It saddens me that Genesis 1 has been so often co-opted for use in contemporary battles with science, particularly with regard to the age of the earth and the scientific model of evolution.
This has made it extremely difficult to simply teach Genesis. For while Christians need to stay informed and be able to interact with the findings of science… such concerns were certainly not those of the Torah’s original audience, nor are they essential to studying what the Bible teaches.
[T]he story of creation explains that there is one true and living God who created the universe back in the beginning. It also tells us that God prepared a special place in the world, a land, to be his temple. Like a King and master workman, he first constructed the outward form of this land so that it would be good for the creatures he planned to make. He then filled it with essential elements for life and worship, formed living creatures to inhabit it, and blessed them. He made humans in his image, blessed them, and made them his representatives to care for the land and its creatures. The blessing he gave to humans, to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth,” shows that he intended his blessing to be extended throughout the whole world. At the completion of his work, God took his place of rest, sitting down on the throne in his temple to rule and receive the praise of his creatures.
The land of Genesis 1, its preparation artfully described by use of the seven-day literary scheme, was made as God’s temple in the world, and people were placed there to live in his blessing and to extend that blessing throughout the rest of the world.
Also, the idea of Genesis 1’s genre being “literary composition” rather than “journalistic reporting” is an important one, I think.