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Author Topic: Evolution and Oriental Orthodoxy  (Read 4183 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew777
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« on: December 10, 2006, 08:06:53 AM »

That all species can be placed into a nested hierarchy of life should be obvious to anyone who has studied biology. That all species share a common ancestor, through descent with modification, is not, in and of itself, contrary to Christian theology. However, a differentiation must be made between the fact and the theory of evolution.

While it may be accepted as fact that all species share a common ancestor, it is only theory that natural selection acting on genetic mutation is the primary force behind the evolutionary process. The fact is in the discovery of what happened, the theory is in the mechanism which explains the how and why. To the theistic mind, the explanations for how blind nature could be solely responsible for the complexity and diversity of life should not at all be compelling.

Given that God is within all things, at all times, we should not give heed to an evolutionary theory which undermines the presence and creative activity of God. Darwinists like Richard Dawkins have failed to realize, either through wilfull ignorance or spiritual blindness, that the evolutionary process does not, on its own, show that there is no Creator at work.

To the Western mindset, any involvement of God would require divine intervention. But if God is always immanent, then His involvement would not be an "intervention" if He's already here. In fact, if God were to remove His presence for one moment, the Creation itself would collapse. Ultimately, though we can accept the observation of common descent, it certainly didn't happen in the way that Richard Dawkins and others like him would describe.
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2006, 11:50:32 PM »

My God, Matthew, for the upteenth time!

Do us a favor and not write any more evolution debates unless you bring something new.

Quote
Given that God is within all things, at all times, we should not give heed to an evolutionary theory which undermines the presence and creative activity of God.

This is insulting to me.  For an evolutionist like myself, I tend to believe that evolutionary theory all the more makes the presence and creative activity of God even more wonderous and amazing.

As for what the title of this thread intended (even though I doubt you really read OO resources), here's an OO view of the issue.  Although I don't necessarily agree with everything this author says, he is pretty much the only Copt that ever wrote on how evolution does not necessarily contradict Orthodoxy:

http://www.stmarycoptorthodox.org/science_and_religion_by.htm

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2006, 07:03:32 AM »

For an evolutionist like myself, I tend to believe that evolutionary theory all the more makes the presence and creative activity of God even more wonderous and amazing.

But you believe that God is the prime mover behind the evolutionary process, which in Richard Dawkins' mind would make you just another Biblical creationist.
I have no intention to argue. My objection is not against evolution, but against how certain prominent figures within the scientific community would interpret it.

Stephen J. Gould explained the distinction between the "fact" and the "theory" of evolution:

Quote
Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome. And human beings evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered...

Evolutionists have been clear about this distinction between fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory—natural selection—to explain the mechanism of evolution. He wrote in The Descent of Man: "I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to show that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change . . . Hence if I have erred in . . . having exaggerated its | natural selection's] power . . . I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations."
http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/speakout/gould.html

The article you shared supports my contention:

Quote
The fact of evolution is one thing; theories explaining how evolution took place are quite another. Often people confuse the two and speak of both as if they were one. Life on earth climbed by steps from inferior creatures to superior ones. This is evolution, and this is fact.
http://www.stmarycoptorthodox.org/science_and_religion_by.htm

While I would accept the "fact" that all species share a common ancestor, through a process of descent with modification, I'd categorically reject the "theory" that blind nature was the sole cause of this outcome. I believe that you and I are actually in agreement.

Peace.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 07:23:52 AM by Matthew777 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2006, 04:51:49 PM »

While I would accept the "fact" that all species share a common ancestor, through a process of descent with modification, I'd categorically reject the "theory" that blind nature was the sole cause of this outcome. I believe that you and I are actually in agreement.

 Shocked Do my eyes deceive me? Matthew777 supports theistic evolution sans natural selection? What produced this change in direction?

P.S. Your argument is now much more cogent and well-phrased. But I fear it's still a dead horse 'round here.
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2006, 03:11:39 AM »

Shocked Do my eyes deceive me? Matthew777 supports theistic evolution sans natural selection? What produced this change in direction?

