Creation, Thomistic Philosophy, and the Natural Sciences


Can you shed any light on the significance of the numbers contained in the following extract from the Flood account in Genesis 7, 8? My belief is that the author included such precise chronological details primarily to convey to the reader that what he is describing is not a myth, but a literal description of real history. Some of the numbers , while being literal, may also serve a symbolic purpose (“forty days and forty nights”, for example). Yet other numbers seem to carry no symbolic significance at all. Thanks.

“In the SIX HUNDREDTH YEAR of Noah’s life, on the SEVENTEENTH DAY of the SECOND MONTH - on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS” …

“At the end of the HUNDRED AND FIFTY DAYS the water had gone down, and on the SEVENTEENTH DAY of the SEVENTH MONTH the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the TENTH MONTH, and on the FIRST DAY of the TENTH MONTH the tops of the mountains became visible” …

“By the FIRST DAY of the FIRST MONTH of Noah’s SIX HUNDRED AND FIRST YEAR, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the TWENTY-SEVENTH DAY of the SECOND MONTH the earth was completely dry.”,


Do we know the author didn’t have a divine revelation?

The Holy Spirit inspired the prophet Daniel to record scripture that Daniel said he didn’t understand (ie, a revelation), so there is no reason doubt that the same Holy Spirit could inspire all the other biblical authors with similar revelations.

I agree with most of this. It seems to that there is a tendency for modern exegetes to argue that any (pre-Abrahamic) number that carries symbolic potential is exclusively symbolic and therefore not literal. They seem reluctant to want to consider the distinct possibility that such numbers can be, as you say, both symbolic and literal.



“The fool says in his heart, There is no God” - Psalm 14



Just gotta love Chesterton…


The seventeenth day mentioned in the first two quotes is the sum of 10+7. The twenty-seventh day in the third quote has the number 7 in it. The numbers 10, 7, and their sum of 17 are stunningly significant in the years listed in the Genesis 4,5, and 11 genealogies. These numbers are also significant in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Below is a link to an article I found on the web concerning the significance of these numbers in the Bible both the Old and New Testaments as well as a few other numbers such as 42 which is apparently the number of groups that Ezra 2: 3-67 places the exiles returning from the Babylonian captivity. Of course, 42 is the number of generations that Matthew lists from Abraham to Christ which he divides into 3 blocks of 14 generations. 14 is 7x2. The author of the below linked article counts 77 generations in Luke’s genealogy of Christ which goes back to Adam. Again the number 7.

Check this article out. Various sums of the OT genealogy years are easily divided by 7 or 17. It’s stunning!


I’ve seen what I call “number theory” applied to other things with similar results. It’s not convincing.


I’m not sure what you mean by number theory and ‘it’s not convincing’. Did you read the article? We are just looking at facts and what is written in the Bible. One could do the math themselves straight from the biblical record if they don’t trust the numbers in the linked article I gave and see if they align with the numbers in the article. If the numbers are correct which are supposedly taken straight from the Bible than in my opinion it is absolutely stunning and more than coincidental. It appears to be a purposeful numerical symmetry to add beauty and numerical harmony to the text and theological symbolism and meaning of some kind. We know various numbers pop up frequently in the Bible that appear to have symbolic religious or symmetry meaning without necessarily excluding the literal number itself. Numbers and mathematics figure into the world’s symmetry, harmony, and relationships between things. Just take a look how important mathematics is to the sciences of today. The whole Bible is inspired by God and that includes numbers too which the inspired writers apparently did not exclude from their ‘eye’ and bereft of meaning or just randomly picked them. It seems in one sense that God only knows what is hidden behind all this that may have even escaped the sacred writer himself.


The following link is a pretty interesting article concerning the sum of the ages of the patriarchs from Adam to Moses which apparently equals 12,600 in the Hebrew or Masoretic text of the Old Testament. The significance of this number is that 12, 600 / 10 = 1260. Apparently 1260 is significant in apocalyptic texts in Daniel and Revelation.

