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Were stars created in creation week?

Published: 22 February 2015 (GMT+10)
istock photo stars

Kenneth M. from New Zealand criticizes one of our classic articles, Morning has broken but when?, which refutes modified soft gap theories that make stars much older than the earth rather than Day 4 creations as God’s Word teaches. In particular, Mr M takes issue with the section, ‘Can stars be billions of light years away in a young universe?’ Dr  responds.

[Website deleted as per feedback rules] solves the problem of the starlight time travel simply because God always was, from everlasting to everlasting. This is not a gap theory, the sun, moon, our planets and solar system were all made during day 4 of the six literal 24 hour days of Genesis 1. Genesis 1:16, “made the stars also,” doesn’t say when, only tells when we were told in the narrative much later. Read it as “had made stars also.” “In the beginning God”—starts earth’s story, not God’s. It doesn’t tell us when he made the stars beyond our solar system, it’s the first time that he has drawn our attention beyond the earth.Scientifically stars beyond our solar system were created previously, much evidence of collisions etc, so there never was a light time travel problem, we invented it by our interpretation of the Bible.

Dear Mr M.

Thank you for writing to CMI.

Unfortunately, what you propose is clearly ‘science’-driven not text-driven—clearly you accept the uniformitarian ages first, and modify Scripture to try to make it fit the deep-time dogma. This is shown by the first line of your page, “Scientifically our solar system is very young, galaxies are very old.” This is contrary to the correct stance of interpreting science according to the axiomatic framework of biblical history.

It is basically a form of the soft-gap theory, which we have answered in ‘Soft’ gap sophistry. It is very clear from the biblical text that the making of the stars was part of God’s creative activity on Day 4. This can be shown from the Hebrew wə’êt hakkôkābîm ואת הככבים (kôkāb is star), which contains the untranslated ’êt (accusative particle) that marks the stars as the object of the verb in this paragraph, “made”.

Furthermore, your suggestion about, “had made stars also” is untenable. Meredith Kline, a leading promoter of the ‘Framework Hypothesis’, demonstrates that such a reading, i.e. in the pluperfect, is untenable:

Also entailed in the minimalist interpretation of day four is the pluperfect rendering of the verbs expressing the making of the luminaries in the fulfillment section (vv. 16, 17), introduced by “and it was so” (v. 15b). If adopted, the pluperfect could not be restricted to these verbs. For consistently in Genesis 1, what immediately follows the fiat and the “and it was so” formula that answers to the fiat is a detailing of what God proceeded to bring into being in execution of the fiat. In day four then the verbs of fulfillment in verses 16, 17 cannot be pluperfect with respect to the fiat of verses. Temporally they follow the fiat, which means the fiat would have to be put in the same pluperfect tense as its subsequent fulfillment, yielding the translation “And God had said”. That is, day four as a whole would have to be cast in the pluperfect, and that with reference to the time of the events in the preceding days. Ironically, such a translation would make explicit the non-chronological sequence of the narrative, the very thing the pluperfect proposal was trying to avoid.1

Unfortunately, Kline is so intimidated by evolution and billions of years that he rejects a literal interpretation, and so he invented the faulty ‘framework hypothesis’. But as shown above, he also realizes the futility of attempts to preserve Genesis as some sort of historical narrative while accepting the uniformitarian timescale and order of events. Kline’s only recourse is to reject Genesis as history, when he should be questioning evolution/long-ages instead.

It is true that the stars have only a brief mention. But this is no reason to exclude them from Creation Week. Rather, despite the enormous power and number of the stars, Genesis 1:16 just says, “and the stars”, almost as an afterthought. That is, creating even these uncountable enormous hot balls of gas was effortless for the Almighty Elohim!

