Augustine warns the Faithful of Sounding Foolish to Non-Christians

“Saint Augustine, one of the most influential theologians of the Catholic Church, suggested that the Biblical text should not be interpreted literally if it contradicts what we know from science and our God-given reason. From an important passage on his “The Literal Interpretation of Genesis” (early fifth century, AD), St. Augustine wrote”:

“It not infrequently happens that something about the earth,
about the sky, about other elements of this world,
about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars,
about definite eclipses of the sun and moon,
about the passage of years and seasons,
about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones,
and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian.”

“It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters…”

“…and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he [the non-Christian] might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are.”

“In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.”

Footnote: The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1:19–20, Book 1, Chapt. 19,
by Augustine, circa 408 CE.


St. Augustine’s warning sounds amazingly modern, but unfortunately it doesn’t apply to Christians with scientific credentials preaching pseudo-science to Christians with no background in science.

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Quite right.

But it does explain why so few Creationists quote these explanations by three of our greatest Christian thinkers!

Pre-modern Readings of Genesis 1, Part 2
By Sujin Pak (guest author)
October 10, 2012

“Aquinas wrote that a kind of primitive light was created on that first day that was then adorned on the fourth day with the sun, moon, and stars.”

"Similarly, Luther insisted that, “the crude light of the first day was perfected by the addition of new creatures on the 4th day—the sun, moon and stars.”

"Calvin used this mystery as a point of instruction about God’s sovereignty: that God in God’s sovereignty can impart to us light without the sun and moon and stars . . . "

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