Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

"Why an Orthodox Christian cannot be an evolutionist" essay by S.V Bufeev


  • Please log in to reply
198 replies to this topic

#141 Aaron R.

Aaron R.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts

Posted 29 August 2012 - 05:01 PM

Deleted my post

Edited by Aaron R., 29 August 2012 - 05:32 PM.


#142 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:34 PM

Evan,

With due respect, the fact that you don't understand transcendence is the fundamental flaw in your thinking. Either a transcendent cause or a transcendent end, plus everything in between.


Owen,

With due respect, it's not always easy to tell how words are being used by people in an internet discussion forum! I don't understand why adaptive improvement is not a telos, a goal, an end, a good to be "sought." Maybe I don't understand transcendence either. Maybe this is outside the scope of this forum. Maybe not. PM me if you like.

In Christ,
Evan

#143 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 30 August 2012 - 12:34 PM

The issue of immanence and transcendence is pretty straightforward and these are not new concepts. An immanent purpose or purposefulness, e.g., going to work in the morning, makes no sense apart from a transcendent telos, e.g., what is the point of all this in the first place? Why bother if this is all there is? It's not just the issue of what happens when we die. It's what's the point of anything if there is nothing beyond the here and now. Our purposeful thoughts and actions are irrational if there is nothing beyond the here and now. Which is why Sartre is admired by all of the nihilists for his philosophical honesty. He says the only free act a person can make is to commit suicide.

Which is why I can safely say that survival is not a transcendent purpose. And a God who created us just to survive is not the God of Christianity. I think trying to graft Christianity onto an anthropology that is grounded in survival of the fittest based on natural selection is a project doomed to failure. You don't need God in the here and now if that is the theory. But if you have an anthropology in which existence itself, in every living, breathing moment, is contingent on God, you have a very different type of man, and a very different divine reality.

#144 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:32 PM

The issue of immanence and transcendence is pretty straightforward and these are not new concepts. An immanent purpose or purposefulness, e.g., going to work in the morning, makes no sense apart from a transcendent telos, e.g., what is the point of all this in the first place? Why bother if this is all there is? It's not just the issue of what happens when we die. It's what's the point of anything if there is nothing beyond the here and now. Our purposeful thoughts and actions are irrational if there is nothing beyond the here and now. Which is why Sartre is admired by all of the nihilists for his philosophical honesty. He says the only free act a person can make is to commit suicide.

Which is why I can safely say that survival is not a transcendent purpose. And a God who created us just to survive is not the God of Christianity. I think trying to graft Christianity onto an anthropology that is grounded in survival of the fittest based on natural selection is a project doomed to failure. You don't need God in the here and now if that is the theory. But if you have an anthropology in which existence itself, in every living, breathing moment, is contingent on God, you have a very different type of man, and a very different divine reality.


Well, I would never describe "mere life" as a transcendent purpose, but a purpose it emphatically is. It is true that evolutionary theory does not answer why we are alive or how we ought to live (two sides of the same coin, really). But mere life is a precondition of life well lived and rightly lived. By describing it as a theory of how God might have brought about mere life, I don't know that I'm claiming much more or less for it than Darwin did. I certainly don't find the divine glory shining from the face of Christ in Darwin's writings, but I certainly don't find a denial of the possibility of transcendence either. I don't think he goes there. Doesn't mean we can't.


In Christ,
Evan

Edited by Evan, 30 August 2012 - 05:53 PM.


#145 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:48 PM

deleted because of typos

Edited by Evan, 30 August 2012 - 05:49 PM.
typos


#146 Rdr Daniel (R.)

Rdr Daniel (R.)

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Validating
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 704 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 01 September 2012 - 08:38 PM

Man was not born to die. I'm not sure about the rest of the animal kingdom. The hymn you've cited, for instance, speaks of human death. To be sure, without animal death prior to the fall, we can't have evolution. But could a process that depends upon death have eventually produced a creature who was not born to die, consistent with the Church's witness?

Dear Evan,

I believe that the consensus of the Church is that God did not create death at all, neither for men nor any other creature, rather when man who was placed over all the creatures of the earth fell from Life they fell with him before that the kingdom of death was in no wise upon the earth.

