Change and Time in Genesis

There are several reasons why using the Western system to try and understand Creation leads to so many difficulties.

  1. All modern translation interpret creation with traditions, based on the Latin. For example, the Bible DOES NOT SAY: Then God said let there be light. The Hebrew text uses an imperfect verb, he continues to say or he repeatedly says. Two thirds of the Hebrew verbs in Gen 1:1 - Gen 2:4 are imperfect or participles that show continuing actions or actions that repeat IN UNBROKEN CONTINUITY. Yet we read into the text the Latin traditions, as though God said it once and created ex nihilo. Tradition is NOT God’s word, no matter how often we repeat it.

  2. Most of the issues Creationists struggle with have to do with the age of the Earth: YEC and OEC. The concept of linear time had not even been invented when the prophets wrote the Bible. Moses did not even have any words for time. His language, like all early languages, was aspectual. He had no verb tenses with which to modulate events in time. All ancient societies, before the Greeks tried to invent science, used change instead of time. Their clocks and calendars were NOT for measuring time. They were dynamic, adjusted to fit nature’s never ending changes. Change and time are opposite worldviews. Tailoring the Bible to fit Western science has driven millions of kids, raised in Christian homes, away from the LITERAL creation account.

  3. The changes Moses listed in the creation account are the very ones we see in nature. For example, God continues to command an atmospheric spreading place shamayim raqia to separate the waters above the spreading atmosphere from the waters below. Day two uses the noun raqia (the thing that spreads) out five times. Proverbs 8:28 tells us that the water above was in the form of ice, put there when the fountains of the deep were powerful. Right now today we can see the things that continued to happen on day two occurring on the moon Enceladus as it forms a spreading atmosphere and shoots ice into space from geysers, exactly as in the biblical text.

  4. Day four is the most powerful evidence for a literal Biblical creation. Elohim continues to commands the lights in the spreading heavens to separate day form night and to be for signs for days and years. God continues to make the Sun, Moon and stars and continues to place them in the plural spreading heavens (shamayim raqia). We can see with telescopes back to the creation era. Trillions of star globs emerge from tiny naked galactic cores and continue to spread out, exactly as in the literal Hebrew grammar. The star stream orbits and the atomic clocks continue to accelerate as billions of galaxies grew into huge, local growth spirals. Exactly as in the LITERAL text, he continues to command the lights in the plural heavens (shamayim) to become spreading things (noun raqia).

Change and time are opposite worldviews. The Biblical authors, like all early people, accepted visible nature changes and used them to explain when, not time. The bible uses many eon word to describe the Old Testament era. It never once says the world is young. Job 14 helps you understand what is was like when days were vast eons. He explains that one of the markers for the duration of life during the dinosaur era was the Mediterranean sea (Hebrew word West) dried. Indeed, the Mediterranean did dry, leaving thick players of plankton sandwiched between layers of salt and gypsum. Another of his lifetime markers was that water wears away rocks and washes away the dust of the Earth. Indeed, the Nile river, near Job’s home, incised a channel into granite 1.5 miles deeps as the river rushed down to the dried Med. Scientists claim the last Med drying was 5,000,000 years ago. Job lived about 4,000 years ago. When the Med refilled, the Nile formed a great delta, exactly as Job describes. Another of his lifetime markers was that their faces intensely changed in unbroken continuity before they died (see Hebrew grammar for Job 14:20). If you lived to watch the Mediterranean dry, you would grow thick Neanderthal brows from vast age, before you died. Neanderthal child skulls have shapes like modern children, yet with wear and striations on PRIMARY TEETH as though they lived for eons, in few years.

Change and science are opposite worldviews. Not one verse in the Bible would have been understood with a scientific mindset by a contemporary. Indeed, Western science was built on a metaphysical assumption that came from the writings of a medieval Dominican Friar (Thomas Aquinas). Understanding creation in the worldview and grammar of the author is not like YEC or OEC interpretations.

Victor, Changing Earth Creationist

Welcome to the Forum, Victor!

Just… Wow. I think that there are some problems with that statement and the way you present “change versus science”.

