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Concordism versus Accommodation in Creationism:

differing views of Ancient Near-Eastern Cosmology


Genesis 1-11:  Is it intended to teach accurate science & history?

The homepage for CREATIONIST INTERPRETATIONS OF GENESIS 1 includes an introduction of Concordism and Accommodation in Creationism.  This page is a deeper examination of these ideas.

The topic-sections in this page are: 
A Summary of Common Interpretations (quoted from the homepage for Genesis 1) 
Biblical Concordism (Theological, Historical, and Scientific)
(the introduction) 
Scientific Concordism in Creation Chronologies (Young Earth and Day-Age) 
Accommodation (to Ancient Near-East Cosmology)
plus Additional Resources 
Creation Views of the American Scientific Affiliation
 
 


 
A Summary of Common Interpretations

        Chronology
        Does Genesis 1 describe history in chronological sequence?  In a day-age view, each yom (a Hebrew word with several meanings, although it usually is translated as "day" in Genesis 1) is a long time period of unspecified length.  In a young-earth interpretation, each yom is a 24-hour day, and the entire creation process occurred in six consecutive 24-hour days.  Or creation might have occurred in nonconsecutive 24-hour days with long periods between each day.  Or the days might be analogical days.  Or maybe God described, in days of proclamation, what would occur during the process of creation.  In a gap view there was an initial creation (in Genesis 1:1) followed by a catastrophe (in 1:2) and a re-creation on the earth (beginning in 1:3).
        Or is the intended meaning historical but non-chronological?  In a framework view, the six days form a logical framework in which history is arranged topically, and probably not chronologically.*  The two problems in Genesis 1:2 — the earth was "formless and empty" — are solved in Days 1-3 (by separations that produce form) and Days 4-6 (by filling each form).  And if you compare the separations and fillings in each pair of days (1-and-4, 2-and-5, 3-and-6) you will find parallels between these related aspects of creation.   {* claims about chronology vary: a person who thinks "there is a framework" can claim "the history is also chronological" or "it's not chronological" or anything in-between}

        Concepts
        What is the purpose of the concepts used in Genesis to describe our world?  Everyone agrees that Genesis 1 teaches theology.  But does it also teach science?  In Genesis 1 do we see the scientific what-and-when details of creation, as if the process had been videorecorded?  When we ask "what does Genesis 1 teach us about science?" this is part of a more general set of questions asking "what does the Bible teach (and not teach) about science, history, and theology?" and "are these teachings correct?"
        Some scholars say "no, Genesis does not teach science" because they think the descriptions in Genesis 1 were written specifically for the original readers, in their cultural context, by using the "scientific concepts" of familiar theories about physical reality (in their ancient near-eastern cosmology) for the purpose of more effectively challenging false theories about spiritual reality (in the polytheistic "nature religions" of surrounding cultures).

        Theology
        ALL interpretations acknowledge the clear statements of essential creation-theology in Genesis 1:   Everything in nature was created by God, and is subordinate to God.   There are no polytheistic "nature gods" so we should worship only the one true God who created everything.   God's creation is good but is not divine, so nature is placed in proper perspective.   God declared His creation to be "very good" so we can reject the idea that physical things (created by God) are intrinsically bad;  our problem is sin, not physicality.   And humans are special because God created us in His own image.

 

Biblical Concordism — Theological, Historical, and Scientific

      Does the Bible teach science?  If a person answers "yes" and also thinks "the science is correct," they are claiming a concordance between the Bible and science, and their view is called concordism.
      When we think about concordism we can ask two questions — What claims are made in the biblical text? Are these claims true because they correspond to reality? — in three areas, for theology, human history, and science.  Thus, we can think about theological concordism (what claims about theology are in the text? do these theological claims match spiritual reality?), historical concordism (what claims about human history are in the text? do these historical claims match historical reality?), and scientific concordism (what claims about science are in the text? do these scientific claims match physical reality?).   *
      Proponents of an accommodationist view think the "science" in scripture is just the familiar Ancient Near-Eastern Cosmology of ancient cultures, so they do not accept scientific concordism.  They think the scriptural descriptions of nature were accommodated to match the ancient views of nature in the culture of the original writers and readers of Genesis.  God accomodated the original readers by using (instead of changing) their incorrect views of nature and its history, in order to more effectively communicate with them so He could more effectively challenge their incorrect theology and change it to correct theology.

