Does Genesis teach solid-dome cosmology?

A Response to Denis Lamoureux

Denis Lamoureux is one of the most popular proponents today of non-concordism—the idea that God never intended the Bible to be accurate in its scientific and historical assertions.  This is a little different than the normal “alternative interpretations,” as it contends God purposely expressed theological concepts through false human ideas—namely, primitive sciences.  The thinking is that in order for God to effectively communicate certain theological truths, He had to frame them in a way the ancients could understand and accept.

solid dome cosmology diagram 1In particular, Lamoureux believes the Bible advocates the idea of a solid dome in the sky that holds back a heavenly ocean—a view that was once popular in the ancient world.  Of course, we know the sky is not solid, but, at one time, this was the prevailing science.  Ancient astronomers once believed the sun, moon and stars were embedded in a solid dome which served as a barrier between the heavenly and earthly realms.  This barrier also held up a massive heavenly ocean.

The implication is that the Bible is not accurate about these matters, therefore, we need to stop expecting it to be.  It is still the word of God, and authoritative when conveying theological truths, but the presence of false cosmologies in the Text indicates we need to rethink our understanding of inerrancy.  As Lamoureux puts it,

An examination of the structure and origin of the heavens in Scripture offers an opportunity to reconsider the popular assumption that statements in the Bible align with the facts of nature. The ancient Near Eastern notion of a solid firmament upholding a heavenly sea appears in the Word of God. An approach to inerrancy without concordism is proposed that is rooted in the very words of the Bible and modeled upon the Incarnation. The implications of ancient science in Scripture for the evangelical debate on origins are considered.1

In other words, there is no need to try to harmonize the Bible with modern scientific understandings of the cosmos. God was not trying to teach us about cosmology.  Therefore, we are free to believe the naturalistic theories of our day, no matter how much they contradict the Text. God was just inserting recognized ancient sciences, in order to make theological points.

There’s another subtle challenge in his quote, to those of us who hold to Biblical inerrancy. “If, for the sake of inerrancy, you accept literal days of creation, literal chronologies, and a literal flood, then you also must accept a flat-earth, a solid dome sky, and geocentrism.”  Such arguments have always been popular among skeptics, but are now championed by a growing number of Christian leaders.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at Lamoureux’s case for non-concordism, mainly from his article, Lessons from the Heavens: On Scripture, Science and Inerrancy.  In particular, we’ll examine his premise—that solid dome cosmology is found in the Bible. We’ll look at his etymological arguments, as well as his proof-texts. We’ll also take a look at day 2 of creation, and his critique of the ‘vapor canopy theory.’  Finally we’ll take a look at the influence ANE culture, and the error of trying to impose their cosmologies onto the book of Genesis.

Brief explanation of terms

Concordism is the idea that science and biblical revelation are in accord, and never contradict one another when correctly interpreted. This assertion needs clarification, though, for scripture alone is the final authority on each and every matter it addresses.  Science can never be as reliable as the biblical record and, therefore, clear teachings of the Bible should always take precedence.  Perhaps a better way of understanding concordism is that the Bible will always be in accord with reality—specifically in regard to facts about nature and history.

Non-concordism, on the other hand, is the idea that scripture is not in accord with reality in its descriptions of nature and history.  In addition, it also asserts God intentionally got it wrong, and never meant the inspired text to be read literally in that regard. 

Solid-dome cosmology?

Lamoureux cites Genesis 1:6-8 as the primary text supporting solid dome cosmology. I’ll use the New King James Version of the Bible which uses the term “firmament” in its translation.

Gen. 1:6   Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”  7 Thus 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. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

Many modern bibles use the word “expanse,” but Lamoureux doesn’t believe this translation of the Hebrew term, raqiya’ is justified. He believes the etymology of the word implies something hard and flat, rather than something expanded and open.

