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

Ziggernaut

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ytterbiumanalyst said:
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?
I kind of feel like we are missing each others' points here.  This is not the place to debate immunity and susceptibility, which are, btw, somewhat different, or smallpox which I still believe is not the most adequate example of what you are trying to say.  You haven't really answered my question about macro-/micro-evolution, and it really was a genuine question. 

I am not "looking for excuses as to why evolution couldn't have occurred".  I actually do think it has and does, but I have yet to see compelling evidence for it.  Now, that is really my problem, but I'm not about to undertake college level courses in biology/zoology, etc. in order to be able to talk the talk as others here are able to do.  I have far more pressing and important issues to deal with in my life than that.  There actually is a very good chapter in Fr. Seraphim Rose's bio Not of This World... that addresses the whole issue of evolutionary philosophy from an Orthodox Christian perspective which I shall have to re-visit.  As I recall, he has some very interesting things to say about it. 

So, given all of my own shortcomings, and the fact that this whole discussion seems to be going nowhere, really, I shall bow out of it, at least for now.  Perhaps if and when I rejoin it, I shall have a little more to say of substance, and perhaps a greater understanding of what some of our more scientifically educated members are trying to communicate.  As I said in an earlier post, it all seems to me and my poor little mind to really boil down to a debate more about Otherworldliness vs. Materialism than the title of the thread, and what is more important for the salvation of our souls.  But that's just the unworthy opinion of a simple, struggling sinner.

God bless all of you, and have a Happy New Year!
Jeff
 

greekischristian

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Christodoulos said:
God bless !

There are different kinds of KNOWLEDGE, and the knowledge that comes directly from God is quiete distinct from that which proceeds from man's natural powers. St. Isaac the Syrian distinguishes these kinds of KNOWLEDGE in the following way:

Knowledge which is concerned with the visible, or which receives through the senses what comes from the visible, is called natural.

Kowledge which is concerned with the power of the immaterial and the nature of incorporal entities within a man is called spiritual, because perceptions are received by the spirit and not by the senses.

Because of these two origins ( perceptions of the visible and of the spiritual) each kind of knowledge alike comes to the soul from without. But the Knowledge bestowed by Divine power is called supra-natural; it is more unfathomable and is higher than knowledge. Contemplation of this knowledge comes to the soul not from matter, which is outside it .....It manifests and reveals itself in the innermost depths of the soul itself, immaterially, suddenly, spontaneously, and unexpectedly, since according to the words of Christ, " the Kingdom of God is within you" ( Luk 17:21).

So there is a lower "knowledge" and a higher one, the Holy Fathers from the 4th cent. can be wiser than modern scientists because they have a different source of Knowledge- Divine Vision!

IN CHRIST
Our Lord also said that you will know them by their fruits. Religous fundamentalism has brought centuries of ignorance, war, and oppression; science has brought the alleviation of human suffering and improved the plight of the human race. If we are to judge things in the manner Our Lord instructed us to, by the fruits they bear, it would seem that scientific knowledge is, by far, the 'higher' and noble of the two you present from both a practical and theological perspective.
 

greekischristian

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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 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.
I agree that some fathers believed their methodologies to somehow transcent their cultural conditioning, though I find them to be either willfully ignorant or outright dishonest in these claims. Of course this is not true of everyone, Clement of Alexandria who I admire beyond most others of the patristic era clearly admits to secular and pagan influence in his thinking. Thinking that is so closely followed by later fathers that they could not have honestly and knowingly believed them to be uniquely Christian. In the end, there are simply too many coincidences where Jewish theology and Pagan philosophy align with Christian thought to dismiss their profound influence; regardless of what these fourth and fifth century personalities thought they were doing.