The following from your website is also folly: “I believe that Lucifer’s (now called Satan) rebellion was long before the earth was created.” This places Satan’s fall before Creation Week, but at the end of Creation Week, God declares everything “very good” (Genesis 1:31), the seventh affirmation of goodness in the chapter, implying a sinless perfection. As the monumental Keil and Delitzsch commentary says:

By the application of the term “good” to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis “very” at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied, and the hypothesis entirely refuted, that the six days’ work merely subdued and fettered an ungodly, evil principle, which had already forced its way into it.2
istock photo stars-blue

Somewhat later, the German Lutheran OT scholar Gerhard von Rad (1901–1971), emphasised this declaration that the creation was “very good”:

This is of great importance within the terse and plain language of the author. It could also be translated “completely perfect,” and rightly refers more to the wonderful purposefulness and harmony than to the beauty of the entire cosmos. This statement, expressed and written in a world full of innumerable troubles, preserves an inalienable concern of faith: no evil was laid upon the world by God’s hand; neither was His omnipotence limited by any kind of opposing power whatever … God created the world perfect.3

Finally, the stars must have been created during Creation Week, because The Sabbath command of Exodus 20:8–11 is based on God’s creation of the “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them” in six ordinary days. This reinforces the merism of totality of “heavens and earth” by going even further: including the sea as well as the contents of everything—which must logically include the stars. The related resources and links explain some creationist solutions to the distant starlight that are far more plausible than the big-bangers’ attempts.

It’s important to realize that any sort of gap theory, soft (as you propose) or classical (as per Scofield), fails to solve the very ‘problem’ it was concocted for! That is, the clear discrepancy between the biblical time frame of several thousand years, and the secular mythology of billions of years, along with its apparent starlight travel time. Even the solar system is supposed to be 4.55 billion years old, the same ‘age’ as many stars. It is not younger than the rest of the universe at all—the same secular dating that gives billions of years for stars other than our sun also gives billions of years for our sun (and therefore Earth).

So having the stars created billions of years before Earth’s creation week does not solve the supposed problem. Furthermore, if Earth is of such an age, then Earth’s rocks also date to millions and billions of years. But therein lies a huge problem—these rocks contain fossils of animals and people that have suffered and died. Thus, the idea puts death and suffering before the sin of Adam and Eve, and makes God the author of death and suffering. This undermines the Genesis basis of the Gospel in the New Testament, if you think about it. This is a cardinal difficulty with all billions-of-years views, including yours. It solves nothing and creates huge problems.

While the ‘distant starlight’ problem clearly bothers you, it should not, because big bang believers likewise have the same problem in principle: more light years than years. That is, the horizon problem: although the background temperature of space is extremely uniform, there are not enough years for radiation to have traversed the vast distance to equalize the temperatures. This has been recognized as a “big headache for cosmologists, so big that they have come up with some pretty wild solutions.” That is, either space itself has expanded much faster than light (highly problematic inflation theories), or that light itself was much faster in the past, both of which entail belief in miracles without any miracle-causing agent such as God.

So instead of reinterpreting the Bible to fit a difficulty that equally affects long-agers, let us just believe what God has inspired in His Word.

References and notes

  1. Kline, M.G., Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 48:2–15, 1996. Return to text.
  2. Keil, C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament 1:67, 1857. Return to text.
  3. von Rad, G., Genesis: A Commentary, p. 61, 1973. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Nils J.
The real problem about the sun, moon, and stars is that they were placed in the "expanse" which was previously described as being under the "waters above." In other words, according to the YEC theory, the water canopy surrounds the "sun, moon and stars." Obviously, something is wrong with that interpretation.
Jonathan Sarfati
There is, but informed creationists have not accepted the canopy theory for about two decades now. As the recently-retired Dr Carl Wieland advised way back in 1989, the water vapour canopy was one of the models that should be held loosely.

So as I asked the correspondent in that reply, on what biblical grounds do you accept billions of years?
Joseph U.
As always doctor Sarfati your articles are a pleasure to read and to learn from although English is not my mother tongue, please excuse the grammar.
I have one request for Cristian Vasile M. please pick up the stones that you throw, all of us misread something sometime and apology is christian thing to do for your fellow believer. Thanks Joe
Robert W.
We humans have difficulty in maintaining our day-to-day affairs, so we try to humanize God. Big mistake. He maintains His universe without any difficulty at all. He created it without difficulty. He will remake it, as promised, without difficulty at precisely the right time.
As for the stars, He must roll in the floor of heaven at man kinds silly theories.
So what if a star is billions of light years away?
That's none of our business, and we can't figure it out. Maybe it was made on day four of creation and placed wherever God wanted it. He is not bound by our laws of science and astronomy. Remember He "maintains" His creation. He is everywhere at the same time. The stars shine and exist according to His will. What we think we know is of no value unless we know Him.
Gennaro C.
Dear Jonathan Sarfati, I am a little bit confused. From John H. “… Genesis is specifically not referring to angels as part of creation …”. First: In Job 38:4 the Lord questions Job on "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? ..." and v.7 “while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” If at the foundation of our world the “angels shouted for joy” doesn't this imply they were already there? Would this include Lucifer (Satan)’s too? Second: obviously Lucifer (Satan) had rebelled to God before Adam; could Lucifer (Satan) made his rebellion before earth was created? I'm thinking about the time Lucifer needed, first, to nurse in himself his anger against his Creator, and second, to call behind him one third of the angels
Thank you and, keep going, above all you all are doing a fantastic job. May God bless you all.
Jonathan Sarfati
Thank you for your generous comments about our work.

