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Evolution as a viable component in the creation of life


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#61 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 06:29 PM

The idea that we can have eternal life assumes that something within us lives on when the physical body passes away. Jesus, in arguing against the Sadducees, said that God is the God of the living.


I agree with Father that it would be helpful to discuss the specific Scriptures you think you are paraphrasing. Context counts.

Herman

#62 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 06:39 PM

There are many traditional Christians who accept evolution as God's method of creation.


A lot of people accept a lot of things. That does not make it correct, and it is not really germane to Orthodox theology. It remains an interesting theory but it certainly contributes little to the discussion of Creation. Evolution "creates" nothing. It is not a theory of "creation" but of "change". We Orthodox are leery of "change" and often feel it is over-rated.

Herman the constant Pooh

#63 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 02:03 PM

The idea that we can have eternal life assumes that something within us lives on when the physical body passes away. Jesus, in arguing against the Sadducees, said that God is the God of the living.


Speros- the context of Jesus' comments to the Sadducees (Mk 12:18-27) is about the resurrection and of what this means in terms of human relationship, not just eternal life in general or that we continue to survive in some manner. After all, the condemned will also survive in some manner, but this doesn't mean they will have the relationship with others which Christ speaks of in the present passage from Scripture.

In any case- could you explain the relationship between your comments quoted here and the topic of the discussion in this thread? Thanks.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#64 Owen Jones

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 04:40 PM

Thanks, Herman for nailing it on the head.

#65 Christina M.

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 05:48 PM

I don't know if this deserves it's own thread, but here's the question:
Can anybody provide quotes or sayings from modern saints (or just "holy people", if they are not yet canonized) which give their viewpoints on modern evolutionary theory?

I know there are a couple of quotes by Elder Paisios on the subject, but I don't remember them. I'd be surprised if the more popular Orthodox charismatics, say Elder Porphyrios for example, never said anything about it.

Isn't it very relevant to the topic to hear what contemporary saints, those who have reached illumination and theosis, have to say about it?

#66 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:55 AM

I don't know if this deserves it's own thread, but here's the question:
Can anybody provide quotes or sayings from modern saints (or just "holy people", if they are not yet canonized) which give their viewpoints on modern evolutionary theory?

I know there are a couple of quotes by Elder Paisios on the subject, but I don't remember them. I'd be surprised if the more popular Orthodox charismatics, say Elder Porphyrios for example, never said anything about it.

Isn't it very relevant to the topic to hear what contemporary saints, those who have reached illumination and theosis, have to say about it?


see the second part of this post: http://oldbelieving....nd-creationism/

#67 Christina M.

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 04:51 AM

see the second part of this post: http://oldbelieving....nd-creationism/


Wow!! Excellent link! Thanks a lot. It's going to take me a long time to read through all of those.
And that seems like a great blog, too. I'm glad you showed it to me.

#68 Kosta

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 06:20 AM

What kind of evolution/development does the scriptural and patristic witness allow for? Theres ofcourse spiritual evolution derived from theosis. Scripture also speaks of a physical degeneration as when the sons of God married and procreated with the daughters of men.

God created anthropos in his own image and likeness. The entymology of the greek anthropos simply means upright creature, likewise the hebrew term Adam does not denote gender as seen in Genesis 5.2. Thus God took the original erect creature He created, who alone can look upwards toward the heavens to contemplate his God. God took him and performed some surgery taking from his side woman. Or as scripture says, God made man in his image and likeness; male and female created He them. The emphasis is that gender was created simultaneously. Is this evidence for evolution in scripture? How about modern anomalies where people are born with both genitals (who ironically tend to be asexual without sexual urge)? Are these dormant genes a throwback to some other epoch of mans exiatence?

#69 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 07:45 AM

Wow!! Excellent link! Thanks a lot. It's going to take me a long time to read through all of those.
And that seems like a great blog, too. I'm glad you showed it to me.


no problem, glad to help.

