8. One of the most contested points in Genesis is that of the creation of the sun after light had appeared. They have sought to explain by means of geologic discoveries, by stating that, at the time of its first formation, the terrestrial atmosphere, being charged with dense and opaque vapors, did not allow of the sun’s being visible, though the sun previously existed. This reason would perhaps be admissible had there been inhabitants to judge of the presence or absence of the sun. Now, according to Moses, at this epoch there were only plants upon the Earth which could not grow and multiply without the action of solar heat.
There is evidently an anachronism in the order that Moses assigns to the creation of the sun; but involuntarily, or otherwise, he has stated facts correctly when declaring that light preceded the sun.
The sun is not the source of universal light, but a concentration of the luminous element at one point, otherwise called fluid, which in certain circumstances acquires luminous properties. This fluid, which is the cause, must necessarily exist prior to the sun, which is its effect. The sun is a cause for the light which it expands, but is an effect of that which it has received.
In an obscure chamber a lighted candle is a little sun. What has one accomplished by lighting the candle? He has developed the illuminating property of the luminous fluid, and has concentrated this fluid upon one point. The candle is the cause of the light expanded in the chamber; but, if the luminous principle had not existed before the candle, the latter could not have been lighted.
It is so with the sun. The error has arisen in the false idea that has long been conceived, that the entire universe began with the Earth, and it has not been understood how the sun could be created after light. It is known now, however, that, before our sun and Earth were created, millions of suns and Earths existed which enjoyed light. The assertion of Moses is, then, exact in principle; it is only false when it declares that the Earth was created before the sun. The Earth being subject to the sun in its movement of translation must have been formed after it. That is something of which Moses was ignorant, since he was ignorant of the law of gravitation.
The same thought is met with in the Genesis of the ancient Persians. In the first chapter of the Vendedas, Ormuzd, recounting the origin of the world, says, “I created light, which gave light to the sun, the moon, and the stars” (“Dictionary of Universal Mythology”). The form is here clearer and more scientific than that in the Pentateuch, and need no commentary.