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Gerardus D. Bouw, Ph.D.


Given their limited resources, Creationists have made great strides in deriving biological and geological models consistent with the creation account of Genesis. Little has been done, however, in the area of astronomy. There, for example, the greatest contribution (and certainly most controversial) is the work by Barry Setterfield on the decay of the speed of light. In this paper we shall not be concerned with that particular question, but we shall confine ourselves to examining the astronomy of the first four days of creation.

The First Day

According to the Bible, at the start of the creation the earth and its atmosphere were created first. The earth was unconsolidated (”without form and void”) inside a volume of water (the “deep”) upon whose face the Spirit of God moved. The use of the word “face” tells us that the deep had a definite surface or boundary. We are not given any hint as to the size of the deep but the context of the rest of the Genesis 1 makes it clear that the volume is immensely larger than the earth. The location of the earth's atmosphere (the “heaven” of Genesis 1:1) is also not clear, but most likely it was inside the water close to, surrounding, and possibly intertwined with the formless earth. The atmosphere would exist inside the deep as a shell of bubbles about 8,000 miles in diameter and about 100 miles thick. If the bubbles would rise away from the unconsolidated earth's gravity (as bubbles are wont to do), they would rise a bit more than 100 miles in the course of the first day. So, during the first day of creation, the earth was formless in the water with the heaven (the atmosphere) existing as a bubble or a shell of bubbles.

Then God said: “Let there be light.” It is generally assumed that the statement means the creation of all electromagnetic energy, that is, radiation of radio waves, microwaves, x-rays, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation as well as the visible spectrum; which alone is light. That is the plain sense of the scripture. Besides, there are other reasons to believe that only light was created at this time. We shall discover those in the discussion of the creation of the stars on the fourth day. In any case, according to the Bible, the light is not uniformly distributed throughout the creation. Most of the light is to one side of the formless earth and that side receives the incident light. There was no source for the light, such as we now see in the sun, but the light came from one side of the earth and flowed to the other.

The biblical account of the first day of creation concludes with the statement that: “…the evening and the morning were the first day.” This denotes two possible situations. To signify the day, either the formless earth was rotating within the deep or the deep was rotating around the formless earth. For either to happen, the earth, formless though it was, had to be fairly slushy and compact. Perhaps it had the consistency of gravely cement, for if the earth had been too unconsolidated, the turbulence in the waters would have disrupted it, scattering it over the course of the first day into a lenticular volume some 48,000 miles in diameter. To solve that problem one could postulate that the earth's substance was encased in ice, but doing so violates the plain sense of the scripture. The air bubbles which became the atmosphere could have acted as a shield to minimize the disruption of the earth's substance.

The Second Day

At the start of the second day of creation the earth was still formless and void in the deep, but during the second day God removed the deep from off the surface of the earth. He did this by creating the firmament, which God called “Heaven.”

Much has been written on the firmament, most of it pure speculation. Some have suggested that the firmament was a metal shell surrounding the universe. Others believe that it was a canopy of water, or water vapor, or water ice surrounding the earth. The problem with the latter interpretation is that the sun, moon and stars are placed inside the firmament on the fourth day whereas the canopy model requires them to be on the outside. A discussion of whether or not there ever was a canopy is beyond the scope of this paper. Here our position is that evidence for a canopy cannot be adduced from Genesis 1.

Of the above two models for the firmament, the former seems to be most consistent with the scripture; but is it really? If the stars are created inside the shell surrounding the universe then one could most definitely say that they are inside the firmament. After all, we say that there is air inside a balloon, don't we? This is no different. The problem arises when we discover that “God called the firmament Heaven.” If the shell model is correct, then the scripture should say words to the effect that ”God called the interior of the firmament Heaven.” Yet all agree that the heaven mentioned here relates to “outer space” as opposed to the atmosphere mentioned in the first verse of Genesis. Can it be that the firmament is the vacuum of space? Then why would God imply it to be ”firm?”

