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Creation and evolutionary theory, II


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#41 John M.

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 10:53 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.

WHY AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN EVOLUTIONIST

The idea that this life on earth is a preparation for life eternal, which first appeared in the Old Testament Revelation and then was delivered in its fullness by the Saviour, distinguishes in principle the Christian world perspective from all the rest of religious views and teachings that are always carrying elements of evolution. Nonetheless, in all times (both pre-Christian and Christian) there have been attempts to synthesize Revelation with a human understanding of the world as a wholesome Gnostic or syncretic doctrine.

Conforming to contemporary science, the theory of evolution of biological species has evolved itself from the simple Darwinism to more complex theories still preserving the key idea of development from lower forms towards higher forms of organization. And here again we see "mediocre theologians", heirs of Gnosticism and supporters of theistic, "Christian" (quotes mine, E.S.) or teleological evolutionism who dare speak of natural appearance and development of life in religious terms. - It is better for them not to know the way of truth than knowing it, to come away from the holy commandment given to them. For it has happened to them according to the parable: a dog coming back to its vomit and a washed pig to the dirt (2 Pet 1:20,21). As Fr Seraphim (Rose) says, "any attempt to combine evolutionism with Christianity bears witness of not only a low theological background of an individual but also of an almost complete loss of common sense." [8].

It should be stressed once more that, according to any evolutionary concept be it with or without Christian terminology and religious semblance, the origin and driving force of the world is seen not in God but in the world itself, in its own natural mechanisms. In the foundation of the evolutionary perspective lies the so-called principle of uniformity, which says that the laws of nature remain as they were perpetually.

The idea of Christian evolutionism is based on speculatively stretching the concept of spiritual evolution of an individual towards the perfect embodiment of the image of God (that is, the inconceivable phenomenon of salvation of the faithful or, in other words, the evolution of the image of God into His likeness) onto the natural development of creation. While arguing so, Christian evolutionists leave out of the account, all the legacy of the Fathers of the Church who left for us means to profound contemplation on the Book of Genesis. They ignore that the spiritual evolution is concerned with spiritual matters such as humility and repentance in falling short to fulfill God's commandments and, therefore, it is obviously irrelevant to speak in terms of "Christian mechanisms of evolution" relative to flora and fauna.

Christian evolutionism assumes a special, understandable only to the evolutionists themselves, explanation of the Holy Scriptures, which contradicts the Fathers of the Church. In the holy words of the Book of Genesis, according to these scientists, there are hidden mysteries of our being. The clue can only be granted to the chosen intellectuals enriched with the knowledge of contemporary natural science. A certain time ago Adam viewed the forbidden fruit as a symbol, which, once possessed, would give him control over his own existence. Today Christian evolutionists consider Adam a symbol… Such explanations of the Scriptures are the fruit of scientific intellectualism, the fruit of the mind affected by sin. Centuries ago, Gnostics were misled by the same idea.

Generally speaking, Christian evolutionism is a contemporary form of gnosticism and therefore cannot help being pagan. On the other hand, as is said above, the essence of heathenism is in the evolution of both visible and invisible nature. The illusion of evolutionism becomes possible when the spiritual guidance has been lost, when scientific hypotheses are accepted as absolute and treated as idols. Such a perverted thinking is stubborn and is not obedient to the Truth (Rom 1:28, Rom 2:8).

Really, evolution is not even a scientific truth (a fact, a law or an inference): its existence cannot be scientifically proved or disproved since it cannot be observed. Hence, according to the precise definition by Apostle Paul, evolution is a subject of faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1). In the non-Christian evolutionism, which denies the Revealed Truth, there is no danger for Christians: them that are without God judgeth (1Cor 5:13). However, when it comes under false pretences of Christianity, it becomes extremely dangerous and therefore it must be called a heresy.


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#42 John M.

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:07 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.

WHY AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN EVOLUTIONIST

The reason why the theory of evolution has been considerably changed (as to acquiring religious including "Orthodox" forms) is related to today's shift from the exhausted rationalistic paradigm toward fuller idealistic concepts of the world that do not deny the existence of God absolutely. However, even a minor misinterpretation of a dogma leads to heresy and, consequently, to falling apart from the Truth. It is clear therefore why "saving" half-scientific mythology by "adding" it to the religious dogmas for the sake of "harmony between science and faith" (at the price of compromise on the part of faith) leads away from the true Christian teaching to the darkness of occultism and theosophy. An example of the above "convergence" of the theory of evolution and theology might be a new concept suggesting that apart from struggle for life, that is, enmity (which, by the way, a certain time ago justified the class struggle in the social world), a driving force for evolution can also be assistance. Philosophically, this is a form of dualism (no better than the materialism due to Darwin), since it states the independence of the two issues, the destructive and constructive. In the history of the Church this Gnostic concept expressed itself in the Manichean heresy.

While gaining momentum after separating from magic and having fully acquired materialistic grounds, natural science in attempts to understand the laws of life trespassed on the border between purely material and spiritual matters. However all kinds of spirituality which are not from the Holy Spirit are hopeless ugliness, a travesty of the Truth or a spiritual miscarriage. Therefore the process of transformation of secularized science into an occult para-science that we are observing nowadays is quite logical. The theory of evolution, which borrowed from the Bible the idea of a gradual accomplishment of the world, serves an excellent example of anti-Christian spirituality in science. Today the words of St Theophanus the Recluse of Vysha sound ever more to the point: "In our days the Russians start deviating from faith: some of them are completely losing it falling into disbelief, others are leaving for Protestantism, yet others are surreptitiously concocting their own beliefs where they think to combine spiritism and geological nonsense with Divine Revelation. Evil is growing: false belief and disbelief are raising their heads, while faith and Orthodoxy are weakening.

Will we stop? Will we finally have the same as the French, for example, or others … The West has grown depraved. It depraved itself: instead of the Gospel they started learning from the heathens and imitate them - and ended up in depravity. We are going to have the same: we started learning from the West that had left Christ and we have acquired the spirit of the West. In the end, like the West we will deny the true Christianity. However, there is nothing here that inevitably influences our free choice: if we want, we can chase away the western darkness; if we don't, we'll disappear in it" [9].

Let us now show in more detail why the evolutionary perspective is incompatible with the Orthodox doctrine. Among the numerous properties of God it has become traditional in patristic literature to group the following ones (the so-called cataphatic [10] properties, i.e. those properties that state positive qualities of God) together. As will be shown below, these qualities are denied by evolutionists.

