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  • Robert KingRobert King
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    QUESTION: Scientists tell us that the universe is 13 billion years old and that the Earth is 4 and one half billion years old. They also say that the oldest known star, HE 1523-0901, is 13 billion years old being one of the first stars born at the time of the universe. However, the Bible seems to suggest that the Earth is older than the stars for Genesis 1:16 clearly states that the Sun, moon and stars were made on the fourth day. How can this be so? Also, if the days of creation were not 24-hour days, but perhaps one thousand years or more each, then how did life on the Earth survive with no sun? Surely the earth and all life on it would have frozen with no sun to provide light and heat for all those years.

    The opening words of Genesis inform us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The Milky Way galaxy, of which our solar system is part, is a tiny part of the heavens that God created in the beginning. That means that God did not create the sun and moon after he created the heavens and earth. The sun and moon are obviously part of the heavens.

    Keep in mind that the creative days have to do with God’s spirit operating directly open the earth in preparing it for human habitation. Contrary to the beliefs of the so-called young earth creationists, the earth is indeed billions of years old. However, for eons after it was created by God it was not very inviting. Genesis 1:2 describes it this way: “Now the earth was formless and desolate, and there was darkness upon the surface of the watery deep, and God’s active force was moving about over the surface of the waters.”

    In its original state the earth was not only covered by a shoreless sea, it was apparently shrouded in a thick blanket of atmospheric gases as well, perhaps like the giant jovian planet, Jupiter. So, even though the heavenly bodies of the sun and moon existed their light could not penetrate the dense gases that covered the planet. Thus, from the standpoint of an imaginary earthly observer “there was darkness upon the surface of the watery deep.”

    So, on Day One Jehovah evidently thinned out the atmosphere, as if saying: “‘Let there be light.’ Then there was light. After that God saw that the light was good, and God began to divide the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, but the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.”

    Again, from the vantage point of an imaginary observer on earth, by the end of the first creative day there was a discernible period of light during the 24 hour cycle —something that did not exist prior to Day One.

    On the second day Jehovah caused a division of the waters —suspending some of the water above the earth. The Hebrew word translated as “deluge” literally means “heavenly ocean.” It was this vast heavenly ocean, along with subterranean waters that were the source of the Flood of Noah’s day.

    On Day Three God created various grasses, plants and trees. But everyone knows that plants need sunlight to grow. How is it possible that God created green plants on Day Three if the sun was not created until Day Four?

    Again, keep in mind that Genesis is speaking from the standpoint of of a human on earth, even though none existed then. Apparently, though, the atmosphere between the two oceans was still laden with gas or vapor. Or, perhaps there was a gas cloud about the heavenly ocean. At any rate, on Day Four God removed that obstruction. As a result the heavenly luminaries became more prominent, which is why God stated: “Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to make a division between the day and the night, and they will serve as signs for seasons and for days and years. They will serve as luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth.” And it was so. And God went on to make the two great luminaries, the greater luminary for dominating the day and the lesser luminary for dominating the night, and also the stars. Thus God put them in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth and to dominate by day and by night and to make a division between the light and the darkness. Then God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”

    Please note that not only does the scripture say that God made the two great luminaries, but also the stars, which totally contradicts Genesis 1:1.

    To clear up the confusion it helps to appreciate the subtle distinction between two Hebrew words used in the first chapter of Genesis. The word “bara” is used to denote creation and creating, whereas the word asah, sometimes translated as “make” is in the sense of causing an effect. Here is what the Good News pamphlet published by the Watchtower in 1976 says in explanation:

    On the “fourth day,” God went on “to make the two great luminaries, the greater luminary for dominating the day and the lesser luminary for dominating the night, and also the stars.” (Genesis 1:14-19) However, had not God created these heavenly bodies earlier, “in the beginning”? Yes, he had. But please note that there is a difference between the verb “created” (Hebrew, bara’) at Genesis 1:1 and the verb ‘made’ (Hebrew, ‘asah) at Genesis 1:16. What apparently happened on the “fourth day” is that for the first time the outline of sun, moon and stars became quite visible from the surface of the earth, probably because of a clearing of the atmosphere.

    To emphasize the point, there is a difference between creating something that previously did not exist and affecting an already existing object or condition so as to cause an effect. And that was surely the case when God made the already existing heavenly luminaries come into prominence in the sky on Day Four.

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