The Bible, Genesis and Science

This page is an exerpt from Cycles of Salvation History by Ulrich Utiger

Hildegard of Bingen: A medieval vision of a spherical Earth
Hildegard of Bingen: A medieval vision of a spherical Earth

Page description
The first chapter of the Bible, Genesis one, is perfectly compatible with modern science such as cosmology, the big bang and even Einstein's relativity.

Contents of this page
First Day
Second Day
Third day
From the fourth to the seventh day
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The First Account of Creation


The creation of the angels

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1).

This well-known first verse of the Bible seems to refer exclusively to the creation of the planet Earth and its blue sky. Yet, as we know from modern astronomy, the Earth is not alone in the universe. There are an impressive number of other celestial objects much older than the Earth, which was formed only 4.6 billion years ago. This is rather late compared with the 13.7-billion-years-old universe. So if one claims that the term earth refers to our planet, we would have a first contradiction of Scriptures by modern science because the Earth was not created “in the beginning” but only billions of years later.

In order to understand this apparent inconsistency, we need to analyze in more detail the original Hebrew text: the word shamayim (heavens) is used many times in the Old Testament and has several meanings. In Deuteronomy 4:19 and 1 Kings 8:30, for instance, it is used to design the invisible world inhabited by God. The same word is used to describe the place of the angels (Gen 21:17; 22:11, 15) or the host of the Sun, the Moon and the stars (Dt 4:10; Isa 13:10). It also designs the place where the birds fly, that is, the atmosphere (Gen 1:20, 26). The word erets (earth) must be understood correspondingly. In fact, it has several meanings as well. It means the whole world (Psa 72:19) as counterpart to heaven (Job 28:24; 37:3) or as the place of all nations (Isa 14:26) as well as a limited region, for instance the land of Canaan in Genesis 11:31; 12:5. The real meaning must be determined from the context and specific rules, as we shall see.

Since shamayim may also mean the world of the angels, the Bible hints to their existence. According to Colossians 1:16-17, the angels did not exist from all eternity but have been created:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

According to Job 38:4-7, “the sons of God shouted for joy” when God “laid the foundations of the earth”. It is commonly assumed that the sons of God are angels. So this means that they have been created before the Earth. This is also the point of view of St. Augustine who states that shamayim refers in the first place to the invisible world of the angels, and erets to the totality of the terrestrial universe, the visible world.[1] Shamayim is mentioned before erets, which means that the angels were created “in the beginning” and the physical universe thereafter. Interpreting Genesis 1:1 in this manner solves the aforementioned inconsistency, since earth in this context does not refer to our planet but to the totality of the matter of the entire universe, which was created at the big bang.

However, a small part of that matter will later form our Solar System and the Earth. This is why Genesis 1:1 also refers to the Earth. In fact, shamayim and erets are placeholders for different heavens and earths. This can be concluded because these terms are repeated several times in the account, which points to the creation of new heavens and earths. Genesis 1:6-8, for instance, mentions the creation of an expanse again called shamayim. Since Genesis 1:1 has already mentioned the creation of shamayim, this must be a new heaven. Therefore, there must be several heavens, big and small ones with different properties.[2] The same happens with erets (in the singular) in Genesis 1:9-10, where it is applied to the continent after Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 already used the same word to introduce different earths. Consequently, several earths must exist as well, big and small ones, which correspond to the big and small heavens to form together several heaven / earth dualities. This results in restrictions indicating that big structures are prefigured by small structures, or vice versa.

This is why the invisible and visible world form together such a duality heaven / earth. Inside the visible world is found a smaller duality of this kind, that is, the space-time / matter duality, because not only matter but also space-time is an entity that must have been created, as we are going to see. This gives us a rule for further understanding of Genesis: the duality heaven / earth of Genesis 1:1 is a structure that goes throughout the whole account. Like the different meanings of the words themselves, this duality successively refers to even more restricted universes that are contained in the previous ones. The invisible and visible world is the first of this series of dualities followed by the restricted spaces of our physical universe, our galaxy, the Milky Way, our Solar System as well as our planet. So Genesis 1:1 finally also refers to atmosphere / Earth and even ocean / continents, although other passages more explicitly relate to these dualities, as we shall see.

The big bang

If space was nothing, the question would rise why God created it? In fact, before the advent of modern physics, space has never been considered a real entity. In mathematics, space can be formulated in different manners. The oldest and simplest model is Euclidean space. In two dimensions, this is simply a flat infinite surface. This can be extended to three or an arbitrary number of dimensions. Such spaces seemingly do not require to be created.

More sophisticated concepts came up in the 19th century with Riemannian geometry, according to which shapes like a circle line or the surface of a sphere are closed and curved spaces. Also infinite open spaces are possible like hyperbolic surfaces, for instance. Intuitively spoken, a Riemannian space is the locus of the shape alone, the place outside does not make part of it. Any physics are thought to take place exclusively inside these spaces. Therefore, inhabitants of such shapes could not go elsewhere and would perceive nothing from the outside. Living beings on a circle line, for instance, would be kind of worms that could not cross each other because there is no escape from the line.

Based on these concepts, Albert Einstein developed his general relativity in 1915, which is the basis for theories on the evolution and shape of the entire universe. Einstein initially defended a static universe with not moving galaxies by introducing a cosmological constant into his equations to counteract the attractive effect of gravity on matter, which would otherwise cause the universe to collapse. At the same time in 1927, the Catholic priest and cosmologist Georges Lemaître proposed an expanding universe in order to counterbalance gravity. He was also the first to theoretically derive what later became known as Hubble’s law and made the first estimation of the Hubble constant. Lemaître was also the first to propose the big bang theory.

However, he was not very well noticed at first, until Edwin Hubble experimentally observed that all galaxies scatter at a speed proportional to the distance to our galaxy. The proportional constant of this linear law is precisely the Hubble constant. This scattering must be considered an intrinsic expansion of space. In fact, it is not matter that is spreading into preexisting space, but space itself becomes larger. This can be compared to the expansion of a balloon being inflated. Any given points on its surface get further apart from each other. In a similar way, each galaxy is withdrawing from all the others.

Because of this scattering of all galaxies, one has to conclude that they were closer to one another in the past. In a very distant past, they must have been even so close together that their matter constituted one single indiscernible mass. Numerous ulterior confirmations finally brought most cosmologists to the conclusion that all the matter of the universe was formed in an immense “explosion” called the big bang, a term coined by astronomer Fred Hoyle in 1949 as an attempt to discredit Lemaître’s cosmology because it provided arguments for creation.

According to a experimentally determined cosmological parameter called omega, the universe will either eternally expand or slow down through the interaction of gravitation to finally collapse like stones flung in the air coming back to the ground. This possible contraction is called big crunch. Omega also determines the shape of the universe. Three main models enter into question: if omega is equal to one, the universe is infinite and Euclidean flat. If omega is less than one, the universe is also infinite but hyperbolically curved. This case is also called open. A value of omega greater than one implies a spherically shaped universe also called closed.

Let us return to our question if space may be considered a real entity on the same level than matter. This must clearly be answered affirmatively because space has properties like curvature and expansion. Nothing cannot have any properties, it is just nothing. Other space properties are contained in the cosmological parameter omega, which is made up of divers densities like matter, radiation energy and vacuum energy density. If matter density is taken into account, then also radiation energy must be considered because of Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence, the famous formula E = mc2, which means that energy can be transformed into matter and vice versa. So radiation energy density is not fundamentally different from matter density. If in our days radiation plays a minor role, this was different in the early universe when radiation dominated over matter and mainly influenced the rate at which the universe expanded.