As it is written in the Psalms of David and the Wisdom of Solomon:

What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and set him over the works of Thy hands.



God made not death: neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living. For He created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no destruction in the
poison of them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth.


In Christ.
Daniel,

#147 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 03 September 2012 - 11:25 PM

Daniel,

I don't think it's quite so clear-cut. Psalm 49 speaks of man, as a result of falling from "honor," having been "compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them." More than one of the Fathers have interpreted this language to refer to the development of bestial characteristics after the fall. St. Gregory of Sinai, in "On Commandments and Doctrines" identifies corruptibility as one of these characteristics:

"When God formed the body He did not originally implant in it instinctual anger and desire. It was only afterwards, through the fall, that it was invested with these characteristics that have rendered it mortal, corruptible, and animal-like. For the body, even though susceptive of corruption, was created, as theologians tell us, free from corruption, and that is how it will be resurrected. In the same way the soul when originally created was dispassionate. But soul and body have been defiled, commingled as they are through the natural law of mutual interpenetration and exchange. The soul has acquired the qualities of the passions or, rather, of the demons; and the body, passing under the sway of corruption because of its fallen state, has become akin to instinct-driven animals. The powers of body and soul have merged together and have produced a single animal, driven impulsively and mindlessly by anger and desire. That is how man has sunk to the level of animals, as Scripture testifies, and has become like them in every respect (cf. Ps. 49:20)."

Also, in "On the Incarnation of the Word," St. Athanasius contends that man is, by nature, corruptible and impermanent, because, being brought out of nothing, it is natural for him to proceed back to nothingness, except for the immortality bestowed upon him by God's grace. This would seem to imply that animals naturally do return to dust, and we were only able to stave off death by partaking of the tree of life, i.e., freely choosing to obey God.

For me, denying pre-Fall animal death raises a whole host of problems, besides the fact that it contradicts contemporary scientific orthodoxy (and, indeed, to such a degree that it would obliterate long-established principles and methodologies outside of the context of evolutionary theory). How, for instance, could God have expected Adam and Eve to obey the admonition not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, on pain of death, if they had not encountered death in some form in Paradise, or, at least, at some observable distance outside of it?

In Christ,
Evan

#148 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 04 September 2012 - 01:40 AM

You're asking the wrong questions, Evan. You are demanding an evidentiary, logical, fact-based explanation for Genesis 1, whereas it is a theological explanation for why the world is messed up. The most profound explanation we have, as well as sublime in its aesthetic, and leads to the inescapable belief in God who is both Creator and Savior. You have to start with now, not then. Why do people have to die? It doesn't seem natural. There's something just not right about it. Heck, why are we born in the first place, only to die? What's the point? These are the questions you should be asking. Not from the standpoint of critical doubt but coming from faith.

#149 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 05 September 2012 - 01:11 PM

Owen,

If I was prepared to insist upon a fact-based explanation of Genesis, I wouldn't be a Christian. I wasn't there. For that matter, neither was Moses or the scribes that followed him-- creation is a revealed truth, it is not based on empirical evidence. It is of faith. And yet, if there's no creation, there's no Christianity. Or Judaism, for that matter (Maimonides is quite good on this).


In Christ,
Evan

#150 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 05 September 2012 - 02:24 PM

I wasn't there. For that matter, neither was Moses or the scribes that followed him-- creation is a revealed truth,


This is a good point, however, I did want to point out that Moses was a prophet to whom God revealed not the future, but the unknown past and therefore his account would bear a little more weight than any other.

Fr David

#151 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 05 September 2012 - 07:06 PM

This is a good point, however, I did want to point out that Moses was a prophet to whom God revealed not the future, but the unknown past and therefore his account would bear a little more weight than any other.

Fr David


I certainly did not mean to call this into question.

In Christ,
Evan

#152 Aaron R.

Aaron R.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts

Posted 06 September 2012 - 12:23 PM

This writing is from blessed Seraphim Rose and is regarding evolution and creation http://www.orthodox-...and-philosophy/

Edited by Aaron R., 06 September 2012 - 12:40 PM.


