My first order of business is to explain the meaning of “the Doctrine of Creation” in the title of this Ad Rem. For my purposes here, I will define the term thus: the literal, historical truth of the first chapters of Genesis, as authored by Moses, including (as the Pontifical Biblical Commission taught in 1909) the creation of the entire world at the beginning of time, the special creation of man and the formation of the first woman from the first man, the unity of the human race, the initial happiness of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity and immortality, the testing of Adam and Eve through a positive precept, the temptation and transgression under the influence of the devil, expulsion from the initial paradise, and the promise of a Redeemer.
These truths taught by the literal sense of the first chapters of Genesis are de fide by virtue of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church. To deny their historicity is Modernist. This piece is a brief exploration of what happens when the literal sense of Genesis is denied. Besides simply being wrong when you deny the doctrine of Creation, you also open up a Pandora’s box out of which come such erroneous horrors as the following.
You Deny Biblical Inerrancy
The Catholic position on Biblical inerrancy, as beautifully articulated by Pope Leo XIII in Providentissimus Deus, is one of absolute inerrancy: “For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit; and so far is it from being possible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and Trent, and finally and more expressly formulated by the [First] Council of the Vatican.” (Cited in Rev. Brian Harrison, O.S., M.A., S.T.D., “The Truth and Salvific Purpose of Sacred Scripture according to Dei Verbum, Article 11,” in Living Tradition, No. 59 [July, 1995].)
Contrary to this position in Catholic circles is the novel, neo-Modernist position of “limited inerrancy,” which admits of “historical” and “scientific” errors in Holy Scripture, claiming that the Bible is only inerrant in those things that pertain to human salvation — whatever that means exactly. This limited inerrancy position upheld by most if not all theistic evolutionists, and by most in Catholic academe — hence the disastrous state in which we find ourselves! This reduction of the full force of the inerrancy of Holy Scripture by the evolutionary neo-Modernists is itself a proof of the truth of my thesis here: To deny the truth of Creation is to deny the inerrancy of Scripture.
You Deny the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church
The doctrine of Creation as we have articulated it was believed not only by all Catholic divines at the time of Charles Darwin, and not only by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church long before that (see, e.g., Genesis According to the Saints by by Daniel M. Clough), but also by all of the theological schools from the early middle ages to the nineteenth century. Some of the Fathers who wrote on Creation were defending the literal historical truth of Genesis contrary to the teachings of pagan philosophers and heretical sects (see, e.g., The Creation of Adam’s Body in the Apostolic Fathers). In other words, although the doctrine of Creation has not been solemly defined by a pope or council, it is infallible by virtue of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, that which what was believed “always, everywhere, and by everyone.” The fact that this universal Catholic testimony seems to break down when Modernism metastasized throughout Catholic institutions does not alter the fact that the doctrine is infallible.
You Deny the Foundations of the Church’s Teaching on Marriage
The point has been made before on this site, but it is worth re-making. What Jesus did for matrimony in the New Law was based upon what God established in the Garden of Eden. Jesus not only restored matrimony to its original Edenic purity (no divorce, no polygamy) but he elevated it to the status of one of the seven Sacraments of the New Law. Here is what the Gospel tells us:
And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female? And he said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away? He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. [Matthew 19:3-8]
In arguing “from the beginning” (an expression used twice in five verses), Jesus appeals to the state of marriage as it was given at the creation of man. What follows the challenging rhetorical question, “have you not read…?” — a question Jesus used on other occasions when confronting learned adversaries — is the explicit citation of two passages from Genesis (1:27 and 2:24), from which Our Lord argues to a prohibition of divorce. As Lawgiver of the New Covenant, Jesus then elevates the marital bond to a sacrament. But this elevation of the status of marriage was dependent upon His previous restoration of marriage to its Edenic integrity, which, in turn, is dependent upon the literal sense of Genesis. (For more on this point, see The Special Creation of Adam and Eve: The Foundation of the Church’s Teaching on Holy Marriage.)
You Compromise the Fixed Natures of Things as God Created Them
In Genesis 1:27, Moses writes that “God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.” The “male and female” part of this verse was never so controversial as it is in our own day, so be prepared for some “hate speech” here: God created our race with two sexes, and that is all there are: two. (The new “gender theory” nonsense, completely divorced from reality, deserves to be mocked good and hard.) Note that I wrote “two sexes” and not “two genders.” I did so for serious reasons. The Latin word sexus means not only “sex,” as in the distinction between male and female (not the marital act, a meaning the word did not get until the twentieth century), but, in its first definition, it also means “division.” It comes, says Wiktionary, from the “Proto-Indo-European *séksus, from *sek– (‘to cut’), thus meaning ‘section, division’ (into male and female).” The word section comes from this same root word. I go on this tangent to show that the fundamental notion of “sex” is a “dividing” or “sectioning off” between male and female, as in “male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Genesis here gives us a solid, inspired basis upon which to ground our common-sense conclusions about there being only two sexes, male and female.
