“The Beginning of Time” or “In the Beginning”

The expression “from (or at) the beginning of time” ab initio temporis is the hinge upon which the time element of the Lateran IV doctrine on creation turns. The context reads:

God…creator of all visible and invisible things, of the spiritual and of the corporal, who by his own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing…

One sees an echo of this in Christ’s words to the Pharisees:  “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female…?” (Matt. 19:4)

Can “the beginning” of which Our Lord speaks possibly refer to the 15 thousand million years ago of the present “big bang” estimated date of the initial explosion, which supposedly began the evolution of the cosmos?  In the light of the fact that the Council fathers defined the doctrine at a period when the “beginning of time” was understood to be “day one” of the first six days of creation or the hexameron as a whole, the question can safely be answered in the negative.  This position is confirmed by St. Bonaventure, a 13th century commentator on the Lateran IV Council. He wrote in his Breviloquium (Part II): “…we must specifically hold that physical nature was brought into existence in six days.”

At that time, the term “beginning” was also used to denote the entire “Six Days” as it had been by the Fathers of the Church from the time of the Apostles.  Pope Innocent III, who convoked the Fourth Lateran Council, wrote:

 In the beginning one rib was changed into one woman.[1]

Petavius, in his De Opificio Sex Dierum (Paris, ed. 1866) writes that the word beginning can be understood to include all the six days.

The theistic evolutionist’s belief regarding divine causality, based on the general theory of evolution, follows the big bang model whereby the celestial bodies were formed over thousands of millions of years before the earth. But his “beginning” is inevitably quite different from that of the Popes, Councils, Church Fathers and Sacred Scriptures.

Pope Innocent III, “Gaudemus in Domino” (DZ 408).

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