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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Augustine's Origin of Species.
How the great theologian might weigh in on the Darwin debate.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th of the publication of his On the Origin of Species. For some, such as Richard Dawkins, Darwinism has been elevated from a provisional scientific theory to a worldview—an outlook on reality that excludes God, firmly and permanently. Others have reacted strongly against the high priests of secularism. Atheism, they argue, simply uses such scientific theories as weapons in its protracted war against religion.

They also fear that biblical interpretation is simply being accommodated to fit contemporary scientific theories. Surely, they argue, the Creation narratives in Genesis are meant to be taken literally, as historical accounts of what actually happened. Isn't that what Christians have always done? Many evangelicals fear that innovators and modernizers are abandoning the long Christian tradition of faithful biblical exegesis. They say the church has always treated the Creation accounts as straightforward histories of how everything came into being. The authority and clarity of Scripture—themes that are rightly cherished by evangelicals—seem to be at stake.

These are important concerns, and the Darwin anniversaries invite us to look to church history to understand how our spiritual forebears dealt with similar issues.

Letting Scripture Speak

North African bishop Augustine of Hippo (354–430) had no skin in the game concerning the current origins controversies. He interpreted Scripture a thousand years before the Scientific Revolution, and 1,500 before Darwin's Origin of Species. Augustine didn't "accommodate" or "compromise" his biblical interpretation to fit new scientific theories. The important thing was to let Scripture speak for itself.

Augustine wrestled with Genesis 1–2 throughout his career. There are at least four points in his writings at which he attempts to develop a detailed, systematic account of how these chapters are to be understood. Each is subtly different. Here I shall consider Augustine's The Literal Meaning of Genesis, which was written between 401 and 415. Augustine intended this to be a "literal" commentary (meaning "in the sense intended by the author").

Augustine draws out the following core themes: God brought everything into existence in a single moment of creation. Yet the created order is not static. God endowed it with the capacity to develop. Augustine uses the image of a dormant seed to help his readers grasp this point. God creates seeds, which will grow and develop at the right time. Using more technical language, Augustine asks his readers to think of the created order as containing divinely embedded causalities that emerge or evolve at a later stage. Yet Augustine has no time for any notion of random or arbitrary changes within creation. The development of God's creation is always subject to God's sovereign providence. The God who planted the seeds at the moment of creation also governs and directs the time and place of their growth.

Augustine argues that the first Genesis Creation account (1:1–2:3) cannot be interpreted in isolation, but must be set alongside the second Genesis Creation account (2:4–25), as well as every other statement about the Creation found in Scripture. For example, Augustine suggests that Psalm 33:6–9 speaks of an instantaneous creation of the world through God's creative Word, while John 5:17 points to a God who is still active within creation.

Further, he argues that a close reading of Genesis 2:4 has the following meaning: "When day was made, God made heaven and earth and every green thing of the field." This leads him to conclude that the six days of Creation are not chronological. Rather, they are a way of categorizing God's work of creation. God created the world in an instant but continues to develop and mold it, even to the present day.

Augustine was deeply concerned that biblical interpreters might get locked into reading the Bible according to the scientific assumptions of the age. This, of course, happened during the Copernican controversies of the late 16th century. Traditional biblical interpretation held that the sun revolved around the earth. The church interpreted a challenge to this erroneous idea as a challenge to the authority of the Bible. It was not, of course. It was a challenge to one specific interpretation of the Bible—an interpretation, as it happened, in urgent need of review.

Augustine anticipated this point a millennium earlier. Certain biblical passages, he insisted, are genuinely open to diverse interpretations and must not be wedded to prevailing scientific theories. Otherwise, the Bible becomes the prisoner of what was once believed to be scientifically true: "In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines our position, we too fall with it."

No Compromise

Augustine's approach allowed theology to avoid becoming trapped in a prescientific worldview, and helped him not to compromise in the face of cultural pressures, which were significant. For example, many contemporary thinkers regarded the Christian view of creation ex nihilo as utter nonsense. Claudius Galenus (a.d. 129–200), physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, dismissed it as a logical and metaphysical absurdity.

