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 Post subject: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:31 am 
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My daughter is asking questions about how old the earth is, about "time" in the Creation story, etc. She claims her science teacher (a Protestant) said that the world is only 1,500 years old! (Obviously, he didn't say that!) She wants to know what we Catholics believe about the age of the world, about Adam and Eve, about dinosaurs, etc. Would the Ignatius Catholic Bible Study: The Book of Genesis answer those questions? Could anyone recommend any other good resources? My daughter is 14-years-old.


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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:56 am 
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The teacher must be a creationist and believes the world is about 4500 years old. Something like that I forget the number. Maybe it is 4500 B.C.

My thought is that the Bible doesn't exactly specify, so the creationists are wrong, the figures given are more literary than literal, meaning that some of the terms used vaguely define time. For instance the word "day" could just mean a phase of creation where God created certain aspects of the universe.

I am totally cool with the generally accepted figure of 14 billion years.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:47 am 
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Bombadil wrote:
The teacher must be a creationist and believes the world is about 4500 years old. Something like that I forget the number. Maybe it is 4500 B.C.

.



Most creationists follow the chronology of Archbishop James Usher, a 17th century Anglican bishop who placed the date and time of creation at 6 PM on October 23, 4004 BC. This date is based on the Old Testament genealogies.

There are a number of problems with Usher's chronology though.

The first and most obvious one is that a 'day' is defined as the amount of time it takes the Earth to do one full rotation on its axis with respect to the sun. But the sun wasn't even created until the fourth day, so how were the first three days computed? This fact, which was an obvious flaw even to the author of Genesis, can only mean that the 'days' of creation are symbolic and not literal 24 hour periods.

The second problem is that the genealogies in the Old Testament may not be complete. There are several examples even in the Bible itself, which show that it was not unusual to skip generations, sometimes many generations, in the genealogy.

In Matthew's genealogy of Christ, he skips several generations for the sake of maintaining a pattern of 14 generations. 14 was a symbolic number for Matthew because the name 'David' adds up to 14, so Matthew deliberately manipulates the genealogy in his gospel by skipping generations so that he can say there were 14 of them, and use this as a way of showing that Jesus was the Son of David, i.e. the Messiah.

The example of Matthew's genealogy shows that one cannot simply take the Old Testament genealogies 100% ultra-literally because as far as we know, the authors of the Old Testament genealogies may have had similar reasons to skip a few generations here and there, reasons which no one alive today can remember but which were probably clear to the first generation of readers.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:49 am 
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Here's something interesting, scientific and explanatory ...

https://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/12740 ... =slideshow

It only takes about 10 minutes to go through slide show but it's worth the time. You may not use it for your daughter but it is right down the scientific alley her teacher has ascribed to, and makes perfectly wonderful sense in both a scientific and biblical way.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:01 am 
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The short answer is that the Church doesn't have a definitive position about the age of the earth. She does, however, definitively teach that sin entered the world through the choice of our original parents. The exact mechanism by which this happened (and exactly when it happened) is not specified. There is no harm in being a young earth creationist and a Catholic, and I suppose it's the simplest position to take. But when Protestants sat that the only way to take the Scripture seriously is to be a young earther, they're just wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:04 pm 
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gherkin wrote:
. There is no harm in being a young earth creationist and a Catholic


Well, except for the numerous logical and theological problems inherent in that position.

The biggest problem, I would argue, is that Young Earth creationism is derived from a fundamentalist method of reading and interpreting the Bible and trying to import that kind of reasoning into the Catholic Church is going to cause huge problems in the long run, and is likely to lead Catholics who adopt this way of reading the scriptures right out the Church and into a fundamentalist church.

To overstate and oversimplify the issue a bit, it all comes down to a question of hermeneutics. Protestants and Catholics do not have the same way of reading scripture. This is why a Protestant can say that Catholic doctrines like purgatory, apostolic succession, Transubstantiation or prayers to the saints are 'unbiblical' but Catholics look at it and say 'what are you talking about, these doctrines couldn't be more obvious, have you even read the Bible?' The problem isn't that either side is ignorant of the contents of the Bible, the problem is that we don't read the Bible in the same way.