The Hebrew word raqîa‘ does not refer to the troposphere or outer space. Ancient Near Eastern astronomers believed that the world was enclosed by a solid dome overhead that upheld a sea of water.  In fact, this ancient science is reflected in the etymology. The noun raqîa‘ derives from the verb raqa‘ which means to “flatten,” “stamp down,” “spread out,” and “hammer out.” That is, this Hebrew verb carries a nuance of flattening something solid rather than forming a broad open space like the atmosphere. Exodus 39:3 and Isa. 40:19 use raqa‘ for pounding metals into thin plates, and Num. 16:38 employs riqqua‘ (broad plate) in a similar context. The verb raqa‘ is even found in a passage referring to the creation of the sky, which is understood to be a firm surface like a metal. Job 37:18 asks, “Can you join God in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” 1

You’ll notice, though, in the above explanation, he’s not referring to instances of the term raqiya’ itself.  Instead he’s looking at its verbal root and other root forms.  In addition, he looking at ancient cosmologies, and even at statements by Job’s critics for insight.

Perhaps this is because the actual word raqiya’ is rare in the Old Testament.  It only occurs 17 times—9 in Genesis, 5 in Ezekiel, 2 in Psalms, and 1 in Daniel. Of those, none are used in a way that gives clear insight into its precise meaning.  Therefore, it’s understandable why he looking into these other areas.

But there’s one key element that Lamoureux has missed, that really is the key to this entire issue.  And it’s a key that makes all these other avenues of investigation unnecessary.

The Firmament Defined as Heaven

raqiya’ happens to be one of the few words in the Bible that is defined by God, Himself.

Gen. 1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven.

Sometimes it’s necessary to employ a number of methods to determine meanings of ancient biblical words, but we’re very fortunate in this case.  God, Himself, defined raqiya’. He named it shamayim (the heavens). If you want to know what the firmament is, look to Genesis 1:8.  The heavens are what God named the firmament. There is an unmistakable one-to-one correspondence.2 Whatever the firmament was in Genesis chapter 1, that is what heaven is.  And whatever heaven is, that is what the firmament of Genesis is.

And while occurrences of raqiya‘ are few, we have a multitude of occurrences of shamayim all over the Old Testament (over 400, compared to 17 of raqiya’ and 11 of its verbal form raqa’). This should be more than enough data to determine how the biblical writers understood the term, shamayim, and, by extension, raqiya’.  In other words, our investigation, just got a whole lot easier.

The Clouds of Heaven

Heaven is the dwelling place of many things. The sun, moon and stars are in the Heavens (Gen. 1:14-18).  Birds are said to fly at the base of the heavens (Gen. 1:20).  But there is another occupant many overlook—clouds (Deut. 33:26, Judg. 5:4, Job 20:6, Job 38:37, Psa. 78:23)

Dan. 7:13 “…And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! ….”

solid-dome-cosmology-2Of all heavenly bodies, these might be the most helpful.  It is not clear to the naked eye whether or not the sun, moon or stars are floating in an open expanse.  But this is not so with clouds. They are clearly in an open expanse, and more importantly, are clearly not embedded in a solid barrier in the sky

If the ancient biblical writers thought the firmament (named heaven) was solid, why would they consider clouds to be in it?  They should have described them as floating below the heavens.  Clouds of heaven doesn’t fit the context of ancient cosmology.

Rain from Heaven

Rain from heaven is another phrase that gives us insight into the biblical writers’ view of heaven.  Rain is said to be from heaven (Deut. 11:11, Deut. 28:24, 2Sam. 21:10, Psa. 68:8), and there’s no question the ancients understood rainclouds as the source of rain.  Rainclouds are obviously in an open expanse, therefore heaven must have been understood as an open expanse.

A tower whose top is in the heavens

Buildings whose top are in the heavens also can give us insight.  The early descendants of Noah believed they could build towers that reached into heaven.

Gen. 114 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

solid dome cosmology diagram 3By all accounts, ancient man was intelligent, enjoying exceptionally long lifespans soon after the flood.  They were very good builders and smart enough to know that if heaven was a solid barrier high above the clouds, their buildings would never reach it. They would have, instead, referred to a tower under the heavens.

But if they believed heaven was an open expanse the passage makes perfect sense.  Their tall towers would literally reach into the expanse, called heaven.

