To Function or Not to Function | The BioLogos Forum

(system) #1

Note: This is the second post in the companion blog series to our spring book club based on The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton. If you are interested in the book club, it's not too late to sign up! Note: Walton's book is organized into 18 "propositions", which are the equivalent of chapters.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #3

Dr. Nancy,

Thank you for sharing your understanding of Dr. Watson’s understanding of Genesis 1.

Your introduction reminded me of my own seminary OT classes, which were based on a similar view I think, The God Who Acts. I would oppose the Jewish worldview of the God Who Acts with the Greek western worldview of the God Who Is. My understanding of the Christian God is the God Who Relates.

It is my observation that a big part of the confusion in the religious world today is that many believe in the Greek God Who Is, rather than the God Who Acts or Functions, or better the God Who Relates.

The problem with the God Who Is is that He is a static force, i.e. the Supreme Being Which is often seen as impersonal and Absolute. However as children of Western thought and philosophy many think of God in this non-Biblical, materialist manner. Therefore in the scientific West when we think about Creation we think about the Creation of matter.

I expect that Dr. Walton makes a good case for Creation as the Creation of order by function. That is very important. The creation of matter/energy does not give the universe meaning and purpose, but the universe does not have order without meaning and purpose.

However I am not withdrawing my previous criticism of Dr. Walton’s views. The elephant in the room is the creation of time and space with the creation of matter/energy. The implication of his thinking is that the universe was not created ex nihilo. However I find that the only way to reconcile science, theology and his Biblical view is exactly that. YHWH, the God of Abraham and Israel, Who Is, Who Acts, and Who Relates, created the heavens and earth and all is, that is Time and Space, Matter and Energy, Meaning and Purpose, out of nothing in the beginning.

(Nancy Erickson) #5


I believe that your assumption is correct, that Walton’s interpretation of Genesis 1 does not support creation ex nihilo. He does, however, believe (I think I’m representing him correctly here) that God did create ex nihilo. What I don’t know is whether or not this is an interpretation for him supported by biblical texts (other than Genesis 1) or if this is simply his own belief based on his understanding of science. @JohnWalton , if you’re “listening” inquiring minds would be interested in your response here.

(Steve Mittelstaedt) #6

I appreciate your outline of Walton’s thinking and the analysis.

I grew up in the YEC environment and became increasingly dissatisfied with attempt to align science with that view of Genesis, and then with the concordist approach, which seems to me to be a variation of this type of thinking.

Some years ago, in an attempt to reframe my reading of Genesis, I read I read John Hammond Taylor’s commentary and translation of The Literal Meaning of Genesis, by St. Augustine. Augustine was clearly attempting to step outside of a prevailing reading of the text and a decent (Roman Catholic) summation of Augustine’s view can be found here.

Walton’s books do the same. Wherever the scholarship finally lands on this, as a layperson, I am indebted to Walton for providing alternative ways think about Genesis that enable access for those of us without academic degrees in the relevant fields.

(system) #7

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