ICR Explains “Waters Above the Firmament”

Everyone knows that according to Genesis 1:6-8 (King James version, of course):

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

That’s rather straightforward. What’s the problem? Well, they seem to be struggling with it at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom.

Their latest post is What Were the ‘Waters Above the Firmament’? It was written by Brian Thomas. He’s usually described at the end of his articles as “Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.” This is ICR’s biographical information on him. Here are some excerpts from his article, with bold font added by us:

Early ICR scientists hypothesized that the “waters which were above the firmament” implied a canopy of water vapor that covered the earth before the Flood. However, later tests led researchers away from this model. What changed their minds?

Gasp! We’re shocked — shocked! — that the “early ICR scientists” have changed their minds. Those were the giants of creation science. What happened? We’re told:

The vapor canopy theory helped explain why God separated the Genesis 1:1 formless mass of water into two bodies, one above and another below, with a firmament between them. An atmospheric vapor wrap gave a place for the waters “above the firmament.” This canopy’s greenhouse effect might have made the whole pre-Flood world tropical and helped people live for hundreds of years.

Sounds perfectly logical. Let’s read on:

But holes appeared in the theory. Atmospheric physicist Larry Vardiman used climate modeling software to construct a virtual vapor canopy. When he input enough water vapor for the first 40 days of rain during the Flood year, he found that Earth’s temperatures would have soared due to an intense greenhouse effect. His results required the sun to emit only 25 percent of its current intensity to keep Earth’s inhabitants from basically boiling.

So what? A few miracles could have handled it. Thomas continues:

While Dr. Vardiman tested the vapor canopy, physicist Dr. Russell Humphreys formulated a new model that placed the firmament waters beyond the farthest galaxies! Humphreys suggested that God miraculously stretched out the heavens on Day Two of the creation week. In other words, God pulled the upper waters some 20 million light-years away from Earth-bound waters below, leaving a firmament of heaven between.

Oh — the water canopy above the firmament was placed 20 million light-years away. According to ICR, that’s “beyond the farthest galaxies.” Okay, that also makes sense — to creationists. Here’s more:

But if there never was a vapor canopy [above the Earth], then what about that idyllic pre-Flood climate helping people live hundreds of years?

Jeepers — another problem. This is terrible! But ICR can handle it. Thomas tells us:

[G]enetics better explains the dramatic decrease in life spans after the Flood. A population bottleneck, like when the world’s population shrunk to only eight on the Ark, would reduce later life spans.

Well, yes — assuming Noah’s family included people with uncharacteristically short lifespans. Here’s the end of the article:

Responsible creation researchers test various historical models, but basic Bible facts never change. For example, “in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them,” and “the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water,” regardless of where one places the creation week’s upper waters.

Okay. No problem. It’s all true, regardless of where you put that troublesome water canopy. We are grateful for the tireless work they do at the Institute for Creation Research.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “ICR Explains “Waters Above the Firmament”

  1. When one making stuff up and never have to provide evidence for any words that one says, then I guess anything is reasonable.

  2. If all this water was twenty million light-years away, how did it get to the earth in a six thousand year old universe?

  3. michaelfugate

    Miracles never cease

  4. However, later tests led researchers away from this model. What changed their minds?

    They lost their blue crayon?

  5. Mike Elzinga

    A few years back I did a little calculation over on Panda’s Thumb about the “canopy theory” of the flood. In that scenario the amount of energy deposited on the Earth’s surface is about 1.6 x 10^8 Joules per second per square meter. That is about 40 kilograms of TNT going off every second over every square meter of the Earth’s surface for 40 days and nights.

    The atmospheric temperature would rise to about 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the atmospheric pressure would climb to 860 atmospheres, and all this would happen in just under a week; about 6.6 days.

    Most of the broad features of this scenario can be calculated with high school level physics and math; some of the timing details require a little more advanced physics and math.

    But of course the YEC’s then change their scenario by claiming that the water came up from inside the Earth and that the current mountains and oceans were built up during that flood. Unfortunately for the YEC’s, they don’t know how to do these kinds of calculation. Their new scenario has to move solid rock when gouging out the ocean basins and building up the mountains; and that dumps far more energy into the atmosphere that does the canopy theory.

    The canopy theory is the minimum energy scenario. YEC’s simply don’t get it. Noah and his ark would have been fried within seconds.

  6. “Responsible creation researchers”

    If I’m skeptical about anything, it would be concerning the actual existence of such a beast.