The above is already answered in links I’ve provided to previous commenters: Where do the angels fit in? and Why Bible history matters: (and the timing of the Fall and Ark-building).

Satan, now sometimes called Lucifer (light-bringer), somewhat misleadingly as I’ve explained above, is part of the created order. Therefore God made him during Creation Week. It could have been just before the creation of Earth the planet, so early on Day 1; or some time in Creation Week before earth the dry land that appeared on Day 3.

He must have fallen after God declared everything to be “very good” at the close of the Sixth Day and likely after the Seventh Day that God declared holy.
Jim G.
From the last sentence of the 2nd-to-last paragraph, you say "or that light itself was much faster in the past".

It's somewhat amusing that old-agers have frequently laughed at the idea of the speed of light having changed. One of the various competing creationist theories years ago was that the speed of light had changed. It's been discarded (by most creationists) as fatally-flawed now, but it's amusing to recall the acrid hostility bestowed upon its proponents by long-agers (both Christian and secular) when it was still in vogue.

Keep up the good work!
John H.
I think the attempt at putting Lucifer, the angels, et al. into part of the Creation to which Genesis refers is questionable. Or at least requires more evidence. We know that the angels fell before Adam and Eve sinned, as it is plain that the temptation of the two was sinful/evil. Logic dictates, then, that if Lucifer were part of the described Creation, his sin would have been the original sin that introduced it into Creation, not Adam’s and Eve’s. In my very layman view, this means that Genesis is specifically not referring to angels as part of Creation.

I will allow that I’m not a theological major, nor even a logic major, so I could be flawed in my reasoning or just ignorant of something more descriptive. While I understand that this particular betrayal of God was the cause of Lucifer being banished to Earth, I haven’t seen good evidence that it was the very first betrayal. If I’m wrong, please feel free to enlighten me.
Jonathan Sarfati
Angels are part of the created order, so must have been created during Creation Week (Exodus 20:8–11). This is explained more in a classic article about the gap theory, in the section Where do the angels fit in?

The Fall is dated from Adam’s sin, because mankind, not the angels, were given dominion over creation. The timing of the Fall is logically deduced from biblical propositions in Why Bible history matters (and the timing of the Fall and Ark-building).

Note: the word Lucifer simply means ‘light-bringer’. Only relatively recently has its semantic range narrowed to Satan, who merely “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). In earlier times, Lucifer was sometimes used as a term for the One who truly is the light of the world (John 8:12), e.g. in the traditional Latin Easter proclamation called the Exsultet (5th–7th Century). Another ancient hymn Lucis largitor splendide addresses Jesus with “Tu verus mundi lucifer” (“you are the true light bringer of the world”).

Two 4th-century bishops had the name Lucifer. And bioluminescent organisms produce light with a chemical named luciferin oxidized by the enzyme luciferase. All these relate to the original primary meaning of the word, not the later satanic meaning.
Corey F.
I remember when I first embraced the Gospel as a young teenager. I thought, if God is as powerful as Scripture says, then creating the universe and all its contents in the blink of an eye is no more of a problem than 6 days. That's the price of salvation - believing in exactly who He really and truly is.
But now I'm older, and I'm constantly amazed that for all the thinking that goes on in the world, it only serves to tear down God's ability, power, an authority. I'm convinced that to believe anything less than 6 days is to believe in a god that's not in Scripture.
The Bible Geek G.
The Bible simply states that He stretched out the firmament. That may be hard to understand for some, but it fits the frame and who can argue with God?
Jonathan Sarfati
Indeed it does, and that was His work on Day 2 of Creation Week. The luminaries placed in the raqia (‘firmament’ or expanse) were made on day 4. My forthcoming commentary on Genesis 1–11 explains much more on both these topics; a whole chapter on each.
Christopher C.
Thank you guys for your ministry! It is so true that many Christians today not only seem to get their science from other sources first, but their manner of living and reasonings as well. Again, thank you for bringing us back to the foundation of God's inerrant Word.
You mentioned the question of 'when' Lucifer fell in this article, and I have meditated quite a bit on this in the past. It seems that since God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15), perhaps it is not just 'to the earth' that Satan fell (Luke 10:18)(to a 'where'), but into time (physical dimension - to a 'when'). I don't know if this has been discussed before, but I saw it here and decided to comment.
It is always a joy to read your articles and refreshing to see God's Word magnified! Thank you all, and God bless!
Steve S.
A day is like a thousand years to the Lord and vice versa.

