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Creation and evolutionary theory, II


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#381 Alex Michael Rusanen

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:17 AM

We ignore Mr Alex Michael Rusanen's post (above) at our peril.
(Just noticed that Dcn Matthew agrees.)


* sigh * I consider the discussion of whether or not evolution is true to be less than fruitless on this forum. We should rather discuss the theological and philosophical implications of the theory: is the theory compatible with Orthodox christianity? How should we view science in general? Is american creation science a healthy option for Orthodoxy?

Discussing evidence with creationists is a waste of time because they have already made up their minds, the evidence they don't like they either ignore or replace with some direct divine intervention. It is like talking to modern platonists who reject the truthfulness of sensory experience and regard the material order to be an illusion; or an ardent adherent of the 'flat earth society'. The evidence doesn't simply matter.


P.S. I just noticed that there already is thread for such discussions * begs for forgivness *

Edited by Alex Michael Rusanen, 14 June 2008 - 08:54 AM.


#382 Owen Jones

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 02:08 PM

"Darwinism is everything but gnosticism. Gnosticism is that which tends to minimize the purpose and dispute the truthfulness of the natural order, limiting knowledge to the transcendent only."

Ancient gnosticism overemphasized the spiritual and deemed nature and matter to be evil. Modern gnosticism goes in the opposite direction. It demonizes the transcendent. It's still gnosticism.

#383 Owen Jones

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 02:34 PM

" I think that if we are to truly come around to the evolutionary viewpoint and formulate a theology consistent with the evidence, we're going to have to get away from the concept of a literal "Adam and Eve" couple as being the sole progenitors of the entire human race, nor can we maintain that the fall was a fall from perfection into imperfection. Rather, we would have to accept that the fall was at most a rejection of participation in the process of being perfected that was freely offered by God and freely refused by man, so that God himself had to become man in order to bring not only mankind but the universe as a whole into communion with Himself. (Please note that by positing these things I'm not implying that I have any holistic idea of "evolutionary Christianity" all worked out a la Teilhard de Chardin. I'm just making some initial speculations.)"

Here is something that can be discussed intelligently. Viewing Genesis 1 in allegorical terms does not necessarily lead us to evolutionary theory as it currently is understood. Let's be clear on one point. Orthodox Christianity is an evolutionary theory. It is a theory of the evolution -- progression -- of mankind from one state to another. So it's not like the Church is maintaining some theory of stasis, some fixed state called "human nature." The theory of the deification of man is hardly a theory of stasis. So development and change is at the heart of Orthodox Christianity -- if we would only practice what we believe! So the issue is not evolutionary theory, but which evolutionary theory is the most complete, and makes the most sense, based on both experience and evidence.

Now, regarding the state of Adam and Eve in the garden, can we agree that the purpose of the text is theological? That we cannot, even if it is taken as a literal account of an historical timeline, that we cannot, in principle, reduce the meaning to its historicity. The literal historical meaning of a text is always the lowest level of meaning, according to the Church Fathers, with the mystical meaning as the highest. There is some freedom here, in our tradition, when it comes to interpretation at that level, but we generally concede that the higher meaning is something that is a prophetic gift. That one has to have "developed" spiritually, sufficiently to discern the mystical meaning, and then it becomes the business of the Church to defend that meaning against misappropriation. So can we perhaps begin to agree that none of us here have risen to that level, yet?

But what then can we say about the Church's teachings on the Fall? Primarily it is the principle that what we experience -- today -- as a fallen world -- is not due to God's failure to create a perfect world because of some flaw intrinsic to His nature, or some failure in creating -- but the obvious fact that we live in a fallen world is our fault. That is the essential message, from which all else flows.

But intrinsic to Darwinism is that the Fall, which is not recognized as such, but which is implicit in Darwinism, is not our fault at all. Human failings are due to the problem that archaic instincts which were necessary in pre-civilized societies as survival mechanisms are now in collision in a way that has no selective advantage, and in fact threaten our very survival. (remember, it is survival that is the highest good in Darwinism). But the situation can and will be redeemed as we learn more about nuerobiology, and psychology, and man can be "treated" so that the destructive aspects of instincts in collision can be mitigated, and therefore the inherently, built-in and inevitable advance toward perfection can go forward.