#70 Jesse Dominick

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 07:47 AM

What kind of evolution/development does the scriptural and patristic witness allow for? Theres ofcourse spiritual evolution derived from theosis. Scripture also speaks of a physical degeneration as when the sons of God married and procreated with the daughters of men.

God created anthropos in his own image and likeness. The entymology of the greek anthropos simply means upright creature, likewise the hebrew term Adam does not denote gender as seen in Genesis 5.2. Thus God took the original erect creature He created, who alone can look upwards toward the heavens to contemplate his God. God took him and performed some surgery taking from his side woman. Or as scripture says, God made man in his image and likeness; male and female created He them. The emphasis is that gender was created simultaneously. Is this evidence for evolution in scripture? How about modern anomalies where people are born with both genitals (who ironically tend to be asexual without sexual urge)? Are these dormant genes a throwback to some other epoch of mans exiatence?


i dont think the creation of male and female could be seen as in any way part of evolution. according to the Fathers the creative acts of God were instantaneous, and that Adam was literally created from dust, and Eve literally from the rib of Adam. Its all miraculous, not part of a natural progression.

#71 Kosta

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 08:56 AM

i dont think the creation of male and female could be seen as in any way part of evolution. according to the Fathers the creative acts of God were instantaneous, and that Adam was literally created from dust, and Eve literally from the rib of Adam. Its all miraculous, not part of a natural progression.


That is the standard way we think of the creation story.

But the implications are that God originally created a male human without a companion. Both the hebrew and original greek word for rib can be translated and more accurately so as "side" (pleuro). Was this Adam who was created from the dust a virile male or actually an upright being with a rational soul? Why is both Adam and Eve refered to as "Adam" in Gen 5.2? Did God form the male and female simultaneously from the original prototype? Genesis does imply this. If so are hermaphrodites and siamese twins an obscure glimpse of our past when God put a trance on Adam and 'performed surgery'.

#72 Demetrios

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 02:33 PM

If we concentrate on the person of Adam rather than the impersonal nature of Adam. An Orthodox theology can certainly fall into place while retaining a literal creation. The problem is that most people philosophically can't see it because of the way we are accustomed to understanding our human nature.

#73 Christina M.

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 02:34 PM

What kind of evolution/development does the scriptural and patristic witness allow for? Theres ofcourse spiritual evolution derived from theosis. Scripture also speaks of a physical degeneration as when the sons of God married and procreated with the daughters of men.

God created anthropos in his own image and likeness. The entymology of the greek anthropos simply means upright creature, likewise the hebrew term Adam does not denote gender as seen in Genesis 5.2. Thus God took the original erect creature He created, who alone can look upwards toward the heavens to contemplate his God. God took him and performed some surgery taking from his side woman. Or as scripture says, God made man in his image and likeness; male and female created He them. The emphasis is that gender was created simultaneously. Is this evidence for evolution in scripture? How about modern anomalies where people are born with both genitals (who ironically tend to be asexual without sexual urge)? Are these dormant genes a throwback to some other epoch of mans exiatence?


Along the same thinking, someone could question the presence of "vestigial" organs in humans, the presense of a tailbone which is very similar to that of the animals with tails, the extremely close genetic code between homo sapiens and chimpanzees, etc.

Personally, I see no benefit in such lines of thought, and I have thought about these things for years. If God wanted to tell us that He created the world in an evolutionary process, and that it is beneficial to be aware of this evolutionary process, then He would have enlightened the saints to inform us. We have so many saints who spoke face-to-face with the Lord, with the Panagia, and with the rest of the saints. Don't you think they would've been informed if they were understanding creation incorrectly?

A good example is Elder Joseph the Hesychast: Once when he was in theoria, he saw the Theotokos holding the Christ in her arms as a Child, and she told him the answer to a mystery that he had been inquiring about for a long time. (Elder Joseph didn't reveal the particular mystery to his reader, but that's beside the point). Couldn't he also have been informed in the same manner about evolutionary creationism?

