Monday, July 31, 2017

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. (Genesis 1:6-7 KJV)

Once upon a time, there was a hypothesis formed. This hypothesis tried to explain a very literal reading of Genesis 1:6-7.  The itsy bitsy spider would have drowned with the amount of rain in this canopy.

Scientific Problems

I'm a scientific layman, so let me to defer to Dr. Hugh Ross who brilliantly explains

Some young-earth creationists [Neo-Ussherians] attempt to explain long life spans [Genesis 5] prior to Noah's flood and huge hydrocarbon and limestone deposits by proposing that a thick water canopy once surrounded the Earth. 
They claim such a canopy would shielded life from radiation, greatly extended human longevity, created a warm, humid environment to augment Earth’s biomass and, once collapsed, suddenly inundated Earth's entire surface,destroying all life (except that on the ark) and even much of Earth’s topography.
This hypothesis fails every plausibility test. First, a canopy with enough water to cover Earth would either dissipate to interplanetary space (if it were vaporous) or come crashing down under gravity's influence. 
A vapor canopy, even if it existed for a short time, would have set up such a powerful greenhouse (heating) effect that no ice or liquid water would remain on Earth to sustain life, making the flood unnecessary. 
If the canopy were liquid or ice, converting the ice to liquid or liquid to vapor would consume so much heat as to freeze all life on Earth.
Again, the Flood would be unnecessary. 
Increasing Earth's surface heat and humidity by just a little would increase the total living biomass by only a small amount. Earth's surface area and solar energy flow limit the living biomass to a quantity far below what is needed t explain all earth's biodeposits within a time span briefer than million years. Although a vapor canopy would provide some protection against ultraviolet radiation, it would not impede the hard cosmic ways hat fundamentally limit human life spans to about 120 years. (Words in brackets mine)[1]

Kent Hovind has said on multiple occasions that he was a science teacher, so he should know better.

Basil (4th century) anticipated this idea and stated

“Here then, according to me, is a firm substance, capable of retaining the fluid and unstable element water; and as, according to the common acceptation, it appears that the firmament owes its origin to water, we must not believe that it resembles frozen water or any other matter produced by the filtration of water; as, for example, rock crystal, which is said to owe its metamorphosis to excessive congelation, or the transparent stone which forms in mines. This pellucid stone, if one finds it in its natural perfection, without cracks inside, or the least spot of corruption, almost rivals the air in clearness. We cannot compare the firmament to one of these substances. To hold such an opinion about celestial bodies would be childish and foolish.”[2]

Exegetical Problems

Hovind's problem here isn't just eisegesis, but his insistence that the KJV is the only inspired version. 

Even though KJV-Onlyism is outside the scope of this article, I will for the sake of argument, show that even If I only use the KJV, the canopy is an improbable exegetical formulation.

Hovind comments on Genesis 1:6-7
We see from this passage that this “firmament” -whatever that is, divides the waters. Some water is UNDER it and other water is ABOVE it. [3]

There are many problems with this interpretation. 

For example: The waters would be in the same area as the birds, so you either had birds flying through the water (Genesis 1:20) or you have it at such a level that it blocks the view of the stars, which would contradict Genesis 1:14-18.

Hovind has said that it was above the stars. However, not only is this very scientifically improbable, it is a unfalsifiable hypothesis at this point and is speculation that can't be demonstrated from scripture. 

It never says the water was above space, it says the firmament in the KJV, which contextually is referring to the sky (i.e. our atmosphere). 

But Hovind conveniently limits only the KJV's wording here, because it becomes a debate over semantics instead of what the text actually means. (Like quibbling over heaven vs heavens in Genesis 1, even though the KJV reads heavens in Proverbs 8:27-28) 

It is interesting that Hovind cites Psalm 148 because it actually questions his position since David is speaking post-flood. 

Why are these waters still there? 

Just how much water is up there? 

Again, these are speculations about the text, not what the text teaches. 

Job 38 mentions water jars, do you believe there are actually water jars in heaven? If so, inform the hipsters drinking out of jars, because heaven did it first. 

We therefore insult the text when we try to apply literal meanings to poetic language. It's the equivalent of saying when the Bible says "your eyes are like doves" the man thinks her eyes are literal doves. (Song of Solomon 1:5)

Though I haven't seen Hovind use this particular objection, I mention it because it seems to be a popular layman "evidence" for the canopy theory. 

