised
- Ferns over 50ft tall
- Fossil cattails 60ft long found in sedimentary rock
- Dragonflys with 3ft wingspans
- Buffalo horns with 12ft spans
- (See the Powerpoint slides from the study for more!)
Before we move on, it’s interesting that reptiles keep growing until they die. If you take many of the lizards that we have today, give them a perfect environment, and let them live for hundreds of years, what would they end up looking like? Probably what you and I would call a dinosaur! Not all dinosaurs were huge, most were comparatively small.
All of this combined could account for the long life spans as recorded in the Bible.
Further Biblical support can be found in Genesis chapter 6, where, at the time of the flood, the ‘windows of the heaven were opened’ and this water canopy seemingly came crashing down providing much of the water for the flood.
This is certainly a view that cannot just be dismissed because one doesn’t like it and a number of credentialed Bible-believing scientists have postulated and demonstrated the credibility of this view.
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.
Here we see God separate the land from the sea for the first time. The interesting thing to note is the clear implication that there was originally one land mass. There are many theories of ‘Pangea’ or one single super continent in the past, but an interesting study done by Peter Wilders, in a pamphlet produced by Creation Science Movement – Pamphlet 246, proposed that the original land mass may have been shaped as a flower, and significantly with Jerusalem at the centre. (for more information write to PO Box 888, Portsmouth, PO6 2YD, ref: Pamphlet 246 or go to www.CreationScienceMovement.com).
As an aside, Acts 3:21 speaks of the ‘times of restitution of all things’. This implies that one day God will put things back to the way they were in the beginning. This is further supported by the statement in Revelation 16:20 that during the Tribulation (as a result of a catastrophic worldwide earthquake) ‘every island will flee away’. Through simple deduction, if there are no more islands, there would have to be just one land mass. Food for thought!
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.
Three times in these verses we are told that things bring forth ‘after their kind’. This is a scientific statement that anyone can very easily verify. Apple trees produce apples, Orange trees produce oranges. A strawberry plant will produce strawberries, always. This is the clearest and simplest rebuttal to the non-science that fills our school text books, university lecture halls and TV screens. I am of course referring to the theory of Evolution as proposed by Charles Darwin. Mr Darwin proposed that things can bring forth things other than themselves, yet this has not only never been observed anywhere in nature, it is scientifically impossible.
The packet seed industry basis its reputation on the scientific accuracy of Genesis chapter 1 verse 11. Whenever you buy a packet of seeds there will be a picture on the front of the packet presumptuously stating what it will become if you plant it and water it! How can they be so sure? If there was an ounce of credibility in Darwin’s fairy story they would not dare be so arrogant as to boldly state what it will become! They have certainly never felt the need to put a warning on the front of the packet saying: Warning! May produce a frog! If you stop and think about it, thousands of experiments are being conducted every day around the world in this manner; whenever someone plants a seed, whenever a creature gives birth, whenever
If you stop and think about it, thousands of experiments are being conducted every day around the world in this manner; whenever someone plants a seed, whenever a creature gives birth, whenever an egg hatches, all of these experiments prove conclusively that evolution simply does not happen!
Clearly, the Bible is right and Darwin (and sadly much of the scientific community who favour man’s ‘wisdom’ over God’s word) is wrong!
By the way, what an incredible piece of design to place the ability to reproduce itself in the seed, that can sometimes lay dormant for hundreds of years, until the right conditions exist for the seed to germinate and reproduce itself!
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
You may have noticed that on day two God did not declare it good. However, when we come to the third day, we find that twice God has it recorded that what He saw was good (v10 & v12). It is because of this that the third day became to be known as the ‘day of double blessing’ among the Jews. Therefore, if you were to get married, for example, which day would you choose? The day of double blessing! There is an allusion to this in the beginning of John’s gospel: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there” (John 2:1). Normally you would just read on and not pay too much attention to the mention of the ‘third day’, but hopefully, by now, you are realising that every single detail in the Bible is there by deliberate supernatural design! When John mentions the ‘third day; he doesn’t give any reference point; the third day from what? However when we understand that by ‘the third day’ he is referring to Tuesday – the ‘day of double blessing’, it all starts to make sense.
The ‘third day’ is also yet to be a day of blessing for Israel – see Hosea 6:1-2.
And we should need no reminding that the third day is indeed a day of blessing for us all; for it was on the ‘third day’ that our Saviour rose and conquered death!
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.
