Creationism, Evolution, and Orthodoxy

Do you believe that the acount of genesis in the Old testament should be taken literally?

  • Yes

    Votes: 73 16.8%
  • No

    Votes: 163 37.6%
  • both metaphorically and literally

    Votes: 198 45.6%

  • Total voters
    434

Matthew777

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Is evolutionary theory compatible with the Orthodox Christian faith? This is a question I had to come to terms with while taking Anthropology 101 this year.

Please consider Evolution & Orthodoxy by Fr. John Matusiak:

"I might begin by stating that, if by evolution one is referring to the theories and teachings of Charles Darwin, the Orthodox Church surely does not subscribe to evolution in any manner. Orthodoxy firmly believes that God is the Creator of all things and that human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, are unique among all created beings. At the same time Orthodoxy is not literalist in its understanding of the accounts of creation in Genesis, and I have encountered writings by Orthodox Christians which attempt to balance the creation accounts with a certain ongoing -- evolutionary, if you will -- process which, on the one hand, affirms that while humans may have evolved physically under the direction and guidance and plan of the Creator, their souls could not have evolved any more than the powers of reasoning, speaking, or the ability to act creatively could have simply evolved. In such a scenario the Creator intervened by breathing His Spirit into man and giving him life, as stated in Genesis. Such thinking, however, while admitting the possibility that the Creator guided a process of physical evolution, is not identical with the theories of Charles Darwin, which in my limited understanding implies that man's soul also evolved and denies the active participation on the part of the Creator. This poses a variety of questions and problems beyond the scope of your original question.

In short, then, Orthodoxy absolutely affirms that God is the Creator and Author of all things, that He is actively engaged with His creation, and that He desires to restore His creation to full communion with Himself through the saving death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This, unlike Darwinism, is not a matter of ideology but, rather, a matter of theology.

Orthodoxy has no problem with evolution as a scientific theory, only with evolution -- as some people may view it -- eliminating the need for God as Creator of All."
http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Q-and-A_OLD/Evolution-and-Orthodoxy.html

Discuss...
 

prodromas

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Just thought I'd open up a discussion on creationism and evolution (if one like this has already happened I cannot find it and would be happy for someone to direct me to the right place). Being around fundamental pentacostal christians the answer for them is obvious and not problematic at all for them (creation is literal) being around so many protestants I have found very few (like 2) that don't take creation literally. The thing I had problems with was the logical inconsistencies, I have read through the history of the church there have been many different stances but I would like to see the general concensus on oc.net.

For everyone's benefit, I'm making this thread a sticky and recommending it as a good place for discussion of this topic. There are numerous threads on this subject already, among them the ones listed below:

Genesis, Creation, and Orthodoxy

Can Someone Help Me Understand Sin, God, and the Devil?

Creation Museum Family Visit

"Creation Science" Isn't Science

Young Earth Creation?

Genesis, Creation, and Early Man

Science and Knowledge of Things

Evolutionist, ID, or Creationist? Cast Your Vote!

In What Ways Might God Value Creation?

The Evolution Thread to End All Evolution Threads

I Am Turning into a Creationist

God Is Wonderful in His Creation

Materialistic Evolution

"Youg Earth Theory" and the Early Church Fathers

There Is No Theistic Evolution

Behe the Creationist

"Creatio Ex Nihilo" Is Gnostic Dualism?

Mesopotamian Flood Myths and Creation Myths?

God and Darwin--Washington Post Editorial

Altruistic Chimps Shed Light on Evolution of Altruism

Another Rend in Darwin's Seamless Garment?

