This is my last post on Walton’s book, but RJS will have one tomorrow ...
We come today to the end of John Walton’s (professor at Wheaton) new book, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, and he finishes off this book with a conclusion that is worthy of serious discussion by those of us interested in public education:
Public science education should be neutral regarding purpose.
Here’s a major thesis of this book: “If a science course intends to discuss material origins from the perspective of a material ontology… there is no point at which the Genesis account becomes relevant, because Genesis does not concern material origins and does not have a material ontology” (152). Which is to say: leave out Genesis 1 if you are dealing with science.
Empirical science, though, is not about teleology even if it can deduce purpose as the best explanation. Therefore, science “must remain teleologically neutral” (153). Walton’s own thesis might be called — in his terms — “teleological evolution” (153). But he also contests the legitimacy of “metaphysical naturalism,” which proposes that all that exists is material — for science can’t pronounce on metaphysics like this. Purposelessness, too, is a metaphysical claim. So Walton argues that purpose ought to be left out of science classrooms.
More can be said, but this is a valuable book for the evangelical community. Thanks John.