We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ancient Cosmologies and the Creation Story of Genesis

John Walton, "Genesis Through Ancient Eyes"

by Thomas Larsen
Octorber 28, 2013

A common objec­tion to Chris­tian­ity is that there’s supposedly a fundamental conflict between the bib­li­cal and sci­en­tific sto­ries of the ori­gin and devel­op­ment of the uni­verse, the Earth, life, and so on and so forth.

John Wal­ton, ((John Wal­ton has a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Cog­nate Stud­ies from the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Insti­tute of Reli­gion, Cincin­nati, Ohio.)) in his talk on “Gen­e­sis Through Ancient Eyes,” responds to this objec­tion with the claim that the ori­gin sto­ries in Gen. 1–3 in the Bible are about func­tional rather than mate­r­ial ori­gins.

Here’s a sum­mary from BioLogos:
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.
This is very inter­est­ing. Wal­ton, for exam­ple, thinks that the days in Gen. 1 are lit­eral 24-hour days, but that they are about the inau­gu­ra­tion of the cos­mos as God’s tem­ple, not mate­r­ial ori­gins, so that this fact says noth­ing about the age of the uni­verse, or the Earth, or life.
Here are the four parts of the talk (roughly 51m.16s in total), with very rough sum­maries:

Part One
  • Scrip­ture is author­i­ta­tive, and we need to hon­our and under­stand the text
  • Scrip­ture was writ­ten for us, but not to us: the orig­i­nal texts were not writ­ten in our lan­guage or our cul­ture, and trans­la­tion is required
  • there are sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences between ancient (Israelite, Egypt­ian, etc.) cos­mol­ogy and con­tem­po­rary sci­en­tific cosmology
  • we need to see the Gen­e­sis texts in the same way as the ancient Israelites would have
Part Two
  • there is no sci­en­tific rev­e­la­tion in the Bible
  • ancient Israelites under­stood exis­tence in func­tional rather than mate­r­ial terms and focused on func­tional rather than mate­r­ial origins

  • for ancient Israelites, to name some­thing was a cre­ative act: this is reflected in Gen. 1–3
  • Gen. 1 is about God bring­ing order from non-order
  • Gen. 1 explains the ori­gins of our home (our per­sonal, spir­i­tual place), not our house (the phys­i­cal place where we live)
Part Three
  • the word bara’ (cre­ated) often refers to func­tional rather than mate­r­ial cre­ation in the Bible
  • Gen. 1 focuses on func­tional over mate­r­ial ori­gins (e.g. time, weather, food)
  • Gen. 1 is a tem­ple story ((This notion helps to explain what it means for human beings to be made in the “image of God.”))

  • the sev­enth day (rest) is impor­tant in the cre­ation story: rest expresses con­trol over ordered sys­tem, and God comes to rest in the cosmos—not to sleep, but oper­ate (see e.g. Psa. 132.7–8, 13–14)—and estab­lishes it as his “home” ((Why the Sabbath, then, in light of Ex. 20.8–11? Because God’s in control, and we need to remember that—not because God decided to “take a day off.”))
  • the days in Gen. 1 are lit­eral 24-hour days, but they are about the inau­gu­ra­tion of the cos­mos as God’s tem­ple, not mate­r­ial ori­gins, so this fact says noth­ing about the age of the uni­verse, or the Earth, or life
Part Four
  • the phrase “it was good” is about proper func­tion, not moral­ity (see e.g. Gen. 2.18)
  • what­ever order God estab­lished was good, but not every­thing was ordered (e.g. sea, ser­pent, out­side the Gar­den of Eden)
  • the sec­ond account of cre­ation in Gen. 2–3 is a sequel to, not a syn­op­tic retelling of, the first account in Gen. 1 (e.g. like Luke/Acts as opposed to Matthew/Mark)
  • the peo­ple in Gen. 1 aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the same as in Gen. 2–3: the sec­ond account of cre­ation doesn’t need to fit into the sixth day in the first account of creation

  • the sec­ond account of cre­ation con­tains arche­typal rather than sci­en­tific descrip­tions, so there is no bib­li­cal account of mate­r­ial human origins
  • humans were made in the image of God and given priestly roles: to serve and keep (Gen. 2.15), with Eve to help Adam in his sacred task
  • appli­ca­tion: we need to min­is­ter bet­ter to scientists
  • appli­ca­tion: we need to do bet­ter at evan­ge­lism, and not keep peo­ple out of the king­dom because of their sci­en­tific con­clu­sions about origins
  • appli­ca­tion: we need to do bet­ter at deal­ing with attri­tion that results from young peo­ple believ­ing that, in accept­ing sci­en­tific con­clu­sions, they’re forced to give up the Bible and their faith
  • in sum­mary: we need to stop mak­ing the Bible what it isn’t

 Dr. John Walton: What Is the Ancient Near East[ern Context?]
A Seven Minute Seminary

of Geb and Nut

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