Contradictions in the Bible

Genesis 1-11 

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:17

Contradictions in the Bible | Creation of light before the sun

Written by Gabriel Baicu
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In the story of creation from the book of Genesis, even if the sky was not generated yet, God had created daylight. This light surely couldn’t have travelled through the atmosphere as it does today because the atmosphere wouldn’t have been created at the time when the light was created. On the first day of creation the daylight had to travel through water in order to reach the earth, and even if the sky was not there, very curiously, there was a morning and there was an evening, and that was the first day. How can that be possible? It looks like a joke. It is not a joke; it is the biblical account of the creation of the universe. Through this description, the book of Genesis depicts a very strange and impossible situation. No sky for light to travel unopposed, no sun yet, the source of the daylight, but a beautiful shiny day.

On the first day, when daylight was created, there was no terrestrial atmosphere and the space was filed with water, but despite that, there was brilliant daylight. The earth was not yet brought out from the water and the sun was not yet created but the daylight was present even if the object to be illuminated, the earth, was a formless void submerged under water. This is a perfect absurdity.

What was the purpose for the creation of light on the first day in the book of Genesis? If God had created in darkness the heavens and the earth, before the creation of light on the first day, why didn’t He create the light earlier to be useful in the process of the creation? God would have done that if He created the world in six days but He didn’t realise His creation as the Bible says. Obviously creating in light is better than creating in darkness.

Unlike a human creator, God would have made the heavens and the earth in complete darkness because the book of Genesis tells us that light was created after their formation. Why wouldn’t God have used light from the first moments of the process of the creation? In other words, it is strange that God would have created daylight only after the creation of heavens and earth. The Bible clearly says that it was darkness immediately after the creation of heavens and the earth. Darkness couldn’t have been created by God as such because darkness is only the absence of light; it was there before the start of creation. There is a fundamental inconsistency in the creation of the heavens and the earth in darkness.

Up to a point, the process of the creation of the universe is similar to a human creation but the preparation of the raw material is usually done in good visibility conditions by man. One may say that God doesn’t need light, as human need it, but creation and darkness seem to be two opposite terms. By its nature creation is light and brings light and darkness has a negative connotation. When this negative side is associated with the creation of heavens and earth one can conclude that indeed the biblical narratives were very much under the influence of ancient mythologies in which a creator brought order to an inherent havoc in the initial universe.

Could water have existed before the creation of light and of the stars which generate light? The book of Genesis maintains that water covered the earth before the creation of light but that is an impossibility.

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 Water is made from hydrogen and oxygen and those elements are components of the stars. Hydrogen and oxygen come from luminous stars, hence the presence of water in complete darkness, which is the assertion of the book of Genesis, doesn’t have any consistency. The existence of any water, including the primeval sea, would have required the pre-existence of the stars.

Oxygen is created inside the stars and they are shiny objects which therefore produce light, and without this chemical element there isn’t water. If we take the stories of creation literally we have to observe that what they say is contrary to the laws of nature and is only the expression of human imagination detached from the knowledge of how things are in reality.

If one wants to believe that God miraculously produced water without light, he or she has to admit also that He would have created the chaos which would initially have dominated the world, because water in complete darkness symbolically means disorder. This is an unavoidable dilemma from which one cannot escape when trying to miraculously explain the texts. Either God had created the chaos of the primeval sea supernaturally before bringing order into the creation, or naturally water couldn’t have existed without light hence there wasn’t any chaos at the beginning of creation.

If God created an initial chaos, it is Him and not Satan who is responsible for the evil in the world. Of course, God isn’t in reality responsible for the evil in the world because He didn’t create water without light, because such a thing is contrary to the laws which control the universe created by Him. The natural laws set in place by God in our universe prevent the existence of water without light therefore describing the creation of the universe in the way that it does, the book of Genesis presents a fantastic situation which is far from how the reality works.

