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Animal death before the fall?


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Poll: Was animal (not human) death possible before the fall? (54 member(s) have cast votes)

Was animal (not human) death possible before the fall?

  1. No. (23 votes [42.59%])

    Percentage of vote: 42.59%

  2. Yes, but no animals actually died before the fall. (3 votes [5.56%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.56%

  3. Yes, and some animals possibly did die before the fall. (7 votes [12.96%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.96%

  4. Yes, and some animals definitely did die before the fall. (21 votes [38.89%])

    Percentage of vote: 38.89%

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#41 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 10:42 AM

Nope, it is still a tragedy. Death was overcome in the resurrection of Christ, and that is why our true hope lies in the resurrection, the day when our souls unite with our glorified bodies. Disembodied souls reach a kind of perfection, but a human being is not whole without a material body.


I feel sure it is not the teaching of the Holy Fathers that death is a tragedy. Yes, the complete fulness of our hope is in the General Resurrection as we say in the Creed: 'I await the resurrection of the dead '. But 'the dead' here refers only to biological death. Think of the vision of St Stephen at his martyrdom: he saw the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56) - nothing tragic about that. The Holy Fathers say that when the soul departs this life, it is birth into the true life, a new and blessed existence. See, for example, Letter V of the St Basil the Great (to Nectarius in consolation) and St Ignatius to the Romans VI:1. This why we feast the days of the deaths of the saints. It is true that even this blessedness is not natural for we are only complete when we are a union of body and soul. But I do not think we should say that death is a tragedy.

#42 RichardWorthington

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 12:20 PM

If no animals died, than how would Adam and Eve be able to have
any conception of what was meant by:

"In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die?"

The consequence of death is just a meaningless word unless you have
seen it someplace.


The trees in paradise when mature would decompose into fragrant earth without any hint of corruption. I presume the same is true for the animals. (There's a post to this effect near the start of the creation and evolution 2 thread)

This is a type of semi-death: no suffering but a recycling of life.

Does this help?

Richard

#43 RichardWorthington

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 12:24 PM

Why would God who created animals to eat one another be evil?


What if some baby pups were left without their mother? They would needlessly suffer.

It is the element of suffering that creates the problem.

Even if Adam and Eve did not suffer, what if they were to see a pack of lions drag down an antelope and see it desperately trying to escape, and cry for help? It is not pleasant, so how could it be said that all was "very good"?

Also, what if Eve's favourite cat got eaten by a fox? She would not be pleased!

Richard

#44 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 05:36 PM

If no animals died, than how would Adam and Eve be able to have
any conception of what was meant by:

"In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die?"

The consequence of death is just a meaningless word unless you have
seen it someplace.


Come to that, they presumably hadn't been lied to before so didn't know what a lie was and so didn't understand that the serpent was lying. May be much of the Fall was the refusal to repent when found out.

#45 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 10:27 AM

Dear all,

I've enjoyed reading the most recent posts in this thread as I attempt to catch up with the activities of the forum, having been away for a little over a week -- and for the immediate forecast restricted only to dial-up access (which once seemed so futuristic, and now seems impossibly, incomprehensibly slow).

Forgiving me for stepping in, Andreas, but I was struck by one of your comments:

I feel sure it is not the teaching of the Holy Fathers that death is a tragedy.


I am not certain of this. I take very much on board the points you raised in the remainder of that post; however, there is a difference between what is done with and to death by the incarnate Son, and what death is by virtue of its own reality.

As its own reality, death is a travesty and a tragedy. This echoes again and again from the fathers. Death is the overturning of natural order: a thing deeply unnatural, which manifests the effect of sin on a finite cosmos. It is linked inextricably to sin, not because every death is the fruit of some specific sin, but because sin itself draws the whole cosmos into its consequences.

However, death is overcome in Christ. What is tragic in its own right, is reclaimed of its tragedy by the cross and resurrection. The power of death to be an ultimate separation of man and God -- the 'permanence of the division of sin' -- is thwarted when that power is thwarted by Christ. Death still exists, is still tragic in its existence; but it is bested, its power defeated. And so, death in Christ becomes, like all else in Christ, transformative. Weakness becomes a venue of power and strength. Death can be, and so often in the Church one sees that it is, the avenue for true sanctification and ascent.

