Catholicism and the Theologumena of Young Earth Creationism

Hmmmm…how does a Catholic supporter of Young Earth Creationism reconcile their theologumena with the words of paragraph 283 of the authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church? This may be the key flaw of attempts to revive YEC in a Catholic context.

I am currently being drawn to YEC as a way of shoring up my faith, finding intellectual simplicity in spiritual life, and other reasons. For me though the one thing that holds me back from accepting this legitimate Catholic theologumenon (theological opinion) about Creation is this very paragraph:

**283 **The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: “It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.”


as of yet it is okay to believe in a theory that Credits God as the Author of Creation and as the Creator of the Soul. But, if i remember correctly one has to evaluate the theory(s) based on available evidence since there is no completely conclusive or altogether imperical proof for many scientific or non-scientific theories.

hope this helps:thumbsup:
God bless

This question must take proper research time to answer, since the prevailing opinion here is that such a thing is not possible.

  1. How much time did it take?

"The Time Question

“Much less has been defined as to when the universe, life, and man appeared. The Church has infallibly determined that the universe is of finite age—that it has not existed from all eternity—but it has not infallibly defined whether the world was created only a few thousand years ago or whether it was created several billion years ago.”

It is obvious that the Church allows this, and further, it has made an infallible determination about the age of the universe. I point this out because God does give us Divine Revelation.

"Chronological Reading

"According to the chronological reading, the six days of creation should be understood to have followed each other in strict chronological order. This view is often coupled with the claim that the six days were standard 24-hour days.

"Some have denied that they were standard days on the basis that the Hebrew word used in this passage for day (yom) can sometimes mean a longer-than-24-hour period (as it does in Genesis 2:4). However, it seems clear that Genesis 1 presents the days to us as standard days. At the end of each one is a formula like, “And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Gen. 1:5). Evening and morning are, of course, the transition points between day and night (this is the meaning of the Hebrew terms here), but periods of time longer than 24 hours are not composed of a day and a night. Genesis is presenting these days to us as 24-hour, solar days. If we are not meant to understand them as 24-hour days, it would most likely be because Genesis 1 is not meant to be understood as a literal chronological account.

“That is a possibility. Pope Pius XII warned us, “What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use. For the ancient peoples of the East, in order to express their ideas, did not always employ those forms or kinds of speech which we use today; but rather those used by the men of their times and countries. What those exactly were the commentator cannot determine as it were in advance, but only after a careful examination of the ancient literature of the East” (Divino Afflante Spiritu 35–36).”

"The Topical Reading

"This leads us to the possibility that Genesis 1 is to be given a non-chronological, topical reading. Advocates of this view point out that, in ancient literature, it was common to sequence historical material by topic, rather than in strict chronological order.

"The argument for a topical ordering notes that at the time the world was created, it had two problems—it was “formless and empty” (1:2). In the first three days of creation, God solves the formlessness problem by structuring different.aspects of the environment.

"On day one he separates day from night; on day two he separates the waters below (oceans) from the waters above (clouds), with the sky in between; and on day three he separates the waters below from each other, creating dry land. Thus the world has been given form.

“But it is still empty, so on the second three days God solves the world’s emptiness problem by giving occupants to each of the three realms he ordered on the previous three days. Thus, having solved the problems of formlessness and emptiness, the task he set for himself, God’s work is complete and he rests on the seventh day.”

"Real History

"The argument is that all of this is real history, it is simply ordered topically rather than chronologically, and the ancient audience of Genesis, it is argued, would have understood it as such.

"Even if Genesis 1 records God’s work in a topical fashion, it still records God’s work—things God really did.

"The Catechism explains that “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” (CCC 337), but “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 is rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun” (CCC 338).

“It is impossible to dismiss the events of Genesis 1 as a mere legend. They are accounts of real history, even if they are told in a style of historical writing that Westerners do not typically use.”

Source: Catholic Answers Library

The point is - God did something. Genesis is crucial to the belief systems of too many people who must believe only billions, as opposed to thousands, of years have passed. Any attempt to throw out or undermine that idea would be a serious blow their belief system.


As a side note, I’d like to add that one measuring stick used by those who argue for billions of years is something called redshift. This is a measurement astronomers use to determine the speed at which our supposedly still expanding universe is moving away from an observer on earth. Sorry, if this is a little technical but problems have been identified.

One highly credentialed astronomer who thinks that the speed/distance issue problem has been viewed incorrectly is Halton Arp.

"Short biography for Halton C. Arp

"Halton C. Arp received his Bachelors degree from Harvard College in 1949 and his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1953, both cum laude. He is a professional astronomer who, earlier in his career, conducted Edwin Hubble’s nova search in M31. He has earned the Helen B.Warner prize, the Newcomb Cleveland award and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award. For 28 years he was staff astronomer at the Mt. Palomar and Mt. Wilson observatories. While there, he produced his well known catalog of “Peculiar Galaxies” that are disturbed or irregular in appearance.

