What Does the Church Teach about Noah’s Ark?



Dear Catholic Exchange:

My daughter's 6th grade catechist told the class that the Noah's Ark story of the Bible is a “myth.” What is the Catholic belief? I watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel that showed part of what they thought was the Ark. The teacher told her it couldn't be true, because he couldn't have built that big of a boat in those days; it would've taken too long.

Thanks for your response.

Christine Seel

Dear Christine:

The Church has no dogmatic views one way or another. Huge floods were common in ancient Mesopotamia, so the Noah story could well have a basis in fact (see, for instance, the colossal flood) in antiquity.

Nor is the problem of a “world-destroying” flood so problematic if humanity was confined to a fairly small geographical area.

Bottom line: We don't know enough to make very many confident proclamations about how much of the Noah story is to be taken as “scientific fact,” particularly since the author of Genesis had no interest in writing science.

Mark Shea

Senior Content Editor

Catholic Exchange




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  • truthseeker

    Why doesn’t the Catholich church believe Jesus Christ Himself, as well as Peter (the founder of the church) when they BOTH referenced Noah and the flood!!!!!!!!!!  Have you ever read Luke 17:26-27?  It is from Jesus’ own mouth that Noah and the flood were real.  I Peter 3:20 references the flood and Noah.  There is also a reference in Hebrews.  What is wrong is that the church keeps flip-flopping on the topic rather than taking God and Jesus’ word for it.  How frustrating!

  • Editor

    Hello truthseeker, 

    I think you have misunderstood Mr. Shea’s response. The Catholic Church does not deny the reality of the event, but there has been no official attempt to define the specifics, as in: was this really an earth-encompassing flood, or just a local flood? Was it really all of humanity that was wiped out, or just the group with whom the author was familiar? These are important questions, but they are next-to-impossible to answer since the event in question is lost in the mists of time. I would say the “take-away” remains the same, though: once, a long time ago, it became necessary for God to apply divine justice to an extremely sinful human population, and Jesus assures his listeners that something similar will occur in the future (possibly referring to the destruction of Jerusalem), and also that there is always a faithful remnant (like Noah and his family) that survives because they trust in the Lord. That is in line with the consistent position of the Catholic Church, and the only “flip-flopping” has been by errant, individual modern theologians eager to interpret every article of faith as a “myth”!
     I hope that clear things up a bit. God bless.

  • truthseeker

    I suggest you all read “The Genesis Flood” book written by Drs John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris.  They research this in depth from not only a theological perspective, but a scientific (geological) perspective.  This was written back in the late 1950s and its premises still hold true today – in fact the Institute for Creation Research just released the 50th anniversary edition of it a couple of years ago.  This treatise shows that the flood was a global catastrophic disaster as the Bible claims and it also resulted in the geological layers creating the fossil record we have today (hence no need to even consider evolution and the millions of years evolutionists say it took for life to emerge and form).  The Bible from begining to end is the inspired, inerrant word of God and if the church doesn’t believe that, then the church has a big problem.  If it doesn’t believe the Bible, including Genesis, then the rest of the faith has no foundation. 

  • Editor

    Out of curiosity, when do Drs. Whitcomb and Morris say that the Flood took place?

  • truthseeker

    I’ll have to go back and review those sections on the timing but as a quick response, the authors conclude the flood could not have happened prior to 10,000 BC.  They researched not only Biblical records, but also actually incorporated study of pagan histories that also talk about the flood (Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic flood tradition).  They also estimated the feasability of the development of the post-flood civilizations (post-Babel).  The book is more like a theological and geological dissertation (almost 500-in depth pages).  It even discusses the feasability of how animals were redistributed around the globe post-flood.

  • truthseeker

    The authors conclude that the flood occurred from about 3,000 to 5,000 years before Abraham.  They discuss a detailed review of dating the timing of Abraham, Tower of Babel, geneology in Gen 11 to include known gaps, etc.  This review is actually in a 15-page Appendix and not in the main chapters of the book.  They also discuss rationale as to why this time frame cannot be stretched further into 10′s of thousands of years up to some proposing a 100,000 years. 