X-Men and Philosophy

Evolution and Orthodoxy

Evolution and Oriental Orthodoxy

Darwinian Evolution: The Beginning of Heresy

Bad Arguments for Evolution

BBC: Human Evolution Is "Speeding Up"
 

ozgeorge

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prodromas said:
(if one like this has already happened I cannot find it and would be happy for someone to direct me to the right place).
Here is a poll on the subject which took place last year: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,8688.0.html
and here's a couple of more threads on the subject:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9986.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,7497.0.html
 

Heorhij

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I simply cannot understand, just what this so-called "creationism" is about. One might as well establish a movement called "anti-electromagnetism." Biological evolution is a FACT, just like the existence of electricity is a fact. That life on the planet Earth is being diversified because of the biological evolution is a valid scientific theory, just like that the potential in an electric circuit is determined by the electromagnetic field is a valid scientific theory. There is no "crteationism," it's just silly, stupid, ignorant.
 

minasoliman

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I particularly like this lecture:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

I think evolution should be dealt with on a scientific basis, not on a theological basis.  Here's the whole lecture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVRsWAjvQSg&mode=related&search=

God bless.
 

prodromas

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recently in philosophy Heorhij we have talked about the authority over science but just to be the devils advocate we dont know that evolution is real so you cannot compare that analogy to this situation.
 

minasoliman

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prodromas said:
recently in philosophy Heorhij we have talked about the authority over science but just to be the devils advocate we dont know that evolution is real so you cannot compare that analogy to this situation.
Prodromas, I've just sent you two links that describes evolution as fact, as "real."
 

PeterTheAleut

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Heorhij said:
I simply cannot understand, just what this so-called "creationism" is about. One might as well establish a movement called "anti-electromagnetism." Biological evolution is a FACT, just like the existence of electricity is a fact. That life on the planet Earth is being diversified because of the biological evolution is a valid scientific theory, just like that the potential in an electric circuit is determined by the electromagnetic field is a valid scientific theory. There is no "crteationism," it's just silly, stupid, ignorant.
See my reply here:  http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,8688.msg171699.html#msg171699
 

Heorhij

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prodromas said:
recently in philosophy Heorhij we have talked about the authority over science but just to be the devils advocate we dont know that evolution is real so you cannot compare that analogy to this situation.
Prodromas, we do know that... If we define evolution as the change in the genetic makeup of populations, then we can verify objectively that this change takes place. Population geneticists have already done it in the 1920's - 1970's.
 

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Heorhij said:
I simply cannot understand, just what this so-called "creationism" is about. One might as well establish a movement called "anti-electromagnetism." Biological evolution is a FACT, just like the existence of electricity is a fact. That life on the planet Earth is being diversified because of the biological evolution is a valid scientific theory, just like that the potential in an electric circuit is determined by the electromagnetic field is a valid scientific theory. There is no "crteationism," it's just silly, stupid, ignorant.
No its not a "fact"...it is a theory with no evidence at all to back it up. I am not the most scientific person in the world but there are more and more books by reputable sciencists showing the weaknesses in the arguments for it from a purely scientific point of view.

Theologically of course what you just wrote is blasemphy.

You make God responsible for all the suffering, misery, sin and death- you are saying that the creation He brought out of nothing and described as very good wasnt really that good at all. You accuse Him of creating this world in a fallen state- of using "natural selection". If that is all true what does that make of the Cross of Christ? You also accuse of the Holy Spirit of lying to Moses when He inspired him to write the account of the creation of the world in Genisis. You accuse our Holy Fathers who noetically rose above time and in the Uncreated Grace of God and beheld the beginning and end of all things as being in Prelest.

You have also just called the righteous St John of Kronsdaht "just silly, stupid, plain ignorant"-

"The Holy Scriptures speak more truly and more clearly of the world than the world itself or the arrangement of the earthly strata; the scriptures of nature within it, being dead and voiceless, cannot express anything definite. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" Were you with God when He created the universe? "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counseller, hath taught Him?" And yet you geologists boast that you have understood the mind of the Lord, in the arrangement of strata, and maintained it in spite of Holy Writ! You believe more in the dead letters of the earthly strata, in the soulless earth, than in the Divinely-inspired words of the great prophet Moses, who saw God."

MY LIFE IN CHRIST

[Translated, with the Author's sanction, from the Fourth and Supplemented Edition by E.E. Goulaeff, St. Petersburg]

(p. 41,42) 

Now that you have seen what that Holy man of God has written will you repent of your blasemphy?

Theophan.
 

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ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN

ORATIONS

[Translated by Martha Vinson]

ORATION 44

On New Sunday.

