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Canopy theory

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The Canopy theory is a now largely discredited model originally developed as an explanation for the source of the flood water that covered the Earth during the Biblical flood.[1] Henry Morris once promoted the canopy theory as the most probable source of the global flood waters, citing a number of supporting factors in both The Genesis Flood (1961) and The Genesis Record (1976).

In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris states:

A worldwide rain lasting forty days would be quite impossible under present atmospheric conditions; so this phenomenon required an utterly different source of atmospheric waters than now obtains. This we have already seen to be the “waters above the firmament,” the vast thermal blanket of invisible water vapor that maintained the greenhouse effect in the antediluvian world. These waters somehow were to condense and fall on the earth.[2]

Still, the Bible obviously states in Genesis 7:11 (NKJV) that "on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." So then, the supposed "canopy" or "firmament" was not the only source for the flood water, but the "fountains of the great deep" was also a considerable source, possibly the more important.

Thus the theory according to which the supposed "canopy" was the only source for the flood waters was clearly wrong when confronted with Scripture, not to mention the fact that "a vapor canopy holding more than two meters (7 feet) of rain would cause the Earth’s surface to be intolerably hot, so a vapor canopy could not have been a significant source of the Flood waters" [3], hence "the fountains of the great deep".

Factors Supporting Canopy Theory

  • Continuous forty day rain.
  • Rainbows & clouds - not mentioned in the Bible before the flood
  • Fossil plants and animals in polar regions, indicating globally uniform temperatures before the flood.
  • Tremendous decline in human life expectancy following the flood.

Supporting Factors


Giant Insects

Perhaps spurred by Carl Baugh's newly patented hyperbaric biosphere in 2001[4], scientists discovered that hyperbaric experiments actually do reproduce the giant insects of ages past through imitating ancient earth's hypothetical higher oxygen levels (30-35% compared to 21% level today)[5], giving serious credence to the long-time Creationist claim that a vapor canopy resulted in higher oxygen levels and thus gigantism.[6]

"For the giant insects that roamed Earth 300 million years ago, there was something special in the air. A higher concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere let dragonflies sometimes grow to the size of hawks, and some millipede-like bugs reached some six feet (two meters) in length, a new study suggests... During the late Carboniferous period (354 to 290 million years ago), however, oxygen levels were much higher than they are now, partly because coal swamps that leaked the gas into the air were very common. 'Back then, there was 31 to 35 percent oxygen in the air,' study lead author Kaiser said. 'Now we have about 21 percent.' That meant insects needed smaller quantities of air to meet their oxygen demands, allowing the creatures to grow much larger."

—Hope Hamashige, National Geographic, 2007[7]

Cockroaches were, in 2010, discovered to be an exception to this, since their tracheal tubes, used for breathing, are different from other insects.[8] The research also indicates laying of larvae in water developed in insects to avoid oxygen overdose, since adult insects can control their oxygen intake, whereas juveniles are at risk of oxygen overdose - and there's less oxygen in water.[9]

Fossilized Raindrops

The recent discovery of fossilized raindrops has allowed scientists to learn more about ancient earth's atmosphere. They concluded the sun was 30% dimmer, there was more abundant water, there was a thicker atmosphere, and that said atmosphere was filled with greenhouse gases like methane; all of which are consistent with some form of canopy-like alternative atmosphere. A "thicker atmosphere" seems to be the same concept as a canopy, one way or the other.

"It was raining 2.7 billion years ago. That's according to imprints of raindrops discovered in ancient rock in South Africa. Those same weather marks are giving researchers a clearer picture of what Earth's early atmosphere was like. Back then, the sun was about 30 percent dimmer, giving off less heat, which suggests our planet should have frozen over. As for why it didn't, and why rocks show evidence of abundant water as far back as 4 billion years, scientists have suggested a much thicker atmosphere, high concentrations of greenhouse gases, or a combination of the two kept early Earth toasty. 'Because the sun was so much fainter back then, if the atmosphere was the same as it is today the Earth should have been frozen,' study researcher Sanjoy Som, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center, said in a statement. The new results suggest an atmosphere full of strong greenhouse gases, like methane, at the time helped keep the Earth warm instead of becoming an icy Hoth-like planet."

-Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience, 2012[10]


Before the flood, human lifespans were approximately 10 times our current expectancy. Also, the overall size of organisms, and the productivity of ecosystems, was generally much greater before the flood than after. Various regions of the Earth now perpetually glaciated, such as Antarctica, possess fossil evidence of rich ecosystems, including fossil ferns and amphibians with skulls measuring up to one meter. Productivity in these regions could only be explained by global temperature fluctuations or continental drift.

There are other indicators of an atmospheric change resulting from the flood, such as the sudden appearance of a rainbow following the flood, and the fact that human life expectancy declined to what it is today in just the few generations after Noah. Likewise the first mention of clouds is not until after the deluge, and many believe there was no rain or clouds beforehand. However, from the Bible it is clear there were stars also visible before the flood, therefore any supposed canopy was less dense than the standard cloud cover today.

"Then God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' Thus 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." - Genesis 1:6-8

"In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground." - Genesis 2:5-6

"In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." - Genesis 7:11

"When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds," - Genesis 9:14

"When the bow is in the clouds, I will look upon it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth." - Genesis 9:16

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;" - Exodus 20:4

"He made darkness canopies around Him, Dark waters and thick clouds of the skies." - 2_Samuel 22:12 (AMP)

"He holds the waters bound in His clouds [which otherwise would spill on earth all at once], and the cloud is not rent under them." - Job 26:8 (AMP)

"Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds,The thunder from His canopy?" - Job 36:29

"He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters And thick clouds of the skies." - Psalm 18:11

"Who lays the beams of the upper room of His abode in the waters [above the firmament], Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind," - Psalm 104:3 (AMP)

"To Him who laid out the earth above the waters, For His mercy endures forever;" - Psalm 136:6

"He casts forth His ice like crumbs; who can stand before His cold?" - Psalm 147:17 (AMP)

"Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens!" - Psalm 148:4

"Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, Like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, Like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, Who will bring them down to the earth with His hand." - Isaiah 28:2

"When He utters His voice, There is a multitude of waters in the heavens: “ And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”" - Jeremiah 10:13

"When He utters His voice— There is a multitude of waters in the heavens: “He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”" - Jeremiah 51:16

"The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads." - Ezekiel 1:22

"For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water," - 2_Peter 3:5


In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris notes the following possible purposes for the vapor canopy:[11]

  1. Since water vapor has the ability both to transmit incoming solar radiation and to retain and disperse much of the radiation reflected from the earth’s surface, it would serve as a global greenhouse, maintaining an essentially uniformly pleasant warm temperature all over the world.
  2. With nearly uniform temperatures, great air-mass movements would be inhibited and windstorms would be unknown.
  3. With no global air circulation, the hydrologic cycle of the present world could not be implemented and there could be no rain, except directly over the bodies of water from which it might have evaporated.
  4. With no global air circulation, and therefore no turbulence or dust particles transported to the upper atmosphere, the water vapor in the canopy would have been stable and not precipitate itself.
  5. The planet would have been maintained not only at uniform temperatures but also at comfortable uniform humidities by means of daily local evaporation and condensation (like dew, or ground fog) in each day-night cycle.
  6. The combination of warm temperature and adequate moisture everywhere would be conducive later to extensive stands of lush vegetation all over the world, with no barren deserts or ice caps.
  7. A vapor canopy would also be highly effective in filtering out ultraviolet radiations, cosmic rays, and other destructive energies from outer space. These are known to be the source of both somatic and genetic mutations, which decrease the viability of the individual and the species, respectively. Thus the canopy would contribute effectively to human and animal health and longevity.
  8. Some have objected to the idea of a heavy vapor canopy because of the great increase in atmospheric pressure which it would cause at the earth’s surface. Rather than being a problem, however, this effect would contribute still further to health and longevity. Modern biomedical research is increasingly proving that such “hyperbaric” pressures are very effective in combating disease and in promoting good health generally. There should be no problem in organisms living under high external pressures, provided their internal pressures had time to adjust correspondingly.
  9. Later, when needed, these upper waters would provide the reservoir from which God would send the great Flood, to save the godly remnant from the hopelessly corrupt population of that day (the content of water vapor in the present atmosphere, if all precipitated, would cover the earth only to a depth of about one inch).[11]