      If there is some independence between the three areas (theology, history, science), conclusions for them can differ.  For example, a proponent of accommodationist Ancient Near-Eastern Cosmology can say "yes" to theological concordism (because theological claims are made, and they seem to match reality) but "no" to scientific concordism (because no scientific claims are made), and for historical concordism can say "no" for Genesis 1-11 but "yes" for Genesis 12 onward through the New Testament.  A rigid young-earth creationist says "yes" for all three concordisms, and claims they are linked together so either all succeed or all fail.
      But an atheist can say "no, these concordisms are interdependent, not independent," and there is a failed concordism because "yes, Genesis 1 does make young-earth science claims" but "no, these scientific claims don't match the physical reality we observe in nature."  Then this perceived failure is used by atheists as part of their efforts to challenge the overall credibility of the Bible, and thus to challenge its theological concordism.
 

* A principle of thinking about 3 areas of concordism (theological, historical, scientific) comes from Denis Lamoureux in Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution.
Concordism by Randy Isaac, describes maximal scientific concordism (as in Young-Earth or Day-Age views) and minimal scientific concordism (as in Ancient Near East Cosmology) but does not argue for any of these views;  instead, he explains "the difference between concordism and integration of science and faith.  The former seeks to equate the interpretation of Biblical passages with scientific observations.  The latter seeks to understand the meaning and purpose of nature and science through the eyes of faith on the basis of the revelation of our incarnate, crucified, resurrected Savior." (3 k) (this is the final page in a 6-part series about Integrating Science and Faith)

How can we wisely use the Two Books of God?
      When we're thinking about the two books, in scripture and nature, here is the most important principle:  We cannot compare the Bible with science, we can only compare a Bible-based theology (a fallible human interpretation of scripture) with a nature-based science (another fallible human interpretation) while trying to search for truth.
      General questions about relationships between theology and science (are they in conflict? independent? mutually supportive?) are examined in THE TWO BOOKS OF GOD - SCRIPTURE & NATURE.
      Specific questions asking "is there science in Genesis?" are in this page.

 
Scientific Concordism — Creation Chronologies in Scripture & Nature?

      IF the six days of Genesis are intended to describe the "what and when" chronology of creation — but this "IF" is challenged by the framework view which says "the six days are probably not chronological" *THEN we can ask two questions:  A) How long are the days?   B) Do any young-earth or old-earth interpretations of the Genesis creation chronology match the nature chronology we have constructed from our scientific studies of nature?
      * Notice the "if, then" requirement, which makes the second question logically irrelevant IF the text was not intended to describe chronology, because we cannot ask "is the claim correct?" if there was no claim.

      Most advocates of scientific concordism, both young-earth and old-earth, think the 3 types of concordism are interconnected, not independent.  Either all are correct, or (due to their interdependence) we have reasons to doubt the others.  If, as claimed by advocates of accommodation, the Bible is wrong in some of its historical or scientific claims (which we often can test using empirical evidence) this provides a logical reason to reject its theological claims (which are difficult, or impossible, to test empirically).  Avoiding this problem would increase the theological credibility of the Bible, so God would be motivated to make the Bible accurate in everything it says about history, science, and theology.  God is omniscient, so He knew the true history & science;  and God is omnipotent, so He could make the biblical authors write it correctly.  God had motivation, knowledge, and power;  therefore, scientific concordism.

      Young-Earth Chronology
      If each yom is a solar day, so the entire creation occurred in 144 hours, one apparent problem is the existence of three 24-hour days before the sun is created in Day 4.  But is this an actual problem?  A young-earth view proposes many miracles during the first 6 days, and to eliminate this apparent problem the only extra miracle that's needed is a rotating earth and a non-solar source of light for 3 days.  This potential problem is discussed, by critics who question and by advocates who defend, in some of the pages about young-earth interpretations cited in the homepage for Genesis 1.
      Most old-earth creationists think the major "time problem" for a young-earth view is its failure to find satisfactory arguments (*) against the long history of nature, lasting billions of years, that is the conclusion of modern geology and astronomy;  the old-earth conclusion of modern science is based on strong evidence in a wide variety of areas, as described in AGE OF THE EARTH & UNIVERSE — SCIENCE.   /   * young-earth explanations for the history of nature challenge conventional geology (claiming it should be replaced by young-earth flood geology which proposes that most of the earth's geology and fossil record were formed in a global flood described in Genesis 6-9) and deny the Big Bang, but these two fields of knowledge are the foundation, in modern science, for successfully explaining what we observe on earth and in our universe as a whole.

      Day-Age Chronology
      In a day-age view, each "yom" is an "age" so creation occurred over a long period of time.  Day-Age science is criticized in two main ways, with questions about energy and chronology:
      energy:  How could earth's ecosystems, which depend on energy from the sun, operate for a long time (in days 1-3) before the sun was created in day 4?  In response, Day-Age proponents usually claim that the sun/moon/stars were created in Genesis 1:1 as part of "the heavens and the earth," then in Day 4 they became visible to an observer on the earth's surface (due to a change in atmospheric conditions) so they could "serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years."  Is this a satisfactory explanation?
      chronology:  Does the sequence-timing in Genesis 1, as interpreted in any of the Day-Age views, match the sequence-timing of what we observe in the history of nature?  To some extent this depends on definitions of what happened during each day, and whether (in a particular variation of the day-age view) the days overlap.  Are any of the Day-Age explanations satisfactory?  You can examine the pro-and-con arguments, and evaluate them for yourself.

Explanations of Day-Age Chronology:
A proposal that "the sun was not created on Day 4, instead this is when it became visible to an observer on the earth's surface" is in some of the other pages (cited in the homepage for interpreting Genesis) asking "How long is a yom?" and also in these pages that focus on chronology:
Day-Age Interpretation and Science by Richard Deem  (11 k)
Testable Creation Model (re: chronology & evolution) by Hugh Ross (7 k), plus Creation Timeline (chart & table)
Genesis One by Robert Newman, is a detailed examination (especially in pages 62-70a) of the concepts and chronologies in Genesis 1:1 through Day 4  (24 k for these pages, which focus on creation chronology)
Interpreting Genesis 1 by Greg Neyman  (23 k)
A Summary of Chronology and Details of Day-Age Chronology by Peter Stoner (69 k + 20k) in A New Look at an Old Earth — (from 1st edition which is free online; 2nd edition is for sale)

Criticisms of Day-Age Chronology:
Star Formation and Genesis 1 by James Stambaugh (young-earth) claims the sun, moon, and stars were CREATED on Day 4, not just made visible  (11 k + more)
• Terry Mortenson (young earth) says The Order of Events Matters and he doesn't think there is a match between Genesis 1 and day-age views (7 k);  Greg Moore (day-responds in detail (51 k) about the timing of physical and biological creations, and more.
• From a different perspective but with the same goal (to find truth), another criticism of day-age chronology is by Paul Seely (old-earth, proposing ancient near-east cosmology), The First Four Days of Genesis in Concordist Theory and in Biblical Context.  (39 k)

 
Scientific Accommodation — Ancient Near East Cosmology?

What kind of nature-descriptions do we see in Genesis 1?  Is it ancient science, modern science, or neither?

      This section builds on the foundation of Biblical Concordism - Theological, Historical, and Scientific.
      As explained in the summary of views, maybe God, working through the author(s) of Genesis, used familiar theories about physical reality (in ancient near-east science) in order to more effectively challenge false theories about spiritual reality (in polytheistic nature religions) and teach correct theology.
      This overview-summary continues below, following these quotations (and whole pages) that also summarize the basic concepts of Ancient Near East Cosmology (ANE), but more throughly than in this links-page, explaining what it is and how it may have influenced the concepts we see in Genesis and in other parts of the Bible:

