Dino Deaths & Original Sin

by Jimmy Akin

in Bible, Science, Theology

Tyrannosaurus-rex-skeleton-cg A reader writes:

I've got my brain in a crunch.  If death, disease, pain and suffering entered the world because of the first sin, then how would one best reconcile the deaths of all the Dinosaurs and other preceding animal throughout time up until the point that God first breathed life into Man and then Mankind committed the first sin?  I've been comfortable pointing to the first sin as the reason for all the death and pain in the world, but I stumped myself with this question.

The standard way of reconciling this would be to say that human death entered the world when our first parents committed original sin. 

In other words, God gave man access to the tree of life that would have enabled him to live forever. He didn't give access to it (so far as we know) to dinosaurs or, in fact, any other creatures besides mankind.

Thus when the fall occurs in Genesis 3, God drives Adam and Eve from the garden so that they won't have access to the tree of life and live forever. That suggests–though it does not prove–that the tree of life represented a special offer of immortality to mankind as long as they refrained from sin.

Why? Because it apparently didn't grow anywhere except in the garden. Otherwise, Adam and Eve could have simply eaten from a tree of life growing down the road somewhere, and there would be no point in expelling them.

This suggests that the tree of life was a unique offer to man as long as he remained in spiritual harmony with God, and when he sinned, the offer was lost.

Other species, presumably, never had the offer in the first place.

One note: The Church today would likely interpret the tree of life in a symbolic rather than literal fashion as that is what it does with the other tree–the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. According to the Catechism, 

How to read the account of the fall

390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. the prohibition against eating "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" spells this out: "for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die." The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.

One is still free to interpret the two trees literally, but the common teaching of the Church, as expressed in the Catechism, would seem to take them symbolically, the one representing the opportunity for immortality in union with God and the other representing the moral limits that man must respect or fall out of harmony with God.

This moral probation was presumably unique to man, who is uniquely a moral agent in the terrestrial sphere.

Thus:

310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

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{ 77 comments }

Agnes March 24, 2011 at 8:18 am

+JMJ+
I never really studied it,but I always thought that the dinosaurs came after, or at the same time as Adam & Eve and the rest of creation.

Mike the Geek March 24, 2011 at 9:03 am

Adam and Eve’s choice collapsed the wave equation, determining the past as well as the future. Had they chosen differently, not only would man’s future be entirely different, but the world’s past would have been entirely different. Perhaps, in that case, T. rex, had he ever existed, would have been short, purple, and run a childrens’ daycare.
Unless, of course, that’s heretical – in which case I withdraw it and submit to the authority of the Church. (As an ex-Protestant, I’m till trying to get this Catholic thing down right.)

Robyn March 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

Jimmy! That begs the question: Then why do animals *suffer*? Why did prehistoric animals suffer? I stipulate, first, that the world existed before the events of the Fall of Man (“old earth”*), and second that animals *do* suffer, and that that statement includes prehistoric ones. We have fossils of dinosaur bones that have been broken and healed. We know predatory dinosaurs ripped their prey apart. To our senses, this suffering would seem to be real. If animals don’t actually suffer, if some quality of their being or soul makes them incapable of suffering, then the fact that God created them to *appear* to suffer would seem irreconcilable with the nature of God; it would be a cruel lie. So therefore I believe animals do truly suffer.
Furthermore, for the world in its present state—and, according to fossils, in its prehistoric state—animal suffering is inevitable. Certainly prey animals have suffered when they have fallen to predators, at the very least since the time complex nervous systems appeared, before the Mesozoic.
And I had reached the (somewhat uneasy) conclusion that this was a form of natural evil arising as a consequence of sin. But since the other reader brought it up, Jimmy, why do pain, fear, and loneliness afflict animals, which have no moral culpability for anything? Why has that been the case since before the Fall?
I have some ideas, hinging on the idea that time is part of creation and that God (and truth) are independent of it. But I want to know what you think.
*I actually believe all the facts asserted by paleontologists—I nearly became one myself—including biological evolution, but this problem remains if you hold a guided intelligent design theory. Only a “young earth” theory removes the problem, but I reject that for the same reason I reject the possibility that animal suffering is an illusion—if the universe is young, then God created it with all the appearances of being ancient, essentially a cruel joke, which is inconsistent with his nature.

Curious March 24, 2011 at 9:26 am

Interesting post and comments.
However, I seem to remember some comments in Paul’s letters which indicate something to the effect that all Creation growns and awaits the final redemption. That would tend to make the Fall not just a human issue.
Mike, the Geek, I like your wavefunction speculation. It reminds me of a common Catholic explanation of how Mary was conceived without sin before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In that case, it is explained that the merits of Jesus’s sacrifice were applied backward in time to Mary. Obviously not impossible from the Almighty’s standpoint, but rather science-fictiony from our standpoint. If you can have time travel applied to the flow of grace, why not collapse some wavefunctions? On the other hand, I think the whole nature of quantum mechanics is so weird that its effect on theology has not been fully explored. So I am leary of using it too glibly.

Kurt March 24, 2011 at 9:34 am

An interesting response but I don’t think you answered the reader’s question. If death, pain, and decay were present even among animals, at the time of Adam, then it was no Garden of Eden. I have always believed that sin, with all its deadly effects, came into the world through Adam’s disobedience. However, if dinosaurs or other animals had already preceded Adam then where did the pain and suffering they had to endure originate. Possibly it was Satan’s sin that led to the fall from grace for all of nature.

Nick March 24, 2011 at 9:51 am

“From this text we become aware of the limit and transience of created things. Certain forms of physical “evil” (due to the lack or limitation of the good) belong to the very structure of created beings, which by their nature are contingent and passing, and therefore corruptible. Besides, we know that material beings are in a close relation of interdependence as expressed by the old saying: “the death of one is the life of another” (corruptio unius est generatio alterius). So then, in a certain sense death serves life. This law refers also to man inasmuch as he is at the same time an animal and spiritual being, mortal and immortal. In this regard, however, St. Paul’s words open up much wider horizons: “Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day” (2 Cor 4:17). And again: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17).”
– The Presence of Evil and Suffering in the World

Sisu March 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

@Mike the Geek
Your waveform is right in with what I’ve imagined — the Fall of man being like a stone thrown in the water, casting ripples in all directions, rupturing the nature of creation into its then past and future…the Incarnation and Crucifixion are fixed in time as well, but had effects backward and forward – besides Mary’s sinlessness, they opened heaven to the righteous dead – thus the “harrowing of hell”.
It is quite a kick to see in practice that if you are the One who made time, you’ll do with it as you like…it also connects us in a concrete way that we are connected with our fellow people, regardless of where in time we were set here — time isn’t that much of a separator.

Mary March 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Quite possibly the devils interferred with animal life. In Luke, a woman is crippled by an evil spirit; perhaps it can do more to beasts.

Carl March 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Man was not the first moral creature, nor was his the first fall. As Kurt suggests, was it not the fall of Satan and his angels that introduced evil into the created universe? Does that not account for the physical evil in creation before Man appeared?

Toby March 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Mark 10:6. Jesus who is God said…”at the beginning of creation God created humans”…this is not reconcilable with an old earth view and fits perfect with a literal Genesis. I wish Christians would stop trying to fit atheistic naturalism into Christianity.

Fred March 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm

“I wish Christians would stop trying to fit atheistic naturalism into Christianity.”
The problem is…the evidence does seem pretty sound to support the old earth view. I personally kinda dig the whole multiverse, collapsing-of-the-wave function idea.

Carl March 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm

But Toby, by reading this passage in this way, both absolutely and in isolation, one could argue that Jesus meant that Man was created before _everything_ else: animals, plants, the Earth, even all the rest of the whole material universe! But that’s certainly not the case, as both Genesis and the current scientific view indicate. So Jesus cannot have meant that Man was created at the (absolute) beginning of creation. Indeed, Genesis shows that the creation of Man was at the culmination of creation, not at the (absolute) beginning.

Cody March 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I hope posing this question helps someone’s faith.

Peregrinus March 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm

A more accurate translation of Mark 10:6, Toby, is “From the beginning of man’s creation, [God] made them male and female (Ab initio autem creaturae masculum et feminam fecit eos),” as the official Catholic version of the Bible, the Nova Vulgata, and the context of the verse indicate.

Toby March 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Carl,
For Jesus and the rest of us young earth creationists this verse poses no problems whatsoever. They were created at the beginning of creation, just a few days after plants and animals.

MichaelP March 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm

CCC
400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.283 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.284 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286
Bottom line is- no death before Man’s first sin.

Toby March 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm

MichaelP,
Exactly and rest assured that all Catholics believed this until they started trying to force the worlds naturalisitic agenda into our religion and beliefs. The catechism is clear.

Carl March 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Nor does the verse create any problems for me. I’m simply pointing out that you have to interpret it in light of, and in consistency with, the rest of Scripture. (And as Peregrinus points out, the verse isn’t even talking about the relative order of the creation of Man, but stressing that God created Man as male and female, i.e., as a complementarity.)
But OK, so now we’re back in Genesis, and back at the old question of whether a “day” must be read literally as indicating one turn of the Earth about its axis. The Church holds that it need not be so read. So there is no necessary conflict between the Catholic faith and science on this account, nor is a non-literalist interpretation of Genesis (on this specific point) necessarily atheist or naturalist. The Church also of course holds that you’re free to interpret “day” literally, too, if you wish, and I have no problem with those who do.

Carl March 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

No, Toby, that does not follow from what the CCC says. The CCC says only that _Man_ became subject to death because of the first man’s disobedience. By implication, Man was, before this disobedience, by created nature immortal. _But nowhere does the CCC say that other creatures were by created nature immortal_. It may well be that other creatures were (are) by created nature _mortal_, and that God intended immortality as a special gift to Man alone, who after all alone was created in God’s image.

Mark Wiechman March 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Good article, Jimmy. I frequently read over the same catechism section you quote here.

Dmwallace March 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm
sandra lipari March 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

God had the Tree of Life guarded because after “we” made our choice/ choices now and then, ETERNAL suffering would be too painful…

Kevin March 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm

However, I seem to remember some comments in Paul’s letters which indicate something to the effect that all Creation growns and awaits the final redemption. That would tend to make the Fall not just a human issue.”
Actually I would suggest that that line in Paul does not make the fall “cause” the entrance of death etc into non-human creation.
Here is the text:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope;
because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now;and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
(Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/ewtn/bible/search_bible.asp#ixzz1HXPrZTFW)
And the CCC notes in 400: “Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.”
Note the terms subject and bondage.
It would seem to me ..that yes…death entered the world –for Man– at the sin of Adam. But such was part of creation up to that point for the rest of creation (see CCC and Jimmy above).
And that IF Adam had not sinned…then that creation would not have been subject “bondage” to decay but things would have been more perfected perhaps … now what would have been??? or what could have been? we do not know…but what we do know is that since the sin…things are different even in the rest of creation…
As it is now…creation IS effected by the sin of Adam..it is now held in bondage …until Resurrection and the new heavens and new earth.

