Age of the Earth Creation/evolution hermeneutics

Was the earth created from ice?

A study on 2 Peter 3 – Part I

Secular science describes the formation of the planet Earth from a condensation of dust from a solar nebula some 4.6 billion years ago. That alleged orb resulted in a hot rock spinning in space that eventually cooled enough to form oceans about 3.8 billion years ago. The evolutionary origin theory also describe it cooling even further to the point of a “snowball” due to the early faint sun, which presents a paradox. The sun – in its alleged evolution – had much lower power output resulting in at least 20 to 30% less sunlight at the earth’s surface, making subzero surface temperatures, hence entirely ice-covered. In fact, they claim 3 separate periods total glaciation of the planet during its history.

Snowball Earth. Credit: MIT

What does the Bible tell us, in particular? Let’s look at 2 Peter 3.

2 Peter 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write to you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: (my emphases added in bold)

This highlights a very important starting point, to recognise that the Scriptures are trustworthy and authoritative. The Apostle Peter under inspiration tells us here that both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles were trustworthy and authoritative. We need to listen to both. The OT prophets begin with Genesis 1:1. Genesis chapter 1 possibly was originally authored by the first man, Adam, but the book of Genesis was collected and collated from existing writings by the prophet Moses.

In the current letter from the Apostle Peter he gives a warning about the ‘last days’.

2 Peter 3:3,4 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Scoffers are mockers, false teachers. John Gill tells us that they are “…such as would make a mock at sin, make light of it, plead for it, openly commit it, and glory in it; and scoff at all religion…”. It is certainly relevant today. I am involved in street witnessing ministry and can personally say from my experiences that mockers are as prevalent today as much as ever. They openly glory in their sin and scoff at those who hold to the true Christian religion.

When are the last days?  This is a question that has been around a long time. On this John Gill wrote (in blue text):

…either in the days of the Messiah, in the Gospel dispensation, the times between the first and second coming of Christ; for it is a rule with the Jews, that wherever the last days are mentioned, the days of the Messiah are intended; see Hebrews 1:1; when the prophets foretold such scoffers should come; or in the last days of the Jewish state, both civil and religious, called “the ends of the world”, 1 Corinthians 10:11; a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, when iniquity greatly abounded, Matthew 24:11; or “in the last of the days”; as the words may be rendered; and so answer to באחרית הימים, in Isaiah 2:2, and may regard the latter part of the last times; the times of the apostles were the last days, 1 John 2:18; they began then, and will continue to Christ’s second coming; when some time before that, it will be a remarkable age for scoffers and scorners; and we have lived to see an innumerable company of them, and these predictions fulfilled; from whence it may be concluded, that the coming of Christ is at hand: these scoffers are further described as

walking after their own lusts; either after the carnal reasonings of their minds, admitting of nothing but what they can comprehend by reason, making that the rule, test, and standard of all their principles, and so cast away the law of the Lord, and despise the word of the Holy One of Israel; or rather, after their sinful and fleshly lusts, making them their guides and governors, and giving up themselves entirely to them, to obey and fulfil them; the phrase denotes a continued series of sinning, a progress in it, a desire after it, and pleasure in it, and an obstinate persisting in it; scoffers at religion and revelation are generally libertines; and such as sit in the seat of the scornful, are in the counsel of the ungodly, and way of sinners, Psalms 1:1. (my emphasis added in italics)

Directly stemming from their rejection of God and the true biblical religion the Apostle continues with the following.

 2 Peter 3:5-7 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (my emphasis added in bold)

Here I have highlighted above the important text to be discussed. Because of the original form and nature of the earth, created out of and consisting of water, yet standing out of water in reference to the dry continents (verse 5), it naturally led to a condition that God used in sending a global flood in Noah’s time, 1656 years after Creation (verse 6).

The following are John Gill’s notes on the following bolded texts with my comments below.

For this they willingly are ignorant of,…. Namely, what follows; for as these men were such as had professed Christianity, and had the advantage of revelation, and had the opportunity of reading the Scriptures, they might have known that the heavens and the earth were from the beginning; and that they were made by the word of God; and that the earth was originally in such a position and situation as to be overflowed with a flood, and that it did perish by a general inundation; and that the present heavens and earth are kept and reserved for a general burning; and it might be discerned in nature, that there are preparations making for a universal conflagration; but all this they chose not to know, and affected ignorance of: particularly (continued below)

We see a general denial even in the Christian church today of any true history in the Genesis account of Noah’s flood, as either a global flood or as a true historical event at all. Then in verse 6 and 7 we see the global flood contrasted with the method God will use to judgement world in His coming judgment.

The Apostle illustrates that a global flood destroyed all mankind, except those on the ark. The former were all the unbelievers. Only those on the ark were saved. This is compared with the coming global judgment on all mankind, where the saved will be taken to mansions in heaven, but the unsaved cast into eternal hell-fire at the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).  That is the ‘universal conflagration’ that John Gill speaks of. Read At the resurrection who is left behind?

John Gill’s commentary

that by the word of God the heavens were of old: not only in the times of Noah, but “from the beginning”; as the Ethiopic version reads, and which agrees with the account in Genesis 1:1; by “the heavens” may be meant both the third heaven, and the starry heavens, and the airy heavens, with all their created inhabitants; and especially the latter, since these were concerned in, and affected with the general deluge; and these were in the beginning of time, out of nothing brought into being, and so were not eternal, and might be destroyed again, or at least undergo a change, even though they were of old, and of long duration: for it was “by the word of God” that they at first existed, and were so long preserved in being; either by the commanding word of God, by his powerful voice, his almighty fiat, who said, Let it be done, and it was done, and who commanded beings to rise up out of nothing, and they did, and stood fast; and so the Arabic version renders it, “by the command of God”; or by his eternal Logos, the essential Word of God, the second Person in the Trinity, who is often in Scripture called the Word, and the Word of God, and, as some think, by the Apostle Peter, 1  Peter 1:23, and certain it is that the creation of all things is frequently ascribed to him; see John 1:16; wherefore by the same Word they might be dissolved, and made to pass away, as they will: (my emphasis added in italics)

The global deluge brought about a major change in the earth, geologically transforming the entire planet. It did not destroy the planet, but changed its nature and form, which continues until God refurbishes it in the new heaven and new earth to come (Revelation 21:1). If then we continue the parallel with coming final judgment on earth, the final judgment also does not obliterate the earth or the heaven above the earth but changes them. I have suggested a refurbishment, a renovation of the earth and its atmospheric heavens, to be made suitable for the new earth state, wherein only dwells righteousness (Isaiah 2:2). The starry heavens are not destroyed at all, but endure forever. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? and Our eternal universe.

and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; that is, “by the Word of God”; for this phrase, in the original text, is placed after this clause, and last of all; and refers not only to the being of the heavens of old, but to the rise, standing, and subsistence of the earth, which is here particularly described for the sake of the deluge, the apostle afterwards mentions: and it is said to be “standing out of the water”, or “consisting out of it”; it consists of it as a part; the globe of the earth is terraqueous, partly land and partly water; and even the dry land itself has its rise and spring out of water; the first matter that was created is called the deep, and waters in which darkness was, and upon which the Spirit of God moved, Genesis 1:2; agreeably to which Thales the Milesian asserted {t}, that water was the principle of all things; and the Ethiopic version here renders the words thus, “and the Word of God created also the earth out of water, and confirmed it”: the account the Jews give of the first formation of the world is this;

“at first the world was מים במים, “water in water”; what is the sense (of that passage Genesis 1:2;) “and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters?” he returned, and made it snow; he casteth forth his ice like morsels, Psalms 147:17; he returned and made it earth; “for to the snow he saith, Be thou earth”, Job 37:6, and the earth stood upon the waters; “to him that stretched out the earth above the waters”,  Psalms 136:6;” T. Hieros. Chagiga, fol. 77. 1.

Now in the first part of Job 37:6 we read “For He says to the snow, Be you [on] the earth”. The word “on” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but was inserted by the translators. Leaving out this word “on” would make sense of the verse if the God made the earth originally from ice.