People are a product of their culture and Christian theology is not above this, no matter how much some wish it to be, it is a result of the culture and thought of the day; a culture and thought that the fathers could not have escaped and overcome even had then been aware of it and no matter how hard they tried: none of us can.
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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Ziggernaut said:
You haven't really answered my question about macro-/micro-evolution, and it really was a genuine question. 
I apologize. I actually had to go looking for the question; I must have missed it the first time around.

There is no such thing as "micro-" or "macro-evolution" from a biological standpoint. All evolution occurs on the special level. A population biologically speaking is a group of creatures who all live in the same place. A population may be made up of one species or hundreds; what matters is the ecosystem.

I am not "looking for excuses as to why evolution couldn't have occurred".  I actually do think it has and does, but I have yet to see compelling evidence for it.
Why? If you truly believe that there is no compelling evidence, why do you believe evolution occurs? This makes no sense at all.

There actually is a very good chapter in Fr. Seraphim Rose's bio Not of This World... that addresses the whole issue of evolutionary philosophy from an Orthodox Christian perspective which I shall have to re-visit.  As I recall, he has some very interesting things to say about it.
That's just it; the whole point I've been trying to make is that evolution is not a philosophy. It is a scientific theory which explains verifiable facts.

So, given all of my own shortcomings, and the fact that this whole discussion seems to be going nowhere, really, I shall bow out of it, at least for now.  Perhaps if and when I rejoin it, I shall have a little more to say of substance, and perhaps a greater understanding of what some of our more scientifically educated members are trying to communicate.  As I said in an earlier post, it all seems to me and my poor little mind to really boil down to a debate more about Otherworldliness vs. Materialism than the title of the thread, and what is more important for the salvation of our souls.  But that's just the unworthy opinion of a simple, struggling sinner.
The only way it will go anywhere is if any of us do scientific experimentation based on the principles of this law. It's been my experience that the discussion never bears any fruit because the creationist camp are not interested in the science and the scientific community is not interested in philosophy.
 

PeterTheAleut

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ytterbiumanalyst said:
That's just it; the whole point I've been trying to make is that evolution is not a philosophy. It is a scientific theory which explains verifiable facts.
Evolution by itself may not be a philosophy, but I see it possible to build a worldly philosophy of limitless human progress on the foundation of evolutionary theory.  I think this is what Fr. Seraphim tried to address.  IMO, this doesn't negate the validity of evolution as a scientific theory, for I see evolutionary philosophy as something separate--one could call it a misuse of scientific theory.
 

minasoliman

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PeterTheAleut said:
Evolution by itself may not be a philosophy, but I see it possible to build a worldly philosophy of limitless human progress on the foundation of evolutionary theory.  I think this is what Fr. Seraphim tried to address.  IMO, this doesn't negate the validity of evolution as a scientific theory, for I see evolutionary philosophy as something separate--one could call it a misuse of scientific theory.
A friend of mine called this philosophy "evolutionism," which is atheistic or deistic at best.  I think people need to see the distinction between the science of evolution and the "belief" in evolutionism.
 

Demetrios G.

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greekischristian said:
People are a product of their culture and Christian theology is not above this, no matter how much some wish it to be, it is a result of the culture and thought of the day; a culture and thought that the fathers could not have escaped and overcome even had then been aware of it and no matter how hard they tried: none of us can.
I completely agree with this quote.

If and when evolutionists can admit that the first sign of biological life may have bin started by a creator. Than maybe Christianity may somehow be willing to accept the evolution theory. The problem is evolutionists are flat out trying to deny there is a creator.  They link there theory directly with Atheism even thought they can't create anything or explain where biological life came from. By accepting there theory one becomes an Atheist. What Christians on this thread are doing is trying to unite both evolution and creation. This is a hybrid theory.
I myself believe it is a little premature to accept this theory as Christian. Only after there is undeniable evidence can Christianity ever accept it. An if this undeniable evidence does exist as some here say it does. Nobody here has yet to lay it out properly.
 

minasoliman

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Demetrios G. said:
I completely agree with this quote.

