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Fr. Barron comments on Misreading Genesis
I loved your point about the dethroning of created idols. Very clever. I have a question though: If we are not to read of Adam as literal, how do we understand original sin? Is that a mystery we accept on faith?
3/3/2011 6:14:17 PM
Fr. Carl Zoucha
Another way of saying it: The Bible is spiritually true for our salvation. Genesis is not meant to be read as a scientific or historical book. Some say the Bible false because Genesis and other parts do not follow modern science. As Fr. Bob says, 'What is it's purpose?' It is spiritually true for our salvation.
3/3/2011 9:30:45 PM
Here's hoping the simplicity and humility of your message and your insight is heard and respected. Sometimes, I fear those who oppose religion, and Christianity in particular, merely claim that Genesis is bad science in order to score points. I fear that they truly do not believe what they are saying. I hope your understanding of their viewpoint is correct and that I am just being cynical.
3/3/2011 9:51:11 PM
Fr Jim Tucker
If we are not to read Adam as a literal person, but only a theological construct, then as we read St Paul's description of Jesus as the "New Adam", then Jesus becomes a theological construct.
Yet, Jesus is God incarnate, God in the flesh, very much a real person. So, St. Paul's comparison brings out the fact that sin - sin which is very real in our lives even today - sin comes into the world through the choice of a real person Adam, so that redemption - a very real necessity for our lives even today - redemption comes through a real person: Jesus the Christ.
3/4/2011 10:01:08 AM
According to Pius XII in Humani Generis, Adam and Eve are the literal parents of the Human Race: "For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents." This is definitely a scientific statement. Does science bear this out? Yes, human DNA is human DNA. We are literally all related. Even though Genesis is not science, it does make a scientific statement here because of Original Sin. If we are not descended from only two parents who sinned, then some of us do not have Original Sin, when we are born, and this is in direct contradiction to a principal dogma of the Church.
3/4/2011 11:39:29 AM
What is Original Sin? Is it a thing or hereditary pattern that the scientific method can validate? Why do we have to say that Original Sin is some thing science can positively affirm? Original Sin is a theological truth. Science cannot positively deny this claim. Science studies entities within time and space. If sin is a lack and not a being, science has no access to it. However, that does not deny the truth of Original Sin.
3/4/2011 1:13:21 PM
I really enjoyed this piece. However, I have the same concerns regarding the treatment of Adam and Eve, who are listed in the Roman Martyrology as "Edenites." I would love to hear Fr. Barron expound more on this subject and clarify the confusion.
3/4/2011 2:07:49 PM
Fr. Barron, you assert in your video blog that Genesis' assertion regarding all the species of the earth coming into existence as once is not "science" but theology. I would question wether in fact, that assertion is made within Genesis.
Who are we to interpret that our arbitrary interval of human time of 24 hours represents the same for the eternal God, creator of all that is seen and unseen, as the "first day."
Who is to say that evolution didn't continue to occur as a part of, during and after "creation"? Genesis is silent about this. That doesn't mean Genesis can't encompass it. As I type, we have countless species differentiating themselves in the canopy of the Amazon, it's a process that is certainly underway this moment of creation.
Is light a wave or is it a particle -- or is it both? Even our finite science informs us that infact there is a duality to light. So my coffee cup has a frequency associated with it. And light from a laser makes a noise when it hits paper. The duality is real in the world of science. Yet that truth encompasses just a fraction of the Truth of our existence.
Yet it appears that you would assert that in a universe of matter and energy, where matter has a frequency as much as light has a frequency, we ought turn and dictate a singular view of "science?" Furthermore you assert a singular view of the Truth of Genesis as limited and being separate from "science."
Stephan Hawking can spin forth a universe of universes and it's considered "good" theoretical science. But Genesis gets relegated to theological poetry, mysticism, spirituality? Who are we to limit Genesis to "poetry" because of our finite human "science."
Fr. Barron, I'm a huge fan of yours. You're a singularly brilliant individual. I would encourage you to experience a couple courses in graduate level mathematics (specifically real analysis) as well as some quantum physics. You'll learn that you can meansure infinities up against each other and that there are infinities that are so large that you can put an infinite number of other infinities within them. This is just mathematics, a game of language, logic and puzzles. Compared to the Truth of Genesis, the truth of that mathematics(as subtle and as advanced as it may be) is little more than the dust under our shoes.
Further I would suggest that Genesis does infact contain an event of cataclysmic destruction and renewal in the flood. So I would suggest that both the theology and the science of Genesis are in fact far deeper than you give credit.
3/4/2011 2:44:39 PM
I too would like to encourage you, Father Barron, to go into more detail on the question of original sin. For many Catholics who feel they must read Genesis as at least semi-historical this is a major issue. If you could explain original sin with reference o Adam and Eve as literary/mythological figures rather than strictly historical ones that would be very helpful.
3/4/2011 7:31:42 PM
michael jaffray king
Now I am able much better than ever before to understand the Book of Genesis. Not Science but a beautiful mystical explanation how God brought His entire creation into being, not by force but by the purest form of Love.
This is the example that we are to follow... Lord help us!!
Thanks so much to our invaluable Coach and Trainer, Father Bob.
We pray for you and your Evangelistic and Teaching efforts so desperately needed by our Holy Mother Church.
