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

minasoliman

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Gebre Menfes Kidus said:
ytterbiumanalyst said:
Gebre Menfes Kidus said:
Animals do not sin, but they are effected by the Fall just as the entire creation is effected by it. Animals suffer and feel pain. Death for them does not feel "natural," any more than it feels "natural" for human beings. It is quite unnatural, the unfortunate fate of man's sin that brought havoc and misery to the entire creation.
No, neither animals specifically nor creation as a whole were effected by sin.

St. Paul says quite the opposite:

"The creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." [Romans 8:20-22]

In writng about "Fallen Creation," Father John Romanides says:

"St. Paul strongly affirms the belief that all things created by God are good.[ 3 ] Yet, at the same time, he insists on the fact that not only man,[ 4 ] but also all of creation has fallen.[ 5 ] Both man and creation are awaiting the final redemption. [ 6 ] Thus, in spite of the fact that all things created by God are good, the devil has temporarily [ 7 ] become the "god of this age."[ 8 ] A basic presupposition of St. Paul's thought is that althought the world was created by God and as such is good, yet now there rules in it the power of Satan. The devil, however, is by no means absolute, since God has never abandoned His creation.[ 9 ]

Thus, according to St. Paul, creation as it is is not what God intended it to be--"For the creature was made subject to vanity...by reason of him who hath subjected the same."[ 10 ] Therefore, evil can exist, at least temporarily, as a parasitic element alongside and inside of that which God created originally good. A good example of this is one who would do the Good according to the "inner man," but finds it impossible because of the indwelling power of sin in the flesh.[ 11 ] Although created good and still maintained and governed by God, creation as it is is still far from being normal or natural, if by "normal" we understand nature according to the original and final destiny of creation. governing this age, in spite of the fact that God Himself is still sustaining creation and creating for Himself a remnant,[12 ] is the devil himself."



Selam
From what I understand, there's two ways to interpret these verses, your way (Fr. John Romanides way) and another way, i.e. all of creation sympathizes with our fallenness, and groans because we groan, just as a poet who talks about clouds as the dust of God's feet, or the singing of birds as praising the Lord, so too the birth pains of creation are their groaning in the corruption of man.

But in truth, in the General Resurrection, we shall bring all of creation in incorruption with us.  Here's another way to interpret this verses:

The phrase "subjected to vanity" according to St. Gregory of Nyssa symbolizes created nature, for we are vain in nature compared to God's uncreated divinity, and indeed, "subjected to vanity the same who subjected them in hope."  Creation which took part in the birthing of humanity hopes that through humanity they may be brought to incorruption.  Indeed, we as the crown of creation may bring not just ourselves but all of creation to salvation.  They suffered to bring us on earth through God's power.  Unfortunately, we messed up, and all of creation groans as they groaned before we came in this world.  One day however, through Christ who partook of creation, we will once again bring creation to incorruption with us through Him who is Incorruptible by nature.

This story does not contradict creation's corruption before humanity.  For the dawn of humanity brought rejoicing upon creation for hope in incorruption, just as the dawn of the Incarnation of Christ brought rejoicing upon humanity for hope in salvation.

Of course there's no right or wrong answer.  You will have other Church fathers who will agree with your interpretation too, people like St. Theophilus of Antioch and I think St. Ambrose, and I'm not sure but maybe St. John Chrysostom, although he wasn't that clear, but the above interpretation of mine is in part influenced by him.

God bless.
 

minasoliman

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Just to add to the discussion, I found this to be interesting on what Fr. John Romanides views of the Fall of Man and the Interpretation of Scriptures from here:

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/fr-john-romanides-on-extraterrestrial.html

First one should point out that in contrast to the traditions deriving from Latin Christianity, Greek Christianity never had a fundamentalist or literalist  understanding of Biblical inspiration and was never committed to the inerrancy of scripture in matters concerning the structure of the universe and life in it. In this regard some modern attempts at de-mything the Bible are interesting and at times amusing.

Since the very first centuries of Christianity, theologians of the Greek tradition did not believe, as did the Latins, that humanity was created in a state of perfection from which it fell. Rather the Orthodox always believed that man [was] created imperfect, or at a low level of perfection, with the destiny of evolving to higher levels of perfection.

The fall of each man, therefore, entails a failure to reach perfection, rather than any collective fall from perfection.

Also spiritual evolution does not end in a static beatific vision. It is a never ending process which will go on even into eternity.

...


The Orthodox believe that all creation is destined to share in the glory of God. Both damned and glorified will be saved. In other words both will have vision of God in his uncreated glory, with the difference that for the unjust this same uncreated glory of God will be the eternal fires of hell.

God is light for those who learn to love Him and a consuming fire for those who will not. God has no positive intent to punish.