  • Editor

    O.K. so, since the best estimates I know of put Abraham very roughly about 2000 BC, that means the Flood would have taken place between 5000 and 7000 BC, according to your book. But in that time frame we know there were neolithic and higher cultures in Egypt and western Asia, with no evidence that their development was interrupted by a flood. I think Whitcomb and Morris have run into the old problem of deciding that they believe something (“everything in the Bible is literally true”) and then doing everything possible to make their research fit that belief. 

  • truthseeker

    They talk about the date of Abraham being born in 2167, so yes, close to 2000 BC.  The book discusses some of these ancient civilization claims to include statements that Native Americans were on the North American continent by 10,000 BC.  They show how this claim is notr likely true.  They show how even some historical civilizations (e.g., Assyrians) record the existence of some of the Biblical ancestors during their “ancient” time when that Biblical person was not alive 10,000+ BC.   What happens is that people believe these civilizations rather than God’s word.  And yes, these are just 2 men and their estimate may be a bit off, but they provide evidence on how it probably isn’t 1000s of years off.  And even if they are, they show how the flood was world-wide so if it did happen to be earlier, it still happened world-wide.  Once again, men choose to believe men over God which is what happens when they accept evolution over instantaneous creation as well.  I suggest you read the book in its entirety to see all of the details they go through.  Some of it can get a bit dry when they discuss geology and rock layers, but it all comes together to show that man is fallible and God’s word holds true.  I found an article that discusses the church’s position on evolution (or lack of a position??) and I thought it made an interesting statement on how reason and faith must be consistent.  The problem is man’s reasoning can be flawed and when we accept flawed reasoning over faith, we have believed in man over God.  Evolution is a belief system and not one shred of it has ever been proven as truth yet the church allows the acceptance of belieivng God used evolution in the creation process when clearly Genesis shows instant creation over 7 days.  God told Moses what to write in the book of Genesis just as He told him what to write for the 10 commandments.  It isn’t just oral history handed down that got distorted over time.  I know Catholics who don’t even believe the flood happened at all even when Jesus himself references it and I think it’s a shame that there are Catholic teachers out there teaching that when it doesn’t seem to really be the church’s position if I understand you correctly.  It’s a shame that catholic high schools teach evolution without also teaching creation science.  If I am allowed to mention it, The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is a great resource and is an organization of true scientists (PhDs in every associtated field and MDs) that hold to God’s word and show that science truly supports God’s word and not man’s stories.

  • Editor

    Hello truthseeker, I’m starting a new reply thread because our original one was about to get too skinny to read. I certainly appreciate your desire for and love of authentic Christian teaching, but it’s ironic to me how, on one hand, you very much want (and rightfully so) to avoid giving the teachings of mere men priority over the word of God, and yet you have handed the keys of the kingdom to Whitcomb and Morris. You’re careful to point out that their estimates “might be a bit off”, and yet you count any view that goes against their specific interpretation of Scripture as something directly offensive to God.
    And, by the way, while there is no doubt there are plenty of Catholics out there presenting false teachings, they have no monopoly on that. Non-Catholics Christians are running wild teaching things that are contrary to Scripture and to the teachings of Christ. The question you have to ask, if you’re a seeker of truth, is: who decides what is the authentic teaching of Christ? The answer is that Christ gave that very authority to the Catholic Church. She has never formally taught error, and never will; she will always do the job that gave her, which is to bring salvation to souls, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. If you’re looking for truth–you’ve found it! I invite you to take the next step and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you home to the Catholic Church.

  • Editor

    Started a new reply thread–see up top!

