In this video “Conversation” John Walton, professor of Old Testament History at Wheaton College, discusses the content of Genesis 1 and how it should be read. The account in Genesis is not intended to be an account of material origins, says Walton. Therefore, if that is so, the Bible has no narrative of material origins—and if that is so, we don’t need to defend the Bible’s narrative of material origins against science’s narrative of material origins. This point makes a difference in terms of what we as Christians need to defend.
What the Bible does offer us is a theology of material origins. It tells us that whatever there is, God made it. But that is a different thing from saying Genesis offers us a scientific narrative.
So what part of the story do we have in Genesis? An account of functional origins, says Walton. Genesis tells us how the world works—specifically, how it works for us. It tells us that God made it for us and he makes it functional. The Israelites also would have understood the text this way.
God is responsible for the manufacture of matter, but that is not the story of Genesis 1.