“The Lost World of Genesis One”

 

LA's Garden Room (1955)
Part of the mural in the Garden Room of the Los Angeles California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

 

Several years ago, I read an interesting book entitled The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).

 

In it, the author, John H. Walton, an Evangelical professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, just outside of Chicago, argues that Genesis 1 isn’t talking about the material origins of life and the cosmos but about their “functional” origin as the celestial temple.

 

I’m not even pretending to do justice to his position, but it’s of considerable interest from a Latter-day Saint point of view.  And, although he claims (and I think his claim is believable) that his principal goal has simply been to properly interpret the Hebrew text of Genesis 1, he also points out that his position, if accepted, would essentially eliminate the perception of a conflict between Genesis and contemporary science.  From his vantage point, Genesis and science don’t clash over the age of the earth because Genesis has nothing to say about the age of the earth.

 

It’s an accessible book — there is, I believe, a more academic volume by Professor Walton on the same topic, which I still intend to read when I get a chance — that will resonate with interested Mormon readers.  His references to the association of gardens with temples, to the account in Genesis 1 as a temple text meant for regular ritual repetition, and etc., will be new to many, but, in a way, not at all surprising.

 

***

 

Some have wondered what the title of this blog, Sic et Non, signifies.

 

Truth be told, the principal factor in choosing it was finding that all of the previous titles I came up with had already been claimed.  (Shockingly, I’m not the first person to have thought of this blogging business.)

 

But then the Latin phrase Sic et Non floated into my mind.  It means “Yes and No.”  (Think of Spanish , Portuguese sim, and Italian ; and of Spanish no, Portuguese não, and Italian no.)

 

I was and am well aware of the medieval philosopher, theologian, and logician Peter Abelard, who died nearly nine hundred years ago, and of his famous book Sic et Non, and of his scandalous and notorious love affair with Héloïse.

 

And, yes, it was the title of that book that suggested the title for this blog, and it didn’t hurt that Abelard was legendarily skilled at logic.  (I have a special love for the study of logic.)

 

But, other than suggesting the title, Abelard’s Sic et Non wasn’t a principal factor in my choosing the name.

 

The main reason was that Sic et Non captured pretty neatly my intention to use this blog to recommend and praise some things and to criticize or condemn others.

 

 

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