The Age of the World–Part III

by Jimmy Akin

in Science

Piusxii Some time ago I did a couple of posts (part Ipart II) on the age of the world, in which I looked at Vatican documents dating from recent years–the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the International Theological Commission's document on our being created in the image of God. 

Both of these documents took an open stance regarding the findings of mainstream modern science concerning the age of the universe and the existence of some form of biological evolution. 

They did not impose these as matters of faith, for they are not matters of faith–which was precisely the point. At present the Magisterium and related bodies like the ITC have determined that the sources of faith do not conflict with the findings of mainstream modern science on these points, and so one may follow the scientific evidence where it leads. (On other points, such as the creation of the world out of nothing and the special creation of each human soul, including those of the first humans, the faith does have something to say and the same liberty is not enjoyed.)

You might question how long the Magisterium has held this position, and that's a good question. I, for one, would love to know the answer.

Certainly, though much of Christian history a young earth view was common, though there were also voices urging that the biblical creation accounts, especially Genesis 1, should be handled with care and that they might not be the kind of chronological guide many thought. (St. Augustine, in particular, went into a great deal of depth on this point.)

It seems to me that this view is correct, that a careful reading of Genesis 1 shows that it never intended to offer a purely chronological account, and that it overtly signalled this to the original audience by placing the creation of the sun three days after the creation of the day/night cycle. People back then understood that the sun is a light, that it lights up the sky, and that it thus causes the day/night cycle.

Indeed, the ancient world was full of people whose religion was intensely bound up with this fact, such as the Egyptians, who held that the sun god Ra had to fight with the serpent monster Apophis every night so that the solar barge could return to the sky and bring daylight again. An occasional Apophis attack on Ra during the day was the explanation for eclipses and the darkness they bring. The idea was that Apophis swallowed the solar barge earlier than normal in the daily cycle, and Ra's forces were able to cut him free in a short space of time.

Genesis 1 rejects this pagan understanding of matters and simply refers to the sun as a "light." It doesn't even use the Hebrew word for "sun"–shamash–because this word as also the name of the Canaanite sun god and the author didn't want any confusion about God creating the Canaanite solar deity. So he just calls the sun a light, with the implication: "It's just a light, Don't worship it."

The point is, though, that the ancients understood the fact that the sun is the source of daylight and thus by putting the creation of the sun after the creation of the day/night cycle, the author of Genesis 1 is showing us a topically-structured rather than chronologically-structured account.

At least in my humble opinion.

For those who came from different cultural traditions, who were not as in touch with ancient Semitic ways of writing, this kind of detail could be easily missed and the whole account taken as what it superficially appeared to be–a chronologically-organized description of the creation of the world in one, seven-day week.

The need to be careful in such matters was stressed by Pius XII in his 1943 encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu:

35. 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

36. 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. The investigation, carried out, on this point, during the past forty or fifty years with greater care and diligence than ever before, has more clearly shown what forms of expression were used in those far off times, whether in poetic description or in the formulation of laws and rules of life or in recording the facts and events of history.

A bit earlier in the same encyclical, Pius XII notes some of the historical difficulties in interpreting the early chapters of Genesis:

31. Moreover we may rightly and deservedly hope that our time also can contribute something towards the deeper and more accurate interpretation of Sacred Scripture. For not a few things, especially in matters pertaining to history, were scarcely at all or not fully explained by the commentators of past ages, since they lacked almost all the information which was needed for their clearer exposition. How difficult for the Fathers themselves, and indeed well nigh unintelligible, were certain passages is shown, among other things, by the oft-repeated efforts of many of them to explain the first chapters of Genesis; likewise by the reiterated attempts of St. Jerome so to translate the Psalms that the literal sense, that, namely, which is expressed by the words themselves, might be clearly revealed.

A few years later, in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, which deals with biological evolution, he also commented on the literary character of the early chapters of Genesis in a way that anticipates the approach taken by the Catechism:

38. . . . the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which howevermust be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters . . . in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give apopular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.

