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Genesis: truth and metaphor


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#141 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 04:08 PM

Well, Darwin was partly right. The ancestor of whales weren't bears, exactly, but they were carnivores of a certain variety :-)


That is exactly what I meant, similarity between teeth or whatever does not prove common origin, common origin is assumed (based on what?) in the first place. This is an perfect example of circular logic on which positively all arguments in support of evoltion are based.

"Evolution" as a mode of creation of biodiversity has no biological mechanism, it is a complete funk; therefore all claims in support of evolution based on comparisons of teeth, pieces of bone, molecules, etc are empty as clouds.
BTW the quote you pooled out is much outdated, now "ancestors" of whales are hyppopotamus. One can only guess what will come next.

In the Lord, Yura

#142 Father David Moser

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 04:54 PM

That is exactly what I meant, similarity between teeth or whatever does not prove common origin, common origin is assumed (based on what?) in the first place. This is an perfect example of circular logic on which positively all arguments in support of evoltion are based.


Yura,

I would agree with your assertion that the link between similarity and common origin is an assumption - however, I do not see how it is an unfounded assumption or that it is evidence that evolutionary assumptions are incorrect. The kind of argument that you put forward here demonstrates what I see as a the basic deficit in the creationist and ID approaches. There is a lot of "debunking" but very little is proposed in the way of an alternate theory. If the commonality in structure of bones, dna, teeth, etc does not indicate a common origin, then what do you propose as an explanation for the data gathered.

Although there has been some decent work, of late, within the non-evolution community to try and advance various theories to explain and interpret the data that we have, it is still "hodge-podge" there is not yet a decent overall "meta-theory" that brings it all together. Many non-evolutionists are simply content with "debunking" and their whole approach to scientific investigation is negative. There is nothing positive to offer.

Now I am not an evolutionist by any stretch of the imagination - but neither am I really a strict creationist (I guess if anything I am a very general "intelligent design" kind of person - but ID doesn't really have a well developed identity yet, other than to say, "God did it", so it's hard to say whether or not I would remain in that camp). I would ask you (and/or those who reject evolution) to please give an alternative theory that actually explains the reason for these commonalities and similarities. God doesn't do things just on a whim - there is a purpose and a reason why these similarities exist - so what is it. That's what I'm waiting to hear from the non-evolutionists, some reasonable counter theory (or meta-theory actually) that not only explains what we know, but is able to accurately predict what we will find. Evolution has a very good track record at this (but the great flaw is assuming that we have found or actually will find those critical "missing links" upon which the theory rests) - I would like to see a non-evolutionary theory as accurate, that can actually compete, not just a bunch of dismissal and debunking.

Not only is the theoretical science of the non-evolutionists deficient, but I think in many cases their theology is deficient as well. The patristic fathers who wrote about the science of their day were not only men of prayer, true theologians - but they were also erudite and educated in the sciences. They approached the whole topic by using science to explain scripture. Today the opposite seems to be true, scripture is used to dictate (not even to explain) to science what it can and cannot find. This comes, I think, from a lack of deep ascetic spirituality among those who are trying to develop a biblical/scientific theory. But this is only my opinion (and one that is pretty fresh and hasn't had time to ferment much to boot). I'd be glad to hear that I am mistaken (as I was glad to hear from Fr Matthew that I was a bit off-base, but not off the track in my linguistics)

Fr David Moser

#143 Owen Jones

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 07:21 PM

It surprises me somewhat that the critics of Darwinism must propose a "meta-theory" as an alternative to Darwinism for their critique to have validity. In court, one does not have to propose an alternative theory of who did the crime in order to undermine the prosecution's case, if there is a substantial lack of evidence. So too in scientific inquiry. If a scientist's data base is flawed, I am not compelled to produce an alternative theory to justify the negation of the original false theory.

Intelligent design is based on one concept, as I understand it: the irreducible complexity of biological systems, even the most simple systems. This is a two-fold issue. The first issue is that there is no conceivable evolutionary advantage to a mutation that is gradually adding parts to an eye, which takes millions of years to eventually produce an eye. The second issue is that the eye has no function apart from all of its parts working in harmony. Apparently, fairly recent discoveries regarding gene function demonstrates this same irreducible complexity. They do not function like building blocks. Yet Darwinism is based entirely on the premise that biological evolution functions like building blocks. The neo-Darwinists concede this up to a point, and so they posit something they call punctuated equilibrium, which is basically a symbol for: we don't know what the heck we are talking about.