  • truthseeker

    Which is why I mention they are just 2 men, and I do not say they are 100% infallible, but they are at least defending the worldwide flood as the Bible says it was through scientific and analytical means that make more reason than the postulates of those who aren’t believers being considered as possible by the church, causing the church to shrug its shoulders and not have a definite stand on whether it was or was not a worldwide flood.  The church is allowing its teachers to follow ideas that are a discrepancy to the Bible rather than defending the Bible.  And Jesus/God did not grant sole authority to the Catholic church to win souls to Christ, but to all Christians regardless of their “denomination” through the great commission.  The holy catholic church became the Roman Catholic Church and has had a myriad of its own issues throughout history showing its inability to succomb to corruption.  It has of course gotten its act together for the most part other than in my mind of allowing the acceptance of evolution to creep in and to disregard the Bible’s teachings in teh area of the flood which is critical to understanding why evolution is just simply not truth.  I do like the Catholic church and attend mass each week, but have chosen not to convert to Catholicism for many doctrinal reasons I will not discuss here.  I just get very frustrated when the church doesn’t seek to defend the Bible but rather is weak about it and allows man’s finite “intellect” to overcome its teachings with other ideas.  Once you allow oneportion of the Bible to be considered not true, then the entire Bible is up for grabs and the foundation of the faith is gone.

  • truthseeker

    And I should correct my last response as “inability” should be “ability” of the church to succomb to corruption.  Also, I notice that in the response to the original question that was posted back in 2006, the response says that the writer of that portion of the Bible had no interest in writing science.  That part is completely untrue.  I was amazed at how much science there actually is in the written word, but you have to see it as a scientist.  The book I mention brings all of it to life.  It is amazing.  Just one example outside of genesis is how the reference of the flood in Psalm 104 shows the result of the flood creating mountains and valleys more extreme than they were before–this gives a lot of scientific information in what is normally considered just a poetic writing.  Genesis is filled with it–you just have to understand it and see it.   

  • truthseeker

    I suggest also you read and think on II Peter 3:3-7.  It warns that there will come a day when people will not believe in the Word, but rather their own intellect.  In verses 5-7 it specifically mentions that people will be “willingly ignorant of” the time when God had to send judgment on the earth by a flood and that the earth is reserved in store until the day of judgment (because the the covenant with Noah).  This prophecy of being a skeptic of the Word of God and more specifically the great flood has been fulfilled by the very church you say has been granted the sole the authority to provide the authentic teachings of Christ.  It really doesn’t get much sadder than that and is why the Catholic Church needs to realize its error and believe and defend in the Word of God.

  • Editor

    I think it’s wonderful that you go to Mass each week. But you needn’t worry about the Church not defending the Bible. It is the Catholic Church that assembled the Bible, decided which books were inspired and which weren’t (there were many books that some people thought should be included which weren’t), and the Church faithfully defends the Bible against false interpretations when necessary. She does that because she was given the authority to do that. Were you? If not, what gives you the right to declare the Bible a “book of science”? Certainly nowhere in the Bible does it declare itself a book of science. I think this is a matter of you showing some humility and asking the Lord to reveal to you through the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church just what the Bible is (and isn’t) instead of insisting that your own personal definitions are infallible.

  • truthseeker

    Why can’t the Bible have scientific evidence in it?  I didn’t call it a book of science but said there is science in it and scientific studies can be made from the evidence it provides.  And if the church decided what was and wasn’t inspired, then why doesn’t it believe Genesis when it says that the flood was worldwide and that God created everything in 7 days?  Now I am confused.  You indicate I am not humble, yet I am the one here who actually believes the Bible while the church seems to be the proud one in accepting man’s decision that the Bible isn’t true in some instances.  ???   And very proud to be the authority in all things it appears.  You have given me no rationale as to why the flood wasn’t worldwide and that was my initial question–what is the church’s position on the flood?  Maybe we can get back to that?  Does the church not believe it was worldwide only because of a timing issue with ancient civilizations?  So God decided to just kill people in a local area and not the Chinese?  I do not understand how that could be the church’s position when the Bible indicates clearly it was a worldwide flood to kill all but those saved in the ark.  Either the church believes the Bible that it says is inspired or it doesn’t.  So are parts of the Bible not inspired?  Then why did the church let those parts in?  The literal 7-day creation (without a God-directed ”evolution” of “day-ages”) and the flood are critical to belief in our foundation which is why it is so important to me to get a clear reading on what the church actually believes on this topic.  Without the flood, then evolutionists have a strong hold on how the fossils were formed which then erodes creation.  Without creation, then how did God create Jesus body in Mary’s womb to be the second Adam and die for our sins?  Many overlook the importance of this and the many other principles that rely on God being the creator.

