by A.E. Knoch

TO GET RID OF GOD is the chief aim of so-called "science." So-called, I say, for genuine systematized knowledge must ever bring us nearer our Creator and Redeemer. This deep-seated desire to dethrone the Deity is never more evident than in its theories concerning the beginning of the universe, though, of course, it never really goes back so far. The most popular present apostasy seems to be the so-called "nebular hypothesis." The name can easily be remembered, for it is also a nebulous hypothesis. In the heavens, as seen today, there are countless conglomerations of gaseous matter which may be likened to a cloud, often spiral in form, known only because they emit a measure of light. The idea is that the earth and the planets and the sun were once a gaseous mass, which by some unknown and mysterious means began to revolve and, quite contrary to well-behaved, law-abiding gas masses at the present day, condensed itself into planets and their satellites, with the sun as a center, quite apart and independent of the guiding hand of a Creator.

With the measurement of the amount of truth in this theory we have nothing to do. All that concerns us is this: Does God reveal this as His method of creation? In the pages of a Fundamentalist journal the position is taken that the translation of the Authorized Version "without form and void," is "striking evidence" "of knowledge and accuracy only possible because the account is inspired revelation." This leading article goes on to say that "Formlessness can never be correctly predicated of any solid body...form is an inseparable attribute of any solid. Fluids, on the other hand (whether liquid or gaseous), have no proper form of their own,...'Without form' can only define a fluid mass of some description, it is a strictly accurate as well as vividly realistic description of a gaseous nebula. How otherwise could this fact of future astronomical science have been put in ancient Hebrew? To have described the gaseous bulk of the solar nebula as 'air,' whatever adjective might have been used in qualification, would have furnished the Modernist commentator with a happy playground for his perverse ingenuity; but the inspiring Spirit describes the vast depths of chaos by an attribute, which is more meticulously accurate than science's own use of the word, which implies an astronomical fact unknown until the far future, and yet in the simplest Hebrew for primitive unlettered men. 'And the earth was nebulous and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.'"

The notable interest in the above lies in the fact that it is from the leading article in a magazine absolutely committed to the Bible as against science. The sad fact is that the translation (or rather revision) of 1611, commonly called the Authorized Version, translated this passage thus purely to pander to science, and now one of its votaries is so blinded to their deception, that he actually hails it as inspired! And thus he puts God's seal upon infidel science and apostate theology! The Bible is in far more danger in the hands of its friends than in the clutches of its enemies.

I write this in Germany with the thought in mind that it may be translated into German. But Luther and the other German versions seemingly were not inspired, for they translate "desolate," and not "without form." But why compare men? I think Luther's rendering is far better, but that proves nothing. As the Fundamentalists would say "to the law and to the testimony." What is the actually inspired meaning of teu, the Hebrew word used here? They would probably appeal to a college professor, but none of them have as much claim on our confidence as the Authorized Version translators or Luther. And we - we know nothing at all, and have no right to do anything except to draw aside the curtain which hides the facts from our readers.

This Hebrew word is used elsewhere about nineteen times, and is translated confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, nought, thing of nought, vain, vanity, waste, and wilderness.

It will afford us a little amusing relaxation to apply this "accurate" rendering to some other of its occurrences. In Isaiah 40:23 we would have "make the judges of the earth without form" - i. e., turn them into gas or liquefy them! In Isaiah 44:9, "they that make a graven image are all of them without form!" In one other passage it is translated thus in the Authorized Version. In Jeremiah 4:23,24, we read, "I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly." The reader should go on and read about the wilderness and the cities, and remember that this is really a nebula! The mountains and the hills were gas, as were also the cities! They had no form. I have been surfeited with the sight of mountains and cities, but I have not yet seen a single one "without form" or made of gas. But enough. We do not propose to add a comic supplement to our magazine.

The following are the passages:

teu, WASTE, in the Authorized Version

Gen.  1: 2 the earth was without form
Deut. 32:10 and in the waste howling wilderness
1 Sam.12:21 for (then should ye go) after vain things
              :21 - for they are vain
Job 6:18 they go to nothing, and perish
     12:24 causeth them to wander in a wilderness
     26: 7 out the north over the empty place
Psa. 107:40 causeth them to wander in the wilderness
Isa. 24:10 The city of confusion is broken down:
      29:21 turn aside the just for a thing of nought.
      34:11 stretch out upon it the line of confusion,
      40:17 less than nothing, and vanity.
          :23 maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.
      41:29 molten images [are] wind and confusion.
      44: 9 graven images [are] all of them vanity;
      45:18 he created it not in vain,
         :19 Seek ye me in vain:
      49: 4 I have spent my strength for nought,
      59: 4 they trust in vanity,
Jer. 4:23 the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form

Even if this sane and sensible method of fixing the significance of God's words is rejected, one passage remains which entirely reverses the reasoning, whatever may be the meaning of teu. Isaiah 45:18 distinctly affirms that God did not create it teu. A study of the word create would entirely upset the scientific usage of the word, as bringing into existence out of nothingness. Man can create (1 Peter 2:13). Man was created out of soil, not out of a void. Genesis does not deal with the bringing of matter into existence, but with its formation into distinct objects, the heavens and the earth. They were not created even teu, but became so. Moreover, "God Himself that formed the earth and made it" says that "He formed it to be inhabited." According to the Creator Himself, nothing can be plainer than that He created it with a form, not formless. This agrees with the actual significance of teu, but is absolutely contrary to the Authorized Version rendering, which our Bible-loving friends deem inspired.

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