ORGAN OF THE ROMAN THEOLOGICAL FORUM
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A NEO-PATRISTIC RETURN TO THE FIRST FOUR DAYS OF CREATION
by Msgr. John F. McCarthy
Part VI. THE CREATION AND FORMATION OF THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE
A. Some Comments on the Interpretation of St. Thomas
In Part V of this essay, I have summarized the interpretation that St. Thomas Aquinas gives of the first four days of creation in the account of Genesis 1. The explanation of St. Thomas is highly impressive for its organized thinking, its penetrating logic, its abundant use of sources, and its magnificent power of analysis and synthesis. At the same time, there is a use of opinions regarding the world of physical nature that appears today to be not merely outmoded but actually untenable. It is, in fact, the Aristotelian model of the cosmos and of the ultimate constituents of bodies that provides the central framework of St. Thomas's approach to problems regarding natural science. And in this framework we find the Four Elements of earth, water, air, and fire presented as the ultimate ingredients of all bodies in the region of inner space. Similarly, the physical heavens of outer space are judged probably to be made of a Fifth Element totally unlike anything material on earth. The universe is thought to be constructed of ten solid spheres rotating daily around the earth, which is itself at the center of the cosmos. The matter of these spheres, and of the luminous bodies fixed into them, is thought to be totally unchangeable and incorruptible. The firmament is the bodily sphere containing the stars, and above it is the crystalline sphere, whose "waters," made of the Fifth Element, resemble our waters only in their transparency. The sun is considered to be the great light of the heavens which illuminates not only the earth and the planets, but also the stars. It is this light which confers generation and change of form upon all terrestrial bodies. Thus, the sun and the other luminous bodies of the skies cause all of the interaction of earthly substances upon one another, but the sun itself and the stars receive their influence from the angels, who, in turn, receive their powers from God, the First Cause of all physical activity. 1
FAITH AND SCIENCE.
The use by St. Thomas of an outmoded Aristotelian model of the universe challenges the neo-Patristic exegete to a work of sifting and evaluation, but the Angelic Doctor remains a serious scientific thinker and an outstanding interpreter of the text of Genesis 1. Science is "the knowledge of reality as such," 2 and St. Thomas, in his exposition of the meaning of Genesis 1, uses an approach that is scientific in that he adheres to reality and is critical of his data in a truly objective fashion. Thus, for instance, he distinguishes clearly between the reality of God's word in the text of Genesis and the mental framework that he uses in trying to understand it. Again, he distinguishes between things in the Scriptures that we are certain of as having been revealed by God and other things in the Scriptures whose reality has to be reasoned out and can be subject to diverse opinions. 3 For instance, in the Summa Theologiae he expresses no opinion of his own regarding the nature of the firmament, whose fashioning by God is mentioned in Gen 1:6-7, but simply cites the opinions of the Fathers, beginning with that of St. Augustine. But Augustine himself had taken a very cautious approach to this question, and St. Thomas begins his treatment by citing Augustine's warning against premature judgment in this regard. Augustine says, in effect, that, on the one hand, we know that God did make a firmament, because the Scripture says so, and the truth of the inspired word is beyond question, but, on the other hand, what is meant by the word firmament is not so clear, and no one should adhere to some explanation so rigidly that if by conclusive reasoning it should have been shown to be false, he would rashly continue affirming it as the meaning of the text, lest the Scriptures on this account be laughed at by nonbelievers and thus the way to believing be closed to them. 4 St. Thomas derived this statement from several places in St. Augustine, among which are the following. " ... in this matter nothing is to be rashly asserted, for it is obscure and remote from human sense perception, but, however it actually is (quoquo modo se habeat), it must be believed even before it has been understood." 5 And again: "For it often happens that even the non-Christian is so well informed about the earth, about the heavens, about the other elements of this world, about the motion and revolution or even the size and intervening spaces of the stars, about certain eclipses of the sun and of the moon, about the coming around of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of vegetation, of stones, and of other such things, that his knowledge is based upon very sound reasoning and observation. And so it is vile, extremely harmful, and utterly to be avoided that some onlooker, seeing a Christian speak nonsense in these matters, as it were in the name of the Christian writings, to such a degree as to be totally in error, can hardly hold back his laughter. And it is not the worst thing that the mistaken person should be derided, but rather that our authors are believed by those who are outside the fold to have thought such things and are reproved and rejected as ignorant to the great ruin of those whose salvation we are seeking." 6
We have seen above how St. Thomas follows St. Augustine in distinguishing in the Scriptures between what is of faith per se (such as the reality of the Three Persons in one God) and what is of faith per accidens inasmuch as it is reported in the inerrant Scriptures. 7 Neither St. Augustine nor St. Thomas denies that all of the affirmations in Sacred Scripture are true, but they both caution against hasty judgments as to what is being affirmed in the Scriptures, for instance, in the first chapter of Genesis. This cautious and tentative approach is in its own way a model of scientific method. The natural philosophers of their day were the natural scientists of ours, and we find in the teaching of both Thomas and Augustine the implicit condition, "if the conclusions of the natural philosophers are true." St. Thomas accepted on many points the reasoning and the conclusions of Aristotle, but by no means uncritically. Thus, for example, on the one hand he thought that the constantly uniform velocity of movement of the whole physical heaven was sufficiently proved, but, on the other hand, he felt also that the system of epicycles and eccentric cycles worked out by some astronomers to explain the movements of the planets as they appear to the eye was not sufficiently proved, because these movements might also be able to be explained in some other way. 8 In a lengthy treatment of the same question, St. Thomas notes that first Eudoxus and afterwards other astronomers including Aristotle had tried to give geometric explanations for the irregular movements of the planets, but, he says, "although these theories save the appearances, one cannot conclude from this that they are true, because, perhaps according to some other approach not yet understood by men, the stellar phenomena will be (better) accounted for." 9 This is a clear indication of the openness of St. Thomas to new discoveries of natural science leading to new models of the structure of the universe.
FAITH AND OPINION.
