The Ark of Noah and the Church of Christ

In the May 1994 issue of Daylight, a Catholic creationist journal published in England by Anthony Nevard, 1 there is a fascinating article by a French geologist, Guy Berthault, entitled: “The Laying Down Of Marine Sediments — A Revolutionary New Perspective.” Anthony Nevard rightly calls the striking series of experiments described here by Berthault, “a creationist breakthrough in secular geology.” But before I come to the actual experiments themselves, let me give a little background. Three quarters of the surface of the earth or more are covered with what are called sedimentary rocks. These rocks are found in numerous layers, or strata, and contain the remains of many fossilized animals. There are two competing models or explanations of how these strata, called also the geologic column, were laid down. The older, called the catastrophic model, maintains that they were laid down quickly by the Noachian Deluge, while the more recent uniformitarian model, popularized by Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875), claims that they were laid down gradually, over millions of years, by processes which are still at work today. The uniformitarian model was eagerly seized upon by Charles Darwin, who needed long periods of time to give his theory of evolution by natural selection any scientific respectability. Darwin claimed that the sequence of fossils displayed in the column from simple to more complex creatures, clearly demonstrated his theory. Here is the Australian creationist, the late Wallace Johnson, commenting on the uniformitarian model of the geologic column:

“The geologic column has become scientifically sacred. Yet it has no physical reality. It does not exist in any part of the world. In any one place, you will find one, or two, or a few of these strata, often with the theoretic sequence reversed. The geologic column is not a column you can dig through. It is a mental image only. It is an imaginary column put together by correlating and inserting segments of the fossil record from various parts of the world.” 2

Wallace Johnson quotes from a surprising admission by E.M. Spieker, a Professor of Geology at Ohio State University, himself an evolutionist:

“I wonder how many of us realize that the time scale was frozen in essentially its present form by 1840? How much of the world geology was known in 1840? All of Asia, Africa, South America, and most of North America were virtually unknown. How dared the pioneers assume that their scale would fit the rocks in those vast areas, by far most of the world? The followers of the founding fathers went forth across the earth and in Procrustean fashion made it fit the sections they found, even in places where the actual evidence literally proclaimed denial.

So flexible and accommodating are the `facts’ of geology.” 3

According to the theory of evolution, the fossils found in the rocks should go from simple to complex, but the very opposite is often the case. Wallace Johnson offers several examples of Spieker’s “Procrustean” geology. On Mount Matterhorn, the simple, older fossils are on the top of the mountain, while the more complex younger ones are on the bottom. So the uniformitarian geologists claim that the younger fossils that were originally on the top must have eroded away, and the strata containing the older fossils must have been uplifted sixty miles away and slid horizontally, finally coming to rest on top of the younger fossils!

Also, there are many other features in the fossilized strata that uniformitarian geology cannot satisfactorily explain. Gerard Keane, another Australian creationist, gives one such example in his excellent Creation Rediscovered:

“A further compelling argument in favour of a rapidly occurring global Flood, and thus in favor of a young age for the Earth, is that of polystrate fossilized tree trunks.

“These tree trunks, stripped of branches and showing evidence of water-borne deposition, can be found often in vertical position around which are layers and layers of coal strata. If the strata were deposited over millions of years, the tree trunks would have decayed long before the strata could be deposited. For the specimens to become fossilized, the strata must have been deposited rapidly.” 4

Despite its implausibility, the uniformitarian model of the geologic column — the mainstay of evolutionary theory — soon became dogma in academia, completely replacing the older catastrophic model based on the biblical Flood. One of the most vociferous of the uniformitarians, the atheist George Gaylord Simpson of Harvard, was able to write:

“With the dawning realization that the earth is really extremely old, in human terms of age, came the knowledge that it has changed progressively and radically but usually gradually and always in an orderly, a natural, way. The fact of change had not earlier been denied in Western science or theology — after all, the Noachian Deluge was considered a radical change. But the Deluge was believed to have had supernatural causes or concomitants that were not operative throughout the earth’s history. The doctrine of uniformitarianism, finally established early in the nineteenth century, widened the recognized reign of natural law. The earth has changed throughout its history under the action of material forces only, and of the same forces as those now visible to us and still acting on it.

“The steps that I have so briefly traced reduced the sway of superstition in the conceptual world of human lives. The change was slow, it was unsteady, and it was not accepted by everyone. Even now there are nominally civilized people whose world was created in 4004 B.C.” 5

The account of the Deluge in the Book of Genesis reads:

“And the waters prevailed beyond measure upon the earth: and all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The water was fifteen cubits higher than the mountains which it covered. And all flesh was destroyed that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and cattle, and beasts, and of all creeping things that creep upon the earth: and all men. And all the things wherein there is breath of life on the earth, died. And He destroyed all the substance that was upon the earth, from man even to beast, and the creeping things and fowls of the air: and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:19-23).