Now, I don't quote these passages from Pius XII as having a great deal of bearing on the age of the universe. They are illustrative of the Magisterium's attitude toward the early portions of Genesis.

So what does Pius XII say on the age of the world from a scientific perspective?

This is found in a speech he gave in 1951 to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences. In it, he says [My comments added in red–JA]:

35. First of all, to quote some figures–which aim at nothing else than to give an order of magnitude fixing the dawn of our universe [so he's not signing off on any specific date], that is to say, to its beginning in time–science has at its disposal various means, each of which is more or less independent from the other, although all converge. We point them out briefly [Note that in what follows Pius XII mixes evidences regarding the dates for the origin of the universe and the origin of the solar system, both of this he is evincing regarding "the dawn of our universe." He does not clearly distinguish between the two–a conflation which may have been common at the time. This conflation is in part responsible for the range of dates he considers.]

(1) recession of the spiral nebulae or galaxies: 

36. The examination of various spiral nebulae [i.e., galaxies], especially as carried out by Edwin W. Hubble at the Mount Wilson Observatory, has led to the significant conclusion, presented with all due reservations [so even the scientists are being tentative about this and the Church isn't signing off on it as a certainty or an article of faith], that these distant systems of galaxies tend to move away from one another with such velocity that, in the space of 1,300 million years, the distance between such spiral nebulae is doubled. If we look back into the past at the time required for this process of the "expanding universe," it follows that, from one to ten billion years ago, the matter of the spiral nebulae was compressed into a relatively restricted space, at the time the cosmic processes had their beginning. [Ten billion is a little on the small side, viewed by 2010 mainstream science; 13-14 billion is the common estimate today, though this doesn't matter since Pius XII is only aiming for an order of magnitude.]

(2) The age of the solid crust of the earth: 

37. To calculate the age of original radioactive substances, very approximate data are taken from the transformation of the isotope of uranium 238 into an isotope of lead (RaG), or of an isotope of uranium 235 into actinium D (AcD), and of the isotope of thorium 232 into thorium D (ThD). The mass of helium thereby formed can serve as a means of control. This leads to the conclusion that the average age of the oldest minerals is at the most five billion years[This agrees with the common age held for the formation of the earth and the solar system: 4.6 billion year.]

(3) The age of meteorites: 

38. The preceding method adopted to determine the age of meteorites has led to practically the same figure of five billion years[Meteorites, as part of the solar system, ditto.] This is a result which acquires special importance by reason of the fact that the meteorites come from outside our earth and, apart from the terrestrial minerals are the only examples of celestial bodies which can be studied in scientific laboratories. [This was, of course, before we went to the moon and started bringing back samples from there and–robotically–from elsewhere in the solar system.] 

(4) The stability of the systems of double stars and starry masses: 

39. The oscillations of gravitation between these systems, as also the attrition resulting from tides, again limit their stability within a period of from five to ten billion years

40. Although these figures may seem astounding, nevertheless, even to the simplest of the faithful, they bring no new or different concept from the one they learned in the opening words of Genesis: "In the beginning . . .," that is to say; at the beginning of things in time. The figures We have quoted clothe these words in a concrete and almost mathematical expression, while from them there springs forth a new source of consolation for those who share the esteem of the Apostle for that divinely inspired Scripture which is always useful "for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for instructing" (2 Tim., 3, 16). 


41. [In this section, the pontiff again seems to conflate the origin of the universe with later events–the later events in this case being the creation of heavy elements. This may be because the concept of stellar nucleosynthesis–the creation of heavier elements in stars rather than in the Big Bang–was a new concept in his day that had just been proposed and was still being worked out.] In addition to the question of the age of the cosmos, scholars have, with similar earnestness and liberty of research and verification, turned their daring genius to the other problem which has already been mentioned and which is certainly more difficult, concerning the state and quality of primitive matter. [Here he seems to mean the matter at the beginning of the universe, at or just after the Big Bang.] 