St. Thomas distinguishes verified conclusions from data depending on the opinions of others, not only in the case of Aristotle but also in the case of the Fathers. Thus, for instance, St. Thomas himself holds that physical light is an accident and could not possibly be a body, 10 and yet Augustine is quoted as saying in Book III of his work On Free Will that "light holds the first place among bodies." St. Thomas answers that by "light" Augustine may mean a luminous body, but, whatever be the case, "Augustine does not intend to assert this as something pertaining to faith (fidei conveniens), but as using things that he had heard as a student of philosophy, and so those authorities carry little weight (parum cogunt)." 11 Similarly, Basil claims 12 that the firmament is made of fire and water, but he and some other Fathers convey this "not by way of assertion but as using things which they had learned in philosophy, and which are, therefore, of no greater authority than the statements of the philosophers whom they are following, except that these Fathers are above any suspicion of weakness of faith." 13 Again, St. Thomas says: "Similarly also exegetes of Sacred Scripture have differed in this that they were followers of the different philosophers by whom they were educated, since Basil, Augustine, and several other Fathers, in philosophical questions not pertaining to faith, follow the opinions of Plato and therefore make the heaven to be of the nature of the Four Elements, while Denis follows Aristotle almost everywhere, ... and I, therefore, following this latter position, say that the heaven is not of the nature of the Four Elements, but is a fifth body." 14 St. Thomas says in this same place that by his time everybody had accepted the opinion of Aristotle regarding the Fifth Element of the heavens, but he is also implicitly admitting that his opinion is only as strong as the reasoning of the philosopher upon whom he depends. There is a beautiful parallel here for a transition to a different exegesis because of the more accurate findings of physical science. But even with regard to ideas about physical nature that seem to him "ridiculous," "absurd," or "absolutely fantastic" (for instance with regard to the activity of light), St. Thomas is cautious enough to subjoin, "unless other principles of natural philosophy should be discovered." 15 We know that since then in the areas of physics and astronomy new principles of natural science have in fact been discovered.
We have seen that St. Thomas, in his explanation of Genesis 1, undertook to defend both of the great Catholic traditions of exegesis of the chapter and that in doing so he also developed an impressive synthesis of the two approaches. While St. Augustine held that matter without any form is presented in the beginning (Gen 1:1), and that forms are then impressed upon this matter in the succeeding verses in an atemporal sequence, the other Fathers saw the creation of various components of the universe over a period of six chronological days. St. Thomas reconciles these two opinions by proposing the creation in the beginning of the ultimate elements of all corporeal things - the Five Elements of Aristotle - each element having its matter and substantial form but lacking its secondary qualities. 16 Thus, during the first four days, the universe was fashioned through the unfolding of the powers arising from the secondary qualities instilled into these five basic elements by God over a period of four days. Plants, animals, and other corporeal bodies arose from the third day onward as compounds of the Four Elements of the sublunar region, but not simply from active powers possessed by the Four Elements themselves. 17 St. Augustine saw the work of the six days as a creative process of impressing forms upon formless matter. 18 St. Thomas does not exclude this process, but he limits creation to the first act of God in the beginning, when the Five Elements were produced out of nothing, and he ascribes all further production by God to the work of separation and adornment, seeing that what arose during the six days did not come forth out of nothing but rather out of the Five Elements that already existed. 19
Aristotle's hypothesis that all of the bodies in outer space are composed of a Fifth Element exempt from any change except local motion cannot stand up today. Nor can his argument for this hypothesis based upon the naturally circular motion of the postulated heavenly spheres. We know today that bodies in space have weight and are influenced by gravity, and we know also that the matter of the stars and planets is subject to chemical changes. In this regard, it is important for us to distinguish two phases in the teaching of St. Thomas. At an early period the Angelic Doctor simply expounds the opinion of Aristotle regarding the quintessence 20 and claims that he along with all others of his day holds it to be true. 21 But, in his later exposition in the Summa Theologiae, he is less peremptory in his opinion, and defends as well an explanation of the firmament based upon the hypothesis that the heavenly bodies are made of the same elements as are the bodies located in the region of our earth. 22 The extreme caution of St. Thomas in his reasoning is nothing short of admirable, and it often keeps him from remaining tied to seemingly solid conclusions of natural philosophers that have afterwards turned out to be erroneous.
If St. Thomas could argue that after the teaching of Aristotle none of the recognized natural philosophers held the heavens of outer space to be made of the Four Elements, we can argue with equal reason that after the rise of modern chemistry no natural scientist holds that even on earth the bodies around us are made ultimately of the Four Elements. We consider the universal acceptance of the atomic theory and of the periodic table to be sufficient evidence of that. Yet, if we would be as cautious as St. Thomas was, we would have to say "unless other principles of natural science should be discovered." 23
St. Thomas argues that the original matter created by God (Gen 1:1) could not have had a common form that was afterwards diversified into a variety of forms, since in that case all supervenient forms would only be accidents of the one kind of substantial form. 24 Now, in the sense that he is arguing, this reasoning is convincing. If, as some of the early Greek natural philosophers claimed, all bodies are just aggregates of homogeneous elementary particles, there would be nothing else substantial except those particles. However, St. Thomas also admits the existence and the coming into being of compounds of the elements having their own forms, so that the elements continue to exist only virtually in them. Hence, the question at issue is whether the Four Elements of Empedocles are really the ultimate particles of bodies in the world around us. I think not only that modern physics and chemistry have shown otherwise, but also that St. Thomas would be among the first to admit this, if he were alive today. It seems certain in our day that the elements which make up bodies are aligned according to the periodic table and that these ninety-odd natural elements can be broken down into atomic and subatomic particles which also have their own substantial existence. But, according to the hylomorphic theory, these atomic and subatomic particles, when they enter into an element, retain their own form as elements only virtually, and the proper form of the element or of the compound arises. Framed in this way, the question of one ultimate form of all bodies presents itself in a somewhat different way.
St. Thomas, following the philosophy of Aristotle, 25 assumes, not only that there is a limit beyond which no body can in physical reality be broken down, but that this limit is the tiniest respective unit of the Four Elements, or, at the extreme, the individual particles of fire, which he considers to be the most subtle of the Four Elements. In our time, however, it is known to natural science that earth, water, air, and fire are not the ultimate elements of bodies; rather, it is the elements of the periodic table that compose them. It is known also today that these elements can be broken down into atomic particles such as protons, neutrons, and electrons, which themselves, from the viewpoint of hylomorphism, must, therefore, be substances consisting of matter and form. Thus, as far as the ultimate "elements," that is, the ultimate unit particles of material substances are concerned, it is more correct to say that they are such things as protons, neutrons, and electrons, than to say that they are the chemical elements of the periodic table. But I do not here attempt to identify which exactly are the ultimate elements of bodies according to the unified data of natural science, nor do I address the question of the supposed conversion of matter into energy or vice versa.