And in Our Lord’s own words:

“And as in the days of Noah, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

And in the words of St. Peter:

“Knowing this first, that in the last days there shall come deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts, saying: Where is his promise or his coming? For since the time that the fathers slept, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they are wilfully ignorant of, that the heavens were before, and the earth out of water, and through water consisting by the word of God. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (II Peter 3:3-7).

But despite this clear teaching of Scripture that the Deluge was both anthropologically and geographically universal, liberal Protestant Scripture scholars in the nineteeth century, intimidated by the prestige of “science,” were quick to conclude that the Noachian Deluge could only have been a local flood. To aid them in this interpretation they called to their aid a new method of biblical interpretation called the “higher criticism.” Pope Leo XIII in his great encyclical on biblical studies, Providentissimus Deus, scathingly condemns this pretentious method:

“There has arisen to the great detriment of religion an inept method dignified by the name of the “higher criticism,” which pretends to judge of the origin, integrity and authority of each book, from internal indications alone. It is clear, however, that in historical questions, such as the origin and handing down of writings, the witness of history is of primary importance and that historical investigation should be made with the utmost care; and that in this manner internal evidence is seldom of great value except as confirmation. To look upon it in any other light will be to open the door to many evil consequences. It will make the enemies of religion bold and confident in attacking and mangling the sacred books and the vaunted “higher criticism” will resolve itself into the reflection of the bias and the prejudice of the critics.” (Denzinger 1946)

In 1876 the German rationalist, Julius Wellhausen, the most famous of the higher critics, and author of the Documentary Theory, claimed that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses as had been thought, but rather by four different authors who lived long after Moses, whom he called the Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist and Priestly authors, or J (from Jahvist, the German spelling for Yahwist), E, D and P for short. These four separate documents were combined into the final form we have today by a Redactor (R) after Babylonian Captivity, around 400 B.C. Wellhausen said that the first chapter of Genesis, the six days of creation, was written by P, the Priestly Author, and chapters two and three, the story of Adam and Eve, by J, the Yahwist Author. The story of the Flood (Genesis 6 to 9) is what he called a “conflated doublet,” that is two separate stories of the Flood, one by J and the other by P, were spliced together by R, the Redactor. When the early Catholic Modernists, such as Loisy and Tyrell, began to adopt this and other teachings of the higher critics, the Biblical Commission during the reign of Pope St. Pius X condemned the Documentary Theory. 6

The same year that Wellhausen published his Documentary Theory, 1876, an English epigrapher, George Smith, published his translation of a Babylonian creation myth, which began Enuma elish, “when on high.” In 1895, Herman Gunkel, a former pupil of Wellhausen, published his Mythical Theory, which claimed that the Priestly Author had merely purified the Enuma elish of its gross polytheism in his account of the six days of creation. This Mythical Theory was condemned by the Biblical Commission in 1909. 7

Despite these condemnations, today’s Catholic Modernists, the successors of Loisy and Tyrell, continue to hold and teach Wellhausen’s theory, and deny, among other things, that the Deluge was anthropologically and geographically universal. Here is one such among many, Ignatius Hunt, O.S.B.:

“We must insist that there were several ancient Babylonian floods of a serious nature; that one of these floods was described in especially hyperbolized language; that the description took on cosmic and universal aspects even though the flood so described was actually local — though serious; and that this is the Flood spoken of in the Bible. This means, coming down to concrete terms, that the biblical Flood neither covered the entire earth nor did it blot out all men.” 8

And here is another, Alfred Läpple:

“The final redactor of the Flood narrative (Gen.6:11-9:17) proceeded quite differently. He could have followed the method of the Creation account if he had wanted to, for the same two traditions contained flood stories. However, he used the different, somewhat unusual method of inserting and alternating verses from the two traditions, frequently joining a verse from the Jahwist account with a verse from the Priestly version. Perhaps, one can conclude from this procedure that the biblical writer took special pains with the tradition of the Flood and that he was especially fond of this story.” 9

Just for a little comic relief let me give Läpple’s presentation of Wellhausen’s reconstruction of the two original sources. This is what is called a “conflated doublet.” It is read across:

Jahwist Tradition

Priestly Tradition

6:5-8 6:9-22
7:1-5 7:6
7:7-8a 7:8b
7:9-10 7:11
7:12 7:13-16a
7:16b 7:17a
7:17b 7:18-21
7:22-23 7:24
8:2b-3a 8:1-2a
8:13b 8:13a
8:20-22 8:15-19

You can see from the above, that Wellhausen thinks that the redactor switched from one document to another, sometimes right in the middle of a verse. This seems highly unlikely, to put it mildly. Fortunately, many orthodox Catholic exegetes have convincingly rebutted Wellhausen’s interpretation of the Flood story in some detail. Among them is Monsignor Joseph Steinmueller, who writes:

“(c) The number of doublets or repetitions in the historical sections has been greatly exaggerated by the higher critics. Most of these doublets are to be regarded as distinct facts or separate incidents. The conflated doublets, especially the story of the Deluge, are products of a high imagination. The careful comparison of the Biblical Deluge with the account of Berosus [a Greek historian] or the cuneiform text of the Gilgamesh Epic, which no scholar divides into various Babylonian sources, makes the Wellhausen Theory very unlikely.” 10

Unfortunately, Monsignor Steinmueller and others who strongly upheld the Mosaic authenticity of the Flood story, and its anthropological universality, were completely ineffectual in preventing the complete Modernist takeover of our Catholic colleges and seminaries. Nor did a handful of conservative Catholic exegetes upset in any way the Secular Humanist Establishment. But what did upset them are the more numerous and more militant Protestant creationists, especially a book which must be considered a classic in its field, The Genesis Flood, by John C. Whitcomb and Henry Morris. This excellent book upholds the inerrancy of the Bible, the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch, the historicity and universality of the Flood (both anthropologically and geographically); while it convincingly shows the absurdities of the uniformitarian model of the geologic column and the utter reasonableness of the catastrophic model. Let me give just one citation from this work:

“The uniformitarian geologists of the nineteenth century, rejecting the Biblical testimony of deterioration and catastrophe and all the geological implications thereof and accepting instead the philosophy of evolutionary naturalism, built their system of historical geology upon a foundation of sand. The result, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, is what Dr. Robin S. Allen called “the present deplorable state of our discipline,” a pseudoscience composed (as the geologists Rastall, Spieker, et al have themselves pointed out) of a patchwork of circular reasoning, Procrustean interpretations, pure speculation and dogmatic authoritarianism — a system purporting to expound the entire evolutionary history of the earth and its inhabitants, yet all the while filled with innumerable gaps and contradictions.” 11

But what especially bothers the Humanist Establishment is the militancy of these Protestant creationists. It is true that the Humanists were able to defeat them in a series of court battles, where they fought for equal time in the public schools, but many local school boards have remained extremely sympathetic to their cause, and when it comes time for the selection of books, they pass over any which are promoting evolutionism exclusively. This makes the book publishers, worried about their profits, leery of publishing such texts. For example, George Gaylord Simpson’s successor at Harvard, Stephen Jay Gould (they seem to like three names) writes: “No arm of the industry is as cowardly and conservative as the publishers of public school texts — markets of millions are not so easily ignored.” 12

This has infuriated the Humanists to such an extent that they have assigned one of the Catholic hangers-on of their Establishment, Fr. James W. Skehan, S.J., a geologist at Boston College (my own alma mater ) to attack the creationists in general and Dr. Henry Morris in particular. Father Skehan obligingly produced a 30-page pamphlet entitled “Modern Science and the Book of Genesis,” which was published by a humanist organization, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The introduction was written by one of the Humanists, Dr. Albert Bally, Professor of Geology at Rice University:

“In recent years, I have watched with dismay and amazement as `scientific creationists’ have succeeded in holding up the teaching of some major advances in geological science.We scientists have made little attempt to meet the creationists on their own ground, that is on the nature of the book of Genesis as a cultural document. Jim Skehan is an outstanding Earth scientist and a theologian. As scientists we ought to be secure in our own sphere, but as humanists we ought to try to understand at least something about the religious aspect of human understanding. A theologian’s answer to some of the fundamentalist misconceptions of science is long overdue.” 13

Father Skehan begins with an attack on Dr. Henry Morris:

“Among evangelical Christians there is a range of widely held theories relating the interpretation of Genesis to the findings of modern science. Of these, only fiat creationism, which adopts the Ussher-Lightfoot chronology described on page 18, rejects evolution entirely. Fiat creationism, the most rigid of them all, is the specific programmatic fundamentalism upheld by Henry Morris, its contemporary champion. Morris scathingly denounces the other, more liberal positions fundamentalists have developed, including the Gap Theory, which suggests that billions of years may have occurred between Genesis I:1 and Genesis I:2, and the Day-Age Theory, which interprets the biblical days of creation as geological epochs. Morris objects to efforts by liberal fundamentalists to harmonize the Biblical chronology with geological time because he believes that such accommodation is inevitably followed by acceptance of the evolutionary system.

