A billion years with an evening?


From Robert Sungenis:

" Akin, having no qualms about opposing the majority of Church Fathers (which, as we have seen in an earlier footnote, was a view the Fathers held against the Greek philosophers who were advocating an evolutionary origin to the universe), nor any qualm about opposing the consensus of medieval theologians who adopted the patristic consensus, he summarily dismisses all of them for one statement in the Catechism - a statement, which we have seen, he totally distorts to his own liking, as well as failing to cite even one corroborating source to back up his interpretation. Yet he calls his symbolic approach the “official” interpretation of the Catholic Church!

Ironically, Akin admits in the next paragraph that the use of “evening and morning” in each of the six says of the Genesis 1 presents a “problem.” He writes:

Evening and morning in that order are the transition points of the day according to the Hebrew reckoning (the Hebrew day starts at sunset). The mention of evening and morning tell you that yom is being used in the twenty-four hour sense, since longer periods are not divided by evening and morning in this way. 

Here Akin is quite correct. The most conclusive evidence that the word “day” in Genesis 1 is to be interpreted as a 24-hour period is that, in Scripture, the phrase “evening and morning” always refers to the sequence of darkness and light comprising a single period of one day, a 24 hour period. “Evening and morning” is a very unique phrase in Scripture, since outside of Genesis 1 where it is used six times, it only appears eight other times in the Hebrew canon (cf., Ex 16:8-13; 27:21; 29:39; Lv 24:3; Nm 9:21; Dan 8:26).(14) As opposed to the many times in Scripture that the words “morning” or “evening” appear separately with the word “day,” some of which refer to a literal solar day and some which are indefinite of time, the specific Hebrew phrase “and there was evening and there was morning” never refers to a figurative or indefinite length of time.

In pointing out the meaning of “evening and morning,” Akin concludes that this definition would strongly disfavor the day-age interpretation of Genesis (i.e., the interpretation that claims the days of Genesis are symbolic of millions or billions of years). That much is obvious. In fact, this was one of Aquinas’ strongest reasons for siding with the Fathers’ view that “day” meant 24-hours.(15) What seems to escape Akin’s notice, however, is that the 24-hour period he voluntarily associates with the phrase “evening and morning” also undercuts his own symbolic approach to interpreting Genesis. Obviously, Akin cannot dismiss for his own non-literal interpretation what he happily applies to another non-literal interpretation."

Does the “evening and morning” mentioned in Genesis favor the literal interpretation of days in Genesis? Why or why not?

Pax Christi tecum.


Of course evening and morning in Genesis refer to literal 24 hour days. Any other interpretation does not hold up. No sun? No problem.

For the literal believers in science, this is a problem, but if God is God and is able to literally do anything, then there should be no problem. The Church recognizes that some process like evolution occurred but God was intimately involved with that as well. Water into wine? How long did that take? Raising the dead? No local ER was used. Died and rose again? Three 24 hour days.

Is a common seal that can walk on its flippers on its way to developing hands or feet or legs?

The Church has not infallibly ruled on the age of the earth. All other questions are still open.

God bless,


Augustine actually entertained another interpretation. City of God, Book XI, especially Ch. 7

(“Of the Nature of the First Days, Which are Said to Have Had Morning and Evening, Before There Was a Sun”)

[quote=Augustine]We see, indeed, that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting, and no morning but by the rising, of the sun; but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day.

And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness, and called the light Day, and the darkness Night; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was, and yet must unhesitatingly believe it. For either it was some material light, whether proceeding from the upper parts of the world, far removed from our sight, or from the spot where the sun was afterwards kindled; or under the name of light the holy city was signified, composed of holy angels and blessed spirits…

Yet in some respects we may appropriately speak of a morning and evening of this day also. For the knowledge of the creature is, in comparison of the knowledge of the Creator, but a twilight; and so it dawns and breaks into morning when the creature is drawn to the praise and love of the Creator; and night never falls when the Creator is not forsaken through love of the creature. In fine, Scripture, when it would recount those days in order, never mentions the word night. It never says, Night was, but The evening and the morning were the first day. So of the second and the rest.

And, indeed, the knowledge of created things contemplated by themselves is, so to speak, more colorless than when they are seen in the wisdom of God, as in the art by which they were made. Therefore evening is a more suitable figure than night; and yet, as I said, morning returns when the creature returns to the praise and love of the Creator.

