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

Ortho_cat

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jckstraw72 said:
Ortho_cat said:
I think it's pretty clear in genesis that the tree of life is what provided adam/eve with their immortality; once they were cut off from it they were no longer immortal:

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24After he drove the man out, he placed on the east sidee of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
even if that is so, they were only cut off from the Tree of Life because of sin. they were not mortal because God made them that way, which, as has been pointed out many times in this thread, is a belief anathematized by the 7th Ecumenical Council.
I would only contend that they were made immortal by grace (via 'tree of life'), not by nature however. That is, God provided man with the tools to obtain immortality.
 

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minasoliman said:
We have to differentiate what man is by nature, and what man is by grace.  By grace, man was immortal.  By nature, man is mortal.

If you're going to call a Tree a literal Tree that granted immortality, then you are calling the Tree the provider of grace, which is something only God can do.
I just read your post here after I posted mine...it appears we're on the same brainwave!  :laugh: :-*
 

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Ortho_cat said:
minasoliman said:
We have to differentiate what man is by nature, and what man is by grace.  By grace, man was immortal.  By nature, man is mortal.

If you're going to call a Tree a literal Tree that granted immortality, then you are calling the Tree the provider of grace, which is something only God can do.
I just read your post here after I posted mine...it appears we're on the same brainwave!  :laugh: :-*
:)

I'm searching online and I found that there lived a 4th century bishop, Nemesius of Emesa, who wrote a treatise "On the Nature of Man" who seems to think along this line as well, who influenced the theological thinking of St. Maximus the Confessor and St. John of Damascus.

St. Athanasius taught that if man can secure the grace by obeying the law, immortality will be assured, and equated the Tree of Life with the Word of God.  The important part here is that grace is given.  The idea of a tree is to prepare one to understand the true Tree, i.e. the Cross where we receive our True Fruit, that is the Eucharist.  I don't know why it's so hard for people to get this.  It is very clear for me in light of the NT.
 

jckstraw72

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minasoliman said:
Ortho_cat said:
minasoliman said:
We have to differentiate what man is by nature, and what man is by grace.  By grace, man was immortal.  By nature, man is mortal.

If you're going to call a Tree a literal Tree that granted immortality, then you are calling the Tree the provider of grace, which is something only God can do.
I just read your post here after I posted mine...it appears we're on the same brainwave!  :laugh: :-*
:)

I'm searching online and I found that there lived a 4th century bishop, Nemesius of Emesa, who wrote a treatise "On the Nature of Man" who seems to think along this line as well, who influenced the theological thinking of St. Maximus the Confessor and St. John of Damascus.

St. Athanasius taught that if man can secure the grace by obeying the law, immortality will be assured, and equated the Tree of Life with the Word of God.  The important part here is that grace is given.  The idea of a tree is to prepare one to understand the true Tree, i.e. the Cross where we receive our True Fruit, that is the Eucharist.  I don't know why it's so hard for people to get this.  It is very clear for me in light of the NT.
no one is denying the obvious typology of the Tree to the Cross, but i dont understand why that has to lead to a denial of the literal tree. the Cross is certainly literal. we just discussed yesterday in length in my hermeneutics class here at St. Tikhon's about how allegorical interpretation weren't used to the exclusion of literal interpretations for the most part. the Fathers used allegory to spiritually benefit their flocks, but it was understood that if the allegory doesn't help, then don't use it. allegory was never used for developing dogma, according to Dr. Mary.

she wrote her thesis in defense of allegorical interpretations, as i guess that method has come under attack in Biblical Studies crowds, and i asked her if she thought there were times when the Fathers did go overboard with their allegories (i had in mind some commentaries i had read, i think by St. Gregory the Great), and she said that if the Fathers were using them then it must have been palatable for their culture, and if it reaped spiritual benefit then we can't say their allegories were over the top. but we live in a culture shaped by the Enlightenment where allegory is not so palatable, and so, she said, if i don't like a particular allegory, or think its too much of a stretch, then just dont read it. if its not beneficial, dont use it. and she reiterated that dogma is never formed from allegory anyways.
 

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I think we all agree then that if not for the tree of life, whatever that is taken to be, then man would not have been immortal, correct?
 

Marc1152

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Ortho_cat said:
jckstraw72 said:
Jetavan said:
jckstraw72 said:
chrevbel said:
Sleeper said:
Jetavan said:
Sounds compatible with Orthodoxy.
And quite beautiful if you ask me.
Evolution is an absolutely phenomenal wonder of God's creation.  Those who deny it are denying him part of his glory.
death is not a part of God's creation....
Didn't Adam and Eve eat plants (which thus lead to the death of plants) before the Fall?
http://oldbelieving.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/no-plant-death-before-the-fall/
So the plants continued to live even after they were eaten?
Define "Living".. Plants dont have souls. And maybe they don't exist individually as we do. When the species becomes extinct maybe that is a sort of death.....  