John Gill’s commentary

…however, certain it is, that the earth was first covered with water, when at the word, and by the command of God, the waters fled and hasted away, and were gathered into one place, and the dry land rose up and appeared; and then it was that it “stood out of the water”; see Genesis 1:9; moreover, the earth consists, or is kept and held together by water; there is a general humidity or moisture that runs through it, by which it is compacted together, or otherwise it would resolve into dust, and by which it is fit for the production, increase, and preservation of vegetables and other things, which it otherwise would not be: and it is also said to stand “in the water”, or by the water; upon it, according to Psalms 24:2; or rather in the midst of it, there being waters above the firmament or expanse; in the airy heavens, in the clouds all around the earth, called the windows of heaven; and water below the firmament or expanse, in the earth itself; besides the great sea, a large body of waters is in the midst of the earth, in the very bowels of it, which feed rivers, and form springs, fountains and wells, called “the fountains of the great deep”, Genesis 7:11; and in this position and situation was the earth of old, and so was prepared in nature for a general deluge, and yet was preserved firm and stable by the word of God, for a long series of time; so the Arabic version renders it, “and the earth out of the water, and in the water, stood stable, by the command of God”; but when it was his pleasure, he brought the flood on the world of the ungodly, of which an account follows.


The key verse here is

2 Peter 3:5 “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:” (my emphasis added in bold)

In Genesis 1:2 and 6 we read that earth was created out of water and a watery firmament was placed around it—above the waters below. The ‘waters above’ could simply be the clouds in the atmosphere. However I have suggested that they were more than that and comprised the watery ice giant planets and planetoids that exist around the earth beyond the orbit of Neptune. See The ‘waters above’.

John Gill and other commentators have suggested the meaning of the original Greek phrase translated “the earth standing out of the water” is “the earth create from water” or more precisely from ice. Job 37:6 could be translated “For He says to the snow, Be you earth!” God speaking to the original created water, in the form of ice (or snow). Ironically secular science talks of ‘snowball Earth’, a period where the planet was frozen before the sun warmed enough to melt the surface water. But that presented them with another unsolved problem, the early faint sun paradox.

Also from what we now know of the planet, it is a very soggy planet, with subterranean oceans, with enormous water content with the basement rock themselves. It therefore is not a stretch of the imagination to believe what Genesis teaches is real history, that God made the earth out of water, originally from ice.

Related Reading

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.

4 replies on “Was the earth created from ice?”

Not being a scientist but only a Bible believer, is it possible that an earth that was ice in it’s original form, could have had all the water molecules aligned in such a way to form the magnetic field as suggested by Russell Humphreys? Would this be the ONLY way water molecules could stay aligned? Or would it not even be possible to align the molecules in this way in the state of being ice?


Good question. I think Russ Humphreys always meant the alignment was an initial condition from the Creator. So in principle I see no reason why this could not have been in the form of ice. In fact, the deep initially would have been liquid water and due to the cold environment it could have frozen forming ice. From that ice or snow then God created earth.


