How Could God Create Light Before the Sun?

How Could God Create Light Before the Sun?

We live in an age when Christianity is often under attack.

People from all corners of society and the world at large constantly try to challenge the faith.

And they do so by lobbing lots of questions at right believing Christians. They falsely believe that if we are asked a question that we cannot answer, then that somehow refutes the religion.

It doesn’t, but we should still be prepared to answer them.

One of the favored questions critics present to Christians is:

“How could God create light before the sun?”

And the proper response to it is:

God made light before the sun. The light He created was of a different sort from that produced the sun. We do not know what the light was. But it did exist, for scripture states that God created it. The unique light God had made cannot be understood by the human mind.

This answer may seem unsatisfying, but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that it is true. And we have the Church Father St. Augustine to thank for articulating it on our behalf.

He addresses this very question in The City of God (Book 11, Entry 7).

Let’s see what he has to say.

St. Augustine Affirms the Genesis Account of Creation

We see, indeed, that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting, and no morning but by the rising, of the sun; but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day.

So here, St. Augustine acknowledges the discrepancy between the days which we observe and those described in Genesis. He also affirms that the first few days passed without a sun.

God’s Unique Light

And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness, and called the light Day, and the darkness Night; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was, and yet must unhesitatingly believe it.

Augustine proceeds to state that man’s understanding of God is limited, and the Book of Genesis, having been delivered by God to Moses, describes things which humans would not have been able to know.

The word light means something different in Genesis from what humans normally mean whey they use it.

The thing which the word here represents does not have an equivalent in any human language, so it is described as a light for our sake.

Augustine Considers the Possibilities

 For either it was some material light, whether proceeding from the upper parts of the world, far removed from our sight, or from the spot where the sun was afterwards kindled. Or under the name of light the holy city was signified, composed of holy angels and blessed spirits, the city of which the apostle says, “Jerusalem which is above is our eternal mother in heaven;” and in another place, “For ye are all the children of the light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

St. Augustine considers information from the rest of the Old Testament to help him discern what the proper understanding of the word light is.

Differences in Knowledge

Yet in some respects we may appropriately speak of a morning and evening of this day also. For the knowledge of the creature is, in comparison of the knowledge of the Creator, but a twilight; and so it dawns and breaks into morning when the creature is drawn to the praise and love of the Creator; and night never falls when the Creator is not forsaken through love of the creature.

God created man. So man is beneath God. He has less power, less foresight, and less knowledge than God. Therefore, the words of Genesis, being God’s words meant for humans to know, must accomodate man’s limited understanding.

What Is Meant by “Night” in Genesis

In fine, Scripture, when it would recount those days in order, never mentions the word night. It never says, “Night was,” but “The evening and the morning were the first day.” So of the second and the rest. And, indeed, the knowledge of created things contemplated by themselves is, so to speak, more colourless than when they are seen in the wisdom of God, as in the art by which they were made. Therefore evening is a more suitable figure than night; and yet, as I said, morning returns when the creature returns to the praise and love of the Creator.

Here, St. Augustine draws attention to an important semantic subtlety within the words of the Old Testament. He reiterates the insufficiency of human knowledge and emphasizes the differencebetween evening and night.

Augustines mention that morning returns when the creature returns to the praise and love of the creator also serves as a poignant reminder of the value of loving God in the depressed and secular modern world.

Augustine Summarizes the Creation Account

When it does so in the knowledge of itself, that is the first day. Then in the knowledge of the firmament, which is the name given to the sky between the waters above and those beneath, that is the second day. When in the knowledge of the earth, and the sea, and all things that grow out of the earth, that is the third day; when in the knowledge of the greater and less luminaries, and all the stars, that is the fourth day. And in the knowledge of all animals that swim in the waters and that fly in the air, that is the fifth day; when in the knowledge of all animals that live on the earth, and of man himself, that is the sixth day.

Here, Augustine reiterates the creation account and provides important distinctions between the days and definitions of the terms used to describe them.

What Now?

St. Augustine’s answer to the question of how God could create light before the sun may seem unsatisfying to you.

So you might try to produce a different answer, and it would probably be one that “made more sense” to you.


You do not know more than St. Augustine.

This was a man who devoted far more of his life to Christianity than you have. He was clearly intelligent, as the quality of his writing shows, and he almost certainly spent more time thinking about the question than you have.

So his answer is better than yours.

Even if you don’t like it.

The light that God created was a different sort from that produced by the sun. We don’t know what it was. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

The Atheists – How Could God Create Light Before the Sun?

If you find yourself in a position where you will need to answer the question, then you are almost certainly being confronted by an atheist.

When they ask the question, do not lie. Do not make somethign up in order to “look smart”.

If you fabricate something and win, then you are a liar.

If you fabricate something and fail, then you are a liar and a failure.

Avoid both of these.

If you find that you must answer the question, then give the answer which St. Augustine has porduced for us.

You’ll probably be mocked for it.

Jesus was mocked too. A good Christian will always be mocked.

Do not let that dissuade you. Tell the truth, even when it hurts.

But you know… There is a way to turn the argument back on the atheist.

When the atheist is mocking you in order to feel intellectually superior, say to him:

“Murder is a sin in Christianity. It is not a sin in atheism. Why should anybody trust you?”

When they respond with something along the lines of:

“You don’t need to be religious in order to be a good person.”

Say to them:

“Atheists killed 200 million people. Every murder carried out by a communist is a murder committed by an atheist.”

When they hear this, they’ll make something up to defend their ego.
No matter what it is, respond to it with:

“That which is presented without evidence can be rejected without evidence.”

(Christians believe the Bible is evidence)

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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