Vacuum energy density, on the other hand, is a very strange concept. It arises from quantum mechanics, more precisely from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle with respect to energy and time. It states that the vacuum can borrow energy during a very short time and produce a particle-antiparticle pair. Within the allowed time interval, they must annihilate each other and give back the borrowed energy. Such a process does not violate energy conservation. Before annihilation however, such virtual particles may interact with real particles producing a ground state energy in the vacuum. The existence of such particles is shown by the Casimir effect, a force between two metallic plates in a vacuum. Virtual particles are also responsible for the “evaporation” of black holes, a theory elaborated by Stephen Hawking. These concepts led to quantum field theory, which quantizes space, that is, subdivides it into small regions, each of which makes a small contribution to energy density. This is similar to subdividing matter into atoms or smaller compounds.

In 2011, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess for their 1998 discovery of the accelerated expansion of the universe. Until then, it was intuitively thought that the expansion would slow down because of gravitation and finally collapse. In order to explain this surprising phenomenon, the existence of dark energy[3] in space was postulated. It is commonly supposed that dark energy is equivalent with vacuum energy, even though there is not yet a formal prove. According to recent measures of NASA’s WMAP spacecraft, dark energy accounts for over 70% of the overall density, the smaller 30% part being dark and visible matter densities.

So even the vacuum has a vastly complex structure on a comparable level than matter, which has an important consequence: since we assume that God created all things, he also must have created space in a similar way than matter. If space was nothing, its creation mentioned by Genesis 1:1 in the context of the physical universe would be senseless or had to be placed to another context, which would leave out the most important step in the evolution of the universe, that is, its beginning.

In fact, it is the big bang that marks the beginning of our physical time and is an event that, at the time of writing, cannot be explained naturally, even though attempts to do so are not missing. The Church considers that God created our universe ex nihilo, that is, out of naught, which implies that it is a supernatural event. So the big bang can be resumed to four main characteristics, which are perfectly given by the first verse of Genesis:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth".
beginning of time supernatural event creation of space and matter

Figure 2: The big bang referred to by Genesis 1:1.

First Day

The Milky Way

The earth was formless and void, and darkness lay upon the face of the abyss, a wind of God was hovering over the surface of the waters (Gen 1:2).

For the correct understanding of the second verse, we must apply the same rules of interpretation already used for the first verse. So let us resume these rules:

  1. We have seen that the planet Earth formed billions of years after the big bang. This is why a literal interpretation linking the Hebrew words shamayim (heaven) and erets (earth) in Genesis 1:1 to our planet implies an apparent anachronism, because the Earth and its atmosphere were not created in the beginning. This oddity is solved by reframing the context to the spiritual world of the angels. Such anachronisms through literal interpretation occur several times and are always solved in the same manner.
  2. We have also seen that there is some time between the creation of shamayim and erets: the invisible world was created before the physical universe. It is not an instantaneous creation of both entities, contrary to what the word and between them may suggest. The same is true for the rest of the account, of which the wording indicates large time intervals.
  3. The couple shamayim and erets are terms that at each repetition form a new duality referring to several contexts: at first, it applies to the invisible and visible word. Then, within the visible world, it means space-time and matter. The same reframing happens for other levels up to the couple atmosphere / planet Earth (see figure 3). These multiple references implicate restrictions: the considered context of the creation story becomes increasingly limited in space and time because it is heading to the creation of man.

The four similarly structured levels of the universe, each of which is contained in the previous one.
Figure 3: The four similarly structured levels of the universe, each of which is contained in the previous one.

The second verse of Genesis contains three clauses, each of which refers to different stages in cosmic evolution according to rule number two. It begins with the word erets after it was already used in the first verse and therefore indicates, according to the third rule, a restriction of the context to something formed a certain time after the big bang and having an earthy aspect. The question is: a restriction from what to what? It is not from the invisible to our visible world because this is already done by the first verse. The correct context cannot be extracted from Genesis, because it is a very concise description of creation. In order to understand this description, one must look very carefully, not only at Genesis, but especially at creation, which is by far the most difficult part, because it implies a centuries-lasting development of scientific knowledge.

So let us take a look at the structure of the universe. A medieval observer of the nocturnal sky would say it is evenly filled with stars. In a very clear night, preferably at high altitude, he would discover a dim milky glowing band, the Milky Way. A closer look armed with light-intense cameras unveils that this dim band is made of billions of stars. With far reaching telescopes observing the universe beyond the Milky Way one discovers an universe that is evenly distributed with such huge groups of stars called galaxies. The Milky Way is only one among billions of such galaxies.

Hence, the structure of our universe is as schematized by figure 3: the first level of structure is the whole universe. Its matter is regrouped in galaxies, which scatter from each other. So galaxies, in particular our Milky Way, represent the next level of structure. Inside galaxies one discovers stars that are orbiting around the galactic center. This is why the next natural level of structure is our star, the Sun, which is like a little galaxy with planets instead of stars orbiting around it. From these planets one arrives to the next level, that is, to our planet Earth. Based on this extra-biblical information, one must naturally conclude that Genesis 1:2 makes a restriction, or transition, from the universe as a whole to the next nearest level of structure, that is, to our galaxy the Milky Way.

In the first clause, erets is said to be formless and void (tohu and bohu). In fact, the primitive matter the big bang produced was essentially hydrogen gas with some helium and traces of lithium. Theses gases initially were more or less regularly dispersed in space. Hence, they were formless like sand in a desert, almost uniform in all places and without clues that could have done an orientation to an observer. The gas then regrouped by gravitational attraction and first formed nebular galaxies creating much void space between the galaxies.

It is believed that the big bang formed primordial black holes, around which the earliest galaxies shaped. As it happens, in the center of our galaxy is a black hole, which form through high density conditions. Such conditions occurred at the big bang and in the centers of stars during their gravitational collapse or at the end of very massive stars when they explode. This last case is called a supernova. According to general relativity, black holes have zero dimension and infinite density, which is called a singularity. Gravitation between two bodies is inversely proportional to their squared distance. So if someone stood on the surface of a shrinking body, the gravitation exerted on the person would increase, with the mass of the body remaining constant. The gravitation of a body shrinking to a singularity would become infinite at this point. Quantum mechanics predicts black holes with almost zero dimension and very high density but nevertheless a finite one.

In any case, matter compression and the consequent gravitation of a black hole is so strong that all matter within a certain distance from it is absorbed and compressed to almost a point. Even light particles are absorbed because they move with finite velocity so that a finite force can retain them. This is why the frontier from where the light waves are absorbed is at a certain distance away from the center. Therefore, there is empty space between the mass and this spherical frontier, which is called the event horizon of the black hole. The radius of the horizon for a black hole of one solar mass would be 3 kilometers; for one of fifty solar masses it would be 147 kilometers. Consequently, black holes appear as relatively large abysses of profound darkness despite the fact that all their mass is concentrated at almost a dimensionless point.

The Hebrew word paniym in “the face of the abyss” stands, among others, for surface of the ground or of the Earth, for instance. The event horizon of a black hole is effectively a surface, a spherical one. Tehom, standing for abyss, is mostly used to describe a depth of water, a water swirl for instance (see figure 4). The fraction of hydrogen atoms in the water molecule H2O is exactly two-thirds, the other third being composed of an oxygen atom. As a result, hydrogen is, depending on the number of atoms, the main component of water.[4] Hence, making the heuristic assumption that Genesis has not a human but divine authorship and that thereby it basically but accurately describes the evolution of creation with common words of ancient times, we are brought to realize that “darkness lay upon the face of the abyss” resembles the description of a black hole with its event horizon. In addition, we expect Genesis 1:2 to refer to the structure of our galaxy, which effectively is hold together by a black hole gathering hydrogen around it, thus resembling a big water swirl, as suggested by tehom. This backs and confirms the heuristic assumption.

