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

Heorhij

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jckstraw72 said:
While the spiritual advice of the Church Fathers for the sake of our salvation is everlasting, their "scientific" dissertations are well and truly out of date.
why do you classify interpretations of Genesis as scientific dissertations rather than God-inspired interpretations? are there other Patristic subjects you would do the same for? i cant imagine science supports things like the resurrection of Lazarus or Christ -- should we bend to science there too?
Science certainly does not support things like resurrection of Lazarus or Christ occurring NATURALLY. The Church, however, teaches that Christ did wonders, i.e. SUPERNATURAL deeds, and His own resurrection was the biggest of these SUPERNATURAL wonders.

Biological evolution, on the other hand, is a purely natural phenomenon about which the Fathers simply did not know. We do. And the Church does not mind us finding out new things, previously unknown even to inspired Fathers (like the heliocentric system, or biological evolution, or genetics, or quantum mechanics, etc.).
 

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Biological evolution, however, is a purely natural phenomenon about which the Fathers simply did not know. We do.
isn't the creation of the world an act of God?
 

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sure they were combating certain heresies, but they don't seem to indicate that in their writings against purely allegorical understandings. they seem to codemn ALL such interpretations, not just in the case of the specific heresies they were fighting at the time. furthermore, beyond just warning against certain heresies, they go on to provide the interpretation the Church was teaching in their time -- which included the literal, while not ignoring, deeper, spiritual truths.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
Biological evolution, however, is a purely natural phenomenon about which the Fathers simply did not know. We do.
isn't the creation of the world an act of God?
Of course, but there is no revelation to us about HOW, "mechanically," did/does He act in order to create the world. It is absolutely clear that He created the heaven and the earth out of nothing: He said, "let it be," and it appeared. But then all these physical laws began to act, and from that point on, we can comprehend the way these laws work, using our experience and reason. The biological evolution is one of these laws.
 

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GammaRay said:
I apologize for resurrecting that thread, but maybe I will provoke some further discussion.

The Scripture isn't a scientific book. It just shows us the way to Salvation. People in 4.000 BC in Ancient Judea were in need of a moral code, of someone to help them, not science. So God gave them Genesis, I don't think that people really cared about how the world was made anyway.
Fortunately, God gave us logic and let us explore His world through another God-sent gift; science. I believe in almost every scientific theory I've read about so far (I think).
After all, the Orthodox Church was always into science, hehe. ;)

By the way, even if all scientists agree that this world can still function without God or any other plane (i.e.: matter on its own can create the world), how are we to know for sure that there isn't someone "behind the scenes" moving everything?

Genesis is mostly oral tradition. My whole concern is how do we know that something is true in the "absolute" sense? I believe wholeheartedly that we should test and question all things with the name "science" taged to it. After seeing so many ideas come and go, I think we should take a real hard look at what's going on. We should know why people are saying what they are saying and the philosophy behind it.

What I want is something stable. I am sick and tired of dumping ideas that were forced down my throat for new ones. Truth is truth and it shouldn't change but these ideas keep changing and I want to know why.

So the issue is really one of "knowledge" and absolute truth. What is knowledge, what is truth, how can we know that something is true or not, how can we know that we truely know something........ect.

From what I see, and I could be wrong about this, but it seems as if these ideas are nothing more then a string of assumptions put together to explain the evidence/data of whatever subject.

And if this is the case then this is why these ideas keep changing. And this is why I don't like it. What I want is something stable..........people can keep their egotistical predictions to themselves for I see that as being the heart of the problem. Just give me the facts/data and not your predictions. For this is the reason why modern science is unstable.




Jnorm888
 

Heorhij

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jnorm888 said:
GammaRay said:
I apologize for resurrecting that thread, but maybe I will provoke some further discussion.

The Scripture isn't a scientific book. It just shows us the way to Salvation. People in 4.000 BC in Ancient Judea were in need of a moral code, of someone to help them, not science. So God gave them Genesis, I don't think that people really cared about how the world was made anyway.
Fortunately, God gave us logic and let us explore His world through another God-sent gift; science. I believe in almost every scientific theory I've read about so far (I think).
After all, the Orthodox Church was always into science, hehe. ;)

By the way, even if all scientists agree that this world can still function without God or any other plane (i.e.: matter on its own can create the world), how are we to know for sure that there isn't someone "behind the scenes" moving everything?

