I had a very interesting conversation with our Archaeological resource manager this morning, which prompted some thoughts, perhaps relevant to this thread or any other thread in the general creation/evolution realm. Here is the short story I heard this morning. A colleague of our manager, himself an archaeologist at a University in British Columbia, decided to publish a paper on a particular biological phenomenon (spring emergence of spade-footed toads, if you care). The manuscript was rejected a few times and so he finally submitted it to one of the lower ranking journals in North America, The Canadian Field Naturalist
. The manuscript came back again rejected and with a scathing remark from the editor: I have never seen a manuscript with so much rampant speculation and unjustified conjecture
! The author, the archaeologist showed this to our manager and could only say: But this is how we do things
! He did not expect that in field biology, evidence standards are slightly more stringent than in archaeology and unchecked use of imagination is not exactly encouraged.
This story immediately brought recollection of a recent book by a renowned anthropologist Ann Gibbons (Gibbons A. 2006. The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors. Doubleday, New York. NY.) where she says that nowhere has imagination had a bigger role than in devising the human ancestral tree, where just about every new fossil shatters preconceived notions
on human “evolution” [quotes are mine] and data vacuum is thus often filled with speculations.
It is common sense that imagination and speculations fill gaps in historical sciences where unique events are dealt with, validation is impossible, quality of the data decays exponentially with time and conformity runs supreme
or else everybody wants to be the discoverer of the “missing link” (which incidentally is a speculation itself). Basically, what often happens in anthropology/archaeology is this: subsequent students strive for “originality and creativity” and thus try to undermine views and ideas of their predecessors. Even when an agreement is reached, it is based on personal authority (school of thought) and consensus as opposed to any objective factual evidence.
Vanity is a major driving force in science in general and in historical sciences in particular. Fr. Seraphim (Rose) wrote about this very brilliantly in Not of this world
and anybody who has been in the scientific publication business even for a short time can attest to that. However, work done for the sake of vanity amounts to nothing
(Isa. 41:29). In other words when a mind is guided by a passion, can it see and comprehend the truth? Somebody will say perhaps that there is no connection... Perhaps there is no connection when claims can be validated and verified, but when they cannot be as is the case with evolutionary “sciences”?
Most people will remember a story from the Desert Fathers when a brother saw a fellow monastic fornicating. Indignant, he came up and kicked him only to realise that what he saw where two stacks of hay in the wind. What do we have here: His mind was guided by the passion of hatred for his brother. Based on this passion he assumed that his brother was a fornicator and then the devil furnished evidence for him. If by God’s mercy he did not chance to validate his observation, or say if the action took place across a river or a gorge, he would have killed his soul and perhaps even the soul of the brother by accepting a demonic lie. If on top of this he was a person of power and influence he could probably damage souls of many men and women by telling them a lie and making them believe it. One could argue that an individual error cannot carry far, before it is corrected by others (aka science always corrects itself).
Is this not how heresies are born? A person of power, authority and great talent, but infected with the passion of pride and vanity, rises against the Church and ultimately leads into perdition and separation from God whole countries. Why do they all believe him?
These are the few things that come to mind when I hear the words “science has proven this or that” with respect to the events of the distant, distant past. As an observation, during the creation/evolution discussion same people who would not accept Genesis literally also said that they would not accept incorrect scientific “knowledge” either. Yet, no one made it clear how correctness or incorrectness of what is taught in schools and lectured in universities will be determined and everybody shied away from defining/discussion the limits of scientific knowledge. I am not saying this to start arguing again but more as a food for thought, a question to answer to one's own self.
Morals are based on and determined by theology, themselves, of course, not being theology... By theology I mean here belief in any god, including the evolution-god, no-god, etc. Literal acceptance of the Genesis, has been suggested on this forum, to have nothing to do with morals... Does it have anything to do with theology? If the great Fathers, Teachers and Hierarchs did not say that it does, I would probably feel free to say “I don’t know” but they say that it does... what am I to do?
If literal acceptance of the Genesis in and of itself has little to do with morals, what then about theology? How we view the connection between our theology and morals depends a lot on our personal and cultural experience... In the Soviet Union Darwinism was the state religion and children in schools were indoctrinated to believe that ontogenesis recapitulates phylogenesis and nonsense like that. What did this theology do to their morals? Somebody may say nothing. They fought and died for their country, worked like salves, helped whom they could, cared for their parents, as a rule, and so forth. All seems well. Yet you will be hard pressed to find a woman in Russia or Ukraine or the Baltics from 40 and older who would not have committed at least one abortion. My personal sample size is small, but of the three women I spoke with about this, all three had killed their own unborn children. How does this square with apparently good morality?
Their theology dictated them that what they had in their womb was a piece of tissue or a “fish” or something like that. They took it literally. To his day 4 mln unborn children are killed in Russia every year as the state continues to indoctrinate its citizens about their “literal” origins while suggesting to the Church that the “non-literal” origin should be one’s private business. The other example that comes to mind... about 10 yrs ago an Orthodox bishop who accepted theistic evolution as his world-view, at a youth conference, responded to a question about the attitude of the Church towards abortions as follows: I am not to tell a woman what she should do with her body
. Was he an immoral person – most emphatically no, but is there something wrong here – yes. His theology was false, he took it literally and in doing so he at least confounded a few people. Only Lord knows if something worse happened following and/or due to that comment.
All the people I know in real life believe in something about their origins literally and this something usually has a clear-cut dichotomy. When I hear somebody say “I do not believe Genesis literally” I never know what this means... I cannot say anything about my origin, nothing... I believe that I evolved as taught by evolutionary anthropology... I believe that I evolved by God’s guiding the evolution...
It is a negative statement and it is impossible to understand what it actually means.
Could somebody, who does not believe in Genesis literally clearly articulate as to what it is that he/she literally believes about the origins, so are to make the statement a positive one.
Edited by Yuri Zharikov, 18 April 2008 - 08:28 PM.