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Similarity between man and animals after the fall


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#1 M. Partyka

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 05:58 PM

With us being clothed in "garments of skin" at the fall, then it should come as no surprise that our fallen nature is derived from the animals, who were older than us....

Again with the "garments of skin" thing? As I've shown elsewhere, the Fathers had no problem with our being animals before the fall. The difference between the animals and mankind is not that "they were always animals, and we only became animals after the fall," but that from the beginning, the animals were irrational while the human animal alone was rational. That is, the Fathers considered animals to be at the mercy of their senses and instincts, wheras humans have rationality that (in the beginning) ruled over both. What we lost in the fall was the inherent dominance of our rationality over our senses and instincts (which we share with the animals).

#2 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 09:44 PM

Again with the "garments of skin" thing? As I've shown elsewhere, the Fathers had no problem with our being animals before the fall. The difference between the animals and mankind is not that "they were always animals, and we only became animals after the fall," but that from the beginning, the animals were irrational while the human animal alone was rational. That is, the Fathers considered animals to be at the mercy of their senses and instincts, wheras humans have rationality that (in the beginning) ruled over both. What we lost in the fall was the inherent dominance of our rationality over our senses and instincts (which we share with the animals).


Dear M. Partyka,

The Fathers did not see the fall in such an extreme sense as you have described. If so this would have amounted to a loss of nature, which most emphatically is what they insisted that man still retained after the Fall.

After the Fall man is still man with all of his faculties- rationality, free will, etc. The difference however is that after the Fall these faculties are impaired or distorted, not that they are no longer there. Otherwise Christ's Incarnation is to no avail since we are no longer in His image.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

Edited by Fr Raphael Vereshack, 25 February 2008 - 09:44 PM.
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#3 M. Partyka

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 10:04 PM

After the Fall man is still man with all of his faculties- rationality, free will, etc. The difference however is that after the Fall these faculties are impaired or distorted, not that they are no longer there.

Agreed. Man did not lose his rationality in the fall. I did not mean to imply that. I only meant that after the fall, man's rationality was impaired such that man's senses and instincts are no longer perfectly governed by his rationality as they were before the fall. Does this sound more correct?

#4 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 10:20 PM

Agreed. Man did not lose his rationality in the fall. I did not mean to imply that. I only meant that after the fall, man's rationality was impaired such that man's senses and instincts are no longer perfectly governed by his rationality as they were before the fall. Does this sound more correct?


I think it better to say that man as a whole is impaired after the Fall. Why? So that we do not think that there is an un natural dichotomy in man as if he is man in one sense and animal in another.

The Fathers did describe some of man's faculties in a way that suggests impulses that are irrational. But this is always tied into the over all context of man as rational with free will and created in the image and likeness of God.

The point here is that apart from using such language in a poetic sense- eg 'man acts like a beast'- theologically a crucial part of the Patristic understanding of man is that he is always man according to nature.

Even his most bestial actions in other words, in reality depend on the use of very human faculties, albeit to warped purposes.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#5 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 03:49 PM

Dear M. Partyka,

St Gregory's tripartite division I think relates to a question of consciousness among creatures. Thus plants are insensate and only grow and partake of nourishment; animals do have sense and perception; and humans have reason and rationality.

As St Gregory points out (along with other notable Fathers like St Maximus the Confessor) man does sum up all of creation in his own nature. Still though this does not mean that man actually has three natures within himself, or as the point you make that he has two natures- animal & man.

On this the Fathers always are clear that man's nature was originally created as and still is after the Fall completely human.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#6 M. Partyka

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 07:07 PM

...man does sum up all of creation in his own nature. Still though this does not mean that man actually has three natures within himself, or as the point you make that he has two natures- animal & man. On this the Fathers always are clear that man's nature was originally created as and still is after the Fall completely human.

I agree, but I don't think that rules out there being commonalities between what makes up human nature and what makes up animal nature. For example, animals grow, and humans grow. Thus, I feel comfortable saying that growth is something animals and humans have it common. Animals can learn, and humans can learn, so we can say that the capacity to learn is something that animals and humans have in common, too. However, there are some things which humans can do that animals can't do -- things which God has reserved for human beings alone -- and I would suggest that whatever these things are, they are part of the image of God which it has been given to humans alone to bear in their creation. Thus, there is no need to go back to those things which we share with the animals -- learning, for example -- and try to distinguish between "animal learning" and "human learning", as if human nature isn't fully human if it demonstrates a commonality with anything animal.

