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Genesis: truth and metaphor


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#81 Scott Pierson

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 11:34 PM

And I don't understand how he could determine that evolution is spiritually false when it is completely neutral on all things divine, it's just as spiritually false as electromagnetic THEORY.


The idea that man evolved from non rational animals via a naturalistic process arose out of a certain spirituality and it has become the "creation myth" of modern humanism. The supposed scientific proofs are secondary to this religion and in fact were not even fabricated until well after the fact. This religion embraces the idea that the lower comes from the higher, living from non living, soul and consciousness from matter, and its logical conclusion that God comes from man, basically a reversal of Christian truth. This view has naturally lead to nihilism and the idea that we are nothing more then advanced animals.


Evolution is just as much science as gravity, physics, chemistry, geology

I don’t doubt that darwinistic evolution is science I'm just saying its not good science. It was also "science" that cars would never be able to go past 60 miles per hour and that the earth was center of universe. Not all theories stand the test of time and the fact that one finds a specific theory to be questionable does not mean they are against science. If it did most of the worlds great scientists who shattered peoples presuppositions and proved wrong previous theories would have been "opposed to science".

I use the word "darwinistic evolution" as opposed to evolution because I don’t doubt that certain forms of evolution take place... I just doubt that all life has a common ancestor and that the all the diversity of life came about due to evolutionary causes. I reject the idea that naturalistic processes brought about the human race from a non rational humanoid animal.

#82 D.A. Hill

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 11:38 PM

Father Seraphim Rose did study science in college it just wasn’t his major. He also studied this specific issue in detail on his own. The fact that one does not have a degree in a subject doesn’t imply that one has no knowledge of it. Father S.R. was a very bright person and he researched the issue. The fact that he was not a scientist doesn’t disqualify what he said and there are many scientists from prestigious schools with lots degrees and such who would agree with him.



That he fell for creationist pseudoscience shows me enough that he not only did not understand evolution but also geology, physics, chemsitry etc.

#83 D.A. Hill

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 11:41 PM

The idea that man evolved from non rational animals via a naturalistic process arose out of a certain spirituality and it has become the "creation myth" of modern humanism. The supposed scientific proofs are secondary to this religion and in fact were not even fabricated until well after the fact. This religion embraces the idea that the lower comes from the higher, living from non living, soul and consciousness from matter, and its logical conclusion that God comes from man, basically a reversal of Christian truth. This view has naturally lead to nihilism and the idea that we are nothing more then advanced animals.


I'm sorry but you are incorrect to say the 'supposed scientific proofs are secondary' to what you mistakenly call religion. Evolution is continually verified in the journals everyday. You fall for the same false dichotomy of the atheist who assumes that to find a naturalistic explanation for something precludes God from its explanation.

#84 Scott Pierson

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 11:56 PM

I've been trying to edit my last post but it wont work

I meant to say "that the higher comes from the lower" and not "that the lower comes from the higher"

#85 D.A. Hill

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 12:41 AM

Don't sweat it, I understood what you meant to say.

#86 Paul Cowan

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 10:09 PM

Actually I've wondered about something similar to this- ie does our prayer affect the past since it enters the realm of the eternal? Fact is though I don't know.

But asking such questions and waiting to hear how others respond I think is one of the best things about Monachos.

In Christ- Fr Raphael



Sorry for taking 16 months to answer Fr. but as you said you like this part.

O think the answer is yes. Since God is outside of time, he can carry our prayer "back through time" to the point in which the prayer is needed.

At least I allow myself to believe this for when people ask me to pray for them and I forget until after their ie. surgery. For some reason, their surgery comes out ok before I pray though. So I gues that means it does work. :)

Paul

#87 RichardWorthington

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 08:48 AM

That's the whole point. Genesis deals with our nature. Because our nature is rooted in mystery, the only way to reveal it is through the myth. By over-literalizing our origins, we over-literalize our nature, which is wrong in principle.


Flat Earth?