“These pages will summarize the basis for the position of the majority, that it is perfectly reasonable in the twentieth century to accept both scripture and science. Like many others, I accept the Bible as a guide to my relationship with God, and I accept science as a guide to the origins of the Universe, the Earth, and humankind.” 14

I am sure that the Humanists must have been disappointed in this pamphlet, because it is so old hat that it could easily have been written by Loisy or Tyrell at the beginning of the century. But they got what they wanted — a priest to do their dirty work for them. Father Skehan begins predictably with the Documentary Theory of Wellhausen, and once disposing of the Mosaic authorship of Genesis and hence implicitly, of its inerrancy and historicity, he writes: “Genesis is a cherished literary and religious document which was shaped by human authors using the data available to them in their time,” 15 mainly the Babylonian creation myth, Enuma elish.

He then presents with great authority the very wobbly uniformitarian model of the geologic column, without mentioning any of the many problems associated with this model as pointed out by creationists, and completely ignoring the catastrophic model. He concludes:


“The Genesis narrative, therefore, and the conclusions of science as to the age and origin of the Earth, and of life, including human life, belong to two interactive but distinct aspects of human understanding. Genesis should be interpreted as saying very little, if anything, of relevance today about the age and mode of origin of the Earth and living things. This is a proper subject only for geological and other scientific research, using methods that have been devised relatively recently. The creation story is an anthropomorphic reconstruction cast into a framework of six working days and one sabbath day rest. It is a prelude to religious history. Its purpose was not to convince the people of Israel that this was how things actually happened — much less to convince modern people. The ancient Hebrews were perhaps better aware than most of us today that the basic creation story was modeled on the well-known Babylonian myth of creation, which the authors of Genesis, after first excluding some unacceptable assumptions, followed topic by topic. However, the Genesis story emphasized those religious aspects of creation that distinguished Israel from her neighbors, especially those among whom she lived during the Babylonian exile. If we were to misrepresent the Bible as a scientific presentation, rather than as a theological document of Judeo-Christian religious history, we would do a great disservice to religion. Religious persons have no reason to fear the results of scientific research, since these results cannot contradict authentic religious experience. It is important for both religious persons and scientists (by no means exclusive categories) to be clear about the difference between science and theology. Confusion on the part of creationists, politicians, and the general public bodes ill not only for the quality of science education but also for the good name of religion among thinking people. Some of us have tended to feel superior to those whose truncated educations and benighted attitudes led to the dark ages of a few centuries ago. Let me suggest that our educational systems may very well be on the threshold of a new and even gloomier Dark Age in the 20th and 21st centuries, unless the anti-intellectualism and confused thinking creationists produce is overcome.” 16

The heading “Two Kinds of Knowledge” lets us know that this is an exercise in one of the central Modernist dogmas, the “Two-Truth Theory.” This error was first proposed by Siger of Brabant , the great enemy of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris. Gilbert K. Chesterton in his marvelous St. Thomas Aquinas writes:

“There was Siger, the sophist from Brabant, who learned all his Aristotelianism from the Arabs; and had an ingenious theory about how an Arabian agnostic could also be a Christian…. Siger of Brabant said this: the Church must be right theologically, but she can be wrong scientifically. There are two truths; the truth of the natural world, which contradicts the supernatural world. While we are being naturalists, we can suppose that Christianity is all nonsense; but then, when we remember that we are Christians, we must admit that Chritianity is true even if it is nonsense. In other words, Siger of Brabant split the human head in two, like the blow in an old legend of battle; and declared that a man has two minds, with one of which he must entirely believe and with the other may utterly disbelieve…

“So, in his last battle and for the first time, he [St. Thomas] fought as with a battle-ax. There is a ring in the words altogether beyond the almost impersonal patience he maintained in debate with so many enemies. `Behold our refutation of the error. It is not based on documents of faith, but on the reasons and statements of the philosophers themselves. If then anyone there be who, boastfully taking pride in his supposed wisdom, wishes to challenge what we have written, let him not do it in some corner nor before children who are powerless to decide on such difficult matters. Let him reply openly if he dare. He shall find me there confronting him, and not only my negligible self, but many another whose study is truth. We shall do battle with his errors or bring a cure to his ignorance.'” 17

Siger and his followers were condemned by the Archbishop of Paris, and on appealing to Rome, they were again condemned. Of course this does not phase the Sigers of today, and the Franciscan theologian, Fr. Peter M. Fehlner, repeats Chesterton’s analysis of the basic stance of today’s so-called “theistic evolutionists”:

