Many of my fellow Calendar Day creationists seem to think that the plainness of Genesis 1 is that of some kind of generic power of language to describe anything that is logically possible or imaginable.
They think this way about its plainness because, since God is all-powerful, He supposedly would, and even did, create some things contrary to how He designed everything to function as a life-affirming cosmos. In other words, they think (1) that His power is equivalent to logical possibility and imaginability, including even every imaginable absurdity, and (2) that God sometimes dips into the absurd, and this for polemic 'theological' purposes.
For example, many of them staunchly hold to the idea that it is the most plain interpretation of Genesis 1 to find that the account 'surely teaches' that God created the Sun, Moon, and stars on Day Four, after He created the Earth and its fauna.
That is, not only do they think this Day Four view is part of the plain reading of the account, they think this view is either, the most plain reading, or, the only possible plain reading, as to when, according to the account, the luminaries were created.
But this Day Four view violates various universally self-evident principles, only one of which is that of the nature of straightforward, naturally plain narrative. So its also violates the nature of Natural Language, especially the fact that Natural Language normally involves a lot of ambiguity.
This ambiguity in Natural language self-evidently is not meant to allow the normal meanings of plainly natural statements to be twisted or missed. Rather, the ambiguity is a byproduct of a set of shared values between author and audience. In other words, it is a byproduct of communicative simplicity, or efficiency. In short, the ambiguity presupposes that the audience (readers or hearers) has the Natural Knowledge of the topic, so that they do not need to be treated as 'complete, senseless, Blank Slate Idiots.'
Now, the Space Ship Negation
As for the set of shared values between Genesis 1 and us readers, there is a way to prove as to what that set is. This is by imagining that we have no natural knowledge of the complex set of things by which we find any of the account at once plain and sensible.
For example, imagine if humanity, from the beginning, has lived bound inside a Star Trek-like space ship stranded far away from any galaxy. This ship has every artificial system required for our biological survival and increase. It even has an automated system for expanding ship to comfortable accept such increase.
And, just like in the Star Trek universe, all those systems would require our work, toil, and expertise for maintenance. In short, we would have to earn our right even to breathe.
So the deepest difference to the Star Trek universe is that we would have no natural knowledge of a watery-planet-based, star-orbiting way of life. Even the ship's ambient thermal systems are separate from its lighting systems, and the latter produces nearly no heat while the former produces none of the kind of light by which we see.
Despite having all the perfectly synthesized food we could ever need, we would know nothing of flora.
Upon our finding Genesis 1, we would say,
'What is all this about water? How can water be more important than atmospheric pressure, the latter of which this strange account does not even mention? It goes on about things it calls “land”, “sea” “flora”, “birds”, “fish”, and “land animals”. But it does not once point out the universal need for sealed outer bulkheads. It does not once mention the need for the expertise and toil to maintain gravity generators. It surely is a fantasy account, and a weird fantasy at that.'
So a non-terrestrial 'way of life' does not provide for any of our most crucial natural needs. It may keep us biologically alive, but only by deeply contorting our sense of metaphysics and ethics.
The life-affirming principle vs. the 'cosmic physics' hermeneutic
Indeed, it is our concern for life and the Earth that is the basis of the most naturally plain reading of v. 1-2.
So it is only by the particular, bland ideas to which the Day Four view compels us that we could ever get the impression that some of the account is outright concerned with generic conceptions of cosmic physics (ex: Morris, 2000:16-18; Humphreys, 1997; DeRemer, Amunrud and Dobberpuhl, 2007; Faulkner, 2016).
The reality of cosmic physics is not 'creationary' versions of a generic conception of them. Their reality is that of a fine-tuning specifically for water-based life and Earth's unique role in the support of that life. God's relation to space and matter is not that He simply created them. To read Genesis 1 that way is to reduce God to a 'cosmic physics' chauvinist. The account nowhere outright affirms our interest in such a 'cosmic physics'. But it does outright affirm our interest in the Earth (v. 28).
Amunrud (amunrud.com) states that Genesis 1 is about exactly two things: One, the Creation, and Two, the importance for a man and his wife to be One. But if that latter thing is true, then it must also be true of the former thing. In other words, Genesis 1 must itself be One. To claim that the account's first concern is 'cosmic physics' is, at least in effect, to claim that the account ought not be One. For, it would take many more words to (a) tell of the greatest values of Creation from the 'cosmic physics' 'bottom, up' than to (b) tell of those values from the 'center, outward'. Genesis 1 is not addressing mentally dissociative idiots who love 'physics'. Much less is it addressing the particular such idiots who are skeptical of the account's veracity and plainness.
The universal everyday most natural broad sense of things (Psalm 19; Proverbs 8; Romans 1:20)
Humans have a universal everyday most natural broad sense of things (ex: Psalm 19:1-6). It is by this sense of things that we find that Genesis 1:1-13 is about God's creating and fashioning the Earth's pre-Fauna ecology, or 'form' (v. 2). This ecology is inter-dynamic, like a horse, not a tinker-toy likeness of a horse.
So if even only some various parts of Genesis 1:1-13 is talking about this ecology, then these parts are likely are grammatically inter-dependent, specifically that the first of such parts are the grammatical or exegetical context for all the latter such parts. In modern 'scientific' terms, this ecology is:
(I) cyclically distributed thermal input ( v. 3-5 );
(II) radiologically mediative atmosphere ( vs. 6-8 );
(III) binary thermal surface distribution system, and water cycle ( vs. 9-10 ); and
(IV) system of flora ( vs. 11-12 ).
The Day Four view and the Force of Central Doctrine
But many Christians think Genesis 1 teaches that the Sun, Moon and stars were created on Day Four. Also, they think this either is
(i) the lone plain reading on this issue, or,
(ii) the most plain reading on this issue.
