Billions of years?


A couple months ago, I started thinking about the ‘age of the world’ debate and the many reasons for so many people thinking it’s as old as it is.

I argue the subject of evolution a lot on many a board and in college, and this was always a subject that I avoided because I was never quite sure of how to answer. I always made a point a emphasizing carbon’s inability to properly date fossils aside from the rocks, because I know it’s possible that it could properly date corporeal elements provided they were in the perfect conditions. At the same time, I don’t feel modern science is anywhere close to the true dates.

Anywho, it was because I talked about life itself as opposed to the composition of the earth that I was always able to get away from this tangent. But recently, after taking an astronomy class and reading genesis, I’m starting to lean more into the idea that the world and the universe is billions of years old even if life on earth is only about 17-18,000 years old.

The reason I’m drawn to this conclusion is because it occurred to me that, for the light we see from the other stars and galaxies to actually be visible, it would have needed a great deal of time to travel all the way here to earth…Millions of years. And with the universe being clocked at about 14 billion years old after the big bang, it seems more and more likely.

In Genesis, it says that God created light before He seperated the waters. At the same time, there’s nothing to say this was done in an immediate sequence. First comes the Big Bang and then, quite some time later (billions of years worth), God creates Adam and Eve.

This isn’t absolutely what I believe, but like I said, I’m at a bit of a crossroads.

Has the Chruch every officially considered such an explanation?


The Church says you have to believe God created the universe and that he specially ensouled (not necessarily specially created) Adam and Eve. Belief in young-Earth creationism or intelligent design is not required (and frankly, given the preponderance of evidence in favor of the other side, rather silly) – the Church does not speculate on what methods God might have used to create everything.

As long as you accept the Church’s two postulates, as far as Rome’s concerned you can think what you please about the origins of the universe and life. I do recommend the current scientific standards, though – it’s the best we’ve got so far :slight_smile:


The Church’s only definitive pronouncement on the origin of the universe and of man is that God created everything and everyone. How He did so is a matter of scientific pursuit and does not involve the Deposit of Faith. The Deposit of Faith is concerned only with matters of faith and morals, not of science.

Catholics are free to believe in evolution or not, so long as they confess that God created our physical being (somehow) and that man’s immortal soul is created immediately by God at the moment of conception and does not “evolve”.

Here is a good article about the Church’s position from This Rock magazine, published by Catholic Answers.

God bless you,


That seems a little odd to me that there wouldn’t be an indoctrinated view–Provided that one could be properly substantiated of course.

Christianity prides it credibility more than anything on history. And while history can be interpreted, it still only happened one way. So I figured there would be an absolute view by the Church…Oh well. Thanks anyway.


Why’s it odd? The purpose of the Church’s instruction is not to explain to us how we came to be here, it is to explain how we may go someplace better eventually. The former is the domain of science, not religion. That the magisterium makes no pronouncement on science is merely good sense and in no way damaging to the Church’s credibility – that credibility lies in other areas.


If the speed of light has slowed and was greater higher near the begining, it could explain this. We will have to wait and see if science can verify the slowing.


The idea of ensoulment is quite gnostic and is theologically untenable. The body, including Adam and Eve’s is not merely a house for the soul but as much a part of who we are. We are flesh and spirit. Not spirit housed in flesh. We are not Buddhists. Capitulating to scientific theory and letting it alter how how scripture and tradition is undestood is bad for the faith. I am not arguing for or against a literl 6 day creation. But a literal Adam and Eve are Catholic dogma. And that they were created apart from the animal kingdom is also traditional Catholic teaching and emphasized in Genesis for a reason.


Not that I have a major problem with your conclusions, but if God can make Adam and Eve into adults (however he did it) with the appearance of age, why not create a universe with an appearance of a greater age for the benefit of humanity? If he created time and space at the same time, is it is really so obvious that he had allow billions of years to pass for light to reach the earth in the beginning? Why not a supernatural, special creation with all the natural mechanisms put in place going forward. Creation ex nihilo, no matter how one slices it has to be a miraculous extra-naturalistic occurrence. Jesus turned water into wine. Wine requires grapes, yeast and age to be wine. Yet somehow God managed to bypass all three in this miracle. Creation is a miracle. Of course it is to be studied, but speculating on how things went from nothing to everything cannot be explained through science.


