Re: Gen 1 and Concordism

Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 03:05:18 EST

  • Next message: Robert Schneider: "Re: Human origins and doctrine"

    PS:<< > So, science is saying, First came dry land; after that came ocean(s),
    > Gen 1 presents, First came an ocean before Day 1, after that dry land
    > appeared on Day Three.
     PR: Has any "concordist" ever claimed Gen.1 (or any other biblical account)
     provides a _complete_ description of _all_ that happened? Of course, an
     earth aggregated by impacts between planetesimals could not have an
     ocean from the start. But Gen.1 does not claim so at all, unless you
     needlessly _assume_ that v.1 is the title and v.2 presents the very
     starting moment of creation, without any possibility of anything
     originating before the ocean-covered earth. But this is a straw man.>>

    PS: Whether Gen 1:1 is a title or means, "When God began to create...", or
    means, "God created the raw material of heaven and earth", Gen 1:2 is prior
    to the sun, moon, and earth being organized into functioning bodies. It is a
    novel interpretation to say that Gen 1:1 is talking about the creation of the
    sun, moon, stars and earth in a virtually finished form prior to 1:2. Neither
    the Jews nor the Church understood the text that way and neither do the vast
    majority of modern biblical scholars.
    The sea in Gen 1:2 is not a normal sea around an aggregated earth, not a yam
    as in Gen 1:10, but Tehom (a personal Name), _the_ Primeval Sea, part of
    which is later formed into the normal sea around and under the earth, and
    part of which is placed above the firmament. It is typical of Near Eastern
    creation stories to speak of that which is prior to creation, and Gen 1:2
    fulfills that function. The text has no place for a previous molten then
    hardened crust of the earth, then an ocean, etc. That is contrary to the
    intent and grenre of Gen 1:2.
    Claus Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 102-110; Gordon Wenham, Genesis 1-15, pp.

    PR: More recent evidence than the one available to John Wiester in 1983 (or
    1992 for the 3rd printing I happen to have available) indicates that by
    4.4 Ga ago, the earth had an ocean and crust subjected to erosion of
    some kind: Wilde S.A., Valley J.W., Peck W.H., Graham C.M. "Evidence
    from detrital zircons for the existence of continental crust and oceans
    on the Earth 4.4 Gyr ago", Nature 409 (2001), 175-178. Halliday A.N. "In
    the beginning... (earth science)", Nature 409 (2001), 144-145,
    commented: "By 4.51 billion to 4.45 billion years ago, the Earth had
    reached its present mass... In its early stages Earth probably had a
    magma ocean, sustained by heat from impacts and the blanketing effects
    of a dense atmosphere, but much of that atmosphere would have been lost
    with the dispersion of the solar nebula and during planetary collisions.
    The earth would then have cooled quickly..." He indicates that by 4.47
    Ga ago, i.e. just 70 million years before the zircons indicative of
    crust erosion and ocean were formed, the Earth's accretion, core
    formation and degassing was essentially complete. This implies that the
    ocean itself was formed still earlier than the zircons. Sleep N.H.,
    Zahnle K., Neuhoff P.S. "Initiation of clement surface conditions on the
    earliest Earth", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 98
    (2001), 3666-3672, wrote: "Extensive surface water of indeterminate
    temperature and long-lived continental crust were present by 4.4 billion
    years ago. Surficial weathering by liquid water between 0 and 100C
    occurred by 4.2 billion years ago" (or earlier); and: "... likely a
    massive atmosphere blanketed the earth." Mojzsis S.J., Harrison T.M.,
    Pidgeon R.T. "Oxygen-isotope evidence from ancient zircons for liquid
    water at the Earth's surface 4,300 Myr ago", Nature 409 (2001), 178-181.

    Collerson K.D., Kamber B.S. "Evolution of the continents and the
    atmosphere inferred from the Th-U-Nb systematics of the depleted
    mantle", Science 283 (1999), 1519-1522, and Nyblade A.A. "Hard-cored
    continents (Earth science)", Nature 411 (2001), 38-39, indicate that the
    growth of the continents occurred unevenly, greatly increasing between 3
    and 2 Ga ago, combined with an increase in tectonic activity (with its
    mountain building), in atmospheric oxygen (at 2 Ga ago), in weathering
    and sedimentation.

