Cosmology According to Genesis – Part 3: The Day/Night Cycle

stars-731493_640Part 1 presents the main questions pertaining to a cosmology based on Genesis. Part 2 addresses a popular explanation about the first created light which intends to explain the day/night cycle by proposing the same mechanism in place today: the created light came from one direction and the rotation of the Earth produced the sequence of days and nights. As I pointed out in the first two parts there are a series of problems associated with this explanation it does seem, at first, to better explain the day/night cycle.

Here, however, I show how the alternative explanation (that the original light was sourceless and omnidirectional) not only providing a better explanation for the other questions addressed in the first two parts but can also fully explain the day/night cycle. My proposed solution points to the language in Genesis of separating X from Y. I propose that separation means pushing things aside (yeah, that’s what the term plainly means, according to the distillery: “set or keep apart”). This could have been achieved by actually pushing things aside spatially or by creating more space between the two things being separated. Here’s a table to address the evening/morning cycle based on this proposal:

day 1st part (evening) 2nd part (morning)
1 darkness, Gen. 1:2 light created, Gen. 1:3
2 separation of light/darkness, Gen. 1:4 light travels the separation and reaches Earth again, Gen. 1:8
3 separation of waters/waters, Gen. 1:6, 7 light travels the separation and reaches Earth again, Gen. 1:13
4 separation of day/night, light/darkness, creation of Sun opposite to Eden. 1:14, 16, 18 Earth is in rotation and Eden gets to face the Sun; Sun takes over and “governs” the cycle 1:16
  1. Day 1 – It started with darkness (the evening) and then God created light (the morning).
  2. Day 2 – Between the end of the 1st day (when there was light) and the beginning of the 2nd day (when it was dark) God separated the light from the darkness by pushing the light away from the Earth, Gen. 1:4 (again, either by actually moving it or creating new space between it and the Earth). Thus the light was moved away and the Earth remained surrounded by darkness (the evening of the 2nd day). After one night the light traveled the distance of the separation and reached the Earth again (the morning of the 2nd day).
  3. Day 3 – Then God created an expanse called Heaven to separate waters from waters. I propose that along with the waters that were separated and pushed away, the light was pushed away too. Again, the separation would likely be one light-night-away space surrounding the earth. This separation produced the same effect as on the second day: it pushed the light away from the Earth and produced the evening of day #3. Then, again, the light reached again the earth after one night and produced the morning of day #3. (As a side note, the language here “God made the expanse and separated the waters” (Gen. 1:7) seem to imply that it wasn’t just a simple separation by pushing things away within the existing space. It seems God also created new space (the “expanse”) and it was by this that the waters were separated.)
  4. Day 4 – Now God separated the light from darkness again (but this time this is also described as separating the day from night). However, this time we are told that God created the celestial bodies: the Sun, the Moon and the stars. These “lights” (v.15) establish “signs … for days and years and … to give light upon the earth” (v.14-15). Further, it is clearly said that “The greater light [the Sun was made] to govern the day, and the lesser light [the Moon] to govern the night” (Gen. 1:16). This “governing” of the day/night by the Sun/Moon refers to the fact that the Sun (along with Earth’s rotation) takes over the job of producing the day/night cycle. There are multiple reasons to believe that, along with the creation of the celestial bodies, God changed the fabric of space: expanded the space. For one thing, there are a number of references to God stretching the heavens. Then, such a stretching could also explain the distant star light problem (to be discussed later). But for now I’m just pointing out that this stretching can explain what happened to the initial light: it was red shifted out of the visible range and became CMB (the cosmic microwave background radiation)—the one much touted by Big Bang cosmologists. Initially Eden faced away from the Sun and it was in the dark (the evening of the 4th day). Then, as the Earth rotated1, Eden faced the Sun and we had the morning of the 4th day. Adam and Eve must have been blown away by the first sunrise! Now the usual cycle of day and night that we know today started.

In regards to the issues from Part 2, this explanation, does treat the original cycle as a special case. It does justice to the distinction between the two separations (Gen. 1:14 and 1:14-18), as there are completely separate mechanisms to explain each. Further, the distinction whether it’s dark or night is no longer relative and arbitrary (as with the alternative explanation where a void, formless Earth provides no point of reference to say which side is in the light and which is in the dark). Lastly the fact that the first part of the cycle is called evening and then the second morning (instead of vice versa as it happens in other places in Gen. 1 and throughout the Bible) is grounded in what actually happened: the creation started with night and then there was a non-relative morning/day/light.

Further, in v. 9 there is a process somewhat similar to the separations pointed out here. It’s the separation of sea and land (although it doesn’t use the same separation term). While it’s not related to the light cycle, it ends with “dry land appear.” This visual result of this separation mirrors the light separation when, due to the separation the darkness (the evening) becomes visible. Likewise, after a night long the light becomes visible again (the morning).

In conclusion, I believe the omnidirectional light explanation addresses all the points raised in the first two parts. This proposal also has implication on a few other related issues that I may discuss in later posts:

  • a solution to the star light problem
  • the meaning of waters in Gen. 1
  • the meaning and the place of Gen. 1:1 vis-a-vis the rest of the chapter (if it’s a summary or not)
  • possible predictions made by this theory or explanation and relevance to physics
Note: the other blogs in this series are:

Footnotes:

1 There are no requirements on when the Earth started rotating. This explanation can work just as well if the Earth was created spinning at the beginning or started spinning on Day 4th. It is much more plausible however that the Earth was created spinning (or else it would require a miracle—the required acceleration to get the Earth spinning would be totally destructive).
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