We are in a conversation and discussion about John Walton’s (professor at Wheaton) new book, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate.
What about Day 1 to Day 3 in Genesis 1? Is this about materiality or about functionality? Walton argues that these three days show the viability of his thesis and they also can’t be explained well with the materiality thesis.
Day 1: it is not bringing light into material existence or darkness into material existence. Instead, Day 1 is about establishing time. In fact, you can’t separate light from dark in a material sense. So Gen 1:3 means “Let there be a period of light.” That it is not material can be seen from the sun not being “created” until Day 4. What Day 1 is about is the functional use of light and darkness as ways of marking time.
Day 2: “And God said, “Let there be an expanse [firmament, dome] between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the second day.”
Walton argues that this is about making water functional for humans on earth; it is about weather. Day 2 is the creation of weather patterns. Day 2 does not lead us to ask if there are cosmic waters (firmament stuff) or if there is a dome that holds them up in the air. This is about controlling precipitation by describing it in terms of an ancient cosmology. We don’t believe in that cosmology today, but the whole idea of the Creator establishing weather — that we do believe.
Day 3 differentiates terrestrial space. Plants grow, drop seeds, and time germinates seeds into more plants. The cycle of nature is at work in Day 3. Day 3 is about the basis for food. We have then time, weather, and food — Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.
Day 1-3 is Old World science. Accommodation is how we are to understand Scripture’s capacity to speak in the terms of that world.