O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. Which some promising, have erred concerning the faith. (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
In the first three-part podcast by Jimmy Akin, he decides to square off against the traditional Catholic Biblical chronology, upheld and maintained by all of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church from the time of the Apostles. He claims to be making an unbiased judgment on the case for the traditional Biblical chronology of the world, but he clearly sides with the consensus views of atheistic, modern science. Of course, he proclaims that a billions-of-years-old universe and creatures evolving into other creatures is perfectly compatible with the Catholic Faith. But does he really make his case?
Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World podcast #119 – “Does the Bible Teach We’re Living on a Young Earth?” is the first part of the three-part series. In this podcast, Jimmy states that the real argument is between those who think that the universe is billions of years old, and those who think it is thousands of years old. He admits that natural science is only provisional, but God’s Word is reliable. Based on his conclusions, you could be forgiven for thinking the opposite.
Jimmy admits that the genealogies in Genesis only add up to thousands of years, even if there might be some gaps in them. However, the days of creation are where he finds his billions of years. Although the Catholic Church has not dogmatically defined the days of creation week as 24-hours periods, almost all the ancient Jews, early Church Fathers, and Church Doctors saw it that way. St. Augustine was one of the very few who saw it differently, and he thought the universe was created in only one day. That is far short of billions of years.
Pope Leo XIII said that wherever the Church Father were unanimous on a point of Scripture, that was the true sense: “… it is permitted to no one to interpret Holy Scripture against such [true] sense or also against the unanimous agreement of the Fathers.” Since the Fathers unanimously agree that the earth and universe are only thousands of years old, you are not permitted to interpret Holy Scripture otherwise. Since they also agree that Adam and Eve were created “in the beginning” – that is, at the very beginning of the world – then it is clear that the unanimous opinion of the Fathers was that everything in the world was created only thousands of years ago.
Jimmy mentions dragons and admits that dinosaur bones found in ages past were called “dragon” bones. That point is not disputed between atheists and creationists. The argument is whether dinosaurs, called dragons in the past, were alive at the same time as humans. The story of St. George and many other stories attest that they were. That would support the short geochronology of the Bible, as do the soft tissue, proteins, red blood cells, and intact strands of DNA found in some dinosaur bones alleged to be more than 65 million years old.
Jimmy also admits that he is not very passionate about the age of the earth or if things change into other things, but it might help if he understood that atheists like to attack the Bible and the Church on precisely those points. If the Bible and Church could be shown to be wrong on those topics, then why trust them to get anything else right? Many people apparently have been convinced that the Bible and Church are wrong about those things, and so they must be wrong on (sexual) morality as well.
The Word of Man vs. The Word of God
Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World podcast #120 – “Does Science Show We’re Living on a Young Earth?” – is the second part of the three-part series. In this podcast, Jimmy explains how in the previous podcast (#119) it was shown that the Bible does not definitively state that the earth is young, and so we must look to natural science to decide the issue. Jimmy then explains how natural science has decided that the earth and universe are old.
Two criticisms that Jimmy makes of traditional Catholic arguments in defense of the traditional Biblical chronology are: 1.) “affirming the consequent” – the example used was: “If something can form in less than 6,000 years [like coal], then the earth must be less than 6,000 years old.”, and 2.) “spotlight fallacy” – assuming that a concept that applies in one case applies to all cases. The example used there was the rapid formation of the canyon at Mt. St. Helens as not applying to sedimentary rock formations. He certainly does not give creation scientists much credit, even if they have PhD’s. Moreover, as demonstrated in the DVD series “Foundations Restored,” the evidence that natural scientists have amassed in support of the Biblical chronology cannot be dismissed by simply invoking these logical fallacies.
In order to show that the Bible does not definitively state that the earth is young, Jimmy says that Genesis 1 is using a “literary device” in describing the days of creation. Interestingly, he also says that the author of Genesis (Moses) sometimes tells a story in chronological order, and sometimes in order of importance. That much is actually correct. Genesis 1 is told in chronological order of the six days and Genesis 2 is the story of the creation of man in order of importance. The accounts are not contradictory, although Jimmy does not suggest that in this podcast, even if believers in long ages do.
