Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Re-Assessment of Day Four of Genesis

I've been rather perplexed as to a recent question about Genesis 1. Basically, the skeptics' argument goes like this:

1.) Why would God create Earth before the Sun?(Earth = Day 1; Sun = Day 4)
2.) Why would God create the plants before the sunlight?(Plants = Day 3; Sun = Day 4)

The basic independent variable in this is the Sun. The problem seems to be that day 4 should actually be day one.

I set out on some reading of Genesis 1, and discovered what I believe has been a misinterpretation by most Biblical students.

Look at Day 1: "And God said Let there be light and there was light." (Genesis 1.3).
The presence of light indicates that some light source existed to light the earth. It is normally assumed that this light is radiation light from the universe or light from God Himself. However, when you look closely at the Hebrew word for light in this verse, you will see this definition: From 'owr; illumination or (concrete) luminary (in every sense, including lightning, happiness, etc.) -- bright, clear, + day, light (-ning), morning, sun. (

So light, in this sense, is not light as an element or particles, but a literal light. The word can literally mean "sun" or "morning". This suggests that the sun has been, in fact, created on Day 1.

But here is where the basic rebuttal comes from the traditional consensus on Genesis 1: God didn't create the sun until day 4. To understand why I believe this is incorrect, let's look at Day 3 of creation.

Day 3 describes the creation of plants. Here is where we would seem to run into another problem if we took the traditional view of light in Genesis 1. The Bible says that "God said Let the earth bring forth grass the herb yielding seed and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind whose seed is in itself upon the earth and it was so" ( Now, any student who has had basic elementary science knows that plants cannot grow without the Sun. So if we are following the traditional interpretation of light, the whole creation story would, lest there be some sort of detail we are unaware, collapse.

However, let's turn over to day 4. A reassessment should solve our two problems: plants before the sun, and the sun before Earth. Day 4 says that "God said Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth and it was so. And God made two great lights the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth. And to rule over the day and over the night and to divide the light from the darkness and God saw that it was good."

Here is where we must again carefully look at the word light. To my surprise, when I looked up the word light in verse 14: "God said Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years." I did not find the same word that is used for light in verse 3 of Genesis 1. "Light" on Day 4 is different than "light" from Day 1. Unfortunately, thanks to a poorly descriptive and cluttered language such as English, we do not distinguish between the two.

Day 4's light means this: "Or maor {maw-ore'}; also (in plural) feminine mpowrah {meh-o-raw'}; or morah {meh-o-raw'}; from 'owr; properly, a luminous body or luminary, i.e. (abstractly) light (as an element): figuratively, brightness, i.e.cheerfulness; specifically, a chandelier -- bright, light." Here, light is an "element" and refers to intensity such as "brightness" or "bright." Light here is not so much an object like the sun as it is an intensity.

Knowing this, we can clearly see that the Bible intended to distinguish the two types of light in Genesis 1. Here's where it all comes together. If we believe that day 1 was the creation of the sun, day 2 was the creation of the atmosphere, and day 3 the plants, day four makes perfect sense. Early Earth, as I've read in Halley's Bible Handbook, must have had a misty atmosphere. This atmosphere was likely loaded with CO2. With the creation of plants, however, free oxygen would have been produced. The absence of such high doses of C02 would have freed up the atmosphere so that the sun would have been able to peer through to the earth. Thus, it makes perfect sense that day four is not the creation of the sun and stars, but the revealing of the sun and stars on Earth's atmosphere. I believe the Bible is revealing, "OK, we have oxygen, now we can build life."

Incredibly, this is exactly what science concludes as well. This reassessment, I believe, resolves an issue that has for too long been ignored or unknown to most Christians. This solution(though I must acknowledge is the solution of others and not my own) represents a Genesis and science even more in concert than we previously thought.

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