Today: 19 April 2014
 
 

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The early planet earth

'Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters...'
(Genesis (OT), chapter 1, verse 2)

You may be surprised to learn that there is a high level of agreement between the Bible and modern science regarding the sequence of events during the development of our planet.

Following the instant of the creation of the universe, modern science postulates that the early earth condensed from hot gases
into a solid sphere (a little flattened at the poles) with a molten core, entirely covered by surface water kilometres deep, and surrounded by an opaque atmosphere of dust and gas - devoid of land mass, light and life.

The above Bible verse also says the earth was indeed 'dark', 'formless' and 'empty' (ie with no life-forms), and at this time 'the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters' (the original Hebrew uses the word 'brooding',
'Let there be light'
a picture of an eagle spreading her wings over her eggs until they hatch). Many Bible scholars believe that the language used here implies an unquantified period of time.

Next in the Genesis account, God said, 'let there be light,' and the day/night cycle began. Astute readers may say that there must have been photons (light) in the universe before that, but we must take into account the 'viewpoint of the observer' in any scientific description. And in this case, the Genesis author's viewpoint is the earth, not somewhere out in space.

So, when God commanded it, the atmosphere began to clear of debris, the sun's light began to filter dimly through to the surface of the earth for the first time, and thus the (roughly) 24-hour cycle of day and night began, instead of the previous constant unrelieved darkness.

After that (Genesis (OT) chapter 1, verse 6), the hot and cloudy, humid atmosphere began to clear, and to allow a visible distinction between the 'water below' (the seas covering the surface of the earth) and the 'waters above' (the thick, dark moisture-laden clouds). And so began the 'water cycle' you learned about at school. At this time, according to scientists, the sky was not clear, but light began filtering through the clouds and the atmosphere of 100% humidity, allowing the possibility of photosynthesis... essential for plant life.  

Next up (verse 9): volcanic activity produced islands and land masses. God said, 'let the dry land appear,' and it happened.

With dry land, and some light, photosynthesis could begin, and vegetation sprang up. 'Let the land produce vegetation,' commands God in verse 11.

Remember, at this time, the skies were 100% thick cloud, so the sun was not visible; no stars could have been seen at night. But the dramatic day came when the sun peeped through a gap in the clouds for the first time! And at night, countless stars could have been seen (if anyone had been there to see them). This is described (from the viewpoint of an earthbound observer, of course) in verse 14:  'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky...'

The Bible goes on to say that life began in the sea, and science agrees with this, too. The Bible shows a progression to more and more complex life, through birds and land creatures, culminating in the creation of Mankind. Science agrees.

What an amazingly inspired account the Bible gives us, millennia before modern science came to similar conclusions. It's enough to make you believe in God! Well, it did so for me, anyway.

Next we'll look at the different understandings held by Bible-believing Christians about the length of a 'day' in the first chapter of Genesis.    

Next up – How long is a creation day?

Go deeper - learn more

Pray: Lord, as I see the wonders of the world you created, help me to know you better, and to worship you as you deserve. Amen.

Watch the video clip The Creation, as Wintley Phipps tells the story

Watch the video clip World creation - evolution, as Homer Simpson crawls out of the sea.

Visit Reasons to Believe - a science/faith think-thank website

Read the book A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Read the book The Genesis Question by Hugh Ross


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