Natural History 2 – an introduction to biblical cosmology continued

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted February 27, 2017, slightly edited on October 13, 2017

In my blog of February 20, 2017, I commenced a four-part series on natural history in the Bible. The first part was devoted to a discussion of the cosmology in Genesis 1:1 – 2:3, which  I call the Creation Chronicle. This second part will continue that discussion.

Day 1 continued

KJV Genesis 1:2-52 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. 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.

Making sense of verses 1:2-3 depends upon the wisdom of the Ancients, who drew a distinction among what they called ontological orders.[1] With the addition of the probable Realm, they can be listed as follows:

⇒ Order 1 – The primordial realm, which the Ancients called materia prima. It is a world of something, but the something is undifferentiated – i.e. without forms or substances.

⇒ Order 2 – The possible realm, which the ancients called materia secunda. It is a world of potential or generic forms and substances in which a geometer can form spheres, polyhedrons, etc. – the three dimensional equivalent of a two dimensional plane on which a geometer can inscribe points, lines, circles, polygons, etc. It is the result of God’s bestowal or impression of structure on the primordial realm. Characteristics of this structure would be the fundamental or theoretically un-derivable principles of Universe which physicists often call “laws” – e.g. the 1st Law of Thermodynamics.

⇒ Order 3 – The probable realm, which current scientists call the quantum world and I call materia tertium. It is a world of probable forms and substances. It is a half-way house between the possible realm and the actual realm. It cannot be perceived directly by a creature’s unaided senses, but can only be apprehended through the media of the scientists’ models and measurements.

⇒ Order 4 – The actual realm, which we call the real world and I call materia quarto. It is a world of unique forms and substances. It can be perceived by a creature’s unaided senses (although the process by which this perception occurs is a mystery). Initially it was a vast globe of water, which was probably the result of the Holy Spirit infusing the materia tertium with energy, which produced heat and light on one side of the globe. It is sub-divided into four sub-realms or kingdoms:[2]

→ Order 4a – The mineral kingdom, which consists of inorganic matter – i.e. inanimate, inert elements and compounds.

→ Order 4b – The plant kingdom, which consists of energy-binding, organic, matter – i.e. animate, but unconscious and immobile matter.

→ Order 4c – The animal kingdom (animals, birds, fish, insects, etc.), which consists of energy-and-space-binding, organic matter – i.e. animate, conscious, and mobile beings with a very limited ability to create information and artifacts and then transmit them through time.

→ Order 4d – The human kingdom, which consists of energy-space-and-time- binding, organic matter. – i.e. animate, self-conscious and mobile beings with a nearly unlimited ability to create information and artifacts and then transmit them through time.

⇒ Order 5 – The celestial realm, which is occupied by angels and demons.

⇒ Order 6 – The divine realm, which is occupied by the Godhead, which consists of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

With the above distinctions in mind, verse 1:2 – “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.” – can be parsed as follows:

 ⇒ “the earth” here refers to the primordial realm. It cannot refer to the Earth of verse 1 or to the Earth as we know it, because it was “without form and void.”[3] It must refer to matter, but to matter in a primordial state in which it was without form or substance.

⇒ “darkness” here refers to more than an absence of light. It also refers to a lack of energy.

⇒ “the deep” refers to the same matter in a primordial state, but conveys the sense of its being an abyss – an abyss of formless, substance-less, energy-less something-ness.

⇒ “…the Spirit of God moved…” (KJV) – or “hovered” (NIV) – refers to God’s bestowal or impression of structure on this matter in the primordial state, thereby transforming it into matter in a potential state.

 ⇒ “the waters” probably refers to matter in a subsequent state. “The deep” is a customary term for fathomless water. “The waters” is also a customary term for fathomless water. The use of different terms for the same matter, however, suggests that its state has changed. It is now in a possible state.

Verse 1:3 – “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” – records the injection of light or energy into “the waters.” Thus “the waters” were transformed into a globe of water with its center at the center of Universe.[4] What was possibly water became actual water, and I surmise that this transformation had something to do with the imparting of energy into it.

