By Roy E. Gane (Old Testament Department, SDA Theological Seminary, Andrews University)
Here I would like to respond to the January 30, 2011 post by my friend and colleague Nicholas Miller (Department of Church History, SDA Theological Seminary, Andrews University) titled: “The ‘Found’ World of Genesis 1: Is Theistic Evolution a Meaningful Option for Seventh-day Adventists?” Dr. Miller was reacting to the Friday evening and Sabbath afternoon presentations at Andrews University on January 21-22, 2011 by my friend John H. Walton of Wheaton College, author of The Lost World of Genesis One. On Friday evening, Dr. Walton presented his approach to comparative methodology: how to understand the Old Testament within its ancient Near Eastern context. On Sabbath afternoon, he applied his approach to Genesis 1, proposing that this account of the Creation week (of literal days) recounts God’s assignment of functions to components of Planet Earth and its environment to inaugurate it as a cosmic temple in which he took up residence and began his rule.
Miller raised a number of issues that deserve clarification and further discussion. I will not attempt to provide solutions to all the problems he raised, but will try to identify some productive directions in which we can make progress regarding (1) understanding comparative methodology, (2) what is at stake regarding a comparative approach to Genesis 1, and (3) the role of Andrews University in hosting scholarly debate.
I agree with Miller on several important points, including the need to pay careful attention to methodologies and philosophies behind them, the assessment that theistic evolution is not in harmony with Seventh-day Adventist teaching, and the opinion that we at Andrews University need further thinking and discussion concerning choices and formatting of opportunities for live interaction with scholars who are impacting the wider academic community in some ways that may be challenging to us. However, my perspective differs from that of Miller in some ways, at least partly because we work in different disciplines: While he is a church historian, I am in the area of Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern studies, like Walton.