These three examples effectively falsify Lamoureux’s premise that the firmament refers to a solid mass.  There is no need for lengthy sophisticated sounding arguments from etymology.  There is no reason to dig up ancient cosmologies. There is no need to quote Job’s fallible detractors.  God has provided everything we need to understand this term, using the key found in Gen. 1:8.

Proof-texts

But what about the verses Lamoureux cites about the firmament being something flat and hard? —Exodus 39:3, Isa. 40:19, Num. 16:38?

Ironically, none of these proof texts contain the terms raqiya’ or shamayim.  Instead, he cites words with similar roots, thinking their meanings must correspond.  But, language does not always follow rules like that.  Sometimes verbal and nounal forms don’t perfectly correspond.

Take, for example, the english noun ‘fire,’ and the verb ‘to fire.’  While the noun is a reference to actual flames, the verb refers to the termination of employment.  There is no logical correspondence.  Hearing the words, “your fired” may cause anxiety, but not from being burned. Context is always king, and usage the final arbitrator.

You’ll find it interesting that the verb raqa’, is never used in reference to the stretching out of the heavens.  It’s used in reference to the spreading of the land and other flat solid objects, but not the skies.  A different word, natah, is used for the stretching out (or extending out) of the heavens.  In fact, raqa’ and natah often appear together to show contrast.

Is. 42:5 Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched (natah) them out, Who spread forth (raqa’) the earth and that which comes from it….

Notice that the writer uses raqa’ to denote the flattening of the land, but natah for the stretching out of the heavens.  That’s because natal often denotes a three dimensional expansion like, for instance, the erecting of tents.

Gen. 33:19 And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched (natah) his tent….

Natah is also used in reference to extending things outward into space.

Ex. 9:22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out (natah) your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt….”

If the Bible writers viewed the heavens as an expanse rather than flat solid barrier, it’s easy to understand why they didn’t use the verb raqa’ to depict its expansion.

But doesn’t Job say, heaven is solid like metal?

Lamoureux also cites Job 37:18 as proof the Bible teaches a solid sky, and this is definitely a favorite verse of non-concordists.  The problem is, the word shamayim is not mentioned in this passage, and Job is not even the speaker.  This was a statement by one of Job’s counselors—Elihu—who was later rebuked by God for giving unenlightened counsel.  Now, while it’s possible Elihu believed in a solid sky (though unlikely as I’ll show), this quotation is not endorsed by God or Job. In fact, after Elihu was done speaking, God said this of him.  “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?…” (Job 38:2).3

That said, I don’t believe Elihu meant in this statement what Lamoureux and other non-concordists claim.

Job 37:18 With Him, have you spread out the skies, Strong as a cast metal mirror?

Note first, the word for skies here is not shamayim which is the name God gave to the raqiya’ (Gen. 1:8). The Hebrew word here is shachaq, and actually carries the idea of clouds, or perhaps cloudy skies, or the cloud-realm of the sky.

KM Hebrew Dictionary: clouds, skies.

Brown-Driver-Briggs: dust, cloud (as fine, thin) — 1. fine dust (sim. of insignif.). 2. (thin) cloud, usu.

This makes perfect sense when you look at the context of Elihu’s statements.  He was on a lengthy chapter-long diatribe about clouds.

Job 36:27 For He draws up drops of water, Which distill as rain from the mist, 28 Which the clouds drop down And pour abundantly on man. 29 Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, The thunder from His canopy?….. 32 He covers His hands with lightning, And commands it to strike. 33 His thunder declares it, The cattle also, concerning the rising storm… 37:2 Hear attentively the thunder of His voice, And the rumbling that comes from His mouth. 3 He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth. 4 After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, …. 5 God thunders marvelously with His voice; …. 6 For He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth’; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength…. 9 …. By the breath of God ice is given, And the broad waters are frozen. 11 Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds; He scatters His bright clouds. 12 And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, That they may do whatever He commands them On the face of the whole earth….. 15 Do you know when God dispatches them, And causes the light of His cloud to shine? 16 Do you know how the clouds are balanced, Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge? 17 Why are your garments hot, When He quiets the earth by the south wind? 