This thread makes my head hurt.
 

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Marc1152 said:
Ortho_cat said:
jckstraw72 said:
Jetavan said:
jckstraw72 said:
chrevbel said:
Sleeper said:
Jetavan said:
Sounds compatible with Orthodoxy.
And quite beautiful if you ask me.
Evolution is an absolutely phenomenal wonder of God's creation.  Those who deny it are denying him part of his glory.
death is not a part of God's creation....
Didn't Adam and Eve eat plants (which thus lead to the death of plants) before the Fall?
http://oldbelieving.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/no-plant-death-before-the-fall/
So the plants continued to live even after they were eaten?
Define "Living".. Plants dont have souls. And maybe they don't exist individually as we do. When the species becomes extinct maybe that is a sort of death.....  

This thread makes my head hurt.
dead plant:



live plant:



 

jckstraw72

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minasoliman said:
Yes, but St. Basil according to your Greek Church believed that only man was immortal, and when disobeying God, returned to the world of death.
i disagree with this. St. Basil wrote:

On the Origin of Humanity 2.6
Doubtless indeed vultures did not look around the earth when living things came to be. For nothing yet died of these things given meaning or brought into being by God, so that vultures might eat it. Nature was not divided, for it was in its prime; nor did hunters kill, for that not yet the custom of human beings; nor did wild beasts claw their prey, for they were not yet carnivores. And it is customary for vultures to feed on corpses, but since there were not yet corpses, nor yet their stench, so there was not yet such food for vultures. But all followed the diet of swans and all grazed the meadows.
and

Hexameron 9.5
And let nobody accuse the Creator of having produced venomous animals, destroyers and enemies of our life.  Else let them consider it a crime in the schoolmaster when he disciplines the restlessness of youth by the use of the rod and whip to maintain order.
[quote author=minasoliman]With the Philocalia of Origen, you have to admit.  They could have taken out the passage of the allegory of the trees in his works if they wanted to.  St. Basil may be expressing his own opinion perhaps, but he still agreed with St. Gregory to include this Origenian passage as permissible to read, and I'm quoting out of memory, "what man with a right mind would believe that a tree gives immortal life or imparts in man some sort of knowledge of good and evil?"  St. Basil may not like allegory everywhere, but this particular case, he allows it.[/quote]

well i havent read that work so i cant comment too much on it. however, i still think it is significant that St. Gregory considers St. Basil's work to be so sublime that it brings him into the presence of God (St. Ambrose and St. Gregory of Nyssa have similar praise for St. Basil's work). Again, he says:

Oration 43, Funeral Oration for St. Basil, Chapter 67,
I will only say this of him. Whenever I handle his Hexaemeron, and take its words on my lips, I am brought into the presence of the Creator, and understand the words of creation, and admire the Creator more than before, using my teacher as my only means of sight.
he is saying that St. Basil's material work lifts him to spiritual heights. that would seem an odd praise to me if St. Basil actually lowered the trees from their spiritual heights to being mere, literal trees. i think its a basic premise of the Fathers that literal and spiritual interpretations aren't mutually exclusive.

there is also the possibility that St. Basil's view changed over time. IIRC, St. Ambrose's earlier work, Paradise is much more allegorical than his later work the Hexameron, which is largely based on St. Basil's work.

[quote author=minasoliman]It's amazing how St. Basil shows disagreement with St. Dionysius.  St. Mark of Ephesus talks about the same St. Dionysius, and even St. Gregory Thevmaturgus, a man who performed miracles, can also write mistakes (who knew!).  Fr. Seraphim Rose also taught how we shouldn't remove sainthood from St. Augustine even if he may have written some wrong views.  To Fr. Seraphim's credit, I will give him that, and I hope you may realize that Fr. Seraphim's holiness is not diminished if his views are also disagreeable.  God performed miracles through him, but that doesn't mean Fr. Seraphim's every word is inerrant.  St. Clement of Rome, a direct Apostolic descendant of St. Paul believed the Phoenix was real!  Isn't it enough that I quote from a bishop that I have profound respect for who probably considers me a Coptic Monophysite heretic?[/quote]

of course there are times that the Fathers disagree, but i dont think this issue is one of those times. there may be minor variations, but the main issues are pretty clear, in my opinion. and im not worried about diminishing Fr. Seraphim's holiness. he is merely the one who showed me what the Fathers had to say. if he were alone on this issue i wouldnt be so interested in it, but he demonstrated that the Fathers spoke as with one voice.