Genesis is mostly oral tradition. My whole concern is how do we know that something is true in the "absolute" sense? I believe wholeheartedly that we should test and question all things with the name "science" tag to it. After seeing so many ideas come and go, I think we should take a real hard look at what's going on. We should know why people are saying what they are saying and the philosophy behind it.

What I want is something stable. I am sick and tired of dumping ideas that were forced down my throat for new ones. Truth is truth and it shouldn't change but these ideas keep changing and I want to know why.

So the issue is really one of "knowledge" and absolute truth. What is knowledge, what is truth, how can we know that something is true or not, how can we know that we truely know something........ect.




Jnorm888
As far as faith is concerned, it is my understanding that we come to know things through the teaching of our Church. She works on us, causing us to just "see" things through the "eyes of faith." It is not necessarily rational or logical, although often one can find some very clear logic in the teachings.

As far as natural sciences are concerned... oh my. That's a can of worms.:) As you perhaps know (because you seem to be interested in the philosophy of science), there are some very different, even opposite views on how knowledge is acquired and verified in science. Popper taught that the way to advance the scientific knowledge involves mostly "falsifying" various hypotheses. Kuhn disagreed and proposed his own theory of "paradigm shifts." Lakatos further modified the paradigm theory. Feyerabend and some other "postmodernists" radically disagreed with both Popper and Kuhn, saying, essentially, that the process of scientific advancement is "anarchistic" and "existential" (no two scientists proceed in the exact same way). So, it is... complicated. :) But, nonetheless, look at all these technological wonders, medicine, etc. - even though philosophers disagree, science does progress! :)
 

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Heorhij said:
jnorm888 said:
GammaRay said:
I apologize for resurrecting that thread, but maybe I will provoke some further discussion.

The Scripture isn't a scientific book. It just shows us the way to Salvation. People in 4.000 BC in Ancient Judea were in need of a moral code, of someone to help them, not science. So God gave them Genesis, I don't think that people really cared about how the world was made anyway.
Fortunately, God gave us logic and let us explore His world through another God-sent gift; science. I believe in almost every scientific theory I've read about so far (I think).
After all, the Orthodox Church was always into science, hehe. ;)

By the way, even if all scientists agree that this world can still function without God or any other plane (i.e.: matter on its own can create the world), how are we to know for sure that there isn't someone "behind the scenes" moving everything?

Genesis is mostly oral tradition. My whole concern is how do we know that something is true in the "absolute" sense? I believe wholeheartedly that we should test and question all things with the name "science" tag to it. After seeing so many ideas come and go, I think we should take a real hard look at what's going on. We should know why people are saying what they are saying and the philosophy behind it.

What I want is something stable. I am sick and tired of dumping ideas that were forced down my throat for new ones. Truth is truth and it shouldn't change but these ideas keep changing and I want to know why.

So the issue is really one of "knowledge" and absolute truth. What is knowledge, what is truth, how can we know that something is true or not, how can we know that we truely know something........ect.




Jnorm888
As far as faith is concerned, it is my understanding that we come to know things through the teaching of our Church. She works on us, causing us to just "see" things through the "eyes of faith." It is not necessarily rational or logical, although often one can find some very clear logic in the teachings.

As far as natural sciences are concerned... oh my. That's a can of worms.:) As you perhaps know (because you seem to be interested in the philosophy of science), there are some very different, even opposite views on how knowledge is acquired and verified in science. Popper taught that the way to advance the scientific knowledge involves mostly "falsifying" various hypotheses. Kuhn disagreed and proposed his own theory of "paradigm shifts." Lakatos further modified the paradigm theory. Feyerabend and some other "postmodernists" radically disagreed with both Popper and Kuhn, saying, essentially, that the process of scientific advancement is "anarchistic" and "existential" (no two scientists proceed in the exact same way). So, it is... complicated. :) But, nonetheless, look at all these technological wonders, medicine, etc. - even though philosophers disagree, science does progress! :)
I once heard Fr. Thomas Hopko talk about "intuition" and how we can learn or know that way as well. I once had a friend who would only study 2 to 4 hours a day and he would get "A's" on his tests, he mentioned that he would always listen to the first thought that came to mind in his head. Now I don't know what that is, but it seems to me that there is an "observable and experimental aspect to religion.

When I look at the monks and nuns and see what they do, I see "internal observations and experimentation". But it seems as if "modern" science is only concerned about "external" observations and experiments. Why? Why can't we include internal observations as being a form of "science"? Why must it be "external" only?

By the way, I agree with Kuhn. But you are right. Our technology is progressing, and this dispite the confusion. But this is why I believe that everyone can do science. Science doesn't just belong to the Atheists and Agnostics. It belongs to everybody, and everyone can advance their own form of science. We don't need a universal philosophy.




