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Understanding the Creation Narrative in Context with John Walton

Understanding the Creation Narrative in Context
Conversation with: John Walton

In this video, John Walton points out that while modern people are inclined to think of creation in terms of material origins—as that is the way we view the rest of the world—ancient people did not think this way. Instead of being concerned about the precise methodology God used for the creation of matter, ancients were more interested in God’s role as the figure in charge of all matter.

To discuss this video, see the post "John Walton on Science, Scripture, and the Creation Narrative" at Science & the Sacred.

Video Transcription

Well, it forces us to think about the creation narrative in a different way. We're inclined by our culture to think of the creation narrative as an account of material origins because we think about the world in material terms. And so for us, that's kind of what's important about origins.

In the ancient world they didn't think that way. In the ancient world they were more interested in who runs the place, who makes it work the way that it does. And so when they talk about origins, that's the question they want to ask. It's like when you take a new job, you don't want to find out when the bill of incorporation was registered with the government or who built the first factory.

You want to know: who do I report to and who signs my paycheck and who do I answer to? And that kind of functional aspect was likewise much more important in the ancient world. And so, God's role and the fact that the cosmos is like a temple where he's sitting in control, that was very important to them.