Review of The Lost World Of Genesis One, Part Ten

Review of The Lost World Of Genesis One, Part Ten September 12, 2009

The tenth proposition is perhaps the crux of Walton’s argument and the most crucial for those who take a high view of Scripture. He argues that Genesis 1 does not merely focus on function rather than material creation, but it is not about material origins as well. His argument includes not only pointing out the number of days on which nothing material is created, but once again also returns to the problems that result from regarding Genesis 1 as about material origins: “Day two has a potentially material component (the firmament, raqi’a), but no one believes there is actually something material there – no solid construction holds back the upper waters. If the account is material as well as functional we then find ourselves with the problem of trying to explain the material creation of something that does not exist” (p.94).

Walton emphasizes, however, that his conclusions are warranted by the text, and do not represent an accommodation to science. Some readers may find themselves noting that, without modern science, we would not know that there is no solid dome above us. But whether one agrees that Walton’s conclusions would have been reached by exegesis alone even in a different scientific context, his point for conservative Christian readers is still important: “If there is no Biblical information concerning the age of the material cosmos, then, as people who take the Bible seriously, we have nothing to defend on that count and can consider the options that science has to offer” (pp.95-96). Expressing pastoral concern, Walton notes the number of people who, having been told they must choose between modern science and the Bible, end up losing their faith, and he thus is concerned to emphasize that “we do not have to make such a choice” (p.96). Walton also emphasizes that his view does not deny God’s role in material origins. His point is simply that “Genesis 1 is not that story” (p.96).

Walton then goes on to discuss some other concerns that readers influenced by young-earth creationism might have. Particularly important is his response to the common YEC claim that Genesis requires the view that “there was no death prior to the Fall”. Not only is this incompatible with life as we now know it, which even if it were everlasting would involve cell death and replacement, life cycles and so on, but the text of Genesis itself is quite clear that immortality was a gift connected with the tree of life, and not a natural state of all things (p.100). It is a particularly helpful feature of the book that, even though Genesis 1 is Walton’s main focus, he takes the time to address specific objections and texts beyond that particular account of creation.

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