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Creation and evolutionary theory, II


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#1 RichardWorthington

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 03:28 PM

(This is a very long post. Perhaps have a cup of tea and cake to hand while reading. If you want to print it out then click on ‘Thread Tools’ above and show the printable version.)

Knowing of the exchange of evidences and theories in the whole ‘Evolution versus Creationism/Intelligent Design’ debate, I just felt that there must be a higher approach to the whole issue. The saints who calmly interacted with wild and dangerous animals must have had quite a different view of the world from that of both sides: challenging Genesis did not even enter their minds, but probably neither did trying fervently to prove Genesis by various appeals to logic: they lived in the true reality.

I remembered reading some time ago in the texts for Theophany (the Baptism of Christ and the Blessing of the Waters) something about creation being cleansed. I have just now finished reading it, and here are some quotations:

Today the nature of the waters is sanctified (page 348)

Today the Sun that never sets has risen and the world is filled with splendour by the light of the Lord (page 354)

Today the whole creation shines with light from on high (page 355)

Today the creation is enlightened. Today all nature is glad, things of heaven and things upon earth (page 362)

(from "The Festal Menaion", tr. Mother Mary and Archim. Kallistos Ware)


and from the texts for Holy Saturday:

The universe was altered at your passion, O Word; knowing that you hold all in unity, all created things suffered with you.

Secretly in Egypt the lambs of old were slain, but you were sacrificed beneath the open sky, for the cleansing of the universe.

(http://www.ocf.org/O...riodion/hwk_sat, the first stasis)


Now surprisingly enough, I do not see the creation shining, and I guess that those who were alive during the crucifixion did not notice any change either. Does the creation shine in a parasitic worm eating into a child’s eye? I doubt it. Was there any unpleasantness to be seen in Paradise and the world around it? Surely not, which would include no possible animal suffering or death either.

However, on the other hand, part of me instinctively feels that the descriptions of the above texts are indeed real, and I guess far more real than what we see around us. Consider the Eucharist: it appears like bread and wine and tastes like bread and wine, but it is the very Body and Blood of Christ - of the same Christ who "gently heals the disease of the world" ("Festal Menaion" for Theophany, page 373). So like the Eucharist, I would say that what the universe really is is not seen with the eyes.

Therefore, I would also guess that the creation in six days of Genesis relates primarily not to the universe we see, but to the ‘universe’ where this light of creation would be seen: "the Paradise in which Adam was placed is still in existence, but is not visible to our normal sense organs" ("Genesis, Creation, and Early Man", Fr Seraphim Rose, page 414), about which St Paul writes "how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. 12:4).

However, "the creation was subjected to futility", and, "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption" (Rom 8:20-21). As such, the creation in six days simultaneously both does and does not describe the universe we see around us, as it is corrupted. Therefore to try to find the answer to "Life, the Universe, and Everything" from our existing world is futile, being merely futility from futility.

As such, I guess it is of paramount importance for all those who accept the words of St Paul that the creation is corrupted and subject to futility to stop trying to prove the incorruptible from the corrupted and the irrefutable from the futile. Similarly, it is of paramount importance for those who study and who speak on behalf of science to totally distance their profession from their own personally held ideologies, whether they be that the trace of an ‘Intelligent Designer’ exists or that various ideas of how things work and came to be imply no need of a creator. If both ‘sides’ did this then neither side would lose face, and both could claim a victory.

For example, let us say that a purchased item has a tag attached to it, but that the tag has been badly damaged and marked. On the one hand there are the friends of the Manufacturer who state that the tag originally read "Made in China" but that the tag was subsequently damaged. On the other hand, there are those who do not trust the friends and on studying the tag in depth claim that there exists only arbitrary markings. For the friends of the Purchaser to claim that a certain marking is the starting stroke of the letter ‘M’ is pointless for the doubters: the doubters would look at it and say that it might be the starting stroke, or it could be another false marking, just like the one next to it.

Similarly, it is pointless for the doubters to try to prove to the friends that what appears to be the starting stroke of the letter ‘M’ is merely a random mark. The friends will forever suspect that the doubters really work for the Manufacturer’s competitor. Therefore no one’s claim convinces the other side. Surely it would be far better for the friends to prove their trustworthiness and closeness to the Manufacturer, and for the doubters to show beyond question that they are not motivated by animosity towards the concept of a Manufacturer?

What I am trying to say is this: Scripture says rightly that "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom 1:20). Because of the beauty in the universe it is reasonable to say that a God of beauty exists. The existence of horrible things does not negate this as we claim that it is because of our sinfulness that the world is imperfect. (Does the existence of horrible things mean that Louis Armstrong should not have sung "What a Wonderful World"?)

However, to try to prove completely by rational thought or by looking at the world around us that there is a God is probably as effective as others similarly trying to prove that there is no god. Books have been written to prove God’s existence, and surprisingly enough books have been written proving that no god exists. St John of Damascus comes out with the best proof of all: it is by "the power of miracles and the word of grace" that God’s existence is shown. As St Paul writes:

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)


I would like to propose that the true reality of the origins of life is actually described by Genesis. However, as the creation is corrupted it is pointless to try to prove this other than by a brief introductory comment regarding beauty coming from a beautiful God. Let the scientists enjoy studying the creation, asking unbiased questions and coming up unopposed with whatever theories seem best to fit the facts as they see them: as we hold that the creation is subject to futility we will claim that any argument against the Truth is merely based upon the futile part (which may indeed be the far greater part!).

That is not to say that their suggestions are wrong or did not happen: the universe may well be demonstrated to be billions of years old rather than a few thousand, creatures (including our physical human bodies but not humanity as such) may well have originated by evolution and ‘natural selection’. Let us not open ourselves to ridicule by denying what is obvious or clearly the best explanation given no preconceived ideas. And similarly, let the scientists openly distance themselves from all forms of atheism and ‘anti-religion’. (Have bad things been done in the name of religion? Then tell me about the Gulags!)

I will leave the scientists to clean up their own side; I am not a scientist and so can only speak for Christian side. Evolution is (so it is claimed, and I will not challenge this claim at all) based on what the evidence shows, but what is seen and described is not the true reality of God’s creation. So how can we Christians show that the true reality is described by Genesis and the invisible light of the creation which comes from the Baptism and Resurrection of Christ? Consider the following quotations together:

"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)

and from The Holy Offering in the Liturgy

Thou "didst not cease to do all things until thou hadst brought us up to heaven, and hadst granted us thy kingdom which is to come"

"Remembering, therefore, this saving commandment and all those things that have come to pass for us: … the Second and glorious Coming"


When the verses in Romans 8:19-21 are commented upon, it is always in reference to the Second Coming of Christ on the Last Day. While this is true, yet we who are Orthodox must remember that in deification we attain to the "kingdom which is to come" and the "Second and Glorious Coming". Perhaps the whole issue would be solved if only we could see the Christian faith, life, and dogmas from the viewpoint of the sacramental light of deification.

It is time for the Orthodox faith to shine. Let deification once and for all be divorced from slavery to the scholastic and sentimental approaches of the West. Christ taught "as one having authority", so who will listen to the "church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" if She refuses to stand with authority by what She knows and experiences in the Vision of the uncreated divine Light? (Matt 7:29; 1 Tim 3:15) The whole debate should not be about Genesis/Intelligent Design versus the Theory/Fact of Evolution, but about the sacraments of the uncreated Light of deification versus the whole inhabited world:

"… And by The baptism to draw up with Thee, O blessed Lord, bright sons from the streams of Jordan"

("Festal Menaion" for Theophany, page 371)


Well, that’s my idea anyway. Sorry to write so long, but I wanted to make myself clear (although perhaps greater clarity would be achieved by a shorter post!). For interest, the Creation and evolutionary theory thread has grown by 3 pages since I started to write only a few days ago!