Genesis also clearly distinguishes between men and beasts, as Adam is given dominion over all the brute animals. He exercises his dominion over them, initially, in assigning them names — a practical display of the authority that God gave to Adam over non-rational animals.
You Empower the Evil Agenda of Scientism
Charlatans like Thomas Malthus and, more recently, Paul Erlich, have been warning us a long time that humans are about to overpopulate the planet. We’ll run out of food. People will starve to death. It will be really, really bad! (On Malthus, see And Now for Something Completely Different: the Islamification of the U.K. and Burden of Being a Good Reformer: Protestants and Birth Control on this site.)
But the Catholic who is grounded in the revealed reality of the Book of Genesis understands that God knew what He was doing when He said,
Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done. [Gen. 1:28-30]
When man’s population increases and when men intelligently exercise their God-given dominion over the animals, we actually render the earth more fruitful than it would otherwise be. Far from being a blight on the ecosystem, we are at its apex and have a duty to exercise that dominion. What is now called “regenerative agriculture” is an example of that kind of intelligent dominion. It militates against both the “Big Ag” approach (using destructive chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that kill microbial life the soil, which has many downsides) as well as the pantheistic notion that nature is best left untouched by man.
What about the racist ideas of eugenics? Those with the silly idea of a “master race” — a superior breed of humans, e.g., “the Aryan race” — reject one of those truths that the Pontifical Biblical Commission said had to be believed by Catholics: “the unity of the human race.” Belief in that article would spare us the inhumane and cruel notion that certain “races” of human beings are inferior — or that only certain worthies are entitled to get healthcare when resources are limited. Eugenics, a phenomenon with a dark past, is also very much a present threat against humanity.
You Dethrone Theology as the Queen of all the Sciences
If you subject the inspired history Genesis to the conclusions of the empirical sciences, which have absolutely nothing to say about origins, then you have uncrowned theology. This inverts the hierarchy of the sciences and does the very opposite of what Saint Thomas called for in the Summa Theologiae:
The principles of other sciences either are evident and cannot be proved, or are proved by natural reason through some other science. But the knowledge proper to this science [theology] comes through revelation and not through natural reason. Therefore it has no concern to prove the principles of other sciences, but only to judge of them. Whatsoever is found in other sciences contrary to any truth of this science must be condemned as false:”Destroying counsels and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). [ST Ia, Q.1, A.6 ad 2; see also condemned proposition No. 5 of Lamentabile Sane.]
The act of Creation was miraculous in nature; that is, God did not use natural causality in creating all that is. Being the only one with knowledge of what He did, He is uniquely qualified to narrate that history to us. He did so in Genesis, and “science” cannot correct Him.
You Rob the Church of Her Prerogatives of ‘Bride of Christ’ and ‘Ark of Salvation’
The Fathers of the Church point out a lovely typology that connects Genesis to the Gospels: Christ-Adam, Church-Eve.
Pondering the lancing of Our Lord’s sacred Side by the soldier, Saint Augustine focused on the verb used in his Latin version of John 19 (aperuit): “The Evangelist has expressed himself cautiously; not struck, or wounded, but opened His side… To shadow forth this, the woman was made out of the side of the sleeping man; for this second Adam bowed His head and slept on the cross, that out of that which came therefrom, there might be formed a wife for Him.” (Tractate 120 on the Gospel of Saint John) The Doctor of Grace sees the water of baptism and the wine of the Eucharist, the two sacraments which, par excellence, form the Mystical Body, coming out of the pierced side our Our Lord. This is how Christ’s Bride, the Church, is drawn out of His side while he “sleeps” in death on the Cross.
In Mary and the Church, Father Donal Flanagan puts Saint Jerome and Saint Zeno of Verona in the company of Saint Augustine in teaching this Adam-Christ/Eve-Church typology.
Moreover, the Church, as the Ark of Salvation, is also the antitype of another reality we encounter in Genesis — one also dismissed as non-literal by our neo-Modernist adversaries: Noe’s Ark. Regular readers of Catholicism.org are aware of what all Catholics should be, namely, that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. One of the ways that this dogmatic truth was expressed by the Fathers was via the Ark-Church typology whereby Noe’s Ark is held to be a type of the Church. This typology, with numerous passages from Fathers and Doctors to support it, is explained in Noah’s Ark and Peter’s Bark.
When the first Chapters of Genesis are treated as a sort of inspired myth from which we can draw nice lessons, too much is lost — too much of the history of the human race, and too much of the sacred Deposit of the Faith.
When the toxic fog currently choking the life of the Church is lifted, that glorious day will arrive in part because we have returned to the perennial doctrine of Creation.