42. According to the theories serving as their basis, the relative calculations differ in no small degree from one another. Nevertheless, scientists agree in holding that not only the mass but also the density, pressure, and temperature of matter must have reached absolutely enormous proportions as can be seen from the recent work of A. Unsold [Albrecht Unsold], director of the Observatory of Kiel (Kernphysik und Kosmologie ["Nuclear Physics and Cosmology"–see a short English language abstract of the paper via Google Bookshere.], in the Zeitschrift fur Astrophysik, 24, B. 1948, pag. 278-306). Only under such conditions can we explain the formation of heavy nuclei and their relative frequency in the periodic system of the elements. [Perhaps at the time this was the only way they could see such elements being formed; later thought–and according to a recently proposed theory by Hubble at the time–the pressures and densities found in the life cycle of certain stars will do the trick just fine. This is now the received view.] 

43. Rightly, on the other hand, does the mind in its eagerness for truth insist on asking how matter reached this state, which is so unlike anything found in our own everyday experience, and it also wants to know what went before it. In vain would we seek an answer in natural science, which declares honestly that it finds itself face to face with an insoluble enigma. [Both of the preceding sentences seem to confirm that he is thinking about the Big Bang and the state of matter in it.] It is true that such a question would demand too much of natural science as such. But it is also certain that the human mind trained in philosophical meditation penetrates more deeply into this problem. 

44. [Now Pius XII begins to meditate on the religious implications of the foregoing.] It is undeniable that when a mind enlightened and enriched with modern scientific knowledge weighs this problem calmly, it feels drawn to break through the circle of completely independent or autochthonous [i.e., native, indigenous] matter, whether uncreated or self-created, and to ascend to a creating Spirit. With the same clear and critical look with which it examines and passes judgment on facts, it perceives and recognizes the work of creative omnipotence, whose power, set in motion by the mighty "Fiat" pronounced billions of years ago by the Creating Spirit, spread out over the universe, calling into existence with a gesture of generous love matter bursting with energy. In fact, it would seem that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial "Fiat lux" ["Let there be Light"] uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, while the particles of chemical elements split and formed into millions of galaxies. [Note the quickness to associate the creation of light with the Big Bang; though this can be done in a literary or poetic way, one must be cautious not to take it too literally; see the link in the next paragraph.]

45. It is quite true that the facts established up to the present time are not an absolute proof of creation in time [VERY important point, as written about before; good to see the point being made in this context!], as are the proofs drawn from metaphysics and Revelation in what concerns simple creation or those founded on Revelation if there be question of creation in time. The pertinent facts of the natural sciences, to which We have referred, are awaiting still further research and confirmation, and the theories founded on them are in need of further development and proof before they can provide a sure foundation for arguments which, of themselves, are outside the proper sphere of the natural sciences. [This theme very much taken up in later documents: Science can take us to a certain point but not farther.]

46. [Now the pontiff comments on what an earthquake the Big Bang turned out to be for the previously accepted view in mainstream science.] This notwithstanding, it is worthy of note that modern scholars in these fields regard the idea of the creation of the universe as entirely compatible with their scientific conceptions and that they are even led spontaneously to this conclusion by their scientific research. Just a few decades ago, any such "hypothesis" was rejected as entirely irreconcilable with the present state of science. 

47. As late as 1911, the celebrated physicist Svante Arhenius declared that "the opinion that something can come from nothing is at variance with the present-day state of science, according to which matter is immutable." (Die Vorstellung vom Weltgebaude im Wandel der Zeiten, 1911, pag. 362). In this same vein we find the statement of Plato: "Matter exists. Nothing can come from nothing, hence matter is eternal. We cannot admit the creation of matter." (Ultramontane Weltanschauung und Moderne Lebenskunde, 1907, pag. 55). 