Richard

Edited by RichardWorthington, 08 April 2008 - 03:35 PM.
hyperlinks


#2 Rick James York

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 06:43 PM

MODERATOR'S NOTICE: The following message has been posted by an account engaged in on-line identity fraud. The member 'Rick James York' is identical to members 'Rostislav' and 'John M.' The current post, made before discovery of this fact, is being retained in order to preserve the flow of threads; but readers should be aware of this case of multiple identity.

That is not to say that their suggestions are wrong or did not happen: the universe may well be demonstrated to be billions of years old rather than a few thousand, creatures (including our physical human bodies but not humanity as such) may well have originated by evolution and ‘natural selection’. Let us not open ourselves to ridicule by denying what is obvious or clearly the best explanation given no preconceived ideas. Richard

Sorry, but Father Seraphim Rose dissagrees with you.

http://www.orthodoxi....kalomiros.aspx

This copied and pasted link has not worked for me but the identical looking link in my post near the end of the thread: "Creation and evolutioary theory" did work. I copied this one from there. James

Edited by Administrator, 10 June 2008 - 09:45 AM.
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#3 Rick James York

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 08:59 PM

MODERATOR'S NOTICE: The following message has been posted by an account engaged in on-line identity fraud. The member 'Rick James York' is identical to members 'Rostislav' and 'John M.' The current post, made before discovery of this fact, is being retained in order to preserve the flow of threads; but readers should be aware of this case of multiple identity.

Regarding the above post #2.

Try this duplicate link to Fr Seraphim's letter.

http://www.orthodoxi..._kalomiros.aspx

James

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#4 M. Partyka

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 11:25 PM

Keep in mind that Fr. Seraphim Rose died in 1982. At that time, it may well have been true that "there is not one piece of evidence for evolution that cannot equally be explained by a theory of 'special creation.'" Today, 25 years later, does this statement hold up?

#5 John M.

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 01:48 AM

MODERATOR'S NOTICE: The following message has been posted by an account engaged in on-line identity fraud. The member 'John M.' is identical to members 'Rick James York' and 'Rostislav'. The current post, made before discovery of this fact, is being retained in order to preserve the flow of threads; but readers should be aware of this case of multiple identity.

Reply to James

FAKE SKULL SAMPLES OF PREHISTORIC MEN

For over three decades the Piltdown skull was accepted by the scientific community as an authentic artifact. But as more skeletons of early man were found, it became clear that the Piltdown Man was radically unlike anything else in the fossil record. Therefore in 1953 a team of researchers at the British Museum (Kenneth Oakley, Wilfred Le Gros Clark, and Joseph Weiner) subjected the skull and jawbone to a rigorous series of tests. What they found was shocking. The skull was a fake. The Piltdown Man Pub in Piltdown, England, using a fluorine-based test to date the skull, the researchers determined that the upper skull was approximately 50,000 years old. The jawbone, however, was only a few decades old. A second test, using nitrogen analysis, confirmed the first test. They also found that the jaw had been artificially stained with potassium dichromate to make it appear older. The British Museum researchers argued that someone must have taken the jawbone and teeth of a modern ape, probably an orangutan, and stained them in order to make them look ancient. These artifacts, the jaw and skull fragments, must then have been planted at the Piltdown site.

http://emporium.turn...cs/apeimage.htm

http://www.cartage.o...eMen/ApeMen.htm

http://www.puritanbo...d-apemen-25440/

http://www.pathlight...i_vs_ev_13c.htm

http://www.pbs.org/w.../3202_hoax.html

From John

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#6 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 03:54 AM

Sorry, but Father Seraphim Rose dissagrees with you.


Fr Seraphim was a very intelligent man and a man who, from his baptism on, lived a pious and Godly life. Fr Seraphim, however, was not a scientific authority - he relied very heavily on the protestant creationist writings for his scientific information. While I consider him an authority on the spiritual life, I do not think that he could be considered an authority on creation/evolution science.

Fr David Moser

#7 Rick James York

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 05:38 AM

MODERATOR'S NOTICE: The following message has been posted by an account engaged in on-line identity fraud. The member 'Rick James York' is identical to members 'Rostislav' and 'John M.' The current post, made before discovery of this fact, is being retained in order to preserve the flow of threads; but readers should be aware of this case of multiple identity.

I read now more than half of Fr Seraphim's long letter on evolution's place in Orthodox teachings.

Fr Seraphim was taken under the wing of Archbishop John of Shanghai and San Fransisco who, was later canonized to sainthood. AB John spotted a humble young man in church a number of times and then he called him to come forward.

AB John was clairvoyant and could recognise something special in the young Fr Seraphim when he was a beginner in his Orthodox church attendence. He commenced an informal theology course and each semester or year, he accepted new enrolees. But when Seraphim Rose graduated, AB John closed down the classes.

People understood that to mean that the Archbishop only routinely interupted his busy schedule as a bishop for the sake of bringing Orthodox theological education to this one solitary student. There were others enrolled, but classes discontinued when Seraphim completed the course.

Fr Seraphim's journey to Orthodoxy took him from his rejection of the protestant faith his family belonged to, through the other worldliness of Buddhism and the achievement of a University degree in ancient Chinese for the sake of interpreting ancient Buddhist text, through finally to his discovery of Orthodoxy. He was home where he belonged.

People have made criticisms of Fr Seraphim Rose. For example, he is criticized for his book, "Soul After death" because of his description of "heaveny toll houses". Interestingly, Fr Panteliemon, the founder of Holy Trinity Monastery and Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville NY also decribed the "heavenly toll houses" in his book, "Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave" but I have yet to hear or read a criticism of him for that work which is similarly themed. I consider both men of excellent service to God and His Holy Body, the Church.

Fr Seraphim was not simply intelligent, a genius, and theologically adept. He was very spiritually gifted. People who were close to him witnessed saintly signs in his presence. It was a future saint (Archbishop John) who took him under his wing and educated him in Orthodox theology.

If one takes the lengthy time during great lent to read the letter of Fr Seraphim on the topic of Evolution, one will see that he does not turn to Protestant sources but to Orthodox Church fathers. And that he does this more frequently than any other contemporary Orthodox writer I have come across.

He defeats scientific theory with Orthodox theology. His spiritual vision is so much more acute than many others, myself included, that it is obvious the Holy Spirit is firmly on his side.

See a sample of his letter below:

The Nature of Man


And now I come to the final and most important question which is raised for Orthodox theology by the modern theory of evolution: the nature of man, and in particular the nature of the first-created man Adam. I say that this is the "most important question" raised by evolution because the doctrine of man, anthropology, touches most closely upon theology, and here perhaps, it becomes most possible to identify theologically the error of evolutionism. It is well known that Orthodoxy teaches quite differently from Roman Catholicism regarding man's nature and Divine grace, and now I shall attempt to show that the theological view of man's nature which is implied in the theory of evolution, and which you have explicitly set forth in your letter, is not the Orthodox view of man, but is much closer to the Roman Catholic view; and this is only a confirmation of the fact the theory of evolution, far from being taught by any Orthodox Father, is simply a product of the Western apostate mentality and even, despite the fact that it originally was a "reaction" against Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, has deep roots in the Papist scholastic tradition.

The view of human nature and the creation of Adam which you set forth in your letter is very much influenced by your opinion that Adam, in his body, was an "evolved beast." This opinion you have obtained, not from the holy Fathers (for you cannot find one Father who believed this, and I have already shown you that the Fathers indeed believe quite "literally" that Adam was created from the dust and not from any other creature), but from modern science. Let us then look, first of all, at the Orthodox patristic view of the nature and value of secular, scientific knowledge, particularly in relation to revealed, theological knowledge.

This patristic view is very well set forth by the great hesychast Father, St. Gregory Palamas, who was forced to defend Orthodox theology and spiritual experience precisely against a Western rationalist, Barlaam, who wished to reduce the spiritual experience and knowledge of hesychasm to something attainable by science and philosophy. In answering him, St. Gregory set forth general principles which are well applicable in our own day when scientists and philosophers think they can understand the mysteries of creation and man's nature better than Orthodox theology.

He writes:
The beginning of wisdom is to be sufficiently wise to distinguish and prefer to the wisdom which is low, terrestrial and vain, that which is truly useful, heavenly and spiritual, that which comes from God and conducts toward Him and which renders conformable to God those who acquire it. (Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, Triad I, 2.) He teaches that the latter wisdom alone is good in itself, while the former is both good and evil:

The practice of the graces of different languages, the power of rhetoric, historical knowledge, the discovery of the mysteries of nature, the various methods of logic... all these things are at the same time good and evil, not only because they are manifested according to the idea of those who use them and easily take the form which is given them by the point of view of those who possess them, but also because the study of them is a good thing only to the degree that it develops in the eye of the soul a penetrating view. But it is bad for one who gives himself over to this study in order to remain in it until old age. (ibid, Triad I, 6.)

With truth and sadness, James

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#8 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 06:13 AM

Fr Seraphim was a very intelligent man and a man who, from his baptism on, lived a pious and Godly life. Fr Seraphim, however, was not a scientific authority - he relied very heavily on the protestant creationist writings for his scientific information. While I consider him an authority on the spiritual life, I do not think that he could be considered an authority on creation/evolution science.

Fr David Moser


Fr. David,
With due respect and love, I would like to note that in the evolution and creation and this current thread we are all the time being inconsistent in what we call science. A definition of science/scientific method was made available, but we still ignore it when it comes to the question of evolution. If a scientists says something it does not necessarily make the statement scientifically valid. Scientists can be and often are extremely biased and dogmatically entrenched and they view facts, observations, patterns, etc through a particular prism. In most cases this prism is the prism of evolutionism. The motto of evolutionism is: "if something exists, it must have evolved". Evolutionism is indeed a great explanatory framework, there is no doubt but this but it is nothing more than that and this framework (sorry I am repeating myself) is an strict alternative to the Patristic framework of creation, the motto of which is: if something exists in heaven or on earth it has been created. I think all the facts presented on this thread fall into three categories. A few appear consistent with the evolutionary framework, many are explained equally well by either framework, majority are explained immeasurably better by the Patristic framework. It has been my hope that we would get to systematically examining these facts, but our discussion went all over the place only glossing over this, imho, critical issue.
I do not think one has to be a scientist to do that, although some understanding of the strengths and limitations of the scientific method helps. From my reading of Fr. Seraphim's works, I can say that he'd made himself well familiar with the scientific method even without having a formal degree in science. Nothing that has been published on evolution in scientific journals and books after 1982 makes a significant difference to what he argued and believed (earlier I quoted a 2004 paper stating that evolutionary mechanisms are still "under investigation", i.e. unknown).
With love in the Lord,
Yura

#9 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 06:22 AM

James and John M. have been making a very valid point and a point that I think is spiritually significant. To establish the evolutionary paradigm as a globally accepted wold-view lies and deceipt were widely emplyed. Now, the father of lies is who? Is there then a connection between the way the paradigm was injected into the mind of the society and that the "world" so readily and wholeheartedly embrased it, or I am being delusional (R. Dawkins' way)?

2 The. 2:10-11: they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

#10 RichardWorthington

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 08:22 AM

Thank you for your posts. However, I would like this thread to focus on evolution/rationalistic science versus the church's experience of the sacraments (I mentioned the sacrament of Blessing of the waters as it was clearly related to the creation now). Is there really any point of another 400 posts debating evidences versus evidences, concepts of science versus concepts of science?

I started this thread to try to move away from such stuff. Yes, I too feel that evolution was started as a way to 'do away with God'. But if the creation is corrupted it is surely better to point to a higher source of knowledge! What is the point of basing any deductions on a corrupted source? If some say that the evidence as they understand it points to us being no better than animals, then let us refute it by living an angelic life! (Or if this is beyond us then at least pointing in this direction.) I will not challenge rationalistic science on its own grounds.

Interestingly enough, both 'science' and 'gnosticism' come from the words for 'knowledge' in Latin and Greek respectively. Therefore let us leave aside the wranglings of the mind and the absurd pullings of the heart: God "has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). Take your pick of which knowledge you want to listen to! (Hmmm ... 'glory' from the 'face of Christ' - Deifying Transfiguration anyone?)

Concerning Fr Seraphim Rose: May God grant rest to his soul, and at his prayers may God help us! It is quite clear that various parts of Orthodoxy stress one recent person over another, e.g. Fr Seraphim Rose vs Fr Alexander Schmemann. (I gather Fr Seraphim's disciples met Fr Alexander and they had a reconciliation.) I emailed my post to a friend who, picking up on my quotation from Fr Seraphim's book, referred me to what Metropolitan Anthony had to say about Seraphim Rose (Encounter, p.62): 'I am not pleased when my parishioners read him with relish...'

However, please do not debate various views of Fr Seraphim Rose here, nor various evidences taken from this corrupted world. Please direct us to another thread.

How does or can the liturgy and sacraments ("for the life of the world"?) help lift us out of this mess?

Richard

Edited by RichardWorthington, 10 April 2008 - 08:28 AM.
Premature posting leading to various 'speling' mistakes and typos!


#11 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 02:02 PM

I do not think one has to be a scientist to do that, although some understanding of the strengths and limitations of the scientific method helps. From my reading of Fr. Seraphim's works, I can say that he'd made himself well familiar with the scientific method even without having a formal degree in science


I agree that Fr Seraphim did his homework and was familiar with the subject matter (which he drew, btw, from a source just as biased as most evolutionist sources). That however, was not my point. I was responding to the statement that implied one poster must, of course, be in error because Fr Seraphim Rose didn't agree with him... Fr Seraphim's book (which he did not write, btw, the material was drawn only from his notes and published articles) gives a good starting point - but is at best a secondary or even tertiary source of scientific information. As I said in the other evolution/creation thread - please don't be lazy in your discussions. In this case, use Fr Seraphim's book to go to his original sources and argue from there, not from whether or not Fr Seraphim Rose agrees with you.

Fr David Moser

#12 Rostislav

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 03:04 PM

MODERATOR'S NOTICE: The following message has been posted by an account engaged in on-line identity fraud. The member 'Rostislav' is identical to members 'Rick James York' and 'John M.' The current post, made before discovery of this fact, is being retained in order to preserve the flow of threads; but readers should be aware of this case of multiple identity.

I agree that Fr Seraphim did his homework and was familiar with the subject matter (which he drew, btw, from a source just as biased as most evolutionist sources). That however, was not my point. I was responding to the statement that implied one poster must, of course, be in error because Fr Seraphim Rose didn't agree with him... Fr Seraphim's book (which he did not write, btw, the material was drawn only from his notes and published articles) gives a good starting point - but is at best a secondary or even tertiary source of scientific information. As I said in the other evolution/creation thread - please don't be lazy in your discussions. In this case, use Fr Seraphim's book to go to his original sources and argue from there, not from whether or not Fr Seraphim Rose agrees with you.

Fr David Moser

With all due respect Fr.

I read the letter from the link in the post you responded to. It is not from his book. I skim-read parts of that book, including the intro and he actually wrote the notes for the book and then regretfully passed away before he could compile it.

Other loyal friends lovingly gathered together the notes that he had written for the book and with fear of leaving something important out of the book, they put just about everything in it, making it, according to them, probably bigger than Fr Seraphim would have done himself.

So you see, Fr Seraphim did write the book. It was not stuck together from stray notes and found around his workplace, but compiled from notes intended for the book.

But that is beside the point. People need to research their subject before making negative statements about others. The link is not to the book you say

he drew, btw, from a source just as biased as most evolutionist sources

which you do not name, is probably, "Genesis, Creation and Early Man", but to his letter of reply to someone ( a member of clergy again) who holds evolution in high esteem.

Fr Seraphim's sources for that letter in the link you criticise, are the Holy fathers of Orthodoxy. In you anger and confussion you imply that they are,

at best a secondary or even tertiary source of scientific information.

As you said twice, "please don't be lazy in your discussions".

There is far to much negativity coming from critics of those who defend the Word of God. Evolution is not a worthy opponent for God's theology. Read the letter in the link, then vent your anger where you will. but if you turn it against Father Seraphim, you must remember the many works he did for God, his defender.

Father Seraphim has the Holy fathers as his sources and he understands them better than most others. I know many converts to Orthodoxy who say that if it were not for Father Seraphim Rose, they would not have found the Orthodox Church.

God gave man anger to use against demons and passions, wherever they may be lurking. When they are within, we must direct it upon our own passions, not against other people who admire a reposed man of God and the Holy Scriptures, and the words of the Holy fathers. You should not be publicly discussing with criticism, other people in the forum.

Loyal servant of God, Rostislav Koolikov

Edited by Administrator, 10 June 2008 - 09:08 AM.
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#13 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 03:55 PM

It is not from his book. I skim-read parts of that book, including the intro and he actually wrote the notes for the book and then regretfully passed away before he could compile it.


I do not deny that Fr Seraphim meant to write the book - but someone else (no matter how loyal or loving) creating it from his notes and him actually writing it are two very different things.

In you anger and confussion you imply that they are, As you said twice, "please don't be lazy in your discussions".


First, thank you for telling me what I feel - I'm sure you know better than I what is in my heart. Secondly, I admit that in this I am "lazy in my comment" having a knee jerk reaction to people who pull Fr Seraphim out like a trump card and slap it down saying "there, see you are wrong" (or I am right as the case may be) as though he were infallible.

then vent your anger where you will. but if you turn it against Father Seraphim, you must remember the many works he did for God, his defender.


God gave man anger to use against demons and passions, wherever they may be lurking. When they are within, we must direct it upon our own passions, not against other people who admire a reposed man of God and the Holy Scriptures, and the words of the Holy fathers. You should not be publicly discussing with criticism, other people in the forum.


Thank you for deigning to instruct me.

I presume you knew Fr Seraphim better than I did, so I guess I'll bow to your infinitely greater knowledge of the man. A man, btw, whom I greatly respect and even love and who - during his lifetime - had a great impact on my spiritual development. But he has been gone now many years the the memory of who he was is becoming increasingly clouded in legend and myth (perpetrated by some of those same "loyal" and "loving" friends) We are rapidly losing the Fr Seraphim who was and have been acquiring a Fr Seraphim who never existed.

This subject, btw is very much "off focus" for this thread and so I ask that all replies concerning Fr Seraphim and his writings be directed here to this new thread dedicated to that topic and let this thread return to the much more important topic of "Evolution and the baptism of Christ" which I have found to be fascinating btw)

Fr David Moser

Edited by Father David Moser, 10 April 2008 - 04:00 PM.
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#14 M. Partyka

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 04:25 PM

Fr Seraphim was not simply intelligent, a genius, and theologically adept. He was very spiritually gifted. People who were close to him witnessed saintly signs in his presence. It was a future saint (Archbishop John) who took him under his wing and educated him in Orthodox theology....His spiritual vision is so much more acute than many others, myself included, that it is obvious the Holy Spirit is firmly on his side.

So...just how badly is it going to affect you should Fr. Seraphim be proved wrong about the science of evolution...or do you believe it's simply impossible for Fr. Seraphim to have been wrong about anything? I wouldn't be surprised if you did beleive this, given how Fr. Seraphim himself commits a genetic fallacy when he writes:

I...agree with you, as I have already said, that man, on the side of his body, is bound together with and is an organic part of the whole of the visible creation, and this helps make it understandable how the whole creation fell together with him into death and corruption. But you think that this is a proof of evolution, a proof that man's body evolved from some other creature! Surely if this is the case, the God-inspired Fathers would have known about it, and we would not have had to wait for the atheist philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries to discover this and tell us about it!!

and perhaps he puts the Fathers on too high a pedestal when he says:

Different Orthodox Fathers who are of equal authority answer differently on this question, not because they teach differently about man and thus "contradict" each other, but because they approach the question from different sides....It may even be that one and the same Father views the question now from one and now from the other side, as does St. Gregory of Nyssa when he says in one place (Answer to Eunomius, Second Book): "That which reasons, and is mortal, and is capable of thought and knowledge, is called 'man"'; but in another place he says: "Man did not in the course of his first production have united to the very essence of his nature the liability to passion and to death." (On Virginity, ch. XII) Does this great Father "contradict" himself? Of course he does not.

"Of course he does not"? Why not? Is it impossible for the Fathers to contradict one another, or even themselves? Are they not human beings?

Consider the following contradiction found in the Fathers concerning a matter of plain fact, not theology:

...possessing the full age of a Master, He came to Jerusalem, so that He might be properly acknowledged by all as a Master....And how could He have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master?...For He came to save all through means of Himself—all, I say, who through Him are born again to God—infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. So likewise He was an old man for old men, that He might be a perfect Master for all, not merely as respects the setting forth of the truth, but also as regards age, sanctifying at the same time the aged also, and becoming an example to them likewise....Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolem├Žus, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle? But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad,” they answered Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?”...He did not then want much of being fifty years old; and, in accordance with that fact, they said to Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?” --from St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 2:22:4-6

...I do not place my hopes in one who died for me in appearance, but in reality. For that which is false is quite abhorrent to the truth....Mary then did truly conceive a body which had God inhabiting it. And God the Word was truly born of the Virgin, having clothed Himself with a body of like passions with our own. He who forms all men in the womb, was Himself really in the womb, and made for Himself a body of the seed of the Virgin, but without any intercourse of man. He was carried in the womb, even as we are, for the usual period of time; and was really born, as we also are; and was in reality nourished with milk, and partook of common meat and drink, even as we do. And when He had lived among men for thirty years, He was baptized by John, really and not in appearance; and when He had preached the Gospel three years, and done signs and wonders, He who was Himself the Judge was judged by the Jews, falsely so called, and by Pilate the governor; was scourged, was smitten on the cheek, was spit upon; He wore a crown of thorns and a purple robe; He was condemned: He was crucified in reality, and not in appearance, not in imagination, not in deceit. He really died, and was buried, and rose from the dead.... --from St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Trallians (longer version) 10

Is it really accurate to say, then, that the Fathers never contradict each other (or themselves) concerning doctrine, given that we can see at least this one contradiction concerning a matter of plain fact?

#15 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 05:23 PM

I think as sometimes happens in internet communication there has been some misunderstanding of what Fr David was saying.

I really do not think there was anger or anything else negative in what he said.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#16 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 05:54 PM

Neat-picking "contradictions" among Fathers will only cloud the issue and make everybody angry, let us not use this approach; everything every Father has thought or said over the centuries on dogmatic issues and the issue of man and creation has been "filtered" through the collective, Spirit-guided mind of the Church. What remained is THE CONSENSUS PATRUM. Let us dance from that.

#17 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 01:02 AM

To expand on my previous post I would like to start with a quote from St. Gregory the Theologian: we are not striving for victory, we seek the return of our brethren separation with whom saddens our hearts. He clearly spoke about heretics, but still, any bitter argument is divisive and saddening while unanimity and agreement are joyful. We have seen few agreements and lots of disagreements on, it seems, fundamental and crystal clear issues. All or most of us on this thread start every day with the words of the creed: I believe in One God the Father, Maker of All things visible and invisible. Yet there seems to be a wide array of opinions on what the "Maker" means and what exactly it is that was made. I personally think it is disconcerting for at least two reasons (1) we depart from what was held by our Fathers to whom we always appeal for help and intercession and whom we magnify and (2) in departing from the Fathers we may fall into "bad" theology (discussed on a parallel thread) which has obvious repercussions for the soul. I personally much appreciated and enjoyed the few attempts to bring out the Fathers and their views on the question of creation. Somehow though we got side-tracked and bogged down in secondary issues. I think it would be great if we could get back on the Patristic tracks and see if in fact we can conform our opinion to the opinion of the Fathers on the matters discussed on this and the thee or four related threads.
Fr. David made a great point when he called on us to examine the primary sources and not to be lazy in doing this. I think it would also be great if we remained focused.

Just literally two days ago I received the English version of a talk delivered at an Orthodox education conference in Moscow (The International nativity readings) by Hieromonk Damascene Christensen (the Russian version is available here http://www.shestodnev.ru/). I feel comfortable to post the entire talk for three reasons. The work addresses just about every issue that we have discussed on the creation related threads from the Patristic point of view. The work gives full citations and complete references to the original sources, so everything can be checked. Fr. Damascene worked on the talk for about a year and I had the honour to research and translate some of the Russian sources he used. So I am not being lazy in the sense of simply piggy-backing on somebody else's effort.

I think we could only conform our opinion with the Fathers most of our disagreement and confusion would disappear like smoke in the face of fire. If we cannot do thisand personal opinions should remain pre-eminent I woulder what is the purpose of all this?

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The Patristic Understanding of the Cosmos before the Fall
By Hieromonk Damascene
In this talk I will attempt to provide an overview, drawn from the Holy Scriptures and Patristic writings, of the Orthodox teaching on the cosmos before the fall of man. After presenting this teaching, I will speak on how it relates to Orthodox soteriology and eschatology, that is, to the redemption of man and the cosmos and to their state beyond the General Resurrection. Finally, I will offer some reflections on how the Patristic teaching on the prelapsarian cosmos can influence our understanding and experience of our natural environment in its current condition.
According to the Orthodox Patristic cosmology, the entire visible universe was made for the sake of man, and man was made for union with God through love. Man was created “in Divine Grace,” as St. Gregory of Nyssa affirms. St. John Damascene states that, in Paradise, Adam “had the indwelling God as a dwelling place and wore Him as a glorious garment. He was wrapped about with His Grace.” Man was meant to participate in God’s life through the Divine Energies, to be fully and perfectly penetrated by Grace, and thus to attain to union with God—theosis (deification). St. John Damascene teaches that Adam was not deified at his creation, but was created for deification: he was “to complete the mystery by being deified through reversion to God—this, however, not by being transformed into the Divine Essence, but by participation in the Divine illumination.”
Based on both the Old and New Testaments, the consensus of the Holy Fathers holds that man and the rest of the visible creation were physically incorrupt (ἄφθαρτος, without decay) before the fall. St. Symeon the New Theologian writes:
Adam was created with a body that was incorrupt, even though material and not yet spiritual, and he was placed by the Creator God as an immortal king over an incorrupt world, not only over Paradise, but also over the whole creation which was under the heavens.… This whole creation in the beginning was incorrupt and was created by God in the manner of Paradise.
Here St. Symeon is echoing the Wisdom of Solomon, in which it is declared: “God did not make death, neither does He take delight in the destruction of living things. God created all things that they might have their being; and the generations of the world were for preservation, and there is no poison of destruction in them” (Wis. 1:13–14).
We will return shortly to the subject of the original incorruption of the whole cosmos. For now, let us look specifically at the original state of man, who St. Symeon says was created as “lord and king of the whole visible creation,” and who, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, is “for God more precious than all creation.”
Again in the Wisdom of Solomon it is said: “God made man incorruptible, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless, through the envy of the devil death came into the world” (Wis. 2:23–24). As the Holy Fathers universally taught, and as the Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils affirmed, Adam was created potentially immortal, that is, if he had not sinned he could have lived forever in an incorrupt body, partaking of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
Originally, the bodies of Adam and Eve did not have, in the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, the “coarser flesh, mortal and contradictory” that our bodies now have. According to St. Gregory of Sinai, they were without “moisture and coarseness”; in the words of St. Maximus, they did not have “the temperament which makes the flesh thicker, mortal, and tough.”
From the writings of many Holy Fathers—for example, St. John Chrysostom, St. John Damascene, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Maximus, St. Symeon, and St. Gregory of Sinai—we know that, before the fall, Adam and Eve had no sexual relations or even sexual passions; they were free from bodily needs, including shelter, clothing, and sleep; there was no emission of seed; their was no conception, parturition, or suckling; they did not void bodily waste; their eyes did not produce tears; they knew no afflictions, disease, labors or sorrows; they were not subject to old age; they were not subject to cold and heat, or to the elements; they could not be physically hurt. Thus, writes St. John Chrysostom,
Before the fall men lived in Paradise like angels; they were not inflamed with lust, were not kindled by other passions either, were not burdened with bodily needs; but being created entirely incorruptible and immortal, they did not even need the covering of clothing.
From the writings of St. Maximus and St. Gregory of Sinai, we learn that the first-created man possessed God-given wisdom; his mind was not impressed by imagination; his memory was not diversified but one-pointed, being recollected in God. By drawing ever closer to God in love, by seeking spiritual pleasure in God rather than physical pleasure through the senses, he was to become ever more holy and spiritual, ever more in the likeness of God, ever more transformed by the Grace of God.
St. Symeon the New Theologian writes that, if the first people had fulfilled their original designation,
in time they would have ascended to the most perfect glory and, having been changed, would have drawn near to God, and the soul of each would have become as it were light—shining by reason of the illuminations which would have been poured out upon it from the Godhead! And this sensual and crudely material body would have become as it were immaterial and spiritual, above every organ of sense.
We have already quoted briefly from St. Symeon’s description of the cosmos that man originally inhabited. St. Symeon is quite explicit that the entire visible creation, and not only Paradise, was in a state of incorruption before the fall of man. He writes:
God did not, as some people think, just give Paradise to our ancestors at the beginning, nor did He make only Paradise incorruptible. No! … 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.
Describing the incorrupt state of the original creation, St. Symeon wrote that it did not “give corruptible fruits, and produce thorns and thistles” (cf. Gen. 3:18). Elsewhere he affirmed that God gave man in Paradise “various fruits which never spoiled and never ceased, but were always fresh and sweet and furnished for the first-created ones great satisfaction and pleasantness. For it was fitting to furnish also an incorruptible enjoyment for these bodies of the first-created ones, which were incorrupt.” In other words, it was appropriate for incorrupt first-created man to be given both an environment and a food that corresponded to his condition.
St. Gregory of Sinai gives us further details about the state of the creation (in particular, Paradise) before Adam’s transgression:
Eden is a place in which there was planted by God every kind of fragrant plant. It is neither completely incorruptible, nor entirely corruptible. Placed between corruption and incorruption, it is always both abundant in fruits and blossoming with flowers, both mature and immature. The mature trees and fruits are converted into fragrant earth which does not give off any odor of corruption, as do the trees of this world. This is from the abundance of the grace of sanctification which is constantly poured forth there.
In Genesis, chapter 1, we learn that at the beginning of the creation God indicated that animals were to eat plants rather than each other. Following from this, the Holy Fathers affirmed that there was no carnivory in the prelapsarian world. In setting forth this teaching, St. Basil the Great states explicitly that animals did not die before the fall:
Nothing died of these things given meaning or brought into existence by God, so that vultures might eat it. Nature was not divided, for it was in its prime; nor did hunters kill, for that was not yet the custom of human beings; nor did wild beasts claw their prey, for they were not 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.
We have now set forth the lineaments of the Patristic teaching on man and the cosmos before the fall. This is the creation as it was when God finished making it and called it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Fr. Seraphim Rose, who extensively researched the Patristic teaching on this subject, stated that the condition of creation before the fall “is very mysterious to us who live entirely in corruption,” that we do not know “precisely what it was,” and that “it is enough for us to know that Paradise, and the state of the whole creation before the fall of Adam, was quite different from what we know now.” The nature of the first-created world, he said, cannot be investigated without the aid of Divine revelation, for a different “law of nature” (in the words of St. Symeon the New Theologian) existed before the fall, and it is very likely that even the nature of matter was different.
But, however we may regard the first-created world—whether we call it “incorrupt” (as do many Fathers) or “placed between corruption and incorruption” (in the phrase of St. Gregory of Sinai)—we can say for certain that the “very good” prelapsarian world as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and in the consensus patrum is not the same as the world we find in the fossil record, which is a record of suffering, violence, and bloodshed; of animals devouring each other; of disease (including cancer, tuberculosis and gout); of the deaths of all kinds of living things including man; and, finally, of the decay (corruption) of both plants and animals.
Since he possessed both soul and body, man was the link between the originally incorrupt material world and the noetic world of the angels. As he became more spiritual and divinized by drawing closer to God, he was to make all of creation more spiritual and divinized as well. According to St. Maximus the Confessor, man was to unite, “through love, created nature with Uncreated Nature,” drawing everything to deification.
Such was man’s lofty original calling. But as we all know and experience every day, the first man fell from this state and brought himself and all of creation into a state of corruption and death.
With the entrance of sin through the free decision of Adam and Eve, human nature became corrupted. “Sin … nailed itself to the very depths of our nature,” St. Maximus says. As a result, all of Adam and Eve’s descendants inherited, not the guilt of their sin, but rather an inclination or tendency to sin.
Because of the corruption of his nature, man lost the Grace in which he had been created. He became separated from God. Grace was now foreign to his nature, and so it did not dwell within him as it had before. St. John Damascene writes:
And so, man succumbed to the assault of the demon, the author of evil; he failed to keep the Creator’s commandment and was stripped of Grace and deprived of that familiarity which he had enjoyed with God.
In the book of Genesis, God told Adam: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). In fact, Adam did not physically die on the day he ate from the tree. According to Patristic teaching, however, God’s words were true: Adam did die on the day he ate the fruit. He experienced spiritual death, which is the separation of the soul from God; and this spiritual death, in turn, made him subject to physical death, which is the separation of the soul from the body. Of this St. Gregory Palamas writes:
It was indeed Adam’s soul that died by becoming through his transgression separated from God; for bodily he continued to live after that time, even for 930 years. The death, however, that befell the soul because of the transgression not only crippled the soul and made man accursed; it also rendered the body itself subject to fatigue, suffering, and corruptibility, and finally handed it over to death.
With his fall into spiritual corruption, man’s body became more grossly material. As such, he became subject not only to pain and death, but also to the bodily needs we know today, and to physical corruption or decay after death. St. John Chrysostom goes so far as to say that God “refashioned” (μετεσκεύασεν) man’s body at the fall to accord with his new condition. In the words of St. John Damascene:
[Man] was clothed with the roughness of this wretched life—for that is what the fig leaves signify—and put on death, that is to say, the mortality and the grossness of the flesh—for this is what the garment of skins signifies; he was excluded from Paradise by the just judgment of God; and was condemned to death and made subject to corruption.
St. Maximus writes of how man’s nature (or, strictly speaking, the mode of his nature) was changed from incorruptibility to corruptibility at the fall:
In Adam, with his own act of freely choosing evil, the common glory of human nature, incorruption, was robbed—since God judged that it was not right for humanity, having abused free choice, to have an immortal nature.… The deviance of free choice introduced passibility, corruptibility, and mortality in Adam’s nature.… Hence the mutation of human nature over to passibility, corruption, and death is the condemnation of Adam’s deliberate sin.
Man’s spiritual corruption also made his soul unable to partake of eternal union with God after death. Adam had been barred from Paradise during his earthly life, and he remained barred from both Paradise and heaven after death.
