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

Riddikulus

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jckstraw72 said:
[But proof texts don't prove a consensus.]

how have i proof texted? I posted ECFs specifically saying its impermissible to interpret the days of creation allegorically and more recent Saints who explicitly wrote against evolution, and you call that proof texting?

[And even if we can't, you still haven't answered my question of why we even need to see a consensus, even if it's manufactured.]

what do you suggest as an alternative?

as for Riddikulus' qutoes -- those don't rule out the possibility of a literal interpretation -- I'm asking for Saints who have explicitly denied the literality of Genesis or explicitly favored evolution, just as I provided quotes of Fathers who explicitly taught that the days cannot be allegorical and who explicitly taught against evolution. and the quote from St. Clement didnt actually give any indication of referring to the length of the days, its just assumed that that's what he's referring to, but the quote i provided shows that that cannot be what he is referring to. furthermore, as i have repeatedly said, the length of the days is probably the least important issue -- more importantly is what is the origin of death -- God, or man's sin? and despite a few random quotes from a few early Fathers, the Church adopted a literal timeline for its calendar.

[How is Genesis being reinterpreted when there isn't a consensous on how it was interpretated to begin with? This thread alone shows that the Church Fathers weren't consistant in seeing it as literal.]

im still failing to see how there isnt a majority concensus -- i knooooooow that not every single Father interpreted the days of Genesis as only literal (but we don't see them denying hte literal either ... ).  but there's not instances of Fathers saying Adam and Eve aren't literal or that death existed before sin, and so on. those are the important issues, beacuse even if the days aren't literal that doesn't automatically mean evolution happened. thats a huuuuge leap.

[And yet, in turning to the Fathers, you ignore those who disagree with a non-literal interpretation of Genesis. So aren't you really just picking and choosing which Fathers you deem to be consistent with your view, and discarding those you who aren't?]

which Fathers might those be?

Do you believe in universalism because of St. Gregory of Nyssa? you seem to be saying that if even one or two Fathers says something out of line with the rest that that is enough to justify a new interpretation.

[So far it would seem that we are hard-pressed to establish any set tradition regarding Genesis. The writings we have haven't gone anywhere to provide a consensous of a literal interpretation. So far we only have everyone agreeing that God created; how He did that and how long He took is questionable. As we have no dogma on the interpretation of Genesis, one is left to follow one's conscience; as clearly the Church Fathers have done. Why is it so important for you to enforce a literal understanding?]

because if evolution is true, then God created death, and then death is good, which means it was pointless for Christ to defeat death. Ecumenical canons tell us that this cannot be so:

Canon 109 of African Code, Council of Carthage, ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.
That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.

and because if we can't trust the Fathers to transmit the faith unadulterated we are Protestants.

[However, that isn't an answer to the question asked. Can you give some quotes or names of "theistic evolutionists" to support your claims?]

youre blowing my mind here. whats not obvious about what i said? if a theistic evolutionist interprets the days of Genesis as billions of years (which no Father ever said) because of science, then they are claiming to understand the creative acts of God better than the Fathers. Deacon Kuraev is one example. Dobhzansky is another.

[So scientists don't interpret scripture, as you first claimed?]

obviously they do. no Father ever said the days were actually billions of years -- that interpretation comes only from science.

[ What exactly are you claiming, then? That scientists who are Christians are content to understand Scripture in the light of scientific evidence? If so, how is this problematic?]

because that scientific "evidence" contradicts our God-bearing Fathers. and its not observable evidence -- its assumptions about supposed billions of years ago based on what is seen now. no one actually observed this whole process of common descent leading to the world we know. its an assumption.
jckstraw72,

Forgive me, but I'm finding your posts a bit awkward to read and unravel, coming in a block as they do with current thoughts mixed with quotes that don't stand out as quotes. Is it possible for you to seek some technical advice on how to post in the manner normally accepted on the forum? That would be appreciated.  :)
 

Jetavan

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jckstraw72 said:
[But proof texts don't prove a consensus.]

how have i proof texted? I posted ECFs specifically saying its impermissible to interpret the days of creation allegorically and more recent Saints who explicitly wrote against evolution, and you call that proof texting?
Has a Council ruled on evolution?

[And even if we can't, you still haven't answered my question of why we even need to see a consensus, even if it's manufactured.]

what do you suggest as an alternative?
A ruling by a Council would be nice.


Now, I do think that you raise a very interesting question: the role of death in Genesis, and how that role compares to the role of death in evolution.

Is it possible that "death" in Genesis means "spiritual death"?

Genesis 2:17 (KJV): But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Adam and Eve did not physically die the same day they ate the fruit, so perhaps it's spiritual death being referred to here.
 

Riddikulus

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jckstraw72 said:
[However, that isn't an answer to the question asked. Can you give some quotes or names of "theistic evolutionists" to support your claims?]

if a theistic evolutionist interprets the days of Genesis as billions of years (which no Father ever said) because of science, then they are claiming to understand the creative acts of God better than the Fathers.
They aren't claiming any such thing. They are claiming to have a better understanding of the time-frame of the forming of the universe than the Church Fathers who believed in a literal six day creation had.

What exactly are you claiming, then? That scientists who are Christians are content to understand Scripture in the light of scientific evidence? If so, how is this problematic?]

because that scientific "evidence" contradicts our God-bearing Fathers.
No, it doesn't. Our God-bearing fathers were ignorant of the evidence, (yes, evidence) revealed to us over time by men of science. How many of the Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding? 

and its not observable evidence -- its assumptions about supposed billions of years ago based on what is seen now. no one actually observed this whole process of common descent leading to the world we know. its an assumption.
No, it isn't an assumption, it's based on physical evidence; evidence that the Fathers didn't have and wouldn't have had the knowledge to examine, anyway. I've asked this before somewhere, why should we accept the opinions the Church Fathers had on the physical world - limited as they were to their times and knowledge - against the evidence provided to us in the very world that God created? 