As for a meta-theory, OK, let's suppose for a moment that the distinction between nature and the supernatural is an entirely false distinction. Let's suppose that matter is not exclusively natural, that some type of divine energy is necessary for matter to exist and function, that it infuses all matter, but especially complex biological systems. That the soul is the sense organ that detects this divine energy and, in a sense, acts as a regulatory valve. It is possible for the soul to block divine energy or to serve as an open valve, depending on the soul's proper functioning. We know, or at least we assume, that the term soul is a symbol for a complex -- perhaps the proper functioning of heart and mind in harmony. And in fact if you parse out some of what the late Fr. John Romanides wrote, salvation equates with spiritual health, which is, by definition, the proper functioning of the heart in relationship to brain and brain stem function.

This is why there is so much emphasis in Orthodoxy on the purification of the body, so that it may be glorified, i.e. infused with divine energy so that it functions properly in the manner that it was created to function. And why there is so much reference to the health of the heart as the connecting link between God and man. It is the seat of the spiritual intellect (noetic function), according to the Fathers, and the mind is the seat of the rational intellect (ratio).

Now, who knows if there will ever be any kind of biochemical experiment that could explore any of these concepts. One of the problems with modern science is that the criterion of science is reduced to a particular method. And so the lab method is used as the sole criteria of science. So a scientific theory cannot be accepted, if there is no experiment that can be designed to prove it false. (Of course evolution has been proven false due to lack of data, but that does not seem to phase most scientists).

#144 RichardWorthington

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 12:50 AM

Owen,

Intelligent design is based on one concept, as I understand it: the irreducible complexity of biological systems, even the most simple systems. This is a two-fold issue. The first issue is that there is no conceivable evolutionary advantage to a mutation that is gradually adding parts to an eye, which takes millions of years to eventually produce an eye. The second issue is that the eye has no function apart from all of its parts working in harmony. Apparently, fairly recent discoveries regarding gene function demonstrates this same irreducible complexity.


I subscribe to the magazine "New Scientist", and it is obviously heavily skewed against creationism and ID. Yet they had an article (I forget where but I could find it) where they gave examples of such claims of 'irreducible complexity', and also how these had later been shown to be partly reducible. So the ID-ers then claimed that these newer parts were irreducible. The problem with this approach is that scientists (even those who believe in a Creator) get the feeling that the ID approach is merely a reaction rather than a cohesive combination of ideas. Also, I saw a TV programme which showed a simple marine animal which did have two eyes, but these could only detect shades of light; they had no retinas. So an eye that is a 'pre-eye' does exist even today.

That the soul is the sense organ that detects this divine energy and, in a sense, acts as a regulatory valve. … And in fact if you parse out some of what the late Fr. John Romanides wrote, salvation equates with spiritual health, which is, by definition, the proper functioning of the heart in relationship to brain and brain stem function.

This is why there is so much emphasis in Orthodoxy on the purification of the body, so that it may be glorified, i.e. infused with divine energy so that it functions properly in the manner that it was created to function.


Divine 'energy' (operation/function/functionality/manifestation) does not come to the body via the soul/spirit, as if the soul is a valve. The Divine Light unites with the whole man, body, soul, and spirit, equally and identically. The spirit does not mediate for the body, nor the body for the spirit or soul. However, the extent of our purification by our efforts with the help of grace ('energy') does determine how the Uncreated Vision is granted to us, or realised in us. In the hymns for the Transfiguration, we sing that the disciples beheld Christ's glory as far as they were able to endure.

From this we see that our salvation is not the proper functioning of the mind in the heart (as in the prayer of the heart), but this proper functioning (itself attained by God's uncreated grace) is the return to our normal state in paradise. With this state the human person is able to watch the mind and so guard the heart for full purification. Then, worthily being received into the Divine and Deifying Light, this Light appears as Light-beyond-Light, as opposed to this Light appearing as both Light and Darkness simultaneously due to unworthiness.

However, our salvation is expressed at the end of the Liturgy: "We have seen the True Light … We worship the Undivided Trinity, This is our salvation/He has saved us". Our salvation is to become uncreated by grace. St Gregory Palamas applies the words about Melchizedek to the deified soul (i.e. deified person, the whole body, soul, and spirit equally and together; the little toe receiving the same Vision as the whole spirit): "without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God" (Hebrews 7:3; this is referred to in "Gregory Palamas" by Fr John Meyendorff, page 178. Note that Fr John Romanides did have strong reservations about Meyendorff's grasp of Palamas). This is what I have been taught, however to go into this in more detail I think would require a different thread.