Hydrogen and oxygen both pertain to what Empedocles called the element air. When hydrogen and oxygen unite to form the chemical compound water (which Empedocles and his followers thought to be itself an element), they exchange their own respective forms for the form of water. According to the principles of hylomorphism, water comes into being as water from the passive potencies of these two chemical elements as well as from the active powers that they have to react upon one another. But water is a different kind of being from either of these two; it has its own qualities and characteristics; it is not a mere aggregate of these elements. Whether or not the material compound is a "higher" form of being than that of the elements which compose it is a moot question. For St. Thomas all merely material, non-living bodies are basically on the same level and can at least theoretically be transmuted into any other such being. But I believe that what is more complex, more highly organized, and has more properties can in a real sense also be called a higher form of being.
What is a body? According to Aristotle and St. Thomas, there is no single and universal form of corporeity, since corporeity is simply the bodily characteristic of each material substance; it is the way in which this or that material form expresses its being a body. "The form of corporeity is not one in all bodies, since it is no other than the forms by which bodies are distinguished." 26 Now, this remains clear and convincing in two ways: first, in the sense that corporeity is not a self-standing universal Platonic form in which all bodies share by participation; and secondly, in the sense that compounds are not mere aggregates of a single kind of infinitesimal building block, but rather are substances in their own right. However, with the discoveries of modern physics and chemistry, a new question arises. Is not corporeity a characteristic only of some matter, namely, of certain matter that is organized in larger quantity? It seems that, beyond a certain minimum of organization and quantity, matter does not have the characteristic of being a body, if we identify a body as having a certain surface and shape as well as the ability to reflect light and be at least potentially visible. What I am suggesting is that smaller things like protons and electrons are material substances, but they are not bodies, and, therefore, they do not have the quality of visibility or even a surface or shape.
St. Thomas excludes that God might have created some simpler substance that was more than philosophical prime matter but less than any of the Four Elements, that is, something on the way to becoming the Four Elements. This is not true, he says, because, according to Aristotle "the first aptitude in matter is for the form of an element, and so no form is found to be intermediate between prime matter and the form of an element, as are found many forms intermediate between prime matter and the form of an animal, succeeding one another until the final perfection comes after many intervening generations and corruptions, as Avicenna points out." 27 While it seems clear according to the principles of hylomorphism that the first aptitude in matter is for the form of an "element", it is not so clear that the ultimate "elements" of matter in this sense are bodies. Not only is the reasoning of Aristotle concerning the elements, which he bases upon the natural direction of their movements, 28 made obsolete by modern physics, but his very acceptance of the Four Elements of Empedocles comes as a mere generic "preference" to the infinite number of elements postulated by Anaxagoras and his school. 29 Such a preference invites development by later investigators, and, as regards the interpretation of Genesis 1, the principle of St. Thomas quoted earlier in this part with reference to an opinion of St. Augustine about the nature of light applies here as well. St. Thomas argues that "Augustine does not intend to assert this as something pertaining to faith, but as using things that he has heard as a student of philosophy." Similarly we can say that St. Thomas does not intend his use of the theory of the Four Elements to be taken as something pertaining to our faith in the account of Genesis but only as something that Aristotle accepts from the teaching of yet another philosopher and which may assist us to understand the Scripture. As it turns out, the notion of successive substantial forms can be applied further back than the chemical elements to atomic and subatomic particles which may exist as substances that are not bodies because they have not been endowed with the form of corporeity. Hence, in conclusion to these questions about the ultimate form of bodies, I would say that there is a form of corporeity, not as a self-standing thing in itself, but as a form shared by all bodies, just as there is a form of life shared by all living things, even though this form of life does not differ in reality from the individual form of the living thing. The form of corporeity does not seem to be shared by all matter, but only by matter of a certain minimum quantity organized to have bodily characteristics. Lower forms of matter are more fluid and per se invisible. In the account of Genesis 1, it is not necessary to assume that the matter of the universe had to have the form of corporeity from the first instant of creation. It could have been created in a more fluid and elemental state and then in part raised after a period of time to the state of corporeity while the other part remained in a sub-corporeal condition.
A final question regards the rise of new forms of corporeal existence. St. Augustine understands the implanting of the forms of the various creatures described in Genesis 1 to have taken place simultaneously with the act of creation in the beginning, although he also distinguishes between the implantation of some forms in the act of existence and the implantation of other forms causally in the potency of the matter. 30 St. Thomas sees no contradiction in this interpretation, but he also points out that forms are not "implanted" in the sense that they first exist outside of their subject and then are instilled within. What actually happens is that both this matter and this form come into existence simultaneously as this individual thing. 31 But the question remains as to how higher forms can exist in the potency of the matter of lower forms. St. Augustine sees plants as having existed originally in the potency of the earth, and he goes on to say that, over the years down to the present, God "plants" living things, as He planted the verdure of Paradise, in His ordinary governance of all things. 32 Nevertheless, what needs to be clarified is the sense in which God "plants" what was already created causally from the beginning. St. Thomas cites Aristotle to the effect that for the generation of some vegetation all that is needed is the power of the physical heaven in place of the father and the power of the earth in place of the mother, 33 but we now know that life comes naturally only from other living things according to their kind. St. Thomas, however, also maintains that "the first institution of species pertains to the work of the six days, while from species already established proceeds the generation of individuals of the same species." 34
In keeping with the data of modern physics and chemistry and under the general guidance of St. Thomas and St. Augustine, I suggest the following ideas regarding the rise of new forms during the first four days of creation. The matter created at the beginning of time was probably the most simple kind of matter that exists. This matter, therefore, was no more complex than atomic particles and may have been something even more simple and fluid. Matter in its simplest state could not have produced atomic particles or atomic structures of its own power. The intervention of God to confer this power took place on the first day of creation. A cosmic sea of atomic particles or of atoms in a state of flux could correctly be called waters in the parlance of Genesis 1. The simplest matter could not emit light of its own power, but God gave it that power on the first day. Nor could atoms form molecules without the requisite power, and God conferred that power on the second day of creation, so that henceforth the chemical elements and compounds of those elements could come into existence and could begin to act and to react upon one another. Water, as a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, has a different substantial form from that of the elements from which it comes. The chemical change takes place naturally now, but it could never have taken place if God had not intervened at a certain point in time to grant the power for it to happen.