[quote author=minasoliman]It's interesting that you quote St. Ephraim who believed in the literal seven days, and yet St. Basil in implied disagreement believe we live in the 7th day.  So St. Basil seems to allow some allegory.  And St. John Chrysostom is very clearly anti-Alexandrian in his approach because he comes from a certain school of thought on exegesis.[/quote]

again, allegory and literality are not mutually exclusive. St. Basil also understands the days literally. He says:

Hexameron 2.8
Why does Scripture say "one day the first day"? Before speaking to us of the second, the third, and the fourth days, would it not have been more natural to call that one the first which began the series? If it therefore says "one day," it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain. Now twenty-four hours fill up the space of one day-we mean of a day and of a night; and if, at the time of the solstices, they have not both an equal length, the time marked by Scripture does not the less circumscribe their duration. It is as though it said: twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or that, in reality a day is the time that the heavens starting from one point take to return there. Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun, evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never exceeds the space of one day. But must we believe in a mysterious reason for this? God who made the nature of time measured it out and determined it by intervals of days; and, wishing to give it a week as a measure, he ordered the week to revolve from period to period upon itself, to count the movement of time, forming the week of one day revolving seven times upon itself: a proper circle begins and ends with itself.
[quote author=minasoliman]There is no consistent view of the first three chapters of Genesis among the Church fathers as you make it out to be.  They don't agree on the exact age of the earth, or the timeline of the six days (i.e. how days should be interpreted), and they don't even agree on whether all of creation was incorrupt with man or not.  You pick and choose Church father quotes in your blogs to further your cause, and some you even misinterpret. [/quote]

well obviously i, and many others disagree with you on this. even looking at the poll, the majority of voters believe that the literal level of Genesis is valid. i have yet to see any Father, other than St. Augustine, who actually excludes the literal interpretation of the length of the days, and even St. Augustine insisted upon accepting a young earth, saying those who disagree deserve to be mocked!

[quote author=minasoliman] Take ST. Maximus the Confessor for instance in your blog about "No plant death before the fall."  St. Maximus talked about man who rejected "nourishment from God."  He didn't say rejected nourishment from a tree, but took an allegorical approach (in fact, St. Maximus was very very very allegorical, and I'm surprised you use him as a support.  He was an advocate of the idea that as soon as man was created, almost in a split second, the Fall occurred).
[/quote]

nourishment from a tree is not mutually exclusive with nourishment from God. Doesn't God nourish you with bread and wine? didndt He regenerate you with water? of course a tree has no power in and of itself, just as the Cross has no power in and of itself, and yet we can bow before the Cross as the instrument of our salvation. i dont know why this is any different.

and again, St. Maximus is indeed allegorical, but thats not mutually exclusive from literal. There is a fairly recent issue of the Orthodox Word entitled "Created in Incorruption" (http://www.stherman.com/Catalog/Writings_of_Father_Seraphim/OW_258-9.htm) which is a talk given by Fr. Damascene. St. Maximus and St. Symeon the New Theologian are actually two of his biggest sources.

and however long it took man to fall has no bearing on whether or not man's existence in Paradise is literal or not. but nevertheless, Fr. Damascene does address this issue, and demonstrates that St. Maximus is speaking in a relative sense - man fell relatively quickly. He points out that elsewhere St. Maximus also talks about man in his original condition and how he later became. He puts actual time between man's creation and fall.
 

jckstraw72

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here is a helpful quote from St. Augustine:

City of God, Book XIII.XXI
On this account some allegorize all that concerns Paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, ...as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial Paradise! As if there never existed these two women, Sarah and Hagar, nor the two sons who were born to Abraham, the one of the bond woman, the other of the free, because the apostle says that in them the two covenants were prefigured; or as if water never flowed from the rock when Moses struck it, because therein Christ can be seen in a figure, as the same apostle says, "Now that rock was Christ!" No one, then, denies that Paradise may signify the life of the blessed; its four rivers, the four virtues, prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice; its trees, all useful knowledge; its fruits, the customs of the godly; its tree of life, wisdom herself, the mother of all good; and the tree of the knowledge of good ...and evil, the experience of a broken commandment. The punishment which God appointed was in itself, a just, and therefore a good thing; but man's experience of it is not good.. . .These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon Paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts.
this is echoed by St. Methodios:

Discourses, III.2
For it is a dangerous thing wholly to despise the literal meaning,5 as has been said, and especially of Genesis, where the unchangeable decrees of God for the constitution of the universe are set forth, in agreement with which, even until now, the world is perfectly ordered, most beautifully in accordance with a perfect rule, until the Lawgiver Himself having re-arranged it, wishing to order it anew, shall break up the first laws of nature by a fresh disposition. But, since it is not fitting to leave the demonstration of the argument unexamined-and, so to speak, half-lame-come let us, as it were completing our pair, bring forth the analogical sense, looking more deeply into the Scripture; for Paul is not to be despised when he passes over the literal meaning, and shows that the words extend to Christ and the Church


and here St. Maximus says that it is indeed all of creation that perishes because of our sins:

Ad Thalassium 6.1
What I am saying is that in the beginning sin seduced Adam and persuaded him to transgress God's commandment, whereby sin gave rise to pleasure and, by means of this pleasure, nailed itself in Adam to the very depths of our nature, thus condemning our whole human nature to death and, via humanity, pressing the nature of (all) created beings toward mortal extinction. 
and

Ad Thalassium 65
Through sin, this cosmos became a place of death and corruption.
 

minasoliman

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jckstraw72 said:
minasoliman said:
Ortho_cat said:
minasoliman said:
We have to differentiate what man is by nature, and what man is by grace.  By grace, man was immortal.  By nature, man is mortal.

If you're going to call a Tree a literal Tree that granted immortality, then you are calling the Tree the provider of grace, which is something only God can do.
I just read your post here after I posted mine...it appears we're on the same brainwave!  :laugh: :-*
:)

I'm searching online and I found that there lived a 4th century bishop, Nemesius of Emesa, who wrote a treatise "On the Nature of Man" who seems to think along this line as well, who influenced the theological thinking of St. Maximus the Confessor and St. John of Damascus.

St. Athanasius taught that if man can secure the grace by obeying the law, immortality will be assured, and equated the Tree of Life with the Word of God.  The important part here is that grace is given.  The idea of a tree is to prepare one to understand the true Tree, i.e. the Cross where we receive our True Fruit, that is the Eucharist.  I don't know why it's so hard for people to get this.  It is very clear for me in light of the NT.
no one is denying the obvious typology of the Tree to the Cross, but i dont understand why that has to lead to a denial of the literal tree. the Cross is certainly literal. we just discussed yesterday in length in my hermeneutics class here at St. Tikhon's about how allegorical interpretation weren't used to the exclusion of literal interpretations for the most part. the Fathers used allegory to spiritually benefit their flocks, but it was understood that if the allegory doesn't help, then don't use it. allegory was never used for developing dogma, according to Dr. Mary.

she wrote her thesis in defense of allegorical interpretations, as i guess that method has come under attack in Biblical Studies crowds, and i asked her if she thought there were times when the Fathers did go overboard with their allegories (i had in mind some commentaries i had read, i think by St. Gregory the Great), and she said that if the Fathers were using them then it must have been palatable for their culture, and if it reaped spiritual benefit then we can't say their allegories were over the top. but we live in a culture shaped by the Enlightenment where allegory is not so palatable, and so, she said, if i don't like a particular allegory, or think its too much of a stretch, then just dont read it. if its not beneficial, dont use it. and she reiterated that dogma is never formed from allegory anyways.
This is the same Paradise the saints enjoy today.  The Cherubim that blocked the way to Paradise opened it to the Thief who first came there.  These saints do not have bodies because the second coming has not been achieved, but certainly they do partake of the many plants and trees that give life, and perhaps now, they also have knowledge as well.

For those who do accept a literal tree, you can still find that they do not reject the most important ingredient.  First the plants and trees were not like trees on earth.  So even it if was literal, it was not even the same, but a much higher more grand species, most beautiful, cultivated by God Himself so to speak.  Yet, they also talked about Wisdom, or the Word of God as a tree of Life.  Some even pertained to the Tree of Knowledge as the Word of God Incarnate, that is that's how one partakes of both Life and Knowledge in one.  And all the plants of the field and all the trees represent the uncreated energies of God.

When we go back to this Paradise, where is this tree?  I do not need a "tree."  I don't read in the Church fathers that we will go back and see the same trees Adam had.  Instead, the Tree literally is the Cross, and the fruit literally is Christ.  When I'm alive, or when I'm in Paradise, or when the Second coming is here, that Tree and that Fruit is eternally the true tree and the true fruit.

So in consistency with the disagreeing fathers, I believe they had something in common, that the fruit of the tree represented the Word of God, and that the fruits of other plants represented his energies.  Why "tree"?  Because it's prophetic.
 

jckstraw72

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minasoliman said:
jckstraw72 said:
minasoliman said:
Ortho_cat said:
minasoliman said:
We have to differentiate what man is by nature, and what man is by grace.  By grace, man was immortal.  By nature, man is mortal.