The water which allegedly had covered the earth before the creation of the light which is depicted in the Bible, is only mythological imagination because the stars were created only on the fourth day of creation, and in that situation oxygen couldn’t have been present from the first day in order to constitute water.

The moment of the creation of daylight in the book of Genesis doesn’t in any way correlate with the rest of creation. The author of the texts didn’t know anything about the way in which nature works; he or she wrote a fable, and not the first chapter from the history of sciences.

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When there is a source of light above a dense and deep layer of water, light can traverse that water with difficulty and for a relatively short distance. The book of Genesis speaks at the beginning about water everywhere, no sky, and no place for a source of light. A formless watery void covered the earth but also the place occupied later by the sky, at the beginning of creation. How could the presence of the primeval sea have helped dissipate the darkness? If the waters from above, let’s say from above the actual sky, were in continuity with the waters covering the earth, forming together an immense expanse of waters, as the narrative says, what is the possibility that a source of light, placed somewhere in the area where the sun is today, could have reached the earth? It would have been impossible. Moreover, such a place for the skylight was not there because the sky was not yet created at the time when the daylight would have been made. This story of the Bible is an impossible hypothesis, and religious faith cannot make it otherwise.

Daylight travels under water only for a short distance and in the depth of the primeval sea it couldn’t have been morning or evening. From the following quotation one can see the limits of the movement of light under water:

“Sunlight entering the water may travel about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into the ocean under the right conditions, but there is rarely any significant light beyond 200 meters (656 feet). The ocean is divided into three zones based on depth and light level. The upper 200 meters (656 feet) of the ocean is called the euphotic, or “sunlight,” zone. Only a small amount of light penetrates beyond this depth. The zone between 200 meters (656 feet) and 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) is usually referred to as the “twilight” zone, but is officially the dysphotic zone. In this zone, the intensity of light rapidly dissipates as depth increases. Such a miniscule amount of light penetrates beyond a depth of 200 meters that photosynthesis is no longer possible. The aphotic, or “midnight,” zone exists in depths below 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). Sunlight does not penetrate to these depths and the zone is bathed in darkness.”

[1]

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How could the daylight have subsisted in the interior of an immense expanse of water in order to generate the first day on Earth? If waters were not yet separated by the dome of the sky they had to be a continuum which occupied the entire space – today we call it the sky. The Bible literally says that the daylight was created on the first day, before the separation of the waters and before the apparition of the dome of the sky, and that means that the daylight was created under water.

“In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1; 1-5 NRSV)

When comparing Genesis chap. 1, verses 1-5 with Genesis chap. 1, verses 6-8 we can notice without any obstacle how absurd the book of Genesis is:

“And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Genesis 1; 6-8 NRSV)

First we have light, day and night, consequently morning and evening on day one of creation and only after that on day two of the creation, we have the earthly atmosphere in which the light can propagate freely. The notions of morning and evening don’t have any meaning without sun and much more without sky. From the first day to the fourth day all mornings and evenings in the book of Genesis are only fairy-tale. Without sun and without the trajectory of Earth around the sun, it couldn’t have been either morning or evening on Earth. 

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   These phenomena are given by the ellipse of the trajectory of the earth travelling around the sun. In other words, the light coming from the sun is not equal to itself all day long, but changes during the day. In the morning, it has a certain intensity and in the evening, another. For this to happen, an elliptic movement of the earth around the sun must occur.

Even to speak about daylight, without sun, is nonsensical. When the sun was not there, it is useless to speak about mornings and evenings because these phenomena cannot be attributed to something else other than the sun, unless another “surrogate” or “artificial” sun was there. But where is it now, this replacement sun, and why would God have created a “surrogate” and not the original sun from the first day of creation? There isn’t any reason for such a cumbersome development in the history of the universe.