The real difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is not over any of the issues that people think of as central. The difference is not over the doctrine of justification, or the doctrine of election, or the doctrine of the Eucharist, or the doctrine of the sacraments in general. All of these things are merely symptoms of a much more fundamental disagreement over the issue of how to read and interpret the Bible.

Again, to oversimplify a bit, Catholic hermeneutics has always emphasized allegorical and typological readings of the scriptures, and Protestants think that allegory and typology are a complete load of crap and emphasize the supposed 'plain meaning' as the only real way to read the scriptures. This is all tied together with a hostility towards Scholasticism, and a hostility towards philosophy in general, as well as a tendency by the first generation of Protestants to embrace nominalism.

This is why, historically, the Catholic Church rejected the historical-critical method, which she regarded as rationalistic and un-Catholic, and is why Catholic Biblical scholarship tended to be in a world all its own, never interacting with non-Catholic scholarship in a meaningful way. This all changed when the Second Vatican Council gave tepid support to a limited use of the historical-critical method in Biblical scholarship, and Catholic scholars like Raymond Brown took that ball and ran with it and Catholic Biblical scholarship became indistinguishable from the scholarship of liberal Protestant denominations. Catholic Biblical scholarship has become more Protestant than the Protestants.

Now, in the 21st century, things are a little different. It is now becoming common to see evangelical scholars emphasize the use of allegory and typology to interpret the Bible. This is especially true among evangelicals who specialize in apologetics and focus their apologetics on responding to atheist critics of the Bible.

In attempting to respond to atheist attacks on the Bible, many evangelical scholars are coming to see that the traditional Protestant principles of hermeneutics are badly flawed, and that, indeed, the atheist attacks on the Bible actually rely on the traditional Protestant principles of hermeneutics, and so they need to abandon those principles entirely to respond to those attacks, and they are responding with an increased emphasis on allegory and typology. These evangelical scholars probably don't even realize it, but what they are doing is undoing the work of the Reformers, rejecting traditional Protestant readings of the Bible and replacing them with Catholic readings.

There is also within evangelicalism, a growing desire to study St. Thomas and the medieval scholastics and a growing awareness that the Reformers were wrong to reject scholasticism. Some evangelical seminaries today actually offer classes in Aristotle! So, much of contemporary evangelical Biblical scholarship is becoming more Catholic than the Catholics, and I don't think most of them are even aware of this fact.

These two things, a growing interest in St. Thomas, and a growing appreciation for allegory and typology in Biblical interpretation, if they continue, are going to lead many evangelicals to the Catholic Church.

So, to summarize, Young Earth Creationism comes from Biblical hermeneutical principles that are inherently anti-Catholic, and any attempt to bring that kind of hermeneutics into the Catholic Church is going to have huge problems.

So, no, I don't agree that there is no harm in a Catholic being a Young Earth Creationist, I think we need to nip that thing in the bud.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:16 pm 
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That's an opinion you are certainly free to hold as a Catholic, just as other Catholics are free to hold young earth creationism. The "no harm" in my post was intended to convey what I think is clear contextually--that the Church doesn't bind one dogmatically to reject the view. And many, many Catholics--by far the vast majority, really--throughout the life of the Church have held views that would today be classified as young earth. I don't, myself, and largely because human reason appears to suggest it's not the truth.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:21 pm 
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One of the other things to keep in mind is that Genesis 1 & 2 weren't teaching science. It's largely a poetic description. When it says that God created light, and then separated the light from the dark, is, by St. Augustine's commentary, which in turn is based on ancient Jewish tracts, referring to the creation of the angels, which are often described as beings of light. Separating the light from the dark is a description of the casting out of the disobedient angels. Not everything can or should be taken on face value. It is after all intended to stand in contrast to the other accounts of creation in the pagan world which portrayed the 'gods' as arbitrary.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:30 pm 
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Essential Sacrifice wrote:
Here's something interesting, scientific and explanatory ...

https://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/12740 ... =slideshow

It only takes about 10 minutes to go through slide show but it's worth the time. You may not use it for your daughter but it is right down the scientific alley her teacher has ascribed to, and makes perfectly wonderful sense in both a scientific and biblical way.


The one thing I don't understand about this is: "If we assume the universe expands at a roughly constant rate..."

