As I’m sure many here know, the effective standard YEC view of Genesis 1:1 is that it does not include an implication of luminaries. That is, apparently most who espouse YEC deny that this verse is implicitly describing the creation of the luminaries.
This ‘standard’ YEC view of 1:1 is based on the fact that only at vs. 14-18 does the account specify the creation of the luminaries, and this seemingly in the present-tense meaning. So, most ‘YEC’s take for granted that these verses’ specifying the luminaries is meant in the present tense. This, despite that the most Hebrew-savvy YEC’s (such as Sarfati, see link below) argue that at least the ancient Hebrew of Genesis 1 and 2 lack a past-tense form of verb like English ‘had’ (that this Hebrew possesses only ‘has’, ‘have’, etc.).
Jonathan Sarfati, verbal presentation on his book, The Genesis Account, youtube video of same name, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6PTiBZB7dk @ video time 16:29-17:56.
But the status quo among YEC advocates as to the term ‘darkness upon’ in v. 2 is uninformed by what the Bible seems clearly to indicate as to the normal meaning of that term in a physical terrestrial context (((see Luke 23:44, Exodus 14:20, Deuteronomy 4:11, Joshua 24:7, 2Samuel 22:12, Job 3:5, Job 17:12, Job 22:11, Job 38:9, Psalm 18:11))). In that context, the normal meaning is the implied presence of dense cloud.
And if we add the latter phrase of v. 2 to this implied cloud, then it becomes clear that the pending location of God’s next action is that to do with the conjunction between that deep and the cloud. Otherwise, there is little sense to the fact that the account would specify a location of this ‘spirit of God’, much less a terrestrial location.
So, what we have here in the YEC camp, of which I am a member, is the effectively standard, traditional, inherited, passively ignorant view that, (X) given vs. 14-18, 1:1 cannot implicitly be describing the advent of the luminaries; and therefore (Y), the light in v. 3 must be the advent of light as such.
All this is complicated by the fact that those Biblically loyal Christians who, in being ignorant of these positive points of the Hebrew, face atheistic cosmologies, tend to interpret these verses merely as explicitly spelled out. This goes back at least as early as Theophilus in the early first millenium, who wrote:
“On the fourth day the luminaries came into existence. Since God has foreknowledge, he understood the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on earth come from the stars, so that they might set God aside. In order therefore that the truth might be demonstrated, plants and seeds came into existence before the stars. For what comes into existence later cannot cause what is prior to it.”
In short, the effective standard YEC position on Genesis 1:1-18 is that God changed the normally expected order of these things, and that He did so in order to pose a preemptive polemic against atheism.
Taking off from Theophilus is Basil, who reasoned:
“Heaven and earth were the first; after them was created light; the day had been distinguished from the night, then had appeared the firmament and the dry element. The water had been gathered into the reservoir assigned to it, the earth displayed its productions, it had caused many kinds of herbs to germinate and it was adorned with all kinds of plants. However, the sun and the moon did not yet exist, in order that those who live in ignorance of God may not consider the sun as the origin and the father of light, or as the maker of all that grows out of the earth.”
Theophilus does not explain how, in God’s supposedly having created light days in advance of the luminaries, God thereby effected to discourage the unbelieving turn of mind. And Basil gives no indication of knowing how a mere record that he supposed teaches such an oddity can instruct those who live and die without ever having heard it.
Presumably, most of today’s full-time defenders of Genesis 1 have followed after those such as Theophilus and Basil. First, they presuppose that God so designed humans that humans normally expect for God to have created in a particular order. Next, they perceive an odd order in the account of Creation Week. Finally, they willingly conclude, from that perception alone, that Genesis 1 must not teach the normal order, but instead must teach an odd, polemics-obsessed, one.
This begs the question: Did God so design the human kind that, without that odd order, even believers would be more inclined to reject God in favor of sun and stars? If no, then whom does such an odd order benefit?
If we assent to the proposition that God set us up to need the odd order that is commonly perceived, then how do we remain consistent with what the Bible normally seems to us to teach about anything else of God and His ways?
The account surely says that animal life was made only after plant life. Is that too sensible an order? The tradition-bound response is ‘Apparently not, for, the account does not present it otherwise than it is.’ The logic of this kind of reply is flippant, and trivializes the issue.
Given the modern knowledge of the physics of light, we certainly may reason that God may have created light prior to creating any ‘light-bearers’. But the primary issue of Genesis 1 is not any such admittedly universally trivial physics. Its primary issue is (1) the account as it stands, and (2) ourselves as God designed us normally to approach the account’s every part.
The ideally naïve adult hearer of Genesis 1 shall find that at least most of what it explicitly says is easily understood in its own explicit terms: one phrase, and one verse, at a time. James Jordan (see link below) claims to do this, but Jordan actually begins by interpreting v. 1 according to a long tradition of seeing vs. 14-18 as the retroactively controlling context for vv. 1 and 3.
H. M. Morris senior(see link below), in order to be fully consistent with that tradition, concludes that humans are not made so much in God’s image as in the image of the inherent senselessness of simulated computing devices:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
This simple declarative statement can only have come by divine revelation. Its scope is comprehensively universal, embracing all space (heaven), all time (beginning), and all matter (earth) in our space/time/matter cosmos. It is the first and only statement of real creation in all the cosmogonies of all the nations of past or present. All other creation myths begin with the universe already in existence, in watery chaos, or in some other primordial form. Evidently man, [what about unfallen man?] with unaided reason, cannot conceive of true creation; he must begin with something. But Genesis 1:1 speaks of creation ex nihilo; only God could originate such a concept, and only an infinite, omnipotent God could create the universe.
This revelation was given initially by God Himself to the very first man and woman and has been transmitted down through the ages to all their children. God either wrote it down with His own finger on a table of stone, as He later did the tablets of the law (Exod. 31:18), or else He revealed it verbally to Adam, who recorded it.
Here Morris deduces that the account implies that God designed humans deficient in terms of conceiving of creation ex nihilo. But that would mean that, despite what the Scripture says, humans have no normal, God-given capacity to recognize even that a Creator must exist!
Jordan, J. B. 1998. Dr. Waltke on Genesis One, Concluded. Biblical Chronology Vol. 10, No. 2, February 1998, http://reformed-theology.org/ice/newslet/bc/bc.98.02.htm.
Morris, H. M. 2000. Biblical Creationism: What Each Book of the Bible Teaches about Creation and the Flood. http://intelmin.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/BiblicalCreationismLO727.pdf pg. 15.