Elihu used clouds and their various functions to illustrate the power of God.  They are marvels which bring both life and death, relief and destruction. They are completely under God’s control.  He, then, finally asks Job,

18 With Him, have you spread out the skies (shachaq), Strong as a cast metal mirror?

Shachaq, seems more likely a reference to the clouds. The book of Job was written soon after the flood, perhaps during the ice age, as many creationists believe. Much is mentioned about ice and snow and storms, which were part of the flood aftermath.4  Elihu describes the cloudy skies as a ‘cast mirror’ likely as a metaphor. Mirrors, at that time, were probably a bit cloudy and the logical connection is not hard to see.

Also, the word for strong here is chazaq, which has a wide range of meanings—mighty, powerful, strong, hard, severe.  Rather than a reference to their physical solidity, it could be a reference to the power and destruction they can bring.  Elihu is asking Job, “did you spread out these awesome and powerful clouds that look like a mirror?”

Regardless of the exact intent, Elihu was not infallible and did not use the term shamayim or raqiya’.  This passage fails as a prooftext.

Lamoureux also cites Jeremiah, saying,

And Jer. 10:12–13 claims, “God stretches out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar.” 1

Here it is in context.

Jer. 10:12 He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. 13 When He utters His voice, There is a multitude of waters in the heavens: “And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”

Again, this is most obviously a reference to clouds, as rain and lightning are referenced.  The author even goes on to explain how clouds are formed by vapor ascending through evaporation.  I can’t fathom how anyone could see a heavenly ocean above a solid barrier in this passage.

Waters Above The Heavens?

The Bible also affirms the ancient astronomical concept of a heavenly body of water. On the second day of creation, the Creator makes solid raqiya and lifts the “waters above.” Psalm 104:2–3 states that “God stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.” In calling forth praise from the physical realities of the sun, moon and stars, Ps. 148:4 appeals to the heavenly sea, another real astronomical structure according to the ancient writer: “Praise the Lord you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.” 1

Interestingly, most creationists today agree that there are waters above the Heavens, which cannot be referring to the clouds.  These waters should not be called a sea, as that is not the name God gave them. But nevertheless, Scripture speaks of them in Psalm 148:4.  And the truth is, Biblical creationists were talking about them long before Lamoureux, based on an exegetical reading of the text. To explain, a little background is necessary.

The Vapor Canopy

There are two views concerning the waters of Genesis 1:6-8, and the expanse that separates them. One is the atmospheric view (my term) which contends that initially there was a large volume of water in the trooposphere early after creation.  This is often called the ‘vapor canopy theory’ which was held by many scientific creationists at one time. They contended that on day 2 God lifted a large volume of vapor into the atmosphere, and suspended it in a canopy of sorts.  The expanse between these waters in the sky and the ocean below was the earth’s atmosphere.  During the Noachian flood, this canopy burst and contributed greatly to the flooding.

It should be noted, however, that many (perhaps most) biblical creationists today have moved away from this theory, mainly for exegetical reasons (problems harmonizing it with the text).  Scripture says the firmament (expanse) contains the sun moon and stars (Gen. 1:16-17).  If the expanse was merely atmospheric in scope, this could not be the case. For we know these are far beyond our atmosphere. For more information on the textual and scientific problems with the vapor canopy theory, see. Explaining The Flood Without The Canopy. 5

Alternative view

The other view of the expanse is the cosmological view (also my term) which contends that the expanse of day two was much larger in scope.  This was first suggested by Dr. Russell Humphreys in his book, “Starlight and Time.”  He reasoned from the text that the expanse of Genesis 1:6-8 was actually the expansion of the cosmos. Later, on day 4, the sun, moon and stars were set in this expanse.  This could only have happened if it was a cosmological expanse.