Omnipotence. Evolutionism, being unable to prove that evolution takes place within observable time intervals, for the sake of plausibility of its arguments asserts that the timescale of the world's history amounts to millions of years. This diminishes God's omnipotence and capability of creating the world in six days only by His Word (Gen. 1:1-31, Ps 32:9, Ps 148:5, Ps 113:11, Ps 118:90, Luk 1:37). It should be noted here that Christian evolutionists, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Mat 22:29), having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart (Eph 4:17-18), mistakenly lay in the foundation of their reasoning about the length of the six days of creation the verse in the Bible saying that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Pet 3:8). This saying by the Holy Apostle Peter should be interpreted as something pertaining to the Lord. As St John The Chrysostom argues, it should be treated as a metaphor aimed at clarifying that God is beyond time, that is, eternal.

Evolutionists view the days of creation as "intervals of indefinite length", referring to the ambiguity of the Jewish word "yohm". This understanding is wrong. The Holy Fathers of the Eastern Church pointed that these days were equal in length to our usual days, that is, they lasted 24 hours each. E.g., St Ephrem the Syrian writes: "Although both light and clouds have been created instantaneously, the day-half and the night-half of the first day lasted twelve hours each" [40].

The Lord Himself witnessed the literary sense of the days of creation as the days of the week: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy… For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Ex 20:8,11)". The Orthodox Liturgical tradition also interprets the days of creation to be equal to usual days [10]. In particular, in the Church services creation and redemption are juxtaposed. E.g., the fall took place on Friday afternoon (Gen 3:9), at the same time on Friday the Saviour was crucified on the Cross: "O Thou Who on the sixth day and hour hast nailed to the Cross the sin that Adam dared to commit in Paradise: tear up the record of our trespasses, O Christ our God, and save us" (Lenten Troparion of the Sixth Hour).

It is important to note that all the Holy Fathers, who gave explanations to the Book of Genesis, unanimously stressed that the creative acts of the Lord were instantaneous. St Basil the Great says: "Let the earth bring forth… (Gen 1:11). At this short command in a moment there appeared a great nature and the artistic word, bringing forth limitless multitudes of plants more quickly than we reason" [3]. St Ambrose of Milan says: "He (Moses) did not anticipate a late and slow creation from combinations of atoms" but "wanted to express the unthinkable rate of the action" (see [11]).

St Athanasius the Great testifies: "All kinds of animals were created at once all together at the same command" [12]. St John of Kronshtadt states: "He says and His word instantly becomes multiple images and versatility of forms" [13]. Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) writes: " the "God" of "Christian evolution" is a god who is "not strong enough to accomplish all the work"; the reason itself why the teaching of evolution has been developed is to explain the universe based either on the idea that there is no God or that He is not able to create the world in six days by His word alone.

Those who believe in the God worshiped by Orthodox Christians would never imagine evolution" [8]. King David asked: "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" (Ps 2:1) Why does then the weak mind of evolutionists-heathens rage being unable to accept by faith a very simple divine truth: And God said, Let there be… And there was!?


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#43 John M.

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:14 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.

WHY AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN EVOLUTIONIST

Evolutionism does not admit that God created the world because of His goodness and in this world there was no corruption and death in the beginning: God did not create death (Pr 1:13), God created man incorrupt (Pr 2:23), death came into the world because of the envy of the devil (Pr 2:24), as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Rom 5:12). Everything that God made was very good (Gen 1:31) and this was so not according to our judgement but God's! The world created in six days was perfect. It was perfect not, of course, in the sense that this ruled out any further perfection. The utmost perfection will only be after the end of this age in the everlasting eighth day. But, undoubtedly, it was so because it did not have anything against or not pleasing God such as a shortcoming, vice or sin. Therefore in the newly created world there were no diseases, suffering, aging, corruption or death.

The opposite concept will inevitably lead to an absolute misinterpretation of the idea of God. Death came as a result of breaking the harmony in the relationship between God and man: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17). Death appeared only after the fall of man who was supposed to reign over all creation. So the creature itself came under the bondage of corruption… The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Rom 8:21-22). Having disobeyed God, man learned sin for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20). And sin brought forth death. As a matter of fact, death is a consequence, a result and the wages of sin (Rom 6:23); and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (Jam 1:15).

The sin committed by the first people, by concrete historical personalities who gave in to the tempter, was exactly that they tried to acquire knowledge independently of God to become perfect or "evolve" and be like gods, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:5). Man willfully separated himself from God, the Giver of life, breaking His life-creating commandment. In doing so he doomed himself and the rest of creation to die since the separation from God causes corruption according to the Prophet: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (Ps 1:6); they that are far from thee shall perish (Ps 73:27). On the contrary, according to evolutionists, death or "natural selection" is considered not a consequence of sin or a discord and lawlessness brought into the world from outside but a sort of "tribute to nature" or a necessary condition for new biological species to appear. This view implies that it pragmatically explains the purpose of the existence of creatures instead of accepting that they are self-sufficient and valuable as such.

Each living thing is then but a stage in the progressive development towards more advanced forms and is inevitably devoured and sacrificed by this inexorable development. In other words, it is not considered a creature with the purpose to exalt and glorify the goodness, power and wisdom of God: Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapors; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl (Ps 148:7, Ps 148:9-10).

The idea of the existence of death before the fall is especially blasphemous with respect to man himself as a person created by God according to His image and likeness and therefore immortal. The theory of evolution is a sacrilege therefore since it assumes the existence of ape (or even more primitive) ancestors of Adam putting a question about their redemption on the Cross and moreover limitlessly lengthening the genealogy of the Son of Man Himself (which in fact has 77 generations from Adam (Lk 3:23-38).

Alternatively this theory does not accept Adam as a historical person not only "disproving" his being saint but disproving the fact of his life and thus "killing" him. This reveals that it originates from the devil who was a murderer from the beginning (Jn 8:44). Rule 123 of the Council of Carthage states: "Whoever says that Adam, the first man created, was created mortal so that whether he had or had not sinned would have died anyway, that is, would have left his body not as in punishment for sin but due to the necessity of nature: let him be cursed (anathema)" [30]. It is important to realize that believing in the existence of death before Adam's fall destroys the grounds for the Christian understanding of the world. "Can one believe in Christ and doubt in the fall of the first people?" - asks St Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov) and clarifies - "If the story of the fall was a legend, an imaginary beginning of the following events of the observable history of the world, there would be no necessity in redemption of humanity by the Son of God and the unity of the people and God would never be broken" [31].

The point here is not in the subtlety of explanation of the Bible but in the incompatibility of the Orthodox theology and evolution, of the faith in the necessity of our redemption by the incarnate Son of God Jesus Christ and the faith in the absence of reasons making such redemption necessary: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14-15); what communion has a wolf with a lamb? And a sinful with a righteous (Sir 13:21).

Wisdom. Evolutionism disregards the divine origin of life as it tries to explain it scientifically, with the earthly wisdom based on the distorted and fragmental rational knowledge. But God is not worshipped with men's hands (Acts 17: 25); the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Cor 3:19). For it is only God in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3) his understanding is infinite (Ps 146:5), and there is no searching of his understanding (Is 40:28). For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor? (Rom 11:34). No one is able to conceive His works (Sir 18:2).