The first thing God does on day four is to make ‘light bearers’. Light already existed, the sun and moon are simply vessels that carry the light. This is how each of us should be. Christ is the light of the world, we are to be His light bearers – without this light the world is in darkness (cf Matt 5:14).
As an aside, the word for ‘seasons’ in Hebrew is ‘Ha Moyadim’ meaning ‘appointed times’. In the original Hebrew text it appears just once in the book of Genesis as an equidistant letter sequence, which so happens to occur at an interval of 70. In other words, if you start with the first letter, count forward 70 letters, you have the next letter, and so on until you spell the word. What makes this provocative is that, of all the places this could ‘randomly’ occur in the book of Genesis, it ‘happens’ to be centred on this very verse, where the word actually appears in the surface text. Even more incredible is the fact that we are told that the sun and moon were to be for signs and seasons, and it is from these signs that Israel’s calendar is derived, (each month begins with the new moon etc.). When we add up all of Israel’s ‘appointed times’, their feast days etc. we discover there are 70! As the Rabbis say: ‘coincidence is not a kosher word!’
God places these light bearers in the ‘firmament’. As we have already noted, this word in these verses refers to ‘outer space’. As mentioned in verse 7, the word ‘firmament’ comes from the Latin firmamentum, and implies solidity. Again, in Hebrew the word is ‘Raqia’, which means ‘to stretch, spread out, beat or tread out; literally or figuratively, an expanse’. God could have chosen any word to describe space, but specifically chooses this one. This is extremely provocative for, contrary to our general assumptions, space is not just an empty void, but rather is indeed a ‘solid expanse’. Building on the efforts of many before him, James Clerk Maxwell (1839-1879) pioneered work to show how light waves could pass through space. The significance of this is that for a wave to travel, there must be a medium for it to travel through, but that medium must also have elasticity (a spring-like property). Science still does not fully understand what material it is made up of, but the vacuum of space is clearly not an empty nothingness.
To Bible-believing Christians this should not really come as a surprise, for we are repeatedly told through scripture that God stretched out the heavens, and that the heavens will be rolled up as a scroll (Isaiah 34:4). Isaiah 13:13 tells us that God will ‘shake the heavens’; and the writer to the Hebrews tells us that one day God will fold up the heavens like you can fold up a garment (Hebrews 1:10-12). With what we now know, rather than being simply metaphors, these Biblical comments show scientific insight not known until relatively recently. For space to be ‘rolled up’, there must be a dimension in which it is thin. For space to be ‘bent’, there must be a direction it can be bent toward. All of this hints at its solidity and implies additional spatial dimensions (other than width, length, height and time). The reality of additional dimensions was something noted by Biblical sages in the 13th century, and now confirmed by quantum physicists. It is now believed there are actually ten dimensions, of which only ‘our’ four are directly measurable. This may give us a hint at what the world and universe were like before Adam fell. We are now ‘trapped’ in width, length, height and time, yet the Bible speaks of other (spiritual) dimensions we cannot currently perceive. Was Adam originally able to experience these? Is this how Jesus could pass through solid walls in His resurrected body? (John 20:26).
Ultimately, the sun, moon and stars are un-complex and simple, from a chemical perspective, when compared to even a single cell in a living organism; and this may be why we have such a brief mention of them here. The phrase ‘He made the stars also’ almost implies an afterthought, something of little regard from God’s perspective. Yet these celestial bodies have captivated mankind’s thoughts and imaginations throughout history, and have even become objects of worship (e.g. the days of the week are named after the planets).
Isaiah tells us (Is 42:8) that God will not share His glory with another, and in the book of Deuteronomy, God will say: “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.” (Deut 17:2-5)
“And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven” (Deut 4:19)
So whilst we are clearly warned against worshipping these things, we cannot help be amazed at the scale and beauty of the universe. Job comments on the ‘height of heaven’ and the ‘height of the stars’, being in awe at the scale of these things (Job 22:12). In Psalm 8 we read: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). Although man is infinitely more complex, the sheer scale of the universe is breathtaking.
The universe is estimated to be 30 Billion light years wide; there are enough stars for each person to own 3 Trillion each! The Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy is the closest galaxy outside our own Milky Way; if you could travel at 186,282 miles per second, it would take you ten thousand years (at that speed) to go from one side of it to the other! The Orion Nebula is around 10 quadrillion miles away from earth!
If you tried to count just the stars visible to the naked eye at the rate of 1 per second, you would be counting for thousands of years! – and yet our God “telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4).
Interestingly, secular scientists still do not know how stars are formed, as the following quotes show: “According to current theories of star formation, cores of molecular clouds (regions of especially high density) become gravitationally unstable, fragment and begin to collapse (sometimes, shockwaves from supernovae will trigger star formation in nearby gas clouds).