Paniym is also used in “a wind of God was hovering over the surface of the waters”, where it has another meaning. In fact, after sufficient gathering of hydrogen, our galaxy became a flat rotating spiral disc (see figure 4) and therefore formed a rotating surface of “waters”, that is, of hydrogen. Some other Hebrew words in the third clause sustain this view: rachaph means hover, flutter or shake according to the context and only occurs two more times in the entire Thora: in Jeremiah 23:9, where it means shake and in Deuteronomy 32:11: “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, hovering over its young...” The meaning is not immediately clear. This is why rachaph is sometimes translated by flutter. This would mean that the eagle is staying directly above its young by fluttering its wings. However, usually only little birds are capable of performing such a standing flight for a prolonged time. For big birds like eagles this is very energy consuming. On the other hand, if the eagle hovers or glides in the high sky above its young, it would make more sense because it would fly in the air by making horizontal arcs around its nest, which an eagle can easily do for a prolonged time.

This also corresponds better to the image given by the entire context, in which God’s watching over the Israelite people from Heaven is compared with the eagle’s taking care of its young from the sky. So an eagle gliding high in sky corresponds better to this image. That such a movement is meant is also confirmed by the verb stir up (ur) in the sense of watching the environment to protect the nest against potential predators. This implies that the eagle is hovering in a plane at a certain constant high above its nest, so it does not flatter near it. This sense of rachaph accords very well with the slow movement of a flat rotating disc of hydrogen.

The “wind of God” does not directly refer to God but to the image of the Creator, who is gathering around himself his creation. This is why centers of gravitation like galaxies and stars reflect the image of God because they gather matter around them. There are innumerable images in nature reflecting the Creator to varying degrees. First of all, it is humankind that holds the image of God, according to Genesis 1:26, but also animals, as seen above in Deuteronomy 32:11 and because Christ is the Lamb of God (Joh 1:29; Rev 5:6-14), as well as the Sun, which is surrounded by the planets[5] like Christ is surrounded by the twelve Apostles.[6]

Wind means ruach in Hebrew, which can also mean gas or spirit. However, the “wind of God” does not directly refer to God’s Spirit either but to his image on a material level, because hydrogen gas is an image for water, which in turn is an image for the Spirit. It is entirely appropriate here to speak of a wind, because most of atmospheric circulations are caused through gravitation by spiraling into the “abyss” of a low-pressure area. The same force is responsible for the rotating discs of galaxies and stars in formation.

The approach of hydrogen to “the waters” of Genesis 1:2 is nevertheless only approximate, of course. However, the reason for this is not only because ancient Hebrew does not have a word for hydrogen and thereby the nearest possible term to describe hydrogen is used. Genesis 1:2 effectively at the same time refers to situations where real water is involved. We have already seen through rule number three that some words like shamayim and erets have multiple significance. The same is true for the “water whirl” referred to by “a wind of God was hovering over the surface of the waters”. A swirl has a spiral form that also applies to the spiral nebula out of which our Solar System and the Earth came from, as well as to the cyclones literally rotating over the water surface of the primitive ocean, to which they gave birth, as we shall see. So multi-significance (or multi-reference) is based on resemblance between the various objects of reference, which inevitably results in approximations.

Protoplanetary discs and cyclones

Genesis 1:2 refers in the first place to our galaxy. According to rule number three however, a second reference applies to our Sun, which was born in an approximate way to our galaxy, that is, by a “formless and void” nebula of hydrogen and dust transforming itself into a spiral protoplanetary disc 4.6 billion years ago (Ga). This does not contradict with the fact that the creation of the Sun, the Moon and the stars seems to be mentioned only on the fourth day, because Genesis 1:14-19 does not refer to the creation of the two major luminaries but to another event, as we shall see.

French scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace suggested already in 1796 that the Solar System may have formed by the gravitational collapse of a large rotating cloud of gas and dust. Thanks to the Hubble telescope, such gas and dust clouds were observed for the first time back in the 1990s. They are the product of myriads of stars transforming hydrogen into helium trough nuclear fusion and then successively into all other chemical elements up to iron. This process liberates energy while fusion of heavier elements than iron consumes energy. Hence, the elements beyond iron were not formed by normal nucleosynthesis in stars but by other processes. One of them is supernova nucleosynthesis, which occurs under the extremely high temperatures and pressures of such explosions. So the initial solar cloud was made of leftovers of supernovae and contained all the 98 chemical elements naturally existing on Earth.

Turbulence physics is similar on large or small scales. This is why the contraction of such clouds of gas and dust happens in a similar manner than galactic contraction, just on a smaller scale. This means that the contracting solar cloud at some stage formed a protoSun with a rotating spiral disc around it. Again thanks to the Hubble telescope, astronomers could observe such discs in protostar systems like HK Tauri and Herbig-Haro 30, for instance. However, these protostars are too far away that a spiral form in their disc could be recognized. It is nevertheless very probable that they have one, because spirals always appear in similar turbulent systems whether the scales are large or small, as shown in figure 4.

Spiral galaxies, cyclones and water whirls have a similar form, referred to as the “wind of God hovering over the surface of the waters” (Gen 1:2).
Figure 4
: Spiral galaxies, cyclones and water whirls have a similar form, referred to as the “wind of God hovering over the surface of the waters” (Gen 1:2).

As can be seen in the vortex of Saturn, there are even little spiral turbulences inside the arms of the whole system. This is why it is probable that inside the solar disc likewise appeared little systems of spiral knots finally giving birth to the planets. The result of such mini systems with a planet in the center instead of a star is still very well visible in the numerous moons that orbit around Saturn and Jupiter like little planets. They orbit all in the same sense and almost in the same orbital plane than their mother planet. One of them, Ganymede, is even larger than Mercury. This is why it is likely that there was also a spiral turbulence knot on the orbit of the future Earth. One thing the Earth may partially have kept from such an initial terrestrial spiral is the rotation around itself.

In the beginning of the formation of the Solar System, water was omnipresent because oxygen is, after hydrogen and helium, the third most abundant element in the universe. As we know, water is precisely formed from hydrogen and oxygen. This is why the spiral protoplanetary disc can be considered a second reference of “the surface of the waters”. For similar reasons, a third reference applies to the disc of the future planet Earth, which is the next cosmic structure after the Solar System.

A last and fourth reference of Genesis 1:2 applies to Earth’s surface, the last cosmic level according to figure 3: as we will see, our planet formed an incandescent sphere of molten stone at the end of its formation. At this stage, its gravitational force became strong enough to accumulate water vapor and other gases, especially carbon dioxide, in its atmosphere. Due to the high temperatures, powerful winds and cyclones must have reigned during this time. In present days, cyclones, like hurricanes and typhoons, form spiral cloudy discs turning around their center, mostly above the sea in latitudes where it is hot. Hence the former cyclones certainly had the same form, with the difference of having been much bigger and stronger.

A special form of cyclones are polar vortices centered near the poles. A polar vortex is a permanent low-pressure area looking sometimes like a big hurricane. They are found on Earth, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn (see figure 4) and its moon Titan. Since they are permanent, they were certainly present at the time when the Earth’s atmosphere started to build up and may have been dominant over the whole planet at the example of the vortices on Venus, of which the atmosphere is similar to that of the early Earth because of its hot temperature and the high concentration of carbon dioxide.

Summary of the first four days

Let us summarize the four references to spiral objects of Genesis 1:2:

  1. The formation of our galaxy by a spiral nebula.
  2. The birth of our Solar System by a spiral disc.
  3. The initial formation of the Earth by a spiral form.
  4. The formation of great cyclones and the polar vortices in the Earth’s troposphere also having a spiral form.

These references of Genesis 1:2 are, therefore, based on the spiral structure of the diverse erets in formation, which are not yet very terrestrial because they are only composed of hydrogen and/or water mixed with dust. The Hebrew word mayim standing for waters is, by the way, effectively written in the plural like shamayim in Genesis 1:1, which furthermore emphasizes its multi-significance.

