The Raqiya': The Ancient Near-Eastern,
Geocentric Cosmology of the Hebrews
Geocentric Cosmology of the Hebrews
Obviously, beyond the fundamentals of origin and purpose, the ideas regarding our current state of knowledge are not contained in the Bible.
While the Bible does make a number of empirical claims, these are few. Among other things, God created man to govern and tend to the affairs of the Earth and its contents; He leaves the details of scientific investigation and discovery to us.
The ancients had no inkling as to the vastness of the universe in which they lived. Certainly what they could divine boggled their minds even within the constraints of their primitive technology. Their technology, of course, at the time of the writing of the Torah, was little more than the unaided apparatus of sensory perception with regard to astronomical concerns.
Imagine what they would have made of the vacuum of quantum mechanics, particles at the subatomic level randomly jumping in and out of existence. The Big Bang. The exertions of dark matter and dark energy on the perceptible fabric and forces and contents of the cosmos. Empty space, a substance of sorts after all with a force of its own. What the?! We’re scratching our heads. The more we know, the weirder things get. The more we learn, the less we know. Each new answer raises a multitude of new questions.
Meanwhile, back in the geocentric realm of the ancients, the world was flat, literally supported by pillars anchored in “the foundations of the Earth” below. Sheol was a physical place residing at some depth beneath their feet. Below the foundations of the Earth, resided the waters of the great deep. The heavens were enclosed within a spherical dome, equipped with massive “flood gates” that periodically swung open to let in the rain, that is, the waters of the firmament stored above the heavens in the space between the spherical enclosure of the heavens and a spherical outer shell, the apparatus of the raqiya'. These waters were continuously replenished by the waters of the great deep below. The Moon, the stars, the Sun, the solar system, the entire cosmos!—all of these things were thought to reside within the inner enclosure above the Earth, with the entire spherical structure suspended by the hand of God whose Heaven of heavens lay beyond.
See link: http://io9.com/5586362/a-scientific-diagram-of-the-ancient-hebrew-cosmos
Now read Genesis with that description and the picture depicting the ancient Hebrews cosmology in mind and watch it jump out at you, literally just so. This is precisely how they imagined things to be. Though wrong, their cosmology was rather ingenious, really, given the level of their calculi and means of discernment.
The ancients believed that that the Earth was flat, that “the foundations of the Earth” were put down before anything else, then the “heavens” as enclosed by the larger, spherical superstructure. And as you say, God later added the sun, the moon, the stars and the other planets. . . .
So? Their cosmology was all wrong. It’s not a problem. Genesis is a theological treatise concerned with the issues of origin, sovereignty, purpose and the like, not a scientific treatise. The lesson here is that God leaves scientific discovery and development to us and reveals Himself to us accordingly, i.e., in the terms of our current understanding of things at any given point in time. Beyond that, theologically speaking, the Earth is the foundation of man’s designated domain within the cosmos over which he was given rule. We’re well beyond the geocentric cosmology of the ancients today, and God is speaking to us all the time via His creation.. He speaks to us via the classic laws of logic and the operational aspects of identity’s comprehensive expression, which includes the axioms of mathematics. All these things point to His existence. The more we learn, the more we know about His creation and, subsequently, about His nature.