I didn't object to evolution in and of itself, but feared that it would lead to nihilism. But if common descent is the truth, and Truth (The Divine Logos) cannot contradict truth (scientific discovery), then denying what is true would lead to nihilism. And though I'd accept natural selection as one important factor in the evolutionary process, it is not the primary factor. I don't believe that scientists have even begun to explain, in realistic terms, the phenomenon of convergent evolution.
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2006, 01:17:21 AM »

Sorry about that.  I read your post too fast.

And I am surprised about your approach.  I always viewed you as the anti-evolution type.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2006, 03:34:14 AM »

I am against evolution as the secular community would define it. But if it's how God created, evolution is holy and sanctified, and its opposition from rigid traditionalism is in great error.

Peace.
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« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2006, 05:29:53 PM »

I am against evolution as the secular community would define it. But if it's how God created, evolution is holy and sanctified, and its opposition from rigid traditionalism is in great error.

Peace.

Matthew please tell us that you dont admire Blessed Seraphim anymore?

Theophan.
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« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2006, 06:03:04 PM »

Matthew please tell us that you dont admire Blessed Seraphim anymore?

Theophan.


I personally admire Blessed Seraphim, but I may not agree with everything he says.  Anyone who venerates St. Augustine is really kool in my book.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2006, 08:59:42 PM »

Matthew please tell us that you dont admire Blessed Seraphim anymore?

I admire him as a symbol of piety, in how he was able to turn his life around from homosexuality and drug abuse to accomplish great things in the name of Christ. That does not mean, however, that I agree with all of his theological opinions.

Peace.
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« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2006, 07:39:33 AM »

I admire him as a symbol of piety, in how he was able to turn his life around from homosexuality and drug abuse to accomplish great things in the name of Christ. That does not mean, however, that I agree with all of his theological opinions.

Peace.

Do you agree with any them besides very basic stuff like the Trinity (we know you share a different Christology)? What is your postition on Monarchism? On the toll-houses? The idea that Russia will be resurrected again under an Orthodox Tsar? On the Dogma of Redemption? You dont follow him on the Dogma of Creation.

Besides outside of the belief in the resurrection of Holy Russia he (as I do and my Spiritual Father does) considered these matters of Dogma and not opinion.

Outside of Kyprianism I tend to agree with Fr Seraphim on everything. He was not a modernist or a false ecumenist which you seem to be (at least by the standards of my parish). Yet you seem to have a special veneration for him.  That mystifies me, but im a simple soul...

Theophan.
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« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2006, 01:35:55 AM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose had a different Christology?

I've heard about that; an EO friend of mine mentioned he had some sort of "Neo-Nestorian" views.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2006, 08:49:11 AM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose had a different Christology?

I've heard about that; an EO friend of mine mentioned he had some sort of "Neo-Nestorian" views.

God bless.

Mina

Mina- that Eastern Orthodox friend (though Oriental means Eastern aswell) is obviously a heretic who denies that Christ's death on the Cross was a Sacrafice offered to the Holy Trinity for the sins of mankind.  Those heretics such as Archbishop Lazar of OCA refer to Hieromonk Seraphim as "Neo-Nestorian" because he was Orthodox on that point. However his view of the Church could be considered Nestorian.

Theophan.
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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2006, 09:14:18 AM »

Mina- that Eastern Orthodox friend (though Oriental means Eastern aswell) is obviously a heretic who denies that Christ's death on the Cross was a Sacrafice offered to the Holy Trinity for the sins of mankind.  Those heretics such as Archbishop Lazar of OCA refer to Hieromonk Seraphim as "Neo-Nestorian" because he was Orthodox on that point. However his view of the Church could be considered Nestorian.

Theophan.

GOC Theophan,
A few things in response:

1): I don't think you should just throw the word "heretic" around willy-nilly like that.

2): How is Christ's Death a "sacrifice" offered to Himself? (Or is He not One of the Trinity to Whom this "sacrifice" was offered?)


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« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2006, 06:58:23 PM »

Wo...my bad...

I was just wondering if that's what you meant by a "different Christology."

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2006, 07:05:30 PM »

There are a coupole short books on the subject, though personally I didn't find them persuasive. Yeah, Seraphim had some controversial views; and even though he was very intelligent, he purposely took a non-academic (ie. imprecise) approach to writing. But fwiw I just didn't buy the attempts to paint Seraphim Rose as a "neo-gnostic" and "neo-nestorian".
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« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2006, 08:13:44 PM »

He was not a modernist or a false ecumenist which you seem to be (at least by the standards of my parish).