…there’s no reason this particular interpretation couldn’t hold up.

Sure seems like a difficulty to me. And to Augustine. And to a whole lot of other people too.

The problem is not in the concept itself – of course God could do it – the problem is the lack of evidence (and/or existence of contrary evidence) when it comes to whether or not God did literally do it that way. If He did, why doesn’t it look like He did, why does all of this evidence say that He didn’t? That’s where the problem is. And yes, it is something of a problem.

Point taken. God could have created the universe in 6 days if He wanted to.

I’m going to quibble with you on this one…
3 in the afternoon on Friday to early Sunday morning.
9 hours on Friday + 24 hours on Saturday + (my guess) 3 hours Sunday = 36 hours
…maybe 40 at the most. Not a full 72 hours in any case.

Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. …how is this not a pointless question?

And the Church never will infallibly rule on the age of the earth. So what? It never ruled on the existence on phlogiston (the “fire element”) either, so I suppose that that question is still open for debate too, right? :shrug: That’s just absurd.


This is very interesting. If that phrase in Hebrew only refers to 24-hr period days, then the evolution/figurative interpretation loses credibility.

p.s. I would like to see a link to where this quote came from.


Genesis 1:20-21 tells us that God created birds on day five of creation week. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that God created man on the sixth day of creation week.

Genesis 2:18-19 tells us that God created birds after He created man (Genesis 2:7).

Genesis 1 places the creation of birds on day five and the creation of man on day six; Genesis 2 places the creation of birds after the creation of man. Hence Genesis is telling us that either day five followed after day six, or that the events of the two days overlapped.

Standard 24-hour days do not overlap and do not change their order. Hence the days described in Genesis are not standard 24-hour days.

No sun? No problem.

Origen thought so:“What intelligent person will suppose that there was a first, a second and a third day, that there was evening and morning without the existence of the sun and moon and stars? Or that there was a first day without a sky?”

  • Origen, as quoted in the Philokalia

For the literal believers in science, this is a problem, but if God is God and is able to literally do anything, then there should be no problem.

God could have done anything, but he actually did it in a particaular way. Making the assumption that God in not deceptive, then the evidence He left in the rocks and in our genes tells us that the methods He used involved billions of years and evolution.



There’s no reason why the 7-day creation story cannot be read as a series of 24 hour days. That has nothing to do with whether or not the author of Genesis intended it to be a scientific account of the events of creation as they migh have been recorded by an outside observer. There is simply no need to treat it that way.


strug << Does the “evening and morning” mentioned in Genesis favor the literal interpretation of days in Genesis? Why or why not? >>

We do not have to go into the Hebrew of Genesis 1. We only need to quote Pope John Paul II and the Catechism on the issue. At least that is enough for me.

John Paul II:

“Cosmogony and cosmology have always aroused great interest among peoples and religions. The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. The Sacred Book likewise wishes to tell men that the world was not created as the seat of the gods, as was taught by other cosmogonies and cosmologies, but was rather created for the service of man and the glory of God. Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven.” (Pope John Paul II, 10/3/1981 to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, “Cosmology and Fundamental Physics”)

The important parts to notice here, according to John Paul II: (1) the Bible is not a scientific treatise; (2) the main point of Genesis 1 is that God is our Creator; (3) the Scripture uses the cosmology in use at the time of the writer (not a modern cosmology); (4) the Bible wishes to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how the heavens were made; (5) any other teaching about the origin and nature of the universe is alien to the intentions of the original biblical authors.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  1. God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity, and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work,” concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day. On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation, permitting us to “recognize the inner nature, the value, and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God.” [Vatican II LG 36] (see also paragraphs 339, 342, 345 which refer to the “six days”)

  2. Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun. [footnote refers to St. Augustine, De Genesi adv Man 1, 2, 4: PL 34, 175]

Ludwig Ott:

The section on “The Divine Work of Creation,” from Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott (originally written in the 1950s), pages 92-122 covers the “biblical hexahemeron” (the “six days” of creation), the creation of man, Adam/Eve, original sin and the Fall, etc. Ott gives the following comments on the “science” of Genesis and the Fathers, and the compatibility of biological evolution and Catholic faith:

