Did God Really Say That?

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

Now the earth was formless and empty, 

darkness was over the surface of the deep, 

and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  

And God said, … (Genesis 1)

“And God said.” If you’re like me, you probably never thought twice about these three little words in Genesis, Chapter 1. We read right past them to see what God said. But then I learned better. Now, I can’t stress enough how these three little words are the basis for everything that follows. With these words, everything changed. 

Nikola Tesla once said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration. Sounds or words are simply energy, frequency and vibrations.”

Did you know that everything vibrates? You don’t see it, but all of the molecules that make up a dog or a tree or a person or water, they are always in constant motion. When you speak, vibrations go forth from your mouth and impact everything they come in contact with. 

For those of us who were not that “into” our ninth grade physics class, I’ll remind you that this idea about frequencies and vibrations is actually a basic physics concept. Think in terms of a wave — like when you skip a rock on a lake. The rock causes a wave or frequency to emanate from the place where it hits the water, and that wave or frequency impacts everything in its path; thus, a small duck floating in the water may feel a gentle movement under him as a wave passes by. Literally, the energy from the wave rearranges everything in its path. As the wave hits the duck in the water, the duck, who is also vibrating at a certain frequency, is impacted and, in turn, the duck’s waves and frequencies bounce back and spread out, impacting everything they come into contact with. There is always a constant interaction of energy and frequencies. There is constant motion and constant change. 

Our words do the same thing. They go forth as waves and frequencies and vibrations, and they impact everything around us. As strange as it may seem to some, there have been scientific studies that show that speaking kindly to plants actually encourages them to grow. 

In an article from The Guardian in January 2021, Dominique Hes, Ph.D., biophilia expert and lead researcher at Horticulture Innovation Australia’s Plant Life Balance, explained this phenomenon: “Smithsonian and Nasa studies show that mild vibrations increase growth in plants while harsher, stronger vibrations have a negative effect. The vibrations improve communication and photosynthesis, which improves growth and the ability to fight infection. You could say the plants are happy!”

If our words are impacting plants, just imagine what is happening with the people we talk to. 

Proverbs 15:4 says, “Gentle words bring life and health; … ”

 Proverbs 11:9 says, “Evil words destroy one’s friends; … ”

We have always been trained to think of these verses in abstract or metaphysical terms, but couldn’t we better understand the power of our words if we think of these verses in terms of basic physics? 

The Hebrew word for “word” is “debar.” Interestingly, debar can also mean “deed” or an action. In Hebrew, words are not just what someone says but what someone does. Words do something. They bring into being. They make something happen. They build up and they tear down. 

Is this why our Bibles say that death and life are in the power of the tongue? Just like with plants, our words literally promote life or death.

Because of this basic reality of our universe, the Bible admonishes us to choose our words carefully.

In fact, Proverbs 17:27 says, “Intelligent people choose their words carefully.”

There is also another interesting way to look at “And God said … ”

Hebrew only has two verb tenses: One is for actions that have been completed, and one is for actions that are ongoing.

The word “said” in “and God said … ” is ongoing. It is not something that God did in the past, and it’s done. His word literally continues to reverberate throughout the universe — its energy, frequencies, and vibrations are still impacting our world. In fact, some believe that it is his word that literally sustains our world, and without it, everything collapses.

The book of Hebrews, Chapter 1, seems to hint at this very idea of God sustaining the world through his word. 

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

“And God said”— such power, in just three little words.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Beautiful! Thank you…

    • #1
  2. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Lovely. As a lover of words, I have always been profoundly impressed with the Genesis story you quote.

    • #2
  3. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    This year on the day we celebrate our Lord’s birth, NASA launched its newest and biggest space telescope. It’s mirror is large enough (~5 times larger than the Hubble Space telescope) to gather the faintest light from the very edges of our universe. When we observe that far away we are also looking back to the very beginning of time, which at the moment is estimated at around 14.7 billion years.

    Several decades ago a NASA mission called COBE confirmed that our universe started with a Big Bang, the moment of creation. Our limited understanding of cosmological physics suggest that it was a few 100 million years after that event that everything cooled down enough, and gravity began the process of clumping the minor variation of mass distributed from that initial event to start creating stars. 

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

    And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

     And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

     And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

    We are about to peek at that moment with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) where God “turned on the lights”.

