The Genesis Debate is a balanced look at three views of the Genesis days of creation. The presentation is balanced because it combines descriptions of each view with responses from the other two views. The unusual approach works well to develop aspects of each that might normally have gone untreated. Overall, I found the book to be a helpful introduction to some popular views.
The three views are the literal 24-hour view, the day-age view, and the framework view. As such, the book gives a fairly broad range of perspectives, but falls short of the full range that one might encounter, because none of the views accept macro evolution or any of its implications. But despite that, it’s a generally readable book that gives a lot of useful and interesting background for anyone seeking to understand these views in more detail.
The discussion of each perspective starts with an essay explaining it, followed by responses by the other two camps, which are then followed by a rebuttal from the authors of the original essay. The format serves well to explore each perspective, but still managed to leave me a little unsatisfied because there were several times when a response would raise a strong point, but the rebuttal simply ignored it. Explicit examples of this were fairly rare, but still left me feeling that the authors were often missing each other’s points. However, the overall treatment of the issues made this a good book for an introduction to each view, especially so they can be compared.
The first perspective to be covered is the traditional view that Genesis 1 describes six 24-hour days. Although the authors include some analysis of Scripture, their main argument is the strength of tradition. They describe many devout Christians, over a great span of time, who believed in the 24-hour view.
The second perspective to be covered is the day-age view, as championed by Hugh Ross. They stress an interpretation of Scripture that allows it to align with their particular interpretation of science. I found some of their observations of Scripture to be interesting, but a bit stretched. Similarly, their view of science is strained in order to get it to align with their view of Scripture. All in all, they seemed to go to great lengths to build a structure that supports natural alignment between the two.
The last perspective to be covered is the framework view. In this case, the authors describe in detail various features of Genesis 1 that point to it being a highly structured piece of literature — a framework. Some of the things they point out are very interesting, and difficult to believe they were not designed into the account. Based on these observations, they argue for a figurative interpretation of the six-day narrative. While the initial observations are interesting and point to additional richness beyond just the narrative, they never really deal with the obvious question of why that negates a literal account. Even though I don’t hold to a literal interpretation, I don’t think the existence of a literary framework is enough on its own to negate six 24-hour days.
Overall, the book is moderately easy to read, with little technical jargon or sophisticated arguments. This also helps it work as an introduction.
There was little or no spiritual content; generally the arguments were natural. No reference to God’s voice, His nature, personal testimony, the reality of God at work today, or similar. The focus is on secular analysis and historical perspectives.
Overall, I think this is a good book to have in one’s library if interested in creation. And it’s useful as an introduction to the particular themes represented. But it leaves some details untreated, so the interested reader will still need to explore other sources. And if one is interested in theistic evolution and related views old-earth views, then this book won’t be very helpful.
Note: This post was updated on January 2, 2015 to correct an error about Exodus 31:17 being misquoted. The confusion was cause by use of NIV, which translates that verse much differently.