While St. Thomas affirms that new bodily forms arise by the interaction of bodies upon one another, he also requires the intervention of God for the first production of things. "In the first establishment (institutione) of things, the active principle was the Word of God, which from elemental matter produced animals either in act according to some of the Fathers or virtually according to Augustine. Not that water or earth has in itself the power to produce all of the animals, as Avicenna claimed, but the fact that animals can be produced from elemental matter by the power of seed or of the heavenly bodies comes from a power initially given to the elements." 35 Thus, according to St. Thomas's defense of the chronological interpretation of Genesis 1, unfolded by the Fathers apart from St. Augustine, the Word of God intervened at definite points of time to institute new species of things. St. Thomas directs his thought more to the areas of animal forms, because he sees the problem to be mainly concentrated there, but the question applies to vegetative and inorganic forms as well. Since every agent does what is like itself (omne agens agit sibi simile 36), how else could lower forms, even of merely material things, ever produce higher forms without the intervention of God? That they could not do so is evident to any philosophically trained mind, and so we recognize a natural limit to what any species of things can do. 37 St. Augustine, in his atemporal explanation of creation, postulated a separate "day" for the institution of every separate species of things. 38 In my chronological interpretation, I allow also a separate point of time for the creation by God of each distinct species of things, from the least kind of atomic particle to the crowning biological species of mankind. I distinguish between the creation of primal matter from the nothingness of itself and of a subject (creatio ex nihilo sui et subiecti) and the creation of all subsequent kinds of things from the nothingness of themselves (creatio ex nihilo sui) but not of a subject, because their forms were created in composition with matter that was already in existence. I visualize this creation, both of different kinds of forms on the same level of organization and of new forms on higher and higher levels of organization, as a non-immanent, externally produced process of upward development, which I call by this name to distinguish it from the Darwinian theory of immanent evolution with its atheistic and pseudoscientific presuppositions. Such a process of upward development, as described in the first chapter of Genesis, also came to an end when the six periods called the "days" of creation had been completed.
B. The First Four Days in Review
In the beginning ... That God created the world at the beginning of time is a dogma of faith revealed by God. 39 It also pertains per accidens to faith that God created the world as described in the first chapter of Genesis, but, where the meaning of the text admits of contrasting interpretations, believers are free to adopt different opinions. 40 Cornelius a Lapide names twenty-two early and medieval commentators, including St. Clement of Rome and five or six other Fathers of the Church who say that the word "heaven" (hashamayim) in the opening words of Genesis (In the beginning God created heaven and earth) refers to the physical empyrean heaven prepared as an eternal dwelling place for the saints. 41 St. Augustine sees this word "heaven" (caelum) as referring directly to angelic nature and the choirs of angels. 42 St. John Chrysostom sees "heaven" in verse one as being part of a merely introductory statement referring to the physical universe, whose creation is afterwards described in detail. 43
In the neo-Patristic framework, I am inclined to see several layers of meaning in this use of the Hebrew word hashamayim, which is plural in form and is in this verse probably plural in meaning as well. In writing for an uneducated people, Moses used very simple and graphic words whose meaning cannot be limited to the popular imagery that they suggest. He was also inspired in his writing by the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, meanings could be included of which Moses was not even aware. On the level of naive interpretation, which is certainly allowed by the text, the word hashamayim means simply "the skies", in whatever way in the mind of the reader the skies may be understood to exist. On the subtle historical level of the text, the same word could mean both the heaven of the blessed and the choirs of angels. Of these two meanings, the more immediate seems to be that of the creation of the angels, as St. Augustine and the Fourth Lateran Council point out. The heavenly home of the saints could, of course, be represented there merely as the anagogical meaning of the word, but the plural form of the word allows for a second literal meaning on the technical level. Hence, it seems that the more apt translation of this verse should be, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, because the word heavens retains the naive reading (the skies) and also leaves room for a double literal meaning on the technical level (the heaven of the saints and the choirs of angels).
On the plain and superficial level, the earth (haarets) in verse 1 means the land inhabited by man, whether it be thought of as a globe, a disk, or just a territory with as yet unknown borders. On the technical literal level it seems to mean primal matter as the ground of all future corporeal beings.
And God said: Be light made. And light was made (Gen 1:3). St. Thomas defends both the opinion of St. Augustine and that of the other Fathers. He sees the opinion of St. Augustine as meaning that the physical (non-living) universe was created in the first instant of time, more or less in the condition that we find it today. 44 He interprets and develops the opinion of the other Fathers to mean that God created the substance of the elements of matter in the beginning and then added their characteristic powers during the first four days. 45 In accordance with this second opinion, St. Thomas understands Gen 1:3 to mean that on the first day God gave to the matter of the sun or to some other heavenly source the power to emit light, not however with the full effectiveness that was given on the fourth day. 46
The neo-Patristic interpretation of this verse uses the framework of the Four Senses, beginning with the literal sense, which is directly in discussion here. It also takes into consideration the discoveries and even the theories of modern natural science. What is particularly in point in the present essay is a consideration of the theory of the Big Bang with its notion of the Expanding Universe. Theoreticians of the Big Bang tend to imagine the physical universe as having emerged from a "primal stew" of such real or imaginary elements as "quarks," "leptons," "neutrinos," "photons," "gluons," and their "antiparticles." 47 Relative to our discussion here, it is widely believed among Big Bang physicists that photons emerged within the first thousandth of a second and almost immediately became the dominant particles of the universe. 48 This reasoning is exactly in correspondence with the words of Genesis: Let there be light. The only significant difference between the theorizing of some Big Bang physicists and a neo-Patristic interpretation of Genesis 1:3, using this theory, is that, in the neo-Patristic interpretation, photons could not have emerged, if God had not intervened to create the form of light and to implant in the "primal stew" the power to produce it. 49
... and there was evening and morning one day (Gen 1:5). It cannot be demonstrated that God did not accomplish his work of creation in six 24-hour periods. It is easily within the power of God to have caused the mountains and the oceans to take shape in a few hours or a few seconds, to have created petroleum directly as petroleum and the fossils directly as fossils embedded in their rock formations, to have spread out the universe in an equally short time, and to have created streams of light from the most distant galaxies just on the point of reaching the earth. But it is by no means necessary to believe that God did this, and no one should insist that the text of Genesis demands such a reading. St. Augustine 50 and St. Thomas 51 both point out that it would not have been contrary to divine wisdom for God to have performed the work of creation according to a pattern that natural processes would afterwards imitate, and it is known today that natural processes tend to follow a developmental pattern. St. Augustine and St. Thomas also warn against unnecessarily defending readings of the Scripture which go against what natural science and experience seem to indicate, as is taken to be the case with the 24-hour interpretation of the six days of creation. The text of Genesis 1 is open to the interpretation of the six days of creation as six undefined periods of time which are called days because they are sub-divided into a time of darkness followed by a time of light. The author of the chapter defines each day in this way as he goes along, repeating the words and it was evening and morning, and he also tells us that the 24-hour day came into existence on the fourth day. But on the plain level the image of the solar day remains in any case, and this imagery is important for the spiritual senses that are carried by the very same words. St. Augustine suggests that the days of creation reflect different ways in which light has been produced in the world. 52 Following this suggestion, we can test the light of the six days against common versions of the Theory of the Expanding Universe. In such a pattern the first evening represents the time of darkness before the creation of light, and the first morning the emergence of light as the most striking feature of the nascent universe. 53
... And God made a firmament .... (Gen 1:7). The firmament, considered as a solid sheet constituting the dome of the sky, pertains to the naive understanding that some persons have had of the structure of the cosmos. This interpretation is allowed by the text, but it by no means represents the fullness of what the text is literally saying. The Hebrew word rqîa suggests something molten or at least fluid that hardened as it spread and flattened out. In the context of Gen 1:6-8, the word seems to imply that God shaped the physical universe by spreading out the galaxies in this way. In the scenario of the Big Bang, the text is read to mean that God created the forces (subatomic, chemical, gravitational, etc.) which caused the matter of the universe to assume the structure that it now has. The waters that were below the firmament are the swirling gases that became the globe of the earth, with the focus of the account now placed upon the earth.