If and when evolutionists can admit that the first sign of biological life may have bin started by a creator. Than maybe Christianity may somehow be willing to accept the evolution theory. The problem is evolutionists are flat out trying to deny there is a creator.  They link there theory directly with Atheism even thought they can't create anything or explain where biological life came from. By accepting there theory one becomes an Atheist. What Christians on this thread are doing is trying to unite both evolution and creation. This is a hybrid theory.
I myself believe it is a little premature to accept this theory as Christian. Only after there is undeniable evidence can Christianity ever accept it. An if this undeniable evidence does exist as some here say it does. Nobody here has yet to lay it out properly.
Like I said before, some of the leading dare-I-say "evolutionists" are Christian and sincere at that.  The Dawkins and Hitchens of this world are nothing but scientist-wanna-bes.

God bless.
 

Riddikulus

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Demetrios G. said:
If and when evolutionists can admit that the first sign of biological life may have bin started by a creator.
Is there a confusion here between Abiogenesis (the origin of life) and Evolutionary biology (the origin of species from a common descent, and descent of species; as well as their change, multiplication, and diversity over time)? I wasn't aware that the theory of Evolution denied the posibility of a divine Creator.

God be with us all.
 

minasoliman

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Riddikulus said:
Is there a confusion here between Abiogenesis (the origin of life) and Evolutionary biology (the origin of species from a common descent, and descent of species; as well as their change, multiplication, and diversity over time)? I wasn't aware that the theory of Evolution denied the posibility of a divine Creator.

God be with us all.
I have to agree.  Some people do confuse the two.  Technically though, abiogenesis only tells us that a few chemicals got together to make the first cell (or partial cell) and then evolution took course.  Technically, abiogenesis still doesn't prove God's inexistence.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Demetrios G. said:
If and when evolutionists can admit that the first sign of biological life may have bin started by a creator. Than maybe Christianity may somehow be willing to accept the evolution theory. The problem is evolutionists are flat out trying to deny there is a creator.  They link there theory directly with Atheism even thought they can't create anything or explain where biological life came from. By accepting there theory one becomes an Atheist. What Christians on this thread are doing is trying to unite both evolution and creation. This is a hybrid theory.
So you reject a valid scientific theory because some of its proponents are atheists?  Most of the evolution proponents you see on this thread, including a biologist, are sincerely devout Christians, and Orthodox at that.  Apparently they are able to recognize the value of evolutionary theory in and of itself, apart from those atheists who would use the theory to advance their own anti-Christian agendas.

I myself believe it is a little premature to accept this theory as Christian.
No one here is advocating that we call the theory of evolution Christian.  We just hope to reconcile the science of evolution, a fundamentally a-religious pursuit in that it can say nothing of the supernatural, with our Christian belief that God created everything in the heavens and on earth.

Only after there is undeniable evidence can Christianity ever accept it. An if this undeniable evidence does exist as some here say it does. Nobody here has yet to lay it out properly.
Because there can be no "undeniable evidence" to prove that ANY scientific theory is fact.  How many times do we have to repeat this to you?  There's just a mountain of evidence to support the belief that the theory of evolution is accurate.
 

DerekMK

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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.
I'm trying to think of something similar.  Something that had been scientifically proven in the patristic era, but rejected by the Fathers on theological grounds is hard to find.  I think there is some merit to the analogy since the nay-sayers on evolution would seem to say, "well... have you observed every single triangle, if not you can't see the theorem is true."  But I also agree with you that there is some weakness to the analogy, but I can't think of anything else.  ???
 

PeterTheAleut

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Νεκτάριος said:
I think there is some merit to the analogy since the nay-sayers on evolution would seem to say, "well... have you observed every single triangle, if not you can't see the theorem is true."
Of course, the theorem only works in the two-dimensional (Euclidian) geometry of a plane.  As someone posted today on the Random Postings thread, the three-dimensional geometry of a sphere makes possible a triangle with three right angles.
 
