1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. 3Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that it was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Together these made up one day.
6And God said, “Let there be space between the waters, to separate water from water.” 7And so it was. God made this space to separate the waters above from the waters below. 8And God called the space “sky.” This happened on the second day.
9And God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered into one place so dry ground may appear.” And so it was. 10God named the dry ground “land” and the water “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the land burst forth with every sort of grass and seed-bearing plant. And let there be trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. The seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And so it was. 12The land was filled with seed-bearing plants and trees, and their seeds produced plants and trees of like kind. And God saw that it was good. 13This all happened on the third day.
14And God said, “Let bright lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. They will be signs to mark off the seasons, the days, and the years. 15Let their light shine down upon the earth.” And so it was. 16For God made two great lights, the sun and the moon, to shine down upon the earth. The greater one, the sun, presides during the day; the lesser one, the moon, presides through the night. He also made the stars. 17God set these lights in the heavens to light the earth, 18to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19This all happened on the fourth day. (Genesis 1:1-19, NLT)
The Daily DAVEotional
No doubt you’ve probably read Genesis 1 dozens of times, if not more. It’s usually the first chapter we all read on January 1st when we make our New Year’s Resolution to read through the Bible in a year (I know you’ve made that resolution before, but have you failed at it as many times as I have?) . How far we get into the book of Genesis as we seek to fulfill our commitment is another story.
This first chapter describes the details of God’s creation. Though there is some debate among Christians about the length, age and process of creation, one thing all Christians can agree on is verse 1 – “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – GOD CREATED!
The mere fact that the universe exists and that we are here on this planet to witness it is a testament to the creativity of God. The first chapter of Genesis proclaims that what we see and experience in this universe is not a result of random chance, but of a creative mind and an intentional process that directed the outcome we now see and observe.
But there is a slight problem with the creation narrative that maybe you’ve never noticed. It’s easy to gloss over, but for some, it has been a sticking point.
The problem is with creation Day Four.
The text declares that on day four, God created the stars, the sun and the moon for marking off the seasons and the days and the years.
So if the sun, moon and stars aren’t created until day four, how can we have days one, two and three before them? In other words, if there is no sun and moon to mark off days until day four, how can you have something called a “day” before you have the objects in place that dictate what a day is?
For the anti-theist, this might seem like the smoking gun to prove the Bible is, at best, a fairy tale aimed at explaining something that people in ancient times were not smart enough to understand scientifically.
But as College Game Day icon Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.”
This anomaly can be explained and these verses, which seem to contradict one another, can be reconciled.
The key is to understand that the frame of reference for this creation narrative is from the perspective of someone who is observing it from the surface of the earth.
Notice that light is actually created on day one. In fact, the text says that there was light and darkness – one day.
But the initial conditions of the early earth were such that the sun, moon and stars were not visible from the surface. This is because in those early stages of development, the atmosphere was likely filled with various gases and clouds that obscured the sun, moon and stars from the surface. Think about a planet like Venus or one of the moons of Jupiter. It’s possible that the earth, in these early stages, resembled one of these celestial orbs.
By the time we get to day four, however, God’s creative work and processes have progressed to the point where earth’s atmospheric conditions are able to sustain the more advanced life forms that are created on days five and six.
So in the end, day four is really not an anomaly or a contradiction. The sun, moon and stars were created on the first day, but the atmospheric conditions on the earth did not allow those celestial bodies to be routinely visible until day four, after which God was able to introduce sea and land animals to his creation, followed by his crowning creative achievement – man!
It turns out that what science tells us about the development of earth and our environment matches the details described in Genesis chapter one almost exactly. Amazingly, Moses, the probable author of Genesis, understood the process of the earth’s development that concluded in an environment that could sustain advanced life thousands of years before science would uncover it. This is yet another of many evidences for the divine origin of the text, as only God himself could have known these processes that Moses wrote about.
For a more detailed and scientific explanation of Day Four, read, “Hazy Early Earth: More Affirmation for Creation Day 4” a blog post by astrophysicist Hugh Ross, found on his Reasons to Believe website at reasons.org.
It’s easy to gloss over the idea that God created? What thoughts, feelings and emotions come to your mind when you think about the fact that GOD CREATED?
If God didn’t create the universe and everything else in it, what is your explanation for how the universe came into being and why we are here?
Hugh Ross, and others, explain the Day Four anomaly by saying that the sun and moon were created on day one but atmospheric conditions obscured their visibility until Day four. Do you agree with this explanation? Why or why not?
If you don’t agree with this explanation, what alternate explanations do you think better reconcile the verses in the text?
How are you doing on your Bible reading resolution for this year (if you set one)?
Photo by Alex Gindin on Unsplash