48. On the other hand, how different and much more faithful a reflection of limitless visions is the language of an outstanding modern scientist, Sir Edmund Whittaker, member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, when he speaks of the above-mentioned inquiries into the age of the world: "These different calculations point to the conclusion that there was a time, some nine or ten billion years ago, prior to which the cosmos, if it existed, existed in a form totally different from anything we know, and this form constitutes the very last limit of science. We refer to it perhaps not improperly as creation. It provides a unifying background, suggested by geological evidence, for that explanation of the world according to which every organism existing on the earth had a beginning in time. Were this conclusion to be confirmed by future research, it might well be considered as the most outstanding discovery of our times, since it represents a fundamental change in the scientific conception of the universe, similar to the one brought about four centuries ago by Copernicus." (Space and Spirit, 1946, pag. 118- 119). 


49. What, then, is the importance of modern science for the argument for the existence of God based on the mutability of the cosmos? By means of exact and detailed research into the macrocosm and the microcosm, it has considerably broadened and deepened the empirical foundation on which this argument rests, and from which it concludes to the existence of an Ens a se [i.e., a being not contingent on another], immutable by His very nature. 

50. It has, besides, followed the course and the direction of cosmic developments, and, just as it was able to get a glimpse of the term toward which these developments were inexorably leading, so also has it pointed to their beginning in time some five billion years ago. Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, it has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the cosmos came forth from the hands of the Creator. 

51. Hence, creation took place in time. Therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists! Although it is neither explicit nor complete, this is the reply we were awaiting from science, and which the present human generation is awaiting from it.

The takeaway message from this is that the Magisterium's openness to the idea that the universe is billions of years old is not some new, sinister, modernist, post-Vatican II thing. It was accepted–enthusiastically–by Pope Pius XII–the pope who defined the Assumption of Mary and, incidentally, just the year after he defined it.

He also used the finding of Big Bang cosmology and Old Earth science to buttress the idea of the existence of God, while noting a number of important caveats that this reasoning from science cannot be taken as definitive. 

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Pseudomodo January 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Great Post Jimmy!
Of course Pius XII had a comsmology source in the work of Fr. Georges Lemaitre who was the physicist who actually and originally proposed the ‘Big Bang’ theory. So…. no surprise that Pius XII was very well informed on the origins of the universe by the works of the originator of the idea himself!
“In 1936, he was elected member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He took an active role there, became the president in March 1960 and remaining so until his death. However, as he could not travel to Rome because of his health (he had suffered a heart attack in December 1964), he demurred, expressing his surprise that he was even chosen, at the time telling a Dominican colleague, P. Henri de Riedmatten, that he thought it was dangerous for a mathematician to venture outside of his specialty.[8]He was also named prelate (Monsignor) in 1960 by Pope John XXIII.”

Fessio Watch January 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Big news about Fr. Fessio!

SouthCoast January 29, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I’ve been wondering, off and on, if the structure of the account of Creation in Genesis might not actually be an attempt to narrate a multidimensional series of events rather than a strictly linear narrative such as we are accustomed to. Rather like the difference between three dimensions vs. two a la “Flatland”, or a sort of verbal Cubism. (Hope I’m making myself somewhat clear!)

Cephas January 30, 2010 at 7:52 am

I’ve never commented before, but just wanted to say that I have been reading your blog
on a regular basis for quite awhile and thoroughly enjoy it.
Fessio Watch…. can you update the URL in the above posting,
trying to click on it brought an error message.