“Arp discovered, from photographs and spectra with the big telescopes, that many pairs of quasars (“quasi-stellar objects”) which have extremely high redshift z values (and are therefore thought to be receding from us very rapidly - and thus must be located at a great distance from us) are physically connected to galaxies that have low redshift and are known to be relatively close by. Because of Arp’s observations, the assumption that high red shift objects have to be very far away - on which the “Big Bang” theory and all of “accepted cosmology” is based - has to be fundamentally reexamined.!”

My final comment is about superluminal velocity bodies in space. Translated, this means astronomers have discovered bodies in space that are moving away from us at faster than light speeds. No satisfactory alternative explanation has been found.

Hope this helps,

Although a few astrophysicists still argue in favor of this view, most believe that apparent velocities greater than the velocity of light are optical illusions and involve no physics incompatible with the theory of special relativity.

Seems satisfactory to me.

I’m afraid I don’t understand – how would going against science “shore up” your faith? I don’t see any conflict between science and my Catholic faith.

Pardon me, it was a failure on my part in explaining. I have long been an ardent supporter of Catholic theistic evolution. I have spent hours striving to create paradigms which can hold both Catholic Orthodoxy and the best scientific evidence. I have found such a paradigm by understanding that death (or, rather, the law of thermodynamics) existed in the prelapsarian epoch. I am no simpleton and I can argue for theistic evolution quite eloquently.

That being said, I am learning the lesson that my intellect is too much a part of my spirituality. I am striving to seek simplicity of thought so as to learn to listen to the Word of God rather than trying to determine it’s value according to changeable scientific theories and such. A good way to do that is consideration of the possibility that YEC, still an acceptable position, may provide a good hermeneutic for understanding sacred history as the more scientific ones, which I am already deeply familiar with.

By no means am I trying to dispute science or the good comments the Church has made on current scientific progress. The fact of the matter is the YEC is an acceptable opinion for Catholics, and to denigrate them for using that right in the Church is problematic. Unfortunately, that’s what I see alot…even within myself. Personally, I probably believe at this time that biogenesis is concurrent with theistic evolution, however what I am seeking is to explore this understanding which gains Catholic followers of late. Part of what I’m actually asking here is whether or not a person, in good conscience, could hold to YEC given the authority of the CCC and the sentiments of the quoted paragraph above.

You are taking the right approach. God has revealed things to man and has done things that cannot be examined scientifically.

Theistic evolution used to be a given to me but it wasn’t based on anything more than my believing the expertise/authority of my teachers. As I began to examine the other possibilities, I became convinced that a few explanations are deeply flawed, especially since there is no peer reviewed evidence to support certain claims. Take the soul. Science, as practiced today, cannot detect it. Therefore, it cannot be proven and cannot be studied.

The Sun exists. We can see that every day. But the soul? All you’ll get here are stories where something science cannot study gets its own mythology. It goes like this: One day, a group of hominids, or almost humans, reached a level in their mental development and could detect something else science cannot study, GOD. And God decided to pick two, drop souls into them, and they are the parents of us all. We call them Adam and Eve.

But Catholics are in no position to believe this is true.

See part 37 in particular.

It is very clear that Catholics should weigh evidence for and against. But here, there is no “against” offered.

I’ll leave you with this:

God bless,

As a reminder, the Encyclopedia linked to here was written in 1913. The body of scientific knowledge has grown exponentially in the mean time. The Old Catholic Encyclopedia is a very well written and balanced resource, but simply doesn’t cover nearly a centuries worth of discovery made using the most advanced techniques known to mankind.

Science cannot study God or the soul, therefore, it is silent about both.


The earth has clearly been proven to be around 4.6 billion years old and I see nothing in that that contradicts my faith.

It is defined Catholic Dogma that God created the entire universe out of nothing, that he created Adam the first man and from him he created Eve, the first woman, and from them descended the entire human race. And that God creates each individual soul and implants it in each new human person. The precise way in which the beings in the universe were formed after creation is an open question. Evolution from some primary matter is certainly a possibility but man himself can only have a man as his progenitor. The Church has nothing to say about the age of the universe, that is a scientific question. Except that it cannot have existed eternally, it had a definite creation in time and space before which only God existed. :thumbsup:

See my poste # 12. :thumbsup:

thank you that was quite profound:thumbsup:

God Bless

The Church has made an infallible pronouncement about universe’s finite age. That is saying something.


Yes. Since the universe was created, it has finite age. :thumbsup:

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