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In the Bible it clearly states:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

and then in the same chapter:

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.(Genesis 1:16)

But we've come to know that the Sun is much older than the Earth; is this a contradiction?

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    The creation or account or anything else is not supposed to be scientific. Sun represents light; and moon the nightlight. The author is describing God is the creator of the universe.
    – Michael16
    Sep 4, 2022 at 11:33
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    @JamesShewey I agree with what you wrote in your bounty comment, especially since this is proper hermeneutical procedure. What I do not agree with is your injection of modern projection onto history, namely ore-enlightenment, Adam was not a babbling caveman, as an example he was a taxonomist from day one, was fluent in the original spoken language also on day one and his companion for knowledge was God Himself. All humans have since been deteriorating with time, not improving. It’s only considered enlightenment the because of forced darkness and suppression of knowledge, giving the illusion Mar 8 at 1:27
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    @NihilSineDeo - Actually, your answer is the one I am awarding the bounty to, but I am forced to wait 24 hours by the system. That said, I do not mean to suggest that Adam (to the extent he was even a literal human and not representative of humanity) was uncivilized - just that trying to fit our current understanding of cosmology into the text would be in error. The science of that time was observational - and it makes sense given the limited tools they had. I was simply referring to The Age of Enlightenment as that was the demarcation Mar 8 at 16:07
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    between when cosmology shifted from geocentric to current cosmology. Of course this is distinct from the Firmament model that was moved off of many years before that. Using that term was not meant to imply that Adam was unenlightened. Mar 8 at 16:12
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    @enegue, that again is your opinion and none of the church fathers share your view, your view is a modern, new and unfaithful reading of the text, informed exclusively by a modern secular cosmology. What you are demonstrating is severe form of cognitive dissonance. It’s one thing to say, I believe modern secular cosmology is accurate, it’s another to say that what the Bible authors were describing was not accurate to what they understood, believed and knew to be true. You don’t get a say into what they accepted as cosmology. It’s their cosmology, you cannot redefine it or try to reshape it. Mar 8 at 21:19

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+50

The issue with your question and the reason for your dissonance is simply because you are injecting axioms from a modern secular cosmology into a Biblical cosmology which looks nothing like modern cosmology and has an entirely different origin, timeframe and volume.

One cannot mix paradigms and axioms and still expect to get compatibility.

The choice is simple, if you read the Bible and want to believe it then believe it all the way through. The earth is flat and circular, with raised edges holding in the ocean, is set on pillars, has a firmament and all the lights are in the firmament. Above the firmament is water. God did it this way.

If you want to inject modern cosmology into the text provided you don’t change the wording, if it aligns then fine. But the moment you change the text to suit what you want it to say, you might as well throw out your Bible and believe whatever you want. Don’t deceive yourself.

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    Can't really understand where you stand on this, am questioning why can't we (as you say) "inject axioms" into the Bible, when those "axioms" are our basic standard, and the bible was intended to all of us, at any age at any time.
    – Karim
    Mar 11, 2021 at 4:51
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    I’m saying the Bible has its own cosmology that is INCOMPATIBLE with modern cosmology. The earth doesn’t move in the Bible, but in modern cosmology it moves, it spins, it displaces itself. The sun, moon and stars are local in the Bible, meaning above the clouds in the solid structure called the firmament, but in modern cosmology the sun is far away, so is the moon and the stars are even further, plus there are planets and galaxies, nothing like the Bible. The axioms of modern cosmology can’t be inserted into the Bible. Simple. Stop trying. Accept or reject Bible but don’t change what it says. Mar 11, 2021 at 6:30
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    Why shouldn't the Bible be compatible with modern cosmology?
    – Karim
    Mar 12, 2021 at 7:03
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    @Karim - "the bible was intended to all of us, at any age at any time." this may be true, but the Bible was never intended to be a science textbook. It is intended to give us religious truths, not to be perfectly accurate in every scientific detail. In my mind this does not make the Bible any less true - what it tells us about God is still 100% true, even if some minor unimportant and incidental details are incorrect. Mar 8 at 16:23
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    And to the extent that the Bible was intended for all of us, we need to recognize that our modern cosmology would have been ridiculous and laughable to ancient peoples. They would have "known" that our modern model was outlandish (to them) and laughed you out of the room for suggesting otherwise. Mar 8 at 16:28
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Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

This is the primordial earth. It is being developed.

Day 1, God made light.
Day 2, God made sky.

Next, the Earth is changing:

9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

You say:

the Sun is much older than the Earth

The Sun is much older than the Earth as we know it. Genesis 1:1's earth is not the earth as we know it.