An artificial light couldn’t have replaced the sun because between the earth and the sun there is a certain dynamic which is given by the masses of the two. Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation says that the force of gravitational attraction between two objects depends on a gravitational constant, their masses and the distance between them.[2]

A surrogate sun would have needed to be exactly the same size as our sun, and to be placed at the same distance from earth in order to allow the dynamic of our planet around the sun. Moreover, a surrogate sun would have to be identical to our sun in order to preserve the same conditions which allow the existence of life on Earth. If this is right we are in a very strange situation described by the book of Genesis. A surrogate sun identical to our sun would have been the source of light for our planet for three days. After three days, the surrogate sun would have disappeared without a trace and in its place the new sun would have done exactly the same thing. On day four, God would have created all celestial bodies, but in the sky there already would have been an identical copy of the sun. In that day, God would have destroyed the surrogate sun and created another sun, identical to the first, in its place. God being the most intelligent Person in all existence, He wouldn’t have used such an unintelligent design for His creation.

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As a matter of fact, the way in which the book of Genesis describes the creation of the cosmos is an absurd one and that is one reason to reject it. Another strong reason which determines the unacceptability of the plan of creation depicted by the book of Genesis is that it is contrary to the laws of nature.

The proof that the author of the biblical texts intended to refer to regular daylight, given by the sun, and not to something else, is the use of the phenomena of morning and evening as the form of partition between day and night. The creation of daylight on the first day of creation, described by the Bible, is about the sunlight and shouldn’t be confounded with something else. The problem is that this light had been created, according to the Bible, before its natural source, before the sun and before the creation of the sky. In this way, the causal relationship between the sun and its light is broken in an unexpected and absurd way without any possible spiritual explanations.

In the story presented by the book of Genesis everything was set in place for the earth to be able to harbour human life from the beginning, except the indispensable source of light and also  heat, which is the sun. The sun was created, according to the Bible, only on the fourth day. Moreover, the book of Genesis recognises the sun as being the real source of the existence of days, but the book speaks about the existence of days before the creation of the sun. There couldn’t have been any earthly days before the creation of the sun and even the notion of day cannot find its place in the story. Before the creation of the sun the division between the first, second, and third day wasn’t possible.

14 And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, ... (Genesis 1; 14 NRSV)

 The existence of the light without sun in the book of Genesis, is probably a reaction against the Egyptian religion, in which the sun had a tremendous importance. The sun was deliberately reduced in importance by the Jews just because it occupied an important function for the Egyptians. This shows that the book of Genesis wasn’t inspired by God but is a creation of the Jewish writers careful to take an important step, far from the religion of Egypt.

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   God is bigger than the sun, He can do much more than the sun can do and He can do everything even in the absence of the sun. He can create the light, as the sun does, and He can separate day from night. Being bigger than the sun, God didn’t need it at the beginning of His creation. This probably was the logic of the writer or writers of the narratives of creation, from the book of Genesis.

When discussing the problem of light in general a first question must be asked. Is the light in general something which was created or it was always with God? Can anyone imagine God being in darkness? If God is surrounded by light, as the Bible says, how could He create a place in the universe, the earth, surrounded by darkness? (1 Timothy 6; 16 NRSV) Where was God in the moment of the creation? Was He at the place of His creation or far away? If He took some dust in His metaphorical hand, when He created man, He had to be there, at the place of His creation.

If God, who is surrounded by light, was physically in the proximity of the earth, it is hard to imagine why His surrounding light didn’t overlap with the created light, which separated the days from the nights, transforming the surroundings into an area of permanent light during the process of creation. In that situation, there would have been only days, not nights. No night would have been possible in a place where God was physically present, because the light which surrounds Him casts out all darkness. We know that from the book of Revelation. (Revelation 21; 23) God had to retract Himself from His creation during the nights and come back in the morning in order for the nights to be possible.

After the heavens and the earth, one of the first things created by God, according to the book of Genesis, was the light. This is the beginning of the Bible; it is the first chapter of it. God, in a human language, ordered someone or something to produce light. We should imagine that until that moment there was a thick darkness; no light existed before and no universe. It was only the earth covered with water and darkness.