Dear Dr. Hartnett,
I was going to restrict my comments to a mere footnote in your downloaded article, but my unease at the suggestion of this report is steadily growing. This will most likely result in a (hopefully) polite rebuttal of the idea of God creating the world in ice.
First, a search of the first chapter of Genesis (via the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer ©) finds that every mention of the word ‘water,’ is translated from the Hebrew word ’emim’, meaning ‘water.’
Next, a cursory search of Strong’s concordance (via my QuickVerse10© Bible software) shows me that Job 37:6 uses the Hebrew word, sheleg, taken from ‘shalag’, ‘white’. Also, the same verse that mentions ‘snow, Be thou on the earth’, says, in full context:
Job 37:6 (KJV)
6 For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
So, Dr. John, are we to think that Elihu meant to say “Snow, Be thou the earth. Oh, and small rain and great rain, Be the earth too?’ But how do you get rain, small or great, in a world made from ice? Do you still think the insertion of ‘on’ was incorrect; or will you write an addendum to add ‘small and great rain’ to your theory? Notice that Be (you bring out its creative importance) is the only verb in Elihu’s attribution to God. You either take all, or take none.
I feel this verse makes better reference to the grace of God in the coming of small and great rain, or snow, on the earth. Our God could just as easily say ‘Snow, small rain, great rain, be not on the earth.’ That’s called drought, as all Californians know well (See Matthew 5:45).
Third, from Job 38:29 (the same book, the next chapter), we find the word ‘ice,’ translated from ‘kerach’.
To review:
emim = waters shelag = snow kerach = ice
I see no reason for these very different looking (even in Hebrew script), and very different sounding Hebrew words to confuse anyone. I certainly do not think the Holy Spirit was confused in inspiring either the author of Job, or Moses, the author of Genesis.
In 1 Peter 3, the Holy Spirit had Peter write down ‘standing out of the water’. As a scientist, Dr. Hartnett, you should recognize very easily the Greek word here. It is ‘hydor’, from which we get our prefix ‘hydro-‘, so prevalent in modern mechanics.
In Revelation 1:14, John describes Jesus as having hair as white as ‘snow’, from the Greek ‘chion,’ part of the genus name of a hardy, spring flower called ‘glory-of-the-snow’ chionodoxa. The same Greek word is used to describe, again under Holy Spirit inspiration, the garments of Jesus during the Transfiguration. Neither as you can see is associated either with the Creation or the Flood.
A word search in my Bible software yields nothing for ‘ice’ in the New Testament. It is never used.
To review, once again:
water = ‘hydor’ snow = ‘chion’
The most concerning thing about this excursus is the source material. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a biblical scholar, but what I can glean from Scripture, I know. But now you present to us lost evolutionary thoughts on the faint young sun paradox; you quote but one commentator, John Gill, extensively (though to be fair, you mention that there are ‘others’); and you present us (in Gill’s quotes) with the Spirit-less musing of ancient Jews (most likely devoid of Christ’s saving grace and therefore the Holy Spirit’s wisdom). My $10 starter version of QuickVerse10© Bible software has the commentary of Martin Luther on 2 Peter, and he says nothing about the world first made in ice. Neither under the reference in Job nor 2 Peter does Matthew Henry mention this at all. Barnes’ Notes does not discuss it. Halley’s Bible Handbook (that huge volume! 🙂 finds nothing here in this regard. Perhaps you would care to list the commentators who agree with you.
I write the following lines in deep love and respect. Please receive them as such. (I know, such warnings often bode the opposite in the world, but I am your brother, Dr. John).
Do you believe, then, brother John, that God the Holy Spirit, literally lied to Moses, lied to the Apostle Peter, and only told the truth to the author of Job, in one single verse, apparently (by your account) mishandled by the translators of God’s Word? Ice is not snow, and snow is not water (Yes, they are all H2O, but the languages separate them all). The Hebrew trichotomy of terms (they could have invented words meaning ‘flake water’ or ‘solid water’ otherwise, but didn’t, opting, through Holy Ghost inspiration, to use entirely separate words) are clear. The Greek words cannot be confused. There were proper terms for all these, as I have shown, yet Moses shows the world created out of water in Hebrew, and Peter mirrors this in Greek.
I have obviously said far too much in this note to expect you to answer me personally. But you must address this sense of confusion for the sake of the people you are trying to reach—is the Bible true or not? If God can lie about water, when it was ice; if He uses lost men to tell His truth more than Scripture, how can these people believe the Gospel? You see, it is a very heavy, heavy thing. I love you in Christ, John; I love your work, and your science writing is superb. I beg you to abandon this line, lest you lead unknowing people to mistrust the Word that James says is able to save their souls.
Your prayerful and
respectful friend for Creation,
John G. Canfield
Don’t forget to read the P.S.!
P.S.–Dr. Hartnett, I find the idea of the waters above the firmament as representative of the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud, an interesting interpretation. A thought on that. Wouldn’t liquid water, separated to those reaches of space, end up as ice anyway? That would not require them to be ice in the first place. I kind of like the simple idea that the firmament is the atmospheric separator between the clouds and sea (Genesis 1:20). At least, we haven’t found any birds flying in the Kuiper Belt (so far!). But, still, interesting! Many Blessings, and all glory to God! – JGC.


John, The suggestion of the solid Earth made from ice there is just that, a suggestion, a theory. But it is in keeping with what we know about the creation of the world, that it was initially from water. And if from water, then why not ice? I would not base any sort of dogma on the ice part but certainly the world was created from water. I mentioned before something like this in 6-Day creation of the Universe and also in The ‘waters above’.


Comments are closed.