Did the universe already exist in Genesis 1:1

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Petey Dragon, May 27, 2003.

  1. Petey Dragon

    Petey Dragon
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    General question.

    In Genesis 1:1-2a, we read
    "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void."

    Specifically, the earth (and only the earth) was without form. Does this imply that the universe already existed?

    A second verse relating to this question is Genesis 1:16. I will present two alternative readings, differing only by a semi-colon:
    "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."
    or
    "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."

    There was no punctuation in the original Hebrew text, so nothing biases us toward one translation over the other. But they have very different meanings.

    The first implies a pre-existing universe.

    The second implies that God whipped out the rest of the universe in a half hour on a Wednesday afternoon.


    There are two creation stories in the Bible. The first (Genesis 1) tells the story of a planet (or of our solar system). The second (Genesis 2) tells the story of a man (Adam).


    Just a thouht.

    Petey
     
  2. Helen

    Helen
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    Hi Petey, and welcome to the Board and this forum!

    In response to your first question about Genesis 1:1-2a, I would answer with the response I was given by Dr. Bernard Northrup, Hebrew and Greek scholar and retired professor, when I asked the same question.

    The grammar does not permit a gap or a separation. The way the Hebrew grammer goes, you have the implications that 1) what is being spoken of is dealing with the very beginning, or the beginning of the cosmos (time/space/matter) as we know it in verse 1 and 2) that verse 2 is simply changing focus to zero in on the earth itself. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now [at this time, 'in the beginning' is what is referenced] the earth was formless and empty.... The Hebrew meaning here is that at the time of the beginning the condition of the earth was without the shape it would later have and there was no intrinsic organizaton. In other words, it was kind of a blobby, watery mass.

    The indication is NOT that 'only' the earth was in this condition, but that, given the fact that all creation was the work of God, the earth, at that time in the beginning, was in the condition stated.

    Regarding Genesis 1:16, the first option you offer indicates our sun and moon influence the rest of the universe. That is definitely not true!

    The translation of Genesis 1:16 in the Alexandrain Septuagint (translated 250 years before Christ) is as follows from the Greek:

    And God made the two great lights, the greater light for regulating the day and the lesser light for regulating the light, and also stars.

    The transliteration from the Masoretic Hebrew reads as follows:
    and-he-made God two-of the-lights the-great-ones the-light the-great for-governing-of the-ay and the-light the-less for-governing-of the-night also the-stars

    In the Greek (Alexandrian LXX) the Jewish rabbis themselves put in the punctuation, so 'and also stars' is separated from what goes before it, indicating only that God also made the stars. The time element is not given for them, although it is clear that because the sun is a star, obviously at least one of them was formed on day four!

    In the Masoretic Hebrew, the conjunction "also" separates the reference to the rest of the stars, giving the same meaning -- simply that God also created the stars.

    The standard way of seeing that verse as it is in the English is that God created ALL the stars on day four. However when this is cross-referenced with Job 38:7, there is a biblical indication that at least some of the stars were created much earlier in creation week.

    Allowing Bible to explain Bible, this would also take care of the light that reached the newly rotating earth on day one, creating day one itself. But there is no indication at any time in any of the early manuscripts that the creation of the earth itself was at a different time than the creation of the entire universe.

    As far as Genesis 1 and 2 go, or to be more precise, Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Genesis 2:4a to 5:1a are concerned, what we have is two different authors. There is no contradiction between the stories of Genesis 1 and 2, however, when it is understood that the Hebrew verbs used in Genesis 2:8 and 2:19 are past completed verbs, indicating action which took place before this narrative section.

    Hope that helps a little.
     
  3. WillRain

    WillRain
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    Another consideration:

    We know from many other places in the Bible that God himself is a source of light, therefore, his command "let there be light" and his seperation of the light from the darkness so that there was an evening and a morning does not REQUIRE a sun or stars for a source, it's possible that he, personnaly, is the source.

    Isn't it?
     
  4. Helen

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    Hi WillRain,

    No, I don't think so. God is spirit. The light is a physical thing. Light was formed, if we look at Isaiah 45:7. Therefore it was not simply a manifestation of God Himself.

    It is necessary that a physical light lit up the physical world in a physical universe in Genesis. The world was physically turning in relation to that light, thus causing the first night and the first day.

    =======

    edit: this is not to say that God is not the source of all spiritual light, or that He is not the source of light in both senses (I think) in the new creation we see a glimpse of in Revelation 21-22. But this is this creation, and the physical is different from the spiritual here.
     
  5. A_Christian

    A_Christian
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    I belive what Genesis 1:1 is saying is
    In the beginning God created SPACE and MATTER.

    In other words, God created the building
    blocks before HE gave them form and purpose.
     
  6. Paul of Eugene

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    In other words, God can create the world from nothing but cannot create light from nothing? :rolleyes:
     
  7. Bartholomew

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    I don't think that's what WillRain was suggesting. I think he was saying that the light came directly from God. And I agree with him. God being a Spirit doesn't prevent him from being the source of light; and it certianly won't in the New Heaven and New Earth.
     
  8. Helen

    Helen
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    Paul, God does what he says He does. In Isaiah He says He FORMED the light. That means it is from pre-existing something.

    We know that light is emitted when an electron is forced out of place and then jumps back in -- a photon of light is then emitted. It is the result of a physical process.

    What is interesting is that immediately before God says "Let there be light", we read the Holy Spirit was moving (same verb means 'quivering' or 'vibrating' in the Hebrew) over the surface of the waters. Was this the injection of kinetic energy into the newly-formed universe? If so, then it follows that one of the first things to happen would be the light, or the visible effect of that motion. Of course I don't know, but it has been something I have been interested in before.

    Your sarcasm, by the way, is noted....again. I'm sorry if I keep using Bible to explain Bible. That is what I was taught to do. Yes, of course I will see where what we see and know about the physical world fits in. But that is not adding to Bible, sir, as so many of your posts responding to me accuse me of. It is simply seeing where His evidence in creation fits with His Word. I know the two don't disagree, and I also know that His Word is our guide for where the reality of our physical world is concerned.

    Bartholomew -- of course God could be the source of light. But again, using Bible to explain Bible, we see that God formed the light, and did not even 'create' it, as He did the darkness: Isaiah 45:7. When we are given something by the Lord, it is very often from Him directly, such as grace, mercy, peace, and joy. However when the verb used is 'yasar', or 'formed', then it always seems to be attached to something in the physical world and to creation itself.
     

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