Hence, Darwinism is a competing cosmogonic myth, a competing myth of the fall, and a competing myth of redemption to that of classical Christianity.

We have heard a lot about the evidence for Darwinism, in comparative genetics. OK, let's allow that for sake of argument, the compelling evidence. However, what of the compelling evidence for the Christian view? It works! When a person actually applies Christian teaching to his life, he is healed of his inordinate passions that cause conflicts, both external and internal, and he is capable of living at peace, at a level that is beyond understanding.

There is as yet no evidence that Darwinism and its implications are having, or ever will have, the kind of positive impact on human behavior that the theory sets forth -- i.e. a progression out of the jungle to a perfected state of existence. What we saw in the 20th century, and what we continue to see, is an exponential increase in human barbarity. Yet we are told to expect the future to be better, because of the scientific discoveries that await. Note that the future of mankind is therefore in the hands of scientific experts, that our own attempts at becoming better human beings on our own are essentially in vain, because our nature is dictated to us, until the day in which neurobiologists unlock the keys -- to the Kingdom so to speak.

#384 Alex Michael Rusanen

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 08:21 AM

"Darwinism is everything but gnosticism. Gnosticism is that which tends to minimize the purpose and dispute the truthfulness of the natural order, limiting knowledge to the transcendent only."

Ancient gnosticism overemphasized the spiritual and deemed nature and matter to be evil. Modern gnosticism goes in the opposite direction. It demonizes the transcendent. It's still gnosticism.



It's not called gnosticism but materialism. As Orthodox we often call protestant iconoclasticism and anti-ritualism gnostic, because these seem to diminish the material reality of the Church. Even the theory of final disembodied souls is called a gnostic theory these days.

#385 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 01:07 PM

I have found an interesting quote from St Maximus the Confessor which relates to change and nature:

Generally speaking, all innovation (kainotomia) is manifested in relation to the mode (tropos) of the thing innovated, not its natural principle (logos). the principle, if it undergoes innovation, corrupts the nature, as the nature in that case does not maintain inviolate the principle according to which it exists.


This of course does not prove anything in relation to evolution. But it is a good summary of the Patristic understanding of the basic integrity of nature (ie the nature of individual creatures and things). For the Fathers there is a basic stability to the nature of each thing, characterized by the maintenance of its own essential character. Each thing is defined by the integrity & character of its own nature. Implicit in this understanding is that nature is not relative or changeable to the point that the character of its own nature is denied.

St Maximus however includes within his explanation of nature, an understanding also of change, which is referred to in the quote above as innovation/kainotomia.

Thus St Maximus continues about human nature:

The mode thus innovated, while the natural principle is preserved, displays a miraculous power, insofar as the nature appears to be acted upon, and to act, clearly beyond its normal scope. The principle of human nature is to exist in soul and body; but its mode is the scheme in which it naturally acts and is acted upon, which can frequently change and undergo alteration without changing at all the nature along with it.


He then continues about creaturely nature:

Such is the case for every other created thing as well, when God, because of His providence over what He has preconceived and in order to demonstrate His power over all and through all things, desires to renew it with respect to its creation.


In other words there is also an inherent changeability to all created things. But this changeability is in terms of the end (telos) and purpose of creation. This end for St Maximus is always set within the context of Christ as the definition & reference point of each created thing.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#386 Owen Jones

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 08:09 PM

Thanks very much for those references.

#387 Paul Cowan

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 09:47 PM

I found this in someones personal quotations area of their profile and thougt it might have relevence here.

When Theodore the Sanctified was in Panopolis with St. Pachomius, his spiritual father, a philosopher came to him and offered to debate with him about the Faith. The philosopher then posed these three questions to Theodore: "Who was not born, but died?" "Who was born and did not die?" "Who died and did not decay?" To these questions, St. Theodore replied: "Adam was not born and died. Enoch was born and did not die. Lot's wife died and did not decay." And the saint added this advice to the philosopher: "Heed our sound advice; depart from these useless questions and scholastic syllogisms; draw near to Christ Whom we are serving and you will receive forgiveness of sins." The philosopher became mute from such a pointed answer and being ashamed, he departed. From this, the enormous difference is clearly seen between a pagan philosopher and a Christian saint. The one [the philosopher] looses himself in abstractions, in cleverly twisted words, in logical provocations and in thoughtful sport while the other [the saint] directed his whole mind on the Living God and on the salvation of his soul. The one is abstract and dead, while the other is practical and alive.