The book of Genesis speaks about a light without a source, which had been created on the first day. This would have been a created light and not the eternal light which surrounds God. This light was separated from the darkness in a strange way. 

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    Day and night were considered to be two different entities even if darkness is nothing other than the absence of light. In point of fact, in order to separate the light from the darkness the former had to be switched off and reignited the next morning.

God created the daylight first, according to the book of Genesis, and necessarily waited some hours before the separation of the day from the night. That separation had to be an artificial switching off of the light because the earth wouldn’t have been able to naturally follow a cosmic trajectory around the sun in the absence of the latter, and also because it would have been under water. A day has 24 hours but there was nothing there in order to automatically measure this period of time. God had to measure the time Himself and reignite the created light. How did He calculate the length of the day? What did He use as reference point? What kind of day was it? Was it a short day and a long night as in winter time, or the other way around? We will never know and such a question cannot be answered because the solar system wasn’t there.

The miraculous creation of light by God had, at the time, no physical support, namely the sun, in order to be reproduced again and again, every single day. In order for the light to reproduce itself rhythmically a source of it was needed. If there wasn’t a physical source for the light, God had to recreate light every single day, because self-sustaining light cannot switch automatically from darkness to illumination.

A light without source, a miracle, existing without any physical provider, alternating periodically with darkness, a flashing light illuminating the earth from within the waters, is an absurdity. God didn’t program nature to work like that.

We know now that the cause of the alternation between day and night is the rotation of the earth around its own axis. Until the second day the earth was under water. Being encircled by water, the earth couldn’t have spun around its axis, so how could there be day and night? When day and night were created, the sun and the stars were not in place, the sky was not there and the earth was submerged under water. If an artificial light was created on the first day, without sky, the light had to function under water, but it couldn’t have reached over 200m depth. The basic necessary conditions for the existence of a morning and an evening were not there.

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The spinning of the earth around its axis has scientific explanations and it couldn’t have happened under water, with a lack of sky, on the first day of creation:

“Why is everything in the Solar System spinning? And why is it mostly all spinning in the same direction? It can’t be a coincidence. Look down on the Earth from above, and you’d see that it’s turning in a counter-clockwise direction. Same with the Sun, Mars and most of the planets. As the Solar System spun more rapidly, it flattened out into a disk with a bulge in the middle. We see this same structure throughout the Universe: the shape of galaxies, around rapidly spinning black holes, and we even see it in pizza restaurants. The Sun formed from the bulge at the center of this disk, and the planets formed further out. They inherited their rotation from the overall movement of the Solar System itself.”[3]

 The Bible tells us that God saw that the light was good and declared it accordingly, only after its creation. In other words, when God had created the light, He was not sure that it was good and only after its creation did He see that it was really good. God wouldn’t have known in advance the effects of what He did but He concluded this only after a certain act of creation was done. How could light be anything other than good? Can the light be bad? God Himself is surrounded by light, consequently light can only be good. Nevertheless, the source of light wasn’t entirely good because it would have been changed after only three days.

According to the book of Genesis, God had chosen a very improbable, I would say extremely irrational way for His creation, and that contravenes with what the apostle Paul said about the possibility of knowing God from His creation. (Romans 1; 18-21) How can one know anything about God from His creation if the Bible negates the sun as the source of daylight, even only for the first three days of creation? The book of Genesis maintains that God had created the daylight before the sun. Where in God’s creation, in nature, are there traces for such a thing? God’s creation, when observed by scientific means, doesn’t speak about such an event, consequently knowing Him from nature is different than what the book of Genesis says about the creation of the cosmos.

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  The biblical narratives of creation seem to be constructed in contradiction, even with the simplest data of scientific observations. If God set rules for nature, He did that in order for them to be followed and not to be broken. God wouldn’t have given an example of disregard for the laws of nature made by Him. These counter-observational stories prohibit any sincere and reasonable attempt of understanding the process of creation in six days, from the study of nature. As depicted in the narratives of creation, God didn’t demonstrate His unlimited power, but a certain weakness by choosing an absurd method for the creation of the solar system. The absurdity of this manner of creation is demonstrated by what sciences discovered in nature. For this reason, the book of Genesis represents a serious obstacle for the human endeavour to know God through the study of nature.

