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Creation and evolutionary theory, II


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#61 Matthew Namee

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 06:07 PM

I haven't been participating in this discussion, but I just wanted to say that I think I agree with Richard's last post; that is, having reviewed both the pro- and anti-evolution arguments as best I could, I have come to the conclusion to not come to a conclusion. The work of scientists is remarkable and, aside from a minuscule but loud percentage, quite sincere. The Scriptures are God-inspired and the Fathers are the foundation of our understanding of them. I am content to say, "I do not know" in this case, because I do not see how "knowing" will save or damn me one bit.

#62 Owen Jones

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 09:41 PM

The problem is that we are neither saved alone, nor damned alone. We should never be exclusively concerned with our personal salvation. And so the ideologies of the modern world need to be first understood by the faithful, and challenged by the faithful, first in our own minds, so that we are neither double minded nor agnostic on these issues, but also so that we can make a rational defense of what we believe and not come across as dunces. Most of the world operates today on the basis of an evolutionary bias, which is probably the leading stumbling block to a consideration of God. This is particularly true with young people, and when and if they do convert, it is to a kind of fundamentalism that then resorts to the inevitable conclusion that science is irrelevant. Agnosticism is on these issues is merely a form of laziness and pacivity, marked by a complacency. Gee, I have my salvation, to heck with yours.

#63 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 10:21 PM

The other side to the "I don't know" is that one leaves himself defenceless when confronted with the "facts" coming from somebody like Richard Dawkins. If you say I do not know to him, he will laugh you to scorn and call you, as he does, delusional and irrational. For somebody of the spiritual statue of Apostle Paul, this is probably fine. For Blessed Paisius of Mt. Athos the scorn would and probably did bring joy, yet he thought of his "weaker" brethren and rose to defence of the true doctrine.

We are committing a mistake when we appoint ourselves as final judges and independent arbiters of scientific evidence and theological evidence when the two come into conflict. And the only place where they do this is the very foundation of Christianity: Who we are, Where we came from, How we got to where we are now and Where we are going. Can we just "solve" these problems for ourselves, without looking back at the Faith once delivered unto Saints? Can we be so sure that not being able to tell "the right hand from the left" we can unfallibly resolve these issue, in which the enemy of our salvation is so keenly interested (500 posts is the best evidence of that). The materialistic, i.e. sceintific answers to these questions will always be irreconcilable with the answers that come from our Faith. This is because materialistic answers presuppose the absence of God, the absence of purpose and the absence of Providence.

Richard is correct when he says that there is and should not be any conflict between "I believe" and "I believe" and "I know" and "I know". We believe differently - fine, let us mind our business. But when materialism is pedalling its "I believe" as "I know" on the matters of or pertaining directly to Faith, complacency is not a choice. I think complacency in this case is what the Apostles did after the Crucifiction when they hid inside "for the fear of the Jews".

With love to everybody, Yuri

#64 M. Partyka

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 02:37 AM

Here's the problem I have with the whole "two worlds" theory. First, it's pretty clear to me that neither Scripture nor the Fathers consider themselves to be talking about a different world in Genesis 1. Second, even if it were true that natural history only applies to the fallen world (i.e., Genesis 3 and forward), that doesn't solve anything because (1) we still have a geological and fossil record showing millions, not thousand, of years, and (2) there's no evidence of a global flood in that record, either (which is a whole other subject that's been done to death already). And even if one were to go so far as to say that natural history only applies to the post-Flood world, there are still those millions of years in the geological and fossil record to deal with. So there's no easy out, in my opinion, in claiming that some of Genesis applies to the spiritual world while some applies to the material world.

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

And what if the Higher Revealed Knowledge turns out to be inconsistent with the natural knowledge that's sitting right in front of us? I'm not talking about the conclusions one might draw from that knowledge, mind you -- I'm just talking about the knowledge itself. You can't compress millions of years of fossils into a few thousand years even if "Higher Revealed Knowledge says so."