But this does not mean that death qua death does not remain a tragedy. The fathers remain fairly consistent in proclaiming its nature in this way. What it does mean, however, is that Christ has defeated even the greatest foe, the greatest tragedy, so that it can be looked on without dread. 'O death, where is thy sting?'

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#46 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 12:58 PM

however, there is a difference between what is done with and to death by the incarnate Son, and what death is by virtue of its own reality.


Thank you for bringing out this distinction; death is indeed, as I was taught, unnnatural, and is a consequence of and so part of the tragedy of the Fall.

The fathers remain fairly consistent in proclaiming its nature in this way.


If it's not too much trouble, I'd be interested in a couple of citations in the interests of balance.

As Christians, we presumably place the emphasis on the defeat of death by Christ. We meet death not negatively with fear and resistance, but positively with hope and willingness, because of the love of Christ Who, by His kenotic acceptance of it, has sanctified and transfigured death. The wages of sin become the blessings of grace. Whilst not minimising the tragic nature of death as unnatural, because we share in Christ's experience, the tragedy is turned into rejoicing (cf St Maximos the Confessor). So on death, we rest in God. Death for such as us is most likely to be through disease but St Diadochus of Photiki said that when martrdom through persecution is not an option, illnesses will be counted a second kind of martrdom. Either way, if our inner disposition is right, we offer ourselves to God and so change death into a sacrifice acceptable to Him. This is why Christians should not think of death as a tragedy.

PS Tomorrow is Memorial Saturday.

#47 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 02:34 AM

I have posted this piece by St. Nikolai Velimirovich earlier... but thought it is pertinent here and quite clearly synthesizes the Fathers view on death, which also fits the general and unrelenting degradation and tendecy towards chaos that we can observe in things living and nonliving.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Death is not natural but rather it is unnatural.

And death is not from nature but rather it is against nature.

All of nature in horror cries out: “I do not know death! I do not wish death! I am afraid of death! I strive against death!”

Death is an uninvited stranger in nature.

All of nature bristles at this uninvited stranger and is afraid of it. Because it is like a thief in somebody else’s garden, who does not just steal and eat the fruit, but who also tramples, spoils, breaks and uproots what was planted. And the more it ravages the more it becomes satisfied.

Even when one hundred philosophies declare that: “Death is natural!”, all of nature trembles in indignation and shouts: “No! I have no use for death! It is an uninvited stranger!”

And the voice of nature is not sophistry.

The protest of nature against death outweighs all excuses thought up to justify death.

And if there is something that nature struggles to express in its untouched harmony, doing so without exception in unison of voices, then it is a protest against death. It is its unanimous, frantic, and heaven-shaking elegy to death.

If in fact death in unnatural, if it is not natural and is against nature, then a question arises: why is it so and whence does death enter nature?

Not a single kingdom of light and life accepts death as its native. It must have sneaked into the worlds of life secretly – crawling on its belly and staying out of sight so that it would not be spotted and exposed, - from some bottomless abyss where even it was too cold and lonely.

When death was under the stinger of a snake, it was dead for itself. And nobody in the world then knew about good and evil – only the bliss existed; and nobody heard of knowledge and ignorance – there was only wisdom; and nobody knew of life and death – there was only the state of blissfully wise existence.

But because of an occasion, which is more dreadful than the most horrible nightmare, the mouth of the snake opened and the stringer full of venom appeared out of it – and death entered the first-created nature, the nature that was both divine and human. This intrusion could be likened to the way a tiny worm penetrates the spine of a man without him even sensing the invasion so that the man continues to blossom and be merry. Then he will feel the worm as a pleasant itching; he might rub his back, smile and say: “It is nothing.” And this will go on until the moment the worm grows big, multiplies and exhausts the spine so that the man becomes like a hollow cane, which mindlessly whistles a hymn to madness and death.

What doctor would say to this madman with a dried up spine when he, in the doctor’s presence, like a hollow cane whistles a triumphal hymn to death: “Go and sin no more, and you will be whole.”? Not a single doctor in this world. Perhaps only that doctor who is no different from his patient.

Velimirovich, Bishop Nikolai (of Serbia). 2004. Selected writings. St. Elizabeth Monastery Press. Minsk. 624 pp. (ISBN 985-6728-11-8)

Edited by M.C. Steenberg, 22 June 2008 - 09:31 AM.
Added blank lines between paragraphs


#48 Ryan

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 02:52 AM

The Patristic position is quite clear that there was no death before the Fall.