I heard from a Messianic Rabbi that the stars were created on Day 4, not randomly, but to coincide 4,000 years later (middle of human history) with the arrival of the Messiah (also at His Parousia, the darkening of the stars). They are created for signs and seasons (from moed, appointed time, meeting).

We have plenty of solutions for distant starlight: Time Dilation, ASC (intrinsic or phenomenological), and perhaps miraculous (transportation to our local area).
Jonathan Sarfati
Indeed, some Church Fathers and rabbis believed that the six literal days of creation were a pattern for, not identical to, six thousand-year periods of earth history. Thus they taught explicitly that the world had not yet reached the 6,000th year. This is documented in Refuting Compromise.

However, we have a different view on the understanding of those passages—see 2 Peter 3:8—‘one day is like a thousand years’.

You are right to differentiate models from direct teachings of Scripture; cf. ‘Hanging Loose’. But at present, CMI disagrees with ASC (see Anisotropy Synchrony Convention) and with light created in transit (see God created with functional maturity, not ‘appearance of age’)
Phil K.
In my opinion, the real problem is trying to explain creation week through science. This fails because A) the week is marked by non-stop miraculous creation B) no human was there to observe and C) how can the laws of physics even apply in that first week?

But statements like these are anathema to evolutionary scientists devoted to a belief in Naturalism. And that is the disconnect for Christians caught in the middle wanting to please God and Science (scientists).
Mike D.
I really appreciate this article. One item you cite about the word "good" leaves a question about the existence of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:9b) that was in the midst of the garden on day 6. Your citation is from the commentary of Keil and Delitzsch commentary which says:

By the application of the term “good” to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis “very” at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied, and the hypothesis entirely refuted, that the six days’ work merely subdued and fettered an ungodly, evil principle, which had already forced its way into it.

Could you explain or give some citations the help me understand that tree?

Thanks so much.

Jonathan Sarfati
The important point is that there was no actual evil in the finished creation—no sin had been committed. The following is part of the section on this tree from my forthcoming commentary on Genesis 1–11:

Tree of the knowledge of good and evil
Leupold prefers to render the Hebrew phrase ‘ēts haddā’at tôv vara’ [1] as “the tree of the knowing of good and evil”, because:

the infinitive dā’at functions chiefly as a verb and takes a double object. For this reason, as in Jeremiah 22:16, the word “knowing,” though in a sense in the construct state, takes the article rather than its objects, “good and evil.” [Both] sides, “knowing good and evil” is thus stamped as one complete idea. Naturally, this expression aims to cover the whole range of moral concepts in brief (K. S. 92 b), or, better still, the ethical contrast between good and evil.[2]

That is, “good and evil” is another merism, two opposites standing for the whole range in between (see also ‘Heavens and earth’, Ch. 4). There are other examples of this merism in the OT, e.g. “we cannot speak to you bad or good” (Genesis 24:50); God warning Laban, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad” (Genesis 31:24), David was “like the angel of God to discern good and evil” (2 Samuel 14:17). Fruchtenbaum adds:

This merism also carries the concept of having the power to decide for oneself what is or is not in one’s best interest: Deuteronomy 1:39, young ones old enough to make responsible decisions; and 1 Kings 3:9, again used of making responsible decisions. That is the essence of the tree, and it would give men the power to decide for themselves what was in their best interest and what was not, and to be like God.[3]

[1]. עץ החיים בתוך הגן ועץ הדעת טוב ורע.

[2]. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:119–120, 1942.

