Origins book launched amid healthy discussion


Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Participants at the launch of a book about creation see it as a valuable contribution to the discussion about origins despite expressing differing views about its content.

These are perspectives on origins. They’re not the only perspectives. They’re not the final perspectives.

In The Beginning shows “we don’t have all the answers—we never have,” said panelist Dr David Tasker, field secretary for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific, during the launch (Ladies Chapel, August 18). Editor Dr Bryan Ball summarised the tone of the discussion. “These are perspectives on origins. They’re not the only perspectives. They’re not the final perspectives.”

In The Beginning editor Dr Bryan Ball with wife Dawn. [Photo courtesy: Angela Brown]

Dr Steve Thompson described contributing a chapter about the New Testament use of the Genesis text as his “most spiritually enriching writing exercise.” He referred to Hebrews 11:3 as giving a “brief, elegant and informed” Christian response to speculation about origins. “It says that while the world is a phenomena that can be observed with human senses, the act of creation is pre-phenomenal.”

Moderator Nathan Brown, book editor at Signs Publishing Company, asked about the importance of mystery and wonder in the theology of creation. Steve, borrowing from Plato, responded by noting the tension between “a human narrative of an evolutionary beginning” and “a human, divinely inspired narrative of a created beginning.” “A likely story: that’s all scientists can deliver,” he said. The inference: that is all theologians can deliver, too.

The various viewpoints expressed during the panel discussion reflect the tenor of In The Beginning[Photo courtesy: Angela Brown]

Two-thirds of In The Beginning discusses origins from a theological basis. “God’s revelation in Scripture is the primary source of information about origins,” said Bryan in his opening, “and this places upon us an obligation to understand what Scripture says and not to impose upon it what we want it to say.”

Avondale College of Higher Education president Dr Ray Roennfeldt thanked Bryan for remaining respectful of differing opinions and for expressing that difference in the book. He wanted to read more about the humanity and the interpretation of Scripture, about how to live with the incommensurate worlds of science and Scripture, and about how to communicate this to postmoderns “who know we don’t have all the answers even when we don’t tell them we don’t have all the answers.” Ray closed by paraphrasing John Calvin: “I hope as you read this book, you will feel God’s witnessing with your spirit that these things are so.”