    PS: As you admit, there is no evidence that the ocean of 4.4 Ga was a global
    ocean. Indeed, those who speak of an ocean at that early date speak of oceans
    and continents, e.g., "the existence of continental crust and oceans on the
    Earth 4.4 Gyr ago", Nature 409 (2001), 175-178.; so, not a global ocean.
    There is no scientific evidence that the earth ever had a global ocean; and
    all the evidence which we have tells us the oceans throughout earth history
    were less than global. That does not mean there could not have been one; but
    it does mean you cannot make a strong case that Gen 1:2 is in concord with
    science. And in fact, no global ocean is going to correspond to the Tehom of
    Gen 1:2 because the Tehom is the _immediate_ source of our present oceans
    (see below)---not to mention being the source of an ocean under the (flat)
    earth (Psa 24:2; 136:6; Gen 7:11) and above the sky (Gen 1:6-9; Psa 148:4).

    PR: The dry land capable of carrying land plants required some geochemical
    preparation through these processes. Certainly, "day 3" represents a
    very long epoch which began around 4.47 Ga ago (or later) with the
    formation of the first continents, and plant colonization of the dry
    land starting before 1.2 Ga ago.>>

    PS: Since you are putting Gen 1:2 at 4.4 or 4.47 Ga, if you have "day 3'"
    begin "around 4.47 Ga" you have Day 3 beginning even before Day 1. Surely
    that exceeds credibility. Day 3 speaks of the dry land appearing at the same
    time that the part of the Tehom which was placed around the earth is
    "gathered into one place." Since you have allowed yourself the room of "(or
    later)," when do you really want to start Day 3? When does the global ocean
    of Gen 1:2 become divided into two parts (Day 2); and when does the part that
    is below the firmament become "gathered into one place" (Gen 1:9) , into our
    present ocean, so that the dry land appears?

    You cited Robert F. "The origin of water on Earth (perspectives: isotope
    geochemistry)", Science 293 (2001), 1056-1058, and said the article
    "indicates that, according to the D/H isotopic signal, the water of the
    _present_ oceans was probably
    derived from a few late giant impactors from the Kuyper belt. As such
    impacts would melt the earth's surface and _vaporise any water on it_,
    this means that the water of the _present_ ocean was present as thick
    water vapor clouds when the earth cooled sufficiently to let an ocean
    condense (alternatively, the water-containing impactors might have been
    incorporated into the earth's mantle, and the water would have
    resurfaced through many volcanoes). Both impacts and volcanic eruptions
    would have enriched the atmosphere with many other materials, in
    addition to the water, and all this would certainly have produced

    In the Bible our present ocean is not formed until Day 3. It is then formed
    immediately and directly from the waters of the global ocean (the Tehom of
    Gen 1:2) by simply dividing the global ocean into two parts and gathering the
    lower part into one place on the earth (Gen 1:7, 9, 10). In the Bible the
    present ocean(s) is made _directly_ from the global ocean. There are no
    intermediate steps, no place or room for either "water vapor clouds" or
    outgassing of volcanoes. That is just one reason you will never achieve
    concord between the biblical cosmology and the scientific one.

    PS:> 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.

    PR: You apparently misunderstood Wiester's (and others') description. Not
    all systems we call atmospheres today are the same thing. A hot mix of
    water vapor and various other gases and dust beginning directly above
    the earth's hot surface is not identical to a clear gas mix without any
    condensed water droplets between an ocean and a cloud cover. Would the
    raqia' have to refer to both? I don't think so. The Bible is not a
    science textbook! Its language is phenomenological (which is not the
    same as accommodating myths!) and describes things as they would appear
    to human observers. What was new on "day 2" was the separation between
    the waters below the expanse and the waters above the expanse. An
    observer would have seen the sea, the clouds, and the room in-between.
    The latter is what is new. I.e., God made [or developed, 'asah] this
    expanse in-between, by letting the earth cool down sufficiently to start
    the water cycle between the now clearly separated bodies of water (and
    tuning the chemical element cycles to keep it going). The raqia' would
    not be co-extensive with the atmosphere in the modern scientific sense,
    whose density decreases continuously with hight, with no definable upper
    limit. The raqia' is what is experientially defined by the ocean below,
    the clouds above, the air (which can be felt) in it, and the flying
    creatures in or on the air or seen in front of e.g. the clouds.>>