Based on the results of the first day, the following days will be interpreted in the same manner, that is, each day implies a restriction to a lower cosmic level. An individual day makes references only to levels beneath this restriction. Therefore, a specific day has one reference less than the previous day. This has been taken into account in figure 5, which lists all references of a certain day in a column.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Limitation to the physical world FIRST DAY
Genesis 1:2
The earth was formless and void, and darkness lay upon the face of the abyss, a wind of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Space-time and matter
1st restriction: from the universe to our galaxy SECOND DAY
Genesis 1:6-8
Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.
Galactic space and our galaxy The formation of our galaxy (Milky Way) by a spiral nebula containing hydrogen
2nd restriction: from our galaxy to our solar system THIRD DAY
Genesis 1:9
Let the waters under the heavens be gathered unto one place, and let the dry land appear.
Solar space and our solar system The birth of our Solar System by a collapsing spiral cloud containing hydrogen and water Formation of the protoSun (low waters) and the protoplanetary disc with the outer icy planets (high waters) separated by the inner telluric planets held together by the solar gravitational field
3rd restriction: from our solar system to the planet Earth FOURTH DAY
Genesis 1:14-19
Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night.
Atmosphere and our planet The initial formation of the Earth by a collapsing spiral form containing hydrogen, dust and water (first atmosphere) Condensation of hydrated solid materials forming particles and planetesimals (low waters) surrounded by hydrogenous gazes and water vapor (high waters) on the orbit of the future Earth Accretion of the water containing planetesimals (low waters) releasing their water (drying) due to heating by mutual collisions
Limitation to Earth’s surface: the big rain
troposphere/ ocean and continents The formation of big cyclones over the ocean and the polar vortices also having spiral forms The formation of a cloud layer (high waters) in the troposphere, an aerial field, above the primitive ocean in formation (low waters) Release of the water (low waters) of the cooling crust by drying out and elevation of the solid crust (dry land) out of an ocean initially covering all the surface of the Earth Daylight through openings in the cloud layer allowing the light of celestial bodies to shine on Earth’s surface

Figure 5: Summary of all references made by the first four days to the evolution of the universe and the Earth. Vertical reading yields all references for a specific creation day. Horizontal reading yields the evolution on a specific cosmic level.

According to figure 3, the first column has five references, which must be understood as follows: the limitation to the physical world in the first column is a restriction from the superior duality invisible world / visible world to space-time / matter inside visible world. This contrasts with the three following restrictions, which are made from many objects towards a single object. On the first level, these objects are the galaxies, from which a restriction is made to our galaxy (first restriction). Then inside our galaxy are the stars, from which our Sun is privileged (second restriction). Finally, inside our Solar System are the orbiting planets, from which the attention is given to our Earth (third restriction). The limitation to the Earth’s surface is similarly a restriction from the superior duality atmosphere / Earth to ocean / continents inside Earth. This is why the first and last restriction are called limitation in figure 5 in order to distinguish them from the others.

The first column sets the space in which the evolution of a certain cosmic level takes place. Furthermore, because there are only five references in the first column, the diminishing of references of each consecutive day can only go up to the fourth day otherwise the fifth and sixth day would have no references at all. The evolution on a specific cosmic level reads horizontally from left to right across the days in figure 5.

The universe is lit up

And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness he called ‘night’. Evening came and morning came: the first day (Gen 1:3-5).

Let us return to our Milky Way, the first reference of the first day. The three next verses are still into this context because what is described still happens during the first day. The next step of galactic gravitational collapse after the formation of the spiral disc is star formation, which happens, as mentioned above, in a similar manner than galaxy formation. Yet, the gravitational collapse occurring in stars does not lead to black holes like in a great number of galaxies, but on the contrary to an outburst of light: the gravitation being less important, the matter is not compressed to a point like in black holes but starts nuclear fusion. The colossal energy thus liberated causes them to shine. This is why the first stars in the Milky Way brought our local universe out of darkness and illuminated it like the street lamps of a big city.

The young universe at first effectively lived in complete darkness for about 400’000 years after the big bang despite the fact it was radiation dominated. This means that for every hydrogen nucleus there were about one billion photons, which could not propagate freely though, because they scattered with free electrons. At normal temperatures electrons are bound to their nucleus to form an atom. In the early universe, temperatures were very high such that electrons were separated from their nucleus. As a result, electrons and photons permanently scattered with each other, which thereby hindered them to propagate freely. Therefore, the entire universe was plunged into total darkness during this time.

Only after sufficient expansion and cooling could the universe emit light. From this so called time of last scattering results the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is still observable today and constitutes an important proof of the big bang theory. As the name indicates, the mean wavelength of the CMB is in the microwave range, so it is not visible to the human eye. By the time of last scattering its wavelength was about 1’100 times shorter, so it was in the infrared range and would have still been invisible to the human eye. This is why by this time there was no visible light in the universe. Only with the formation of the first stars was the universe illuminated such that it could have been observed by a human being. The oldest star in our galaxy has an estimated age of 13.2 billion years, whereas the big bang occurred 13.7 Ga. So the first stars where formed much later after the CMB.

Second day

Early planet formation

And God said: ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse, and divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse. And God called the expanse ‘heaven’. Evening came and morning came: the second day (Gen 1:6-8).

On the second day, an expanse, raqiya in Hebrew, is created. Inside and outside of Genesis, this word is always used to describe the sky, mostly in a divine dimension. The root of this noun is raqa, which means stretch or beat out, for instance a metal. The expanse is named heaven using the same word shamayim as for the other heavens already created. Therefore, a new smaller heaven is created, which indicates a restriction of the frame, as mentioned above (see here and rule number three). This is similar to the first day, which makes a transition from the primitive universe to our galaxy. This is why we expect that this restriction implies a transition from our galaxy to our Solar System (see figure 3). Such transitions are a subject we will resume later on because they will allow us to link the six days of creation with six levels of the whole evolution.

What Genesis 1:6-8 describes, however, is not simply a repetition of what the first day already states on the Solar System as second reference (see figure 5), but is related to an advanced stage in the formation of the Solar System after that of the spiral nebula. We are going to see that the expanse is related in the first place to the protoplanetary disc, which is held together by the invisible gravitational field of the Sun. On a lower level, the expanse does also refer to our atmosphere.

So let us analyze in more detail what Genesis 1:6-8 is referring to: when the inflow of matter from other parts than the disc of a star in formation decreases and an equilibrium between centrifugal and gravitational forces is about to be reached, the spiral form of the disc disappears, although there is still infall of matter from the disc to the future star. During this stage, the solar disc was heated in the same manner as a gas is heated when it is compressed. This created different temperature zones within the protoplanetary disc because pressure, which is depending on matter density, was not everywhere the same. The hottest region was in the center because most matter was found there. It will become hot enough to ignite nuclear fusion.

The region outside the center, where later the planets will form, was subdivided by the snow line at about 5 AU[7] from the center. This is where Jupiter, the biggest planet in the Solar System, will take shape. Beyond the snow line, temperatures were low enough for water vapor to condense into ice and to form bodies termed planetesimals (tiny planets) with iron and rocky materials in their core and ice in the mantle. The gravitational strength of these planetesimals will become important enough to retain the surrounding gases. This is why the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptun) are mainly composed of hydrogen.

In the inner part of the snow line, temperatures were high enough for all materials to be in the gaseous state. After reaching the peak temperature of about 1700° C at 1 AU on the orbit of the future Earth, the solar disc cooled by emission of radiation and the materials condensed directly from the gaseous to the solid state according to their condensation points. This happened at different temperatures depending on the distance from the center. So different materials condensed at different distances according to their condensation points. This is why the abundances of minerals and water on Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars differ significantly from one planet to the other.

After hydrogen and helium, water was the most abundant compound of the solar nebula. This is why beyond the snow line the major component of the planetesimals at this condensation stage was water in form of ice, whereas inside the snow line the planetesimals were mainly composed of minerals, although not completely exempt of water. The protoSun on the other hand primarily contained water, helium and especially hydrogen, which can be regarded as “protowater”. So we see here a separation of the waters within the protoplanetary disc due to temperature differences: the zone inside the snow line separated the waters of the protoSun from the icy waters outside the snow line.

