Catholic Christianity - Creation

  • Created by: mbull
  • Created on: 05-04-18 10:55

Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam

  • Painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. 
  • Shows God as an old man in the sky, carried by angels, reaching out and touching the finger of Adam, who rests upon solid ground.

Reflects Catholic beliefs about God and creation:

  • Human beings are dependent upon God as their Creator for the gift of life - his touch brings Adam to life.
  • Human beings are imago dei, unlike other animals.
  • The creation of all things made by God is good and important - Adam is pictured as beautiful.
  • God is higher than Adam - suggests power, significance and mystery.
  • There is mystery - God is surrounded by a 'brain shape' which could show how humans are limited to what they understand about God.
  • God as an old man - wisdom, age and eternity.  

Controversial aspects

  • Adam and God are pictured as the same size - could give impression of equal importance.  
  • This is only a symbolic picture, and picturing God in human images is known as anthropomorphism. 
  • Genesis 2 - Adam is made from the dust of the Earth and God breathes life into him - no mention of touch.
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Jean-Baptiste's Capronnier's Window

  • Jean-Baptiste Capronnier's Stained Glass Window
  • 19th Century.
  • Brussels Cathedral.  

What does it show:

  • God as an old man and slightly bigger than Adam and Eve - importance and wisdom.
  • He raises his hand and one finger in blessing and creative power.
  • Animals are behind God while Adam and Eve are in front - shows they are God's creation and God is more important than the animals.
  • Adam and Eve are worshipping God as he is commanding them.
  • Adam is bowing.
  • Eve is covering herself - shame.
  • The snake and the tree - temptation and sin - stand between God and Adam and Eve. 
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Hildreth Meiere's mosaic

  • In St Barth's Church, New York.
  • 20th Century.

What it shows:

  • God as creator.
  • God's hand coming out of a cloud with rays going in four directions.
  • God's hand is larger than the cloud - control and power. Hands represent making things and guidance.
  • Lines going out from the hand touching the edges of the universe - shows God is creating everyone and God is in every direction.
  • God is shown with a hand and no body - shows God is spirit so does not need a body and no one knows what he looks like.


  • Some people do not like the idea of God being like a 'giant.'
  • However some people prefer the idea of the ever-present hand of God, always creating, opposed to Michelangelo's single moment of creation.
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Messages about Creation through Art

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam

  • Humanity depend on God.
  • Humanity made imago dei. 

Genesis 1 or Genesis 2

Stained Glass Window

  • Represents Genesis 2 account of the creation of man and woman.
  • Humanity is more important than the rest of creation. 
  • Adam and Eve (humanity) are dependent on God.


  • God is omnipresent - always involved in the world.
  • God's power touches everything.
  • God is always creating. 
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Creation through Art

See the source image (

See the source image ( the source image (

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Nature of God in Genesis 1 and 2

There are two versions of the creation story in the opening chapters of the Bible.

Genesis 1: a poem imagining the creation happening in seven days.

Teaches that:

  • God is Creator - all life comes from him. The world is formed by intelligence and order, not randomly.
  • God creates through his word.
  • God is omnipotent - God is the ultimate power behind everything.
  • God is transcendent - God is beyond the physical universe and our understanding.

Genesis 2: a parable using symbols and myths. Catholics see this as not literally true but spiritually true.

Teaches that:

  • God is creator and takes time to create Adam as a special type of being, yet different from other animals.
  • God is the giver of all life and gives free will to human beings.
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Nature of humans in Genesis

Nature of humans in Genesis 2:

  • Humans have free will.
  • Humans have power over animals.
  • Divided into two complimentary beings: men and women.
  • All humans are equal: imago dei, all have dignity and worthy of respect.
  • Humans are stewards of God's creation.
  • Humans are personally created.
  • Humans share the 'breath' of God. 

Natural Law - moral principles and values instinctive to al humans.

What we can learn from Natural Law:

  • Preservation of life.
  • Reproduction.
  • Nurturing of offspring.
  • Humans- orderly living in society, the pursuit of Truth and meaning regarding God.
  • To build a happy soceity, we must follow Natural Law.
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The truth about ourselves in Genesis

  • We are never content.
  • Humans are attracted by the thought of power and position.
  • We want what we cannot have.
  • Our choices always have consequences.
  • We blame others for our wrongdoing.
  • We hide the truth about ourselves.
  • When we do wrong, we feel guilty.
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Human beings made in the image of God

In Genesis 1, human beings are made at the end of the stages of Creation.

  • They are the pinnacle of creation.
  • They are made in God's image and likeness - imago dei.
  • This means they have free will, reason, a moral sense, a spiritual sense and are creative. 
  • It does not mean humans literally look like God in a physical sense but that they are like God 'inside.'
  • If every human being is imago dei, all should be treated equally and to be respected regardless of race or age - this is why Catholics support human rights.
  • 'So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.' - Genesis 1.

In Genesis 2, the first human is named Adam, meaning 'of the Earth.'

  • Adam is made from the dust of the Earth and receives the breath of life from God.
  • Adam is greater than the animals made after him.
  • Adam names the animals - shows power to look after the world.
  • Eve is created from Adam to be an equal companion - men and women are equal in dignity.
  • Adam and Eve are given free will. 
  • Adam and Eve were blessed with the Garden and the possibility of eating from the Tree of Life - God is benevolent.
  • Adam and Eve are given the responsiblity of looking after the Earth.
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The influence of this on Catholic views

Humans are made imago dei, giving human free will, stewardship, dignity and the sanctity of life:

  • Free will - the ability to choose our actions an between right and wrong. 
  • Stewardship - human beings have been entrusted with the care of the earth, looking after it for God. They have been given power to look after nature but this unfortunately comes with the power to abuse it.
  • As humans are made imago dei, all humans are created with the same rights and they all have dignity. 
  • Sanctity of life - each human life is special, unique and sacred because it is a gift from God. Catholics believe that life, from conception to death, should be valued and protected. 
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Sources of authority - the Bible

The Bible is a collection of books.