Brian March 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Interesting that this post come up, Jimmy. I have been pondering it myself.
As I understand, Original Holiness/Justice means that, before the Fall, there was no death nor decay in all of creation. It was not until the Fall that death and decay came into the world. And this seems to be affirmed by Wisdom 1:13-14. God did not make death. And that seems to make sense. How can the source of life be the author of death? It seems to be a metaphysical contradiction.
However, as the e-mailer pointed out, this conflicts with natural history. Has any Catholic come across this and found a resolution?

Lon March 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm

There is an explanation that is compatible with the faith, I think, but it is just speculation. I first became aware of it when reading some of Tolkien’s letters and notes, especially those published in _The History of Middle Earth_; but as I also found out, these were similar to speculations by some of the Fathers of he Church.
In short, actions by fallen angels preceded those of fallen men in this world, so that the world was corrupted by these agents even before the fall of man (which, of course, was also in part due to actions by fallen angels). In this theory, the suffering and death of animals (and other creatures of creation) were caused by the interference of demons with God’s plans. Furthermore, some also speculated that one of the reasons for man’s creation was that he might redress these evils (man being a hybrid, so to speak, of spirit and matter). Man’s fall temporarily foiled this purpose, but that fall led to the Incarnation of Our Lord, which will ultimately cause the triumph of all of God’s redeemed creation over the sinful deeds of fallen creatures.

Warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com March 24, 2011 at 7:55 pm

This is a fascinating subject, to be certain! It just so happens that I too, have pondered the totality of effects that Adam’s sin wrought.
The thought of the scope first occurred to me as I happened past a teevee set upon which was displaying some wild animal show. I paused just long enough to get the gist of the show. It was a venomous snake, I believe, which was the subject of the show.
Standing there, it occurred to me that venom was meant not exclusively for defense, but for offense, as well. To kill, to destroy, to offend… but why?
Then, I pondered also other similar scenes… big cats and other animals – alligators, wolves, sharks, etc. – killing other animals for food. We too, kill animals for food, and clothing. And yet, in the New Jerusalem – the New World, if you prefer – there will be no death.
The prophet Isaiah indicates that “The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD.” Isaiah 11:8,9 (NLT)
I like the following rendering, because it expresses a sentiment that I believe more fully expresses the idea: “There will be no cause of pain or destruction in all my holy mountain: for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is covered by the waters.” Isaiah 11:9 (BBE)
“…no cause of pain or destruction.” Fascinating! No destruction. No death. Death is destruction. Life is created. Death destroys life.
Pondering further, it occurred to me that the Fall changed everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING. Man was put in charge, and he rebelled. The reason why matters little, if any. The fact of the matter is that Adam disobeyed. And “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” Romans 5:12 (NLT)
That means that EVERYTHING changed.
EVERYTHING.
It’s not like it once was. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes… destruction.
Hence, the need for a “new Earth.” This place is falling apart.
John the Revelator said he saw it – the New Earth. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea exists no more.” Revelation 21:1 (DBT) The Apostle whom was our first Pope, Peter, wrote that “But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:13 (NLT)
We read also what the food will be. “The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.” Isaiah 65:25 (NASB) Revelation chapter 22 details about the River and Tree of Life which bears “twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:2b (NASB)
And time… there will be time in the New World. For fruit takes time to grow. And the Holy Scriptures clearly indicate that there will be 12 months, vis a vis “yielding its fruit every month.” But there will not be any night. “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:5 (NASB)
Reigning forever and ever? Wasn’t that much like Adam was supposed to do?
God invented time. But how did the Fall change time? Ahhh… the $64 question.
There will be no sun. Our solar system’s big, hot, flaming gas ball will expire… or so we’re told by scientists. But yet the Holy Scriptures told us first. For things to expire, they run out, become depleted, exhausted, deteriorated, used up, emptied… dead.
And I don’t think we know the true scope of it all.
You see… EVERYTHING changed.
EVERYTHING.
I’m looking forward to that Beatific Vision!
How about you?

Linus March 25, 2011 at 3:17 am

Interesting, never thought about it before. Clearly the animal kingdom suffered death and physical corruption before man’s appearance. There are two possible explanations. One, God created the animal kingdom, with the exception of man, subject to corruption and death as a lesson to man to teach him what would happen if he sinned against God. Or satan and the evil spirits began their war against God by waging war against the animal kingdom, man being exempted by special protection from God during the time of their probation. I have no way of defending these notions. I suggest them as possible answers.

David Meyer March 25, 2011 at 6:04 am

Please Catholics, I beg you, keep this discussion going. There are some good comments here but I need more. I have been studying this issue for a few months now, not just this but old earth and evolution as well.
Jimmy, the Catechism says the tree of knowledge “symbolically evokes…” it does not say that it was not “literal” as you explicitly said that it did in 396. Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac “symbolically evokes” Christ’s sacrifice, but it is still literal. Also be careful with the tree of knowledge, it is a type of the cross! We died from eating from the tree of knowledge and we are brought to life from eating from the tree of the cross! There is no reason to see that tree as merely a symbol and not literal. Just as Adam is a symbol of Christ but was a real man, so the tree was both a symbol and real. Why do Catholics want to deny this?
My problem is that as a new convert to Catholicism, I now have to deal with this issue more than as a Protestant because the magisterium has left this topic open to opinion. (I wish they would choose) I feel like I am back being my own Pope as a Protestant again (on these issues).

David Meyer March 25, 2011 at 6:06 am

For conservative (real) Protestants, this is not an issue because by and large they believe in a 6 day special creation 6000 years ago. In my experience, Catholics have accepted evolution and old earth, but forgot to look at the theological implications of their choice like death before the fall (kudos to Jimmy for discussing it here) and many horrible implications such as baby Adam nursing from a soul-less human mother, abiogenesis, etc. If you believe evolution, this is what you must swallow. I just cannot accept that.
The death before the fall issue is a thing Catholics seem (in my experience) to have not pondered that much. Well, young earth people have! It is more than just a desire for wooden literalism that keeps them with the traditional Christian understanding of Genesis. It is theology.
One thing about death before the fall that is a problem for even the 6 day creation crowd though… animals designed as killers. There are simply tons of animals that are designed to rip prey apart, and designed in such a way that it can’t reasonably be seen as a development (fangs and venom for instance). Most young earth creationists will say that the lions ate grass before the fall, as is prophesied for heaven. But this answer is not very satisfying. Picturing a t-rex grazing is a bit over the top. The next option would be that animal/plant death and violence is not a bad thing. This is also a stretch. It seems like this death and violence of the non human creation must be what is referred to as groaning in travail… it seems pretty bad! So what to do? I am still searching. I have been blogging about it a lot and looking for good Catholic answers.
http://newchristendom.blogspot.com/2011/03/theistic-evolution-or-materialistic.html

David Meyer March 25, 2011 at 6:07 am

For now though, it is clear to me that there are many more problems in an old earth/evolution model that the traditional model.
I liked the Tolkien idea given above. It is true that angels fell before us, and of course God knew we would fall and could have created a shadow of our fall and redemption right into the fabric of creation. It sure seems like that is just what he did. Even before the fall, Adam would have apparently had to KILL fruits and grains to eat. Also it is clear that he was placed in a protected environment (Eden). If this “death in the fabric” theory is true, then the young earther must revise his image of Adam petting the snout of t-rex. T-rex would be outside the protective walls of Eden in that case.
Of course the problems multiply if I end up with an old earth/evolution model. Then there would be countless generations of zombie humans with no soul dying before Adams fall. Also what about Eve coming from Adams rib? Do we chuck that out as a symbol too? What about the blood and water from Christ’s side of which it is a “symbol”? Was that real or symbol? Did Eve have a monkey mom too? I beg you serious Catholics to point me to some good resources on these issues. As a new convert this is ending up as the hardest issue to deal with, particularly in regards to teaching my children. In my view, Catholics are totally off the rails on this and have drunk gallons of materialistic, modernist cool-aid when it comes to evolution and age of the earth. So far Catholics have shown me I was wrong to be a Protestant, but their answers on this issue are just simply… naive and bad.

Alessandro from Italy March 25, 2011 at 6:48 am

I also came through these problems from a Concordist point of view.
As many have explained, Satan’s action was destructive for the world even prior to man’s creation. Jesus himself says that Satan is “murderer since the beginning”. Now, the very beginning of history is – in Biblical terms – Genesis 1,1. “In the beginning God created heaven and earth”. In the very same instant, time began to exist. The spiritual world, made of angels, fell immediately victim of Lucifer’s rebellion. The War in Heaven was concurrent with the early billion years in our universe. Then Satan fell and that must have occurred between Earth’s creation and prior to the formation of Man. In fact, we know that Satan fell from the heavens as a thunder, as Jesus said; also, Satan was already living on Earth as Adam and Eve were being tempted in the Garden of Eden. The best timing for that event is between Genesis 1,1 and Genesis 1,2: the Earth in the second verse of the Bible is described as empty, dark and formless. Satan was there to corrupt the world, but God was able to turn darkness into light, death into life. Though animals died by preying, starving, mass extinctions etc… God intervened to put order in creation. Obviously, the process took some billion years, which is some days in God’s perspective. Notice that the first steps of creation are said to be “good” but not perfect, and “very good” in the case of human creation. Natural perfection was to come with Adam being infused of the Spirit and becoming immortal.
Some thousand years ago (if Adam was ‘our’ Y-Chromosome Adam, this must have happened c. 70,000 – 60,000 B.C.E.)man was formed (is body deriving by evolution) and a newly-created soul was injected in Adam’s nostrils. The Garden of Eden wasn’t the entire planet: Genesis 2 says that Adam was formed out of the dust OUTSIDE the Garden, then he was transferred there. In the same chapter, immortal Adam is made the guardian of all living beings by exercising property (naming = owning in Semitic language. Since Adam and his wife were immortal, animals became immortal as their master. The world was temporarily restored to the original conditions plained by God. But the Fall of Man,instigated by the Devil, broke everything once again into pieces. The world followed in Adam’s death. The First Parents were expelled from Eden and went out into the world to populate it.
Most scientists would wonder: how is it possible that all men *but* Y-Chromosome Adam died, so that all humans alive today are heirs of Y-Chromosome Adam? The answer to both archaeology and religion should be the Toba Eruption happening about 67,000 B.C.E. which caused such climatic changes that all men died. A person could survive that accident due to two possible reasons: either Adam and Eve had natural immunities to the catastrophe, or more likely they were under a special protection in the Garden of Eden. In either case, Adam and Eve found no humans outside the Garden after the Fall and needed to be “special” when compared to the pre-adamites. If the Toba Eruption was concurrent with the Fall, then we also find the geological proof of Earth’s decay after the Original Sin event.
A curiosity: If we set the Flood of Noah as a local event in 2900 B.C.E. (Mesopotamian archaeology agrees with that) we can arrive at c. 67,000 B.C.E. by turning the ages of the Antediluvian Patriarchs in the LXX from a 10-base system to a sexagesimal system (as the Sumerian computations allow). For example 230 years would mean 2×60^2+3×60+0=3600+180=3780 years. Do this out of curiosity and you’ll see it by yourself.
Have a good day – I hope for answers and questions on my theories.

