Are Catholics allowed to


OP, I’m curious. You seem quite concerned about a non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1. What do you make of John 6:54-55?


I would agree with this and, in fact, the Church doesn’t require that we take all of the Bible literally. There are allegories, culturally relevant hidden meanings, idioms, analogies, hyperbole, parables, puns and other types of figurative or teaching language that exist within the books that make up the Bible. We are millennia removed from the time and place of their writing and so interpretation is needed. I don’t have the relevant details in Bible studies, so I rely on trusted commentators and prayer. Fr. Mitch Pacwa is excellent in this regard.


But they almost never distinguish between literal and symbolic. They allow for evolution or 6 day creation and many other examples.


What is the point of one, let alone two, fictional creation accounts?


They aren’t fictional. They are true, just not literally true.


Not literally true = fictional.
Can you say of the moon landing: “it isn’t fictional, it is true, just not literally true”?


The main purpose of the Church, and of the bible for that matter, is to give spiritual understanding, to know and proclaim the nature and will of God as that pertains to man’s salvation. The rest is rather mundane comparatively speaking, and generally irrelevant. The relevant part of Genesis 3, for example, is that “the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.” Two very relevant facts are conveyed here:

  1. all humanity descended from a single set of parents, and, 2) all humanity was negatively affected by the first act of moral evil committed by those people.


This might not be the best example, but:
If I said “I have been working like a dog” that does not mean I have literally been doing work that dogs do. However, that portrays a message which is true. The message is that I have been working hard.

The point is, the creation stories have a deeper meaning that is true. I guess you could say that it is sort of like a metaphor.


How many ways van you tell your children of your love for them?


Jesus spoke in parables to illustrate moral truths.

The writer of Genesis wanted us to understand these moral truths:

  1. God created everything
  2. There is an order to creation, with humans as the summit of God’s creation
  3. Following his work in creation, God set aside time for rest, to give us an example to follow

The point of Jesus’s parables is not the factual truth of the stories, but rather the moral truth it represents. Why should we care about whether a sower’s seed landed among thorns or on a path? The moral truth being taught does not rest of the factual basis of the story.

So it is with the creation stories. The role of God as Creator does not rise or fall on the basis of Creation taking place in 168 hours.


What has that to do with anything in this discussion?


I think she was trying to point out that you can show a message (ex-your love for someone) without literally telling them “I love you very much”

It ties in with how messages can be more effectively portrayed not through words. (Sorry if that doesn’t make any sense, I didnt know how to say it)


This is not at all analogous to what’s being discussed. We’re talking about a book describing an event. You are talking about an event itself. The “imparts truth, but not literal facts” notion only applies to descriptions of things or events, not the things/events themselves.

So no, you can’t say that about the moon landing, but that tells us nothing about the discussion at hand and certainly isn’t a proof for “Not literally true = fictional”.


Jimmy Akin already covered all this “creation days” topic stuff.


Do you realize that the creation story in the Bible actually is taking from a non-Christian tradition?


Six days is taken as a metaphor, like a literary device. Six days makes it easier for us to understand while six days to God doesn’t work out because God is timeless. Six days could be Six trillion years for all we know. The Catechism talks about how not to take parts of the Bible literally.

I’ve also heard an interesting theory on Adam and Eve. Adam could still be literal, as talking about the first human that developed complex thinking processes, philosophical, and theological beliefs.

I have a personal theory about the story of the Garden of Eden as more metaphysical, that when Adam was born, Adam was metaphysical, like an unkillable and undying human spirit or soul, and when Adam and Eve had original sin, they became vulnerable. Anyways, just weird ideas being thrown out. The Catholic church’s position isn’t that one to use the Bible in a scientific sense, but a lot of prominent evolution scientists are Catholics, priests even, trying to figure out these mysteries.


What does he mean, exactly? If he’s saying that some of the information in the Bible is factual but some of it isn’t, that’s one thing. But if he’s saying there is no factual information at all in the Bible, that not only Adam and Eve are fictional characters, but Moses, David, Herod the Great, Jesus Christ, the Disciples, and Pontius Pilate are all fictional characters as well, then that’s something else.


Yeah, I assumed from the thread discussion that this was really just a discussion of Genesis.

Although Catholics are not forced to take the Bible literally, there are certain facts in it that we are required to believe in order to be in communion with the Church, such as believing that God exists, that Jesus exists, is the son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, was crucified, died, was buried, rose from the dead on the 3rd day and ascended into Heaven, etc.


“I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). In the Hebrew translation of the New Testament, in use in the Catholic Church (and other churches) in Israel, the word for “paradise” is translated as Gan-Eden, “the Garden of Eden”.


Im guessing that when you were age 6 in 1st grade humans had also determined that the sun is a star, the earth orbits the sun, that a single orbit takes about 365.25 days, and that a day is the time it takes for the earth to turn on it’s axis.

This information was not available to the author of Genesis nor to his contemporaries.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit