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In Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the waters.

So this is before creation, so where does water come from? why it exist before the first day? And if there is face of water, there seems to me should be some gravity somewhere, what's the stage of universe at this time?

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this is touching on an entire topic of theological debate called creation 'ex nihilo' or out of nothing, related: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1230/… –  aceinthehole Dec 10 '12 at 21:48
It may help to read Genesis 1 as an "historical narrative" as opposed to an "historical record". What I mean by that is that the inspired author included specific details of the Creation event for specific purposes; it is not a series of unrelated data points, nor is it an exhaustive record. Thus, it may be more valuable to explore why the narrative begins this way (what the inspired author is drawing attention to; see 2 Pet. 3:5) as opposed to asking why the Creation event began this way (riddled with assumption.) –  Jas 3.1 Dec 11 '12 at 0:23

4 Answers 4

Well, you see, when two atoms of hydrogen love an atom of oxygen very much...

When I was a literalist (and it seems you are looking through those glasses) my interpretation was that when God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."), that would have included the waters. Since the waters and the lands and the waters above the heavens and the waters on the earth were not separated yet, then it is a bit difficult to nail down the dimensionality of it all, but simply because we cannot conceive of a world where there is little boundary between gaseous and liquid state that does not means that it could not exist. Of course, fog exists, so it is quite possible that water was originally created as a liquid suspended in air.

You might be reading too much into "over". To say that God is literally and exclusively "over" something is as nonsensical as saying he is literally and exclusively "under" something. Time and space are never literal in such a context.

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The literal read:

So this was before creation, so where does water come from?

Not if you read verse one first "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." By creation of earth water was also created.

Why it exist before the first day?

Verse 1 to 5 as day one.

And if there is face of water, there seems to me should be some gravity somewhere, what's the stage of universe at this time?

God uphold the universe. He is a God of order and laws – thus all natural laws is a part of the creation. Gravity is one part. The exact state is not described.

Adding as a note:

Chapter two is a more in detail account of some of the events. Not chronological but nor contradicting chapter 1.

Say i.e. Genesis 2:18-22:

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

  • And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

This is an ingress. But instead of jumping directly to the creation of Eva we are told that off all creatures this far created there was no mate for man, and as such woman is created.

Genesis 1 and 2 are two different accounts/tales. It was not like they had bibles with chapters and verses. In Genesis 2 we are (therefore) told how animals were created. As it say "And out of the ground …" and not "And then out of the ground …" it can be interpreted both as and and and then, – but as Gen 1:26 is rather clear on the matter one can conclusively say it is and in the sense of "and" and not "and then".

Does verse 20 "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;" contradict verse 19 because had had already named them there "and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."?

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According to the dogmas of the larger denominations, the creation story isn't literal chronology. And the question is nonsensical.

Here's why -- the question is takes the thought from verse 2 out of context.

Firstly, it's out of the context of any Christian or Jewish dogma. The accounts of creation are held by most Christians (the large denominations) to be largely symbolic of God's creative effort and personality. They're not a detailed, literal, chronological retelling of everything God did in precise sequence. A good indicator of this, even outside any particular tradition, is that simple fact that there are two creation stories in Genesis.

And those two creation stories do NOT agree. In the first story, humans are the last-made creature. In the second story (Genesis 2:4-25), man is first, then the garden, then animals, and woman last. Thus, the larger Christian denominations (and most Jews) are in agreement that Genesis is not a literal, chronological account of creation.

Secondly, it's taken out of the immediate literal context. There's more to Gen. 1:2 than wind sweeping over waters. And the full content of Gen. 1:2 is in the context of a larger thought that begins in the previous verse.

(1) In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth — (2) and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—

So, even if I were defending a creationist viewpoint (I'm not), it's clear from the two verses combined that the earth and heavens already exist in a primitive, chaotic state. (What the author means by "earth" and "heavens" is debatable.)

Also notable, "the waters" (referring to the sea) in biblical language is almost always a metaphor for chaos. The "wind" in Genesis 1:2 is sweeping over the "primordial chaos." We can extrapolate then that first creation story illustrates the point that God creates (from nothing) by bringing order out of chaos. (That is, a chaos which He creates for the purpose of bringing about an ordered creation.)

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o_O It is wise to consider both sides of a debate before putting your stake in the ground. I'd strongly recommend looking at the (many) commentaries on Genesis 1 and 2 which show that they are in no way contradictory before making such bold assertions. Genesis 1 doesn't indicate that the garden was created prior to Adam; nor does Genesis 2 indicate that the earth was void of animal life prior to Adam's creation. –  Jas 3.1 Dec 11 '12 at 0:32
Firstly, both sides of what debate? I'm not picking any sides here. Secondly, the 2nd story does, however, state that the animals were created after Adam, which is in direct contradiction to the first creation story. Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, the "large number of commentaries" are irrelevant if they don't represent a significant portion of Christianity, which I strongly believe my answer does. But lastly, and reiterating the first point, I'm not picking sides. I'm stating quite clearly here, that the question is in relation to a verse fragment out of context. –  svidgen Dec 11 '12 at 6:53
From the interpretation of the larger denominations, the question is mostly nonsensical. And from a purely literal standpoint, it's nonsensical. Hence, there are no sides to take! What side of what do you think I'm taking!? –  svidgen Dec 11 '12 at 6:54
Genesis 2 says God caused each animal to arise out of the ground so Adam could name them; it does not indicate that there were no animals on earth at that time. –  Jas 3.1 Dec 12 '12 at 23:18
You're not serious, are you? –  svidgen Dec 12 '12 at 23:38

Most of the ancient creation myths have a record of primordial waters. This is seen in the Enûma Eliš (Apsû) and in several Egyptian creation myths. In the Egyptian myths, this water is deified as Nu. Of course Genesis shares this same idea and imagery as you have already picked up on. This may tend to indicate that the water did not come from anything, but instead everything comes from the water and the water simply always was. While this may seem troublesome to modern readers, Creation ex nihilo is a modern novelty that came about in the 2nd century AD.

This is not to say that there was not an idea of Creation ex nihilo prior to the 2nd centruy in that Amun is though to have created Nu in one Egyptian creation myth, and the logical extension of this is creation ex nihilo. This was just not philosophically hashed out fully, formally and properly until the Greek philosophers got a hold of it. The ealier mesopotamian writers just didn't think about it and this conflict simply didn't matter to them.

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