Why does any of this matter? I think Jesus himself put it best:

John 3:12 -- If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Not exactly the same context, of course -- the "earthly thing" He'd said just then was, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth," which is perfectly true. But what if He'd said, "The earth moves not, and the sun and moon, which are of the same size, travel around it"? Thankfully, He didn't say that, or else we'd be having one serious case of "Uh, oh" right now. But isn't that exactly what the creation/evolution debate is -- the big "Uh, oh" of our times?

#65 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 06:47 AM

THE DIALOGUE OF A SCEPTICAL HEART
O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee: Let my prayer come before Thee: incline Thine ear unto my cry;.

Pour out your complaint before Me; show before Me thy trouble.

They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together. They continually say unto me, Where is thy God? Why has not the LORD awaked as one out of sleep, and slept for billions of years?

Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

But they say they have measured and know everything...

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my way

They say their measures are precise and sure...

Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity. Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually. Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness.

They say they can look back into the past...

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

Yes, they say they have searched the land and sea for evidence...

ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.

They say that the sea has revealed its secrets onto them...

My way is in the sea, and My path in the great waters, and My footsteps are not known. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant.

They say they have comprehended the origins of Your creation...

God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. O LORD, how great are thy works! and Thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

And they insist that nothing changes in this world... that since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn My glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Don’t ye know that for of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory for ever. Amen. Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness. O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless His name; shew forth His salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.

#66 RichardWorthington

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 09:24 AM

First of all I am very new to this whole idea of the Orthodox reality of such 'Paradisaical' Beauty! When I was an Evangelical, I believed in a literal six-day creation, but I think it was more of "I must believe everything the Bible says, so therefore I must believe this"; certainly the opposite viewpoint that God created suffering does indeed sound horrible, but the sheer beauty described in some of the posts here did not penetrate through to me.

When I found Fr Seraphim Rose's writing on Genesis I naturally adopted them, but the inner beauty was hidden from me. (Thinking that certain physical evidence - as I wrote above somewhere - supported the concept of Paradise probably kept me from looking deeper.) I can't quite remember now, but I started to try to keep the loftier aims (i.e. God did not create death), while listening to evolutionary ideas.

As such, the beauty described by yourselves is very new to me: two weeks ago and I would not have even guessed it existed! How blessed you are to have had this within you for many years! And what is its true beauty in my eyes? It provokes the love of virtue and purity of heart. I feel as though I am just starting to become Orthodox for the first time!

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.


Dear Yuri,

As I said - I am new to all this; like a child with a new toy, eager to explore! Having thought about what you write, consider the trees as we see them now. We know that there are trees in Paradise - this is something we can speculate from this fallen worlds about Paradise.

However, in what state do the trees in Paradise exist? Let us examine the trees here in their different environments, look at their cell structures under a microscope, examine how the seeds are spread by either wind or animals, examine how the seeds germinate. In doing all this and more, could we ever attain to anything approaching the true reality:

Eden is a place in which there was planted by God every kind of fragrant plant. It is neither completely incorruptible, nor entirely corruptible. Placed between corruption and incorruption, it is always both abundant in fruits and blossoming with flowers, both mature and immature. The mature trees and fruits are converted into fragrant earth which does not give off any odor of corruption, as do the trees of this world.


Trying to look too closely merely hides the simple fact: we of ourselves cannot discover what life in Paradise was like. We can make some educated guesses (trees probably existed), but they will be limited. This is all I am thinking about.

Richard
PS I have only just realised that there are other post on this page after the first one! I do not know how I missed them! Food for thought - and some of my own problems have also been aired!

Edited by RichardWorthington, 16 April 2008 - 09:34 AM.
minor typos etc


#67 Matthew Namee

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 01:49 PM

Agnosticism is on these issues is merely a form of laziness and pacivity, marked by a complacency. Gee, I have my salvation, to heck with yours.

