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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Genesis and the Big Bang

UPDATED THRU 3/23/2106

Some apologetics say the big bang is confirmation of genesis, however genesis and the big bang seem incompatible. After summarizing big bang theory and genesis some of these incompatibilities will be indicated. Furthermore the genesis creation myth has much in common with other ancient cultures conception of the universe and creation rather than with scientific knowledge. 

{ETA 1/10/2015 My post is plain meaning of the Torah/Bible. See my discussion later about commentators and why I have avoided them for this post. In my December 2013 and December 2014 posts discussing Schroeder's  book The Science of God I do discuss  some commentators.}

The Big Bang

The cosmologist consensus today is that about 14 billion years ago our universe was  a minuscule ball containing all the mass/energy of the universe. That ball began to expand about 14 billion years ago. (The big bang does not say the ball came  into existence from "nothing", although some theoreticians do say the universe was a quantum fluctuation. Also gravity was the negative energy  that together with positive energy/matter add to zero and therefore do not violate the conservation of mass/energy.)

The Genesis creation story:

Day one - Creates in this order "Heaven and the Earth", Light, "divided light from darkness"

Day two - Makes firmament in the midst of the waters

Day three - Gathers water under the heaven into one place and dry land appears. Plants.

Day four- Lights in the firmament of the heaven [stars ], sun, moon.

Day five - Living water creatures, flying fowl, sea monsters, creeping creatures, winged fowl 

Day six -  Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind. Male and Female [human].

It is not clear where the big bang is taking place in Genesis, since in Genesis there is no tiny ball being created nor is an expansion of the tiny ball mentioned. Rather genesis has the heaven as the first thing created  

1) Big Bang cosmology has the sun forming before the earth in contradiction to the Torah.

2) Light comes from Galaxy formation and also from Stars. But Genesis has light coming before stars but after earth. ( Apologetics may reinterpret "light" as energy or the radiation soon after the Big Bang. If so, "light" should have been created before the Earth, but the Torah says light came after Earth). 

3) Torah has "Heaven and Earth" created as if simultaneously at the beginning. But the Earth was formed 10 billion years after the Big Bang, not even remotely close in time (Apologetics may say the creation of Heaven was the Big Bang and "then" later came the Earth,  adding words to the Torah. The big bang could not be the creation of light, because according to the Torah light comes after the creation of earth). Also the creation of heaven is not the big bang. Rather, heaven is a result of the expansion of the tiny ball. The Torah should have said God made a tiny ball and caused it to expand into the Heaven.

{ETA 3/23/2106 From the Book Understanding Judaism - Jacob Neusner Editor- 

Page 32 Regarding the sages beliefs Torah from ‘heaven’. Heaven was NOT a metaphor, but a place above Earth. They literally believed in the existence of water in the upper region; and God dwelt in the heavens above.}

4)  First star shone 100 million years after the Big Bang. This occurs before the Earth, in contradiction to the Torah.

5) Genesis requires god to divide lightness and darkness. But darkness happens automatically as the earth or a planet rotates and this would occur automatically in Big Bang cosmology.

6) Genesis says plants came before sun which is false.

7) The six days of creation is incompatible with the billions of years of the big bang. Some Apologetics reinterpret days to be something other than normal human observed earth days.. But the Torah says  it was  evening and morning  for each day, as if to place human markers and affirm a clear separation of creation events.  Also, which days should be reinterpreted and by how much should they be changed from normal earth days ? By an amount to force fit genesis with whatever is the current scientific theory. This operation is called working backwards.

8) Stars are still forming, yet the Torah seems to indicate  they were all created by day 4.

9) Water existed before the Earth 

10) Torah's firmament in the mist of the waters / firmament the heaven is not found in the Big Bang or in science. The Torah writes: The firmament divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And God called the firmament Heaven

Noteworthy in many ancient cultures  "The notion of the sky as a solid object (rather than just an atmospheric expanse) was widespread among both ancient civilizations and primitive cultures, including ancient Greece, Egypt, China, India, native Americans, Australian aborigines, and also early Christians.
The sky is depicted as a solid dome arched over the earth in both Mesopotamian and Indo-European mythologies (e.g., creation myths) and poetry. The Sumerian sky-god An ruled these firmament-like "heavens", which the wind-god had separated from the flat disc of the earth below, and there were primordial seas above the firmament. Ancient Indians also believed in a solid sky: "Firm is the sky and firm is the earth," says the Rig Veda. This approach to cosmology is probably universal, and is also encountered in mythologies of the New World." (from}.

