One of the most common objections to the biblical creation position is this:
God said “Let there be light” on Day One, but did not create the sources of light until Day Four. How can this be? Does this not prove that the days were not real days?
What Light Actually Is
Behind this question are a number of issues of understanding. Such a questioner has failed to understand that it is important to take God at His word. They have also failed to understand the nature of what light actually is.
Perhaps we need to alter the question slightly, in order to work towards an answer. Let’s ask this: is it possible for light to exist without a source? The answer to this question is “yes,” and this can be demonstrated experimentally today.
Light is a waveform in an electromagnetic field. A wave in a rope is always a good analogy for how a light wave works. If you stretch out a rope on the floor, a wave can be “sent along” the rope by one person quickly moving the end of the rope up and down. This person’s hand has given the rope the energy required to send the wave down the rope. This person could wave the rope just once, or keep waving it to send lots of waves.
The operator’s hand is like the light source. If a single wave is made, it is as if the operator has switched the source on, then switched off again. Yet, even after his / her hand has come to a stop, the wave continues to move. The wave no longer has the original source. Of course, it will soon disappear as the energy dissipates, due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but it does not dissipate immediately.
Perhaps one can envisage a complex set of levers that could get the wave in the rope moving, without a hand-waving, but by manipulating several parts of the rope at once. In this way, the rope-wave could be made without its “source,” though an energy input would still be required.
Imagine firing a laser beam at the Moon, so that it can reflect off one of the mirrors left there by the Apollo craft of the late ’60s and early ’70s. The laser light travels to the Moon, and bounces off the mirror, returning to Earth, where it can be detected. This process, traveling at the speed of light, takes about 1.5 seconds. Suppose you switch on the laser, then switch it off after 0.5 second. You will still detect the traveling light waves 1 second later. The laser beam has traveled without a source, because the source was switched off.
The Spirit—The Source of Light
In the same way, God could easily have made waves in the electromagnetic field. Such waves would be light waves. They would be directional. They would not require a source, because God would have made them happen. These waves would still require energy, which God, by His “hovering” or “brooding” Spirit, would provide, but there is no need for us to assume that there would have to be a point source, such as the Sun, to get the wave moving. If the Earth were rotating once every 24 hours in this God-produced light wave, then you would have day and night, evening and morning—the first day! It is possible that God, in His wisdom, would have kept an input of energy to keep the waves going until He created the sources on Day Four. It is also possible that the “dampening” caused by the Second Law would not have hindered this light in the three days required. Don’t forget, we are talking about the Creation Week, in which the Almighty, Omnipotent Creator God was creating the universe, and, in His wisdom, had decided not to make it all at once, but to make it a bit at a time, so that at the end of Day One, the creation was not yet complete. At the end of Day Three, there were plants without insects, but few people worry about that, as just one day’s wait for the plants before pollinating insects were available would hardly be likely to kill the plants! In the same way, for reasons that only God fully knows, He decided to create light on Day One without a source, and then put the sources for that light in place on Day Four. For someone with an understanding of the physics of light, together with a belief in the omnipotence of God, this should not really be a difficult concept either to grasp or to believe.
In our laser example, light exists without a source, though, of course, the source had to “start it going.” In the creation week, however, I fail to see why it is difficult to accept that God could create the light—getting it started, so to speak—even though the source was not yet available.