In recent decades, evangelical Biblical scholars have reconsidered non-literal interpretations of Genesis. The Accommodation view of St. Augustine and John Calvin is supported by recent discoveries about ancient cultures. Literature from these cultures shows interesting parallels and differences with Genesis accounts. The differences are striking, such as stories where creation is a battle among many gods rather than the acts of one sovereign Creator. The similarities, however, show how God accommodated his message so that the Israelites could understand it. For example, the Egyptians and Babylonians thought the sky was a solid dome. This solid dome appears in Genesis 1 as the firmament created on day 2. God did not try to correct the “science” of the Israelites by explaining that the sky was a gaseous atmosphere. Instead, God accommodated his message to their cultural context. Many evangelical Biblical scholars have concluded that Genesis is not meant to teach scientific information.
What we do learn from scripture is that there is only one Creator and that there’s a clear distinction between God and the created world. And that we who are created in the image of God are able to investigate a creation that is remarkably tuned for our discovery.
It is important to know what we should not expect from the Bible. But my fear is that we leave it at that and neglect the role that the Bible plays in the lives of Christians here and now.
In this talk, originally delivered at the BioLogos President's Circle meeting in October 2012, Dr. John Walton discusses the origin stories of Genesis 1-3, and why their focus on function and archetypes mean there is no Biblical narrative of material origins.
Series adapted from the article "The Narrative Form of Genesis 1: Cosmogonic, Yes; Scientific, No”, originally published in 1984 in the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (now Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith). It is reprinted with permission. The ideas in this essay are drawn by Hyers’ excellent book The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science.
In this six part series, Brian Godawa takes a closer look at cosmography and its relationship to the Bible. After defining cosmography as a theory that describes features of the heavens and the earth, he relates how his own views about the universe have shifted. He then continues to talk about the Mesopotamian cosmography that is so consistently reflected in Scripture. This view of the universe includes aspects such as the firmament, the pillars, the underworld, the heavens above, the watery abyss. He then explains how one understands these concepts in terms of modern scientific thought.