Edited by Christina M., 14 January 2011 - 02:38 PM.
Typos


#74 Christina M.

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:54 PM

I just wanted to add one more thing in response to Kosta:
I don't think we can use any type of genetic defects to argue towards any particular point in Orthodox theology. Furthermore, I believe that someone can get off track by thinking too much on these things. How about siamese twins which share the same heart, yet have two separate brains? How about siamese twinse which share the same brain, but have two different hearts? How about siamese twins which have two hearts and two brains, yet share the same body? Also, there's a genetic defect which causes a human to be born with a tail. There's another one which enables the human to be able to use all of the muscles in his ears voluntarily, so that he can rotate them individually to point them where he wants, just like animals can do. (My point of these last two is that just because the defects can make a human appear more like an animal, I don't believe it is proof that we descended from animals). The list can go on and on. I don't see any benefit in trying to explain any of these particular situations, and I believe that they are in the same category of "genetic defects" as the hermaphrodites that you brought up above.

In my opinion, many of these defects (but of course not all) can be linked to improper diets of the parents, or pollution in the food, the water, or the air that the parents are putting into their bodies. So since they are not the "norm", I don't believe they are useful in terms of drawing conclusions about the creation of man.

In Christ,
Christina

#75 Michael Stickles

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 05:19 PM

Along the same thinking, someone could question the presence of "vestigial" organs in humans, the presense of a tailbone which is very similar to that of the animals with tails, the extremely close genetic code between homo sapiens and chimpanzees, etc.

Personally, I see no benefit in such lines of thought, and I have thought about these things for years.


I also don't see benefit in them, but for me that's because they assume that our current medical/scientific understanding of such things is, in fact, correct. However, such knowledge is subject to change. For example, a few years ago it was proposed that the appendix, long considered to be a "vestigial" organ (Darwin mentioned it explicitly as such), is actually a storehouse for beneficial bacteria which allows them to be replaced in the gut if a serious sickness were to wipe out the "first team". Essentialy, it houses the digestive system's backup squad.

It would not surprise me at all if every organ and structure in humans currently considered "vestigial" is eventually discovered to have a useful function, either currently or, as with the appendix, in earlier times (improved sanitation and health care have made the appendix all but obsolete, at least in "first-world" countries).

#76 Guillermo M.L.

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 04:37 AM

Evolution theory and the controversy it generates are subjects to which I dedicated my thoughts more than once, and I would like to humbly provide my two cents here...

Many of the negative reactions the evolutionary theory generates -especially the extremely negative Kansas-style ones- remind me of the negative reactions the heliocentric theory generated during the times of Copernicus and Galileo.

At that time, the kernel of the discussion was not only about the Earth being or not in the center of the universe, but the philosophical and theological consequences an heliocentric universe could have. The people at that time asked themselves how could God allow an heliocentric solar configuration to happen. They thought that to place the Earth outside of the center was demeaning to the nature of man and its dignity, so instead of analyzing the truth value of the heliocentric proposition, they often rejected it altogether because "universe couldn't be created that way". This kind of rejection on philosophical and theological grounds reminds me of the rejection the concept of evolution receives from Creationists. The war cry "I do not descend from an ape!" highly echoes the former cry "I do not live in a rock revolving around the sun!"

The concept of man evolving from "inferior" beings may seem -to many- demeaning to human nature, just at the concept of the Earth orbiting the Sun -and not the other way round- seemed demeaning 400 years ago. But I think such an appreciation is subjective and highly drawing from personal criteria of aesthetics. The heliocentric theory could not be scientifically proven at the times of Galileo, just as the evolutionary theory has not been proven yet. A demonstration could only be produced centuries later and still, mankind could get over heliocentrism without losing self-respect or falling into widespread atheism. I think the Evolutionary theory should get a fair trial and analysis, and given the opportunity to be perfected and ridden of its Victorian prejudices, instead of being analysed from the lens of a priori questions like "Would I like that theory to be true? Could I live with that?"

