Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Creation and evolutionary theory, I

Science

  • Please log in to reply
412 replies to this topic

#41 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 01 February 2008 - 03:07 AM

If you do not believe the above statement, check out what was taught in communist systems to children in schools, and how Darwinism was the main method to mold them into atheism. That will be more than a sufficient proof.


I read in memoirs of Met. Benjamin (Fedchenkov) that before the revolution in Russia the Origin of species of Darwin was a banned book. So this book was distributed underground by revolutionary agitators along with works of Marx & co. He (Met. Benjamin) read it when studying in a seminary!
(I wonder if Stalin did too)

Yura

#42 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 01 February 2008 - 03:54 AM

The problem with this discussion is that it represents two kinds of fundamentalisms. On the one hand, using the Fathers in a fundamentalistic way, in that, since they did not have the opportunity to critique evolutionary theory as they were able to critique other false doctrines, their silence on the subject requires us to be silent as well.


Scientific observations result in a body of facts which must be "assembled" or given order to paint a particular picture. What is it that gives this order? The order is provided by a philosophy or belief system that sets the expectations and form and skeleton which is then populated by the various facts. Evolution is not science - evolution is a philosophy which arranges the facts of science in a particular manner according to certain a-priori assumptions. This distinction is too often neglected or lost in the discussions of evolution and theological belief. The "science" that we call evolution is nothing more than a philosophy of naturalism which arranges the facts in a certain order. Because evolution is a naturalistic philosophy, it can rightly be set in opposition to theology (which we might describe as a spiritual philosophy). The facts - the scientific observations - however remain outside the process. It only remains to be seen how those facts are arranged and interpreted according to a particular philosophical/theological structure.

When we lose the distinction between the philosophy of evolution and the facts which populate the structure of that philosophy, then what happens is that we try to disprove the philosophy by disproving the facts. Not going to work. Let us take the facts and the patristic theology of the origins of the earth and develop something new. Evolutionists don't want to admit this possibility because they thrive on the absence of competition and the believers fall into the trap of playing the game. How do the scientific observations fit into the framework of the fathers, that's my question - no "fundamentalism" about it.

Fr David Moser

#43 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 01 February 2008 - 04:42 AM

How do the scientific observations fit into the framework of the fathers, that's my question - no "fundamentalism" about it.

Fr David Moser


Hexameron of St. Basil would probably be one of the examples of this... I'll try to write more on this tomorrow.
Yura

#44 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 01 February 2008 - 07:02 AM

Scientific observations result in a body of facts which must be "assembled" or given order to paint a particular picture. What is it that gives this order? The order is provided by a philosophy or belief system that sets the expectations and form and skeleton which is then populated by the various facts. Evolution is not science - evolution is a philosophy which arranges the facts of science in a particular manner according to certain a-priori assumptions. This distinction is too often neglected or lost in the discussions of evolution and theological belief. The "science" that we call evolution is nothing more than a philosophy of naturalism which arranges the facts in a certain order. Because evolution is a naturalistic philosophy, it can rightly be set in opposition to theology (which we might describe as a spiritual philosophy). The facts - the scientific observations - however remain outside the process. It only remains to be seen how those facts are arranged and interpreted according to a particular philosophical/theological structure.

When we lose the distinction between the philosophy of evolution and the facts which populate the structure of that philosophy, then what happens is that we try to disprove the philosophy by disproving the facts. Not going to work. Let us take the facts and the patristic theology of the origins of the earth and develop something new. Evolutionists don't want to admit this possibility because they thrive on the absence of competition and the believers fall into the trap of playing the game. How do the scientific observations fit into the framework of the fathers, that's my question - no "fundamentalism" about it.

Fr David Moser


When I read St. Basil's Hexameron it struck me that St. Basil (in his 5th discourse on plants) describes the principles of sexual and asexual reproduction, transport of nutrients, ontogenesis, reproductive isolation, biological defense from pests and herbivores, pathology, bio-mechanics and artificial selection (!) in the same general terms we do today excluding of course methodological nuances inaccessible to him. Today all these things are interpreted in terms of evolution (plants evolved this and that, etc). For St. Basil there was no problem in seeing the plant and animal life as created in accordance with the word of God (the commentary is on the 1 chapter of the Book of Genesis) already complete, whole, beautiful and harmonious.

So he says <...> in the whole creation every creature fulfils its particular function <...> and in creatures there is nothing haphazard or chaotic, quite the opposite - every thing bears on itself signs of Creative Wisdom and every thing demonstrates in and of itself that it has been provided with all that necessary for its well-being (9th discourse) [I am back-translating this from Russian, so the text may appear a bit different from the English translation].

Overall, I could see six general principles outlined in the Hexameron that a Christian could use to interpret patterns and phenomena we see in living nature (I give St. Basil's own words in italics, rest is paraphrase).

(1) Let us approach natural science armed with faith and, having believed Moses, that God greated heaven and earth, let us give praise to the most superb Artist, Who created this world in wisdom and beauty, so that from the brilliance of that which is visible we could understand Him Who exceeds all in beauty; from the greatness of these physical and limited bodies let us learn something about the Limitless One, Who is above all greatness and Whose magnificence of power exceeds any imagination (1st discourse).

(2) Let the most important thing for us be not acquisition of knowledge as such, but that the conclusions we make do not run counter the Holy Writ or the teaching of the Church. Then, even if we do not fathom the essence of things, but nonetheless, helped by the Spirit, we will not deviate from the intent of the Scriptures, then we ourselves will not be considered as worthless and aided by the grace perhaps will do something for the good of the Church (2nd discourse).

(3) Let the thought that as God created the world so does He provides for it, never leave your conscience. Then, whether we agree that the earth hangs by itself or if we say that it rests on the waters - in either case it will be necessary to concede that the totality of things is held together by the power of Creator. Therefore to ourselves and to those who ask us: what supports the huge and relentless weight of the earth? - we will answer: in His hands are all the ends of the earth (Ps. 94:4). (1st discourse).

(4) Let us not forget that wise-men spent a lot of time arguing about nature and none of their teachings remained solid and unaltered because subsequent teachings always undermined those that preceded them. Indeed eyes of those who exercise in vain wisdom are like those of an owl! The vision of the owl is keen at night but it becomes darkened at the sunrise; so it is with them: their understanding of vain abstractions is quite sophisticated, but it is darkened when it comes to comprehension of the true light (8th discourse).

(5) Let us use examples provided by nature for our own edification, thinking that if irrational creatures are clever and skillful in caring for their survival, and if even a fish knows what to chose and what to avoid, how we, who are endowed with reason, taught by the law, encouraged by the promises of good things to come, made wise by the Spirit, will be able to justify ourselves if we manage our lives worse than fishes? For they can look a little bit ahead, while we having abandoned the hope for the future, destroy our lives in bestial lusts (7th discourse).

(6) Finally let us learn that even in the living nature for a Christian soul that is fighting a good fight (2 Tim 4:7), pure from carnal lusts, not darkened by worldly cares, industrious, inquisitive, trying to study everything from which knowledge about God, worthy of God, can be gained, the great mystery of His Resurrection becomes revealed (1st/8th discourses).

In the Lord,
Yura

#45 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 01 February 2008 - 02:38 PM

I agree with everything that Fr. Moser has said above, but I think that for most Orthodox Christians, if you were to say that theology is spiritual philosophy, many of them would quake. Our position viz "science" and "evolution" becomes fundamentalism when we avoid looking at these questions from the standpoint of "spiritual philosophy" vs. "naturalistic philosophy" and rely simply on literal/historical method as the only way of discernment. At the same time, not to quibble too much, but if we pose the problem in terms of a difference between or dispute between naturalistic philosophy and spiritual philosophy, that simply sets up a relativistic dichotomy. It's basically saying that we all start from a priori assumptions, and I have a right to my a priori assumptions, just as you have a right to your a priori assumptions, but that's not how theology works, so to speak, and it's not the way science is supposed to work. Classically understand, theology is the queen of the sciences. So there really cannot be a contradiction between "natural science" and theological science. Nor a radical distinction between the two.

There is no a priori really in Christian theology. There is a question or a series of questions, to which theology is not so much the answer is it is the way of asking or addressing the questions. Such as, what is man that Thou are mindful of Him?

Christian theology, Orthodox theology, is true, not because God or the Fathers said its true, but because it is the closest to explaining and describing things as they really are, scientifically. Darwinism is false, to the extent it fails to do that. It address one very narrow aspect of life, and attempts to explain everything based on that one very narrow aspect, which is the essence of fundamentalism. So if you ask an evolutionist about love, he will respond to that question in the same way a graduate of Bob Jones University will respond to the question. Programmatically and in one sentence. The evolutionist will quote or summarize Darwin (or Desmond Morris) and say that love is actually a pre-programmed biological response to external stimuli as the result of millions of years of evolutionary selection. The graduate of Bob Jones university will quote John 3:16. Neither of them know anything at all about the subject.

I don't know if Richard Dawkins is married or if he has ever had a girl friend, but I would love to ask him a question about love. Have you ever told a woman you loved her? Obviously you were lying right? Because there is no such thing, just a pre-programmed response to certain external stimuli that developed over millions of years as a way of promoting the survival of the fittest. If your girl friend or wife told you she loves you, was that your response? Hey, I know you think that you love me, but what you are really doing is making a pre-programmed biological response to external stimuli in order to promote the survival of the fittest. In which case, I would not want to pay his emergency room bills.

#46 Mary

Mary

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 800 posts

Posted 01 February 2008 - 02:49 PM


(4) Let us not forget that wise-men spent a lot of time arguing about nature and none of their teachings remained solid and unaltered because subsequent teachings always undermined those that preceded them. Indeed eyes of those who exercise in vain wisdom are like those of an owl! The vision of the owl is keen at night but it becomes darkened at the sunrise; so it is with them: their understanding of vain abstractions is quite sophisticated, but it is darkened when it comes to comprehension of the true light (8th discourse).

In the Lord,
Yura


Thank you SO MUCH!!! That is so beautiful!!! #4 is my favorite. It describes the world of modern science so perfectly!!

In Christ,
Mary.

#47 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 01 February 2008 - 03:02 PM

I agree with everything that Fr. Moser has said above, but I think that for most Orthodox Christians, if you were to say that theology is spiritual philosophy, many of them would quake. ... Classically understand, theology is the queen of the sciences. So there really cannot be a contradiction between "natural science" and theological science. Nor a radical distinction between the two.


I think I was less than clear in my use of the term "naturalistic philosophy" What I meant to convey was the fact that the underlying principle of evolution is that of naturalism - that the universe exists and maintains itself independent of an outside agent (i.e. God) and that the "laws of nature" are principles that are somehow transcendent making all that happens in some way an inevitable result of natural circumstance (no God needed thank you). So when I said "naturalistic philosophy" I was not talking about "natural science" so much as I was trying to reference the philosophy of naturalism as the underlying principle of evolution.

Fr David Moser

#48 M. Partyka

M. Partyka

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts

Posted 01 February 2008 - 03:10 PM

...Darwinian theory is a type of fundamentalism. It does not allow any criticism or counter theories. The only scientific evidence that exists that might possibly support evolutionary theory is carbon dating that points to a much older earth than one derives from deducing a straight time line from Scripture. The rest of it is bunk.

I don't think evolutionary theory can be written off quite so quickly. True, the antiquity of the earth doesn't in and of itself prove the validity of evolutionary theory, but it does give scientists the chronal backdrop against which they can hypothesize evolutionary activity. That the earth is ancient -- much more ancient than scripture appears to indicate -- is not in question. (Or is it?) What's in question is whether the mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism, namely natural selection and point mutations, are sufficient to drive the evolutionary process, and whether the geological and fossil records give evidence of an evolutionary process at work.

It is certainly not a theory of origins. For every originating point in Darwinism, there is a previous originating point, infinitely. So it cannot be a theory of origins, although it claims to be.

This, too, is true. Evolution supposes that life evolved from certain fortunate combinations of non-living molecules, but there is no proof backing up this claim, nor will there be unless and until a self-replicating organism is created in a lab somewhere. This does not, however, rule out the possibility that evolution proceeded naturally from a "starting point" of divine intervention, so I would advise our not jumping to the conclusion that evolution's lack of a testable "origin of life" hypothesis necessarily renders all of evolutionary theory invalid and unworthy of serious consideration.

Now, since we all experience our world as something less than good, we must account for how that corruption entered the world. We have two alternatives. Either God messed up, or we are at fault.

I don't think the "either-or" you have proposed is necessarily valid. We might not like the imperfections we experience on a daily basis, but that doesn't necessarily mean those imperfections aren't part of God's plan. Certain theistic evolutionists believe that man was created mortal but with the potential to participate in immortality through the original communion with God that man had in Eden. Outside of Eden, things grew and died in the same cycle of life and death we see today, and only after the fall did God banish man from the garden into the environment the rest of the world was already experiencing. So from this perspective one could argue for a perfectly-designed creation on one hand without sacrificing our moral culpability for having to participate in the negative aspects of that creation.

Darwininism is not true...mostly because it does not accurately reflect reality as we know it and experience it. We do not behave as beings that are driven by instincts evolved due to selective advantage. We are much more complex than that.

Yes, we are more complex than all other animals, but this doesn't constitute a counterargument to evolution. Our complexity does not eliminate from our psyches and our biology the basic underlying instincts and desires of our animal natures. For all our spirituality, the human animal is an animal, and it is biologically hardwired with some of the same driving instincts that animals have. The desires for food, sex, safety, etc. -- these are all traits we share with the animal kingdom. We can rise above these basic desires -- something animals only occasionally do -- but they are still present within us.

#49 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 01 February 2008 - 03:39 PM

Fr David wrote:

So when I said "naturalistic philosophy" I was not talking about "natural science" so much as I was trying to reference the philosophy of naturalism as the underlying principle of evolution.


Isn't this exactly the area that we should be looking at? I think so.

For the Fathers nature is that irreducible anchor of each being & thing. nature defines what each thing is. It adapts (that's part of its intrinsic nature) but does not evolve.

It is this last fact which truly separates the Patristic vision of reality from the naturalistic. For the naturalistic sees reality and thus nature as intrinsically relative- thus primitive glob to fish to reptile to mammal to man. This is its most fundamental principle. That anything given certain circumstances can become anything else.

The inner contradiction of this relative understanding of nature however is that it doesn't support a progressive or evolutionary understanding of being. In other words Darwin and his supporters rely not only on a naturalistic and relative understanding of reality. Probably for unrecognized cultural reasons they try to combine a naturalistic view of reality with a moral view according to the 19th c- that everything inherently progresses.

It its own time I think, Darwinism was more a reflection of the moral outlook of the 19th century. Like similar ideas about the history of peoples, nations and culture all things were seen as being on the flow of history taking them to higher and higher expressions of themselves.

The problem with all of these views however is that once detached from the Patristic vision of nature; of nature being anchored in that Divine reality which gives all things their own reality; there actually is no way to avoid having nature fall into the absolute abyss of relativity, of a nihilism which denies all reality and nature in the first place.

I don't think the Fathers dealt directly with the subject of evolution. But they certainly did discuss being and nature. And their overall view of nature was that detached in any way from the Divine reality which gives it being- that nature falls into the abyss of nothingness.

In other words left to itself evolution would lead not to higher life forms but rather to the destruction of nature. So evolution needs to show how it could be that, according not to the evidence but according to its own premises, evolution can lead to life.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

Edited by Fr Raphael Vereshack, 01 February 2008 - 04:54 PM.
helpful addition


#50 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 01 February 2008 - 03:39 PM

Certain theistic evolutionists believe that man was created mortal but with the potential to participate in immortality through the original communion with God that man had in Eden. Outside of Eden, things grew and died in the same cycle of life and death we see today, and only after the fall did God banish man from the garden into the environment the rest of the world was already experiencing. So from this perspective one could argue for a perfectly-designed creation on one hand without sacrificing our moral culpability for having to participate in the negative aspects of that creation.


Well at least you've take a step closer to patristic discussion by referring to "theistic evolution" And your premise sounds interesting, now can you support it from the writings of the Fathers and/or the services of the Church?

Yes, we are more complex than all other animals, but this doesn't constitute a counterargument to evolution. Our complexity does not eliminate from our psyches and our biology the basic underlying instincts and desires of our animal natures. For all our spirituality, the human animal is an animal, and it is biologically hardwired with some of the same driving instincts that animals have. The desires for food, sex, safety, etc. -- these are all traits we share with the animal kingdom. We can rise above these basic desires -- something animals only occasionally do -- but they are still present within us.


Again, this is not consistent with the teaching of the Church concerning the nature of man - it is not even consistent with the first chapter of Genesis. Man is not an animal - there is a qualitative difference which requires a special creative act of God. According to the writings of the fathers, animals do not have a "spiritual" nature (although they do have a type of natural, mortal soul). The "spirituality" that you dismiss is the key difference between man and animal - it is qualitative difference in th way we were separately created. Again, this is clear in the aforementioned (by myself and Owen/Seraphim) Hexameron of St Basil and in the Exact Exposition of St John of Damascus (which you seem to have neglected to read). If you are going to argue your point, at least have the intellectual honesty to consider all the sources. Scientific observation has little or no accurate information concerning the nature of man, since it treats the human being as simply a "complex animal" and thus is blinded in its research by its own prejudice. (although honest scientific investigators will acknowledge this blind spot and even will venture into "spiritual" realm if they are willing to endure the prejudice of their peers) If you want this information, you must go to the Church which has preserved the revelation of the Creator concerning the true nature of man. Having this knowledge, you will then be able to intelligently discuss the place of man in the universe rather than show your ignorance by insisting that human beings are just "complex animals".

Fr David Moser

#51 M. Partyka

M. Partyka

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts

Posted 01 February 2008 - 04:01 PM

...if we pose the problem in terms of a difference between or dispute between naturalistic philosophy and spiritual philosophy, that simply sets up a relativistic dichotomy. It's basically saying that we all start from a priori assumptions, and I have a right to my a priori assumptions, just as you have a right to your a priori assumptions, but that's not how theology works, so to speak, and it's not the way science is supposed to work. Classically understand, theology is the queen of the sciences. So there really cannot be a contradiction between "natural science" and theological science. Nor a radical distinction between the two. There is no a priori really in Christian theology.

Is it really true that Christianity contains no a priori statements?

That God exists cannot be proven from a scientific point of view, can it? And if not, then isn't the existence of God axiomatic for believers?

What about the virgin birth of Christ? How is the virgin birth not axiomatic, given that we cannot scientifically prove it happened?

I'm not saying it's wrong for Christianity to have axioms or a priori statements. On the contrary, I think it's very important to identify just what those assumptions are, which makes denying that they exist in Christianity quite counterproductive.

#52 M. Partyka

M. Partyka

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts

Posted 01 February 2008 - 04:25 PM

Well at least you've take a step closer to patristic discussion by referring to "theistic evolution" And your premise sounds interesting, now can you support it from the writings of the Fathers and/or the services of the Church?

Not immediately, but that wasn't my intent. I only wanted to demonstrate that there are ways around the "either/or" dichotomy that was proposed.

...this is not consistent with the teaching of the Church concerning the nature of man - it is not even consistent with the first chapter of Genesis. Man is not an animal - there is a qualitative difference which requires a special creative act of God.

With all due respect, I totally disagree. That human beings are land animals is indicated twice in Genesis -- first, in that human beings are created on the same day as the land animals, making human beings the land animal par excellence and the only one stamped with God's image; and second, in God's giving Adam a choice of helpmate from the rest of the animals before creating Eve.

According to the writings of the fathers, animals do not have a "spiritual" nature (although they do have a type of natural, mortal soul). The "spirituality" that you dismiss is the key difference between man and animal - it is qualitative difference in th way we were separately created....you...show your ignorance by insisting that human beings are just "complex animals".

Maybe it's because I used the term "animal nature" to refer to that portion of existence we share with the animal kingdom (e.g., having flesh, instincts, etc.), but you have severely misunderstood me. I never denied the existence of a spiritual portion of man's being that separates him qualitatively from the animal kingdom. I only stated that the existence of this qualitative separation should not be so construed as to deny the inherent commonalities between man and animals which obviously do exist.

#53 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 01 February 2008 - 04:54 PM

With all due respect, I totally disagree. That human beings are land animals is indicated twice in Genesis -- first, in that human beings are created on the same day as the land animals, making human beings the land animal par excellence and the only one stamped with God's image;


And here again you show your lack of learning. In the original languages (Hebrew & Greek) as well as Slavonic, there are two different words for "create". The one used when God created man is "to cause to come into existence from nothing". If man were simply an animal, then the other word for "create" in Genesis, "to shape that which already exists into a new form", would have been used. But the first word - that of a unique creation is used only three times in the creation narrative and each time it signifies something new that did not exist before. So we can see clearly, even from the Genesis narrative of creation that man is considered a qualitatively different creation from that of the animals.

Now if you had taken the trouble to search out the patristic commentary on the fall (which plays very closely into this discussion) you would know that when the Genesis account tells us that God clothed Adam and Eve with "garments of skin" it doesn't mean little loincloths made out of fur but rather it means that man was "clothed" with an animal like nature. This points out that although man appears to be animal-like, that this is not his true created nature, which the fathers tell us was closer to that of the angels than that of the animals (although as a spiritual/physical creation man is unique in that he spans both orders).

Before you try to tell the Orthodox Church what it believes about the nature of man, it would behoove you to learn first what the Church believes about the nature of man and why we believe it.

Maybe it's because I used the term "animal nature" to refer to that portion of existence we share with the animal kingdom (e.g., having flesh, instincts, etc.), but you have severely misunderstood me. I never denied the existence of a spiritual portion of man's being that separates him qualitatively from the animal kingdom. I only stated that the existence of this qualitative separation should not be so construed as to deny the inherent commonalities between man and animals which obviously do exist.


However these commonalities are not inherent in the created nature of man, but rather were overlayed in the fall. (You really need to read the writings of the fathers if you want to discuss this topic) My quarrel is not with your assertion that there are commonalities between man and animals (which as you correctly state "obviously do exist") but rather with your extrapolation that this commonality necessitates an evolutionary link between man and the animals. There is another reason for that commonality that has nothing to do with evolution (the fall) that you do not seem to consider at all.

Fr David Moser

#54 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 01 February 2008 - 10:44 PM

Fr. Raphael has hit the nail on the head, IMHO, regarding Darwinism as a moral system, not a scientific system based on natural science. I understand that Fr. David was using the term naturalistic philosophy in terms of an ideological system, not a scientific system, but using the term philosophy is probably too generous. someone noted that Darwin was metaphysically illiterate, as are all his epigones.

So back to Fr. Raphael's point, the neat tidy Victorian moral system that spawned Darwinism is contradicted by Orthodox doctrine. The fundamental flaw is the progressivist bias to history, laid out by Hegel. Marx invented a system in which all progress stems from class warfare. Darwin invented a system in which all progress stems from biological warfare.

But there is no such thing as progress in history. History will come to an end some day and the end will be exactly like the beginning -- nothing. Creatio ex nihilo ends in whatever the Latin is for into nothing. This is fundamental Christian doctrine, but it is also philosophically sound as well, and scientifically sound as well. The idea of an infinite universe has been pretty well disputed by cosmologists.

My only point is that the contradiction is not an apodictic one, but an experiential and observational one. People just to not live, think and behave the way Darwinists say they are supposed to. Besides, what is the selective biological advantage to believing in a Creator God who is Good? This would seem to be a major disadvantage to survival of the fittest.

Our theology has arrived at its truths, not because they are showered down on us from above in the form of eternal verities. They arise from great examplars who have illuminations and who are involved in spiritual struggle, along with the internal struggles in the Church to devise doctrines that protect these hard won illuminations. It is difficult to grasp, I know. We want the comfort of spiritual truths handed down to us throughout the ages. But each generation must relearn them experientially or they have no power. The Ten Commandments were written in stone tablets, but we forget all of the struggles that Moses had to undergo in order to receive them.

#55 M. Partyka

M. Partyka

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts

Posted 02 February 2008 - 02:35 AM

In the original languages (Hebrew & Greek) as well as Slavonic, there are two different words for "create". The one used when God created man is "to cause to come into existence from nothing". If man were simply an animal, then the other word for "create" in Genesis, "to shape that which already exists into a new form", would have been used.

I don't believe that logically follows. Genesis 1 obviously separates man from the common animal by informing us that man, unlike the other animals, was made in God's image. Regardless of the biological traits which man shares with the rest of the animal kingdom, man alone has that spiritual stamp of the likeness of God. In this way, man is indeed a qualitatively new creation which did not previously exist.

Please note also that I am not jumping to the conclusion that because man and animals have some biological elements in common, this necessarily means evolution has taken place to develop the human body. God could have created the human body "as is" with the commonalities between man and animal being an intentional part of His creative design.

So we can see clearly, even from the Genesis narrative of creation that man is considered a qualitatively different creation from that of the animals.

As I hope I've shown above, I agree with this statement 100%.

Now if you had taken the trouble to search out the patristic commentary on the fall...you would know that when the Genesis account tells us that God clothed Adam and Eve with "garments of skin" it doesn't mean little loincloths made out of fur but rather it means that man was "clothed" with an animal like nature. This points out that although man appears to be animal-like, that this is not his true created nature, which the fathers tell us was closer to that of the angels than that of the animals (although as a spiritual/physical creation man is unique in that he spans both orders)....these commonalities are not inherent in the created nature of man, but rather were overlayed in the fall....My quarrel is not with your assertion that there are commonalities between man and animals (which as you correctly state "obviously do exist") but rather with your extrapolation that this commonality necessitates an evolutionary link between man and the animals. There is another reason for that commonality that has nothing to do with evolution (the fall) that you do not seem to consider at all.

First, I have not made the extrapolation you are attributing to me. Yes, this extrapolation is something which has been suggested by modern theistic evolutionists, but when I presented this view as a way out of the "either-or" dichotomy that was offered up before, I never meant to imply that I had adopted this view as my own.

Second, the reason I haven't considered the view you have proposed (i.e., citing the fall as responsible for the commonalities between man and animals) is simply because it's something that I have not yet encountered in my readings in the fathers. From which fathers are you drawing support for this "fall into animalism" (for lack of a better title) view? It may simply be that I haven't gotten to these fathers yet in my studies.

#56 M. Partyka

M. Partyka

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts

Posted 02 February 2008 - 02:48 AM

My only point is that the contradiction is not an apodictic one, but an experiential and observational one. People just do not live, think and behave the way Darwinists say they are supposed to. Besides, what is the selective biological advantage to believing in a Creator God who is Good? This would seem to be a major disadvantage to survival of the fittest.

On the level of individual survival, I would have to agree, but on the level of group survival, I believe an evolutionist would say that the rules change a bit.

For example, there are species of bees with hooked stingers. Stinging an attacker is suicide for such bees because the hook's staying in the flesh of the attacker means part of the bee's own abdomen is ripped away. On an individual level, then, this presumed evolutionary development is ridiculous because it has the propensity to kill the individual. However, the hook mechanism also maximizes delivery of venom into an attacker's system, and that promotes the survival of the hive. So, at the group level, the hook mechanism makes sense in that it preserves the hive, even though it kills the poor kamikaze bee.

Religion, then, is (I assume -- I'm really not as well-read on evolutionary theory as I'd like to be) commonly portrayed in evolutionist literature as a group survival mechanism in which the participation of the individual in the rituals and morals of the group promotes the overall welfare of the society, and this in turn increases the overall survival potential of the individuals in the group (though some sacrifices by individuals for the group's sake are likely required from time to time -- that's the cost of having one's average chances of survival improved by belonging to the group).

#57 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 02 February 2008 - 03:35 PM

But this is not DARWIN's theory. This would be a radical revision of Darwin's theory. And the problem on the molecular level is insurmountable. What minor, gradual changes (mutations) that are supposed to take place take place in individuals. So the survival mechanism has to be applied to individuals.

The problem with Darwinism lies within itself, not with any extrinsic authority. Critiquing Darwinism does not tell us how we should then live. But the critique of Darwinism can be done by any sentient creature, Christian or not. It is simply not scientific.

This is the case with any ideology, of which Darwinism is simply one example. Once the critique of the ideology has been accomplished, what do we do then? Philip Rieff wrote the definitive critique of Freud, in The Mind of the Moralist. But he doesn't know what to do next.

That's the role of the Church, to make faith compelling to everyone who has become disillusioned with ideological propaganda. By showing, both in our lives, but also intellectually, the problem with living according to some mental fixation, and the joy that comes from giving one's life to God. Which means that the Church has an obligation to confront the great ideological movements and not just condemn or critique them, but show how Christianity is not simply some matter of alternative personal taste, or some alternative ideology. It is the antithesis of ideology. It constitutes spiritual, emotional, bodily health, as opposed to the sickness of ideology. A sickness unto death.

So just marshalling facts against ideologies doesn't work. The opponents of Marxism, for example, are typically economists who point to free markets as being much more efficient in providing wealth AND equality. But that does not address the motivation for people being attracted to Marxism, which is spiritual alienation.