Introduction to Ancient Near-East Cosmology by Deborah Haarsma & Loren Haarsma, who explain how the Bible could use ANE Cosmology to clearly proclaim, for people in the time it was written, "the powerful theological message of God's sovereignty over all natural and spiritual forces." (3 k)   {note: This page is a web-supplement for the authors' book about Origins where they explain all major views, including concordism (as in young-earth and day-age chronologies of creation) and non-concordism (as in Ancient Near-Eastern Cosmology).}
The Ancient Science of the Bible and Three Interpretive Options (26 k) by David Vinson, is an overview of concordism and accommodation.  In the first paper, Vinson describes [and comments on] "three ways that the ancient science can be handled:  We can submit to it [but "very few contemporaries work this through consistently"], or try to integrate it with modern science ["this 'mix and match' approach is a very popular today among both 'young earth' and 'old earth' creationists"], or respect it as an effective communicative tool for an ancient audience ["this seems to me, and many others, the more sensible approach of the three"]."
Comparing Biblical and Scientific Maps of Origins by Conrad Hyers, who says (agreeing with John Calvin) that "biblical references to nature were not scientific statements, which then might be said to be in conflict with scientific data, observations, and theories."  Genesis 1 "is considerably different from... the natural sciences.  It has a theological agenda, aimed at affirming a monotheistic reading of the cosmos and rejecting the prevailing polytheistic reading. ...  [The descriptions of nature in] Genesis 1 are nonscientific [rather than unscientific];  they offer a different kind of map of the universe and our place within it. ... That does not mean that one mapping of the cosmos is right and another wrong, unless it can be demonstrated that both approaches to origins are mapping for the same things,... [but they are not the same, because] the biblical accounts of creation in Genesis are different ways of mapping origins than those to which we who have been schooled in science are accustomed."  (27 k)
Principles of Ancient Near-East Cosmology in two articles, Genesis 1 –11: Background, Context, and Theology by Steve Martin, and Interpreting the Genesis Creation Accounts in the Light of Modern ANE History by Gordon Glover.  Martin thinks that, when we're trying to understand Genesis 1-11, "it is helpful to understand the background of the biblical author, the culture of day, and the context in which the message of scripture would have been received. ... Though the [theological] truth in Genesis is contained in a vessel that is foreign to a modern, science-oriented culture, it is a truth that modern man desperately needs to hear.  Let’s make sure the world hears this message, and not the one that is garbled, tainted, and damaged by a dogmatic insistence and focus on specific scientific claims."  Glover concludes with a question: "If the purpose of the Hebrew creation story was not to provide Israel (or us) with accurate scientific knowledge about the cosmos, why then do so many Christians reject any version of natural history that fails to conform to the Hebrew account?"

      Accommodation (to ancient near-east science) and Concordism (young-earth or day-age) and Worldviews
      Does Genesis teach science?  In contrast with creationists who are concordists, the creationists who propose Ancient Near-Eastern Cosmology say "no" because they think that God accommodated the original readers of Genesis by using (instead of changing) their incorrect scientific views of nature and its history. 
      Another view, similar in some ways to concordism and in other ways to accommodation, is a worldview approach claiming that the original biblical text "accurately records historical events [in human history and the history of nature] if considered from the worldview of the biblical authors."  When we interpret the Bible we should try to understand how the biblical text was affected by the authors' worldviews, because God "allowed them to write down his revelation according to their own literary style and from their own cultural and worldview perspective." (quotes about the worldview approach are from Carol Hill)

      Is modern science taught in the Bible?  Those who say "no" can appeal to the Confession of Faith (Belgic Confession) of the Christian Reformed Church, which states that God teaches us, "by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for his glory and for the salvation of his own," and they claim that a knowledge of correct science is not needed for divine glory or personal salvation.  Or they cite the words of Cardinal Baronius, made famous by Galileo: "The Holy Spirit intended to teach us [in the Bible] how to go to heaven, and not how the heavens go." *  They claim that we should keep our focus on the Bible's main theme, its essential theology, and we should not link this timeless theology with the incidental ancient science that also is in the Bible.
      * Does a particular passage of scripture teach us "how the heavens go" or (when we look at Genesis 1) the chronology of creation?  If we view scripture as having two levels of authorship, by humans and by God, we can ask whether the original human writer of Genesis 1 thought the description was chronological, and whether God intended it to describe the actual chronology of creation, and the answers for these two questions might be different.

