“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.” (Genesis 1:6-8)
Continuing His process of preparing the newly created earth (Genesis 1:1-5) for habitation by man, God caused the water present on the earth to be separated into two regions, divided by the atmosphere ("firmament," or "heaven"). Needless to say, both water and air are essential for all of life.
While the Bible doesn't give too many details, many feel that the water above the atmosphere was in the form of invisible water vapor (gas) surrounding the earth. This "canopy," as it is called, would have caused conditions on the earth similar to those in a greenhouse, evenly distributing temperatures worldwide. With no temperature differences, no significant winds or rain would be possible, and much of the harmful cosmic radiation that bombards our bodies each day would have been blocked out, giving the earth a healthier environment than today.
The Bible states that in the days of Adam "the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth" (Genesis 2:5). We are also told that before the flood destroyed the canopy (Genesis 7:12, etc.), ages of over 900 years were common (Genesis 5). Fossils of organisms which died in the flood and found all over the world, were typically large, healthy, and preferred a sub-tropical type environment.
Dogmatism with regard to the canopy is ill-advised, but the basic model is sound and fits all known scientific data. The Christian faith is a reasonable faith, for when the Bible can be tested, it has proved itself reliable. JDM