Creationism and Moonlight

WE don’t run around like a teenager, searching for and pointing out what may seem like incorrect passages in the bible. But when respected creationist authorities raise such issues as part of their efforts to promote creation science, we are obliged to pay attention. For example, see: The Scriptural Value Of Pi.

Today is such an occasion, and so your Curmudgeon once again brings you the view from Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of youong-earth creationist wisdom. We found this new article at their website: Contradictions: By the Light of the Moon.

It’s sub-titled: Does Genesis 1:15 say that the moon emits its own light? We couldn’t resist looking into this one, so here are some excerpts, with bold added by us.

But first, let’s review the source data, Genesis 1, verses 13 to 15. We’ll use the King James version, which is written in God’s own language:

13. And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

Thus grounded in the source of all science, we can proceed with the AIG article.

Over the years, a number of skeptics have pointed to this verse to claim that if the Bible were really the inerrant Word of God, it wouldn’t make such a basic mistake as saying the moon emits light. The moon has not and does not — as far as we know — emit any sort of light. Instead, our rocky satellite simply reflects light from the sun.

This is important. Let’s read on:

To uncover the answer, consider first how earth-centric our discussions are. We say that the sun rises and sets, even though we know that the earth actually revolves around the sun and rotates on its axis. We say that the stars “come out” at night, even though we know they’re always there—just hidden by the brighter sunlight. Our point of reference determines how we discuss what we see.

Where were these guys when Galileo was being tried by the Inquisition for heresy? Well, timing is everything, and Galileo just didn’t have it. We continue:

To us, the moon does give light upon the Earth. The fact that it does so by reflection rather than emission is not relevant to the biblical passage. The Hebrew word used for emit/give light in this verse (‘owr) can mean both “to be or become light” and “to be illuminated or become lighted up” (Strong’s 0215).

Our preference would have been for the bible to speak specifically of reflected light, so that we wouldn’t have to struggle with confusing passages; but the bible’s authors were inspired to use ambiguous language. It would be blasphemous to worry about such things. Here’s more:

Taking this verse out of context can make it seem inaccurate, but when we step back (cf. Genesis 1:14–18), we understand more about the purpose of this passage. Other than providing light, God created the sun and moon to mark the seasons, days, and years, which they do quite well.

Yes, great job. The 28-day lunar month fits perfectly into the solar year, which is why the lunar and solar calendar are always in sync. Moving along:

Notice that the Bible does not provide detailed schematics and charts on how this works, since God gave humans the ability to discover these through observational science.

Right, as it is with the theory of evolution. Another excerpt:

Ultimately, the Bible does not say that the moon emits light. Only that it is to give light upon the Earth — which it does by reflection.

Okay, the bible says it, but ultimately it doesn’t say it. That’s good enough for us. We do have another question, however. If we read on just a wee bit more in Genesis 1, we come to verses 16 through 19, which say:

16. 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.

17. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Our concern here is that the moon doesn’t always “rule the night,” because we often see it up there in the daytime. What’s that all about? We won’t spend too much time worrying about it. The moon probably slipped out of place as a result of The Fall.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Creationism and Moonlight

  1. All of this happened on the fourth day.

    How about the first three days (and nights)? How were they distinguished?

  2. Quite right you are! Before the fall, the moon was located in a geosynchronous orbit over the garden of eden. After the fall, the moon moved much further out and into the plane of the ecliptic. The sudden change in tidal forces may be responsible for the flood…. see, it all fits together!

    Also, the earth at that time was a circle, not a sphere, so there were no other places that would have been deprived of moonlight due to it’s stationary position over eden.

  3. But the moon DOES emit light! It just happens to be in the infrared range (as with all things that have a temperature above absolute zero).

    Now if I could only think of some witty way to tie this in with our being kicked out of Eden, or tidal forces, or the plane of the ecliptic.

  4. I’m still working on a clever solution to TomS’s conundrum. It’s a stumper.

    However, the infrared solution is a good one to the moon’s light. It would have been hotter then, too.

  5. “How about the first three days (and nights)? How were they distinguished?”

    Of course, AIG has an answer for this: “But how could there be day and night if the sun wasn’t in existence? After all, it is clear from Genesis 1 that the sun was not created until day four. Genesis 1:3 tells us that God created light on the first day, and the phrase “evening and morning” shows there were alternating periods of light and darkness. Therefore, light was in existence, coming from one direction upon a rotating earth, resulting in the day and night cycle. However, we are told exactly where this light came from. The word for “light” in Genesis 1:3 means the substance of light that was created. Then, on day four in Genesis 1:14–19 we are told of the creation of the sun which was to be the source of light from that time onward. The sun was created to rule the day that already existed. The day stayed the same. It merely had a new light source. The first three days of creation (before the sun) were the same type of days as the three days with the sun. Perhaps God deliberately left the creation of the sun until the fourth day because He knew that down through the ages cultures would try to worship the sun as the source of life. Not only this, modern theories tell us the sun came before the earth. God is showing us that He made the earth and light to start with, that He can sustain it with its day and night cycle and that the sun was created on day four as a tool of His to be the bearer of light from that time.”
    ( )

  6. Gabriel Hanna

    Our concern here is that the moon doesn’t always “rule the night,” because we often see it up there in the daytime. What’s that all about?

    SC, do you have any idea how many college students don’t know that the sun is up in the daytime as often as at night, or that the Earth goes around the Sun and–the coincidence is amazing–takes exactly 1 year to do it? (Proof, of course, that God created the Earth’s orbit to anticipate modern timekeeping.)

  7. Gabriel Hanna says:

    … the Earth goes around the Sun and–the coincidence is amazing–takes exactly 1 year to do it?

    Exactly one year? Wow! That really is amazing!

  8. @RogerE –

    Thanks for that.

    Now we can anticipate a similar essay explaining how Genesis 1 tells us about the common ancestry of humans with chimps and other apes.

  9. No wonder these guys have such a problem with science. They can’t even put together a coherent argument, so forming a hypothesis, running experiments, and generating a conclusion would be completely beyond them.

  10. longshadow

    Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
    Watch lights fade from every room.
    Bedsitter people look back and lament,
    Another day’s useless energy spent.
    Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
    Lonely man cries for love and has none.
    New mother picks up and suckles her son,
    Senior citizens wish they were young.
    Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
    Removes the colours from our sight.
    Red is grey and yellow white.

    But we decide which is right.
    And which is an illusion.

    — Moody Blues

    Makes as much, if not more sense as AIG’s twaddle.

  11. @longshadow:

    Makes as much, if not more sense as AIG’s twaddle.

    Also has better background instrumentals, and is much easier on the ears than listening to the “twaddle”.