      Those proposing accommodationist views claim that concordist views try to force an agreement between the histories of nature described in scripture and in science — with solar day creationists (young earth) first using Bible interpretation to get a history of nature and then adjusting science to make it fit, while day-age creationists (old earth) first use science to get the history of nature and then adjust biblical interpretation to make it fit — instead of letting scripture and nature "be what they are" without adjustment, when they are interpreted in theology and science, respectively.  Proponents of concordist views disagree.
      But theologically conservative proponents of both concordist and non-concordist views agree that the Bible is inerrant when it teaches about theology in matters of faith and conduct.  They agree about theological concordism, but they disagree about scientific concordism when we ask "what does the Bible teach (or not teach) about nature and its history?"
      As with other parts of the Bible, Genesis 1 was written FOR us but was not written TO us;  it was written to its original readers.   Each book in the Bible was written by a human author, but (because God knows more than the human author) God could inspire the human author to understand scientific ideas that were not known in the author's ancient culture, or to include ideas that were not understood by the author but would be useful for later readers, long after the original readers.  This is possible, but was it done by God in Genesis 1?  Theologically conservative Christian scholars disagree, as you'll see in these pages:

Genesis according to Evolution by Terry Mortenson, says "If evolution over millions of years [*] was the way God created, He could easily have said so in simple words" that would have been understood initially by the first readers of Genesis, and also later by us.   * Mortenson, along with many other young-earth creationists, defines ‘evolution’ as any old-earth history, with or without miracles, so he is arguing against both progressive creation and evolutionary creation.  (5 k + 1k)
• John Walton thinks "We should not expect the Bible to answer the questions that arise from our own time and culture.  Genesis was written to Israelites and addressed human origins in light of the questions they would have had.  We should not try to make modern science out of the information that we are given, but should try to understand the affirmations that the text is making in its own context." (quoted from The Creation of Humankind in the Ancient Near East)   Theology & Creation in Genesis 1 is a "sampler" of ideas from John Walton, who proposes that in Genesis 1 the focus is on creation of Functions, not Things.
Is Genesis 1-11 Historical? Many Evolutionary Creationists say Yes by Steve Martin, who observes that "there is much diversity in how Evolutionary Creationists interpret the Genesis creation accounts.  Certainly the acceptance of the science of biological evolution does not necessitate a non-historical interpretation of Genesis."
Scholars Explore Non-Concordism (45 k) contains excerpts about ancient near-east cosmology from the writings of 8 biblical scholars, selected and organized by David Vinson.

