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Chapter 5. I Believe in God • 55

Some of the angels turned against God and were driven out of

heaven and into hell. Their leader is called Satan, and they are referred

to as devils or demons in Scripture. They tempt us to evil (cf. CCC, nos.

391, 1707). But their power is limited and is never greater than God’s.


In the first of two creation stories (cf. Gn 1–2:4), Scripture describes the

creation of the visible world as a succession of six days of divine “work,”

after which God “rested” on the seventh day, the Sabbath. From the ear-

liest times, Christian writers and biblical scholars have been aware that

the language in the story is symbolic, for the six “days” of creation could

hardly be solar days, since Genesis says that the sun was not made until

the fourth day. The sequence of creation reported in Chapter 1 of the

Book of Genesis is not literal or scientific, but poetic and theological. It

describes a hierarchy of creatures in which human beings are the summit

of visible creation. By ending the sequence of creation with the Sabbath,

the story points to the adoration of God the Creator as the focal point

of all the works of creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; / the

sky proclaims its builder’s craft” (Ps 19:2).


Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation

of the Second

Vatican Council reminds us that “in Sacred Scripture, God speaks

through human beings in human fashion,” and that if we are “to ascer-

tain what God has wished to communicate to us, [we] should carefully

search out the meaning which the sacred writers really had in mind”

(DV, no. 12). It goes on to say, “In determining the intention of the sacred

writers, attention must be paid,

inter alia

[among other things], to liter-

ary forms.” Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis use symbolic language to con-

vey fundamental truths about God and ourselves.

It may be helpful to recall how important symbols are in everyday

human life. Being a unity of body and spirit, we express and perceive

spiritual realities through material symbols. God also speaks to us

through visible creation: light and darkness, wind and fire, water and

earth, trees and their fruit. Scripture uses all these to speak of God and

to symbolize his greatness and his nearness.