3/5/2011 1:28:08 AM
It is not known whether Original Sin is carried is the genetic structure. The remark about DNA is that we all have similar DNA and are related. Adam and Eve must be real people because they somehow pass Original Sin to us. It is scientific because the Pope was trying to counter the argument that there were many Adams and Eves (polygenism). Aubrey's comment is pertinent. Even though Genesis is mainly allegorical, science is contained within it at a deeper level. After all God is the author of Scripture. He wrote with both meanings. There can be no contradiction.
3/5/2011 9:49:15 AM
When Gov.Huckabbe was asked, "creation or evolution" he said that he "didn't care wether it took Him 7 days or 7 billion years. I'm just awed and grateful that He did".
3/5/2011 10:43:22 AM
Fr. Barron - I am loving this website and your videos! I sent an article of yours to my brother, an atheist, on this very topic. A point he brought up that I would like to be able to answer was this: if God so non-violently spoke the universe into creation, why do the authors of Genesis 6 go on to describe God's violent act of the flood? How do we reconcile that? I realize that the flood story was used because the people of that time knew of the myth, but to what end - what are we supposed to learn from this grand story?
3/10/2011 12:44:45 PM
Robert Callinos quote above of Humani Generis seems to get ignored in these discussions. Humani Generis ALLOWS for the study of evolution, then Catholics run with that and think it has been dogmatized. Catholics seem more worried about what atheists think about them than what conservative evangelicals think. The language is moderated and made palateable for Richard Dawkins types, but not for our seperated brothers who are turned off utterly by our gullibility on science issues.
Father Barron, I love your work (I am a new convert from conservative Reformed Christianity) but you need to be more careful with how you explain this issue. It can easily sound as if you are "spiritualizing" everything out of recognizable shape. (I know you want to be percieved that way)
Humani Generis has solid scientific statements that need to be referenced more in you explaination of Genesis.
Bless your work Father!
3/11/2011 11:16:00 AM
Fr. Carl Zoucha said:
"Another way of saying it: The Bible is spiritually true for our salvation. Genesis is not meant to be read as a scientific or historical book. Some say the Bible false because Genesis and other parts do not follow modern science. As Fr. Bob says, 'What is it's purpose?' It is spiritually true for our salvation."
"not a historical book." "spiritually true."
This will not do. There is a sort of dualism in you comment as if something can be spiritually true and otherwise... not true? Genesis is true. Period. As far as history, read the geneologies in Genesis, to say that is not meant as history streaches belief. We need to stay with the premise "Genesis is true!" THEN we can nuance things and say there may not have been a literal TREE or SNAKE. But that there is a ORIGINAL SIN and a DEVIL. Tossing out wooden literalism is one thing, tossing out even historical elements that are presented as such in favor of a "spiritual truth" is a backward approach that looks weak to an atheist, and looks like the Jesus seminar to other Christian sects. Be carefull how much you impress all the atheists with your arguments for spiritual truth, they might just fall in love with the "spiritual" Jesus who didnt really rise from the dead and perform miracles and isnt REALLY present in the Eucharist.
Replace the book of 'Genesis' in the above quote from father with the book of 'Matthew'. Now in your head say "We believe in one God..." etc. Would you make that statement about the book of Matthew in light of the Creed father Zoucha? If not, then do not use the word "bible" when you say things are merely spiritually true.
Far more care is needed with your language on this topic.
3/11/2011 11:42:15 AM
Thank you Father Barron - that was a wonderful, uplifting explanation - God Bless you for sharing this. I appreciate your time in creating these timely videos on the Word on Fire Website - so interesting and enlightening, our family & friends look forward to your topical & thought provoking updates. Keep up the good work.
3/18/2011 2:51:44 AM
Ok, Adam and Eve have two sons. One son kills the other and they went on to populate the planet?
3/20/2011 1:30:17 PM
Fr. Barron you always make things much clearer. I would like to point out (which I also wrote on your FB page). According to Bible, Adam received direct instructions as to NOT eating the fruit from the tree in garden BEFORE even Eve was created. Therefore, it makes sense that Adam told Eve about the fruit and Adam would have told her not even to look at tree/fruit. Why? Because if God had created the tree and then tell Eve NOT even to look at it. This means Adam messed up w/the instructions. As Eve was most likely relating what she was told was God's words. We must stress that Adam was older and much wiser as he had direct conversations with the Lord. It looks like the Bible has placed women to take blame for the Fall - and it wa Man who was created firt, given instructions, and choose to not follow these.
3/22/2011 1:40:10 PM
Fr. Barron you always make things much clearer. I would like to point out (which I also wrote on your FB page). According to Bible, Adam received direct instructions as to NOT eating the fruit from the tree in garden BEFORE even Eve was created. Therefore, it makes sense that Adam had told Eve about the fruit and that Adam would have told her "not even to look at tree/fruit". Why? Because if God had created the tree, He would not then tell Eve not even to LOOK at it. This means Adam messed up w/the instructions. As Eve was most likely relating what she was told by Adam as "God's words". We must stress that Adam was older and much wiser as he had direct conversations with the Lord. It looks like the Bible has placed women to take blame for the Fall - and it was Man who was created firt, given direct instructions, and choose to not follow these.
3/23/2011 10:59:59 AM
Read Ezekiel 31. It says that one of the trees in the Garden of Eden is the Pharoah.
4/5/2011 7:04:34 PM
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