JNORM888
 

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Of course, but there is no revelation to us about HOW, "mechanically," did/does He act in order to create the world. It is absolutely clear that He created the heaven and the earth out of nothing: He said, "let it be," and it appeared. But then all these physical laws began to act, and from that point on, we can comprehend the way these laws work, using our experience and reason. The biological evolution is one of these laws.
yes, of course we cant understand the "how" -- the Fathers are clear on that. How does God "speak" and out comes creation? who knows? but the Fathers are certainly the key to understanding as much as God has revealed. They can tell us that a day means literally a day without delving into how God created. the Scripture is there for the Church to interpret and use to its benefit, and thus the Fathers did just that. I think it was St. Ireneaus or another early Father who said something like it would be ridiculous to try to discover the how of our origins, and to be content with what the Church knows of what God has provided about the creation.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
Of course, but there is no revelation to us about HOW, "mechanically," did/does He act in order to create the world. It is absolutely clear that He created the heaven and the earth out of nothing: He said, "let it be," and it appeared. But then all these physical laws began to act, and from that point on, we can comprehend the way these laws work, using our experience and reason. The biological evolution is one of these laws.
yes, of course we cant understand the "how" -- the Fathers are clear on that. How does God "speak" and out comes creation? who knows? but the Fathers are certainly the key to understanding as much as God has revealed. They can tell us that a day means literally a day without delving into how God created. the Scripture is there for the Church to interpret and use to its benefit, and thus the Fathers did just that. I think it was St. Ireneaus or another early Father who said something like it would be ridiculous to try to discover the how of our origins, and to be content with what the Church knows of what God has provided about the creation.
Well, apparently not all Fathers interpreted all of the Genesis literally. Here is a verbatim quote from a person who is a lot more knowledgeable in patristics than me, an Orthodox Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware):

"The opening chapters of Genesis are of course concerned

with certain religious truths, and are not to be taken as literal history. Fifteen centuries before modern Biblical

criticism, Greek Fathers were already interpreting the Creation and Paradise stories symbolically rather than literally."


http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0804/__P13.HTM
 

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jckstraw72 said:
Of course, but there is no revelation to us about HOW, "mechanically," did/does He act in order to create the world. It is absolutely clear that He created the heaven and the earth out of nothing: He said, "let it be," and it appeared. But then all these physical laws began to act, and from that point on, we can comprehend the way these laws work, using our experience and reason. The biological evolution is one of these laws.
yes, of course we cant understand the "how" -- the Fathers are clear on that. How does God "speak" and out comes creation? who knows? but the Fathers are certainly the key to understanding as much as God has revealed. They can tell us that a day means literally a day without delving into how God created. the Scripture is there for the Church to interpret and use to its benefit, and thus the Fathers did just that. I think it was St. Ireneaus or another early Father who said something like it would be ridiculous to try to discover the how of our origins, and to be content with what the Church knows of what God has provided about the creation.
And Scripture also says that a day is like a thousand years in the sight of God. Clearly not all days mentioned in Scripture are literally a day consisting of a 24 hour period. Therefore, could the creation "days" be such a day; not literal, at all? I would disagree that Scripture is there for the Church to interpret for the purpose of scientific interpretation.  For our spiritual growth and the healing of our sins, yes, but not for advancing scientific knowlege about our surroundings, nor our biological makeup.

And why would God create an intelligent creature like mankind, knowing that we would grow in knowledge, knowledge that has saved millions from the ravages of disease and pestilance: things that are a conditions of the past? Do you wish to live without modern scientific knowledge where the mortality rate of infants is a horrendous game of Russian Roulette? Did the interpretation of Scripture ever cure a childhood disease? Isn't it a case that human beings, often Christians inspired by their belief in God and love and Scripture, in seeking to help their fellow beings, have sought answers not given Scripture?

In his work, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Saint Augustine, back in the 4th Century, provided excellent advice for all Christians who are faced with the task of interpreting Scripture in the light of scientific knowledge.

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]

Edited for clarity (we can always hope).


 

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does Met. Kallistos provide quotes? I have yet to see a single quote from any Father that is allegorical to the exclusion of a literal interpretation.

as for the days are as a thousand years, that is quite obviously symbolic since God is outside time -- its not like a day is literally like a thousand years to God --- that would mean God experiences time and ages. On the other hand, the Fathers almost unanimously interpret the length of the days in Genesis to be literal (and that is the only issue where I have seen variance, but even the likes of Origen believed the earth was less than 10,000 yrs old in his day -- still nowhere near enough time for evolution).

i really just dont understand why some people think its so important to fit a secularist scientific theory into Scripture and Patristic where its obviously such a huge stretch. i really just cant figure out that mindset.
 