Jimmy’s only support for the “literary device” theory of Genesis 1 in this podcast is taken from the Catechism #337: “Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically succession of six days …” It must be admitted that St. Augustine did not necessarily take the six days as literal – he thought creation was accomplished in one day; certainly not billions of years. Even the Pontifical Biblical Commission stated that the days of creation may be understood as other than 24-hours days. However, the PBC in the same set of responses in 1909 affirmed that no Catholic may deny the creation of “all things” at the beginning of time, the special creation of Adam, body and soul, and the creation of Eve from Adam’s side! Moreover, all the Church Fathers and Doctors believed that creation was accomplished supernaturally in either six literal days, or one day, only thousands of years ago.
Indeed, the CCC itself states that the literal sense is the basis for all other senses of Scripture (CCC, 116). Thus, by the CCC’s own teaching, the six days can be literal AND symbolic at the same time. This is how almost all of the Fathers of the Church understood them. Many of them held that the days were 24-hour days but that they also foreshadowed (“symbolized,” if you will) six thousand years of human history before the coming of Antichrist. This was the view of St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus and other Fathers, (In fact, many of the quotations Catholic Answers apologists use to criticize the literal interpretation of the days of Genesis 1 can be explained in this way.)
Most of the CCC’s statements on creation pose no challenge at all to the traditional understanding. CCC 283 that speaks of the insights that science has given us about the age of the universe is in small print precisely because it is not talking about a doctrine of faith or morals, and it is not even specific about the age of the universe. CCC 302 and 310 offer an incomplete treatment of the “perfection of the universe,” because they leave out the teaching of ALL of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church without exception on what St. Thomas calls the “first perfection of the universe.”
According to St. Thomas, the perfection of the original creation did not preclude a development of that creation to a final end. But this was not an evolutionary development, because he insists that “all the parts” of the first creation were complete in the beginning:
The perfection of a thing is twofold, the first perfection and the second perfection. The first perfection is that according to which a thing is substantially perfect, and this perfection is the form of the whole; which form results from the whole having its parts complete . . . Now the final perfection, which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the saints at the consummation of the world; and the first perfection is the completeness of the universe at its first founding, and this is what is ascribed to the seventh day.
In contrast to evolutionary models which hold that new kinds of organisms came into existence and others became extinct long before the appearance of the first human beings, St. Thomas, with all of the Fathers and Doctors, held that the first created world was perfect because 1) God brought all of the different kinds of creatures into existence together with Adam and Eve in perfect harmony; 2) the creation of new kinds of creatures ceased after the creation of Adam and Eve, so that—as St Thomas says in the Summa—“In the works nature creation does not enter, but is presupposed to the works of nature”; and 3) because each kind of creature was perfectly designed for its place in the universe. In the words of St. Augustine, in the City of God,: In this creation, had no one sinned, the world would have been filled and beautified with natures good without exception. This “first perfection” of the universe required that everything be created in a mature, fully-functioning state. That is why the galaxies and our own Solar System were created as complete, fully-functioning systems; all of the different kinds of plants and animals were created together in a functioning ecosystem; and Adam and Eve were created as mature human beings from the first moment of their existence.
Perhaps the strongest Biblical support for a young earth is the genealogies of the patriarchs. The ages of the patriarchs at the birth of their descendants is given in exact years. The ancient Hebrews and early Christians all understood the relationships to be father-son, or perhaps grandfather-grandson in a very few instances, and the given ages to be literal. The Vulgate and Septuagint give slightly different cumulative ages for the time between creation and the incarnation, but they are both well under 10,000 years. Adam was also understood to have been created “in the beginning” – as in the beginning of everything – so the genealogies give a very good idea of the age of mankind, the earth, and the universe. So, it is a fallacy to suggest that the Bible is not definitive on the age of the earth. The Fathers of the Church understood this very well and defended the Biblical chronology of the world against the pagan intellectuals who believed in long ages. That is why St. Augustine wrote in the City of God:
They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of (man as) many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.
