I hold the view that the writers of genesis were describing an ancient cosmological view. Not that that was the point of Genesis, it was meant to be a backdrop for more important theological truths. The key points of this cosmology are;
-the earth is flat
-the earth is fixed and everything revolves around the earth
-there are pillars below the foundations of the earth
-there is a firmament above the earth, which contains the stars, sun, and moon
-there are waters that are above the firmament, and there are windows in the firmament that let the water come down as rain or snow.
Here is an illustration of that view. I'll try to find a better quality picture but this will do for now.
There are others that have decided genesis is describing our current scientific understanding of the earth and the universe. This is often viewed as a literal approach, everything in the Bible must be literal or none can be trusted. The key points to that view are:
-the earth is round
-the earth rotates on it's axis, and revolves around the sun
-the earth is not the center of the universe
-rain is caused from condensation in the atmosphere
-the earth has a molten core, then granite, then strata layers
Here's a picture to keep in mind while reading the rest of this post.
Lets read some passages in the bible and see which cosmological view they are describing.
THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH
- He shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble;
1 Samuel 2:8
- ...“For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He has set the world upon them.
- The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved; I set up its pillars firmly. Selah
All these verses say "pillars", so there must literally be pillars if the bible has to be taken literally
1 Chronicles 16:30
- Tremble before Him, all the earth. The world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved.
- Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; The world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.”
- You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever,
All these verses seem to contradict Job 9:6, listed above, where it says the earth was moved. They are also used as evidence that the earth doesn't move, and everything revolves around it.
- Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
This verse could be interpreted as a vision that Jesus saw, but it doesn't say that, and other times in the Bible when ppl have visions it clarifies that they had visions.
WINDOWS IN THE SKY
- In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
- The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.
2 Kings 7:2
- So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, “Look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” And he said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
- Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
These verses all say "windows", that can only be literally interpreted as "windows"
- The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.
This again is an example of opening the heavens where the water is to produce rain.
- Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
The sun was commanded to stand still, not the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
This discusses how the sun has a path in the firmament, and goes from one side of the heavens to the other.
- The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose.
The sun has 1 place it rises and 1 place it sets, this means the earth must be flat.
If you compare all of those verses to the 2 pictures above, which one do they more accuratly describe? With this in mind, read the creation account and see which cosmological view it is describing.