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Genesis 1:4 NIV
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

God separated the light from the darkness.

I don't get this part.

Does it mean that light and darkness were one?

I know that there was darkness before God created the light.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

IMO, this is the simplest explanation:

And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Gen. 1:2)

At this point everything is dark.

And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. (3)

Now everything is light.

And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. (4)

It wasn't God's intention that everything should be dark or everything should be light. Instead light and darkness must both coexist and therefore the two must be separated and designated to its own domain. Verse five contains a more explicit description of that separation/designation:

And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night... (5)

KJV translation

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The only problem I have with this interpretation is the sun, moon, and stars were not created until v.14-18. Which begs the question, what light is being referred to here? –  cegfault Mar 17 at 7:35

This was always a fascinating thing for me, the creation of light.

Gen 1:3 (KJV)

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

The best explanation for me of what light is, is what we now call the electromagnetic spectrum.

electromagnetic spectrum enter image description here

At this stage only the ability for the existence of light was made, there was no energy to to make darkness or light, everything was standstill and at zero kelvin.

Gen 1:3 (KJV)

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Here we see for the first time interaction of God with creation, this "divided" I always see as an impartation of energy into creation. Here is where energy is given to protons to emit energy in the form of radiation to produce light.

enter image description here

Now for the first time there is energy and movement of electrons.

The day and night has to do with the sun, but the sun does not exist yet.

But we do have matter, thus this is where I think God made Black body radiation to produce visible light. Or at least established law that governs thermodynamics. Black body radiation

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+1 for interesting speculation. I hadn't heard this one before. Honestly, it seems like a bit of a leap given the language of the first few verses. But that's not to say you're wrong, just that I see it as a bit of a stretch. But certainly lays an interesting thought process for creation of energy in that sense. –  cegfault Mar 17 at 7:39
@cegfault I'm glad you found it interesting :D –  Barnstokkr Mar 17 at 8:15

1 John 1:5 (KJV)
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

John 8:12 KJV
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

It was at this point God separated His way from any other way. Think of light as the knowledge of God and darkness as ignorance.

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! This site is a little different from other sites. Be sure to visit the tour to learn more about this site. –  Paul Vargas Feb 4 at 19:27

God is laying the foundation for the definition of a day. Notice the flow and progression of the text. Darkness (v.2) - Light had not been created, God creates light (v.3), God sees (of course He already knew) the light is good, God separates the light from darkness (He creates distinction), God names light and darkness (v.5) which defines a day, and then Moses recaps with “one day” which was defined by God.

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Thank you for taking the time to share your insights. Be sure to visit the tour to learn more about this site. Due to the nature of this site, a reference may be required to support your conclusions. –  Paul Vargas Nov 13 '14 at 16:53

In sensus plenior darkness is Love as expressed in unity, grace, mercy, long-suffering, patience, etc. and Light is Holiness, as expressed in separation, law, justice, judgement, patience etc.

The Trinity existed in darkness/love before creation, but the Light/holiness was hidden in God, as expressed in the pun for Elohim (alo khoom - meaning 'not dark'). The Light, or the revelation of God as Holiness did not exist because there was nothing for him to be separate from. As soon as there was a creation, holiness could be expressed.

Light, as a metaphor for holiness, was pre-existent, but hidden in God himself.

God's revelation of himself is given in two paths Holiness and Love. When we understand them individually, He reconciles them on the cross. What was parted at creation is joined at the cross.

From a physics point of view: Experiments concerning "Shrodinger's cat" basically create light in opposite phases from nothing. Since the law of conservation of energy is not violated, quantum leaps of information can be created. Light and 'anti-light' are separated from nothingness.

This article shows one implementation using entangled particles. Another implementation in Australia accomplishes it within a light tube where the energy pattern put in one end exists the other simultaneously by splitting off an energy pattern traveling in reverse through the tube, originating at the exit face.

At the exit face, the two expressions of the pattern are created out of 'nothing' and express the input pattern in two ways. If people could actually understand what is going on it would be a great picture of splitting two expressions of God's revelation of himself out of nothing at His command.

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It's helpful to note that in Genesis 1, God not only separates light from darkness on the first day, but also waters from waters on the second day, and day from night on the fourth day.

And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven.[c] And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Genesis 1:6-8 ESV

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19 ESV

You're right that before there was light, all was darkness.

It seems that the key distinction is that the creation of light did not extinguish all darkness in all places, but rather that there were places for both light and darkness, just as day does not annihilate all night. Light would be limited in its reach.

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