The Cosmic Temple and the Young Earth

The Cosmic Temple and the Young Earth

The Cosmic Temple Inauguration theory of creation as recorded in Genesis chapter 1 explains that the text itself, in conjunction with the ancient culture, would indicate a non-material creation but rather describes the functional creation of the cosmos. This theory holds to many of the same views as that of Young Earth Creationism, though they diverge at the point of material vs functional creation. In comparing the two to each other it is possible to see that there is more in common when it comes to the theology of creation, and more difference when one views the actual creative action of God directly.

Overview of the Cosmic Temple Inauguration

John H. Walton is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and has written several books on the subjects of Israel and the Old Testament as well as other ancient Near Eastern cultures. Walton proposes eighteen areas of interest in his book The Lost World of Genesis One that stand apart from many traditionalist views of creation. Walton’s studies have led him to the understanding of Genesis 1 as one of non-material creation. The culture of the Israelites to whom Genesis was written understood the world and universe in a different way than today’s reader.

The ancient Israelites did not look at the sun and understand or think that it was a large ball of burning gas in the sky, instead they looked at the sun as a light source in the expanse of the heavens.[1] Just like we today don’t view the cosmos in the same way that society will 500 years from now. New things are learned every day and will continue to be learned. Viewing cosmology as the ancients to whom Genesis 1 was written forces a change in the understanding of the text. No longer is the text about the material origins of the cosmos, but rather the text focuses on the function of the cosmos as it relates to mankind.

Consider Genesis 1:2 “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”[2]. Walton asks a simple question in a presentation on the subject, “Where did the water come from?”[3] He also goes on to explain that the Hebrew words translated here as formless and void are not relating to material emptiness, but rather lacking function and unproductive. (Walton, 47-48)

Walton does adhere firmly to a 24-hour day cycle in Genesis 1 as “This has always been the best reading of the Hebrew text.” (Walton, 90) Walton also agrees that these seven recorded days actually happened, making them historical. Unlike young-earth creationism the Cosmic Temple understanding of creation does not require the earth to be young, and as such some sciences to be flawed. It also does not require that the earth be old or ancient. Understanding creation from a functional view rather than material allows for science to explain certain things that the Bible does not. In fact, it allows for Christians to say “fine, that helps me see the handiwork of God” when science presents a solid finding. (Walton, 163)

Because this view removes the material understanding of creation from Genesis 1 it does limit how one can use Genesis 1 in refutation of other creationist beliefs and scientific findings. However, Martin Hanna states “[T]heology-science dialog can result in a stronger theology grounded in biblical revelation and a stronger science grounded in God’s general revelation in the cosmos”. (Hanna, 185)

Response to the Cosmic Temple

           
            Unlike the Cosmic Temple, Young-earth creationism (YEC) understands the emphasis of Genesis 1 to be the material creation of the universe. As the name suggests the Young-earth theory requires that the earth be young, somewhere between six and ten thousand years. An idea held by leaders of the Church throughout the ages like Lactantius who stated “the six thousandth year is not completed” (Mook, 28) or Augustine in his statement that “we find that not 6,000 years have passed” (Mook, 37).

Along with the age of the earth, in the same way that Cosmic Temple states, YEC requires that Genesis 1 is describing literal 24-hour day cycles. As was already stated the understanding of a literal 24-hour day is the best understanding of the text as it is written. (Walton, 90) Again in line with the Cosmic Temple, YEC considers the text of Genesis 1 – 6 and beyond to be historical narrative explaining events that actually transpired. It was in the same vein that Jesus taught His disciples and followers. (Mortenson, 318) The understanding that Genesis contains more than just an allegory or metaphor is clear both in the Young-earth and Cosmic Temple theories.

Where the two theories divide is the understanding of what exactly Genesis 1 is describing. As Walton points out the ancients (both in Israel and the rest of the near east) did not look at the sun as a burning ball of gas, but today it’s understood and common knowledge that the sun is just that, a burning ball of gas. YEC seems to be looking at Genesis as if it were written to people today and not to ancient Israel.

This divergence has led the YEC to focus on re-evaluating the sciences related to creation in areas such as proving that radio carbon dating is flawed (DeYoung, 42), that the earth experienced significantly different environmental factors (DeYoung, 142), or even that rock layers in the Grand Canyon were placed there by flood waters. The Cosmic Temple theory does not require re-evaluating the sciences in order to make them fit the Bible, but rather leaves the science open to interpretation by the reader. Neither view, the Young Earth nor the Cosmic Temple theory have at their core a requirement for a change in theological standards or even biblical timelines.            

Conclusion

It would seem possible, after comparing the two theories of creation, that one could easily find themselves reading Genesis chapter 1 in the way that Walton describes, function over material, and still find themselves holding to the earth being less than 10,000 years old. Nothing in Walton’s reading of Genesis precludes one believing this, though at the same time nothing forces the same belief. The reading of the text clearly lays out that a day is a 24-hour cycle, the teachings of Christ show that it was an actual event that occurred, the early Church held (for the most part) to these beliefs, and there are issues with some of the old-age sciences. Just because one holds to the Cosmic Temple view of creation does not also mean that they must be evolutionists or old-earth creationists. In both cases, God still had to create the earth and all that is in it out of nothingness, the issue lies with how exactly one reads the text.  


[1] Seedbed, “Origins Today: Genesis through Ancient Eyes with John Walton”, YouTube video, 1:30:48, Posted May 2014,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR82a-iueWw

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Bible

[3] Seedbed, “Origins Today: Genesis through Ancient Eyes with John Walton”

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