Even Origen, representing the extreme allegorical school of Biblical interpretation at Alexandria, insisted that
the Mosaic account of creation … teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that (Against Celsus, 1:19) (emphasis added).
“The World that then was Perished in the Flood” (2 Peter 3:6)
Another historical event concept which is attested to in the Bible is the global Flood of Noah. Every land animal not on the ark is said to have perished in the flood, which covered the entire earth. Several chapters of Genesis are devoted to the Flood. Noah’s family and the animals were in the ark just over one year. Our Lord Jesus Christ refers to Noah and the Flood as literal (Matt. 24:37-39). St. Peter does also (1 Peter 3:20 & 2 Peter 2:5). So, if you are going to argue for long ages and no global Flood, you have to contradict the plain sense of multiple passages in the Word of God as well as the unanimous interpretation of those passages by the Fathers of the Church.
Jimmy eventually launches into a very long discussion of the concept of uniformitarianism versus catastrophism. He ends up by saying that most scientists admit that things proceed along in a mostly uniform way, but there are occasional catastrophes, such as a volcanic eruption or asteroid hit. He even mentions the “punctuated equilibria” concept, which is discredited even among many evolutionists. Really, the big argument here is whether or not there was a global Flood only thousands of years ago. Modern scientists say no, but those who adhere to the traditional Catholic interpretation of Scripture say yes. As discussed above, the Bible clearly says yes.
Perhaps the best physical evidence for a global Flood is the uniformity of the sedimentary layers of rock around the world, and the occasional fossil protruding through several layers. That strongly suggests that the layers were deposited rapidly, with no intervening erosion. There are also folded layers of sedimentary rock which indicate they were folded at a time when they were still soft, like shortly after the flood. Also, the experiments of Guy Berthault, Alexander Lalomov, Juergen Schieber, and other sedimentologists show that multiple layers of sediment can be rapidly deposited by moving water.
The other arguments that Jimmy uses to support the idea of long ages are: universal constants, starlight, and radiometric dating. The interviewer in the podcast makes the perceptive observation that you cannot run an experiment for thousands of years, so that you do not know absolutely that the universal constants are constant. Jimmy argues that you can have some idea that they are by taking a large sample of data and “estimating” from that. The interviewer then noted that this sounded like an “assumption.” Evolution theory is full of unproven assumptions.
Jimmy also uses an example of an ancient uranium mine, which is assumed to be billions of years old, to show that one constant, alpha, has been constant. However, the assumption of billions of years is built into the argument to show that the constant has not changed significantly over a long time. That is circular reasoning or begging the question. The billions of years have not been proven. Moreover, the careful research of Dr. Robert Gentry has demonstrated that over a billion years’ worth of uranium-to-lead decay in zircon crystals in granite basement rocks all over the earth has occurred concurrently with the production of six thousand years’ worth of helium, determined by careful measurements of the rate at which helium diffuses out of the zircon crystals in the laboratory. The most logical explanation for these seemingly contradictory results is that there was a burst of accelerated radioactive decay during the global cataclysm of the Flood which produced a billion or more years’ worth of uranium to lead decay in a very short period of time four to six thousand years ago, during Noah’s Flood.
The starlight question hinges on the red-shift theory – the idea that light seen from distant stars is shifted to the red end of the light spectrum. The idea is that the red shift is caused by the stars moving away from us. They fainter a star is, the farther away it is assumed to be, and more red shift is assumed to indicate that it is moving faster. However, the late astronomer Halton Arp showed that the red-shifts do not necessarily correspond with velocity. More assumptions.
There is a long discussion on radiometric dating which Jimmy uses to support long ages. Hugh Miller has done an excellent job of showing that if you carbon-date dinosaur bones, you get ages in the thousands of years, not millions. Never mind that soft tissue has been shown to exist in some large dinosaur bones which could not have survived for millions of years. Additionally, the coelacanth fish was assumed to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs until a live one was discovered in 1938. Someone admitted that it was like finding a live dinosaur in your back yard, even if it was given the oxymoronic “living fossil” label.