And God called the firmament heaven, and the evening and morning were the second day (Gen 1:8). The flaming gases of outer space, locked at a safe distance from the earth, are now called by God the heavens (hashamayim: "the things on high"). During this time there transpired a period of darkness followed by a period of light. The darkness was formal or spatial or both. It could have been formal either in the sense that there were as yet no bodies by which light could be reflected, or in the sense that the light was absorbed immediately into an opaque universe that was too hot to allow it to radiate outwards on its own. But it could also have been spatial in the sense that the original light shone only in a tiny place and then gradually spread out to reach even the remote areas of the universe. Morning of this second day is constituted by the light's being reflected gradually throughout the universe.
In defending the opinion of the other Fathers, St. Thomas holds that God created during the first four days the forces that now pertain to the original material substances. In the scenario of the Big Bang, one such force, created on the second day, would have been the nuclear force, that is, the "strong force" which binds the protons and neutrons of each atom into its nucleus. "Without the existence of this mysterious force, the nucleus of an atom would simply explode like an atomic bomb." 54 It is my understanding that the step upward from a "primal stew" of subatomic particles to atomic structures required not only the unfolding of a passive potency that was in these particles and in the surrounding energy but also the instilling of an active potency by a creative intervention of God, or by a series of creative interventions during the "second day", in the course of which some or all of the natural elements were formed.
God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. And it was so done (Gen 1:9). And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called seas. And God saw that it was good (Gen 1:10). John Wiester, a geologist of the Expanding Universe school of thought, addresses the question of how the atmosphere and the water of the earth were produced. He reasons that, in the first place, the earth "received a larger portion than its neighboring planets of hydrous compounds from which a sufficient quantity of surface water could be produced." Then, as the earth condensed and congealed into a solid body, "it trapped gases and water vapor in tiny pores within its rocks." Later, "huge quantities of water vapor and other gases were released from the earth's interior to produce a dense continuous black cloud which surrounded the earth." 55 He visualizes that "at the end of the era of water formation 3.5 billion years ago, virtually the entire surface of the earth was under water," while the surface of the earth was basically smooth and level. 56 Wiester continues his description as follows: "About 3.5 billion years ago, huge dome-like blocks of granite welled upward from the depths of the mantle. These intrusions were more than twenty-five miles in height and formed the enduring core or cratons of the continents. The precise cause of these granitic (lighter rock) cratons thrusting up from the mantle below is unknown, but most geologists think that the enormous heat energy required was produced primarily by radioactive nuclides in the upper mantle. ... In any event, geologists believe that during the period from 3.5 to 2.5 billion years ago, the worldwide building of continents through successive intrusions of granitic rock took place. ... The concentration of specific elements in the total earth is unexplained, but it is apparently connected with the initial formation of the planet earth from its nebula cloud of gas and dust. ... The crucial question is what caused the lateral separation of materials at the crust of the earth into light granitic continents and heavy basaltic ocean basins in the first place. ... We can speculate that, like the later operation of plate tectonics, the explanation has something to do with cooling the earth's finely tuned heat engine. But the fact is we simply do not know why the first lands appeared." 57
Henry Morris understands the six days of Genesis 1 to be, even on the technical level, periods of twenty-four hours each. He observes: "It should be obvious to even the most casual reader that when the Bible is taken naturally and literally, it teaches that the earth is only a few thousand years old." Morris argues that this understanding of the Genesis record "is confirmed by all real history - that is, by the actual written records of early men. ... Once we go beyond the earliest historical records, however, we are outside the scope of real science. We can speculate about prehistorical chronologies, basing our speculations on some physical process, but these can never be more than estimates, whose accuracy depends entirely on the assumptions on which they are based." One of the assumptions that Morris challenges is that "the process used must always have operated at the same rate at which it functions today." 58
My neo-Patristic interpretation does not claim that we can know the precise, technical process of the formation of the oceans and the dry land from the text of Genesis 1 and other related passages of Sacred Scripture. It does, however, on the one hand, attempt to show that explanations of some geologists like John Wiester are in keeping with the text of Genesis 1, while, on the other hand, it does not endorse the time-schedules suggested by geologists as though they were historically established truths. Theories regarding the development of the earth are only theories: they should not be believed as certified historical facts, but neither should upward development be excluded as though any formulation of it were contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture. It is legitimate to imagine that God, in His almighty power, caused the mountains to arise and the waters of the oceans to be collected together within a space of twenty-four hours. But faith does not require such a belief, and reason may discourage us from professing such a conclusion. To imagine the appearance of the elevated land over a period of millions of years does not detract from the power of God or from the truth of the sacred text. On the contrary, it emphasizes the eternity of God and the grandeur of His work as it appears against the background of the natural processes which He has created. God saw that it was good, because it was a step in the preparation of the universe for the appearance of mankind, for the Incarnation of God Himself in Jesus Christ, and for the unfolding of the history of salvation to be culminated in the Church Triumphant, gathered forever around the throne of the Lamb and the vision of the Blessed Trinity.
And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done (Gen 1:11). Questions regarding the interpretation of the creation of the forms of biological life are not being directly addressed in this essay. The one prominent question that does directly pertain to this study is the problem of the chronology of the biblical text. How could vegetative life have been created before the sun which makes it possible? How, in fact, could the earth, a planet, have been created before the sun around which it revolves?