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  • The earth was barren and cratered.
    – R. Emery
    Mar 9, 2021 at 18:26
  • I have a few issues with your answer that hopefully you could help me understand them. "God created the heavens and the earth" God called it "Earth" still though? Just because stuff changed on the earth doesn't really mean that it isn't "Earth" still, and also, it was an 3 morning and evenings between the creation of the earth and the sun, meaning it's been 72 hours, and the difference between the age of the Sun and the Earth is much bigger than 72 hours? And the changes happened before the sun was created, the "Earth" with land and seas was an actual thing on the third day, sun was in 4th.
    – Karim
    Mar 10, 2021 at 12:24
  • I also called it "Earth".
    – user35953
    Mar 10, 2021 at 14:16
  • Why was it called "earth" when it was covered with "water"?
    – Dieter
    Mar 11 at 21:07
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I think you have 2 options here.

  1. The Earth could form before the Sun because God is the creator, and God could create them in that order. Given that the Word of God is more certain than any recent scientific theory, not only could the Earth form first, but it did. So the scientific theory is wrong.

  2. The Earth didn't form before the Sun, because we know from certain scientific discoveries that the Sun is older. Therefore, either a) Genesis is wrong or b) Genesis must be read in some different way - in this case, perhaps 'heaven and earth' is a figure of speech.

IMHO this is one of the lesser problems with thinking of Genesis as a text on astrophysics, geology, biology, and so on.

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    The first option is very outlandish, is science of any value in Christianity? You can't say that what scientists have worked to achieve is incorrect because god said something else. The second option leaves me hanging for an answer still, in what way should I read Genesis so it would make sense? Not even I alone, everyone should read it the same because if it's science, science is the truth. Hopefully you can understand my problem with your answer, and if you could provide with a solution.
    – Karim
    Mar 10, 2021 at 12:07
  • @Karim Re 'outlandish', lookup Ken Ham. He's fairly honest about the implications re science of taking Genesis literally and inerrantly. Re 2nd option, typical take is that that part of Genesis is a theological text, making claims about the nature of God and in particular vs. the other gods of the surrounding culture at the time - not a textbook on astrophysics. So God didn't intend for us to be debating astrophysics, geology, and so on because of Genesis, but rather to get certain lessons about the nature of God. Mar 10, 2021 at 18:21
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    Do people think that because it doesn't make sense astrophysically?
    – Karim
    Mar 11, 2021 at 5:51
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    @Karim Yes, some of those people to some degree are motivated in their interpretation by a belief Genesis is problematic in terms of astrophysics, geology, hydrology, biology, and so on. Mar 11, 2021 at 6:07
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    @NihilSineDeo Not sure what you're referring to exactly, but I'm using 'formed' to mean 'created' or 'made'. If the Earth just popped into existence isn't meant to be excluded by the term 'form' here. Mar 11, 2021 at 17:35
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Let us be very clear that Hebrew has perfectly good words for:

  • The sun, שֶׁמֶשׁ (shemesh) which first appears in Gen 15:12
  • The moon, יָרֵחַ (yareach) which first occurs in Gen 37:9

Thus, while these perfectly well known words are available, the author of Gen 1 goes to some trouble to avoid using them.

Further, we note that the great lights to rule the day and night are placed in the firmament (Gen 1:14); now, according to Gen 1:6, the firmament is the space (sky) between the water below (rivers, seas, lakes, etc) and the waters above (clouds or the source of rain, hail & snow, etc).

Thus, if a pedant wanted to be really pedantic, then one might erroneously conclude several bizarre things:

  1. The sun moon and stars were created on day 4
  2. The sun and moon are within our atmosphere and travel trough it.

However, the author of Genesis carefully avoids this problem by saying that:

  1. It was the lights that were provided on day 4 and not the actual sun and moon themselves
  2. It is the light from these bodies that is within the atmosphere not the sun and moon themselves

The conclusion here is simple - the sun and moon might have existed well before the start of creation week having been created at an earlier unstated time.

Of course, the human author could not have known the full implications of what they wrote and this (I believe) is an evidence of the divine origin of the inspiration of the author of this part of Scripture.

