AIG Attempts To Explain the Firmament

You probably think you know about the Firmament. Wikipedia has an article on it — Firmament, which says:

In biblical cosmology, the firmament is the vast solid dome created by God on the second day to divide the primal sea (called tehom) into upper and lower portions so that the dry land could appear:

We’ve written about it before — see, e.g.: ICR Explains “Waters Above the Firmament”, and ICR: The Heavens and the Firmament. In fact, your Curmudgeon has actually seen there — the Cosmic Aardvark transported us — see At the Edge of the Flat Earth.

But after all that, it turns out that we we don’t know anything — at least not in in the opinion of the creation scientists at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia. He’s the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. The title of their new post is The Firmament: What Did God Create on Day 2?

It was written by Dr. Terry Mortenson. His bio entry says he “holds an MDiv and a PhD in the history of geology. He has lectured in over 28 countries and formerly served for 26 years with Campus Crusade for Christ in the United States and in Eastern Europe. He now serves as an author, speaker, and researcher with Answers in Genesis.”

It’s a long article, with 30 footnotes and numerous credits and other material at the end, so all we can do is give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Many Christians today have assumed that the firmament (or expanse) created on Day 2 of Creation Week is the atmosphere where the birds fly and the clouds float. Many young-earth creationists (no doubt in part because of the influence of the writings of Henry Morris and John Whitcomb) also think that “the waters above” the firmament are a watery canopy (made of vapor, liquid, or ice) in the upper atmosphere which collapsed at the onset of Noah’s Flood to produce the many days of rain. On the other hand, some commentators as well as flat-earth advocates say that the firmament was a hard, metal-like shell covering the atmosphere and attached to the perimeter of a circular, flat earth.

Well, what is it? Terry says:

However, as I argue below, a careful examination of the biblical text (and especially the Hebrew words in a few key phrases in Genesis 1) does not support these various interpretations. [Gasp!] Rather I will give my reasons for concluding that the firmament/expanse/ raqiya‘ [We’re omitting the word in Hebrew] is primarily what we call “outer space,” the atmosphere is the “face of” of the raqiya‘, and the waters above are at the outer boundary of the universe. In this I am concurring with and supplementing the view of the firmament (or expanse) advocated by Russell Humphreys, Danny Faulkner, Andrew Kulikovsky, and William Barrick [whoever they are] mentioned below.

Ah, so that’s what it is! Or is it? Terry tells us:

From my experience, I would say that during day-light hours most people think of the earth’s atmosphere when they hear the word “sky.” At night-time, they would normally think of what we often call “outer space” where the sun, moon, and stars are located. Of course, astronomers also think and talk about the sky this way. So, it is an imprecise word, just as is the Hebrew word for “heaven” (shamayim), which refers to the domain of birds (e.g., Genesis 9:2), the domain of the sun, moon, and stars (e.g., Genesis 26:4) and the abode of God (Psalm 2:4). Like most words in every language, we cannot be certain what a word means or refers to until that word is used in a specific context: a phrase, a sentence, or longer text. So now we need to turn our attention to the Hebrew word behind the translations of “firmament” and “expanse.”

He goes on for literally pages discussing linguistics and then quoting the opinions of various bible scholars. We’re not going to give you any of that, but you can click over there to read it if you like. After several pages, Terry presents us with this:

There is a small but growing number of people (some of them professing Christians) all around the world who have tenaciously latched on to the idea of a flat earth. [Hee hee!] In this view, the earth is a flat, circular disk with a dome placed over the top of the atmosphere in which the birds as well as the sun, moon, and stars exist and move. I think this flat-earth view is not biblically correct, but that is a separate discussion. An excellent resource that presents a biblical and scientific refutation of the claims of flat-earth proponents is by astronomy professor, Danny Faulkner … .

Faulkner is one of Hambo’s creation scientists who says the Earth isn’t flat — see AIG Says the Earth Really Isn’t Flat. However, as we’ve posted before, the bible is exceedingly clear on this matter — see The Earth Is Flat!

Terry goes on and on, trying to convince us that what the bible clearly says about the firmament and the flat Earth somehow isn’t what the bible says — but this post is already long enough. So now we have to ask: What do you think, dear reader? Did Terry convince you?

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18 responses to “AIG Attempts To Explain the Firmament

  1. “… a small but growing number of people …” are seeing the light and are taking the Bible really seriously. Only a matter of time before Ken Ham will admit that he was blinded by so-called evidence in a spherical earth.

  2. Michael Fugate

    William Barrick wrote an entire paper waffling that if one squints really hard and ignores all context Psalms 104:8 describes post-flood tectonic activity.

