Creation: thoughts on the beginning of time & the flood

Ave Maria!

As has been pointed out repeatedly on this website, all things exist for Jesus Christ, all things were created with Him in mind. He is that God’s perfect Temple, that Masterpiece of God’s created hand where the creature and the divinity unite in the Person of the Word in the hypostatic union of the Incarnation.

Since creation and all history leads to or flows from Christ, it seems fitting that I create some posts on this rather large subject of creation for two reasons. First, because I just spent a long time exposing from Sacred Scripture and Tradition that Jesus Christ is “the beginning of the creation of God” (Apoc 3:14). So obviously I believe in creation as taught by Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church and, therefore, in a beginning of that creation.

Second, because I have noticed that many who espouse the position of Scotus on the Incarnation tend to de-emphasize his (and the Church’s) position on original sin and Redemption and to over-emphasize the cosmic Christ (which is true enough, as seen in St. Paul, but not at the cost of our salvation), and that sometimes they even do this in a way that can lead to a subtle (or not so subtle) form of pantheism. Two figures stand out immediately: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Matthew Fox.

Proclaiming Christ as absolute King of creation in God’s plan, sin or no sin, does not conclude with downplaying (let alone denying) original sin and our need for Redemption. But even in this camp of basic Christian orthodoxy I find that many (most?) espouse a form of theistic evolution. My reflections on this subject are not dogmatic; nonetheless, it is important for Christians in a modern world filled with scientific knowledge and theories to know that the positions that God created the world, and man in particular, without any evolution process and that there was indeed a flood are intelligent and well-founded positions; that the theory of the evolution of man (Darwinism) and of the world (the “big bang theory”) remain theories. In the end, as Catholic theologians continually point out, there can be no contradiction between science and revelation and hence as Catholics we are not afraid of scientific discovery and research. What is important, as Pope Pius XII points out in Humani generis, is that we don’t confuse conjecture with fact and that we stand firm in the profession of our Faith.

Just what are we bound to believe about creation as Catholics? Both Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII touched upon this. Below is a synthesis from James B. Stenson in his article Evolution: A Catholic Perspective [well written and informative, but personlly I don’t accept his tendency to accept theistic evolution and his attempt to frame it into a Catholic framework].

Synthesis of the Church’s teaching under Pope St. Pius X:

The Church has maintained that the first three chapters of Genesis contain historical truth. Their inspired author used a popular literary form of his day to explain certain historical facts of Creation. These were named specifically by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, with the approval of Pope Pius X in 1909. The official document states that the literal historical meaning of the first three chapters of Genesis could not be doubted in regard to: “the creation of all things by God at the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the unity of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given by God to man to test his obedience; the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent; the degradation of our first parents from that primeval state of innocence; and the promise of a future redeemer.”

From the pen of Pope Pius XII we know:

In 1950, Pope Pius XII addressed the question of man’s origins more specifically in his encyclical *Humani Generis*. With a few terse paragraphs, he set forth the Church’s position, which we may summarize as follows: 1. The question of the origin of man’s *body* from pre-existing and living matter is a legitimate matter of inquiry for natural science. Catholics are free to form their own opinions, but they should do so cautiously; they should not confuse fact with conjecture, and they should respect the Church’s right to define matters touching on Revelation. 2. Catholics must believe, however, that the human *soul* was created immediately by God. Since the soul is a spiritual substance it is not brought into being through transformation of matter, but directly by God, whence the special uniqueness of each person. 3. All men have descended from an individual, Adam, who has transmitted original sin to all mankind. Catholics may not, therefore,
believe in “polygenism,” the scientific hypothesis that mankind descended from a group of original humans.

Let me immediately point out the obvious: those that hold that God created man from the elements of the earth without any evolutionary process have no fear of being in error regarding the doctrine of the Church; whereas those who propose a theistic evolution that does not contradict all that has been said have a lot of “i”s to dot and “t”s to cross so as not to trample down what has been revealed to us. If anyone wants to really dig into the theology, philosophy and science on this subject without fear of straying from the faith, I would highly recommend the articles presented by The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation.

For me personally, I find it ironic that so much “faith” has been put in the far-fetched theory of man’s evolution from beasts. No species has ever evolved into another. And if apes were transforming into homo sapiens, wouldn’t there witnesses to half men/ half apes walking around over the millenia? Would there not be some writings or drawings of these incidences? And yet no one has ever mentioned such a thing and the written record we do have – complete with accounts and geneologies from the beginning – tells of creation, of sin, of a flood, and of the beginnings of human history in God’s creation. Believing in a theory which has little, if any scientific evidence, and disbelieving what was passed on to us from the time of our first parents and even written down with considerable detail, seems a bit rash. But that’s just me. And I certainly find it degrading to man, let alone the “Son of man,” to say that we derived (even “theistically”) from apes.

Regarding the “big bang theory,” before the creation of Adam and Eve there can be discussion of how God created the universe; but what is a nonnegotiable is that God created the universe out of nothing – what can be discussed (and God-willing I hope tackle some aspects of this) is just what went on when God said, “Fiat lux!” (Gen 1:3) over the initial empty and void of the material world He had created out of nothing (v.2).

Let me leave off evolution for the moment (both human and global) and let me focus for the moment on how time has to have a beginning and on how young the human race actually is with two short arguments.