#153 Aaron R.

Aaron R.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts

Posted 07 September 2012 - 12:42 AM

St. Theophan the Recluse on modern science and evolution

by Jesse Dominick on Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 11:18am ·

St. Theophan the Recluse, St Feofan Zatvornik, Nastavleniya v duhovnoi zhisni. - Pskov-Pechery Monastery of Holy Dormition: Mosc. Patriarchate Publ., 1994, http://creatio.ortho...ot_english.html


"The positive teaching of the Church serves to know whether a concept is from the Truth. This is a litmus test for all teachings. Whatever agrees with it, you should accept it, whatever does not- - reject. One can do it without further deliberations.”

Sozertsanie I razmyshlenie. Moscow, Pravilo very, 1998
http://creatio.ortho...ot_english.html
"Science goes forward fast, let it do so. But if they infer something inconsistent with the Divine Revelation, they are definitely off the right path in life, do not follow them.”

The Spiritual Life and How to be Attuned to It, pg. 65-66
Thus, put entirely out of your mind the idea that there are people who do not acknowledge the existence of God. There are some scientists who think they can do without God, and who talk and write books as if He did not exist. But while their tongues and pens weave such empty words, their hearts say something else. They make themselves out to be nonbelievers, but very uncertainly, so as to successfully get away with it in their own conscience.

Thoughts for Each Day of the Year According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God, trans. Lisa Marie Baranov (2010), pp. 127-128
What ought we to preach? We should cry to all, ‘Sons of the Kingdom [of Heaven]! Don’t run from the Kingdom into bondage and slavery’ – for they are in fact running. Some are captivated by freedom of mind. They say, ‘We don’t want the bonds of faith and the oppression of authority, even Divine authority; we’ll figure things out and make up our minds for ourselves.’ So they have made up their minds. They have built fables in which there is more childishness than in the mythology of the Greeks – and they magnify themselves … Others are enticed by the broad path of the passions. They say, ‘We don’t want to know positive commandments or the demands of conscience – this is all abstract: we need tangible naturalness.’ And they have gone after it. What has come of it? They have bowed down before dumb beasts. Has not the theory that man originated from animals arisen from this moral fall? This is where they have gone! And everyone runs from the Lord, everyone runs …”

pp. 227-228
The truth of God is simple; can a proud mind study it? Such a mind would rather think up its own thing: sensational things, although empty and as weak as a spider’s web. To see that this is so, look at the current theories of the creation of the world: they are like a somnambulistic or drunken delirium. And yet how good they seem to those who invented them! How much energy and time are wasted on this – and all in vain! The deed was accomplished simply: ‘He spake and they cam to be. He commanded and they were created’ (Ps. 148:5). No one can think up anything better than this solution.

pp. 272-273
The Sadducees had a seemingly insoluble objection to the resurrection; but the Lord resolved it with a few words to them, and so clearly that everyone understood and acknowledged the Sadducees to have been beaten by the truth of His word. What the Sadducees were then, unbelievers of all sorts are now. They have heaped up a multitude of fanciful suppositions for themselves, elevated them to the status of irrefutable truths and plumed themselves on them, assuming that nothing can be said against them. In fact, they are so ungrounded that it is not even worthwhile speaking against them. All of their sophistry is a house of cards – blow on it and it flies apart. There is no need to refute it in its parts; it is enough to regard it as one regards dreams. When speaking against dreams, people do not prove the absurdity in their composition or in their individual parts, but only say, ‘It’s a dream,’ and with that they resolve everything. It is the same with the theory of the formation of the world from a nebula and its supports, with the theory of abiogenesis and Darwin’s origin of genera and species, and with his last dream about the descent of man. It is all like delirium. When you read them you are walking in the midst of shadows. And scientists? Well, what can you do with them? Their motto is ‘If you don’t like it, don’t listen, but don’t prevent me from lying.”

