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

Christianus

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Nebelpfade said:
Proof that those who lack an elementary understanding of science should not write about it, especially when they foolishly attempt to do so with any sort of authority on the matter.
Christians are not ignorant of Science. It's like a stereotype to say that all Christians are ignorant of science, and like to burn all heretics, and call crusades on Muslims, burn witches etc.
Isaac Newton was a Christian, and many others.
 

Friul

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Christianus said:
Christians are not ignorant of Science. It's like a stereotype to say that all Christians are ignorant of science, and like to burn all heretics, and call crusades on Muslims, burn witches etc.
Isaac Newton was a Christian, and many others.
I didn't say all Christians are ignorant of Science.  All I said that it is evident that the authors of those articles are.

Also, it isn't hard to make an argument against the orthodoxy of Newton's Christianity.
 

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Christianus said:
Nebelpfade said:
Proof that those who lack an elementary understanding of science should not write about it, especially when they foolishly attempt to do so with any sort of authority on the matter.
Christians are not ignorant of Science. It's like a stereotype to say that all Christians are ignorant of science, and like to burn all heretics, and call crusades on Muslims, burn witches etc.
Isaac Newton was a Christian, and many others.
You are right; not all Christians are ignorant of science, and I don't think that Nebelpfade was suggesting any such thing.

Here's a list of articles and books by those Orthodox Christians who have accepted and written or spoken on the theory of evolution. I've added the urls where I was able, for the rest you will have to go to http://orthodoxwiki.org/Evolution.

Woloschak, Gayle, Beauty and Unity in Creation: The evolution of life. (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1996) — Primer on the relationship between evolutionary biology and Orthodoxy by a scientist. ISBN 1880971275  

Boojamra, Dr. John, "The Orthodox Idea of Creation" The Word, June 1999, pp.31-34 An overview of Orthodox cosmology, intended for teachers and youth leaders as a background for discussion of various educational segments related to creation. Concise and useful for a general understanding of Orthodox cosmology.

Breck, Archpriest John V. "Ex Nihilo" Life in Christ, February 2008 #1. http://www.oca.org/CHRIST-life-article.asp?SID=6&ID=148&MONTH=February&YEAR=2008

Fritts, Kevin Basil, "On the Dogma of Creation" The author is a contributor to this OrthodoxWiki article. http://blog.kevinbasil.com/on-the-dogma-of-creation/

Hallam, Fr. Gregory, "Orthodoxy and Creationism" http://antiochabouna.blogspot.com/2006/02/orthodoxy-and-creationism.html

Kalomiros, Dr. Alexandre, "The Six Dawns" http://www.zephyr.gr/stjohn/sixdawn1.htm

Kuraev, Fr. Deacon Andrey, "Can an Orthodox Become an Evolutionist?" http://www.hvmla.org/library/evolution.html

Kuraev, Fr. Deacon Andrey, "Orthodoxy and Creationism" http://www.sullivan-county.com/id4/ort_creation.htm

Maletis, John P., "Let There Be Light: An Orthodox Christian Theory of Human Evolution for the 21st Century". Theandros Vol. 5 No. 3. http://www.theandros.com/protozoe.html

Metallinos, V. Rev. Prof. Dr. George, "Faith and Science in Orthodox Gnosiology and Methodology" Very briefly mentions evolution, but overall states the traditional Orthodox position of separation between divine and earthly knowledge.

Mileant, Bishop Alexander of Buenos Aires and South America (ROCOR). The Origins of the World and Mankind: An Attempt to Reconcile the Biblical Account with Scientific
Discoveries. Transl. by Karyn and Michael Grigoriev. Ed. by Natalia Semyanko. Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission, La Canada, California, 2004.
http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/patrology/metallinos_faith_and_science.htm

Nicozisin, Fr. George, "Creationism versus Evolution" http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/dogmatics/nicozisin_creationism.htm

Smith, Allyne, H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Edward Hughes, and J. Henry, "Orthodoxy", in The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition (2000): 268-273.

Theokritoff, George, with Elizabeth Theokritoff, "Genesis and Creation: Towards a debate" (PDF) — Review of Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision, in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, Volume 46, Number 2 (2002). George Theokritoff is a paleontologist and Elizabeth is a theological scholar, author and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology (ISBN 0521683388).

Ware, Metropolitan Kallistos, "Orthodoxy and Evolution", video: answer to a question asked in a forum at Seattle Pacific University.

 

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Christianus said:
It's called the THEORY of evolution, not the fact of evolution,
OK, a few points. First, it is not the "theory of evolution", as in "an idea that might or might not be true, let's now go find out." That's not what "theory" is in science. for scientists a theory is in fact, a, well fact.

In the scientific world what you think of as a "theory" would in fact be known as a hypothesis. Evolution is not an hypothesis. When science uses the word theory they are using it in a very different way than we are. Which is in large part why there is so much misunderstanding about this issue. I used to believe in 6 literal day creationism, so believe it or not I know where you're coming from. I had a horrible misunderstanding of science, in large part because of the horrible scientific educational system in this country. (and I've come to recognize in part, that it's horrible because religious communities have been putting pressure on science educators for a good 30 years now)

It's only been in recent years that I've gotten back into my childhood love of science and the natural world. And I now see how terribly I misunderstood Evolution, and in fact I'm still learning more every day. So I really do sympathize with your position.  

With that said, let's clear a few things up. It's actually not "the theory of evolution", in it's shortage phrase it is more accurately titled "Evolutionary theory". Like Gravitational theory, Germ theory, Heliocentric theory etc...

Heliocentrism of the solar system is also a "theory"...Germ theory is also a "theory", do also you deny that the earth goes around the sun, and that there are such things as germs? Of course not! But they are "theories" none the less. Again it's the fact that science uses the term theory in one since, and us non scientists use it in a totally different since that causes so much confusion. For science, theory is NOT synonymous with hypothesis, and no scientist uses it as such, even though in common usage we tend to do so.



and also not all scientists believe in evolution.
No scientists "believe" in Evolution. Evolution simply is. Like Gravity. whether one "believes" in Gravity or not is irrelevant. Gravity still is a law of nature and just "is" whether I believe it or not.

However using the word "believe" in the since you mean, not all scientists "believe" the earth goes around the sun, or even that the earth is round. Of course these people are crackpots and are rightly laughed out of the scientific community or just ignored. Not because scientists aren't open to other opinions, but because some things are just wrong. If indeed Evolution were not true, some scientist somewhere would have produced the evidence for it long ago, and believe it or not, they would have been heralded as heroes of science, the next Einstein, or the next Darwin. Many scientists in Darwin's time didn't like his conclusions, but as time went on they accepted it because it was true.

Science is open to anyone who actually wants to go out and do the science like Darwin did, or like Einstein did, (who was unpopular at first as well, until everyone figured out he was actually correct) So indeed, if Evolution wasn't true, and those who denied it had any leg to stand on at all, they'd in fact be the next nobel prize winner, but the truth is no credible scientist denies Evolutionary theory. It's been prove over and over again, specifically in the lab. The very fact that we have concepts like antibiotic resistance is in fact PROOF of evolution, as the bacteria are evolving to become resistant to antibiotics. of course I suppose if one truly believed Germ theory was "just a theory" none of that would "prove" anything. which is why when I often see people not washing their hands after using the restroom, I wonder if in fact those people simply don't "believe" in germs or not. But I guess that's another, disgusting conversation isn't it? ;)



 

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Riddikulus said:
Here's a list of articles and books by those Orthodox Christians who have accepted and written or spoken on the theory of evolution. I've added the urls where I was able, for the rest you will have to go to http://orthodoxwiki.org/Evolution.
Great links.

To Christianus, I'd also add a few other names to the list, including Francis Collins, who mapped the human genome and headed the human genome project, who also happens to be an "Evolutionist", yet a devout Roman Catholic. http://www.genome.gov/10000779

And Ken Miller, a biologist and another Roman Catholic has a fantastic website with dozens of book suggestions.

http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/


Also Bob Bakker (the paleontologist with the long grey beard, who was a science advisor on the Jurassic Park movies) is also an "evolutionist", (obviously) and I just found out he's also a Protestant preacher.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_T._Bakker#Religious_beliefs


For a defense of evolution from a non-theist I'd recommend Why Darwin Matters by Michael Shermer. He's pretty much the most respectful and cordial writer in the atheist/agnostic Community (at least of those who actually write about these subjects, and he seems like a guy anyone could go watch the Superbowl with).

Dawkin's new book "The Greatest Show on Earth" is probably going to be the new definitive defense for the evidence of evolution but some people might be opposed to it just because it's a book by Richard Dawkins. (I'm reading it now and it is truly amazing how much new evidence has been dug up in just the last couple of years) However Shermer shows how Evolution in no way affects religious belief, and is pretty good at just showing how science works, while Dawkins is somewhat more technical, and of course, comes across a bit harsh in his writing at times.


The reason I mentioned 2 non-theists along with the above Christians is to show that people from all different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures (one used to be a Christian, then became agnostic, another used to be an atheist then became a Christian) end up drawing the same scientific conclusions. While Dawkins probably has nothing in common with Bob bakker, they both agree on the truth/ fact of evolutionary theory. Why would they do this, if it wasn't true?  Not to mention they are in 2 different scientific fields, both drawing the exact same conclusions about life on earth totally independent of one another. It simply doesn't make sense that this would happen, unless the conclusions were in fact true. They I'm sure disagree spiritually, philosophically, culturally, and probably politically etc, but agree on this one subject?

The same goes for Dawkins and Ken Miller, both biologists. My point is the science is just the science. It is what it is, and what is true is what is true. Science does not challenge faith. Now many other things challenge faith, and have challenged my faith very severely recently. But science, to me, is simply not one of them. History is by far more challenging to my faith (and also it's biggest support) than science is.

Anyways, I recommend Ken Miller's page as a good starting point, and go from there.


 

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That is essentially the view of Maximus the Confessor as well.  Man is mortal according to his nature but he was meant for deification.

deusveritasest said:
88Devin12 said:
Death is in no way a natural occurance... I think all Orthodox would even agree to that.
Not exactly. I would say that it is natural in the sense of what humanity is naturally subject to in and of itself, but not natural in the sense of what God intends for humanity. Some think that humanity was not naturally subject to corruption before the Fall and that the Fall corrupted our very nature. Others have taught (such as Severus of Antioch) that corruption/death was a logical result of our limited nature as human beings but that God intended for us to supersede what we are naturally inclined to by His sanctifying grace. Corruption entered into our world because we rejected a life of unity with God and thus lost the sanctifying grace that would have prevented us from dying (we were not able to eat from the Tree of Life because we disobediently ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). This latter school of thought is what I personally adhere to, and thus why it could be appropriate to say that death is not natural in one respect and also that it is natural in another.
 

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NorthernPines said:
Dawkin's new book "The Greatest Show on Earth" is probably going to be the new definitive defense for the evidence of evolution but some people might be opposed to it just because it's a book by Richard Dawkins. (I'm reading it now and it is truly amazing how much new evidence has been dug up in just the last couple of years) However Shermer shows how Evolution in no way affects religious belief, and is pretty good at just showing how science works, while Dawkins is somewhat more technical, and of course, comes across a bit harsh in his writing at times.
I'd definitely recommend Dawkins' book; once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  It strikes a nice balance between readability and the technical nature of the material.  Obviously though, it is still a primer when it comes to evolution.  If you want to really dive into the theoretical aspects of natural selection, it is time to pick up some scientific journals.
 

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Christianus said:
Nebelpfade said:
Proof that those who lack an elementary understanding of science should not write about it, especially when they foolishly attempt to do so with any sort of authority on the matter.
Christians are not ignorant of Science. It's like a stereotype to say that all Christians are ignorant of science, and like to burn all heretics, and call crusades on Muslims, burn witches etc.
Isaac Newton was a Christian, and many others.
But SOME Christians were total ignoramuses in science - Fr. Seraphim Rose, may his memory be eternal, most definitely was...  :-[
 

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Fr. Seraphim Rose was essentially right, but he borrowed too many arguments from fundamentalist creationism and wasn't able to articulate the more fundamental philosophical arguments as well.

There are genuinely Orthodox reasons for rejecting evolutionism and the ideology of modern science which have nothing to do with fundamentalist creationism. There is a much deeper philosophical incompatibility. I recommend everyone read Philip Sherrard's Human Image, World Image: The Death and Resurrection of Sacred Cosmology. The fact that some leading scientists also happen to be Christians is not really relevant- it just demonstrates their ability to compartmentalize and avoid putting 2 and 2 together. The dualist/ materialist methodology which is inherent to their field of work is anti-Christian.
 

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Nebelpfade said:
NorthernPines said:
Dawkin's new book "The Greatest Show on Earth" is probably going to be the new definitive defense for the evidence of evolution but some people might be opposed to it just because it's a book by Richard Dawkins. (I'm reading it now and it is truly amazing how much new evidence has been dug up in just the last couple of years) However Shermer shows how Evolution in no way affects religious belief, and is pretty good at just showing how science works, while Dawkins is somewhat more technical, and of course, comes across a bit harsh in his writing at times.
I'd definitely recommend Dawkins' book; once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  It strikes a nice balance between readability and the technical nature of the material.  Obviously though, it is still a primer when it comes to evolution.  If you want to really dive into the theoretical aspects of natural selection, it is time to pick up some scientific journals.
Oh dear, another book to order! BTW, I got Thank God for Evolution and am about half way through.
 

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Nebelpfade said:
I'd definitely recommend Dawkins' book; once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  It strikes a nice balance between readability and the technical nature of the material.  Obviously though, it is still a primer when it comes to evolution.  If you want to really dive into the theoretical aspects of natural selection, it is time to pick up some scientific journals.
I seem to recall having this conversation with someone before (perhaps even you?), but if I may ask again, how would you compare this new book by Dawkins with his older scientific material? I know many praise Dawkins for his ability to articulate complex ideas in a way that your average person on the street can understand, but frankly, when I tried to read The Blind Watchmaker I thought it was exceedingly dry.
 

