Genesis and Dinosaurs


#1

I have a question about the Church’s interpretation of Genesis that I have been struggling with. The CCC states that after the fall of man “harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.” But the thing that troubles me is: creatures such as dinosaurs were already subject to decay long before man even existed. Furthermore, the world was also a hostile place long before man, with meteors and volcanoes causing mass extinctions.

So my question is, how should I go about reconciling this teaching of the Church with accepted scientific facts? I know that the Church is not an advocate of Biblical fundamentalism, but the Church still holds true that decay and natural disasters are consequences of Original Sin. Any answers would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and God bless,
-Phil


#2

I think you are reading too much into the catechism. Can you provide the paragraph number so I can better respond.

Original sin changed man and how man related with creation.

God designed things like the food chain and it is very good. Without it the biological world cannot function. There is nothing that I am aware of that is contradictory to this in Catholic teaching.


#3

I try to find what is the essential meanings in Genesis,

God created the heavens (outer space) and the Earth and the living creatures.

The first part of Genesis isn’t meant to be a literal interpretation, it’s a poetic beauty of what a perfect utopia could have been.

There were no dinosaurs and humans co-existing, that goes against the geology, paleontology, history, and archaeology evidence.

“The Bible teaches not how the heavens go, but how to get to heaven.”


#4

Since I do not take Genesis literally, I am not concerned about any supposed conflicts.


#5

We read in the Catechism that although expressed figuratively, the fall is a primeval deed of first parents.

390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

And that the original harmony with creation is then destroyed and subject to the bondage of decay.

400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”. Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”, for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.

So the OP asks a good question if there was a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.


#6

Yes at the fall death entered human existence. Key word being human.

Neither dinosaurs, nor pre end oilmen hominids would be considered human.


#7

It’s paragraph 400. I don’t think I’m reading too much into it, I’m just trying to interpret what the Church really means here.


#8

Thank you for clarifying for me; we are definitely on the same page.


#9

The Catechism states that “Because of man, creation is now subject to its bondage to decay.” This implies that before original sin, creation was not subject to death and decay, which are effects of original sin. But good scientific evidence tells us that creation has been subject to decay millions of years before man even existed. Now, the question remains; how do we reconcile this established teaching of the Church with scientific evidence?


#10

Maybe not. Recent soft tissue findings and carbon dating of dino bones returned dates between 28000 and 32000 years ago.


#11

For the sake of this thread lets assume that the Jurassic era actually did happen and that dinosaurs went extinct roughly 65 million years ago.


#12

Yes, read that again…Because of man, creation is now subject to its bondage to decay"

It doesn’t say decay simply. It says bondage of decay.

It seems a bondage of decay means something entirely different than simply dying.

It also implies that creation is now subject to a fallen man. To a man that will need to consume it to survive.

If our first parents had never sinned and lived for ever, the world would be an incredibly different place.

This is what this refers to.

That now that man has been given dominion of the earth and is subject to a fallen world, that this choice will echo through creation, subjecting all of creation to this fallen sin nature.


#13

I like this point of view; it makes a lot of sense. But I am not sure if it is what the Church means by “bondage to decay.” I was taught that it was because of original sin that death and decay entered the world, and you can see why that that would pose a problem.


#14

Check out the footnote…Bondage of decay refers to Romans 8:21. I think reading Romans 8 correlates nicely with this point of view.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in[o] hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes[p] for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

I too learned as an Evangelical and relative fundamentalist that death entered the world with sin, but this is inaccurate and oversimplified.

Death entered man, which was a new and special creature that walked with God and was supposed to live forever. Hominids and Apes before had died, dinosaurs, everything. But the ensouled man was different…unique…special… and set apart until we sinned.

It was this sin that not only broke us, but caused all of creation to suffer due to the changed nature of man and how we interact with the world.

Instead of just another animal, we now had dominion over creation and in a fallen state, creation is now in bondage by us and not as it should have been.

In this way, corresponding with Romans, Creation awaits the new heaven and the new earth in which things will be as they were meant to be…actually probably even better than they were originally planned to be.


#15

Thank you for the explanation; I actually never noticed that footnote. It makes much more sense when explained like that.

I do have a quick question: didn’t God appoint man to have dominion over the other animals before the fall according to Genesis?


#16

Yes, and perhaps if we had sinned and fallen he would not have…I don’t know…but regardless.

He gave us dominion over creation and allowed for us to use it.

But imagine a sinless holy non selfish caretaker of creation verses a sinful prideful selfish consuming caretaker.

That is the difference between having dominion over creation and creation being in bondage to man. (Really in bondage to sin)


#17

Where is that in Genesis?


#18

That part is from modern science, not from Genesis.


#19

Best to ignore it then.


#20

Why?

Ed


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