All-in-all, natural science has not disproven the literal, historic truth of the book Genesis. When the infallible Word of God says that the world and everything in it was created “after its kind” in six days only thousands of years ago – after which no other kinds of animals were created – and that it was destroyed in a global Flood during the time of Noah, it means just that. If all scientists have to show is a series of assumptions to argue against it, we do not have to believe them.
Assumptions and the Age of the Universe
Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World podcast #121 – “Science, Starlight, and the Age of the Universe” – is the third part of the three-part series. In this podcast a very heavy emphasis is placed on radiometric dating, which is assumed to show that the earth is billions of years old.
The Institute for Creation Research’s (ICR) RATE project is mentioned, which looked at radiometric dates from the Grand Canyon. ICR admitted that the dates were consistent, even if they claimed them to be wrong based on the Bible. Jimmy was not impressed, even though the reliable, true sense of the Word of God says that the world is only thousands of years old. Moreover, he seems to have overlooked the fact that the radiometric dates often show a true relationship among different rocks but without demonstrating a true age for the rocks.
The fact is that there is no way to get an absolute, reliable age for an object based on the ratio of elements found in it. There are too many unknowns, like initial concentrations, contamination, and questions about the decay rate. The closest you can get is to date an object of known age (like a tree trunk) and calibrate your process to date a similar object. The radiometric dating method that has been best calibrated with artifacts of known age is the Carbon-14 dating method. But several decades of C-14 dating results overwhelmingly refute the standard evolutionary geo-chronology. As explained in our DVD series “Foundations Restored,” almost all organic remains buried in sedimentary rocks contain some amount of C-14. Since C-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years, this means that everything in the entire geologic column cannot be more than 50,000 to 100,000 years old, even under the standard interpretation of the C-14 dating results which does not take into account the decay of the Earth’s magnetic field.
Two hundred years of careful measurements confirm that the Earth’s magnetic field is decaying exponentially. A reasonable extrapolation from this historical decay rate indicates that the Earth’s magnetic field would have been so strong 10,000 years ago that any additional strengthening of the field would have made life on Earth impossible. Moreover, the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field even 4500 years ago at the time of the Flood would have prevented cosmic rays from entering the Earth’s atmosphere, colliding with Nitrogen atoms and changing them into atoms of Carbon-14. When this factor is taken into account, the 20,000 to 30,000 B.P. C-14 dates that researchers consistently obtain for dinosaur bones can easily be reduced to 4,000 to 5,000 years, well within the parameters of the Biblical chronology. C-14 dating of coal from deposits dated according to the standard geochronology from 30 to 320 million years B.P. have shown that all of the samples contain virtually the same amount of C-14. It follows that all of the plant material that was rapidly buried, subjected to extreme pressure, and transformed into coal all over the Earth was laid down more or less at the same time during the worldwide Flood four to five thousand years ago.
“And He Made the Stars Also” (Genesis 1:16)
The last topic the Jimmy discusses is the starlight problem. The problem for those who believe in the sacred history of Genesis is that the light coming from stars that are assumed to be billions of light-years away suggests that the universe is billions of years old. In reality, however, just because the stars are very far away does not absolutely prove that the light coming from them is billions of years old. Jimmy mentions that when Adam was created, he had the appearance of maturity. However, Jimmy does not like that argument for the stars, even though the reliable Word of God in the book of Genesis says that they were created on the fourth day of Creation Week.
Unfortunately, Jimmy has not familiarized himself with the writings of the Fathers and Doctors on the distinction between the supernatural work of creation in the beginning and the natural order of Providence in which we are living—and which only began when the work of Creation was finished. Had he done so, he would have realized that it is quite unreasonable to extrapolate from the behavior of light near the Earth in the order of providence all the way back to the beginning of Creation. Dogmatic theologian Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner beautifully summarizes this fundamental distinction in his masterpiece In the Beginning:
In the work of creation, the six days of Genesis, the Church has always understood God to be the principal Agent, although each of His actions during that period may not have been creative in the strictest sense, but only in the broader sense of miraculous. He may have used instruments already created, or acted Himself on pre-existent matter as in the case of Adam’s body “from the slime of the earth.” In any case, although individual creatures once created may have acted before the end of the sixth day when God “rested,” they did so directly under the creative power of God, and only after completion of the entire work did the world begin to function with a relative autonomy in the sense of secondary, principal causality.
