Re: [asa] Protoplanet "without form and void"

From: George Cooper <>
Date: Thu Apr 03 2008 - 17:42:36 EDT

Hi Phil,

What I am providing is evidence for a specific literal interpretation that assumes the author is simply writing what he was allowed to observe. It also assumes that the Genesis account was limited in explanation since the author had no astronomical knowledge. Only in the last decade has mankind been able to see, though just barely, details of other newly forming star systems. Of the nearly 300 exoplanets found, I think only one has actually been directly observed, though it may have been a brown dwarf instead. The image I linked to represents the first one with high enough resolution to find a void in the accretion disk.

This should not taken as a refutation of other interpretations; it is more speculative at this point. Also, this literal interpretation is not likely one that any of you are familiar, though I hope to learn others, somewhere, have presented it before me. It does offer some surprising concordance between most of the first chapters of Genesis and science. Further, not many Genesis interpretations offer any scientific predictions. This "void" (per the earlier link) within a planetary disk, however, is one of those predictions. Another is the blue "watery" disk appearance of certain early disks, and only within stellar nurseries.

So IMO it's not exegetically correct to connect a dark space around a protoplanet with the "void" in Genesis 1.

This literal interpretation takes the view that the author was simply giving an account of what he saw during the early time in our important "creation" history, such as when the Earth actually formed. Thus, it would not be illogical to read an ancient account that describes the Earth's protoplanetary disk region as "without form and void", which is nicely illustrated in the latest image (per the link). Also, notice that beyond the disk would appear as darkness or deep (space).

I've yet to see a really nice, clean interpretation for the waters above and below for Day 2, if the Earth had not been established till Day 3. However, since stellar nurseries would have numerous disks, then waters above and below might be observable, and they would separate, though very slowly on a normal time scale. No doubt, an ancient observer would be baffled as to what he was really observing, but he could still write what he saw and given an account glorifying God as the person responsible for all the creative efforts.

Also, when the earth was formless and void in Genesis 1, it already had an ocean. Darkness was on the surface of "the deep" (a term for the ocean) and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the "waters".

To have an ocean of water requires a planet to hold it. Further, even if we allow the Earth to have existed on Day 1, the Earth's ocean waters were not gathered until Day 3, as was specifically stated in the narrative. Once our observer was back on Earth, Day 3, his ability to describe what he sees would logically be much improved. Days 1 and 2 are much more cryptic accounts if, indeed, he was viewing things from space.

"Waters" in Genesis 1 are truly H20, not dusty gas.

I respect this view, but I would like to point out that there are no oceans above us. The watery blue above is due to gas, not water (< 4% composition in our atmosphere).

A protoplanet in a dusty disk would not yet have oceans of liquid H2O on the surface since it would be too hot and subject to frequent bombardment from other planetismals forming in the disk.

Indeed, no liquid water can form in space due to the vacuum. But Genesis' author does not state what exactly he is describing as water. If we assume he is simply doing the best he can to describe the amazing things he sees using his own limited vocabulary and knowledge, "waters" can describe either your view he sees in the sky ("waters above"), or my view of the blue gasseous, with a small percent of dust, accretion disk forming around a shrouded protostar -- the Sun. I like the latter since we do not have any substantial information that indicates Earth had formed into a planet at the time, Day 2, of his description of the waters above.

Only after the solar system has cleared out significantly can the planet remain cool long enough to support a stable ocean. From a Day-Age point of view, then, Genesis 1 would begin long after the protoplanet stage.

Yes, the protoplanetary disk would been long gone before oceans became established. Yet, since it was specifically stated that the "Earth was without form and void", then this suggests the possibility that the Earth may not have been already formed for the first two days. Again, either way, since there are no oceans in the sky, some slack must be given our author as to his meaning for "waters". Admittedly, both our views have their merits, and mine has the disadvantage of being the new kid on the block.

My greatest hope would be to stir some interest into finding scientists willing to weigh the merits of this special interpretation that is both illuminated and supported by actual, modern astronomical observations. [I've asked my pastor for an expert theologian for Genesis that would be open to discussing these ideas. Though he holds a PhD, he knew of none.]


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Received on Thu Apr 3 17:43:44 2008

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