As such in becoming uncreated by grace (i.e. not merely union with the Uncreated-created Christ God, but an identicalness with Him) we become as it we were our own creator, living outside of time in God. In the church, the ultimate experience of this real deification happens in the partaking of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ. The hymn quoted above on seeing the "true Light" (i.e. becoming the true Light Itself) is the "worship of the Undivided Trinity"; taking communion worthily properly implies also seeing the Risen and Glorified Christ. (Isn't Christ good in that He gives us communion despite our unworthiness, working within us to make us worthy.)

This is why realising that the six days of creation only made sense via the Temple/tabernacle, itself an image of the creation (post #87 above, p. 5), has caused me to venerate and adhere to the Genesis creation story more than ever before. Abstract knowledge of the existence of God (James 2:19), and an acknowledgement that the world was created in six days (etc.) means nothing. We only attain to true knowledge about ourselves by becoming uncreated by grace, in the worship of God, fully in the Eucharist, of which the Temple was an image, of which Genesis 1 speaks. Genesis speaks partly about the creation and partly about the temple. The description of the vision of the creation in either the Temple forms or scripture is like describing a rainbow using only shades of grey.

Richard

PS Sorry my posts are so long; I get carried away.

#145 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 01:57 AM

Yura,

I would agree with your assertion that the link between similarity and common origin is an assumption - however, I do not see how it is an unfounded assumption or that it is evidence that evolutionary assumptions are incorrect. The kind of argument that you put forward here demonstrates what I see as a the basic deficit in the creationist and ID approaches. There is a lot of "debunking" but very little is proposed in the way of an alternate theory. If the commonality in structure of bones, dna, teeth, etc does not indicate a common origin, then what do you propose as an explanation for the data gathered.

Although there has been some decent work, of late, within the non-evolution community to try and advance various theories to explain and interpret the data that we have, it is still "hodge-podge" there is not yet a decent overall "meta-theory" that brings it all together. Many non-evolutionists are simply content with "debunking" and their whole approach to scientific investigation is negative. There is nothing positive to offer.

Now I am not an evolutionist by any stretch of the imagination - but neither am I really a strict creationist (I guess if anything I am a very general "intelligent design" kind of person - but ID doesn't really have a well developed identity yet, other than to say, "God did it", so it's hard to say whether or not I would remain in that camp). I would ask you (and/or those who reject evolution) to please give an alternative theory that actually explains the reason for these commonalities and similarities. God doesn't do things just on a whim - there is a purpose and a reason why these similarities exist - so what is it. That's what I'm waiting to hear from the non-evolutionists, some reasonable counter theory (or meta-theory actually) that not only explains what we know, but is able to accurately predict what we will find. Evolution has a very good track record at this (but the great flaw is assuming that we have found or actually will find those critical "missing links" upon which the theory rests) - I would like to see a non-evolutionary theory as accurate, that can actually compete, not just a bunch of dismissal and debunking.

Not only is the theoretical science of the non-evolutionists deficient, but I think in many cases their theology is deficient as well. The patristic fathers who wrote about the science of their day were not only men of prayer, true theologians - but they were also erudite and educated in the sciences. They approached the whole topic by using science to explain scripture. Today the opposite seems to be true, scripture is used to dictate (not even to explain) to science what it can and cannot find. This comes, I think, from a lack of deep ascetic spirituality among those who are trying to develop a biblical/scientific theory. But this is only my opinion (and one that is pretty fresh and hasn't had time to ferment much to boot). I'd be glad to hear that I am mistaken (as I was glad to hear from Fr Matthew that I was a bit off-base, but not off the track in my linguistics)

Fr David Moser


Fr. David,

To fully answer your questions would require a book :-). I will try to be concise.

1. Ultimate origins lie outside the reach of scientific enquiry. Our origins do not yield themselves to science - full stop (I will expand on this below. When we talk (speculate) about origins we necessarily enter the realm of philosophy or religion. Evolutionism exists from 1 c BC it is not a new and ultimtimately pagan worldview; also Darwin when he worked on his theory was explicitly trying to "prove" that "God is not". These are just a few points to keep in mind.

