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

chrevbel

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Jetavan said:
But surely you agree that modern Western science starts with the "assumption" that any explanation must be an explanation that is confirmable, verifiable, falsifiable, or in some sense testable (which would exclude most sorts of 'supernatural' explanations)?
No, I wouldn't.  Quite the opposite, really.  Modern Western science started with many of the same ideas that creationists and others propose today.  Only when those ideas led to inconsistencies were they discarded.
 

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Jonathan Gress said:
By assumption, I mean some statement that is not proven.
So, of all the concepts in modern science, are there any which you would consider proven?
 

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chrevbel said:
Jetavan said:
But surely you agree that modern Western science starts with the "assumption" that any explanation must be an explanation that is confirmable, verifiable, falsifiable, or in some sense testable (which would exclude most sorts of 'supernatural' explanations)?
No, I wouldn't.  Quite the opposite, really.  Modern Western science started with many of the same ideas that creationists and others propose today.  Only when those ideas led to inconsistencies were they discarded.
What were some of those ideas that early modern Western science shared with creationists?
 

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I suggest with the word "assumption," I'm not sure, but before we get into an argument, assumption should be more defined, just in case we argue past one another rather than against one another.  For instance, we don't merely assume Christianity, but we live it and it works.  If an assumption is one by which the system works, then that's a different definition of "assumption."
 

chrevbel

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Jetavan said:
What were some of those ideas that early modern Western science shared with creationists?
The static nature of species, for example.  Life begets life according to its kind.  Once observations (such as those from fossil evidence) demonstrated that species go extinct and that new species emerge, that idea was discarded.  Several others took its place over time.  Evolution was not the first, by the way.  It simply emerged as the one that most consistently accounted for all known observations.  Which is exactly why evolution is not an assumption.  The assumptions were discarded.  Evolutionary theory is what we ended up with, not what we started with.
 

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chrevbel said:
Jonathan Gress said:
Scientists typically start from unproven assumptions.
This statement belies your complete misunderstanding of how science works.
Or maybe you just never considered questions of epistemology before.

It starts not with assumptions at all, proven or otherwise.  It starts with asking "what have we observed?", and then asks "what explanation is most consistent with each and every one of those observations?"
How do you make and analyze observations, without first making assumptions about what should be observed, what is admissible as data, what you are looking for, etc.?

Your assertion that science can be done without any presuppositions whatsoever is absurd.
 

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Iconodule said:
Your assertion that science can be done without any presuppositions whatsoever is absurd.
No, what is absurd is our collective assumption that 56 pages of this is actually leading somewhere.
 

Jonathan Gress

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minasoliman said:
I suggest with the word "assumption," I'm not sure, but before we get into an argument, assumption should be more defined, just in case we argue past one another rather than against one another.  For instance, we don't merely assume Christianity, but we live it and it works.  If an assumption is one by which the system works, then that's a different definition of "assumption."
Good point. There might be a more formal term for what I mean by "assumption", but I don't really do philosophy of science. But I do have the impression that methodological naturalism, which is the driving assumption behind much of modern science, including psychology, biology and physics, is really nothing more than the practical application of materialist philosophy, which is opposed to our faith. What science would be like without methodological naturalism I can't say for sure, but perhaps pre-Darwinian science may give a clue.

What you say about Christianity is interesting, i.e. that it is empirically validated. But it is also assumed, in that if we fail to live up to Christ's standards, if our prayers are not answered and so on, we do not simply abandon our faith, but we assume that it is true despite whatever difficulties we may have with it at the time. We assume that our difficulties arise from our own weakness, or the deceptions of the devil, rather than with our faith.
 

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chrevbel said:
Iconodule said:
Your assertion that science can be done without any presuppositions whatsoever is absurd.
No, what is absurd is our collective assumption that 56 pages of this is actually leading somewhere.
Part of the reason these 56 pages have led nowhere is because hardly anyone has addressed, or even understood, these basic questions of what is science, how do we know something is true, how do we accept something as evidence, etc.

I asked you these questions in another thread:

1. Why do you think the "scientific method" is a reliable methodology for apprehending natural phenomena? 2. What would convince you that a different method is superior? 3. How do you answer any of these questions without presuppositions?

Your answer:

chrevbel said:
1.  Because it hasn't yet been supplanted by anything superior.

2.  I can't say a priori.  To do so, after all, would be a presupposition.

3.  Because I acknowledge that every one of my answers is subject to being replaced by a better one.  Why do you refuse to acknowledge that this is the precise opposite of presupposition?
So the "scientific method" is considered reliable because it hasn't been supplanted by anything superior. At the same time, it could never be supplanted because you have no principles by which you could demonstrate its superiority in the first place. You also apparently have the ability to value something as "better" or "worse"without any measure by which to determine these values.  Can you really not see the absurdity of this position?
 