Omniscience. The theory of evolution rejects God's all-knowing since it sees Him making laboratory experiments according to a manly limited scheme: learning slavishly by trial and error and from simpler things to more complex. But God, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Rev 1:8), knows everything of every creature not even born yet and did know before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) because He is beyond time: Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world (Acts 15:18); And in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them (Ps 139:16); but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him (Heb 4:13).

There is a good example of this [14]. An evolutionist must invent a contemporary airplane. He takes a steam train, removes an engine attaches wings to the engine and here it is, Mozhaysky's aircraft! The next step is to come up with an internal combustion engine and get the Wright Brothers’ plane. Then even in this model he has to do yet another degenerative mutation removing the second pair of wings to obtain a monoplane. Finally, the engine must mutate to become a jet engine. Well, it is roughly what the evolution of human ideas in aircraft building looked like. But is there a plane maker who, knowing beforehand the way the desired plane looks, will start making it from a steam train and Mozhaysky's plane?

Can anyone imagine that our Creator is such a ‘plane maker’, He Who is eternal and Who knows what is hidden, who knows everything before it comes into being?

Truth. Evolutionism tries to disprove that God is truthful and faithful, compelling one either to reject the Scriptures or to believe that the creation of the world and the life of man described by the prophet Moses in the book of Genesis, did not take place in history but is an allegorical story requiring additional analysis based on principles entirely hostile to Christianity. But we know that God is faithful and there is no lie in Him: "all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he (Dt 32:4), the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth (Ps 33:4); But the Lord is the true God (Jer 10:10, Jn 8:27), it is impossible for God to lie (Heb 6:18).

The Holy Fathers did not accept any allegorical understanding of the Bible including the Hexaemeron, on the contrary they emphasized the necessity to understand it "as it is written". St Basil the Great in his explanations of the Hexaemeron says: "When I hear about the grass, I think of the grass; as well as plants, fish, animals and cattle - all is understood according to its name. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16)" [3]. St John The Chrysostom: "Not to believe what is told in the Divine Scriptures but to invent something different is extremely dangerous for the one who dares to do it" [15].

Holiness. When we say that God is Holy, we emphasize that His nature is different from this world and therefore incomprehensible. Evolutionism, on the contrary, either rejects the supernatural and miraculous or does not make the distinction. But the Lord our God is Holy (Ps 99:9). It is the very meaning of our life to strive for holiness. Man, being God's image, is not only an earthly being but a heavenly being as well: he is given the spirit which sets him apart from the animal world. With the spirit man perceives God and acquires holiness.

The main reason why the theory of evolution is not consistent with the Orthodox thinking is, according to St Theophanus the Recluse, the former reduces the spirit-soul-and-body human constitution to the animal nature with just two parts, body and soul. He writes: "If we accept that the center of man's nature is spirit, the theory of Darwin comes crushing down by itself. In fact, when considering the origin of man, to say that it is solely the origin of his body is not sufficient. On the contrary, his origins as a spiritual entity in an animal body and soul should be emphasized" [16].

A person who does not have a spiritual life and denies the manifestation of spirit in himself, actually loses it and becomes like an animal. It should be noted that the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped (2 Th 2,4), will win people's favour, as is said in the Apocalypse, in the image of a beast: The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? (Rev. 13:3-4). The theory of evolution that likens man to a beast has already won people's favour and become a scientific version of the pagan cult of totem, the animal beginning.


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#44 John M.

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:26 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.

WHY AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN EVOLUTIONIST


The main issue of anthropology is the reference frame in which to describe man. We can name a few layers of the hierarchical perception of the phenomenon of man. From the mechanical point of view, man is a system of joints and links. At the physicochemical level, a nonlinear open system able to organize and develop itself. Biologically, we are a living organism with a preprogrammed set of instincts. At the spiritual level, we are God's image. Therefore spiritual laws are important for us not to be a machine, a protein mass or an animal. The principle of action of these laws is different from the physical ones: the spiritual laws do not act by themselves but are given to be observed. Therefore they may be violated by the free will of man. God does not want to force these laws on us but He wants the will of His creation to freely come in accordance with His will. If this happens, His creature, man, becomes like God. On the other hand, every sin is contrary to God's will and leads to the destruction of man and the whole world and the separation from the Creator.



Therefore in natural sciences man should be viewed not from a fallen and seriously affected by sin personality's perspective, but bearing in mind those features and properties that distinguish us from the rest of creation and liken us to God - the ability to speak, think and love as well as our freedom, creativity, immortality, power and other qualities. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14)! All the personal properties acquire their true worth only in relation to God, in relation to our striving towards God's likeness. That is why when we view the nature of man we must overcome the ontological propensity to sin in our being. By contrast, viewing the man from within his fallen nature leads to ever more aberration. It is sufficient to remember the recent advances in gene engineering, the appearance of new bio-technologies such as fetal therapy, conception in vitro, cloning, xenotransplantology (transplantology across species) and the like.




Apart from the concept of man's nature, another very important issue is our own attitude towards nature, which has also been immensely "darwinised" in the present time. The notion of ecology itself is anti-Christian, because it misconstrues the core of the problem: the reason of the contemporary ecological crisis is seen by ecologists in the unwise industrial activities. That is, they exchange the true reason of the crisis for its manifestation, its consequence. The actual reason of all natural catastrophes, illnesses, sufferings and death is, however, our sin before God: Against thee, thee only, have I sinned (Ps 49:4). Man as such is not an obstacle to the existence of nature. Sin lead to the spreading of evil from man to the animal world and all creation: For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:20-21).




St John The Chrysostom explains: "What does it mean: was made subject to vanity? - It was made corruptible. What for and why? - It is your fault, man. Because you got a deadly body subject to sufferings, the Earth has also been cursed" [17]. The Earth itself has been changed. "According to the Revelation, the Earth is irritated by the lawlessness which is done on it, - writes Deacon Daniel Sysoyev, - This happens not because our planet is a god or a personality (as occultists say), but because on the third day of creation divine not-made ideas were put in it which give the Earth fertility and control its being. They come from the inconceivable entity of God. This is why every crime and sin is inevitably reflected on our planet." [18].




Therefore the salvation, preservation and healing of nature is only possible after the healing of the master of this world, man, who being unworthy has lost his ability and power to govern it. The world was created for us, not the other way around. Every creature exists, according to the Holy Fathers, to serve man. And since the Lord sent the flood onto the ancient and depraved world, is it not clear that attempts to improve the ecological situation on Earth using only the rational scientific approach without thinking of the rebirth of man in Christ are futile? If he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly (2 Pet 2:4-6). The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deut 29:29). This phrase shows that it is only the fulfillment of the law, a revealed thing that belongs to us, whereas the salvation of this world, a secret thing, is up to the Lord.