#388 M. Partyka

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 03:24 PM

But what then can we say about the Church's teachings on the Fall? Primarily it is the principle that what we experience -- today -- as a fallen world -- is not due to God's failure to create a perfect world because of some flaw intrinsic to His nature, or some failure in creating -- but the obvious fact that we live in a fallen world is our fault. That is the essential message, from which all else flows.

My original speculation was that "the fall was at most a rejection of participation in the process of being perfected that was freely offered by God and freely refused by man, so that God himself had to become man in order to bring not only mankind but the universe as a whole into communion with Himself." Is it your opinion that this speculation shifts the blame for the Fall from man to God?

However, what of the compelling evidence for the Christian view? It works! When a person actually applies Christian teaching to his life, he is healed of his inordinate passions that cause conflicts, both external and internal, and he is capable of living at peace, at a level that is beyond understanding.

True...but is there any evidence that Judaism does not "work", or that Buddhism does not "work"? Even Scientology "works" for some people. These alternative belief systems are not totally devoid of their own "positive evidence." I myself can affirm that under Protestant Christianity, even believing in "Once Saved, Always Saved," I became a much better person than I was as an agnostic, but that didn't make OSAS true or historical. In fact, I would say that being forced by reading the Fathers to abandon OSAS has had a negative effect on my spiritual life, as I can affirm that my pursuit of personal righteous behavior suffered a massive hiccup from that point forward. Should I interpret this to mean that OSAS was true, and that I should return to the SBC, as I was more inclined to seek righteousness under its care? (For that matter, I haven't done as much evangelizing, either, after switching to Orthodoxy -- went from 60 to zero, one might say. What does that say about the truth of Orthodoxy?)

#389 Richard McBride

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:59 AM

RichardWorthington opened “Creation and evolutionary theory, II” with a perplexing issue which has by now taken so many different forms. He expressed his version this way:

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.


I'm not certain, but it seems he may feel that the topic has strayed from his preferred critique of 'Creationism/Intelligent Design' – and of course it has. RichardWorthingtgon's recent words were:

I consider the discussion of whether or not evolution is true to be less than fruitless on this forum. We should rather discuss the theological and philosophical implications of the theory: is the theory compatible with Orthodox [C]hristianity? How should we view science in general? Is american creation science a healthy option for Orthodoxy?


There is a clue to the conundrum he proposes when he says, “We should rather discuss the theological and philosophical implications of the theory”. His point is thus to arrive at Orthodoxy's compatibility with creation theory, evolution, Creationism and intelligent design. But then, it is such a provocative subject we are left wondering what new path it will take tomorrow.

In fact, this subject is so provocative, i am surprised that the course of the thread is as focused as it is. The clue that is given (which has been suggested over and over in these messages) is yet again raised by Owen Jones' quick comment:

...we cannot... in principle, reduce the meaning [of Adam and Eve in the garden] to its historicity. The literal historical meaning of a text is always the lowest level of meaning, according to the Church Fathers, with the mystical meaning as the highest.


This is only one phrasing of the 'clue', when there are hundreds we could site from these messages alone. The clue reveals that M. Partyka is speaking of oranges while RichardWorthingon was asking an apples question. But RichardW did not help out his cause by opening the door to both theology and philosophy. For the one is apples while the other is oranges.

It is not for nothing that the first thing out of the gate, the Fathers were quick to pounce upon the words of Saint Paul:

Col. 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit...


Yet the real issue here goes deeper. Modern exegetes will argue that the Fathers' real concern was for rampant neo Platonism, while in reality they used philosophical reasoning themselves. This is the form of the academic argument. And it is entirely beside the point.

The story of apples and oranges is revealed in Owen's classification of historical truths. They may be just a bit lower than Paul's meaning for philosophical truths. However, if we continue to ponder and argue these differences we shall continually avoid the higher meaning – the One which Saint Paul was discussing.

Bishop Basil put it so nicely when he addressed the congregation several years ago at Father Anthony's funeral in Dallas. His point was not that truth was totally absent from historical arguments – just that historical thinking contains only a small portion of truth. The Orthodox truths of which Saint Paul was speaking contain all the Truth.

