How could the days of Genesis 1 be literal if the Sun wasn’t created until the fourth day?
We know today that all it takes to have a day-night cycle is a rotating Earth and light coming from one direction. The Bible tells us clearly that God created light on the first day, as well as the Earth. Thus we can deduce that the Earth was already rotating in space relative to this created light.
God can, of course, create light without a secondary source. We are told that in the new heavens and Earth there will be no need for sun or moon (Rev 21:23). In Genesis, God even defines a day and a night in terms of light or its absence.
‘Progressive creationists’ sometimes use the argument that the days are really long periods, although God could have used words for that if He had really meant that (see How long were the days of Genesis 1?). The creation of the sun after the Earth undermines progressive creationists’ attempts to harmonise the Bible with billions of years. So they must explain this teaching away. Some assert that what really happened on this fourth ‘day’ was that the sun and other heavenly bodies ‘appeared’ when a dense cloud layer dissipated after millions of years. This is not only fanciful science, but bad exegesis of Hebrew. The word ‘asah means ‘make’ throughout Genesis 1, and is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘create’ (bara’), e.g. in Genesis 1:26–27. It is pure desperation to apply a different meaning to the same word in the same grammatical construction in the same passage, just to fit in with atheistic evolutionary ideas like the ‘big bang’. If God had meant ‘appeared’, then He presumably would have used the Hebrew word for appear (ra’ah), as when the dry land ‘appeared’ as the waters gathered in one place on Day 3 (Genesis 1:9). We have checked over 20 major translations, and all clearly teach that the sun, moon and stars were made on the fourth day.
The evidence that ordinary days are being referred to is so overwhelming that even liberal Hebrew scholars admit that the author can have had no other intent — particularly when the words ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ are used from the first day. (See The Creation Answers Book Chapter 2, and Six Days? Honestly!)
On the fourth day the present system was instituted as the Earth’s temporary light-bearers were made, so the diffused light from the first day was no longer needed. [Interestingly, after writing this article, I found that Calvin had made the same point (see Calvin says: Genesis means what it says). This shows that once again, skeptics just repeat arguments long ago refuted by Bible believing scholars.]
- This would have been very significant to pagan world views which tended to worship the sun as the source of all life. God seems to be making it pointedly clear that the sun is secondary to His Creatorhood as the source of everything. He doesn’t ‘need’ the sun in order to create life (in contrast to theistic evolutionary beliefs.)
- This unusual, counter-intuitive order of creation (light before sun) actually adds a hallmark of authenticity. If the Bible had been the product of later ‘editors’, as many critics allege (see Did Moses really write Genesis?), they would surely have modified this to fit with their own understanding. It is only recently that the astronomical fact has been realized that a day-night cycle needs only light plus rotation. Having ‘day’ without the sun would have been generally inconceivable to the ancients.