Does Photosynthesis Contradict the Bible?

Does the Bible Contradict Photosynthesis, Newton, and Snell? According to Genesis, Yahweh created the first light (Genesis 1:3); plants on day three (Genesis 1:11-13); the sun, moon, and stars on day 4 (Genesis 1:14-19); and, the rainbow as a sign of covenant with Noah after the Flood (Genesis 9:9-17). Does this not contradict the law of Snell (1621), the decomposition of light (Newton, 1671) and Photosynthesis?

You asked about a possible contradiction where God created plants on the third day, but he didn’t create the sun (required for photosynthesis) until the fourth day. We are not given the answer to this in the Bible, but I see a variety of possibilities:

– The Bible says that God created light on the first day, although He didn’t create the sun until the fourth day. However, it doesn’t explain what this light was on the first day. Perhaps it was simply the light of Jesus Christ illuminating the universe, or perhaps it was yet another source of light. Whatever it was, maybe it served (perhaps temporarily) in place of the sun in the photosynthesis process.

РMaybe we can view the Bible’s first reference to light as being a general reference, while the following verses give a more detailed explanation of the source of the light (the sun). In other words, perhaps the sun was actually created on the first day, but it is not named as the sun until the fourth day.

– The requirement of sunlight in the photosynthesis process is based upon how science currently understands this process. Perhaps the problem is our lack of understanding, and someday science will discover the (possibly simple) answer to this question. For example, perhaps there are, in fact, other alternative sources of energy (in place of sunlight) for the photosynthesis process, but our knowledge of science is still too limited to understand this.

– There is much debate on the use of the word “day” in Genesis 1. Some Bible scholars believe that it was a 24-hour day as we know it today, but others believe it was a longer amount of time. Perhaps this was simply a 24-hour day, so the plants were created only 72 hours before the sun was created, and the plants (and the entire ecosystem) were able to survive temporarily for those 72 hours without the photosynthesis process as we know it today (especially in a perfect ecosystem). In this scenario, maybe for a short time period: photoautotrophs survived without creating their own food; they were not using carbon dioxide, converting it into organic compounds such as sugars; they were not releasing oxygen for aerobic life; and, there was some other source of energy for nearly all life on earth.

– Expanding upon the above theory, perhaps the plants were initially created as seedlings, even buried underground, and able to do without the photosynthesis process for those 72 hours before they emerged from the ground. You also asked about possible contradictions between the Biblical account and the law of Snell and the decomposition of light (Newton). In particular, you asked about the rainbow as a sign of the covenant with Noah after the flood. However, the flood occurred some 1,600 years after creation. Because of this, I do not see a possible contradiction similar to that with the process of photosynthesis (where the order of creation within the first six days was a factor). Also, we cannot definitively say when and how the properties of light were created; i.e., decomposition, reflection, refraction, etc.

– Or, maybe they just survived for three days without sunlight.

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