I don't agree with this. At least in my own case, I have been neither lazy nor passive nor complacent. I have read the writings of the Fathers and I have studied, as best my non-scientific mind can, the scientific evidence. My conclusion is that I do not know the answer. I don't think this makes me any less able to refute the Richard Dawkinses of the world. Frankly, there are a lot of pro-evolution scientists who can't stand Dawkins and his ilk, and refute him on his own terms. But isn't it possible to honestly and sincerely look at both sides of an issue and just say, "I don't know"? Do I have to take a position?

#68 Owen Jones

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 01:53 PM

A number of different issues are being conflated. Creation is being conflated with a literal six day + 6,000 year timeline, and as if the two of absolute necessity must go together. And evolution is being conflated with the scientific theory that the earth is billions of years old.

This is leading to some confusion. A billion + year-old earth is not an argument, let alone evidence, in favor of Darwinism, nor is it, per se, a refutation of the creation, especially the creation of mankind, as represented in Genesis.

Let's take a look at another example. The Virgin Birth of Christ. Virgin Birth is a symbol. It is not unique to Christianity. It is a constant in more than one culture. It is a way of representing the revelatory experience of a God-man. Similarly, the idea of a God-man is not unique to Christianity. Nor is the symbol of a dying and rising savior. So when faithful Christians discover that these beliefs are not unique to Christianity, are they to retreat into a kind of religious fundamentalism (i.e. Phariseeism), or are they to give up on their faith entirely? Or are they willing to seek the deeper meaning of these symbols? I could include the Eucharist in the list, and go on and on.

I became Orthodox because only in Orthodoxy is the true meaning of symbols understood. They are not human constructs. But they do have cultural contexts, because God reveals Himself in a culture and language that we can understand.

Otherwise, these "events" would just be a kind of historical oddity, like UFO sightings.

#69 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 01:54 PM

I don't agree with this. At least in my own case, I have been neither lazy nor passive nor complacent. I have read the writings of the Fathers and I have studied, as best my non-scientific mind can, the scientific evidence. My conclusion is that I do not know the answer. I don't think this makes me any less able to refute the Richard Dawkinses of the world. Frankly, there are a lot of pro-evolution scientists who can't stand Dawkins and his ilk, and refute him on his own terms. But isn't it possible to honestly and sincerely look at both sides of an issue and just say, "I don't know"? Do I have to take a position?


In that "...and I believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis.." is not part of the Creed, I have to suspect that there is some room for differing opinions here. My priest and my bishop don't seem to think a firm position either way here is an obstacle to my salvation, so I can't seem to get too worked up over the issue.

Herman the passive Pooh

#70 Owen Jones

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 02:37 PM

I don't think it is a matter of having to take a position. I think it is simply a matter of not retreating into agnosticism on the question of scientific claims that imply that God is irrelevant, or the various ideas behind the cultural nihilism and narcissism of our times. Particularly if you are thinking about having children. Ideas have consequences, and if most people in our faith are double-minded, and when confronted with popular ideas end up temporizing on essential matters of faith, the whole body of the faithful suffers.

And while I'm at it, our contemporary crop of hierarchs hardly impress me with a capacity to understand these cultural/philosophical problems.

Look, I came out of the Episcopal Church, and if you don't want Orthodoxy to end up like the Episcopal Church, you have a duty to understand the intellectual environment. An uneducated peasant does not have such a duty.

#71 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 02:53 PM

In other words... and was thinking about this the whole way cycling home yesterday... when my child returns from school and tells me that science has proven that infants evolved a smile so as not to be killed, because in the apes smiling behaviour in young animals mitigates agression towards them from the adults... what I am going to say... my bishop says we do not need to take a position on this. When she then comes the next day and says homosexual relations are common in dogs and monkeys and many other animals and since we share common ancestry with them and are a part of the same nature, we should tolerate these behavious... but... no, no no, daddy, our bishop says that only fundamentalists take the Bible literally... and then she comes a few days later and says that in many species of monkeys promiscuity is an adaptive behaviour that ensures correct mate choice... what position will I take then... and when having gotten pregnant she decides "not to complicate her life" what recourse will I have to protect the "blob of evolving tissue" in her womb?

