Is it heretical to believe in the literal truth of the Genesis creation account?
Why should it be.
The Church only lays claim to truth in theological matters.
Pronouncements about scientific matters are not canonical teachings.
So even if the Church says Darwin was right, that does not make Darwin part of Church canon. It’s merely an opinion.
So, as a theological matter, is belief in the literal truth of Genesis heretical or not? I am not discussing Darwin - only Genesis.
You are to believe that God created everything. *How *everything was created is not a dogmatic teaching.
Firstly, Genesis covers a lot of different things, some of which falls within events and times in history that can be dated and studied archaeologically. The part that’s become controversial is Genesis 1, and I’m making the assumption that this is what you’re asking about.
Second, heresy is a serious and specific matter, and is necessarily not just theological, but doctrinal.
The literalness or otherwise of Genesis 1 is a matter of history, so belief in its literal truth doesn’t meet the requirements for heresy. Rather it is a matter of whether one believes - as mainstream Christianity does - that Genesis 1 is a creative myth to express important truths, or whether one believes it is a straightforward account of how things happened.
Though one must accept that to be a creationist is not necessarily to be a heretic, one shouldn’t generally indulge people in these beliefs, but should question them and try to lead them to a more coherent understanding.
The creationist account of history is demonstrably false, has no persuasive support from the Early Church or from Jewish accounts, has never formed part of Catholic teaching, originates principally from heretical (and frankly insane) Protestant sects, and were it ever to become associated with the Church would undermine its teaching authority in the eyes of many.
So no…not heretical, but erroneous.
Edit: Sorry, read sloppily and overlooked that the OP already specifies Genesis 1.
So far as I know:
No it is not heretical.
It is within the permitted range of beliefs. It is not main-stream catholic opinion, and you would be unlikely to find many modern catholic theologians or bishops who teach this.
I would recommend you read one of the new commentaries on Genises which have been being written by the various catholic scriptural societies.: examples include
the Ignatius Study Bible: Genesis by Scott Hahn & Mitch Curtis
The Navarre Bible: Genesis
New Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: Genesis
So far as I know the teaching on this matter can be summarised as follows:
The story of Genesis as presented in the bible tells us the infallible truth that the Lord created all things, including the World. The main part of that creation was carried out in 6 “Days”, and on the 7th day he rested.
As time itself is part of Gods Creation for our universe there is no necessity to believe that Gods “Days” correspond to our concept of fixed periods of 24 hours. - in fact the Bible specifically refutes this concept in other places. (I’ll find & quote if you need me to, but don’t have time right now)
infallible truths include:
God Created the Universe.
God made Man (mankind: ie. men & women) and gave us stewardship over the earth.
There were real Adam and a real Eve.
There was a fall from Grace
Part of God’s creation is the “Laws of Nature”, and the “Laws of physics” - the actual ones, not our current incomplete understanding of them.
So far as I know belief in “Young earth creationism”: i.e. that the earth is approximately 6000 years old, and that any apparent evidence of older artefacts are illusions or put there by God to test our faith is a teaching that has no origin in Catholic Teaching. I believe this is heretical as it suggests that Gods Love for us includes playing nasty tricks on us. - that is not Love.
If I read the OP correctly, the queston was whetehr it is heresy to believe that Genesis 1 is literal. The question was not, is it literal. Those are two separate questions, as there are lost of other things that may be wrong in some way but do not constitute heresy.
God is truth in every sense.
Thomas believed when he felt the piercing’s.
I can’t see how it would be. It is also not required to believe in the literal truth of the Genesis creation account.
It’s heretical not to believe in a real Adam and Eve, who disobeyed God and fell into sin.
+The answer to the above question is a hearty . . . **NO **. . . it is not heretical to so believe in the literal truth of the Genesis creation account . . .
And just a gentle word of caution here for those still in a state of unbelief in this area . . . our belief system as Catholics needs to harmoniously adhere to Magesterium teachings . . .
