Remember analogies? If you took the SATs in high school like I and so many others did, you had to go through a whole series of these odd little things that were supposed to say something about how well-suited you were for college somehow. Do they still have those on the SAT today? You know, those things:
1) FOOT : SOCK :: HAND :
Of course, the answer is (d). That's easy. Here's a really tough one:
2) DAY : SUN :: NIGHT :
No multiple choice, I'd just like you to mull it over. I'd be willing to bet that a strong majority of the people presented with this would immediately know that the answer was "MOON". Okay, the fun quiz time is over. (It wasn't that much fun, anyway.) Let's look at the SAB, which has three points to bring up about verse 16.
First, "the moon is not a light; it only reflects light from the sun." Granted, but I think that's a technicality. I would say that light's light, whether directly radiating from an object or reflecting off of it. When the moon's out at night, it lights up the place, and the fact that it's just reflected light doesn't change that fact. If I said, "Boy, the moon sure is bright tonight, isn't it?" would you really sound thoughtful to respond, "No it isn't; it's the sun that's bright, and the moon just happens to reflect that brightness," or would you sound like a jerk? I mean, in the morning, the sun will come up and the moon will go down, right? Wrong, the sun doesn't "come up"; the earth rotates until your perspective causes the sun to appear to be relatively positioned above the horizon line, foolish person! Ugh, that would be annoying to talk like that all the time, wouldn't it? I'm moving on.
Second point: "why, if God made the moon to 'rule the night', does it spend half of its time moving through the daytime sky?" Okay, I hope you all saw that the analogy thing up above was intended to respond to this point. The sun "rules the day" because it's the brightest object in the sky during the day, and the moon "rules the night" because...(can you feel the tension?)...it's the brightest object in the sky during the night, even if it is only reflected light. If a person is going to insist on such an over-literal interpretation of the Bible, then they're missing out on another golden opportunity like yesterday.
The moon is a big hunk of rock. The sun is a huge ball of glowing gas. Usually when we talk about something "ruling" something, the thing doing the ruling is either a person, group of people, or a set of laws created by a person or group of people. If I walked in on President Bush with a big chunk of moon rock, put it on his desk in the oval office and said, "This rock is hereby placed upon this desk by me to rule over the nation," they'd cart me away and lock me in a rubber room. (Although I'm sure many are convinced that the rock would do a better job...) Why don't skeptics ever point out this absurdity? It seems obvious that it's because they know "rule over" is just a poetic expression in this passage.
Last point on this passage: "almost as an afterthought, he makes the trillions of stars." I've heard Stephen Hawking himself has pointed this out as a reason to be an atheist. Maybe someone can find the quote; it's an interesting one about how God made too many stars. I'm going to guess Steve Wells is saying the same thing, as he doesn't actually seem to explain why he views this as a problem. Why trillions of stars? Why not a few hundred? Why not a dozen or so? Why any stars at all other than the sun? As for myself, I can imagine God creating a world with just the sun and the moon, and the moon is always full and out at night. On the surface of the planet, instead of thousands or perhaps millions of kinds of animals, just human beings, and the only plant would be a tree that has a terrific-tasting fruit that is perfectly nutritionally balanced for human needs. No harsh weather, no high mountains, no deep waters. Essentially very, very boring.
Now, I'm not the kind of guy who says, "Look at the world, and how complex and beautiful everything is; there must be a God!" But I grew up largely in the country, and late at night, you could lie on your back in a field among the grass and the weeds, and smell the pine trees, and hear the sounds of grasshoppers, wolves, a babbling stream nearby, and on a clear night, you could look up and feel like you could see every one of those trillions of stars scattered across the blackness of the sky. If you could imagine yourself there with me, both of us kids staring up at those stars, and I ask you, which of those stars are the unneccesary ones? The beauty of the universe doesn't tell me that there must be a God, but it does make me think often that if indeed there is a God, He made something beautiful that I wouldn't change in the least. Sure, they're not all visible from the ground, but have you seen images from the Hubble telescope? What if we'd put that thing up there, and there was nothing to see? All those stars don't necessarily serve a practical purpose, but do they really need to?
Final note, I notice that Wells also has a note on verse 14, and you may have noticed I didn't address it. That's because I have no answer for that one. (But I picked it up at a later date.) It might be a grammatical problem with the KJV, I don't know.
(See the comments for more musings on the nature of language.)