Jordanes January 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

That the sun is not created until Day 3 whereas light was created on Day 1 may not in fact indicate that Genesis 1 isn’t giving a chronological account, because science tells us that light existed long before the sun came into being.
However, science also tells us that the sun came into being before the earth — and THAT does seem to indicate that Genesis 1 isn’t giving us a chronological account (at least not a strictly literal one).
Another telltale sign that the “days” of Creation Week weren’t meant to be understood as literal days can be found in the fact that Man is created as male and female on Day 6, whereas Gen. 2 tells a story about the creation of Adam and Eve, Adam’s loneliness, and the naming of the animals, that simply cannot by any stretch be crammed into just a few hours on a Friday afternoon. The story in Gen. 2 sounds like something that took a few days if not weeks to occur: thus, Day 6 of Creation Week must not have been a literal 24-hour day. The Jews in ancient times were aware of the impossibility of fitting all the events of Gen. 2 into Day 6 of Gen. 1, which is why we see a couple ingenious solutions to the problem in the Book of Jubilees: Eve is there said to have been created exactly one week after Adam, and Adam is said to have entered Eden 40 days after he was created, whereas Eve does not enter Eden to meet Adam until 80 days after her creation. Those solutions preserved a literal 24-hour Day 6, but at the expense of removing Eve’s creation until the following week.
A further indication that the days of Creation Week weren’t literal days can be seen at the beginning of Gen. 2, where God “rests” from His labors on the primeval Sabbath Day — that is, God stopped creating new things and new lifeforms. Unlike the other six days, the Sabbath is not said to have ended — we do not find the formula, “And there was evening and there was morning, Day Seven.” Thus, the primeval Sabbath Day never ended, which means we are still living during that first Sabbath Day in which God has ceased His labors on the First Creation. It does seem interesting, doesn’t it, that evolution of entirely new life forms has not taken place on this planet since the appearance of Man.
Allegorically, with the Resurrection of Christ, that primeval Sabbath finally came to an end, and we now live during the Eighth Day, the day of the New Creation, the day of the new heavens and new earth: “Behold, I make all things new.” “If any man is in Christ, then he is a new creation.”

The Pachyderminator January 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Allegorically, with the Resurrection of Christ, that primeval Sabbath finally came to an end, and we now live during the Eighth Day, the day of the New Creation.
That’s interesting – I never connected Christ’s resurrection on the “eighth day” (that of course is where octagonal baptismal fonts come from) with the seven days of creation, but thought it just referred to the seven days of the particular week in which the Crucifixion occured. Other accounts of this sort that I have seen all say or imply that the seventh day of creation is still going on, but actually it makes sense that this would no longer be the case now that the “new creation” Paul spoke of is starting. Perhaps the new creation could even involve a “week” that is the mirror image of the preceding one – starting with the redemption of man, as the old one finished with the creation of man, then proceeding to the glorification of the other life on earth, the animals and plants, then the whole fabric of the natural world, the earth, sea, and sky and so on, and finally ending (as the first week began) with Light, pure and simple. There’s a nice mystical flavor to that. However, I’m pretty sure this is all balderdash and so it (like the horoscopes in the newspaper) is “intended for entertainment purposes only”.

Josey Wales February 1, 2010 at 7:47 am

Interesting. Work the circumcision law (one of the most critical in the “law” such that Christ noted that it pre-empted the Sabbath rest (John 7:23)) into your interesting concept of 8…it had to be done on the 8th day and thus new flesh of the male appeared on his 8th day on earth and the Sabbath should be “broken” to accomplish this 8 exactly as Christ notes. Despite Western squeamishness about the sexual member, it is not a negative to God since He made it and like many laws…circumcision with its 8th day foretold Christ…in this case, Christ putting off the old flesh and taking on glorified flesh on the 8th day of that special week of the Passion and Resurrection.
Matthew 11:13 “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John…”
Great work at this site as usual. Don’t rule out
perhaps that ancient man and the human writer of Genesis did not connect the sun’s light to heavily overcast days so that in his artistic imagination, he could have been seeing the first days as overcast while still having evening and morning as a pattern for those days. Pre scientific man could have seen sunny days as one thing and heavily overcast days as something radically different and typified by clouds lighted from within and not by the sun.
Later this interior lighting of clouds by coincidence actually occurs in Exodus 40:38 and Matthew 17:5.

Fr. Barnabas February 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for the wonderful post Jimmy. Keep up the great work. I enjoy dipping into your site on a regular basis.

