A Christian at work has been after me for more than a year to go to his church and be saved. I like the guy and consider him a friend and have been politely trying to avoid the subject. I have recently decided that enough is enough and I told him I would discuss religion with him.
I consider myself an Atheist and believe that Science, though not always perfect, does a better job of explaining the universe. He is basically a "Young Earth Creationist" and puts a lot of emphasis on "the religious experience" (he and his wife go to a "healing church").
I think I've finally got him to agree to discuss the problems I find in the Bible (instead of the emotional experience of the Lord coming to be with him, which I have no idea how to debate).
Anyway, here are some of my rough notes on the first few verses in Genesis.
I would like help in making my points clearer and help fixing any mistakes in grammar. It would also be nice to point out any weak points or completely wrong concepts.
Quotes from: English Standard Version
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
So, did God create the heavens and earth without form. It sounds like the first verse is an introduction, and verse 2 is what was done. See Gen 2:4. If this is the case, then God didn't actually create the heavens and earth, he just organized things, which is really what the verses that follow imply (see Young's Literal Translation)
Young's Literal Translation
In the beginning of God's preparing the heavens and the earth --
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Light created first, before the sun?
Although entirely possible to create light without the sun, it doesn't really make sense that there was a cycle of light called 'Day' and darkness called 'Night'.
"And there was evening and there was morning, the first day."
The only way this makes any sense is that:
Man did not realize that the bright blue sky (or atmosphere) was being illuminated by the rising sun. To them it may have appeared as if 'light' (called 'Day') occurred independently from the Sun (The atmosphere is illuminated even though the sun is not visible just before sunrise and just after sunset, therefore they could be seen to occur independent of each other).
So, in view of this concept it is possible to have a 'Day' (light) and 'Night' (darkness) without the sun?
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made b the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.c And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Again, a 'Day' and 'Night' cycle without the sun?
So, there are waters 'above' and waters 'below' the expanse, does this make sense?
It does if you have to come up with a way for it to rain without knowledge of the complete hydrologic cycle. Perhaps the blue sky resembled a large body of blue water. Light or 'Day' illuminated this overhead body of water making it appear blue, similar to the waters 'below'. During darkness or 'Night' the the body of water 'above' appeared black, again similar to the waters 'below' at nighttime.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,d and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 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. 12 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. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
A third 'Day' and 'Night' cycle without the sun?
This doesn't really sound like the creation of the planet we call earth?
It does fit the geocentric view held almost universally until around the sixteenth century. The shock of admitting that the earth (and consequently 'Mankind') was not the center of the universe was likely unbearable for many Christians.
14 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,f and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 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. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
Finally the Sun is created on the fourth day!
Interesting that the Moon shares the same status as a 'great light' although it is considered the 'lesser light'. The Hebrew word (Heb., ma·ʼohrʹ) used here can be translated as 'luminaries' (see: Young's Literal Translation)
Young's Literal Translation
And God saith, 'Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens, to make a separation between the day and the night, then they have been for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years,
The Hebrew word used in verse 3 (Heb., ʼohr) is translated as light (see: Young's Literal Translation)
Young's Literal Translation
and God saith, 'Let light be;' and light is.
The concept of the Sun and the Moon as two luminaries existing separately from light ('Day') and darkness ('Night') is further illustrated by these verses. The Moon as a luminary to rule over night during 'darkness' only makes sense if the luminaries are not the source of light (Heb., ʼohr). This concept allows the Sun and the Moon to both be a luminary without being the source of light (Heb., ʼohr) during the Day and Night.