How would you illustrate Genesis 1:1 and 1:2

While you’re thinking about these things, here’s something to ponder: ancient Hebrew scholars as far back as the eighth century studied the Hebrew text of Genesis 1 and concluded:

  • the universe started out smaller than a grain of mustard (i.e. the smallest size possible)
  • it expanded incredibly rapidly to a size vast beyond comprehension
  • it started out fluid, and as it expanded it was filled with fluid that got ‘thinner’
  • when the fluid was thin enough for light to shine, God commanded light to be
  • the universe is ancient beyond human imagining (as befits an infinite God)
  • the Earth also is ancient, beyond human counting

This sounds like a layman’s summary of the Big Bang, but it comes from before there were even telescopes! When I first learned of this I got chills because it reads like someone arrived at the conclusions of modern science before anyone even knew our sun is part of a galaxy.

(I don’t know how they reached these conclusions, but my guess is it has something to do with the meanings of individual letters; there’s been a large part of Judaism ever since a good century and more before Christ who believed that the Torah is inspired not just in its message, not just in its words, but in the very letters – we used to joke that “the vowels aren’t inspired” due to this.)


You, St. Augustine, and Martin Luther!

One view in Judaism that goes back to at least the second century before Christ maintained that as only God was there to measure time, these were “divine days” and thus of immeasurable duration. Some held that each day must have been a myriad times a myriad times a myriad actual days – 10k x 10k x 10k which comes out to a trillion days or about 2.7 billion years. Then there was the guy who insisted that those myriads were the measure of the whole week, and they were years, not days, which would make the universe a trillion years old.

Of the above only the very first makes any sense textually, but it’s interesting to know what people who grew up with Hebrew thought about that opening bit in Genesis.

Neither gravity nor velocity of parts of the universe relative to Earth could be great enough to make time flow much differently, besides which IIRC the physics makes it the Earth that would end up seriously older, not younger.

Yes, but the differences are measured in microseconds or smaller.


There is no word for “make” in verse 4 – the next appearance of a verb with a meaning of “make” is verse 7, and it’s the same as the verb in verse 16. Yes, it’s a different word; no, the difference is not one to be able to say “God made the sun, moon, and stars show through the atmosphere on the 4th day”. עָשָׂה (ah-sah) is a verb of doing, not of revealing; Hebrew has a verb for that (it’s גֶּלֶה, (ga-lah) and it isn’t used here. To be consistent you’d have to have God reveal the firmament in verse 7 – and that’s not the silliest result. You can’t just change the meaning of words in the text to suit some scheme.

That’s true – you have to decide ahead of time that you’re going to find it. As written, there is no science in the opening Creation story in Genesis, or at least not modern science; there’s ancient near eastern ‘science’, their cosmology, including a solid dome over a flat earth/land. Besides the fact that you have to put science in because it’s not there, trying to see it throws away the actual messages Moses’ words carry.

I have my mind made up because it is never correct to force an alien worldview onto a text, in this case a modern worldview onto an ancient text – people have been doing it down the centuries with no good result. My mind sticks to the Hebrew text and its Hebrew literature, Hebrew culture, and Hebrew worldview, and the result is a powerful set of three messages because Moses brilliantly used two literary genres at the same time to carry three different messages.

i think if I’m reading this correctly, you are not referring specifically to the creation of the earth (given its age appears to be both scientifically and i think also philosophically, far younger than the rest of the universe),

then I would agree with you on the above.

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Yeah i think i am…in reading through the reference you provided, id say i am option 4.

For me, the above only really poses and issue for those have cannot accept an intelligent source of everything at some point in the past.

See if there is no intelligent source of everything, then when we say “nothing existed before the big bang” (or creation whatever), that creates a huge dilemma:

Ir prior to the big bang there was zip…i mean absolutely nothing at all, then the laws of science could not possibly have existed either.

The solution to the above from a secular position would then have to be, something must have existed in all that nothingness…"quarks, antimatter…etc. These are theoretical explanations and I’m deeply concerned that an entire scientific interpretation is being developed around fiction such that its becoming reality for us when its really isn’t anything of the sort.

The problem is, in my own lifes experience, i cannot think of anything useful that didn’t have intelligence behind it…so why should i take any interest in the theory of an individual which is not also illustrated in my own lifes experiences? I find it difficult to trust apparently intelligent individuals (in this case males specifically) who are incapable of changing a car tyre or some other quite basic real life problem…to me something like that is rudimentary to my own existence and i tend to view these kinds of blokes as…well i cant say here but lets just say, it raises an eyebrow. Now i admit, that intellectual ability is biased and IQ tests are largely outlawed these days for obvious reasons, however, it doesn’t change my view on the idea that theories should remain true to our lifes experiences…in this case, within the realm of our senses of smell, sight, touch, hearing.