Correct me if I am wrong, but the prevailing assumption of your posts is that the standard scientific model of evolution contradicts Orthodox Christian beliefs; that one must accept the literal interpretation of Genesis (even though there is no dogmatic teaching in the Orthodox Church to support this), because the majority (you claim) of the church Fathers held to that viewpoint. If this assessment is correct, such a point of view, would leave no room for scientific growth where humans beings come to better understand their world. One is, therefore, limited to a medieval understanding of the universe. Wouldn't such a situation would render Christianity as laughable ignorance? Perhaps it already has.

Let me quote St Augustine once again...

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]



 

Dan-Romania

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This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
 

Friul

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My favourite take on it would still have to be:

"Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology. Only if symbols are construed to mean what they are not intended to mean can there arise imaginary, insoluble conflicts. As pointed out above, the blunder leads to blasphemy: the Creator is accused of systematic deceitfulness.

One of the great thinkers of our age, [Father] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, wrote the following: 'Is evolution a theory, a system, or a hypothesis? It is much more it is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems much henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of though must follow this is what evolution is.'"

-- Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
 

PeterTheAleut

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jckstraw72 said:
as for Riddikulus' qutoes -- those don't rule out the possibility of a literal interpretation
I don't think she's trying to rule out the possibility of a literal interpretation of Genesis.  I think she's really trying to show that you can't rule out other interpretations of Genesis, as you clearly have.  In short, she's trying to say that the Church has not formally decided to follow any interpretation of Genesis to the exclusion of all others.
 

Dan-Romania

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Dan-Romania said:
This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Dan-Romania said:
Dan-Romania said:
This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
Please be patient, Dan.  It's not like we're ignoring you, so you don't need to reiterate a request you made a mere half-hour ago just to regain our attention. ;)  We're also into the wee hours of the morning, even out here on the Pacific Coast, so I doubt you'll find many knowledgeable posters up right now.
 

Friul

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Dan-Romania said:
This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
Personally I view it as a story.  Is there truth and importance to the story?  Yes.  Should it be taken literally?  No.  It expresses the truth that God is the Creator and all existence/time was constituted by Him.  Yet, this truth is portrayed in a metaphorical/symbolic story, which was a common means of passing a story down through the generations in antiquity.

I like how Pope Pius XII explained it:

"35. What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use.

36. For the ancient peoples of the East, in order to express their ideas, did not always employ those forms or kinds of speech which we use today; but rather those used by the men of their times and countries. What those exactly were the commentator cannot determine as it were in advance, but only after a careful examination of the ancient literature of the East. The investigation, carried out, on this point, during the past forty or fifty years with greater care and diligence than ever before, has more clearly shown what forms of expression were used in those far off times, whether in poetic description or in the formulation of laws and rules of life or in recording the facts and events of history. The same inquiry has also shown the special preeminence of the people of Israel among all the other ancient nations of the East in their mode of compiling history, both by reason of its antiquity and by reasons of the faithful record of the events; qualities which may well be attributed to the gift of divine inspiration and to the peculiar religious purpose of biblical history."

-- Divino Afflante Spiritu
 

Riddikulus

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Dan-Romania said:
This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
An atheist evolutionist accepts the theory of evolution as a valid explanation for the diversity of life on this planet. The atheist evolutionist would believe that Genesis is a load of rubbish.

A Christian evolutionist accepts the theory of evolution as a valid explanation for the diversity of life on this planet. (Remember, that the theory of evolution doesn't attempt to explain the origins of life; that falls under the discipline of abiogenesis.) The Christian evolutionist believes that God is the Creator, but would see Genesis as a symbolic explanation of the creation process.
 

Dan-Romania

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more explicit , how is the Genetics(beginning) of life and diversity of life in evolutionism ?
 

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[quote author=Dan-Romania]This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.[/quote]
Evolution describes the means.  Genesis provides the meaning.
 

Dan-Romania

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chrevbel said:
[quote author=Dan-Romania]This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
Evolution describes the means.  Genesis provides the meaning.
[/quote]

it seems you are avoiding to give an answer , lets not continue this mumbo jumbo , what is the provenience of species and humans from the evolutionist(Darwinist) point of view, that point of view i`m interested into.
 

Dan-Romania

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not the theological point of view , from the bible of that I am aware of . IF you evolutionist are uncapable of giving me an answer tell me so I won`t waste my time with childish things.
 

Heorhij

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Dan-Romania said:
chrevbel said:
[quote author=Dan-Romania]This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
Evolution describes the means.  Genesis provides the meaning.
it seems you are avoiding to give an answer , lets not continue this mumbo jumbo , what is the provenience of species and humans from the evolutionist(Darwinist) point of view, that point of view i`m interested into.
[/quote]

God created the universe, the kosmos, from nothing. But this kosmos initially did not look like it looks now. It was some sort of a nebula, a piece of matter and energy. Then God created natural laws (gravity, electromagnetism, laws of interaction between elementary particles, etc.). Then, according to these laws, life appeared on our planet, and evolved. Humans were conceived by God to be above this natural evolution; yet, they (we), according to their own will and the tricks of Satan, lowered themselves to this merely biological life - became part of the evolving natural world. Nonetheless, we somehow retain a "rememberance" that we are different - not just evolving apes, but heirs of the Heavenly King, Creator of all. 
 

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Dan-Romania said:
more explicit , how is the Genetics(beginning) of life and diversity of life in evolutionism ?
According to the theory of evolution, all life on Earth is descended from a common ancestor (or a set of ancestors). The theory tries to make sense of observed realities like the fossil record, vestigial organs, etc.