Our theology always comes home and hits us over the head sooner or later.
With love in the Lord to everybody, Yuri

#72 Matthew Namee

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 03:15 PM

I agree with Owen's statement that we "have a duty to understand the intellectual environment."

Owen and Yuri, perhaps you have misunderstood what I mean by "I don't know." It doesn't mean "I don't care" or "I give up." I am "agnostic" on this issue in the literal sense -- I do not know how to resolve this debate. This doesn't mean that I am open to any and all possible conclusions of evolutionary thought. It doesn't mean a slippery-slope descent into the kinds of conclusions Yuri suggests (smiling as an evolved means of staving off adult aggression, homosexuality as acceptable because some animals exhibit those behaviors, abortion as something other than murder). It doesn't mean I can't respond to my son if he asks me about evolution or the claims of modern science. More than anything, saying "I don't know" is not a sign of weakness or vulnerability to the vicissitudes of modern Western culture. Just because I don't know the answer to this question does not mean I am lazy, impotent, or stupid.

#73 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 03:16 PM

In other words... and was thinking about this the whole way cycling home yesterday... when my child returns from school and tells me that science has proven that infants evolved a smile so as not to be killed, because in the apes smiling behaviour in young animals mitigates agression towards them from the adults... what I am going to say... my bishop says we do not need to take a position on this.


I would say what I actually said to my son: "that's an interesting theory, but science doesn't quite know everything. There are several different ideas on this subject...

When she then comes the next day and says homosexual relations are common in dogs and monkeys and many other animals and since we share common ancestry with them and are a part of the same nature, we should tolerate these behavious... but... no, no no, daddy, our bishop says that only fundamentalists take the Bible literally...


I don't know your bishop, but that is not what my bishop says, so I can't address this directly. I would think it important to say that we are NOT monkeys, and the Church teaches us something different. She will have to make her own decision at some point as to whether or not to trust my words and the teachings of the Church. If she chooses to ignore them she would still be my daughter and regardless of my poor words, I hope my example provides at least an adequate witness.

and then she comes a few days later and says that in many species of monkeys promiscuity is an adaptive behaviour that ensures correct mate choice... what position will I take then... and when having gotten pregnant she decides "not to complicate her life" what recourse will I have to protect the "blob of evolving tissue" in her womb?


Easy to answer. The Church says that abortion is murder. If she asks why, I think an answer that does not even touch on the literalness of Genesis can be formulated. In fact, I don't recall ever really going into depth on the subject with my daughter but I know for a fact that she rejects abortion as a "viable" option. And I am proud of her for that for reasons I don't need to go into here.

Our theology always comes home and hits us over the head sooner or later.
With love in the Lord to everybody, Yuri


It doesn't have to hit us over the head, even if it does knock us off our high horse from time to time. We seem to enjoy hitting each other over the head however. It can cause brain damage if it happens too often, or so I've heard.

Or so I've heard.

Herman the Pooh

#74 Owen Jones

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 03:49 PM

The purpose of engaging in a debate with the so-called modern world is not to resolve the debate. That's in God's hands. The purpose is to serve as a witness and to offer people hope, both within and without the Church, that there is an alternative to nihilism, and that Christians need not make compromises. The same reason that Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote much on the subject, starting with a very good philosophical treatise called nihilism. In nihilism he hardly resorts to a restatement of Christian dogma to make his case. He makes his case firmly on philosophical grounds, starting with the real definition of truth. The purpose or the role of the Christian is not to win or resolve debates. In a sense, we will always lose that battle. We are destined to be losers in the worldly sense of the term.