Russell Humphreys diagram of the universeHumphreys also contended that the waters above could not have been vapor in our atmosphere, but would have had to have been a mass of interstellar water at the edges of our cosmos (see model to the right). The cosmological expanse view, therefore, requires us to take a second look at the nature of the original creation waters.  Lamoureux and others refer to them as a heavenly sea, but the Hebrew word for sea (yam) is never used of them.  “Ocean” or “sea” is what God named “gathered waters below” which were not formed until day 3.  The waters above the heavens just retain the generic term mayim (waters)—the waters above.

What exactly were they?  

Perhaps they were just that—water.  Perhaps these original waters were the basic elemental building-blocks of our world.  According to the text, they were used to make both the sea and the land.

Gen. 1:Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into 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 He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

Peter further comments on the fact that the earth itself (the land) was made out of water.

2Pet. 3:5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. (NIV)

Just as Christ the man made wine out of water, so Christ the Creator made our planet out of water—the waters below.  As for the waters above—apparently, they are still up there, somewhere at the edge of the Cosmos.

But wait!  Water in outer space at the edges of the cosmos?  Really?

What’s even more mind-boggling is that we may actually be seeing glimpses of these waters in our telescopes. As strange as it sounds, enormous water reservoirs have been detected in recent years in outer space by secular scientists.

Water really is everywhere. Two teams of astronomers, each led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. Looking from a distance of 30 billion trillion miles away into a quasar—one of the brightest and most violent objects in the cosmos—the researchers have found a mass of water vapor that’s at least 140 trillion times that of all the water in the world’s oceans combined, and 100,000 times more massive than the sun. Source 6

Yeah, it seems amazing to me too, but this is what modern scientists are saying.  From NASA,

“The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water,” said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.” Bradford leads one of the teams that made the discovery. His team’s research is partially funded by NASA and appears in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. full article 6

It appears even secular scientists believe water played a major role in the development of our universe. For further reading from the creationist perspective, see, Water Near Edge of Universe Bolsters Creation Cosmology.6

But what was the purpose of these waters? 

It’s a bit of a mystery, as scripture never tells us what became of them.  We’re only told they were taken up beyond the heavens (to the edges of the cosmos), and that they are still there.

Psa. 148:4 Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens!

Perhaps these unused waters will be used by God in the future, to form the new heavens and earth.  We can only speculate. The point, though, is, Lamoureux’s critique of the vapor canopy theory is not a critique of the Bible.  It was merely an early theory among creation scientists that appears to be losing steam (forgive the pun).  Any theory, even one with the best intentions, must conform to the text, and if it can’t, must be rejected.

The ANE Culture Fallacy

But isn’t Lamoureux correct in examining the cultural context of Genesis?

In theory, yes, but exactly what culture would that be?  ANE culture?  It is my view that Lamoureux is making the same error here he’s accusing others of—forcing a foreign context onto text.  He contends,

The astronomy found in God’s Word is the same as that found in the written works of nations surrounding God’s chosen people. 1

The problem is, the events recorded in Genesis are said to have taken place long before God’s chosen people came into existence—before the flood and the region of the near east existed.  Yes, Moses produced Genesis in its current form, but to him it was a historical account.  It must have been given to him.  The question is, from whom?

There are two possibilities. One is that God gave it to him directly, perhaps on Mt. Sinai via direct revelation. If this is the case, God is the source and would not have allowed cultural distortions to corrupt the story.

The other is that the Israelites had these accounts which had been passed down to them by their ancestors. Moses merely compiled and edited them into the book of Genesis under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This latter view—often called the Tablet Theory7—seems to fit much better with God’s normative methods of inspiration (Kings and Chronicles, for instance). This would also indicate the original documents may have come from the original patriarchs who were firsthand witnesses.  Henry Morris points out,

While this evidence is not conclusive, it does favor the explanation that, while Moses actually wrote the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, he served mainly as compiler and editor of the material in the Book of Genesis. This in no way minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit, who infallibly guided him in this process of compilation and editing, just as He later did the unknown compiler and editor of the Book of Kings and Chronicles. It would still be appropriate to include Genesis as one of the books of Moses, since he is the human writer responsible for its present form. In fact, this explanation gives further testimony to the authenticity of the events recorded in Genesis, since we can now recognize them all as firsthand testimony.8

Note also that Moses himself acknowledged the Israelites already possessed knowledge about their own history.