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Jonathan Gress said:
minasoliman said:
I suggest with the word "assumption," I'm not sure, but before we get into an argument, assumption should be more defined, just in case we argue past one another rather than against one another.  For instance, we don't merely assume Christianity, but we live it and it works.  If an assumption is one by which the system works, then that's a different definition of "assumption."
Good point. There might be a more formal term for what I mean by "assumption", but I don't really do philosophy of science. But I do have the impression that methodological naturalism, which is the driving assumption behind much of modern science, including psychology, biology and physics, is really nothing more than the practical application of materialist philosophy, which is opposed to our faith. What science would be like without methodological naturalism I can't say for sure, but perhaps pre-Darwinian science may give a clue.

What you say about Christianity is interesting, i.e. that it is empirically validated. But it is also assumed, in that if we fail to live up to Christ's standards, if our prayers are not answered and so on, we do not simply abandon our faith, but we assume that it is true despite whatever difficulties we may have with it at the time. We assume that our difficulties arise from our own weakness, or the deceptions of the devil, rather than with our faith.
I would be careful as to say that all scientists follow materialistic "philosophy."  They take a materialistic approach, but not all scientists are followers of materialism, i.e. the forerunner of atheism.  Since science is by definition a materialistic approach, then I find nothing wrong with that.  I've explained much earlier in this thread that medicine and health is based on materialistic approach as well, and other simple sciences such as the materialistic approach in explaining how oil separates from water or how salt dissolves in liquid.

Whatever source our weaknesses come from, we are encouraged to struggle against it, not to give up and accept it.  This is a philosophy that health care practitioners try to live by and teach their patients via a materialistic approach, and this is also a philosophy we as Christians live by as well via a spiritual approach (and in some way a materialistic approach to help transcend our flesh, since we partake of flesh and blood of Christ that's united with His divinity and we encourage hard work and fasting with prayer).  I don't think any Church father is against health science, and yet that too is a materialistic approach.
 

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Jonathan Gress said:
Another thing to consider is just what counts as evidence. The secular scientist will never accept scripture or revelation as evidence, but the Orthodox Christian does.
Where? In science? In evaluating a scientific theory? No. No matter how many times Scripture mentions the Sun orbiting the Earth, I will not consider this evidence. If you say that I am not Orthodox because I reject evidence provided by Scripture that the Sun orbits the Earth and not vice versa, we will just have to "agree to disagree" then.
 

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minasoliman said:
Jonathan Gress said:
minasoliman said:
I suggest with the word "assumption," I'm not sure, but before we get into an argument, assumption should be more defined, just in case we argue past one another rather than against one another.  For instance, we don't merely assume Christianity, but we live it and it works.  If an assumption is one by which the system works, then that's a different definition of "assumption."
Good point. There might be a more formal term for what I mean by "assumption", but I don't really do philosophy of science. But I do have the impression that methodological naturalism, which is the driving assumption behind much of modern science, including psychology, biology and physics, is really nothing more than the practical application of materialist philosophy, which is opposed to our faith. What science would be like without methodological naturalism I can't say for sure, but perhaps pre-Darwinian science may give a clue.

What you say about Christianity is interesting, i.e. that it is empirically validated. But it is also assumed, in that if we fail to live up to Christ's standards, if our prayers are not answered and so on, we do not simply abandon our faith, but we assume that it is true despite whatever difficulties we may have with it at the time. We assume that our difficulties arise from our own weakness, or the deceptions of the devil, rather than with our faith.
I would be careful as to say that all scientists follow materialistic "philosophy."  They take a materialistic approach, but not all scientists are followers of materialism, i.e. the forerunner of atheism.  Since science is by definition a materialistic approach,
A recent concept and one that ignores the history of natural philosophy.

then I find nothing wrong with that.
If you think materialism is an acceptable approach to understanding the natural world, then you are either a materialist or a dualist.

I've explained much earlier in this thread that medicine and health is based on materialistic approach as well
Only modern, conventional, "Western" medicine.

I don't think any Church father is against health science, and yet that too is a materialistic approach.
Throughout history, and throughout the world, there are health sciences that are not materialist.
 

