I have finally got round to reading John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, and I have to say, I don’t see it.
Walton’s central contention is that what we have in Genesis 1 is an account not of the creation of the material cosmos but of the inauguration of the world as a temple for the creator God. He does not deny that the world is God’s material creation as a matter of theology, only that this is not the message that the author of the passage was trying to get across. In the context of the debate about origins there is an immediate benefit: we no longer need to map the chronology of Genesis 1 against scientific accounts of the formation of the universe and the emergence of life:
In summary, we have suggested that the seven days are not given as the period of time over which the material cosmos came into existence, but the period of time devoted to the inauguration of the functions of the cosmic temple…. (91)