Of course, Genesis 1 faces skepticism from modern, 'science'-worshiping persons, as does the Calendar Day reading of the account. But, per (i) or (ii), the Day Four view has come to have the force of Central Doctrine among its staunchest advocates. More specifically, these advocates perceive that a rejection of the view necessarily is a rejection of both the Calendar Day reading and the Doctrine of Perspicuity. In other words, they think that to reject the Day Four view is necessarily to err in theology, metaphysics, and exegesis.
The standard justification for the Day Four view
The Day Four view characteristically is justified by saying that God, in foreknowing that many humans would worship the Sun, created in such a way as to deliberately demote the Sun's natural value for life on Earth: that God, in so doing, is preemptively rebuking Sun-worship.
But such a justification is a bit like a man who somehow foreknows that his to-be-neighbor would move in and begin hitching horses to carts by putting the horses behind the carts. So this man preemptively puts his own cart before his own ox. Worse, this man then blames this neighbor for thinking that this man is foolish for putting his cart before his ox.
As if that is not bad enough, the most staunch advocates of the Day Four view logically preclude the natural right of those who have no knowledge of Genesis 1 to be skeptical of an absurd counterfeit of Genesis 1. That is, these ignorant are unaware that the counterfeit is a counterfeit. If the polemic justification for the Day Four view is righteous, then it would be perfectly righteous of us to think that, since some people worship humans, God could just as well have similarly demoted humans, say, by creating Adam's body from 'fresh stinking piles of cow dung'.
In short, the Day Four view is based on nothing more insightful than the idea that
(1) God was wise to do this since God did this; Therefore,
(2) This is the truly plain, and thus correct, interpretation of the relevant parts of the account.'
The hermeneutic of the Presumptuous Jigsaw Puzzle Master
The Day Four view does not treat the Creation account as a straightforward, building narrative about Earth's ecology. Instead, it treats the account as a jigsaw puzzle each piece of which could just as well be an item on an 'Inspired, Authoritative, Infallible' shopping list. Specifically, the view takes what is an authoritatively already-assembled jigsaw puzzle and rearranges some of the main pieces according to how a particular subset of edge or background pieces might be perceived out-of-context: If that subset, unto itself, 'plainly' looks like some absurd thing, then that must be what that subset is meant to show.
To put this plainly: Rather than maintaining the sole primary exegetic function of v. 1+ forward, the Day Four view imposes the account's Day Four portion retroactively on vs. 1-3. The proof that this is what the view does is found in the fact that no one who has never yet had any kind of exposure to the account's Day Four portion could ever get the impression, from the prior portions, that the luminaries had not yet been created. That is, the prior portions all give the singular natural impression that the luminaries are created in v. 1, as part of 'the heaven'. It is only under the Day Four view that this initial 'heaven' would ever be seen as the physical spatial dimension unto itself.
The Day Four view overlooks the manner of course of the Day Four portion
The account's Day Four portion (vs. 14-19) is not centrally concerned for when the luminaries are created. Rather, it is concerned for the good which the luminaries are for life on Earth (vs. 14-18).
The portion ends exactly according to the account's formula for the ending of a Day. We have no natural expectation that the Sun shall be created only after the Earth and its system of flora are created. Therefore, if even one of the account's concerns is to teach that the luminaries are created on Day Four, its Day Four portion should pointedly state that.
But the Day Four portion does not pointedly state anything like 'the luminaries are created on Day Four'. Instead, it merely ends with the account's usual form of the ending of a day (v. 19). So, if it really does intend to say that the luminaries are created on Day Four, then what its form does is as if this belated creation of the luminaries is a matter of course: something at which we are not to be surprised.
Indeed, if God Himself wants us to know that He created the luminaries on Day Four, and if He recognizes the oddity of His having done this, then He would want for us to take special note that He did this. Why, then, did He not outright state as much?
The whole account is about what it outright states on various things, and these things in the order in which the account presents them. That is its basic purpose. Genesis 2 and 3 are the same, as is the entire book of Genesis. This means that 1) what God wants us to know upfront, He tells us upfront; and 2) what He expects us to naturally know already, He leaves unstated. But there is no way to naturally know that God created the luminaries on Day Four: it is unexpected, both in rightful natural terms and in terms of the account's prior portions.
So before we run headlong in favor of modern English grammar, we must ask what would have been expected of Hebrew text by the ancient Hebrew person. Also, to be sure we understand the Day Four portion, we must begin not in that portion, but in the account's own first portion (vs. 1-5). After all, that's why the first portion is the first portion.
The Day Four view treats Genesis 1 as if the account is 'just one thing after another.' Narratives normally are not like that. They normally are a function of natural language, specifically the kind of function that has compounding grammatical development one thing upon another. This would especially be the case for a topic the items of which are as inter-dynamic as those of Genesis 1.
So the Day Four view reduces Genesis 1 to the level of a simple recitation of the alphabet. It's treatment of the account's terms is as if those terms are so many items on a shopping list; and as if the whole account is nothing more inter-dynamic than those actual items having been collected in a shopping cart.
Two of four pertinent factors of Ancient Hebrew
This retroactive (re)interpretation of vs. 1+ is contrary even to a key grammatical fact of ancient Hebrew. Ancient Hebrew has no pluperfect form of verb, instead relying on the reader's everyday normal good sense of things, as he naturally knows them, to determine the chronological relation of a given statement to another given statement.
Moreover, that which an ancient Hebrew person would readily perceive of v. 1-3 is that concerning the term 'darkness' in v. 2. Such a term commonly was used to imply or identify dense cloud (ex: Job 3, Job 38:9; and Deuteronomy 4:11). Indeed, no one who has never yet known of the account's Day Four portion would ever get the impression, from the prior portions, that the luminaries had not yet been created.