There’a a very interesting post at the Jesus Creed blog which examines claims from John Polkinghorn’s new book about creation.
Polkinghorn, was an eminent Cambridge scientist before he was ordained and was involved in the discovery of quark particles, basically says that he doesn’t think that the creation accounts in Genesis was supposed to be literal scientific accounts of how the world was formed. The fact that there are two of them (Gen 1 and 2) which contain different details is an indicator of this.
Instead, they contain
true myth – with a truth so deep that only story can convey it.
This position resonates with my thinking. I have never been a fan of young earth creationism and see science as sitting alongside faith, complementing not opposing it. The creation stories are then more about explaining truths about God’s relationship with mankind and his creation, and mankind’s relationship with God, the world around, and one other. With this approach you can maintain scientific integrity without having to ignore vast chunks of the bible.
This still leaves questions open to which I don’t yet have adequate answers, such as who were Adam and Eve, and were they real or also metaphorical in order to convey truth. And if they were myth, at what point in the genesis narrative does is start to become historical? (for example, I believe that the flood in Gen 6 happened, so presumably if Adam and Eve were metaphorical, somewhere between Gen 3 and 6 the narrative shifts to being about real people rather than simply illustrative of God’s truth ).
So there are still lots of unanswered questions, but Polkinghorn’s approach is useful to those with a scientific mindset.