‘And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good’ (Gen 1:3-4). The light of the first day is neither sunlight nor moonlight (these appeared on the fourth day), but is the light of the Godhead reflected in created being. The words ‘said’ and ‘saw’ are anthropomorphisms and both have profound meaning. The term ‘said’ points to the operation of the Word of God, while ‘saw that it was good’ indicates the state of perfection to which material creation is brought by the Holy Spirit. These biblical expressions point to the consciousness and the expediency of God’s creative activity, to the Artist’s satisfaction that the Cosmos which He has created is truly beautiful.
On the second day God created the ‘firmament’, an expanse possessing firmness and stability. On the third day He formed the dry land and the sea, separating one from the other. On the fourth day He made the sun, the moon and the other lights: it was from this moment that the mechanism of the day was put into motion, the rhythmic changing cycle of day and night. On the fifth day, at God’s command, the waters brought forth fish and creeping things, while the air became the habitation of the birds. Finally, on the sixth day appeared the animals and humanity.
We shall not compare the biblical story of creation with modern scientific theories of the origin of the universe. The protracted dialogue between science and theology has not yet come to any definitive conclusions about the connections between biblical revelation and scientific developments. It is, however, very clear that the Bible does not aim to present a scientific account of the origin of the universe, and it is rather naive to polemicize on the biblical narrative understood in its literal sense. Sacred Scripture regards all of history from the perspective of an interrelationship between the human and the divine. The authors of biblical stories often use metaphorical and symbolic language and they often rely on the scientific knowledge of their own time. This, however, does not diminish the significance of the Bible as a book through which God speaks to humanity and reveals God in all His creative power.
The universe as created by God is a book which reveals the Creator to those who can read it. Those of no faith, when observing the material world, cannot see in it the reflection of a higher non-material Beauty; for them the world contains nothing miraculous, everything is natural and conventional. But for the believers, the beauty and harmony of the universe is a most powerful testimony to the existence of God, the Creator of all. St. Anthony, the fourth-century Egyptian hermit, was once visited by a famous philosopher and was asked: ‘Father, how can you endure to live here, deprived as you are of all consolation from books?’ Anthony answered: ‘My book, O philosopher, is the nature of created things, and whenever I wish I can read in it the works of God’.