“During the middle ages, those who adopted the secular stance in intellectual and religious matters, but who also wished in some way to retain their link with Catholicism, without acknowledging that such a choice precluded any such link, devised a rationalization of their position, later termed the `two-truth’ theory. To avoid choosing between flatly contradictory statements, only one of which could be true, it was stated that what might be true theologically, could simultaneously be false philosophically (or historically, or scientifically), or vice-versa. Such a position could not be acknowledged as legitimate for anyone calling himself a Catholic, for it quite obviously entails a skepticism or intellectual relativism incompatible with the Catholic view of truth, and dogma in particular, as unchanging. Between this theory and the mode of reasoning of Christian proponents of evolution attempting to reconcile the “fact” of evolution with the data recorded in Genesis there is a curious similarity. It is claimed that the facts of Genesis are true as theological symbols, a kind of code for transcendent religious truths, but false historically and scientifically. But it is just this claim concerning key data of Genesis that the Church has consistently denied throughout her history. They are not symbolically but literally true. To be included among the data so interpreted are both facts and essences (e.g., human nature). On this point, many thorough evolutionists have always concurred. Consistency does not permit the synthesis represented by what is today termed `theistic evolution.’ One must choose between the dogma of creation or all-embracing evolutionary perspective as the starting point for any discussion and resolution of the questions of cosmic and human origins.” 18

Father Skehan’s pamphlet concludes with a position statement by NSTA, the National Science Teachers Association:

“NSTA recognizes that only certain tenets are appropriate to science education. Specific guidelines must be followed to determine what does belong in science education. NSTA endorses the following tenets: I. Respect the right of any person to learn the history and content of all systems and to decide what can contribute to an individual understanding of our universe and our place in it. II. In explaining natural phenomena, science instruction should only include those theories that can properly be called science. III. To ascertain whether a particular theory is properly in the realm of science education, apply the criteria stated above, i.e., (1) the theory can explain what has been observed, (2) the theory can predict that which has not yet been observed, (3) the theory can be tested by further experimentation and be modified as new data are acquired. IV. Oppose any action that attempts to legislate, mandate, or coerce the inclusion in the body of science education, including textbooks, of any tenets which cannot meet the above stated criteria.” 19

I will come back to this NSTA position statement after we examine Guy Berthault’s exciting new demonstrations. With that little background, let us go on now to Berthault’s laboratory experiments. He begins:

“Rock strata appear as layers of rocks, one layer upon another, like several carpets spread out on top of each other. If the layers were really built up in this manner, then the top layer would be younger than the bottom layer. Stratification joints were attributed to the hardening of the upper layer during a period of time when the supply of sediment was interrupted. The fossils embedded in the rock layers were generally found to be of deep-sea creatures at the bottom, then fish, followed by reptiles. This appeared to confirm the idea that the layers represented periods of time, and the progression of fossils reflected the progress of biological evolution. Only the complete absence of any intermediate forms marred this convincing interpretation of the layers of strata, or as it is known, the geological column.

“If this picture is right, and layers really are laid down one upon another, then how long does it take for each new carpet of sediment to be laid down on the sea floor? Basing his estimates on the principle that present-day very slow rates have always obtained, the solicitor Charles Lyell, in 1830, produced a geological time scale of eras, periods and stages representing the passage of hundreds of millions of years. This interpretation displaced the Flood geology and paved the way for Darwin’s ideas of evolution over vast aeons of time.” 20

Berthault then describes the two-year course of laboratory experiments which he conducted in the hydraulics laboratory of the Engineering Research Center at the State University of Colorado:

“As the water with its burden of coarse and fine sand progressed along the laboratory channel, laminated layers began to be built up. The drop in fluid velocity immediately ahead of the advancing deposit caused the coarser material to drop out first, to be overlaid by finer sand. Thus laminae built up and progressed along the channel in the direction of the flow. The laminations could be shown to be caused by variations in the current speed. The layer on the bottom was not laid down first and then followed by the next highest layer, and so on, as required by the evolutionary column. On the contrary, the laminated layers were formed upstream slightly earlier than the lowest layers downstream.” 21

Berthault concludes his paper:

“But what of the succession of fossils in such a rapidly formed geological column? As the sediments are suddenly deposited, they engulf creatures at the level at which they were living. So the succession represents the different eco-spheres, from deep sea trilobites up through fish to land based creatures, embedded at virtually the same time in a massive world-wide flood.” 22

When Berthault presented the results of his experiments at the Third National Congress of Sedimentologists held at Brest, France, in 1991, he was given a tremendous ovation by the 350 sedimentologists present, and received no adverse criticism. One remarked how refreshing it was, having listened to interpretations all week, to hear of real experimental science. I doubt if Father Skehan and the NSTA humanists would have reacted in the same way.