Deut. 32:7 “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you:…”

There is no reason to think that somehow the Israelites were ignorant about their history until Moses wrote Genesis.  What is more, if you take the genealogies literally (which I do), only 65 years separates the death of Joseph from the birth of Moses.9 It’s absurd to think that Moses was the first to give the Israelites their own history, or that somehow all was forgotten at the time he produced Genesis.

There’s also some very interesting internal evidence that Genesis was a compilation of pre-existing documents.  The “book of the generations of Adam” is mentioned in chapter 5, which would seem to be a book originally owned or authored by Adam himself.

Gen. 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. (NASB)

Literally from the Hebrew, “This [is] the book, of the accounts, of Adam.”  If the book of Genesis was given via dictation to Moses on Sinai, why would God embed a separate book inside of it?  The simple answer seems to be, He didn’t, but rather Moses had accesses to several ancient books, perhaps on clay tablets or some other medium. He then used them to compile Genesis, and cited the names of the original authors after each of their accounts.10

We also know from archeological finds that writing existed long before Moses or even Abraham. There is no need to assume the original source accounts were written during ANE times, and good reason to believe some were written in antediluvian times. For a more in-depth look at this subject, see, The Tablet Theory of Genesis Authorship.7

Lamoureux rightly points out that it is wrong to force modern ideas onto the Text.  But he fails to realize he’s making the same error when he forces ANE ideas onto Genesis, especially when Genesis, itself, claims to pre-date ANE culture.

A brief word about historical interpretations

But what about all those historical theologians that believed in a sold sky?

Lamoureux is correct that theologians of the past allowed the sciences of their day to seep into their interpretations. He cites quotes from Augustine and Luther who both alluded to a solid sky in their talks and writings. 1  But what’s the real lesson from this?

It’s very simple. Theologians have always been tempted to see the sciences of their day in the Bible.  Just like theologians today, they are trying to harmonize God’s word into man’s ideas.  This has always been man’s proclivity, as no one likes to be in conflict with scientists.

The Galileo affair, for example, was not a simple case of scientist vs. theologian.  Galileo’s opponents were his fellow astronomers—the aristotelian philosophers.  These were the scientists of his day and they were as dogmatic as the scientists of any age.  These were the ones who attacked him and his methodology.  And just like today, certain theologians had jumped onto the bandwagon of scientific consensus and attacked him as well.  For more on this see, The Galileo ‘twist’.9

Conclusion

biblical diagram of the heavensWhen the Bible is read in a straightforward logical way, a very clear understanding of the firmament emerges.  From the biblical writers’ perspective, it was not a barrier between heaven and earth.  It was rather, heaven itself.  “God called the firmament, heaven.” (Gen. 1:8)  When we allow the Bible to define its own terms, the mystery of the firmament disappears. No need for sophisticated arguments from etymology or ancient cosmologies. The firmament is the heavens, and the heavens are a vast open expanse that contained the clouds and luminaries.

And while its exact size and nature would have been a mystery, there is nothing about it that is compatible with ancient solid dome ideas. The comparison doesn’t hold water (obvious pun intended).  Despite what personal beliefs the ancient writers may have had about cosmology, the errors of ancient cosmology never made it into the Text. That, in and of itself, is a testimony of inspiration.

What is most disturbing, though, is how easily the argument is falsified.  One can only speculate how non-concordists like Lamoureux miss the raqiya’-shamayim connection.  But ultimately, all compromised views come down to the same basic temptation.  “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1) 

Footnotes

1. Lessons from the Heavens: On Scripture, Science and Inerrancy (Denis O. Lamoureux)

2. This was a point JP Holding made in his article: Is the Raqiya‘ (‘Firmament’) a Solid Dome?

3. There is some debate about whether or not this rebuke was directed to Elihu or Job himself, based on Job 42:3. Job responded to God, saying, “You asked, “Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”  It should be noted though, that Job does not directly say who God was speaking about, he just repeated what God said, and then admitted his own ignorance.  Also, it should be noted that Elihu was the one offering counsel just prior to God’s rebuke, not Job.  The plain meaning seems to be that God was speaking to Job about Elihu’s faulty counsel, and then listening to God, Job felt overwhelmed with is own faultiness.  And finally, it’s notable that after God was finished rebuking, He actually endorsed Job’s words.  “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” (Job 42:7)  God makes it explicitly clear, Job was speaking right of Him.  This would seem enough to conclude Elihu was the target of God’s rebuke.