I have read that Christopher Columbus, in order to try to show the possibility of sailing westwards towards India (as he thought), quoted from a book of the Bible, “On the third day thou didst command the waters to be gathered together in the seventh part of the earth; six parts thou didst dry up” (2 Esdras 6:42; also known as 4 Esdras): if only a seventh of the earth is water then it could not be too far to sail. However, that the sea does indeed occupy only a seventh of the surface of the earth can be easily deduced, as follows:

King Solomon in his temple, “made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round … It stood on twelve oxen … It was a handbreadth thick” (1 Kings 7:23,25,26). Now a cubit is about 45cm, and so a handbreadth of about 10cm would then equate to a handbreadth being 1/9th, or about 0.222 cubits. Hence this gives us a radius for the ‘sea’ of 10/2 + 0.222=5.222 cubits. So its surface area is given by 'pi r squared'=85.70 square cubits (using the ancient approximation pi=22/7); so seven times this gives us a total surface area for the earth as being 599.9 square cubits.

However, in the temple the sanctuary in-front of the Holy of Holies was 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits long (see 1 Kings 6:2,3,16,17, and http://en.wikipedia....ki/First_Temple). Therefore the surface area of the sanctuary is 20*30=600 square cubits, which agrees very well with the 599.9 square cubits deduced above.

As such, the seas described on the third day of creation (see Genesis 1:9,10) refer to the bronze ‘sea’ used for washing, and so the floor containing it in King Solomon’s temple was referred to as the ‘earth’. Therefore the ‘earth’ is very flat indeed, being the floor of the temple!

This makes the seven days of creation symbolic of the temple, itself a symbol of the creation.

Leviathan, and Behemoth

Further on Biblical creation, people have come stuck on Leviathan and Behemoth: “this great and wide sea... there go the ships and the Leviathan which you have created to play therein” (Psalm 104:25,26), and "Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you; he eats grass like an ox. … He is confident, though the Jordan gushes into his mouth” (Job 40:15-24; note Job 41 then talks about Leviathan). Where are these huge creatures?

2 Esdras continues (6:47-52), “On the fifth day thou didst command the seventh part, where the water had been gathered together, to bring forth living creatures, birds, and fishes; and so it was done. … Then thou didst keep in existence two living creatures; the name of one thou didst call Behemoth and the name of the other Leviathan. And thou didst separate one from the other … And thou didst give Behemoth one of the parts which had been dried up on the third day, to live in it, where there are a thousand mountains; but to Leviathan thou didst give the seventh part, the watery part.”

Therefore, I suppose the bronze sea had images of ships and fish on it, and also a big sea monster called Leviathan (perhaps the Leviathan was a bronze tube shaped like a monster used for heating the water for the priests - just being practical! Job 41:19-21).

Note also that the name Behemoth means simply ‘Beasts’; it is the normal plural of ‘beast’, but used as a name (I think the Septuagint in Job 40:15 translates it as ‘beasts’, although the passage is referring to a single creature/monster). He is like an ox. So, it would seem likely that the twelve oxen (i.e. ‘beasts’) on which the ‘sea’ stood was referred to as the Behemoth.

What do you think?
(I could go on about the symbolism used, e.g. mountains, fountains, animals, etc., and especially about the Jordan [Jordan, ritual washing, then wild animals in the desert?!] but this post is already very long!)

(The way of thinking used here was inspired by a local theologian, see www.margaretbarker.com . She has spoken at Orthodox Conferences: The Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist, and also The Hopton Institute [well, it’s not really an institute, but some local Derby Orthodox Christians arranging talks every so often!].)

#88 Nicolaj

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 07:11 PM

I just say WOW!

Nicolaj

#89 Father Serafim

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 07:34 PM

A late comment but I do not believe God created death. He created a perfect world that became fallen.

#90 Father David Moser

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 07:46 PM

However, that the sea does indeed occupy only a seventh of the surface of the earth can be easily deduced, as follows:

King Solomon in his temple, “made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; ...
What do you think?
(I could go on about the symbolism used, e.g. mountains, fountains, animals, etc., and especially about the Jordan [Jordan, ritual washing, then wild animals in the desert?!] but this post is already very long!)

(The way of thinking used here was inspired by a local theologian, see www.margaretbarker.com . She has spoken at Orthodox Conferences:


This is a very creative reinterpretation of the Genesis account, however, using Solomon's temple as a way to interpret the Torah seems to have a huge flaw in that the Torah was already centuries old by the time Solomon was even born. Thus the Torah could not be describing the images in Solomon's temple but rather Solomon was attempting to depict the religious images of the Torah in a symbolic manner (since he could not, obviously, have depicted the creation of the world in a literal manner). This kind of thinking just seems a little backwards to me.