  1. Change is not a worldview by itself. Rather, all worldviews aim to incorporate the changes we experience in one way or another.

  2. Science is not a worldview by itself. Rather, it takes a place in all kinds of different worldviews.

  3. The concept of time does not exclude the study of “change”. Rather, it helps us to understand how changes take place.

  4. Time is not a dogmatic assertion of scientists. It’s just an incredibly useful one. There’s even a British physicist who constructed “Timeless Physics”, based on the idea of changing forms instead of time. It’s considered an interesting notion by other scientists, but it hasn’t been shown to have useful applications.


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I must admit that some of Victor’s claims seem a little bit odd, but what he’s saying about the verbs in Genesis 1 mostly being in the imperfect tense intrigues me a bit. Could any experts in Biblical Hebrew confirm whether or not there is any basis for this claim?

Have to admit, when I have trouble reading English in a 1611 King James Bible, I really wonder who really can tell verb tenses in a 4000 year old essentially dead language. Sometimes I think translators just have active imaginations!:slight_smile:

I would doubt it very much! BioLogos used to have OT scholars on board. One would be handy now.

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Thanks for this extremely useful and instructive discourse, Eddie!

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Thanks for your thought-provoking contribution, @godsriddle.

The Biblical text describes an ice-dome over the Earth, but astronomers and geologists do not think that the Earth ever experienced the kind of ice volcanoes that Enceladus exhibits.

Moreover, the ice volcanoes on Enceladus do not cause an ice dome to form. (They are, however, feeding the rings around Saturn.)

Consequently, I see no equivalence whatsoever between what astronomers see on Enceladus and what the Biblical text describes.


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True, but at least we did have “snow ball earth”!

Hebrew did not have ANY verb tenses. Tenses try to describe an event IN TIME. Ancient people could not describe something happening IN TIME, because they had no notion of time. They could define DURATIONS with natural events such as sunset, but neither their language or their worldview contemplated a philosophical notion of time. Hebrew, like ancient and modern aspectual language (Mandarin, Filipino, Japanese, American Indian, African languages) describe how something happens with verbs, not when. Aspectual languages can tell you if something continues or ends, but only the context has clues for when it continues or ends. The Western concept of time is so overpowering, that Bible scholars often try to adjust the text to fit OUR VERB tenses, instead of how an ancient person would have understood it. Koine Greek was also an aspectual langue. It does not mention time, in the original text. For example, the present in Greek shows continuing actions, not now. The aorist in Greek does not refer to when at all. Yet translators often say, translate the aorist with the past tense. They are not equivalent verb forms.

Look up any time word in the Bible and you should find that it was added to make the Bible fit the Western concept of time. Ancient languages had many timing words, days, new moons, sunset, but no actual words for time. An ancient person could not run out of time. He could only run out of daylight, opportunity etc.

Time and change are opposite worldviews. This is why Western people struggle so much with biblical creation. They try to understand creation in time, instead of with the listed change and the ancient grammar, as an ancient person would.

Victor, Changing Earth Creationist

Sure they did. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to stay alive.



Victor… marvelous posting!

Now, how do we get the YEC’s to agree with you?

The WAW, often shows what is next, “but”, “and” or “then.” For example, verse two begins with the waw. But and or then (after completing the creation of all of the heavens and earth in verse one) waw- the Earth was tohu wa bohu and darkness covered the face of the primordial abyss (tehom). God’s wind dithers in unbroken continuity above the face of the waters. He continues (imperfect) to command light. It never says he stopped commanding the light.

Our Bibles INTERPRET the text using Latin traditions handed down from centuries of Catholic philosophers. The translators probably do not even look at the Latin text, yet they follow it because that the tradition has been ingrained in the INTERPRETATIONS of the Creation account for centuries.

Take the finishing of the heavens and earth. What the text says does not make sense in a language that references every event to a philosophical notion of time. But it makes perfect sense if we use aspectual Hebrew grammar.