I am sorry I'm coming so late to this thread.

I'd like to know if anyone can produce quotes from Fathers addressing the question of animal death before the Fall. The quote from St. Basil on animal reproduction seems to me to indicate that he believed there was some kind of animal death. It's possible though that I'm confused about the context.

#49 Ryan

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 08:54 PM

I would still like to see some patristic references indicating that animals did not die before the Fall. I don't have many resources in front of me. I have been searching on my own, but the few references I find seem to indicate a different view.

St. Athanasius, in On the Incarnation of the Word, writes:

Upon them, therefore, upon men who, as animals, were essentially impermanent, He bestowed a grace which other creatures lacked-namely, the impress of His own Image, a share in the reasonable being of the very Word Himself, so that, reflecting Him and themselves becoming reasonable and expressing the Mind of God even as He does, though in limited degree, they might continue for ever in the blessed and only true life of the saints in paradise...But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but, dying outside of it, continue in death and in corruption


It seems to me that St. Athanasius is saying that part of what differentiated man from other animals was that, being made in the Image of God, they "might continue for ever" and be preserved from the "natural law of death." If animals are "essentially impermanent," and death is natural, then this would indicate that they did in fact die before the Fall since immortality was a gift bestowed uniquely upon man.

#50 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 01:38 AM

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

And the animals are named wild beasts [qhria], from their being hunted [qhreuesqai], not as if they had been made evil or venomous from the first--for nothing was made evil by God, but all things good, yea, very good,--but the sin in which man was concerned brought evil upon them. For when man transgressed, they also transgressed with him . . . so in like manner it came to pass, that in the case of man's sin, he being master, all that was subject to him sinned with him. When, therefore, man again shall have made his way back to his natural condition, and no longer does evil, those also shall be restored to their original gentleness. Theophilus to Autolycus Book II.XVII

God did not, as some people think, just give Paradise to our ancestor at the beginning, nor did He make only Paradise incorruptible. No! Instead, He did much more . . . Neither Eve nor Paradise were yet created, but the whole world had been brought into being by God as one thing, as a kind of paradise, at once incorruptible yet material and perceptible. It was this world, as we said, which was given to Adam and to his descendants for their enjoyment. Does this seem strange to you? It should not. St. Symeon the New Theologian, Ethical Discourses 1.1, in On the Mystical Life, vol. 1, p. 21

[God] wills to hold it [Paradise] out to us as a type of the indissoluble life to come, an icon of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. If this were not the case, then the Garden, too, would have had to be cursed, since it was the scene of the transgression. However, God does not do this, but instead curses the whole rest of the earth which, as we have said, was incorruptible just like Paradise, and produced fruit of its own accord. St. Symeon, Ethical Discourses 1.2

Doubtless indeed vultures did not look around the earth when living things came to be. For nothing yet died of these things given meaning or brought into being by God, so that vultures might eat it. Nature was not divided, for it was in its prime; nor did hunters kill, for that not yet the custom of human beings; nor did wild beasts claw their prey, for they were not yet carnivores. And it is customary for vultures to feed on corpses, but since there were not yet corpses, nor yet their stench, so there was not yet such food for vultures. But all followed the diet of swans and all grazed the meadows. St. Basil the Great, On the Origin of Humanity 2.6

The earth, created, adorned, blessed by God, did not have any deficiencies. It was overflowing with refinement. "God saw," after the completion of the whole creation of the world, "everything that He had made: and, behold, it was very good." (Gen. 1:31).
Now the earth is presented to our eyes in a completely different look. We do not know her condition in holy virginity; we know her in the condition of corruption and accursedness, we know her already sentenced to burning; she was created for eternity. . . . Plants were not subjected either to decay or to diseases; both decay and diseases and the weeds themselves, appeared after the alteration of the earth following the fall of man . . . According to its creation, there was on it only the splendid, only the wholesome, there was only that which was suitable for the immortal and blessed life of its inhabitants . . . The beasts and other animals lived in perfect harmony among themselves, nourishing themselves on plant life. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, Homily on Man

The beautiful things of this world are only hints of that beauty with which the first-created world was filled, as Adam and Eve saw it. That beauty was destroyed by the sin of the first people . . . Thus also did the fall into sin of the first people destroy the beauty of God's world, and there remain to us only fragments of it by which we may judge concerning the primordial beauty. Elder Barsanuphius of Optina, pg. 468

In not wishing to be nourished by Him [God], the first man rightly fell away from the Divine life, and took death as another parent. Accordingly he put on himself the irrational form, and blackened the inconceivable beauty of the Divine, and delivered over the whole of nature as food for death. Death is living on this through the whole of this temporal period, making us his food. St. Maximus, Ambiguum 10.