How can one believe that God created the universe in six days, in the order described by the Bible, when what the book of Genesis says He did was contrary to many physical laws? Generally speaking, it is not difficult for a believer to admit that God does miracles, but they must have a rational finality, for example, the raising from the dead of Lazarus by Jesus. Miracles aren’t absurd phenomena and their purpose cannot be an irrational one. What rational finality can be in the stories of creation of light without the sky and before the creation of the sun? There isn’t any rational motivation in the way in which the book of Genesis describes the creation of the universe. Why would God have inspired the writing of creation stories which don’t correspond to scientific observable facts? God couldn’t have inspired narratives which contradict the functioning of nature created by Him. From the study of nature one can understand how it was created and its apparition didn’t happen as the Bible says that it would have happened.

The narratives of creation can be evaluated from the way in which they correspond with the observable facts and not the other way around. The viability of the results of scientific research cannot by deemed by comparison with the biblical accounts. If the observable facts aren’t in agreement with the narratives of creation, this doesn’t mean that they are wrong, rather the narratives don’t present correctly the origins of the universe.

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Did God act deliberately in an irrational way, for example, by creating the daylight, and only after a while the sun, with the aim to hide rather than to reveal Himself to humankind? This is hard to accept and contrary to the principle of revelation. It is easier to consider that God didn’t inspire the book of Genesis than to imagine that He inspired it deliberately in a way contrary to facts. If He inspired the narratives of creation only as parables the problem with absurdity still remains. Why would God have inspired absurd things as parables? That would diminish greatly the value of the message.

If the book of Genesis is an inspired book, Apostle Paul’s assertion that God can be known from the study of nature is not true. This is to me an important problem of the book of Genesis. Why would God have chosen to go, in the process of His creation, against all that man can know about the universe through direct observation? Most probably, it was not God who did that, but the human inability to explain nature a few thousand years ago. It is more likely that God didn’t reveal the origins of the universe at all to the writers of the book of Genesis, but the editors of the texts considered as an obligation the insertion of such stories in their texts.

God had revealed the origins of the universe directly in nature and it is impossible for nature not to reveal Him, if He would have made the most important contribution to the existence of the universe. God left to human sciences the interpretation of this revelation. Revealing the origins of the universe in nature and not in ancient texts would have been the rational way to transmit knowledge to humankind because the texts are submitted to ageing, limitations given by language, editing through the lenses of certain theological views, and countless misinterpretations. Opposite to the book of Genesis, the nature is a living book open all the time to everyone for analysis and research.

The narratives from Genesis lack not only consistency, but they also lack essential details, they aren’t explicit enough to be credible. Without explanations, the effect set before the cause doesn’t have any sense and there isn’t any reason to believe the account of the Bible about the creation of the world. It is true that sometimes faith presupposes belief in things which are hard to believe, but they shouldn’t be unbelievable because they are absurd. After all, the dynamic of the relationship between sun and earth is a natural and not supernatural phenomenon, and it is studied and very well explained by science.

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  Why would God allow the existence of an incredible story of creation in the first book of the Bible, knowing that many will stumble on that story? Is that a sort of trap, for the unbelievers? In this case, one could presume that God either does deliberately irrational and absurd things or uses irrational stories. If that were true, and I believe it isn’t, what is that saying about Him? What God do we have? From my personal point of view God couldn’t deliberately misinform humankind about the origins of the universe by inspiring an untrue story of creation, hence the conclusion is that He didn’t inspire such stories about creation at all.