For those not properly prepared, to see God is a cleansing experience, but one which does not move eternally toward higher reaches of perfection.
Of course the article is about the possibility of Intelligence in other planets, but I have some feeling Fr. John is also somehow fine with the concept of evolution within his interpretation of Scripture in some way.

God bless.
 

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Does the presence of a Tree of Life that could give immortality imply that physical death was part of the original plan, and that the eating of the fruit simply hastened what was already in process?

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever....
 

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Jetavan said:
Does the presence of a Tree of Life that could give immortality imply that physical death was part of the original plan, and that the eating of the fruit simply hastened what was already in process?

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever....
no
 

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So, because I was raised with a liberal and non-religious atheistic background, for most of my life I have simply taken the truth of the standard Theory of Evolution for granted.

When I started becoming serious about exploring Christianity, I did not give the matter all that much thought, as I had mostly seen sources which stated that the Faith is not incompatible with belief in said theory.

However, recently I have come to become more and more skeptical of the means of evolution, particularly the survival of the fittest usually to the detriment of those weaker and less adaptive than them. To me the system whereby the fit animals develop through selfish monopolizing of resources in contrast to sacrifice or even simply sharing seems very much like a fallen way for things to operate. As such, I am beginning to wonder more and more if the Darwinian process of "natural selection" is in fact a consequence of the Fall. Maybe if it is, it would still be possible that some other process of evolution operated before the Fall; I don't know.

Can anyone address this? I'm particularly interested to hear explanations from those who defend Darwinian evolution as intended by God.
 

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I'm on the fence about evolution.  Sometimes I wonder if God gave creatures a certain ability to adapt to change.  Having said that, if it did happen, it is because God decided it would.  It is not some random event.
 

deusveritasest

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Gamliel said:
I'm on the fence about evolution.  Sometimes I wonder if God gave creatures a certain ability to adapt to change.  Having said that, if it did happen, it is because God decided it would.  It is not some random event.
Mostly I am concerned with the fact that the survival of the most adapted often occurs at the exploitation of the less adapted.
 

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deusveritasest said:
Gamliel said:
I'm on the fence about evolution.  Sometimes I wonder if God gave creatures a certain ability to adapt to change.  Having said that, if it did happen, it is because God decided it would.  It is not some random event.
Mostly I am concerned with the fact that the survival of the most adapted often occurs at the exploitation of the less adapted.
There are those who would make a case for "genetically-advantageous altruism"; this debate goes back and forth ad infinitum, I'm afraid.

Another perspective:

Any attempt to create a Frankenstein's monster out of the theory of evolution and the genesis accounts, via scholastic theology and naturalism, will inevitably end in failure and unhappiness. We can speculate, but how these two things can be totally reconciled is a mystery not yet revealed to us.

 

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deusveritasest said:
Gamliel said:
I'm on the fence about evolution.  Sometimes I wonder if God gave creatures a certain ability to adapt to change.  Having said that, if it did happen, it is because God decided it would.  It is not some random event.
Perhaps socially, but physical evolution, I think, is mostly about mutations surviving with change.  Suppose our atmosphere changes enough that some people go through a change in lung structure.  Those people will have a better chance to survive, even if they help out the others.  I don't think evolution demands that people be selfish, although evolutionary thinking can create an atmosphere to make it easier to be that way.

Mostly I am concerned with the fact that the survival of the most adapted often occurs at the exploitation of the less adapted.
 

deusveritasest

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Gamliel said:
Perhaps socially, but physical evolution, I think, is mostly about mutations surviving with change.  Suppose our atmosphere changes enough that some people go through a change in lung structure.  Those people will have a better chance to survive, even if they help out the others.  I don't think evolution demands that people be selfish, although evolutionary thinking can create an atmosphere to make it easier to be that way.
I am thinking mostly of who is best able to get food and the babes (reproduce). Those who are adapted must be selfish to access limited resources, and they must do this at the exploitation of those who are less sufficiently adapted; that is at least assuming the fairly common scenario of too few resources for all to survive.
 

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Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution, argues that evolution is not simply about death and selfishness.

Species help other species to survive:

"Well, one of the phrases I prefer—a phrase that I have borrowed from evolutionary scientists alive today—is ‘survival of those who fit best’—that is, those who fit well with their environment, especially the other living beings with whom they associate. Of course, ‘association’ includes what you eat—cows eat grass, lions eat zebra, humans eat plants and often animals. But ‘association’ from an ecological standpoint also includes such things as, ‘Who supplies the oxygen you breathe?’ ‘What little critters inside your gut help you digest your vegetables?’ ‘What living beings decompose your waste?’ ‘What plants and their associated bacteria are used by farmers to restore the nitrogen in harvested fields?’ And, of course, ‘What do we, in turn, do to contribute our share of support to the body of life?’"
Death does not have the last word in evolution, nor does it have the last word in Christianity:

"Yes, the face of Nature that we call evolution is not all pleasant from the standpoint of any particular species or individual. Predation is real; genetic defects occur naturally; and, of course, death ultimately knocks at the door of everyone. Nevertheless, I draw from my own Christian tradition to put these realities in a sacred context. What, after all, is the food web, if not a variation of ‘Take, eat, this is my body, which is given for you’? When we speak of the “interdependent web of life” what we are really talking about is one big divine banquet—‘holy communion’ at the scale of the whole planet. And what is the core teaching of the Easter saga if not this: on the other side of every ‘Good Friday’ is ‘Resurrection Sunday’—that is, death never has the last word, life does!"
 

