Firmament

Let’s get heavy! Today we’re going to engage the formation and structure of the universe – no big deal. Strap on your helmets and gird your loins, it’s gonna get opinionated in here!

Before we get into this, it should be noted that my personal worldview is essentially “Judeo-Christian” in nature. That said, there are many big questions surrounding life/death/the universe/things of the supernatural realm I am tremendously confused by or undecided about, so I try to keep an open mind. How exactly the world came into existence and how the universe is structured would certainly fall into this category.

In that spirit of open-mindedness, let’s chat about a controversial* word featured in the Genesis account of creation that begs some explanation.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 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. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”  (Genesis 1:6-8 KJV)

Firmament. Not a word you hear every day. Kind of tough to conjure what a firmament is, its function, or what it might look like.

While the modern definition for firmament is: “1. The heavens or the sky, esp. when regarded as a tangible thing,” its usage in Genesis appears to also indicate that a firmament is a sort of cosmic barrier or divider to distinguish between distinctive elements. The original Hebrew word that we’ve translated as firmament is raqia, which translates as “an extended surface,” or an “expanse,” while the word has also been likened to a “vault.”

Scrooge McDuck breaching the firmament to swim in his money.

<quick sidebar> It seems that whether or not firmament means “expanse” or something more like “vault” or “dome” has been the source of an ongoing kerfuffle involving infallibility of Scripture issues; relating to whether or not the Genesis account jibes with science. Before writing this, I had no idea firmaments were such a hot tamale issue. Personally I have no pony in this race, my faith is not shaken either way. I’ve witnessed too many miracles and wonders to not believe in a God. But I do like to search for truth in the meantime… <end sidebar>

Anyways in my search for enlightenment on the topic, I came across this helpful graphic which portrays how the ancient Hebrews perceived firmaments and the structure of the world. (Clearly they were heavily influenced by NES classics Metroid and Wizards & Warriors**).

Now, a lot has happened since Genesis was written. We’ve learned a great deal about our planet and even outer space. We can see stuff light years away, and explain a good bit about the universe. Yet we haven’t found the roof or any walls yet… and we also haven’t been able to prove or disprove how exactly the world came to be or how exactly it is set up

Many have come to believe our universe is infinite or at least infinitely expanding – an untamed, endless, structureless vortex that goes on forever. Some also believe we are just one universe of many.

Just trying to wrap my head around that stuff stresses me out so bad… makes me want to go get some coloring books and watch Boy Meets World for a few hours. But I take some solace in the fact that not even the likes of Stephen Hawking can explain these things. Some things we are not meant to know I guess, and that’s fine by me.

I don’t necessarily discount any of the above theories, including the notion of the world consisting of specific “firmaments” placed by God, which presumably separate different realms like heaven from earth. Let’s be honest… none of us – from the greatest biblical scholar to the greatest scientist – has all the answers regarding our cosmos. Maybe we are set up like level 3 of Wizards & Warriors. Or maybe God created an infinitely expanding universe? Maybe our realm is held up by giant Cheeto columns. Who knows.

Perhaps after this life I will ride my heavenly pet Futalognkosaurus into space and learn the secrets of the universe. Until then all we can do is continue looking for answers, praying for wisdom, making educated guesses, and having some faith.

*Before writing this article, I had no idea the word “firmament” was controversial. After doing a bit of research, I understand that some Biblical literalists take very seriously how this is translated. It’s certainly not my intent to needle anyone here or in any way discount any beliefs, we’re just talkin’ right? 

** As you try to solve the mysterious wonders of the universe, may I recommend the theme song from Wizards & Warriors to get the juices flowing.

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under F Abstract Concepts, F Commentary, Faith

9 responses to “Firmament

  1. Elias C.

    My name is Elias – Given your area of study and inquiry, I would like to introduce to you and your readers a reason of resolve if I may, with this question of consideration… It will help to bring us to an area of question first, that has not been seen or understood before…
    The scripture refers to two periods in time where the planet is entirely submerged under water:
    First – the beginning condition of the planet with no apparent dry and thus unknown by name as of yet, void and uninhabitable in the creation account…
    Secondly – a much later and unknown period of time, well after God has changed the condition of the planet to one that is inhabited on dry land, even up until the time of Noah and a great flood in which the Planet finds itself entirely submerged under water yet again…
    Qa: What would be the difference in the condition of the planet, in these two periods of submersion?
    The question must be considered because in the ‘second account’ of the planet’s covering of water – The condition of the planet itself is such that, it is able to recede the flooding waters with no intervention allowing for the ‘dry’ to again reappear… Thus Noah and his family eventually land and again inhabit the planet…
    As opposed to however – the beginning condition of the planet was such that, it did NOT have a way for the covering waters to recede without intervention – Thus finding the planet with no dry, void and uninhabitable according to the testified account of its beginning…Again, what would be the difference in the planets condition, which does NOT allow the waters to recede?
    Qb: What intervening event took place that altered the beginning condition of this void submerged planet?
    Enabling the waters to be gathered together to one place and subsequently causing the dry he called earth to appear as it were – That is absolutely essential for life and apparently, can be clearly understood by man after the fact, bearing record to the testament of such an event?
    If this mystery of question has not or cannot be resolved definitively to date –
    Then clearly, man is missing a key determining factor of creation as to the significant origin of mans own existence, to even speak of it…
    Question considered –

    I would like to introduce this dialectical reasoning of resolve at your leisure of course – If you would want to know or see it…

    God does tell us verbatim the mechanism or ‘event made to change’ a void submerged uninhabitable planet into a life sustaining land based environment, that is the ‘lone factor of creation’ that clearly reveals the glory of his hands work…

    The evident dilemma – is that this event identified by name 9 times in the account of this event alone – is unknown to man at present day… Leaving the verification of God’s literal creation to subjective speculation from man to man by the billions, with no way of ‘knowing definitively’ in the heart of man, the truth of its Creators’ very existence… So that man would be without excuse…

    If you would, please at your leisure, take your time as you consider this, its resolve could be important in its intent… If it reveals itself to you, you might share or discuss it with your level of peers.

    All references and bibliography to this 5000 word piece are at the end of its ‘fourth’ resolve…
    http://www.firmament-theresolve.com

    If you would not want to know or see this hid mystery of question –
    Continue to love your family…

    Good day,

    EC

    • Wow thank you for this incredibly thorough and thoughtful comment. I’m going to read more on your site and will be in touch. Thanks very much for taking the time to share this.

  2. we are like microscopic bacteria trying to figure out the dimensions of the world!

    • Man that is a mind blowing thought… A bit depressing but also freeing in a way to be reminded of how small we are. Kind of relieves some of the pressure we put on ourselves as self-appointed ‘masters of the universe.’

  3. Well, mightyF, I’m a dolt or else there is no discussion on faith yet. I don’t think science and faith can ever eat at the same table. What say you?

  4. Very infirmamentative. Not a word, but should be. I didn’t know this was an issue at all. Faith. Now THERE’S a F word to bandy about. I’m going to search your F map to see what you found out about it. Cheers.

What Say You?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s