The Bible Book of Genesis – Geology, Archaeology and Theology – Part 3
The Creation Account (Genesis 1:1 – Genesis 2:4): Days 3 and 4
Genesis 1:9-10 – The Third Day of Creation
“And God went on to say: “Let the waters under the heavens be brought together into one place and let the dry land appear.” And it came to be so. 10 And God began calling the dry land Earth, but the bringing together of the waters he called Seas. Further, God saw that [it was] good.
Further preparation for life was required, and so, God while keeping the waters remaining on the earth, gathered them together, and allowed dry land to appear. The Hebrew can be more literally translated as:
“And said God “Wait for the waters under the heavens [to go] into one place and see the dry land and it was so. And called God the dry land Earth, and the collection of the waters Seas and God saw that it was good”.
What does Geology say about the beginning of the earth?
It is interesting to note that Geology has the concept of Rodinia[i] [ii]which was a single supercontinent surround by the ocean at the beginning of the geologic history of the earth. It consisted of all the present continental landmasses in Pre-Cambrian and Early Cambrian[iii] times. It is not to be confused with Pangaea or Gondwanaland, which are in later geologic periods.[iv] It is also worth noting that the fossil record is very, very scarce before the rocks classified as Early Cambrian.
The apostle Peter alluded to the fact that the earth was in this position at the beginning of the creation when he wrote in 2 Peter 3:5 “there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God”, indicating one landmass above water level surrounded by water.
How did both the Apostle Peter and Moses [the writer of Genesis] know that the earth was like this at one time, something only deduced in the last century with intense study of the Geological Record? Also, important to note is that there is no mythological statement about falling off the edge of the seas.
Having dry land meant that the next part of the creative day could take place as there would be somewhere to put the vegetation.
Genesis 1:11-13 – The Third Day of Creation (continued)
11 And God went on to say: “Let the earth cause grass to shoot forth, vegetation bearing seed, fruit trees yielding fruit according to their kinds, the seed of which is in it, upon the earth.” And it came to be so. 12 And the earth began to put forth grass, vegetation bearing seed according to its kind and trees yielding fruit, the seed of which is in it according to its kind. Then God saw that [it was] good. 13 And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a third day.”
The third day started as darkness fell, and the creating of a landmass was then put in motion. This meant that by time morning and light came, there was dry land on which to create the vegetation. The record indicates that by the time of growing dusk of the third day there was grass, and trees with fruit, and other seed-bearing vegetation. It was good, complete, for birds and animals and insects all require fruit on which to live. It is reasonable to conclude that fruit trees with fertilized fruit were created as such, as most fruit requires insects, or birds or animals to pollinate and fertilize the flowers before fruit can form, none of which had yet been created. Some, of course, are pollinated or self-pollinated by the wind.
There may be objections by some that soil could not form in 12 hours of darkness, but whether soil takes years to form today, or fruit trees bearing fruit likewise take years to form today, who are we to limit the creative ability of the Almighty God and his co-worker and son Jesus Christ?
As an example, when Jesus Christ created wine from water at the wedding feast, what kind of wine did he create? John 2:1-11 tells us “You have reserved the fine wine until now”. Yes, it was a mature, fully flavored wine, not something that was only just about drinkable wine that still needed to mature to be palatable. Yes, as Zophar asked Job “Can you find out the deep things of God, or can you find out to the very limit of the Almighty?” (Job 11:7). No, we cannot, and we should not presume to be able to either. As Jehovah said in Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways”.
Also, as insects were likely created on the 6th day (probably included in winged flying creatures, Genesis 1:21), if the days of creation were more than 24 hours long, there would have been problems with the newly created vegetation being able to survive and reproduce.
As with the first and the second days of creation, the acts of the third day of creation are also preface with “and” thereby joining these actions as a continuous flow of actions and events without a time gap.
We cannot continue our exploration of the creation days without taking a look at the first occurrence of the word “kind” used here with reference to the vegetation and trees. It is not yet clear what the Hebrew word “min”, translated as “kind” refers to in the current biological classification, but it appears to match best with genus or even family. It however does not match a species. It can perhaps be best described as “Groups of living organisms belong in the same created kind if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool. This does not preclude new species because this represents a partitioning of the original gene pool. Information is lost or conserved not gained. A new species could arise when a population is isolated, and inbreeding occurs. By this definition, a new species is not a new kind but a further partitioning of an existing kind.”
Commenting on this the Apostle Paul highlighted these natural boundaries between kinds when he wrote while discussing the resurrection “Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind and there is another flesh of cattle, and another flesh of birds and another of fish” 1 Corinthians 15:39. Concerning plants in 1 Corinthians 15:38 he said regarding wheat etc., “but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body”.
In this way grass as a kind could include all spreading, ground-covering vegetation, while herbs as a kind (translated vegetation in NWT), would cover bushes and shrubs, and trees as a kind would cover all large woody plants.
