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Why does plant life precede the Sun in the order of creation given that plants need the Sun to do photosynthesis?

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If Creation happened like it says in Genesis 1 then I don't think science like this should be much of a question –  Double AA Nov 19 '13 at 3:13
    
I was thinking other things might fall under the category of plants like radiotrophic fungi: scienceagogo.com/news/20070422222547data_trunc_sys.shtml –  Kinnard Hockenhull Nov 21 '13 at 4:13
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1 Answer 1

First, it may not be valid to assume that creation was bound by the laws of science as we now understand them. Why should we assume that the very first plants grew by photosynthesis in the same way that plants do now? Or if we do, why not assume that the primordial light created on the first day was enough to produce this effect?

But setting all that aside, Bereishit 2:5 presents us with a related question:

Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because the Lord God had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil.

It's not clear when this text refers to; it falls after vay'chulu and and before the (second) creation of Adam. This verse seems to say that plants depended on man being available to work the soil. But chapter 1 says we got plants on day 3, so how do we resolve this? Rashi offers the following interpretation:

neither did any herb of the field yet grow: [I.e.,] had not yet grown. And on the third [day], where it is written: “Let the earth bring forth,” they [the plants] had not yet emerged, but they stood at the entrance of the ground until the sixth day. And why?

Because… not caused it to rain: Because there was no man to work the soil, and no one recognized the benefit of rain, but when man came and understood that they were essential to the world, he prayed for them, and they fell, and the trees and the herbs sprouted. — [from Chul. 60b]

According to Rashi, when God created the plants, trees, and grasses on day three, they didn't actually start growing -- they were, essentially, "queued up" underground, waiting for rain, which in turn waited for a man to recognize the need for rain and pray for it.

With Rashi's interpretation, the sun, moon, and stars were well-established before the need for photosynthesis arose.

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+1 for the first pgh. Haven't even started reading the rest yet. –  Seth J Nov 20 '13 at 18:08
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OK, now I want to +2. –  Seth J Nov 20 '13 at 18:10
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