2. When we speak of a scientific theory we imply not a speculation or a fanciful idea but a logical system thoroughly grounded in empirical data. Such a system is expected to have the capacity to identify and describe relationships among phenomena. A scientific theory should also be able to generate predictions, which can be tested through controlled experiments. In fact, to quote R. Feynman, “Experiment is the sole judge of scientific ‘truth’”. Phenomena generally consist of processes and patterns linked by mechanisms. For example, in a mountain stream the process of water flow will form a pattern of sediment on the stream-bed such that, all else equal, the size of sediment particles will be positively related to current velocity. Thus, having observed that different streams have different sediment patterns and knowing something about the law of gravity, we can formulate a simple theory describing this phenomenon, whereby water flow forms a sediment pattern via the mechanism of current velocity. An experiment designed to test this relationship would start with a homogenous mixture of sediment particles of different sizes. Equal amounts of the sediment would be subjected to standing water, slow current and fast current. Showing that the average size of particles remaining in sediment after each of the three treatments increases with the increased water velocity, will support our theory about the relationship between the process of water flow and the sediment pattern via the mechanism of current velocity. In the words of Karl Popper

Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

In the above example with a stream the theory forbids small sediment particles to be unaffected by increased current velocity. Such prohibition is a cornerstone of scientific methodology as it allows for falsification of alternative hypotheses (plausible theories). One can sum up all this by saying that the main criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability. It is precisely for this reason that empirical science has long prided itself with objectivity and immunity from subjective influences, although as will be shown below this pride have not been fully warranted because individual scientists are always subjective in the way they design their experiments and in the way they interprete them.

Now, evolutionary theory is an altogether different story as it is trying to explain a pattern (biodiversity) for which there is neither a clear mechanism nor an observable process that we can subject to direct experimentation. Furthermore it predicts nothing (I am puzzled by what you meant when you claimed the opposite) and by being twisted and tweaked it has been made non-falsifable. It is simply a religion. We cannot observe two populations of dinosaurs for 5 million years, one jumping from trees and the other not, to test if one of them will spontaneously grow wings, nor can we observe how one prokaryotic cell engulfed by another turns into a mitochondrion, or how sexes came to be or how vascular plants or any animal phylum came about. And again I repeat there is not even a remotissimately plausible hypothetical natural mechanism that could bring these things about. What is writen in textbooks are "just-so-stories" by admission of their very writers. We can either blindly believe that these events took place or we can attempt to infer them from natural processes taking place today if these processes could in principle generate such transitions but they don't!.

3. The answer to the question as to why things are similar I think is quite simple. We are created by the same God, we breathe the same air, drink the same water, eat the same food, are made of the same molecules and to a degree inhabit similar environments. How can we possibly not be similar to a greater or lesser degree? Is this not a pattern you will find in your toolbox or in the kitchen where you arrange things by kind and purpose?

4. Since scientific theories are not designed to deal with the origins I see no reason to search for any meta-theory, other than one - cretion (Gen 1-2) - that already fully and adequately addresses all possible questions about world and man. Unlike the "theory" of evoltion Revelation explains all of the following: why things exist, why things are harmonious and beautiful and why they decay, rot and die (as individuals and species). Accepting or not accepting it is simply a matter or accepting or not accepting the Truth of the Holy Tradition and God's Revelation to the Church.

5. If you look around, will you say that the world is becoming better, evolving or it is decaying and dying both ecologically and morally? Second law of thermodynamics trumps everything, right? Actually if you look at our DNA or that of any other species, you will see that we are accumuling irreversible mutation load, which in individuals leads to aging, decease and death. The same happens in species and if we look at biological shelf-life of us or any non-human creature it is not very long.

6. To sum up, the main thrust of your post - a meta-theory explaining the world - misses the point. Scientifically it is not possible to develop such a theory. Philosophically, any such theory, other than what we are taught by the Church, is necessarily false.

In the Lord,
Yura

#146 Owen Jones

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 03:21 PM

I do not believe it is Orthodox to say that we become "uncreated."

Regarding the eye, animal eyes, insect eyes, fish eyes, perform certain functions that human eyes cannot. Does that mean we ought to believe in devolution? No, the various functions lead Darwinists to believe in gradual adaptation to the environment. But the problem of complexity still remains, it seems to me, as a preponderant problem that evolutionists do not and cannot adequately address. The fact that more primitive creatures lack eye functions that we have does not imply evolution to our more advanced eye, precisely because they perform complex functions that our eyes cannot. Night vision for example.

Then there is the problem that Darwinists have that they never address. If everything is instinct, based on bio-chemistry, why do people still believe in God, and what, if any, was the survival of the fittest component that favored belief in God? Is belief in God now an evolutionary artifact? Like the appendix? And, why would a Darwinist bother lobbying for his beliefs? Why would a Darwinist care what other people believe? Money? If he gets more people to believe in Darwinism, does that mean that there will be more jobs and grants for Darwinists? That formerly religious people will now give their charitable donations to Darwinists rather than the Church? You see, the Darwinists act as if there is a transcendent reality, even though they deny it vociferously. They act is if actions are purposeful, quite apart from any survival instinct. And yet they deny purposeful action apart from purely bio-chemical processes.