Alessandro from Italy March 25, 2011 at 6:51 am

Sorry, Errata Corrige on my previous message:
“…230 years would mean 2×60^2+3×60+0=7200+180=7380″
In Christ,
Alessandro

Bill912 March 25, 2011 at 7:38 am

“Also be careful with the tree of knowledge, it is a type of the cross!”
Actually, the Tree of Life is a type of the Cross. We get life from the Cross; we got death from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

Jay D March 25, 2011 at 7:44 am

310:…But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection….
This could not be more wrong.
What God created was good. God created the light and saw that it was good. He separated the waters from the dry land and saw that it was good. God caused the land to sprout vegetation and saw that it was good. God saw everything that he made and saw it was very good.
Then…
The heavens and the Earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
God was done creating. It was very good. It was certainly not “‘in a state of journeying’ towards its ultimate perfection.”

David Meyer March 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Alesandro, where do you get your ideas? Can you suggest a book? I dont believe an old earth is “obvious” as you say, but I would like to look into some of your ideas more.
Bill912:
You could not be more wrong if you tried. Google it. It has been a very standard Church teaching as far as I know. If you don’t want to google it think of Mary as the new Eve. If she is the new Eve for bringing salvation to the world from the “tree” her son died on, then the counterpart to the cross is the tree of knowledge. Of course the tree of life can be thrown in too though, thats whats great about typology.
Jay D: be careful saying that is wrong if you are a Catholic. That is the Catechism.

Rosemarie March 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm

+J.M.J+
>>>The death before the fall issue is a thing Catholics seem (in my experience) to have not pondered that much.
Catholics have indeed pondered the question of death before the Fall. Catholic theology teaches that physical immortality was a gift of God bestowed upon our first parents at their creation. It was *not* a characteristic of the animal kingdom, but a preternatural gift of the Creator to Adam and Eve, which they later forfeited at the Fall.
So it is perfectly in line with Catholic theology to believe that animal death existed before the Fall of man. St. Thomas Aquinas argued that death and decay are a natural condition of matter (Summa II.II:164:1). Since animals are part of the material realm, animal death would be a natural occurrence. A human being, however, is both a spiritual soul and a material body united together. Since the soul is the form of the body, it is fitting that the human body should be immortal like the soul, hence God’s gift of physical immortality to our first parents. (The Fall changed this, of course, so now our bodies die, but that was not God’s original intent for us.) It would similarly follow that, since animal souls are not immortal, their bodies would not be immortal either, even before the Fall.

Bill912 March 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm

If I “could not be more wrong”, then, contrary to what I posted above, we did not inherit spiritual death from Adam’s sin involving the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and our spiritual life was not restored to us by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. (One “could not be more wrong”, than to be completely wrong).

Alessandro from Italy March 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm

@David Mayer:
I don’t think an old earth is obvious; I just know the recent Popes have widely accepted the idea of an older earth then expected.
Pope Pius XII wrote: “The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experiences in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God”.
Some years later, the prudence of that great Pope was somewhat changed by scientific proofs of an older earth (which doesn’t mean – in my opinion – that the theory of evolution is entirely correct. For a Catholic the “God factor” can’t be ignored).
John Paul II wrote regarding Humani Generis: “Today, almost half a century after publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory”
Nevertheless, we must always keep in mind st. Augustine’s suggestion: we must be ready to read the Bible figuratively in those aspects which don’t concern dogma, at least when secular science has led to certain opinions largely agreed by experts. He literally wrote in Genesis ad Litteram: “”It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation”.
In other words: to the Catholic, the theory of evolution shouldn’t give any problem. We just have to prepare a possible explanation in case the theory is right at least at a certain extent (old earth, death prior to Adam, etc…).

Johnno March 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I fully believe Genesis is not just packed with symbolism, but it is also an accurate historical account of the beginning of time. What is remarkable that it is not just Judaism and Christianity that have the account of Adam and Eve and the tree and the flood, but many other cultures also do, from Hinduism, to the ancient Chinece religions to the Natives to the Aboriginies. What this tells us is that every person on Earth knew this history and beginning and God’s revelation, but as time went on, also possibly due to the event at Babel, the orignal account became corrupted and we lost many of the details. Thankfully some little was preserved, and Moses, who knew and spoke face to face with God, gave us the account that is preserved in Genesis as we know it.
Genesis states that God created a world and clled it ‘good.’ We know death is an intruder into our world from scripture. God Himself would not create death suffering etc. this would be against God’s good nature, and make a contradiction of the message of the Cross. God can use death and suffering t bring abotu good, but He Himself is not the catalyst for it. Genesis also says that all biological lifeforms were vegetarian. So no animals were killing each other for food. It wouldn’t be until after the Flood when God allowed man to eat meat, and also the animals would be greatly fearful of men. Death, disease, suffering, cancers, etc. etc. are all consequences of sin. In the beginning God sustained His creation. He placed it under the protection and governance of man. When man rebelled he separated himself from God and also God’s ability to sustain him, thus death and all the world’s ills fell upon man and the entire creation which was under his domain. This was the practice of the ancients where people tok group accountability, and show that one man’s sin can affect everyone. But so too is it a blessing where one man’s goodness can save mankind and even pray on man and nature’s behalf allowing for intercession.
The only reason we’re having so much confusion about Genesis is because society today have rejected Genesis and God by placing their faith in a false science called evolution at both the cosmological and biological level. It creates a false ideal that everything gets better overtime, a complete reversal of Christianity’s claims that apart from God, everything falls apart, decays and dies and things grow worse.
God is not a contradictory being who will both create death purposely and inflict nature and harmless animals with the torture of death, and survival of the fittest when they are incapable of sinning and don’t merit such cruelty , the god of evolution is a cruel god and this is why atheists reject the true God. Not because they know what God is really like, but because of their own false impression of him based on flawed science. If that is true then why make man, a creature capable of sining have a choice whereas innocent animals did not? It doesn’t make sense.
Given how lacking in evidence macro-evolution is, and how there is literally no scientific evidence whatsoever to take any of it seriously, Catholics ought to start learning mroe about the Evolutionary hoax and start looking into Creationism and science done from the perspective and worldview of Biblical Christianity which is the truth. For so long we have let secular humanism and atheism dictate what is fact and fiction and we have lost countless souls because of it. Not believing in the account of Genesis is the greatest apostacy that Church has fallen into and by undermining that one foundation we have lost the battle on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and every sin imaginable is being justified because the world has abandoned God’s revelation in favor of man-made fairy tales.
Belief in macro-evolution and any naturalistic worldviews of origins us and ought to be a defined heresy. If we’re not going to go that far then at least Catholics should grow a backbone and start calling evolutionary scientists out on their flawed empty assumptions and start championing criticism of evolution in Catholic schools and teaching creationist apologetics and how to correctly see the literal interpretations of Genesis alongside the symbolic and spiritual ones. Otherwise the only ones doing so are the Protestants. Being able to see Genesis as a historical reality then makes great sense of the Gospels and strengthens one’s faith in God and His miraculous power, and it is an excellent and remarkable witnessing tool for so many. Catholics MUST start to look into the origins debate seriously and start defending Genesis and the hisotircal reality of the Fall and the Flood and about mankind’s special act of creation and about God’s good and perfect nature that wants to eradicate death and suffering so much that He became man and died to set us free from its intrusion upon a good and perfect world.

Alessandro from Italy March 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm

@David Mayer:
As for the question: where do my theories come from? The answer is that the scientific part is well known to secular scholars. The Y-Chromosomal Adam was ‘discovered’ by geneticist Spencer Wells (look at this article on National Geographic for more info: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/12/1212_021213_journeyofman.html).
The association of the Toba Event with the reduction of the genetic pool of men to the Y-Chromosomal Adam has already been proposed by others (see here, if you’ve got much patience: http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/originals/Weber-Toba/ch5_bottleneck/textr5.htm).
As for the doctrinal part, that’s a matter of theology. As Catholics we CAN’T dismiss the primeval event of Original Sin, as the CCC says:
“390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.[264] Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents”.
Similarly, it is difficult to reconcile a possible idea that Adam represented a larger human group, as it would be immortal and have sinned collectively. In fact Adam’s immortality is also a dogma, a result of the condemnation of Pelagius and Celestius at the Council of Ephesus.
My solution combines elements of different theories in a concordist way. I don’t know how many possible flows there would be in it, so if you’ve got doubts from a theological point of view, that could be a way to test it better then I could myself.
Anyway, thanks for your appreciation!
In Christ,
Alessandro

David March 26, 2011 at 1:29 am

It would not be a cruel joke to make the earth old in appearance. If God made a tree in one day and you cut it down and counted the rings it would look older than a day. If he created the stars in day and one could measure the age of the light that was visible at that first day it may measure a billion light years. Good wine takes time to make and Christ made mature, aged wine in seconds at the wedding feast of Cana.

Rosemarie March 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm

+J.M.J+
I dunno. I Googled “cross is the tree of knowledge” and got: a few Gnostic hits; a sermon by a Protestant named Peter Leithart who serially compares the Cross to a bunch of things including “the tree of knowledge, the tree of judgment, the site of the judgment of this world”; and the motto of Denstone College (though I don’t think they are referring to the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the Garden of Eden, I think their motto may mean something else). Thin gruel, really; Google at least produced no evidence that it is a traditional Catholic belief.
OTOH, I have often heard from Catholic sources that the Cross is the Tree of Life, or that the tree of life in the Garden is a type of the Cross of Christ. Some Googling bore that out as well.

