Catechism 3: On Creation
The Theology of Creation, Creation is a theological issue, not a scientific issue. Theology is the only source from which we have any information about creation. Any study of creation must come in the framework of theology because it is a word from God.
If we want to understand creation, if we want to understand origins, if we want to understand how the universe came into existence and everything that is in it, we have to look at theology, not science.
And the source of theology is the Word of God, in which God speaks, and the Church, which by the direction of the Holy Spirit gave us the Bible, and was given by God the authority to interpret the Bible. The Bible is not theory, the Bible is fact. The Bible is reality. The Bible is truth no matter what subject it addresses, but particularly with regard to origins since no one was here when God created, we have only His eyewitness account.
And when the Bible speaks with regard to creation, or when it speaks with regard to origins, it speaks truly, it speaks factually. And Scripture begins in Genesis 1 and 2 with a very straightforward account of the origin of the universe and the earth and everything on the earth. Scripture opens with one very clear unmistakable statement, it is this, (Genesis 1:1) “In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.” an ambiguous statement. That is not an unclear statement. That is frankly not a statement that needs any explanation. Pre-Darwin, no one was confused by it. “In the beginning God created heaven and the earth.” From there the first chapter of Genesis proceeds to tell us that in six twenty-four hour days God created everything that exists. It is so simple and so clear and so unmistakable that even a small child can understand Genesis 1.
But as simple as even the first statement, “In the beginning God created heaven and the earth,” is, it is at the same time an illustration of the great depth with which God speaks in simple language. In the beginning God created heaven and the earth, a child can understand it. And yet in those simple, clear, unmistakable words there is massive, massive, profound data.
Herbert Spencer, a non-Christian scientist, hailed as one worthy of many prizes in science, died in 1903. The greatest achievement of Herbert Spencer, was that he discovered the categories of the knowable. That is to say he determined that everything that exists fits into one of five categories. This was hailed as a massive, massive cataloging of realities. Spencer said, “Everything fits into one of these categories, time, force, action, space, matter,” and was hailed by the scientific community.
- “In the beginning,” that’s time,
- “God,” that’s force.
- “created,” that’s action.
- “heaven,” that’s space.
- “and earth,” that’s matter.
Everything that Herbert Spencer discovered in 1903, or before that, was in the first verse of Scripture. The Bible says that God created everything, and in saying that, the Bible gives us all the categories that exist. And He did this out of and from nothing, that is with no preexisting material, and He did it in six days.
Now, because the Bible is so clear about this in Genesis 1, and then giving us an even further and more detailed look at this creation, rehearsing its elements in a broader way in chapter 2, you face a test at the very outset of the Bible. You’re not going to get past the first verses of the Bible, you’re not going to get past the first verse in the Bible, the first chapter in the Bible, the first two chapters in the Bible without facing a test. And the test is this, do you believe the Scripture? That is the test. No one gets past the opening verses of the Bible without having to face the test of whether or not that person believes the Bible to be the written Word of God, and to except the Church as the authority to interpret the Word of God. Do you submit to what the Church, the Fathers of the Church and The Scriptures of the Church say? Genesis 1 is your first test.
Either you believe what the Church teaches or you don't. Either you believe what the Bible says or you don’t.
That’s the test. You can accept what Genesis says, or you can reject it. You can’t change it, you don’t have that privilege. There’s no need for you to edit God. There is nothing lacking anywhere in Scripture. God had men of old write exactly what he wanted to be written, and how he wanted it to be written and that’s true of Genesis 1 and 2 which some think we need to embellish it. You either accept it or you reject it, you have those two options.
You say, “What about science? Don’t we have to apply science to the Genesis account to be intellectually honest? Don’t we have to bring the vast scientific knowledge that we’ve accumulated in the modern world to bear upon the text of Genesis in order that we may have a true understanding of it?”
Well there are a lot of people who believe that. There are a mass of people who call themselves Catholic who believe that Genesis is an inadequate presentation of what happened and we have to marry it with scientific discovery in order to get to the truth. Get past the idea that science, makes any contribution to an understanding of creation. It makes none.
Now this may shock you. There is no such thing as the science of creation. It does not exist. Why? Because there is no scientific way to explain creation. It was not a natural event or a series of natural events. It was a brief series of monumental super-natural events that cannot be explained by science. And so again I say, there is no such thing as the science of creation. All science is based on observation and no one observed creation. All science necessitates verification by repetition and creation cannot be repeated, and thus it cannot be verified.
Creation had no observers and cannot be repeated. It is not observable. It is not repeatable. It did not happen by any uniform, predictable, observable, repeatable, fixed, natural, laws. None of it happened according to any of those things. It is just the opposite of that. Creation was a series of supernatural instantaneous, inexplicable miracles...supernatural. That is why there is nowhere in the Genesis account any place where evolution is mentioned or even hinted at. There are no natural processes in creation. There’s only one record of creation, Genesis 1 and 2. You can believe it or you can reject it, but that’s all there is.
You can observe the way things are now but that doesn’t tell you anything about how they became what they are. Creation cannot be understood any other way than by believing the revelation of the creator. And that’s your first test when you open your Bible.
What I’m saying is, Creation is not a scientific event, cannot be explained scientifically as if natural law played any part.
Creation was a massive supernatural miracle to be equaled by the future uncreation when in a lot less than six days God destroys everything He created. Neither event, creation or uncreation, can be explained by any natural fixed laws.
So, all that is left to the reader is the opportunity to believe...fidelity, faithful trust in the Word of the Creator. That’s all we’ve got. You weren’t there and nobody else was there, only God was there and told us how He did it. You can either believe it or you can reject it. If it’s true, the Bible is true. If it’s not true, the Bible is suspect, and the Church that gave us the Bible can't be trusted.
The issue, is fidelity to the truth. This is theological.
Furthermore, look at Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 3. “By faith....(fidelity, faith, trust)...by faith we understand that the world was framed by the word of God;” we have to do this by faith. We were not there. No one was there. It is by faith. “ So that from invisible things visible things (material creation) might be made.” In other words, God made everything that we now see from what is invisible. That is to say He made everything out of nothing, ex nihilo. Hebrews 11:3 is telling us what Genesis records said. That God created everything that exists in the universe out of nothing, from no preexisting material, obviously, that obviates evolution.