If a Darwinist says to his wife: I love you, is he holding his fingers crossed behind his back? Because he knows that there is no such thing as love, only a bio-chemical reaction to stimulus? If his wife or lover says to a Darwinist, I love you, does he contradict her and chastise her for not understanding that all of her feelings for him are simply the result of certain pre-programmed bio-chemical processes? How long would that marriage last?

#147 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 03:42 PM

It should be asked about creation: why live? Indeed these things which we take for granted are only inherent to creation because of a dynamic towards life which is given as the logic central to their nature.

But this need not have been: it could just as easily have been that nature's inherent impulse is towards absolutely nothing; that it is mute.

Theories of creation need to take into account the inherent meaning of creation, of its inherent dynamic towards life. In turn by studying this dynamic what this life means which creation strives for.

In any case it seems that precisely on this score evolution is either completely self contradictory or else is so ambiguous that it must clarify its position far more than it presently does.

If what is the driving force of creation is exclusively the outer environment then there is no more reason in fact why it should adapt than that it should disappear. The only reason for creation to adapt is an inherent dynamic towards life. This means however that creation is not defined by change but rather by its own nature. This nature of course can include adaptability but only in terms of its already given and inherent nature.

It is in this last area where evolution is the weakest. By focusing on change as the driving force of reality it erodes any coherent understanding of purpose to creation: which of course contradicts its own idea of adaptation since this very much implies an inherent purpose to creation.

Secondly evolution also begs the idea of meaning and purpose to creation in its sense of origin. As we see for evolution creation comes with an inbuilt meaning- its drive towards life through adaptation. However at the same time for evolution this inbuilt purpose is self given. No matter how far back we trace the process whether it begins with a glob of protein or a big bang the question is never coherently dealt with of how these things can suddenly appear with the logic of life within themselves. Preferring agnosticism or purposeful blindness on this crucial point evolution has a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact of how the nothing which precedes it can have led to the universe of purpose which we now see.

By keeping the balance towards change as the ultimate meaning of life evolution ends up eroding the basis of meaning and purpose. Which brings us back to the point that if pure evolution is the operative principle at work in the creation we are part of then there is really no rational explanation for any law of adaptation. Rather what would follow from evolution is the fundamental instability or self annihilation of all things.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#148 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 11:05 PM

I do not believe it is Orthodox to say that we become "uncreated."

Regarding the eye, animal eyes, insect eyes, fish eyes, perform certain functions that human eyes cannot. Does that mean we ought to believe in devolution? No, the various functions lead Darwinists to believe in gradual adaptation to the environment. But the problem of complexity still remains, it seems to me, as a preponderant problem that evolutionists do not and cannot adequately address. The fact that more primitive creatures lack eye functions that we have does not imply evolution to our more advanced eye, precisely because they perform complex functions that our eyes cannot. Night vision for example.

Then there is the problem that Darwinists have that they never address. ?


The other, perhaps even graver problems, that are perfectly explained by creation but not at all by evolution are (1) how lthe ife itself came to be (all things evolution deals with, is they were true, would apply only to living self-reproducing things) and (2) where did information sustaining the process of life comes from. A random, stochastic process cannot in principle create (new) information. We and every other living thing are not even coping with keeping the information we have been given in creation. We are and have been literally gradually "turning to dust" ever since the fall and the Lord's withdrawing His Spirit away from us (and creation).
Yura

#149 RichardWorthington

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 11:26 PM

As for a meta-theory, OK, let's suppose for a moment that the distinction between nature and the supernatural is an entirely false distinction. ... That the soul is the sense organ that detects this divine energy and, in a sense, acts as a regulatory valve. It is possible for the soul to block divine energy or to serve as an open valve, depending on the soul's proper functioning. …

Now, who knows if there will ever be any kind of biochemical experiment that could explore any of these concepts.


Dear Owen,

I am sorry for my over-reaction; the subject of our salvation being full deification is close to my heart. This is not the proper thread for it. Apologies. And I think therefore that I failed to grasp your real point.

However, speaking generally, I think I do know how your meta-theory could be tested. When the tsunami of about 3 years ago hit the coasts surrounding the Indian ocean, the only reasoning I could come to as to why such an event should occur if God exists, and at that to some of the poorest people on the planet, is that we as humans do not obey the "Manufacturer's Operating Instructions": those instructions that are written on everyone's heart.