Verses 3-5 record the illumination of God’s creation by either (a) forces within the globe of water itself or (b) God himself. If the illumination had derived from forces within the globe of water, however, it probably would have been uniformly distributed, whereas these verses indicate that only a portion of the globe was lit. “…God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” Moreover, a source of light which illuminated one hemisphere, but left the other hemisphere in darkness must have been outside the globe of water. This suggests that there was a spherical shell above and surrounding the globe of water that consisted of something other than water, the outer edge of which constituted the border of Universe. Finally, God-the-Son said, “I am the light of the world.”[5] Whereas God-the-Spirit handled the transition from the primordial realm to the potential realm, which is described in verse 2, God-the-Son handled the transition from the potential realm to the actual realm by providing the initial light in God’s creation.

Thus, at the end of Day 1, Universe consisted of a sphere with two parts: [6]

⇒ Part A – Matter – a giant globe of water, illuminated on one side, at Universe’s center and

⇒ Part B – Space – a spherical shell of unknown composition and thickness, above and surrounding the matter (see the 2nd heaven below for more information).

Day 2

 KJV Genesis 1:6-86 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.

On the second day, God divided Part A – Matter (the giant globe of water) into three parts or spatial segments – Not part of the geologic record.

⇒ Part A-1 – a small globe of water, a watery earth, at Universe’s center, which is identified as “the waters which were under the firmament” (Genesis 1:7). It would provide the material for Earth.

⇒ Part A-2 – an intermediate spherical shell of water of unknown thickness, above and surrounding the small globe of water. It is identified as “the firmament,” “heaven,” and “the expanse.” [7] Some commentators identify the expanse as Earth’s atmosphere. If one calls Earth’s atmosphere “Heaven,” however, what does one call interstellar space, where reside the sun, moon, and stars? Moreover, verses 1:14 and 1:16 make clear that the sun, moon, and stars lie in the firmament. “And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven….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.” Thus firmament would provide the material for interstellar space – i.e. the 1st

⇒ Part A-3 – an outer spherical shell of water of unknown thickness,[8] above and surrounding the firmament. It is identified as “the waters which were above the firmament” (Genesis 1:7). I call it the upper waters.

Thus, at the end of Day 2, Universe consisted of four parts or spatial segments: [9]

⇒Part A-1 – a small globe of water at Universe’s center – i.e. a watery earth.

⇒Part A-2 – a spherical shell of water above and surrounding the small globe of water – i.e. the firmament.

⇒Part A-3 – a spherical shell of water above and surrounding the firmament – i.e. the upper waters.

⇒ Part B – a spherical shell of unknown composition and thickness above and surrounding the upper waters – i.e. the 2nd heaven (referenced above). Its outer edge is the border of Universe. It has not been detected; its existence is implied by the Bible’s references to a 1st heaven (Revelation 21:1) and a 3rd heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2), in between which there must be a 2nd heaven.[10]

 Day 3

 KJV Genesis 1:9-13 – 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. 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.

 On the third day, God divided and transformed Part A-1 – the small globe of water – into three parts or spatial segments:

⇒ Part A-1-a – the land – a solid globe of minerals at its center, which God further divided into three main parts or spatial segments:

→ Part A-1-a-(1) – the core, which consists of iron & nickel. Its radius is 2,142 miles.

→ Part A-1-a-(2) – The mantle, which consists of spherical shell of silicates above and surrounding the core. It is 1,789-1,810 miles thick.

→ Part A-1-a-(3) – The lithosphere, which initially consisted of a spherical shell of rocks above and surrounding the mantle. (After God later elevated a portion of it above sea level, it became 63 miles thick, which includes the crust (4-25 miles thick) and the top portion of the upper mantle.)

⇒ Part A-1-b – the sea – It initially consisted of a spherical shell of water above and surrounding the lithosphere. (After God later elevated a portion of the lithosphere above sea level, it became 0-6.8 miles deep.)

⇒ Part A-1-c – the air or atmosphere – It consists of a spherical shell of gases (78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.09% argon, 0.03% carbon dioxide, and traces of several others) above and surrounding the globe. Its inner edge borders on the globe’s surface; its outer edge, on the 1st heaven. It extends approximately 435 miles above the earth’s surface. It is divided into five main parts or layers by temperature:

→ Part A-1-c-(1) – the troposphere (0-7 miles),

→ Part A-1-c-(2) – the stratosphere (7-31 miles),

→ Part A-1-c-(3) – the mesosphere (31-50 miles),

→Part A-1-c-(4) – the thermosphere (50-440 miles), and

→Part A-1-c-(5) – the exosphere (440-6,200 miles).