  • Editor

    The Bible can and does have scientific data in it, just like it has historical data in it–but we don’t read the Bible because we’re after truths about the natural world or because we want a precise accounting of history. And, again, the Bible itself doesn’t promise any of that, anyway. Here’s an example of what the Catholic Church has always taught about the Bible: “the books of scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred scriptures. Thus ‘all scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work’ ” [the whole quote is from Dei Verbum, which also quotes 2 Tim 3:16-17]. So, the truths that God puts in the Bible have to do with our salvation, to make us holy and get us ready for heaven–whatever in the Bible that pertains to that cannot be wrong in any way. But nowhere does God promise that you can learn precise, infallible scientific data about geology or meteorology or any other science. His concern is with our souls.
    Christian thinkers have always understood this. St. Augustine wrote in the 4th century “the Spirit of God who spoke through [the sacred writers] did not wish to teach us such truths (as the inner structure of visible objects) which are of no help to salvation.” 

  • truthseeker

    The church seems to have a definite stand on 1000s of items not even discussed in the Bible as posted in all of its catechisms of which most of these things have nothing to do with salvation (i.e., it is totally against birth control), but the church can’t seem to provide a definite stand on what is clearly written in the Bible about the flood.  The flood is directly tied to God’s judgment of the human race and is therefore intrinsically linked to salvation and why we need it.  If you read the II Peter 3:3-7 reference I mentioned last night, you’d see that it is directly linked yet you seem to act as if the flood was inconsequential.  After all this discussion, I seem to be getting no answer on my original question here and apparently in your opinion the flood isn’t important but I really don’t think that is the church’s official stand–it can’t be.  I will have to move on.  I have requested a meeting with the parish pastor to try and get a more direct response.  If the church really does think the flood was unimportant, then the church has a big problem.

  • Editor

    I certainly encourage you to talk with your pastor, but I hope you aren’t going to misrepresent what I’ve written as badly as that.  It’s officially still here on the thread, but I’ll repeat it: the Church does not deny the reality of the event. But it doesn’t officially say exactly what happened in the event beyond the important essence, which is: once, a long time ago, it became necessary for God to apply divine justice to an extremely sinful human population, and Jesus assures his listeners that something similar will occur in the future (possibly referring to the destruction of Jerusalem), and also that there is always a faithful remnant (like Noah and his family) that survives because they trust in the Lord. That is in line with the consistent position of the Catholic Church.

  • Editor

    And, by the way, birth control does indeed have quite a bit to do with salvation. To misuse and abuse the sexual act is a grave moral evil–it has always been considered to be so, and it seriously jeopardizes a person’s immortal soul.

  • Theodorehyczko

    A) Jesus is the Messiah   Signs of the end of the age Matthew
    B) Jesus preached about Noah
    C) Noah happen       A=B  B=C  A=C   Christians live by faith and love
    Pope can be wrong so can Martain Luther    God knows your heart John 3:16
    2 sides of the same coin lol

  • Theodorehyczko

    The book of Revelation talks about 7 different churches    The Church of Thyatira talks about   To him who overcomes  I will give authority over the nations  He will rule them with an iron scepter  sound familar sounds like a pope
    Read about the church of Sardis talks about a church who deeds are not complete in God’s eyes sounds like Lutheran Church who believes in faith alone

    Point being  anybody who believes Jesus Christ is the Messiah  and confesses their faith will be saved

    About Noah read your Bible  Jesus preached about Him, Peter talk about him
    So the flood happen we christians live by faith

    P.S pope can be wrong , peter was wrong and corrected by paul because he was acting jewish