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deusveritasest said:
However, recently I have come to become more and more skeptical of the means of evolution, particularly the survival of the fittest usually to the detriment of those weaker and less adaptive than them. To me the system whereby the fit animals develop through selfish monopolizing of resources in contrast to sacrifice or even simply sharing seems very much like a fallen way for things to operate.
Perhaps there is some misunderstanding due to different meanings of a word.  "Fit" doesn't just mean healthy, or strongest or in good physical condition.

The term "survival of the fittest" does not mean that the bigger, stronger creatures take all the resources.  It refers to particular variations of species that "fit" in certain places in the world such as being able to eat things that others could not. Camels are "fittest" to survive in arid conditions that other large quadrupeds would not survive, for example. The variety of beak shape in the finches of the Galapagos Islands is an example that Charles Darwin wrote about.  Here is a link to an article about it:
http://www.galapagosonline.com/nathistory/wildlife/birds/galapagosbirds.htm

Ebor
 

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deusveritasest said:
So, because I was raised with a liberal and non-religious atheistic background, for most of my life I have simply taken the truth of the standard Theory of Evolution for granted.

When I started becoming serious about exploring Christianity, I did not give the matter all that much thought, as I had mostly seen sources which stated that the Faith is not incompatible with belief in said theory.

However, recently I have come to become more and more skeptical of the means of evolution, particularly the survival of the fittest usually to the detriment of those weaker and less adaptive than them. To me the system whereby the fit animals develop through selfish monopolizing of resources in contrast to sacrifice or even simply sharing seems very much like a fallen way for things to operate. As such, I am beginning to wonder more and more if the Darwinian process of "natural selection" is in fact a consequence of the Fall. Maybe if it is, it would still be possible that some other process of evolution operated before the Fall; I don't know.

Can anyone address this? I'm particularly interested to hear explanations from those who defend Darwinian evolution as intended by God.
Have you studied biology at school?

You see, there is no way one can "believe" or "not believe" in scientific theories that have received a sound evidential support. Can you say, "you know, I feel like I do not believe in the theorythat states that matter is composed of atoms and molecules?" Please note: the statement that matter is composed of atoms and molecules IS NOTHING MORE THAN A THEORY. Of course, one can say that he or she "does not believe it." So what?

The theory of biological evolution has as much, or more, factual support as the theory of atomic-molecular structure of matter, or the electromagnetic theory of J.C. Maxwell, or the relativity theory of A. Einstein. "Believe" it, or not "believe" it - it still stands.

Obscurantism, stubborn unwillingness to learn what science is all about and what particular scientific theories are - that's silly, in my book, and that has nothing to to with one being Orthodox or Zoroastrian or eliever in the Flying Cookie Monster. "Learning" "objections" against scientific theories from lay Web sites instead of learnig what these theories actually are from professional science teachers is not only silly and ridiculous but also dangerous and degrading.
 

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ialmisry said:
greekischristian said:
Yes, yes, yes...homo sapiens are social animals, they want to be loved and accepted because it ultimately helps form societies which are beneficial for survival and procreation from an evolutionary perspective. Religion is simply a misplaced attempt to pursue something that truly is good, social behaviour.
You are avoiding the thrust of LiveFree's comment.  Telling.

greekischristian said:
Heros? Heros are for religions, you can't have Buddhism without Buddha, you can't have Islam without Mohammed, you can't have Christianity without Jesus.
I agree with all of your assessments here, but have to tell you the Muslim possibly, the Buddhist definitely, would not.  The source documents of early Isalm would contradict your Muhammad>Islam: they claim, somewhat like what you claim for science, that he taught only what was already there.  Even Mahayana Buddhism does not claim any special status, ontologically speaking, to Buddha: he did what all of us are supposed and can do (so they say).

Yes, no Jesus, no Christianity, no matter how much Liberal Protestantism teaches otherwise.

But with science, it's the idea that is significant
Yes, that's how Newton felt about Leibnitz over calculus, and used his position to cast the latter into obscurity.  Mr. Enlightenment himself, Voltaire, helped him do it.