That will sound presumptuous to non believers. The resulting Orthodox habit has therefore become one of simply not arguing these things.

There are these Truths, and then are all the other truths, and there is no way that the latter may enter into communion with the former – through argument. This is one version of what Saint Paul was saying when he chained philosophy to deceit.

My own assessment of these things is that we may address M. Partyka's very conscientious and well spoken scientific concerns, but not through Orthodoxy.

We may continue to speak of evolution theory (as i did in my previous message), but to expect to make it compatible with the Mysteries of Orthodoxy will only produce frustration (or worse). One simply may never get at the heart beat of Orthodoxy using a scientific stethoscope.

In other words, Orthodox meaning very well addresses the problems of evolution; but one may not enter into those meanings using historical/scientific reasoning.

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 17 June 2008 - 11:22 AM.
Added proper quote formatting


#390 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 11:51 AM

Holy Scripture gives us that which is eternal and does not change, regardless of societal fads, philosophical whims, cultural accomodations or scientific theories du jour. The theory of evolution itself will continue to evolve and change over time and may well be replaced in the fullness of time by its former advocates once something "better" comes along. Theories can be changed, replaced, refuted, ignored.

Holy Scripture is something else entirely. We do not have to justify it, we do not have to adapt the eternal to fit that which changes. We do not have to make the Great "I AM" fit our narrow understandings and theories. As we strive to better understand Creation, we do well to expand our ability to understand the Author of Creation and not leave Him out of our calculations and theories. Unknown factors can mess up the most elaborate equations and theories. As the Apostle Paul teaches us, it is not good to neglect the "unknown God".

I don't need to explain my wife, I simply have to love her. On so many levels, a relationship cannot be explained, no matter how may theories we try to put forward, it simply IS. We don't need to explain God, we simply love Him. Whether He created us from dust or monkeys or rocks makes no difference as long as we can accept that He created us to be loved by Him. Beyond that we begin to debate meaningless geneologies which can be detrimental to our fellowship and ultimate salvation, if the esteemed Apostle is correct.

Science is a tool. It is only one tool, we have to realize that there are other tools as well. Like all tools it has its uses, but it also can be misused and abused. Remember the saying that to someone who only has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Knowing the proper tool for the job is important and so is knowing which tools are NOT appropriate for the task at hand. Figure out what the task really is, then choose the appropriate tool, and don't be surprised when using the wrong tool achieves less than satisfactory results.

FWIW, Herman

#391 Owen Jones

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 01:55 PM

The once saved always saved doctrine provides a false experience of assurance and promise. By becoming Orthodox, one introduces the element of struggle in the spiritual life. Of course, this is more difficult, one might say, but only when one is struggling alone. With God's help, ascetic struggle becomes more of an adventure and a blessing, rather than a burden and a curse. It is a path that should be joyful to its adherents.

Interestingly, Darwinism is based entirely on the beneficial element of struggle. This element of constant struggle benefits both the individual and the race against its inferiors. In Christianity, it is a struggle that inverts the worldly assumptions of men. Counter-intuitive as people say these days. The struggle is an internal one, against demonic forces and temptations to follow the ways of the world (nature?). So instead of seeking power, domination and control, we reject them.

The practical issues remain paramount. How is one to live? How can Darwinism give us guidance in that respect? What are the practical implications of this theory?

Regarding the Fall, it was a fall away from harmonious relationships. Salvation in Christ does not return us to a pre-lapsarian state of relationships, but moves us to something beyond that.

Darwinism on the other hand presupposes that nature and natural processes have, in themselves, a kind of invisible hand that is moving us toward some higher truth. It presupposes the need for some continuous mechanism driving mankind toward perfection. But it is an innerworldly perfection that depends on the ability of future scientists to unlock the neurobiological basis of existence. Salvation is chemistry.

The spiritual life, on the other hand, recognizes that existence is a case of chutes and ladders. Progress is not some inevitable onward and upward journey. It has peaks and valleys. It has wet and dry spells. It is in the dry spells that we learn the most and change (adapt?) the most. So we are cautioned not to believe Satan when we experience spiritual dryness, or when we become somewhat despondent regarding our peaks and valleys. Satan is telling us that we are worse off than before, and therefore we should begin to doubt all of this theological nonsense, and we ought to look elsewhere for our happiness, when nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a spiritual confusion that lies at the core of every Darwinist. He is looking for certitude in an uncertain world.