Read this for more info: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/


 

Dan-Romania

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Heorhij said:
Dan-Romania said:
chrevbel said:
[quote author=Dan-Romania]This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
Evolution describes the means.  Genesis provides the meaning.
it seems you are avoiding to give an answer , lets not continue this mumbo jumbo , what is the provenience of species and humans from the evolutionist(Darwinist) point of view, that point of view i`m interested into.

God created the universe, the kosmos, from nothing. But this kosmos initially did not look like it looks now. It was some sort of a nebula, a piece of matter and energy. Then God created natural laws (gravity, electromagnetism, laws of interaction between elementary particles, etc.). Then, according to these laws, life appeared on our planet, and evolved. Humans were conceived by God to be above this natural evolution; yet, they (we), according to their own will and the tricks of Satan, lowered themselves to this merely biological life - became part of the evolving natural world. Nonetheless, we somehow retain a "rememberance" that we are different - not just evolving apes, but heirs of the Heavenly King, Creator of all. 
[/quote]

I didn`t ask for your theological explanation , it seems you evolutionist nimbwits avoid to give a decessive answer , and try to explain all vaguely , but than jump on the troat of true believers . Does the evolutionist theory claim , that all animals evolved from something . I`m speaking about the maine species , fish , reptiles , birds . Does it say that at least one of this tree is a consequence of the evolution of a specie and transformation from fish to reptile and  from reptile to birds. How did the evolutionist idea that people came from apes , or are evolved apes come to be? Are this claims of evolution yes or no.Be honest , again I`m not asking for your theological belief but about the theory of evolution , and evolutionist claims.Another question to wich I don`t ask response right now is this : Do you evolutionist are of the opinion that Adam and Eve were in fact many humans and people , and that God created more than two persons in the beggining. I request urgent answer to the evolutionist question.Stop running away from question.
 

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Dan-Romania said:
This thread has like 7 pages , I still don`t get it which is the evolutionist belief on Genesis . Maybe someone would like to make it clear.
The Theory of Evolution doesn't care about Genesis or any book for that matter.

Dan-Romania said:
more explicit , how is the Genetics(beginning) of life and diversity of life in evolutionism ?
It's not. The Theory of Evolution only explains the process of speciation. It's sort of like Newton's Laws of Motion, which explain how objects move, and that an outside force must have acted upon a moving object, but it has nothing to say about what that force actually is. Whether that force be gravity or my hand or Biker Mice from Mars is simply beyond the scope of the theory.

See, the problem here is that the Theory of Evolution is scientific, and Intelligent Design is not. I believe firmly that the universe had a Designer. There is absolutely no scientific proof for this belief, but that does not necessarily disprove the existence of said Designer. In fact, the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven scientifically. Science is just the wrong tool. It's like trying to measure your weight with a hammer. It just can't be done. Faith and science are different tools for different realms of human knowledge. Epistemologically speaking, faith falls under philosophy, which is one of the humanities, which is one of the arts. Arts and sciences are completely different branches of human knowledge, which require different approaches. One is not better than the other, but each is better than the other at discovering certain truths. If, say, I want to know how the human race populates, I turn to science; but if I want to know how I should best relate to other humans, I turn to faith. Understand?
 

Heorhij

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Dan-Romania said:
I didn`t ask for your theological explanation , it seems you evolutionist nimbwits
That's rude, and uncalled for. I thought we were having a conversation, but why insult each other?

Dan-Romania said:
avoid to give a decessive answer , and try to explain all vaguely , but than jump on the troat of true believers . Does the evolutionist theory claim , that all animals evolved from something . I`m speaking about the maine species , fish , reptiles , birds . Does it say that at least one of this tree is a consequence of the evolution
Well, the evolutionary tree is one of the logical conclusions made from the original Darwinian postulate that life is being diversified by the biological evolution. So, yes, the tree, or the lines of descent, is (are) a part of the theory of biological evolution. Species, genera, orders, phyla etc. can be placed into this tree, and there are, of course, scientific grounds for doing that (the degree of similarity in the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA, etc.).

Dan-Romania said:
of a specie and transformation from fish to reptile and  from reptile to birds.
Fishes are placed "higher" than reptiles because of several reasons: their fossils are older; they are morphologically and genetically closer to more primitive Chordata. Reptile fossils are less ancient, and the reptiles are farther, morphologically and genetically (DNA-wise), from the primitive Chordata, but closer to birds (for example, some reptiles have a heart that consists of four chambers, like in birds). There are fossils of Archeopterix that look like a form that is intermediate between reptile and birds. Also, there are fishes that resemble Amphibians in that they have gills and lungs (Latimeria or Coelacanth). Therefore, we have evidence strongly suggesting that Amphibia evolved from fishes, then Reptilia from amphibians, and then birds from reptiles.  

Dan-Romania said:
How did the evolutionist idea that people came from apes , or are evolved apes come to be?
The sequence of nucleotides in the DNA of Homo sapiens is 97% identical with chimpanzees. There exist multiple fossils that allow us to suggest the existence of forms of life that were intemediate between Homo sapiens and non-human primates.

Dan-Romania said:
Are this claims of evolution yes or no.
The theory of biological evolution is a scientific theory. Like any other scientific theory, it is never a revelation given to us once and for all ages. It exists because it has never been scientifically disproved, and there is an overwhelming evidence supporting it. Sort of like before Einstein, there existed this Newtonian mechanics, which stated that any object, unless affected by a force, will keep moving in a straight line at a constant speed without acceleration, etc. That was not any kind of revelation - that was simply a set of statements that, taken together, explain the natural world to the best of the scientists' capacity. Before Newton, there was a different mechanics (Aristotelian), which claimed that without a "cause," there is no movement but rest. Newton's theory dismissed it though, and became accepted because it fit better with the newly acquired evidence. Similarly, before Darwin, there was a special creation theory of Linnaeus. Darwin's evolutionary theory replaced it though - and again, simply because Darwin's theory explains the natural world better, fits with the evidence we have now better than Linnaeus's theory would.