4. For further reading on the creationist view of the ice age, see, Where Does the Ice Age Fit? (Answers in Genesis).

5. Explaining The Flood Without The Canopy (Creation Today – Paul Taylor)
also see, Noah’s Flood – Where did the water come from? (Answers in Genesis)

6. Huge Reservoir of Water Discovered in Space 30 Billion Trillion Miles Away (Universe Today, by NANCY ATKINSON on JULY 22, 2011)
also, Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water (nasa.gov)
also, Water Near Edge of Universe Bolsters Creation Cosmology (Institution for Creation Research – by Brian Thomas, M.S.)

7. The Tablet Theory of Genesis Authorship (True Origin – Curt Sewell © 1998-2001 by Curt Sewell)
also see, Did Moses Write Genesis? (Answers in Genesis – by Dr. Terry Mortenson and Bodie Hodge AiG–U.S. June 28, 2011),
also, Who Wrote Genesis? Are the Toledoth Colophons? (Creation Ministries International – by Charles V Taylor, M.A., Ph.D., PGCE, LRAM, FIL, Cert. Theol.)
also, Who Wrote Genesis? A Third Theory (by Paul A. Hughes)

8. Excerpted from Henry M. Morris, the Genesis Record, pp. 25-30

9. This may illicit questions about Israel’s 400 year bondage.  For a good introduction to this issue, see How Long Was the Israelites’ Egyptian Bondage? (Apologetics Press—Kyle Butt, M.A., Alden Bass, Bert Thompson, Ph.D.)

10. The source books of Genesis seem to be indicated by the term toledoth (accounts, histories) which appears throughout the book, and are normally attached to a name of a patriarch. This is the written account of Adam’s line (Gen. 5:1-NIV). This is the account of Noah. (Gen. 6:9-NIV)   This is the account of Shem. (Gen. 11:10-NIV)  This is the account of Terah. (Gen. 11:27-NIV)  This is the account of Abraham’s son Isaac. (Gen. 25:19-NIV)  This is the account of Jacob. (Gen. 37:2-NIV) It would seem, the original authors of the source material used to compile Genesis may have been from the original patriarchs.  For more on this, see the articles on footnote 7.

11. The Galileo ‘twist’ (Creation Ministries International – Russell Grigg)

6 Comments

  • Arash Salim says:

    Hello Dear Admin,

    I think the bible (as well as Quran) account of creation is a short ‘story’ depicting various steps in the formation of our Solar System and followed by creation of others creatures on the earth.

    There is a cloud/ flux/ disk of formless materials (fluid like water and possibly in part water) in the dark space:

    A) part of the cloud become the sun,
    B) the rest is divided by a space into two separate parts that eventually become:
    B1) the earth, and
    B2) the (seven) skies (planets).
    {1+7 skies according to Quran}.

    The final products viewed by an observer on earth are:
    – Earth,
    (seven) Skies,
    – Sun.
    In addition an earth observer can see the moon and stars at night in the open space which is the sky of earth and its expanse (virtual sky) home to the (seven) skies/planets and stars.

    So from my understanding:

    – Gen 1:1, 7225. reshith indicates the first element of the series of elements created by God onward: God created (1254. bara’) the skies and the earth.

    – Gen 1:2, Spirit (7307. Ruach) of God is at work to materialize the WORDS of God.

    – Gen 1:4, separating the sun (part of the cloud to form sun).