On what side are the high and low waters? The answer is simple: as is commonly known, the high and low are illusions provoked by gravitation. On Earth, we call high what is far from its center of gravitation. Correspondingly, low is what is near to the center. In the frame of the Solar System, the icy planetesimals are far from the center of gravitation, that is, the protoSun. This is why they represent the high waters. Correspondingly, the protoSun represents the low waters, although the Sun makes its orbit high in the sky as seen from Earth. Though, here we are not (yet) in the context of the Earth but of the whole Solar System. The expanse therefore means the protoplanetary disc, which at the current stage can be subdivided into low and high waters.

This seems to be a unilateral separation in favor of the low, since in present days the outer planets only constitute a 1/700th of the whole mass of the Solar System, the rest is occupied by the Sun (the mass of the inner planets is negligible). At this stage however, the Sun is not yet entirely completed because matter is still incoming from the disc. In addition, strong stellar winds will still blow out of the Solar System an important part of matter. So at this time the outer region occupied significantly more than a 1/700th of the Solar System’s mass.

Early Earth formation

A second reference of Genesis 1:6-8 applies to the planet Earth. At the stage of the protoplanetary disc, the condensed materials were initially in form of dust particles, which clung together by fortuitous collisions in a similar way as ice crystals in clouds stick together to form snowflakes. While these fall on the ground before reaching large dimensions, the dust coagulated to bodies of up to ten meters over a period of about 10’000 years. Gravitational attraction between the bodies did not play a major role in this process because they were still too little. It was just by random encounters that they met and adhered together. The material that coagulated in this manner were mostly silicate materials although a certain amount of volatiles of the surrounding gas was trapped within cavities.

Witnesses of this process are a certain type of meteorites called chondrites, which were formed during this stage of the Solar System and have not been modified due to melting. This is why they preserved the structure of the coagulated grains as can be seen by figure 6. Their age can be determined by radiometric dating, which compares known decay rates of certain radioactive isotopes with those found in the chondrites. This way the age of our Solar System can be determined to 4.6 billion years, which refers to the time when the first dust particles condensed after the solar nebula reached its maximal temperature.

The inner structure of chondrites clearly shows the coagulation of dust and grains of the early Solar System into larger bodies.
Figure 6
: The inner structure of chondrites clearly shows the coagulation of dust and grains of the early Solar System into larger bodies.

Silicate molecules contain a silicon/oxygen group binding various other elements, especially metals. They can easily incorporate water into their crystalline structure to form so called hydrates. A well-known silicate hydrate is cement, which obviously can incorporate a lot of water to become concrete used in construction. Another largely used hydrate in construction is gypsum or plaster. It has a similar molecular structure than cement with the difference that there is a sulfur atom in the place of the silicon atom. So it is no silicate, but can include a lot of water as well. Since the major components of molecular clouds are water and silicates, the dust particles in the protoplanetary disc formed plenty of hydrates.

During the next 100’000 years, the accretion process by random collisions produced a profusion of potato-like shaped planetesimals with diameters between 0.1 and 10 km, which lead to an increased gravitational attraction of the larger planetesimals on their smaller neighbors. This is why a slow transition from random collisions to what is known as gravitational focusing took place, which considerably increased the number of collisions between the bodies and produced still larger planetesimals. It is thought that the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter remained in this stage of formation because the nearby gravitational field of Jupiter perturbed the further growth of planetesimals.

The coagulation process of dust and later the gravitational focusing can be considered a separation process between the hydrates inside the particles from the hydrogen and water vapor outside them in the surrounding gas. With the growing of the particles to planetesimals and the subsequent gravitation, this increasingly led to a separation of low waters inside the bodies from high waters outside them. The gas cloud outside the planetesimals in formation is considered the first terrestrial atmosphere. The expanse that allowed this separation was again the protoplanetary disc limited to the orbit of the future Earth. In fact, there was not much contraction of the disc anymore at this stage. This is why the near gravitational equilibrium of the disc created a low-turbulence zone, which allowed the coagulation of the particles. So it is this gravitational space in midst of the particles that caused this kind of separation of the waters in accordance with Genesis 1:6-8.

Cloud formation

Like the first day, Genesis 1:6-8 also refers to the Earth’s surface. This implies that at this stage the Earth has already accreted and its gravitation is important enough to retain atmospheric gases. The atmosphere that accumulated during this time was the second atmosphere because the first was stripped away by the solar wind when the Sun became a T-Tauri protostar, named after their prototype T-Tauri in the Taurus constellation, and by heavy impacts between big planetesimals.

About 100 million years after the condensation of the solar nebula, the Sun ceased to be a T-Tauri protostar and became a main sequence star, igniting its nuclear activity. At this stage, the activity of the solar wind reduced to a stream of charged particles released from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. This wind is still active in present days and mostly consists of electrons and protons. The solar wind creates the heliosphere, an enormous bubble in the interstellar medium that surrounds the Solar System. Other phenomena include geomagnetic storms that can knock out power grids on Earth, the aurorae (northern and southern lights), and the plasma tails of comets that always point away from the Sun.

During the same time, thermal movements of iron in the liquid outer core began to create a magnetic field, protecting the Earth from the solar wind. A magnetic field obliges charged particles like electrons and protons to make circular movements instead of flying straight. This is why most particles coming from the Sun are unable to hit the Earth. Only in the regions of both poles they are able to penetrate into the atmosphere, causing spectacular aurorae in the sky. Without a magnetic field, the atmosphere is permanently bombarded with these particles, resulting in a loss of different gases and water vapor.

It is thought that Mars initially had a magnetic field and a lot of water reserves. However, Mars is smaller than Earth. This is why it cooled more rapidly and the fluid iron core became solid. So the convection movements in its core ceased and with it the magnetic field. From this stage, most of the water on Mars was lost because the solar wind swept away the water vapor in the high atmosphere. So from the moment when the magnetosphere was created, helped by the increase of gravitation, the Earth could retain most volatile substances, except very light gases like hydrogen and helium, and a second atmosphere was built up.

The atmosphere in this early stage was essentially made up of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapor. Cloud formation in such an atmosphere happened in the same way as at present days although the composition has radically changed: carbon dioxide has almost disappeared, the amount of nitrogen did not change a lot, but oxygen was added by vegetal activity. Thermal air convection causes the water vapor to rise to altitudes where the temperatures falls under the dew point. Then, the vapor condenses in form of droplets or ice crystals thus forming an aerosol with the surrounding gases. This is why clouds only form at a certain altitude. When the density of the droplets or crystals increases, they coagulate together and at some point it either rains or snows. So clouds contain much more water than the air beneath them.

Thereby, the separation of the waters within this context of the Earth’s surface took place in the sense that the atmosphere formed a thick and compact cloud layer in its lowest part, the troposphere, at some altitude around the Earth, the high waters. In present times, clouds form between 2000 and 18’000 meters. This margin was probably higher around 4 Ga because the hotter the air is, the higher is the margin wherein clouds form. From this cloud layer, the water vapor rained down into the ocean, the low waters. In this context, the expanse is therefore the troposphere layer, which is a kind of aerial field provoking the formation of clouds at a certain height.

Let us summarize the multi-significance of Genesis 1:6-8 as separation of high and low waters:

  1. The phase in the evolution of the Solar System that saw the formation of the protoplanetary disc with the protoSun gathering hydrogen, helium and water (low waters), and beyond the snow line the four icy planets in formation (high waters) separated from the protoSun by the four telluric planets in formation, which are all held together by the solar gravitational field.
  2. The condensation of silicates, which formed hydrates with the surrounding water on the terrestrial orbit, thus slowly separating the outer water vapor (high waters) from the captured water inside the coagulating particles and planetesimals (low waters).
  3. The phase when the troposphere, an aerial field, allowed the formation of a thick cloud layer (high waters) above the ocean in formation (low waters) separated by the space between them.