Sozertsaniye i razmyshleniye (Contemplations and Reflections) (1998) p. 146
These days many nihilists of both sexes, naturalists, Darwinists, Spiritists, and Westernizers in general have multiplied among us. All right, you’re thinking – would the Church have been silent, would it not have proferred its voice, would it not have condemned or anathematized them if there had been something new in their teaching? To be sure – a council would have done so without doubt, and all of them, with their teachings, would have been given over to anathema. To the current Rite of Orthodoxy only the following item would have been added: ‘To Büchner, Feuerbach, Darwin, Renan, Kardec, and all their followers – anathema! But there is no need, either for a special council or for any kind of addition. All of their false teachings were anathematized long ago. At the present time, not only in principal cities but in all place and churches the Rite of Orthodoxy ought to be brought in and celebrated, so that all the teachings contrary to the word of God might be collected and that it might be proclaimed to everyone what they must fear and from what teachings they must flee, and all might know. Many are seduced intellectually only through ignorance, and therefore a public condemnation of pernicious teachings would save them from destruction. If the action of an anathema is terrible to someone, then let him avoid the teachings that lead to it. Let him who is afraid of it for the sake of others bring them back to a healthy teaching. If you who are not favorably disposed to this action are Orthodox, then you are going against yourself; and if you have already lost sound teaching, then what business do you have concerning what is done in the Church that supports it? After all, you’ve already separated yourself from the Church and have your own convictions, your own way of looking at things – well, live with them then. It’s all the same whether or not your name and your teaching are uttered under the anathema: you are already under anathema if you philosophize against the Church and persist in this philosophizing.

Sobraniye pisem (Collected Letters) Vol. 2, (1994) p. 112
There is not a single science which could be established solidly on its own principles. Something can be obtained from all the sciences. But this is not something that gives one the right to cite sciences as a decisive authority. It is not science itself [that is the problem], but scientists who twist science however they want. Consequently, there are only the conjectures and inferences of scientists.

Vol. 2, p. 117
A believer has the full right to insinuate himself with spiritual things into the material realm, while materialists crawl with their matter, without a twinge of conscience, into the spiritual realm. Right-mindedness is on our side, while incoherence is on theirs. And this is not because every sandpiper praises its own swamp; rather, it is to the point. Matter cannot be either a power or a purpose. Both are outside of it. Matter can only be a means and a field for spiritual powers, in accordance with the spiritual origin (the Creator) of all things.

vol. 7, pp. 144-45
People have suddenly had a thought and have started to write about preserving faith. But they don’t want to block the source of unbelief. This source is the spread of the teaching that world formed by itself, according to which there is no need for God and the soul does not exist – it’s all atoms and chemistry, nothing more. This is being preached at [university] rostrums and in literature. He who breathes these fumes is inescapably stupefied, and loses his senses and faith … Until these books are destroyed; until professors and literary men are forced not only not to hold to this theory, but even to demolish it – until then – faithlessness will grow and grow, and with it, self-will and the destruction of the present government. That’s the way the French Revolution went.

Slova na Gospodskiye, Bogorodichnyye, i torzhestvennyye dni (Homilies on Feasts of the Lord and the Theotokos, and festal days) (1883), p. 5
In vain do people think highly about the world and its laws, about nature and its forces, as if there were something untouchable, indisputable and inviolable in them. Under the appearance of science they are devising for themselves an idol-worship that is more destructive than the mythological idol-worship of the ancient Greeks. No, brethren – it is not by the laws and forces of nature that the life of each one of us is upheld, but by the power of God acting within us. The Lord, ‘upholding all things by the word of His power’ (Heb. 1:3), bears each one of us by the same word of His power.

Let us maintain this thought in our mind and imprint it in our heart. The all-0active power of God bears us over the abyss of nothingness, and ‘we live, and move, and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). If He takes away His Spirit, if He removes His hand, we will disappear and will no longer be remembered among the living. But if the Lord holds us, then He touches us. He does not merely see us mentally; no, He touches, as one hand touches another or as the air touches one’s body. How consoling and awesome!

p. 196
A pure spirit [nous] contemplates God and receives from Him knowledge of mysteries. But even the spirit, combined with the body, after the diversity of the creations of the visible world has been revealed to it through the senses, have been enlightened by the same inward illumination from above, must contemplate in these creations all the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and the mysteries of God’s making and governing of the world, so that even when faced with this great amount of knowledge it can remain unperturbed in the same single Divine contemplation. But, having fallen, a person is captivated by the diversity of created things and even overwhelmed by impressions from them, which supplant within him the very thought of God. Studying created things, he goes no further than what he sees in them – their composition and interrelations – and, not receiving illumination from aibove, does not see in them the clear reflection of God and the Divine mysteries. The world has become for him a tarnished mirror, in which nothing can be seen but the mirror itself. Hence a great amount of knowledge suppresses within him the knowledge of the one thing; it turns him away from it, makes him cold toward it. Such is the price and such is the fruit of science in a fallen state.
Share

#154 Aaron R.

