On this day, 28 October, 6.018 years ago, the Universe was officially opened by God (the Christian one).
In 17th century, a bishop named James Ussher stated that God started his creation on the 22 October evening of 4004 BC; as He, despite of being omnipotent, needed six days to finish the job, the awaited (during an eternity) opening happened on the 28 morning, if I’m not wrong. It sounds bizarre to talk about evening when there wasn’t any sun, but never mind.
The title of Ussher work is ‘Annales Veteris Testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti, una cum rerum Asiaticarum et Aegyptiacarum chronico, a temporis historici principio usque ad Maccabaicorum initia producto’ (“Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world, the chronicle of Asiatic and Egyptian matters together produced from the beginning of historical time up to the beginnings of Maccabes”). A bizarre title, as the content, but in 17th century this kind of titles summarizing the whole work was more common.
Nowadays it’s known that the Universe is 13.500-14.000 billion years old. But science never has been an impediment for dogmas, and the so named Creationists continue choosing to believe what they were taught: the universe is just a few thousands years old and evolution is a lie. The most liberal of them accept until 10.000 years old, but no more.
Saint Augustine, Commentary on Genesis
But not always Christians were like our contemporary Creationists. Maybe they should read Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), who wrote three commentaries on Genesis. In the third one, ‘The Literal Meaning of Genesis’, he wrote something that sounds quite heretic for modern Creationists.
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.
Saint Augustine admits that infidels know things even not having read the Bible. This is science. And what happen when science contradicts a literal interpretation of the Bible?
Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.
Augustine was worried about how these ignorant people were discrediting the Holy Scripture, as we see in the next paragraph:
The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?
Crystal-clear, isn’t it? What would Saint Augustine say about Creationists if he were alive today?
Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books.
Yes, I know, Saint Augustine wasn’t talking about Creationists, but I think his statement could well be applied to them, when they claim that universe is just a few thousands years old and evolution is a lie. Really in that age there wasn’t debate between evolution and creation.
But it would be a mistake to think that nobody thought on evolution until Darwin. Darwin was the first one finding, explaining and proving the natural selection as driving force of evolution, but it’s known that even Ancient Greeks had speculated on it. And Saint Augustine mentioned evolution as well, in a way that Creationists don’t like. Matter for a next post.