There is a huge disconnect in all of Christendom when it comes to the issue of “Days” presented in Genesis 1.
There are individuals who, at the end of the day, stake their entire ministry on that being a fact!
Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis states, “What I believe about the young age of the earth comes out of taking the Bible as written. And I’ve said numerous times over the years that the age of the earth, for example, is not a salvation issue but an authority issue.”
Ken and many others (including myself) take the position that a plain reading of Scripture obviously dictates that the earth is only about 6,000 years old, and therefore, we should conduct forensic (origin) science in such a way that we look for evidence for that.
And, we find that there IS plenty of evidence for it!
You won’t find that evidence (or, the interpretation of it) in Science Magazine or on National Geographic, but when one looks at the Bible FIRST and then begins to examine the evidence, it’s like looking at the world for what it actually is.
There are plenty of Christians who disagree with that, and they are welcome to their opinion! However, in my experience, I have found that it takes a lot of Scripture-twisting to take many secular interpretations of modern science and fit them into God’s Word.
There are, however, some considerations to be made when looking at the text that at first glance appear to be problematic. For the biblical creationist not to admit this would be a mistake. However, there are a few options to be considered which we will look at.
The issue before us today is concerning the “light source” that the Bible claims to be present on Earth for creation Days 1-3, prior to God’s creation of the Sun and Moon on Day 4. We know that plant life, which requires light according to observational science, was created on Day 3.
So the question before us is: How does one resolve this apparent issue for the biblical recent creation model?
The Trouble with “Why”
I purposely framed the headline with a “why” question so as to make a particular point. Sometimes, it can be moot and futile to ask why God did something the way that He did.
I believe (as does God!) that it is fair to want to explore His creation and to have an understanding of why and how things are the way they are. According to Romans 1, the creation itself will be just one reason why the unbeliever is “without excuse” to stand before God one day.
What we must always keep in mind is simply that God is God, and does not need a reason to do anything! I do my best to avoid “why” questions when someone is staking their eternal destiny on the answer.
For example, when someone asks, “Why would a loving God create evil?” you must be very careful in the way you answer this. Not because there is a problem or contradiction here, but because if you answer in such a way as to suggest that He did create evil, you could contribute to one’s hardening of their heart toward the gospel. Rather, you should point them to how a concept such as evil could not exist without God.
“Why” questions are dangerous because sometimes just answering them without providing adequate context settles the question in the mind of the unbeliever before you have even finished answering.
With that said, I think we can attempt to answer this “why” question fairly, but we must never waver from the Ultimate Standard of the Bible. The answer to this question has no bearing on whether or not the Bible itself is true and is the Word of God, and therefore, the answer will remain rather (but hopefully not unsatisfactorily) open-ended.
We can firmly believe here that “God said it, and that settles it!”, whether or not we can understand it.
Possible Light Source Options
With all of the formalities out of the way, let’s go ahead and take a look at a few of these options. Again, I will not be taking a position on this other than to say that God got His own order of creation right in His Word. Whichever description looks the best to you, you are welcome to adopt that line of thinking.
A Miraculous Event?
Clearly, something that all believers can be united on is that the events that took place at the beginning were miraculous. The fact that God could speak into existence by the Word of His power the entire universe is, to me, mind-boggling.
For some reason though, Christians who take the old earth interpretation of Genesis seem to believe that the miraculous nature of this event comes somewhat to a close after God sets it in motion. Now, I don’t mean this in a Deist sort of way, rather, they believe that God’s initial act of creation simply set these natural laws and processes that we observe today into motion, and things arose over a pretty natural course of time. In order for this to make sense, the Days of creation must be viewed as long ages. This is known as the day-age theory.
Interestingly enough, much of the evidence for the theory of this nature comes from the field of Astronomy. This is the only scientific field, some astronomers claim, where we can directly observe the past. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe is probably the major proponent of the day-age position, specifically from the viewpoint of an astronomer.
Answers in Genesis astronomer Danny Faulker, as well as Institute for Creation Research (ICR) astronomer Jason Lisle, take a different position, however. These are both recent creationists who are astronomers and astrophysicists, and they tend to see plenty of evidence for a young universe.
