08 April 2014

Reading Genesis 1 Roundup

In the weeks building up to and after the "debate" between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, my enduring series on John Walton's reading Genesis 1 responsibly has seen an influx of clickers. So, to make navigating it easier, here's a summary of the series, along with an addendum or two.
  1. In the Beginning: On translating culture and language
  2. Propositions 1–2: The ancient cosmogony that underlies Genesis 1 is function-oriented.
  3. Props 3–4: The word "create" in Genesis 1 primarily concerns assigning functions (not making materials appear).
  4. Props 5–6: Days 1–3 of Genesis 1 establish functions, and Days 4–6 install functionaries.
  5. Props 7–8: Divine rest occurs in a temple, and the cosmos (particularly the garden of Genesis 1) is a temple.
  6. Props 9–10: The seven days of Genesis 1 relate to the cosmic temple inauguration; they decidedly do not concern material origins.
  7. Props 11–13: This "functional" reading of Genesis 1 offers the most literal reading; other readings tend to go too far or not far enough, which can be avoided if we pay attention to the fact that the difference between origin accounts in scripture and science is metaphysical in nature.
  8. Props 14–15: God as "creator" and "sustainer" means almost the same thing. And Intelligent Design theory is all about purpose; by definition, it isn't science.
  9. Prop 16: Scientific explanations of origins (like, e.g., evolutionary theory) can be viewed in light of purpose, and if so, are unobjectionable.
  10. Prop 17: The theology proper (doctrine of God) that emerges on this reading of Genesis 1 is stronger, not weaker.
  11. Prop 18: Science education in public can only be (or ought to be!) neutral regarding the purpose of creation.
  12. Land of the Lost: Nutshell
When compiling this list, I was also reminded of the hubbub that occurred around the time I was reading through Walton's and others' works on this subject: Bruce Waltke taken to task for his comments about how the (evangelical) church will be destined for "cult" status if, in the course of time, all the data points decisively to something akin to the neo-Darwinian synthesis and the church still denies that reality. I followed this up with "Strawmen: A Fundamentalist's Trojan Horse."

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