We have seen that St. Augustine addresses the problem of the appearance of vegetative life in one way and the other Fathers in a different way. St. Augustine explains, or rather hypothesizes, that in one sense the entire creation took place in an instant, and, therefore, there was no problem of plant life's being said to have existed before the sun. But, in affirming this, St. Augustine also distinguishes between what was created in actual being and what was created potentially in the packages of powers ("seminal reasons") with which God endowed elemental matter in the first instant of creation. In the view of St. Augustine, primal matter developed upward after the first moment of its creation because of the plan of development that God had instilled in it and because of certain formative interventions that God continued to make even after the first six days of creation. We must admit that Augustine does not attempt clearly to determine how much upward "development" was already included in the original instant of creation and how much came after that instant. Nevertheless, he does clearly state that the actual appearance in the world of vegetative life (and, therefore, of all biological life) came after the first six days of creation and after the creation of the sun. 59 St. Augustine, therefore, does not read Genesis 1 as saying that the plants were created before the sun in the sense that this problem is usually formulated.
St. Thomas defends both this interpretation of St. Augustine and the chronological interpretation of the other Fathers. 60 According to the other Fathers the plants appeared on the third chronological day, which they and St. Thomas interpret as a period of twenty-four hours. 61 St. Thomas understands this opinion to imply that the original carpeting of fully developed individual plants was created instantaneously on the third day. 62 The second opinion explains that, because plants are fixed to the earth, they could be classified in a popular description, not as an adornment but as a part of the earth, their lack of sentience making them less alive than animals. Thus, the formation of vegetation is presented merely as an adjunct to the collection of the oceans and the appearance of dry land. 63 St. Thomas does not encounter the problem of the plants being created before the sun, because he maintains that, according to Gen 1:3, the sun or some other source of light was created on the first day.
As a mainstream contemporary geologist, Wiester reconstructs the following scenario. "At the end of the first billion years of the earth's history, the surface of the planet had been transformed from a naked body of rock to one covered by a shallow sea. This blanket of water was in turn surrounded by a dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor. At approximately the same time as the first land rose up out of this shallow sea, life made its appearance. ... The fossil record of the first life begins 3.5 billion years ago with structural traces of bacteria and bacteria-like blue-green algae, organisms still with us today. ... Blue-green algae are endowed with the remarkable capability of releasing oxygen through photosynthesis. For much of the first 2 billion years of the history of life, mats of blue-green algae may have floated like rafts in the oceans of the world. ... Eukaryotes [all other more organized plants and animals] made their appearance in the form of red, green, and brown algae about one billion years ago. The fossil record indicates that land-dwelling plants appeared about 400 million years ago .... The first seed-bearing plants appeared shortly thereafter... Until 130 million years ago the earth's landscape was a leafy vastness of monotonous and drab greenery. Not a single flower blossomed. Then, in an incredibly brief span of 10 million years, the Big Bloom, the explosion of the flowering plants or angiosperms took place. Later, about 62 million years ago, grasses appeared to complete the roster of our modern vegetative types." 64
As a neo-Patristic interpreter, I do not take as proven historical facts the speculations of geologists, since they are only conjectures whose time-frame and historical descriptions are seriously contested by other researchers. I am thinking, for instance, of scientific workers like the CESHE group in France and Belgium, who, using other equally rigorous methods, offer enormously shorter spans of time and differing analyses of the process of development. But what seems to be clear is that careful geological reconstructions of the process by which the earth and the living forms upon it have developed up to the period of recorded history do not conflict with the account of Genesis 1. I note in particular, from the reconstruction made by John Wiester, that the mile-deep coat of water thought to have covered the entire surface of the early earth was afterwards collected into the oceans that we know today, and that, at approximately the same time as the first dry land rose up, the blue-green algae appeared and spread just under the surface of the water. Now, according to Wiester's calculations, virtually no more organized forms of life, and, therefore, no seed-bearing plants, appeared during the first half and more of the time that living forms have existed on the earth, but even that one form of life is sufficient to justify the chronology of Genesis 1. As Patrick O'Connell says, "The fact that (Moses) places the creation of vegetable life on the third day does not necessarily mean that its creation was completed on the third day." And, he adds, if sentient life appeared in the meantime, nevertheless, "it was necessary that vegetable life should continue to develop in advance to support it." 65
And the evening and the morning were the third day (Gen 1:13). In my neo-Patristic analysis of the literal sense, the days are chronological, and each of the six days represents a different phase in the history of light. The light of the third day consists in the sensitivity of vegetative life, represented here initially by the blue-green algae, to the light of the sun. We recognize this sensitivity in the phenomenon of heliotropism, and we call its chief activity photosynthesis. Therefore, the evening of the third day is the non-light-sensitive activity of material substances, especially in the processes of the uplifting of the continents and the collection of water into the oceans. The morning of the third day is the rise of the light-sensitive activity of the blue-green algae and then afterwards of all of the other forms of vegetative life. The chain of chronology of Genesis 1 must be considered rather strict, since the days are serially numbered. Hence, the creation of plant life has to be located chronologically on the third day, at least originally and more likely in greater part. Such a condition is fulfilled in the history of the blue-green algae, which begins only a little later than the rise of the continents and the collecting of the water into the oceans.