What I am saying is that in the beginning sin seduced Adam and persuaded him to transgress God's commandment, whereby sin gave rise to pleasure and, by means of this pleasure, nailed itself in Adam to the very depths of our nature, thus condemning our whole human nature to death and, via humanity, pressing the nature of (all) created beings toward mortal extinction. St. Maximus, Ad Thalassium 6.1

The creation of all things is due to God, but corruption came in afterwards due to our wickedness and as a punishment and a help. "For God did not make death, neither does He take delight in the destruction of living things" (Wisdom 1:13). But death is the work rather of man, that is, its origin is in Adam's transgression, in like manner as all other punishments. St. John of Damascus, Exact Exposition 2.28

Commenting on Romans 8:20: What is the meaning of "the creation was made subject to futility"? That it became corruptible. For what cause, and on what account? On account of you, O man. For since you took a body mortal and subject to suffering, so also the earth received a curse, and brought forth thorns and thistles. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 14.

He [the Apostle Paul] discourses concerning creation's bondage, an shows for whose sake such a thing has occurred -- and he places the blame on us. What then? In suffering these things on account of another, has creation been maltreated? By no means, for it has come into being for my sake. So then, how could that which has come into being for my sake be unjustly treated in suffering those things for my correction? St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 14

What armed death against the cosmos? The fact that one man tasted of the tree only. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 10.

It is said that when the world was first created it was not subject to flux and corruption. According to Scripture it was only later corrupted and "made subject to futility" -- that is, to man -- not by its own choice but by the will of Him to whom it is subject, the expectation being that Adam, who had fallen into corruption, would be restored to his original state. St. Gregory of Sinai, On Commandments and Doctrines 11

Inasmuch, therefore, as the opinions of certain [orthodox persons] are derived from heretical discourses, they are both ignorant of God’s dispensations, and of the mystery of the resurrection of the just, and of the [earthly] kingdom which is the commencement of incorruption, by means of which kingdom those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake of the divine nature . . . It is fitting, therefore, that the creation itself, being restored to its primeval condition, should without restraint be under the dominion of the righteous; and the apostle has made this plain in the Epistle to the Romans, when he thus speaks: “For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature has been subjected to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; since the creature itself shall also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.32.1

For the creation was made subject to futility, [St. Paul] says, and he expects that it will be set free from such servitude, as he intends to call this world by the name of creation. For it is not what is unseen [the angelic world] but what is seen that is subject to corruption. The creation, then, after being restored to a better and more seemly state, remains, rejoicing and exulting over the children of God at the resurrection; for whose sake it now groans and travails, waiting itself also for our redemption from the corruption of the body, that, when when we have risen and shaken off the mortality of the flesh . . . and have been set free from sin, it also shall be freed from corruption and be subject no longer to futility, but to righteousness. St. Methodios of Olympus and Patara, Discourse on the Resurrection, ANF, vol. 6, p. 366

The fate of visible nature has, from the beginning of its existence, been under the power of the influence of man . . . Organically and mystically connected with man as with a God-like creature of God, nature in the essence of its life depends upon man and always moves strictly commensurately with man. When man chose the path of sin and death as his path through history, all of nature, as the results of its inner dependency on man, followed after him. The fall of man was at the same time the fall of nature, and the curse of man became the curse of nature. And from that time man and nature, like two inseparable twins, blinded by one and the same darkness, deadened by one and the same death, burdened by one and the same curse, go hand in hand through history, through the abysmal wilderness of sin and evil. Together they stumble, together they fall, and together they arise, ceaselessly striving toward the distant conclusion of their sorrowful history. St. Justin Popvich, The Orthodox Philosophy of Truth: The Dogmatics of the Orthodox Church vol. 3 p. 792

Adam was placed as lord and king of all the creatures . . . And so, when he was taken captive, the creation which ministered to and served him was taken captive together with him. For through him death came to reign over every soul. St. Macarius the Great, Homilies 11.5

