astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

Scripture and a static universe biblical creation cosmogony

2007_0507Image0132In regards to concepts relating to the Universe being static, that is, it is not expanding as is most commonly believed, I received the following email comment from a friend. His comments are in green text below.
I am curious what you think about Job 37:18:
 “Can you, like him, spread [Hebrew: רָקַע raqa`] out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror?”
I have been looking at the equations for small bending of a thin plate under distributed load and they look the same as the GR equations in the case of weak fields if you treat the load on the plate as the gravitating mass and treat mechanical strain as the gravitational potential scaled by c-2
So, could raqia be a thin plate rather than a membrane? A plate supports load due to resistance to bending, while a membrane supports load due to tension and the edges. In contrast, plate does not need such tension. The only challenge is that plates aren’t easy to roll like a tent curtain, but Job 37:18 suggests that bending a hard thing isn’t a problem for God.

The Hebrew word translated spread in Job 37:18 is actually רָקַע  raqa’ (Strong’s H7554) pronounced raw-kah’, which has the range of meanings,
1. to pound the earth (as a sign of passion)
2. (by analogy) to expand (by hammering)
3. (by implication) to overlay (with thin sheets of metal)
[a primitive root]
In the KJV it is rendered: beat, make broad, spread abroad (forth, over, out, into plates), stamp, stretch.
Have you with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? Job 37:18 KJVER
Both translations capture the idea that the sky (or skies) is (are) like a mirror, but also something that was cast and spread out by beating or like pouring a molten mirror. But this verse does not necessarily to refer to space itself, but only to the sky as viewed from the earth’s surface. The mirror refers to the transparency of the ‘glass’–meaning the atmosphere is clear to see through, hence we may view the stars.
I have previously commented on this verse, in various articles and in Does the Bible really describe expansion of the Universe? The ‘fabric of space’ in Russ Humphreys’ view (from his cosmological models) is a stiff material. Vacuum seems to have a very high energy density so that would make some sense if vacuum is equated with space. But what is space? Is there a fabric of space? In Expansion of space – a dark science I considered what space is. Humphreys and I differ a bit here. I contend that absolutely empty space does not exist in the physical universe. This is a position that Einstein held in 1920. I suggested there that ‘space’ is strictly geometry only and does not comprise any substance itself. Besides tension does not mean extension. This Russ Humphreys has now recognised.
So does that scripture (Job 37:18) mean anything more that a statement that God created the skies referring to their transparent nature and nothing more? It may not be a reference to the starry heavens of the cosmos at all. Maybe it is reading too much into scripture to suggest otherwise?
I am not surprised that General Relativity, which is a tensor theory, is analogous to mechanical strains in a metal plate. In fact, Einstein took Riemannian geometry (which is just geometry) and applied it to spacetime. The resistance to deformation against a mechanical load is determined by Young’s modulus, which is a bulk property of a material. The resistance in a thin-film, or a thin sheet, is due to tension in the sheet. But tension in the sheet is the 2 dimensional limit of the 3 dimensional resistance to a load in the bulk of the material. The physics changes when you go from 3D to 2D, but in both cases, you can apply, with the appropriate number of dimensions, much the same formalism. In the case of spacetime, which is 4D, Einstein applied Riemannian tensors. considering time as an extra spatial dimension, only with a different signature. That meant time was something like an imaginary spatial dimension. But is all geometry just the same.
It sounds like you and Russ Humphreys may now be thinking that there is no cosmic expansion? Does that mean that you both have each abandoned your previous models? Does that mean we now have no viable YEC cosmological model? If we now have no viable model to explain distant starlight, I wonder if we need to “leave no stone un-turned”? How do you see our prospects for resolving the starlight problem?
I recently wrote an article (and presented a talk) on the starlight travel time issue that included what I would consider to be my measured assessment. The summary notes for that presentation are found here: Starlight and Time: Is it a brick wall for biblical creation?

SandT brickwallThe talk was presented at a mini-conference I ran with Jim Mason for which, soon, we’ll post all the talks on YouTube, God willing.

In that talk I presented that I believe both my old models and Humphreys old models have value but now because I no longer believe the Universe to be expanding (or at least I don’t know that it is) then a static universe model or a quasi-static model is better in keeping with the scriptures.

I wrote a series of articles which are all linked in Synopsis: a biblical creationist cosmogony. I proposed a solution to the starlight travel time problem in a model, which is an expansion of the ASC model of Jason Lisle. There is no starlight travel time problem; established physics is used to show that it does not even exist.  My new model is developed in a paper entitled “A biblical creationist cosmogony.” It is somewhat technical so I wrote a very short layman summary. But my new idea may be accessed from this series in order:


I spent a long time thinking about this and writing those 4 papers. It could be that one has to write a book and do a speaking tour for more than a few to take any notice. But I am not fazed.

The solution is simple I believe. Using basic physics, and a simple worldview on timing events we can explain the Universe we see, and there is no starlight-travel time problem to solve. It does not even exist. And it applies to a static universe!

By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

2 replies on “Scripture and a static universe biblical creation cosmogony”

Hi Mr. Hartnett, I just wanted to say a big THANK-YOU for this post, this blog and all the work you do to reclaim cosmology from secular science. I am a high school student with a love of astronomy and creation science, and I have found that your blog has reaffirmed my faith and answered my toughest questions about cosmology when I am feeling overwhelmed by all the “evidence” for the Big Bang and evolution that I get in class. Thanks so much for all the effort you put into this and please keep it up!!!!

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