5. What? Someone will say. Was not the first Sunday, the one after the holy night and the torchlight procession, the feast of dedication? No, my holiday-loving friend; your visions of high merrymaking make you confuse the two days. That one brought salvation; this one is the anniversary of the gift of salvation; that one marks the resurrection from the tomb; this one marks simply the second rebirth. The intention is this: just as it is clear that the original creation was begun on a Sunday since Saturday, which signals the cessation from labor, is the seventh day after it; in the same way, the second creation also begins anew on Sunday, which is the first of the days that follow and the eighth after those that precede it, a day more sublime than the sublime and more wondrous than the wondrous, for it looks to our life in heaven. This is, I think, the meaning of the divine Solomon's enigmatic expression also, to give a portion to seven, that is, to this life, or even to eight, that is, the life to come: he is alluding to our good works on earth and our reinstatement in heaven. And even the great David's Psalms entitled "For the eighth" appear to be hymns for the same day, just as in another psalm that speaks in its title of the dedication of a house, the reference is to this day of dedication. The house is ourselves, we who have been found worthy to be and to be recognized and to become God's temple.

ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

HOMILIES ON GENESIS

[Translated by Robert Charles Hill]

VOLUME ONE

HOMILY SIX

(10) Do you see the wisdom of the Creator? He merely spoke, and this marvellous body came into being, namely, the sun. You see, it calls this light great and says it was brought into existence for governing the day. In other words, the sun renders the day brighter, shedding its rays like flashing lights and day by day revealing its own beauty in full bloom: as soon as it appears at dawn, it awakes the whole human race to the discharge of their respective duties. This beauty the blessed author reveals when he says: "The sun beams, like a bridegroom emerging from his chamber, like a giant in the running of his course; its span extends from one corner of heaven right to the other corner of heaven." Do you see how he revealed to us both the sun's beauty and its speed of movement? That is, in saying, "Its span extends from one corner of heaven right to the other corner of heaven," it indicated to us how in one moment of time it traverses the whole world and scatters its rays from end to end, making its great resources available: it not only supplies heat to the earth but also dries it up, and not only dries it up but enkindles it, and supplies us with many different resources, so marvellous a body is it, quite beyond one's power to describe adequately.
(11) I mention this to you and sing the praises of this heavenly body so that you may not stop short there, dearly beloved, but proceed further and transfer your admiration to the creator of the heavenly body. After all, the greater the sun is shown to be, so much the more marvellous is the revelation of the Creator.
(12) Pagan peoples, however, in their wonder and stupor at this heavenly body were unable to look beyond it to praise its creator; instead, they sang its praises and treated it as a deity. Hence the reason for the blessed Paul's saying, "They worshipped and served the creature instead of its creator." What could be more stupid than people failing to recognize the creator from the creature and being caught up in such error as to put creature and artefact on the same level as their creator? So then, foreseeing the inclination of slothful people to error, Sacred Scripture teaches us that the creation of this heavenly body took place three days later, after the growth of all the plants from the earth, after the earth's taking its own form, so that afterwards no one could say that without this force these things would not have been brought forth from the earth. Hence it shows you everything completed before the creation of this body lest you attribute the production of the crops to it instead of to the Creator of all things, the one who said from the beginning, "Let the earth bring forth a crop of vegetation."
(13) But if they were to say that the sun's virtue also contributes to the ripening of the crops, I would not gainsay them. After all, it's similar to the case of the farmer: in saying he contributes to the processes of the soil, I don't ascribe everything to him: even if thousands of farmers did their best, their efforts would be fruitless unless the One initiating the process through his own design from the beginning willed to put in train the very creation of the crops. In exactly the same way, I say, even if after the farmer's work there is assistance from the work of the sun, and the moon and the mildness of the climate, this would likewise be to no effect unless the hand from above did not play its part; once, however, this mighty hand is ready, the work of the elements makes its most efficacious contribution.
(14) Give close attention to this so as to bridle those still intent on deceiving themselves, and have nothing to do with assigning to creatures the honor due to the Creator. Accordingly, Sacred Scripture not only shows us the sun's beauty, and immensity and usefulness in the words, "It beams like a bridegroom, like a giant in running its course," but also its limitations and powerlessness: listen to what it says elsewhere, "What could provide more light than the sun? Yet even it fails." Don't be deceived by appearances, it tells us: unless the Creator willed so to direct, it would disappear as though it had never existed. If pagan peoples had understood this, they would not have fallen victim to such deception, but would properly have seen that from contemplation of created things one should move on to the Creator. Accordingly, he created it on the fourth day lest you think it is the cause of the day. In other words, what we said about the plants we will say also about the day, namely, that three days occurred before the creation of the sun. The Lord wanted to make daylight more brilliant by means of this heavenly body also- something we would say is true in the case of the lesser light as well, by which I mean the moon; after all, three nights occurred before its creation. Still, once created, the moon makes its own contribution, banishing the gloom of the night and accomplishing (you could almost say) the same things the sun does in other respects.


