A common problem that skeptics like to point out is that Genesis 1:15 seems to teach that the moon emits its own light. This, of course, contradicts the knowledge we have today that the moon merely reflects the light of the sun. This is a common objection brought up that supposedly proves that the Bible is false. Does this passage teach that the moon generates its own light? Let’s take a look.
Genesis 1:14-19 says: “Then God said, “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; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
Contrary to what skeptics may think there is an answer to this so-called “problem.” Even in our scientific culture we use language every day that is earth-centric. Even the weatherman will say that the sun will rise and set even though we know that the earth revolves around the sun. It only rises and sets from an earthly perspective. We will say things such as “when the stars come out at night” even though the stars are always out, we just cannot see them during the day because of the sun’s light.
From our point-of-view on earth, the moon does give off light, although technically it is the sun’s light being reflected. When we look at Genesis 1 we will notice that the text never actually says that the moon generates its own light. The point of the passage (its context) is what the light does to earth and its inhabitants. The sun “governs” the day while the moon “governs” the night.
John Upchurch notes, “If the moon were a light source – instead of simply a light – there would likely be no night at all for it to govern.” He continues: “We can easily demonstrate this concept when we imagine someone reflecting light into our eyes from a mirror. The mirror is not the source of light, but it does emit a powerful beam that can momentarily blind – something even biblio-skeptics would have to admit. And when such a beam is blinding someone, it is doubtful that how the light reaches the person’s eyes would matter so much as the fact that it is.”
The point of the passage (Genesis 1:14-19) is what the lights in the sky (the sun, moon, and stars) do. Not only do they give light to the earth, but they mark off seasons, days, and years for everyone who lives on the planet. The purpose of Genesis 1 is to give humanity an overview of how God created. It does not give us the most detailed version of the account. It is up to humans using their God-given abilities to use observational science to learn the details about God’s creation.