As I was reading Genesis, I came across a scripture that I don’t quite
understand. In Genesis 1:3, “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there
was light… there was evening and morning the first day” However, the
sun was not created until the fourth day, right? In Genesis 1: 14 “Let
there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the
night… And it was so. God made two great lights- the greater light to
govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.” Where did this
first light come from? How could there be morning and evening on the
first, second, and third day when the sun was not created until the fourth
day? I’m confused…..

When one attempts to interpret Genesis chapter one it is wise
to bear in mind that the writer was not a trained scientist and that he
was communicating to an audience which did not have a technical scientific
vocabulary available to it. Nevertheless, I believe that the description
in Genesis chapter one is consistent in a general sense with appears to be
true from scientific knowledge.

Your question is a common one, as it seems natural to ask how
there can be night and day without the sun and the moon. Allow me to
share how I understand Genesis 1:3 and 1:14. According to current
scientific models, the early earth was significantly warmer than today.
The atmosphere of the early earth had much higher quantities than today of
methane, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, water and so forth. By way of
analogy, if one were on the surface of Venus today, the heavens would
never be visible. For this reason it is not unreasonable to assume that
in the very early history of the earth, the sun, moon and stars were not
visible from the surface of the planet. Therefore, although the sun was
giving off light, making for day and night (Genesis 1:3), it was not for
many millions of years, until after the earliest life began to cause
changes in the atmosphere of the earth, that finally the sun, moon and
stars became visible. It was only later, after the land had separated
from the water and after the very first life had formed that the heavenly
objects became visible (Genesis 1:14). If this is true, then Genesis 1:14
is describing the time when the sun and the moon became visible lights in
the sky.

I would be cautious about being dogmatic on such a question,
but that is how I understand Genesis 1:3 and 1:14 can be justified.

John Oakes, PhD

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