    The EM spectrum that JWST does its observations has the added bonus that it can inspect the atmospheres of some of the “localish” planets. These planets have been found in the last few years in our galaxy and are residing in the orbital “sweet spot” for life circling around their suns. By looking at the constituents of their atmospheres we can potentially determine if God has given us any possible siblings.

    In a few years NASA will be launching the Roman Space Telescope, another infrared observatory which has an on board occulting capability for increasing the rate to find planets that circle close to their suns giving JWST more targets to investigate. RST has other instruments to search for the dark matter that our equations tell us is “out there” based on the observed expansion of the visible universe.

    We have been given a puzzle, the curiosity, and perhaps the intellectual wherewithal to determine the nature of God’s universe. This is an exciting time for those who ponder our cosmos.

    • #3
  4. Kathy Mardirosian Coolidge
    Kathy Mardirosian
    @KathyMardirosian

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    This year on the day we celebrate our Lord’s birth, NASA launched its newest and biggest space telescope. It’s mirror is large enough (~5 times larger than the Hubble Space telescope) to gather the faintest light from the very edges of our universe. When we observe that far away we are also looking back to the very beginning of time, which at the moment is estimated at around 14.7 billion years.

    Several decades ago a NASA mission called COBE confirmed that our universe started with a Big Bang, the moment of creation. Our limited understanding of cosmological physics suggest that it was a few 100 million years after that event that everything cooled down enough, and gravity began the process of clumping the minor variation of mass distributed from that initial event to start creating stars.

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

    And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

    And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

    And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

    We are about to peek at that moment with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) where God “turned on the lights”.

    The EM spectrum that JWST does its observations has the added bonus that it can inspect the atmospheres of some of the “localish” planets. These planets have been found in the last few years in our galaxy and are residing in the orbital “sweet spot” for life circling around their suns. By looking at the constituents of their atmospheres we can potentially determine if God has given us any possible siblings.

    In a few years NASA will be launching the Roman Space Telescope, another infrared observatory which has an on board occulting capability for increasing the rate to find planets that circle close to their suns giving JWST more targets to investigate. RST has other instruments to search for the dark matter that our equations tell us is “out there” based on the observed expansion of the visible universe.

    We have been given a puzzle, the curiosity, and perhaps the intellectual wherewithal to determine the nature of God’s universe. This is an exciting time for those who ponder our cosmos.

     

    • #4
  5. Kathy Mardirosian Coolidge
    Kathy Mardirosian
    @KathyMardirosian

    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Ma… (View Comment):

    This year on the day we celebrate our Lord’s birth, NASA launched its newest and biggest space telescope. It’s mirror is large enough (~5 times larger than the Hubble Space telescope) to gather the faintest light from the very edges of our universe. When we observe that far away we are also looking back to the very beginning of time, which at the moment is estimated at around 14.7 billion years.

    Several decades ago a NASA mission called COBE confirmed that our universe started with a Big Bang, the moment of creation. Our limited understanding of cosmological physics suggest that it was a few 100 million years after that event that everything cooled down enough, and gravity began the process of clumping the minor variation of mass distributed from that initial event to start creating stars.

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

    And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

    And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

    And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

    We are about to peek at that moment with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) where God “turned on the lights”.

    The EM spectrum that JWST does its observations has the added bonus that it can inspect the atmospheres of some of the “localish” planets. These planets have been found in the last few years in our galaxy and are residing in the orbital “sweet spot” for life circling around their suns. By looking at the constituents of their atmospheres we can potentially determine if God has given us any possible siblings.

    In a few years NASA will be launching the Roman Space Telescope, another infrared observatory which has an on board occulting capability for increasing the rate to find planets that circle close to their suns giving JWST more targets to investigate. RST has other instruments to search for the dark matter that our equations tell us is “out there” based on the observed expansion of the visible universe.

    We have been given a puzzle, the curiosity, and perhaps the intellectual wherewithal to determine the nature of God’s universe. This is an exciting time for those who ponder our cosmos.

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” 

     

    • #5
  6. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Kathy Mardirosian:

    there have been scientific studies that show that speaking kindly to plants actually encourages them to grow. 

