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.
THE VISIBLE WORLD
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,
[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.