Dan-Romania said:
Be honest , again I`m not asking for your theological belief but about the theory of evolution , and evolutionist claims.
There are no "beliefs" in science. We use this term, but it is not, strictly speaking, correct when applied to scientific hypotheses and theories. We (scientists) do not, in fact, "believe" any hypothesis or theory. Science exists and develops because scientists keep proposing various guess-like, tentative explanations of the physical reality.

Dan-Romania said:
Another question to wich I don`t ask response right now is this : Do you evolutionist are of the opinion that Adam and Eve were in fact many humans and people , and that God created more than two persons in the beggining.
According to the evolutionary theory, the thing that evolves is a biological POPULATION. So, no, according to the evolutionary theory, it cannot be that from a population of apes, suddenly, in one instant, two "definitely-no-longer-apes-but-most-certainly-humans" appear. The evolutionary theory sees the emergence of new species as a very slow, inconspicuous process that may take millions of years, without strict borders between the ancestor species and the new species.

Dan-Romania said:
I request urgent answer to the evolutionist question.Stop running away from question.
Nobody is running anywhere. I am always happy to explain biology to any student who wants to listen.
 

Dan-Romania

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You answer to questions , but again not decessively how I aspect it . You arrogant evolutionists are sort of in disorder with the Bible genetics . You can take your Darwin and eat it. I dunno if you or another person , while I mention that question a page ago , about reptiles , fish and birds said that the evolutionist theory does not claim that.What i wanted to prove is that this theory is dumb and that there is disorder in those who consider it.I stand strongly against the stupidity of this theory wich contradicts genetics  and fouls those who are in need of a bigger faith. This is my last post on this thread.



insulting ad hominem removed from post  -PtA
 

Heorhij

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Dan-Romania said:
You answer to questions , but again not decessively how I aspect it . You arrogant evolutionist monkey asses is sort of in disorder with the Bible genetics . You can take your Darwin and eat it. I dunno if you or another person , while I mention that question a page ago , about reptiles , fish and birds said that the evolutionist theory does not claim that.What i wanted to prove is that this theory is dumb and that there is disorder in those who consider it.I stand strongly against the stupidity of this theory wich contradicts genetics  and fouls those who are in need of a bigger faith. This is my last post on this thread.
Well, isn't this a good example of how people resort to name-calling and plain rudeness when they do not have any rational arguments and no patience or even desire to listen to those with whom they converse. That's what our Fathers call FALLEN human nature. :) All of us have it, unfortunately, but we should at least try to tame it a little...
 

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Dan-Roumania, people are trying to give you information.  I know that there is a bit of a language barrier as well.  I'm trying hard to understand what you are trying to say, but sometimes your writing doesn't quite make sense. It looks like you mean to use some other words that are similar in spelling or sound to some of the ones that you're using.  When you use the word "genetics" what does it mean to you?  There could be a different word in English that might get your point across better.  Please be calm; your apparent tension could also be making some mis-spellings which can cloud what you are trying to write.  Did you mean "expect" when you wrote "aspect", and "fool" when you wrote "foul"?  Those words have very different meanings.

I would ask how you can honestly say that a scientific theory is "dumb" when you have plainly admitted that you do not know what it really is since you have not read any of Darwin's real work.  How are people who are trying hard to explain things to you "arrogant"?  They didn't call you names or write that you were "dumb".   ???  Do you really think it a good thing to call people names and be insulting?

With respect,

Ebor


 

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Now, I do think that you raise a very interesting question: the role of death in Genesis, and how that role compares to the role of death in evolution.

Is it possible that "death" in Genesis means "spiritual death"?

Genesis 2:17 (KJV): But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Adam and Eve did not physically die the same day they ate the fruit, so perhaps it's spiritual death being referred to here.
i think the fact that Christ defeated physical death proves that we are not meant to die. if physical death is in fact good, then why would He defeat it? also there is the canon i quoted earlier:

Canon 109 of African Code, Council of Carthage, ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.
That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.

and as for Church Fathers quotes, there are plenty in Genesis, Creation and Early Man which I don't have on me right now. This website has a helpful chart on it though: http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter4.htm  Be sure to read the 3 points below it though, because even the Fathers who are checked as having believed man was mortal before the Fall didn't actually mean man was always meant to die. The website says that St. Clement of Alexandria believed that, but I'm not sure why he says that -- the citation he gives is only available in Latin so I can't read it, but St. Clement seems to admonish the heretic Valentinian for making God the author of death in The Stromata, book 4.13
 

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jckstraw72,

Forgive me, but I'm finding your posts a bit awkward to read and unravel, coming in a block as they do with current thoughts mixed with quotes that don't stand out as quotes. Is it possible for you to seek some technical advice on how to post in the manner normally accepted on the forum? That would be appreciated.   :)
sorry, ill see what i can do.
 

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Riddikulus said:
jckstraw72 said:
[However, that isn't an answer to the question asked. Can you give some quotes or names of "theistic evolutionists" to support your claims?]

if a theistic evolutionist interprets the days of Genesis as billions of years (which no Father ever said) because of science, then they are claiming to understand the creative acts of God better than the Fathers.
They aren't claiming any such thing. They are claiming to have a better understanding of the time-frame of the forming of the universe than the Church Fathers who believed in a literal six day creation had.
ok, we are in agreement then, just saying it a different way.

What exactly are you claiming, then? That scientists who are Christians are content to understand Scripture in the light of scientific evidence? If so, how is this problematic?]

because that scientific "evidence" contradicts our God-bearing Fathers.

