Amazing. I think we’ve reached instalment five, dear reader, of my review series dealing with Charles, J. Daryl, ed. Reading Genesis 1–2 : An Evangelical Conversation (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2013). And not just within the same decade, I’m gonna get this done within the same calendar year, at the astonishing rate of a post on the subject about every six weeks. Ah well, it’s easy to impress when you set expectations very low.
My last post in this series offered my opinions on Chapter Four: “What Genesis 1–2 Teaches (And What It Doesn’t), by Tremper Longman III,” by C. John Collins. Now, finally, are my thoughts on:
Chapter Five: Reading Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, by John H. Walton. Walton spent twenty years (1981–2001) teaching at Moody Bible Institute and has been OT prof. at Wheaton College since then. He’s quite prolific writing on Genesis and ancient Near Eastern backgrounds to Genesis and to the OT generally. He’s the only one of these guys I’ve heard speak in person, being lucky to catch him here in Australia within the last couple of years. The present essay is a nice nutshell version of his thinking on Genesis 1. I found myself agreeing with much that he said, but in the end he presents a solution to tensions over Genesis 1 that I suspect represents a bit of a fast move.
Welcome back to the nearly everlasting series where I respond to each of the five main contributors’ essays in:
Charles, J. Daryl, ed. Reading Genesis 1–2 : An Evangelical Conversation (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2013).
My last post in this series offered my opinions on Chapter Three: “Reading Genesis 1–2 with the Grain: Analogical Days,” by C. John Collins. Now, none too soon, are my thoughts on:
Chapter Four: What Genesis 1–2 Teaches (And What It Doesn’t), by Tremper Longman III, along with the other writers’ responses. Tremper Longman is one of the most prolific writers in the world of evangelical Christian scholarship, one of those guys who must stay up working all night every night, or has a dozen graduate students working for him, or both. He is also involved in the ongoing maelstrom that surrounds Westminster Theological Seminary in the US, which is spitting out professors on a regular basis; I’ll let you google that one. His profile means that his opinions on hot topics are well noticed, and in recent years his negotiability on evolutionary human origins and a literal Adam have come to attention. If you’ll forgive the spellos, one insight is available at: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/09/21/tremper-longman-on-the-historicity-of-adam/. Longman’s chapter here in Reading Genesis 1-2, as for the other contributors, is a great short-scope synopsis of his thinking on early Genesis matters.
This video features a talk that I gave recently at Melbourne School of Theology, where I tried to put Christian debates about science and the Bible into some historical (and at a basic level, philosophical) context. On some points I have more thinking left to do. It was a follow-up to a visit by the CEO of Creation Ministries in Australia, Dr. Don Batten. I wanted to agree with him on some points, disagree respectfully on others, and generally to point out that all of our schemes for reconciling the Bible/Christianity with science involve interpretation and rationalizing.
So, here it is for your judgment:
Here is a talk by Creation Ministries’ Dr Don Batten that took place a week prior to my own talk and forms the background for some of my comments: audio on YouTube.
Otherwise, as audio file for downloading:
This is a talk I am due to deliver to ISCAST (Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology) at the University of NSW tomorrow night, 4/6/15. It is based on my research into interpretations of Genesis 1 down through time, with an emphasis this time on unpacking the way certain interpreters treated the relationship between scientific knowledge and Christian teaching.
Please note that the formatting of the graphics is a bit corrupted when viewed as an online PowerPoint, but it displays fine when downloaded. View with the notes showing to see my sources. If you prefer, try the PDF version:
Berry, R. J. (ed.). The Lion Handbook of Science and Christianity (1st ed ed.; Oxford : Chicago: Lion Hudson ; Distributed by Trafalgar Square Pub, 2012).
I have recently given a thorough browse to this attractive work from our college (Melbourne School of Theology) shelves. Let me tame my prolix (verbose (wordy)) ways and give you a few pros and cons:
- Really well presented, with lots of colour, diagrams, pictures, great layout, visual differentiation to make it easy to face each page. Books have come a long way in user-friendliness in the last century! If only my book looked like this!
- Reasonably bite-size portions, with many 1- and 2-page treatments of science and religion issues.
- A great coverage of such issues, offering a really useful overview of what might be debated under the heading of science and religion.
- Scientifically well-informed, as far as I am qualified to tell.
- Currency – it’s right up to date.
- Evangelical Christian standpoint. (If you’re not an evangelical Christian, you might put this under ‘Cons’, but I still encourage you to check it out.)
- Naturally, there is a sacrifice in depth where there is gain in breadth of coverage. So this is really an introductory volume, designed I think for the college student as an introductory science and religion textbook (but what a textbook!) or for the interested layperson.
- We might wish for a deeper and more determinate handling of texts like Genesis 1 (though see pp. 152-153).
- This makes a great starting point for your research into science and religion. It will orient you to the issues and get you pointed in the right direct. With lots of eye candy along the way.
- I would recommend following up with some deeper reading on the issues of concern to you. There is a good-length list of further reading in the back of the book, so you won’t be short of ideas.