Ideas from ASA Members:
• What are the Creation Views of ASA?
Randy Isaac and Deborah & Loren Haarsma describe different views about concordism and accomodation.
Cosmogony and/or Science in Genesis 1 by Robert Newman, a day-age creationist (old earth) who proposes a Day-Age interpretation with intermittent overlapping days, responds to articles by Conrad Hyers by saying that "t
he major problem I have with Hyers' approach is not so much his claim that the Genesis account is rebutting pagan cosmogonies ([since this claim] may have real merit) as with his rejection of the possibility that the account might also be doing anything else, such as providing scientific, historical or chronological information. ...  The Bible claims God as its coauthor.  We should not therefore limit its statements to only what an ancient human could have known."  (5 k)
• In 2007 the journal of ASA ran a series about concordism and accommodation, in a paper-with-reponses by Paul Seely and Hugh Ross.  In these papers much of the discussion is about the science (regarding data that is and isn't available,...) of human origins and Noah's flood, but if you want to focus on theological principles, especially regarding Genesis 1, you can read:  most of the first page (until "Ross and Adam") and final section ("A Biblical Approach to Science and Scripture" on pgs 42-44) of Concordism and a Biblical Alternative by Paul Seely;  the introduction (pg 46) and ending (from "Charge #9 onward) of Additional Explanations on Concordism by Hugh Ross;  the intro (pg 51) and ending (from #9 onward) in Reading Modern Science into Scripture by Paul Seely.  (34 k, 18 k, 15 k)
• Carol Hill responded to the Seely-Ross papers, and A Third Alternative to Concordism and Divine Accommodation: The Worldview Approach explains her view — "The theological position of the worldview approach is that God has interacted with humans throughout real history, allowing them to write down his revelation according to their own literary style and from their own cultural and worldview perspective.  That is, it considers that the pre-scientific knowledge base of the biblical authors is a prime factor to be considered when literally interpreting the Bible.  This theological position does not deny the giving of divine inspiration or revelation to the biblical authors, nor does it exclude God’s divine intervention into human history, ... [but] when God speaks and acts, he does so within the human drama as it is being played out at a certain time and place, with all the cultural trappings that go with it.  These 'cultural trappings,' or worldview, get incorporated into the text alongside God’s revelation. ... To faithfully interpret Genesis is to be faithful to what it really means as it was originally written, not to what people living in a later time assume or desire it to be." — and applies this view for interpretations of Genesis 1, Adam, Noah's Flood, and Patriarchal Ages.  To understand this approach, you should read her paper, not just the summary-quotes above. (23 k)   Her article led to a response-paper by Paul Seely — who explains why the accommodation he proposes is not "the accommodation of myth," and clarifies his view on the inerrant teaching in Genesis 1-11 where "the theology came by revelation, and the divine character of its source is seen in the fact that although the biblical writer accepts and employs the second millennial worldview for history and science, he rejects and opposes its theology" — and a letter by Carol Hill.  (23 k, 16 k, 3 k).
• Terry Gray sets a context for the debate within ASA by asking Is Inerrancy the Defining Feature of Evangelicalism? because evangelicals often use limited inerrancy to distinguish their own position from neo-evangelicalism, and explains why we should not be surprised when this happens.  (7 k + comments)
Seely on the Waters by James Jordan (not in ASA) is a gentle criticism of accommodation, because "Genesis 1 could readily have been read by ancient people in terms of their cosmology... but it can also be read by us in terms or our more developed and sophisticated cosmology.  God has written it in such a way that it is valid for all times and seasons of human experience and understanding, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see."  (11 k)
Lessons from the Heavens: On Scripture, Science and Inerrancy by Denis Lamoureux, who analyzes the biblical texts, suggests that we "reconsider the popular assumption that statements in the Bible align with the facts of nature" asks "should our scientific views determine the orthodoxy of our fait."  He affirms biblical inerrancy — "my central hermeneutical assumption emphasizes a thoroughly committed and unapologetic submission to the Word of God" — but claims we should define inerrancy the way it's defined in the Bible:  he agrees with the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy when they "deny that Scripture should be required to fit alien preunderstandings, inconsistent with itself," and he thinks "scientific concordism is an alien preunderstanding and not an inerrant feature of Scripture."  His main ideas about inerrancy-and-science are in two sections: Modern Evangelical View of Inerrancy, and Biblical Inerrancy without Scientific Concordism, in pages 9-12.  Here are two of these ideas:  we should "separate, and not conflate, the incidental ancient science and the inerrant message of faith";  one aspect of accepting a "separation" is understanding that God's incidental use of incorrect science (as judged by modern standards) is not a "lie" because a lie requires an intention to deceive, and God never intended us to think He was teaching correct science in these passages, which were written with the goal of effectively communicating theology ("the inerrant message of faith") to people in ancient cultures.  (37 k + 20k)

 


 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES for Ancient Near-Eastern Cosmology

MORE EXPLANATIONS of Ancient Near-East Cosmology
Criticisms from Young-Earth Creationists
A Debate — Firmament or Expanse?
Paul Seely and his Critics