The analogy between these references is therefore based on the presence of an expanse, a kind of field capable of holding waters within separated high and low regions. This expanse stretches over all waters. So it is not a tiny spherical solid layer above which are the high waters and below the low waters. High and low must be understood here as being in the upper and lower part inside the expanse itself. Such an understanding of the expanse is fully compatible with the Hebrew text.

Third day

The Earth takes shape

God said: ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered unto one place, and let the dry land appear.’ God called the dry land ‘earth’ and the gathering together of the waters he called ‘ocean’. And God saw that it was good (Gen 1:9-10).

On the third day, a new earth is created, which implies, according to rule number three, a third restriction because the word erets is used again. This restriction is limited to the planet Earth because it has to be in the context of the second reference of the previous day, which refers to the phase of coagulation of dust into particles, consisting of hydrated silicates sized of some meters in diameter, and the formation of planetesimals out of this material during some 100’000 years (see figure 5). The first reference of the third day describes an advanced stage in Earth formation after this phase and makes a transition from the whole solar disc to the orbit of the future Earth.

It is estimated that during the next few thousand years the gravitational focusing on the Earth’s orbit reduced the bodies to only some hundred of so called planetary embryos, incorporating all smaller planetesimals inside a certain neighborhood. This led to another phase of collisions between these embryos. Since there were only a few, the number of collisions decreased but became more violent, which is why they are termed giant impacts.

About one million years later after the collapse of the solar nebula, the protoSun became a T-Tauri star, which emit a strong stellar wind capable of moving out of their system bodies of up to 10 meters in size. Most of the bodies in the inner Solar System were already larger than this by this time. However, the first atmosphere including hydrogenous gases like hydrogen, water, methane, ammonia, etc. was blown out in the interstellar space. They may have been captured partly by the icy comets orbiting in the Oort cloud and visiting us from time to time. But this is outside the context of Earth formation. So the high waters clearly disappeared. This may be the reason why there is only mention of low waters on the third day.

In fact, the only waters that remained in the inner Solar System after this wiping-off were those trapped inside the planetesimals as hydrates. This was especially the case for the planetesimals at 1 AU because the Earth has the biggest water reserves from all other telluric planets. These planetesimals are “the waters under the heavens” that finally, after about 100 million years, formed the Earth, which became the only body at this specific distance from the Sun. In other words, the planetesimals dispersed on their orbit were thus “gathered unto one place”.

It may be embarrassing to call waters these bodies of rock and hydrated silicates since they mainly consisted of minerals. This must be understood by the next sentence “and let the dry land appear” (Gen 1:9). In the Hebrew text, only “the dry” (ha’yabashah) is translated, so without “land”. This hints to a drying process, which logically involves two materials: one is water and the other is initially “wet” from the water. From this it is clear that before the drying the waters are mixed with this other material. Or formulated otherwise: “the waters under the heavens” must be understood as a mainly non-hydrous material just mixed with water.

In order to understand what this non-hydrous material is, one has to go back to the Earth’s accretion: giant impacts being extremely violent, the planetary embryos became partly molten, because most of the kinetic energy of two colliding bodies is transformed into heat. This is also why planetary embryos had a spherical shape by contrast to the irregular shape of planetesimals. So when the Earth achieved its accretion, it formed an incandescent sphere of different molten materials. All these materials obviously have different densities. Therefore, a large part of the heavy metals (not necessarily molten) moved downwards, finally forming a large iron and nickel core in the center of the Earth. The less heavy materials, the silicates, formed the inner and outer mantle, and the volatiles a second atmosphere.

When hydrated silicates or other hydrates are sufficiently heated, they release the enclosed water. This is why Portland cement is produced by heating limestone to 1450° C. Plaster of Paris is produced similarly out of gypsum, as well as anhydrites in general. So after the last giant impact between the two remaining planetary embryos on the orbit of the Earth, which is thought to have formed the Moon, its outer mantle became molten and released a certain part of the water contained in the hydrates. It rose to the surface where it joined the second atmosphere. The other part of the water still remained in the molten minerals as a liquid/gas solution similar to, for instance, a water/oxygen solution occurring under normal temperatures and pressures.

This release of water vapor rising to the Earth’s surface can be considered a drying process. It is not a complete drying since water remained solved in the molten silicates, but it is a first step towards complete drying, which will only occur with the formation of the terrestrial crust, as we shall see. So the non-hydrous material in this drying process is clearly the silicated mantle. This drying finally made appear the Earth as a spherical body with largely segregated and layered materials according to their density, and with the water vapor and other volatiles above the “dry land”.

The continent

A second reference of the third day is made in the context of the Earth’s surface including the terrestrial crust, the ocean and the troposphere. We are in the stage after the one described by the second day as third reference when the second atmosphere built up (see figure 5). Within this context, the gathering of “the waters under the heavens” is the continuation of the drying process described above. Prior to this gathering, the waters must still have been loosely distributed somewhere on the Earth’s surface. Taking this to the letter, every water molecule was separated by each other by another constituent on a fine terrestrial spherical layer, since this is the space in which these phenomena took place. This is exactly what was the case, because a certain part of the hydrated waters remained solved in the hot liquid stone in the outer terrestrial layer before forming the crust.

When liquids cool down at the point to become solid, they cannot contain gases anymore and must release them. So when the solid terrestrial crust formed by cooling down, water vapor and other gases were released. They rose to the surface by volcanoes or other openings and joined the dense and boiling troposphere that already existed from the previous melting of the hydrated silicates. Consequently, when the outer lava layer with a thickness of only some kilometers was about to become the terrestrial solid crust, it was drying out in a sense. In fact, during a literal drying, when water is leaving another mass by evaporation, it effectively gets to another place where it may henceforth constitute a single mass. The formation of the terrestrial crust is of course not such a drying by evaporation, but otherwise it is exactly the same. Hence, the gathering of the low waters can only mean the solidification of the terrestrial crust, during which the water vapor inside the formerly liquid stone was driven out joining the troposphere. This was a second step in direction of the final gathering of the waters.

The totality of the waters thus collected on the ground is called ocean (yam). In the troposphere, the water vapor was indeed still mixed with other gazes, especially with carbon dioxide, and did not yet constitute a single constituent. This is why a third step in the drying process arrived with further cooling: the vapor condensed and fell on the ground in form of a torrential rain, giving birth to the primitive ocean. This rain dried out the troposphere and may be called big rain, as comparison with the big bang, which also produced a certain form of water, hydrogen, in a similar although much more global context, as we are going to see.

The primitive ocean effectively covered the whole surface of the planet at some stage, because the surface of the young Earth was still more or less regular when the outermost layer began to solidify. Apart from volcanic islands, there were still no continents, mountains or other major irregularities, which can only form if there is a solid crust after millions of years of tectonic activity within the Earth’s mantle. This is why, when the crust was not yet entirely formed, there were still no important elevations and the primitive ocean covered almost all the surface of the globe.

This is the stage when “let the dry land appear” took place. In contrast to the first reference of the third day, the emphasis here is not on dry but on appear, which means that the drying process is over and the appearing process of the already dry land begins. Of course, this refers to the continent: parts of the crust first formed continental shelfs, maybe around volcanic islands, and finally elevated out of the ocean as primitive continent. This implies that the crust at this stage was already solid, that is, “dry” in biblical parlance, unless one considers the drying process as achieved only with the elevation of the continent above sea level.