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  • Thank you for your answer, well said to be honest lol. What is the source of the greater light that was provided on day 4? And the lesser light as well. And why were they provided on the 4th day? Not in the first since the Sun's light doesn't take long to reach the Earth, neither does the moon's.
    – Karim
    Mar 11, 2021 at 3:36
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    How does the sun exist before there was any light? Mar 11, 2021 at 6:11
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    @AnthonyBurg - the conditions on the earth at the beginning of creation week are not described but the account in Gen is written from a purely phenomenological point of view - the sun's light appeared in the 4th day.
    – Dottard
    Mar 11, 2021 at 10:00
  • @Dottard I do not understand what you're saying. 'purely phenomenological POV'? Mar 11, 2021 at 18:11
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    @AnthonyBurg - that is what appears to be implied - but be careful because very little is recorded here and I do not want to go too far.
    – Dottard
    Mar 11, 2021 at 22:00
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There is an Old Earth Creation (OEC) perspective that provides an explanation for the OP question about these seemingly contradictory verses from Genesis 1. The most well known proponents of this perspective are from the scholars at https://reasons.org and is something that I have been trying to elaborate on in my website at https://big.bible. In this answer I will call it the OEC perspective for brevity, although there are other OEC perspectives among scholars.

This OEC perspective interprets Genesis 1:1 as describing the creation of the universe. This would include the creation of the stars and sun before any other events that are described in the following verses in Genesis 1.

This perspective then takes a special note of Genesis 1:2 (ESV).

"The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

From this OEC perspective, this verse sets the point of view or frame of reference for the rest of Genesis 1. The point of view is from the "Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters", where the "face of the waters" is the early water-covered earth. In other words, the rest of Genesis 1 is told from the point of view of being within the earth's atmosphere, where the Spirit of God is hovering over the waters covering the earth.

From this perspective, the day 1 description of "Let there be light" is the period in earth's transformation where the dense cloud cover changes from nearly opaque to more translucent. This causes the light of the sun to become more visible on the earth through the cloud cover. The day 2 description of "Let there be an expanse" is the formation of the atmosphere that separates the cloud cover above and the water-covered earth beneath the atmosphere. The day 3 description of "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear" is the appearance of the original continents along with the beginning of primitive plant life.

The day 4 event is initially described in Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV) as follows.

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.

From this OEC perspective verses 14 and 15 describe the sun, moon, and stars being made visible on the earth because of a dissipation of the thick cloud cover and the greater clarity in the atmosphere. From a scientific perspective, this clearing of the atmosphere has been modeled from an increase in oxygen and a decrease in methane. This visibility of the sun and moon from the earth and the increase in oxygen allow plants to begin photosynthesis and sets the stage for the type of animal life that uses the diurnal cycle (i.e., regular periods of light and darkness).

The next verse of Genesis 1:16 is the origin of the quote in the OP which is consistent with the KJV. For consistency in this answer, Genesis 1:16 is shown below from the ESV.

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.

The word that is translated "made" here is the Hebrew word וַיַּעַשׂ which has the root of עשׂה (asah). This has Strong's number of H6213. Honestly, I am not enough of a Hebrew scholar to say much definitively about the nuances of this translation and I don't know how to link to references on the web that use Hebrew in this SE editor. But a search on the web for these Hebrew words does seem to show evidence that וַיַּעַשׂ might be rendered as "had made" instead of "made". If such a rendering were valid, then Genesis 1:16 could be rendered as "And God had made the two great lights...". Such a rendering would be consistent with the beginning of the description of the day 4 event in Genesis 1:14-15 as described above. The phrase of "Let there be..." in verse 14 would then describe the appearance of the lights. Verse 16 would then describe more specifically what those lights were - "the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars". On the other hand I have not yet seen a commonly used translation that renders Genesis 1:16 with the words "had made" instead of "made". Note that the answer from @Jess in this post would also support the use of "had made", however.

It is also interesting to note that the Hebrew word עשׂה (asah) is different than the Hebrew word בָּרָא (bara) which is used in Genesis 1:1, 1:21, and 1:27 to denote significant creative events. This OEC perspective finds this important since עשׂה (asah) could be used to describe the lights appearing as described above. If the author of Genesis wanted to denote creation of the sun, moon, and stars, then the creative phrase בָּרָא (bara) could have been used instead. Other perspectives like Young Earth Creationism do not find this differentiation between עשׂה (asah) and בָּרָא (bara) to be significant (e.g., https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/did-god-create-bara-or-make-asah-in-genesis-1/).

This all explains how this OEC perspective supports the assertion that the two verses in the OP are not a contradiction. From this OEC perspective, these two verses describe events that are consistent with certain time periods during the creation of the universe and the 4.5 billion year transformation of the earth as described by science. And in this perspective, the order of the events as described in Genesis 1 also corresponds to the order of events as described by modern day science. Hence from this OEC perspective, the OP verses from Genesis are consistent with the scientific findings of the sun being created before the earth.

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Deity is a source of light.

... the glory of the God of Israel ...
... the earth, shone with his glory.

Ezekiel 43:2 Rotherham

Lord, I have heard of your fame ...
His splendor was like the sunrise ...