BTW, i can already start bashing up my own claim above…how does a Christian hold onto God that one cannot smell, see, touch, or hear? Well, the witness of others before us i think refutes/resolves that dilemma and this doesnt seem to me to be the case for quarks, antimatter, etc.

Anyway, I’m open to an informative education on this…so many things that were once “star wars” fiction are now reality, one can never say never anymore.


ooh i just thought i would add…you know when i read Genesis 3 and Genesis 6

Gen 3 22Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil. And now, lest he reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…”

23Therefore the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24So He drove out the man and stationed cherubim on the east side of the Garden of Eden, along with a whirling sword of flame to guard the way to the tree of life.

Gen 6 5Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was altogether evil all the time. 6And the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7So the LORD said, “I will blot out man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—every man and beast and crawling creature and bird of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”

I can be easily convinced of the belief that whether or not the above has a literal historical event attached to it, there is a very obvious metaphorical statement there…

God is clearly of the view that if mankind is allowed to continue to have access to whatever it was he was locked out of in Genesis 3:23, man is capable of using that to gain knowledge and power in a manner not unlike God Himself (perhaps losely illustrated in Gen 6)

It certainly tells me that we have incredible intellectual abilities to understand some of the most elementary/fundamental …whats the term…hmmm…energies & building blocks of life?

that s a pretty frightening thought (i mean frightening in a kind of academic way rather than evil)

See, Adam is finding some common ground here with yourguys (I’m excited about this BTW) :star_struck:

Right. The ancient near eastern view was that the sun went down and a battle ensued, all the gods fighting against chaos and darkness so the sun could travel beneath the world and emerge again the next morning. One of the messages in Genesis 1 is the “evening… morning” cycle: evening followed by morning defines the period we call night, and the refrain drives home the point that YHWH-Elohim is king of both day and night and needs no battle to bring the sun back – the sun comes back in the morning because He commanded it to!

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It’s Book of Enoch language, referring to the Enochian lore that the rebel Watchers taught man “every sin that can be committed by man”, from weapons and war to cosmetics and prostitution. It seems kind of mild in the Genesis summary by comparison.

That’s especially pointed if you know that Moses took the Egyptian creation story and systematically inverted it, devoting the major Egyptian deities from powers in and essentials of the universe to servants or tools YHWH-Elohim had made. It was a great way to drive home to the Israelites theologically, “We aren’t in Egypt any more!”

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caveat…i have not read all he previous posts on this statement.

are you suggesting that ancient Jewish culture also believed this? I personally am not sure i agree with such a view, however, i will readily admit, i haven’t researched this personally. If you have some references, i would be keen to read it to help develop a position on what the evidence suggests here. Its seems to me that the far east was gentile territory and not Jewish.

I accept that this would influence Christian belief, however, I’m not convinced it affected Jewish belief (because Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldess and educated by God).its pretty clear that whatever the beliefs of the east at that time were not consistent with what God sought for Abraham to know.

Abraham being called out of Ur, suggests that the epistemological knowledge/beliefs in the region of Ur of the Chaldees was wrong according to the Abrahamic belief.


Except cosmologists don’t actually say that, they say that the conditions prior to the Big Bang can’t be known (which doesn’t prevent them from playing around with math to find solutions that lead to inflation and the slight imbalance in favor of matter). But then there’s the concept that when in the future of our universe when everything is reduced to cold photons then the universe “won’t know” how big it is (since photons don’t experience time), the metric will be lost and mathematically conditions correspond to one possibility of what was prior to the Big Bang.
I’m stretching my brain to get that out there; anyone who knows the physics better please jump in!

Oh, that troublesome little two-letter word!

I don’t see any way around there being just two options: either everything, that is, all the material universe, has always existed, or it was begun, and if it was begun then there had to be Mind – the flip side being that if it wasn’t a Mind, why does anything still exist? It becomes “universes all the way down”, but there isn’t so much as a trace of a hint of an explanation for how things transmogrify from one universe to the next.

Nothing #4.

Quantum fluctuations. But that just dodges the question because where did the quantum fluctuations come from? and what are those fluctuations taking place in?

I should try to find the video of a panel that Neil DeGrasse Tyson moderated where one panelist told a cosmologist something like, “That’s nor science, that’s metaphysics” – it was a great moment.

I know adults where the only car they’ve ever been in was a taxi.