Augustine also argues that Scripture teaches that time is also part of the created order, that God created space and time together. For some, however, the idea of time as a created thing seemed ridiculous. Again, Augustine counters that the biblical narrative is not open to alternative interpretations. Time must therefore be thought of as one of God's creatures and servants. For Augustine, time itself is an element of the created order. Timelessness, on the other hand, is the essential feature of eternity.

So what was God doing before he created the universe? Augustine undermines the question by pointing out that God did not bring creation into being at a certain definite moment in time, because time did not exist prior to creation. For Augustine, eternity is a realm without space or time. Interestingly, this is precisely the state of existence many scientists posit existed before the big bang.

Now, Augustine may be wrong in asserting that Scripture clearly teaches that the Creation was instantaneous. Evangelicals, after all, believe in the infallibility of Scripture, not the infallibility of its interpreters. As others have pointed out, Augustine himself was not entirely consistent about the Creation. Other options certainly exist—most notably, the familiar idea that the six days of Creation represent six periods of 24 hours, or the related idea that they represent six more extended periods, possibly millions of years. Nevertheless, Augustine's position ought to make us reflect on these questions, even if some of us believe him to be incorrect.

Ongoing Creation

So what are the implications of this ancient Christian interpretation of Genesis for the Darwin celebrations? First, Augustine does not limit God's creative action to the primordial act of origination. God is, he insists, still working within the world, directing its continuing development and unfolding its potential. There are two "moments" in the Creation: a primary act of origination, and a continuing process of providential guidance. Creation is thus not a completed past event. God is working even now, in the present, Augustine writes, sustaining and directing the unfolding of the "generations that he laid up in creation when it was first established."

This twofold focus on the Creation allows us to read Genesis in a way that affirms that God created everything from nothing, in an instant. However, it also helps us affirm that the universe has been created with a capacity to develop, under God's sovereign guidance. Thus, the primordial state of creation does not correspond to what we presently observe. For Augustine, God created a universe that was deliberately designed to develop and evolve. The blueprint for that evolution is not arbitrary, but is programmed into the very fabric of creation. God's providence superintends the continuing unfolding of the created order.

Earlier Christian writers noted how the first Genesis Creation narrative speaks of the earth and the waters "bringing forth" living creatures. They concluded that this pointed to God's endowing the natural order with a capacity to generate living things. Augustine takes this idea further: God created the world complete with a series of dormant powers, which were actualized at appropriate moments through divine providence.

Augustine argues that Genesis 1:12 implies that the earth received the power or capacity to produce things by itself: "Scripture has stated that the earth brought forth the crops and the trees causally, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth."

Where some might think of the Creation as God's insertion of new kinds of plants and animals readymade into an already existing world, Augustine rejects this as inconsistent with the overall witness of Scripture. Rather, God must be thought of as creating in that very first moment the potencies for all the kinds of living things to come later, including humanity.

This means that the first Creation account describes the instantaneous bringing into existence of primal matter, including causal resources for further development. The second account explores how these causal possibilities emerged and developed from the earth. Taken together, the two Genesis Creation accounts declare that God made the world instantaneously, while envisaging that the various kinds of living things would make their appearance gradually over time—as they were meant to by their Creator.

The image of the "seed" implies that the original Creation contained within it the potential for all the living kinds to subsequently emerge. This does not mean that God created the world incomplete or imperfect, in that "what God originally established in causes, he subsequently fulfilled in effects." This process of development, Augustine declares, is governed by fundamental laws, which reflect the will of their Creator: "God has established fixed laws governing the production of kinds and qualities of beings, and bringing them out of concealment into full view."

Augustine would have rejected any idea of the development of the universe as a random or lawless process. For this reason, Augustine would have opposed the Darwinian notion of random variations, insisting that God's providence is deeply involved throughout. The process may be unpredictable. But it is not random.

Authority or Interpretation?

Unsurprisingly, Augustine approaches the text with the culturally prevalent presupposition of the fixity of species and finds nothing in it to challenge his thinking on this point. Yet the ways in which he critiques contemporary authorities and his own experience suggest that, on this point at least, he would be open to correction in light of prevailing scientific opinion.

So does Augustine's The Literal Meaning of Genesis help us engage with the great questions raised by Darwin? Let's be clear that Augustine does not answer these questions for us. But he does help us see that the real issue here is not the authority of the Bible, but its right interpretation. In addition, he offers us a classic way of thinking about the Creation that might illuminate some contemporary debates.

On this issue, Augustine is neither liberal nor accommodationist, but deeply biblical, both in substance and intention. While his approach hardly represents the last word, it needs to be on the table.

We need patient, generous, and gracious reflection on these big issues. Augustine of Hippo can help us get started.

Alister McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King's College, London, and holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University in molecular biophysics. This article has been adapted from his 2009 Gifford Lectures, newly published as A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Westminster John Knox).
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/may/22.39.html?start=4

 

jckstraw72

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yes, im aware that St. Augustine tended to view the 6 days as one instant, and Fr. Seraphim mentions this in his book. However, as I have said several times, just focusing on the length of the days does very little to give us a full picture of how the Fathers viewed Genesis. Additionally, we know that minor variance within the Fathers does not disrupt the overall concensus. Several early Fathers held to chiliasm, for instance. We can't try to rehabilitate chiliasm based on this minor variance though. And the Church has similarly taught literalism for Genesis through the majority of the Fathers, hymnography, icons, Ecumenical canons, its calendar, etc

in the other thread you even posted a review from George Theokritoff that says:
Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism, however much contrary evidence there may appear to be.
are you saying Theokritoff is wrong also? not sure why you posted it if you think he's wrong ...



I'd like to see some variance from the Fathers on issues other than the length of the days, as that variance has already been acknowledged and discussed several times now. additionally, has anyone addressed the issue that the Church adopted a calendar that employed a literal Genesis timeline? It places us in the 8th millennium from creation.
 

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In vain, then, do some babble with most empty presumption, saying that Egypt has understood the reckoning of the stars for more than a hundred thousand years. For in what books have they collected that number who learned letters from Isis their mistress, not much more than two thousand years ago? Varro, who has declared this, is no small authority in history, and it does not disagree with the truth of the divine books. For as it is not yet six thousand years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, and contrary to, the ascertained truth? For what historian of the past should we credit more than him who has also predicted things to come which we now see fulfilled? St. Augustine, City of God, Book XVIII.XL

 

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This twofold focus on the Creation allows us to read Genesis in a way that affirms that God created everything from nothing, in an instant. However, it also helps us affirm that the universe has been created with a capacity to develop, under God's sovereign guidance. Thus, the primordial state of creation does not correspond to what we presently observe. For Augustine, God created a universe that was deliberately designed to develop and evolve. The blueprint for that evolution is not arbitrary, but is programmed into the very fabric of creation. God's providence superintends the continuing unfolding of the created order.
the bolded part tells us why uniformitarianism does not work. im sure we can all agree that scientists are not directly observing the past, but rather remains from the past that require interpretation. as this author points out though, the early earth was different than what we know, thus we can not cast the present onto the past and assume we are correct. this is the problem with dating methods --- if we assume a constant rate of decay, and we assume the original make-up of the item being dated, are we necessarily correct? I think St. Augustine, at least according to this author, tell us that we are not correct in those assumptions.
 

Riddikulus

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jckstraw72 said:
yes, im aware that St. Augustine tended to view the 6 days as one instant
If you believed that, why did you say; its quite literally impossible to read the City of God and come away thinking St. Augustine did not interpret Genesis literally? [/quote]

Several early Fathers held to chiliasm, for instance. We can't try to rehabilitate chiliasm based on this minor variance though. And the Church has similarly taught literalism for Genesis through the majority of the Fathers, hymnography, icons, Ecumenical canons, its calendar, etc.
Again you confuse mysterical matters with the physical realities of our surroundings. To be honest with you, I couldn't care less who believes that Genesis is a literal account of creation, what I disagree with is that people should be deceived into thinking that this is the only viewpoint they are allowed to have. The Orthodox Church does not enforce such a decision upon its members. And I would see any representation of Genesis within the Church's hymnography etc, as a symbolic focus on God's ways and His relationship with His creatures.

in the other thread you even posted a review from George Theokritoff that says:
Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism, however much contrary evidence there may appear to be.

are you saying Theokritoff is wrong also? not sure why you posted it if you think he's wrong ...
Oh dear. You do quote mine without reading the context, don't you? Let's put the quote in context: Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism, however much contrary evidence there may appear to be...Precisely because Fr Seraphim’s approach is fundamentally honest and his arguments usually precise and coherent-at least as regards the patristic sources-it is very important to recognize his presuppositions. Fundamental to his entire case is the premise that evolution, and any other scientific theory antithetical to young earth creationism, constitutes philosophy rather than science: we will return to this later. Closely allied to this premise is the assertion that evolution is “Clearly” of the same order as views about the cosmos current in St Basil’s time that were rejected by that Father (285).

The latter premise does much to explain why Fr Seraphim, for all his emphasis on taking the Fathers in context and on their own terms, does not always avoid enlisting them in modern battles-in effect, interpreting them in terms of our own context. An example is his use of Gregory of Nyssa’s comments on transmigration of souls, a teaching which Fr Seraphim characterizes as “a strange parallel with the modern theory of universal evolution” (138). Strange, indeed.
Gregory sees reincarnation as amounting to a belief that “one single nature runs through all beings” (139), which, according to Fr Seraphim, “lies at the heart of the theory of universal evolution”; but he is making the debatable assumption that “nature” means the same thing for St Gregory of Nyssa and for Erasmus Darwin. Evolution can hardly be said to “blend and confuse hopelessly all the marks by which one could be distinguished from another,” as the Saint continues apropos of reincarnation. One might further note that St Gregory, while rejecting any “blending and confusion,” strongly affirms a certain connection between all material creatures; consider his notion of man as a mingling of the intelligible and the sensible “so that one grace of a sort might equally pervade the whole creation, the lower nature (sic) being mingled with the supramundane” (Great Catechism, 6). Would it be any more arbitrary to see in this a “strange parallel” with the physical connectedness between living things which we now recognize, and for which evolution provides a neat explanation?


Theokritoff also says earlier in the critique; "...there is a distinct difference in emphasis and tone between a patristic treatise on Genesis and Fr Seraphim's compilation. The Fathers assume that Genesis has a basis in historical fact, but seem primarily interested in what it tells us about God's ways and His relationship with His creatures; in Fr Seraphim's commentary, the literal interpretation becomes the main point.

I'd like to see some variance from the Fathers on issues other than the length of the days, as that variance has already been acknowledged and discussed several times now. additionally, has anyone addressed the issue that the Church adopted a calendar that employed a literal Genesis timeline? It places us in the 8th millennium from creation.
The Ancient Church no doubt assumed that Genesis had some basis in history and set a calendar based upon that, but none of this alters the fact that each member of the Orthodox Church is permitted to have access to the evidence of nature and current scientific data and decide for themselves if the days of Genesis are a literal representation of Creation. You have argued that St Augustine believed they did; I have shown you that he didn't.
Moderator help!! No matter what I do, I can't get the quotes to work properly! :-[

Edited for clarity.

 

jckstraw72

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If you believed that, why did you say; its quite literally impossible to read the City of God and come away thinking St. Augustine did not interpret Genesis literally?
because as I have continually stated, the length of the days is only one small part of the Genesis story, and for this topic, the least important issue. If St. Augustine interprets all of Genesis literally except for the length of the days, you really think that is enough to claim he didn't view Genesis literally? He even said those who claim a longer timeline than that given in Scripture should be mocked! That doesn't sound like he's just giving an opinion there -- he's being quite forceful about it. That's a key point --- the Fathers weren't just offering opinions, they were quite forceful and dogmatic in their statements, such as when St. John Chrysostom says to stop up our ears against those who offer a different interpretation, and St. Ephraim the Syrian says it is impermissible to interpret the days as an allegory. If it was just his opinion how could he say an allegory is impermissible?! Do you really think the Fathers were so brash unjustifiably?
 

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Again you confuse mysterical matters with the physical realities of our surroundings. To be honest with you, I couldn't care less who believes that Genesis is a literal account of creation, what I disagree with is that people should be deceived into thinking that this is the only viewpoint they are allowed to have. The Orthodox Church does not enforce such a decision upon its members. And I would see any representation of Genesis within the Church's hymnography etc, as a symbolic focus on God's ways and His relationship with His creatures.
and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think. Even Theokritoff who critiqued Fr. Seraphim agreed that the Fathers viewed Genesis litereally.

and yes, of course you could view any representation of Genesis as symbolic, but do you have a reason from within Tradition to do so? Or are you allowing current scientific trends to trump revelation?
 

Heorhij

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jckstraw72 said:
and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think.
But why is this the "problem?" Yes, I really don't care what the Fathers think about the Avogadro's number, or about the energy being the mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Why should I? I revere the Fathers because they shaped the doctrine of the Church, which is that Christ, my Lord and Savior, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and therefore True God, but also man like me. What else should I really "care" about as far as what the Fathers think? Do I need to seek their guidance in the issue of how I should tie my shoelaces, or in the issue of how I should treat African Americans, or in the issue of whether I should cut fish with the knife held in my right or left hand? Please do not dismiss these statements as ridiculous because I do really thingk they have as much relevance to our faith as the statement that the universe was created in literal 6 days (6 times 24 hours) or as the statement that Joshua stopped the movement of the Sun (Joshua 10:13). Why should issues of the science of biology, which did not even exist in the time of the Fathers, be any different?
 

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Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think.
But why is this the "problem?" Yes, I really don't care what the Fathers think about the Avogadro's number, or about the energy being the mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Why should I? I revere the Fathers because they shaped the doctrine of the Church, which is that Christ, my Lord and Savior, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and therefore True God, but also man like me. What else should I really "care" about as far as what the Fathers think? Do I need to seek their guidance in the issue of how I should tie my shoelaces, or in the issue of how I should treat African Americans, or in the issue of whether I should cut fish with the knife held in my right or left hand? Please do not dismiss these statements as ridiculous because I do really thingk they have as much relevance to our faith as the statement that the universe was created in literal 6 days (6 times 24 hours) or as the statement that Joshua stopped the movement of the Sun (Joshua 10:13). Why should issues of the science of biology, which did not even exist in the time of the Fathers, be any different?
the issue at hand is how to interpret Genesis. Yes, the Fathers are good for that.

If you ignore the Fathers on Genesis then that basically leads to two conclusions that i can think of:
1. The Spirit led the Fathers incorrectly for 1800 years
2. the Spirit wasn't interested in leading the Fathers when it came to Genesis.
 

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Of course that they were seven days. But 7 days of God , in the time of God wich is outside time.So the seven days represent 7 periods of time , wich are refered to as days.But as it is written one day and one night.Of course that they were days , but what is more important to ask , how  did the time passed than. Or better how long was a day?We know in verses of godly wisedom and beauty it is written like this "And at that time" when is refered to persons who rise above their human nature and flesh , in the moments of grace , somehow that context takes us somewere outside the time.Those who are in God`s grace and love are outside time.Time counting is the consequence of the fall , of falling from Grace . The time is counted like a countdown , only to take us back outside of time.We know that it is written in the Scripture : In the afterdays, the time will get shorter , and the days will get shorter . And if God would have not shorten those days no soul could escape.We see that somehow time passes really quick and sometimes really hard.What we need to keep in mind , the first humans for outside the time , and creation took place outside the time.The time is relative.
 

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jckstraw72 said:
Again you confuse mysterical matters with the physical realities of our surroundings. To be honest with you, I couldn't care less who believes that Genesis is a literal account of creation, what I disagree with is that people should be deceived into thinking that this is the only viewpoint they are allowed to have. The Orthodox Church does not enforce such a decision upon its members. And I would see any representation of Genesis within the Church's hymnography etc, as a symbolic focus on God's ways and His relationship with His creatures.
and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think. Even Theokritoff who critiqued Fr. Seraphim agreed that the Fathers viewed Genesis litereally.
Based on the above, I assume that you hold to a Geocentric scientific model?
 

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jckstraw72 said:
Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think.
But why is this the "problem?" Yes, I really don't care what the Fathers think about the Avogadro's number, or about the energy being the mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Why should I? I revere the Fathers because they shaped the doctrine of the Church, which is that Christ, my Lord and Savior, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and therefore True God, but also man like me. What else should I really "care" about as far as what the Fathers think? Do I need to seek their guidance in the issue of how I should tie my shoelaces, or in the issue of how I should treat African Americans, or in the issue of whether I should cut fish with the knife held in my right or left hand? Please do not dismiss these statements as ridiculous because I do really thingk they have as much relevance to our faith as the statement that the universe was created in literal 6 days (6 times 24 hours) or as the statement that Joshua stopped the movement of the Sun (Joshua 10:13). Why should issues of the science of biology, which did not even exist in the time of the Fathers, be any different?
the issue at hand is how to interpret Genesis. Yes, the Fathers are good for that.

If you ignore the Fathers on Genesis then that basically leads to two conclusions that i can think of:
1. The Spirit led the Fathers incorrectly for 1800 years
2. the Spirit wasn't interested in leading the Fathers when it came to Genesis.
There is perhaps a third possibility: that the Spirit taught us, humans, to develop a thing called natural science (as we know it now, beginning from Francis Bacon's "Novum Organum"). The Fathers lived when science as we know it today was not yet developed, so they could not possibly know or use it. But we can, and should.
 

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I agree with you Heorhij.  Things happen on this planet in time and build on or come from things that have happened before.  (For some interesting examples of this, the old PBS program Connections with James Burke is good.)  As new things are found or created or thought of then there may be further progress from them.  Medical practices from 1500 or more years ago would not know what to do with a vaccine or how to develop an antibiotic, but these things came about in time as people thought and hypothesized and worked on them.  I'm wondering  why the Spirit would have "told" the ECF  about geological ages of millions of years or paleontology or anything like that.  They were busy with other things and it wasn't their "field" as it were.

 

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Based on the above, I assume that you hold to a Geocentric scientific model?
what does that have to do with Orthodox doctrine?
 

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Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think.
But why is this the "problem?" Yes, I really don't care what the Fathers think about the Avogadro's number, or about the energy being the mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Why should I? I revere the Fathers because they shaped the doctrine of the Church, which is that Christ, my Lord and Savior, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and therefore True God, but also man like me. What else should I really "care" about as far as what the Fathers think? Do I need to seek their guidance in the issue of how I should tie my shoelaces, or in the issue of how I should treat African Americans, or in the issue of whether I should cut fish with the knife held in my right or left hand? Please do not dismiss these statements as ridiculous because I do really thingk they have as much relevance to our faith as the statement that the universe was created in literal 6 days (6 times 24 hours) or as the statement that Joshua stopped the movement of the Sun (Joshua 10:13). Why should issues of the science of biology, which did not even exist in the time of the Fathers, be any different?
the issue at hand is how to interpret Genesis. Yes, the Fathers are good for that.

If you ignore the Fathers on Genesis then that basically leads to two conclusions that i can think of:
1. The Spirit led the Fathers incorrectly for 1800 years
2. the Spirit wasn't interested in leading the Fathers when it came to Genesis.
There is perhaps a third possibility: that the Spirit taught us, humans, to develop a thing called natural science (as we know it now, beginning from Francis Bacon's "Novum Organum"). The Fathers lived when science as we know it today was not yet developed, so they could not possibly know or use it. But we can, and should.
so knowing that science would develop, why didnt the Spirit inspire the Fathers to interpret accordingly? Why do the Fathers speak so forcefully about something that they supposedly weren't even hearing from the Spirit? is it perhaps possible that evolution is incorrect, and thus the Fathers and creationists aren't actually anti-science as they are so often painted?
 

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Wisdom of Solomon 1:13: For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.
14: For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth:


did Scripture just happen to get it wrong because it didn't have the benefit of secular science?
 

jckstraw72

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if anyone's interested, i have posted my critique of George Theokritoff's review of Fr. Seraphim's book on my blog. http://www.oldbelieving.wordpress.com
 

Riddikulus

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jckstraw72 said:
Based on the above, I assume that you hold to a Geocentric scientific model?
what does that have to do with Orthodox doctrine?
It has everything to do with the literalist doctrine you are preaching. The Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding of the Cosmos. If scripture is to be read as the Fathers direct us, then aren't we supposed to accept all aspects of the Father's interpretations? Thus, if the Church Fathers are to be taken literally, are you then also geocentric in your understanding of the Cosmos?
 

Riddikulus

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jckstraw72 said:
Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
Heorhij said:
jckstraw72 said:
and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think.
But why is this the "problem?" Yes, I really don't care what the Fathers think about the Avogadro's number, or about the energy being the mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Why should I? I revere the Fathers because they shaped the doctrine of the Church, which is that Christ, my Lord and Savior, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and therefore True God, but also man like me. What else should I really "care" about as far as what the Fathers think? Do I need to seek their guidance in the issue of how I should tie my shoelaces, or in the issue of how I should treat African Americans, or in the issue of whether I should cut fish with the knife held in my right or left hand? Please do not dismiss these statements as ridiculous because I do really thingk they have as much relevance to our faith as the statement that the universe was created in literal 6 days (6 times 24 hours) or as the statement that Joshua stopped the movement of the Sun (Joshua 10:13). Why should issues of the science of biology, which did not even exist in the time of the Fathers, be any different?
the issue at hand is how to interpret Genesis. Yes, the Fathers are good for that.

If you ignore the Fathers on Genesis then that basically leads to two conclusions that i can think of:
1. The Spirit led the Fathers incorrectly for 1800 years
2. the Spirit wasn't interested in leading the Fathers when it came to Genesis.
There is perhaps a third possibility: that the Spirit taught us, humans, to develop a thing called natural science (as we know it now, beginning from Francis Bacon's "Novum Organum"). The Fathers lived when science as we know it today was not yet developed, so they could not possibly know or use it. But we can, and should.
so knowing that science would develop, why didnt the Spirit inspire the Fathers to interpret accordingly? Why do the Fathers speak so forcefully about something that they supposedly weren't even hearing from the Spirit?
The same logic applies to Geocentricism and yet the Fathers didn't interpret it accordingly and they did spoke forcefully about something they clearly weren't even hearing from the Spirit.


 

Riddikulus

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I'm assuming it's ok to comment on the blog here. Moderators, please excuse me, if this is incorrect.  :-\

jckstraw72 said:
if anyone's interested, i have posted my critique of George Theokritoff's review of Fr. Seraphim's book on my blog. http://www.oldbelieving.wordpress.com
This jumps out at me on your blog concerning the article by the Theokritoffs.

The Theokritoffs: Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism, however much contrary evidence there may appear to be.

jckstraw72: This is all an Orthodox needs to know!! Are we the Church of the Fathers or aren’t we?!

Please note that the Theokritoffs are not suggesting that we must follow Fr Seraphim's example of reading Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, merely that he comes to honest and logical conclusions regarding the committment to young earth creationism. How is this all an Orthodox needs to know? Are you elevating Fr Seraphim's opinion to the status of infallibility; and one that all Orthodox believers should follow? Where does the Church teach that the Orthodox believer must read Genesis in such a way?

The Theokritoffs also say: Beyond presenting us with a selection of patristic thought, Fr Seraphim forces us to confront hard questions about the way we read patristic commentaries on Scripture. For him, there is no difficulty: we read the Scriptures as the Fathers direct us, since “the Fathers link the ancient text with today’s reality’ (72). But do they? Or do they themselves need interpreting? The Editor underlines Fr Seraphim’s desire to acquire the mind of the Fathers (23, his emphasis), rather than simply becoming a scholar specializing in their writings; and the repeated implication is that this “mind” can only lead us to accept all aspects of the Fathers’ interpretation, except for a few trivial details. But where does this leave other theologians of our day, such as Fr Georges Florovsky or Bishop Kallistos Ware, who have not felt obliged to follow the Fathers’ literal understanding of the creation story? Must we write off as delusion their dedication to recovering the mind of the Fathers as “an existential attitude and a spiritual orientation” (Florovsky, “Patristic Theology and the Ethos of the Orthodox Church”) and “re-experiencing the meaning of Tradition in a manner that is exploratory, courageous and full of imaginative curiosity’ (Ware, The Orthodox Church)? Is it so indisputably clear bow the patristic attitude is to be applied to today’s world?

edited for clarity

 
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