I have read and watched quite a bit from all three of the above-mentioned men on this subject, and as a generalization, I seem to observe only one MAJOR difference on issues of light at the beginning: the depth of the miracle!
Danny Faulker’s research, in particular, has been geared in recent years towards the miraculous nature of the Creation Week, including why we observe things such as distant starlight, and indeed, why the Bible states there was light before the creation of the Sun. Hugh Ross contends that God actually created the Sun on Day 1 when He created the rest of the universe, and therefore the light issue is simply a non-issue.
I don’t find this satisfactory at all.
I think if God created the Sun on Day 1, He would have very specifically told us. Why He didn’t is a different story. Perhaps He knew that if He had, more cultures would worship the Sun as the Ancient Egyptians did. That is not for us to know.
What is important is that there is definitely some consideration to be given to the idea that this light was simply something miraculous from God, and perhaps we should not inquire any further as to its existence?
We Christians accept the miraculous nature of a virgin birth and of Christ rising from the dead–would it be so hard so believe God putting a light in place, miraculously, before the Sun? Not for me! This may not be the answer for you, but I for one find it to be quite a compelling solution.
Is God the Light Source?
Some recent creationists accept the notion that a created light was not necessary because God Himself is described as light.
This notion stems from the claim of Revelation 22:5 which says, “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
Taken at face value, one can see why this claim would be used to translate into Genesis. It stands to reason that if God is light and therefore no Sun will be needed at the end of time, then He was more than capable of providing the light in the beginning of time as well.
There are many other verses that suggest God is light, but the language in almost all of these verses is speaking not of a physical property of God, but rather of His intrinsic goodness as opposed to darkness (evil). The Revelation 22:5 passage seems to be the primary (possibly only?) one indicating that there is a physical property of God that is “light” in the literal sense of the term.
So, what does this mean for the Beginning?
Well, you are welcome to hold this view if you please. But, I believe there are issues with transposing this verse out of Revelation to make it fit with the Creation account. For instance, we have Genesis 1:3 which says, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” In this famous verse, we find God in what definitely appears to be a Creative posture. And, whatever it is that He was creating seems to be outside of Himself (this is necessary anyway since He is fully uncreated).
Furthermore, we find 2 Corinthians 4:6 which says, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” There are a couple of possible meanings here. But given the context, I believe the first part of the verse is referencing His act of creation in the beginning.
The parallel being drawn is that the same God who commanded light to shine out of darkness [in the beginning], has also shined in us which brings us out of spiritual darkness. If I haven’t read too far into that, it seems to indicate, again, that the light “in the beginning” was a creative act extrinsic to God Himself.
Furthermore, I find the words “out of darkness” used here to be most interesting. I am not a Greek scholar so I will make not an actual claim here until I study this out further, but a plain reading of this seems to disqualify the Sun as the provider of “first light.” A miraculously or otherwise created light could come out of darkness, but I don’t see that description working for the light given off by the Sun or the Moon.
On the basis of the reasons listed above, I think this view should be disqualified from consideration–but again, many still hold this position today, so you may want to adopt it if it sounds reasonable to you.
The Sun First?
Having made reference to this a few times already, I believe we must address the consideration of the Sun actually being the source of “first light.”
As you may know, this is actually the most widely accepted (and perhaps the only accepted) view of “first light” by old earth creationists. Therefore, I offer this not as a suggestion for the defense of a recent creation, but simply to show how I think the text disqualifies this position.
As I stated just a few paragraphs above, I believe the phraseology of 2 Corinthians 4:6 could contain a possible disqualification of this notion, but it would be hard to hold this view dogmatically based on this verse alone.
I think the best defense against this viewpoint is simply to accept the created order in Genesis as it is! One need not cull the Scriptures, looking through the more than 20 references to the creation account to find out when the Sun was made–God told us in Genesis 1:14! It was made on Day 4 of the creation as well as the Moon, in order to give us a “clock” by which we can measure a day.
Now, this introduces two “problems” for the recent creationist:
First, some Hebrew scholars contend that this provides proof that Days 1-3 were not literal days but long ages. But the problem is that the Sun actually has very little to do with what constitutes a “day”–it is the rotation of the Earth on its axis that gives us that measurement!