God then adjusted the interface between the land and the sea – probably using tectonic upheavals within the lithosphere – so that the surface of the matter below the air was divided into two segments:

⇒ A single continent, which appeared out of the sea.

⇒ A single sea, which surrounded the land.

God then created flora on the land and in the sea.

 Day 4

 KJV Genesis 1:14-1914 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.

 On the fourth day, God transformed the firmament into interstellar space, the first heaven. Its content by mass is primarily electromagnetic plasma (est. 96%) and secondarily astronomical bodies (est. 4%), such as stars, planets, moons, asteroids, and comets which occur within astronomical objects such as galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and planetary systems – starting with the earth’s sun and moon. Its extent is unknown.

God refers to the astronomical bodies and objects as lights, and he explains that he intends the sun to rule the day, the moon to rule the night, and the other lights in the firmament to mark (a) the signs and (b) the years, seasons, and days.

Day 5

 KJV Genesis 1:20-2320 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. 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.

On the fifth day, God created the fish and the fowl – first the fish to populate the sea and then the fowl to populate the air.

Day 6

 KJV Genesis 1:24-3124 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. 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.

 On the sixth day, God created animals and humans – first the beasts, insects, etc. to populate the land and then humans to populate and subdue (cultivate) the entire earth and to exercise dominion over all other living creatures. In other words, God made humans to be the stewards of the earth.

 Day 7

KJV Genesis 2:1-3 – 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. 

On the seventh day, after finishing Universe, which consisted of the earth, the first heaven, the upper waters, and the second heaven. God rested from his work of creating and sanctified the seventh day as a day of rest.

 Length of each creation day

The phrase “the evening and the morning were the…day” with which the author ends the record of each of the first six days indicates that an exact, twenty-four day is meant, and that the delimiting of the day should start with night-time and end with day-time – i.e. following the order of creation, in which darkness preceded light.

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.

_________________________________________________________

[1] My acceptance of the ontological orders of the ancients owes much to three books by Wolfgand Smith: Cosmos & Transendence – Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientific Belief, Sophia Perennis, San Rafael CA, 2008; Quantum Enigma – Finding the Hidden Key, The (1995), Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale NY, 2005; and Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology – Contemporary Science if the Light of Tradition, The, Foundation for Traditional Studies, Oakton VA, 2003.

[2] Here I make use of the classes of life suggested by Alfred Korzybski in his Manhood of Humanity, (1921), International Non-aristotelian Library Publishing Company, Lakeville CT, 1950.

[3] The Hebrew word “bohuw” or bo’-hoo (Strong’s #922) is used only twice in the Bible (Genesis 1:2 and Jeremiah 4:23), and its second use appears to be quoting its first use. The word means void, empty, or vacant, or vacuous.

[4] If matter began as water at Universe’s center, it would have taken the form of a globe, because water maintains a common level. It is interesting to note that the Maidu of Central California, whom the anthropologist and ethnologist William Schmidt (1868-1954) identified as one of the oldest primitive cultures on earth, believed that the earth was, in the beginning, only a great sea (see Schmidt, Wilhelm, The Origin and Growth of Religion – Facts and Theories,  (1916-1930), Wythe-North Publishing, Proctorville OH, 2014, p. 189, where he cites R..B. Dixon, “The Northern Maidu,” in Bulletin of American Museum of Natural History, Vol. XVIII, 1905, p. 335).

[5] John 8:12 and 9:5.

[6] Here I commence using a somewhat cumbersome system of notation to make clear where each piece of creation originated.

[7] “Firmament” in the King James Version (KJV), the Revised Standard Version, and the American Standard Version (ASV); “expanse” in the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and Young’s Literal Translation; “space” in the New Living Translation.

[8] “Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heaven” (KJV Psalm 148:4).

[9] For a cosmological theory which accounts for these spatial orders, see D. Russell Humphreys’ Starlight and Time, Master Books, Colorado Springs CO, 1994.

[10] Outside Universe is the Third Heaven. Its content and extent are unknown. It has not been detected; its existence is established by the biblical account (2 Colossians 12:2).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *