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

jckstraw72

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man is of course the crown of creation.

St. Gregory the Theologian writes:

To the days (of creation) is added a certain firstness, secondness, thirdness, and so on to the seventh day of rest from works, and by these days is divided all that is created, being brought into order by unutterable laws, but not produced in an instant, by the Almighty Word, for Whom to think or to speak means already to perform the deed. If man appeared in the world last, honored by the handiwork and image of God, this is not in the least surprising; since for him, as for a king, the royal dwelling had to be prepared and only then was the king to be led in, accompanied by all creatures.

In the same vein St. John Chrysostom writes:

The Almighty right hand of God and His limitless wisdom would have had no difficulty in creating everything in a single day. And what do I say, in a single day? - in an instant. But since He created everything that exists not for His own benefit, because He needs nothing, being All-sufficient unto Himself, on the contrary He created everything in His love of mankind and goodness, and so He creates in parts and offers us by the mouth of the blessed Prophet a clear teaching of what is created so that we, having found out about this in detail, would not fall under the influence of those who are drawn away by human reasonings... And why, you will say, was man created afterwards, if he surpassed all these creatures? For a good reason. When a king intends to enter a city, his armsbearers and others must go ahead, so that the king might enter chambers already prepared for him. Precisely thus did God now, intending to place as it were a king and master over everything earthly, at first arrange all this adornment, and only then did He create the master (man).
 

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jckstraw72 said:
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.
We have Riddikulus offering us evidence from the writings of Clement of Alexandria that he taught a more indefinite allegorical interpretation of the Genesis creation narratives and of the length of a creation day, and we have you offering us evidence that this same Clement of Alexandria taught a literal interpretation of the creation day.  Now, who's right, you or Riddikulus?  You can't both be right, since you contradict each other.

Tell you what.  Riddikulus gave us links to web sites where we can read Clement of Alexandria for ourselves.  Can you do the same?


jckstraw72 said:
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.
Sorry, your point got lost in your senseless reductio ad absurdum.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
[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.
The heliocentric system was the prevailing view of the day, and so was creationism (i.e. the notion that all biological species were created separately, once and forever). So, just like Fathers could not possibly say that the first chapter of Genesis describes the appearence of various galaxies, of which ours is a small and rather peripheral, etc., and that when the text says, "created the earth," it means created one of the astronomical number of planets, each moving around its star in a certain galaxy - similarly they COULD NOT interpret the Genesis text when it talks about biological species as implying their evolution. But it does not mean that we have to follow them in that, simply because we know a lot more - e.g., about the Earth orbiting the Sun, and about all these galaxies, and about evolution of life.
 

Riddikulus

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Ukiemeister 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.
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
Thanks for these links, Ukiemeister.

This quote speaks volumes, I believe.

"People who dogmatise ignorance in order to preserve their ideology, they do not have faith in God. It is a lack of faith that generates fundamentalism, not an act of faith."
 

Heorhij

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PoorFoolNicholas said:
ytterbiumanalyst said:
And that's an incredibly egotistical way to view humanity.
You're right. Man wasn't the reason for the creation.
Actually, Vladimir Lossky wrote in his "Dogmatic Theology" literally this (I am quoting from its Russian original, http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/lossky2/Main.htm): "творение - это свободный акт, дарственный акт Бога. Для Божественного существа оно не обусловлено никакой "внутренней необходимостью". Даже те нравственные мотивы, которыми иногда пытаются обосновать творение, лишены смысла и безвкусны" (my translation: "Creation is a free act of God granting everything. For the Divine Being it has no "intrinsic necessity" whatsoever. Even those ethical motives that are sometimes used to explain Creation are senseless and tasteless.")
 

Ebor

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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.
I'd say that it's more like some people trying to fit a literal reading of Genesis onto the data and information that has been acquired over time as to how old things are, that there were many creatures that lived once and long before humans and much more.  They insist that scientific knowledge that is gained by using the brains and abilities that God created in people is wrong or anti-God or the like.  Labeling it as "secularist" is to attempt to cast it in a negative light.

Ebor
 

Ebor

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AlexanderOfBergamo said:
Yet, we know for sure that Earth is the center of life.
We do?  ???  We know that there is abundant and varied life on Earth.  But we don't know about anywhere else.  That's not the same thing. 

Everything, the universe, was created for itself to exist in all its wonders.  Constellations/asterisms are different in other cultures.  Which is the "correct" ones, the "Western" ones?
 

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you can read Clement of Alexandria on www.ccel.org. as for the other St. Clement quote, when u read his entire work in which he mentions creation several various times, it seems as those he is saying we dont know when God created, as in time did not already exist when God began creating. He's saying its not like 100 yrs or 200 yrs (or any amount of time) passed before God created -- that would put God's creation within time. rather what He is saying is that God exists in eternity -- not within time, thus creation began in eternity but the moment it began, so did time.

my point about St. Justin's idea was fairly simple i thought -- if each day of creation was really 1000 yrs with Adam living 900 some years, and thus less than the entirety of that 6th "day" then are you saying all his descendants also lived in that 6th "day" before God rested on the 7th?
 

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jckstraw72 said:
my point about St. Justin's idea was fairly simple i thought -- if each day of creation was really 1000 yrs with Adam living 900 some years, and thus less than the entirety of that 6th "day" then are you saying all his descendants also lived in that 6th "day" before God rested on the 7th?
And if we are, what's your point?
 

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Forgive my question : What does creationist and evolutionist means ?
 

Heorhij

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Dan-Romania said:
Forgive my question : What does creationist and evolutionist means ?
Dan, these are rather meaningless terms. A "creationist" is a person who does not understand biology and claims that the biological evolution either does not occur at all, or occurs but does not lead to the emrgence of new species. Both beliefs are something like a belief that if you put two fingers in the electric socket, you will not be electrocuted because the book of Genesis does not mention electricity (so it is "just a theory" and a secularist one). An "evolutionist" is a fictional term; "evolutionists" do not exist, instead there exist people who know biology, understand it.
 

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[And if we are, what's your point?]  just wondering if you were ok with saying that .... ive never heard anyone make that claim before.

but if each day is 1000 yrs long, then i wonder when the 7th day was over ... since God gave the Jews the Sabbath because He rested on the 7th day, that means by then the 7th day was already passed ... i wonder if the Law came more than 2000 yrs after Adam ... ill have to look up that chronology.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
[And if we are, what's your point?]  just wondering if you were ok with saying that .... ive never heard anyone make that claim before.

but if each day is 1000 yrs long, then i wonder when the 7th day was over ... since God gave the Jews the Sabbath because He rested on the 7th day, that means by then the 7th day was already passed ... i wonder if the Law came more than 2000 yrs after Adam ... ill have to look up that chronology.
You're being much, much too literal about this. If Adam was a real person, the Law came many, many millenia after him. The years in Genesis are similar to the years in other ancient documents. In the annals of the Sumerian kings, for example, how long a ruler was purported to live was dependent on his power relative to other rulers. In fact, several of these rulers were said to have ruled for several thousand years.

Here's a link to an English translation of this text:
http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/section2/tr211.htm
 

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[You're being much, much too literal about this. If Adam was a real person, the Law came many, many millenia after him. The years in Genesis are similar to the years in other ancient documents. In the annals of the Sumerian kings, for example, how long a ruler was purported to live was dependent on his power relative to other rulers. In fact, several of these rulers were said to have ruled for several thousand years.]

well St. Justin Martyr's quote was used in opposition to the majority ECF view of literal days, so I was thinking along the lines of his quote to try to see if it lined up.

but if these years aren't literal, why did the ECF's so completely miss that? irregardless of their views on the length of the first week, its a concensus that the earth would be no more than 10,000 yrs by now. Ive never seen any quote from any Father, including on anti-creation websites, that would suggest otherwise. Even Origen believed in a young earth.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
[You're being much, much too literal about this. If Adam was a real person, the Law came many, many millenia after him. The years in Genesis are similar to the years in other ancient documents. In the annals of the Sumerian kings, for example, how long a ruler was purported to live was dependent on his power relative to other rulers. In fact, several of these rulers were said to have ruled for several thousand years.]

well St. Justin Martyr's quote was used in opposition to the majority ECF view of literal days, so I was thinking along the lines of his quote to try to see if it lined up.

but if these years aren't literal, why did the ECF's so completely miss that? irregardless of their views on the length of the first week, its a concensus that the earth would be no more than 10,000 yrs by now. Ive never seen any quote from any Father, including on anti-creation websites, that would suggest otherwise. Even Origen believed in a young earth.
But did the Early Church Fathers think of themselves as speaking in consensus on such things as the age of the earth?