Canopy Types

Vapor Canopy

The original canopy theory proposed the existence of a dense vapor canopy, which fell during the 40 day rain. While the existence of a vapor canopy remains theoretic, it is unquestionable that our world was tremendously affected by the flood, and the catastrophe resulted in or was caused by atmospheric changes.

Some speculate that Genesis 1:6-7 is referring to a vapor canopy that collapsed during the flood, but beforehand protected the earth, providing atmospheric stability, and globally uniform temperatures that no longer exist.

"And God said, 'Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.' So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so." - Genesis 1:6-7

Crystalline canopy

Main article: Crystalline canopy

The crystalline canopy is envisioned as a clear flexible shell that surrounded the earth (not to be confused with a Dyson sphere) as a blanket of polarized hydrogen ice crystals that formed a huge magnetic shield.

Canopy Destruction

There are three proposals for how the canopy fell.

  1. Since the canopy is polarized by the earth's magnetic field, a sudden polar flip would make it fall.[12]
  2. A meteor impact would have destroyed the canopy.[13]
  3. God's divine intervention.


Eventually, serious problems were found with the hypothesis.

Larry Vardiman modeled a vapor canopy and found that it was far too good a greenhouse generator: a canopy thick enough to provide 40 days of rain made the Earth too hot to be livable. Russell Humphreys noted that the waters are above the firmament, but the stars are in the firmament, and created a cosmology that put the "waters above" beyond the stars. Others noted that Noah's naming implied that the pre-Flood world was no idyllic paradise, while genetics did a better job of explaining the drop in lifespans than a change in the environment.[14]

See Also


  1. Noah’s Flood - Where did the water come from?, Answers in Genesis (unsigned, undated article)
  2. Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p.191.
  3. A major problem with the water canopy p.177
  4. Keely, Chris (2001, March 31). "Dr. Baugh and the Pre-Flood Environment." KeelyNet.
  5. Than, Ker (2011, August 8). "Why Giant Bugs Once Roamed the Earth." National Geographic.
    Choi, C.Q. (2006, October 10). "More Oxygen Could Make Giant Bugs." LiveScience.
  6. Martin, Jobe (1994, 2002). "Evolution of a Creationist." Chapter 7. Biblical Discipleship Publishers.
  7. Hamashige, H. (2007, July 30). "Giant Bugs a Thing of the Past, Study Suggests." National Geographic.
  8. Stratton, C. (2010, October 29). "Raising Giant Insects to Unravel Ancient Oxygen." The Geological Society of America.Also at ScienceDaily.
  9. BBC News Devon (2011, August 4). "Plymouth Scientists' Oxygen 'Key' to Gigantic Insects.
  10. Welsh, J. (2012, March 28). "Ancient Raindrops Reveal Early Earth's Hazy Skies." LiveScience.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p.60.
  12. Doomsday polar flip takes 7000 years, Agençe France-Presse via ABC (Australia) "News in Science", 8 April 2004
  13. Do We Know What Killed the Dinosaurs?, Leslie Mullen, Astrobiology Magazine, NASA, posted 06/02/02
  14. Brian Thomas, M.S. 2016. What Were the 'Waters Above the Firmament'?. Acts & Facts. 45 (5).

Further Reading