And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years: / To shine in the firmament of heaven and to give light upon the earth. And it was so done. / And God made two great lights: a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night: and the stars. / And he set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth. / And to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness. / And God saw that it was good (Gen 1:14-18). St. Thomas, in commenting on the interpretation of the Fathers other than St. Augustine, notes that, if the light created on the first day was physical, then "one is constrained to say that light was produced on the first day according to the common nature of light, while on the fourth day there was accorded to these luminous bodies a special power to produce determined effects, just as we see that a ray of the sun has one set of effects while a ray of the moon has another set of effects." 66 In the analysis of St. Thomas, the wording of verse 17 does not escape attention: And he set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth. In the cosmological picture of Aristotle, which St. Thomas highly respects, the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars are fixed in the solid heavenly spheres like mounted precious stones. But the Angelic Doctor with open-mindedness adds that St. John Chrysostom, following the cosmological model of Ptolemy, sees these heavenly bodies as free-moving within the boundaries of their respective spheres. 67
John Wiester reasons from his reconstruction that the life-destroying ultraviolet rays of the sun were a constant threat to the formation of early biological life, because the earth was not yet protected by an ozone screen. Nevertheless, "even though it could not sustain life as we know it today, the smog-like atmosphere of carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia was perfect for the beginning of life." 68 Also, before animal life could exist on earth, oxygen had to be made available and the dense clouds of smog-like gases had to be removed. Some of the abundant supply of water was split into hydrogen and oxygen by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but "evidence suggests the ozone screen was primarily erected by the first plants, the blue-green algae, that also helped to transform the planet's atmosphere ... into the oxygen-rich atmosphere of today." 69 In Wiester's estimation "the fossil record provides evidence that blue-green algae existed on platforms of boulders and rocks submerged in shallow water. These platforms would have to have been deep enough to be shielded from ultraviolet radiation, but shallow enough to receive the light wavelengths essential to photosynthesis. ... Is the transformation of light from the sun into a beneficial energy source what Genesis is addressing when it says 'and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,' and it was so (Gen 1:15)?" 70
Henry Morris notes that the many references in the Bible to "sunrise" and "the going down of the sun" do not really convey a pre-Copernican astronomy; they are simply the "language of appearance," such as is used every day by astronomers, surveyors, and navigators. But he points out as well that "it is quite difficult even today to prove that the heliocentric theory is true, and there is a small body of scientists, including some competent astronomers, who are advocating a reconsideration of the geocentric theory." 71 Interestingly though, he finds that the rotation of the earth may be implied in Job 38:14, which he translates as "It [the earth] is turned as clay to the seal." He explains: "The figure, in context, is of a clay vessel being turned on a wheel to receive the design impressed upon it by a seal or signet, like the earth as it turns into the dawning sun, gradually revealing the intricate features of its surface." His own conclusion is that "there is no observational fact of modern solar system astronomy which contradicts any Biblical statement, but many such facts correlate beautifully with the Scriptures." Morris maintains that the Big Bang Theory is being widely questioned, and he sees "no reason at all not to believe that the universe was simply called into existence by God, just as the Bible says." 72 He admits that "surprisingly, there are even some Scripture verses that seem to correlate with [the idea of an expanding universe]" (such as Ps 103:2; Isa 40:22;45:12; Zach 12:1), but he adamantly insists that "there is not the slightest scientific evidence that any object in the universe has developed into its present form and structure by any naturalistic evolutionary process from any previous simpler structure." For instance, it seems "impossible" to him "ever to devise an evolutionary scheme which could explain ... (all of the) many complex and diverse phenomena that characterize the solar system," such as the fact that "some planets rotate in one direction, some in another, and the same is true of their various satellites." And to support his position he quotes an official publication of NASA as follows: "It is important to be aware that there is no one theory for the origin and subsequent evolution of the Solar System that is generally accepted. All theories represent models which fit some of the facts observed today, but not all." 73 Morris admits that "yes, a sufficiently comprehensive miracle of supernatural creation and integration might make the Big Bang concept workable, but there is no naturalistic way it can be done," and, he hastens to add, "if we acknowledge a supernatural Creator, why not allow Him to do the work of creating and organizing the cosmos all at once getting right to the implementation of His purposes for creating it in the first place. ... If the Creator actually employed unknown billions of years of universal decay, after first using a primordial ten minutes of miraculous integration, to eventually produce man 'in his own image,' then He certainly selected the most wasteful, inefficient, and cruel process that could be conceived to accomplish His goal." 74
As a neo-Patristic interpreter, I recognize the fundamental historical fact that the shaping of the present universe did not occur without creative interventions by God as recounted in Genesis 1. Thus, I agree with Dr. Morris that no truly scientific evidence has ever indicated that "any object in the universe has developed into its present form and structure by any naturalistic evolutionary process from any previous simpler structure." Rather, the idea that the universe or any natural substance in it could have come into existence or become what it is without divine creation and programming simply reflects a lack of training to think on a metaphysical level - a defect evident in the reasoning of many natural scientists who speculate about the ultimate nature and origin of things. However, granted the role of God in initiating and elevating the process, there are many scientific facts which fit the idea of an upward development in creative jumps from primitive beginnings to the present state of the universe, and such an idea is not out of keeping with the text of Sacred Scripture, as long as, for each significant step upward to a higher form of being, a divine intervention is recognized to have been needed, and this need includes also divine pre-programming for the orderly arrangement of things.
Since the time schedules of Big Bang astronomers, of mainstream geologists, and of Darwinian evolutionists have been challenged across the board by competent researchers, biblical exegetes do well to be critical of their conclusions. But the idea of a long period of development does not in itself conflict with either the letter or the spirit of the Scriptures; it simply illustrates the transcendence and the eternity of God, for Whom a thousand million years is not even one instant in our psychological time-experience. Creative upward development does not assume a "primordial ten minutes of miraculous integration," but rather it proposes a divinely programmed organizational process, upgraded by successive divine interventions for the institution of new species of things and possibly extending over a long time, even over thousands of millions of years. Dr. Morris wonders why six days should not be sufficient, but St. Augustine wondered why a single instant was not sufficient, and he answered the question when he admitted that a time lapse would be for the sake of the creatures being formed and of the natural processes being created rather than because God needed any length of time at all to accomplish the work.
Because the heliocentric theory has not been definitively proved beyond any measure of doubt, the geocentric theory cannot be absolutely excluded. In fact, both theories involve some questionable mathematical arguments. The point being made in this essay is that the heliocentric theory cannot be rejected on grounds that it conflicts with the teaching of the Bible. In his account of the work of the fourth day (Gen 1:14-18), Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that God intervened in the setting of lights in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth, and he challenges us to ponder how this could have happened after the creation of plants upon the earth. The answer to this problem, which has proved to be a stumbling block for many interpreters of the Scriptures, may well be suggested in the wording that the inspired text provides. According to verses 14-15, And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven and to give light upon the earth. St. Thomas and others have observed that these verses do not seem to be saying that God on the fourth day created or formed the substance of the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars, but rather that He placed them as lights in the firmament of heaven for the purpose of creating signs and seasons and days and years. St. Thomas speculates that the lights existed already from the first day, but the quality of the lights was specified on the fourth day. 75 We can further speculate that the shape of the universe and of the solar system was basically accomplished on the second day, and from then on the lights were there in the firmament, but the quality of their light was radically affected on the fourth day.
Mainstream geologist John Wiester, as we have seen, claims that a radical change in the quality of the sunlight came about as a result of the ozone screen produced initially by blue-green algae on the young earth. Thus, the lethal power of the strong ultraviolet rays of the sun was transformed into the life-supporting power of its visible radiation. This would explain the emphasis in verse 17 upon the shining of light upon the earth: And he set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth. Accessory to this explanation is the clearing away, by the photosynthetic activity of vegetation on the face of the earth, of the "dense cloud of smog-like gases," so that the face of the sky, by day and even more so by night, could become visible to the eyes of animals and of men. But a further explanation occurs in the context of the heliocentric theory, and it regards the movements of the earth. If verse 17 is understood to mean And he positioned them in the firmament of heaven (which does not seem to be an incorrect reading), then, supposing but not proclaiming the validity of the heliocentric theory, the event could have been accomplished technically simply by fixing the motion of the earth. In fact, with reference to verse 14, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, the seasons are determined by the speed and degree of tilting of the earth on its axis, the years are determined by the speed of the earth around its orbit, and the days are determined by the speed of revolution of the earth on its axis. The hypothesis would be that the speed and angle of at least one of these directions of the earth's motion was not finally fixed by God until after vegetation had appeared upon the earth, and the most likely candidate for the final fixing of motion is the speed of the earth's revolution on its axis. Thus was the twenty-four hour day finally created. In the plain sense of the language of appearance, the fixing by God of the speed and angle of these three motions of the earth is described as a positioning of the lights in the physical heavens, but in the technical precision of the subtle historical sense, it is the earth itself which is the subject of the adjustment.