It is thought that in the beginning there was only one continent. Later, it broke apart into several plates, which slowly drifted away from each other over millions of years and then again came together. Such an assembly of all or most of the Earth’s continental blocks is called supercontinent. It is thought that there have been at least seven supercontinents in the past. The first supercontinent was Vaalbara dating back to about 3.6 Ga. Evidence for its existence comes from cratons in South Africa and Western Australia, which have survived up to the present day despite continued destruction through plate tectonics. The last supercontinent was Pangaea, which formed 300 million years ago (Ma) and, around 200 Ma, began to drift to the present-day constellation of five continents (Africa, America, Antarctica, Australia and Eurasia).

The ocean and the continent form a new duality heaven / earth, the smallest within the material evolution. In fact, the waters (mayim) are named ocean (yam), which resembles heaven (shamayim), because both the ocean and heaven are characterized by their apparently infinite transparency and vastness. The medium of the ocean is the water, inhabited by fish defying the law of gravitation similar to birds flying around in the aerial heaven and to angels moving about in the spiritual space. On the other hand, the primitive continent is called earth (erets), perfectly reflecting in this context the material and earthy aspect of the ground on which we live.

Celestial and terrestrial plants

And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day (Gen 1:11-13).

The first plants were created during the third day as well, which is the first mention of life. There are a lot of theories about the origin of life called abiogenesis but none of them are conclusive, since up to now nobody has been able to create life out of non-living matter. In any case, the oldest fossils of micro-organisms were found in stromatolites that are some 3.45 billion years old. The most often, earlier dates of the first life forms are given. But this is based on extrapolation of atheistic materialistic views, according to which life emerged by chance out of purely biochemical processes supposed to have taken place over very long time intervals. So such dates earlier than 3.5 Ga are based on pure speculation.

We know little of the first living organisms, except that they evolved in the primitive ocean and probably were autotrophic, that is, they did not nourish themselves from other living organisms. They were probably chemotrophs, cells that obtain energy by chemical interaction with their environment. This is why they do not need the light of the Sun, which partly explains why the first life is mentioned before the Sun (Gen 1:14-19). These organisms were consequently comparable to the later appearing phototrophs, living through photosynthesis and thereby needing light. Such vegetal microorganisms determined the course of events for a very long period. During two billion years they produced oxygen and at the same time degraded the atmospheric carbon dioxide. They thus prepared the environment for the first heterotrophs, animal cells needing oxygen and nourishing themselves from biological substances. They appeared about 1.8 Ga, probably stemming from vegetal cells.

However, Genesis 1:11-12 refers to plants not growing in the water but on the soil, in particular to seed plants and fruit trees, which appeared only about 350 Ma, that is, much later compared to the time of life’s origin. The conditions on Earth on the third day are not favorable to seed plants. Such conditions occurred only on the fourth day, as we are going to see in the next section. Furthermore, the Sun, without which seed plants cannot live, is mentioned on the fourth day only. Hence, two questions arise: are the plants cited too early or the Sun too late? As we are going to see, the Sun is not cited too late because the fourth day does not directly refer to its formation. So it is clearly the creation of highly evolved plants on the third day that is an apparent anachronism.

Another question is whether the author of Genesis, who was Moses according to the tradition,[8] may be responsible for this anachronism because of his lack of modern scientific knowledge. This is not straightforward because in his time one certainly guessed that plants cannot live without daylight. So if Moses had written the account basing himself on the knowledge of his time, he would not have made such a mistake. This paradox is consequently too noticeable to suppose that it is simply due to a distraction of the author or of some hypothetical revisers.

This is why it must be intentionally associated with another paradox, namely that of the day, of which the creation is also mentioned before the Sun (Gen 1:3-5): rule number one is based on the anachronism of the Earth cited too early, which rises by reading Genesis 1:1 literally (see here). In a similar way, the creation of the day is an anachronism caused by reading Genesis 1:3-5 literally, that is, by taking the six creation days as solar days determined on the rotation of the Earth around itself. Such days did not exist yet because neither the Sun nor the Earth did exist on the first day, as seen in The universe is lit up. So if such literal twenty-four-hours days were meant, they would be cited too early. In such a situation we need to apply rule number one and conclude that the Hebrew words yom and or, standing for day and light respectively, are a hidden hint to the world of the angels. At the same time, the plants depending on this light must be placed into the celestial world as well.

In fact, the description of the paradise in the book of Revelation mentions trees of life that do not need the Sun since God himself spreads his light on them and on all other cohabitants (Rev 22:2-5). Herbs and celestial trees are also described in Genesis 2:8-9, which indicates a garden of Eden with a tree of life similar to the one of the knowledge of good and evil. God created these celestial trees together with the celestial world. This is why the account mentions them before the creation of the Sun because the celestial world was created long before the physical world, although the same passage also refers to all terrestrial plants on a lower level.

Similarly, the six creation days refer to celestial time scales, although they have also a meaning for the physical world. Since we do not know the length of a celestial day, except that it must be immeasurably longer than a terrestrial day, because the celestial is always immensely bigger than the terrestrial, the six days of creation are not at all in contradiction with a 13.7-billion-year-old universe.

If the world was created during six earth-days, as vehemently defended by young earth creationists, the relation between time and evolution steps would be linear. In fact, this relation is exponential, as the logarithmic time scale of figure 7 reveals.

The material, biological and cultural evolution is almost linear on a logarithmic time scale.
Figure 7
: The material, biological and cultural evolution is almost linear on a logarithmic time scale.

From the fourth to the seventh day

Fourth day

And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. And God made the two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night – and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day (Gen 1:14-19).

The fourth day reports a separation into night and day similar to that already described by the first day (Gen 1:3-5), which is connected with the celestial world, as we have just seen. This repetition of the creation of the day has the same meaning as the repetitions of the terms heaven and earth in Genesis 1:2, 1:6-8 and 1:9, which always expresses restrictions of the frame. This allowed us to establish the dualities of the first four levels (see figure 3). The new creation of the day thereby also expresses a restriction of the frame.

However, this restriction is made to the element earth of a global duality heaven / earth, which must be understood as follows: the first mention of the day is related to the invisible world, which is illuminated by the celestial light originating from God who is exterior to his creation. This is why the invisible world is a restricted universe in the sense that its creation implies a restriction from the Creator, who is infinite, to his creation, which is finite. This duality Creator / creation is the recurring theme behind all the different dualities heaven / earth we met up to now, because the second duality is an image of the first.

The second mention of the day is related to the Sun, the Moon and the stars destined to illuminate the Earth. This light also comes from the exterior and therefore implies likewise a restriction to the interior of Earth space, more exactly to the terrestrial surface, in the space of which we live and move. So similarly to the invisible world illuminated by God’s light, the Earth’s surface is illuminated by the light of all celestial bodies from all possible levels (galaxies, stars, planets, Moon), but especially by the Sun, which is an image of God (see here). Seen from the Earth, all these celestial bodies seem to be placed at the same distance in the spherical sky, which may be called heaven. So the sky and the Earth’s surface form together a duality heaven / earth that is global because the sky includes the whole physical universe outside the Earth.

We can consequently conclude that the fourth day is not focused on the formation of the celestial bodies but on the light they emit. In fact, it refers to an event that took place during the big rain as continuation of the stage described by the second reference of the third day (see figure 5). At this stage, there was a thick cloud layer around the Earth such that a possible observer standing on the Earth’s surface would never have had any chance to see the celestial bodies. The cloud layer was so important that dark night reigned on Earth similar to the darkness of the early universe. But then, the troposphere slowly dried out during the big rain and finally allowed openings to appear in the sky and the light of the Sun, the Moon and the stars to shine on the Earth’s surface, resulting in the blue sky scattered with white clouds we know from present times. This is the final stage of the material evolution, after which the biological evolution took place.