#392 M. Partyka

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:04 PM

How is one to live? How can Darwinism give us guidance in that respect? What are the practical implications of this theory?

These are all valid questions, but even if the answers to these questions were to all be negatively-directed and ultimately self-destructive, that wouldn't mean that the scientific theory was itself in error. Sometimes the truth hurts.

If one looks to Darwinism for answers about how to live, Darwinism's response is really quite simple: Have babies. Everything in your life should revolve around your ability to have babies and see that those babies survive to reproductive maturity. The more healthy babies you have, the more "successful" you are in the grand scheme of things.

Question: Who on earth wants to live like that? Maybe this "fertility-driven life" appeals to some people, but I can't imagine such a philosophy's ever gaining a place among the great religions of the world. For one thing, it wouldn't appeal at all to people who for medical reasons can't reproduce. What purpose could these people have? Even adoption wouldn't be a sufficient remedy, as it would be other people's gene pools they would be caring for, not their own. What about those whose reproductive years have come and gone? Seems like ensuring the survival of family members' kids would be the closest thing that the childless could aspire to.

But in the end, all this breeding and protecting is an exercise in futility, personally speaking. It does nothing for the improvement of one's own lot. Good or bad, rich or poor, possessed of a brood or no, you yourself won't be improved by your efforts to advance the human species down the evolutionary path. You're stuck with the genes you were born with. You were done "progressing" from the moment you were conceived. It's not about you anymore. In fact, it never was. You're just the hamster in the wheel, running in place until you die.

So, now that we know what Darwinism says with regard to how we ought to live, the question is whether we even ought to allow Darwinism to extend into the philosophical realm to begin with. We can't deny the facts, but must the facts necessarily mean everything that Darwinist philosophy implies? Must we live with procreation and survival as our first and second commandments? Or is there another way to live? I'd like to believe that we all have a choice in the matter: We can live as if this world is all that there is, or we can live as though there's something yet to be -- something to strive toward that may perhaps put us personally at risk or render us sterile, if not medically than via circumstances. All of us have that choice, and I don't think the truth of common ancestry alone can take that away from us. Do you?

#393 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 12:49 PM

Further from St Maximus on nature:

In general, there has never been, nor is there now, nor will there ever be any nature in created beings, subsisting according to its own principle, that is anything other than what it is at present; and it is not now or will it ever be in the future what is was not in the past. The principles of these natures have enjoyed perfection in God simultaneous with their very existence, and their creation and substantiation are thoroughly incapable of admitting any addition to, or subtraction from, what the nature is in itself.


This is such a good summation of the Patristic understanding of created nature that I thought it would be helpful to quote it. Basically what St Maximus is pointing to here is a basic integrity in created nature. Although obviously evidence of this could be seen in a scientific fashion the main point of St Maximus is that this integrity of nature is a reflection of theological reality. In other words the integrity of nature is a reflection of the way in which the principles of each nature (their logoi) pre-exist in God & and of how they come from God and are held in being by God.

In St Maximus though this understanding of nature is further tied in with his understanding of the Incarnation as the ultimate reference point of creation's purpose. This has a negative and a positive point to it in terms of nature.

Thus nature was created to be in union with God; ie its purpose was deification in a manner of existence which is summed up in the Incarnation. However when man fell away through his own free will, then his manner of existence changed from the incorruptible to the corruptible. As St Maximus explains, man's manner of birth has become corruptible like that of the beasts. Obviously we can say that due to man's corruptible mode or manner of life, creation itself also now suffers from a similar kind of existence.

St Maximus' point however though is positive. Man's original reference point was a life amidst divine incorruptibility. Man fell away from this but Christ has come to restore man to the incorruptible mode of life. Christ does this through His Incarnation by truly submitting to the human manner of birth and life while restoring it to its incorruptible purpose through a transformation of its manner of existence.

Thus as pointed out previously, for St Maximus there is a basic integrity or stability of created nature as well as a way of existence to which we are called in Christ which is transformative. As St Maximus repeats continually however, this transformation does not alter the basic substance of nature, but rather renews it according to its actual purpose.

I'm not sure exactly how this relates to evolution. In its classical form where it represents the theory of progress it is problematic in the way that it claims that nature in a self referential manner can arrive at a coherent end point or completion. At least from the Patristic understanding such an idea would be self contradictory. Left to itself nature would ultimately turn to death and chaos in distorted image of the nothingness from which it came. Conversely in God, nature does not alter its basic principles, rather it finds these renewed.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#394 Owen Jones

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 01:23 PM

Evolutionists draw wildly divergent conclusions from the theory. One is totalitarian, that because of instincts in collision, there must be a totalitarian government that can command human beings to behave in a different way. The other is libertarian. Let people live entirely the way they want to live, and as a result, life gets better for everyone (invisible hand). Regarding procreation, one of the leading evolutionists in the world, Lewis Leaky, blames overpopulation, the Catholic Church, a lack of birth control methods, and religion in general, for all of black Africa's problems.

#395 M. Partyka

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 03:16 PM

Regarding procreation, one of the leading evolutionists in the world, Lewis Leaky, blames overpopulation, the Catholic Church, a lack of birth control methods, and religion in general, for all of black Africa's problems.

Not saying he's right, but this would only make sense given the evolutionary postulate that more <insert animal here> are born than the environment can provide for, thereby created a competition for resources resulting in the survival of the fittest. Any organization, religious or secular, which stands in the way of population control, especially those that condemn even self-enforced population control, is only going to make conditions worse for people overall.

The bitter irony of self-enforced population control, however, is that it means the people who are so conservation-minded as to choose adoption over having children naturally are consequently the people who will not be passing on their genes to the next generation, whereas the people who have no concern for whether the environment will be able to support the population at large are the ones who do leave a genetic legacy.

It's kind of like the priesthood today, particularly the Catholic priesthood but also, to some degree, the Orthodox priesthood. The men who are assumed to exhibit the holiest behavior are precisely the ones who are most discouraged from having children -- which is particularly ironic given that one of the key indicators given by St. Paul for spotting a good priest is how well he rules over his family.

#396 M. Partyka

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 07:31 PM

Further from St Maximus on nature:

In general, there has never been, nor is there now, nor will there ever be any nature in created beings, subsisting according to its own principle, that is anything other than what it is at present; and it is not now or will it ever be in the future what is was not in the past. The principles of these natures have enjoyed perfection in God simultaneous with their very existence, and their creation and substantiation are thoroughly incapable of admitting any addition to, or subtraction from, what the nature is in itself.

Is there anywhere online I can look at this passage in its context?

Thus nature was created to be in union with God; ie its purpose was deification in a manner of existence which is summed up in the Incarnation. However when man fell away through his own free will, then his manner of existence changed from the incorruptible to the corruptible. As St Maximus explains, man's manner of birth has become corruptible like that of the beasts. Obviously we can say that due to man's corruptible mode or manner of life, creation itself also now suffers from a similar kind of existence.

St Maximus' point however though is positive. Man's original reference point was a life amidst divine incorruptibility. Man fell away from this but Christ has come to restore man to the incorruptible mode of life. Christ does this through His Incarnation by truly submitting to the human manner of birth and life while restoring it to its incorruptible purpose through a transformation of its manner of existence.

Thus as pointed out previously, for St Maximus there is a basic integrity or stability of created nature as well as a way of existence to which we are called in Christ which is transformative. As St Maximus repeats continually however, this transformation does not alter the basic substance of nature, but rather renews it according to its actual purpose....in God, nature does not alter its basic principles, rather it finds these renewed.

See, this is where evolutionary theory and Orthodoxy are going to experience the greatest conflict, because what evolutionary theory posits is that there was no "original perfection" to the universe. There never was an "incorruptible mode of life" from which man and the universe fell away. The universe as we see it now is just as it was when it came into being -- i.e., the same laws of nature were in effect then just as they are now. The Fall therefore cannot be a fall away from a given state of perfection. Rather, it must be a continuance in the state of imperfection, and the test of man in the garden was therefore a freely-given opportunity to transcend this life for another, better one -- an opportunity which man freely chose to turn down, to his sorrow.