And the evening and morning were the fourth day (Gen 1:19). Each of the seven days represents a way in which light is first absent and then present. According to one explanation, evening of the fourth day is represented by the dense cloud of gases, surrounding the young earth, which obscured the visible light of the heavenly bodies, and morning is represented by the clearing of this cloud. According to another explanation, since the twenty-four hour day was established at this time, the evening was the evening of the first truly 24-hour day, and the morning was the following morning of the same 24-hour day. Since the significance of this divine work culminates in the final fixing of the motion of the earth, the "fourth day" could in fact have lasted just twenty-four hours, although the other adjustments of the motion of the earth are included in its general notion. In any case, having arrived at the end of the fourth day of creation, I conclude this essay on the literal meaning of Genesis 1:1-19, leaving to another writing a consideration of what these same verses seem to convey on the level of the spiritual sense, allegorical, tropological and anagogical.
1. See LT (Living Tradition) 49, pp. 4-9.
2. See J.F. McCarthy, The Science of Historical Theology, pp. 49-50.
3. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 2, corp. (reproduced in LT 49, pp. 1-2).
4. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 68, art. 1, corp.
5. Augustine, De Genesi contra Manichaeos, I, 11.
6. Augustine, De Gen. ad litt., I, 19. Cf. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 46, art. 2, corp. (regarding attempts to prove from reason the non-eternity of the world).
7. See LT 49, pp. 1-2.
8. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 32, art. 1, ad 2.
9. Aquinas, De caelo et mundo, II, lect. 17, no. 2.
10. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 67, art. 2, corp.
11. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 13, q. 1, art. 3, ad 1.
12. Basil, In Hexaëmeron, hom. 3.
13. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 14, q. 1, art. 2, ad 1.
14. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 14, q. 1, art. 2, corp.
15. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 13, q. 1, art. 3, corp.
16. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 69, art. 1, corp.; II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 2, ad 2. Cf. LT 49, p. 4.
17. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 13, q. 1, art. 3, ad 7. Cf. LT 49, p. 9.
18. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 69, art. 1, corp.
19. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 2, ad 1 and ad 2.
20. Aquinas, De caelo et mundo, I.
21. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 14, q. 1, art. 2, corp.
22. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 68, art. 1, corp.
23. See note 16 above.
24. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 66, art. 1, corp. Cf. LT 49, pp. 3-4.
25. Aquinas, De caelo et mundo, III, lect. 8, no. 9.
26. Aquinas, S. Th. I, q. 66, art. 2, ad 3.
27. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 4, corp.
28. Aristotle, De caelo et mundo.
29. Aquinas, De caelo et mundo, III, lect. 8, no. 9.
30. Aquinas, S. Th. I, q. 69, art. 2, corp. Cf. LT 47, pp. 5-7.
31. Aquinas, S. Th. I, q. 65, art. 4, corp.
32. Augustine, De Gen. ad litt., V, 4.
33. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 14, q. 1, art. 5, ad 6.
34. Aquinas, S. Th. I, q. 69, art. 2, corp.
35. Aquinas, S. Th. I, q. 71, art. 1, ad 1.
36. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 15, q. 1, art. 2, obj. 4.
37. Aquinas, De potentia, q. 3, art. 1, corp.
38. Augustine, De Gen. ad litt., IV, 22.
39. Cf. Fourth Lateran Council, Denz.-Schoen., 800.
40. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 2, corp.
41. Cornelius a Lapide, Commentary on Gen 1:1.
42. Augustine, De Gen. ad litt., I, 17; VII, 5.
43. Chrysostom, In Genesim, hom. 2 (PG 53, col. 30).
44. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 2, corp.
45. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 2, ad 2.
46. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 70, art. 1, ad 2.
47. Cf. J. Wiester, The Genesis Connection (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983), p. 34.
48. Cf. H. Fritzsch, The Creation of Matter: The Universe from Beginning to End (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1984), p. 227.
49. Cf. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 65, art. 4, corp.
50. Cf. Augustine, De Gen. ad litt., II, 15.
51. Cf. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 74, art. 2, ad 4.
52. Augustine, Imperf. lib., 5.
53. Cf. Wiester, The Genesis Connection, pp. 37 and 45.
54. Wiester, op. cit., p. 30.
55. Wiester, op. cit., p. 53.
56. Wiester, op. cit., p. 61.
57. Wiester, op. cit., pp. 61-62, 75.
58. H.M. Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), pp. 260-261. In an appendix, Morris catalogues sixty-eight global processes that have been used to estimate the age of the earth with immensely differing results.
59. Cf. Augustine, De Gen. ad litt., V, 4.
60. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 69, art. 2, corp.
61. Cf. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 67, art. 4, ad 3.
62. Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 12, q. 1, art. 2, ad 5.
63. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 69, art. 2, ad 1.
64. Wiester, The Genesis Connection, pp. 73, 78-80.
65. P. O'Connell, Science of Today and the Problems of Genesis, pp. 11-14.
66. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 70, art. 1, ad 2.
67. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 70, art. 1, ad 3.
68. Wiester, op. cit. p. 85.
69. Wiester, op. cit., pp. 97-99.
70. Wiester, op. cit., pp. 114-115.
71. Morris, The Biblical Basis ..., pp. 164-165. Gerardus D. Bouw defends the geocentric theory in his highly technical but not always convincing book, Geocentricity (Assoc. for Biblical Astronomy, 4527 Wetzel Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44109), published in 1992. Bouw, after critically reviewing the arguments on both sides, concludes that "there never has been a sound, logical reason for assuming heliocentrism over geocentricity" (p.352).
72. Morris, op. cit., p. 166.
73. Morris, op. cit., pp. 169-171, quoting from the publication "Mars and Earth" of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the U.S. Government (NF-61, Aug. 1975), p. 1.
74. Morris, op. cit., pp. 193-194.
75. Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 70, art. 1, ad 2.
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