Astronomers have tested the speed of light out to 10 billion years ago by studying distant astronomical objects. The speed has been constant for that time. It is just possible that there was a very small change (less than 0.001%) before that, between 10 and 12 billion years ago. For details see Search for Time Variation of the Fine Structure Constant.



I will quote Theodosius Dobzhansky here, he was a great biologist and Russian Orthodox:One of the early antievolutionists, P. H. Gosse, published a book entitled Omphalos (“the Navel”). The gist of this amazing book is that Adam, though he had no mother, was created with a navel, and that fossils were placed by the Creator where we find them now - a deliberate act on His part, to give the appearance of great antiquity and geologic upheaveals. It is easy to see the fatal flaw in all such notions. They are blasphemies, accusing God of absurd deceitfulness. This is as revolting as it is uncalled for.

Source: Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution



Reality in and of itself is a miracle, but using Natural Law to spark the Big Bang is not the same as creating living matter (see also: Adam and Eve and lower sentience).

One of the reasons that I feel indoctrinating anti-evolution beliefs is the way to go is due to the principles behind ambiogenesis. Everything secular scientists believe revolves around the theory that non-living matter can eventually become living matter. If we were to apply the Drake formula (the probability of the existence of extra terrestrial life ), and the fact that we have absolutely no proof that ambiogenesis is genuine, then life on earth is a phenomenon even if its formation, as well as the rest of the universe, is based on causal components.

If God was the one who sparked life amidst bands of stardust, then how respectful of him is it to assume that we are a product of His natural law rather than His direct intervention?


I think we’re talking about the same thing with different phrasing. Yes, the Church requires one believe in the existence of Adam and Eve, and that they were endowed by God with rational souls – just the bits about clay and ribs are not held to be literal truth, but a reminder that God is behind everything.


The same principle could be turned around regarding revelation and scripture.

Beyond, that did not address anything I said directly. Plus, it assumed we are intepreting all the data correctly. The history of science shows us that we radically change many scientific dogma as frequently as every decade.


God does not deceive. In fact, He specifically gave us the knowledge and ability to investigate this wonderful universe He has created to give us enjoyment at new discoveries, and for us to marvel at His power.

Not only that, but how do we KNOW Adam & Eve were created as adults? They may have been created as babies and grown up as we all do. But if they WERE created as adults, that is not deception, as they would have had nobody else to compare themselves to. They would have marveled at the babies they had for the first time and watched them grow up to be like them.


We will have to wait and see.

Speed of light slowing down?

The theory of evolution requires unfathomable lengths of time – eons … billions and billions of years.
Even with all that time, it’s still hard to imagine how complex biochemicals such as hemoglobin or chlorophyll self assembled in the primordial goo. But to those of us who question the process, the answer is always the same. Time. More time than you can grasp – timespans so vast that anything is possible, even chance combinations of random chemicals to form the stunning complexities of reproducing life.



I never understood this fascination with carbon dating, it is only useful on organic systems that are less than 50 000 years. So it would be impossible to date rocks, or most of the fossils we find, with it. There are many more dating systems available that can date things several billion years old. Here is a nice (although long) summary of them from a Christian author.

Out of curiosity, why do you accept the age of the universe, but not the length of time that life has existed on earth?

Evolution is not considered incompatible with Church teaching, although the Church leaves the exact belief up to the individual catholic. Which is sad, I would have more respect for the Church if they did not sidestep the issue.


Exactly. God does not deceive. There is alot we don’t know and we are probably hundreds of years from know what some people pretend we do know. New theories replace old ones in science. But God never lies. God’s word indicates very clearly that mankind was created seperate from the animals from the beginning, however He did it, it is clear man did not come from animals.


I think that’s a bit hard on Gosse :slight_smile: - one answer is to say that the sign at Cana was of that sort: that, if one did not know, one would suppose that the wine had fermented in the ordinary manner; even though one would be mistaken in such a supposal :slight_smile:

One can see the reasoning - ISTM that there is no antecedent reason to deny that the omphalos theory could have been a fact, had God so willed; but, that that is not what He did in fact Will. (None of which deals with the scientific details.)

If God bestows the sort of holiness on an adolescent that one might “expect” of someone much older - is that deceitful ? Some saints have been very young - some old men are not saintly. OTOH, holiness is not material but a spiritual entity - maybe that destroys the analogy; just thinking aloud.


Because that would be deception and God does not deceive!


How so? Just because God does something that we interpret wrongly or not understand is not deceptive. We are limited to 5 senses and 4 dimensions. God is not.

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