A more descriptive explanation of what God may view as “kinds” is found in Leviticus 11:1-31. Here follows an abbreviated summary:
- 3-6 – Creature that chews the cud and splits the hoof, excludes camel, rock badger, hare, pig. (Those excluded either split the hoof or chew the cud, but not both.)
- 7-12 – water creatures that have fins and scales, water creatures without fins, and scales.
- 13-19 – eagles, osprey, black vulture, red kite, and black kite according to its kind, raven according to its king, ostrich, owl and gull and falcon according to its kind. Stork, heron, and bat according to its kind.
- 20-23 – locust according to its kind, cricket according to its kind, grasshopper according to its kind.
Day 3 of creation – One Land Mass formed above water level and kinds of Vegetation created in preparation for living creatures.
Geology and the third Creation Day
Finally, we must point out that evolution teaches that all life evolved from marine plants and marine animals. According to current Geological timescales, there would be hundreds of millions of years before complex plants and fruit trees evolved. Which sequence of events sounds the more sensible and believable order of doing things? The Bible or the evolution theory?
This topic will be dealt with later in more depth in the examination of the flood of Noah’s Day.
Genesis 1:14-19 – The Fourth Day of Creation
“And God went on to say: ‘Let luminaries come to be in the expanse of the heavens to make a division between the day and the night; and they must serve as signs and for seasons and for days and years. And they must serve as luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth. And it came to be so. And God proceeded to make the two great luminaries, the greater luminary for dominating the day and the lesser luminary for dominating the night, and also the stars.”
“Thus, God put them in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth, and to dominate by day and by night and to make a division between the light and the darkness. Then God saw that it was good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a fourth day.”
A literal translation says “And said God let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide between the day and between the night and let them be for signs and seasons for days and years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to shine upon the earth and it was so. And made God two lights great, the light greater to rule the day and the light lesser to rule the night and the stars.”
“And set them God in the firmament of the heavens to shine upon the earth and to rule over the day and over the night and to divide between the light and between the darkness. And saw God that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, day the fourth”.[vii]
Created or made visible?
Does this mean the Sun and the Moon, and the stars were created on the 4th day?
The Hebrew text does not say they were created at this time. The phrase “let there be” or “Let luminaries come to be” are based on the Hebrew word “hayah”[viii] which means “to fall out, come to pass, become, be.” This is quite different from the word “create” (Hebrew = “bara”).
What came to be or came to pass according to the Bible text? Visible luminaries as opposed to just light and dark. What was the purpose of this? After all, there was light on the 2nd day before the vegetation was created on the 3rd day and as all was found good by God, there was sufficient light. The account goes on to answer, “they must serve as signs and seasons for days and years”.
The greater luminary, the sun, was to dominate the day and the lesser luminary, the moon, was to dominate the night, and the stars. Where were these luminaries put? The account says, “set in the firmament of the heavens”. The word translated “set” primarily means “to give”. So, these luminaries were given or made visible in the firmament of the heavens. We cannot say for certain, but the indication is that these luminaries, were already in existence being created on the first creation day but were now made visible to the earth for the reasons stated. Perhaps a planet-wide vapor layer was made thinner so as to be clear enough to be visible from earth.
The Hebrew word “maor” translated as “luminaries” conveys the meaning of “light-givers”. While the moon is not an original light-source like the sun is, nevertheless, it is a light-giver by means of reflection of the sun’s light.
Why was visibility needed?
If they were not visible from the earth, then days and seasons and years could not be calculated. Perhaps, also at this time, an axial tilt of the earth was introduced, which is the cause of our seasons. Also, perhaps the orbit of the moon was amended into its unique orbit from an orbit similar to other planet’s satellites. Whether the tilt was the present-day tilt of around 23.43662° is not certain, as it is possible that the Flood later tilted the earth more. The flood would almost definitely have triggered earthquakes, which would have affected the speed of the earth’s rotation, the length of the day, and the planet’s shape.[ix]
The changing of the sun’s position (from east to west horizon) in the sky also helps us determine where in the day we are, to keep time, and the season (the height of that east to west travel, particularly the maximum height reached).[x]
Watches which we take as commonplace to tell the time were not invented until 1510 with the first pocket watch.[xi] Before that sundials were a common device to help measure time or marked candles.[xii] On the seas, the stars and moon and sun were used to navigate for thousands of years. The measurement of longitude was difficult and prone to error and often resulted in shipwrecks until John Harrison built his clocks named H1, H2, H3, and finally, H4, between the years 1735 and 1761, which finally solved the issue of accurate longitude at sea for good.[xiii]
Unique properties of the moon
The Lesser luminary or the moon also has many unique properties to enable it to fulfill its requirements. Here follows is just a short summary, there are many more.
- For a start, it has a unique orbit.[xiv] Other moons orbiting other planets normally orbit on a different plane to the moon. The moon orbits on a plane that is nearly equal to the plane of the earth’s rotation around the sun. None of the other 175 satellite moons in the solar system orbit their planet in this way.[xv]
- The moon’s unique orbit stabilizes the earth’s tilt which gives the seasons, from degrading.
- The moon’s relative size to the earth (its planet) is also unique.
- The moon allows astronomers to study other more distant planets and stars, with the earth-moon relationship acting as a giant telescope.
- The moon is geologically a near-perfect opposite to earth, with no liquid water, no active geology, and no atmosphere and this allows for far deeper and more comprehensive discoveries than if the earth was similar to the moon or vice versa.
- The shape of the earth’s shadow on the moon enables us to see that the earth is a sphere, without going into orbit in a space rocket!
- The moon acts to protect the earth from strikes by comets and asteroids, both by being a physical barrier and also its gravitational pull on passing objects.
“they must serve as signs and seasons for days and years …”
How do these luminaries serve as signs?
Firstly, they are signs of the power of God.
The psalmist David expressed it this way in Psalms 8:3-4, “When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?”. In Psalm 19:1,6 he also wrote “The heavens are declaring the glory of God, and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling. … From one extremity of the heavens is its [the sun] going forth, and its finished circuit is to their other extremities”. City dwellers often miss this glory but not if one goes into the countryside away from man’s artificial light sources at night. There, if we look up into the heavens on a night with a clear sky, we can see the beauty and number of the stars, and the brightness of the moon. Even some of the planets of our solar system, just about visible with the naked eye, and it is awe-inspiring.
Secondly, as mentioned above, the movement of the sun, moon, and stars is reliable.
As a result, navigators can get their bearings by day and by night. By measurement, one’s position on the earth can be calculated and placed on a map, assisting travel.
Thirdly, signs of future events about to follow.
According to Luke 21:25,27 which says “also there will be signs in sun and moon and stars …. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”.
Fourth, signs of divine judgment.
Joel 2:30 possibly referring to the events that occurred at Jesus death says “I [God] will give portents in the heavens and on the earth … The sun itself will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and fear inspiring day of Jehovah”. Matthew 27:45 records that while Jesus was dying on the torture stake “from the sixth hour on [midday] a darkness fell over all the land, until the ninth hour [3pm]”. This was no ordinary eclipse or weather event. Luke 23:44-45 adds “because the sunlight failed”. This was accompanied by an earthquake which rent the Temple curtain in two.[xvi]
Fifthly, they can be used to determine the weather expected in the near future.
Matthew 16:2-3 tells us “When evening falls you are accustomed to say: ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is fire-red; and at morning, ‘It will be wintry, rainy weather today, for the sky is fire-red, but gloomy looking. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky …”. The author, perhaps like many readers, was taught a simple rhyme when young, which says the same thing, “Red Sky at night, shepherds delight, Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning”. We can all vouch for the accuracy of these statements.
Sixth, today we measure the length of a year, based on the earth’s rotation around the sun of 365.25 days (rounded to 2 decimals).
Many ancient calendars used the moon’s cycle to measure months and then reconciled it with the solar year by adjustments, so the planting and harvesting times could be kept track of. The lunar month is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 2.7 seconds, and is termed a synodical month. However, some calendars like the Egyptian calendar were based on a solar year.
Seventh, the seasons are allocated by the timing of the equinoxes of the Sun, being in December, March, June, and September.
The equinoxes are manifestations of the earth’s tilt on its axis and physically affect the amount of sunlight reaching a particular part of the earth and hence affecting the weather and in particular the temperatures. In the northern hemisphere winter is December to March, spring is March to June, summer is June to September, and autumn is September to December. There are also two leap tides and two neap tides each lunar month, caused by the moon. All these signs assist us in counting time and ascertaining the season, which in turn helps planning to plant for food production and harvesting schedules.
With clear visibility of the luminaries, it can be seen that as Job 26:7 states “He is stretching out the north over the empty place, hanging the earth upon nothing”. Isaiah 40:22 tells us that “there is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, … the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell”. Yes, the heavens are stretched out like a fine gauze with a pinprick of light from all the stars, both large and small, in particular those in our own galaxy in which the solar system is placed, called the Milky Way.[xvii]
Psalm 104:19-20 also confirms the creation of the 4th day saying “He has made the moon for appointed times, the sun itself knows well where it sets. You cause darkness, that it might become night. In it all the wild animals of the forest move forth.”
The Fourth Day – Visible Light sources, Seasons, Ability to measure time.
The next part of this series will cover the 5th to 7th days of Creation.
[ix] For further information see: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=716#:~:text=NASA%20scientists%20using%20data%20from,Dr.
[x] For more information see for example https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/axial-tilt-obliquity.html and https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/seasons-causes.html
[xii] For more information on time measuring devices see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_timekeeping_devices#:~:text=The%20first%20mechanical%20clocks%2C%20employing,clock%20was%20invented%20in%201656.
[xiii] For a brief summary of John Harrison and his clocks see https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/longitude-found-john-harrison or if in the UK in London, visit the Greenwich Maritime Museum.
[xvi] For a fuller discussion see the article “Christ’s death, Is there any extra-Biblical evidence for the events reported?” https://beroeans.net/2019/04/22/christs-death-is-there-any-extra-biblical-evidence-for-the-events-reported/