    PS: All earthly atmospheres begin at the surface of the ocean; so, you are
    saying the raqia' is not the atmosphere, it is the atmosphere after it became
    clear enough to see the clouds above but not the sun; and this occurred while
    there was a global ocean on earth. Since this occurred on Day 2, the clearing
    of the atmosphere occured before the global ocean (the Tehom) became a
    limited ocean on Day 3. But in your citation of Robert F above, you say the
    present oceans were accompanied by an atmosphere "with many other materials,
    in addition to the water, and all this would certainly have produced
    darkness." So, your clear atmosphere of Day 2 turns to total darkness on Day
    3, the same Day plants appear on earth. What was God's purpose in making a
    clear atmosphere on Day 2 when he was just going to turn it into total
    darkness on Day 3? If your science is correct, you have poor concord with
    the biblical account.

    More importantly, you have no objective basis for turning the raqia'', the
    firmament, into clear atmosphere in the space between the ocean and the
    clouds above. The raqia' is the sky. It is in back of the clouds above. The
    sun, moon and stars are located in it (Gen 1:15, 17), so it is not between
    the ocean and the clouds. You are contradicting the Bible. This is not to
    mention that there is considerable evidence indicating that a raqia' is
    something solid, and no evidence whatsoever which suggests that the raqia' is

    In addition, the "waters above" in Gen 1:7 are "the" waters of Gen 1:6, which
    means they have an antecedent; and that antecedent is in v. 2, "the waters"
    of the Tehom. The Tehom is a Deep sea. When a sea is split in two you get two
    seas, not a sea and clouds. There is no suggestion in the text that the
    waters above the firmament were clouds, and the historical context agrees
    with the biblical context that the water above is water in liquid form, a
    sea, not clouds. You are reading the biblical text through the eyes of modern
    Western thought instead of seeing it in its ancient Near Eastern setting and
    If you want to read the biblical text in context, I suggest you read Gordon
    Wenham, Genesis 1-15, xlvi-l; and it would be a good idea to read some of the
    books in his listed bibliography. Also, E. A. Speiser, Genesis, 3-13.

    PR: If you don't take the entire body of our interpretations in Gen.1-2 as a
    whole, but pick individual statements out of the context, you can
    produce one straw man after another... Could it be that your theory is
    determining your interpretation? I agree that the "them" in v.17 refers
    to the "lights" prepared in v.16, but these are not the heavenly bodies,
    but their light coming to the earth. The context of v.16 doesn't force
    us to see in it the creation of heavenly bodies ('asah, not bara'). The
    heavens, with stars, sun, earth and moon, originated in the creation and
    subsequent development "in the beginning" (v.1). In v.16, God developed
    their lights, or the effects of their light coming to the earth, by a
    development modifying the properties of the atmosphere, into which these
    lights now were given (v.17), so that they could penetrate down to the
    earth's surface. This also fits with the raqia' being the expanse below
    the clouds, not the scientifically defined atmosphere extending far into
    space. I don't see why "the lights" (ma'orim) cannot be "the light of
    the sun and the light of the moon and the lights of the stars". It is
    certainly these which give the space and time orientation they are
    supposed to provide.>>

    PS: I can see that the changing of the "lights" of Gen 1:16, 17 from the sun,
    moon and stars into light rays is necessary in order to keep intact the
    revision of the firmament into atmosphere and the "waters above" into clouds.
    But, according to the most up-to-day and thorough Hebrew lexicon (KB in 4
    volumes) the ma'oroth, the "lights" of Gen 1:16, 17 are _sources_ of light,
    not light rays. A ma'or is a lamp (e.g. Ex 25:6). The light rays from the
    sun, moon and stars are not ma'or, but simply 'or (Isa 30:26). Your concord
    here involves rewriting the Bible.


    Peter, you are very bright and I am sure you are a very capable chemist; but,
    your understanding of the nature of Gen 1-11 is simply "wrong-headed.". You
    will do yourself a big favor by reading at least half a dozen commentaries on
    Genesis by biblical scholars trained in the ancient Near Eastern languages
    and literature. I suggest those by Claus Westermann, Gordon Wenham, Victor
    Hamilton, John Walton, E. A. Speiser, and Umberto Cassuto.

    Best wishes,



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