"Death is not natural; rather it is unnatural. And death is not from nature; rather it is against nature. All of nature in horror cries out: "I do not know death! I do not wish death! I am afraid of death! I strive against death!" Death is an uninvited stranger in nature . . . Even when one hundred philosophers declare that "death is natural!" all of nature trembles in indignation and shouts: " No! I have no use for death! It is an uninvited stranger!" And the voice of nature is not sophistry. The protest of nature against death outweighs all excuses thought up to justify death. And if there is something that nature struggles to express in its untouched harmony, doing so without exception in a unison of voices, then it is a protest against death. It is its unanimous, frantic, and heaven-shaking elegy of death. St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Selected Writings

Paradise, even heaven itself, is accessible to man; and the creation, both of the world and above the world, which long ago was set at variance with itself, is fit together in friendship; and we men are made to join in the angels' song, offering the worship of their praise to God. St. Gregory of Nyssa, A Sermon for the Feast of the Lights

Look at the total result: how fruitful was the Word! God issued His fiat, and it was done: God also saw that it was good; not as if He were ignorant of the good until He saw it; but because it was good, He therefore saw it, and honoured it, and set His seal upon it; and consummated the goodness of His works by His vouchsafing to them that contemplation. Thus God blessed what He made good, in order that He might commend Himself to you as whole and perfect, good both in word and act. As yet the Word knew no malediction, because He was a stranger to malefaction. We shall see what reasons required this also of God. Meanwhile the world consisted of all things good, plainly foreshowing how much good was preparing for him for whom all this was provided. Who indeed was so worthy of dwelling amongst the works of God, as he who was His own image and likeness? Tertullian, Against Marcion 2.4

As long as Adam loved God and observed His commandment, he dwelt in the Paradise of God and God abode in the paradisiacal heart of Adam. Naked Adam was clothed with the grace of God and, surrounded by the animals, he held and caressed them lovingly, and they, in turn, licked him devoutly, as their Master. When Adam violated God's commandment., he was stripped of the grace of God, clothed with a garment of skin and exiled from Paradise. Grace-filled Adam became wild, and many animals, because of Adam, were also made savage, and instead of approaching him with devoutness and licking him with love, they lashed out at him with rage in order to tear at or bite him. Elder Paisios, Epistles, pg. 203-204

Behold the life of innocent Adam in Eden, the lordship of man over creation, which together with us groans because of our fall and thirsts to be delivered into the "liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21). The Life of St. Paul of Obnora, in the Northern Thebaid

#51 William Thompson

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 02:02 PM

Animals and plants were dying for hundreds of millions of years before the creation of humans. There's simply no getting around that fact. How to deal with that fact theologically is another matter, one far too difficult for me.

#52 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 03:22 PM

Animals and plants were dying for hundreds of millions of years before the creation of humans. There's simply no getting around that fact. How to deal with that fact theologically is another matter, one far too difficult for me.


well that depends on what you accept as your higher authority. if science is a higher authority for you, then you will come to this conclusion. however, if divine illumination is your higher authority, then you will accept the teachings of the Saints which flowed out of divine illumination.

#53 William Thompson

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:09 PM

One response to the fact is to embrace a literalist reading of the scriptures and the fathers, to hold them responsible for scientific accuracies with which they were not involved. This inevitably results in a dichotomy between Christianity and science. This fundamentalist approach, as far as I can tell, stems from the same Protestant mentality that gave us doctrines such as sola scriptura. It doesn't seem Orthodox at all.

#54 Ryan

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 02:10 PM

One response to the fact is to embrace a literalist reading of the scriptures and the fathers, to hold them responsible for scientific accuracies with which they were not involved.


Many Fathers read the Genesis creation account more or less literally. Does this make them Protestant fundamentalists?

This inevitably results in a dichotomy between Christianity and science.


Admittedly, it does create a tension between Christianity and the modern natural philosophy/ ideology that many generically (and naively) refer to as "science." But there are other forms of natural philosophy ("science") which are perfectly compatible with Christianity.

This fundamentalist approach, as far as I can tell, stems from the same Protestant mentality that gave us doctrines such as sola scriptura.


As opposed to the Protestant mentality that gave us modern science (Bacon and Newton)?

Using the term "fundamentalist" to refer to anyone who reads the Genesis creation narrative literally, whether or not he embraces the other aspects of fundamentalism, waters the term down so as to make it meaningless. Let's back away from the dismissive buzzwords and see what the real issues are.

t doesn't seem Orthodox at all.