Thus the heavens and earth were passively continuing to complete (pual imperfect) and all their hosts. By the seventh day Elohim continued to complete (piel imperfect) his work which he had done and continued to rest on the seventh day from all the work he had done. Then Elohim continued to bless the seventh day and to sanctify it (completion verb) because in it he rested (completion) for all this work which had created (completion) and been making (infinitive) This is the account of the heavens the earth when they were passively creating (infinitive), in the day the Lord God was making (infinitive) heaven and earth.

In English you cannot continue what is finished or be doing what is done. In English the grammatical framework is a philosophical concept of time. We build the account around time. Hebrew, however, had no concept of time. They constructed an account on the things that changed in the account. To finish is referenced to some aspect of the work of creation. In Hebrew, one can continue to finish because a major aspect of the creation of the heavens and earth ends (intensive piel and pual) but the finishing continues (imperfect). Thousands of years later, God tells Isaiah that he continues in unbroken continuity to call the stars out, yet none goes missing. He claims, thousands of years later, to continue to spread out the plural heavens in unbroken continuity, which we confirm in the visible history of hundreds of billions of galaxies (at many ranges).

This is why Western people find conflicts in the creation account (such as the OEC / YEC arguments). We try to force the Creation account to fit our philosophical theory of time. Before the pagan philosophers, no one ever heard of time. It was completely unknown. All early societies used what changes to reference when, not time. Time and change are opposite worldviews.

By the way, day four directly contradicts the Western theory of time. The lights in the plural heavens are to become spreading things (raqia). The spreading things are to shine on the Earth and serve as markers for days and years. The little word raqia is the noun form of the verb to continually spread out (raqa). Things that continue to spread out cannot mark off linear days and years. Indeed, in billions of examples, we observe how the galaxies grew out of the unformed matter God created first as trillions of star streams accelerate out into local growth spirals. The atomic clocks and the orbits visibly accelerate together.

Victor, Changing Earth Creationist

We need to be careful not to exceed what the text actually states. It does not say the geysers were ice, like Enceladus. However, the 100 warm water geysers from the south pole of Enceladus become ice in space. Gases also emerge from the geysers, potentially forming an atmosphere which was detected by Cassini.

Proverbs 8:28 says he made firm the skies above when he made strong the geysers of the deep (tehom). It does not say this was a dome of ice. Was it ice rings, like all the outer planets have? We do know that the ice came down over a period of forty days during Noah’s 600th year.

By the way, 20 snowballs, evidently the size of houses fall into the Earth atmosphere each minute today. These are observed from satellites as dark streaks in the UV background (water absorbs UV). They have also been observed from the ground with small telescopes in skeet shoot mode.

You can read about the millions of small icy comets that hit earth every year at the University of Iowa small comets page.

Perhaps these are remnants of the ice that used to surround the Earth, according to Proverbs 8:28.

Victor, Changing Earth Creationist

Hi Victor,
I’m trying to think with you here. Maybe it would be better to say that “time” and “change” can be different ways to describe the same things. The example of timeless physics which I linked in my earlier comment is a good illustration of this. In timeless physics, instead of the flow of time, one considers the flow of “form” as the variable that defines the physics of the system. But the whole deal of the matter is that considering the flow of form (or “change”) gives the same results as considering the flow of time.

I still think it doesn’t make sense to frame it as time versus change as if they were archenemies of each other.

Perhaps it’s not so much the distinction of change versus time that you’re looking for, but instead different notions of time that are at play. In our Western framework we’re used to seeing the passage of time as something fixed, something physical. But, for example, the author of the Genesis genealogies doesn’t feel the least bit embarrassed to report humans becoming about 800 years old. The original ANE audience had a different view of what counts as a truthful account in terms of the passage of time than we do today. That difference seems to be what feeds a lot of the hardheadedness around the interpretation of Genesis 1 in terms of six literal solar days.

If you pursue your arguments in that direction, I think you’ll get more people to see your point.

On the side, I’m certainly not an OT or NT expert, but one thing I know is that you should think twice (or thrice) before you make grand statements which contradict the available scholarship. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.


Hi @godsriddle,

This is a very inaccurate depiction of the Genesis 7 flood. I know you are not fond of English translations, but since we both speak English, let’s take a look at verses 11 and 12 in the Complete Jewish Bible:

On the seventeenth day of the second month of the 600th year of Noach’s life all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of the sky were opened. It rained on the earth forty days and forty nights.