No, it doesn't. Our God-bearing fathers were ignorant of the evidence, (yes, evidence) revealed to us over time by men of science. How many of the Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding?
ok, well then you admit that the evidence contradicts the Fathers, you just believe the Fathers were wrong. I believe that studying the Creator is a more accurate approach than studying the creation. as for geocentrism -- did that belief arise from Scriptural interpretation, or did that just tend to be what everyone was believing? because the belief in literal days comes from their interpretation of Scripture, not from borrowing from the then-current ideas of the culture. again ill quote St. John of Kronstadt:
"The Holy Scriptures speak more truly and more clearly of the world than the world itself or the arrangement of the earthly strata; the scriptures of nature within it, being dead and voiceless, cannot express anything definite. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" Were you with God when He created the universe? "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counseller, hath taught Him?" And yet you geologists boast that you have understood the mind of the Lord, in the arrangement of strata, and maintained it in spite of Holy Writ! You believe more in the dead letters of the earthly strata, in the soulless earth, than in the Divinely-inspired words of the great prophet Moses, who saw God."
and its not observable evidence -- its assumptions about supposed billions of years ago based on what is seen now. no one actually observed this whole process of common descent leading to the world we know. its an assumption.
No, it isn't an assumption, it's based on physical evidence; evidence that the Fathers didn't have and wouldn't have had the knowledge to examine, anyway. I've asked this before somewhere, why should we accept the opinions the Church Fathers had on the physical world - limited as they were to their times and knowledge - against the evidence provided to us in the very world that God created? 
its not based on observed evidence. scientists observe the world as it is today -- they can only assume that the processes they are observing happened in the same way in the past. theres really no way they can absolutely know that, and i think the fact that the Church teaches that the earth was once a paradise and then fell, and that the world was returned to a chaotic state in the Flood clearly rule out uniformitarianism.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the prevailing assumption of your posts is that the standard scientific model of evolution contradicts Orthodox Christian beliefs; that one must accept the literal interpretation of Genesis (even though there is no dogmatic teaching in the Orthodox Church to support this), because the majority (you claim) of the church Fathers held to that viewpoint. If this assessment is correct, such a point of view, would leave no room for scientific growth where humans beings come to better understand their world. One is, therefore, limited to a medieval understanding of the universe. Wouldn't such a situation would render Christianity as laughable ignorance? Perhaps it already has.
you are correct in your assessment of my posts. however, i cannot agree that the Church has no dogmatic teaching on this matter. true, there is no Ecumenical Council statement on evolution, but the mind of the Church is not always expressed in a council. claiming that it must be ecumenically pronounced in order to be considered the Church's teaching would mean that the Church didnt teach Jesus as God until 325. Or for another example, which Ecumenical Council teaches that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ? (perhaps one of them did, but not that I know of). however, I did provide one Canon from the 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils that says that we must believe in a literal Adam who only died because of sin (thus not because of a process of evolution).

and there is of course room for scientific growth. Scientists can observe the world as we see it and make improvements that way. i don't see how speculating about the distant past has anything to do with scientific progress in the here and now.

Let me quote St Augustine once again...

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]
and despite this caution, he still says:

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.
I prefer to look at what St. Augustine actually believed about Genesis, rather than assuming that the other quote accurately applies to creationists (do we actually know St. Augustine would say that about creationists? perhaps he would say that about evolutionists).
 

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jckstraw72 said:
Now, I do think that you raise a very interesting question: the role of death in Genesis, and how that role compares to the role of death in evolution.

Is it possible that "death" in Genesis means "spiritual death"?

Genesis 2:17 (KJV): But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Adam and Eve did not physically die the same day they ate the fruit, so perhaps it's spiritual death being referred to here.
i think the fact that Christ defeated physical death proves that we are not meant to die. if physical death is in fact good, then why would He defeat it? also there is the canon i quoted earlier:

Canon 109 of African Code, Council of Carthage, ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.
That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.

and as for Church Fathers quotes, there are plenty in Genesis, Creation and Early Man which I don't have on me right now. This website has a helpful chart on it though: http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter4.htm  Be sure to read the 3 points below it though, because even the Fathers who are checked as having believed man was mortal before the Fall didn't actually mean man was always meant to die. The website says that St. Clement of Alexandria believed that, but I'm not sure why he says that -- the citation he gives is only available in Latin so I can't read it, but St. Clement seems to admonish the heretic Valentinian for making God the author of death in The Stromata, book 4.13
The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.
 

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Heorhij said:
According to the evolutionary theory, the thing that evolves is a biological POPULATION. So, no, according to the evolutionary theory, it cannot be that from a population of apes, suddenly, in one instant, two "definitely-no-longer-apes-but-most-certainly-humans" appear. The evolutionary theory sees the emergence of new species as a very slow, inconspicuous process that may take millions of years, without strict borders between the ancestor species and the new species.
there are some problems with this. obviously, this makes Adam and Eve not literal people, but there is this:

Canon 109 of African Code, Council of Carthage, ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.
That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.

this obvioulsly requires that Adam and Eve be literal.

also, there are icons of Adam and Eve, with halos, people take them as their patron Saints. this indicates that the Church understands them as literal people.


St. Irenaeus says it is a heresy to believe that Adam was not saved by Christ -- how much moreso to believe that he never actually existed?


another problem I see, is that the Fathers teach that God created humans uniquely from the dust, in that He spoke everything else into existence, but in the case of Man there is the divine council ("Let us make man...") and God directly forms man with His own "hands." if evolution is true then man was not created in a unique manner, but rather just came about like everything else. also, not only does this mean that the days of Genesis are allegorical, but that there weren't even 6 creative acts -- just one in the beginning which eventually gave rise to everything. so what then are the creative acts of each day an allegory for?