A beginning

Logically speaking, there has to be a beginning of time. If you’re interested in an excellent presentation on this – using the insights of the Seraphic Doctor St. Bonaventure – you can read Dr. Michael Sullivan’s piece (well worth the time and thought). Time must have a beginning. Why? Because the past qua past cannot be infinite by virtue of the fact that in order for any moment to have been a real moment in time it had to pass through the present moment. All past moments, having passed through the present moment, must always be a finite distance from the present – otherwise, if it were infinite then there would be a “past” that is immeasurably distant from the present, a past “moment” that never happened because it never passed throught the present moment.

Dr. Sullivan uses a splendid analogy of “debts” and “promissory notes” to help illustrate this:

If future years are like promissary notes, past years are like debts which have already been paid to reach the free and clear state of the present. Thus Bonaventure insists that it makes no sense to wave one’s hand at an infinitely and indefinitely distant past without relating it to the present. Either some given past year has an infinite distance from the present, or it doesn’t. If not, then the past is finite. But if it does, then since that infinite distance cannot have been traversed, it must really be a kind of simultaneous eternity with no real relation to the present at all, a year which was never passed through to reach the present, a year that the world now cannot count as having once experienced as part of its journey to reach the present now.

A word on the flood

The flood really took place, and this is recorded not only in the Bible, but in practically every civilization that left writings or art behind. But it is also recorded in the history of the earth – called geology. Perhaps the best researched site on the subject of science and the flood (and creation) is They have many articles, but this one on six geological evidences for the flood is particularly convincing and well done.

I personally have visited three waterfalls/gorges that clearly indicate that about 4000-6000 years ago water started flowing and eroding the ground which can be seen visibly and calculated to give decent ballpark figure of when that flow of water began: Niagara Falls, Taughannock Falls, and the Gola Infernaccio (Italy).

Man’s Millions-of-years Myth

Let me propose an argument, rather simple, but which should convincingly indicate that the human race – whether through evolution or as an intact race – cannot date tens or hundreds of thousands of years back (let alone millions and zillions!). The argument is based on population growth and the 7 billion people on earth as of 2012. Seven BILLION people is a LOT of people and so one can readily imagine that it took tens of thousands of years to reach this point. And yet 7 billion is a very finite number…

According to sociological studies (frequently quoted and well documented by those who want to “save” the earth and reduce the human population by 90-95%, if you think I’m kidding take a glance at the “Georgia guidestones” and listen/read what Ted Turner has been saying like a broken record: 350 million ideal number for the entire world population and international 1 child per family policy), the rough average of population growth in the early 1900’s (before contraception, legalized abortion, etc.) was 1.4%. We are told that Noah entered the ark with his three sons and their wives; when they exited the ark the world population was eight. Now population growth presumes that the number of births is greater than the number of deaths. God blessed mankind twice with the words: “Increase and multiply” (Gen 1:28; 7:17), the second time was after Noah and his family left the ark.

My dad was an actuary, by the way, so this type of story problem is right up my alley 🙂 First, let’s start by doing the math based on a 1.4% annual increase of the population starting with eight persons and see how many years it would take to arrive at 7 billion. The math would look like this:

p*b y = x

p = the starting population, so 8
b = rate of annual growth, we’ll start with 1.4% (which means 1.014) [population growth includes deaths and births]
y = the years, since the growth would be exponential
x = the final population, in our case 7 billion

Drumroll please… yes, eight people with a 1.4% annual growth rate would surpass 7 billion people in a whopping 1481 years. Take a look at the math:

8 people * (1.014 annual growth) 1481 years = 7,003,277,544

That is an eyeopener, is it not? Well, since the human race has obviously been around longer than 1481 years, let’s work our way backwards to see what the median growth rate would have had to be for eight persons to arrive at 7 billion over a period of 4600 years (what Scripture scholars tell us would have been the time of the flood).

p*b y = x
8 people*(? growth rate) 4600 years = 7 billion today

And the answer is that for eight people to surpass 7 billion over a period of 4600 years the annual growth rate would only have to be 0.45% (yes, less than half a percent annual growth rate). 4600 years is realistic, then, for arriving at 7 billion people from 4 married couples.

My point here is that to argue that man dates back tens of thousands or more years ago would go completely against all the statistics. Annually there are consistently more births than deaths (that’s not to say that there were not years where the death rate surpassed the birth rate, just as there were years – like the baby boom years – where the growth rate surpassed 2%). Even now with world wars, abortions, sterilization, contraception – in a word, in a culture of death the growth continues and this exponentially. In fact a growth rate of 0.45% from 2 people over a twenty thousand year period comes out to be “infinity” on the exponents calculator (just put 1.0045 in the number slot and 20,000 in the exponent slot and see what happens). I don’t deny that there could have been some unlikely years of decrease or stagnancy, but the consistent trend has always been growth and increase and this indicates (if not outright proves) that the human race is relatively young compared to the outlandish theories that are proposed (dare I say dogmatically) in classrooms today around the globe.

Look, for example, at this graph of world population growth taken from Wikipedia:

Clearly there is nothing nonsensical about saying that the entire world population came from four married couples after the flood around 4500-5000 years ago. Actually, to say that the human population goes back indefinitely or even tens of thousands of years is impossible to prove and even against the information that we have

At any rate, if you have read this far, well, God bless you! I want to look more at evolution and big bang theories. So…

to be continued