So using the general Orthodox belief that man was indeed specially created by God as ruler of the world, it would seem that in the Fall we disobeyed the "Manufacturer's Operating Instructions" and passed lordship to the devil, who seeks to destroy us and our beautiful world. (Indeed that fact that such horrific non-human involved events can happen is surely an indication of this, when spiritually discerned.)

As such, the meta-theory "the distinction between nature and the supernatural is an entirely false distinction" can be tested as follows: let every person on the planet sincerely cry out to God for help (it would be better for us all to attain to purity of heart and "the proper functioning of heart and mind in harmony", but what I am asking is probably a little too much already). Then if nothing changed then the meta-theory could be rejected. However, methinks that such an experiment can never be conducted! (It would need to be every person, or else in this meta-theory those still blind in rebellion against God would act as a doorway for the demons into our world.)

What I have been thinking about for some time (fuelled by the "New Scientist" magazine's almost religious preaching about rational thought or something similar) is this: is there a way that the Evolutionists' evidence need not be challenged if they come to the Faith, but only their main interpretations? After all, if we are indeed descended from animals without any divine intervention then did God become incarnate as an ape as well?!

I will collect my thoughts, and as I have given some examples of how the "New Scientist" tries to refute ID, I will give examples of how some of their articles caused me to think that a certain amount of 'spin' (making things appear better than they really are) had been applied.

I am Orthodox; I do indeed believe we have a unique God-ordered place in our universe. However, surely by trying to refute one type of evidence (evolution) with another (ID) is perhaps trying to beat the Evolutionists or Rationalists at their own game?

Richard

#150 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 10:49 AM

Dear all,

I wanted to say how much I've enjoyed the tenor and focus of this thread. It is managing to address issues in a very interesting manner.

In reading one of your recent posts, Richard, it struck me that some clarifications might be helpful - particularly in drawing connections between the themes of deification and creation.

Firstly, regarding the relationship of the human creature to the grace and life of God, you wrote:

Divine 'energy' (operation/function/functionality/manifestation) does not come to the body via the soul/spirit, as if the soul is a valve. The Divine Light unites with the whole man, body, soul, and spirit, equally and identically. The spirit does not mediate for the body, nor the body for the spirit or soul.


It is true that the communion of God and man takes place in the whole of the human creature, body and soul. However, the fathers are fairly strong in asserting that, in this communion, there is a precedence of place given to the soul as the means by which God's presence (usually understood, more concretely, as the Holy Spirit himself) is made manifest in the bodily creature. So while the end result (and I think this was what you were trying to convey) is that the whole man, body and soul, is deified in this communion, it is not, in fact, the common testimony of the fathers that the other part of your statement is true (the 'does not come to the body via the soul/spirit, as if the soul is a valve'). While the 'valve' language may be a touch modern, the notion that the soul is the means of communicating to the body the life of God is fairly standard patristic teaching.

A few examples to show this. There is a famous passage in St Irenaeus of Lyons:

As the body animated by the soul is certainly not itself the soul, but has fellowship with the soul as long as God desires, so also the soul herself is not life, but partakes in the life bestowed on her by God. Wherefore also the prophetic word declares of the first-formed, ‘He became a living soul’, teaching us that by participation in life the soul became alive. Thus the soul and the life which it possesses must be understood as separate existences. (On the refutation and overthrow of knowledge falsely so-called, 2.34.4)

Something similar is found in Tertullian of Carthage:

It is true that the ruling mind [synonymous in Tertullian here with the soul] easily communicates the gifts of the Spirit with its bodily habitation. (On patience, 13)

The idea is found in all manner of other early patristic writers. While the body and soul together form the human person, and the person is never truly human except in the reality of both, nonetheless each has different function. While not its only function / purpose, the soul nonetheless has as a 'distinguishing mark' this function as the means through which divine communion is wrought, bringing the Holy Spirit into the life of the whole man - through the soul to the body.

Most of the fathers identify this distinction in the biblical story of genesis, with the dust and breath of Genesis 2. God fashions the bodily element in man from the dust, and breathes into this dust the 'breath of life' (2.7) - which most early fathers identify as 'spiritual, but not the Spirit'; i.e. the soul, which is that which conveys into 'the dust' God's own life - the Person of the Spirit himself. And it is not the breath that is the man or is divine in image: it is the whole creation - dust and breath - that images God's being and communion.

This relates to a point you made later in the same post:

our salvation is expressed at the end of the Liturgy: "We have seen the True Light … We worship the Undivided Trinity, This is our salvation/He has saved us". Our salvation is to become uncreated by grace.