The importance of this distinction can be illustrated with the popular objection to the creation of the heavenly bodies in a single day of 24 hours. It is claimed in the objection that the formation of these bodies would have postulated a duration of enormous length, since such is the time required for light from these bodies to reach the earth at present, and that light was observed by the first man on his appearance (according to Genesis). The objection, however, begs the question. It assumes as certain what in fact the proponents of evolutionary theory should prove, that the processes now observed in the transmission of light from the heavenly bodies to earth – and the duration needed to traverse the distance between them – are the same by which they were made to shine initially. Where the Creator is the principal Cause, there is no reason why He cannot do all this without the aid of natural processes and with or without any duration pleasing Him and appropriate to His ends (24 hours as Genesis tells us). Nor should it be said that the appearance of long “light-years” is a deception. Appearances are deceptive only where no key to their interpretation is provided. Thus what looks like bread and smells like wine is bread and wine except where those elements have been “transubstantiated” into the Body and Blood of Christ by the consecratory action of a priest. There the appearances of bread and wine, real enough, indicate not bread and wine, but the Body and Blood of the Savior. This is known because God has told us so, that such power has been given to an ordained priest. So too in this case, the Creator, being the only witness to what happened in the beginning, has told us He made the stars and made them shine within a period of 24 hours, thus providing a key to the interpretation of the appearances “in the beginning.”
Thus, the divine creative act is distinguished from His conservative act, both of which though identical in God with His power, have different terms outside God. The second conserving act presupposes the completion of the “founding” of the world, and is directed to its relatively autonomous operation. The first is a reflection of what Catholic theologians subsequently called God’s absolute powers, by which He not only made the world, but can destroy it, modify it, or temporarily interrupt its ordinary rhythms, as in the case of a miracle. The full extent of this power we cannot know simply from what He has already done, for He can always do something more. The second reflects His ordered power and is known from nature and the laws of nature discerned in creation.
No Error in Scripture
Throughout the three podcasts, you get the impression that Jimmy trusts scientists more that he trusts the Word of God. He seems not to understand that casting doubt on the reliability of the first chapters of the Bible destroys the credibility of the rest of Sacred Scripture, which was the intention of the atheists who came up with the ideas of evolution and billions of years in the first place. Like so many Catholic teachers and apologists today, Jimmy has strayed far from the faith and piety of our fathers in the Faith who would have shed their last drop of blood to defend the inerrancy of the Word of God
Those who reject the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11 like to point out that the Magisterium has never defined the literal historical truth of the historical propositions in Genesis 1-11. So, they say, we are free to believe or not to believe that Adam lived to be 930 years old or that the Flood waters covered all of the Earth’s highest mountains. But this approach to determining the truth of historical statements in Holy Scripture would have been anathema to the Fathers and Doctors. Indeed, the Angelic Doctor summed up the mind of the Fathers when he wrote that:
A thing is of faith, indirectly, if the denial of it involves as a consequence something against the faith; as for instance if anyone said that Samuel was not the son of Elcana, for it follows that divine Scripture would be false.
Again and again, modernists accuse the defenders of the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11 of exalting their private opinions above the Magisterium of the Church. But this is a calumny. We are simply maintaining the reverence for the historical books of the Bible that all of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers maintained in their authoritative teaching. If Genesis 1-11 is a sacred history, and all historical propositions in historical books of the Bible are free from error, as Pope Pius XII in Humani generis reaffirmed, we do not require a Magisterial decree to believe that Adam was 930 years old when he died or that the Flood waters covered all of the Earth’s highest mountains (and was, necessarily, therefore, global in its extent). On the contrary, we are bound to believe these things without any Magisterial decree, because if anyone says that “Adam did not live to be 930 years old” or that “the Flood waters did not actually cover all of the Earth’s highest mountains,” it follows that divine Scripture would be false. The Angelic Doctor reminds us that:
It is unlawful to hold that any false assertion is contained either in the Gospel or in any canonical Scripture, or that the writers thereof have told untruths, because faith would be deprived of its certitude which is based on the authority of Holy Writ.