In the ancient world, all religions generated a certain explanation about the origins of the universe. All this effort, even if scientifically inexact, was necessary in order to open a certain perspective towards the most important human questions. How did the universe emerge? It was created by God or by other deities. It was the most obvious answer at the time, not only for Jews but also for many other peoples. It is true that almost all religions contain explanations about the origins of the universe, but unfortunately for them this particularity contributed to their desuetude. This area of knowledge is now very crowded, the modern sciences doing the same thing with much better results. The crises of religions started when the modern sciences began the inquiry about the origins of the universe and of humankind.

The problem of the creation of light is very important when evaluating the consistency of the narratives from the book of Genesis and it cannot be overlooked when analysing the literal interpretation of the texts.

The book of Genesis is very important both for theology and also for the relationship between religion and science. The following passage summarises the importance of this book:

“The Book of Genesis has sometimes been called the “seed-plot” of the entire Bible. Most of the major doctrines in the Bible are introduced in “seed” form in the Book of Genesis. Along with the fall of man, God’s promise of salvation or redemption is recorded (Genesis 3:15). The doctrines of creation, imputation of sin, justification, atonement, depravity, wrath, grace, sovereignty, responsibility, and many more are all addressed in this book of origins called Genesis.”[4]

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Nevertheless, the book of Genesis in the first chapter fails to explain credibly the creation of light. The same book contains many contradictions and absurdities. Of course, it is not God to be blamed for this mess; it is about mythology, where the reality doesn’t count and all is just metaphor. It is also about human ignorance and the tendency to explain empirically the origins of the universe, by people who don’t have the least information about nature and cosmos. Can anyone be blamed for not believing these stories, and can anyone be condemned to eternal suffering in hell because they are not naïve and don’t take any irrational assertion at face value? I really don’t think such a resolution would be fair. None should be punished eternally in hell if he or she cannot believe that the daylight was created before the sun.

The tendency to spiritualise the whole story doesn’t work. There is an opinion that the light, created in the first day, wasn’t the light we know today. That light was in fact the glory of God, His own light. I reject such an explanation. The record of the book of Genesis speaks clearly about the light of the day, and not another light. If the light from the first day was the light of the glory of God, this one doesn’t allow darkness, because in God’s presence there cannot be physical darkness. The Bible is saying that, in another text, unequivocally:

“3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22; 3-5 NRSV)

Where the light of God is present there cannot be night, consequently the light from the first day of creation isn’t the light of the glory of God, because where His light shines there isn’t place for nights. As I mentioned already the light of the glory of God couldn’t have been created at a certain moment in time because that would imply that He was in darkness before that, but such assertion is unacceptable.

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   God’s own light is not the light created on the first day of creation because the light of His glory isn’t created, it is eternal. God’s light cannot be other than an eternal light and a continuous one.

Some opinion maintain that God in fact created the “heavens and the earth” in the beginning and that heavens means all stars, the sun, and the moon. The earth was covered with a thick cloud, which stopped the light from reaching the earth. When God said, “Let there be light,” He didn’t create the light, but He removed the cloud and allowed the light to come to the earth. The sun and light would have already been created in the beginning. If not, what meaning can the creation of heavens have? God didn’t say that He created only the earth, but together with the earth he created heavens. On the second day God separated the waters from above from the waters from below, meaning that He separated the cloud from the surface of the waters.[5]

There are many problems with this interpretation of the texts. The clouds exist within the sky, not outside it. If God had created the light on the first day before the creation of the sky, no clouds could have existed on the first day in the middle of the primeval sea. Clouds can be removed from the sky but when the light was created there wasn’t any sky.

Where does the idea of clouds come from? There is a text in the Bible which apparently supports this idea:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? ...When I made a cloud its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band.” (Job 38; 4-9 NRSV)

This kind of opinion doesn’t solve any problem and only adds to the confusion, because no cloud could have been removed from the earth as far, as for the presence of clouds the first condition is the existence of the sky.

As a matter of fact, the most important obstacle for the creation of light in the first day was the inexistence of the sky on that day.

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The narration from the book of Genesis doesn’t allow for the creation of heavens on the first day because all was covered by water, and the dome of the sky wouldn’t have been created yet. In order to have cosmos and to have earthly atmosphere supporting clouds, first the sky was needed, but the sky wasn’t there until the second day.