And I used to take my car to the shop and tell them what was wrong, and they’d ask then why didn’t I fix it, to which I responded that I had no idea what the part even looked like, I just understood how internal combustion engines work so from the symptoms I could deduce the problem.

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I would summarize that story as, “I made you mortal. You could have become immortal, but you blew it. Now we do it the hard way”.

Neil Tyson or one of his panelists (on a different video than I referenced above) made that point, that it is frightening just how well our brains seem to be capable of understanding so much about the universe, like how did this happen? And someone said, “It’s like it was set up this way”.
And someone commented, “Couldn’t he have made us just a little bit smarter? These things are hard.”
To which Neil responded with a favorite comparison he makes: we are supposedly just a percentage point or two in intelligence above chimps; what would an intelligence just a few percentage points above us be like – calculus in Kindergarten, relativity by fifth grade . . . .

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We have no evidence they believed anything else.

There were not Jews yet – even at the Exodus they weren’t yet Jews.

That’s an assumption. We think that scientific understanding is important; to Abraham it wouldn’t have made any sense at all. Remember, the three-tiered universe was science back then – observational science that everyone could perceive: the sky is above us like a dome; when I look around at the horizon I see a circle; the dome must be clear because we see water up there – when the sun is out the Nile (or Lake Genesseret) is blue, when the sun is gone it looks black, and that’s how the sky looks so it must be water above the dome . . . .
And none of that mattered for what God was aiming at. In fact it could have gotten in the way; life back then took about all the thought a person had (one reason for tribalism is that being in a tribe means someone else is doing the heavy thinking for you) and there just wasn’t time in the day for wondering about much more than why the sky rotates around the Pole Star.

BTW, archaeologists have found two other cities called Ur, and it isn’t certain which one was “Ur of the Chaldees” – one wasn’t nearly so far from Haran as the traditional site.

No, it just suggests that God’s plans had a focus on a certain stretch of land between the River of Egypt and the upper Euphrates. If we take Enoch as the background to the opening of Genesis 6 (about which there’s nil doubt) then one reason jumps out: the Flood may have wiped out the Nephilim, but somehow there were giants again, more offspring from between what I’ll call “Arch-archangels”, rebels, and human women, and they were in that strip of land and they needed to be put out of existence before they could corrupt mankind to the conditions before Noah again – and that meant getting God’s new people into that land to get to know it a bit and later to take it and kill both the giants and their tribefolk.

Just for depth here, to the Israelites (much later on) there wasn’t just one time that evil entered the world, there were three: the Adversary in Eden, the rebel Watchers of Genesis 6, and whoever influenced the folks in Babel to build a ziggurat for the purpose of talking to gods at the top of it. The Adversary had done his thing and that was that; God took the Watchers whose job had been to guide the nations but who instead had taken human wives and taught very kind of depravity to their nations, and He tossed them into Tartarus chained in darkness and wiped out the first race of giants, so after the Flood things were supposed to go differently . . . yeah, right; these are humans we’re talking about! So when people gathered to build the biggest ziggurat ever they had to be scattered; God needed their descendants in certain places by the time Abraham had fathered a nation.

So when God sent Abraham hoofing it to a new country, it was the first move in a huge chess game with people as the pieces, a setup for a showdown to wipe out the heritage of the giants and slap down “a people for Yahweh’s own possession” in their place, where they would serve as a buffer and stage setter for the Incarnation (that had been in the works since Genesis 3:15). Yeah – the entire program after Babel was to set the stage for God the Son to arrive and settle things.

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Ok, you have me curious. Can you give us a reference to this?

The mistake is thinking that animals depend upon fruit to live, when it actually the other way around. Fruit evolved to take advantage of animal life helping plants spread their seeds. The creationist notion of a time when there was no death because everything lived off fruit is a complete fantasy. If this kind of nursery school reading (such as explaining why snakes have no legs) was all there was to the Bible then would hold no great interest in modern times. But there is far more to the Bible than things like that.

Fantasy literature (even if used by religious cults or from ancient times) does not hold so much interest for me. It occurs to me to compare it to the work of science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.

I never miss a chance to point out that the Big Bang theory itself was first proposed by the physicist and Jesuit priest George Lemaitre (the guy in the middle, in case it isn’t obvious):


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This is about the fifth time someone has asked yet I have never posted a note to myself so I don’t have to search for it again!

The name Maimonides comes to mind. I think it’s quoted in a book called In the Beginning (We Misunderstood), by . . . uh, Miller and someone. Miller and Soden (and I have an intense urge to pronounce the second name like gangster, “So, den, wutchoo tink?”