Considering how St. Gregory fearlessly uses the term "rational animal" when referring to man, is it really any deviation from the patristic view to say, "Man alone is an animal made in the image of God"?

#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 09:41 PM

M. Partyka wrote:

I agree, but I don't think that rules out there being commonalities between what makes up human nature and what makes up animal nature.

Considering how St. Gregory fearlessly uses the term "rational animal" when referring to man, is it really any deviation from the patristic view to say, "Man alone is an animal made in the image of God"?


I think this gets to the heart of what is being discussed here.

The Fathers point to certain commonalities of humanity with animal and other natures as being very important. Through this commonality man's similarity is shown with the rest of creation.

But we have to be careful here. The Fathers are not so much concerned with physical/scientific similarity in itself as with how through humanity's unique nature he is able to sum up all of creation. In other words the Fathers are not denying the physical sphere or its importance. Rather they refer to the personal aspect of human nature through which all of that which is created attains salvation. This is very important and refers to how man is made in the high priestly image of Christ Who gave Himself for the life of the world.

Thus we must be very careful in saying that man is an animal made in the image of God. I do not believe the Fathers would have accepted such a proposition in terms of the points being made in these discussions. For them similarity in itself would be of little importance except in so far as it related to the fact of man's unique role of tying everything back together again through himself and in Christ.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#8 Alec Lowly

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 11:54 PM

M. Partyka wrote:


I think this gets to the heart of what is being discussed here.

The Fathers point to certain commonalities of humanity with animal and other natures as being very important. Through this commonality man's similarity is shown with the rest of creation.

But we have to be careful here. The Fathers are not so much concerned with physical/scientific similarity in itself as with how through humanity's unique nature he is able to sum up all of creation. In other words the Fathers are not denying the physical sphere or its importance. Rather they refer to the personal aspect of human nature through which all of that which is created attains salvation. This is very important and refers to how man is made in the high priestly image of Christ Who gave Himself for the life of the world.

Thus we must be very careful in saying that man is an animal made in the image of God. I do not believe the Fathers would have accepted such a proposition in terms of the points being made in these discussions. For them similarity in itself would be of little importance except in so far as it related to the fact of man's unique role of tying everything back together again through himself and in Christ.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


For what it's worth: A man and a chimpanzee share ~98%~ of their DNA in common. This is not true of a man and a dog, a man and a cat, a man and a giraffe, a man and a fish, etc. There is a ~very close genetic relationship~ between man and the -- dare I say? -- other hominids, with the chimpanzee the closest of all. Physically, man and the chimpanzee share a common ancestor. Facts are facts ... I believe that the truth Genesis is teaching is that God intervened in the natural process in a mysterious way to make man, man -- "the rational animal." That's one of a number of revelations Genesis discloses. But Genesis is not a biology textbook, a cosmology textbook or even a history book, objectively ...

#9 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 12:32 AM

My understanding is that a male type person has closer DNA to chimpanzees than he does to women! That there is are relationships between man and animals, and man and vegetables, is not an argument in favor of Darwinism.

#10 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 02:41 AM

Considering how St. Gregory fearlessly uses the term "rational animal" when referring to man, is it really any deviation from the patristic view to say, "Man alone is an animal made in the image of God"?


The word St. Gregory uses, that has been translated as "animal" is "zoon", which means a living creature. By definition animals and men are living creatures, so to invoke this as a similarity is to be stating a mere truism.
The "composition" as it were of man is differentiated into different parts by St. Gregory in word only (ch 8) - to explain himself, namely that, as described by Fr. Raphael, man sums up all things. St. Gregory had and the Church has a holistic view on human nature, whereas you are trying to reduce it to independent elements. But these "elements" do not exist in themselves, for man, human nature was created and will always remain as a whole (same for animals). Human whole is in the image of God; animal whole is in the image of the world - this is the paramount thought St. Gregory is trying to convey in his work. You are getting hung up on minor technicalities and lose forest for he trees.

Yura

#11 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 02:44 AM

[quote name='Alec Lowly'] I believe that the truth Genesis is teaching is that God intervened in the natural process quote]

define this natural process (what it is), its mechanism (how it works), where and when it occurs (how it can be observed and measured)

Yura

#12 M. Partyka

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:46 AM

My understanding is that a male type person has closer DNA to chimpanzees than he does to women!

I sincerely doubt that, unless you're saying that the percentage difference between the XY chromosomal pair in a male human and the XX chromosomal pair in a female human is so great as to surpass the overall percentage difference between a male human and a male chimpanzee (or a female human and a female chimpanzee, for that matter).

#13 M. Partyka

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:59 AM

St. Gregory had and the Church has a holistic view on human nature, whereas you are trying to reduce it to independent elements. But these "elements" do not exist in themselves, for man, human nature was created and will always remain as a whole (same for animals). Human whole is in the image of God; animal whole is in the image of the world - this is the paramount thought St. Gregory is trying to convey in his work. You are getting hung up on minor technicalities and lose forest for he trees.

First, where do you get that "animal whole is in the image of the world", and are you implying that this is somehow a bad thing? Remember, God created animals "very good" along with the world as a whole, so we shouldn't read any negative connotations into man's similarities with animals, biological and/or otherwise.

Second, "holistic" and "indivisible" are two different things. It is correct to say that human nature is both physical and spiritual, correct? Yet it is obvious that the body can be separated from the spirit. And some of the Fathers believed that our bodies were made up of the four elements -- earth, air, fire, and water -- according to the science of their day. Do you honestly think that these Fathers would have tried to make a distinction between "human fire" and "animal fire", or "human water" and "animal water"? It seems like that's the level of distinction you're trying to make.

#14 M. Partyka

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:01 AM

define this natural process (what it is), its mechanism (how it works), where and when it occurs (how it can be observed and measured)

Any chance we could get back to discussing the flood in this thread? There's already a thread called "Creation and Evolutionary Theory" covering this debate. I'd like to keep things compartmentalized if possible.

#15 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:57 AM

First, where do you get that "animal whole is in the image of the world", and are you implying that this is somehow a bad thing?


Concede, my paraphrase of St. Gregory was imprecise (by now I should have learned to be precise with quotes on this thread). I am not implying anything. I am explicitly stating that human nature is in the image of God, animal nature is not. These are two different natures and they exist for different purposes in creation.

Second, "holistic" and "indivisible" are two different things. It is correct to say that human nature is both physical and spiritual, correct? Yet it is obvious that the body can be separated from the spirit. And some of the Fathers believed that our bodies were made up of the four elements -- earth, air, fire, and water -- according to the science of their day. Do you honestly think that these Fathers would have tried to make a distinction between "human fire" and "animal fire", or "human water" and "animal water"? It seems like that's the level of distinction you're trying to make.


It can, and this is what St. Gregory did, but in word only. You are separating them in essence as if body, soul and spirit exist in themselves as original creations. Your and mine human person contains all three of these at once, this is how it has been created. Their apparent discord and separation at death is due to the fall. The unity will be restored in Resurrection.

The only distinction I am trying to make is between natures viewed as a whole; reductionism does not apply here because neither we, or beasts/animals were created from spare elements lying around but as a whole. Your attempts read this reductionist view into St. Gregory are not reasonable because he consistently looks and comments on the image of God in man; the truisms of our physical bodies being made of same elements as other living creatures is not an issue here.

Consider this (Ch 16): How mean and how unworthy of the majesty of man are the fancies of some heathen writers, who magnify humanity, as they supposed, by their comparison of it to this world! for they say that man is a little world, composed of the same elements with the universe. Those who bestow on human nature such praise as this by a high-sounding name, forget that they are
dignifying man with the attributes of the gnat and the mouse: for they too are composed of these four elements,—because assuredly about the animated nature of every existing thing we behold a part, greater or less, of those elements without which it is not natural that any sensitive being should exist. What great thing is there, then, in man’s being accounted a representation and likeness of the world,—of the heaven that passes away, of the earth that changes, of all things that they contain, which pass away with the departure of that which compasses them round? In what then does the greatness of man consist, according to the doctrine of the Church? Not in his likeness to the created world, but in his being in the image of the nature of the Creator.

Why, here he actually points out an important distinction between the two natures - things of the world (including beasts, etc) pass away. We, humans created in the image of God stay forever. Listen to what St. Basil, who was a brother and immediate teacher of St. Gregory said on this distinction (Hexamaeron 8th discourse):
<...> you will find that the soul of beasts is earth. Do not suppose that it is older than the essence of their body, nor that it survives the dissolution of the flesh; avoid the nonsense of those arrogant philosophers who do not blush to liken their soul to that of a dog; who say that they have been formerly themselves women, shrubs, fish. Have they ever been fish? I do not know; but I do not fear to affirm that in their writings they show less sense than fish.