In order to see the firmness of space we must look very closely at it. The question is ultimately one of whether or not space has a fabric, a substance. We all know that in looking through a microscope we see smaller and smaller things until eventually we see molecules which consist of atoms. Individual atoms have been seen in microscopes, but beyond that we must use a mathematical microscope. Through the mathematical microscope we “see” that the atom consists of electrons, protons, and neutrons. The neutron is made up of an electron plus a proton plus a neutrino. Other particles have been “seen” in various particle accelerators. Now the density in the nucleus of an atom is very dense indeed, amounting to about 2x1014 gm/cm3. This means that a collection of nuclear particles the size of a sugar cube (one cm3) would weigh 200,000,000 tons! Firm though that is, such cannot be the firmament because the space between nuclei seems to be empty. Indeed, a chunk of the universe the size of a sugar cube, on the average, weighs in at only about 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001 (10-29) ounce: hardly firm. We must continue looking further through our mathematical microscope. The size of the atom is about 10-13 cm.1 The size of the nucleus is about a thousandth of that. As we proceed to smaller and smaller scales nothing interesting seems to be happening until we get to a scale of about 10-33 cm. At that size, called a Planck length, fascinating things happen; for it is there that we truly hit the fabric of space. To appreciate just how small a Planck length is, note that it is as much smaller compared to man than man is to 100,000,000 universes laid side-by-side!

The Firmament

At a scale of the order of 10-33 centimeters we find that the warp and woof of heaven comes into focus. Physics attempts to derive relationships between the different properties of objects. Such relationships typically involve certain constants: values which are generally assumed not to change over time. The speed of light is such a constant. So is the gravitational constant. It turns out that there are relationships among the constants themselves, and those relationships all express themselves at the Planck length. For example, the Planck length itself, L*, relates Planck's constant (a unit of angular momentum or spin-energy), h, the speed of light, c, and the gravitational constant, G via the equation:

L* = (hG/c3) = 1.616x10-33 cm.    (1)

By the same token, the constants give us a fundamental unit of mass, called the Planck Mass, which is:

M* = (hc/G) = 2.177x10-5 gm.    (2)

The basic unit of time is:

t* = (hG/c5) = 5.391x10-44 sec.    (3)

Lastly, the fundamental unit of temperature can be derived using Boltzmann's constant, k, as:

T* = (hc5/G)/k = 1.417x1032 °K.    (4)

Modern science is not certain as to the meaning of these numbers, but the most popular explanation at present is that they signify particles which pop into existence, exist for about 10-44 second, and then pop out of existence again. These particles, called Planck particles, form the basis for various cosmological theories such as strings, superstrings, 10- dimensional space and so on.

One of the interesting properties of the Planck particles is that they have the same size as both their deBroglie wavelength as well as the black-hole (Schwartschild) radius for their mass. For most of this century it has been known that particles do not move in straight lines. Instead, particles such as protons and electrons move in waves. Those waves, called deBroglie waves, vary inversely with mass. That is, the lighter the particle the longer its wavelength. Hence an electron is “larger” than a proton, although the latter is much more massive. This is attested to by the observation that the electron “orbits” or “surrounds” the proton when the two are combined in the form an atom. The deBroglie wavelength for a particle of mass M* is L*. As for the black hole radius, if matter is squeezed into a smaller and smaller volume eventually its gravitational field is so packed that light cannot escape from it. Hence the term “black hole,” as one cannot see it. The size to which a mass M* has to be compacted before becoming a black hole is L*.

So it seems that we are engulfed in a sea of Planck particles. The particles can be viewed as constituting a pervasive medium which acts like an ideal fluid. The density, R, of that fluid is an astounding 3.6x1093 gm/cm3. To appreciate how dense that is let us return to our sugar cube model. Recall that if the sugar cube was filled with nuclear matter that then it would weigh 200,000,000 tons. Let us try to envision such a cube made up of Planck particles. The numbers are incomprehensible. For example, the mass of the entire universe is estimated to be about 2x1054 gm. Packing everything in the universe into the cube would only give us a density of 2x1054 gm/cm3, far short of the Planck medium's 3.6x1093 gm/cm3. One would have to pack 2x1039 (that's 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) universes into the cube to arrive at the appropriate density! If this doesn't qualify for the name of “firmament” then what does?

