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The Seven Pillars of CreationThe Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder$

William P. Brown

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730797.001.0001

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(p.241) Appendix

(p.241) Appendix

The Seven Pillars of Creation
Oxford University Press

Table 10.1

Biblical Text

Scientific Understanding

Genesis 1:1–2:3

Creation by differentiation: from formless “chaos” to order

Entropic rise of complexity: from uniformity to structure

The Big Flash: “creation” of light Day 1 and Day 4 creation of space and time

The Big Bang: “creation” of the cosmos primordial light and star formation emergence of “spacetime”

Life “filling” various domains

Biological drive to “fit” various environments

Imago Dei: humanity uniquely made in the image of God

Homo sapiens: cognitive and cultural uniqueness

Genesis 2:4b–3:24

Creation by improvisation

Improvisational nature of evolution

Dry Earth watered from above and below

Sterile Earth seeded with water from outer space and volcanic “outgassing”

Life created from the ground

Life emergent from stardust and organic material

“Soul” and the breath of life

Oxygenation of the atmosphere, enabling and sustaining the development of complex life

Naming the animals by the ’ādām

Humanity’s power to domesticate

Kinship of humanity with creation

Genetic and behavioral connections among the animals

Humanity’s “Fall” eyes “opened” alienation and conflict

Painful evolutionary development consciousness and conscience negative impact on the environment

Proverbs 8:22–31

Creation made in wisdom

Creation’s intelligibility

Liveliness of creation Wisdom’s play in creation

Cosmic choreography of gravity and energy “playfulness” of quantum reality

Wisdom’s play with humanity human growth in wisdom

Pedagogy of play human evolution and development

Wisdom as mother and teacher

Maternal locus of learning

Psalm 104

Habitat for diversity

Biodiversity for diverse environments

Common creatureliness

Homo sapiens among the animalia

Dependence of life on God

Interdependence of life on Earth

Job 38–41

Creation filled with alien life

Extremophilic life on Earth

Polycentric creation

Earth as multiverse

Job created “with” Behemoth

Genetic linkage of Homo sapiens to all animalia

Ecclesiastes 1:2–11 (3:1–8; 12:1–7)

Wearying cycles of creation

Nature’s life-sustaining cycles

Static creation

Closed universe

Transience of creation

Entropic end of the cosmos

Static nature of time

Illusion of past, present, and future

“Nothing new under the sun”

The “new” reducible to the old

Hebel (“vanity”)

“Pointlessness” of the cosmos

Isaiah 40–55

Heavens as unfurled fabric

Spacetime fabric of the cosmos

Creation of the new creatio continua

Emergence of novelty dynamic, open-ended universe

(p.242) (p.243)

Table 10.2. The Seven Pillars of Creation: A Field Guide


God as Creator

Character of Creation

Character of Humanity

Genesis 1:1–2:3

Creation by word God co-opting creation

Imago templi: cosmic temple constructed in time

Imago Dei: humanity created in God’s image

Creation from formlessness to form and complexity

Water-based creation with cosmic scope

Royal stewardship Dominion without domination Humanity differentiated in genders

God as king, priest, and artisan

Creation as form-full and filled

Hierarchy of creation

Humanity on top

Creation completed: 7th Day cessation

Creation deemed “good”: self-sustaining creation

Blessing of procreation

Genesis 2:4b–3:24

Creation by deed God filling creation’s lacks

Imago horti: creation as garden, arable land

Imago terrae: human as created out of the ground

God as potter, gardener, and improviser

Land-based creation with focus on the human family

Servant stewardship to “serve and preserve” the garden, to cultivate the land

God as the “ground” of being

Kinship of creation: groundling and ground, male and female

Kinship partnership human partnership with the land

Blessing of companionship

Job 38–41

Creation by provision, sustained in freedom

Imago vastitatis: creation as a vast wilderness

Imago feri: humanity as kin to the wild

Creation as the object of God’s care and awe

Creatures as aliens invested with inalienable dignity

Homo alienus: human as stranger in a strange land

God the biophile

Creation as polycentric

Humanity de-centered in creation

Psalm 104

Creation by provision, sustained by God’s joy

Imago habitationis: creation as habitation

Imago animalis: humanity as one species among many species

God as passionate provider

Habitat for divinity and diversity

Homo laudans: the praising human

God the biophile

All life dependent on God

Humans as recipients of God’s bounty

Proverbs 8:22–31

Creation by construction and procreation

Imago domus: creation as Wisdom’s playhouse

Imago sapientiae: humanity in the image of Wisdom

God as builder and architect

Cosmos as secure and engrossing

Homo ludens: the playful human

God as progenitor and play partner (Deus ludens)

Imago nati: Wisdom as growing child and play partner

Human growth in wisdom

Ecclesiastes 1:3–11 (+ 3:1–8; 12:1–8)

Creation recycling itself

Imago futilitatis: creation in futility (hebel)

Imago operarii: human as toiler, enslaved by the quest for gain

God’s apparent indifference to the world

“Nothing new under the sun”

Imago acceptoris: human as grateful recipient of God’s gifts

God as inscrutable determiner of events

Creation as closed and static, dying and decaying

Human life as ephemeral and unpredictable

God imparts joy through creation

Sustaining gifts of creation: food and drink

Life as a “non-profit” enterprise

Isaiah 40-55 (excerpts)

Creation re-created God creating ever anew

Imago mutationis: creation ever changing, made anew

Imago liberti: human as freed in God’s new creation

God as re-creator and redeemer

Everything “new”

Imago testis: human as witness to God’s new creation

God as the one and only deity

Creation as open and dynamic, living and growing

Life of new orientation toward God’s open future.