To create an earthly paradise is impossible. We cannot avoid the end of the world and no one is able to save it: the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Pet 3:7).




The transfiguration of man and the world


is only possible by acquiring God's grace and overcoming our fallen nature: The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2 Pet 2:9); the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (Ps 1:6).




References (all in Russian)


1. St Feofan Zatvornik, Nastavleniya v duhovnoi zhisni. - Pskov-Pechery Monastery of Holy Dormition: Mosc. Patriarchate Publ., 1994.



2. St Feofan Zatvornik, Sozertsanie I razmyshlenie. - Moscow, Pravilo very, 1998.



3. St Vasily Vyeliky. Byesedy na Knigu Bytiya, Tvorenia. - Ìoscow, Palomnik, 1993. - vol.1.



5. N.Ya.Danilevsky, Darwinism, A critical study. - St Petersburgh., 1885.


6. St Grigiry Palama. V zaschitu svyaschenno-bezmolvstvuyuschikh. - Moscow, Kanon, 1995.



7. L.A.Tikhomirov, Religiozno-philosophskie osnovy istorii. - Moscow, "Moskva" Magazin, 1998.



8. Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), Poslanie k A.Kalomirosu, Russki Pastyr. ¹22-23, 1995.



9. Rossia pered vtorym proshestviem, S.Fomin (Ed.), Sviyato-Troitskaya Sergiyeva Lavra, 1993.



10. Archimandrite Alipy (Kastalsky-Borozdin), Apchimandrite Isaiah (Belov), Dogmaticheskoe bogoslovie, Sviyato-Troitskaya Sergiyeva Lavra, 1995.



11. Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), Pravoslavnoye svyatootecheskoye ponimanie Knigi Bytia, Moscow, Rossiyskoye Otdelenie Valaamskogo Obschestva Ameriki, 1998.



12. St Aphanasy Vyeliky, Tvorenya, Sergiyev Posad, 1994.



13. St Ioann Kronshtandtsky, Moya zhisn vo Hriste, Moscow, Blagovest, 1998, vol.1-2.



14. Priest Timophey, Dvye kosmogonii, Evolutsionnaya teoria v svete svyatootecheskogo uchenia i argumentov creatsionnoy nauki, Moscow, Palomnik, 1999.



15. St Ioann Zlatoust, Byesedy na Knigu Bytiya , Tvorenia, Moscow, Zlatoust, 1994, vol. 4., book 1.



16. St Feofan Zatvornik, Mudrye soviety, Moscow, Pravilo vyery, 1998.



17. Deacon Daniil Sysoyev, Lyetopis nachala, Sretensky Monastery.




18. St Ioann Zlatoust, Byesedy na poslanie k rimlyanam, Tvorenia, Moscow, Zlatoust, 1994, vol.9, book 2.


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#45 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 12:42 PM

Perhaps I'm interpreting the term "Patristic" too loosely, then. "Patristic", to me, means "finding its origin in the writings of the Fathers," and there are several things located here and there in the writings of the Fathers that don't jibe with the "consensus patrum" (as I've heard it called at least once). For example, St. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote in volume 2 of Against Heresies that Christ died around the age of fifty, not thirty-three. I'd call that "Patristic", but I wouldn't call it correct.

Now, if by "Patristic" it is meant, "whatever is contained in the 'consensus patrum'," then we certainly have a definition which is narrow enough to exclude the occasional anomalies like the example above, but unfortunately we also have a definition that makes it almost impossible to rule anything "in" or "out" of the faith save for what either clearly agrees with or clearly contradicts the Creeds of the Church. And if all we are strictly bound to believe are the Creeds of the Church, then an overwhelming majority of Orthodox tradition has suddenly become "up for grabs".

(I wonder if anyone has gone through the trouble of collecting the necessary information to say, "Here are all the pronouncements of the Church Councils down through history, to which all Orthodox are obligated to consent," and form a "primer" of sorts out of this information for distribution to the faithful.)

This is why I have turned the question into something more personal and less declaratory concerning the faith as a whole -- i.e., "Is this what you believe and/or teach?"


This is a very important discussion in its own light.

But in terms of this thread the question I was responding to was what do the priests here think of the talk by Fr Damascene.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#46 M. Partyka

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 05:39 PM

Theology, as the Greek origin of the word suggests, is concerned with God - what God is and how one can attain communion with Him - whereas Science is concerned with the created world and is interested mainly in the use of the world....In the Orthodox Church, as expressed by the Holy Fathers, we see that the content of Theology is one thing and that of Science another.

Isn't this an outright false statement? Granted, science is not equipped to comment on anything but the created world, but theology does indeed make statements about the created world, and this can bring it squarely into conflict with science.

#47 M. Partyka

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 06:18 PM

The theologian is God-inspired regarding God, not however regarding natural phenomena. «The beholder of God is God-inspired and speaks steadfastly about God and leads straight towards God, but he is not infallible in matters concerning the applied and other Sciences, regarding which he can only know as much as his contemporary scientists.»...Likewise, the scientist is also a specialist and is knowledgeable of natural phenomena. When, however, he departs from his strict scientific method and confuses his findings about the nature of the world with his views about God, then he says «irresponsible things.»...Both are authentic when they work within their bounds, but when they depart from them and enter each other's sphere without the necessary presuppositions and rules that presuppose each framework and each area, then they become ridiculous.

This is a very challenging statement, as it utterly divides science and theology into one concrete and one abstract class of knowledge. One can authenticate science -- that's part of what makes it science. One cannot, however, authenticate theology, save by comparing the present theological proclamations against past proclamations, which in turn cannot be themselves authenticated unless even earlier, non-verifiable statements are brought to bear. If this is the paradigm under which theology must work, how can anyone "know" anything belonging to the realm of theology?

And, again, is it really true to say that science has no overlaps with theology? A theologian says, "God created the world and everything in it in seven days." The scientist says, "The world and everything in it has taken billions of years to mature into its present condition." Is the theologian only "right" to the extent that his words lead us to God? Is the theologian only "wrong" concerning the world and everything in it? If this is so, then the world God created in seven days cannot be the world we live in, or else perhaps seven days to God doesn't mean our 24-hour days. But in any case, one must wonder, "Why not keep what one knows is right and discard what one knows is wrong?" That's what any sane person would do, I think -- cull what is wrong from the theologian's statement and say instead, "God created the world and everything in it over billions of years." There. That's right all around, and now we don't have to talk theology out of both sides of our mouths.

The great Fathers of the Church were theologians through the experience of revelation and they even became scientists through conscientious study and learning of human Science. That is why they are whole.