For St. Thomas Aquinas and the Church Doctors who came after him, it was sufficient to say, “According to Moses in Genesis, God said X, Y, or Z,” to settle an argument. No reference to a Church Council or papal document was necessary. This approach stands in direct opposition to the methodology of most contemporary Catholic theologians. Proof that the plain sense of Scripture had sufficient authority for the Fathers and Doctors to define doctrine can be found, for example, in the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica on transubstantiation. Since the Fourth Lateran Council had just defined the dogma of transubstantiation for the first time, one might expect St. Thomas to cite the teaching of the Council in his treatment of the topic. But he does not. It is sufficient for him to cite the text of Scripture and to comment on it with the help of the Church Fathers. Until the rise of evolution-based modernism, this was the modus operandi of all the greatest theologians and commentators on Holy Scripture, like Cornelius a Lapide, who followed in the footsteps of the Church Fathers and Doctors.
Belief in God vs. Belief in Evolution
When once asked why he believes in six-day creation, pediatric brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson replied: “I don’t have enough faith to believe in evolution!” In an article related to the topic of his three-part podcast, “Is God telling us fictions about the past?” Jimmy suggests that the light coming from distant stars must mean that 1.) We’re Really, Really Wrong about [natural] science, 2.) God is Showing Us Fictions, or 3.) God’s Word in the Heavens and in the Bible Is True – meaning that atheistic scientists’ understanding of the billions of years must forcibly be read into the text of Genesis. In light of all the above, it is easy to see that Jimmy Akin puts more faith in man’s fallible hypotheses in natural science than he does in the inerrant Word of God as it has been understood in God’s Church from the beginning.
Looking around his website, you may also can notice that Jimmy Akin is a fan of both Star Trek and Dr. Who. Those are both works of science fiction/fantasy. If you immerse yourself too deeply into non-realities, it is easy to get confused about the true nature of things. Jimmy should spend more time with the Bible, the Fathers, and the Doctors, and less time with fantasy if he wants to know the truth that sets men free from the deception of “science (knowledge), falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20).
October 22, 2020
 Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, #14.
 Cf. “Historical Evidence for Dinosaur and Human Coexistence,” https://www.kolbecenter.org/historical-evidence-for-dinosaur-and-human-co-existence/
 SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, (ST, I, q. 73, a. 1).
 SAINT AUGUSTINE, City of God, Book XI, Chapter 23
 In Jimmy Akin’s theistic evolutionary universe, modern insects evolved 345 million years ago but birds did not evolve for another 245 million years. To appreciate how absurd this evolutionary fantasy really is, consider that “Birds around the world eat 400 to 500 million metric tons of beetles, flies, ants, moths, aphids, grasshoppers, crickets and other anthropods per year” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180709100850.htm Thus, in the evolution fantasy world, the insects would have turned the entire earth into a desert hundreds of millions of years before the first birds evolved to keep them in check. The sacred history of Genesis entails no such absurdities. God created all of the different kinds of plants, insects, and birds between the third and sixth days of creation week, so the birds were always around to keep the insects in check!
 SAINT AUGUSTINE, City of God, Book XII, 10.
 Robert Gentry, “Geological Evidence for a Young Age of the Earth,” First International Catholic Symposium on Creation in Rome, Italy (Mt. Jackson, VA: Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2003), pp.352-354.
 Robert Bennett, “Radio Dating: Special Creation Vs. Specious Creativity” in First International Catholic Symposium on Creation in Rome, Italy (Mt. Jackson, VA: Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2003), pp. 325-327.
 SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ST, I, q. 32, art. 4
 SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ST, II, q. 110, art. 3.