 

Anastasios

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Heorhij said:
Prodromas, we do know that... If we define evolution as the change in the genetic makeup of populations, then we can verify objectively that this change takes place. Population geneticists have already done it in the 1920's - 1970's.
I don't know much about this subject but isn't what you described called "microevolution"? I don't think even creationists dispute microevolution.
 

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Now a question to the other side. Couldn't it be said that Moses wrote in a way that was theological, not historical? I do not think that any father of the Church argued that Genesis or even the Gospels were historical narratives; rather, they were theological reflections (on true events of course).  Hence why we see different views in the four gospels.  The Gospels are not "biographies of Jesus" no more than Genesis is a "manual of God's creative processes" and to suggest it is seems to me to take away from what it is, which is an account of man's fall and God's salvation.

Another point I would like to pose is why is it so objectionable that God took a lower primate and gave it the breath of life, when creationists posit that God created man from dust?  Why is dust superior to lower primates?

Death before the fall is certainly a valid objection to evolution which I have not properly examined. Will have to think about that.
 

Anastasios

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Continuing to bounce both sides, because I truly am curious and have no agenda, to the evolutionists I ask, why is it that whenever someone challenges evolution (for instance Darwin's Black Box, by an obviously intelligent professor with valid credentials) he is pounced on as someone with an agenda, etc? Isn't it strange that those pushing Darwinism and not allowing any challenges to it are usually atheists--isn't that an agenda? Or is it proven that those opposed to evolution in the scientific community really are quacks? Can I see some discussion of this?
 

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Anastasios said:
Continuing to bounce both sides, because I truly am curious and have no agenda, to the evolutionists I ask, why is it that whenever someone challenges evolution (for instance Darwin's Black Box, by an obviously intelligent professor with valid credentials) he is pounced on as someone with an agenda, etc? Isn't it strange that those pushing Darwinism and not allowing any challenges to it are usually atheists--isn't that an agenda? Or is it proven that those opposed to evolution in the scientific community really are quacks? Can I see some discussion of this?
Kenneth Miller is a staunch defender of evolutionism while opposing creationism and he is a Roman Catholic. It just doesn't seem that there are any credible persons within the scientific community, atheist or otherwise, who are opposed to evolutionism. Those opposed to evolutionism usually do have an agenda such as creationism or intelligent design.
 

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GOCTheophan said:
No its not a "fact"...it is a theory with no evidence at all to back it up. I am not the most scientific person in the world but there are more and more books by reputable sciencists showing the weaknesses in the arguments for it from a purely scientific point of view.

Theologically of course what you just wrote is blasemphy.

You make God responsible for all the suffering, misery, sin and death- you are saying that the creation He brought out of nothing and described as very good wasnt really that good at all. You accuse Him of creating this world in a fallen state- of using "natural selection". If that is all true what does that make of the Cross of Christ? You also accuse of the Holy Spirit of lying to Moses when He inspired him to write the account of the creation of the world in Genisis. You accuse our Holy Fathers who noetically rose above time and in the Uncreated Grace of God and beheld the beginning and end of all things as being in Prelest.