#75 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 03:59 PM

Easy to answer. The Church says


Brother Herman,
Thank you for this... these words are like oil on a wound; Glory be to God, common sense prevails, there is still a beacon in the darkness, the right way, the eternal compass to get home, to tell the right from the wrong.

thank you everybody for stimulating discussion, effort and patience with my passionate and thus sinful responses

#76 Father David Moser

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:00 PM

Our theology always comes home and hits us over the head sooner or later.


It seems though that what you are asking about isn't really theology, but morality. Morality is indeed informed by theology, but the two are not identical. I don't have to believe in the "literalness" of the Genesis account of creation to speak about right and wrong and God's law. And there is plenty of basis for moral behavior outside of the literal Genesis account. I can tell my child that science (and thus in some cases the teacher) is wrong (I like Herman's comment that science doesn't know everything) in its conclusions about the origins of life without having to adopt a strict 6 24hour day creation of the universe.

We have a responsibility as parents to teach our children morality (and not to leave it to the school) and we have a responsibility to teach them how to honestly approach the scripture and other teachings of the Church to see how these fit into their lives. This responsibility is not tied to the literal interpretation of Genesis.

Fr David Moser

#77 Rick James York

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 12:55 AM

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

Have a look at this #13 Posted Image Could man's creative power have collectively created science?

Edited by Administrator, 10 June 2008 - 09:41 AM.
Added notice of identity fraud


#78 Owen Jones

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:50 PM

This is the clearest analysis I have seen:


The Origin of Species—Part I:
Linneaus, Infinite Series
and Finitization

The transition from the transcendent to the immanent view can be traced in each aspect of the life problem. . . . We now turn to the transformation of the theory that is to explain the species characteristics of a life-form and their constancy through the generations.

The pure typical case of a transcendent explanation is Linnaeus' theory, according to which God created at the beginning of the world the various animal species and endowed the individuals of each species with the ability to bring forth their own kind; in fact, the species was the quintessence of the individuals who have descended from each other through procreation; in theory the species was coined by God's creative hand. When fixity of the species was understood in this way, there was hardly any reason to look for the inner causes of the individual's character; the reference to God as the transcendent creator of the world in its thusness was sufficient.

Of all the theoreticians of biology of his day, Linnaeus was most deeply immersed in the Christian worldview. Linnaeus believed that the world actually had a definite beginning; there was a day and an hour when the world, in the organization of its existence, emerged from the chaos through God's creating hand. When this belief died, the teaching of the species and its duration became questionable, leading to those transformations in the theory with which we must now concern ourselves.

When the world was no longer believed to be the creation of a higher being, the act of creation was no longer the real starting point in time of the world and its many species. The "world" was no longer a finite event that was on some level actually delimited in time by a transcendent being. And while the similarity of individuals had been understood as caused by a similar pressure of the divine hand, the theory of the fixity of the species was now also shaken. The succession of generations no longer had a finite beginning in the creation or an origin of its specific laws; instead, the succession could be traced from any individual back into infinity without this regression coming up against a point of origin for the law of the species.

The result was a peculiar, undecided state. The concept of creation was replaced by the idea of infinity. Preformist theory, which envisioned the germs of all individuals contained in the first progenitors of each species—for example, the human ones in the body of Eve—had to change, and replace this real definite beginning with the series of infinite encapsulations.

Now if the image of the created finite succession of generations is supplanted by the idea of an infinite succession without any real beginning, the idea that the law of this succession was created transcendentally at the beginning of the succession of generations becomes meaningless, and speculation forces us moreover to the formulation of that law in such a way that the law of the species can be directly discerned in each individual of the species.

A shift of the cause of the fixity of the species to infinitely distant specimens became pointless because according to the law of the infinite succession it must be assumed that each individual was descended from a predecessor. This led to the speculative leap to the lawfulness of the species as a real cause [ Realgrund ] that is at work in all individuals of a species, thus necessarily also in the one currently under observation, without having to be traced back to preceding ones.

