- Jan 2019
Not sure if anyone's already mentioned this, but the idea that the Christian ideology necessitates a belief in Creationism is a relatively recent one. The idea that God might have brought order out of chaos by means of natural laws and no more goes back further. It's true that St. Augustine was something of a literalist when it came to Scriptures, but Aquinas wasn't and his thinking really dominates Church philosophy. Strictly literal interpretations only really rose to prominence with Protestantism and partially infected Catholicism in a cultural sense, although Creationism was still never endorsed as a necessary point of doctrine, and you were never forbidden from believing it. You can read passages from Descartes' Methods that discuss the topic. (italics added)
...if God were now to create somewhere in the imaginary spaces matter sufficient to compose one, and were to agitate variously and confusedly the different parts of this matter, so that there resulted a chaos as disordered as the poets ever feigned, and after that did nothing more than lend his ordinary concurrence to nature, and allow her to act in accordance with the laws which he had established. I was not, however, disposed, from these circumstances, to conclude that this world had been created in the manner I described; for it is much more likely that God made it at the first such as it was to be. But this is certain, and an opinion commonly received among theologians, that the action by which he now sustains it is the same with that by which he originally created it ; so that even although he had from the beginning given it no other form than that of chaos, provided only he had established certain laws of nature, and had lent it his concurrence to enable it to act as it is wont to do, it may be believed, without discredit to the miracle of creation.