The Sun and Moon simply help us to perceive what the day and night look like–God did not need the “heavenly clocks” to mark off time. God had already marked it off for Days 1-3 when He used the words “evening and morning.”
Secondly, some Hebrew scholars also contend that the Hebrew word for the verb “let” used in v. 14 is passive, and combined with the old earth view, make the case that the Lights were actually created on Day 1 and simply were “allowed” to show through the atmosphere on Day 4.
Again, you are welcome to see it that way–but have you noticed how big of a mess “scholars” have made such a simple to read Text? It’s worth noting that all of these same “scholars” believe that we are still in God’s seventh “day of rest” right now. I don’t have a personal opinion on that notion, but I am inclined to think against it based on the sheer amount of references to the 7 day creation week found in the Bible (Exodus 20:11 and others).
To summarize this view, what we recent creationists see as a week consisting of six literal creation Days (and arguably one literal rest Day), old earth creationists must see three Days which were long ages, three Days which were literal, ordinary days, and one Day which still has not ended! But, in the Text, the same word and the same contextual language is used for each Day!
Without attempting to read billions of years into the Text in a very eisegetical way, I’m just not convinced that it makes sense to accept that the Sun was created on Day 1, therefore voiding out the “first light” problem.
A Variety of Lights
Modern science actually gives us quite a bit of insight as what to constitutes “light.” So much, in fact, that I think it is bad science to rule all of these options out in favor of the Sun, just so we can fit billions of years into the Bible.
To quote an article written by Dr. John Morris of ICR:
“Actually there are many sources of light, not just the sun. There are also many types of light, not just visible light. Short-wave light includes ultraviolet light, X-rays, and others. Long-wave light includes infrared light, radio waves, etc. Light is produced by friction, by fire, by numerous chemical reactions, as well as the nuclear reactions of atomic fission and fusion, which is what we think is occurring in the sun. God had at His fingertips many options to accomplish His purposes. Light does not automatically require the sun.”
What I find interesting is that this description of various light forms provided by Dr. Morris comports quite nicely with the phrase “out of darkness” that we observed earlier in 2 Corinthians.
Whatever mechanism God used to bring light to the earth before the Sun and Moon were hung, it appears that it was plenty adequate for the formation of plant life on the face of the whole earth.
This, in fact, brings up one more possible consideration:
Since we know that there is quite a process involved in Photosynthesis, and we can also make the case that the events of creation week were miraculous and could have used processes outside of those which we observe today, it is possible that a different kind of light was necessary in order to facilitate rapid plant growth!
This article claims that different colors and temperatures of light do in fact affect the growth of plants and vegetation–what if God used the prior light source to help facilitate the miraculous growth of all plant life and vegetation in a 24-hr period? I am not a scientist and do not know if this is the case (or even could be), but it is just simply one more consideration that can be made in the marketplace of ideas about how God performed this mighty act of creation.
Can We Trust a Plain Reading of Scripture?
As the old quote concerning proper Bible interpretation goes, “When the plain sense of Scripture makes good sense, seek no other sense.”
This is a rule we could all stand to follow when culling through the Scriptures to find what God has for us in His Word. It has become quite a cliche to use this phrase in Christianity today, but we must remember that “God is not the author of confusion.” (1 Corinthians 14:33). This has its place in context, but it is certainly applicable in all areas of our lives.
As long as we are diligent and faithful in our understanding of Biblical exegesis (reading what God said out of the Scriptures, rather than reading man’s words into the Scriptures), we are likely to arrive at just what God intended for us to know.
Many have attempted to allegorize away two-thirds of the Bible. May I say, don’t let them deceive you. There’s simply no need! When interpreted literally in all cases where the language indicates to do so, the world we see around us comports exactly with what we would expect.
Some of what we believe is laughed at in “scholarly” circles. But my Bible says we ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29)!
To echo the sentiments of Ken Ham put forth in my opening statements, I really believe we are dealing with an authority issue here. God’s Word gets it right from cover to cover. There is no need to read our humanistic philosophy or scientific interpretations into it. We must start there, and observe the world through the correct “lens”–the Bible lens.
When we do that, everything becomes so clear and makes so much sense! It is already so hard to fathom why God would love us and create us to start with–let’s not make His Word any more complex than it already is.
Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!