 

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also regarding this quote from St. Justin Martyr that was brought up earlier:

For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, ‘The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,’ is connected with this subject. Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 81
i have two things to say in response

1. he says that "the day of the Lord is as a thousand years" is connected with the lifespan of Adam, he does not say that each day of creation was 1000 yrs. perhaps that is what he meant but i'm not seeing the connection, and even if that is what he meant, that doesn't necessarily mean he is ruling out the literal level -- but many ECF's do explicitly rule out the possibility of interpreting Genesis only allegorically.
2. immediately following that quote he says:

And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place. Just as our Lord also said, ‘They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to the angels, the children of the God of the resurrection.’

this idea is of course the condemned heresy of chiliasm, so it seems St. Justin is not the best authority for how to understand 1000 yrs within Christianity.

but of importance to note: he is assuming a literal Adam, which is not a given if evolution is true.
 

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Heorhij said:
The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.
i completely agree with all you have said here.

so doesnt that make evolution highly questionable? if it is true, then Adam and the animals and plants, etc would have surely died as just part of the on-going process.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
God created humans uniquely from the dust, in that He spoke everything else into existence,
Right, but He said, "let the WATER produce creatures..." and "let the GROUND (or soil) produce creatures..." In other words, God created nature (space, time, matter, natural laws like gravitation, etc.), and then THE NATURE, obeying God's will, created plants, animals, etc. "The dust of the earth" may be just another term for "Nature." Man is simultaneously a natural creature (produced from dust), and a super-natural creature (has God's breath breathed in his nostrils). That's why St. Basil the Great calls man "zoon nootikon" (sp.?), "a reasonable animal" - having his body like a natural creature and having his reason, his "nous," creative intellect, like a creature that is above nature.
 

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Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
God created humans uniquely from the dust, in that He spoke everything else into existence,
Right, but He said, "let the WATER produce creatures..." and "let the GROUND (or soil) produce creatures..." In other words, God created nature (space, time, matter, natural laws like gravitation, etc.), and then THE NATURE, obeying God's will, created plants, animals, etc. "The dust of the earth" may be just another term for "Nature." Man is simultaneously a natural creature (produced from dust), and a super-natural creature (has God's breath breathed in his nostrils). That's why St. Basil the Great calls man "zoon nootikon" (sp.?), "a reasonable animal" - having his body like a natural creature and having his reason, his "nous," creative intellect, like a creature that is above nature.
[/quote]

even if God used the material that was already there, the Fathers tell us that the creative act of each day was instantaneous, and that man, plants, and animals were created mature. also, how could we explain evolution if there is no sun until the 4th set of billions of years?:

St. Basil teaches:

"Let the earth bring forth herbs." And in the briefest moment of time the earth, beginning with germination in order that it might keep the laws of the Creator, passing through every form of increase, immediately brought the shoots to perfection. The meadows were deep with the abundant grass; the fertile plains, rippling with standing crops, presented the picture of a swelling sea with its moving heads of grain. And every herb and every kind of vegetable and whatever shrubs and legumes there were, rose from the earth at that time in all profusion.... "And the fruit tree," He said, "that bears fruit containing seed of its own kind and of its own likeness on the earth. At this saying all the dense woods appeared; all the trees shot up, those which are wont to rise to the greatest height, the firs, cedars, cypresses, and pines; likewise, all the shrubs were immediately thick with leaf and bushy; and the so-called garland plants - the rose bushes, myrtles, and laurels-all came into existence in a moment f time, although they were not previously upon the earth, each o with its own peculiar nature.

St. Ephraim the Syrian states precisely:

The herbs, at the time of their creation, were the productions of a single instant, but in appearance they appeared the productions of months. Likewise the trees, at the time of their creation, were the productions of a single day, but in their perfection and fruits, which weighed down the branches, they appeared the productions of years.

St. Gregory of Nyssa also emphasizes that what was created by God was not merely seeds or a potentiality for growth, but the actual creations we know; seeds come from those first-created plants:

We learn from Scripture in the account of the first creation, that first the earth brought forth "the green herb," and that then from this plant seed was yielded, from which, when it was shed on the ground, the same form of the original plant again sprang up.... In the beginning, we see, it was not an ear rising from a grain, but a grain coming from an ear, and, after that, the ear grows round the grain.

Plants and trees appeared on earth, as the Fathers repeat again and again, before the very existence of the sun. St. John Chrysostom writes:

(Moses) shows you that everything was accomplished before the creation of the sun, so that you might ascribe the ripening of the fruits not to it, but to the Creator of the universe.

St. Basil states:

The adornment of the earth is older than the sun, that those who have been misled may cease worshipping the sun as the origin of life.

Ambrose waxes eloquent on this subject:

Before the light of the sun shall appear, let the green herb be born, let its light be prior to that of the sun. Let the earth germinate before ceives the fostering care of the sun, lest there be an occasion for human error to grow. Let everyone be informed that the sun is not the author of vegetation.. . . How can the sun give the faculty of life growing plants, when these have already been brought forth by the life-giving creative power of God before the sun entered into such a life as this? The sun is younger than the green shoot, younger than the green plant.

St. Basil writes:

All water was in eager haste to fulfill the command of its Creator, and the great and ineffable power of God immediately produced an efficacious and active life in creatures of which one would not even be able to enumerate the species, as soon as the capacity for propagating living creatures came to the waters through His command.

And St. Ambrose:

At this command the waters immediately poured forth their offspring. The rivers were in labor. The lakes produced their quota of life. The sea itself began to bear all manner of reptiles.... We are unable to record the multiplicity of the names of all those species which by Divine command were brought to life in a moment of time. At the same instant substantial form and the principle of life were brought into existence.... The whale, as well as the frog, came into existence at the same time by the same creative power.



this quote specifically deals with your point i think:

St. Basil writes (speaking of the Sixth Day):

When He said: "Let it bring forth," (the earth) did not produce what was stored up in it, but He Who gave the command also bestowed upon it the power to bring forth. Neither did the earth, when it heard, "Let it bring forth vegetation and the fruit trees," produce plants which it had hidden in it; nor did it send up to the surface the palm or the oak or the cypress which had been hidden somewhere down below in its womb. On the contrary, it is the Divine Word that is the origin of all things made. "Let the earth bring forth"; not, let it put forth what it has, but, let it acquire what it does not have, since God is enduing it with the power of active force.

