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The Sun-Day Paradox - A Question for Creationists

If you are a creationist, please read on and answer the following question.

If you know a creationist who can answer this question, please pass it on.

An interesting comment was made in a television programme a while ago (January 2006). 'Why are they [creationists] always picking on us [biologists]? Why don't they ever have a go at physicists?' This is a fair point. Creation is not about biological entities alone, it is about everything. Biology (via the topic of evolution) gets more attention than cosmology. That is not to say that cosmology gets no attention. However, certainly in the British media, where creationism - or latterly 'intelligent design' - receive attention, the focus is on biology.

There is a question relevant to astrophysics that, for a long time, I have wished creationists would answer.

As I understand them, Christian creationists believe that the Bible is literally true. For example, they claim everything was created in six days before God rested on the seventh. When they read the term 'day' they understand this as meaning a typical twenty-four hour day; it is not a euphemism for some other period of time. That being the case, creationists must, therefore, believe what follows logically from this.

Thus, what puzzles me is this. Since the Sun came to be created on the fourth day and there had already been three days – three cycles of evening and morning – before that, it must follow that day and night does not depend on whether the Sun’s light happens to be shining on the Earth or not. If one reads the verse carefully, one should see that although the Sun and the Moon do give light to the Earth, they were created to rule the day and the night that was already there. Thus, should the Sun go out, day and night must continue unabated in the same way as before the Sun was created. (I have included the Bible verses relevant to day four of creation below.)

Thus, my question is –

Do creationists really believe this to be the case; do they really believe that day and night would continue as before, if the Sun were to go out? That is, after all, the logical consequence of adopting a literal reading of Genesis 1: 14-19.

The idea of the Sun going out is not some whimsical flight of fantasy. This does occur naturally during a solar eclipse. When the Moon eclipses the Sun the sky darkens. According to the literal reading of Genesis, this should not happen if daylight existed prior to sunlight. During a solar eclipse the sky should not darken!

The darkening of the sky during a solar eclipse suggests, however, that the Sun is the only source of daylight and should the Sun fail to shine then there would be no daylight. This is quite the opposite of what is to be believed if Genesis is to be taken literally. See, for example, Astronomy Picture of the Day: January 2nd 2011.

This paradox is also mentioned on 'RationalWiki - Creation Week'.


If you are a creationist, I would genuinely like to hear what your thoughts are in response to this question. Alternatively, Jewish scholars may also be interested to respond to this question. I am not the first to have asked this question or one like it. I understand that it was a problem addressed by RabbiAbraham Kook (1864-1935). However, I do not know what his conclusions were. Perhaps you know and can tell me.

Please, send you thoughts to me by email.

Day Four

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.

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.


The same idea of the sun and moon ruling by day and by night respectively, is repeated in Psalm 136.

Psalm 136

1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.


5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever. 



Christians and Evolution

Many people working in the clinical professions are Christians and have chosen their careers as an outworking of their faith. The same can, of course, be said of those of others faiths as well. This means that these people work at a point where science and religion meet and are potentially in the cross-fire from both sides. However, just how bi-partisan is the situation? Sometimes it appears - especially in the media - that science and religion are diametrically opposed and their respective adherents irreconcilable.   However, not all Christians are biblical literalists, fundamentalists or anti-evolution. In fact, it is only a minority that are. Currently, it is those that are anti-evolution who are the most vociferous and get most attention. (Afterall, those who adopt a commonsense, mainstream position are hardly likely to attract much, if any, media attention.) However, there are Christians who have decided to respond to those who take an anti-evolutionary stance. To that end, there are churches which celebrate Evolution Sunday (now Evolution Weekend) every year on the closest Sunday/Weekend to Charles Darwin's birthday (12th February). For more information, see: The Clergy Letter Project website.

Pope John Paul II in 1981 stated in no uncertain terms that, in the view of the Catholic Church, biblical fundamentalists were guilty of trespass.

Connie Barlow

The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationships of Man and God and with the universe. Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how the heavens were made but how one goes to heaven.

Pope John Paul II

Comments are also welcome in the box below.