You have also just called the righteous St John of Kronsdaht "just silly, stupid, plain ignorant"-

"The Holy Scriptures speak more truly and more clearly of the world than the world itself or the arrangement of the earthly strata; the scriptures of nature within it, being dead and voiceless, cannot express anything definite. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" Were you with God when He created the universe? "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counseller, hath taught Him?" And yet you geologists boast that you have understood the mind of the Lord, in the arrangement of strata, and maintained it in spite of Holy Writ! You believe more in the dead letters of the earthly strata, in the soulless earth, than in the Divinely-inspired words of the great prophet Moses, who saw God."

MY LIFE IN CHRIST

[Translated, with the Author's sanction, from the Fourth and Supplemented Edition by E.E. Goulaeff, St. Petersburg]

(p. 41,42) 

Now that you have seen what that Holy man of God has written will you repent of your blasemphy?

Theophan.
Are you suggesting infallibility for any of those you have quoted?
 

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falafel333 said:
Kenneth Miller is a staunch defender of evolutionism while opposing creationism and he is a Roman Catholic. It just doesn't seem that there are any credible persons within the scientific community, atheist or otherwise, who are opposed to evolutionism. Those opposed to evolutionism usually do have an agenda such as creationism or intelligent design.
What about the guy who wrote Darwin's Black Box? That was pretty popular a few years ago and the guy was some kind of qualified neurobiologist or something. Correct me if I am wrong.
 

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I am an evolutionist, not an atheist, and have no agenda nor any conflict in my Faith.
However last year I had a running shoot out over 'evolution' on another forum and don't have the energy to re-do it right now.
 

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Anastasios said:
Now a question to the other side. Couldn't it be said that Moses wrote in a way that was theological, not historical? I do not think that any father of the Church argued that Genesis or even the Gospels were historical narratives; rather, they were theological reflections (on true events of course).  Hence why we see different views in the four gospels.  The Gospels are not "biographies of Jesus" no more than Genesis is a "manual of God's creative processes" and to suggest it is seems to me to take away from what it is, which is an account of man's fall and God's salvation.

Another point I would like to pose is why is it so objectionable that God took a lower primate and gave it the breath of life, when creationists posit that God created man from dust?  Why is dust superior to lower primates?

Death before the fall is certainly a valid objection to evolution which I have not properly examined. Will have to think about that.
I am guessing you are going to say that animals naturally die and might well have died before the fall. This could be true. Certainly we have what St Gregory of Sinai told us about plant life in paradise that might support that opinion. However just as leaves in paradise when they fall of the trees there do not give out a putrid stench so the "law of the jungle" would not have existed without the fall. Animals may well have died but they would not have had a painful and certainly not a violent death. God created all things very good. Evolutionists deny this. They make God the origin of evil, the God who died on the Cross to blot out our sins and is seeking constantly to bring us into Heaven whos joys even the greatest saints here cannot even imagine. If that isnt blasemphy, if that isnt downright evil I cant imagine what is.

The second point is that the Orthodox Church reads the Bible as interputed by the Holy Fathers who were noetically pure and filled with the Holy Spirit so that they could understand it as it was meant to be. All the Holy Fathers are very clear that the creation took place in seven days, that Adam was formed from virgin soil, etc.  They read it as an historical narrative. Certainly it contains other types of Truth aswell. I do not deny that. However the essence of the Biblical narrative and the essence of Darwinism are diametrically opposed. I have already posted examples of how the Holy Fathers read Genisis.

The Biblical and evolutionary accounts of the creation of man are clearly contradictory in many basic respects: in the role of the Creator (central in the Bible, excluded by the evolutionists), in the role of chance (excluded by the Bible, all-important according to the evolutionists), in the fixity and perfection of species (affirmed by the Bible, denied by the evolutionists), in the uniqueness and original incorruption of man (affirmed by the Bible, denied by the evolutionists), in the finished nature of creation as a whole (affirmed by the Bible, denied by the evolutionists). One most choose between Christ and Darwin.

Christ has the power to save, He also has the power to damn.

Darwin has neither.

Theophan.
 
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