They are whole, perhaps, but what good ought that to do them? The science they learned was wrong, and therefore they themselves were wrong. "Wholeness" does not, in my mind, balance the equation any more than does the "wholeness" of a scientist-atheist.

#48 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 06:38 PM

And, again, is it really true to say that science has no overlaps with theology? A theologian says, "God created the world and everything in it in seven days." The scientist says, "The world and everything in it has taken billions of years to mature into its present condition." ... perhaps seven days to God doesn't mean our 24-hour days. ... say instead, "God created the world and everything in it over billions of years."


The word "day" in scripture has been used in a multitude of ways. Sometimes it refers to a 24 hour period (or at least the period from sunset to sunset - if you accept Velikovsky's argument that used to be a 20 hour period). At other times "day" is used to describe an definite span of time of indeterminate length; for example there is the constant reference to "the day of the Lord" which we often consider to the "8th day" or the day of the Resurrection which began at the Resurrection and continues even to the present until the second coming of the Lord. This "day" is actually an indication of the "overlap" between the Kingdom of God and this world and so expresses a much more metaphysical concept than the simply physical idea of the span of time it takes the earth to revolve on its axis.

The concept of a "day" has always been a sticking point for me when it comes to the literal interpretation of Genesis. Until the 4th day there is no sun and moon, no stars no division between the light and the dark - so how was the "day" measured in that time? At this juncture I am only asking questions "off the cuff" as they say - but be assured after writing this I will be looking into the writings of both St Basil and St John Damascus to see if there is any comment on the topic.

Any other suggestions for reading on this topic of the "day" and especially the "day of the Lord" would be gladly accepted.

Fr David Moser

#49 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 07:57 PM

The word "day" in scripture has been used in a multitude of ways. Sometimes it refers to a 24 hour period


In the context of Genesis "day"/"yom" refers to a 24 hour period. We have already had an affirmation of this from St. Ephraim the Syrian. Here is St. Basil:

“’And there was evening and morning, one day.’ Why did he say ‘one’ and not ‘first?’ He said ‘one’ because he was defining the measure of day and night.., since the twenty-four hours fill up the interval of one day.” (Hexameron 2, 8).
"Thus were created the evening and the morning. Scripture means the space of a day and a night...If it therefore says ‘one day,' it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain. Now twenty-four hours fills up the space of one day – we mean of a day and of a night" (Hexameron 2, 8).

The Father is quite clear that it is not sun/moon that define what a day is, it is God Who defines what a day is and then appoints the celestial bodies to fulfil the work of counting the time, as the Psalmist, or rather the Holy Spirit says in a different place of the Holy Scripture.

St. Basil also had no difficulty with there been plants before the sun (I'll post the text tonight unless somebody does it before me). The main idea here is that light, warmth and overall sustenance that plants need are not from the sun. They are from God. The reason for this order of creation (plans before celestial bodies) is to avoid ambiguity about Who or what gives life to and sustains all things. Sun is just a creature doing what it has been made for, light is a separate creature doing what it's been made for. Light btw was created before the sun.

Edited by Yuri Zharikov, 15 April 2008 - 01:27 AM.


#50 M. Partyka

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:12 PM

The concept of a "day" has always been a sticking point for me when it comes to the literal interpretation of Genesis. Until the 4th day there is no sun and moon, no stars no division between the light and the dark - so how was the "day" measured in that time?

From what I've read in non-Orthodox Christian sources, the reason that the creation of the light of day precedes the creation of the sun is that from an observational point of view, daylight arrives about an hour before sunrise and lasts about an hour after sunset. Therefore, from an observational perspective, the sun cannot be the sole cause of daylight because daylight doesn't start with sunrise or end with sunset. The sun can be said to "rule over" the day, but it can't itself be the cause of the day.

But the day/age controversy only worsens if you consider not only the amounts of time recorded in Genesis 1 but also the sequence of events recorded there. The events of Genesis 1 are arranged in this order:

1) Heaven and Earth, day and night.
2) The firmament, which divides the waters above the earth (e.g., rain, snow, hail) from the waters below the earth (e.g., the primeval ocean).
3) Dry land, plants.
4) Sun, moon, stars.
5) Birds, fish.
6) Bugs, land animals, humans.

None of this appears in the "correct" sequence according to modern science. The "correct" sequence would look more like this:

1) Stars, sun.
2) Earth, day, night.
3) Dry land, water.
4) Aquatic life (including plants), fish.
5) Land plants, bugs, land animals.
6) Birds, humans.

#51 M. Partyka

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:17 PM

The main idea here is that light, warmth and overall sustenance that plants need are not from the sun. They are from God. The reason for this order of creation (plans before celestial bodies) is to avoid ambiguity about Who or what gives life to and sustains all things. Sun is just a creature doing what it has been made for, light is a separete creature doing what it's been made for. Light btw was created before the sun.

Exactly. The sun, moon, and stars' coming into being on the fourth day had a twofold purpose. First, it showed that the sun, moon, and stars were creatures made by God and therefore undeserving of worship. (Indeed, the reason that the sun and the moon are referred to as the "greater light" and the "lesser light" is because the only words available for "sun" and "moon" also meant "sun-god" and "moon-god", respectively.) Second, it showed that, just as you have said, God is the ultimate provider and sustainer of life, not the sun, moon, or any other creature.

#52 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 01:32 AM

St. Basil also had no difficulty with there been plants before the sun (I'll post the text tonight unless somebody does it before me). The main idea here is that light, warmth and overall sustenance that plants need are not from the sun. They are from God. The reason for this order of creation (plans before celestial bodies) is to avoid ambiguity about Who or what gives life to and sustains all things. Sun is just a creature doing what it has been made for, light is a separate creature doing what it's been made for. Light btw was created before the sun.


St. Basil: the adornment of the earth is older than the sun that those who have been misled may cease worshipping the sun [I would add nature in general] as the origin of life (Hexameron 5:1).

St. Ambrose: before the light of the sun shall appear let the green herb be born, let its light be prior to that of the sun. let the earth germinate before it receives th fostering care of the sun, lest there be an occasion for human errors to grow. let everyone be informed that the sun is not the author of vegetation... The sun is younger than the green shoot, younger than the green plant. (Hexameron 3:6).

#53 John M.

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 02:30 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.

St. Ambrose: before the light of the sun shall appear let the green herb be born, let its light be prior to that of the sun. let the earth germinate before it receives th fostering care of the sun, lest there be an occasion for human errors to grow. let everyone be informed that the sun is not the author of vegetation... The sun is younger than the green shoot, younger than the green plant. (Hexameron 3:6).

This is beautiful!