St. Ambrose writes, in his treatise on the resurrection:

Nature in all its produce remains consistent with itself.... Seeds of one kind cannot be changed into another kind of plant, nor bring forth produce differing from its own seeds, so that men should spring from serpents and flesh from teeth; how much more, indeed, is it to be believed that whatever has been sown rises again in its own nature, and that crops do not differ from their seed, that soft things do not spring from hard, nor hard from soft, nor is poison changed into blood; but that flesh is restored from flesh, bone from bone, blood from blood, the humors of the body from humors. Can ye then, ye heathen, who are able to assert a change, deny a restoration of the nature?

In a similar view, St. Gregory of Nyssa writes:

Whereas we learn from Scripture in the account of the first Creation, that first the earth brought forth "the green herb" (as the narrative says), and that then from this plant seed was yielded, from which, when it was shed on the ground, the same form of the original plant again sprang up, the Apostle, it is to be observed, declares that this very same thing happens in the Resurrection also; and so we learn from him the fact, not only that our humanity will be then changed into something nobler, but also that what we have therein to expect is nothing else than that which was at the beginning.

St. Ephraim writes:

The earth at God's command immediately brought forth creeping things, beasts of the field, creatures of prey, and domestic animals, as many as were necessary for the service of him who, on that very day, transgressed the commandment of his Lord.

St. Ephraim the Syrian teaches:

Just as the trees, the grasses, the animals, birds and man were at the same time both old and young: old in the appearance of their members and structures, young in the time of their creation; so also the moon was at the same time both old and young: young because it was just created, old because it was full as on the fifteenth day.


all quotes from: http://www.creatio.orthodoxy.ru/english/rose_genesis/chapter2.html
 

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jckstraw72 said:
Heorhij said:
The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.
i completely agree with all you have said here.

so doesnt that make evolution highly questionable? if it is true, then Adam and the animals and plants, etc would have surely died as just part of the on-going process.
No, it does not make it questionable. If Adam remained obedient to God, he would be BEYOND the normal, regular, conventional laws of nature, including the law of evolution.

I like the way a Russian philosopher and Orthodox theologian, Semyon L. Frank, puts it. (Sorry, I only have his text in Russian, so I'll just convey a summary in English.) Suppose you see a man who is dressed in shabby clothes, doing some hard mundane work and barely making his day-to-day living. However, for a totally incomprehensible reason, this man knows deep in his heart that he is an heir to a royal throne and to riches and bliss beyond measure. He cannot explain why in the world he has this idea, and yet, nonetheless, he does have it. Something in him tells him that he is here, in these shabby clothes and doing this miserable job, only because some time in the past a very sad accident occured.

That's us. Right now, we are part of the animal world, subject to the natural laws. But somewhere deep in our heart there lives this strange knowledge that we are in fact something much biggger - we are heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. That Kindgom is meant for us, not just these 60-70-80 years of life in mortal, corruptible, aching and dying body. Actually, even here we can find beauty, but we are filled, for some reason that defies rational explanation, with anticipation of a completely different and completely new world where there will be no "biology," no "evolution," no "natural selection," no struggle to win our daily bread, no need to swallow pills, etc. etc. etc.

Biological evolution is a reality, and as creatures that emerged from nature we are part of it - but we don't have to be. When we are redeemed by Christ, when we (hopefully) give Him a good report during the Last Judgment and receive mercy (go to His right hand), then we will no longer be part of "nature" with its laws, but will be fed, led, governed directly by God's grace.
 

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Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
Heorhij said:
The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.
i completely agree with all you have said here.

so doesnt that make evolution highly questionable? if it is true, then Adam and the animals and plants, etc would have surely died as just part of the on-going process.
No, it does not make it questionable. If Adam remained obedient to God, he would be BEYOND the normal, regular, conventional laws of nature, including the law of evolution.

I like the way a Russian philosopher and Orthodox theologian, Semyon L. Frank, puts it. (Sorry, I only have his text in Russian, so I'll just convey a summary in English.) Suppose you see a man who is dressed in shabby clothes, doing some hard mundane work and barely making his day-to-day living. However, for a totally incomprehensible reason, this man knows deep in his heart that he is an heir to a royal throne and to riches and bliss beyond measure. He cannot explain why in the world he has this idea, and yet, nonetheless, he does have it. Something in him tells him that he is here, in these shabby clothes and doing this miserable job only because some time in the past, a very sad accident occured.

That's us. Right now, we are part of the animal world, subject to the natural laws. But somewhere deep in our heart there lives this strange knowledge that we are in fact something much biggger - we are heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. That Kindgom is meant for us, not just these 60-70-80 years of life in mortal, corruptible, aching and dying body. Actually, even here we can find beauty, but we are filled, for some reason that defies rational explanation, with anticipation of a completely different and completely new world where there will be no "biology," no "evolution," no "natural selection," no struggle to win our daily bread, no need to swallow pills, etc. etc. etc.

Biological evolution is a reality, and as creatures that emerged from nature we are part of it - but we don't have to be. When we are redeemed by Christ, when we (hopefully) give Him a good report during the Last Judgment and receive mercy (go to His right hand), then we will no longer be part of "nature" with its laws, but will be fed, led, governed directly by God's grace.

but the Fathers teach that all of creation was an immortal paradise, not just man, and not just the Garden. man is the crown of creation, creation is his kingdom. would a mortal kingdom befit an immortal king? is it Paradise if you have rotting corpses all around you? St. Paul tells us that the entire creation was subjected to futility and corruption and that it awaits redemption. this necessarily means it is fallen from its intended state, otherwise why would it await redemption?

i know there are many quotes to this affect in Fr. Seraphim's book which I dont have with me right now.
 

