I have long been a theistic evolutionist (and an avid reader of this fine site!). Though I have had anxieties about whether my theology was too liberal, whether I was compromising in it, I was comfortable in my understanding, reveling in our 15 billion year old cosmic temple of a universe.
Then, on or around the twenty-third of July this year, I received what I am inclined to believe was a locution from God that said, with respect to the Genesis narrative, “It’s literal. I’ve since read St. Teresa De Jésus and St. John of the Cross on this topic (that is, locutions). In that spirit, I’ve determined with some certainty that it carried power and authority, I’ve been essentially unable to forget it, it doesn’t conform to what I want to hear. As far as knowing a tree by its fruit, it’s increased my humility and made me more charitable to holders of other views on origins, but that’s about it, I’ve been fretting for months
Now, please understand that I do not intend to boast when I say I have a rich inner life and a near-continuous, multi-track, inner monologue. My experience silenced all of that for the remainder of the evening, I cannot tell if that was desolation or if I am just unaccustomed to peace after being lead astray by fancies and speculations for so long. Further, I cannot see what Satan would have to gain from deceiving me thusly, or why I would have imagined this.
I have since tried to find an understanding of the text that can be called literal while still being harmonious with the fossil record and such. I’ve told myself that since only the Hebrew autograph was inspired, yomin could be long ages, or they could be intermittent. However, I think (largely) in English and the message was communicated to me in English, so days are likely days. I’ve reimmersed myself in John Walton’s Functional Ontology view, but I’m becoming acquainted with its difficulties. I am also aware of St. Augustine’s delightfully idiosyncratic interpretation of the literal sense, but I fear I’m just trying to find an out.
I have recently become aware of more modern criteria for determining the veracity of locutions and other such experiences, which disallow those not in conformity with natural science, this is some comfort, but I cannot help but wonder if it is the result of elevating fallible human reason above the Word.
On the level of the intellect, I remain unpersuaded by Young-Earth Arguments and am reasonably certain on philological grounds that a literal reading of the text is untenable (see the pillars of the earth, the raqia, etc). However, the thing about our faith is that can be contrary to the intellect, a current in Christian thought from St. Paul. to Tertullian, to the Muggletonians.
This dovetails nicely into the next part of my question, having to do with the mystics and visionaries of the Church, how do you reconcile non-YEC models with what they saw?
For instance, St. Hildegard,
By His word God commanded that the waters bring forth reptiles and birds with a living soul, like blossoms that sprout from the branches of trees. In the beginning God created the creatures, then He let them come forth from others. For He foresaw what would be necessary for survival for the entire order of creation . . . God created only two of each species of creatures, one male and one female, which were already fertile in seed and later became scattered and reproduced across the earth. Of the trees and herbs He didn’t make two of each species, but several of a kind across the entire earth.
According to St. Hildegard’s visions, as in the Mosaic account in Genesis, fiat creation of the various creatures culminated with the creation of Adam and Eve as the king and queen of the universe.
When God created Adam, divine radiance surrounded the clay substance of which he was formed. That way this lump of clay appeared on the outside as an outline of its parts, after its shape had been given to it, but inside it was hollow. Then, from the same mass of clay God created inside of the figure the heart, the liver, the lung, the stomach, the intestines, and the brain, as well as the eyes and the tongue together with all the remaining organs . . . When he awoke afterward he was a prophet of heavenly things, knowledgeable of all powers of the creature and of all arts . . . God gave over to him all creatures, that he might make them his own by his manly power because he knew of them and about them. For man represents all creatures, and the breath of life, which never ceases to live, is in him.
Ven. Maria Agréda
Having seen God in this vision She was immediately shown the works on the sixth day of the creation of the world. She witnessed, as if She Herself had been present, how at the command of the Lord the earth brought forth the living beings according to their kinds as Moses says (Gen 1, 24). Holy Scripture here refers to the terrestrial animals, which being more perfect than the fishes and birds in life and activity, are called by a name signifying the more important part of their nature. She saw and understood all the kinds and species of animals, which were created on this sixth day, and by what name they were called; some, beasts of burden, because they serve and assist man, others, wild beasts, as being more fierce and untamed; others, reptiles, because they do not raise themselves or very little from the earth. She knew and comprehended the qualities of all of them; their fury, their strength, the useful purposes which they serve, and all their distinctions and singularities. Over all these She was invested with dominion and they were commanded to obey Her. She could without opposition on their part have trodden upon asps and basilisks, for all would have meekly borne her heel.
Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich
saw Adam in Paradise among the plants and flowers, and not far from the fountain that played in its center. He was awaking, as if from sleep. Although his person was more like to flesh than to spirit, yet he was dazzlingly white. He wondered at nothing, nor was he astonished at his own existence. He went around among the trees and animals, as if he were used to them all, like a man inspecting his fields.
Near the tree by the water arose a hill. On it I saw Adam reclining on his left side, his left hand under his cheek. God sent a deep sleep on him and he was rapt in vision. Then from his right side, from the same place in which the side of Jesus was opened by the lance, God drew Eve. I saw her small and delicate. But she quickly increased in size until full-grown. She was exquisitely beautiful. Were it not for the Fall, all would be born in the same way, in tranquil slumber. The hill opened, and at Adam’s side arose a crystalline rock, formed apparently of precious stones. At Eve’s, lay a white valley covered with something like a fine white pollen.
When Eve had been formed, I saw that God gave something, or allowed something to flow upon Adam. It was as if there streamed from the Godhead, apparently in human form, currents of light from forehead, mouth, breast, and hands. They united into a globe of light, which entered Adam’s right side whence Eve had been taken. Adam alone received it. It was the germ of God’s blessing, which was threefold . . .
[Adam and Eve] were like two unspeakably noble and beautiful children, perfectly luminous, and clothed with beams of light as with a veil. From Adam’s mouth I saw issuing a broad stream of glittering light, and upon his forehead an expression of great majesty. Around his mouth played a sunbeam, but there was none around Eve’s. I saw Adam’s heart very much the same as in the men of the present day, but his breast was surrounded by rays of light. In the middle of his heart, I saw a sparkling halo of glory. In it was a tiny figure as if holding something in its hand. I think it symbolized the Third Person of the Godhead.
She also problematizes OEC by having Jesus speak specifically to the age of the earth (as does this fellow: https://youtu.be/H0V6qIHw7ak)
I have somewhat rationalized this by saying, as a Jew aware of Rabbinic tradition, Jesus would have reckoned the Creation days apart from the Anno Mundi calendar, but I wonder if I’m being stubborn in not allowing His words their full force
I’m aware of Jesuit rules for interpreting visions as recreations of the events they depict, as they are inconsistent with each other and historically inaccurate (compare their descriptions of the Crucifixion to the bones of that unfortunate fellow Yehohanan). However, I’m hard-pressed to imagine God allowing something as important as dominical teachings on Creation to be subject to variance
These visions used to be of little consequence to me, but it’s different when it happens to you
On a lighter note, yes, I recognize the irony inherent in the fact that my username is a character from a book that showcases the fun that can be had in a literalistic worldview.