When the Scripture says "floodgates" or "windows of heaven" like in Genesis 7:11, It is a metaphor. 

There are not literal floodgates or windows holding water, in the same way, Jesus is not literally a door. 

The scriptures also say blessings come through these floodgates, (2 Kings 7:2, Malachi 3:10), are the physical manifestation of blessings being held behind this gate? It is more probable that this is a figure of speech.

There are many different models of what this could be, perhaps the answer is as simple as clouds. 

Clouds are a collection of water particles and when looking up in the sky as it's raining hard, a modern day author explaining this could say "It is like someone opened the floodgates in the sky" would be an acceptable metaphor to convey the meaning.


The Canopy hypothesis has many holes and it lacks historical backing. It is both scientifically and exegetically improbable and it creates more problems than it solves. We do not need such speculation in defense of the faith.

A Matter of Days by Dr. Hugh Ross p. 98

The Hexaemeron: A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Edited by Phillip Schaff p.67

[3] "Dr. Kent Hovind Proves Canopy Theory Using the KJV Bible"


The Canopy Theory wasn't Hovind's idea. He supported it (with his own variant that involved super-cold ice rather than water vapor), but he didn't originate it. The Canopy Theory was originally a proposal by Henry Morris, the father of modern young earth creationism. It was a very creative idea, but turned out to be more problematic than useful and has been almost universally abandoned by YEC scientists today. However, many pastors and laypeople who have YEC views still hold this view today, not because there is any validity to it, but because they simply haven't learned anything about the evidence involved or the problems of this model. In many cases, they were taught that the Canopy Theory is what the Bible teaches rather than simply being a potential interpretation and model.

The Canopy Theory is a good example of how we must hold the text tightly, but various models loosely. We should not elevate interpretations or models to the level of scripture where there can be more than one legitimate interpretation or where the Bible does not give information. We have to distinguish between what the text actually says and what it does not say and not be more dogmatic about an idea than the Bible is.


Interesting thoughts here. One might offer that the "vapor canopy" would approximate a heavy overcast, or that it might be something in-between the two models. Myself? I'm not a scientist, but I haven't seen a model presented from any camp that hit all bases. I do know that God has made His Being known to all under the canopy, whether it be one of ice, steam, clouds, or stars. I offer some reflections on that, and some principles related to it, at


The first problem I see is: Assuming all the water that flooded the Earth was above the ground. When the Bible clearly states that a lot of the water sprang forth from the deep. There is a lot of water underground that we simply don't know about, so the amount that would have been in the "vapor canopy" would be much less than is being suggested.


The amount of heat energy required to keep the moisture in the air would kill everyone and everything, the end. Hovind is a con artist who is full of shit. In fact, every priest and preacher, Imam or whatever religious leader is a fraud and you all buy a product that never has to be delivered.

Fun game religion, as an atheist I'm thinking of becoming a preacher, easy money.


I wasn't asserting that Hovind originated the idea, but that is variation that he still defends has problems. I agree with you that no scientific model should elevate itself above scripture, however, I don't think the canopy model in Hovind's form is scriptural.


Let me get this straight - you know about the underground water that we don't know about?


The question still remains: Just how much water do you need to flood the world? How can you in all honesty determine just how much vapor was in the canopy?


Please read and make sure you read to understand, before making comments. You base your writing on what you claim to be taken from Scripture. Notice the part where it is written that the sun and moon and stars are placed in the firmament.

Gen 1:14-18 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

Also notice that the firmament was placed between the waters above and the waters below, and called heaven.

Gen 1:6-8 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.

Then notice that dry land came to be only after the firmament was put between the waters above and the waters below.

Gen 1:9-10 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Then do some research and find that all around the earth, radio telescopes found the same temperature throughout deep space, in a spherical setting around the earth. A degree or two above absolute zero. Being a sciency guy, you'll know that we're not talking Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Very likely ice. Frozen waters. Because the sun and moon and stars are set in the firmament between the waters.


No need for clouds before the Flood. Rivers from underground watered the Earth.

The waters above were transparent so that mankind could observe celestial bodies and mark time thereby. In what form would the waters above be transparent?