“Let there be light…” Genesis 1:3
Light is one of the most difficult things to define. It doesn’t behave like anything else in the physical universe. To understand it, scientists had to develop an entirely new field of physics, called quantum mechanics.
Scientists talk about the “dual nature of light,” meaning that sometimes it acts like a particle, and sometimes like a wave.
The Bible also describes light as having a dual nature, stating light is something spiritual as well as physical. It seems that both kinds of light are being created in Genesis 1.
Science and the Bible both describe light as two things.
When God spoke to create light, he told us something important about himself. We don’t know the nature of the “darkness…over the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2), but God said, “let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), and now light exists. (For more on this, see my post, Peering Into the Unknown.)
The way the Bible describes the creation of light raises many questions in the rest of Genesis 1. For example, how does God create light on day one, but the sun and moon on day four (Gen. 1:14)? Where does this light come from, if not from the sun? The Bible doesn’t tell us.
In another place, the Bible describes God as the one “who dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16). Is this the light from Genesis 1? Perhaps, but that light was already part of God, and so wouldn’t need to be created out of nothing.
When we talk about physical light, we have many questions that neither science nor the Bible can answer. But Scripture does tell us about the spiritual light which breaks into the darkness of our sin with the grace and the goodness of God (Isa 9:2).
The Bible often talks about bringing light out of darkness. John 1 describes God creating by his Word, and that Word is his Son who brings spiritual life as “the light of men” (John 1:4, 9).
Jesus uses light and dark to describe his work on earth (John 8:12, 9:5, 12:46). And the Apostle Paul makes a specific connection between God’s statement in Genesis 1:3 and his work of salvation in our hearts (2 Cor. 4:6).
We don’t know how God could create light by his word. And we don’t know the exact nature of the light he created. But we do know the difference light makes when it shines in the dark.
That knowledge of light and dark helps us understand sin’s effect on us. And it helps us imagine what it would be like to have that darkness replaced by the light of God’s love.
That light is something we can know for sure.