    Gardening pro-tip: If you want to strengthen and improve growth for your tomato starts, leave a fan gently blowing on on them. Now, it won’t provide the airborne plant food (CO2) that your speaking to them does, but it does increase their stem diameter and strength.

    It’d be an interesting experiment to rule out the CO2 effect by having sound from a speaker play over the plants rather than speaking to them directly. I may have to try that.

    On a more theological note, I think there must be a way to tie the Catholic theology of redemptive suffering into this understanding of vibration throughout all of creation. I’ll ponder that. Thanks.

    • #6
  7. Tikhon Olmstead Coolidge
    Tikhon Olmstead
    @TikhonOlmstead

    I really like your article. Thank you for writing it.

    Debar meaning word and deed perhaps corresponds (with appropriate adjustments made) to the modern concept of the speech-act. Speech-acts do things, like marriage vows, promise, intentional statements, self-fulfilling prophecies, and so on. 

    I like the scientific idea of vibrations in the air from words affecting us. It communicates well to a modern, science-minded audience.

    The closer connection in Genesis, I think, is between wind/breath/spirit/mind—all the same Hebrew word, ruach—with links to the heavens, since wind is in the air, which are the heavens above our head in Genesis 1, and the Spirit of God is in heaven over the waters below.

    A close reading of Genesis 1 (which it seems like you do) brings out the lexical and conceptual links between the Spirit (ruach) of God fluttering or hovering above the primordial waters, the creative words of God, “Let there be light,” etc., as speech(-act) requiring ruach (breath, mind), and the enlivening of the first human by breathing the ruach of life into his nostrils. There are more links but this is from memory really quick.

    In the New Testament, Jesus picks on on this link in conversation with Rabbi Nicodemus and remarks “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

    So, rather than vibrations, I would say the closer reading of the text is along the lines of the polyvalence of spirit/breath/mind/wind. But your main point is well-made and taken, and I agree with it. Thank you again!

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Tikhon Olmstead (View Comment):

    I really like your article. Thank you for writing it.

    Debar meaning word and deed perhaps corresponds (with appropriate adjustments made) to the modern concept of the speech-act. Speech-acts do things, like marriage vows, promise, intentional statements, self-fulfilling prophecies, and so on.

    I like the scientific idea of vibrations in the air from words affecting us. It communicates well to a modern, science-minded audience.

    The closer connection in Genesis, I think, is between wind/breath/spirit/mind—all the same Hebrew word, ruach—with links to the heavens, since wind is in the air, which are the heavens above our head in Genesis 1, and the Spirit of God is in heaven over the waters below.

    A close reading of Genesis 1 (which it seems like you do) brings out the lexical and conceptual links between the Spirit (ruach) of God fluttering or hovering above the primordial waters, the creative words of God, “Let there be light,” etc., as speech(-act) requiring ruach (breath, mind), and the enlivening of the first human by breathing the ruach of life into his nostrils. There are more links but this is from memory really quick.

    In the New Testament, Jesus picks on on this link in conversation with Rabbi Nicodemus and remarks “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

    So, rather than vibrations, I would say the closer reading of the text is along the lines of the polyvalence of spirit/breath/mind/wind. But your main point is well-made and taken, and I agree with it. Thank you again!

    Welcome to Ricochet!

    • #8
  9. Kathy Mardirosian Coolidge
    Kathy Mardirosian
    @KathyMardirosian

    Tikhon Olmstead (View Comment):

    I really like your article. Thank you for writing it.

    Debar meaning word and deed perhaps corresponds (with appropriate adjustments made) to the modern concept of the speech-act. Speech-acts do things, like marriage vows, promise, intentional statements, self-fulfilling prophecies, and so on.

    I like the scientific idea of vibrations in the air from words affecting us. It communicates well to a modern, science-minded audience.

    The closer connection in Genesis, I think, is between wind/breath/spirit/mind—all the same Hebrew word, ruach—with links to the heavens, since wind is in the air, which are the heavens above our head in Genesis 1, and the Spirit of God is in heaven over the waters below.

    A close reading of Genesis 1 (which it seems like you do) brings out the lexical and conceptual links between the Spirit (ruach) of God fluttering or hovering above the primordial waters, the creative words of God, “Let there be light,” etc., as speech(-act) requiring ruach (breath, mind), and the enlivening of the first human by breathing the ruach of life into his nostrils. There are more links but this is from memory really quick.