Dualism and empiricism don't seen Orthodox to me, and these approaches are at the basis of modern science.

#55 Father David Moser

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 02:38 PM

It seems here that there is a false dichotomy being discussed here. It is true that if one were to adopt an evolutionary ideology that does not allow for the presence of God and set it against a strictly literal reading of the Genesis account that those two are not compatible. However, those are only two very extremely opposed interpretations of both the facts and of the scriptural account. Some of the fathers, in the absence of any other scientific knowledge, have taken Genesis account at face value - but I see nothing in their writings that suggest that they were attempting to defend a 24/7 account of creation, rather they were just stating what they knew that fit into the account that they had at hand. I do not see where they had made the 24/7 timetable into a dogmatic rule upon which hinged the salvation of men. OTOH, there are plenty of more modern spiritual writers who do allow for a more generous timetable and scripture can be understood in such a way that it is both consistent with the observations that we have made but which does not compromise God's place as creator or of man's place as the crown and king of creation. I really fail to see an "either/or" dichotomy here when talking about modern scientific observations (not evolutionary philosophy) and the Genesis account (rather than a literal inerrancy dogma). Certainly there are points that the scripture gives us that define and inform the interpretation of scientific data, but in the midst of those unchangeable points, there is a lot of space for Orthodox discussion and opinion.

Fr David Moser

#56 Evan

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 02:58 PM

I don't understand why there is necessarily a conflict here. So long as human beings were made to live and not die, and their death was a consequence of their turning from God, why do we need to insist that there was no animal death prior to their fall? Could it not have been the vocation of man to, as it were, spread the paradise to the transient, merely animal realm? We're not told in Scripture that the entire world was paradise, but, rather, that there was a garden. The outside appears to be chaotic.

As long as we at some point get human beings, and they're supposed to live, and they sin and so die, I don't quite understand why the details of what happened prior to that point must be insisted upon, beyond the fact that God is the ultimate author of the physical world. The cosmology of Genesis simply doesn't square with what we know to be true about the natural world-- the inspired author(s) plainly believed that the sky was made out of water.

In Christ,
Evan

#57 Paul Cowan

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 03:30 PM

Might get some additional perspectives in this thread and this thread and this thread.

Paul

#58 Ryan

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 06:16 PM

Father David- I don't think anyone here was arguing for the strict 24/7 timetable or even mentioned it. I for one am not interested in the brand of literalism that gives us creation theme parks and images of Adam and Eve prancing around with dinosaurs. The question is deeper than timetables- was the creation corruptible before the Fall of man? There is a strain of thought, arguably the dominant one, in Orthodox theology up to the present day which maintains that the creation was incorrupt prior to man's Fall, and that man's fall into death in turn subjected the entire cosmos to corruption. Clearly this is not compatible with the contemporary doctrine that life on earth as we see it today is the result of millions of years of death and natural selection before man existed.

In terms of the "fossil record" and other natural evidence used to support the evolutionary hypothesis, I think two points stick out:

1. The world we look at today is distorted by sin and under the law of corruption. It's not always a reliable source of information about the way creation originally functioned. Moreover, man's senses and reasonings are also darkened.

2. The methodology of modern science is based in dualism, insofar as it assumes that the physical world can and must be investigated without any reference to the spiritual realm, through the use of sensory data and mathematical quantifications. This is contrary to the Christian understanding that the spiritual and physical realms interpenetrate and are mutually explanatory.

So modern science, insofar as it is dualist, is giving us a mutilated picture. Insofar as it is honestly investigating the world, we are still getting a darkened understanding of creation by the very fact that the creation itself has been darkened.

The Orthodox fathers attained to perfect knowledge of creation, not so much by externally investigating nature but by achieving illumination within themselves.

I think an outstanding book on this subject, which ought to be more widely read by Orthodox Christians, is Philip Sherrard's Human Image: World Image which gives the outlines of a philosophical critique of modern science far removed from the "fundamentalist" arguments.

#59 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 07:34 PM

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

St. Paul also tells us that all of creation awaits redemption. This necessitates that all of creation is fallen. The Fathers teach that man is the king of creation and that the entire creation was made for him, and thus its fate is tied to our fate.

God IS Life -- how could He desire death and still be our God?

#60 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 07:37 PM

and youre right -- there is no dichotomy between religious truth and scientific truth -- theyre both true! however, evolution is not necessarily true.




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