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

DerekMK

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Ziggernaut said:
You are correct as far as it goes.  In a "worldly" sense, we may in some ways be better off.  But what about the state of our souls, you know, all that "not-of-this-world" kind of stuff which our faith, such as we have it, addresses?  Are we just biological entities with no stake in the Kingdom of God?  And what about the notion, not originally formulated by me, that the blessings you speak about above are driven by, amongst other things, an extreme fear of death based upon an unacknowledged lack of trust in or even total disbelief in God?
If you think these things are so evil you can easily move to a developing nation and adopt a lifestyle that is centuries behind western standards.  And if you read some actual history of day to day life in previous centuries and not some romantic account, I think you'll find that in many cases it is much easier to live a Christian life in our society.  For instance Hoch's Serfdom and Social Control in Russia.   

 

ytterbiumanalyst

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Ziggernaut said:
Also, I'm certainly no geneticist, but I seriously doubt that my immunity to small-pox, acquired not from my parents but, supposedly, from my childhood small-pox vaccination, has been passed on to my son.  So, perhaps that's not the most appropriate example to use.
Ah, but you live after the invention of the smallpox vaccine. The situation I cited took place long before vaccines; therefore, it was a true case of natural selection.
 

DerekMK

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EkhristosAnesti said:
For the Fathers, Scriptural exegesis was never determined by secular ideologies, but rather by the faith of the Church (or the rule of faith, or tradition). The Fathers were neither Neo-Platonists, nor Middle-Platonists, nor Stoics, nor anything other than Christians.
That's a blend of wishful thinking and hagiography at best. 
 

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Νεκτάριος said:
If you think these things are so evil you can easily move to a developing nation and adopt a lifestyle that is centuries behind western standards.  And if you read some actual history of day to day life in previous centuries and not some romantic account, I think you'll find that in many cases it is much easier to live a Christian life in our society.  For instance Hoch's Serfdom and Social Control in Russia.   
I never said they "are so evil".  Things in and of themselves are not evil.  It is how we use or mis-use them--but I think you probably already know that.  And I have lived in a developing nation.  And I never said that I didn't appreciate my comforts, and the material benefits we have in this society.  Perhaps you should re-read my posts without assuming what my values are or where I have and have not been in life.  And have you lived, as a Christian, in a society whose lifestyle is centuries behind ours?  It is never easy to live a truely Christian life, and each age has its own peculiar challenges.  One of ours is the rampant materialism that seduces so very many of us in so very many and subtle ways.

In Christ,
Jeff
 
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Νεκτάριος said:
That's a blend of wishful thinking and hagiography at best.
Don't patronise me. These are the conclusions i've drawn after a careful study of the methodology of certain Fathers, particularly as such a methodology is manifest in light of their debates with pagans and heretics--especially the latter given that the major problem of the early heretics was their succumbing to popular philosophical ideas and concepts to the detriment of the faith of the Church. They began with theories; the Fathers began with revelation. We can start a new thread on this very general subject and we can begin with St Gregory of Nyssa as a case study (since I am in the process of reading a thesis on his theology) if you wish. I am prepared to back up the points i've made with reference to primary and secondary sources. Are you? I would hope you have the ability to properly engage with my arguments. I have already demonstrated, no matter how briefly, how the Fathers approached Genesis; you've presented nothing but conjecture.
 
