The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder

The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder

The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder

The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder

Synopsis

In their highly selective and literal reading of Scripture, creationists champion a rigidly reductionistic view of creation in their fight against "soulless scientism." Conversely, many scientists find faith in God to be a dangerous impediment in the empirical quest for knowledge. As a result of this ongoing debate, many people of faith feel forced to choose between evolution and the Bible's story of creation.

But, as William Brown asks, which biblical creation story are we talking about? Brown shows that, through a close reading of biblical texts, no fewer than seven different biblical perspectives on creation can be identified. By examining these perspectives, Brown illuminates both connections and conflicts between the ancient creation traditions and the natural sciences, arguing for a new way of reading the Bible in light of current scientific knowledge and with consideration of the needs of the environment. In Brown's argument, both scientific inquiry and theological reflection are driven by a sense of wonder, which, in his words, "unites the scientist and the psalmist." Brown's own wonder at the beauty and complexity of the created world is evident throughout this intelligent, well-written, and inspirational book.

Excerpt

In the course of my research, I had the privilege of consulting with a number of scholars in science and theology. One esteemed theologian (a Gifford lecturer, no less) confided to me that his own efforts at incorporating the findings of science into his theological work continue to be regarded by his peers as something done “on the side.” I was shocked. I shudder to think that my own work could be regarded as nothing more than a diversion. And I am not even a theologian! So what compels a biblical exegete to read up on both theology and science, to venture far afield from one’s own expertise, not to mention comfort zone? Admittedly, I have often asked myself that question. Am I doing something merely “on the side”? Or worse, am I neglecting my own discipline? Now that this project is completed, at least for this book, all I can say is that the “outside” work I’ve done has thoroughly enriched and renewed my sense of the discipline to which I feel called. Sometimes it takes a long, winding “detour” to feel more at home in one’s own element.

My reasons for writing this book are primarily personal. (The cultural and theological reasons are given in the introductory chapter.) I was raised on science. My father was a farm boy who decided to leave the farm to pursue scientific research. He taught Animal Science at the University of Arizona until he retired and was my early mentor in all things academic. Having focused on science in high school, I devoted my first two years of college to pursuing a . . .

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