Please discontinue making false accusations in the Oriental Orthodox forum. Your parish is not of my concern.

Peace.
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« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2006, 08:32:23 PM »

If a priest gives a sermon on how he believes that evolution is wrong, are we allowed as laity to voice disagreement, whether openly or in private?
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« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2006, 11:27:45 PM »

I have always been taught it is appropriate to ask for the priest to educate a or enlighten the laity about where the Church Faters stood so we can understabnd his thought process in the serman and understand the serman approptiately.  Your own tone of phrasing the question is important---is it asking as achild for information or demanding as a disbeliever for proof texts?

In Christ,
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« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2006, 01:00:30 AM »

If there happened to be an evolutionary biologist present during the sermon, he'd probably feel alienated or even offended. This particular priest I am speaking of is a convert from the Assemblies of God, a fundamentalist Pentecostal church, and it's possible that he's kept his same beliefs on Genesis without consulting contemporary Orthodox theologians.

During the sermon, he even held up The Case For a Creator by Lee Strobel, as if it were a definitive scientific text, even though the claims of Intelligent Design advocates have been discredited. I tried to explain to him in private the difference between the fact of evolution, which is theologically neutral, and Darwin's theory of evolution, which may or may not have a naturalistic bias.

Peace.
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« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2006, 01:33:16 AM »

I have always been taught it is appropriate to ask for the priest to educate a or enlighten the laity about where the Church Faters stood so we can understabnd his thought process in the serman and understand the serman approptiately.  Your own tone of phrasing the question is important---is it asking as achild for information or demanding as a disbeliever for proof texts?

In Christ,
Thomas

Bad advice, most priests are not patristic scholars and are quite unqualified to put forward anything even approaching a scholarly analysis of patristic opinion...do your own research.
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« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2006, 01:37:22 AM »

Bad advice, most priests are not patristic scholars and are quite unqualified to put forward anything even approaching a scholarly analysis of patristic opinion...do your own research.

And are we allowed, as Orthodox Christians, to politely correct a priest?
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« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2006, 01:44:14 AM »

And are we allowed, as Orthodox Christians, to politely correct a priest?

Yes, dont make a scene, of course, but if someone is making a fool out of himself and alienating his congregation, it wouldn't hurt to give him a heads up. Of course, he probably has already made up his mind, so your informing him of his error will ultimately do little good.
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« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2006, 02:19:27 AM »

I don't mean to spread rumors about a particular priest, but it's sometimes hard as a lay person in conducting oneself in relation to the opinions of clergymen. He also said during his sermon that no Christian should vote for a politician who supports abortion, as if there is not a wider range of issues for the Christian to consider.

Peace.
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« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2006, 10:16:51 AM »

Please discontinue making false accusations in the Oriental Orthodox forum. Your parish is not of my concern.

Peace.

Matthew I consider you a modernist because of your views on"evolution" and I consider you an ecumenist because of your views on the Orthodoxy of the "Byzantines" and the "Church of the East". There are Oriental Orthodox who I consider neither modernists nor indeed ecumenists. Your veneration of Blessed Seraphim alone shows you are ecumenistic.

Theophan.
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« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2006, 10:28:11 AM »

GOC Theophan,
A few things in response:

1): I don't think you should just throw the word "heretic" around willy-nilly like that.

2): How is Christ's Death a "sacrifice" offered to Himself? (Or is He not One of the Trinity to Whom this "sacrifice" was offered?)




The Council [of Constantinople] of 1156 considers it indisputable that the death of Christ on Golgotha was a propitiatory sacrifice for the human race and is only concerned to know to whom the sacrifice was offered. It concludes that the sacrifice was offered by Christ the Saviour to the Holy Trinity. In doing this, Christ was at the same time both the victim and the sacrifice (in accordance with His human nature) and God receiving the Sacrifice, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit (in accordance with His consubstantiality with the Father and the Holy Spirit). The Council also established that the eucharistic sacrifice is this same Sacrifice, that of Golgotha. The Council consigns to anathema those who think otherwise.

George- have you read St John the wonderworker's sermon on the meaning of anathema?

Theophan.
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