“…as the hagiographers in profane things make use of a popular, that is, a non-scientific form of exposition suitable to the mental perception of their times, a more liberal interpretation, is possible here. The Church gives no positive decisions in regard to purely scientific questions, but limits itself to rejecting errors which endanger faith. Further, in these scientific matters there is no virtue in a consensus of the Fathers since they are not here acting as witnesses of the Faith, but merely as private scientists…Since the findings of reason and the supernatural knowledge of Faith go back to the same source, namely to God, there can never be a real contradiction between the certain discoveries of the profane sciences and the Word of God properly understood.” (Ott, page 92)

“As the Sacred Writer had not the intention of representing with scientific accuracy the intrinsic constitution of things, and the sequence of the works of creation but of communicating knowledge in a popular way suitable to the idiom and to the pre-scientific development of his time, the account is not to be regarded or measured as if it were couched in language which is strictly scientific…The Biblical account of the duration and order of Creation is merely a literary clothing of the religious truth that the whole world was called into existence by the creative word of God. The Sacred Writer utilized for this purpose the pre-scientific picture of the world existing at the time. The numeral six of the days of Creation is to be understood as an anthropomorphism. God’s work of creation represented in schematic form (opus distinctionis – opus ornatus) by the picture of a human working week, the termination of the work by the picture of the Sabbath rest. The purpose of this literary device is to manifest Divine approval of the working week and the Sabbath rest.” (Ott, page 93, cf. Exod 20:8)

If you want to go into the Hebrew of Genesis, and find all the places and different meanings of “day” you might want to get the books by Hugh Ross, an evangelical physicist who fully accepts the Protestant principle of “sola scriptura.” It is not really a “Catholic question” anymore as far as I’m concerned.

Science has fully established the 4.5 billion year old earth.

Cardinal Schonborn on the “young-earth creationist” position:

"Now there is another misunderstanding that is constantly found in the ongoing discussion, and I have to deal with it right here at the beginning. I refer to what is called ‘creationism.’ Nowadays the belief in a creator is automatically run together with ‘creationism.’ But in fact to believe in a creator is not the same as trying to understand the six days of creation literally, as six chronological days, and as trying to prove scientifically, with whatever means available, that the earth is 6000 years old. These attempts of certain Christians at taking the Bible absolutely literally, as if it made chronological and scientific statements – I have met defenders of this position who honestly strive to find scientific arguments for it – is called ‘fundamentalism.’ Or more exactly, within American Protestantism this view of the Christian faith originally called itself fundamentalism. Starting from the belief that the Bible is inspired by God, so that every word in it is immediately inspired by Him, the six days of creation are taken in a strict literal way. It is understandable that in the United States many people, using not only kinds of polemics but lawsuits as well, vehemently resist the teaching of creationism in the schools…

“The Catholic position on this is clear. St. Thomas says that ‘one should not try to defend the Christian faith with arguments that are so patently opposed to reason that the faith is made to look ridiculous.’ It is simply nonsense to say that the world is only 6000 years old. To try to prove this scientifically is what St. Thomas calls provoking the irrisio infidelium, the scorn of the unbelievers. It is not right to use such false arguments and to expose the faith to the scorn of unbelievers. This should suffice on the subject of ‘creationism’ and ‘fundamentalism’ for the entire remainder of this catechesis; what we want to say about it should be so clear that we do not have to return to the subject.” (Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, Catechetical Lecture for 11/13/2005)

Phil P


All very interesting. I find Cardinal Schonborn’s arguments most convincing. Remember the Catechism of the Catholic Church is not without its errors (as the recent change to the text about the validity of the Jewish covenant by the USCCB makes painfully clear) so it’s definitely not some sort of infallible document. There is also debate over the meaning of symbolic in the Catechism quote you gave - some argument symbolic refers not to “days” but to work since work is in quotes and days is not, quotes likely pointing out a word of symbolism. Interesting thoughts though!

Pax Christi tecum.


The term for evening means darkening, and morning means lightening or brightening. Our galaxy has passed through dark and light areas of the cluster many times, in cycles within cycles. There are long evenings and long mornings. A nonissue.


To PhilVaz

Your constant repetition about the scorn of unbelievers is nonsense. Catholics are allowed to believe in creation. Otherwise, why would the Church permit this to be so if you are so convinced, along with science, that this is so? I mean, if it’s so obvious to you, why isn’t it obvious to the Church?