Last time this was asked someone found a source I hadn’t known about – anyone? (Buhler?)

When it’s what at least three different inspired writers are drawing on it ought to! Neglecting it is why Adam doesn’t understand Peter’s reference to Tarturus and angels chained in darkness.
But I clip out the part about the Watchers, which is what gets cited, and use the rest for bookmarks. (Metaphorically, of course; I would never bother to pay for a copy.)

And he got attacked for trying to smuggle God into science.

Indeed. Oh how times have changed. :wink:

On the flip side, the name “Big Bang” came from Fred Hoyle, an outspoken atheist who rejected the theory. Part of that rejection may have been due to his distaste of the theological implications he saw in the theory. This is one of the odd moments in science history where an outspoken opponent of a theory ended up naming it.

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The director of the Christian study center just off campus had a poster of Hoyle saying something about it – I never knew what because he’d replaced the dialogue balloon with one saying, “Fantastic flatulence and all, what?”

And he’s a popular authority to quote if one is trying to argue that the Big Bang is wrong and anti-Bible. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

What that Abraham was called out of Ur of the chaldees?

Your statement does not adress the dilemma. It is very clear from the later Mosaic narrative of the exidus that God absolutely did both call out his people and educate them. The exodus is the continuation of the calling and journey Abraham began hundreds of years earlier.

The jewish culture has over 600 by laws as a result of it.

Your earlier statement about jews not existing in abrahams time is irelevant btw.

Straw plucking to remove context.
The point is, that has nothing to do with a defense against the fact that both Peter and Luke support the noahs flood and destruction of Sodom and gomorah narra

You are simply playing games in bringing tartus up…its irrelevant, ignores the rest of the passage in both new testament books, and misleading. Dangerous territory when a christian intentionally twists obvious bible statements.

Interesting topic!! And you are asking good questions of the first two verses of Genesis, but likely over thinking both of them.

“When God began to create heaven and earth, the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters,…” Genesis 1:1-2

In the beginning God created the universe. And the earth–it was a desert and a wasteland; darkness was on the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters"

The first translation was Alters’ and the second is from NICOT

Of course God existed before these things happened. And so what of it? Westermann said the words “In the beginning” --which is how he also translated it – were a statement of praise—and some commentators note that the phrase itself is written in a way to force us to stop and think of the nature of the beginning…which seems to mean —“from nothing” — and leads to the verses that follow.

So I guess that in some way, we could say you are doing that! You are looking at these things.

And the phrase “God created” emphasizes the plural character of the one divine being …

…and others note the contrast between the statement of creation here in Genesis and the statements of contemporary creation accounts like the Enuma Elish —the former account [Genesis] indicated purpose and intent by the One God while the others describe chaos and multiple gods fussing and fighting with each other; humans were created to do the grunt work that the gods detested, etc… That the main purpose of Genesis 1 was to present a contrast between the Hebrew view and that of surrounding nations–seems to be accepted among various commentators.
So these verses lead to the main point of the chapter…but there is no reason to think they indicate a description for the prior residence for the One God — nor do they seem to allow for any of these objects pre-existing —“in the beginning” God did the creating. But what was the beginning? The beginning of forever? The beginning of the time when He created things? More likely the latter since the biblical portrayal of deity is One who is forever…

And day 1 of creation is a “day” to some, even though there were no planets revolving to make a day a “day” in the sense we understand. So on that “day 1” . “a desert and a wasteland; darkness was on the face of the deep,” per NICOT translation…“Now the earth was total chaos and darkness covered the deep and the Wind of God hovered over the waters” --WBC.

I personally do not take “day” for a 24-hour event. But some do, including you maybe? At any rate,the account is incomplete in the sense that you and I now want it to be — no date or time, only “In the beginning…” Thus our questions. But our questions arise from our finite natures—we did not pre-exist and we will one day walk out of this world, like it or not.

Jeremiah 4:23

“I looked at the world–behold, emptiness and void – at the heavens, and their light was no more!” (WSB)

The language is poetic and apocalyptic, per WBC commentator) but you are using it (it seems) as a vehicle for “thinking about exactly what existed prior to day i creation” — a thing which many others assert would be answered by the term “nothing.”

Isn’t that what the Big Bang Theory pushed against? I thought that was why the whole “Big Bang” annoyed people who wanted to think that the universe likely went on forever?

The words of Jeremiah 4 seem to describe order returning to chaos as a consequence of evil…but it is poetic language and does not much give room for thinking about where God lived and what existed before “Day 1 creation.”

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