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chrevbel said:
Jetavan said:
What were some of those ideas that early modern Western science shared with creationists?
The static nature of species, for example.  Life begets life according to its kind.  Once observations (such as those from fossil evidence) demonstrated that species go extinct and that new species emerge, that idea was discarded.  Several others took its place over time.  Evolution was not the first, by the way.  It simply emerged as the one that most consistently accounted for all known observations.  Which is exactly why evolution is not an assumption.  The assumptions were discarded.  Evolutionary theory is what we ended up with, not what we started with.
All right, I think this is a good approach. Do fossils in fact count as evidence against the creationist worldview? I read that St Nectarios explained fossils as the result of the Great Flood, and this is how creationists today typically account for them. Perhaps one could argue that Genesis says all species were saved in the Ark, so that if fossils remain of species that no longer exist (dinosaurs etc.), that proves the Genesis account is wrong. Is this along the lines of what you were thinking?
 

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Iconodule said:
Throughout history, and throughout the world, there are health sciences that are not materialist.
By definition, science explores the natural world, i.e. things that are material. If someone explores the influence of an non-tangible, non-material things like "spirit" etc. on the human health and calls is "helth science," that person is simply misusing the term "science."
 

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Heorhij said:
minasoliman said:
I would be careful as to say that all scientists follow materialistic "philosophy."
I would be less careful and say that when a person is really "doing science," this person MUST STAY AWAY FROM ANY PHILOSOPHY.  :p
Which is nonsense. You cannot learn anything without some presuppositions about what is true, what is acceptable as evidence, what are the most reliable faculties for apprehending data, etc.

You might as well say, "I want to drive this engine around town without all that annoying car stuff around it."
 

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Heorhij said:
Iconodule said:
Throughout history, and throughout the world, there are health sciences that are not materialist.
By definition, science explores the natural world, i.e. things that are material.
Really? Where did this definition come from? Long before there were materialists, there was science.

If someone explores the influence of an non-tangible, non-material things like "spirit" etc. on the human health and calls is "helth science," that person is simply misusing the term "science."
No, he is simply recognizing the fact that material and spiritual worlds interpenetrate and mirror each other. The materialist approach is like listening to a musical composition but screening out some of the instruments. Some parts of the composition you might hear accurately, but other parts will be mutilated.
 

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minasoliman said:
Jonathan Gress said:
minasoliman said:
I suggest with the word "assumption," I'm not sure, but before we get into an argument, assumption should be more defined, just in case we argue past one another rather than against one another.  For instance, we don't merely assume Christianity, but we live it and it works.  If an assumption is one by which the system works, then that's a different definition of "assumption."
Good point. There might be a more formal term for what I mean by "assumption", but I don't really do philosophy of science. But I do have the impression that methodological naturalism, which is the driving assumption behind much of modern science, including psychology, biology and physics, is really nothing more than the practical application of materialist philosophy, which is opposed to our faith. What science would be like without methodological naturalism I can't say for sure, but perhaps pre-Darwinian science may give a clue.

What you say about Christianity is interesting, i.e. that it is empirically validated. But it is also assumed, in that if we fail to live up to Christ's standards, if our prayers are not answered and so on, we do not simply abandon our faith, but we assume that it is true despite whatever difficulties we may have with it at the time. We assume that our difficulties arise from our own weakness, or the deceptions of the devil, rather than with our faith.
I would be careful as to say that all scientists follow materialistic "philosophy."  They take a materialistic approach, but not all scientists are followers of materialism, i.e. the forerunner of atheism.  Since science is by definition a materialistic approach, then I find nothing wrong with that.  I've explained much earlier in this thread that medicine and health is based on materialistic approach as well, and other simple sciences such as the materialistic approach in explaining how oil separates from water or how salt dissolves in liquid.

Whatever source our weaknesses come from, we are encouraged to struggle against it, not to give up and accept it.  This is a philosophy that health care practitioners try to live by and teach their patients via a materialistic approach, and this is also a philosophy we as Christians live by as well via a spiritual approach (and in some way a materialistic approach to help transcend our flesh, since we partake of flesh and blood of Christ that's united with His divinity and we encourage hard work and fasting with prayer).  I don't think any Church father is against health science, and yet that too is a materialistic approach.
OK, I think I see where you're coming from: science is and has always been materialistic in essence. The trouble then seems to arise where materialist science touches on certain empirical claims of our faith, e.g. our origins and the origins of creation, the Fall, the Patriarchs and the Flood, all the other miraculous events in sacred history and the lives of the saints, and so forth. Where our faith has nothing to say, e.g. on whether the sun goes round the earth or the earth round the sun, matters that apparently never had any theological import (at least in the East), science can go where it likes and the Church has no problem. Where science begins to contradict certain well-established empirical claims, e.g. the origin of Man by special creation from inanimate clay, rather than by natural generation from a pre-human species, the Church does appear to have a problem. This problem is manifest, for instance, wherever the Fathers draw attention to the theological importance of special creation, e.g. St Gregory the Theologian:

They who make Unbegotten and Begotten natures of equivocal God's would perhaps make Adam and Seth differ in nature, since the former was not born of flesh (for he was created), but the latter was born of Adam and Eve. (Oration on the Holy Lights, XII)

I don't know how to interpret this under the assumptions of evolutionary biology.
 