In fact, the understanding of deification is precisely that it is not the becoming uncreated of the creature, but the perfection of the creature's creatureliness in communion with the divine uncreatedness. Creature never becomes uncreated, by grace or by any other means. This is basically a 'gnostic' concept of deification: that it amounts, in the end, to a form of liberation from created nature and reality. But the Christian understanding of deification is, at its heart, the ultimate vindication and sanctification of creation as creation, and particularly of the human as creature. Communion and union are effected with the uncreated God; but the famous Cappadocian (and later Palamite) distinction between 'energy' and 'essence' was elaborated to maintain properly that the uncreated is always 'other' to the creature, even if the 'other' is wholly identified with the person in union. God deifies the creature. The deified person does not become uncreated through grace, but exhibits the perfect harmony and communion of creator and creature that was intended from the first movements of creation, when God establishes a (created) being to image his (uncreated) life.

This is not actually a tangent from a discussion on Genesis; it is the story of genesis, of coming-into-being, that firmly establishes the doctrine of deification as creation-orientated. When the so-called 'Gnostics' of the early centuries were widely promoting types of salvation that equated to a quasi-divinisation as 'spiritual liberation' from created, material reality, the early fathers responded by a dramatic hearkening to the various creation stories of Christianity - and that of Genesis in particular (bearing in mind that Genesis is only one creation story in the Christian corpus; others are found in Ezekiel, John, the Apocalypse, etc.). It is God's creating from dust (matter, the substance of 'createdness'), that establishes firmly what divinisation is. Moreover, and yet more centrally, it is the testimony of the incarnate Christ through Genesis, that clarifies this understanding. The incarnate Christ is of creaturely flesh, of authentic human nature. And it is in this human, creaturely nature that salvation is wrought - not by its abandonment or spiritualising transformation into the non-created. Christ rises bodily from the tomb; the disciples touch his side and his hands.

That is likely more than enough for now. Again, I've very much enjoyed these postings.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#151 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 07:55 PM

Dcn Matthew beat me to the punch, as I was going to remark that there were a number of gnostic presuppositions contained in the prior post, not least of which is the idea that we can become uncreated. This is not surprising since a lot of people are attracted to ORthodoxy because of a prior flirtation with gnosticism in its modern, esoteric formats, because of some of the more esoteric elements in some Orthodox theologians, and the emphasis on gnosis in many of the writings (which means something quite different).

Typical of modern gnostics is "what if" propositions, e.g., what if everyone in the world got together? Kind of like the gnostic Coke ads. Or rock concerts for peace and the like. I know very, very bright people who read the Philokalia for all of its esoteric elements, completely avoiding all of the passages that keep us firmly rooted in terra firma, with reminders of sin and punishments for sin, and the necessity to obey the commandments in all things.

Gnosticism is really a theory that if we all got spiritual enough, we wouldn't need commandments any more. It's just one step from there to the position that the commandments are in fact the cause of the problem.

#152 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 08:15 PM

"But is it possible to develop an evolutionary theory that doesn't rely on "survival of the fittest", or that isn't based on simple gradualism, and yet does not invoke the supernatural? It seems to me that if you want to develop alternatives to Darwinism, while keeping the naturalistic approach that is the characteristic of modern Western science, then most scientists wouldn't object. But if you want to invoke the supernatural to explain current problems and unsolved riddles in Darwinian theory, then that stops the game of science, by blocking the desire to solve those problems and answer those riddles. It's true: science is a "game", with rules. You don't have to play the game, and you can do philosophy, instead, and that's perfectly fine. Playing with your children isn't part of the game of science, either, and, again, that's perfectly fine. My support of playing by the rules of science is quite pragmatic: the tremendous scientific and technological and medical advances made in the last 300 years, was made possible because we played by the rules of the game. Religion is not science, and doesn't play by its rules; and, pragmatically, it doesn't make sense to incorporate the rules of religion into the playbook of science."


I am sorry if I sound a bit harsh, but there are a number of loose threads in this logic.

It is possible to theorize something other than what Darwin and his followers theorize. But the point is that it is Darwin's theories of evolution that are the problem. That's what the scientific community adheres to fundamentally, with minor adjustments. It's not a question of solving unsolved riddles. It is a matter of whether or not Darwinism is scientific. It is not scientific on the evidentiary foundation. But more importantly, it is not scientific on the theoretical basis. Theory is a critical element in science, and the problem with virtually all modern scientists is that they are very poor theorists. They know little or nothing about the fact that all of their theories have been around for thousands of years, and yet they act like they have thought up something new and fresh, that these theories were closely examined and logically explored, and one does not need a lab to do that. Darwinism claims to be a theory of origins, and no matter how good a field biologist he might have been, it is not a theory of origins, because of the irrationality problem. It is irrational to have a theory that requires infinite regression.