Brian March 26, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I have read the comments to this post, and I am not any closer to achieving understanding. How about this:
Any suggestions for reading about this? I’m assuming you guys have done some research into this.
How about you, Jimmy? We have not heard your thoughts about all of this beyond the original post

Rosemarie March 27, 2011 at 4:06 am

+J.M.J+
Modern six-day young earth creationism (6D-YEC) is a very recent novelty of Protestantism, hardly a century old. It reflects a Protestant mindset, so Catholics adopt it uncritically at their own peril.
Though some Christian writers throughout history do seem to interpret Genesis in a rather literalistic manner reminiscent of modern 6D-YEC, many do not and even those who do may interpret some elements of the account symbolically, believing that the text contains both literal and symbolic elements mingled together. There is no unanimous consent of the Fathers on this matter, which indicates that it was not part of the Apostolic Tradition. Of course, the fall of man and original sin are dogma so any legitimate interpretation of Genesis cannot deny those facts as defined by the Church. Apart from that, Catholics have always enjoyed a certain freedom when it comes to interpreting the creation account in Genesis. This is not really a bad thing.
Modern 6D-YEC has its roots in Seventh Day Adventism (SDA), which has a peculiar belief that the seventh day of the week (Saturday) was blessed by God in a special way for all time, thus observance of Saturday is binding on everyone, even in the New Covenant. This exaggerated view of the Sabbath is rooted in the belief that God created everything over a period of six literal 24-hour days and then blessed the next consecutive 24-hour period. Reject that foundation and the whole belief collapses. So when evolution brought into question a literalistic interpretation of the Genesis account, SDA’s felt the need to stridently oppose it.
Protestant fundamentalists later read SDA literature against evolution and adapted some of its arguments; thus modern 6D-YEC was born. They tended to exclude the Sabbath angle, however, arguing instead that a literalistic interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis was necessary to preserve the authority of the Bible. The argument ran as follows: The devil knows that if he can just discredit the first few chapters of the Bible, he can discredit the whole Bible. If we can’t trust the Bible when it says that God created the world in six days, how can we trust it when it says Jesus rose from the dead?
For us Catholics, this is nonsense since Mother Church is the interpreter of Scripture. When the Apostles spilled out into the streets of Jerusalem on Pentecost, full of the Holy Spirit, the message on their lips was “Jesus is Risen!” Not, “the world was created in six literal 24-hour days!” The Church’s message from the beginning has been “Christ is Risen!” It is engraved in her major Creeds, but you will search the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds in vain for an assertion that Christians must believe in a six literal 24-hour day creation. All they say is that God is Creator of heaven and earth, not how long He took to accomplish that!
Also, the Fathers may each interpret Genesis differently, but all are unanimous on the truth of the Resurrection. Clearly, the Holy Spirit has spoken through the Church: Jesus truly rose from the dead, but Christians are free to interpret Genesis in various ways as long as essential beliefs remain intact, such as the fall of man and original sin.

Rosemarie March 27, 2011 at 4:20 am

+J.M.J+
So 6D-YEC is not the all-important Christian dogma that many Protestant fundamentalists claim it is. The Bible and Christianity itself do not stand or fall on a particular interpretation of the first two chapters of Genesis. St. Paul wrote, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain.” He did not write, “If the world was not created in six literal 24-hour days, your faith is in vain.”
To shift the focus is dangerous; many a Christian child, raised on 6D-YEC from K-12, has lost his or her faith in college when confronted with the evidence for an old earth. Why? Because s/he has been told all his/her life that evolution and the Bible are inimical to one another; you can’t be a Christian and believe in evolution. So when they come to believe in evolution they naturally reject Christianity. Tragic. So unnecessary. If only they can be shown how evolution can be reconciled to Christian truth.
Also, modern 6D-YEC suffers from a mechanistic view which is at odds with a Thomist understanding of of the Creator’s relationship to creation. God constantly sustains all of creation and could very well use secondary causes in the process of bringing about life on earth. He does not create in a crude, mechanistic manner. Theistic evolution can be reconciled with Thomism.
So I implore Catholics to not simply accept modern 6D-YEC as the only acceptable Christian understanding of origins. It claims to be the age-old Christian interpretation of Genesis but it is in fact a very modern novelty backed by a strong Protestant mindset. When 6D-YEC concludes that animals could not die before the fall of man, its “theology” is flawed. It is also quite untrue to say that “all Catholics” believed that there was no animal death before the fall, since Catholic theology has long asserted that death and decay are natural to matter and that physical immortality was a preternatural gift of God to Adam and Eve, not something they shared in common with the animals. Please study more Catholic theology and take 6D-YEC with a grain of salt, as you would sola fide or sola scriptura.

Rosemarie March 27, 2011 at 5:06 am

+J.M.J+
I might also point out that, prior to 6D-YEC becoming popular, many fundamentalist Protestants interpreted Genesis 1 according to the Gap Theory. This is the belief that there is a huge “gap” of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, during which some kind of catastrophe occurred (the fall of the angels is one suggested candidate) which rendered the earth “formless and void.” Therefore, the rest of Genesis 1 describes, not God’s initial creation of the earth, but a regeneration of the planet after the catastrophe.
Though the Gap Theory took the six days of Genesis 1 literally, it did not believe in a young earth. It accepted the findings of geology that the earth is ancient and even taught that the great catastrophe brought about the extinction of the dinosaurs and the formation of fossils. Thus it took for granted the existence of animal death before the fall of man!
This theory was *extremely* popular prior to the mid-20th century, which is when 6D-YEC, imported from SDA, began to assert itself in fundamentalist Protestant circles. It is important to keep this in mind, for it refutes the 6D-YEC assertion that it is the one true, age-old Christian understanding of origins. Even less than 100 years ago an alternate theory was more prominent, one which taught both an old earth and animal death prior to the fall.

Johnno March 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm

6-Day creation far surpasses any claim of ‘Protestant invention.’ It’s explicitly stated by God in Exodus when He commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath. God is not speaking symbolically, he is commanding the people to observe a very literal 7-day week based on a very literal thing that God Himself did.
The excuse that 6-day belief is a recent Protestant invention is simply another excuse by those trying to reconcile naturalistic and atheistic philosophy disguised as science with the Catholic faith.
The fact remains that any idea that Eden was some separate cocooned environment away from a struggling brutal world is the clearly recent made-up invention on the part of theistic evolutionists with no Scriptural basis. This includes things such as the GAP theory, a failed attempt to reconcile naturalistic heresy with Christianity.
The fact also remains that to believe in naturalistic theories of evolution means to believe that God Himself is the creator and catalyst of suffering, death, pain, disease, cancer, decay etc. etc. etc. and then for whatever reason called it ‘good’ then contradicts Himself by proclaiming these things as being bad. This is irreconcilable, and a blatant contradiction of God’s character. God does not create suffering and bad things for no reason in a world where sin does not exist on creatures that cannot choose and would certainly never proclaim it ‘good.’ It would make God into some sort of sadistic character from this point of view.
It’s time to give up belief in macro-evolution and an age-old universe. Not simply because it is contrary to the faith, but also becuase it has not a shred of scientific evidence to back it up as being factual. All observable science is clearly understood and compatabile with a 6-day creation model worldview, unlike the purely naturalistic one which has no explanations whatsoever and relies on miracles without ever acknowledging it.
If anyone wants sources to read, check out books by secular ID scientists, or Protestant Creationist organizations like ‘Answers in Genesis.’ I’d love to recommend something Catholic, but sadly there aren’t any on the same level. It’s about time Catholics start to get more involved.

Johnno March 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Worries about children raised on 6-day beliefs and then worrying about them turning away in college due to evolutionary indoctrination isn’t any reason not to teach them. Following this logic, we shouldn’t teach children anything about Christianity at all given that colleges, universities, the media, and every secular institution on Earth denies Christ and Christian morality.
The solution is proper scientific instruction on what the limits of science are, and how to be critical of claims made by evolutionists that are ideology-driven and not scientific. In other words, critical thinking skills and proper instruction in the faith and apologetics. Get Catholic schools to actually start teaching about the Catholic faith, to actually start teaching apologetics in all areas of philosophy, science, religion and make it mandatory for all students throughout their time in school. If Catholic Schools continue to fail us, then parents should make the effort. There’s this thing called the internet and plenty of resources available. Do this and you need not worry about colleges and universities turning your kids away from their faith. If you’ve raised your children well and instructed them, then you need not worry so much.

Ben Yachov March 27, 2011 at 7:31 pm

The history is clear, Christians have held various interpretations of the first chapters of Genesis. The Church has never required one and only one interpretation. Was St. Augustine of Hippo a heretic for denying that the earth was created in six literal days?
6D-YEC as promoted by groups like Answers in Genesis is a modern novelty intermixed with carefully selected and reinterpreted modern scientific findings. It is not the ancient teaching of the Church. It is also rooted in Protestant assumptions about sola scriptura, the perspicuity of Scripture and a mechanistic view of the universe incompatible with Thomism. Ignoring or dismissing these facts won’t make them not so.
Ignoring the fact that Catholic theology has long taught that animals are essentially mortal in body and soul and so died prior to the fall also will not make that fact go away. That was not a capitulation to a “naturalistic and atheistic philosophy” for it was taught long before Darwin came along!

Ben Yachov March 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm

As for animal pain and such, animals have purely sensitive cognitive abilities. They lack the intellective consciousness of humans. Though they feel pain, they are not conscious of themselves as beings who are in pain. We can feel despair and hope, we can know that we are going to die. Animals cannot do these things. They do not know that they will die. They don’t know period. We can plead to God or choose to be angry at Him for our suffering. Animals are also incapable of that. They are just blind brute instinct that reacts to sensation. They are mortal, so as soon as one dies any primitive memory of its pain goes into oblivion with it, as though it never happened. Thus they really can’t be said to know suffering the way a being with a spiritual, intellective soul can.
Being upset over animal pain is the fallacy of anthropomorphism, reading human behavior and experience into animals. It is profane because it raises animals to a human level. Atheists complain about God creating or allowing animal suffering because they equate humans with animals. For them, the difference is one of degree, not kind. According to the godless, an animal mind is just a less developed human mind, not something on a different order. It is a capitulation to atheism for so-called IDers and 6D-YEC to morally equate humans with animals. They are material creatures only, so to weep over their pain is the moral equivalent of weeping over the planet Jupiter getting hit with comets.
(Inflicting pain on animals for human life and benefit (food, clothes, etc.) is morally permissible since they are material creatures only without mortal souls. Inflicting pain on them for no good reason is morally evil because it is the exercise of a malevolent will. St. Thomas Aquinas said as much.)