 
MORE EXPLANATIONS of Ancient Near-East Cosmology
(to supplement the resources above)
Evolutionary Creation by Denis Lamoureux, who thinks "the primary purpose of Genesis 1-11 [which is "a separate and unique literary unit"] is to offer a Divine theology concerning the Creator and His creation with special regard to men and women. ... [it] features an ancient science of the structure, operation and origin of the universe and life. ... distinguishing between the Message of Faith [the "Divine theology"] and the incidental ancient vessel [including "an ancient science"] is critical in understanding the Biblical creation accounts."  In this page he first outlines a theology that "fully embraces the foundational beliefs of the conservative Christian faith" and is consistent with an evolutionary history.  The second half of the page, which examines Genesis 1-11, begins by acknowledging that "the greatest [perceived] problem with evolutionary creation is that it contradicts the traditional literal interpretation of the opening chapters of the Bible," but then he explains why — with a credible interpretation that uses what we know about ancient near-eastern cultures, and allows conservative theology — this perceived problem is not an actual problem. (36 k)  /  Beyond the "Evolution vs. Creation" Debate (audio with graphics) is similar but covers a wider range of ideas, showing how "the simple either/or approach to origins inhibits everyone from making informed choices."
Making Sense of Genesis 1 by Rikki Watts, describes how ancient mid-eastern cultures viewed the world, and explains why the interpretation he recommends "not only makes good sense of the text within its cultural horizons, but puts the emphasis back where it belongs."  (51 k)
Climbing Out of a Swamp: The Evangelical Struggle to Understand the Creation Texts by Clark Pinnock, who says "The lesson to be learned here is the principle of allowing the Bible to say what it wants to say and not impose our imperialistic agendas onto it;  our exegesis ought to let the text speak and the chips fall where they may" which "leads to the conclusion that the logic of Genesis 1 is primarily theological rather than historical or scientific.  It is the evidence of the text rather than the desire to avoid modern criticism from science which ought to move evangelicals away from misreading the creation account as a scientifically informative tract and burdening themselves with enormous and unnecessary difficulties."  (17 k + 6k)
Bruce Waltke — Theology in Genesis explains some of his views, but Waltke has invested most of his time writing books (not web-pages) so there isn't much available on the web.
Cosmogony and/or Science in Genesis 1 by Robert Newman, is described above in the main resources for DEBATES-about-ANE.  Newman was responding to articles in the journal of ASA by Conrad Hyers — Misinterpreting the Creation Texts (39 k) and especially The Narrative Form of Genesis 1 (Cosmogonic, Yes; Scientific, No) (42 k);  these two papers by Hyers are from 1984, and I suggest that you first read his more recent paper (2000), but you can also read his earlier papers, Misinterpreting... and The Narrative Form....

 
Criticisms by Young-Earth Creationists:

Genesis 1-11: Is it history or parable? by Russell Grigg, asks "what is the biblical evidence to show that these first 11 chapters are actually a record of authentic historical facts?" and concludes that "Genesis was meant to be taken in a straightforward, obvious sense as an authentic, literal, historical record of what actually happened."  (10 k)
• Problems in Methods of Interpretation: Genesis 1-11 (Part 1 & Part 2) by Noel Weeks, is an overview of young-earth proposals for interpreting Genesis as literal history.  (17 k, 15 k)
Genesis 1-11: Myth or History? by David Engelsma, is a rigidly strong defense of inerrancy extending to statements about history, including a young-earth history of nature.  The title-question is answered in the first paragraph: "There may be no question about the historicity of Genesis 1-11.  Merely to allow for the possibility that Genesis 1-11 is mythical is unbelief. ... Tolerance of doubt concerning the truthfulness of God's Word [as in the serpent's question in Genesis 3:1] is revolt against Him and apostasy from Him."  He thinks "it is shameful that the topic is necessary in the sphere of Reformed churches," and he concludes that "The child of God must have history in Genesis 1-11.  Christianity must have history there, history that is clearly and reliably set down by divine inspiration."  (30 k)

 
A Central Question — Firmament or Expanse?
 