I don't know if that theory is true or not. Maybe it will be proven false, and a better explanation will be found someday. I personally think that all those fossils -of species that don't exist today- are there because of some reason. I don't expect the Scriptures or the Saints to talk about Biology 101 concepts like evolution or extinction, just as I don't expect them to talk about economics or quantum mechanics. Church Tradition has other priorities, it is focused on other areas of knowledge and wisdom.

Still, if evolution someday happens to satisfy the trials from the scientific method, I will not be shattered by that conclusion. It will not make me cease from believing in God, nor feel less in the eyes of Him, nor question His mysterious ways. I will not fall into the same error many scientists fall, which is to assume that the truth of the evolutionary proposition implies a Godless Creation and a Godless universe. To me, it will only explain a mechanism present in Creation, but it will not say anything about its Creator nor its finality.

#77 Christina M.

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 04:50 AM

I don't know enough to reply intelligently to the above, but I would note that both copernicus and Galileo were in western Roman Catholic world, which makes it pretty irrelevant from an Orthodox perspective, in my humble opinion. If I remember correctly, Romanides said that the EO had no problem whatsoever with the heliocentric viewpoint, and that it didn't change nor affect EO theology one bit.

But I'll leave the better replies to those much smarter than me :)

#78 Christina M.

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 05:00 AM

Here, I found it. I really like this passage:

Following Augustine, the Franks identified revelation with the Bible and believed that Christ gave to the Church the Holy Spirit as a guide to its correct understanding. This would be similar to claiming that the books about biology were revealed by microbes and cells without the biologists having seen them with the microscope, and that these same microbes and cells inspire future teachers to correctly understand these books without the use of the microscope!

Historians have noted the naivite of the Frankish religious mind which was shocked by the first claims for the primacy of observation over rational analysis. Even Galileo’s telescopes could not shake this confidence. However, several centuries before Galileo, the Franks had been shocked by the East Roman (Orthodox) claim, hurled by Saint Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), of the primacy of experience and observation over "reason" in theology.

Instruments, Observation, Concepts, and Language

The universe has turned out to be a much greater mystery to man than anyone was ever able to imagine. Indications are strong that it will yet prove to be an even greater mystery than man today can yet imagine. In the light of this, one thinks humorously of the (Latin) bishops who could not grasp the reality, let alone the magnitude, of what they saw through Galileo’s telescope. But the magnitude of Frankish naivite becomes even greater when one realizes that these same church leaders who could not understand the meaning of a simple observation were claiming knowledge of God’s essence and nature.

The Latin tradition could not understand the significance of an instrument by which the prophets, apostles, and saints had reached glorification.



#79 Paul Cowan

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 05:17 AM

Still, if evolution someday happens to satisfy the trials from the scientific method, I will not be shattered by that conclusion. It will not make me cease from believing in God, nor feel less in the eyes of Him, nor question His mysterious ways. I will not fall into the same error many scientists fall, which is to assume that the truth of the evolutionary proposition implies a Godless Creation and a Godless universe. To me, it will only explain a mechanism present in Creation, but it will not say anything about its Creator nor its finality.


This Theory is alot like global warming. It was fabricated on falsehoods and supported by misinformation from people with a specific agenda. But hey, if it helps you sleep at night, let's wait to see what the really smart scientists tell us in 300-500 years.

#80 Guillermo M.L.

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 04:09 PM

Here, I found it. I really like this passage:


Thanks for your response, Christina. It is interesting what Romanides says, it is a point I have never read before about EO. The irony is that my observations don't fit with what Romanides says. To give a quick example of what I'm talking about, for this subject in the forum, everybody is looking for Biblical and Patristical sources, and using reason, while observation is being left out in the debate.

I think it would be interesting to have more examples and sources commenting on EO attitude towards observation and experimentation. If EO has always been so open to scientific methodology, it is strange that the scientific breakthroughs took place in the West and not in the East.




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