  • Editor

    See what you’ve done: you read the Book of Revelation, made a private interpretation that is not confirmed by Scripture or by the writings of any traditional Church authority, you drew a conclusion (“anybody who believes Jesus Christ is the Messiah and confesses their faith will be saved”) and now you offer that conclusion as definitive Church teaching. When did Jesus take the keys of the kingdom away from Peter and give them to you?
    And by the way, Paul didn’t correct Peter because “he was acting jewish,” but because Peter was waffling on his own decision that converts to the faith need not adhere to Mosaic Law, namely circumcision and dietary restrictions. Paul quite rightly reprimanded him–but both he and Peter couldn’t help but “act jewish,” since they were, of course, Jews. None of which is relevant–Catholics know full well that the Pope can be wrong. What is your point?Finally, as I explained more than once to “truthseeker,” I know the Flood “happened;” the Catholic Church doesn’t deny it. The details of that Flood are what’s in question, and those details are unknown to you and me and everybody else under the Sun. So, again, what is your point?

  • Mkgentil

    Editor, what I don’t understand is that if you can speak for the church itself, why does the church think there is not enough detail in the Bible to be able to determine the extent of the flood?  The church prides itself on having determined what the inspired Word of God is, yet then turns around and doesn’t believe what is actually written in it?  God was VERY CLEAR in Gen 7:19-20 that the flood was universal.  And so you don’t have to look it up yourself, Gen 7:19-20 states:  “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and ALL the high mountains that were under the WHOLE heaven were covered.  Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.”  What part of “ALL” and “WHOLE” does the church not understand?  God thought it important enough to document in the Bible, and the then the church dismisses it as unimportant or irrelevant.  The 15 cubits UPWARD is above the mountains, not just 15 cubits from the base of the earth.  It doesn’t take a scientist to see that this means the ENTIRE earth was flooded.  It seems to me the church has a problem–it has chosen to believe man’s word about histoprical documents and dating methods over the inspired Word of God.  And what’s worse is that the church doesn’t think it is important.  God gave us this detail for a reason.  Without knowing that the flood was universal, we wouldn’t have the proof to show how the fossil record came to be so that we can prove those atheistic evolutionists wrong.  But instead, the church chooses to actually side with the evolutionists and say that evolution could have happened, again declaring it doesn’t believe the Bible it says is inspired.  That part you have never addressed.  The Catholic church needs to choose whom it will believe, God or man.  God has been VERY CLEAR in His Word, not leaving room for a separate interpretation.  jesus, Peter and the author of Hebrews all document this as well yet the church seems to again think it unimportant and just accepts there was a flood but that they cannot determine if it was universal or not.  The words they use are universal words (Peter said the WORLD was overflowed with water, not just a local place or region).  So frustrating that the church doesn’t seem to believe the magnitude of the flood was important.

  • Truthseeker

    As a follow up, I had a meeting with our parish pastor and he said the Catholic church’s position is that Noah’s flood was a universal flood.  He said the Bible says it is so, so why would anyone, especially a Catholic, not believe that?  That was great to hear.
    So, that said, why are there so many Catholics, to include editors for the Catholic Exchange, that do not believe the Bible in this area?  It can’t possibly have to do with man saying they know what happened prior to recorded history of which we only have about 5,000 years worth, and the estimation of the flood puts it around 7,000 to 9,000 years ago.  If there is a discrepancy in what men claim without proof and what God says in the Bible, why then would a Catholic choose man’s word over God’s? 

  • catholicexchange

    I have a few follow-up remarks:

    The sad truth is that a person can find a Catholic priest who will tickle his ears with almost any false doctrine he would like. Thank goodness, the truth doesn’t reside in any one priest, but in Jesus Christ alone, and is expressed through the formal doctrines of the Catholic Church.