Ben Yachov March 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I would hardly recommend a Protestant 6D-YEC organization to Catholics. Rather, I would recommend the book _Origin of the Human Species_ by Dennis Bonnette, a Catholic philosopher who shows how theistic evolution can be reconciled with Catholic teaching on Adam and Eve and original sin. His website is here: http://drbonnette.com/
Evolution is not some evil atheist conspiracy to undermine Christianity. The data that scientists have points to a common ancestry of life on earth. This fact should, however, be distinguished from various theories of evolution, which are educated guesses as to how this process might have come about. Darwinism is but one theory, that pinpoints natural selection and survival of the fittest as the engine driving evolution. It is a popular theory but others have been proposed as well, and the process could indeed have occurred by a variety of means, not necessarily violent, moved along by a loving Creator and Sustainer.
The problem is not that kids are being taught Christianity but that they are being taught pseudo-science as a sine qua none of Christian belief. By all means, teach them Christianity but teach them real science as well; don’t give them the impression that the Faith stands or falls on young earth creationism.
We should stick with the Church and not grant ourselves the authority to pronounce as heresy what she herself permits. She allows her children to believe in theistic evolution, why are you second guessing her judgment? If you insist on believing creationism (which you have liberty as a Catholic to do) at least don’t mix in with it heterodox Protestant ideas or morally offensive views that animals are equivalent to humans and that God would be wicked for allowing mere material creatures like them to feel mere material pain without intellective comprehension.

Brian March 27, 2011 at 10:07 pm

So, Rosemarie, what theology books should we read to help us understand the issues better?
And how do you and Ben Yachov grapple with paragraph 400 in the CCC, which explicitly says nature was preserved from death and decay until the Fall.

John Farrell March 28, 2011 at 8:13 am

Brian, I think you asked this question at Edward Feser’s blog as well. But in case that wasn’t you, Brandon Watson’s response to you I think bears repeating:
“I see how you could read it the way you are reading it, but I don’t see that there’s anything requiring this reading; the Catechism here is just paraphrasing Romans 8:20. Aquinas, for instance, argues that three completely distinct interpretations of this verse are legitimate, only one of which takes it to refer to sensible creation generally; there’s no particular need to follow Aquinas on this point, but the point is that there is already a long tradition of interpreting the verse in various ways, none of which are particularly ruled out here, although no doubt some fit somewhat better than others.
“Further, you are assuming that the CCC is providing an interpretation; it looks more to my eye like it’s just telling the story, which is why this whole section has so many references to Scripture and involves so much paraphrase of Scriptural passages. This is especially important to keep in mind given CCC 390 (cf. also 289), which explicitly warns that in readng the story of the Fall we should expect much of it to be description of the historical facts in figurative language.”

Brian March 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

The CCC is not merely telling the story – it is always clear in other places to specify that this or that part of Genesis is figurative or not. In this case, there is no such specification. In any case, it does not sound like Brandon is too sure of himself, and the issue certainly requires more attention and clarity than that.
I don’t mean to be snippy – I am just a well-meaning Catholic trying to get my ducks in a row. So any more help?

Dmwallace March 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

For those who hold to 6D-YEC, how do you reconcile the two stories of creation in Genesis 1 and 2? In the first chapter, man is created at the apex of the six days of creation. In the second chapter, man is created first and all of creation is brought before him.
John Paul II, esp. in his theology of the body catechesis, spoke of the first day as a theological reflection on the metaphysical nature of man as rational animal, while the second day was a theological reflection on man as person, made for “the other.”

Brian March 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Dmwallace, there is no contradiction. That is just one of those things that is circulated around that no one looks into critically.
I recommend this which goes into it. It’s a bit pricy, though…
http://www.catholic-productions.com/store/audio/pitre/pentateuch.html
I do not want to de-rail this topic, though. I am hoping someone can guide me through this or at least direct me to some more content.

Dmwallace March 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Brian: I was not implying that there is a contradiction. I would just like to know what Young Earth Creationists think about the two stories.

BenYachov March 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

To quote the CCC,
399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.280 They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image – that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.281
400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.283 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.284 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286
I reply: So it says humans die after the fall? How do we get from the above that mortal animals where really immortal before man fell?
I don’t get it?

Mary March 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Being upset over animal pain is the fallacy of anthropomorphism, reading human behavior and experience into animals.

So why does the Law provide for animals? Jesus points out that healing a woman is much more of the same sort of thing as helping an animal on the Sabbath, which indicates a commonality.

BenYachov March 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Also assuming the ANSWERS IN GENESIS Protestant theory that animals obviously designed to prey where not really predators before the fall.. How is it the grass they ate and the fruit Adam & Eve ate was not “subject to decay”? How would you digest your food then? It’s part of creation. So is it not immortal? Why eat at all?
I’m sorry but even if 6d YEC where true based on the Fathers animals clearly ate each other & died. Only man was immortal and man was in harmony with creation and it’s master by the will of God. Enough of this Protestant nonsense. It has no place in Catholicism.

BenYachov March 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

>So why does the Law provide for animals? Jesus points out that healing a woman is much more of the same sort of thing as helping an animal on the Sabbath, which indicates a commonality.
I thought I had already indicated animals have no rights but that does not therefore legitimize unnecessary cruelty to animals since that would be the exercise of a wicked will. Besides the point Jesus was making was “If a mere animal may be help how much more a daughter if Israel”.
Jesus DID SAY we are much more than bird did he not?

Alessandro from Italy March 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I subscribe to the last posts of BenYachov. Jesus clearly meant humans to be far superior then animals. Nevertheless, God takes care of ANYTHING in Creation. What God makes, he makes it out of love. So creation AS A WHOLE is in God’s loving thoughts. Also, it it right and just that man take care of animals and nature because of the divine instruction to guard the Earth in Genesis 2. Anyway, the Church founded on st. Peter’s rock doesn’t have any problem with a longer period of time prior to Adam. And that’s no novelty. In 1909 the Pontifical Biblical Commission issued a document on the first chapters of Genesis, which was signed by the Pope as an official answer to the exegetes. In most questions, they rejected the novelties of non-literal interpretations. But here’s the final question in its original Latin text:
VIII. Utrum in illa sex dierum denominatione atque distinctione, de quibus in Geneseos capite primo, sumi possit vox Yom (dies), sive sensu proprio pro die naturali, sive sensu improprio pro quodam temporis spatio, deque huiusmodi quaestione libere inter exegetas disceptare liceat?
Resp. Affirmative.
My translation:
Question: In the denomination and distinction of the six days dealt with in Genesis chapter 1, is it allowed to understand the word Yom (dies) either in the proper sense of a natural day or in the improper sense of a certain timespan, so that it is licit for exegetes to dispute over this matter?
Answer: Yes.
The matter in dispute is clear: the Church allows for both views and encourages to abandon the perpetual understanding of Scripture as “inerrant” from a Protestant perspective. The Bible is written in different genres, which the exegete is asked to uncover. The entire Scripture is a record of history, but the most ancient events are told by the use of allegory due to the limits of oral transmission and the necessity to strengthen the spiritual meaning of that historical event. That doesn’t harm the historical value of the Bible, but rather redefines it. Human authors were chosen with their skills and their limits, their documents and their faith, as instruments of the Lord.
The matter which is damaging from a concordist perspective when dealing with YECists is that you tend to accuse us of HERESY when the Church clearly allows us to believe whatever we want about the length of Days 1-6 in Genesis ch.1; if the admission of animal death prior to the Fall were contrary to the doctrine of Original Sin, the Church wouldn’t admit such an heresy to be publicly allowed for Catholic exegetes. Like all other matters (e.g. such as the non-existence of Adam) which are contrary to Catholic theology, it would be dismissed and condemned as a heresy, but evidently it doesn’t at least since 1909. Pius XII also allowed this, together with the clear words of John Paul II; and Benedict XVI clearly affirms no conflict between science and faith, once the direct creation and infusion of the soul in Adam and the historicity of the Fall of Man are kept safe, as both are necessary to Catholic theology to work properly (the soul can’t be a product of nature, and Christ’s coming would be unnecessary without the Fall and Original Sin).
I respect YECists, but I don’t respect whoever spits mud over the brethren who adopt the common scientific view with the consent of the Magisterium. That’s contrary to brotherly love. That’s awful. That’s unjust. I can’t bear it, I’m sorry.
In Christ,
Alessandro

Mary March 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm

We can only be much more than a beast if the beast is something. Jupiter is much bigger than the planet

I thought I had already indicated animals have no rights but that does not therefore legitimize unnecessary cruelty to animals

So you agree that it’s not a fallacy, since it’s not cruelty unless it’s done to a being who suffers.

BenYachov March 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

>So you agree that it’s not a fallacy, since it’s not cruelty unless it’s done to a being who suffers.
What type of a being? A rock is a being & so is a goat and a human baby.
Define suffering? Does an animal really suffer comparable to a human? Before my intellective powers emerged back when I was a few days old my mother had me circumcised. According to her I “screamed bloody murder”. Well if she had not told me that & I never knew what a circumcision was I would have gone my whole life without knowing I “suffered”. But what was the nature of my “suffering” as a male baby having his forskin on his Mr. Tommy cut off? I had no intellective powers (those would develop later). I was mere blind instinct reacting to blind sensation. So it “hurt” but it would not compare to a Coptic Catholic Deacon I know who was circumcised in Egypt at age Six. Now he truely suffered compared to me.
As to cruelty it is not wrong to cause an animal physical suffering to benefit human life (testing a life saving drug). But it is beyond wrong to kill a human baby even if it is done painlessly.
Humans are made in the Divine Image. Humans (even most mentally handicapped humans) have intellective powers and spiritual perception.
Animals don’t. It is blasphemous to suggest God is morally culpable for allowing or designing animal “suffering”.
In fact if I believe Brian Davies it’s wrong to case God as a human moral agent in the first place…but that is another discussion.