Why make that assumption? What is the logic behind that? To tell you the truth, it has always been my understanding that the expansion of the universe has been slowing, and that it is not constant. :scratch:

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:34 pm 
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The latest is that astronomers think it's expanding more quickly over time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerat ... e_universe

Since they can't explain why, they invoke the usual "dark something" explanation.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:35 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Since they can't explain why, they invoke the usual "dark something" explanation.


Like the nuns saying, "It's a mystery"? :)

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:41 pm 
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The earth is about 4.5 billion years old, probably. There are some assumptions in that dating, specifically about the formation of the early solar system and the formation of the moon. But just the dating of rocks found on earth goes back to 4.03 billion years and if our knowledge of the formation of the planet and formation of crust is at all close, we need another 300 mil for the earth to have cooled enough for these mineral formations and rocks to have formed.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:50 pm 
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anawim wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Since they can't explain why, they invoke the usual "dark something" explanation.


Like the nuns saying, "It's a mystery"? :)


:) :arrow: :)

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:48 pm 
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anawim wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Since they can't explain why they invoke the usual "dark something" explanation.


Like the nuns saying, "It's a mystery"? :)


No, it is nothing like that. 'Dark Matter' research is a huge area of research in physics right now, and it is not at all an attempt to waive our hands and say 'it's a mystery, we can't explain it.'

Dark Matter is something which, if it truly exists, can be detected, measured, tested etc. It is fully scientific, and the existence of Dark Matter is falsifiable, meaning that it is hypothetically possible that the theory might one day be disproved. In fact, proving whether or not Dark Matter exists, and if so, what exactly Dark Matter is, is one of the four or five biggest questions in physics right now, and millions, if not billions, of dollars, are spent annually on attempts to answer it.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:28 pm 
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I think it is the name itself, dark matter, that causes much of the confusion.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:56 pm 
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I think it would be better to say that dark matter and dark energy are hypotheses that might be proved rather than disproved. Right now the only evidence for them is very indirect--they are the easiest way to make equations match observation.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:15 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I think it would be better to say that dark matter and dark energy are hypotheses that might be proved rather than disproved. Right now the only evidence for them is very indirect--they are the easiest way to make equations match observation.



The way I have had it explained to me is something like this:

There needs to be some kind of explanation for why the equations work. That the equations do work is not really in dispute. But the problem is that based on what we know, there is no reason why the equations should work because the amount of matter that can be measured isn't enough to make the equations work.

Therefore, there must be something out there which we cannot yet detect which would explain why the equations work. This missing 'stuff' that is needed to balance the equations is what is called by the vague term 'Dark Matter', no one really knows what 'Dark Matter' is, but if its existence cannot be proved, then something is seriously wrong with modern cosmology and the standard model is going to have to be completely scrapped at some point and physicists will have to start over from scratch. No one wants to do that.

It is kind of like this: we have the equation x +4 = 6, this would imply that x =2, but we search, search, search, and we can't find any evidence that x = 2, we can only find x=1. Therefore, we have to assume that somewhere out there is another '1' that we just haven't found yet, but which will make the equation work. This is the argument for Dark Matter.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:16 pm 
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Bombadil wrote:
I think it is the name itself, dark matter, that causes much of the confusion.


Dark Matter just means 'we don't know what it is', it is 'dark' to us because we know nothing about it.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:55 pm 
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Modern cosmology has plenty more cracks than just dark matter/energy, which is why I'm not so confident that they're what's actually causing the observed behavior.

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 Post subject: Re: How old is the world?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:45 am 
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Doom wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I think it would be better to say that dark matter and dark energy are hypotheses that might be proved rather than disproved. Right now the only evidence for them is very indirect--they are the easiest way to make equations match observation.



The way I have had it explained to me is something like this:

There needs to be some kind of explanation for why the equations work. That the equations do work is not really in dispute. But the problem is that based on what we know, there is no reason why the equations should work because the amount of matter that can be measured isn't enough to make the equations work.

Therefore, there must be something out there which we cannot yet detect which would explain why the equations work. This missing 'stuff' that is needed to balance the equations is what is called by the vague term 'Dark Matter', no one really knows what 'Dark Matter' is,


Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:11) ;)

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