    I notice the pastor does not cite the Catechism or a papal encyclical or anything official in order to back up his statement–that’s because he can’t. And the Church has never read the Bible in the purely literal way that you and he are describing–she has always understood that the various writers of the books of the Bible sometimes used symbols (read Revelation, for instance!), or sometimes hyperbole (ask yourself: did Jesus literally mean, when he said “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off” that he literally wants you to chop it off after doing something sinful with it?). Based on that alone, you can see where it would be wise to at least consider the possibility that the tellers of the Noah story did not mean for us to regard every detail of the story as literal fact. Though, again, the Church has left it open to discussion–she has not said one way or the other what a Catholic must believe about whether the Flood was global or not.

    If you’re really serious about getting to the bottom of this, why not do more than just consult the same book by the same two guys you like and the same isolated pastor (who I can assure you, based on what you’ve said about him, that he is not giving you the full scope of Catholic teaching on this subject), and read “Theology and Sanity” (Ignatius Press) by Frank Sheed or “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” (Charis Press) by Dr. Scott Hahn (a Catholic convert from Protestantism). I’m guessing that once you start reading Hahn, in particular, you’ll be hooked!

    By the way, “catholicexchange” and “editor” is the same guy–me. My name’s Dan.

  • catholicexchange

    Sorry, I missed this one, but I did reply to your most recent one (which is above). Here’s a brief reply to this one though: 

    The book of Genesis also tells us in Ch.1 that God, when making the world, made a dome, “and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.”But there is no dome in the sky with water floating on top of it. Yet, according to the narrow limits you put on Scripture, we must believe there is. Do you believe there is? If not, what are we to make of this Scripture passage?

    In fact, we know that this flawed understanding of the sky and how rain came down belongs to the ancient Hebrews’ limited, flawed understanding of the world–and God had no problem allowing the writers to write that in! That’s because he wasn’t so much concerned that his people be experts in meteorology, geology, or anything else. He wanted them to be bearers of the truth that sets men’s souls free.

  • catholicexchange

    By the way, I just posted a reply to a comment by you that I missed from about a month ago. Check that out and let me know what you think.

  • Truthseeker

    False doctrine?  You are calling the Bible false doctrine?  I think our conversation here will end after this because you clearly do not believe the Bible.  Why should the pastor have to cite a Cathecism to support his belief when it is in the BIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That is the problem I have found with some Catholics, they believe in the decisions of men over God.  As if the Catechisms are the inspired word of God.  They are not.  they are decisions made by fallible popes/priests that can be wrong.  Jesus came to free us from the law, yet Catholics have seemed to create more laws that in some cases have no other basis other than a pope wanted to make it so.  And it seems you will cite anyone who contradicts the very words of God, yet when I provide BIBLE verse responses to your words, you say I am wrong and spouting false doctrine???  And to your other question about the dome of water, the “dome” of wator vapor was present pre-flood.  This water vapor did cover the earth–it is what kept the earth at a moderate temperature around the globe.  If you understood science, you would know that wator vapor is actually very light and that with this canopy of water vapor, the suns warmth would be spread evenly around the globe, creating a moderate, tropical temperature.  God released this water vapor to flood the earth as well as bringing up water from the depths (as is cited in the Bible, but I won’t provide the reference, you wouldn’t believe it anyway).  Since God released the wator canopy, it is no longer there now which is why the earth has climate differences depending on geographic location.  Post-flood, without the wator vapor canopy (waters above the firmament), the suns rays were not deflected top spread uniformly across the earth so the polar ice caps were formed and it was the start of the ice age after the flood until a more stable climate formed through the seasons.  See, the Bible can be used to provide scientific evidence.  Just because you as a theologian say it isn’t a science book, doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain scientific information we can use to determine what happened.  And we can compare what we have learned to what the Bible says to DEFEND the BIBLE!  But, you apparently don’t see the need to actually defend the Bible, but support men who disagree with the Bible.  Since you do not believe the Bible and have more faith in your own intellect, then I will never convince you of that and our conversation here is ended.