Habakkuk 3:2,4 NIV

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Luke 2:9 NIV

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all

1 John 1:5 NIV

And many others.

Thus between the first and fourth days, the light emanated from and was controlled by deity.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Genesis 1:3-4 NIV

The creation a template for the events between Eden and the kingdom of deity.

The six days of creation correspond to the six thousand years between Eden and the establishment of the kingdom of god.

Four thousand years from Adam to christ as determined by the genealogical record.
Two thousand years from the sacrifice of christ till the resurrection of the dead :

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

1 Corinthians 15:20,23 NIV

After three days ...

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God ... you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

Joshua 3:2-4 NIV

The establishing of the kingdom described thusly :

“Look, I come like a thief!

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” ...

Revelation 16:15 21:1 NIV

Peter parallels these descriptors - like a thief and new heaven and new earth - of the establishing of the kingdom of god (along with several others) and discusses the time elapsed between it and the creation :

They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.

... we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth ...

2 Peter 3:4,8,10,13 NIV

The seventh day, the sabbath, corresponding to the thousand year kingdom to be established at that time :

They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

... they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:4,6 NIV

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said ...

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”

Hebrews 4:3-4 NIV

The fourth day.

Fairly obviously therefore (as with the other events in the creation), the events of the fourth day correspond to the signal event in the four thousandth year, that being the appearance of christ.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Genesis 1:14-19 NIV

Where originally we had light emanating directly from deity, instead now a singular ruling light is appointed, which light is reflected in its absence, supported by certain lesser luminaries.

“I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”

Genesis 37:9,10 NIV

The moon of course representing ecclesiastical systems throughout the bible and as with Joseph's parents here, typifying the relationship between Jesus and his bride :

The bride belongs to the bridegroom.

John 3:29 NIV

The stars of course referring to Joseph's brothers and ultimately the 12 tribes, here representing the disciples and apostles :

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Daniel 12:3 NIV

This progression from deity as the source of light, to the manifestation of a source of that light being a theme in John's famously disrespected prologue :

In it was life, and that life was the light of men.

And that light shineth in the wilderness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

This same came for a witness, to bear witness of that light, that all men through him might believe.

He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.

John 1:4-9 Geneva Bible (1599)

The true (ἀληθινὸν) light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

John 1:9 NIV

The word or logos being a thing, not a personage, therefore it.
That light or purpose of deity being fully manifest in Jesus some four thousand years after the creation.

ἀληθινὸν
alēthinós – properly, true (real), emphasizing the organic connection between what is true and its source or origin.

The bible and "science".

In other words there's no difficulty with the biblical account. Whether it's accepted or not is between everyone and their god.

As to the bible and "science", fantastic theorems will never disprove the miraculous book of life.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

2 Peter 1:19 NIV

When scientists replace theories of the past with the capacity to tell the future then maybe I'll give them more than a passing glance.

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  • +1 While I don't necessarily agree with everything above, what you wrote is well supported and I think your observation of the connection between the fourth day and Christ as the light of mankind is noteworthy. Scientific inferences of the past are not observable, repeatable, or testable. They are plausible to a degree, but not reliable since scientific explanations are always changing. The holy scriptures are reliable, but represent an abstraction that's practical to the majority of humanity over thousands of years. The formation of the solar system is currently poorly understood.
    – Dieter
    Mar 8 at 16:57
  • Thanks for your kind words. Your perspective on the bible versus science is logical. While they invest heavily in theories that come and go they refuse to allow for biblical truth which makes their approach distinctly unscientific. Fulfilled prophecy. Proves god. Proves the bible. And saves lives. Mar 9 at 1:23
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You can’t expect Genesis 1 to answer modern scientific questions because that’s not its genre.

It is an Ancient Near Eastern creation myth that acts as a prologue to the rest of the Bible.

As a creation myth, it doesn’t seek to answer scientific questions, rather it explains man’s place in the world in relation to the gods.

It is divided into two main sections: days 1-3 where God creates structure (day/night, sky, seas, land); and days 4-6 where he populates those structures with free agents (shiners, swarmers, flyers, crawlers). The sun was created on day 4 because it is one of the shiners (heaven-rulers) whose task it is to aid humans (the earth/sea/sky-rulers) in worship by helping them calculate times of religious observance. As a prologue, Genesis 1 introduces the possibility of conflict between God, the heaven-rulers and the humans.

In short, the sun is placed on day 4 because he doesn’t want us to think the sun is a source of heat and light, it is just a marker of the daytime.

