Created: September 9, 2015
April-June 2017 - ReWrite

The Creation Narrative of Science and the Bible

Dr. David C. Bossard

Dr. David C. Bossard
Biographical Information

III. Creation of Darkness
Creation Day One

Genesis 1:4 And God Saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

St. Augustine was puzzled about the separate creation of darkness. He thought that light and darkness naturally came together: darkness being the absence of light. His (understandable) error was that he did not realize that light is an actual physical object.

About 379,000 years after the Big Bang, when the background temperature of the universe dropped to about 3,000°K,the universe had cooled down enough so that neutral atoms and molecules could form by capturing and holding electrons. Before this time, atoms could only form briefly before the electrons would be stripped away by the energetic ambient heat. Before stable atoms could form, the sky was always bright because photons were constantly being absorbed and scattered from everywhere at once. When stable atoms could form, light photons could travel long distances without being scattered, and hence the sky could appear dark, for the first time since the creation. There was darkness, separate from the light—of course nobody but God was around at this time to witness it.

This creation of darkness was not just an incidental action. It changed the universe from one dominated by strong electrical forces to one dominated by the much weaker force of gravity. The electrical forces were neatly captured into neutral atoms of hydrogen and helium. Over time the gravity caused matter to come together to form stars and galaxies which formed the other elements by nuclear fusion (see  IV. below).


Augustine had several perplexities. Ad. Lit. 1.10.19 "Why was the creation of light so delayed until a day had passed and evening came?" (that is evening and morning) … "And the separation of light and darkness was done, surely, in the very act of the creation of light. There could not have been any light unless it was separated from darkness." 1.10.20: "As for the fact that God called the light Day and the darkness Night, how much time could this have taken? … No one certainly would be so foolish as to think that, because God is great beyond all beings, even a very few syllables uttered by His mouth could have extended over the course of a whole day." For these reasons Augustine leaned towards spiritualizing the light, connecting the light with Angels, etc. All is explained once the true meaning of Day One is understood!

Note that the darkness created here is quite another thing from the primordial darkness of Genesis 1:2. It is a new kind of darkness, created as a result of the cooling of the universe to the point where hydrogen and helium nuclei could hold onto electrons to produce neutral atoms.


So now we have a universe -- pretty useless at this point. The CNS says what happens next.  There are many excellent books that discuss the next steps in the CNS.

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