However, this rethinking of Creation and the Fall does not mean that perfection is something naturally attainable (as Darwinist philosophers would have us believe). I think it's ridiculous to believe that evolutionary processes will ever produce perfection because "perfection" in evolution depends on one's ability to survive in one's environment, and environments are almost never static -- thus, "perfection" today could be rendered "imperfection" tomorrow through a change in environment (just as some great catastrophe changed the world from being "perfect" for dinosaurs to "perfect" for mammals). Also, there's no evidence that would imply that evolutionary processes will ever generate a natural form of immortality, nor would the world as we know it allow such immortality to go unimpeded by accidents or natural disasters or acts of human will (e.g., murder, execution, war).

How does this change the Christian message, practically speaking? I'm not sure it does. Immortality is still something that must be God-given, not attained via natural means. This created world must still be destroyed and recreated into something compatible with God-given immortality. Christ's Incarnation, death, and Resurrection still provide the necessary connection between God and man (and all of creation). None of this changes with evolution. Indeed, what Christianity brings to the table is an ability to evolve personally rather than as a species (which is where natural evolution finds its limit). In Christ one finds the power to evolve oneself -- something natural evolutionary processes cannot do. In this way, Christianity can be seen as almost an extension of evolution -- something supernatural that makes up for what the natural was never designed or intended to provide.

#397 RichardWorthington

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 09:20 PM

RichardWorthington opened “Creation and evolutionary theory, II” with a perplexing issue which has by now taken so many different forms. He expressed his version this way:

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.


I'm not certain, but it seems he may feel that the topic has strayed from his preferred critique of 'Creationism/Intelligent Design' – and of course it has.


Not quite true; it has not strayed - it was commandeered!! The Moderate Monachian Moderators made it a continuation of the previous 400+ posts. :)

(I started my thread just before the first one was closed, so ... er ... the discussion conveniently continued here.)

RichardWorthingtgon's recent words were:


I consider the discussion of whether or not evolution is true to be less than fruitless on this forum. We should rather discuss the theological and philosophical implications of the theory: is the theory compatible with Orthodox [C]hristianity? How should we view science in general? Is american creation science a healthy option for Orthodoxy?



Hmmm ... not my words!!! See http://www.monachos....65540#post65540


By the way, this should be post #397, making it the 810th of the combined threads. Just think - that is over 2 post-years of posts! (1 post-year=365 posts!). Also we are only 16 posts away from the point at which the first thread was shut. There was some joking earlier on about the possibility of part III. Well, we're certainly heading that way ...


Richard
:)




#398 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 09:56 PM

M. Partyka asked:

Is there anywhere online I can look at this passage in its context?


This was taken from St Maximus' Ambiguum 42. It can be found in On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ which is part of the Popular Patristics Series from St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

An important point to what I was trying to express is in the words

Man's original reference point was a life amidst divine incorruptibility.


This means that man before the Fall was not yet in that full state of incorruptibility to which he had been called. Rather incorruptibility was a calling, something he was to fulfill & to attain. However man fell away precisely in the sense that he fell from this calling to attain incorruptibility by turning his will towards that which is corruptible instead.

Indeed one of St Maximus' central points is about the spiritual movement of man towards incorruptibility.

In a sense this means that nature has fallen from its original purpose into a pointless movement of passion. But in another crucial sense nature is called to a movement towards deification which is a fulfillment of its own created principle. One type of incorruptible movement is to replace that which is corruptible.

On other words there is a movement in creation which is good.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#399 Father David Moser

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 02:32 AM

It's kind of like the priesthood today, particularly the Catholic priesthood but also, to some degree, the Orthodox priesthood. The men who are assumed to exhibit the holiest behavior are precisely the ones who are most discouraged from having children -- which is particularly ironic given that one of the key indicators given by St. Paul for spotting a good priest is how well he rules over his family.


Obviously you don't know too many Orthodox priests. Most of the largest families I know in the Church are priestly families. I can see where your statement might apply for Roman Catholics, but it does not apply at all to Orthodox clergy.

Fr David Moser

#400 M. Partyka

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 03:50 AM

I can see where your statement might apply for Roman Catholics, but it does not apply at all to Orthodox clergy.

Maybe I've been misinformed. Isn't it true that if a single man is ordained a priest, he cannot marry later?




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