And the ancient Jews had similar beliefs: "The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse." (From )

{ETA 10/6/2015 Rashbam commentary on Genesis 1:6 describes the firmament as a hammered out plate extending East to West and North to South}

The torah's firmament most likely is referring to an actual SOLID vault above the earth. This gave rise to the tower of Babel myth and is integral to the ancient Jewish understanding of where god resides, how god controls rainfall....

{Update 2/19/2014 "In Israelite and Near Eastern cosmology , primordial waters remained above the dome of the sky and were released as rain (Gen 1.7;7.11)." - Page 428 The Jewish Study Bible A. Berlin, M. Brettler Editors, 2004}

{ETA 9/28/2014 Page 42 the Oxford Bible Commentary "The pre-existent watery waste [Genesis] (1:1-2) was divided into two by the creation of a solid dome or vault (the sky, 1:6-8), so that there was water both above and below it." }

{ETA 9/29/2104 From the Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary On The Bible sixth printing 1982 Page 3 "The Firmament. A translucent dome, like an inverted basin, placed in the midst of the waters defines the spatial boundaries of God's further work....The solid, 'hammered-out' firmament restrains the waters of chaos from above and receives its blue from them (compare genesis 7:11-12; 8:2). "}

11) Genesis creation myth has much in common with ancient creation myths.

For example (see ):

"It has long been recognized that Biblical cosmogony bears certain similarities to that of other peoples; e.g., the Phenicians....or the Egyptians ..."

"Strikingly similar to the Biblical cosmogony is that of the Babylonians...."

{ ETA 3/4/2106 12) Regarding the making of the Sun and Moon Genesis 1:16 And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth

The moon is not a light source, rather it is a reflector. However, the Torah authors were not aware of  that and consider the moon a weaker light source relative to the Sun.  

According to science: "Gravity started with sparse, cold cloud of gas, concentrating it and heating it up by huge amounts, until a star was born, the Sun."  (Page 162 Black Holes, Tides and Curved Spacetime by Professor Benjamin  Schumacher 2013) "The prevailing hypothesis today is that the Earth–Moon system formed as a result of a giant impact, where a Mars-sized body (named Theia) collided with the newly formed proto-Earth, blasting material into orbit around it that accreted to form the Moon."

The Torah claims God "made"  the Sun and set it in the firmament. The Sun was not made and set in the firmament. It evolved over time from a gas. 

The Torah claims God made the Moon set it in the firmament. The Moon was not "made" and set in the firmament. The Moon resulted from an accidental collision. }

UPDATE: I have become informed that according to the talmud the light on day one in Genesis is referring to the blue light from the sky. The Sun and moon were considered 2 other light sources. They did not realize the blue light as well as the moon are just reflected light from the sun. God could just eliminate blue light and put it back on to create a days even without a sun. I will be checking to document this information

UPDATE 11/15/2013: Regarding the existence of light before the creation of the Luminaries: 

"Other ancient Near Eastern myths similarly assume the existence of light before the creation of the luminaries"

Page 13 The Jewish Study Bible A. Berlin, M. Brettler Editors, 1999
UPDATE 6/23/2014  From Ramban - Genesis by Rabbi Chavel 1999 

Ramban explains  The light created on the first day illuminates the elements. But the creation of the firmament on the second day blocks out that light ! Thus on the third day the earth was all dark.  Hence day 4 let there be lights to illuminate the earth. Genesis 1:16 And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
Ramban explains these fourth day lights were not made from the body of the firmament, rather they were bodies set into it. 