Edited by Administrator, 10 June 2008 - 08:47 AM.
Added notice of identity fraud


#54 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 03:10 AM

It is beautiful that the Fathers were so fully immersed into the Word of God, so fully dedicated to It, so utterly in love with It. They knew all the things we know and way more, if we use St. Basil as an example. Yet it never occurred to them to examine the word of God and the magnificence of His creation through the broken microscope of worldly wisdom. They always elevated themselves over it, being true eagles soaring on the wings of divine wisdom. And from that height they could so easily perceive all the foolishness of human philosophies trying to fathom the creation of God with matchsticks, as it were, like ants crawling over a little twig, pulling it two and fro and thinking they are building a tower to heaven or a lever to lift the earth.

The more I read them the more I become convinced that their mind operated radically different from ours, even when we are or call ourselves Orthodox, i.e. their spiritual children.

They saw the whole, and thus could fit all the little things to where they properly belong. We behave like somebody trying to drive a car or sail a ship with a microscope attached firmly to his eyes, getting tripped all the time over his own shoelaces and imagining them to be something grandiose.

Reductionism was definitely not the way of the Fathers and it seems such an overwhelming part of our approach to things. Induction was definitely not the way they learned while it is the prevalent way we compose our "theories". How then can we compare an Icon, a Holy Icon, whole and Holy with a jig-saw puzzle often composed of unrelated, incomplete and broken or damaged pieces?

#55 M. Partyka

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 06:12 AM

It is beautiful that the Fathers were so fully immersed into the Word of God, so fully dedicated to It, so utterly in love with It. They knew all the things we know and way more....

On the contrary: they knew less. They knew nothing of varves, ice cores, dinosaur fossils, the geologic column, the speed of light, etc., etc. -- all the things that make the literalist interpretation of Genesis 1-11 difficult to believe, they didn't know. So it doesn't surprise me in the least how in love with Scripture the Fathers were. They had no idea that there was anything waiting under the earth to contradict it.

For the first several years of my Christian life, I kept entirely away from the creation/evolution debate. I just assumed that "it all worked out somehow", and that there were objective, rational people on both sides of the debate who honestly disagreed about the evidence. That assumption, among other things, allowed me to immerse myself in Scripture for a time. Then, in the last few years, the creation/evolution debate wormed its way into the forefront of my mind, and I felt is was time to sit down and take a look at it myself to see on which side of the debate I belonged. Now there usually isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I lived in an earlier era, like that in which the Fathers lived, when we didn't know so much about the past, the earth, the stars, and the whole cosmos. Unfortunately, that option isn't open to me. Like Adam and Eve, my eyes have been opened, and things don't look the same anymore.

Bottom line? Ignorance is bliss. Thus, the Fathers' bliss over the Scriptures doesn't surprise me. Indeed, I envy them. Their eyes were open wide, honest, blameless -- they simply couldn't see what we would one day discover to our dismay. They couldn't even conceive that such things existed. They could fully immerse themselves in Scripture because there were no rocks or bones in the museums to jar them out of their state of immersion. People with their eyes wide open today? We don't have it so good.

#56 Demetrios

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 01:34 PM

On the contrary: they knew less. They knew nothing of varves, ice cores, dinosaur fossils, the geologic column, the speed of light, etc., etc. -- all the things that make the literalist interpretation of Genesis 1-11 difficult to believe, they didn't know. So it doesn't surprise me in the least how in love with Scripture the Fathers were. They had no idea that there was anything waiting under the earth to contradict it.

For the first several years of my Christian life, I kept entirely away from the creation/evolution debate. I just assumed that "it all worked out somehow", and that there were objective, rational people on both sides of the debate who honestly disagreed about the evidence. That assumption, among other things, allowed me to immerse myself in Scripture for a time. Then, in the last few years, the creation/evolution debate wormed its way into the forefront of my mind, and I felt is was time to sit down and take a look at it myself to see on which side of the debate I belonged. Now there usually isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I lived in an earlier era, like that in which the Fathers lived, when we didn't know so much about the past, the earth, the stars, and the whole cosmos. Unfortunately, that option isn't open to me. Like Adam and Eve, my eyes have been opened, and things don't look the same anymore.

Bottom line? Ignorance is bliss. Thus, the Fathers' bliss over the Scriptures doesn't surprise me. Indeed, I envy them. Their eyes were open wide, honest, blameless -- they simply couldn't see what we would one day discover to our dismay. They couldn't even conceive that such things existed. They could fully immerse themselves in Scripture because there were no rocks or bones in the museums to jar them out of their state of immersion. People with their eyes wide open today? We don't have it so good.


I think the concept has occupied the thought of many through out the ages. It's only new to those who learn of the concept. This is a cut and paste.

Ancient Greek philosophers were perhaps the first to clearly formulate a materialistic evolutionary concept of origins. It must be emphasized that these Greek philosophers were neither scientists nor experimentalists; rather they speculated on the origin of the universe in a way consistent with their religious and philosophical beliefs. Although many of the earliest Greek philosophers considered their gods to be creators, this began to change with the influence of Thales of Miletus. Thales (who lived at the time of Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC) founded the Milesian school of natural philosophy. One of the primary assumptions of this school of thought was that the origin of everything in nature could be explained in terms of its own material composition. Thus, they sought to explain the origin of everything by a process of self-assembly from some underlying material element. Thales believed that water was that basic element from which all things evolved.

Anaximenes (560-502 BC), a disciple of Thales' Milesian school, believed that air was the basic element from which everything evolved. He insisted that virtually everything in the universe (including the gods) was merely rarefied or condensed air! He believed that when air rarefied, it became fire -- which formed the sun and heavenly bodies -- and that when it condensed, it became cold and formed wind, water, and earth.

Heraclitus of Ephesus (535-475 BC) preferred fire as the basic element from which everything in the universe evolved. Like modern day evolutionists, Heraclitus was preoccupied with the idea of limitless change. He attempted to eliminate any necessity for a Creator by postulating a constantly changing world with neither beginning nor end. Since anything man declares to be eternal becomes his god, nature itself became the god of materialism.

Empedocles (484-424 BC) attempted to cover all bases by proposing that everything in the universe evolved from four basic elements – water, air, fire and earth. He believed that all parts of living organisms were formed independently and were brought together in random combinations. Those combinations which were not well suited to live, perished, while the better suited combinations survived. This ludicrous speculation is strikingly similar to Darwinian "survival of the fittest," yet Empedocles predated Darwin by over 2,000 years!

Epicurus (341-270 BC) would have been very comfortable with "modern" evolutionary cosmologists. He believed that everything in the universe evolved by chance combinations of randomly moving elementary particles called atoms! Epicurus was the father of an influential philosophical system known as Epicureanism, which taught that the universe was eternal and that nothing could influence it from without. The seeds of today's crass materialism were sown in the Epicurean assumptions that the whole of existence is made of atomic particles or is a void -- and sensation is the sole source of all knowledge.