Disclaimer: the views, opinions, theories, beliefs, scholarship expressed in the article by the author do not necessarily reflect my own views and beliefs about the Bible including how/when it came to be written, possibly redacted, and biblical scholarship in general. It’s the actual facts that I personally find interesting such as the 12,600 number, its divisibility by 10 which =1260 and this last number’s significance in Daniel and Revelation apparently.



I’ve been hearing very good reviews about this new book. A recent poster has posted an interview with Brant Pitre from a catholic radio station right on this forum in the Sacred Scripture section. Here is the link to that thread:

Also, The Catholic Thing website has an article on the book here:


Biblical Archaeology and the Historicity of Genesis 1-11.

The following article titled ‘A Time and a Place for Noah’ by Carol Hill is quite an interesting read:


‘Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him’ (Gen. 5:24).

The following is an interesting commentary from St Augustine’s book, ‘The City of God’, Book XV, Chapter 19 - The Significance of Enoch’s Translation.

For that line also of which Seth is the father has the name Dedication in the seventh generation from Adam, counting Adam. For the seventh from him is Enoch, that is, Dedication. But this is that man who was translated because he pleased God, and who held in the order of the generations a remarkable place, being the seventh from Adam, a number signalized by the consecration of the Sabbath. But, counting from the diverging point of the two lines, or from Seth, he was the sixth. Now it was on the sixth day God made man, and consummated His works. But the translation of Enoch prefigured our deferred dedication; for though it is indeed already accomplished in Christ our Head, who so rose again that He shall die no more, and who was Himself also translated, yet there remains another dedication of the whole house, of which Christ Himself is the foundation, and this dedication is deferred till the end, when all shall rise again to die no more. And whether it is the house of God, or the temple of God, or the city of God, that is said to be dedicated, it is all the same, and equally in accordance with the usage of the Latin language…


It isn’t clear to me that Fr. Michael is in a proper position to assess whether creating from nothing better reflects the power and glory of God than modifying something that exists through time.

Besides, this is a false dichotomy, since even if God did modify an existing creature, he would still have had to have made, from nothing, the entire causal order that modifies that existing creature in real time. And that is to say nothing of keeping the entire intricately ordered cosmos, and all of its delicately inter-balancing forces that constantly modify everything, in existence from moment to moment.

It isn’t as if our crudely imagined notion of God pulling things into existence from nothing really captures what that actually means. Nor do our low-resolution schematics of the interrelationships of things in the cosmos reality do justice to what it actually takes to bring about and keep that little baby humming along for billions of years.

Probably better to remain silent when speaking of the creative power and ease of God. It isn’t like we are experts in that area.


It is excellent. Very detailed information, very up to date with the state of Scripture study, and readable. I can’t wait for the New Testament follow-up.


I was made aware of a very interesting article from a poster (buffalo) on another thread a few days ago. It is titled ‘The Case for Adam and Eve’.


St Basil the Great, Hexaemeron (Homily 8,1).

‘And God said “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind”; and it was so’ (Genesis 1:24). The command of God advanced step by step and earth thus received her adornment. Yesterday it was said, “Let the waters produce moving things”, and today “Let the earth bring forth the living creature”. Is the earth then alive? And are the mad-minded Manichæans right in giving it a soul? At these words “Let the earth bring forth”, it did not produce a germ contained in it, but He who gave the order at the same time gifted it with the grace and power to bring forth. When the earth had heard this command “Let the earth bring forth grass and the tree yielding fruit”, it was not grass that it had hidden in it that it caused to spring forth, it did not bring to the surface a palm tree, an oak, a cypress, hitherto kept back in its depths. It is the word of God which forms the nature of things created. “Let the earth bring forth”; that is to say not that she may bring forth that which she has but that she may acquire that which she lacks, when God gives her the power. Even so now, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature”, not the living creature that is contained in herself, but that which the command of God gives her. Further, the Manichæans contradict themselves, because if the earth has brought forth the life, she has left herself despoiled of life. Their execrable doctrine needs no demonstration.


This is kind of off topic but for Christmas the following link is pretty interesting concerning December 25 as the day we celebrate Christ’s nativity.


The Church got it right, along with midnight Mass. I’ve read Private Revelation that said Jesus was born exactly at midnight.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

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