Furthermore, at the fall the entire visible creation fell into corruption along with man: death and decay were introduced into the creation. Thus, not only did man fail to fulfill his original designation of raising the creation to God, but he lowered it from incorruption to a state of corruption. In Romans 8:20–21, the Holy Apostle Paul says that the creation entered into “futility” and “the bondage of corruption.” St. John Chrysostom, in his commentary on these verses, explains that the words “for the creation was subject to futility” mean that “it became corruptible,” and that this occurred because man “received a body mortal and subject to sufferings.” Addressing mankind, he says, “The creation became corruptible when your body became corruptible.” Likewise, St. Symeon the New Theologian teaches: “God did not curse Paradise … but He cursed only the whole rest of the earth, which was also incorrupt.”
St. John Chrysostom explains that this was a fitting consequence of man’s sin, since the visible creation had been made for the sake of man. Commenting on Romans, chapter 8, he writes:
[St. Paul] expands on the subjection (of creatures to corruption) and shows why it has occurred, i.e., because of ourselves. And so, shall we say that in enduring this for someone else, all of creation suffers injustice? Not at all! The reason for its existence is me. If it exists for my sake, then what injustice is there in its suffering corruption for my correction?… By this it suffered no injustice; and this is exactly because through you it will again become incorruptible.
Let us recall St. Symeon’s teaching, quoted above, that it was fitting that the creation supply incorrupt man with incorruptible food in the beginning. Elsewhere St. Symeon affirms that, after the fall, it was fitting that creation be made corruptible along with man, so that it could furnish man, for whose sake it had been made, with corruptible food.
Thus, through the Holy Scriptures and their interpretation by the Holy Fathers, the Orthodox Church confesses that death and corruption exist not because God made them in the beginning, but because man brought them into the world through his sin. In Romans 5:12 the Holy Apostle Paul writes that “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin.” Expounding on this teaching, St. John Damascene writes:
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” (Wis. 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. Maximus the Confessor writes:
Through sin, this cosmos became a place of death and corruption.
And again:
Through man, [sin] impels all created things toward death. All this was contrived by the devil, that spawn of sin and father of iniquity who through pride expelled himself from divine glory, and through envy of us and of God expelled Adam from Paradise, in order to destroy the works of God and dissolve what had been brought into existence.
We are all the inheritors of the death and corruption that entered into man’s nature at the fall. St. Gregory Palamas says that, through Adam’s one spiritual death, both spiritual and physical death were passed on to all men. The same saint, however, affirms that it is by means of death—Christ’s death—that the power of death is destroyed. As spiritual and physical death entered the world through Adam’s one spiritual death, so both kinds of death are overcome through Christ’s one physical death and His subsequent Resurrection. The Apostle Paul writes: “He [Christ] is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15).
Death is the consequence of sin. When Christ died on the Cross, He took upon Himself this consequence. However, since He was wholly without sin He was undeserving of death, and since He was Divine He was unable to be held in the bonds of death and hell. Thus, the spiritual and physical death that had entered the world through the primordial transgression were abolished through Christ’s death and Resurrection, and all mankind was given the possibility of being delivered from them.
Because the first Adam brought himself and the entire visible creation into corruption, the Second Adam—Jesus Christ—came to restore what was lost: He came to restore man to the communion with God and to the incorruption in which he lived before the fall, and to restore the entire cosmos to a state of incorruption. But Christ did incomparably more than that. As we shall see, He made possible the full and final deification of man (both in body and in soul), and, together with man, the deification of the entire visible creation.
In the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul writes of the future age of the renewed, incorrupt creation which will come into being after the General Resurrection: “I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God [i.e., those redeemed by Christ]. For the creation was made subject to futility, not willingly, but because of Him [God] Who subjected it [to futility] in hope [i.e., in hope of the General Resurrection]. Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only the creation, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:18–23).
St. Symeon the New Theologian further describes the state of man and the cosmos beyond the General Resurrection:
Just as the created world was first brought into existence as incorrupt, and then later, man, so again it is creation which must first be transformed from corruption into incorruption, changed, and then, together with it and at the same time, the corrupted bodies of men will be renewed, such that, himself become at once spiritual and immortal, man may have an incorrupt, and spiritual, and everlasting country in which to make his home….
Just as our bodies, although they dissolve for a time, do not pass away forever, but will be renewed again at the Resurrection, so, too, will heaven and earth and all that is within them—that is, all of creation—be made anew and liberated from the bondage of corruption. The elements themselves will share with us in that incandescence from above, and in the same way that we shall be tried by fire, so, according to the Apostle, shall all creation be renewed through fire.…
The whole world will become more perfect than any word can describe. Having become spiritual and divine, it will become united with the noetic world; it will become a certain noetic Paradise, a heavenly Jerusalem, the inalienable inheritance of the sons of God.
When St. Symeon says that the cosmos will become “spiritual and divine,” he is referring to nothing less than its deification. It will be remembered that, according to St. Maximus, man’s original designation was not only to become deified himself but also to bring the whole created universe into a state of deification. Further expounding St. Maximus’ teaching, Vladimir Lossky writes: “Since this task which was given to man was not fulfilled by Adam, it is in the work of Christ, the Second Adam, that we can see what it was meant to be.”
Here we see how the Orthodox teaching on the incorruption of the first-created world has direct bearing on Orthodox soteriology and eschatology. The Scriptural/Patristic doctrine that death entered the world as a consequence of man’s sin forms a foundation for the doctrine that Christ took upon Himself that consequence—that is, by dying on the Cross—in order to “put away sin,” to “bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:26, 28), to redeem mankind from all the consequences of sin. The teaching of prelapsarian incorruption forms a basis for the doctrine that Christ came in order to give back to man what Adam had lost at the fall, physically as well as spiritually, and that, through Christ’s death and Resurrection, there will be a restoration, perfection, and spiritualization of the incorrupt first-created world. Finally, this teaching provides a foundation for understanding the words of the Apostle Paul in the way that the Holy Fathers understood them: “For since by man came death, by man came also the Resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.… The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:21–22, 26).
As the Orthodox teaching on the original incorruption of the cosmos has a direct connection to eschatology and soteriology, so also does it have relevance to our view of the natural environment. One conclusion that one might draw from this teaching is that there is no need to care for or respect the environment now, in its present state of corruption, since the natural environment will inevitably be restored to incorruption after the General Resurrection anyway. Such a cynical conclusion, however, is not the conclusion that the Orthodox Church has drawn from her own divinely inspired teaching. In fact, the mind of the Church, expressed most clearly in the lives and writings of her saints, is quite the opposite. As we have said, the Church confesses faith not only in the redemption of the human soul, but also in the redemption of the body. Furthermore, we confess that the entire visible creation will be redeemed along with the human body. God’s creation was made not for destruction, but, as the Wisdom of Solomon (1:14) says, “for preservation”; and in the eschaton it will be preserved forever in a state of deification. Therefore, because we believe that death and corruption was not part of God’s original, “very good” creation, and because we believe that it is in His Economy to restore it to that state and to deify it, we believe that we are to respect and care for the creation.
A clear testimony of this can be seen in the Church’s attitude to the human body after death. The fact that the body is subject to corruption after death and that it will one day be restored to incorruption does not mean that we should have no care for the body of a dead person. On the contrary, because the Church believes in the redemption of the body, she teaches us to respect the body by burying it in the earth, where it is to await the General Resurrection. The Church has traditionally forbidden cremation because this reflects a certain scorn of the body and a lack of faith in the Resurrection. Of course, even if a body of a person is burned to ashes, God can and will resurrect that body at the last day, but still we are called to honor the body by burying it.
Our veneration of the relics of the saints is a further testimony to our respect for the body and our belief in its ultimate redemption. God strengthens our faith in the redemption of the body by granting, in some cases, a certain relative incorruption to the bodies of the saints.
Amidst the visible creation, God’s saints have attained to the highest degree of participation in God through His Grace, and thus the Church rightly accords special veneration to them and to their relics. But according to Orthodox theology, all created things participate in God in varying degrees, and thus all are worthy of some degree of honor. Again, the testimony of this is seen most clearly in the lives of the saints, who showed compassion, respect and honor to God’s creatures, and who lived in harmony with them as did Adam and Eve before the fall. In a Life of a saint of our own times, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, we read the following:
When we walk along a path, we stretch out our hands right and left and pick a leaf from this tree, a flower from that; we break a sapling from carelessness or bad habit. But when the Elder saw a broken tree he made a little splint for it and bound it up. One can see many such splints in the area where he lived.
This brings us to the final point that I would like to bring up in this contemplation of how the Orthodox teaching on the original incorruption of the cosmos can influence our attitude toward the environment today. When we view our surroundings from the Orthodox perspective of the Scriptures and Holy Fathers, we will recognize the fact that suffering, illness, death, and decay, together with all the other manifestations of the brokenness of creation—that these were not part of God’s original “very good” creation. They are present because man brought them into the world through his sin. And we ourselves, although we do not bear the guilt of the fall of our first ancestors, still participate in the sins of the family of Adam. This in itself should give us pause, and make us have compassion for God’s creation in its brokenness. In the above story about Elder Paisios, we see a man who had such a heightened degree of this compassion that he went around putting splints on broken trees.
The co-founder of our monastery, the above-mentioned Fr. Seraphim Rose, had a practice of walking around the monastery grounds early in the morning before services, blessing and even kissing the trees. When asked why he was doing this, he would only smile and continue walking. We had always interpreted this as a manifestation of Fr. Seraphim’s honor and love for God’s creation, as he contemplated it not only in its present broken state but also in its original incorrupt state and in its final, incorrupt and deified state. Recently, however, our monastery was visited by Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, who in a talk about Fr. Seraphim offered a further insight. Affirming that Fr. Seraphim was indeed contemplating the future transfiguration of the trees along with the rest of the creation, he added that, in blessing and kissing the trees, he was “as if begging forgiveness that because of our sins they also suffer.”
This is a profound thought, arising from a well-developed Patristic consciousness. As we enter more deeply into the mind of the Holy Fathers—which is the mind of the Church, which is the mind of Christ—our perspective on the world will be informed by such an awareness.
In the words of St. Barsanuphius of Optina Monastery, we see only “fragments” of the original, incorrupt cosmos, a cosmos that was “broken” because of man’s sin. Once, when standing before a window at night, St. Barsanuphius pointed to the moon and said to his disciple (the future Elder Nikon):
Look—what a picture! This is left to us as a consolation. It’s no wonder that the Prophet David said, “Thou has gladdened me, O Lord, by Thy works” (Ps. 91:3). “Thou has gladdened me,” he says, although this is only a hint of that wondrous beauty, incomprehensible to human thought, which was originally created. We don’t know what kind of moon there was then, what kind of sun, what kind of light.… All of this changed after the fall.
As St. Barsanuphius affirmed, in beholding the “fragments” that remain of God’s original handiwork, we can still find delight and consolation. At the same time, in contemplating what was in the beginning and what will be in the future age, we can understand God’s plan for His creation, His Economy. With this understanding can come a deeper sense of honor and respect for our natural environment, a deeper repentance for our participation in the sins of humanity, and a more vibrant hope in the renewed creation that, through our Savior Jesus Christ, will one day come into being.