#57 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 01:52 PM

Anaximenes (560-502 BC), a disciple of Thales' Milesian school, believed that air was the basic element from which everything evolved. He insisted that virtually everything in the universe (including the gods) was merely rarefied or condensed air! He believed that when air rarefied, it became fire -- which formed the sun and heavenly bodies -- and that when it condensed, it became cold and formed wind, water, and earth.


This is certainly an interesting observation, because in a sense, it is startlingly correct! Generally speaking in modern thought, all matter exists in one of four states: Solid (earth), liquid (water), gas (air) and plasma (fire). Remove thermal energy from a gas and it becomes a liquid. Remove some more and it becomes a solid. Heat a gas enough and it transitions to a plasma. But these states of matter are not what make up matter. Water does not become earth, but rock can become lava, water can become ice and if cooled enough and put under enough pressure, can behave similarly to steel. They were all correct in part, but incorrect because none of them represent the whole. God created a bigger universe than we can analyze or define and this is shown in the quantom theory which states that nothing can be really "known" because the act of measurement or analysis "changes" the object under investigation. Science is all about setting or determining boundaries, theology is about getting beyond those boundaries. Obviously there are going to be areas of overlap and apparent contradition. Indeed quantum mechanics and chaos theory show us that there is a place for the apophatic approach. God is bigger than some of us want Him to be. We want to put Him in a box, but He will not be contained. Dealing with that can be difficult for some people. Interesting tho' that at the microcosmic and macrocosmic levels, God and science meet, and science still does not know quite what to make of it.....

Herman

#58 Owen Jones

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 02:30 PM

I would quibble as to Heraclitus being a materialist. It is in Heraclitus that we find first mention of the theological virtues. Yes, the world is in a state of flux, but divinity is not. The theological virtues become the ordering forces of the soul that orient us toward that which is unchanging.

I think the exposition as a whole is helpful in pointing out that Darwin is nothing new. This feeling of, gee, my mind has been opened by modern science and I can't believe in the Fathers without a willing suspension of disbelief, is, unfortunately, a representation of spiritual alienation than a real, profound awareness.

I am still puzzled about what it is that people find in Darwinism to be compelling, given all of the evidence we have of it being flawed science. The only question that remains up in the air, it seems to me, is whether God created man 6,000 years ago by our current calendar, or sometime earlier. That particular issue seems hardly to lend credence to Darwinism, or to open up some Pandora's box of skepticism.

Perhaps we need to recapture the whole notion and experience of suddenness, and its permanence. Perhaps the problem is that modern day conversion is not sudden enough -- we have made it an evolutionary process. Nothing dramatic about it (unless you are a Pentacostal/Evangelical who confuses a come to Jesus moment with true conversion).

#59 RichardWorthington

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 03:16 PM

Dear Mr Partyka.

The Orthodox heart sings that
[quote name='Yuri Zharikov']St. Ambrose: … The sun is younger than the green shoot, younger than the green plant. (Hexameron 3:6).[/quote]
yet the Orthodox mind also observes that
[quote name='M. Partyka']theology does indeed make statements about the created world, and this can bring it squarely into conflict with science.[/quote]
and
[quote name='M. Partyka']the world God created in seven days cannot be the world we live in, or else perhaps seven days to God doesn't mean our 24-hour days. [/quote]

The best solution to the above is to consider the following misquotation about St Paul:
[quote]I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago -- who definitely was in the physical body and so we can apply physical science to it -- such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man -- who definitely was in the physical body and so we can apply physical science to it -- how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4, New Monachian Version)[/quote]

This variant reading in the New Monachian Version points to where both Evolutionists and Creationists are going somewhat astray. It is true that St Paul went to Paradise - that same Paradise out of which our first parents were expelled - but he actually wrote about his experience: "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows". Now we know that science can only deal with the world as we see it ("in the body"), but Orthodox theologians should seek to speak about the spiritual world ("out of the body", although the body will be resurrected on the Last Day). However, when Orthodox theologians start to argue over the evidence regarding how old the universe is or how we humans are related to apes, should they really be using physical evidence? As it is written:

[quote]For Creationists try to show physical evidence of miracles, and Evolutionists seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Creationists a stumbling block and to the Evolutionists foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:22-24, New Revised Monachian Version)[/quote]

What is the "stumbling block" the Creationists trip over regarding the pre-fallen world and Paradise? Listen to Blessed Seraphim of Platina (a.k.a. Fr Seraphim Rose), where he correctly states,

[quote]"the law of nature as we now know is different from the law of nature before Adam’s transgression … natural science, bound up entirely with its observation of the present state of creation, cannot investigate it" ("Genesis, Creation, and Early Man", page 415)[/quote]

Of course the world we know today is related to the un-fallen world, but to try to look in-depth is to come against the futility to which the creation is subjected (Romans 8:20). How is it then that he actually tries to verify his writings of that un-fallen world from the current laws of nature and scientific observations?

[quote]
Regarding the firmament, Genesis 1:6: "St Basil believes that the function of the ‘firmament’ was to preserve a mild temperature over the whole earth. Now, it so happens that we know of a certain ‘greenhouse’ effect on the earth in prehistoric times: tropical plants and animals have been found in the ice of the far north, indicating that the northern regions were indeed once temperate" (page 117; indeed on the next page he speculates that the firmament would help keep harmful radiation at bay! But in the pre-fallen world there was no radiation that could be remotely compared to what we know today.)

Regarding the sun - Genesis 1:14 - and that it is far larger than the earth: "One could, of course, conceive of a sun much smaller than the one we know and much closer to the earth, while preserving its apparent size as seen from the earth. But such a sun would expend its energy many times more rapidly than our present sun does. Evidently, God made the sun the size and the distance from the earth it needs to have if it is to give to earth the amount of light and heat it requires to support life to the end of this age (page 127-8; yet the ancients taught otherwise about the sun, that its "light is sevenfold brighter than that of the moon; but as regards size they are both equal", The Book of Enoch 72:37). [/quote]

Years ago I was walking around thinking that the tropical plants and animals under the ice were a proof of the six-day creation. However, just recently it has begun to dawn on me that to be either a Creationist or an Evolutionist is to be mistaken; both are correct, but only in their respective spheres and not outside. Now hopefully I think I am actually becoming Orthodox.

[quote name='M. Partyka']Then, in the last few years, the creation/evolution debate wormed its way into the forefront of my mind, and I felt is was time to sit down and take a look at it myself to see on which side of the debate I belonged. Now there usually isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I lived in an earlier era, like that in which the Fathers lived, when we didn't know so much about the past, the earth, the stars, and the whole cosmos. Unfortunately, that option isn't open to me. Like Adam and Eve, my eyes have been opened, and things don't look the same anymore. [/quote]

O Mr Partyka, I salute you! O catechumen wiser than the baptised, pray for me! O servant of God, teach me an ignorant fool!

