Re: Gen 1 and Concordism

Date: Thu Feb 21 2002 - 02:38:35 EST

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    Peter wrote,

    << As the heavy bombardment of the early earth by planetesimals ceased only
     very shortly before life arose, I think it is very unlikely that there
     ever was a dry, cold earth enlightened by the sun, as Paul Seely seems
     to conceive of. But please, John and Stephen, or other specialists,
     would you like to comment? >>

    I never said a dry, cold earth. I said an earth too hot to have an ocean.
    Oceans develop after the crust solidifies. I do not believe anyone doubts
    that a hot dry earth with a crust too hot to have an ocean preceded the
    formation of the first ocean(s).
    So, science is saying, First came dry land; after that came ocean(s), While
    Gen 1 presents, First came an ocean before Day 1, after that dry land
    appeared on Day Three.

    In John Wiester's book, the Genesis Connection, p. 59 he says,

        "Initially, water in liquid form could not exist since the extremely hot
    molten surface of the Earth prevented water vapor from condensing. It is
    generally thought that this vapor, together with smog-like gasses (primarily
    carbon dioxide) formed a hot, dense, continuous cloud surrounding the Earth.
        In the gradual but continued cooling of the Earth's crust, the air
    temperature finally lowered to the point (100 degrees C) where the
    condensation from water vapor to liquid water took place. At first, rain
    began to fall only to be reheated to new clouds of steam by the hot crust.
    [NOTE: hot dry earth before ocean] Further crust cooling took place and
    sheets of rain fell from the sky to accumulate on the cooling surface.
    Volcanic action continued to outgas water vapor to the atmosphere and
    gigantic cloud bursts sent the water back to Earth. The water accumulated
    into shallow seas.
        By 3.5 billion years ago, the Earth is thought to have been covered by a
    shallow sea."

    There is still the question of whether the earth was in total darkness at the
    time of the first ocean, but in order to avoid the clash of the scientific
    cosmology with the biblical account, Concordism is forced to ignore the first
    time dry land appears, and begin the story of creation after the first
    ocean(s) forms. But this just causes more problems:
    Concordism interprets the creation of the firmament on the second Day as the
    creation of the atmosphere, with the seas below and the clouds above. But,
    note Wiester's description: the atmosphere (water vapor, carbon dioxide, and
    a few more gases he did not mention) existed BEFORE the ocean was formed.

    And, there is another problem with the Concordist interpretation: the waters
    above the firmament are ABOVE it, not in it. The prepositional phrase in Gen
    1:7 describing the position of the waters above the firmament is identical to
    the prepositional phrase used in Ezek 1:25 to describe the position of the
    voice above the firmament; and there is no question that the voice is coming
    from literally above the firmament, not from within it.
    If then the firmament is really the atmosphere and the waters above are
    really clouds of water vapor, these clouds must be _above_ the atmosphere,
    some 30 miles up! But, the highest clouds do not rise much over one third
    that high.

    (Paul Seely:)
    > >Hebrew does not say birds fly _in_ the firmament, but _in front of_ the
    > >firmament. What is _in_ (in the sense of within the confines of) the
    > >firmament is the sun, moon and stars (Gen 1:17); but the waters are _above_
    > >the firmament (same prepositional phrase with the same object) as in Ezek
    > >1:25 to describe the location of a voice above a firmament, and that voice
    > >clearly from a person on a throne which is literally above, over, on top of
    > >the firmament, not in it in any sense. The biblical description of a solid
    > >firmament with an ocean above it and the sun, moon and stars under it is
    > >exactly the cosmology of the ancient Babylonians, albeit they sometimes
    > >more than one solid firmament.

    In A. Held & P. Ruest, "Taking Genesis as Inspired", PSCF 52/3 (Sep
    2000), 212, (and referring back to our "Genesis Reconsidered", PSCF 51/4
    (Dec 1999), 231), we wrote:

    << The same preposition _'al_, which usually means "on" or "above", is
    the subject of Seely's next concern, his belief that the ancients
    believed in a solid dome as a firmament above the earth. His argument
    that _raquia'_, which he translates as "firmament", rather than
    "expanse", and all of its cognate words _always_ refer to objects which
    have solidity is not compelling, as we indicated in our endnote 34
    [previous paper]. We don't quarrel with his idea that the preposition
    _'al_ in Gen.1:20 _can_ mean "in front of", and we agree that the text
    adds _pnee_, "face", before _raquia'_. But although _pnee_, when used
    without _'al_, can mean "before", "in front of", the prepositional
    phrase _'al-pnee_ means "over", "on", "in", or "over against", rather
    than "in front of". But even this translation of _'al-pnee_ would not
    indicate a solid firmament, "in front of" which the birds fly. The
    sunlit atmosphere looks to us like a blue backdrop, "in front of" which
    we see birds flying. No matter whether they fly "on", "over", "above",
    or "in front of" the "expanse" or atmosphere, there is nothing in the
    expression to suggest a solid dome _under_ which they would fly. By
    substituting "surface" for "face", in order to yield "on the surface of
    the firmament", Seely is similarly unsuccessful, as this would make the
    birds fly _above_ the solid dome, making nonsense of the statement. >>
    My point was that since Gen 1:20 really says, Let birds fly "in front of" the
    firmament, the "blue backdrop "in front of" which we see birds flying," as
    Peter says, the verse cannot be used as evidence that the firmament is not
    solid. The "blue backdrop" could be solid, as I have no doubt the writer
    believed. But, I also made the point earlier that the addition of the word
    "surface" in the Hebrew text did not cohere well with a non-solid "backdrop"
    but very well with a solid one.

    With a solid firmament in mind, it makes sense that the text literally says
    the birds are to fly "in front of the surface of the firmament." But, if a
    modern view of the sky is in mind, one gets a contorted almost nonsensical
    statement: The birds are to fly "in front of the surface of the atmosphere",
    or "in front of the surface of the sky." What surface? No one with a modern
    view of the sky in mind would talk like that. "Oh, look at the airplane, it
    is flying in front of the surface of the sky." Come on. You've got to be
    kidding. Nor does translating the word panee, "surface," mean that the birds
    are flying above the surface of the sky: When combined with panee, the
    preposition 'al means, as Peter, admitted, "over against",that is, in a
    position opposite to the object named, hence in this case, "in front of."

    <<Previously, light of celestial bodies had reached the earth's surface
    only in scattered form, such as on an overcast day. The text does not
    say that bodies were "affixed to the firmament", but that God "gave" the
    lights (the light rays, _not_ their sources) "into the _raqia^_ of the
    skies", the region which previously could not be reached by direct
    light. Now changed atmospheric conditions caused the previously
    permanent cloud cover to break open, so that for the first time the
    celestial bodies appeared as "lights in the sky". Over some time, the
    lights were being "prepared" [_^asah_], coming through hazily first,
    more clearly later. Literally, God said "Let it be (singular): lights
    (plural)!" The single process of the atmospheric change caused the
    appearance of a multitude of lights. They were to provide space and time
    indications required by many organisms. >>

    I agree that Gen 1:17 does not say God "affixed the lights to the firmament"
    any more than Gen 40:13, placing the cup into Pharaoh's hand (very same verb
    and preposition), means that the cup was affixed to Pharaoh's hand; but, it
    does mean that the lights, like the cup, were placed into the confines of the
    firmament, which hence could not be the atmosphere.

    As mentioned earlier, the context of v. 16 demands that the "them" of verse
    17 be the sun, moon and stars, not their light rays. It is bad enough that
    "firmament" is taken out of its historical context, to go on and take 1:17
    out of its biblical context as well is a clear evidence that the theory is
    determining the interpretation. And, even if the firmament were the
    atmosphere, the light rays would already be present in the two thirds of the
    atmosphere before Day 4 because only the lower third of the atmosphere was
    clouded over.

    Finally, the use of the singular verb, "let there be" in v. 14 by no means
    necessitates that a single process like clearing the atmosphere must be
    intended. As Westermann says (p. 129, Genesis 1-11) "God orders that there be
    lights in the firmament of the heavens, that is, that they are to come into
    being. The verb is in the singular. According to Ges-K (Gesenius-Kautzsch, a
    primary Hebrew reference grammar) section 145o there are many exceptions to
    the basic rule that the gender and number of the predicate should follow
    those of the subject, "when the predicate precedes the subject."

    As one reviews the many preferences for the improbable over the probable
    meaning of the biblical text which dot the Concordist landscape, one can
    hardly avoid the awareness that the methodology in back of Concordism is
    identical to that in back of creation science, except that the latter
    distorts the scientific data much more often than the biblical data. They are
    both founded on the same unbiblical but popular idea that the inspiration of
    Scripture does not allow for accommodation to the science of the times. The
    fact that Scripture must be subordinated to the doctrine of absolute biblical
    inerrancy (even in creation science when it comes to the firmament and the
    rest of the biblical cosmology) is clear evidence that the doctrine stands
    above the Word of God; and that is the root problem.



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