Johnno March 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Young Earth Creationists have never had any issues with the two chapters of Genesis. Understanding the Hebrew they are easily harmonized and no contradiction exists. One is an overview of the entire 7 dys week, the other with more focus on the 6th day and man’s creation and his first experience with God. The reoccurences of creation of animals for the purposes of naming them as well as the specific plants of the field for man to till are special acts of creation for man’s benefit in a contained area besides the general days on which they were created prior, in fact careful reading reveals that the domestic beast of the field were already present in the garden before man’s creation so God didn’t have to re-create them.
Furthermore it is simply biased prejudice on the part of those who consider YEC views as ‘pseudo-science.’ Based on what exactly? Because you jsut so happen to believe in another actual pseudo-science called evolution that just so happens to have the stamp of secular and naturalistic approval that colleges and universities subscribe to?
The Church has permitted that Catholics can study the area of macro-evolutionary claims, but has never approved it. Finally if the debate on the side of YEC can demonstrate where macro-evolutionary beliefs undermine and contradict the faith, dogmas and the character of God, then it makes a case where belief in macro-evolution and the long ages of death and suffering prior to sin is an error, then theistic evolutionists and the Church have an obligation to discard evolutionary beliefs, which are not science, they are atheistic philosophies that are being married to the Catholic faith in an attempt to reconcile it out of the mislead belief that it will lead more atheists to convert. It won’t. The problem has always been that scientific claims have been a battleground between two presumed worldviews. Just because the Church has never formally defined or declared belief in 6-day creation and some theologians questioned it in ages past, doesn’t make it invalid or mean it was somehow the norm whereas 6 day creation wasn’t. There was simply no reason to define it then because it wasn’t some immediate issue, much like how belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary and her Assumption weren’t defined for a very long time. 6-Day creation was always the default view plainly read and declared by God Himself in Scripture, which the Israelites observed and what we observe right to this very day.
The unavoidable fact also remains that Genesis can be demonstrated to be historic literature, even if it could carry a poetic tinge, but everything about it suggests otherwise. Even if we were to grant Genesis some leeway of being non-literal (Which it isn’t), Exodus is inarguable history, and God Himself states that He created the world in 6 days adn rested on the 7th, which is why we observe a 7 day week to this very day. Christ Himself also declares that man and woman existed at the beginning of creation, not millions of years after for whatever reason. It is a defined heresy that all men are descended from Adam and Eve who were real specially created persons, and not from different subsets of human beings ‘in-progress’, a heresy known as Polygenesis, something evolutionists subscribed to for a very long time and lead to racist philosophies. The Apostles declared that death is an intruder, not a created intent by God in any way, and that it afflicts the ENTIRE creation which awaits a restoration. If theistic evolutionists are right then what is the world awaiting restoration to? A world where we continue to have death, disease, sufferings, earthquakes, tsunamis etc.? You honestly think the new world and new creation will be like that? If it was always like that then what is the restoration to come? This makes no sense whatsoever.
If one actually bothers to read Creationist articles, issues such as digestion, and break-down and levels of entropy etc. that some of you have brought up have been addressed. The main point remains that we cannot travel back in time to observe the conditions of which the early perfect creation was like. We have hints of it from miracles performed by God and especially when Christ comes and heals and restores. There are degrees of pain that are pleasurable and degrees to which they are not. Hugging someone and squeezing them lovingly is pleasurable pain. Crushing their hand in a vice is not. If pain existed and could be taken to a more painful level even in the previous creation, then as miracles suggest the body had a way to repair itself or come back to life. This could exist in animals and humans much like how plants can regrow. When the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, God looked after them and theirlimbs did not grow tired, nor did their clothers or shoes wear out. There’s plenty of leeway for speculation here on what the original creation was like, we cannot know for certain until the world is restored, perhaps even and ebetter than waht it once was following Christ’s return. Scientific inquiries into the present day processes cannot tell us about the past, we only have God’s revelation in Scripture to rely on. He is the only eyewitness to what He did, and He says He did it in 6 days.
Macro-Evolution and belief in long ages of death and all manner of disaster prior to sin presents and reveals plenty of issues that contradict the faith, attack the character of God etc. It is not that anyone who does believe in it isn’t Catholic enough or something like that. God doesn’t require you to be fully knowledgable of the faith or science or canon law to be a holy person. I too was once an ardent evolutionist, but it simply doesn’t hold up. Not in the context of the Christian faith and revelation, and certainly not scientifically. It is one of the greatest scientific hoaxes ever unleashed upon mankind. In fact it is nothing new. Naturalistic theories and macro-evolutionary ideas go all the way back to the ancient Greeks.
Regardless of the level of animal suffering, Scripture points out that all living creatures were vegetarian. The life of plants was considered far lower to the life of animals and man who had blood and were thus differentiated based on this. And so too, man is considered far more superior and special to animals because he bears God’s image and has an immortal soul. The allowance to eat animals was allowed after the flood for food. Prior to this, it was not considered natural. It wouldn’t make sense to restrict man from eating meat if God freely created animals to suffer and die for… what exactly? What possible theological reason could that hold other than to paint God as a sadist who declared such suffering and death good without any sin penalty? A contradiction to the very things He sent His Son to free us from? No theistic evolutionist has ever explained this other than to simply dismiss it altogether by declaring that animals are not like human beings so who cares, which doesn’t answer the question at all. It’s not just animals here, but also the general state of the Earth itself and the natural dangers it poses such as we’ve recently witnessed happening to Japan.
The idea that man and woman and Eden were exempt from all the rest in their death and suffering finds no grounds in Scripture and is a late invention in order to accomodate naturalistic philosophies and atheistic worldviews because Christians were somehow prematurely convinced that evolution was a proven scientific fact, which it is not and never was, but the publicity and advertising campaign for it has sure been great. It gained popularity simply because man by nature is looking for a way out and any false philosophy or belief he can find in order to ignore God.
I do not say these things to ‘spit mud’ into the faces of anyone who is currently a subscriber to theistic evolution, hey, I once was… and I understand why people subscribe to it. I feel there is a strong convincing case that Genesis was meant literally in its time span, ‘yom’ as written in it with the conjunctions of evening and morning, is meant to emphasize it was a literal day, more research and study has bourne that out, and this must be presented, looked at and debated again amongst the faithful and in the Church itself least we unwittingly persist in an error that is undermining the faith, our view of God, and morality as a whole. And also for the sake of science that unproven worldviews such as evolution no longer be indoctrinated into children and the public so that scientific enquiry may continue freely without the scientific establishment coercing scientists to leave God outside because they are not comfortable having Him in there, and they are not comfortable with anything that will, God-forbid, lend legitimacy to the Bible and thus to Christianity and thus to the Catholic Church. This isn’t just some issue of interpretations of texts or scientific discipline. Souls hang in the balance, and theistic evolution has put a stumbling block in the way of fully embracing and understanding the faith and trusting in God and what He Himself says, thus leaving many with a door by which they can escape and thus open the doors to delcare all Scripture as unliteral in many portions and reinterpret all other Scripture for themselves.
In other words, I believe Theistic Evolution is actually what is more ‘Protestant’ in all its forms and in its attempts at revisionism of the faith and revelation we have been given. For now man is using his own mislead intuition and thinking to reinterpret what God has clearly revealed to us based on flawed assumptions in the quest to discover the origin of all things, as if the miracle of existence could ever be figured out to be other than a miracle. One might as well make scientific inquiries into the Resurrection and the Eucharist as well so we can assign to it a purely natural explanation other than look at it as the clear miracle and spiritual mystery that they are which require men to turn away from their reliance on themselves and their man-made methods they are so proud of and instead humbly place their faith and minds in God.

benYachov March 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

>Regardless of the level of animal suffering, Scripture points out that all living creatures were vegetarian.
According to whose interpretation? Catholics like Augustine read the same Bible & stated rather plainly animals made to hunt prey did so from the beginning. I should believe ANSWERS IN REFORMATION NONSENSE why? Like I said you have the liberty to believe in YEC but nobody has the right to claim or imply it the dogma of the Church. Only the Church has that right & She is guided by the Holy Spirit neither you or I are so that it where it is at.
My point stands if you are going to believe this YEC stuff you have to do it as a Catholic not with corrupt Protestant presupositions.
Catholic creationists should not listen to Protestant Creationists. They believe in Calvinism, Total Depravity, and they deny men can preform natural good acts. They teach the fall of man made creation intrinsically evil. It’s a mountain of error mixed in with a mere permitted opinion.
Animals where not all vegetarians before the fall. I see no evidence in the Bible to believe otherwise and I see no reason to doubt Augustine.

Brian March 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm

benYachov, it may not be explicitly stated, but the peace between animals and between man and creation is a major theological theme in the Bible. To mess with it is to mess with a strand that runs from Genesis to Revelation, and it effects the whole picture. No offense, benYachov, I have respect for you and have complemented you before (though under a different alias), but I think you are coming at this from a Thomistic angle, not a biblical one.
Why do you think, for instance, the animals did not fight with each other in the story of the Ark and the Flood? It is because of this primordial peace that existed that did not change until the Noahic covenant when God allowed man to eat animals, and the animals feared man. When the Prophets come, they prophesy of a New Creation where the lion will lie down with the lamb, and the child shall lead them, etc. See, this is referencing, again, the primordial peace, and between a lion, a lamb, and a child no less! This is echoed again in Revelation.
If we mess with this “primordial peace,” we affect this whole strand, which seems so central to Christianity. I am merely seeking a way to reconcile this with modern science while at the same time respecting the text. Brandon, over at Feser’s blog, has been doing a good job of convincing me that there is a way, but it is definitely shallow so far that does not take into consideration this larger strand. Any suggestions on reading I could do?