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Riddikulus said:
Oh dear, another book to order! BTW, I got Thank God for Evolution and am about half way through.
One thing that I thought was particularly well done were the illustrations and full-colour photo pages.  So many science books these days have illustrations that look like I drew them, with my left hand, in MS Paint...

Asteriktos said:
I seem to recall having this conversation with someone before (perhaps even you?), but if I may ask again, how would you compare this new book by Dawkins with his older scientific material? I know many praise Dawkins for his ability to articulate complex ideas in a way that your average person on the street can understand, but frankly, when I tried to read The Blind Watchmaker I thought it was exceedingly dry.
I'd say the language/material is less dry than The Selfish Gene or The Blind Watchmaker, but not quite as "lively" as say Unweaving the Rainbow.  It even has a small non-fiction horror story attached at the end, called "The History-Deniers".  :laugh:
 

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Nebelpfade said:
Riddikulus said:
Oh dear, another book to order! BTW, I got Thank God for Evolution and am about half way through.
One thing that I thought was particularly well done were the illustrations and full-colour photo pages.  So many science books these days have illustrations that look like I drew them, with my left hand, in MS Paint...
I've added it to my wishlist. Have you read, by chance, Living with Darwin, by Philip Kitcher? I bought it sometime ago and haven't read it yet.

 

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Riddikulus said:
I've added it to my wishlist. Have you read, by chance, Living with Darwin, by Philip Kitcher? I bought it sometime ago and haven't read it yet.
Yup!  It was surprisingly good.  I'm always a fan of an author who spars with the ID crowd, but it was interesting to see the argument from a more philosophical side.  He also brings up a lot of interesting points surrounding religious naturalism vs. the current faith climate, and how evolution has become a favourite target by some due to fear of its possible implications on the supernatural.
 

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In answer to the OP, "Is evolutionary theory compatible with the Orthodox Christian faith?":


"Evolution is a rival thought-pattern to Orthodoxy, not just another idea."


"I have always regarded evolution, in all its ramifications, as an important part of the 'modern American' intellectual baggage which I left behind when I became Orthodox."


"Teilhard de Chardin (a  paleontologist and Catholic religious philosopher who promoted evolution) rightly saw that evolution, if true, cannot be kept in one compartment of human thought, but profoundly affects the whole of thought. He was unconcerned to 'reconcile' evolution with single points of Christian tradition and dogma, because he rightly saw that there is no possible reconciliation. In the light of evolution everything must change - not just the 'static worldview' of the Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers, but one's whole outlook toward life, God, the Church."  


"The whole purpose and intent of the theory of physical evolution is to find an explanation of the world without God; i.e, physical evolution is by its nature atheistic."


"The teaching that 'by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin' (Romans 5:12) becomes extremely hazy if not entirely lost when one sees man as having evolved from lower creatures over millions of years."


"Evolution is one of the most dangerous concepts that faces Orthodox Christians today - perhaps it is the very key to the assault upon the Church, to the very 'philosophy' of the coming Antichrist."


"Man must know the truth about where he came from before he can know where he is going."



-Father Seraphim Rose-



Selam
 

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Heorhij said:
Christianus said:
Nebelpfade said:
Proof that those who lack an elementary understanding of science should not write about it, especially when they foolishly attempt to do so with any sort of authority on the matter.
Christians are not ignorant of Science. It's like a stereotype to say that all Christians are ignorant of science, and like to burn all heretics, and call crusades on Muslims, burn witches etc.
Isaac Newton was a Christian, and many others.
But SOME Christians were total ignoramuses in science - Fr. Seraphim Rose, may his memory be eternal, most definitely was...  :-[
Father Rose stood on the foundation of the Early Fathers. Dismiss their interpretation of the Scriptures, and you dismiss Orthodoxy. You are free to believe what you want regarding the Bible and interpet it however you choose, but in so doing you act like a fundamentalist evangelical rather than an Orthodox Christian.

Selam
 

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Gebre Menfes Kidus said:
Father Rose stood on the foundation of the Early Fathers. Dismiss their interpretation of the Scriptures, and you dismiss Orthodoxy. You are free to believe what you want regarding the Bible and interpet it however you choose, but in so doing you act like a fundamentalist evangelical rather than an Orthodox Christian.

Selam
There is no indication that the Scriptures were ever meant to be used as a scientific text. They were meant to record God's Revelation and His interaction with mankind. It did that. But the Scriptures were not emant to be used a exhaustive scientific text.
 
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