The word 'bible' means 'the books' in Greek. 

The Bible came together over many years:

  • Oral - the stories, sayings and laws passed down by words, poems and songs.
  • Written - the stories that were gradually written down.
  • Collected - different scrolls were collected together by the early Church to make up the Bible.
  • Contains different types of literature: laws, stories, history, sayings, prayers, poems and songs of praise.
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The Old Testament and the New Testament

The Old Testament is the story of the Jewish people and their hope of the Messiah to come. 

This is made up of:

  • the Torah (law) - the first five books.
  • History -stories of the people of Israel.
  • Wisdom - prayers, psalms of praise, wise sayings.
  • Prophecy - the words of inspired men (prophets) who brought messages from God. 

The New Testament is based upon the life of Jesus, the Apostles and their teachings.

This is made up of:

  • The Gospels - the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the 'good news' about Jesus and are seen as the most important books.
  • Acts of the Apostles - some stories of the early Church.
  • Epistles (letters) - written by Saints Paul, Peter and John.
  • Revelation -  a symbolic book teaching about the ened of time and the return of Christ.
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The Genesis creation accounts

The Bible contains many different types of writing. 

Different Christian denominations interpret the Genesis stories in different ways. Catholics believe:

  • They are not to be read literally as historically or scientifically accurate accounts of creation.
  • They are ideas about the origin of the world using poetry, symbols and mythology. They contain truths that are morally and spiritually true. The Genesis storeis are about beginnings and meanings. They tell why the world was made, not how.
  • They can believe in both Genesis creation accounts and scientific explanations of creation (evolution/the big bang.)

However, fundamentalist Christians take the Genesis stories literally, arguing that scientists are wrong and we have to believe everything in the Bible as it is. 

Catholics believe that this is what is known as a 'category mistake' - thinking that a writing is to be taken as one form and not another.

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Natural Law

Catholics believe that all of the universe was created by God and that everything God created was good.

As humans were created by God, Catholics believe that we all have an inbuilt sense of what is morally right and wrong - natural law. 

Catholics believe in the 'sanctity of life' - that because all humans are made by God, in his image human life is sacred. Natural law says that because human life is sacred, it should be preserved. So Catholics would be against things such as euthanasia and abortion because they end life. 

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Science and religion

The Church has always been involved in scientific observation and theories. 

However, lots of people view science and religion as incompatible.

One of the documents produced by Vatican 2, Gaudium et Spes, looked at the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern world, including its relationship with science.

Gaudium et Spes encouraged the link between science and faith, saying that scientific investigation done properly doesn't conflict with faith. It is a way of helping people understand more about what God created, however it should be remembered that all of creation is dependent upon God. 

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Creation - Practices

Care of the enivironment and love of your neighbour

  • The environment is part of God's creation, which is a gift of love. 
  • Human beings are asked to care for it.
  • Everything is connected; we depend upon the earth and its resources to live. 
  • Not caring for the environment properly, affects other people. 
  • Humans are asked to love God and your neighbour - 'Love your neighbour as yourself' from the Old Testament. 
  • The Parable of the Good Samaritan also emphasises this, reminding people that everyone is our neighbour regardless of race or religion. 
  • People are also asked to be neighbourly to the environment, respecting God's world and respecting others who rely upon it - everything is connected. 
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  • As seen in the Genesis stories, humans are asked to be stewards of the earth, to look after its resources. 
  • They are empowered to do so as they are imago dei, with free will, reason, morality and creativity.
  • Pope Francis, Laudato Si: 'A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise ways of directing, developing and limiting our power.'
  • The Church teaches that humans being have power over the Earth and we need to use it responsibly, caring for the environment, for each other and using technology wisely and not greedily. 

Catholics should be concerned to take action where they can:

Locally -

  • Save energy in the home.
  • Use sustainable energy.
  • Use public transport or cycle.

Nationally -

  • Write to MPs and the Prime Minister to encourage less pollution and more sustainable energy.
  • Support products from enviromentally friendly producers.
  • Campaign to get companies to use more environementally friendly procedures.
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More Stewardship

Globally -

  • Campaign for governments to implement agreements.
  • Support groups such as CAFOD and their environmental campaigns.
  • Support wildlife charities and campaigns against abuse.

CAFOD and sustainability

Sustainability - to care for the earth and not to use up its natural resources, preserving the environment for others and future generations.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si: 'Justice and peace issues cannot be separated from care of the environment because environmental issues affec the poor and they way of life.'

CAFOD (Catholic Agency For Overseas Development) -

  • Charity that seeks to work with the poor and to help the environment.
  • They encourage better local farming methods, cleaner water supplies and cleaner, more efficient energy.
  • For example, Ugandan villagers have been taught how to build wood-burning stoves that us fewer logs and produce less smoke.
  • This is a way of recognising the goodness of God's creation - it is not to be destroyed and wasted.
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Laudato Si

Laudato Si - italian for 'praise be to you.'

Written by Pope Francis and addressed to everyone.

Laudato Si - The second encyclical about the environment and sustainable developedment called 'On Care For Our Common Home.'

What it says:

  • The pope discusses environmntal issues such as global warming to help humanity understand the destruction man is having on Earth and other people.
  • It shares philosophical, theological, cultural and religious views.
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