Alessandro from Italy March 29, 2011 at 6:41 am

@Brian
You still don’t understand. God didn’t make the Earth perfect until creation was over. Creation was good but not very good until Adam was formed. If creation were perfectly established in goodness prior to Adam’s creation, then God would say “very good” even when creating animals. That’s not what happened. Also, it is not true you can solve all contradictions in the Biblical account. For example, none has offered a good explanation why Genesis 2 says in the singular: “These are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the heaven and the earth”. Is it one day or six days? Please, don’t answer that it means “when God finished creation”, because the sentence is an introduction to the narrative of human creation, so that this refers (in YECism) to creation prior to Adam (early day 6). Also the verb “to finish” is used in Genesis 2,1 but is not used in Genesis 2,4. Had God meant “to finish”, he could have used it in order to stress how important the literal 24-days were, which didn’t occur. So, that would mean creation would last one day and not six. Isn’t that a contradiction? Even in case “the day the Lord made the heaven and the earth” meant Day 6, that would be false since on that day God created the beasts of the earth but had no activity regarding the creation of the heavens.
You just can’t pick and choose what to read literally or figuratively without any method to do it. Theistic Evolutionists, Old Earth Creationists and Intelligent Design supporters don’t have this problem when they say the word “Yom” has more meanings then “Day”. This is the strong point of Day-Age Creationism (which is directly admitted by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in the passage I quoted in my last post). Since Yom means an age in that kind of interpretation, we can easily admit that six ages of the Earth be understood as a single age – more or less what we do when we consider the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Illuminism, Romanticism and Modernity as individual and distinct ages, or as a single age named “Christian Era” or “Common Era”.
The problems which such an interpretation raises are so weak that they can be easily solved. I know YECs often point to the use of the formula “and it was evening and it was morning”. But the words for evening and morning are always used in reference to the sun, which was made on Day 4. Now, the Gospel of John shows that the primordial light in the universe was the Word of God, so we can explain it in the light of the New Testament as foreshadowing Christ’s actions in the universe. The Word spoken by God manipulates creation over time, and each day-age He worked has a beginning when light/God is shown at work (morning) and an ending when light/God is not at work. We can safely use the New Testament to understand the Old Testament: in the Gospel all shadows of the early chapters of the Bible fade away in Jesus’ revelation. Catholics read the Bible as a whole: if that won’t be true, we would be killing adulterers and heretics all day long, or believe in a flat earth covered in a crystalline dome.
We should also wonder how Moses or any author(s) that encoded Genesis 1-3 could know what happened prior to Adam’s creation. Even Eve’s creation wasn’t witnessed by Adam since he was asleep. Had this been a private revelation to Adam or Moses or whoever wrote Genesis (a very old opinion of the Church Fathers, if I remember correctly), we may argue that visions often have a prophetic nature. The entire Book of the Apocalypse shows the destiny of the world in symbols. Why not doing the same with the past events prior to Adam? Does the prophetic/visionary character of the Apocalypse harm its historicity? I don’t think so: allegory is just a form of “history-in-simbols”, a “roman à clef”. The Antichrist will surely come, but he won’t take the form of a seven-headed beast; Satan is at work, but he won’t appear as a star-smashing dragon or giant serpent floating in the sky. The symbols of Genesis describe the nature of things, not their look. It is also somehow logic to believe God began and completed his Word and Revelation to us in a similar manner, by the use of prophetic revelations and visions as an allegorical narrative of historical events in the distant past and future of the universe. Neither Moses was an eyewitness of Creation, nor st. John was an eyewitness of Judgment Day. And even the narratives based on an eyewitness suffer limits. For example, Noah saw water everywhere in all directions and easily assumed the entire planet had been wiped out by waters. I think in a time when the Noachic civilization was confined in Mesopotamia, it would be almost natural to believe in a global flood!
On this paragraph:
“Why do you think, for instance, the animals did not fight with each other in the story of the Ark and the Flood? It is because of this primordial peace that existed that did not change until the Noahic covenant when God allowed man to eat animals, and the animals feared man. When the Prophets come, they prophesy of a New Creation where the lion will lie down with the lamb, and the child shall lead them, etc. See, this is referencing, again, the primordial peace, and between a lion, a lamb, and a child no less! This is echoed again in Revelation.”
Never heard of cages? Never been at a zoo? Also, concordists generally believe (as I do) that the Flood narrative meant a local deluge, and the Bible clearly states it (otherwise, how would giants survive the Flood, so that they existed even in Moses’ time?). Even the analogy of faith shows that there are men who can be saved outside the Church due to irresistible ignorance (this is Catholic dogma) but still through the Church (the Body of Christ is primarily an instrument of grace, even to those not sharing in Baptism out of involuntary ignorance). So the analogy of faith doesn’t bind to admit that all men but the 8 in the Ark died in the waters of the Flood!
Also, I got a question for you. If God considered animals to be good and pure, why did he wipe them out in the Flood? Weren’t they innocent? Weren’t they in peace?
In Christ,
Alessandro

Ben Yachov March 29, 2011 at 6:48 am

>it may not be explicitly stated,
I reply: Rather the citation from the CCC didn’t say it at all & clearly wasn’t written to endorse the claim made by Protestant Neo-Calvinist YEC.
> but the peace between animals and between man and creation is a major theological theme in the Bible.
I reply: I don’t doubt there was peace between animals & man before the fall. That doesn’t equal animals not eating each other. It just means they didn’t attack Adam and Eve, who had dominion over them.
>To mess with it is to mess with a strand that runs from Genesis to Revelation, and it effects the whole picture. No offense, benYachov, I have respect for you and have complemented you before (though under a different alias), but I think you are coming at this from a Thomistic angle, not a biblical one.
I reply: Since when do Catholics believe in the Bible alone and Deformation perspecuity of Scripture? Thomas Aquinas is a Doctor of the Church. ANSWERS IN DEFORMATION NONSENSE is warmed over 7th Day Adventist folly and has no place in the received Faith of Our Fathers.
>Why do you think, for instance, the animals did not fight with each other in the story of the Ark and the Flood? It is because of this primordial peace that existed that did not change until the Noahic covenant when God allowed man to eat animals, and the animals feared man.
I reply: You’re saying primordial peace still existed between man and animals after the Fall up till the time of Noah? That’s a new one. The Flood was long after the fall and man had been sacrificing animals as far back as Abel’s time. Fossilized animal droppings (coprolites) have been discovered containing crushed animal bones. Fossilized dinosaur bones with teeth marks on them have also been unearthed. Protestant 6D-YEC claims these fossils were formed at the time of the the Deluge, so even they admit that animals ate each other prior to the Flood.
>When the Prophets come, they prophesy of a New Creation where the lion will lie down with the lamb, and the child shall lead them, etc. See, this is referencing, again, the primordial peace, and between a lion, a lamb, and a child no less! This is echoed again in Revelation.
I reply: In Eden, Adam and Eve were married and commanded to be fruitful and multiply; in the new heavens and earth no one will be married or given in marriage. You are equating the World to Come where Men will get the Beatific Vision to the mere Edenic state. That does not work either; the World to Come is clearly superior.
>If we mess with this “primordial peace,” we affect this whole strand, which seems so central to Christianity. I am merely seeking a way to reconcile this with modern science while at the same time respecting the text. Brandon, over at Feser’s blog, has been doing a good job of convincing me that there is a way, but it is definitely shallow so far that does not take into consideration this larger strand. Any suggestions on reading I could do?
I reply: If you want to be a YEC at least be a Catholic one & forget the Protestant nonsense.
OTOH Dr. Dennis Bonnette book THE ORIGIN OF THE HUMAN SPECIES was invaluable to me, showing how Evolution is compatible with Catholic teaching. Fr. Jaki’s books on GENESIS and SCIENCE IN THE BIBLE are also valuable in showing that there was no uniform concordance interpretation of Genesis in history. Even though in theology there was a consensus.

Brian March 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

Ok, one thing you guys have shown me is that I shouldn’t be so sure of my own interpretation and that I have to grow in knowledge about Scripture and the Church’s tradition of interpretation. I’ll bow out for now and hopefully study up.

BenYachov March 29, 2011 at 10:29 am

That is a very Catholic attitude Brian. Good show!

Alessandro from Italy March 29, 2011 at 11:42 am

Finally, that’s the right point we were making, Brian. The Church Fathers themselves showed this attitude on such matters. Catholic doctrine is vital to us, but there are aspects of it that sometimes divide us rather then unite us. Even the Apostles were divided on certain issues. But I think that all of us are trying to do our best to keep faithful to the Church. The fact that we don’t agree on such matters proves how irrelevant they are to our faith. In our hearts and in our faith we know that we are born of Adam somewhere in the distant past, and that together with his sonship to God, we unfortunately inherited his weaknesses due to the Fall. Once we continue to believe this, we are properly and entirely Catholic. Ultimately, what does it change to our faith to know when God made heaven and earth?
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity” (Psalm 132,1)
“That they may all be one” (John 17,21)
“Seek what unites, not what divides” (Pope Bl. John XXIII)
Peace to you, Brian!

Johnno April 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

No benYachov. I’m not saying Creationism is a Church Dogma. I’m saying that it ought to be. And as a Catholic I have every right to argue in its favor.
Furthermore, you keep on spouting some nonsense that we shouldn’t listen to Protestants. Now I fully agree with you that we should not listen to them in areas that are clearly heretical, schismatic, and contrary to the Catholic Faith. But it is perfectly acceptable to read their own work and the good things and research they have done in areas of apologetics and science that are not contrary to the faith. Taking your attitude we ought to stop reading the insights of C.S. Lewis and many other Protestants or any non-Catholics in areas of science, archaeology, history etc. Might as well toss out the Jews too following your logic. Furthermore I would rather listen to a Protestant rather than to atheists that you seem to happily subscribe to. Which then is more dangerous?
I get what you mean that we should be careful to spot any remarks or conclusions that are a result of Protestant theology, but we can and should listen to anybody if they happen to be right in any area regardless of their affiliation. So I highly recommend that informed Catholics use resources such as Answers in Genesis when it comes to the study of science in favor of creation and where it is critical of evolution, and even in areas of general apologetics where Catholics and Protestants are in agreement upon.
As for your question about Animals being Vegetarian, why not read the CLEAR text of Genesis, where God gave every plant and fruit bearing tree for food? And also when God finally gave the allowment for men to eat the meat of animals following the Flood which tells us that prior to it it was against God’s own wishes? If it was a typical thing to eat meat, then there would be absolutely no need for God to state it as if He was now freeing us from a restriction, much like God would later appear to Peter and says that the things which were once unclean, God now makes clean. Also just becuase men sacrificed animals to God prior to the Flood, again does not necessary mean that they ate it on the regular, or if they did that it was necessarily in harmony with what God originally desired. If Augustine said something contrary I’ll have to take disagreement with him. Yes he is a far mightier man than I’ve ever been and he is to be highly respected and regarded. But he can be wrong. And I submit that clear readings of the Scriptures as originally recorded by Moses and the words coming from God Himself to take precedence over Augustine. Furthermore no 6-day YEC claims that animals did not eat each other or that human beings did not eat animals prior to the Flood. It is prior to the Fall, as in creation the way God intentionally intended it to be before sin entered the world. Why don’t you at least try and find out what 6-Day YEC subscribers believe before making straw men arguments that are false?
Furthermore where do you get the idea that animals attacked each other and not Adam and Eve? Are you sure you’re not giving YOUR own spin of events becaue you’re trying to harmonize Scripture and the Catholic faith with secular philosophy? Why should I take you seriously when throughout the Bible it is implied that animals did not attack each other, did not eat meat at all in the beginning, and furthermore in the new Creation even the lamb will lie down by the lion and they will not harm each other, in other words a restoration to the original creation? Also where do you get idea that creation ceases to exist in a new form and work following the 2nd Coming of Christ? Aren’t you confusing the heavenly state being in God’s beatific vision with how things work on Earth? I say you are putting the cart before the horse. The case may have been that marriage will continue to exist in the physical universe, and that man could then transcend it to reach the next stage of existence which is to leave the physical world and be assumed into Heaven to be with God. We are given examples of this with what happened to Elijah and more significantly and plainly with the Virgin Mary’s Assumption. If creation and time did not matter, God would’ve made us like the angels. But He didn’t. It could be that man begins life in the physical creation, grows, marries bears fruit and when the time comes, leaves it and is assumed into Heaven without experiencing death to be fully with God after comprehending Him and loving Him by knowing Him in teh physical universe and enters into the beatific vision through free wil and desire. In any case, we can only speculate on this matter, but the point is that 6 day creation and a state of perfection prior to the Fall better reflect God’s character, the Scriptures and the Catholic faith than some compromised reinterpretive position that seeks to combine athiestic evolution and naturalist philosophy with Catholicism, which is a far more ‘Protestant’ ideal that only further emphasizes man’s wishful thinking of imposing his own flawed views on the faith.
Catholics do not believe in the Bible alone. And believing in 6-Day cretion has a LOT more do do with it than what you simplify as simply some sola-scriptura issue. It is not, and you continue to make false accusations against Catholics and even secular scientists who reject evolution.