  • LandGmom

    On 3 occasions (one being here) I have read/heard Catholic members comment that the Bible is not a scientific book but a religious, theological book and shouldn’t be used for scientific purposes.  That thought is utterly ridiculous and counter to the truth God has given us in His Word.  Why can’t it be both?  Science is only truth if it matches and supports the Bible which is truth.  The Bible is the source of truth and contains a lot of scientific information for scientists to use.  Science must be Bible-based and clearly must never contradict the Bible–if it contradicts, then it is not truth.  The following simple clip supports that very concept.  http://vimeopro.com/icr/thats-a-fact/video/34689424

  • catholicexchange

    You’ve set up a false dichotomy. I never said the Bible can’t be both. There is, in fact, all kinds of reliable scientific, historical and cultural data to be found in the Bible. What I’ve insisted on is that the Bible is not primarily a science book, or a history book, etc. It is primarily a book authored by God by way of various divinely inspired human authors for the purposes of communicating to us the truths of our salvation. That’s how the Catholic Church defines it.The Church also teaches, as you say, that the truths of our salvation can never contradict reason (it often transcends reason, but it can never contradict it, for the same reason you’ve suggested: truth cannot contradict truth). But as soon as you attempt to make the Bible an infallible science book, you immediately run into all kinds of irreconcilable problems. The passages in Genesis about the sky being a solid dome, for instance–and your attempt to defend it doesn’t work at all. The ancient  Hebrew writers had no access to any of the information you mention, since there was no such field as empirical science then, as we understand it. You’re imposing the facts we’ve learned through science upon them. But they didn’t see it that way. They wrote into Genesis their perception of things: that the sky is a solid dome with little windows that open up to let in water. When you bend over backwards to try and show that the writers were authoritative scientists, the text itself proves you wrong. Plus, the whole effort makes Christianity seem kind of silly and dissuades people from converting to the faith. 

    The consistent teaching of the Church is that the Bible is not meant to be an Infallible Science Book. God wants us to be knowledgeable about the material world, surely, but he’s primarily concerned with saving our souls. That’s why he gave us the Bible.By the way, you sound like you’ve come dangerously close to turning the Bible into a false idol–the Bible itself is not God. I love the Bible, but I adore Christ alone–that’s what a Christian does.

  • LandGmom

    So the Bible is not infallible? It either is true or it is not regardless of the discipline of study it under which it is being viewed. The Bible is God’s Word but you say it is ancient Hebrew writers who didn’t know how to write things correctly. So you are saying that God didn’t tell Moses how to write it correctly, therefore, it could not be considered inspired and infallible under your explanation. You are saying it is man’s attempt at trying to capture what they think happened without direction from God. Therefore, you contradict yourself. Either the Bible is true in every discipline it can be applied to, or it is not true. You say it isn’t true for science. That makes it not true then. You can’t have it both ways. Also, the Bible does not say there was a solid dome. It says there was waters which were above the firmament which is perfectly capable of being explained in a scientific way.

  • catholicexchange

    You are putting a lot of words into my mouth. Look, you are perfectly free to call the Bible anything you want, but you seemed interested in Catholic teaching on the subject and that’s what I’m trying to relate.

    The Catholic Church (without which there would be no Bible) proclaims that the Bible teaches truth “without error”–but not truths about science, geology, etc. Those things God does not guarantee–he let the human authors he inspired describe the material world as they knew it, however limited their knowledge. The truth that the Bible teaches “without error” is “that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.” (Dei Verbum, a church document). The truth about our salvation is what’s guaranteed in the Bible, not truths about the material universe.So, for instance, St. Augustine never wrote “wow! I’m so glad for the book of Genesis because now we know exactly how, step by step and scientifically, God created the universe.” But he wrote extensively about the truth contained in the creation story, truth about our relationship to God and the meaning of existence. That’s what’s important about Genesis, don’t you agree?

    I can sympathize with you, because the Catholic view definitely requires more subtlety–it’s more complex. That’s how truth is. But if you pray about it, and reflect on it, I think you’ll see that to insist that we can rely on the Bible to teach us infallible scientific truths will only lead to heartbreak. The Bible simply wasn’t designed by God to do that.

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