Let me repeat and comment on point III of the NSTA position statement: “III. To ascertain whether a particular theory is properly in the realm of a science education, apply the criteria stated above, i.e., (1) the theory can explain what has been observed.” The uniformitarian model of the geologic column has no satisfactory explanation of polystrate fossils, such as tree trunks extending through several strata, but the catastrophic model has no trouble explaining this phenomenon. “(2) The theory can predict what has not yet been observed.” The catastrophic model can predict phenomenon that would occur today in a local flood, the uniformitarian model cannot. For example, during the Bijou Creek flood in Colorado in 1965, twelve feet of laminated sediments were laid down in two days! 23 “(3) The theory can be tested by further experimentation and modified as new data are acquired.” The uniformitarian model of the geologic column cannot be tested experimentally because of the time, millions of years, it allegedly took for the column to be laid down. The catastrophic model of the geologic column has been convincingly tested experimentally by Guy Berthault. So point II of the NSTA position paper should be applied to the uniformitarian model of the geologic column. “II. In explaining natural phenomena, science instruction should only include those theories that can properly be called science.” So the uniformitarian model of the geologic column should not be taught, because it does not qualify as science, but is rather an attempt to fit science into a preconceived philosophic theory, evolutionism, and is thus by definition what is called “scientism.” On the other hand, the catastrophic model completely qualifies as true science, and therefore should be taught.

Because sedimentary rocks are found all over the world, Berthault has convincingly demonstrated the geographic universality of the Flood, and because these rocks are found on the tops of the highest mountains, the anthropological universality as well. Also, because he has shown that the geologic column was laid down quickly, not in millions of years, he has given a powerful argument for a young earth. There is nothing authoritative from the Magisterium regarding a young earth, but Catholics can confidently give the ages of creation and of the Flood as stated in the Roman Martyrology. These ages are taken from the Greek translation of the Bible known as the Septuagint, which dates from about 250 B.C. I can’t resist giving the whole entry:

The Roman Martyrology for the Twenty-Fifth Day of December

“In the year, from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine; from the flood, two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven; from the birth of Abraham, two thousand and fifteen; from Moses and the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt one thousand five hundred and ten; from the anointing of King David, one thousand and thirty-two; in the sixty-fifth week, according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the nine hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; in the year seven hundred and fifty-two from the founding of the city of Rome; in the forty-second year of the empire of Octavian Augustus, when the whole world was at peace, in the sixth age of the world, Jesus Christ, eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, desirous to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months having elapsed since His conception, is born in Bethlehem of Juda, having become Man of the Virgin Mary.”

The Roman Martyrology used to be recited every day at Prime, and on Sundays at the same hour, the Athanasian Creed was also said: “Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all keep the Catholic faith; for unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire he will undoubtedly be lost forever” (Denz. 39). After Vatican II, the Liberal / Modernist Establishment which now controls the Church abolished the Office of Prime, thus at one stroke getting rid of two thorns in their sides.

But there is more at stake in the Noachian Deluge than the historicity and inerrancy of the Bible; also involved is the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation. Throughout history, the Fathers, Doctors, and the Magisterium of the Church have used the Ark of Noah as a type of the Church of Christ. Let me give just two examples. Here is St. Thomas Aquinas:

“Two things have to be considered in this sacrament [the Eucharist], namely, the sacrament itself, and what is contained in it. Now it was stated above (A.1, Obj. 2) that the reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the Ark, which denotes the Church, according to I Peter 3:20, 21.” 24

And here is an example from the Magisterium, the Bull Unam Sanctam of Pope Boniface VIII:

“We are compelled, our faith urging us, to believe and to hold — and we do firmly believe and simply confess — that there is one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins; her Spouse proclaiming it in the canticle, “My dove, my undefiled is but one, she is the choice of her that bore her”; which represents one mystical body, of which the head is Christ, but of Christ, God.

“In this Church there is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. There was one ark of Noah, indeed at the time of the flood, symbolizing one Church; and this being finished in one cubit had, namely, one Noah as helmsman and commander. And, with the exception of this ark, all things existing upon the earth were, as we read, destroyed.” 25

If the Flood had not been geographically and anthropologically universal, the Ark of Noah would not be a true type of the Church of Christ. It is interesting to note that liberal theologians and Modernist exegetes deny the universality of the Flood and the absolute necessity of the Church in the same way. We have seen Ignatius Hunt, for instance, flatly deny the geographical and anthropological universality of the Flood. “This means, coming down to concrete terms, that the biblical Flood neither covered the entire earth nor did it blot out all men.” And here is Abbot Jerome Theisen, O.S.B., speaking in the same way about the Church of Christ:

“The adage [outside the Church no salvation] as formulated by Cyprian is erroneous, and, if taken literally today, is heretical. What is involved here is a classical example of a formula, badly conceived in the beginning, misunderstood through the ages, and today heretical in its obvious and literal sense. Little wonder that theologians have expended much energy in clarifying and/or explaining away this axiom and that much ill will is generated by its use.” 26

And there are those Modernist exegetes who say that people were saved outside the ark but through Noah. Here again is Alfred Läpple:

“Johannes Schilderberger has already answered the question, why those men were saved who were not caught up in the flood. `The people who remained alive outside the ark in areas not reached by the flood are also indebted to Noe for their lives. They, like Noe’s relatives in the ark, were saved because of his justice, not their own.'” 27