Neil Rangel February 5, 2010 at 9:25 am

Dear Mr Akin
Greetings. I am a Catholic doctor and disagree with your analysis of the age of the universe. The Bible is always right and the age has been estimated from the genealogies since Adam: its just 6500 years. The One who inspired individuals to write scripture would not have done this to confuse us..thats if one truly believes in this One.
Pius XII’s(also the patron “saint” of the evil of NFP and theistic evolution) pontificate can best be described as disastrous for the Catholic Church..I wont say anything more about it ..I can tell you he’s in hell and imagine they are trying to beatify him.. ..the initial texts of Genesis do not reflect the way the ancients thought but what the Holy Ghost wants us to believe. Science is fallible; not sacred scripture.You should know this well about the disaster that VC2 has been with only bad fruits to show.
I strictly believe in the absolute EENS axiom..not with the current and I must say also pre-VC2) interpretation that would necessarily also have us reinterpret the account of Noah’s Ark..and declare that some outside the ark were also saved!…if Pius XII is to be followed; then the account of Noahs’ Ark can be reinterpreted as above.
I follow the Catholic faith..and I have come to believe that no amount of reasoning or scientific pride can make up for the most simple thing one needs when it comes to the Faith and that is humility.Scripture was written for us to understand and not speculate about.Just accept it literally. The great Author does not confuse.Religion is above science and science also admits to its own fallibility and relativeness. There is no substitute for the absoluteness and sureness of the written Word of God.
Thank you and God bless

Lamont February 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm

If you read Genesis 1 carefully, it is clear that the earth is placed at the center of the universe. The firmament or more literally ‘dome’ is created around the earth on the second day. The sun, moon, and stars are set in the dome on the fourth day. This dome rotates around the earth giving us day and night and the seasons.
This is the ancient cosmology based on the way things look to an observer standing on the earth. God did not force the writer of Genesis to say things he had never even imagined and could not possibly understand.
Genesis is a great work of collaboration between the Creator and His creatures. It reveals the great truth that God who is Spirit exists prior to the material universe, and He alone is to be worshiped. But, it also reveals how understanding God is of our weakness, and how patiently He waits for us to come to know the truth about Him and ourselves.
God Bless,

Neil Rangel February 6, 2010 at 5:08 am

Dear Lamont
The earth is indeed the centre of the universe.And this is also the teaching of the Catholic Church: the articles condemning Galileo are clearly part of the Magisterium of the Church which is infallible. This has never been disproven by “science”.Its surprising that the Vatican has actually rehabilitated Galileo.Rome has lost so much of the Faith and has been in a state of partial material heresy since centuries..we just hope and pray that everything that has been lost is reclaimed and that everthing is reconciled unto Christ.
Science is fallible and there is no substitute for the certainty of sacred scripture and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.I have come to believe that the Magisterium of the Church can be recognised when both the proclaimer and the proclamation are in accord with and do not deviate from the absolute EENS axiom..which is the very pillar for the existence and continuation of the Catholic Church. Without this it falls and fallen I must say it has: contrast it with what it was at its highest glory and what it was reduced to in 1868 with the fall of Rome and the pitiable state it is in today since VC2. We have paid a heavy price for infidelity to greatest revealed Truth: this that has been denied in so may ways since the last 2 milenia: that Catholics alone have the hope of being saved and that one can become a Catholic only through the water of Baptism administered by a Catholic and no one else and that Catholics alone are true Christians.If the Holy Ghost did not inspire one to believe this then one is surely a part of the reprobate. We have been deceived by an endless number of papal encyclicals and councils(Trent included) and saints and theologians since Ambrose on the salvation issue with heresies like baptism of desire and blood thrown in as though God was incapable of giving the water of Baptism to those who sincerly asked for it or deserved it. The Tome of St Leo clearly mentions that the Spirit, the sprinkling of Blood and the Water of Baptism are cannot do without the other..both water and blood came out of the side of our Lord when he was pierced.

The Pachyderminator February 6, 2010 at 10:11 am

Neil, on what grounds do you reject so much Church teaching and history? If you accept the teachings of Pope Leo, how can you reject the teaching of later popes and councils which came from the very same Church? Or do you believe that Christ allowed his church to be destroyed and entrusted the authentic gospel only to you and your fringe group?
By the way, since the link to Jimmy’s old post on Genesis 1 above doesn’t work (strangely enough, the links in Jimmy’s posts haven’t worked lately, though the links in Tim J’s and SDG’s posts have), here’s another one in case anyone wants to find it without spending quite a while clicking through the archives.