    In the New Testament, Jesus picks on on this link in conversation with Rabbi Nicodemus and remarks “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

    So, rather than vibrations, I would say the closer reading of the text is along the lines of the polyvalence of spirit/breath/mind/wind. But your main point is well-made and taken, and I agree with it. Thank you again!

    Your point is well made about the ruach. I find it fascinating that the word “hovering” ( 7363. rachaph, which of course comes from ruach)) means- to move gently or vibrate and it also means to cherish or to brood as in a mother bird covering or protecting her young. I think we can all understand God’s word so much better if we stop being quite so “theological” and just think in terms of nature. 

    • #9
  10. Tikhon Olmstead Coolidge
    Tikhon Olmstead
    @TikhonOlmstead

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Tikhon Olmstead (View Comment):

    I really like your article. Thank you for writing it.

    Debar meaning word and deed perhaps corresponds (with appropriate adjustments made) to the modern concept of the speech-act. Speech-acts do things, like marriage vows, promise, intentional statements, self-fulfilling prophecies, and so on.

    I like the scientific idea of vibrations in the air from words affecting us. It communicates well to a modern, science-minded audience.

    The closer connection in Genesis, I think, is between wind/breath/spirit/mind—all the same Hebrew word, ruach—with links to the heavens, since wind is in the air, which are the heavens above our head in Genesis 1, and the Spirit of God is in heaven over the waters below.

    A close reading of Genesis 1 (which it seems like you do) brings out the lexical and conceptual links between the Spirit (ruach) of God fluttering or hovering above the primordial waters, the creative words of God, “Let there be light,” etc., as speech(-act) requiring ruach (breath, mind), and the enlivening of the first human by breathing the ruach of life into his nostrils. There are more links but this is from memory really quick.

    In the New Testament, Jesus picks on on this link in conversation with Rabbi Nicodemus and remarks “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

    So, rather than vibrations, I would say the closer reading of the text is along the lines of the polyvalence of spirit/breath/mind/wind. But your main point is well-made and taken, and I agree with it. Thank you again!

    Welcome to Ricochet!

    Thanks!

    • #10
  11. Tikhon Olmstead Coolidge
    Tikhon Olmstead
    @TikhonOlmstead

    Kathy Mardirosian (View Comment):

    Tikhon Olmstead (View Comment):

    I really like your article. Thank you for writing it.

    Debar meaning word and deed perhaps corresponds (with appropriate adjustments made) to the modern concept of the speech-act. Speech-acts do things, like marriage vows, promise, intentional statements, self-fulfilling prophecies, and so on.

    I like the scientific idea of vibrations in the air from words affecting us. It communicates well to a modern, science-minded audience.

    The closer connection in Genesis, I think, is between wind/breath/spirit/mind—all the same Hebrew word, ruach—with links to the heavens, since wind is in the air, which are the heavens above our head in Genesis 1, and the Spirit of God is in heaven over the waters below.

    A close reading of Genesis 1 (which it seems like you do) brings out the lexical and conceptual links between the Spirit (ruach) of God fluttering or hovering above the primordial waters, the creative words of God, “Let there be light,” etc., as speech(-act) requiring ruach (breath, mind), and the enlivening of the first human by breathing the ruach of life into his nostrils. There are more links but this is from memory really quick.

    In the New Testament, Jesus picks on on this link in conversation with Rabbi Nicodemus and remarks “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

    So, rather than vibrations, I would say the closer reading of the text is along the lines of the polyvalence of spirit/breath/mind/wind. But your main point is well-made and taken, and I agree with it. Thank you again!

    Your point is well made about the ruach. I find it fascinating that the word “hovering” ( 7363. rachaph, which of course comes from ruach)) means- to move gently or vibrate and it also means to cherish or to brood as in a mother bird covering or protecting her young. I think we can all understand God’s word so much better if we stop being quite so “theological” and just think in terms of nature.

    Right, exactly. Hovering is a concrete concept, like you say. Fluttering is also a way to translate it, which is even more avian. 

    • #11
  12. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Let’s take this apart from the physics side.  First, vibrations / motion on the molecule level are what we call “heat”  Heat is the energy of motion in molecules – if you want a good model of molecular scale heating of water, give a classroom of kids energy drinks.  When they start spilling out of the classroom, that is evaporation or boiling.

