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The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 9: Science and Art)

Science and Art

Upon opening proposition 14 in Walton’s book, he reminds the readers that his goal in this book is to explain how the Hebrew readers would’ve understood Genesis and NOT the actual scientific events that took place. He explains how the ancient Hebrews wouldn’t have approached the story of Genesis as we do today: as a historical document of scientific data.

I think that because in recent times, science has scared Christians with its theories, Christians have turned to the bible and forced it to counteract those theories. The trouble with this is that the bible isn’t a book about science, but rather the way God made the world to work.

God communicated to the Hebrews using their ways of viewing the world. For example, on day two of creation God separates the waters above from the waters below. The ancient world believed that the sky was made of water because that is where rain came from. The sky isn’t actually a big body of water up there, but the Hebrew believed it to be so. Thus, God used that kind of language to explain how he made the space for humans to live; i.e., the atmosphere.

In this vein the Hebrews would’ve seen Genesis more like art and less like data. Walton argues the point using the example of studying the stars through a telescope versus looking at a Van Gogh painting. If we wanted to study the stars composition and actual placement, we study the stars through a telescope. If we want to study how the stars relate to human perception and emotion, we study Van Gogh’s painting. We wouldn’t say that Van Gogh’s painting was an inaccurate depiction of the sky; instead, we would say it was looking at the sky for a different reason. 

I understand Walton’s point. The Israelites put less emphasis on the literal matter and more emphasis on what the matter tells us about God. However, as God through Moses is the author in this particular analogy, I think his artistic presentation of Genesis contains both beauty and truth. The trick here is for us to decipher what parts of Genesis are describing the world the Hebrews understood and what parts are describing way the world actually is/was.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.


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