#18 Rick James York

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 06:33 AM

MODERATOR'S NOTICE: The following message has been posted by an account engaged in on-line identity fraud. The member 'Rick James York' is identical to members 'Rostislav' and 'John M.' The current post, made before discovery of this fact, is being retained in order to preserve the flow of threads; but readers should be aware of this case of multiple identity.

I love the saints. See below what some said on topics of creation:

....see what St. Ephraim says in his commentary on Genesis
No one should think that the Creation of Six Days is an allegory; it is likewise impermissible to say that what seems, according to the account, to have been created in the course of six days, was created in a single instant, and likewise that certain names presented in this account either signify nothing, or signify something else. On the contrary, one must know that just as the heaven and the earth which were created in the beginning are actually the heaven and the earth and not something else understood under the names of heaven and earth, so also everything else that is spoken of as being created and brought into order after the creation of heaven and earth is not empty names, but the very essence of the created natures corresponds to the force of these names. (Commentary on Genesis, ch. I)
Although both the light and the clouds were created in the twinkling of an eye, still both the day and the night of the first day continued for 12 hours each. (Ibid.)
Again:
When in the twinkling of an eye (Adam's) rib was taken out and likewise in an instant the flesh took its place, and the bare rib took on the complete form and all the beauty of a woman, then God led her and presented her to Adam. (Ibid.)