Johnno April 1, 2011 at 11:22 am

Alessandro
Your question as to the beginning of the 2nd account of Creation has been answered. It could be the simple fact that Moses imitated the dual creation accounts of other nations that the Israelites would’ve been familiar with, and by doing so the people would easily see what this implied. Genesis (Or however the original account was) would be a creation account to replace the erronous accounts of other nations, that they were well familiar with, with one that was their own and insired by God. There is no contradiction and the accounts can be harmonized. There are plenty of articles on the matter and it is easy to look them up. As are articles explaining the meaning of the word ‘yom.’ Yes, yom can be used in different contexts, but the context in Genesis matters, as is the use of ‘there was evening then morning’ to enforce that it is a literal 24 hour day, the same use is also recorded in the same way when the Israelites were to leave the lamps burning from evening until morning. This similar style and other textual examples are used as proof that the original author of the texts that would inevitably become Genesis and Exodus was one and the same. It can even be that Genesis 1 & 2 were written as two separate works compiled together by later copyists and this beginning has been preserved. This does not mean they were contradictory, they separately intended to deal with two separate focuses. One a general overview of creation as a whole, the other a more intimate look into the day man was created.
Furthermore the old argument that the Sun was created on Day 4 is irrelevant. Light existed since Day 1, believed to be the light of God’s own presense and divine glory cast upon the form of the Earth which had both light and darkness. That and the Earth’s rotation is all you’d need for a day. In any case even if we were to ignore such ideas, God Himself states plainly that He created in the context of days in contradiction to the current scientific consensus of long ages and cosmological evolution that happens in an entirely different sequence of events.
The coming of Christ did not undo any of the Old Testament. It certainly shines light on much of it, but not in the ridiculous ways Theistic evolutionsts now jump through hoops to the point of entirely inventing details about a cocooned Eden and other things. The New Testament sheds light on the Old only with regards to how it foreshadows and signifies Christ. Following this logic we might as well reinterpret all history that exists in the Old Testament, which is ridiculous. In order to use typology to see how it points to Christ, the types used MUST BE REAL PEOPLE AND EVENTS!
Furthermore, I don’t see why anyone has trouble wondering how Moses would know the details of Creation. Moses talked to God face to face. God was there! He is the creator. He knows what He did! He even told the Israelites this when He commanded them to observe the 7 day week and the Sabbath that we do to this very day! The Israelites knew of this before reaching Sinai, God restates this plainly.
And it’s typical to see those who disbelieve Genesis or regard it as methaphor also deny the worldwide flood. You do remember that Christ Himself clearly spoke about the Flood and Noah and Adam and Eve as real events and people right? And we are going to be judged again, but not by water, it will be by fire! It will be worldwide, just the Flood was! Or are you going to suggest that the 2nd judgement and Christ’s coming will only be a local event? That’s ridiculous. The ‘giants,’ that exist we know are simply either tall people of men of great stature and reknown in the Bible to emphasize their might, or very likely men originally were as a whole much bigger built and Moses and his family were likewise and the giants’ descended from them as did many other people of various sorts and features. Creationists have already addressed all these things in various ways, along with people who did so without any intention of considering the debate over 6 day creation. Much like how we know the Nephelim and sons of God were not angels like some mistaken thought, but simply two separate groups of men, those who tried to follow God and be faithful to him, and those who did not and were fallen.
And as for why God would wipe the animals out too… God destroyed the entire world, men, the animals, plants, covered mountains etc. Animals were also fallen by nature, just as how the entire creation groans and awaits its future renewal. The point here is significant. Death DID NOT exist in creation prior to the Fall. God never intended it to, but allowed man free will to put Him aside and invite a world removed from God’s sustaining power. After the Fall, death entered. It must as a result of man’s sin. But God can also turn evil into good (But remember that God does not willfully create evil to exist in the first place), thus it was God Himself who killed the first animal in Eden to use it to cover man’s sin. The shedding of blood was necessary. Because man sinned, his sin affected everything under his charge, which was all of creation. When God judged man in the flood, He destroyed everything man was in charge of, which was the creation given to Him. Only Noah and a select number of animals were saved as portion of Noah’s inheritence so that He may survive through it and grow again. In much the same way Israel practiced the corporate attitude where for the sin of a few, an entire group and family would be punished. When Israel marched on Canaan, God ordered everything to be destroyed. The cities razed, the animals killed, everything was placed under a ban and the Israelites could not use any of it for themselves. God ordained it thus so that it would likewise be possible for one man, Christ to redeem all men, and for the Church and Catholics to pray for others. This pattern is witnessed again and again in Scripture. The Flood, Sodom and Gamorrah, the anihiliation of the Canaanites are all types of the Final judgment to come. Everything that is imprefect, including created things, are abominable to God’s perfect holiness. This includes our posessions, the earth beneath our feet and the animal kingdom whcih is under man’s domain. Likewise we too inwardly must be made pure and sin eradicated entirely without any stain, which is why Purgatory exists. God’s perfection demands this!
To subscribe to evolution and long ages and reinterpreting the Bible as if to say none of these things were so or ever happened undoes everything we are to believe in and know. Thus, I do believe that evolution and the curent consensus opinion of secular science that prmotes it be considered a heresy. And Catholics will do well by finally seeing it for what it is. Contrary to the faith, forcing re-interpretations of Scripture that should be accepted at face value that are critical to being types of the New Testament that sheds light on the old because the old is just as true as the new. and also for seeing the direction of where the world is headed and understanding the significance of the Final Judgment and Christ’s Second Coming.
Finally it is true that the Apostles and Church Fathers argued about things. But that doesn’t mean to say that things we don’t agree on are not of necessity to our faith. The reason councils existed was precisely to address such issues because they grew to become dangerous and had to be defined and confronted. You must understand that souls are being lost and people are rejecting the faith and confusion runs amock because of general acceptance of atheistic evolution. Contrary to this, proper understandings of Creationist science has done wonders and converted many who reply on God more and are readily accepting of Orthodoxy. It is truly being fruitful, and it in complete accordance with science, and why shouldn’t it be, when it is the truth? If you do not believe earthly things, how can you then believe heavenly things? The origins debate isn’t just some simple issue that doesn’t affect us. Evolutionary indoctrination is what has led to people’s disbelief in the Bible, and the very Church who’s history and origin are recorded within it. Evolutionary philosophies are what has led to people promoting racism, and ideas that marriage, religion, sexuality, birth control etc. are social constructs that are developed over time, that there is noting perfect, that all things, including religion are in constant change, and that mankind as a democratic group is the ultimate authority in deciding what direction society and their religion, if religion should continue to exist at all, should head and what it ought to be like. It runs through our politics and social engineering like a virus that is destroying all in its path. It is not some negligable issue. Anyone thinking so is entirely naieve. And all this because of some philosophical idea that cannot be observed, tested, repeated, and entirely rejects and does not follow any method of science and scientific scrutiny. It is a fable without merit and the greatest deception the devil could’ve ever unleashed onto the world. It’s about time the Church realized this and addressed it and Catholics should get be leading the charge.

Johnno April 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

As a comment on the wonder about animals on the Ark. I don’t believe they were in cages. I don’t believe they attacked each other at all. This doesn’t mean they weren’t preying on each other following the Fall. By and large I don’t believe they were to the extent we witness today. But the entire gathering of the animals on the Ark was a miraculous event. God gathered them together and would’ve kept them from harming one another, just the same as He kept the lions from devouring Daniel.
You can’t reduce all things to naturalistic explanations. From creation, to the Eucharist, from conception to birth, to the fact that anything exists at all are all miracles in and of themselves to various degrees. But we have become a world that denies God and miracles their role in the existence of the universe and life. Thus we deny a global flood as God’s judgment on the entire human race and safely feel no such future judgment will come. We deny Christ’s presense in the Eucharist as being a foolish thing that is unscientific, and we deny children the right to life because we have reduced birth and sex to mere naturalistic functions in the engine of evolutionary change. Man grows worse while believing it is evolving into something better. By its fruits we should know these things, but the reality is that God indeed finds so little faith in us to believe Him in plain words as to how He created, and we become intellectual cowards in the face of the overwhelming Evolutionary establishment and culture’s walls of Jericho.

Hugh R. Miller April 10, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I realize that most Catholics just can’t conceive of anything but The Big Bang, Black Holes, and billions of years with dinosaurs becoming extinct 65 million years ago. But come on folks this is the 21st century not the time of Darwin and Huxley. Also maybe, just maybe sedimentary studies of how rocks form quickly [studies in Russian and French Academy of Science Journals] coupled with C-14 dating of the fossils like dinosaur bone collagen in the 1000′s of years in a book plublished by the VP of National Research Council of Italy, Dr. Roberto de Mattei; even diamonds supposedly a few billion years old contain C-14 were none should exist; and, the knowledge that large biomolecules of organic chemicals just can’t last millions of years like are now being discovered in some dinosaur bones to fossilized sea creatures might force us all to realize that such concordant data from different scientific disciplines including genetics can’t be ignored any longer. Just think what this does to the theory of biological evolution and the Big Bang if those millions and even billions of years don’t even exist. Why, it’s back to Genesis 1-11 with dinosaur and man coexisting together in harmony for just a little while. Try http://www.dinosaurc14ages.com
and sciencevsevolution.org. These web sites have a lot of surprises for those who have bought into the Big Bang and claimes that we have evolved from the stars over eons of time.

BenYachov April 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Johnno,
BTW CS Lewis was himself a Theistic Evolutionist
Even if YEC is true Animals clearly ate each other before the fall. The idea they didn’t is pure modern Protestant novelty. .
Aquinas himself believed this:
“Reply to Objection 2. In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man’s sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon. Nor does Bede’s gloss on Genesis 1:30, say that trees and herbs were given as food to all animals and birds, but to some. Thus there would have been a natural antipathy between some animals. They would not, however, on this account have been excepted from the mastership of man: as neither at present are they for that reason excepted from the mastership of God, Whose Providence has ordained all this. Of this Providence man would have been the executor, as appears even now in regard to domestic animals, since fowls are given by men as food to the trained falcon.”
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1096.htm#article1
Animals ate each other before the Fall. Get over it.

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