[i.e you need a star (supernovae) to trigger the formation of a star – so where did the supernovae come from???] The youngest and brightest stars we now see in the Orion Nebula are thought to be less than 300,000 years old, and the brightest may be only 10,000 years in age. Source”: Wikipedia
“The earliest modern theory of the formation of our galaxy describes a single (relatively) rapid monolithic collapse…..Another view published in 1978 describes a more gradual process……An even more recent idea is that significant portions of the stellar halo could be stellar debris from destroyed dwarf galaxies and globular clusters……Giant elliptical galaxies are probably formed by……etc.,etc.
While we have learned a great deal about ours and other galaxies, the most fundamental questions about formation and evolution remain only tentatively answered.” Source: Wikipedia
So we have ‘theories’, ‘views’, ‘ideas’, ‘probably’s’, and ‘tentative answers’, but no facts or evidence! Yet secular scientists are quick to point to Creationists as ‘unscientific’ because we believe primarily on the basis of faith. Surely it takes more faith to believe that the whole universe came into being, with all the chemicals and atoms that make up the stars, from nothing, that from nowhere found the energy to explode into everything?! Such a belief defies reason and the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. The real problem here for atheists and evolutionists is, that if you base your belief on purely natural mechanisms, denying the possibility of outside (supernatural) intelligence, you have to abide by the laws of the physical universe; and those laws will tell you it cannot, and will not happen, regardless of how much time you give it!
In contrast, the Bible boldly declares: “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee” (Neh 9:6)
Psalm 19 states: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3). God’s creation is awesome and testifies to all people in all languages that there is a Creator!
Our sun is losing mass at the rate of 4 billion kg a second. This is not something that should worry us as there is plenty of it! But what is does underline is that it will not go on forever. There will come a point – however far away it may be – when our sun will burn out. This confirms one of the greatest discoveries of the 21st century, namely that our universe is finite: it had a beginning and is destined for an ending. And what does the opening verse of the Bible state? In the beginning… The Bible is not a science textbook… it is far more accurate and never needs to be updated!
Not only does the Bible tell us that the Earth is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22) that hangs in space (Job 26:7), it also tells us that the sun is not stationary but on a circuit around the heavens: “[the sun] is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:5-6). Cosmologists now know that the sun is indeed on its own massive orbit within our solar system.
Before we move on, we should also briefly mention the moon. All planets have a certain amount of reflectivity, known as the albedo. This is simply the ratio of the intensity of light reflected compared to the light received from the sun. Our moon had an albedo of just 12%; this is enough to provide light at night, but not too much to keep us all awake! If someone intended to design a ‘lesser light’ to rule the night, it is hard to think how it could have been done any better!
Various theories have been put forward to explain the origin of the moon; three principle theories are the sister theory, wife theory and the daughter theory.
Sister theory – this holds that the moon was formed at the same time as the earth, although as we have noted, the nebular hypothesis does not offer a satisfactory explanation to this, so we are still left not knowing how the moon was formed.
Wife theory – the moon was just passing close to the earth and earth’s gravity just ‘grabbed’ it. Numerous problems exist with this option, and it still does not account for the moon’s origin.
Daughter theory – This view suggests that a passing meteor crashed into the earth and broke a bit off. Although the moon is small compared to the earth, it is still huge, and it is hard to believe that such an impact and cataclysmic event would leave no obvious sign. Furthermore, this theory does not account for the chemical composition of the moon differing from rock indigenous to earth.
None of these theories stand under scientific scrutiny. It has been said that it is easier to explain why the moon should not be there, than to try to explain why it is! And yet, it has such a profound effect on life on earth, controlling the tides and being a reference point from which calendars can be set “and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years”. Cosmologists cannot explain the origin of the moon – it’s as if was put there on purpose!
Interestingly, the moon is moving away from the earth at the rate of 4cm per year. Whilst this is of no concern to us, it is compelling grounds to reject an age of millions of years for the moon, for if its current rate of movement has been consistent, it would have been so close in the past as to make life on earth impossible.
Needless to say, when God looked at all the billions of stars and galaxies, and at the sun and moon, all fulfilling their specific purpose, it is no wonder “God saw that it was good”. And that brings us to the end of the fourth day. Notice once again we have ‘Erev’ and ‘Boker’; things on earth are becoming more discernable, and a formless universe gives way to incredible design.
We’ll continue our study next week as we move into day 5.