A Worldview Approach to Science and Scripture, Carol Hill. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2019.
Summary: This book proposes that a worldview approach offers the best prospect of reconciling scripture and science, taking both seriously.
I’ve reviewed a number of books on scripture and science on this blog. This stands apart in many respects, one of which is the size of the book, the quality of the paper, and the lavish artwork, photography, charts, and graphs with which it is illustrated in full color on fine paper. It may equally serve as a coffee table book, or a supplemental text in an apologetics, biology or geology course in a Christian college setting. The author, a geologist teaching at the University of New Mexico has both the scientific background and familiarity with biblical scholarship to assemble this text.
Hill’s approach is one that has a high commitment both to the biblical text and the findings of science. She describes this as a “worldview approach,” following John Walton and other biblical scholars. She contends that we must read Genesis through the eyes of the pre-scientific worldview that informed the text of Genesis. By doing so, we rightly handle the text, rather than importing modern scientific concerns into that text.
A good example is the cosmology of the Ancient Near East and how it informs both our reading of Genesis 1 and the flood accounts of Genesis 6-9, allowing what is described as a “global” flood to be just that–a flood that covered everything in the known world of the observers, but yet was local. Likewise the six day sequence of creation consisting of three days of forming, and three days of filling with its numerous repetitions reflects a literary structure, not uncommon in the Ancient Near East, and memorable for readers and hearers.
At the same time, the author takes the existence of a real Adam and Eve in a real Garden of Eden seriously and explores the possible geographic location of that Garden, which she proposes might be about 100 miles northwest of Basra in present day Iraq. Later in the book, in coming back to the real existence of Adam and Eve, she discusses the possibility of pre-Adamite homo sapiens, with whom the offspring of Adam and Eve mated after expulsion from the garden, evidence of which we find in Genesis. She explores the numbers in the chronologies, noting the numerological interpretation of these numbers and the gaps in genealogies that make these both significant theological accounts, and totally irrelevant to the date of Adam and Eve or the age of the earth. The author argues for the flood as a historical, but extensive local event, probably around 2900 BC in Mesopotamia, looking at other records, and using studies of weather patterns to show how such a flood may have been possible. She discusses how the ark could have flowed up-gradient to Ararat from, counter to the prevailing flow of water into the Persian Gulf. Using her geological training, and familiarity with the American southwest, she demonstrates how it is just not possible to explain the Grand Canyon by “flood geology” that would contend that it was carved out, with all its layers of rock, in a year.
The upshot is a book that acknowledges the historic and literary elements of Genesis 1-11, and yet does not rule out the scientific accounts of the origins of the earth 4.58 billion years ago, the formation of the earth’s surfaces through geologic process over long time spans, and the rise of life along an evolutionary creationist model that does not try to force fit science into the Genesis 1 narrative. Her argument is that the worldview of the biblical writers as it shapes the writing of these scriptures does not require of us the gymnastics of trying to fit our scientific knowledge into either young earth or day-age approaches, but upholds what scripture affirms, read through Ancient Near Eastern eyes, as well as what science has revealed, finding no inherent conflict between them.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.