raqia encore

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Tue Jul 23 03:12:45 EDT 2002

Dear Ian,

I would rather have stopped participating in this thread, but I feel 
I cannot let your last paragraph stand without comment.

As to paradigms, I would say that creationism on one hand and 
mythologism (or whetever you call it) on the other are the extremes 
that may lead astray. What I find to be a middle road, is simply to 
ask: Do these particular words conform with scientific data or do 
they contradict them? I cannot see I single expression in Genesis 1 
that is contradicted by scientific knowledge. That does not prove 
that the words represent actual facts, but it shows that mythology is 
not necessarily present. Acts of God are of course inplied, and God 
is a metaphysical factor that is outside of science. Humans could of 
course not figure out the  information of Genesis 1, it must rest on 
revelation from God. But I am not discussing God or his reveleations 
in this context, just whether the words of the chapter conforms with 
data and viewpoints of the natural sciences.

First, all of you who believe the world view of the Bible writers was 
an earth on pillars in a cosmic ocean with a solid vault above, to 
which the sun, moon and stars were fixed, could you refer to one 
Semitic source from the first half of the 1st millennium B.C.E. or 
earlier, and include its words? If such a source is lacking, what is 
the earliest source where we find this whole picture?  Could you 
supply its words as well?

Genesis 1 shows how the earth gradually was made fit for herbal and animal life
and at last for man. My angle of approach is simply: Does this 
account, which is written in the language of the day, conform with 
scientific data and scientific views.

1:1 The universe (earth and planets) has a beginning and is created 
by God. This information is given either if we thranslate "When God" 
or "In the beginning God". God is outside of science, but that the 
universe has e beginning, definitely conforms with science 
(radioactivity and temperature differences). Nothing is said 
regarding the way God created, but that his power/energy, not already 
existing matter, was the source, can be gathered from Isaiah 40:26.

1:2 No life on the earth, and it was covered with water. Either if we 
translate "the earth was" or "the earth became", at one point "the 
earth was" without life and covered with water. The view of 
geologists is that the early earth was covered with water, and that 
life was not on the earth from the beginning.

1:3-5 The sun was evidently included in "the heaven" which was 
created in "the beginning". Light shone now on  that which sorrounded 
the earth. We know very little about the formation of planets; it is 
only in the last few years that clear evidence of planets outside our 
solar system has appeared. However, there is no scientific data to 
reject the suggestion that light may be prevented from shining on 
particular spots by cosmic dust or similar matter. The account 
implies that there was no atmosphere similar to our own at this 
point, but matter sorrounded the earth; the aggregate form not being 

1:6-8. The atmosphere (RAQIA() was formed. A part of the water, the 
aggreagate form not stated, existed now above the atmosphere. Science 
believs that our atmosphere has been gradually formed, first there 
was a reducing atmosphere (which is of course speculation), the 
oxegen came to be as a by product of photo synthesis. A formation of 
the atmosphere in steps, as the verses indicate, conforms well with 
present views.

1:9-10 Dry ground appeared above the water. The oldest sediments are 
marine. In Oslo, for example, we have Cambro-Silurian sediments 
standing vertically, indicating great forces inside the crust raising 
them from horizontal to vertical position. No geologist would deny 
that great movements occured in the crust of the earth in earlier 
times; even in recent times we se evidence for a thrusting up of 
mountains. That land masses arose as the verses say is no problem.

1:11-12 Plants and green matter came before the animals on the earth. 
this conforms with "the Geologic Column", which of course is 
hypothetical, but still tell something about the order of fossils in 
local places..

1:14-18  The sun, moon and stars became visible in the RAQIA(. Note 
that the verb (SH is used here  and not BRH as in verse 1. Different 
verbs signal different concepts. Some verbs may cover much of the 
same meaning, and because informants are lacking, it is difficult to 
insist on this or that difference between the two verbs in question. 
However, the use of two verbs shows that the conclusion you draw is 
not necessary. the verb BRH in verse 1 could refer to the creation of 
the heavenly bodies from God's power/energy, and )SH could refer to 
something being made/done with the bodies that already were created, 
for instance, the atmosphere now became thinner, and that they bacame 
visible on the sky.

As to your comments regarding the word YWM, please consider the 
following: The word refers to three different time periods in Genesis 
1 and 2. It refers to the light part of a day in 1:5, to the creation 
of "heaven and earth" in 2:5 and to the creation days in chapter 1. 
This shows that the word "day" does not necessarily refer to a period 
of 24 hours. I see no reason to construe the writer to mean that each 
creation day was 24 hours long, The universe was created "in the 
beginning", which may be 4.5 billion years ago; the text simply does 
not say, and the length of each creation day is not stated.

Please note that I do not say that the events regarding the earth 
happend the way I outline above. I simply ask the humble question: Is 
there anything in the chapter that is contradicted by scientific data 
(allowing for a reasonable application of the words)? And I have 
found nothing. My outline simply show in modern words how the events 
could have happened

That matter was created out of water is nowhere stated!

If we now turn our attention to Enuma elish, the account is clearly 
mythological. Tablet 1: The gods were created when salt and sweet 
water mingled. Tablets 4 and 5 The goddess Tiamat was killed, and 
heaven was made from a part of her dead body and the earth from 
another part, the mountains were made from her breasts and Eufrat and 
Tigris from the tears in her eyes.

Tablet 1

When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined--
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.

Tablet 4

And turned back to Tiamat whom he had bound.
The lord trod on the legs of Tiamat,
With his unsparing mace he crushed her skull. (130)

When the arteries of her blood he had severed,
The North Wind bore it to places undisclosed.
On seeing this, his fathers were joyful and jubilant,
They brought gifts of homage to him.
Then the lord paused to view her dead body,
That he might divide the form and do artful works.
He split her like a shellfish into two parts:
Half of her he set up as a covering for heaven,
Pulled down the bar and posted guards.
He bade them to allow not her waters to escape. (140)

Tablet 5


After he had appointed the days to Shamash, (45)
And had established the precincts of night and day,
Taking the spittle of Tiamat
Marduk created . . .
He formed the clouds and filled them with water.
The raising of winds, the bringing of rain and cold, (50)

Making the mist smoke, piling up . . .
These he planned himself, took into his own hand.
Putting her head into position he formed thereon the mountains,
Opening the deep which was in flood,
He caused to flow from her eyes the Euphrates and Tigris,
Stopping her nostrils he left . . . ,
He formed from her breasts the lofty mountains,
Therein he drilled springs for the wells to carry off the water.
Twisting her tail he bound it to Durmah,
. . . Apsu at his foot, (60)

. . . her crotch, she was fastened to the heavens,
Thus he covered the heavens and established the earth.
. . . in the midst of Tiamat he made flow,
. . . his net he completely let out,
So he created heaven and earth . . . ,
. . . their bounds . . . established.

>Do you mean that you find the notion that the
>cosmos was created out of water realistic?
>That the earth was a collection of dry from
>wet? That daylight was created before the sun?
>And that it all happened in six days?
>Which paradigm sees this material as simply
>"everyday language" expressing natural things?



Rolf Furuli

Universwity of Oslo
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