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Just a few quotes...

“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.”
Justin Martyr (Dialog with Typho the Jew chapter 81 [AD 155])

Source: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0128.htm

In this quote St. Justin Martyr speaks of the “day” in Genesis meaning a period of a thousand years by pointing out that despite God telling Adam he would die the day of sinning he lived over 900 years. That is to say that the days were not literal 24 hour periods. This view is not limited to St. Justin.

St Irenaeus expresses a similar idea;

“And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since "a day of the Lord is as a thousand years," he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin.”
(Against Herasies, 5:23 [AD 189])

Source: http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-01...m#P9216_2679777

It appears that this view of each day containing a thousand years was popular among Early Church Fathers as we read from St. Cyprian of Carthage:

“As the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand of years, as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, and the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, and the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house l so here also the number seven of the brethren, embracing, in the quantity of their number, the seven churches, as likewise in the first book of Kings we read that the barren hath borne seven”
(Treatises 11:11 [A.D. 250])

Source: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0507.htm

Clement of Alexandria writes that we cannot know when creation took place from reading Scripture:

“That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated, and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds: "This is the book of the generation: also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth." For the expression "when they were created" intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression "in the day that God made," that is, in and by which God made "all things," and "without which not even one thing was made," points out the activity exerted by the Son. As David says, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice in it; " that is, in consequence of the knowledge imparted by Him, let us celebrate the divine festival; for the Word that throws light on things hidden, and by whom each created thing came into life and being, is called day."
(Miscellanies 6.16 [208 AD])

Source: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02106.htm

St. Augustine says the following of his view of the word “day” in the Creation Week.

“But simultaneously with time the world was made, if in the world's creation change and motion were created, as seems evident from the order of the first six or seven days. For in these days the morning and evening are counted, until, on the sixth day, all things which God then made were finished, and on the seventh the rest of God was mysteriously and sublimely signalized. What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!”
(City of God 11:6 [AD 419])

Source: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120111.htm

As St Augustine refers to the days as “impossible to conceive”, it is doubtful that he has 24 hour days in mind, for they are aren't inconceivable, after all.

Though people claim that there is a universal consesus on interpreting Genesis amongst the Church Fathers, in reality that doesn't seem to be the case, at all.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
i really just dont understand why some people think its so important to fit a secularist scientific theory into Scripture and Patristic where its obviously such a huge stretch. i really just cant figure out that mindset.
Orthodoxy and Fundamentalism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPrB_rMjJmA&feature=channel_page

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_jOIRf3Tuk&feature=channel_page

Fundamentalism and Actual Biblical Inerrancy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RBjkHBEfqE&feature=related
 

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jckstraw72 said:
i really just dont understand why some people think its so important to fit a secularist scientific theory into Scripture and Patristic where its obviously such a huge stretch. i really just cant figure out that mindset.
How about the Copernican heliocentric theory? There is no doubt that ALL Fathers unanimously thought of the earth to be the immobile center of the universe, right? Why would one then "fit" THIS "secularist scientific theory into Scripture and patristics?"
 

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Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
i really just dont understand why some people think its so important to fit a secularist scientific theory into Scripture and Patristic where its obviously such a huge stretch. i really just cant figure out that mindset.
How about the Copernican heliocentric theory? There is no doubt that ALL Fathers unanimously thought of the earth to be the immobile center of the universe, right? Why would one then "fit" THIS "secularist scientific theory into Scripture and patristics?"
Technically even the sun isn't the center of the universe. There's no geographical centre in our four-dimensional world. Even gravity doesn't establish a center since all bodies are attracted to each other. Yet, we know for sure that Earth is the center of life. Everything was created for the earth to exist, as a decorated wall to contain a house. Earth is indeed a "spiritual" and geographical center for the universe.
God placed the constellations and the planets in the sky so that they would be seen in a special way from earth. It doesn't matter that stars and planets don't orbit around us, but what matters is their apparent movement in the sky... which is based exclusively for a terrestrial perspective.