One focus for debate is the meaning of "raqia" in Genesis 1:6-8 and elsewhere — Does raqia mean a solid dome or open sky?
• Here is the text of Genesis 1:6-8 in 5 translations, using 4 different words for raqia  (1 k)
The Firmament and the Water Above by Paul Seely, who says "the historical evidence...shows that the raqiac was originally conceived of as being solid and not a merely atmospheric expanse. ...  it is not the purpose of Gen 1: 7 to teach us the physical nature of the sky, but to reveal the creator of the sky.  Consequently, the reference to the solid firmament ‘lies outside the scope of the writer's teachings’ and the verse is still infallibly true." (34 k + 9k footnotes)
• Many papers in the main resources for ANE discuss raqia, including one by James Jordan responding to Seely.  (11 k)
Is the raqiya (‘firmament’) a solid dome? by James Patrick Holding, a harsh critic who thinks "the enemies of Christ have acquired an ally... who has also claimed that the Bible makes scientific errors; in giving ammunition to sceptics and others who want to destroy the Bible... in some ways Seely is more dangerous to Christians than atheists" and, re: the text in Genesis, "the description of the raqiya is so equivocal and lacking in detail that one can only read a solid sky into the text by assuming that it is there in the first place" so we can "justifiably understand Genesis to be in harmony with what we presently know about the nature of the heavens."  (32 k)  /  Holding also disputes a claim, made by Seely and others, that in the Bible the earth is a flat disc.  (18 k)
• And in a Bible Forums discussion-thread you'll see a wide range of views about the historicity of Genesis 1.

 
Paul Seely and his Critics
Paul Seely, a proponent of Ancient Near-East Cosmology, has been involved in many written debates with critics.  If you search this page for "seely" you'll find:
• the preceding subsection — about "Firmament or Expanse?" as the meaning of raqia — has a paper by Seely, gentle criticism by James Jordan, and harsh criticism by James Holding.
The First Four Days of Genesis in Concordist Theory and in Biblical Context by Seely, among the Criticisms of Day-Age Chronology.
a series about accommodation and concordism in the journal of ASA, with papers by Paul Seely, Hugh Ross, and Carol Hill.

Also,
• In 2000, Seely wrote Genesis Revisited or Revised? criticizing a defense of concordism by Armin Held & Peter Ruest, who wrote a counter-response.  (10 k)
• ASA's journal hosted another major exchange in 2003-2004 about concordism:  Following an article by Carol Hill (The Noachian Flood: Universal or Local?) in September 2002, and letters (by young-earther Art Hill, with response by Carol Hill), in June 2003 an "accommodation vs concordism" debate was begun by Paul Seely (Beyond the Hills of Concordism and Creation Science) and continued by Carol Hill & Thomas Godfrey & John McIntyre & P.G. Nelson & Paul Seely & Peter Rüst & Thomas Godfrey until September 2004.

More generally, outside ASA, Seely is a common focus for harsh criticism by young-earth creationists:
An Attack on Scripture and Christianity by John Robbins, who claims that Seely has "antichristian notions that the Bible contains errors," and thinks that "obviously Seely has no grasp of what science is or does, as well as no grasp of what Scripture is or does."  (4 k)
• Above, re: the meaning of raqia, the harsh criticism ("the enemies of Christ have acquired an ally") by James Patrick Holding.
Ice Cores vs The Flood is a response (written by Michael Oard) to a scientific claim by Paul Seely that was published in the journal of ASA, but it begins with an editorial note (by Answers in Genesis) attacking the character of both Seely and ASA: "Seely is an ostensibly evangelical theologian whose main hobby for decades seems to have been to argue that the Bible contains scientific errors, and is thus much beloved by anti-Christians — see [three links to pages by AiG] — ... The ASA has been for decades the leading American organization promoting theistic evolutionary compromise."

Creation Views of the American Scientific Affiliation
• Does the paragraph above accurately describe ASA?  Although the American Scientific Affiliation does promote open education with accurate representations of all Christian views of origins, including young-earth creation and evolutionary creation, when Answers in Genesis claims that we are "promoting theistic evolutionary compromise" this is an oversimplistic exaggeration.  For example, our journal (Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith) has published both pro-concordist and pro-accommodation papers, and our members hold a wide range of views.  If you want to understand our beliefs and actions, read The Creation Views of ASA.

 


Above, a LINK is page-adding, opening a new page in a new window.
Below, a LINK is page-replacing, opening a new page in this window.

 

to see a variety of ideas from other authors,
CREATIONIST INTERPRETATIONS OF GENESIS 1
HUMAN EVOLUTION? — SCIENCE & THEOLOGY (genetics & Genesis, Adam & Eve)