If you're going to call a Tree a literal Tree that granted immortality, then you are calling the Tree the provider of grace, which is something only God can do.
I just read your post here after I posted mine...it appears we're on the same brainwave!  :laugh: :-*
:)

I'm searching online and I found that there lived a 4th century bishop, Nemesius of Emesa, who wrote a treatise "On the Nature of Man" who seems to think along this line as well, who influenced the theological thinking of St. Maximus the Confessor and St. John of Damascus.

St. Athanasius taught that if man can secure the grace by obeying the law, immortality will be assured, and equated the Tree of Life with the Word of God.  The important part here is that grace is given.  The idea of a tree is to prepare one to understand the true Tree, i.e. the Cross where we receive our True Fruit, that is the Eucharist.  I don't know why it's so hard for people to get this.  It is very clear for me in light of the NT.
no one is denying the obvious typology of the Tree to the Cross, but i dont understand why that has to lead to a denial of the literal tree. the Cross is certainly literal. we just discussed yesterday in length in my hermeneutics class here at St. Tikhon's about how allegorical interpretation weren't used to the exclusion of literal interpretations for the most part. the Fathers used allegory to spiritually benefit their flocks, but it was understood that if the allegory doesn't help, then don't use it. allegory was never used for developing dogma, according to Dr. Mary.

she wrote her thesis in defense of allegorical interpretations, as i guess that method has come under attack in Biblical Studies crowds, and i asked her if she thought there were times when the Fathers did go overboard with their allegories (i had in mind some commentaries i had read, i think by St. Gregory the Great), and she said that if the Fathers were using them then it must have been palatable for their culture, and if it reaped spiritual benefit then we can't say their allegories were over the top. but we live in a culture shaped by the Enlightenment where allegory is not so palatable, and so, she said, if i don't like a particular allegory, or think its too much of a stretch, then just dont read it. if its not beneficial, dont use it. and she reiterated that dogma is never formed from allegory anyways.
This is the same Paradise the saints enjoy today.  The Cherubim that blocked the way to Paradise opened it to the Thief who first came there.  These saints do not have bodies because the second coming has not been achieved, but certainly they do partake of the many plants and trees that give life, and perhaps now, they also have knowledge as well.

For those who do accept a literal tree, you can still find that they do not reject the most important ingredient.  First the plants and trees were not like trees on earth.  So even it if was literal, it was not even the same, but a much higher more grand species, most beautiful, cultivated by God Himself so to speak.  Yet, they also talked about Wisdom, or the Word of God as a tree of Life.  Some even pertained to the Tree of Knowledge as the Word of God Incarnate, that is that's how one partakes of both Life and Knowledge in one.  And all the plants of the field and all the trees represent the uncreated energies of God.

When we go back to this Paradise, where is this tree?  I do not need a "tree."  I don't read in the Church fathers that we will go back and see the same trees Adam had.  Instead, the Tree literally is the Cross, and the fruit literally is Christ.  When I'm alive, or when I'm in Paradise, or when the Second coming is here, that Tree and that Fruit is eternally the true tree and the true fruit.

So in consistency with the disagreeing fathers, I believe they had something in common, that the fruit of the tree represented the Word of God, and that the fruits of other plants represented his energies.  Why "tree"?  Because it's prophetic.
i pretty much agree with this. definitely everything about that Paradisal world is different than we know - more spiritual. this is especially spoken of in regards to our bodies i think. to support this point, St. Theophilus says:

To Autolycus, II.XXIV
God, then, caused to spring out of the earth every tree that is beautiful in appearance, or good for food. For at first there were only those things which were produced on the third day,-plants, and seeds, and herbs; but the things which were in Paradise were made of a superior loveliness and beauty, since in it the plants were said to have been planted by God. As to the rest of the plants, indeed, the world contained plants like them; but the two trees,-the tree of life and the tree of knowledge,-the rest of the earth possessed not, but only Paradise. And that Paradise is earth, and is planted on the earth, the Scripture states, saying: "And the Lord God planted Paradise in Eden eastwards, and placed man there; and out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food."
however, i also wouldnt expect (i could be wrong) to receive of the Eucharist in Paradise, but this doesnt reduce the Eucharist to an allegory.

you seem to say that trees were simply used as a literary means of prophesying, but i would say that trees were literally there in the garden for the purpose of prophesying! having actually experienced those trees in the garden, Adam and Eve were being prepared to accept Christ Who would come to Hades preaching about a victory on a tree! if the trees were only later, literary inventions, then Adam and Eve would be bereft of this actual parallel to point them towards Christ.

thats why i dont like when people want to turn so much in the Old Testament (thinking more of Biblical criticism here) into mere myths or symbols. then only those people reading the Old Testament are actually prepared - the people who actually lived these things didnt receive actualy foreshadowings of Christ, because all these stories are just myths or symbols!
 