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Jonathan Gress said:
minasoliman said:
Jonathan Gress said:
minasoliman said:
I suggest with the word "assumption," I'm not sure, but before we get into an argument, assumption should be more defined, just in case we argue past one another rather than against one another.  For instance, we don't merely assume Christianity, but we live it and it works.  If an assumption is one by which the system works, then that's a different definition of "assumption."
Good point. There might be a more formal term for what I mean by "assumption", but I don't really do philosophy of science. But I do have the impression that methodological naturalism, which is the driving assumption behind much of modern science, including psychology, biology and physics, is really nothing more than the practical application of materialist philosophy, which is opposed to our faith. What science would be like without methodological naturalism I can't say for sure, but perhaps pre-Darwinian science may give a clue.

What you say about Christianity is interesting, i.e. that it is empirically validated. But it is also assumed, in that if we fail to live up to Christ's standards, if our prayers are not answered and so on, we do not simply abandon our faith, but we assume that it is true despite whatever difficulties we may have with it at the time. We assume that our difficulties arise from our own weakness, or the deceptions of the devil, rather than with our faith.
I would be careful as to say that all scientists follow materialistic "philosophy."  They take a materialistic approach, but not all scientists are followers of materialism, i.e. the forerunner of atheism.  Since science is by definition a materialistic approach, then I find nothing wrong with that.  I've explained much earlier in this thread that medicine and health is based on materialistic approach as well, and other simple sciences such as the materialistic approach in explaining how oil separates from water or how salt dissolves in liquid.

Whatever source our weaknesses come from, we are encouraged to struggle against it, not to give up and accept it.  This is a philosophy that health care practitioners try to live by and teach their patients via a materialistic approach, and this is also a philosophy we as Christians live by as well via a spiritual approach (and in some way a materialistic approach to help transcend our flesh, since we partake of flesh and blood of Christ that's united with His divinity and we encourage hard work and fasting with prayer).  I don't think any Church father is against health science, and yet that too is a materialistic approach.
OK, I think I see where you're coming from: science is and has always been materialistic in essence. The trouble then seems to arise where materialist science touches on certain empirical claims of our faith, e.g. our origins and the origins of creation, the Fall, the Patriarchs and the Flood, all the other miraculous events in sacred history and the lives of the saints, and so forth. Where our faith has nothing to say, e.g. on whether the sun goes round the earth or the earth round the sun, matters that apparently never had any theological import (at least in the East), science can go where it likes and the Church has no problem. Where science begins to contradict certain well-established empirical claims, e.g. the origin of Man by special creation from inanimate clay, rather than by natural generation from a pre-human species, the Church does appear to have a problem. This problem is manifest, for instance, wherever the Fathers draw attention to the theological importance of special creation, e.g. St Gregory the Theologian:

They who make Unbegotten and Begotten natures of equivocal God's would perhaps make Adam and Seth differ in nature, since the former was not born of flesh (for he was created), but the latter was born of Adam and Eve. (Oration on the Holy Lights, XII)

I don't know how to interpret this under the assumptions of evolutionary biology.
I've addressed these earlier in this thread as well.  The Bible teaches that man has two natures, materialistic and spiritual united in one.  The materialistic part of the formation of man according to Genesis does not differ from the materialistic part that formed animals.  The difference is that God "breathed" into this specific part of creation His Image and Likeness, something that no other creature has.  Therefore if we are fully consubstantial with animals and fully consubstantial with angels, there is no contradiction, and evolution only affirms what the Bible is intending to convey.

The Creation story's job was to demythologize the other creation myths that are being circulated.  They used what was generally understood at the time, and turned it into something that professes correct doctrine and something that is also quite prophetic.  Those that are prophetic do not need to be taken over-literally, such as the creation of Eve out of the "side" of Adam (rib is a mistranslation) pointing to the birth of the Church from the bleeding side of the crucified Christ, the trees in the garden of Eden pointing to the Cross of Christ, the flood of Noah and the Red Sea pointing to baptism and salvation, etc.

Earlier in this thread, I've showed how St. Athanasius took the creation story allegorically and told us what was important to learn from them in his famous "On the Incarnation."  What I believe is that God saw the creation of man and loved it, breathed into it, and put it in Paradise.  But soon after, man disobeyed God, and went back to the world of natural materialism and death.  God became incarnate to transform the body of death into a life-giving death, and giving us all the hope of Resurrection, Ascension, and Eternal Divine Life.
 
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