[3]. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p. 77, 2009.
Victor B.
Many Thanks for the clarity - I have recently been reflecting critically the suggestion of a possible "gap" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. I understand "heavens and earth" as being hebrew merism (Universe - Everything). I know there are some christian theologians and apologists who suggest that "heavens and earth" in Genesis 1:1 refer to a prior stage of creation before Genesis 1:2 and hence a temporal gap before "creation week".

But Exodus 20:8-11 as you have stated removes any doubt about the time frame even if one would like to interpret Genesis 1:1 as a subset of "everything". Also in Exodus 31:17 "heavens and earth" is used similarly as Genesis 1:1 and explicitly gives the time frame.

The logical point you made regarding secular dating giving the same age for our sun as other stars (and therefore earth) also shows " It solves nothing and creates huge problems"
Joseph M.
The bible clearly states God created in six days and rested on the seventh day. The bible clearly states the chronological ages of the prophets going back to Adam which can be calculated to approximately six thousand years. Jesus confirmed the truth of Genesis as history referring to Moses. Jesus says John 14:6 “I Am … the Truth”. Millions of years is clearly based in worldly ‘scientism’. The six day creation week infers a supernatural ‘acceleration’ of things made that’s not bound in how long things take to happen currently naturalistically. Scientism also has this ‘acceleration’ in terms of the big bangs ‘inflation’ model.

If today’s rates are only used and the past ‘acceleration’ phases are excluded in calculating things in the past then millions of years are calculated, but if the relative rates of the ‘acceleration’ phases in history are identified and used then thousands of years would be calculated. I acknowledge there are many models, but the models used in secular science seems to error in not using past ‘acceleration’ rates (which may or may not be identified) as a true determination of age alongside the framework of recorded history i.e. the bible. Intelligence forms things quicker than if the same things are left to naturalistic processes.
Cristian Vasile M.
From the article: “The following from your website is also folly.”

My dictionary defines “folly” as “1. The trait of acting stupidly or rashly; 2. A stupid mistake.”

You should be ashamed to call a fellow believer this way. Is this how you show that you love him, as Jesus commanded (Matthew 12:31, 5:44)?

How would you like God to treat you like that when you make a mistake? He’s treating you with infinite mercy and grace instead.

Is this how you show gentleness and respect when giving a defense (1 Peter 3:15)?

My brother, do not become like some of the atheist debaters that do not know God! Don’t allow their spirit to rule you! If you do, it doesn’t really matter if you know all mysteries and all knowledge—if you lack love, none of it matters (1 Corinthians 13:2).

Let the way you write, speak, or talk, be a powerful testimony to the power of God to change people into His image—“compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6)!
Jonathan Sarfati
Thank you for expressing your opinion, and for attempting to defend it biblically.

Actually, I didn't call this believer anything; I said a statement made on his website was fallacious. We should call out mistakes; this was not attacking the person.

This is CMI’s usual method, following Paul’s admonition to “demolish arguments” as opposed to demolishing people (2 Corinthians 10:5).

I should also note that your premise is faulty. There were times Jesus called people “fools” sometimes, which we didn’t even do: “You fools and blind men!” (Matthew 23:17), using the Greek mōroi (μωροὶ), the word from which we derive ‘moron’. Now Jesus was presumably not acting in an unchristlike manner ;)

His chosen apostle Paul said “O foolish Galatians!” (Galatians 3:1). There is an amusing satire about this: If Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was Published in Christianity Today, imagining possible responses from readers offended by Paul’s caustic tone ;)
Ockie C.
"So instead of reinterpreting the Bible to fit a difficulty that equally affects long-agers, let us just believe what God has inspired in His Word."

To that I say a resounding and emphatic AMEN!

For anyone out there who still doubts the veracity of God's Word concerning this and other sticky subjects (which are only sticky because we don't have clear answers yet) consider this: If God has revealed Himself to us incrementally through the ages as He has, giving us glimpses of Himself, His will, His Son, and some answers to some of the nagging scientific questions we are faced with, don't you think it is reasonable to assume that - at some time in the future - He will reveal some more facts to us? I think it is...

I, for one, am extremely excited to learn from some Creationist scientist, who has been Guided by the Almighty Elohim, how it is possible for us to see distant starlight (for instance)... I am certain that the answer is going to be so staggeringly simple and so beautiful that we will all literally fall on our backs in amazement... :-)

To YHWH all the glory for His wisdom and majesty!

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