This finitization of the law of the species in turn invalidates the idea of infinity that, for one speculative moment, served as the explanatory cause of the species—that is, for the moment when the act of creation had ceased to be the starting point of the succession of generations and it was still believed, in accord with the rationalistic encapsulation theory, that the regression to the preceding individual could explain the one descended from it. This open, undecided moment came to an end with the abolition of the idea of infinity and with the adaptation of the concept of law to the finite style of the new concept of the organism. . . .
CW VOL 3,
Chapter 11
Infinite Series and Finitization,
pp 115-117.
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#79 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 06:04 AM

This is the clearest analysis I have seen:


The Origin of Species—Part I:
Linneaus, Infinite Series
and Finitization

The transition from the transcendent to the immanent view can be traced in each aspect of the life problem. . . . We now turn to the transformation of the theory that is to explain the species characteristics of a life-form and their constancy through the generations.

The pure typical case of a transcendent explanation is Linnaeus' theory, according to which God created at the beginning of the world the various animal species and endowed the individuals of each species with the ability to bring forth their own kind; in fact, the species was the quintessence of the individuals who have descended from each other through procreation; in theory the species was coined by God's creative hand. When fixity of the species was understood in this way, there was hardly any reason to look for the inner causes of the individual's character; the reference to God as the transcendent creator of the world in its thusness was sufficient.

Of all the theoreticians of biology of his day, Linnaeus was most deeply immersed in the Christian worldview. Linnaeus believed that the world actually had a definite beginning; there was a day and an hour when the world, in the organization of its existence, emerged from the chaos through God's creating hand. When this belief died, the teaching of the species and its duration became questionable, leading to those transformations in the theory with which we must now concern ourselves.

When the world was no longer believed to be the creation of a higher being, the act of creation was no longer the real starting point in time of the world and its many species. The "world" was no longer a finite event that was on some level actually delimited in time by a transcendent being. And while the similarity of individuals had been understood as caused by a similar pressure of the divine hand, the theory of the fixity of the species was now also shaken. The succession of generations no longer had a finite beginning in the creation or an origin of its specific laws; instead, the succession could be traced from any individual back into infinity without this regression coming up against a point of origin for the law of the species.

The result was a peculiar, undecided state. The concept of creation was replaced by the idea of infinity. Preformist theory, which envisioned the germs of all individuals contained in the first progenitors of each species—for example, the human ones in the body of Eve—had to change, and replace this real definite beginning with the series of infinite encapsulations.

Now if the image of the created finite succession of generations is supplanted by the idea of an infinite succession without any real beginning, the idea that the law of this succession was created transcendentally at the beginning of the succession of generations becomes meaningless, and speculation forces us moreover to the formulation of that law in such a way that the law of the species can be directly discerned in each individual of the species.

A shift of the cause of the fixity of the species to infinitely distant specimens became pointless because according to the law of the infinite succession it must be assumed that each individual was descended from a predecessor. This led to the speculative leap to the lawfulness of the species as a real cause [ Realgrund ] that is at work in all individuals of a species, thus necessarily also in the one currently under observation, without having to be traced back to preceding ones.

This finitization of the law of the species in turn invalidates the idea of infinity that, for one speculative moment, served as the explanatory cause of the species—that is, for the moment when the act of creation had ceased to be the starting point of the succession of generations and it was still believed, in accord with the rationalistic encapsulation theory, that the regression to the preceding individual could explain the one descended from it. This open, undecided moment came to an end with the abolition of the idea of infinity and with the adaptation of the concept of law to the finite style of the new concept of the organism. . . .
CW VOL 3,
Chapter 11
Infinite Series and Finitization,
pp 115-117.
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brilliant, is the book available electronically?

#80 M. Partyka

M. Partyka

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 03:58 PM

This is the clearest analysis I have seen:

Great. I'm not sure I understood any of it. :(




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