I’m coming from a ‘Young’ Earth perspective on all this, so some of what I have to say here may come across as harsh. I hope not, but I wanted to qualify that, in case I’ve missed something in that regard in my wording and such. (I miss such things in my own words far more often than most people miss it in their words.)
I agree with John Walton on many of his points. One of these is that he says that it is an entirely legitimate and critical question to ask as to what things the origin of which Genesis 1 was meant to explicitly address. Does it explicitly address any physics? Many in my own ‘Young’ Earth camp think so, but I do not.
Walton and I are on most of the same page as to what we think it does explicitly address: that it addresses purely what we humans most naturally are concerned about, in our simply everyday sense of our world, in terms of everyday human life. In other words, neither he or I think that, say, v. 3 is referring to the creation of light/energy, as such, but, rather, is referring to something of ordinary daylight.
Hugh Ross and I agree that this ordinary daylight is the mere introduction of Sunlight by way of some dissipation of a very heavy cloud cover. But, as far as I know, Ross comes by this interpretation without regard for the Ancient Near East normal usage of phrases found throughout the Bible that indicate terrestrial darkness during daytime, such as that in v. 2: ‘darkness upon’ the face of the Earth. And a single global dense cloud cover could easily be that of this ‘darkness upon’ in v. 2. Ross thinks so, and so do I.
But, since the text does not spell out that a dense cloud cover was involved, most who hold the ‘Young’ Earth position insist that no dense cloud cover was involved. And this is a lot like how Walton reasons that the account id not about the material creation of anything: because it does not come right out say things like, ‘In the beginning, there was nothing but God, and then God created matter, as such.’
Walton is right, I think to claim that the ancient audience of the account did not constitute some Israel Conference on Physics, and thus that its author did not expect to be presenting on the origins of physics. (https://youtu.be/1kOflP3eLSI?t=919 (video time 15:19-17:32) and https://youtu.be/1kOflP3eLSI?t=1274 (video time 21:14-22:18))
But, as to what the account really is on about, similarly to Walton is Lazar Puhalo: Puhalo claims that, for any account that includes the material origins of the cosmos-the earth-life-and humans, it must at least once mention such things as atomic elements and ‘atomic structures’; And, therefore, since Genesis 1 does not even once mention any of the particular elements that are fundamental to the cosmos (‘deuterium’ and ‘helium’, etc.), then Genesis 1 is not an account that includes the material creation of anything, much less of the entire universe.
(Puhalo, Lazar (2011): ‘Theology made simple: The Meaning of The Fall of Man.l’. Youtube, Lazar Puhalo: https://youtu.be/6xN6IB-8glw?t=198 (at video time 03:18-03:42))
And, in common with Walton, Wright, etc., Puhalo overlooks (X):
(X) How short-and-sweet can a text or account be that constitutes a complete basic account of how God created the universe, the Earth, life, and humans? In other words, what is the best short way for such information to be communicated to normal, native terrestrial humans? And how would that best communication best begin and proceed?
I think that (X) is as legitimate and critical a question as is that of Walton’s own question: what things the origin of which was Genesis 1 meant to explicitly address?
…And Walton reasons essentially along the same lines as Puhalo about why the Genesis 1 account of origins is not an account of the material origins of anything. Yet, Walton advises that we should not—repeat, not----impose our modern, Space Age, cosmological and general physics concerns onto the ancients’ own accounts. (https://youtu.be/1kOflP3eLSI?t=1397 (video time 23:18-24:03))
So it seems to me that, if Genesis 1 is not about the material creation of the Earth’s ecological functions, then 2 Timothy 3:16-17 might better put what the Bible refers to as ‘science so-called’ the place of Holy Scripture, thus:
‘All claims by scientists are given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good exegesis of the Bible.’
Walton claims that the Bible makes no claims on material things such as the shape of the terrestrial world. This is because, according to his view of human origins and human history, the Bible records that the Hebrews all believed exactly as did supposedly all other ancient people’s of such things. But how could those Hebrews be sure that such things as the Bible supposedly records was NOT part of what their portion of the Bible claims?
In other words, (1) Walton reasons that whether the Bible affirms anything about the shape of the Earth is based purely on whether modern knowledge of its shape is contrary to what the Bible seems to record that the Hebrews believed was its shape; but (2) those Hebrews would therefore NOT have had that knowledge; Therefore: (3) how could they have known that its records of their beliefs thereto were not part of what the Bible affirms??