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greekischristian said:
In the end, we are blessed by the fact that modern pharmaceutical researchers and molecular biologists are wise beyond comparison to various fourth and fifth century personalities. They have, of course, been blessed by true knowledge, beyond what could ever be achieved via theological agenda; but they have taken this knowledge and it is used to real and tangable benefit to the human race. At the end of the day, what it comes down to is that evolutionary theory has benefited humanity in ways that no theology, especially creationism, could ever dream of doing; it is the very basis and foundation of modern biology and medicine which has given blessings, unparalled in the history of the world, to the human race.
I'm really not concerned with the evolution vs. creationism debate per se. I am just concerned with how evolutionists try to uphold the theory of evolution whilst attempting simultaneously to maintain the integrity of the Fathers with arguments like: "Had evolution been the popular scientific explanation of creation at the time, they would have adopted it." All the evidence suggests that consideration of any popular scientific/philosophical idea in their day was subject first and foremost to their conception of the faith of the Church as it was borne out by divine revelation. Given that the Fathers saw their cosmology as being based on such divine revelation, it follows that any cosmological theory opposed to such a cosmology would have been dismissed. Do you acknowledge this? If not, I would hope to see you at least demonstrate your opposing view. If you could begin by engaging with the quotations provided earlier, that would be great.
 

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EkhristosAnesti said:
I'm really not concerned with the evolution vs. creationism debate per se. I am just concerned with how evolutionists try to uphold the theory of evolution whilst attempting simultaneously to maintain the integrity of the Fathers with arguments like: "Had evolution been the popular scientific explanation of creation at the time, they would have adopted it." All the evidence suggests that they would never have given that consideration to any popular idea in their day was subject first and foremost to their conception of the faith of the Church as it was borne out by divine revelation. Given that the Fathers' saw their cosmology as being based on such divine revelation, it follows that any cosmological theory opposed to such a cosmology would have been dismissed. Do you acknowledge this? If not, I would hope to see you at least demonstrate your opposing view. If you could begin by engaging with the quotations provided earlier, that would be great.
The entire question is inherently one of conjecture: if they overwhelming evidence of evolution had existed in the Patristic era, would the fathers have incorporated it into their exegesis of Genesis?  And, yes, I can cite both primary and secondary sources to my claim that the church fathers did partake of a spirit of reactionary anti-intellectualism that seems to define modern Orthodox theology.  I mentioned some of them before in this thread.  And I'm not really that interested in carrying this debate any further - apparently what men of the early Christian era thought about near eastern mythology and folklore is your life's work and for me it's just a hobby. 
 
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The entire question is inherently one of conjecture:
Not entirely. A plausible logical inference can be made if we can establish a premise concerning how the Fathers actually approached popular philosophical/scientific ideas of their day, in addition to a premise concerning how they approached the Book of Genesis in particular. The general argument I am making is simple:

Premise A: The Fathers subjected every popular philosophical/scientific idea to their conception of the faith of the Church as it was borne out by revelation. In any given conflict between philosophy/science and revelation; the latter took precedence.

Premise B: The Fathers' cosmological views were based on their conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis.

Conclusion A: Any popular cosmological view contrary to the Fathers' conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis would be rejected by the Fathers.

Premise C: The theory of evolution is contrary to the Fathers' conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis.

Conclusion B: The theory of evolution would be rejected by the Fathers, even if it constituted the popular scientific view of their day.

And, yes, I can cite both primary and secondary sources to my claim that the church fathers did partake of a spirit of reactionary anti-intellectualism that seems to define modern Orthodox theology.
Well, our little debate ends here then doesn't it? I am not here to argue how to interpret the Fathers' subjection of philosophy/science to revelation, only to argue that such a methodology defined the predominant patristic approach.
 

Credo.InDeum

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EkhristosAnesti said:
Not entirely. A plausible logical inference can be made if we can establish a premise concerning how the Fathers actually approached popular philosophical/scientific ideas of their day, in addition to a premise concerning how they approached the Book of Genesis in particular. The general argument I am making is simple:

Premise A: The Fathers subjected every popular philosophical/scientific idea to their conception of the faith of the Church as it was borne out by revelation. In any given conflict between philosophy/science and revelation; the latter took precedence.

Premise B: The Fathers' cosmological views were based on their conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis.

Conclusion A: Any popular cosmological view contrary to the Fathers' conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis would be rejected by the Fathers.

Premise C: The theory of evolution is contrary to the Fathers' conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis.

Conclusion B: The theory of evolution would be rejected by the Fathers, even if it constituted the popular scientific view of their day.