The Pachyderminator February 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

Actually, I did just succeed in using the links, although the cursor doesn’t change to a hand when you mouse over them. I think I’d better shut up now.

The Masked Chicken February 6, 2010 at 10:17 am

Dear Neil,
There are so many things to discuss in your comments that I won’t have time to do so, today.
One thing I would like to point out, however, is that you seem to misunderstand what modern science actually teaches about heliocentrism (and, unfortunately, so do many scientists and laymen). To put the process of science in opposition to the teachings of the Church is creating a conflict where one need not exist (I do not intend to discuss the EENS issue at this time, as this post is about the age of the world and I will stick to that topic or at least near to it in my comments, since Jimmy does not take kindly to thread hijacking).
On April 12, 1615, Cardinal Bellarmine wrote a letter to the provincial of the Carmelite Order, Paolo Foscarini, who had been trying to prove that Galileo’s theories did not violate Scripture. In the letter, he wrote:
“First. I say that it seems to me that Your Reverence and Galileo did prudently to content yourself with speaking hypothetically, and not absolutely, as I have always believed that Copernicus spoke. For to say that, assuming the earth moves and the sun stands still, all the appearances are saved better than with eccentrics and epicycles, is to speak well; there is no danger in this, and it is sufficient for mathematicians.”
In other words, FOR THE PURPOSES OF COMPUTATION, Bellarmine gives explicit permission to assume that the earth moves. This is what astronomers do. They assume a certain reference frame that simplifies the math. They could chose an infinite number of such reference frames. For experiments done on the earth, it is easiest to assume that the earth moves. Strictly speaking, they do not have to do so, but the math becomes a lot more complicated if they do not.
As a matter of fact, modern science does not attempt to define the center of the universe, anyway, as indeed, it cannot even define the true extent of the universe to begin with, so finding the center is really impossible. A particular scientist, such as Galileo (if he did), may have made such a definition, but nothing guarantees that he be correct. As it turns out, Galileo’s definition of the universe was radically too small to properly define a center and even if he did define the sun as the center of the universe (did he?), such a definition would be totally ignored, today.
So, to say that the earth is the center of the universe and then say that this goes against the teachings of modern science shows that you really do not seem to understand how modern science is done. Modern science is not really interested in finding the center of the universe. It is interesting in using useful reference frames so as to do calculations in the simplest possible manner. This was EXPLICITLY allowed by Bellarmine and is not condemned in the Bull, Speculatores Domus Israel, signed by Pope Alexander VII in 1664, which, according to some scholars, placed the teaching of the condemnation of the motion of the earth in the Ordinary Magisterium . That Bull merely said that the Index of Forbidden Books condemned any book that affirmed (as true) the motion of the earth. It did not condemn assuming theoretically other objects as the center for the purposes of mathematical calculations.
Thus, science and faith are not in contradiction on this matter, even though many people like to think so. Whatever the Church defines as true is separate from what science uses provisionally for ease of calculations. The Church has never condemned the use of mathematical models. Astronomy, at least since the time of Ptolemy, has been, properly, concerned with creating useful models, not with truth. In fact, science does not know truth. I wish the science teachers who teach this would stop. Science is an eliminative process, not a constructive one. It seeks to eliminate falsehood, not define truth. Seem as such, there is not contradiction between science and revelation.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken February 6, 2010 at 10:21 am

Should be:
Seen as such, there is no contradiction between science and revelation.
The Chicken

