Is Genesis describing the creation of photons before the sun?

A reader has shared this observation about one part of Dr. Smith’s story:

I have a comment that you may find useful regarding the concern you express about the creation of light before the sun.

In my more recent reading, or at least since I took an interest in cosmology, I’ve taken a decidedly universal view of the creation account. That is, I see it as an account that refers to the creation of the Universe and not merely the Earth. In this view, the most resoundingly impressive statement is God’s very first act of creation, in which he creates light. I don’t see this as the creation of the light that strikes Earth, but rather as the creation of light itself—that is, photons—as well as the electrodynamic laws underpinning it that allow for a self-propagating electromagnetic wave.

In this context, the formlessness and void of the Universe before God’s creative work takes on a whole new depth. God did not merely create the Sun and the Earth, but created also the “form” of the Universe—previously without form, in addition to being empty—that allowed the Sun to create light and allowed light to travel to the Earth, and which allowed the Sun to hold the Earth through the force of gravitation. This is also the glorious power that I see in Jesus’ statement in his teaching on the Sabbath in John 5, where he says that His Father is always at His work. Indeed He is, as he sustains the physical laws as part of His perfect lordship of the Universe.

Dr. Smith replies:

Thank you very much for sharing your perspective on this. I think your understanding and interpretation of the creation of light before the Sun is certainly one of the positions that can validly be held about the Genesis account. But it does assume that the writer was allowed at least to describe things that would have been beyond the view of an earthbound observer, not to mention far beyond anything he could have understood meaningfully a thousand years or more B.C. So we have to ask whether God was simply using the Genesis writer to record words that would only be meaningful later, which raises questions about the “fully human and fully divine” nature of the Bible, or whether the writer thought the words meant something else, and humanity has only been in a position to recognize their real meaning and import in recent decades, which would raise similar questions.

That’s why I consider the account to have been written instead from an observational perspective by an earthbound observer and to say things that would have been meaningful at that time. From such a perspective, there really is light in the sky before the sun becomes visible, and the conclusion can be drawn that light creates a realm—day—in which the sun is the most conspicuous resident.

Nevertheless, I appreciate you sharing your perspective on the Genesis creation account. I think it’s very valuable for each of us to put our understandings and interpretations in conversation with those of others. Thank you!

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