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Genesis 1:14-18 could be interpreted as mentioning lights appearing in the sky to mark off days, seasons, etc. That's because the Hebrew verb wayya can be translated as had made. This is possible because the Hebrew language has no special word for the pluperfect tense but uses the perfect tense or the converse imperfect to express the English past or the English pluperfect. See S.R. Driver A Treatise on the Use of the Tense in Hebrew, (Oxford: 1892), p.86.

There are a number of viable ways of interpreting the creation account in Genesis. It's kind of like prophecy in reverse. Just like there are a number of end times interpretations, so there are also different interpretations of the creation account.

The origin of organic life began with the earth bringing forth vegetation (Genesis 1:11-12). One plausible scientific explanation would be how clay crystals served as a catalyst for organic molecules to develop. Later this would be the basis for land based plants in the Paleozoic era - e.g. lycopodiums, equisetums, ferns and other vascular plants.

Light appearing on the early could be explained by how photosynthesis by vegetation replaces CO2 by oxygen, lowering the temperature and clearing the atmosphere so astronomical objects can be visible to terrestrial observers.

In short, after the initial creation of the "heavens and earth" though a developmental process possibly lasting billions of years, there was the terraforming of the earth.

The creation week described in Genesis could have been done in a rapid manner in a period of 148 hours, in a series of lengthy developmental stages stretching eons of time, or even in one flashing moment in time (e.g. with the appearance of timeless age built into the fabric of reality). A good science fiction analogy, for a rapid speeding up of time view of creation, would be the "Genesis Effect" described in one of the Star Trek movies (Wrath of Kahn).

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Another possibility is that there is an unknown period of time that passed between verse 1 and verse two, after which the earth became without form and void (tôhû bôhû)... if Isaiah is taken to mean that it was not created in vain (tôhû).

Isaiah 45:18

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

If so, then all of the events described in verses 3 through Gen.2:1 would have mostly been a restoration of order, or reconstruction of some sort, after some cataclysmic event. Such an event could be exactly what is referred to in this section of 2 Peter.

2 Peter 3:5-7

[5] For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: [6] Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: [7] But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

This appears to describe a different event that what is subsequently attributed to being the flood in the days of Noah, when eight souls were saved (2 Pet.3:20.) After the flood in Noah's day, God made a covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth with water (Gen. 9:11). Given this may have been the second time of doing so, this promise may have carried more significance than had it been the only time.

If water was used as the cleansing agent in Noah's day, it is reasonable to consider what (if anything) might have prompted a need for it prior to Genesis 1:2. Although it might not be considered by some to be a clear reference to the Satan, there are few other (if any) scriptures that allude to and/or better explain the origins of Satan, much less when this "annointed" cherub's rebellion against God may have occurred, other than these verses from Ezekial 28 and Isaiah 14.

Ezekial 28:13-15

[13] Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. [14] Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. [15] Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Isaiah 14:12-14

[12] How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! [13] For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: [14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High

Considering there does not appear to be anything in Genesis 1:2 through 2:1 that mentions this annointed cherub and "the day thou wast created," it seems reasonable that said creation occurred either as part of what is spoken of in Genesis 1:1, or at some point prior to verse 2. Likewise, given the uncertainty of when this pride and iniquity first appeared, it seems equally reasonable to think that it also occurred at some point prior to verse 2. And if these are both true, it offers a very plausible and reasonable explanation of the cataclysmic destruction that may have occurred between verse 1 and verse 2 of Genesis 1... which in turn offers a new perspective on what the verses following this might and/or might not mean.

In light of this, I think this section of Dottard's answer makes perfectly good sense:

**However, the author of Genesis carefully avoids this problem by saying that:

  1. It was the lights that were provided on day 4 and not the actual sun and moon themselves
  2. It is the light from these bodies that is within the atmosphere not the sun and moon themselves

The conclusion here is simple - the sun and moon might have existed well before the start of creation week having been created at an earlier unstated time.**

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  • Hugs, upvoted. There is a difference between the word created and made. It opens up a whole new vista to the past heavens and earth of old that once were. (2 Peter3:5-7)Before they became without form and were recreated where things were made out of their original creation of verse one. "The appearance of the sun and the moon on the Fourth day was not a new creation. They had existed in connection with the Pre-Adamite Earth.... The words translated 'made' in the 16th verse is not the same word as is translated "created" in verse one, and does not imply a creative act". Clarence Larkin
    – Sherrie
    Feb 17, 2022 at 21:29
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The text of Genesis 1 is the record of an encounter that Moses had with God. Everything that Moses heard and saw in that encounter, he was only able to describe in terms of what he knew of the world he was born into.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 (KJV)

God creates the universe, i.e. heaven + earth.