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The same St. Augustine that teaches we should be mindful of the science of our days, that our interpretation of Genesis may change?

The same St. Basil who your liturgical tradition, which I believe holds more weight by the fact that you pray it, quotes?

Even herbivores, which the Church fathers talk about eat and kill plants for food, and the plants regrow.  The Church fathers saw "life" in plants but they didn't see in plants the same "life" animals have.  But today in biological science, we find that indeed plants do have the same biochemistry, the same DNA, similar modes of reproducibility and mutations and disease, etc.  So we can't say today plants are without life.  So we find that it was okay to kill and eat plants in Paradise!  And so the Church fathers talked about eating plants, they don't lose life in the same way as animals do.  But in fact, they were scientifically mistaken.  Therefore, in today's understanding, their interpretations don't make sense.

I can simply say the scientific evidence doesn't support their ideas anymore.  Many of them wrote what they thought of in their own opinion.  You see the words "I think" or "In my view" when they write.  Let us be mindful of other interpretations at the time.

For you Fr. Seraphim.  For me, Bishop Alexander will be a Church father to quote from:

Some people draw the conclusion from the Bible’s account of Adam and Eve that, before the fall of the first man, neither death nor decay existed in nature: life all over Earth flowed smoothly without storms or cataclysms, animals of prey fed on grass, and neither insects, fish, nor animals died, but rather all of them enjoyed immortality together with man. This idealization of the primitive world has no basis.

The very concept of death is full of human tragedy. Do we really have the right to apply the word death in the same sense to the plant or animal world? The departure of animals is not a death similar to the departure from life of Godlike man, who was made to be immortal. The division of a living cell, the loss of bacteria or an insect, or the halting of physiological processes in an ape is not the same thing as the demise of a human. Animals were not promised immortality, and they do not die because they broke the commandment. On the contrary, their death is just as natural a process as their birth. From the appearance of the first living cell in the world up until the creation of Adam, birth and death flowed in an uninterrupted stream. If it had been otherwise, the world would have become overpopulated with animals with nothing to feed upon soon after its creation. Only death and decay could pave the way for the birth of new creatures.

Adam was made to be immortal, not by his nature, but rather, conditionally, insofar as he was given access to the Tree of Life as a reward for fulfilling the commandment. In warning Adam about the danger of death, the Maker did not have in mind physical so much as spiritual death — that he would be deprived of the life-giving grace of the Holy Spirit. However, theoretically, Adam could have prolonged his physical life if he had eaten from the fruit of the Tree of Life after the Fall, too. It is specifically because God denied Adam access to the Tree of Life that he was doomed to physical death. Saint Gregory the Theologian explains that God fixed things so that the moral "evil [which entered Adam] did not become immortal." The fact that Adam was created outside of Eden already tells us that he must have been acquainted with death in the animal kingdom.

It may be assume that before the Fall of Adam there were no predators within the limits of Eden and only herbivores and harmless animals lived there. But beyond the limits of Eden, life flowed in its primordial rhythm. We know from paleontology that long before the birth of man there were predators even more fierce than today’s. From the very beginning, life and death alternated on all levels of existence — from microorganisms to the very largest animals. Just look at the skeleton of the prehistoric tyrannosaurus, whose teeth, sharp as a knife, reached lengths of 15 centimeters (6 inches). He certainly didn’t feed on grass!

Paleontology has counted about ten cases of relatively short periods from 500 to 65 million years ago during which massive extinctions of an enormous quantity of animal and plant species occurred. Perhaps the most grandiose massive extinction took place about 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when 50 to 90 percent of the species inhabiting Earth, or about 200 of 400 known families, were wiped off the face of the Earth. Another massive extinction of apocalyptic proportions occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago, which led to the death of all dinosaurs and ammonites.

But in that case, how are we to interpret the words of the Apostle Paul: "For the earnest expectation of the creature eagerly awaits for the revealing of the sons of God... For the creature was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;.. because the creature itself also wall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. Chapter 8:19-21)?

