Genesis day 1/3 explanation

Hello, just finished reading:

Strauss PhD, Michael G… The Creator Revealed: A Physicist Examines the Big Bang and the Bible (pp. 99-100). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition.

He makes an interesting assertion about Genesis 1 events based on his scientific credntials. He describes himself as:

Dr. Michael G. Strauss is a David Ross Boyd professor of physics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He conducts research in experimental elementary particle physics at CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, where he studies the fundamental particles and forces in the universe.

He proposes the following explanation:

  1. The heavens and the earth are created. The earth is formless, empty, and watery and dark on the surface.
  2. Light appears on the surface of the earth as the atmosphere thins and the planetary and interplanetary dust clears.
  3. The water cycle begins.
  4. The continents form.
  5. Plants sprout from the ground.
  6. The atmosphere becomes transparent, making the sun, moon, and stars visible and giving them a purpose for humans.
  7. Fish, sea mammals, and birds fill the sea and air.
  8. Higher mammalian life-forms fill the sea.
  9. Large mammals that will interact with humans fill the land.
  10. Humans are created.

My question is about step 2 (Genesis day 1 he says) and step 6 (day 3). Science types here: how does this agree with your view of deep time events? FYI his view is that Genesis days are “eras” not 24 hour time.



Dr. Strauss’ opinions are in agreement with Dr. Hugh Ross, another cosmologist and the founder of Reasons to Believe ( They both believe that a key to understanding the creation days in Genesis are based upon the point of view, which is stated this way:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2 NASB

So, as you have noted above, the sun moon and stars were not “created” on Day 3, but they merely became visible. This would allow for sufficient light for plants to develop and prosper.

The most natural reading of Genesis 1 is that daylight was formed before the sun. It may seem strange to us, but not to them, as @Jon_Garvey has pointed out

Except that is not what happened.

The formation of the continents was a continual process happening concurrently with everything else – all changing and moving around. There was nothing like the continents we have now until about 100 million years ago. Plants appeared on land 500 million years ago, with fish and all kinds of animals already in the oceans before that. More importantly mammals are a much later arrival and sea mammals certainly did not come before land mammals.

All in all, It is just a very bad idea to try turning the Bible into some kind of science text. That is not its purpose. If you want to know how life and earth developed the place to look is science not the Bible.



I’m not an expert. But all the models I’ve seen have mammals evolving from reptiles, and then mammals evolving into sea dwelling mammals.


He does take a VERY concordist view which causes problems IMO. What I am still wondering about is his claim that the early atmosphere was “cloudy/dusty” and later clears to become transparent. Any science to back this claim up?

Depends on what you mean by “science”. Would it be possible to come up with a set of conditions that would result in 100% cloud coverage and/or continuous sand storms? Given my limited understanding of global weather patterns I am not sure it is possible. The atmosphere is in constant circulation.

I believe that they are speaking of cosmic dust.


A key to RTB’s understanding of the cosmology in Genesis 1 is the perspective of the viewer, as @Michael_Callen noted, “…based upon the point of view.” The perspective in Genesis 1:1 is cosmic, and then it explicitly shifts to the surface of the watery earth in verse 2, beneath the opaque atmosphere. Even if the formation of the moon was not exactly per the giant impact hypothesis currently supported by many, it is not difficult to conceive of a debris or dust field surrounding the young planet, obscuring light from the preexisting sun and stars from reaching the surface.


6 is talking about the atmosphere. Which is what I assumed @Peter_Wolfe was asking about.

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(It accords nicely with Job 38:9):

…when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness


The atmosphere becomes translucent in verse 3, and light from the preexisting sun can reach the surface. During ‘day 4’, the atmosphere becomes transparent, and the heavenly bodies can now be distinguished in the sky.

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This is my concern too. It puts you on shaky ground to expect that Genesis should be matching up with our current scientific understanding of the universe. It makes it much harder to change either your scriptural interpretation or your scientific understanding, because then you have to sever some links.

If Genesis 1 reflects any “scientific” view, it is that of a pre-scientific and ancient cosmology. But I understand the point to be about purpose and identity rather than origins.


Why would the author of Genesis have a cosmic perspective? They wouldn’t know such a perspective even existed, much less use it in the text. This is what happens when you apply a modern understanding to an ancient text.

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I would say that the perspective is the “spirit of God is hovering on the waters” which is at the surface of the planet… so the events are being described from that POV. @Bill_II

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I consider the author of Genesis to be God, the Author of the cosmos.

What happens then is that becomes a non sequitur.

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I’m curious, too, Bill. Where does it end? Can we not understand God’s word plainly ever? Or only in light of ANE glasses?

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…ANE glasses that are only about 150 years old. The Bible is more timeless than that.

We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible had parallels with ANE texts. Ever wondered why God would swallow death forever (Isaiah 25:8)? It’s because according to Ugaritic texts, Baal had to travel down the throat of the Canaanites death God Mot as a punishment for killing the sea serpent Litan, using language almost identical to Isaiah 27:1. In other words, God turns the old Canaanite religious order on its head. This is also why God sent a drought to punish the Baalist King Ahab in 1 Kings 17:1 (which uses a formula very similar to the Aqhat epic), because Baal was the rain god, a drought shows that he was essentially not working.

Pretty clever when you think about it.


I have no trouble with an ANE/literary framework take on Genesis 1 – it is not incompatible with the cosmological sequence. I just have trouble with an ANE-onlyist take.

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