    – Gen 1:6&7 the rest of cloud allocated for formation of earth and skies. The 7549. Raqia which is the space between two parts of the cloud eventually become the sky of the earth which will extend to the above part skies (after formation of other planets).

    – Gen 1:8, Formation of other Skies (other planets).

    – Gen 1:9&10, Formation of the earth and land.

    – Gen 1:14-17, description of the final product as an ‘integrated system’ working together as well as how the sky viewed at night. Days and nights, seasons, calendar year etc. are features resulted (not created) from the ‘working solar system.

    I would appreciate your feedback and look forward to hearing from you either by email or the Q&A section.

    Cheers,
    Arash

    • admin says:

      Hi Arash. If we define raqiya’ (firmament) as it’s defined in Genesis, it has to be heaven itself where the sun moon and stars are located.

      “And God called the firmament Heaven.” (Gen. 1:8)

      That’s the main point of the article. The raqiya’ refers to the heavens——the entire cosmological expanse. It is the upward expanse where the clouds abide, and upward where the stars are located. It’s not a barrier between heaven and earth as the skpetics assert, but heaven itself.

      Also, re’shiyth (beginning) can refer to a beginning period of time. In context, this would be the 6 days of creation (literal morning evening days). We cover this in more detail in our critique of Sailhamer’s Historical Creationism.

      Jesus included Adam and Eve’s creation as part of the beginning.

      “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)

      You mentioned a cloud in the beginning, but scripture uses the term waters. Perhaps though, those original primordial waters were originally like a cloud, but it was not like the clouds we see today.

      The Bible doesn’t mention what God made the sun moon and stars out of, but the land and sea were made from these original waters. Peter expands on this saying,

      “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” (2Pet. 3:5)

      I’m not sure if you subscribe biblical creationism—-relatively recent creation, literal creation days, and corruption and death entering the world at the time of Adam’s sin. That’s what we espouse on this site. Let me know if this feedback was helpful.

  • Arash says:

    Hello and thanks Admin,

    I think one of the major sources of confusion here (and in a larger scale of the scriptures) is the word ‘8064. shamayim’. This is a plural word means ‘skies’. The same word in Arabic is ‘samāwāt’ with the same meaning : ‘skies’! Many translators of Quran also borrowed the word “heaven” from Bible for ‘samāwāt’ which is wrong.

    Consider the same word ‘8064. shamayim’ in Genesis 1:8 and 1:14. It seems to me the concept of virtual space where we call it sky and it is home to sun moon stars clouds… is very obvious! Lights of ‘sky’/’skies’ as a ‘sign’ of days, seasons, and years (Gen 1:14) is not a sign for an observer on the earth?! Is the sun that we see and is the cause of day/night, spring/summer/fall/winter and the end/beginning of years located in Heaven/ Heavens?

    I used terms flux/disk/cloud for a huge amount of unformed materials that condensed and stick together to form the sun and the planets of our solar system. A lot of these materials that left behind (left over of the spirit!) still wandering in the inter planetary space such that some of larger ones might hit us (asteroids, comets )!

    Cheers.

    • admin says:

      I’ll agree with you somewhat that shamayim is at times misunderstood. But the wonderful thing is, it’s one of the few words in the Bible that is defined by God himself.

      “And God called the expanse, heaven.”

      shamayim is the name God gave to the raqiya’ (the expanse) and it is this expanse which is home to the heavenly hosts in the cosmos. It is indeed the skies from the perspective of an earthbound observer. The heavens are all that is up above, so to speak.

      Just out of curiosity, Arash, what is your view on the corruption and death we see in the world today. Have you come to an opinion of how the world became this way?

      PS per your request, your address does will not appear publicly.

      • Arash says:

        Hi,

        Gen 1:5
        God called the light “yom” ( 3117) and He called the darkness “layil” (3915).

        Why we don’t use words “yom” and “layil” as called (named) by God?

        The sky by God called sky. We translate the word sky: “Heaven”

        Cheers.

        • admin says:

          Indeed there are a few that God himself defines in Genesis 1—-day, night, earth (land), sea, heaven. Thanks for checking out my article. Check out some others of you get a chance.

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