God used the dome of heaven (as you have noted, raqi’a in Hebrew) to separate the waters above from the waters below, as we see in Genesis 1 verses 6 - 10:

God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the water; let it divide the water from the water.” God made the dome and divided the water under the dome from the water above the dome; that is how it was, and God called the dome Sky. So there was evening, and there was morning, a second day.

God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear,” and that is how it was. God called the dry land Earth, the gathering together of the water he called Seas, and God saw that it was good. (CJB)

The Bible depicts the raqi’a as having windows that God can open. Indeed, according to Genesis 7, the flood of water (not ice) that descended from above the raqi’a passed through the windows.

Of course, you will not find a single geologist or astronomer who thinks that “a solid dome with windows that God can open” can be squared with scientific evidence.

As for the icy comets, your hypothesis is exactly the opposite of the prevailing view among astronomers. The Kuiper Belt is definitely not a remnant of terrestrial ice.

I appreciate your creativity, Victor. Indeed, the Bible proclaims that “God remains a creative force since the time of Creation,” as our friend @Eddie notes. But the overwhelming scientific evidence is at odds with your intriguing speculations.




Vic tor,

You raise an important issue, but I do not agree with your point of view.

You are right, change does not equal time, at least the linear view of tine we use today. We only have to look at the book Ecclesiastes to see an example of cyclical time in the Bible.

It is Genesis 1 itself which says that the universe has a Beginning which makes linear time real, and breaks the hold of cyclical time over human thinking.

It is interesting that science has come to the view of the Beginning with the Big Bang only within the last few years relatively speaking. It is the Bible that preceded science in this respect, contrary to what our unbeliever friends want us to think.

Science and Christianity agree on the Beginning. Science and Christianity agree on the importance of time and history. Science and Christi9anity are coming together on these important philosophical issues, contrary to common expectations. These are the facts we need to build upon, not argue over verbs in Genesis.

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The website regarding small comets presents info that is almost 20 years old, and a further Google search shows that work to be doubtful. Any more recent mainline sources?

When the Greeks first tried to invent a scientific worldview, they had a serious problem to overcome. For centuries they tried to sidestep the ancient worldview that everything is changing. The first philosophers tried to incorporate fundamental change into science, but this failed. After Parmenides’ arguments, the philosophers tried to find something somewhere that has a fixed nature. For example, the atomists imagined atoms that were solid, but their movements kept changing so that everything in the universe kept deteriorating with age. Greek grammar did not allow for matter to be changeless, since the present of the verb to be (einai) shows continuing actions. It was not until the Latin scholastics that the concept of changeless matter was invented. Friar Thomas could use the Latin noun of the verb to be esse (essentia - essence) to postulate that the intrinsic properties of matter are fixed (that the essence of substance is changeless).

Western empirical science was founded on that religious assumption. Even the definitions of physics, the measuring techniques and the laws presume that matter has fixed properties. This is why the scientific universe is 99% undetectable magic, because no ancient atom clocks the frequencies of modern matter. The scientific universe is crammed full of magical things like space time stretching passing light, six times as much invisible matter as the natural kind, accretion of stars from dust etc. Only the LITERAL creation account is confirmed in the visible history of how at least 5 trillion galaxies formed. With one slice of Occam’s razor you can get rid of essentially all scientific earth history stories, just by believing your eyes, that the orbits and the clocks accelerate together as billions of galaxies became spreading things, exactly as God commanded on day four.

First principles are elementary. You cannot stand on the scientific first principle and examine the evidence from the perspective of the changing worldview. Fundamental assumptions are based on faith. The faith of all scientists is opposite to the worldview of the biblical prophets. The apostle Paul gave the worldview of the ancients in Romans 8. He said we know (that the whole creation groans together and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. He knew that the creation is enslave to fundamental change (Greek phthora).

The Biblical God defeats Western science, (the wisdom of this age) for his great glory, as he predicted (see 1 Cor 3:18-20)

Victor, Changing Earth Creationist