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.
Genesis 1:2 (KJV)

The earth and heaven hadn't yet been created. Moses could only 'see' darkness and emptiness, which he describes in terms of 'waters' and 'the deep'.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:3-5 (KJV)

Then Moses heard the voice of God declare that light is to be created, and then he sees it happen. The vast empty darkness was now filled with light.

Where did the light come from? The Revelation of John provides the answer:

23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Revelation 21:23 (KJV)

The light was generated by God, himself. There was no need at this instant for celestial bodies to generate light. John reveals that as it was in the beginning, so it will be in the end.

God's opinion of the light is that it 'was good'. The word 'night' refers the to the darkness at the beginning of creation, and the word 'day'(1) refers the light now before Moses. 'Evening' is the name given to the period of 'darkness' that precedes the period of light, which was called 'morning'. The entire period, evening followed by morning, he called 'day'(1).

*And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Keep in mind that 'waters' and 'the deep' are the only means Moses had of adequately depicting the vast emptiness that was before him. However, it is now daytime, and Moses witnesses a division occurring in the emptiness, i.e. something solid appears, called 'the firmament'(2), dividing the 'waters' into two regions, one above and one below.

Moses then continues his vision of God's creative work:

  • Genesis 1:10-13 - land, water and vegetation from the 'waters' under the firmament.
  • Genesis 1:14-19 - celestial bodies from the 'waters' above/in the firmament.
  • Genesis 1:20-25 - living bodies that swim in the water and fly in the sky
  • Genesis 1:26-31 - living bodies that walk and creep on the land, the most important of which was man - important because he alone was given the capacity to appreciate all that God had created.

Notes:
  1. יוֹם, Strong's H3117 - yôm, was the Hebrew word for 'day' familiar to Moses, and understood by him to mean both 'from sunrise to sunset' (daytime), and 'from one sunset to the next' (24 hours period).
  2. What is ... "raqiya" in Gen 1:6?
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How could the earth form before the sun?

• Currently, we know from isotope ratios, as much as 50% of the water on the earth is older than the sun. https://www.astronomy.com/science/earths-water-is-older-than-the-sun/

• Currently, we know that there is perhaps three times as much water inside the earth than on the surface of the earth. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25723-massive-ocean-discovered-towards-earths-core/

• Currently, we also know that the earth might well have started as a water world as described in Genesis. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2021/04/harvard-scientists-determine-early-earth-may-have-been-a-water-world/

• Currently, we know that numerous experiments in quantum mechanics demonstrate that mathematical probability waves collapse into mass-energy when measured or observed, and that they demonstrate both constructive and destructive interference. As a result, some eminent researchers in the field conclude that information is at the root of all existence. We also know that information cannot be created nor destroyed, but no one knows where the information came from. For example, Vlatko Vedral is a professor of Physics at the University of Oxford who specializes in quantum theory and whose research papers are widely cited expresses the concept this way:

“The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”

Let’s compare Dr. Vedral’s description to the beginning of the Gospel of John in the New Testament:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:1 (NASB)

“Word” here is translated from the original Greek word logos, which encompasses meanings in English that include a word, a thought, a concept, a plan, reasoning, and logic—all of which represent information.

• Currently, we know that the relative speed of passage of time changes depending on velocity and the presence of gravitational fields. Measuring the passage of time depends entirely on regular periodicity such as the vibrations in a quartz crystal. Periodicity in Genesis was established with light-dark cycles of unknown duration in comparison to current day-night cycles. A “day” might be 24 “hours” or a thousand years—we have absolutely no way of measuring time without an independent chronometer just as we can’t measure a distance without a standard length such as a meter stick.

• Currently, we know that everything observable was very different when the universe was the size of a pinhead.

• Currently, we know that “dark matter” explains the missing mass in galaxies, and we know that “dark energy” explains why the universe is expanding ever more rapidly, even surpassing the speed of light, causing the majority of the observed red shift in light. No one knows what either of dark matter or dark energy actually are.

• Currently, we know that Newtonian physics can approximate orbital mechanics, but that relativistic effects are also involved. However, no one knows what gravity actually is except a deformation in space-time, and no one has determined the existence of "gravitons." Thus, deformations in space-time might actually cause matter to accumulate. We don't know.

It’s possible that the sun was a “collapsing” cloud of hydrogen insufficiently dense to support significant quantum tunneling and superposition for fusion to occur. The average density of the sun is about the same as that of Jupiter—about the same as corn syrup. Note that if Jupiter simply had more mass, we could be living in a binary star system. How cool would that be!

So, here’s the direct answer to your question: How could the earth form before the sun?