So why is Darwinism such an attractive dogma for "modern man?" Modern man wants to be on the right side of history, on the right side of progress. So whatever intellectual system supports this sense, which gives a feeling of power over the world, he is going to gravitate toward. It is a ridiculous contradiction of course, because all of the ideological systems are deterministic in nature, deny any vestige of human free will, and tell us that we are just the slaves of impersonal historical forces. The inevitable force of Progress has become the god we have attached ourselves to. This of course is a vicious cycle, because then we are confronted with the abject lack of progress taking place on our terms. Therefore, there must be some massive, secret conspiracy underway to stand in the way of progress. So therefore, the progressive must support totalitarian measures to defeat the forces of reaction that are holding up progress, including anyone who dares to question the ideological presumptions of progressives.

#58 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 02 February 2008 - 05:25 PM

Fr. Raphael has hit the nail on the head, IMHO, regarding Darwinism as a moral system, not a scientific system based on natural science. I understand that Fr. David was using the term naturalistic philosophy in terms of an ideological system, not a scientific system, but using the term philosophy is probably too generous. someone noted that Darwin was metaphysically illiterate, as are all his epigones. .


It is interesting that one of the main criticisms levelled against R. Dawkins in general and his recent book the delision of god in particular is that he lacks knowledge in both religion and philosophy.

So back to Fr. Raphael's point, the neat tidy Victorian moral system that spawned Darwinism is contradicted by Orthodox doctrine. The fundamental flaw is the progressivist bias to history, laid out by Hegel. Marx invented a system in which all progress stems from class warfare. Darwin invented a system in which all progress stems from biological warfare.


And Darwin borrowed the idea (of survival of the fittest) from Malthus. Thomas Malthus's essay on populations provoked Darwin's ideas of natural selection of the fittest and evolution of new species. Donald Worster (1994) suggested that Darwin's reading of Malthus's essay may have been the single most important event in the history of Anglo-American ecological thought and led to constructing a science to meet one's own emotional
and psychological needs. So indeed, just like Fr. Raphael suggested Darwin simply applied the societal/paradigm of his day to biology/origins of species. But of course, species do not come about this way...

In the Lord,
Yura

#59 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 02 February 2008 - 05:40 PM

That's the role of the Church, to make faith compelling to everyone who has become disillusioned with ideological propaganda. By showing, both in our lives, but also intellectually, the problem with living according to some mental fixation, and the joy that comes from giving one's life to God. Which means that the Church has an obligation to confront the great ideological movements and not just condemn or critique them, but show how Christianity is not simply some matter of alternative personal taste, or some alternative ideology. It is the antithesis of ideology. It constitutes spiritual, emotional, bodily health, as opposed to the sickness of ideology. A sickness unto death.

So why is Darwinism such an attractive dogma for "modern man?" Modern man wants to be on the right side of history, on the right side of progress. So whatever intellectual system supports this sense, which gives a feeling of power over the world, he is going to gravitate toward. It is a ridiculous contradiction of course, because all of the ideological systems are deterministic in nature, deny any vestige of human free will, and tell us that we are just the slaves of impersonal historical forces. The inevitable force of Progress has become the god we have attached ourselves to. This of course is a vicious cycle, because then we are confronted with the abject lack of progress taking place on our terms. Therefore, there must be some massive, secret conspiracy underway to stand in the way of progress. So therefore, the progressive must support totalitarian measures to defeat the forces of reaction that are holding up progress, including anyone who dares to question the ideological presumptions of progressives.


Amen.

Yura
P.S. I feel this post pretty much concludes this discussion and answers Q2 of the post that initated this thread (can a Christian believe in evolution)

#60 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 259 posts

Posted 02 February 2008 - 11:05 PM

Second, the reason I haven't considered the view you have proposed (i.e., citing the fall as responsible for the commonalities between man and animals) is simply because it's something that I have not yet encountered in my readings in the fathers. From which fathers are you drawing support for this "fall into animalism" (for lack of a better title) view? It may simply be that I haven't gotten to these fathers yet in my studies.


I would definitely look into St. Gregory's Of Nyssa On the Nature of Man. Here is a quote to support what Fr. David said:

If, due to sin, no change and fall from the angelic rank ever happened to us, then we likewise would require no need in marriage for propagation. But what is the mode of propagation in the angelic nature – this is beyond any human word or thought; still doubtless it does exist. It could also operate in people made little lower than the angels (Ps. 8:6) multiplying the human race unto the fulfilment of the measure laid down by the Creator.[1,2]

[1] On the Nature of Man, Ch. 17.
[2] I have translated this from Russian

In the Lord,
Yura




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users