The Creationists I have listened to so far are all described by the scripture which says, "I sleep, but my heart is awake" (Song of Songs 5:2): their heart is awake when they correctly describe the beautiful state of the pre-fallen world, but they are asleep when it comes to relating this to others. You however, are described by the scripture which says, "I laid me down and slept; I awoke; for the Lord sustained me" (Psalm 3:5): you are awake with the knowledge that God does not want us to ignore our reasoning mind in "submission" to others, and yet you also are yearning for your heart to wake up:

[quote]Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light. (Ephesians 5:14)[/quote]

If any Creationist challenges the evidence either for an ‘old earth’ or for evolution, that maybe such evidence is not accurate or is distorted, then reply as follows:

[quote]What part of "corrupted" do you not understand? St Paul says that "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 8:20-21). Why do you seek to teach me about the incorruptible from the corrupted and about the irrefutable from the futile? So what if the corrupted implies a certain statement: being based on corruption it could be either true or false!

If St Paul "was caught up into Paradise" - "whether in the body or out of the body" he did not know - then why do you seek to find evidence about this same Paradise from this fallen world without being caught up into heaven yourself? (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)

You who believe that the bread and wine in the Eucharist become the very Body and Blood of Christ, will you try to prove this by science? Will you try to prove the ‘change’ by searching for evidence of some "homoeopathic Blood"? It is clear to science that what is in the chalice remains bread and wine, no matter how much you examine it. However, the Orthodox who renounce the rationalism of the West say that "the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar" (Judges 13:19-20; see this post). So too with the creation! [/quote]

And then to enlighten them regarding their error, recall to them the Rubin vase (Image taken from http://lookmind.com/...hp?cat=4&id=177):

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Creationist: This image is clearly that of two faces
Evolutionist: No, it is a vase
Creationist: But the BIBLE says in Exodus chapter thirty-three, verse eleven, that "the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."
Evolutionist: I suppose there could be faces there, but are you telling me that this evidence of yours relates to God?
Creationist: Absolutely, "the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!"
Evolutionist: So no possibility of a vase being there?
Creationist: No, but in John chapter three verse eighteen it says that "he who does not believe is condemned already"
Evolutionist: So if the way you look at the image is taken as evidence for two faces, then why cannot the way I look at it be taken as evidence for a vase?
Creationist: We know that you are fudging up the evidence!

(and so on ad infinitum. Note that while parodying the image of a fanatical Bible-basher - and I do not apply this to anyone here - it should be noted that I have found certain atheists to be just as shallow.)

Let me tell you what you already know: the God who appeared to Moses appeared in glory, and the skin of Moses’ face shone (Exodus 34:30). How then can the above image of the faces be compared with the reality of meeting God face to face? In like manner, how can the present creation be "worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed" to the creation via us (Romans 8:18)? Who cares about the universe being billions of years old, or about our physical body being derived from the apes? The world is fallen. But how then can we talk about creation in six days? Mr Partyka, you answered this yourself:

[quote name='M. Partyka']the world God created in seven days cannot be the world we live in [/quote]

- exactly the same deduction I came to (see this post). Do we not talk about the spiritual world as being "not of this world"? Paradise still exists - St Paul went there "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know" (2 Corinthians 12:3). As such, it can only be considered to be "not of this world". The scientific term for such a thing, where different laws operate, is another universe. How this fallen universe of corruption came from the original single universe which was "neither completely incorruptible, nor entirely corruptible" I suppose we shall never know (quotation from St Gregory the Sinate speaking of Paradise; "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man", page 166).

Perhaps it could be worth mentioning that time also probably fell; surely Paradise would have remained forever young even while the days passed. Maybe this is what is indicated in the words of Christ, "the hour is coming, and now is" (John 5:25). Also, scientists have just recently discovered that time is not always the same in our universe: "time told by a clock in our galaxy and the time told by one floating in a void could differ by as much as 38 per cent" ("New Scientist", 07 March 2008, article "Dark energy may just be a cosmic illusion"); by the way, it is older in the voids.

Therefore, let not science be mocked for trying to explain how the world works now or previously, for they are not studying the work of an ‘intelligent designer’ at all. This universe is based on the work of the Beautiful Designer, but because "through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin" (Romans 5:12), it is under the tyranny of the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31), i.e. the devil. Blame him for the suffering in this world, but first let us acknowledge our foolishness in handing him the keys in the first place!

Similarly, let not true Orthodox theology be mocked: the Father is not like a fairy! But with soberness and purity of heart let us show that there is more to being human than being a slave of the evolutionary treadmill. Indeed, why are we trying to save endangered species when this would hinder our own "survival of the fittest"? Did God become incarnate as a monkey as well? From where does our immortal soul 'evolve'? Materialism is not "Creationism versus Evolution" or "Theology versus Science", but the denial of the Vision of the Spirit of life (see the thread "The sacraments: 'the earnest expectation of the creation' and the divine light").

I originally started this thread as "Evolution and the baptism of Christ", wanting to explore how the sacramental life of the Church may help. It was then taken over to be "Creation and evolutionary theory, II". However, I think one quotation from the Sunday of Forgiveness may help restore the balance:

[quote]I boldly put my trust in the abundance of Your mercies, Christ my Saviour, and in the Blood that flowed from Your divine side; for through Your Blood, loving Lord, You have sanctified the nature of mortal man, and have opened to those who worship You the gates of Paradise that were closed of old to Adam.

http://www.ocf.org/O...iodion/prel_sun [/quote]

Neither by looking for evidence in this fallen world nor by logic do we attain to Paradise, but only by the life-giving Blood of Christ. As it is written, "Drink from this, all of you; this is my Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins".

"O slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" (Luke 24:25), but of you, Mr Partyka, Christ says, "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" (Matthew 8:10).

[quote name='M. Partyka'] Now there usually isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I lived in an earlier era, like that in which the Fathers lived [/quote]

Pray for me, O catechumen of the Most High! May your wish come true: may you indeed one day return from Eternity!

Richard
PS. Until someone can actually prove that picture of Rubin's vase is either that of two faces or that of a vase, please let us not hear about the evidence for evolution being flawed, and neither that the Fathers of the Orthodox Church do not know of the life of Paradise, which is the life of the Age to Come!

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#60 Yuri Zharikov

Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 03:58 PM

Dear Richard, the only difficulty I have with your posts, the last one and the one at the begining of the thread, is that you seem to argue that the original creation is both unknowable to the fallen ratio and that yet the fallen ratio can make valid speculations about the origins. Could you please elaborate, or show what it is I am getting wrong.

The Orthodox mind also observed that the natural knowledge derived by the fallen ratio should be validated by the Higher Revealed Knowledge.




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