    Light is a vibration or wave.  Instead of a vibration in air or water, light is a fluctuation in the electrical and magnetic fields.  When you consider that we use “say” for things that are not actual speech, God saying “Let there be light” might have been rather like a surge of energy that still echoes in the cosmos, which you might call a Big Bang.

    On the more fundamental level, we are all vibrations.  As much as you might believe you are solid matter, you are mostly empty space and fuzzy areas of interaction.  While it becomes much much more noticeable on the atomic / subatomic scale, everything has a wavelength.  It’s why we can make electron microscopes

    Now, on the biological side: life is information driven.  Cells function like tiny robots running programs – information defines them.  Information does not just show up in the environment – it normally comes an intelligent source.  Just like speech.  The Word, you could say.

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    Now, on the biological side: life is information driven.  Cells function like tiny robots running programs – information defines them.  Information does not just show up in the environment – it normally comes an intelligent source.  Just like speech.  The Word, you could say.

    Only comes from an intelligent source.

    • #13
  14. Malkadavis Inactive
    Malkadavis
    @Malkadavis

    Kathy Mardirosian: The Hebrew word for “word” is “debar.” Interestingly, debar can also mean “deed” or an action.

    What is your source for the word debar also capable of meaning deed or action?

    • #14
  15. Kathy Mardirosian Coolidge
    Kathy Mardirosian
    @KathyMardirosian

    Malkadavis (View Comment):

    Kathy Mardirosian: The Hebrew word for “word” is “debar.” Interestingly, debar can also mean “deed” or an action.

    What is your source for the word debar also capable of meaning deed or action?

    Strong’s Concordance #1697

    • #15
  16. Malkadavis Inactive
    Malkadavis
    @Malkadavis

    Kathy Mardirosian (View Comment):

    Malkadavis (View Comment):

    Kathy Mardirosian: The Hebrew word for “word” is “debar.” Interestingly, debar can also mean “deed” or an action.

    What is your source for the word debar also capable of meaning deed or action?

    Strong’s Concordance #1697

    Thank you, Kathy! I was interested to know because, as someone familiar with–but nowhere close to fluent in–Hebrew, I had never heard of devar associated with deed/action. However, I knew it could be understood as “thing” or “matter.” I even messaged a friend in Israel, and she wasn’t able to think of a passage “off hand” where devar might be understood as deed. Only later did she find it in a concordance, although I don’t know which one she used.

    You wrote, “In Hebrew, words are not just what someone says but what someone does. Words do something. They bring into being. They make something happen. They build up and they tear down.” My concern is that this comes awfully close to what some on the Left claim is “violent speech.” For example, that simply saying a man cannot become a woman “endangers trans lives.” (Oddly, they will also claim that “silence is violence,” so maybe it depends on the day of the week!) What are your thoughts?

    You are, of course, correct to observe that Jews believe the words we utter can make an enormous impact on the world (although G-d knows we all fall short in its application). Lashon hara (“evil speech” or gossip) is regarded as a terrible sin and entire books have been written about the importance of avoiding it.

    • #16
  17. Kathy Mardirosian Coolidge
    Kathy Mardirosian
    @KathyMardirosian

    @malkadavis

    Lashon hara or evil speech is often based on half truths or no truths at all. The Bible reminds us to choose our words carefully because of their power and it reminds us that there are definitely times we should choose to be silent (particularly times when our words might be motivated by evil inclinations) James 1:19 instructs us: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Similarly, “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit” (1 Peter 3:10). Proverbs 17:28 says “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. ” I think the motive behind the speech is important. If the motive is just pride, perhaps it is best to keep quiet. Correction (of lies and deceptions), while painful is not violent. Speaking the truth about biology is not violent. Some people may not like it, but so be it. The Left has been quite adept at co-opting the meaning of words, thus creating confusion as to what is really harmful speech and what is just truth.

    Regarding the “silence is violence” quote,  the phrase may be a bastardization of  Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s quote. The full quote is:

    “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

    I think the standard for determining the rightness or wrongness of one’s speech and one’s actions can only by God’s word. Any other standard creates a situation where we are all “doing what is right in our own eyes.”

     

    • #17