Well, our little debate ends here then doesn't it? I am not here to argue how to interpret the Fathers' subjection of philosophy/science to revelation, only to argue that such a methodology defined the predominant patristic approach.
I read this a few times and it still came out the same way; if I am not mistaken what you're saying is
  • I Believe that the church Fathers were obscurantists.
  • Threfore the fathers would reject biological evolutuion if they had seen it.
Which is a very poor argument to make.
 
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Credo.InDeum said:
I read this a few times and it still came out the same way; if I am not mistaken what you're saying is
  • I Believe that the church Fathers were obscurantists.
Huh?  ???

Maybe you need to read it a few more times, because I am at a complete loss as to how you could infer any suggestion in anything i've said, about the Fathers being vague about anything.
 

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  • EkhristosAnesti said:
    Huh?  ???

    Maybe you need to read it a few more times, because I am at a complete loss as to how you could infer any suggestion about the Fathers being vague about anything.
Well let's examine what you had as your premises and major/minor conclusions then. I am sure that with some clarifications you should be able either to see how I came to see your post as merely advocating obscurantism or you will be able to clarify your intended meaning and thus lay to rest my misgivings.

You said

  • Premise A: The Fathers subjected every popular philosophical/scientific idea to their conception of the faith of the Church as it was borne out by revelation. In any given conflict between philosophy/science and revelation; the latter took precedence.
OK, this seems quite legitimate, except that it does not really tell us anything about what the church Fathers really did think about Genesis 1, nor what the Church taught about genesis 1. If you have the chance to check through the writings of such fathers as saint Augustine you will find that simple literalism was not the norm in reading and interpreting Genesis 1.
  • Premise B: The Fathers' cosmological views were based on their conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis.
  • Conclusion A: Any popular cosmological view contrary to the Fathers' conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis would be rejected by the Fathers.
  • Premise C: The theory of evolution is contrary to the Fathers' conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis.
Well, here we have a claim that is not substantiated with evidence. But before we get too caught up in the details it is worth considering what the Fathers would have had an opportunity to know about biology and evolution otherwise we'll be discussing the topic at cross purposes.
(1)The Fathers had access to ideas and theories about the earth being rather ancient and more than a mere 4 or so thousand years old, and we do have some evidence that some of the fathers at least accepted those ideas or theories rather than taking a literalist view of Genesis.
(2)The Fathers were not familiar with Darwinian views about natural selection nor with Darwinian evidence about speciation because they did not have access to the volume of data that Darwin had access to so we can expect no sensible comment from the fathers about subjects that were not within their grasp.

  • Conclusion B: The theory of evolution would be rejected by the Fathers, even if it constituted the popular scientific view of their day.
This is begging the question given that we have no reason to suppose that either the Church or the Fathers would have rejected biological evolution if they had the volume of evidence that is possessed today, that is why the Church does not reject biological evolution as a matter of faith today because she has the evidence and there is no reason to reject the theory.
 

Pravoslavbob

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EkhristosAnesti said:
Not entirely. A plausible logical inference can be made if we can establish a premise concerning how the Fathers actually approached popular philosophical/scientific ideas of their day, in addition to a premise concerning how they approached the Book of Genesis in particular. The general argument I am making is simple:
But as ytterbiumanalyst has astutely pointed out, the theory of evolution is not a "popular philosophical/scientific idea."  It has been tested by science and so far has passed the test with flying colours.  It is no more a "theory" in the popular sense of the term than the theory of gravity is a "theory".   In fact, it may well have more solid backing than the theory of gravity does at this point in time!  Do you really believe that some of the Fathers would have stubbornly clung to a literal interpretation of Genesis (or even an allegorical one that had no room in it for science) if they had been exposed to the overwhelming evidence that modern science conveys concerning evolution?


Premise C: The theory of evolution is contrary to the Fathers' conception of the divine insight provided by the revelation of Genesis.
But that's just it!  There need be no  contradiction whatsoever, as far as the spirit
of what the Fathers taught is concerned.