Now, it is the soul that possess senses, right? So obviously then, if my soul is not like that of a dog, nor can be my senses, certainly not in their original, just created state.

Good night,

Yura

#16 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 02:14 PM

"I sincerely doubt that, unless you're saying that the percentage difference between the XY chromosomal pair in a male human and the XX chromosomal pair in a female human is so great as to surpass the overall percentage difference between a male human and a male chimpanzee (or a female human and a female chimpanzee, for that matter)."

I'm not a geneticist. I only know what I have read on the subject.

The problem is that simply by comparing and contrasting we do not necessarily know anything. Comparing the similarity of genetics between man and apes is a bit like the academic discipline of comparative religion. It doesn't really tell us much.

The key to understanding the Fathers on this subject, which is consistent with classical philosophy, is that man is unique in the sense that he participates at all levels in the hierarchy of Being.

Here's how it is laid out philosophically:

Divine Nous
Psyche -- Noetic
Psyche -- Passions
Animal Nature
Vegetative Nature
Inorganic Nature
Apeiron -- Depth

As for the person, the Fathers follow St. Paul's schema, which in turn is Platonic -- that man is a composite of somatic body and spiritual body, comprising intellect, passion and will. There is no such thing as human apart from participation in the Divine Nous. I am not talking about belief in God here, nor are the Fathers. Participation in Divine Nous may just as easily, in fact more often, be characterized by rebellion. Bodily existence does not define the human.

#17 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:07 PM

Alec Lowly wrote:

For what it's worth: A man and a chimpanzee share ~98%~ of their DNA in common. This is not true of a man and a dog, a man and a cat, a man and a giraffe, a man and a fish, etc. There is a ~very close genetic relationship~ between man and the -- dare I say? -- other hominids, with the chimpanzee the closest of all.


This I would say is the scientific demonstration of the point I was trying to make about the Patristic perspective.

For the Fathers while such similarities or dissimilarities are important they are not essential to what makes human nature distinct from all other created nature.

This would be to relegate nature to the material which the Fathers would be the first to understand does not point to the essence of nature. Rather these material aspects of nature are characteristics of nature and thus can be shared by many different creatures without this implying they are one in nature.

In any case the concept of similarity of nature in the sense that we are discussing it here would be very problematic for the Fathers.

Very recently- last week perhaps- I saw a PBS program on this topic of similarity between man and apes of different sorts. Many of these programs are tediously blind to the obvious difference that literally stares the viewer in the face between the two .(most of these programs like to do onscreen IQ tests involving man and ape or man and some other creature).

What struck me though was that in a halting, baby steps sort of way, this seemed the first program to recognize the profound differences between how the two- ape & child- acted in the same context. For the first time (well almost!) a glimpse was provided into the fact that beyond any similarities lies a profound level of contextual difference. Which is to say that each kind of creature perceives reality in a profoundly distinct way that is inherent to themselves. But here we just get back to the Patristic/ancient way of seeing reality.

Our perception of created being must be anchored in the reality of their nature. Otherwise reality, or what we take for reality, becomes whatever we happen to focus on at the moment.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

Edited by Fr Raphael Vereshack, 28 February 2008 - 05:08 PM.
need clarification


#18 M. Partyka

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 12:50 AM

You are separating them in essence as if body, soul and spirit exist in themselves as original creations. Your and mine human person contains all three of these at once, this is how it has been created. Their apparent discord and separation at death is due to the fall....The only distinction I am trying to make is between natures viewed as a whole; reductionism does not apply here because neither we, or beasts/animals were created from spare elements lying around but as a whole.

That's not the impression given by Genesis 2, in which God forms the body of man, then breathes into man's nostrils to make man a living soul. The implication is that after God has formed the body of Adam, something is still missing, which means the creation of man was accomplished not merely by fiat by also through the assembly of the components of man's being (the sum total of which make up his nature).

Now, it is the soul that possess senses, right? So obviously then, if my soul is not like that of a dog, nor can be my senses, certainly not in their original, just created state.

Whether the soul itself possesses senses is arguable. Our primary interface with the world is through the senses of the physical body. I would argue that the soul itself does not possess the elements of sensory perception. Instead, I would say that the soul has its own means of perception that we tend to translate into the elements of sense to which we are most accustomed.