Is the Apostle not indicating here that death and decay in the world were the result of the Fall of Adam? It seems to us that here he is talking not about the past, but about the future. The Apostle’s basic idea is that nature is imperfect and perishable because man, the crown of creation, was expected to perfect himself spiritually. But since man fell morally, nature remained perishable and imperfect without reaching the ideal state it was destined for. When the faithful part of mankind is honored with immortality after the universal resurrection from the dead, then the rest of the physical world will be transformed into new heavens and a new earth (see II Pet. 3:13). On the "day" after the universal resurrection, all of nature will be renewed, and the lowest creature, together with man, will be free from the laws of decay and destruction. What will nature look like then, and will it still have the plants and animals we know? The Apostle does not answer these questions. There are hints in the Bible that there will be something similar in the new world to what we see here (Is. 11:6-9, Is. 65:17-25; Rev. ch. 21-22). However, it is useless to try to imagine now what that spiritual world will look like, because time itself, space, and all the laws of nature will have completely new substance.

We have already cursorily mentioned the misunderstanding concerning Earth’s position in the galaxy. Since Moses describes everything from the point of view of an observer on earth, the impression is created that Earth is the center of the universe. Roman Catholic theologians defended this view with much pathos: "It is not fitting for the Earth, to which the Lord had to descend, to spin around in space like a child’s top." Fortunately, with time good sense triumphed and now no one can seriously repeat the old error about the universe’s rotation around Earth. This case vividly illustrates the problem that a biased understanding of some expressions in the Bible can cause when one is unaware of or ignores basic scientific data.
And certainly this is not Biblical criticism of the 18th century.  This is Alexandrian allegory since Philo.

And since you agree with what I say, why then would something cease to exist when we go back to Paradise not finding exactly what Adam in Genesis is said to have?  Are you saying God brings things into existence and then takes them away in Paradise?
 

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Ortho_cat said:
I think we all agree then that if not for the tree of life, whatever that is taken to be, then man would not have been immortal, correct?
No, I doubt that we all agree on anything.  I, however, agree with you completely.  After our eating from the Tree of Knowledge, God was quite explicit in nipping that little problem in the bud, not wanting us to eat from the Tree of Life and become immortal.  Basic logic would seem to indicate that if one can become immortal, then one is not immortal already.  But then again, many would refuse to let basic logic get in the way of a good argument, anyway.
 

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chrevbel said:
Ortho_cat said:
I think we all agree then that if not for the tree of life, whatever that is taken to be, then man would not have been immortal, correct?
No, I doubt that we all agree on anything.  I, however, agree with you completely.  After our eating from the Tree of Knowledge, God was quite explicit in nipping that little problem in the bud, not wanting us to eat from the Tree of Life and become immortal.  Basic logic would seem to indicate that if one can become immortal, then one is not immortal already.  But then again, many would refuse to let basic logic get in the way of a good argument, anyway.
man was not created immortal in the sense that he was not definitely going to live forever - he was created in an in-between state. it remained to be seen which way man's will would go - to life or death. however, the Fathers are clear that man would not have died had he not sinned. This is pronounced by an Ecumenical Council. Since man was not created in a state of sin, the state of man at his very creation was not necessarily heading towards death. this is not compatible with evolution which knows only the natural necessity of death.
 

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Couldn't they be tied together though?  Man could not have died without sin, precisely because it was sin that banished them from Eden, and thus, the Tree of Life.

I've always understood the banishment from Eden to be an act of mercy, rather than an act of punishment.  Had God not done so, and barred man from ever entering there again, man could've been immortal in that horrific state of sin, feasting upon the Tree of Life.

I'm open to adjusting this viewpoint of course, so if you think it's way off, I'd like to read some thoughts about it.
 

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Sleeper said:
Couldn't they be tied together though?  Man could not have died without sin, precisely because it was sin that banished them from Eden, and thus, the Tree of Life.

I've always understood the banishment from Eden to be an act of mercy, rather than an act of punishment.  Had God not done so, and barred man from ever entering there again, man could've been immortal in that horrific state of sin, feasting upon the Tree of Life.

I'm open to adjusting this viewpoint of course, so if you think it's way off, I'd like to read some thoughts about it.
that is my understanding.

and thats the problem here -- it is sin and the expulsion from the Garden that plunges man into mortality, not natural necessity. I know of no "sinlessness = immortality" caveat in the theory of evolution.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
chrevbel said:
Ortho_cat said:
I think we all agree then that if not for the tree of life, whatever that is taken to be, then man would not have been immortal, correct?
No, I doubt that we all agree on anything.  I, however, agree with you completely.  After our eating from the Tree of Knowledge, God was quite explicit in nipping that little problem in the bud, not wanting us to eat from the Tree of Life and become immortal.  Basic logic would seem to indicate that if one can become immortal, then one is not immortal already.  But then again, many would refuse to let basic logic get in the way of a good argument, anyway.
the Fathers are clear that man would not have died had he not sinned. This is pronounced by an Ecumenical Council. Since man was not created in a state of sin, the state of man at his very creation was not necessarily heading towards death.
All what you said is compatible with the idea that animals and plants experienced (or would eventually experience) physical death before the Fall.
 

