1. Primordial cosmos: ”without form and void”. This is not matterless. It is unorganized matter/energy. It suggests the existence of random events, without — surprisingly — a moral color (we are inclined to see randomnity as bad.) There is no reason to believe the creation week obliterated or exhausted this formless stuff. I believe we still see this with senses and scientific instruments.
2. Creation. The stuff got organized. The residuum of this is what we perceive when we look at the night sky, and this is the Design the biblical writers talk about. But the biblical writers are not necessarily seeing what we think when we think “design”, which is more like “pattern”. They are seeing size, scale, and beauty. The fabrication of the Garden, later, will reveal that this Creation, whatever it looked like, though it is “very good”, has no clear human purpose, except as raw material for a further ordering. Even before the Fall there were at least two strata in the created universe that were not meant to look “designed” to unfallen human perception. What we see now has no apparent purpose, unless explained by revelation, but we’re not seeing it clearly.
3. The Garden. The creation of the Garden in Genesis seems not to mean anything to Christians who argue with the evil evolutionists about design in the natural world. But it seems crucial. The distinction between the garden and the wide world is precisely the degree of apparent order. And, in this context, the word “order” means something like “pleasant to humans”. It was an island of suitableness within the infinite ocean of the Creation, which was itself on top of, or imposed on, the deep layer of formless stuff. The idea was probably that the Garden would grow and take over all the Creation, which of course never happened. So the Garden was the one place visibly designed for humans. We do not perceive it now. A flaming sword has been set at its door. So – the created “order” we do perceive now is a level of order that God never thought was particularly suitable for humans.
4. The Creation, fallen. Whatever degree of design the original creation displayed — something less than what God had in mind for us — must be broken down now, to some unknown degree. And our vision is also broken. So we actually are looking through 3 or 4 dark glasses.
I realize I am speculating here. The point is not to nail all this down into creedal clarity. The point is that the concept “design” is used by biblicist culture-warriors as if it means one precise thing. It is either “evidence of design” or, I guess, “evolved by chance”. I find this dichotomy laughably simplistic — from a biblically literalist point of view. In contrast, the biblical concept of design is richly nuanced, and not nearly mined, to date. We do the biblical picture great trauma by talking about it so superficially.
Those of us who aren’t so certain to argue that we see “design” in the physical universe are often looked down on by our more dogmatic brethren. As if we don’t really believe the Word. Not so; we just see more in it than you, and see more that we don’t clearly see. It’s hard to fight over something you know you aren’t seeing clearly.