Consider, can God been seen, heard, tasted, touched, or smelt by the senses of the body? Certainly not, for God is not in any way comparable to anything that those physical senses were designed to detect. Yet the apostles "saw" the uncreated energies of God on Mt. Tabor...but did they really see this with their eyes, or did they, being human, translate their spiritual contact with the energies of God into the physical sensation of seeing light?

#19 M. Partyka

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 11:16 PM

I think it better to say that man as a whole is impaired after the Fall. Why? So that we do not think that there is an un natural dichotomy in man as if he is man in one sense and animal in another. The Fathers did describe some of man's faculties in a way that suggests impulses that are irrational. But this is always tied into the over all context of man as rational with free will and created in the image and likeness of God. The point here is that apart from using such language in a poetic sense- eg 'man acts like a beast'- theologically a crucial part of the Patristic understanding of man is that he is always man according to nature. Even his most bestial actions in other words, in reality depend on the use of very human faculties, albeit to warped purposes.

Yet St. Gregory of Nyssa, describing the construction of man in comparison with animals and plants, wrote, "...the power of management according to sense...is to be found in the nature of the irrational animals: for they are not only the subjects of nourishment and growth, but also have the activity of sense and perception. But perfect bodily life is seen in the rational (I mean the human) nature, which both is nourished and endowed with sense, and also partakes of reason and is ordered by mind." St. Gregory views bodily life as expressed in stages. Plants grow and partake of nourishment. Animals grow and partake of nourishment, just like plants, but they are also endowed with sense and perception. Finally, humans grow and partake of nourishment, just like animals and plants do, and they also are endowed with sense and perception, just like animals are, but humans are endowed further still with reason and rationality. I don't think St. Gregory has any problem seeing human beings as "rational animals", for I would suggest it is because of our rationality that we are considered to be made in the image and likeness of God.

I suppose one could try to distinguish things further and say, "Animals have animal senses and animal perceptions, whereas humans have human senses and human perceptions," and try to suggest that humans are superior to animals in that way, but why bother? To me it makes more sense to say that humans are animals that God specially made to bear His image -- something to which no other species of animal can lay claim.

Tying this back to our discussion of the flood, in Genesis 6 & 7 God lumps humans together with animals under the term "flesh":

Genesis 6:3,7,12-13,17,19-20; 7:4,15-16,20-23 -- And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years....And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them....And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth....And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die....And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive....For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth....And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in....Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

The Hebrew word used for "flesh" in the above excerpt is the same throughout.

#20 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 06:48 AM

What struck me though was that in a halting, baby steps sort of way, this seemed the first program to recognize the profound differences between how the two- ape & child- acted in the same context. For the first time (well almost!) a glimpse was provided into the fact that beyond any similarities lies a profound level of contextual difference. Which is to say that each kind of creature perceives reality in a profoundly distinct way that is inherent to themselves. But here we just get back to the Patristic/ancient way of seeing reality.

Our perception of created being must be anchored in the reality of their nature. Otherwise reality, or what we take for reality, becomes whatever we happen to focus on at the moment.


In Christ- Fr Raphael


Fr. Raphael,
This is a great observation that clarifies a lot in this thread. So when St. Basil laughs to scorn those who liken their soul to the soul of a dog, he is factually correct. We both are animated but our souls and natures are utterly different even at the basic biological level, let alone the images we embody. It always strikes me how thousands of philosophers and scientist spend hundreds of years pondering about something and making most senseless speculations that they seem to excavate out of their noses, and only rarely as if by chance stumbling upon a correct explanation, while all they need to do to straighten their thoughts is to read a few fathers with trust and reverence. Truly, they always study and never come to the knowledge of the Truth for He escapes them.
St. John Chrrysostom put it very nicely: Some out of an idle curiosity are rashly bent upon busying themselves about matters which are neither possible for them to know, nor of any advantage to them if they could know them. Others again demand from God an account of his judgments, and force themselves to sound the depth of that abyss which is unfathomable. “For thy judgments,” saith the Scriptures, “are a great deep,” and about their faith and practice thou wouldest find few of them anxious, but the majority curiously inquiring into matters which it is not possible to discover, and the mere inquiry into which provokes God. For when we make a determined effort to learn what He does not wish us to know, we fail to succeed (for how should we succeed against the will of God?); and there only remains for us the danger arising from our inquiry.

Yura

Edited by Yuri Zharikov, 29 February 2008 - 08:10 AM.





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