    Then again he spent his career at a school in which he had to believe the following is true:
    “We teach the literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture which affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 31:17), describe the special creation of man and woman (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:5-25), and define marriage as between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5). Scripture elsewhere dictates that any sexual activity outside of marriage is an abomination before the Lord (Exod. 20:14; Lev. 18:1-30; Matt. 5:27-32; 19:1-9; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 6:9-10; 1 Thess. 4:1-7).“

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    So creationists are stuck believing in the Word of God, even when they don’t know what it means, despite obvious context. Like a toddler saying “Mommy, I gotta bingy-bingy-woop.”

  4. Well, it’s obvious.

    Since the bible is literally true, you just have to change the meanings of all of the words, until you get it to where what they mean is true.


  5. I see the Young Earth creationist embrace of frantically rapid tectonic activity as a direct descendant of the visions of Ellen B White, founder prophetess of seventh day Adventism, who spoke of the winds raising up mountains as part of the disturbances that accompanied the Flood. However, the present embrace of plate tectonics is a much more recent development, and is not even mentioned in Numbers’ 2006 The Creationists.

    Does anyone here know when the young Earth creationists first embraced plate tectonics?

  6. Charley Horse X

    A Lunar Eclipse flat-Earther’s have never seen.

  7. Michael Fugate

    Strahler’s “Science and Earth History” might be a good place to look. Not sure when the 2nd ed. came out. I have the 1st, but not with me at the moment. I could look at it tomorrow.

  8. So the waters above the firmament are at the edge of the visible universe? Then when God opened the windows of Heaven, as part of Noah’s flood, he must have fetched those waters back from an unimaginable distance. Truly His power is great.

    Of course if the firmament is a thin sheet the reference to the windows of Heaven makes much more sense.

  9. I didn’t read the whole thing. When I came across Calvin’s comment about the “design of Moses” I had to write. The word “design” has a very broad scope, doesn’t it?

  10. Very thorough analysis by Terry. Sounds like he might have done some considerable post grad work at Trump University.

  11. Michael Fugate

    Here is Vern, DI’s buddy from the WTS, telling us about Calvin, Moses and design. Believe it or not.

    Click to access 2014Misundertanding.pdf

  12. Theodore J Lawry

    @PaulBraterman. Look up John Baumgardner at and He is Mr Catastrophic Plate Tectonics, with high tech computer simulations. A 1994 paper had 5 co-authors: Austin, Humphreys, Snelling, Vardiman, and Wise, which are a fair cross section of scientifically literate creationists.

    Many of his theories are bizarre, even the ones which don’t violate the laws of physics, Like the earth’s oceans shooting out into space, see the 2003 paper. (He retracted that one.) Enjoy.

  13. @TomS contemplates: “The word “design” has a very broad scope, doesn’t it?”
    So broad and wide that it defies any definition.

  14. Paul Braterman [was anonymous]

    @Theodore J Lawry, Thanks. The global flood website contains this gem: “Decades of laboratory experiments attest to the fact that, under stress, mantle rock, at temperatures estimated for the earth’s interior, can weaken by factors of billions or more.” not only is is absolutely correct, but it totally undermines one of the creationists’ favourite arguments, namely that the buckling of sedimentary strata must have occurred while the sediments were young, otherwise there would have been extensive faulting [actually, there does often seem to be faulting in deformed sediments, but let that pass]. Baumgardner’s Website links to the amazing discovery “in recent decades” of C14 in coal measures. This in fact has been known since the 1930s, and long since explained by the action of the Particles emitted from the decay of long-lived radioisotopes on N14 in the coal. Baumgardner seems unaware of the fact that where the call has been fully graphitised, removing the parent N14, C14 is absent.

  15. As long as the author is going into the various English translations, as well as the Septuagint and Vulgate, shouldn’t one consult also the Aramaic Targums, the Syriac Peshitto, the Ge’ez, Nubian, and Georgian versions?

  16. this is Paul Braterman and I don’t know why WordPress has just made me anonymous. More updates and improvements, I expect. Does anyone know if Baumgardner was the first to come up with this notion?

  17. @TomS, That reminds me of my favourite literalism story. Since this occurs among Jews, it is literalism in praxis rather than in dogma. The Mishnaic Rabbis recommended studying the weekly reading from the Torah both in the original, and in, as they said, Targum (which simply means translation. A targumon, from which we have the English word dragoman, simply means translator.) The translation they had in mind was Targum Onkelos, in Aramaic of course. So now we have the pious learning Aramaic in addition to Hebrew, in order to study the weekly reading in the specified translation

  18. @Paul Braterman
    Thank you.
    My little understanding is that the Targums are very free translations, perhaps even paraphrases. Which would make them even more valuable.

    On a different issue, that essay on the meaning of “firmament” displays a methodology which would be interesting if it were applied to the Biblical understanding of the Earth’s
    lack of motion, that is Biblical geocentrism. I am confident that there is no version of the Bible or commentator before the year 1500 which suggested that the Earth was a planet of the Sun, a body rather like Mars. Even later commentators, from Luther to most contemporary scholars, would not tell us that the Bible teaches the heliocentric model of the Solar System. This is clearer, imho, than anything about the firmament.