Was the age of the earth central to their doctrines, or did they just cite their opinions on the age of the earth in support of other doctrines that they considered more important?
 

jckstraw72

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But did the Early Church Fathers think of themselves as speaking in consensus on such things as the age of the earth?
well im sure the later Fathers who had already read the earlier Fathers were realizing that they were agreeing .... especially modern Saints and Holy Fathers who specifically wrote/spoke againts evolution

Was the age of the earth central to their doctrines, or did they just cite their opinions on the age of the earth in support of other doctrines that they considered more important?
i think its just the concept of accepting Scripture as is that was central to their understanding.

Genesis is the beginning of the story that informs just about every other concept in Orthodoxy ... if you change that beginning what makes you think the rest of the story will remain the same? its like the butterfly effect -- if you change an earlier part of the story you change the whole rest of the story. if we are going to overthrow the Patristic understanding of Genesis we'd have to investigate how that would change everything else.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
But did the Early Church Fathers think of themselves as speaking in consensus on such things as the age of the earth?
well im sure the later Fathers who had already read the earlier Fathers were realizing that they were agreeing .... especially modern Saints and Holy Fathers who specifically wrote/spoke againts evolution

Was the age of the earth central to their doctrines, or did they just cite their opinions on the age of the earth in support of other doctrines that they considered more important?
i think its just the concept of accepting Scripture as is that was central to their understanding.

Genesis is the beginning of the story that informs just about every other concept in Orthodoxy ... if you change that beginning what makes you think the rest of the story will remain the same? its like the butterfly effect -- if you change an earlier part of the story you change the whole rest of the story. if we are going to overthrow the Patristic understanding of Genesis we'd have to investigate how that would change everything else.
I'm not convinced, though, that there was a consensual patristic understanding of Genesis, and I'm quite skeptical that this "consensus" may have been engineered by modern theologians motivated by an unhealthy fear of science.
 

Heorhij

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jckstraw72 said:
Genesis is the beginning of the story that informs just about every other concept in Orthodoxy
Are you sure? I thought that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead actually was the beginning of that story, no?

jckstraw72 said:
... if you change that beginning what makes you think the rest of the story will remain the same?
Indeed - if the coming of Christ from the dead is the beginning, then does it really matter what all the numerous stories of Hindus, Zoroastrians, Hebrews and so on and so forth, say? :)
 

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[Are you sure? I thought that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead actually was the beginning of that story, no?]

well i believe it was this thread, but perhaps a different one where another poster already commented on the anthropology of St. John Chyrsostom and how it is based on a literal understanding of Genesis  --- changing Genesis to an allegory would change Orthodox anthropology for one instance. im reading through the 38 volume Church Fathers set and they continuously go back to Genesis on many subjects. of course Christ is our focal point, but we know what we're meant for and why we need Christ because of Genesis.

[I'm not convinced, though, that there was a consensual patristic understanding of Genesis, and I'm quite skeptical that this "consensus" may have been engineered by modern theologians motivated by an unhealthy fear of science.]

do you have any reason besides skepticism to question the concensus -- like have you seen Patristic quotes that deny the literal? do you really think people like St. Nektarios, St. Barsanuphius of Optina, St. Justin Popovich, Elder Cleopa, Fr. Seraphim, Elder Joseph the Hesychast, etc all just had an unhealthy fear of science? maybe their holiness enlightened them to things we don't see. i think its more likely that other modern theologians (i know of no Saints or modern elders who have come down in favor of evolution) fear looking ridiculous to the scientific community if they were to accept Genesis as is.

also, this just popped into my mind ... have you read the Mountain of Silence? The author mentions in there that the Church has historically interpreted Genesis literally. Also, I was in Romania in March and there was a sign by an old icon that said the icon was from the year 7100 or so from the creation of the world ... which corresponds to 1500 something (i dont remember the exact dates, and pictures were not allowed inside this particular church, otherwise i would have gotten a picture of the sign) ... but anyways this reflects the Church's traditional interpretation -- it adopted a calendar in teh Byzantine era that puts us now in the year 7518 or 7519 from the creation of the world. this is mentioned in Fr. Seraphim's book, and i know its also mentioned in http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Russia-Belief-Practice-Under/dp/0271023503/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244432025&sr=8-1 and im sure you can find other sources. also check out this website http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/
 
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