It is quite clear that St. Ephraim reads the book of Genesis "as it is written"; when he hears "the rib of Adam" he understands "the rib of Adam," and does not understand this as an allegorical way of saying something else altogether. Likewise he quite explicitly understands the Six Days of Creation to be just six days, each with 24 hours, which he divides into an "evening and "morning" of 12 hours each.

You write: "Since God created time, to create something 'instantly' would be an act contrary to His own decision and will.... When we speak about the creation of stars, plants, animals and man we do not speak about miracles-we do not speak about the extraordinary interventions of God in creation but about the 'natural' course of creation." I wonder if you are not substituting here some "modern wisdom" for the teaching of the holy Fathers? What is the beginning of all things but a miracle? I have already showed you that St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Damascene (and indeed all the Fathers) teach that the first man Adam appeared in a way different from the natural generation of all other men; likewise the first creatures, according to the sacred text of Genesis, appeared in a way different from all their descendants: they appeared not by natural generation but by the word of God. The modern theory of evolution denies this, because the theory of evolution was invented by unbelievers who wished to deny God's action in creation and explain the creation by "natural" means alone. Do you not see what philosophy is behind the theory of evolution?

What do the holy Fathers say about this? I have already quoted St. Ephraim the Syrian, whose whole commentary on Genesis describes how all God's creative acts are done in an instant, even though the whole "Days" of creation last for 24 hours each. Let us now see what St. Basil the Great says about God's creative acts in the Six Days. In speaking of the Third Day of Creation, St. Basil says:

At this saying all the dense woods appeared; all the trees shot up... Likewise, all the shrubs were immediately thick with leaf and bushy; and the so-called garland plants...all came into existence in a moment of time, although they were not previously upon the earth. (Hexaemeron, V, 6)
Again, he says:
"Let the earth bring forth." This brief command was immediately mighty nature and an elaborate system which brought to perfection more swiftly than our thought the countless properties of plants. (Hexaemeron, V, 10)

Again, on the Fifth Day:
The command came. Immediately rivers were productive and marshy lakes were fruitful of species proper and natural to each. (Hexaemeron, VH, 1)
Likewise, St. John Chrysostom, in his commentary on Genesis, teaches:
Today God goes over to the waters and shows us that from them, by His word and command, there proceeded animate creatures. What mind, tell me, can understand this miracle? What tongue will be able worthily to glorify the Creator? He said only: Let the earth bring forth-and immediately He aroused it to bear fruit.... As of the earth He said only: Let it bring forth-and there appeared a great variety of flowers, grasses, and seeds, and everything occurred by His word alone; so also here He said: Let the waters bring forth... and suddenly there appeared so many kinds of creeping things, such a variety of birds, that it is impossible even to enumerate them with words. (Homilies on Genesis, VII, 3)

And again St. Chrysostom writes:
God took a single rib, it is said: but how from this single rib did He form a whole creature? Tell me, how did the taking of the rib occur? How did Adam not feel this taking? You can say nothing about this; this is known only by Him Who created.... God did not produce a new creation, but taking from an already existing creation a certain small part, from this part He made a whole creature. What power the Highest Artist God has, to produce from this small part (a rib) the composition of so many members, make so many organs of sense, and form a whole, perfect, and complete being. (Homilies on Genesis, XV, 2- 3)

Sorry, Richard if my comment about Fr. Seraphim not agreeing with you had caused you any grief. I was just hoping that like me, you have a great deal of respect for Fr Seraphim's words. I cannot apologise to anyone else because my statement was only addressed to you.

With contrition, James

Edited by Administrator, 10 June 2008 - 09:44 AM.
Added notice of identity fraud


#19 RichardWorthington

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 06:46 AM

Dear Yuri - and please do permit me to call you Yuri - ,

That was a most beautiful post. I totally loved it.
My soul is singing to the Lord after reading it all. It is so beautiful.

However, I can not help but feel that while describing such original beauty we do not then try to align our thoughts and feelings to such beauty. I fear that such a beautiful list of quotations from our God-bearing Fathers will be used to terrify people: "The Fathers say it, I believe it, that settles it!"

We may ask ourselves, "How can people refuse to listen to such a clear testimony?" and then conclude that such people are not "proper" Orthodox and have an inferior knowledge. Remember, if we can Bible-bash and Father-fight others, then so too can God with us! I think Jesus' original parable about "taking the cedars of Lebanon out of our own eyes before taking the planks of wood out of others' eyes" might have been toned down somewhat ...

we can say for certain that the “very good” prelapsarian world as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and in the consensus patrum is not the same as the world we find in the fossil record, which is a record of suffering, violence, and bloodshed; of animals devouring each other; of disease (including cancer, tuberculosis and gout); of the deaths of all kinds of living things including man; and, finally, of the decay (corruption) of both plants and animals


And so many people, seeing all this evidence, find it difficult to reconcile it with the scriptural teaching. And yet trying to re-interpret the evidence around us seems to lack any true authoritative voice: the Creation and evolutionary theory thread grew to about 400 posts before being closed due to getting nowhere; and now this thread is taking the brunt of the frustrations it seems ...

The assaults on the Truth over the past 150 years have been terrible, but may I suggest that the Rationalists and Atheists are merely basing themselves on our own lazy theology: the Churches themselves - including the Orthodox Church - are to blame for this mess.

St Seraphim of Sarov once said that teaching others is like throwing down large stones from the top of a tower, while putting them into practice is like carrying those stones ourselves to the top of the tower. Let our lives and e-mouths show beauty.

I am a hypocrite: I also tried to fudge Paradise with evolution. The account in Genesis was totally based on the symbolism of the old Temple, and so was not to be taken literally. I did not want death before Adam sinned, and so thought up some 'recycling' of animals like the trees mentioned in Paradise in your post: there was no decay in them even though they shed leaves turning into soil. (Taking the evidence of an asteroid impact I thought of the idea - in the same post - that the angels could play with the world: not my best idea, but it was fun writing it!).

And dear James,

Sorry, Richard if my comment about Fr. Seraphim not agreeing with you had caused you any grief. I was just hoping that like me, you have a great deal of respect for Fr Seraphim's words.


Thank you for this. You did not upset me, it is just that I could see the previous thread continuing with the same pointlessness as before! :)

I do venerate Fr Seraphim Rose; I deliberately quoted from him to show my respect. The fact that there is such chaos on this issue means that surely a new approach is needed. (I was also surprised to be told by my friend about Metropolitan Anthony Bloom's view of Fr Seraphim Rose, surprised but as I think about the whole traditionalist versus modernists debate it should not be unexpected!)

I do have some more thoughts to share, but I think later would be better.

Love in Christ,

Richard

Edited by RichardWorthington, 11 April 2008 - 06:52 AM.
typos


#20 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 02:21 PM

Dear Richard,
Many thanks for this. I am completely against "Bible-bashing" and 'Father-fighting" in a sense of imposing a personal opinion on somebody. I am for however Bible and Father loving because what they say is both simple and beautiful. Everything of God is immensely beautiful, you just can't make it into something else without destroying the beauty. I think we cannot have both: be the Church of Our Fathers and not believe like them on issues of fundamental significance. The was a time when I tried to believe in God and evolution at the same time and I was trying to explain this to a simple but very pious believer. His response was: There is no God in all this. I felt speechless and powerless because he told me the truth of God and His Church and I was trying to reconcile the irreconcilable using my ugly, passion-infested brain.

With love in the Lord,
Yuri




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