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Jetavan said:
jckstraw72 said:
chrevbel said:
Ortho_cat said:
I think we all agree then that if not for the tree of life, whatever that is taken to be, then man would not have been immortal, correct?
No, I doubt that we all agree on anything.  I, however, agree with you completely.  After our eating from the Tree of Knowledge, God was quite explicit in nipping that little problem in the bud, not wanting us to eat from the Tree of Life and become immortal.  Basic logic would seem to indicate that if one can become immortal, then one is not immortal already.  But then again, many would refuse to let basic logic get in the way of a good argument, anyway.
the Fathers are clear that man would not have died had he not sinned. This is pronounced by an Ecumenical Council. Since man was not created in a state of sin, the state of man at his very creation was not necessarily heading towards death.
All what you said is compatible with the idea that animals and plants experienced (or would eventually experience) physical death before the Fall.
in that reponse i was dealing just with humanity. much has been said on both sides about animals and plants throughout this thread, however. it is a basic tenet of the Fathers that the fate of creation is tied to that of man.

just for one example:

St. John Chrysostom,
Homilies on Romans, 10.
What armed death against the cosmos? The fact that one man tasted of the tree only. 
Homilies on Romans, 14.
What is the meaning of "the creation was made subject to futility"? That it became corruptible. For what cause, and on what account? On account of you, O man. For since you took a body mortal and subject to suffering, so also the earth received a curse, and brought forth thorns and thistles.
Homilies on Romans, 14
He [the Apostle Paul] discourses concerning creation's bondage, and shows for whose sake such a thing has occurred -- and he places the blame on us. What then? In suffering these things on account of another, has creation been maltreated? By no means, for it has come into being for my sake. So then, how could that which has come into being for my sake be unjustly treated in suffering those things for my correction?
 

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And again from your very own liturgy:

minasoliman said:
The Greek Liturgy of St. Basil states:

For having made man by taking dust from the earth, and having honored him with Your own image, 0 God, You placed him in a garden of delight, promising him eternal life and the enjoyment of everlasting blessings in the observance of Your commandments. But when he disobeyed You, the true God who had created him, and was led astray by the deception of the serpent becoming subject to death through his own transgressions, You, 0 God, in Your righteous judgment, expelled him from paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Your Christ.
This is very similar to what St. Athanasius believed.

God bless.

Mina
Maybe, St. Basil likes to think of Paradise as having some animals and plants that were immortal.  But certainly not the world.
 

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I think this is essential in learning about the Fall:

Rev. George Mastrantonis' [url=http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7078]Exorcism[/url] said:
To understand the nature of exorcism it is necessary to understand the nature of Adam's corruption after his "fall" from Paradise. Adam was created with spiritual gifts given to him for his perfection, as well as the Grace of God. Adam was created "in the image" and "after the likeness" of God. "In the image" means that he had the potential, through free will, to reach the higher level that is "after the likeness" of God, being without corruption. Had the 'gifts bestowed on man by God been properly cultivated in Paradise, man - by the Grace of God - could have become holy and righteous and attained the "likeness" of God, instead of becoming corrupt and bringing about his own death. This is the, teaching of the Church on the state of man in Paradise. Adam was expected to exercise this free will and be tested in his effort to reach his destination - "after the likeness" of God, not death. He was tested by an opponent of the same nature and equal abilities. His opponent was envious and clever, a fallen angel in the form of a serpent, demon, Satan and Devil. His weapons were arrogance and disobedience, which he used to tempt Adam and Eve. He was "that ancient serpent, who is calledthe Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world", Rev. 12:9; "He (the serpent) was a murderer from the beginning", John 8:44.

Adam and Eve were tempted by arrogance, disobedience, selfishness and the desire for independence. Adam's sin of arrogance and disobedience to God's Will was a mortal one which penetrated his existence and that of subsequent generations. Thus, the punishment of the original sin is death, as revealed in Scripture: "for the wages of sin is death", Romans 6:23. Therefore, "none isrighteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. . . there is no fear of God before their eyes", Rom. 3:10-11,18. Almighty God in His compassion sent His Son to save "fallen" man and to reconcile him with God, for "as by one man's disobedience manywere made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be maderighteous, Rom. 5:19. The excellences and qualities created in Adam were diminished and became blurred after his "fall"; still, man retained a spark of desire for perfection and distinguishing between good and evil. This blurred state in "fallen" man is sufficient, however, for him to know and to accept in humility and obedience God's Revealed Truths for his salvation in Christ. With this understanding of the nature and consequence of Adam's sin, the need for the exorcism of evil is more evident in baptism.
 
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