On Genesis: Two Books on Genesis against the Manichees; And, on the Literal Interpretation of Genesis, An Unfinished Book

By Saint Augustine; Roland J. S. J. Teske | Go to book overview

for the sake of some sorts of sacrifices. They made some marks in the dust, and they found them intact the next year. This could not have happened if that place was exposed to wind or rain. Moreover, because the thinness of the air on that peak did not provide them with breath, they could not remain there without applying wet sponges to their nostrils from which they could draw the thicker and usual breath. These men also reported that they had never seen a bird in that place. Therefore, it is not without reason that the most trustworthy Scripture mentions that not merely the fish and the rest of the living things that live in the waters, but also the birds were born from the waters, because they can only fly through this air that is formed from the moisture of the sea and the earth.


CHAPTER 16

Why Harmful Animals Were Created

25. "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth the living soul according to each kind of quadruped and reptile and beast of the earth.' And so it was done. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kind, and the cattle according to their kind and all the reptiles of the earth according to their kind. And God saw that they were good." 78. The Manichees also stir up this question and ask, "What need was there for God to make so many living things, either in the waters or on the land, that are not necessary for men? And also many that are harmful and frightening?" When they say this, they do not understand how all things are beautiful to their creator and maker, who uses all of them for governing the universe which he rules by the supreme law. 79. For if an untrained person enters the workshop of an artisan, he sees many tools whose uses he does not know, and if he is quite

____________________
78.
Gen 1.24-25.
79.
The Manichees object to the uselessness of many animals as well as the harmful or frightening character of others. Augustine answers that all things are beautiful to God who made them and that God uses them for the governance of the universe.

-72-

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