In response to my last post, I’ve received requests for Biblical references to the details of the cosmology of Genesis. If you haven’t seen it, I made a table of details about the creation of the Universe according to Genesis in one column and science in the other.
|The earth is approximately 6000-7000 years old||The earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old|
|The universe is approximately 6000-7000 years old||The universe is about 14 billion years old|
|There is a dome above the atmosphere and a large body of water above the dome||No water, no dome, just dark empty space (or dark matter) above the atmosphere|
|The moon, sun, planets, and stars all move under or inside the dome||The moon is about 238,000 miles from earth, the sun 93,000,000 miles, the planets millions/billions of miles, and the stars light years away. Again, no dome.|
|The moon, sun, planets, and stars all orbit around the earth||The moon orbits the earth, the earth and other planets orbit the sun, and the stars are all outside the solar system|
|The earth is flat, there are pillars at the ends of the earth that hold up the sky-dome||The earth is a sphere, there are no ends of the earth|
|The first humans appeared 6,000-7,000 years ago||The first humans appeared anywhere from 300,000 to 700,000 years ago|
|No other hominid species are mentioned||Fossils of several other hominid species have been uncovered|
|The first life was plants. Microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and amoebae are never mentioned||The first life was microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and amoebae. Over time, they gained complexity to evolve into the forms of life named in Genesis 1|
|Adam lived to the ripe old age of 930||No 900+ year-old skeletons have ever been uncovered|
If you are interested in seeing references for the left column, here they are. I would also recommend this article, which explains the whole cosmology of the Bible pretty well, with diagrams https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-firmament-definition-and-meaning-in-the-bible.html
6,000-7,000 years ago for everything.
In a literal reading of Genesis 1, the creation of the universe, i.e., heaven and earth and everything in them, happens in six days. Literalists insist that these are 24-hour days because the activity for each day concludes with “evening and morning,” so all of it was made at the same time. The 6000-7000 year figure is what I’ve heard from people going through the genealogies to calculate the first year.
The dome that holds up the waters above: Genesis 1:6-8
The word in Hebrew is raki`a. Depending on the translation, it might say firmament, vault, or expanse. Whatever term you use, it has to be solid in order to hold up the waters above. It says on the second day of creation, God divided the waters above from the waters below, and commanded a raki`a to hold up the waters above. This was in preparation for dry land to appear.
They also believed there were windows in the vault, so rain or snow could fall (Genesis 7:11; Psalm 148:4; Isaiah 24:18). When I first read the flood story and saw this,
… the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened,(Genesis 7:11b KJV)
I thought the windows of heaven were metaphorical. No, when Genesis was written, they believed there were literal windows in the “firmament” to send rain on the earth. What happens when you open all the windows at once? How long can you tread water?
Plants were the first life forms on earth (Genesis 1:11). Fish and birds were on the fifth day (Genesis 1:20) while land animals were on the sixth (Genesis 1:25-26).
The sun, moon, stars, and other planets (back then, they didn’t distinguish between planets and stars) were placed “in the vault of the sky” (Genesis 1:15). That’s why they can talk about stars falling from the sky (Mark 13:25; Isaiah 34:4; Revelation 6:13). That’s also why they believed everything orbited around the earth.
Pillars holding up the sky come mostly from general cosmology of the time, but they are mentioned in Job 26:11 (cf. 2 Samuel 22:8).
Adam died at 930 years old (Genesis 5:5). It seemed most people lived into 700’s to 900’s before the flood, then lifespans gradually came down to “normal.” But as I said, with all the old skeletons we’ve found, none are even close to those early Biblical lifespans.
Fun fact: The oldest person in the Bible was Methuselah, who lived 969 years (Genesis 5:27). No one lived to 1,000. Rabbinic commentaries say this goes back to God’s warning that “in the day you eat it, you will die” (Genesis 2:17). Psalm 90:4 says 1,000 years are a day in God’s sight, so even with their long lives, everyone in those early generations died within “a day” (1.000 years).
Questions about the creation account in Genesis are bound to come up when you start learning about what is considered “common knowledge” in the scientific community. Everything in the right column of the table is common knowledge. For some people, that messes with their theology. But what I have found is in science, nothing gets to be “common knowledge” without a whole lot of evidence to back it up. Science doesn’t care about belief. It only cares about evidence, and that’s a good thing. You may have a hard time believing that now, but decades of faith deconstruction followed by reconstruction have convinced me of one thing. Your salvation does not depend on believing everything in the book of Genesis is literal. It is still possible to read it in a nonliteral way and still get meaning out of it.
If you need an example, I wrote more on the heavenly bodies back when we had that eclipse in 2017. I talk about the meaning of the creation of the heavenly bodies beyond a literal reading of Genesis 1:14-19. https://davidandersontheauthor.com/2017/09/05/and-evening-and-morning-were-the-first-day-or-was-it-the-fourth/