Also, this whole approach also seems to discount the prophetic aspect of Genesis. Moses is revered as a prophet - but not a prophet who saw into the future, but rather one to whom God revealed the deep past. To try to link the Genesis account to the style of the temple in the manner described somehow in my mind removes this prophetic aspect.

The explanation of the symbolism and the parallels pointed out are interesting, however, I don't see them as in any way definitive. Perhaps they might be useful in certain limited applications (similarly, St Gregory the Dialogist uses the temple imagery in his pastoral instructions about the life of the clergy), but as a general means of interpretation, I don't see it. Certainly I don't recall the patristic commentaries on the Torah using this approach.

Fr David Moser

#91 Andrew

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 11:37 PM

I don't have much of a say in these matters, but here is what I understand:

Recent Fathers of the Church were opposed to the claims of evolutionism: Saint Justin Popovich, Saint Nikolai of Zhica, holy Greek Elders, Startsi, etc. The only Orthodox that I have seen who write favorably about it are academic theologians and a certain sect of schismatic Greek Old Calendarists, and their spiritual/intellectual bedfellows. Solidly Patristic scholars like Constantine Cavarnos write against it. So, one cannot say that opposition to evolutionary theory is a result of ignorance of science, spiritual delusion, or whatever.

I think there are several problems for Orthodox dogmatics and spiritual practice if evolution is accepted. Humanity is the center of the universe. We were created to be co-creators of the universe, and to be raised to divinity. We were supposed to be a source of unity and order for the entire Cosmos, uniting all that is created together into a holy loving unity so that when the Word would come Incarnate we would offer it to Him, and He would offer Himself and His Divinity to us. Instead we go about sinning and marring our own nature, and the entire Cosmos. But still, Our Lord came and redeemed fallen man and the entire Cosmos in His own Godmanhood, and gave us too the ability to enter into this holy mystery, through His Body, the Church. When man reaches fulfillment as a hypostasis in the Church, he makes the Cosmos more ordered... like Saint Seraphim feeding the bears, or Elder Paisios befriending wild snakes. Or how there are certain pastures in Romania where cattle graze and produce 10x the amount of milk they would usually produce because the grass has been sanctified by martyrs' blood.

What evolutionary theory says is that man came into being as a result of a process of billions of years of biological death. That man is not the center of the Cosmos, but instead a product of the Cosmos. That the story in Genesis of Adam and Eve in the Garden is highly improbable as it is told, and instead just has a "spiritual" mythical value, if it is to be accepted at all. Or the faithful must adapt their theological outlook each time science makes a new revelation.

Also, the actual physical evidence for the evolution of man is highly suspect in my own eyes. You can fit all the fossil remains for "early man," for missing links and whatnot, on a dinner table. Most of what is found are a few bone fragments that experts sketch pictures out to form some sort of chimpanzee-human hybrid to show to children at school. This is total bunk. Models are made of bestial men and women to show off at museums, but the basis for their creation is a few teeth, an incomplete skull, and a femur, if that. I find that rediculous. Also, there have been several hoaxes, like Piltdown man.

There is little evidence. There is data. You see whatever you want to see in data. I see a few bone fragments. An expert sees lots of grant money and book deals in the making. He sees more evidence for the wonderful process of evolution, which by the way, is real and you're an idiot if you don't accept it, m'kay?

What do people who have seen God Himself say about these matters? Shouldn't we trust deified human beings more than secular society?

I've been in science related lectures where professors will presume evolution is true and that those who do not accept it are rural inbred bumpkins. Father Seraphim Rose and Saint Justin Popovich were extremely intelligent men.

#92 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 07:07 AM

Dear Scott and all,

I meant to say "that the higher comes from the lower" and not "that the lower comes from the higher"

This point seems to me to be central to our discussion. Is matter primary, or is spirit? Christians believe God created matter, and matter is good, but spirit is primary. If therefore matter was born of spirit, what's to prevent a religious person from acknowledging the possibility that evolutionists may be correct in their interpretation (because that's clearly what it is) of how things took place? It seems to me that even if man is a 'sophisticated ape' so to speak, he would still need God to breathe a soul into him to be truly Man.

Just thinking out loud for your feedback.

In Christ
Byron

#93 John King

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 09:16 AM

I have been following this thread with interest, and my own modest contribution would be this:-

Firstly, I have never found anything un-Orthodox about either the 'big bang' or evolution. When you consider that all the matter in the vastness of the cosmos came from one minute speck of dust in infinite nothingness, it is not difficult to see that that is how God made the universe.

Secondly, since the 'big bang' the natural state of the cosmos is entropy i.e. everything cools down, slows down and breaks down eventually returning to a state of random chaos. Everthing except life, that is. Evolution has been swimming against the tide, so to speak, and life has become increasingly ordered, sophisiticated and complex. Again, it is not difficult to see the controlling hand of God pushing things along.

#94 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 02:01 PM

What evolutionary theory says is that man came into being as a result of a process of billions of years of biological death. That man is not the center of the Cosmos, but instead a product of the Cosmos. That the story in Genesis of Adam and Eve in the Garden is highly improbable as it is told, and instead just has a "spiritual" mythical value, if it is to be accepted at all. Or the faithful must adapt their theological outlook each time science makes a new revelation.


Evolution has a fundamental contradiction within itself that to my knowledge is rarely if ever addressed.

ie: evolution situates the purpose of creation within each thing as material.

From the material alone however could never arise anything approaching coherent purpose. Only chaos or nothing could result from pure materialism.

This shows I think that there is no easy solution for us when it comes to evolution. As far as it represents the materialist ideology of our age it is rightly criticized and rejected as a major foundation for secularism.

But as far as it represents something which believes in purpose for the universe it seems like a residual form of the Christian vision of creation. Thus no matter the mechanical weaknesses of the theory of evolution a believer can still graft this into the Christian understanding of a divine purpose for the creation.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#95 Nicolaj

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 07:45 PM

Dear Brethren,

What does it matter which theory is true or not. As an orthodox Christ I believe that God created man. Amen. Or does the Creed says something else? Does the church say something else?

Is it really important on our way to heaven to exactly know how God created us? No, it isn't!

But it takes time and energy just to think about something so totally unimportant and this is time we do not pray, nor read the scriptures, etc. It is all a plan of the Opposer to find way that we shall not serve our Lord and do not care about our salvation.

God created us, that is it!

Christos voskrese! Nicolaj

#96 Paul Cowan

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 01:24 AM

the 'big bang'


A bumper sticker I saw one time said..."God said it and Bang it happened"

#97 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 02:11 AM

A bumper sticker I saw one time said..."God said it and Bang it happened"


What I told the kids in Church school when we talked about creation went along the lines of: One the first day, God said, "Let there be light" and there was light. Now what is light? Well it's energy right? So the first thing that God created was a whole lotta energy. So if you get all the energy in the universe all in one place, you get the hugest explosion that ever could be - you get a "big bang" So when you go to school and learn about the "big bang" you'll know that that is when God said "let there be light"

Fr David Moser

#98 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 12:39 PM

I often feel that one of the main hindrances Christians have in appreciating the full wonder of creation recounted in Genesis is the failure to receive, and enter into, a good story. The Hebrews were storytellers; Christ is a storyteller. Truth comes in stories: they are amongst the most potent, most wonderful, means of conveying the truth of mysteries. Whenever questions were relatively unimportant, Christ would answer them directly ('Where are you going?': 'Across the lake to Galilee'). But when questions mattered, Christ answered with stories. Who is my neighbour? There once was a Samaritan... What is faith? Imagine a mustard seed... How do I follow? A sower went to sow some seed... What is love? A man had a son...

And yet there seems to be a pervasive idea that the story (it's really a song) of creation at the front of Genesis, must be read as some scientific handbook. The story disappears.

It seems very un-Christlike.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#99 Owen Jones

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 02:01 PM

Regarding evolution, we have to ask, who's theory of evolution? what theory of evolution? And then we have to concede that the model everyone uses is that of Darwin's "Origin of the Species."

It is helpful to actually read it. When one does a few things become apparent. He uses no scientific data. He claims that he has all of the scientific data to support his thesis, but it is not in the book. The book reads more like a 19th Century Romantic novel than a scientific text. And in fact, when we trace the intellectual antecedents, they go back to Isaac Newton and Hegel. Darwin's theory is Hegel's theory of history as it applies to biology, given the state of knowledge of biology at the time (which was sparse). The idea is one of inevitable historical progression, through thesis/antithesis, or in this case, survival of the fittest. Karl Marx wanted to devote the Communist Manifesto to Darwin, but Darwin refused. Because Marx based his theories on Hegel, but Darwin gave him the materialistic basis for his theories (Hegel was a spiritualist -- in Hegelianism, it is the Spirit or Geist in history that is the prime mover -- but Marx did not want to have anything to do with Spirit, and so Darwin gave him the ammo to provide a materialist argument for the inevitable progression in history culminating in the classless society).