The earth could have been orbiting a hydrogen gas cloud of insufficient density to support fusion. When the hydrogen cloud collapsed enough, the sun would then have started the fusion process becoming visible along with its reflection off of the moon. This process would have been independent of the formation of the earth.

None of the above would have made any sense to 99% of humanity at any point in history—and most people living even today. Plus, since science is always changing much of what we currently think we know is likely wrong.

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  • Haha! Once again we see the obligatory down vote without the courage of an explanatory comment. All that's posted above is verified with links to show the folly of trying to reconcile current scientific findings with Genesis 1. Thus, the question posed is faulty since scientific knowledge is always changing and the Bible is not.
    – Dieter
    Mar 8 at 16:42
  • 1
    +1. Some are lurking here only to down vote. Better if they would be courageous enough to give reasons for such down votes. Mar 12 at 16:19
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In Genesis 1:1, the phrase 'heaven and earth' is a straightforward expression, catering to the comprehension levels of its contemporary audience, whose scientific knowledge was limited.

However, with our current understanding, we should understand this phrase to encompass the entirety of the universe - comprising the vast expanse of space, galaxies, stars, planets, and everything within it. Here, 'heaven' denotes the unseen celestial domain, while 'earth' encompasses all tangible matter, including stars and planets. Therefore, in Genesis 1:1, the term 'earth' does not exclusively denote the planet we call 'earth' today.

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  • You might also note that "heaven" in Hebrew and Aramaic is always plural--the heavens (haš·šā·ma·yim). The Apostle Paul reports he knows a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2. If the third heaven was the abode of God and the angels, what were the first and second heavens? If God created "the heavens and the earth," did that include the third heaven or just the first and second heavens? Genesis 1 describes the creation of what we would term space-time and mass-energy, so "the earth" might well represent matter as you suggest.
    – Dieter
    Mar 8 at 16:31
  • @Dieter - It seems challenging to fully comprehend the term "third heaven' unless Paul provides explicitly clarification. In my understanding of the Bible, the Lord consistently employs accessible language to convey intricate ideas, ensuring that the contemporary audience can grasp them. It's worth considering that certain words may take on various meanings as human understanding evolves. Mar 8 at 21:34
  • Yes, and sometimes we're fortunate enough to find extra-biblical texts that provide clues about the way certain words were used at that time.
    – Dieter
    Mar 9 at 1:40
  • In the beginning (time), God created (energy) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter). Mar 12 at 16:30
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[Since the bounty is over, I present my answer]

Science is always changing. What is considered to be a fact today is understood in a different way tomorrow. Ever since the publication of Charles Darwin’s book, “Origin of Species,” – now more than 150 long years - atheists have always clamored for changing the Bible according to the “new” scientific discoveries. Yet, science is the one that is always changing.

Creation of the Sun

So, when did the Sun come into being, according to the Genesis creation account?

It is described in Genesis 1:1:

“In the beginning God created the heavens” (heavens means the empty space with stars, galaxies, nebulae, sun etc.)

There it is! The Sun is created right in Gen 1:1.

Was the earth created later?

It could be, because the verse says:

“In the beginning God created the heavens (sun and stars),……..and the earth.”

Was the earth created together with the sun?

Possible, because the verse says:

“In the beginning God created the heavens (sun and stars) and the earth.”

God has given us the rational intellect to find out about the physical things (Gen 11:6). So it is for science to finalize the answer to this question.

Light on Earth

Since the sun and stars were in the universe right from the beginning, the creation of light mentioned in verse 3 onwards is talked in relation to the earth.

Verse 2 shifts the focus immediately on earth. The darkness mentioned is on earth; not in the universe.

What about Genesis 1:16

“God made two great lights.”

Here, the word “made” is “asah” (H6213) in Hebrew. It also means “to appoint or ordain”, among other things.

So, Genesis 1:16 says that God “appointed/ordained” two great lights (as seen from the earth); one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. It does not say that God “created” two great lights.

For example, we can say that the people of America “made” Biden the President of US in 2021.

Now that doesn’t mean that Mr. Biden was born (created) in the year 2021. He was really old enough already to be the President.

Conclusion

Sun was “created” in Genesis 1:1 as part of the heavens. But it was “appointed” as the great light to rule the day later, when God “renewed the face of the earth” (Psalms 104:30).

For what?

To “be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen 1:14).