 

DerekMK

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EkhristosAnesti said:
Not entirely. A plausible logical inference can be made if we can establish a premise concerning how the Fathers actually approached popular philosophical/scientific ideas of their day, in addition to a premise concerning how they approached the Book of Genesis in particular. The general argument I am making is simple
It is really not that simple.  I don't think there is a single legitimate biologist in the world that does not accept the validity of evolution.  It is as much a fact in the scientific world as gravity or the earth being round.  There is no philosophical package with it.  Some who accept the validity of modern science are materialist, some aren't.  So I don't think we even agree on the basic premises here in order to even have this discussion.  The type I thing I would be looking for would be a father to reject the validity of the Pythagorean theorem. 
 

PeterTheAleut

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Νεκτάριος said:
The type I thing I would be looking for would be a father to reject the validity of the Pythagorean theorem. 
The Pythagorean Theorem:  that, in a right triangle, a2 + b2 = c2 ?  This is geometry, not scientific theory, so maybe you need a different example.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
The Pythagorean Theorem:  that, in a right triangle, a2 + b2 = c2 ?  This is geometry, not scientific theory, so maybe you need a different example.
Don't get GIC in here now lol. "Science" to use it so loosely when trying to understand something as complicated as the origin of species personally I think will just be theories and never 100% "platonic immutable ideals" like Pythagoreans theorem or Pi.
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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Ziggernaut said:
Besides, there is also the extremely important issue of susceptibility, which would explain why there was a 50% mortality rate of those who actually caught the disease instead of 60%, 70%, or 100% (but now we're getting off topic so I'll leave it at that).  So, perhaps that's not the most appropriate example to use. 
I didn't notice that you had added this bit until this morning. Susceptibility is exactly what we're talking about here. Both the colonists and the native Americans were exposed to smallpox equally due to the disease's high communicability. Therefore, a lower rate of infection in one group as opposed to the other would be evolutionarily derived, just as a lower mortality rate for those who contracted it. Both resistance to a disease and recovery thereof are caused by the presence of antibodies in the blood, which can be obtained genetically. The colonists would have had a higher level of smallpox antibodies due to the collective resistance that evolved in Europeans in the XIV to XVI centuries. The native Americans did not have this collective resistance because their ancestors did not have the same exposure to the disease.

Why do you keep looking for excuses as to why evolution couldn't have occurred?
 

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Christ is born! Glorify Him!!

I realise that it is completely anachronistic to imagine the Church Fathers being faced with the mountain of evidence that modern science has produced regarding evolution. However, I'm at a loss in understanding why we should assume that had they had such evidence in their possession they would have been compelled to reject it.

What sound basis can anyone offer for us to believe that our modern Church fathers will ignore the evidence and support a literalist protestant interpretation of the Genesis account of creation? Has objective evaluation become redundant? Are we to opt for obscurantism? Does God mislead us by providing evidence that contradicts a literal interpretation of this passage of scripture?

God be with us all.









 

ytterbiumanalyst

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Riddikulus said:
However, I'm at a loss in understanding why we should assume that had they had such evidence in their possession they would have been compelled to reject it.
And I as well, but I take it a step further. I'm at a loss in understanding why we should assume they would have been compelled to acknowledge it, either. Evolution is not a philosophical question; it's not up for theological debate. Rather, it is to be examined by scientific experiments. It is like all other theories; if it holds up under experimentation, great. If it does not, revise the theory. This is the scientific method, and as I've said before, the scientific method has nothing to do with theology or philosophy.
 

minasoliman

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Dear EA,

I remember I also made similar remarks to your conclusions.  The "science" that the Holy Fathers experienced is not the same as the "science" we experience today.  We can't make assumptions on whether the fathers will reject evolution based on what they felt the definition of science was back then, which was nothing but speculation, no different than philosophy (in fact, there was no line drawn between philosophy and science back then, as is the case today).

God bless.
 
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