Dr. Richard Davidson a professor of Old Testament Studies at the Andrews University Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan recently wrote a paper entitled In the Beginning: How to Interpret Genesis 1. The following blog was my attempt to explain the implications of Dr. Davidson’s paper in answering the questions:
“Was there completely nothing before day one started?” or “Was there something that the Spirit of God was hovering over before day one started?”
In Dr. Davidson’s paper he points out that the initial unformed-unfilled is the traditional view of Genesis 1 shared by Christians and Jews for thousands of years. I would agree with this assessment. Notice that within this view Dr. Davidson point’s out that there is room to believe that the “raw materials” of the earth were created before the creation week or during the creation week described from Genesis 1:3 and onwards. I personally lean towards believing that the raw materials were created before the six day creation week. This would mean that the Spirit of God was hovering over waters that were created at a point in time prior to the creation week described in Genesis 1:3-2:3. The reason that I believe this is that this view makes it easier to understand the creation of the sun, moon and stars prior to the creation week. Some people believe that the ‘stars’ of Genesis 1:16 are just planets within our solar system. Even if this is true, and it may be, it is still problematic to have the sun created from nothing on the fourth day. If the sun was created from nothing on the fourth day then there is no known light source for the earth when God says in Genesis 1:3:
“Let there be light.”
I have heard people say that God is light and thus provided the light. The problem with this view is that God is always light and thus would not need to turn on His light. In addition it says in Genesis 1:4,5:
4 God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
According to our current understanding we experience day and night because the earth spins on its axis in relation to the earth’s position to the sun. I believe scripture allows for this to have happened on the first day of the creation week without negating the fact that God “made” the sun, moon and stars/planets on the fourth day. I believe that because the water of the earth was unformed in Genesis 1:3 the earth could have been placed in relation to the sun in such a way that light diffused through the water like the sun does on a cloudy day. Then in Genesis 4 God causes the earth to rotate on its axis thus providing a distinction between the day and the night.
Notice in Genesis 1:14 before God ‘makes’ the sun, or as I would say, fully reveals the sun, He once again mentions the firmament saying:
“Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;”
I believe God mentions the firmament again because He is allowing the light from the sun and moon to penetrate the atmosphere.
I state all of this because I believe that God did create the raw materials of our solar system, including our earth, before the six day creation week. I also believe that this in keeping with the traditional view of Seventh-day Adventistism. I think what adds to this view is that we know from the Spirit of Prophecy that there are other worlds that pre-date ours and that God suspended creating more worlds while the Great Controversy continues. This means that at the very least other worlds, solar systems, galaxies, etc. existed at the time of the creation week.