    Back in the good old days when such apologetics had no place in the religious community, a priest would have simply said that our natural laws cannot be used when considering a deities influence upon the world around us and that would have been the end of the question period. And when considering an event within the framework of the supernatural there doesn’t need to be an explanation of the mechanics. An event is simply the expression of the will of a deity and that is all that is required. Modern apologetics is little more than a tangent that can be used to fill pages and time during sermons. The RCC may have made a point of inviting such apologists to their next and possibly last bbq.

  7. All this nonsense, bull[****] and drivel arises because creationists insist on torturing science until it confesses what they want to hear. (Well, it cold be worse; if they were running things, they’d be torturing scientists instead.)

    They (and the rest of us) would be better off if they stopped pretending they were actually interested in letting the facts (as that term is understood by, well, everyone else except for their counterparts in other faiths) speak for themselves. But they’re too insecure to just say, “It’s a miracle and science has nothing to do with it” in a world where everyone depends on science for their comfort and even their survival.

  8. Since the water canopy was 2×10^7 light years away (which, they apparently don’t know is not beyond the most distant galaxies) and heaven is somewhat closer than that, I can’t wait to see the photos of heaven taken by the ICR astronomers. Imagine that, an actual research project for them. I offer them the idea gratis — they don’t have to cite me in their publication!

  9. Charles Deetz ;)

    That no one questions that their theories assume heaven is a physical realm at all is surprising. Like abeastwood says, show me the pictures.

  10. Charles Deetz ;)

    There still is room at Wikipedia for ‘pathetic creationist rambling’ about the firmament. No modern explanation is given there.

  11. When you remember that Brian Thomas works at ICR, this all make sense. Clearly, water, like light, has infinite speed when moving towards the Earth. That’s how it got here so fast.

    Now that this problem is solved, the ICR can get to work on where all the water went.

  12. michaelfugate

    Is the an equation for the speed of water and is it a constant or a variable?

  13. Dave Luckett

    Never in my life have I seen a more cack-handed attempt to solve a problem by making it worse. There has to be some sort of infinite-credulity drive operating here. Man, if it could be harnessed, the stars are ours!

    Or at least, some simulation thereof, and nobody will care.

  14. Mike Elzinga

    @ Mark Germano:

    Clearly, water, like light, has infinite speed when moving towards the Earth. That’s how it got here so fast.

    Dang; I didn’t put that kinetic energy of the water into my calculation. Add that to the change in potential energy that I used, and the rate of energy depostion would be infinite instead of 40 kg of TNT per second per square meter.

    And massive stuff that has infinite speed; beyond the speed of massless photons no less.

    Oh, wait; it’s just Jason Lisle physics. Genius, that guy.

  15. @Dave Luckett
    At times, it just strikes one how ridiculous the whole thing is. We’re talking about trying to deal with evolution denial as if it were something rational. But this thing about the firmament is based on an Ancient Near Eastern cosmology which was discarded by ancient Greeks. Are there people who have been on an airplane flying over clouds and mountains who can talk about there being a dome covering the Earth?

  16. Ceteris Paribus

    Apparently today’s ICR scientists are collectively smarter than that ancient Greek, Eratosthenes, who mistakenly calculated that the Earth was actually pretty much shaped like a sphere.

    Actually, their whole Bible itself is just so much easier for us to understand when the diligent scientists at the ICR keep reminding us that the Earth is round. But flat.

  17. @Mike Elzinga:

    I mixed up my creation scientists; I wrote Brian Thomas, M. S. but meant Jason Lisle, PhD. Thanks for straightening me out.


    First, we’ll have to determine the speed of dihydrogen monoxide through a vacuum. I spilled some H-2-O in my garage this morning so am about to break out my shop vac. I’ll post my findings in PLOS One or Nature.

  18. Remember, this is all magic. Laws of physics do not apply. Also – this is fiction, so ICR can make up whatever they want.

    I’m sure the original writers meant water in clouds as being above the firmament. From their viewpoint, there would be an apparently inexhaustible supply of such water.

  19. Ed says: “I’m sure the original writers meant water in clouds as being above the firmament.”

    It could have been simpler than that. Rain falls from the sky. Obviously there’s water up there, somewhere, a little bit beyond the sky.

  20. KJV Genesis 1:20 refers to “fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”
    It seems that the firmament was imagined as being rather close (by modern standards).

  21. @michaelfugate
    Yes, and it is constantly variable!

  22. @abeastwood – “… photos of heaven taken by the ICR astronomers.”

    Isn’t the new McCready Price space telescope due for launch this summer? I can’t wait to see what the other side of the firmament looks like!