How Should We Read Genesis 1?

On this coming Thursday, February 8, at 8:00 pm, I’ll be giving a talk in Buffalo, NY on how best to read Genesis 1 in a contested cultural context.

The full title of the talk is: “In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and the Earth: Responsible Interpretation of Genesis 1 in Ancient and Contemporary Contexts.”

Many Christians today try to make this ancient text, which describes God’s creation of the cosmos, fit with modern assumptions. The main assumption that modern people bring to Genesis 1, which distorts what it is actually saying, is that this creation account must be coordinated with what we think science teaches us about the world.

For some, this means rejecting any aspects of modern science that don’t seem to match the text (the typical view of young earth creationists). For others, it means rejecting Genesis 1 because it clearly doesn’t match modern science (the view of many skeptics).

The trouble is that Genesis 1 is an ancient text that has no interest in addressing modern science at all. It has an entirely different focus.

In my talk, I will be taking participants on a journey of understanding, to see what this ancient text was saying to its original audience, and how its amazing message can impact us today (even in a modern scientific world).

The talk is being held as part of the Nickel City Forum, sponsored by Anglicans of Western New York. which hosts various events, including a series of talks typically given in pubs and open to the public.

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This talk will be held at The Place, on 229 Lexington Ave, Buffalo, New York 14222. For more information about the event, including how to register and get tickets, click here.

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What is the Relationship Between the Creation Accounts in Genesis 1 and 2?

It’s been over two months since I’ve posted a new blog here.

Life has just been too busy. Besides the fact that my Seminary is in the midst of a major overhaul of their curriculum, I’ve been doing a lot of speaking and writing during the Fall and just didn’t have the time.

So, let’s see if I can turn over a new leaf in 2018.

As some of my readers know, I’ve been working with BioLogos, an organization that aims to help Christians think more deeply about the relationship between biblical faith and science, especially evolution. That deeper thinking is meant to be accompanied by gracious conversation about these issues, even among those who disagree.

A New BioLogos Post

My most recent BioLogos article was posted today.

It is entitled “What is the Relationship Between the Creation Accounts in Genesis 1 and 2?”

This one doesn’t explicitly address evolution.

The article begins by listing the evident contradictions or tensions between the accounts of creation in the first two chapters of the Bible, such as the different order of creative events.

This suggests we aren’t supposed to read these chapters as conveying scientific information. If we were committed to a scientific reading, we’d have to choose which chapter we thought was more scientifically accurate.

The rest of the article tackles the question of how we should read Genesis 1 and 2 together, in a manner that makes theological sense.

You can read the article (and comments from readers, including my responses) here.

You can download a PDF of the article here.

My BioLogos Posts from 2017

BioLogos recently announced their most read blog posts written in 2017.

Two of my blogs made the top ten list; one was number 3 and another was number 7.

Number 3 was my blog entitled “Evolution and the Historical Fall: What Does Genesis 3 Tell Us about the Origin of Evil?” (they did reverse my first initial and middle name in the listing, but I’ll let that pass and receive the honor).

Number 7 was my blog entitled “Humans as Imago Dei and the Evolution of Homo Sapiens” (there they got my name right).

My Earlier (2016) Blog Posts for BioLogos

If you’re interested, you can read my first two BioLogos blog posts (from 2016).

The first is called “Why Christians Don’t Need to Be Threatened by Evolution” (the title is pretty self-explanatory).

The second is entitled “The Ancient Universe and the Cosmic Temple.” it addresses the perceived tension between modern cosmology and the ancient biblical view of the world, with a focus on what the ancient view can teach us theologically.

New, Multi-Authored BioLogos Blog Posts

I’m also working with BioLogos to edit and revise some new and existing posts (on topics like the days of Genesis, whether Genesis is history, and the proper approach to interpreting Scripture). My contribution is to help them deepen the biblical and theological aspects of the posts, as well as some style editing.

The multi-authored post called “How Long Are the Days of Genesis 1?” has now been published. This article was originally drafted by Tremper Longman III and was edited with input from John H. Walton and myself.

You can read the article online here or (if you prefer) you can download a PDF here.

When the other articles (on Genesis and history and how to interpret Scripture) are posted, I’ll make a note of that.

Why I’m Blogging on Biblical Faith and Evolution

My first blog post for BioLogos, entitled Why Christians Don’t Need to Be Threatened by Evolution, has been getting lots of comments, not only on the BioLogos website, but also on my Facebook page, and on other Facebook pages which have shared the post.

I added a comment to one of these pages, where the discussion was becoming a bit heated. This is what I posted:

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Perhaps I should make it clear that my BioLogos blogs are not written to try and convince anyone who is adamantly opposed to my views. I have been both a philosopher and a teacher for long enough to know that two people with adamantly divergent positions who simply want to win an argument can’t have a genuine conversation.

I am writing for those who want a genuine conversation, where all conversation partners respect the others. I’m especially addressing those who both trust the Bible as the source of revelation and who also want to take science seriously. Among such persons are those like myself who wonder about some points of seeming tension between what we take the Bible to be saying and what science seems to be saying.

So my blog postings are not apologetics for a particular position. They are meant to help those who want to think with me on these issues. If you’re not open to the conversation, there is no need to read on.

I have to admit that I find grandstanding and absolutist claims to be right quite unhelpful. Of course we all think we are right (unless we have some genuine perplexity about an issue). The question is can we listen (genuinely listen) to another point of view, including why the person holds that point of view?

So if you really want to think with me about, for example, how the understanding of God’s creation of the cosmos (heaven and earth) in Genesis 1 and other biblical texts relates to the scientific picture of a very ancient and immensely large universe, click on The Ancient Universe and the Cosmic Temple,  which will take you directly to the post on the BioLogos website.