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.
Proposition 10: The seven days of Genesis 1 do not concern material origins.
This is a big point; Walton is arguing that Genesis 1, the classic text of creation of material origins in the last two hundred years of debate about origins, is not about material origins as that debate has thought.
Embracing a functional approach to Genesis 1 for some means an accompanying material approach as well — thus, having it both ways. Walton says no. He has argued that “create” is functional, that the context is functional, the cultural context is functional, and the theology is functional. And now he shows that Genesis 1 does not speak about material creation.
1. There is nothing material in Days 1, 3 and 7.
2. Day two is not about materiality but about weather. There is nothing material up there.
3. Days 4 and 6 have material components but the text deals with them only on the functional level.
4. Day 5 is also about functions and it uses “create” which is functional.
“the seven days and Genesis 1 as a whole have nothing to contribute to the discussion of the age of the earth” (95). Notice that: “nothing.” Nothing in the Bible is about the age of the earth. The struggle of young students, he says, then is unfortunate because the Bible is not about a young earth.
But his point is not that God had nothing to do with origins, but that Genesis 1 is not about origins. It was unthinkable for the ancient Hebrews not to have thought God created the world and it is to God we go for origins.
Prior to Genesis 1 involves the absence of humans as Eikons of God and God’s presence in this temple. The material world was under development. A trip through the material world prior to Genesis 1 is like a trip through a college before students have ever arrived. The buildings are not yet what they are to become, though the materiality is there.
And he thinks death was part of the material world prior to Genesis 1, but not death to the Eikon of God.