Cosmology According to Genesis – Part 2: Weighing the Directional Light Scenario

star-trails-894500_640The first part presented the main questions and went into some details in regards to the following questions related to the original light God created in Gen. 1:3:

  • Did God create the light itself or the source of the light?
  • Was the light localized?
  • What happened to this original light?
  • How was the day/night cycle achieved?
  • Was God’s bringing about the darkness a separate act from the creation of light?

The conclusion of Part 1 was that a sourceless, non-localized seems to be the best explanation to all of these questions (except the one about the day/night cycle). By sourceless light, I mean that God created the light itself, not a source of light. By non-localized light I mean that the light was not localized to a specific place and therefore the light did not come from a specific direction (as a sourced light is) but came from all directions (so that the light was omnidirectional). This means that the whole sky was shining not just a spot on the sky (as it’s the case with the Sun). Of course, this requires that the whole sky was not shining as bright as the Sun. More light (coming from all over the sky) of less intensity would have done the same job as the Sun. However, the problem with the non-localized light explanation is that at first sight it doesn’t seem to provide a very good explanation of how the night/day cycle was achieved. On this point, an alternative explanation (a directional light together with a rotating Earth) seems to provide a better explanation—the one that we have today. If the light is directional (as it is the case now, coming from the direction of the Sun) then the side of the Earth opposite to the Sun would be in darkness—in the shadow cast by the Earth itself. If further the Earth is rotating then we have a cycle of day and night just as we have today (except that the initial light did not come from the Sun which was created later and took over as the source of light).

However, there are some problems with this directional-light/rotating-Earth explanation:

  1. As discussed in Part 1, such an explanation (directional light plus rotating Earth) provides a less satisfactory answer to all the other questions mentioned above.
  2. The first light was clearly a special case—it was not the light from the Sun that we are now accustomed to. Further, it didn’t seem to have a source. The first sequence of day and night was special as well. The first day had no sunrise and no sunset. This differences from the present conditions make it likely that the mechanism used for the day cycle would have been different than the one in place today (when the light is coming from one direction and the night is created by the rotating Earth’s own shadow)—which is what the directional light explanation proposes.
  3. The separation of light/darkness in Gen. 1:4 seems to be separate and distinct from the separation of day/night, light/darkness din Gen. 1:14, 16, 18. However, in the directional-light/rotating-Earth scenario, part of the mechanism (Earth’s rotation) used in the later verses is already in place in the first verses which makes for less of a distinction than the text seems to imply.
  4. In a directional-light/rotating-Earth scenario it is difficult to say whether “it is evening” or “it is morning” because both of them existed at the same time. One could say that there was light and day after the creation of light (which was the case for one half of the Earth) but at the same time one could that the darkness and night continued after the creation of the light (which was the case for the other half). One may be tempted to point to the location of Eden as a point of reference (saying that Eden was on the dark side of the Earth at first). But this is not satisfactory because on the first day there was no Eden. Given that the Earth was formless and void with land not yet separated from waters, there was no point of reference and thus this distinction seems arbitrary.
  5. The fact that the sequence is presented as night/day (or, more exactly, evening/morning) instead of day/night, light/darkness seems rather odd given this explanation. Not only that this distinction is arbitrary but picking the darkness/night first doesn’t fit with other references to light in Gen. 1 (and generally in the Bible) where the light and the day are put first and the darkness and the night second second (Gen. 1:4, 14, 18).

The question then is whether can we arrive at a mechanism for the day/night cycle based on the omnidirectional light explanation that adheres to a plain reading and also addresses the points above? My answer is an emphatic yes and will be discussed in the next post.

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