Universe Earth’s surface
four-dimensional, possibly spherically curved space two-dimensional spherically curved space
hot and rapidly expanding early universe rapidly growing Earth consisting of hot liquid stone in stage of accretion
electrons combine with protons (hydrogen forms) after sufficient cooling and the universe becomes transparent vapor droplets in the atmosphere combine with each other (it rains and the primitive ocean forms) by cooling down and Earth’s surface becomes transparent
stars and galaxies form through gravitational forces: the universe becomes illuminated. the cloud layer gradually disappears letting appear the celestial bodies: there is light on Earth
more complex matter is formed, expanding universe and scattering galaxies the primitive continent appears and scatters (continental drift)

Figure 8: Analogies between the formation of the universe and the planet Earth seen from its surface.

The global duality sky / Earth’s surface is not an abstract artificial construct. It puts in relation the creation of the whole material universe with that of the Earth. This relation can be observed in nature. We already shortly mentioned the analogy between the big bang and the big rain (see here): the first event produced the primitive water, hydrogen, which uniformly dispersed in the early universe; the second event produced real water, which uniformly filled up the primitive ocean on Earth’s surface. Hydrogen initially occurred in form of protons by combining with quarks after sufficient expanding and cooling of the universe. Later, they combined with electrons through further cooling. In a similar way, the big rain first produced steam molecules, which combined with each other to form increasingly heavier droplets through cooling to finally rain down in the primitive ocean.

This analogy even goes further back: such as the early universe was little and hot, also the Earth initially was little and hot when it was in the stage of accretion. Furthermore, such as the universe is possibly a spherical four-dimensional expanding space, as seen in The big bang, the Earth’s surface is likewise a spherical two-dimensional space, which was also expanding, that is, growing through accretion. There is even a counterpart to the scattering of the galaxies: the continental drift of continents, which scatter in the space of the ocean.

The global duality

On the fifth day, the animals living in water and the birds were created (Gen 1:20-23). The first animal microorganisms appeared long after the plants but they also evolved at first in the ocean, that is, in the warm coastal waters and lakes of the continents. This is why the creation of all water animals implies a fifth restriction from the ocean and continents on the fourth level to its inhabitants on the fifth level, which includes all creatures living in the water (see figure 9). This is sustained by the creation of the birds because their habitat is the atmosphere, which is also found on the fourth level. This is why the fifth day is a transition from the fourth to the fifth level. Furthermore, both the ocean and the atmosphere incorporate the image of heaven, just as its inhabitants, fish and birds, mirror the image of angels as winged species (see here). This is why their creation is mentioned before the land animals, since the angels were created before the material world and all its inhabitants.

As for the birds, this is an anachronism because they stem from reptiles, which previously conquered firm ground. The oldest footprints on land date to 530 Ma, while the first primitive land plants moved onto land 434 Ma. So the first land animals still lived in water, just making sporadic excursions on land. Birds appeared around 150 Ma, which was much later than the first land animals. The Hebrew word used for birds in Genesis 1:20 is oph, which can also refer to flying insects. The first known insect is Rhyniognatha hirsti and was possibly already winged. It appeared around 400 Ma and obviously needed firm ground to live and reproduce. Also the first known flying fish, Potanichthys xingyiensis, only appeared about 240 Ma.

So unless there was some other unknown flying species around before 530 Ma, one may object that oph should be mentioned only on the sixth day when God created all land animals (Gen 1:24-25). According to rule number one, however, this anachronism points again to the celestial world of the angels, which is “postfigured” through the physical world. This is why birds refer to the celestial world, not only because they are winged creatures living in a medium representing heaven, but also because they are mentioned before the animals living on the ground, although they appeared later.

The global duality heaven / earth of the whole evolution revealing the similarity between the formation of the universe and the Earth.
Figure 9: The global duality heaven / earth of the whole evolution revealing the similarity between the formation of the universe and the Earth.

On the sixth day, God also created mankind in his image, male and female (Gen 1:26-31). So the sixth day is a transition from land animals to humans, which may be a hint that humans descend from the animal kingdom. This implies a sixth restriction from the fifth to the sixth level, which includes human evolution and history (see figure 9). God originally gave humans and animals only plants as food (Gen 1:29-30). However, carnivorous or omnivorous animal species were always present during evolution. As we shall see, this is another hint to the paradise lived in by the angels before their fall, that is, before they ate the forbidden fruit. Thus, God completed his work and rested on the seventh day and sanctified it (Gen 2:1-3).

Let us resume all transitions and put the days and levels in relation numerically: as discussed above, the first day is on the transition from the first to the second level (see here). This is analogous with the second day (see here). As seen also, the third day is a transition from the Solar System to the Earth (see here). On the other hand, the fourth day is on the transition of the global duality since the surface of the Earth is illuminated by the Sun, the Moon and the stars and a restriction is thereby made from the whole universe, which we commonly call the astronomical sky, to the Earth’s surface inhabited by plants, animals and humans. The fourth day is therefore situated on the transition from heaven to earth of the global duality. The fifth day is again a normal transition from the fourth to the fifth level. This happens likewise with the sixth day.

These transitions are symmetric regarding the global duality, which can be revealed if the fifth and sixth levels are arranged in the same manner as the other levels according to figure 3, that is, if one attributes them also two dualities, the second one being comprised inside the first one. This can be done with some liberty of choice. Thus, we naturally get six levels, which can be disposed around a circle in order to reveal the global duality as illustrated by figure 9: the first four levels represent the material evolution, the fifth level the biological evolution and the sixth the evolution of humanity up to Jesus Christ, who is in a sense the last “species” marking the end of the whole evolution.

This integral evolution gives a sequence of alternating elements heaven and earth, with heaven always surrounding the next element earth. With the atmosphere, the elements heaven begin to materialize, while before they represent nearly empty space, which shows that the invisible world becomes more and more visible, that is, material, as a model on the planet Earth. This materialization therefore extends to all levels up to Christ, the incarnated God, and the duality heaven / earth is not only expressed in the interior of the levels but also globally across all levels. In other terms, the levels are cut into two halves, those before and those after the formation of the planet Earth. The former manifest heaven and the latter earth thus expressing the global duality.

While the first account of creation implicitly refers to Christ, the second account announces him more clearly through Adam, which is a term holding multiple references, as we are going to see. The two accounts are closely associated with one another and complete themselves mutually, the first one relating the creation of the angels, the terrestrial world, and mankind; the second one zooming in on the life of the angels and of mankind, that is, on their fall and their future redemption completed through Christ who is “the Son of man” and “master of the Sabbath” (Mt 12:1-8). This is why the seventh day is placed in the time of Christ. In this sense, the time of Christianity may be understood as a kind of sabbatical historical age.

Hence the whole of physical, biological, and human evolution ends up with Christ, who rejoins the first level, which stemmed from God. And since Christ is the Son of God, this circle of evolution is perfectly buckled and it seems that Col 1:15-16 is evinced:

He is the image of the invisible God,
the first-born of all creation,
for in him all things were created,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities,
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.


[1] AUGUSTINE of Hippo, The City of God Against the Pagans, The Modern Library, 1994

[2] This may explain the plural form of shamayim.

[3] Dark energy must not be confused with dark matter, which is responsible for the constant speed of stars in spiral galaxies: taking into account only the visible matter, the rotation speed should decrease with increasing distance to the center, which is not observed. This is why Vera Rubin, who discovered this phenomenon in the 1970s, concluded that invisible matter, or dark matter, must exist, causing the constant speed.

[4] This is why the word hydrogen was formed of the Greek words hydro (water) and genos (origin).

[5] Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptun and some dwarf planets.

[6] As regards the Sun, see also Celestial and terrestrial plants and Fourth day as well as The psychological sense of Marian apparitions.

[7] AU means astronomical unit. This is the distance from the Sun to the Earth, that is, about 150 million kilometers.

[8] The Torah, the law, makes part of the Pentateuch, the Hebrew Bible, and was decreed by the ministry of the angels and a mediator (Gal 3:19). According to John 1:45; 5:45-47 and Romans 10:5, this mediator was Moses.

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