Aaron R.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts

Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:59 PM

Also I would like to add another excellent point from father Seraphim Rose

Fr Seraphim Rose on Evolution and Christianity as opposite world views

*The whole 'evolutionary philosophy' which grasps people today leads them to believe, often unconsciously, in a view of creation and life which is just the opposite of what Christianity teaches: simple becomes complex, savagery 'evolves' to civilization, imperfect gives rise to perfect, 'progress' etc.*According to Orthodoxy, the perfect falls to the imperfect (Paradise to fallen world: and even historically, the Holy Fathers note the fall of mankind in general until the coming of Christ.. and man in the last days will be much lower spiritually than in the early Church...) incorruption and immortality precede corruption and mortality....The whole outlook of 'evolutionary philosophy' is to upset this Christian outlook, based on God Who does everything as He wishes, and make instead something more 'understandable' to fallen men - rationalism, humanism.*That's why 'evolution' was developed gradually before any 'scientific' proof was ever found.From Genesis, Creation and Early Man, 2011 edition - pp255-7 (excerpted

#155 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:50 PM

Excellent and valuable commentaries as they are, Evan, they would probably fall flat in a secular audience. Which is why it is also incumbent upon Orthodox thinkers to study the issues so that they can demonstrate that Darwinism as conceived and commonly understood is not science.

#156 Aaron R.

Aaron R.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts

Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:35 AM

Excellent and valuable commentaries as they are, Evan, they would probably fall flat in a secular audience. Which is why it is also incumbent upon Orthodox thinkers to study the issues so that they can demonstrate that Darwinism as conceived and commonly understood is not science.


Brother in matters of faith why does a secular audience matter?

#157 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:52 AM

Because every soul matters!

#158 Aaron R.

Aaron R.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 192 posts

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:07 AM

Because every soul matters!


Yes of course brother but should we only hold to things that we can convince the secular world of?

kind regards

Aaron

Edited by Aaron R., 22 January 2013 - 01:31 AM.


#159 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:44 PM

Aaron, that is not what Owen is saying. Depending on the situation, we may need all the tools in the toolbox. When conversing with the secular world, we use terms they can comprehend. Knowing that even on a secular level that Darwinism falls short is a useful tool in such situations. We can, of course, choose not to engage at all but that is not always a choice available to all of us. That is why the Holy Apostle Paul appealed to the Greeks in the name of the "unknown god". This is why the Fathers used the tools of the pagan philosophers.

Nobody is saying "only", Owen is simply saying "use all the tools (appropriately) in the toolbox", and not to throw away any of the tools. We don't have to have "only" a hammer, or "only" a screwdriver. We keep and use the appropriate tool for the appropriate situation. Understand?

#160 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

One of the paths to theological and spiritual enlightenment is to be able to observe certain errors of thought, and judgment and behavior and realize that that cannot possibly be so. It helps to clarify one's own beliefs and ideas. Then it is helpful to ask, what is the nature of the error so that I may not also fall into the same error. Depending on how far you can take it, or are called upon or chosen to take it, depending on your gifts and your position, it becomes an opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission. In fact, the term theology was coined by Plato in reaction to the arguments of the sophists, who claimed that either there are no gods, or if they do exist they cannot help us, or if they can, then they can be bribed with sacrifices. To all three propositions Plato said that they could not possibly be true, and he called that conclusion theology. Darwinism is the dominant substitute theology of our age, and, sadly, many Christians are uninformed on the issue and thereby incorporate certain aspects of Darwinism into their thinking and into their priorities in life.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users