*]Point #1: The original post in question asks if we can believe the Genesis account “literally” …"
*]Point #2: The Catechism clearly states Sacred :bible1: Scripture can be believed on two (2) levels . . . not just one . . . it is not an either/or situation . . . but a both/and type of understanding that is revealed . . . with the second level of knowledge being divided up into three sublevels of perceiving revelations of truth . . . and the literary genre doesn’t affect the truth of the revelation in any way. [/LIST]
[INDENT]**. . . :coffeeread: . . .**The senses of Scripture
According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal** and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the [size=]literal[/size]."83
The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
[INDENT]1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84
The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction."85
The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86
A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four** senses:
The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87
"It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, …[/INDENT][/INDENT]
]Point #3: ** God is the author of Sacred :bible1: Scripture . . . and it contains infallible truth (truth without error) . . .
[/LIST]. . . :coffeeread: . . .*
[INDENT]II. Inspiration and Truth of Sacred Scripture
God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."69
"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."70
God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."71
The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as [size=]affirmed by the Holy Spirit[/size],** we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures**."72[/INDENT]
[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . thank You Gracious Lord+[/RIGHT]
+When one undertakes a study of ANY passage of Sacred :bible1: Scripture . . . for the fullest revelation of the written holy truths possible . . . it is important that the such a study be conducted and accomplished within the whole of the context of the Holy :bible1: Bible entrusted to all of Christendom by God through our Holy Mother Catholic Church . . . and it is extremely helpful to keep the below revelation from our . . . **First Pope **. . . St. Peter himself . . . concerning the use of the term . . . “day” . . . in mind while contemplating the Genesis creation passages . . .
But of this one thing
**be not ignorant, my beloved, **
that one day with the
is as a
- 2 Peter 3:8
[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . thank You Sweet Spirit of our Holy God+[/RIGHT]
Just to corroborate what’s been said thus far:
The 1983 Code of Canon Law, n. 751 defines heresy as “the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.” (That’s 1325, n. 2 in the 1917 Code for my more traditional homies)
Vatican 1, Dei Filius, c. 3 defines the content of those truths “which must be believed with divine and catholic faith”:
“all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed.”
So, taking Gen. literally couldn’t be heresy unless doing so constituted an obstinate doubt or denial of something in the Word of God, Tradition, Church proposals…etc.
No, its not. That is how God created our world.
It is also infallible. God Bless his people!
Can you show me anything in the Catechism that supports your opinion stated above re. the falsity of the “creationist account of history” that you say “has never formed part of Catholic teaching” etc.? The catechesis on creation is found in sections 282-324 and nothing there that I can tell supports your statements. Section 289 seems most on point and it says:
289 Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation.
Furthermore, it tells us that God created all things “out of nothing” (296-298). Section 284 asks the rhetorical question, “is the universe governed by chance, blind fate, anonymous necessity, or by a transcendent, intelligent and good Being called ‘God’?” Surely it is the latter, and, as stated in 295, the world “is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance.” This would exclude macro evolution (which is based on a lot of chance, not God) and support the “creationist” view that Genesis 1 & 2 are literally true.
Macro evolution does not require blind chance. God can direct macro evolution as well as micro evolution or anything else for that matter unless you are saying that God is not omnipotent.
Thanks for the interesting responses, which have taught me more about which beliefs can be considered heretical and which not.
Up to about 150 years ago almost every single Catholic believed in the literal truth of Genesis, and many still do, so it certainly isn’t heretical to believe that.
**Genesis gives not a single clue that the way God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them was by “directing macro evolution” or anything else. He spoke things into existence, by His omnipotence I might add. And that omnipotence does not require millions or billions of years, or even six 24-hour days, yet the latter is what we are told. Neither is God’s omnipotence dependent on the survival of the fittest or mutations (mistakes). Darwin was a nonbeliever in God and his theory was strictly naturalistic to remove any thought of God having anything to do with creation. It amazes me that anyone who loves God and His Word would give Darwin or his theories any consideration whatsoever.