Second, to reduce science to method is a fallacy. Theological science, philosophical science, are not hard sciences in the sense that they require machines to measures things in a lab. But they are scientific nonetheless. And classically understood, theology is the queen of the sciences, not because classical theologians were dumb and superstitious, or lacked the mechanical tools of observation that modern scientists had, but because they understood that the most important science was the science that examined what it means to be human. Darwinism and its offshoots and various ideological cousins such as Marxism and Freudianism, make all of that questioning irrelevant. Because it is now the ideologue who simply decides the question once and for all. There is no longer any need for any future exploration or seeking. It is all a mopping up operation after the main battle has been won. So we do not have to ask the question anymore: what does it mean to be human? And when we stop asking that question, we stop being human.

Just as in any scientific endeavor, the way we ask that question is key. There is a structure and a proper order to it, and that structure and order builds on itself, so that I do not presume myself to be the first person to have ever asked that question. The child asks the question out of primary awe and wonder. The adult does so with the added advantage, hopefully, of having consulted the experts. Without having lost the awe and wonder component.

This is the matter which the modern scientist refuses to address. He is a seeker after knowledge and truth, but denies awe and wonder as a transcendent component. He mythologizes his awe and wonder by arguing that he is a superior form of human, who has cast off ancient superstition and is engaged in pure science, but cannot explain why it is he bothers in the first place, unless it is just to get money and power, which are instinctual drives in order to capture the most attractive mates, i.e. evolutionary determinism.

#153 RichardWorthington

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 12:30 AM

This is not actually a tangent from a discussion on Genesis; it is the story of genesis, of coming-into-being, that firmly establishes the doctrine of deification as creation-orientated.


It is not a tangent, but could easily bog this thread down!

Therefore I have chosen to post my replies regarding the deification of man and creation in the thread "Making us what He is"; my post is here: http://www.monachos....53640#post53640

After all, talking of Genesis, why did the Uncreated Creator create ... ?

Richard

#154 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 02:56 AM


After all, talking of Genesis, why did the Uncreated Creator create ... ?

Richard


Out of love

#155 RichardWorthington

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 11:09 PM

Out of love

Indeed, and God's love is more-than-love: His love works towards union with the creation in deification (and at that through humanity - how great and wondrous it is to be human!!!)

#156 Nina

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 01:56 AM

http://www.msnbc.msn...7499/?gt1=10547

No comment.

#157 Peter S.

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 03:55 PM

Indeed, and God's love is more-than-love: His love works towards union with the creation in deification (and at that through humanity - how great and wondrous it is to be human!!!)


Yes, and what Gods love works: (union, deification and life), is Love. Love is a mystery.

Peter

#158 Owen Jones

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 04:01 PM

That there is a fossil that looks a little like a fish and a little like a land creature proves nothing. It neatly fits the theory but does not prove the theory.

It's important to at least recognize that the fundamental problem lies with origins. The Theory of Evolution a la Darwin is not a theory of origins. It cannot and will never be a theory of origins because there is no rational/scientific theory of origins. Because there is no scientific theory as to why anything can or should exist in the first place. And there is no beginning point in Darwinism. Darwinism never faces up to the issue of infinite regression, which is irrational. You cannot have a theory of origins with no originating point. Darwinists completely avoid this issue. They simply act as if there was always something prior that evolves into something later.

Liebnitz put it this way: why is there something rather than nothing? And why this something rather than something else? There are no scientific answers to these questions and there never will be.

#159 Nina

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 12:02 AM

Science and Religion

#160 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 08:50 PM

Yuri Zharikov Quotation:
Originally Posted by RichardWorthington

After all, talking of Genesis, why did the Uncreated Creator create ... ?

Richard

Out of love


This is a problem to me as I suppose it has been to many, and I don't know the answer. Creation suffers. Nature is 'red in tooth and claw', and throughout all of history, most people have lived wretchedly suffering poverty, disease, catastrophe, injustice, war, and all the rest. All because of the Fall, I know. How are we to understand the love that created, knowing what the result would be? And if we are told, but there's Paradise afterwards and every tear will be wiped away, we remember that there's also Hell which may end up being more populated than Paradise.




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