...if Pascal hadn't made his discoveries, someone else would no doubt have...
...and if Ptolemy hadn't made his discoveries, someone else would no doubt have...

he was the first to see something, but by no means the only person in history capable of doing so; even without him science would have advanced. In fact, religion has long been the bane of science and human advancement, even in great minds.
sanitzing again.

Pythagoras had an absurd religious adversion to irrational numbers, had he simply focused on the mathematics and forgot about the philosophical non-sense who knows how much further he could have pushed the boundaries of mathematical knowledge?
Yes, maybe we could have developed nuclear weapons by the dark ages.

Likewise with Pascal, had he not been such a fool as to abandon the pursuit of science for such useless trivia as religion and philosophy perhaps he could have made even greater contributions to science, instead the opium of masses stole from science and human progress a few precious years of his research.
Pythagoras only got involved with numbers because of his religious beliefs.  Otherwise he could have just as well lived his life in obscurity.  In other words, no religion, no math, so no, he would have not pushed any boundary in math anywhere.

Religion can be the bane and humiliation of great men, but never their glory.
As Pythagoras shows, it is what makes them great men in the first place.
Have you read "The Sleepwalkers," by Arthur Koestler?
 

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The following discussion started here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,30443.0.html  -PtA


How do christians who believe in evolution justify the predatorial relationship between species before the fall (e.g. the types of evolutionary arms races experienced between the gazelle and the lion that evolution by natural selection predicts)?
 

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Heorhij said:
deusveritasest said:
So, because I was raised with a liberal and non-religious atheistic background, for most of my life I have simply taken the truth of the standard Theory of Evolution for granted.

When I started becoming serious about exploring Christianity, I did not give the matter all that much thought, as I had mostly seen sources which stated that the Faith is not incompatible with belief in said theory.

However, recently I have come to become more and more skeptical of the means of evolution, particularly the survival of the fittest usually to the detriment of those weaker and less adaptive than them. To me the system whereby the fit animals develop through selfish monopolizing of resources in contrast to sacrifice or even simply sharing seems very much like a fallen way for things to operate. As such, I am beginning to wonder more and more if the Darwinian process of "natural selection" is in fact a consequence of the Fall. Maybe if it is, it would still be possible that some other process of evolution operated before the Fall; I don't know.

Can anyone address this? I'm particularly interested to hear explanations from those who defend Darwinian evolution as intended by God.
Have you studied biology at school?

You see, there is no way one can "believe" or "not believe" in scientific theories that have received a sound evidential support. Can you say, "you know, I feel like I do not believe in the theorythat states that matter is composed of atoms and molecules?" Please note: the statement that matter is composed of atoms and molecules IS NOTHING MORE THAN A THEORY. Of course, one can say that he or she "does not believe it." So what?

The theory of biological evolution has as much, or more, factual support as the theory of atomic-molecular structure of matter, or the electromagnetic theory of J.C. Maxwell, or the relativity theory of A. Einstein. "Believe" it, or not "believe" it - it still stands.

Obscurantism, stubborn unwillingness to learn what science is all about and what particular scientific theories are - that's silly, in my book, and that has nothing to to with one being Orthodox or Zoroastrian or eliever in the Flying Cookie Monster. "Learning" "objections" against scientific theories from lay Web sites instead of learnig what these theories actually are from professional science teachers is not only silly and ridiculous but also dangerous and degrading.
I wish I knew more about biology... Evolution, per se, I know is completely beyond denying. The theory of natural selection--as a "sub-theory" of evolutionary theory--can indeed raise some important questions, depending on how you look at things. Just due to the nature of science, I have little doubt that evolutionary theory will continue to undergo significant developments.
 

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Ortho_cat said:
How do christians who believe in evolution justify the predatorial relationship between species before the fall (e.g. the types of evolutionary arms races experienced between the gazelle and the lion that evolution by natural selection predicts)?
The first idea that pops into my head is... well, the fall just happened prior to such activity. But then that doesn't help very much, unless I am going to say that the fall happened hundreds and hundreds of millions of years ago--long before anything resembling human beings existed. So how then could we tie the fall to human activity? It is one thing to say that the creation accounts are symbolic, e.g. to put forth the idea that humans fell, but maybe it did not start with a literal Adam and Eve roughly 6,000 to 7,000 years ago. But to say that the Genesis accounts are pretty much just nice stories and that humans are merely the place holders in the story for explaining that there was somewhere, some time, some how, for some reason a fall, is a very different thing. I'm stumped.
 

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Ortho_cat said:
How do christians who believe in evolution justify the predatorial relationship between species before the fall (e.g. the types of evolutionary arms races experienced between the gazelle and the lion that evolution by natural selection predicts)?
Perhaps "physical death" existed before the Fall? Perhaps the Fall represents the entrance of "spiritual death" into the cosmos?
 
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