And here is the liberal theologian Fr. Francis Sullivan, S.J., using the same ploy with regard to the Church of Christ:

“…Perhaps even more striking is the optimism which characterizes the approach of Vatican II to the question of salvation for the great majority of people in the world who have neither faith nor baptism. We have tried to show that this optimism does not mean that the church has no role to play in the salvation of those who will never be her members on earth. Not only are they related to the church by the grace which the Holy Spirit offers to them, but the church is also the sign and instrument of their salvation. The necessity of the church for salvation of humanity, which the axiom “No salvation outside the church” expressed in so negative and misleading a way, is the same truth that has received positive and profound theological expression in Vatican II’s presentation of the church as the “universal sacrament of salvation.” 28

Lex orandi est lex credendi , “the law of praying is the law of believing,” and the Church uses the Ark of Noah during the liturgy for the week of Sexagesima in preparation for the season of Lent. Here is Dom Prosper Guéranger, O.S.B., in his marvelous The Liturgical Year , one of the books that made the Little Flower, St. Therese, being read aloud in her home every evening by her parents. Here is Dom Guéranger’s reading for the Friday of Sexagesima Week:

“God chastises the world by the deluge; but He is faithful to the promise made to our first parents, that the head of the serpent should be crushed. The human race has to be preserved, therefore, until the time shall come for the fulfillment of this promise. The Ark gives shelter to the just Noah, and to his family. The angry waters reach even to the tops of the highest mountains; but the frail yet safe vessel rides peacefully on the waves. When the day fixed by God shall come, they that dwell in this Ark shall once more tread the earth, purified as it then will be; and God will say to them, as heretofore to our first parents: `Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth.’

“Mankind, then, owes safety to the Ark. O saving Ark, that was planned by God Himself, and didst sail unhurt amidst the universal wreck! But if we can thus bless the contemptible wood, how fervently should we love that other Ark, of which Noah’s was but the figure, and which for eighteen hundred years, has been saving and bringing men to their God! How fervently should we bless that Church, the bride of our Jesus, out of which there is no salvation, and in which we find that truth which delivers us from error and doubt, that grace which purifies the heart, and that food which nourishes the soul, and fits her for immortality!” 29

After the Flood, when the Ark had landed safely on the mountains of Armenia, God said to Noah:

“Behold I will establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you: And with every living soul that is with you, as well in all birds as in cattle and beasts of the earth, that are come forth out of the ark, and in all the beasts of the earth. I will establish my covenant with you, and all flesh shall be no more destroyed with the waters of a flood, neither shall there be from henceforth a flood to waste the earth. And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I give between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you for perpetual generations. I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth. And when I shall cover the sky with clouds; And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and remember the everlasting covenant, that was made between God and every living soul of all flesh which is upon the earth” (Genesis 9:8-16).

The Franciscan Father Canice summarizes the tradition that sees both the Ark of Noah and the rainbow as types of Our Lady:

The Ark of Noe was made ready long beforehand. It was built of incorruptible wood: it bore within it the hope of the human race: it alone survived when everything was engulfed beneath the waters. Mary, too, was prepared long beforehand by God. Her body and soul were of the purest fashioning. In her womb she bore the Hope of the Earth. Alone she escaped the sin that had ravaged all others. Only those who seek refuge in her are saved.

The rainbow in the heavens reflects all the colors of the sun, and was given by God as a sign of the alliance between Him and men. Mary reflects in her soul all the perfections of the Sun of Justice: She is the sign of reconciliation between Heaven and earth.” 30

Let me conclude with Dom Guéranger’s beautiful apostrophe to Our Lady, his reading for the Saturday in Sexagesima week:

“The deluge, brought on by our sins, is hurrying its vengeance against mankind; and we, O Mary! are resolved to seek our refuge in the Ark of the Church, the safe shelter created for us by thy Jesus. But we presume to pray to thee for our brethren throughout the world. Our God has given thee a power to stay His anger, and to win for guilty mortals an extension of mercy: show this power now, for our world is provoking its Master to destroy it. If the flood-gate of His just indignation burst upon the face of our earth, millions of souls that have been redeemed by the Blood of thy divine Son would be lost eternally. If the sweet dove of peace bring her olive-branch only when that terrible justice is appeased, it would be too late for thy loving heart. Come before the deluge, O beautiful rainbow of our Father’s reconciliation. The love of a Mother, who is the very Queen of mercy, emboldens us to sue for universal mercy. Can the prayer of her, in whose purity and innocence the very God of holiness finds no blemish, be denied? Pray Him, then, to pardon us and all sinners!”. 31

1 Daylight: Creation Science for Catholics , edited by Anthony L.G. Nevard B.Sc., 19 Francis Avenue, St. Albans, Herts AL3 6BL, England.