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Credo.InDeum

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 is it supposed to. It concerns a different yet nevertheless relevant point.

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.
I am not arguing for any particular approach to Scripture, and believe the whole literal vs. allegorical question to be reductionist in the first place. My point is that the Fathers were concerned with discerning the skopos of the Scriptures in formulating their cosmological views (since they were on a quest to acquire first-hand information about creation from the Creator Himself), and that in so doing they did not show any inclination to align their Scriptural interpretations to any presuppositions outside the context of the Faith of the Church. The patristic approach to discerning the skopos of the Scriptures was not based on some standard and abstract hermeneutical methodology that demanded either a literal or allegorical approach. The skopos defined the methodology, not the other way around,

Well, here we have a claim that is not substantiated with evidence.
My post was not intended to provide evidence for anything; it was merely intended to demonstrate that there is a logical flow to the argument I am making, so as to counter the suggestion that my proposition is entirely conjectural. The discussion has not yet progressed to the stage where I need to prove the truth of the argument.

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 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.
Again, I am not arguing for a literalist view of Genesis. The literal vs. allegory question has nothing to do with anything i'm saying.

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…
Not within the context of the entire argument it isn't.

Pravoslavbob,

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! 
I'm not going to pretend to be learned enough in the sciences to comment on the strength or lack thereof of the theory of evolution, but I don't think I need to be to acknowledge that scientific theories are far from infallible; the history of science is testimony to that. Nevertheless, even if I were to assume the truth of what you are saying it remains entirely besides the point: The Fathers saw their cosmological views as reflecting the intention of the Scriptures, and they believed that this very intention of the Scriptures was one determined by the Faith of the Church. For them, therefore, to accept the theory of evolution would be tantamount to them admitting that they erred in their understanding of the Faith of the Church and hence in their ability to discern the intent of the Scriptures. Some here seem to suggest that the most they would be conceding to in admitting the theory of evolution is that they erred in their understanding of the science of their day--this is the idea all my posts thus far have been concerned with; any response to anything i've said which is focused on arguing the validity of the theory of evolution, misses the mark.

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?
Like I explained above, this is not about a literal vs. allegorical approach to Scripture. The Fathers' conception of the skopos of the Scriptures (which, within an Orthoodx worldview, is one conditioned by the Faith of the Church as testified to by the Holy Spirit) defined and determined their methodological approach to any given passage or verse of the Scriptures, not the other way around.
 

Pravoslavbob

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EkhristosAnesti said:
The Fathers saw their cosmological views as reflecting the intention of the Scriptures, and they believed that this very intention of the Scriptures was one determined by the Faith of the Church. For them, therefore, to accept the theory of evolution would be tantamount to them admitting that they erred in their understanding of the Faith...
With the possible exception of one or two Fathers, I just don't see what you mean.  If the Fathers knew about evolution I believe that they wouldn't have insisited on putting it on the same "playing field" as science, and then challenged it to a football match.  That's the mistake that the Western Church made with Galileo.  Ever since that time, the West has tried to justify its faith in scientific terms, since the earth does indeed revolve around the sun, and not vice-versa.  People have done silly things like analyse consecrated hosts under microscopes to "prove" that they are not really bread (and thus science keeps on "winning"; pure rationalism becomes a faith to some and anything that is not "rational" must by definition be "irrational"). Nowadays, some Jesuits who should know better say that "of course life changes and develops only by chance, evolution has proved that, but we can still see 'God in the gaps' for things that can't be explained by evolution."  Total apostate garbage!  Even though exciting things are happening today in terms of some physicists realising that the spritual has much more to do with how the universe works than they ever really imagined, there is a lot of truth in what ytterbiumanalyst states when he says that science and theology are really very separate things.  You don't think that the Fathers would have seen this and pursued their line of reasoning and not have been disturbed by findings concering evolution?  Perhaps you do acknowledge this, and I am missing something?
 
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