Now, there are two issues in Darwin, the philosophical problem, and the scientific data problem. Let's just look briefly at the philosophical problem. It is not a theory of origins. That's because there can be no scientific theory of origins in principle. Aristotle had already disposed of that problem -- it is the problem of infinite regression. Everything has a prior cause. I come from my parents, they come from theirs, etc. etc., and Darwin proposes that humans come from lower animals, and lower animals come from lower forms still, and lower forms of life spring from inanimate matter and so on and so on and you have the problem of inifinite regression which destroys rationality. You cannot infinitely regress. So the origin has to be something Beyond that is not scientifically definable or explanable. Of course, that's what we all call God. You can posit aliens from outerspace coming in and seeding the earth with life in order to try to get away from the God idea, but you still have the problem of infinite regression. Where did the aliens come from? And in fact, the first tome positing aliens seeding life on earth was written in the 16th century, a period in Western European intellectual history in which the traditional Christian god concept was called into question. And yet people knew that you still had to have a first cause or prime mover, so it was alien beings from outerspace.

So you cannot have a scientific theory of origins. It is a philosophical problem.

Then you have the question of historical progress. Darwin reflected the Victorian ideas of his day regarding the progress of humanity in history from primitive to modern enlightened man. But the problem is that there is no progress in history. At the end of history it will be just like it was at the beginning, nothing. So where is the progress? When you begin to grasp that problem, you still may try to resist by adding in apocalyptic scenarios. Mankind progresses in history until there is some kind of great cataclysm, and everything is transformed into some new history, because one realizes the fallacy of an ever upward and onward progression until the end, at which point there is nothing. So all progress heretofore is a meaningless illusion.

Here it might be helpful to point out that progress is a Christian symbolism, but it is the symbol of the progress of the soul from one state of existence to another. It is not a theory of anything, but a symbolization of the experience of being pulled into a heavenly reality, while still in this world. It is certainly not a theory of historical progress. There is no essential theory of history in Christianity, until you get into imperial dogma that requires a theory of Christian history. Without a doctrine of Christian empire, there is no Christian theory of history. It is an in-between time. A time of expectant waiting and preparation.

As to the specific scientific foundations of Darwinism, there have been ample critiques on scientific grounds. But that is a vast subject and frought with polemics. But it is safe to say that the defenders of Darwinian evolution are just as fundamentalist in their claims as, say, the students at Bob Jones University are in their Biblical claims.

Unfortunately, Christianity is not an historical argument about anything, as much as modern Christians would like it to be. It is a symbolic form of existence in partnership with God. Darwinism is an attempt to eclipse the full range of reality by existing as a pure historical being. History, in this case the history of material progress, is the god. That's Hegel...

#100 Anthony

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 03:29 PM

Now, there are two issues in Darwin, the philosophical problem, and the scientific data problem. Let's just look briefly at the philosophical problem. It is not a theory of origins. That's because there can be no scientific theory of origins in principle. Aristotle had already disposed of that problem -- it is the problem of infinite regression. Everything has a prior cause. I come from my parents, they come from theirs, etc. etc., and Darwin proposes that humans come from lower animals, and lower animals come from lower forms still, and lower forms of life spring from inanimate matter and so on and so on and you have the problem of inifinite regression which destroys rationality. You cannot infinitely regress. So the origin has to be something Beyond that is not scientifically definable or explanable. Of course, that's what we all call God. You can posit aliens from outerspace coming in and seeding the earth with life in order to try to get away from the God idea, but you still have the problem of infinite regression. Where did the aliens come from? And in fact, the first tome positing aliens seeding life on earth was written in the 16th century, a period in Western European intellectual history in which the traditional Christian god concept was called into question. And yet people knew that you still had to have a first cause or prime mover, so it was alien beings from outerspace.


Much as I liked most of this post, I have my doubts about this appeal to the "first cause" argument, which runs into well-known logical problems. I don't know whether it would be constructive to discuss them; if so, perhaps that should be another thread.

I hope I have been around here long enough for people not to think I am arguing against the existence of God. But I do not believe in God because I believe in a first cause; I believe in a first cause because I believe in God.




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