Religion and science were two opposing forces during the Age of Enlightenment. In the eyes of scientists, religion was perceived as a dogma that was old and inaccurate. At the same time, religious practitioners viewed scientists as ungodly men. Today, however, the Catholic view of creation and scientific evidence accord with each other. This paper discusses the notion of creation in the context of both science and Catholicism.
The central belief about creation in Christianity is Creatio ex Nihilo, which means “creation from nothing” (Anderson and Bockmuehl 2). God, in His volitional act, functions as the Creator who created all things from non-existence. According to Christianity, God transferred everything from non-existence to the state of being (“Views on Creation”). At the same time, God also acts as the primary motivation for the existence of the world. It is believed that God was not obliged to create the universe; He was not conditioned by any internal necessity (“Views on Creation”). It was His free choice, a gift of God because of the abundance of love.
The creation process is described in the first three chapters of the first book of the Bible – the Book of Genesis. The interpretation of biblical texts on creation is not only a specific theological issue but is also directly related to the scientific and social realities of the modern world. The way biblical narratives are perceived has a significant influence on both the understanding of religious followers about creation and their attitude to modern science.
In particular, perception influences what people think about the achievements of evolutionary science, as well as various social processes related to this subject. In Catholicism, the opening chapters of Genesis are not perceived as an explicit description of the process of creation but are seen to be an allegory (Mitchell 73). The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis, acknowledged the theory of evolution and the Big Bang, and, at the same time, clarified that God is not a wizard with a magic wand (Mitchell 73). The Pope emphasized that scientific theories of the origin and development of life do not contradict the teachings of the church.
From a scientific point of view, evolution is a central aspect of creation. Usually, this term is associated with Darwin’s theory of biological evolution (Morris 17). However, as many scientists claim, the creation and change process that encompasses stars, planets, and galaxies is also an evolution (Morris 15). Edwin Hubble, a prominent American astronomer, discovered that stars and other objects in distant space are moving away from the Earth in every direction (Morris 18). This discovery implied that the universe is expanding in all directions. Furthermore, it also means that, at some point in history, the universe was a single entity, until it started growing. These findings led to the formulation of the Bing Bang theory.
Currently, this theory is the primary explanation of how the universe began. Scientists were even able to estimate the age of the universe – according to researchers, the Big Bang occurred 14 billion years ago (Morris 18). Before the explosion, the world was a singularity – a dense and hot point existing in oblivion. It is not yet possible to perceive what nothingness is, and it is not possible to determine what caused the explosion and how the laws of physics were created. Thus, science, too, opens doors for learning about creation from theological studies.
How the Views Work Together
Science does not deny the existence of God – at some points, it even necessitates His presence. For instance, a popular argument in natural philosophy, a cosmological argument, says that causation cannot be infinite, and there should be a single point from which all beings, events, and objects were caused. God fits excellently into this context and serves as the ultimate beginning of all creation. The Catholic view of creation does not deny the scientific discoveries and urges that the Bible should be studied alongside science. In scientific terms, it would mean that the Big Bang was caused by God and evolution of all objects in the universe is also governed by God.
Theologists and scientists often disagree about the evolutionary theory. While the theologists say that the human being did not come from apes, Darwinists claim otherwise. However, the dynamic nature of God’s creations is described in the Bible – “As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field” (The Bible, Psalm 103:15-16). Therefore, it can be concluded that science and Christian beliefs meet at many points and should move in parallel (Wall 32). Science can be used to provide a more accurate interpretation of biblical narratives.
Creation is described in the Book of Genesis, and many perceive the narrative as a literary depiction of how the world was formed. Scientists, on the other hand, explain the universe origins by the Big Bang theory. Catholics believe that that scientific explanation does not contradict with the biblical narratives because the texts should be perceived as an allegory. Science, too, does not deny the existence of God; therefore, science and religion can complement each other in explaining how the universe began.
Anderson, Gary A., and Markus Bockmuehl, editors. Creation Ex Nihilo: Origins, Development, Contemporary Challenges. University of Notre Dame Press, 2017.
Mitchell, Donald. “Catholic Theology of Creation: Nature’s Value and Relation to Humankind.” Journal of Dialogue and Culture, vol. 4, no. 2, 2015, pp. 70-74.
Morris, James A. “A Biologist’s View of Creation.” Open Journal of Philosophy, vol. 9, no. 1, 2018, pp. 15-34.
The Bible. New International Version, Biblica, 2011.
“Views on Creation.” BBC, 2020. Web.
Wall, Timothy. “Is Creation Complete? A Critique of Continuing Creation.” Challenging Religious Issues, vol. 15, no. 1, 2019, pp. 29-34.