Let there be light

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form or void… and God said let there be light and there was light… And the evening and the morning were the first day.
So goes the Genesis creation yarn. One only has to read on for a couple of minutes before coming to the bible’s first howler.
Now this is supposed to be the definitive explanation given by God to Moses of the creation of our planet. God tells him that he has finished all of the building work and planted the trees and plants by the end of the third day. Strangely enough he didn’t create the actual universe until the fourth day when he made the stars also.
You see in biblical times no one actually knew that our sun was the very same as the distant pricks of light shining in the night sky. It wasn’t until the 16th and 17th centuries C.E. that we realised what stars really were. So no sun until the fourth day meant no light for the plants on the third day, and no gravity to help the earth rotate on it’s yearly voyage around the sun.
You can just picture the bible’s authors writing the story down for their final edit. They would have thought they had it all covered, until someone pointed up at the dark sky and ask,  “what about them up there, the flickering lights, what are they?”
“Don’t know, my children call them stars, but God must have made them as well.”
“Where shall we put them in the story?”
“Well the third day is full up, but there’s a space there at the end of the fourth day; let’s stick them in there.”
The early church didn’t understand stars either. They went along with model of the Solar System by Aristotle and Ptolemy: Earth at the centre,

Ptolemaic system

Ptolemaic system

rotated by the moon then Mercury, Venus and the Sun. Galileo would use his telescope in the 17th century to prove the correct theory of Copernicus: with the Sun at the centre and the other planets revolving around it.
The church found this to be a very dangerous idea, it disproved the biblical interpretation of the order of things.
Galileo was forced to recant his scientific findings; he knew the church would set his arse on fire. A fate suffered by fellow astronomer Giordano Bruno: he was burned at the stake for heresy in 1600.

Copernican system

Copernican system

Copernicus escaped such a fate by waiting until he was practically on his deathbed before publishing.
However, we shouldn’t be too hard on the bible’s authors – they didn’t know any better – their story was for their times and their times only.

 

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2 thoughts on “Let there be light

  1. Tadhg

    Thanks for this very insightful. Do you think the light that existed before the sun could have been the light of God, commonly known as Tabor light by the Orthodox Church?

    Like

    Reply

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