Properties of the Firmament

A medium of such a high density as the firmament has some interesting properties. One would think, for example, that it would be impossible to move in such a medium, just as one could not move if encased in iron—even if one were made of iron! Normally this is true, but the deBroglie wavelengths of nuclear particles are so long by comparison that the firmament is transparent to them. This is somewhat related to why light can travel through a “dense” medium such as glass instead of being stopped cold on impact. So we have our first prediction of the fir mament model: motion through the firmament will be effortless as long as we are not dealing with nuclear particles approaching a mass of M* or, more particularly, energies of M*c2. The firmament will not allow elementary particles to approach that energy without absorbing them. Has such been observed? Not yet; for physics labs have not come anywhere near creating particles that massive. Should they ever succeed, however, we can expect the particle to disappear in t* seconds. Incidentally, the temperature of the firmament is T*, far hotter than anything known in the universe.

The End of the Second Day

The firmament which God created on the second day is thus an extremely massive structure. Its properties are manifold and in a very real sense it determines the very physics of the universe. It was either superimposed on already created atoms or else the atoms were created throughout it as it was formed. In either case, the elements had yet to be consolidated into celestial bodies. That did not occur until the fourth day. We shall look more into the nature of the creation of the elements on our discussion of the fourth day.

According to the Biblical account, the rotation period of thefirmament is one day. With the waters thus removed, the light now was suspended in the firmament which carried it about the earth once a day. The firmament itself dictated the frame of reference for the light and all the particles in the universe. The speed of light was thus and still is defined with respect to the firmament.

The Third Day

On the third day of the creation according to Genesis 1, the waters and earth below the firmament were separated. This is the time when the earth received its form. The simple reading of the scripture says that the land mass was all in one place. Evolutionists call this place Pangea, and it is apparent that the Bible records the splitting of Pangea during the days of Peleg a couple of hundred years after the flood. It is possible that flood waters turned to superheated steam by the extreme pressure in the earth could have caused the continents to slide apart, but such speculation is beyond the scope of this paper.

Grass and other plants were formed on the third day. Significantly, this was before the creation of the sun. That is a knotty problem for theistic evolutionists who would have to conclude that hundreds of millions of years—if not billions of years—of evolution would have to occur in total darkness at temperatures of hundreds of degrees below zero. Again, detailed discussion of such is beyond the scope of this paper.

The Fourth Day

The events of the fourth day of creation are recorded in Genesis 1:14-19 with these words:

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

To begin with we need to emphasize three points. Firstly, the lights are ”in the firmament,” not above it; secondly, there was no clear division between day and night before this time and thirdly, the lights in the firmament are generally acknowledged to be the sun, moon, stars and planets.

Historically there has been a tendency to read more into the word ”great” than is there; namely, some insist that the word must mean that the sun and moon are the brightest lights in the universe. Calling the sun and moon “great” in verse 16 does not necessarily mean that these are intrinsically the brightest objects in the universe. Instead, the word ”great” refers to their respective roles, the purpose for which each was created. We are told that the sun and moon were created “for signs and for seasons” as well as “to give light upon the earth.” If the brightness of the sun and moon is to be included in the word “great,” then it can mean no more than the amount of light each gives to the earth. As for “signs,” we find that throughout the Bible the sun is a type of Christ and the moon is a type of the believer. That the moon shines by reflected light is consistent with the typology that the believer shines by reflecting the glory of Christ. Hence the term “great” when applied to these bodies.

There are several possible scenarios for the fourth day, each of which is consistent with scripture. Here I shall present the one I deem most likely.

Given the aforementioned stability of the firmament, it seems most probable that the firmament was created with all of the material needed to make the universe inside it. For reasons which will become evident shortly, we shall assume that the matter in the universe is initially all hydrogen (except for the earth and its heaven). The hydrogen need not have been uniformly distributed throughout the universe. It may have been clumped into amorphous blobs.