God bless,


Ed << To PhilVaz: Your constant repetition about the scorn of unbelievers is nonsense. Catholics are allowed to believe in creation. Otherwise, why would the Church permit this to be so if you are so convinced, along with science, that this is so? I mean, if it’s so obvious to you, why isn’t it obvious to the Church? >>

Yeah? You talkin’ to me? :stuck_out_tongue: :confused: BTW, the old earth is obvious to the Church. Pius XII forward accepted it. Don’t know about earlier Popes, but at least Pius XII forward.

I quoted Cardinal Schonborn on the scorn of unbelievers. He’s the one who says young-earth creationism is nonsense (in German translation). And I have to agree with him. I also quoted the Catechism, Ludwig Ott, and Pope John Paul II. You got problems with them too? :stuck_out_tongue:

Why do we carry on like this, creation-evolution thread after creation-evolution thread. When will this madness stop? :stuck_out_tongue:

OF COURSE Catholics are allowed to believe in creation. But there is a difference between creation and creationism. Catholics are allowed in believe in young-earth creationism also, just as they are allowed to believe the earth is immobile, is flat as a pancake, and is carried on the backs of an unending supply of Turtles.

Yep, “it is Turtles all the way down.” You are allowed to believe that as a Catholic.

Catholics are allowed to believe in any kind of discredited, unscientific nonsense since the Church’s doctrine has to do with faith and morals only. The question is, should they? Schonborn says No. I agree with him, that’s all.

BTW, I will be ripping Richard Dawkins to shreds in my new article (another unfinished project). I have the audiobook of The God Delusion and am listening to it over and over now. I also have probably the 10 best books responding to Dawkins (the Hahn/Wiker book is not very good, the Fr. Crean book is much better).

Don’t you worry your creationist little head, I have all my bases covered. :smiley: :thumbsup:

Phil P



do it – the problem is the lack of evidence (and/or existence of contrary evidence) when it comes to whether or not God did literally do it that way. If He did, why doesn’t it look like He did, why does all of this evidence say that He didn’t? That’s where the problem is. And yes, it is something of a problem.
I call this God dealing from the bottom of the deck. Sure, he could do it (he’s God), but why would he? Why would he so subvert his own creation after pronouncing it good, and subvert the rational abilities of humans after pronouncing them very good?


Not finding the evidence is not a good argument. We haven’t found a lot of evidence of much at all. We are infants.

God is not relegating to making sure we understand His creation. He is under no such obligation. It is for us to uncover what we can see in a limited spectrum.

This God the deceiver argument is so bogus.


Explain dinosaur fossils, briefly. Did God put them into the earth, or are they a hundred million years old (give or take)?

And what about the light from distant cosmic objects that seems to be billions of years old? Did God create those light waves recently and make them appear to be billions of years old?


I do not know about the dinosaurs. The assumption used is dating methods. I will leave it to the experts to continue to learn. It is interesting to see the cave paintings that seem to show dinosaurs. Could man know them if he did not see them?

Seems to be. There are some questions about red shift assumptions. Also quantum mechanics has an interesting question. When you look at the sky what are you really seeing?


Wow. I was really off about what I thought this thread would be about, just from reading the title.

I mean, sometimes when I spent an evening on the forums, it seems like a billion years have gone by.

No doubt others feel the same reading some of my posts on a given evening, too. :smiley:

Well, frankly I’m relieved the thread actually turns out to be about creation!!!


If he could see them to paint them, he could catch them to eat them. So where are all the dinosaur bones amidst other bones in prehistoric human encampments?

Seems to be. There are some questions about red shift assumptions. Also quantum mechanics has an interesting question. When you look at the sky what are you really seeing?

Sure, there are some assumptions. Like the assumption that the speed of light has remained constant over billions of years. But possible errors in these assumptions do not cause something that is 6 thousand light years away to appear to be six billion light years away.


Check with The Barbarian. He keeps repeating over and over that common descent is virtually certain line from the Pope. Faith and morals only? Not when it comes to this subject.

God bless,


Who is subverting who? Creation has been going downhill since the Fall. God had direct contact with Adam and Eve until the Fall caused a separation requiring Jesus Christ.

God bless,


There are depictions of dinosaurs drawn by men. Perhaps they were not, or were not considered, edible.

God bless,

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