2 J.W.G. Johnson, The Crumbling Theory of Evolution, Queensland Binding Service, Brisbane, Australia, 1982, p. 54.

3 Johnson, Op. cit., p. 55; Bulletin American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Vol. 40, August 1956; quoted in The Genesis Flood by John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry Morris, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1976, pp. 209, 210.

4 Gerard J. Keane, Creation Rediscovered , Credis Pty Ltd, P. O. Box 451, Doncaster Vic 3108, Australia, 1991, p. 142.

5 George Gaylord Simpson, This View of Life: The World of an Evolutionist , Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, 1964, p. 6.

6 On the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch. The Biblical Commission answers the following questions:

Authenticity — Whether the arguments amassed by the critics to impugn the Mosaic authenticity of the sacred books designated by the name of Pentateuch are of sufficient weight, not withstanding the very many evidences to the contrary contained in both Testaments, taken collectively, the persistent agreement of the Jewish people, the constant tradition of the Church, the inter
nal arguments derived from the text itself to justify the statement that these books have not Moses for their author but have been compiled from sources for the most part posterior to the time of Moses.

Answer: In the negative.

Pontifical Biblical Commission, A.S.S., 39 (1906) 377; cf. Rome and the Study of Scripture, Abbey Press, St. Meinrad, IN, 1964, pp. 118, 122.

7 A.S.S., (1909) 567-569, ibid. , pp. 122, 123.

8 Ignatius Hunt, O.S.B., Understanding the Bible, Sheed and Ward, NY, 1962, p. 74. Father Hunt has since left the Benedictines and the Catholic Church, and returned to the Anglican communion from which he came.

9 Alfred Läpple, Key Problems of Genesis, Deus Books, Paulist Press, Glen Rock, NJ, 1967, p. 98, 99.

10 John E. Steinmueller and Kathryn Sullivan, R.S.C.J., “The Pentateuch,” Catholic Biblical Encyclopedia, Old Testament, Joseph F. Wagner, NY, 1956, p. 838.

11 John C. Whitcomb Jr. and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1961, p. 212.

12 Stephen Jay Gould, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, W. W. Norton and Co., New York, 1983, p. 282.

13 James W. Skehan, S.J., Modern Science and the Book of Genesis , National Science Teachers Association, Washington, D.C., 1986, p. 6.

14 Skehan, Op. cit ., p. 9.

15 Skehan, p. 14.

16 Skehan, pp. 27, 28.

17 G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas , Sheed and Ward, New York, 1933, pp. 95, 96, 104, 105.

18 Peter M. Fehlner, F.F.I., In the Beginning — The Church’s Teaching on the Origin of Man, Christ to the World, (published in three parts in this journal, Nos. 1, 2 and 3), No. 2, Rome, 1988, p. 18.

19 Skehan, p. 30.

20 Guy Berthault, The Laying Down Of Marine Sediments— A Revolutionary New Perspective, Daylight, Number 11, May 1994, Anthony L.G. Nevard, editor, 19 Francis Avenue, St. Albans, Herts, AL3 6BL, England, FY pp. 6, 7.

21 Berthault, Op. cit., p. 10.

22 Berthault, pp. 10, 11.

23 Cf. Berthault, p. 7. A video film entitled Evolution, Fact or Belief? includes close-up sequences of these formations and features Guy Berthault. It also features interviews which Peter Wilders held with a number of European Professors, including Maciej Giertych, who declared that in their own field of specialty, evolution theory was nonsense. The video can be purchased in the UK from C & V Productions, 48 Cambridge Road, Gillingham, Kent, ME8 OJE, and, in France, from M. Peter Wilders, ACVS, 42 Bd. d’Italie Monaco. And also from Daylight @ £18 inc. p&h.

24 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica , Pars III, Q. 73, a. 3.

25 Denzinger 870 (old edition: 468). This Bull ends with the famous de fide definita definition: “Indeed we declare, say, pronounce, and define that it is altogether necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Denz. 875; old edition: 469).

26 Abbot Jerome Theisen, O.S.B., The Ultimate Church and the Promise of Salvation , St. John’s University Press, Collegeville, MN, 1976, p. xii.

27 Läpple, Op. cit., pp. 103, 104.

28 Fr. Francis Sullivan, S.J., Salvation Outside the Church? Paulist Press, NY, 1992, pp. 160, 161.

29 Dom Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year , translated from the French by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B., Septuagesima , The Newman Press, Westminster, MD, 1951, p. 170.

30 Father Canice, O.F.M.Cap., Mary, A Study of the Mother of God, M.H. Gill and Son Ltd., Dublin, 1962, pp. 21, 22.

31 Guéranger, Op. cit. , p. 175.