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here's more relevant quotes:

St Theophanus the Recluse wrote: "The positive teaching of the Church serves to know whether a concept is from the Truth. This is a litmus test for all teachings. Whatever agrees with it, you should accept it, whatever does not- - reject. One can do it without further deliberations" [1]. "Science goes forward fast, let it do so. But if they infer something inconsistent with the Divine Revelation, they are definitely off the right path in lie, do not follow them" [2]. "Believers have the right to measure the material things with spiritual ones, when materialists get into the realm of the spiritual without a slightest scruple... We have wisdom as our partner, while theirs is foolishness. Material things can be neither the power not the purpose. They are just the means and the field of activity of spiritual powers by the action of the spiritual beginning of all things (Creator)" [1]

from http://creatio.orthodoxy.ru/sbornik/sbufeev_whynot_english.html
 

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jckstraw72 said:
(Moses) shows you that everything was accomplished before the creation of the sun, so that you might ascribe the ripening of the fruits not to it, but to the Creator of the universe.
I think this quote is evidence that Genesis and Evolution are explanations that operate at different levels. From the level of matter-energy, it's pretty clear that the ripening of fruits, growth of plants, etc., is indeed a result of the Sunlight. So scientists (who operate on the level of matter-energy) can rightfully say that, scientifically speaking, plants require light.

However, the Author of Genesis is speaking on a different level, a more basic, "deeper", level. On this level, God is the source of everything, not via intermediates, but directly. Thus, God directly created plants, without the use of the sun or other instruments. In fact, one can read the Fathers as making a very radical claim: God creates all things instantaneously, and all things are continuously being created by God, moment to moment. However, since science cannot observe this instantaneous creation, science is forced to speak in terms of cause-and-effect, time, age, and evolution.
 

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plants indeed require sunlight today, but did they then? thats an assumption that scientists make. they had light directly from God then. is there a reason from the Tradition/Fathers to question this?

St Ignatius writes: "Today the earth is quite different in our eyes. We do not know its state in its saint virginity; we know it in the state of corruption and condemnation, we know it already bound to be burnt; it was designed for eternity"

from http://creatio.orthodoxy.ru/sbornik/sbufeev_whynot_english.html
 

Heorhij

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Jetavan said:
jckstraw72 said:
(Moses) shows you that everything was accomplished before the creation of the sun, so that you might ascribe the ripening of the fruits not to it, but to the Creator of the universe.
I think this quote is evidence that Genesis and Evolution are explanations that operate at different levels. From the level of matter-energy, it's pretty clear that the ripening of fruits, growth of plants, etc., is indeed a result of the Sunlight. So scientists (who operate on the level of matter-energy) can rightfully say that, scientifically speaking, plants require light.

However, the Author of Genesis is speaking on a different level, a more basic, "deeper", level. On this level, God is the source of everything, not via intermediates, but directly. Thus, God directly created plants, without the use of the sun or other instruments. In fact, one can read the Fathers as making a very radical claim: God creates all things instantaneously, and all things are continuously being created by God, moment to moment. However, since science cannot observe this instantaneous creation, science is forced to speak in terms of cause-and-effect, time, age, and evolution.
Completely agree. Thank you, Jetavan, well put!
 

jckstraw72

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Jetavan said:
In fact, one can read the Fathers as making a very radical claim: God creates all things instantaneously, and all things are continuously being created by God, moment to moment. However, since science cannot observe this instantaneous creation, science is forced to speak in terms of cause-and-effect, time, age, and evolution.
i think id state it as God instantaneously created, and continues to sustain that creation, but i don't know if thats the proper way to say it or not. it seems to me that what you are saying is that scientists are forced to use evolutionary terms simply because they're missing what is really happening .... id also say its because they assume they know what happened in the past.
 

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The Origin of Life on Earth
http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/talks/origin.shtml
Thinking of the history of the universe, we note the uninterrupted development in it, which as it seems, does not require any interference from without. When La Place was explaining to Napoleon his theory of the provenance of the solar system, to the question of Napoleon: "Where is the interference of the Lord God here?" he answered: "My theory does not need it."

Can an Orthodox Become an Evolutionist?
http://www.hvmla.org/library/evolution.html
Recently many books have appeared in Russia dedicated to the criticism of Darwinism. The majority of them are the work of American protestant, creationist authors. The Orthodox, with a great joy of relief, have welcomed these books to their cathedrals and libraries in as much as Darwinism was cultivated in the Soviet schools and institutes. Were we in a hurry to let this happen? Is the position of the American fundamentalist Christian? Or, does it have a confessional justification which is not very obvious from the Orthodox point of view.

 

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Ukiemeister said:
Can an Orthodox Become an Evolutionist?
http://www.hvmla.org/library/evolution.html
On evolution and death and Genesis:

Undoubtedly the death of man entered into this world through sin. Death is evil and it was not created by God. This is also an axiom of Biblical Theology.

Hence, it seems to me, that only one conclusion should be drawn from this: the departure of animals is not death, and it is not the same as the departure of a man. When we say "The death of Socrates" we do not have a right to apply the same word to the phrase "The death of a Dog". The death of a star is a metaphor. We can use the same metaphor to say the "death" of an atom or a chair. Animals were disappearing from existence, they were going out of the world before the time of man. This was not death. Hence, it is impossible to talk about the phenomenon of death in a theological or philosophical meaning of the word, while applying this to a non-human world. The death of a lifeless star or atom, the splitting of a living cell or bacteria, and the discontinuance of a physiological process in monkeys: this is not the same is the death of man.

Yes, death is a consequence of sin! Sin is a violation of the will of the Creator. Can we be sure that the death of animals is also a violation of the Creative will? Did God create animals for eternal life? Did he want to create them as participants in eternity? Did he intend them to partake in the Bread of Life, and Eucharist?

If not - it means those temporary limitations of animals and their accessibility to decay is not a violation of the Plan of the Creator.
 
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