The book of Genesis speaks also about a foundation of the earth in waters, and that is incorrect information:

“6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings* shouted for joy?” (Job 38; 6-7 NRSV)

 Probably the writers of the book of Genesis imagined the earth as floating on water. The dry land would have come out partially from water and started to float. This illustration is in contradiction with another biblical affirmation that the earth hangs on nothing.

The opinions which try to explain the unexplainable, regarding the creation of the daylight before the sun, were summarised by Don Steward as follows:

“Possible answers are: 1. Begun But Not Completed - Some Bible students believe the sun was begun on the first day but not completed until the fourth. 2. Did Not Appear: It has been suggested that the sun was created the first day but did not appear until the fourth. 3. Special Creation: There are many who believe that God created another light source before He created the sun on the fourth day. 4. Light From Empty Space? - Even modern science has theorized that light can come from empty space such as black holes. One of the effects of black holes is that they emit light. 5. Wrong Understanding Of Text - There is one other possible solution to this problem-the Bible doesn’t say there was light before the sun. It is quite possible that when the author of Genesis 1: 1 said In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth the phrase heaven and earth included the sun.”[6]

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 All of these options come with fantastic motivations and some of them contradict even the text which they profess to defend. There are two particular opinions that necessitate commentaries. Donald Chittick comments on this matter:

“If modern scientific theory insists on the possibility of light coming out of empty space (in other words, without light bearing objects), it is inconsistent to criticize the biblical idea that light existed on the first day of creation without sun, moon, or stars . . . The fact that Genesis talks about light existing before the appearance of the sun, moon, and stars seem rather to be evidence of divine authorship of the Bible. It was inconceivable to pagan thinking that life could exist without the sun and its light. Hence pagan religions worshiped the sun as the source of light and heat . . . The Bible is unique in stating that the sun is of secondary importance (Donald Chittick, The Controversy, Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1984, p. 151).”[7]  

The book of Genesis speaks of a created light which was named “day” therefore it is about daylight and about mornings and evenings, not about another kind of light. At the same time, light which came from empty space would have presupposed the existence of the sky, which entails outer space also. It would have been impossible for light to come from empty space because when the book of Genesis says that the light would have been created, the sky, hence the empty space, wasn’t there, being created only on the second day of creation.

Even if a light came from empty space, under the condition that such empty space would have existed from the first day, the existence of mornings and evenings would have necessitated a certain dynamic which wouldn’t have been assured by any light, but only by the existence of a celestial body generating that light.

At the same time, modern scientific theory cannot experiment in any way with the presence of light in empty space, because in nature there isn’t such a thing as completely empty space. Sometimes light can come from stars which have already disappeared, considering the huge distances between them and earth and the enormous length of time which separates the emission of the light and its arrival on Earth.

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Any light in space has a source even if it long ago vanished. The light needs a source for its existence, a source able to generate photons. Light without the entity which produces photons would be nothing but darkness.

The author of the quoted text doesn’t take into consideration what the Bible is saying. Before the second day, when the sky was created, there hadn’t been empty space to produce any kind of light. The earth was under water, where it couldn’t have spun around its axis, and any light under water couldn’t have been able to generate the cycle of day and night. Everything was covered by water, and a space filled with water is not an empty space.