Neil Rangel February 8, 2010 at 9:41 am

Thanks for the comments. Genesis as one writer mentioned does say that the sun and the stars were put up in the dome of the sky..obviously with the earth as the centre. I have no problem whatsoever believing that the earth is the centre of the universe.If all our progressivists and modernists are to be believed: then much of the accounts in Genesis are some fancy imagination of the writers and we are expected to conform our understanding of Genesis with today what they call evolution/theistic evolution/and whatever science has to tell us/the age of the universe supposedly billions of years..when going by scripture it should not be more that 6500 years…I suppose they want us to believe that our first parents evolved from some ape like creatures…and the account of Noah’s Ark is also phony as well. Its shameful that the Protestants have more faith in scripture than we Catholics do..what we have been doing is just discrediting the Sacred Scripture.
I’ll write back about the Noah’s Ark account:as it means so much to me as a Catholic. The cardinal Truth about the Catholic Church that there is absolutely no salvation outside the Church under any circumstances whatsover and that only Catholics are Christian(the others are fakes) and that one can become a Catholic and become a apart of the Mystical Body only through the water of Baptism…all has been diluted since the earliest of times.If the above is not true then I have no real reason to be a Catholic. We have reached a state where it seems the Church has no real reason to exist(as you can be saved outside the Church) and who knows what else….if the very disgusting comment of I think Thomas Aquianas(?spelling) that “God’s power is not limited to the sacraments” is to be believed..then it follows that Christ did not have to incarnate and suffer at all.
So now they can all change the scriptural verses to these:
Noah’s Ark: many outside were saved.The writer just imagined that all outside perished…actually some were late to enter and got saved..some sat up on mountains and were saved..some entered through the back door…some died trying to enter it and were eaten by wild animals on the way to the ark or some got myocardial infarctions before they could reach it and dropped dead..The good God was not omipotent enough to get them to the ark on time!…you’ll know what I mean by implicit and explicit desire of baptism..and baptism of blood/desire. Trent is eroneous on this count..those sentences will have to be dropped by a future Pontiff(concerning justification by explicit desire as desire cannot justify: you have to have water poured on you for that)..same with the verses on sacraments of penance and the cannot have these by have to get the real thing…unless as Trent would make us to believe that our God is not capable of giving us the real thing when we want it…
One is my dove: to several are my doves…Christ had concubines…the Church is his official spouse…the unofficial ones/spouses..if you have read Dominus Iesus..and off course I have no clue at all why the Catholic Church has from the start recognised..the sacraments of the Orthodox…baptisms including infant ones.. outside the Church…so what if the matter and form are the same..once cut off from the Mystical Body they have no life in them and holy orders cannot be passed on and transmitted outside the Church: no sacrament(baptism/Holy Orders) has any validity or efficacy and is not a sacrament at all.Leo XIII writes a lengthy encyclical on the Anglican rite of episcopal ordination: he could have done it in one line by simply saying: you are not Christian and we do not recognise any of your rites at all… To recognise any one other than a Catholic as Christian is to acknowledge that Christ is divided into several pieces..which is not true..One Council I believe goes so much as to say that even heretics/pagans can baptise in emergenies: how can that be possible. The command to baptise was given to Catholics alone and no one else..
One Church, one Baptism: to many baptisms..many Churches..many Christs…
Spotless bride: one spotless bride and many spotted ones..see the (Church of Chirst subsists in the Catholic Church..Dominus Iesus simply upheld this erroneus teaching that has been there for the last 2 millenia)
A fountain enclosed: an open fount..
The biggest shame is that there has been absolutely no consistency in any teachings from the very begining…no wonder those who question/ so many Catholics are confused/have left the Church …gives the Protestants more reason to justify Sola Scripta..
Where are we disintegrating..the price you pay for infidelity to true teachings..
God alone restore everything..and quickly

Inocencio February 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Neil Rangel,
As a catholic do I have to recognize you as the infallible interpreter of Catholic teaching? Is that required for my salvation?
Take care and God bless,

Neil Rangel February 9, 2010 at 8:59 am

I do not contradict scripture at least..what is one to do when teachings contradict scripture.With so much what we have had till now and with so many lost from the Faith..satan has not had to work overtime.I wonder what one would make of the warning that satan will not hesitate to deceive the elect..may be one day I’ll become Pope and set things in order!!

Inocencio February 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

Neil Rangel,
Is that a yes or a no?
Take care and God bless,

Father Jacek Stefanski February 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Just a little correction. The hebrew word for sun is “shemesh,” and not “shamash.”
God bless

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