Update 1/14/2014 My post is plain meaning of the Torah/Bible and relied on Genesis 1:1 through 1:31 the only place I am aware of with a detailed temporal sequence. It may be possible to selectively cite midrash/talmud/commentary/ kabbalah/verses and or reinterpret/speculate  to smooth over many inconsistencies between cosmology and science.  However, those same texts themselves are frequently unclear, in conflict with science and even contradictory within themselves. I sincerely doubt that midrash/talmud/commentary/ kabbalah/verses all can be reconciled to provide a consistent internal accounting in any intellectually honest fashion.}
---------------------------------- {Update 2/16/2014 To give the reader a sense of the importance,  consider this simple example which can be multiplied thousands of  times. Regarding the Genesis creation story - Beth (meaning the school of) Shammai says the Heaven was created before the Earth. Beth Hillel - the earth was created before the heavens, Rav Simeon says they were created simultaneously. (Midrash Rabbah Genesis 1:15) }
------------------------------------- {Update 2/1/2014 Attempts  to "reconcile this 7 day creation story with evolution, geological and cosmological evidence  of the age of the universe are absurd, requiring a twisting of the words of the text in ways they never remotely meant". "Of course the Biblical picture is not a factual, literal account of the universe's  origin. The evidence to this effect is overwhelming". (Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation by Richard E, Friedman 2001  Page 14)}

{ETA 3/23/2106 

From the book Note to the New Translation of the Torah - Harry Orlinsky Editor 1969

Beginning Page 49 Translates  “When God began to create...” Regarding genesis 1-3 The book provides cogent reasons why the verse should not be translated “In the Beginning God created...”, some of which include Rashi’s reasons.  It finally concludes “The Hebrew text tells us nothing about ‘creation out of nothing’ (creation ex nihilo) or about the beginning of time.”

From the book Understanding Genesis by Nahum Sarna 1966

He translates Gen 1:1 “ When God began to create the Heaven and Earth..”

Beginning Page 2 Regarding Genesis Creation stories:

“It is obvious” none of the stories are based on human memory, nor are they modern science accounts of the physical world’s origin or nature. The stories are Non Scientific. It is a naive and futile exercise to attempt to reconcile Bible creation stories and modern science.  Any “correspondences” discovered or ingeniously established are nothing more than coincidence.  

The book also provides many points of contact with ancient near east mythology with Genesis creation  stories. Beginning page 39 The  Flood story - The Torah used very ancient traditions adapted for it’s own purpose. }

{ETA 1/10/2105 Anchor Bible Genesis E.A. Speiser 1964 
Page 9 Regarding Gen 1 - The Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elis - is in striking correspondences in both details and order of the events with Genesis 1.  It is clear the Bible approach is closely related to traditional Mesopotamian beliefs. The similarities include and are in the same order and type of creation: A primeval chaos, Light emanation from gods , firmament creation, dry land creation, luminaries creation, man creation, god resting.
Speiser explains Gen 1 has God creating light.  He goes on to write the Babylonians did not copy the Hebrews since cuneiform accounts such as the Enuma antedate in substance the Bible statements on the subject. There is no basis in fact for assuming an unidentified ultimate source for both Hebrew and Babylonian accounts.

JPS Torah Commentary Genesis by Nahum Sarna

Page 7  Verse 4-Light -  The first creation by God's utterance. The notion of light independent of the sun most likely derives from the observation that the sky is illuminated even on cloudy days and that brightness precedes the rising sun. In both situation no sun is visible. Verse 5 God called - According to the conception in  the ancient near east possessing no name was equivalent to non existence. "Name calling was thus associated with creation and by extension, with domination, for the one who gives a name has power over the object."}

Related posts are Proof of God from Big Bang and Kalam Cosmological proof of God repudiated by Theology , Kalam Cosmological Proof Repudiated 


R.W. said...

I just wanted you to know that I've been following your blog religiously (oops) since its inception and find it very informative.

Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist said...

Thanks for comment - means alot to me.

Best Wishs

leon skobelsky said...

i can say that genesis was not written by quantum phycisist or an astronomer. but some of the concepts are very similar to the big bang theory. the creation of universe ,the separation of land from water the growth of vegitation....these concepts are pretty revolutionary for people that lived 3thousand years ago

Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist said...

@ Leon - Other cultures also have creation myths that have similarities to big bang. Two examples Chinese myth has universe was like a black egg that god breaks and causes it to expand (similar to big bang actually), or Apache myths of creation out of nothing. It is besides the point. The point is if Genesis does not match with even one fairly certain scientific fact, then the Torah can not be divine.

Also, common sense can suggest possible orders of creation or even by luck get some “facts” correct. This is what likely happened in the Torah where it maybe gets some things correct and other things not.
As my post shows seems like Torah got a lot of things wrong.

Thanks for comment

Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist said...

Another example: Hindu Bindu Vishphot creation story is claimed to be just like the big bang.