In Christ,  Alex
 

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AlexanderOfBergamo said:
Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
i really just dont understand why some people think its so important to fit a secularist scientific theory into Scripture and Patristic where its obviously such a huge stretch. i really just cant figure out that mindset.
How about the Copernican heliocentric theory? There is no doubt that ALL Fathers unanimously thought of the earth to be the immobile center of the universe, right? Why would one then "fit" THIS "secularist scientific theory into Scripture and patristics?"
Technically even the sun isn't the center of the universe. There's no geographical centre in our four-dimensional world. Even gravity doesn't establish a center since all bodies are attracted to each other. Yet, we know for sure that Earth is the center of life. Everything was created for the earth to exist, as a decorated wall to contain a house. Earth is indeed a "spiritual" and geographical center for the universe.
God placed the constellations and the planets in the sky so that they would be seen in a special way from earth. It doesn't matter that stars and planets don't orbit around us, but what matters is their apparent movement in the sky... which is based exclusively for a terrestrial perspective.

In Christ,  Alex
Wow, that's not an incredibly egotistical way to view the universe.
 

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AlexanderOfBergamo said:
Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
i really just dont understand why some people think its so important to fit a secularist scientific theory into Scripture and Patristic where its obviously such a huge stretch. i really just cant figure out that mindset.
How about the Copernican heliocentric theory? There is no doubt that ALL Fathers unanimously thought of the earth to be the immobile center of the universe, right? Why would one then "fit" THIS "secularist scientific theory into Scripture and patristics?"
Technically even the sun isn't the center of the universe. There's no geographical centre in our four-dimensional world. Even gravity doesn't establish a center since all bodies are attracted to each other. Yet, we know for sure that Earth is the center of life. Everything was created for the earth to exist, as a decorated wall to contain a house. Earth is indeed a "spiritual" and geographical center for the universe.
God placed the constellations and the planets in the sky so that they would be seen in a special way from earth. It doesn't matter that stars and planets don't orbit around us, but what matters is their apparent movement in the sky... which is based exclusively for a terrestrial perspective.

In Christ,  Alex
Alex, this is a legitimate philosophical or religious outlook on the situation, but I was talking about something totally different. To any person who lived in the Greco-Roman world of the first several centuries A.D., it was absolutely "KNOWN" (without a shadow of a doubt) that the earth is stationary and the planets and the stars (the "celestial bodies") move around it. That was the completely accepted view based on teachings of Ptolemy and Aristotle. Similarly, all "learned" people "knew" that the "kinds" (or species, genera etc.) of living creatures were created separately and forever. So, can't we explain the literal creationism of the Fathers simply by the fact that at their time, no alternative view on the diversity of life was known or seemed acceptable? Yet, it does not mean that to us today their naive creationism must be acceptable, just like it does not mean that the heliocentric model of the universe (in a strictly physical, not philosophical sense) has to be acceptable to us because it was acceptable to them.
 

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[How about the Copernican heliocentric theory? There is no doubt that ALL Fathers unanimously thought of the earth to be the immobile center of the universe, right? Why would one then "fit" THIS "secularist scientific theory into Scripture and patristics?"]

well if they actually all thought that did it derive from Scriptural interpretation, or just the prevailing view of their day? cause we are discussing actual interpretation of Genesis.

and like i said, their is slight variation on the length of the days, but longer days doesnt necessitate that evolution happened in those days. the length of the days is perhaps the least important issue. furthermore, the Church adopted a calendar that tell us we are now in the 7500s from creation, so it gave approval to the literal understanding.

however, as far as Clement of Alexandria, in his Stromate Book 4.25 he writes:

Whence He commands them not to touch dead bodies, or approach the dead; not that the body was polluted, but that sin and disobedience were incarnate, and embodied, and dead, and therefore abominable. It was only, then, when a father and mother, a son and daughter died, that the priest was allowed to enter, because these were related only by flesh and seed, to whom the priest was indebted for the immediate cause of his entrance into life. And they purify themselves seven days, the period in which Creation was consummated. For on the seventh day the rest is celebrated; and on the eighth he brings a propitiation, as is written in Ezekiel, according to which propitiation the promise is to be received.

thus he accepted the days as literal days.

regarding St. Justin Martyr's statement, just because he applies the allegorical meaning to Adam's age doesn't necessarily mean he applied it to the days of creation. If Adam lived and died within the 6th day of creation (being 1000 yrs long) then that means 900 yrs worth of his descendants also lived in the 6th day of creation, before God rested on the 7th. so after 1000 yrs God rested from His creative acts? Did He rest for 1000 yrs then?

aaand of course even having the days as 1000 yrs doesnt live nearly enough time for evolution.
 
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