Now suppose that when God made the sun, moon and stars, he formed them from the inside out, and that he fused the hydrogen into the heavier elements as he went along. Generally such a reaction creates a tremendous amount of heat, high-energy neutrinos and gamma-rays. However, if that heat were distributed evenly throughout space (if it were thermalized) then the resulting temperature of the universe is about 3°K, a value which matches the observed temperature. It is for this reason that we assume in-situ formation of the elements.

When it comes to the planets it is anyone's guess how long it took to cool them during the creation week. Some last-minute formation of neutrons from the fusion of electrons and protons could rapidly have cooled the planets, assuming that most of the radiant heat went out into space which is not at all an unreasonable assumption if the formation occurred from the inside out. Such rapid cooling would have frozen any ”boiling” features at the planet's surface. In effect this means that craters could be the last gasp of a boiling surface, just before it was “blast- frozen” by the final neutron fusion. (That fusion would involve roughly one percent of the energy released by the creation of the planet.) The boiling may have been so rapid that large drops splattered away from the surface of the planet, solidified on the way, and most would have fallen back to the surface causing impact craters.

There are additional factors which may have entered into the formation of the sun, moon and planets. A different value for the speed of light would have facilitated the reaction rates as well as the final thermalization of the heat released by the fusion of the elements. It is common knowledge among cosmologists that the speed of light is tied to the expansion rate of the universe.4 A rapid expansion in the creation week would have resulted in a high value for the speed of light. In particular, as was first noted by Barry Setterfield,5 expansion of the universe to its present size within the first week would not only “age” the stars, but also the rocks of the earth.


In this paper we have looked at a creationist scenario for the first four days of creation. Because of constraints on both space and time, the presentation is necessarily sketchy, especially for the fourth day.

We find that the firmament (commonly called the Planck medium) is a real, solid object which to the material universe appears to have all the properties of a plenum. We have noted some of the physical characteristics of the firmament and others have been presented in greater detail elsewhere.

The scenario presented for the formation of the sun, moon, and planets assumes that these bodies were created from the inside out, that the elements comprising them were fused in place, and that the formation times (of the order of a day) were short enough to allow the fusion heat to escape into space where by some mechanism, possibly a much higher speed of light or increased neutrino interactions in an expanding shell just above the formation level, the radiation was thermalized to produce the observed temperature of the universe of 3° Kelvin. The mechanism accounts for the presence of craters, both impact and non-impact, and predicts that craters should be present on all astronomical bodies whose surfaces could sustain them for 6,000 years or more, even small ones which should not have survived a crater-forming impact. It also predicts that non-impact craters will be found to be much more prevalent on the moon and other cratered bodies than is heretofore believed.

All-in-all we find that the Biblical account of the creation week is not only compatible with scientific fact but it is also subject to scientific modeling principles, at least in part.


1 For the remainder of the article, the reader who has no sense of the size of a centimeter can either bear in mind that a centimeter is a bit under half an inch. Given that the nature of the calculations and the uncertainties in the mass of the universe and its size, in what follows that reader might even read “inch” instead of “centimeter.”

2 Bouw, G. D., 1997. “Massive Superstrings and the Firmament,” ABA Techical Paper No. 2. A copy of the paper may be viewed at ABA's home page on the internet (http://www2.baldwinw.edu/~gbouw/aba). Members will receive a copy with the Spring 1997 issue of the Biblical Astronomer. Non-members may purchase a copy of it or of the first technical paper (”The Gravitational Analog of a Rolling Ball on an Elastic Membrane” by Prof. James N. Hanson) for $4 postpaid from the Association.

3 Bouw, G. D., 1987. “A New Look at the AEther,” in J. P. Wesley, editor, Progress in Space-Time Physics, (Blumberg: Benjamin Wesley), pp. 104-108. Also see Bouw, 1987. “The Firmament,” Bulletin of the Tychonian Society, no. 43:11-20.

4 For example, see J. B. Barbour & B. Bertotti, 1977. “Gravitation and Inertia in a Machian Framework,” Il Nuovo Cimento, 38(1):1.

5 Setterfield, B., 1983. The Velocity of Light and the Age of the Universe, (Adelaide, Australia: Creation Science Assoc. Inc.)

Translated from WS2000 on 12 February 2005 by ws2html.