Expressing another opinion John H. Sailhamer writes:

“In v. 14 God does not say, Let there be lights . . . to separate, as if there were no lights before this command and afterward the lights were created. Rather the Hebrew text reads, And God said, ‘Let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate.’ In other words . . . God’s command assumes the lights were already in the expanse and that in response to his command they were given a purpose, to separate the day from the night and to mark seasons and days and years . . . It suggests that the author did not understand his account of the fourth day as the creation of lights; but, on the contrary, the narrative assumes that the heavenly lights had already been created in the beginning (John H. Sailhamer, Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, Frank E. Gaebelein General Editor, Grand Rapids Mi: Zondervan, 1990, p. 34).”[8]

On the first day of the creation everything was covered by the primeval sea. There wasn’t any place where heavens could have been created, if by heavens one understands the cosmos with celestial bodies. The place for the cosmos, the dome of the sky, was created only on the second day. On the first day when the light was created, according to the book of Genesis, there couldn’t have been any cosmic bodies which could enlighten the earth due to the lack of a place for them in a non-existent sky. Nevertheless, the separation between day and night isn’t given only by the existence of the cosmic bodies but is also given by the dynamic of the earth and of the sun.

- 140 -

It is without doubt that the book of Genesis tells us that God made the sun on the fourth day and not on the first day. Only to go from absurd to more absurd, the author of the article proposes that the sun and other celestial bodies had been created on the first day of the creation, but they started to have a purpose for their existence only on the fourth day, and that function was to separate days from nights. If indeed the function was given to the sun only on the fourth day of creation, how can it be explained that during the first three days the sun would have separated the days from the nights, generating mornings and evenings? In other words, how could the sun have separated the days from the nights in the first day without having this mission which was given to it only on the fourth day? At the same time, as another alternative interpretation, if the sun already had a purpose in the first three days of creation why would God have given it the same purpose only on the fourth day? The answer is that the texts about the creation of light before the sun are so absurd that none can find rational explanations for it.

Another online publication Christian Courier admits that:

“Nor can it be argued legitimately that the sun, moon, and stars were “created” on the first day of the initial week, and then were simply made to “appear” on the fourth day, as advocates of the Gap Theory have attempted to establish. There is no basis in the Hebrew text for that conclusion.”[9]

In the same publication, there is also the acknowledgement of the close ties between the Genesis and the Babylonian creation story known as Enuma Elish:

“In this narrative there are some striking similarities to the Genesis account (though the latter is the original, while the former is a degraded descendant). Significant, in view of this present study, is the fact that in the Babylonian record, “light” existed before the creation of the lightbearers (see Charles Pfeiffer, The Biblical World, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966, pp. 224ff). Again, let us emphasize that though Enuma Elish is highly mythological, it obviously retains a remnant of truth inherited from the sacred record.”[10]

- 141 -

It is hard to say which is the original and which is the descendent but both narratives make the same mistake. Neither of them advances a credible story of the origins of the universe. As Peter Enns remarked in his book The Evolution of Adam, placing the book of Genesis in its ancient context can be useful for the understanding of the nature of the texts, and can give a better perspective about what one can expect from this kind of text. Even if those stories of creation didn’t directly inspire one from the other, nevertheless they come from the same cultural environment, which inspired them both.[11]

The book of Genesis cannot be understood other than in its own cultural Near-East framework of mythological texts because its message tried to reach an audience with a certain level of knowledge about nature which was specific for that time.

Another aspect deserves to be approached. There is, in our days, a tendency to confound the light generated by the Big Bang, consequence of a huge discharge of energy, with the light of the first day of creation. The light generated by the Big Bang was before the creation of the earth, but the light mentioned in Genesis 1; 3, happened ulterior to that creation. At the same time, the light of the Big Bang wasn’t separated from darkness, and didn’t alternate with it forming days and nights. The two very different phenomena have two different explanations and they cannot be confounded.

- 142 -

   

[1] oceanservice.noaa.gov › Ocean Facts

[2] www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/vss/.../3-mass-and-distance-affects-gravity.html

[3] www.universetoday.com/14491/why-does-the-earth-rotate/

[4] www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Genesis.html

[5] www.godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis1.html

[6] https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_684.cfm

[7] https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_684.cfm

[8] https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_684.cfm

[9] https://www.christiancourier.com/.../882-what-was-that-light-before-the-s...- Christian Courier

[10] https://www.christiancourier.com/.../882-what-was-that-light-before-the-s...

[11] www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/02/07/what-about-enuma-elish-...

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