On the Path of Becoming a Theistic Evolutionist

Over the past five years or so I’ve been forced to take a look at some of my preconceptions on the origins of life and I have made some significant transitions in light of the data I have encountered.  It has caused me to develop a more nuanced view of the Genesis accounts as found in Scripture.  Having never truly seriously looked at this issue before beyond cursory answers, it became obvious to me over discussions with people on boards and with various friends that some of my pat answers for resolving the seeming contradictions between Gen. 1-3 and an evolutionary view of origins were somewhat naive.  For example, I once held to the “old earth” view which contends that the days of Genesis are periods or epochs of time therefore tremendous amounts of time can transpire between various creative events.  This view is appealing because it can offer a compromise between the scientific findings of various fields indicating an old earth/universe and the creative events as described in Genesis.  However, when one tries to press this explanation any farther than simply that it begins to break down.  The narrative indicates days occurring before the sun exists in our solar system, plants growing without sunlight,  describes the entire seven days of creation as one day in Gen. 2:1 (yom in Hebrew).  When pressed for details, it seemed to me the Genesis accounts were not trying to tell us scientific realities or timeframes.  As I began to research ancient near eastern cultures, this was confirmed to me by John Walton’s description of the ancient near eastern mindset in Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament.  He described the thought world of these ancient people’s and how they would have understood the narratives.  God’s establishment of this people apart for himself required a defining of reality for their worldview.  In doing so, God lays out the known world to them and everything in it.  He describes realms and the objects that fill those realms.  These are given functions  and roles within those spaces.  The ancient near eastern mind was more spatially oriented in their understanding of the world.  This can be seen in Egyptian heirglyphics etc.  A great presentation I’ve seen by Walton on this is here http://www.wheaton.edu/physics/research/symposia/conferences03/Sci_Sym.html  Click on the link for John Walton.  I think this basically captures what he presents in his book The Lost World of Genesis One.  Seeing Genesis in this way affords a much more meaningful theology in my opinion instead of trying to shoe horn in 21st century notions of material origins.  Modern day scientific concerns with the age of the universe etc.  was not on the minds of the audience of the Genesis narratives.  They were concerned with how life was to be ordered and who was responsible for what.  If we see Gen. 1-3 in this way I believe we can avoid many of the mistakes fundamentalism has made in trying to invent a new kind of science to justify 21st century theological presuppositions ie. creationism.  I will have more dispatches on this topic ahead as it has been the center of my study for a while now.  This is a quick synopsis of some issues related to the topic.