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  • +1 to cancel the obligatory down vote. All these are reasonable possibilities, The bottom line is that science simply doesn't know at this point and theories come and go as new evidence becomes available. Science is never settled and is always undergoing change. Thus, trying to match current scientific understanding with the Bible is pointless.
    – Dieter
    Mar 11 at 20:45
  • @Dieter – Thank you for your up vote. It seems we have similar outlook, at least, as far as Bible and science are concerned. Mar 12 at 14:23
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Contemporary Theory
According to contemporary estimates the sun is 4.6 billions years old and earth 4.5 billion years. The difference is less than 1oo million years. Proportionally, the claim is the sun is only 2% older than the earth. Given the uncertainty in these estimates, it is possible science is wrong and a revised theory will be coming. There will be a future discovery causing a radical revision to the theory. Similar to before the Big Bang and science taught the Newtonian model in which everything in the universe was the same age.

Second, the current model of the formation of the universe states only hydrogen and helium formed directly from the Big Bang. These two elements formed stars where all other elements were formed through the process of nuclear fusion. When the first stars exploded elements heavier than helium were spewed throughout the expanding universe. If this theory is believed, then there is a very narrow window in time at which the earth may develop. The reason for a very window of time is as the other elements were forming, the universe was also rapidly expanding. If the stars did not explode soon enough, the universe would have been too spread out for the heavy elements to "find a home." The idea order would result from disorder must be applied many times over for the current theory to explain the existence of the earth.

Is it believable a universal Big Bang was followed by multiple stars exploding at just the right time and the elements would come together in just the right quantities to produce the earth we find today? More importantly, if in fact the sun is older than the earth, why didn't the gravitational force of the sun pull all of the elements toward it? Is a theory which requires the heavy elements to defy the law of gravity and stop where they could come together to form the earth believable?

Furthermore, the age of the moon is estimated at 4.3 billion years and is believed to have formed as the result of a collision between the earth and another object. According to this theory one object was orbiting the sun and another collided with it. Who is to say it was not the earth which was the traveling object? In that case it could have been formed elsewhere before the sun.

Revised Question

  1. With God nothing is impossible.
  2. Creating the earth before the sun is minor compared to creating the entire universe.

It would be a trivial matter for God to create the earth before the sun, but, as Paul states the physical evidence of God's work testifies to God's nature.

Romans 1:20 (ESV)

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made...

Therefore the question should be rephrased: Did God allow physical evidence available today to contradict His claim to have created the earth before the sun?

Today's Evidence
To begin, it should be noted the scientific theory uses the fact heavy elements were formed before the sun, and it does so without attributing the idea to the original source. Here is what science should say:

The Bible states the earth was created before the sun. Current evidence affirms elements heavier than helium were formed before the sun, and the Bible's chronology of heavy elements found in the earth preceding the formation of stars which currently give light to the earth is accurate.

There is a significant point of disagreement. Science does not believe oxygen formed from the Big Bang. Thus water could not be present before the stars exploded. One could use this to say the Bible is wrong. I say wait and see. Scientific theories constantly change and as one who believes the Bible is from God, when there is a conflict, it is with man-made theories. In time a new theory will emerge. It will be celebrated with usual accolades and without acknowledging the Bible, but the theory, if correct, will agree with the Bible.

For example, if the density of the universe immediately after the Big Bang was great enough, collisions between helium atoms could produce oxygen which is highly reactive and would bond with hydrogen forming water. Eventually the current theory will be modified such that oxygen was present in the beginning and the early universe consisted of hydrogen, helium, and water: exactly as the Bible states.

Conclusion
Over the past 200 years, modern science has constantly made incorrect assumptions about the nature of the universe. As assumptions which were wrong were tested they were proved false. Old assumptions were replaced with better, and in some cases correct assumptions.

We know which assumptions are correct: the ones in agreement with the Bible's record of God's work in creating. If the current theory disagrees with the Bible, then man has made an error in interpreting the physical evidence God has allowed to testify to His word and His word.

Man's alternative to God did it will eventually offer a new "how" and the revised theory will, as all correct explanations of the physical world must, be in agreement with what God has recorded in the Bible.

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nowhere in the Bible mentions that the earth is moving, supports the idea that the earth is created before sun and moon. If you consider the idea of "earth being flat" then you will be satisfied of this account in Genesis. In addition, it is the sun that stopped in Joshua 10:12, not the spinning of the earth. (just sharing my thought, hope this helps):). It is more logical to think that the earth does not move, sun and moon do.

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Mar 3 at 4:02
  • Note that the ancients knew that the earth wasn't flat by observing that ships disappearing over the horizon weren't actually sinking. An ancient Greek by the name of Eratosthenes actually calculated the equatorial circumference of the earth over 2,200 years ago to within about 1% or so. In Joshua 10:12, it says that the sun and moon stopped their apparent motion. The God who created the universe could do this optically . . . or God could create some kind of time warp. Think of what a programmer or hacker can do in a video game!
    – Dieter
    Mar 8 at 4:55

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