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Author Topic: Science and knowledge of things  (Read 21648 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 02, 2008, 08:41:40 PM »

I just wanted to initiate a non-debate thread about our knowledge of the external world, as prompted by the previous (unfortunately, locked) threads on evolution etc.

Are all statements that are made by scientists up for grabs by people who are dividing everything into the two categories, "I believe this" vs. "I do not believe this?"

If you, in this regard, do  not "believe" (define "believe?") that when you look at water in a pond, you are actually looking at a bunch of molecules, each of which consisting of two atoms of hydrogen (define...?), bonded to one atom of oxygen (define...?) by a polar covalent bond (define...?), - then, where are you?

If, in this same regard, you, or a Holy Father of the 2-3-4-5th century Church - in YOUR interpretation of the writings of this Holy Father - have conceived of something that YOU perceive as explaining the above in any way... - what do you make of that?

Thanks.

George
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2008, 08:49:23 PM »

I don't think that all statements by scientists should be up for grabs but I think we should constantly critically examine the assumptions of science and scientists.  After all, scientists are not the base line of examination into the human condition (in other words, not criticizable).

One day I would like to take a course or read a book on Philosophy of Science as this subject addresses many of the questions I am personally interested in:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2008, 11:22:21 PM »

I don't know if you intend to or not, but you come across as having a very totalitarian tone, i.e. "Believe what I say, don't even question what i say, because I have the authority to say it and you don't."
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2008, 11:40:55 PM »

I suppose that, to a certain degree, all scientific claims need to be constantly challenged.  I mean, it is a basic principle of science that anything that is not potentially falsifiable is not scientific per se.  Much of science consists of the checking and re-checking of hypotheses, results, etc., in an effort to replicate results under similar or different circumstances, depending on the thesis involved.

For example, the simple statement that water is made up of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen atoms was a complete statement 50 years ago; but now one must include in the definition of atom the makeup of subatomic particles.  Who knows, maybe in 50 years we will also need to include the molecules of dark matter that may or may not be present in the midst of the water molecules.

And maybe one day we'll discover that an atom really isn't an atom.

Science depends on the constant questioning of its premises, theories, and whatnot.

Now, of course, one should be willing and able at any given point to say that to the best of our knowledge at the time so-and-so is correct.  ISTM that many, under the guise of being "religious," are not able to do so.  I certainly don't understand why.  The Fathers that I have read (which aren't nearly as many as I should have) seemed to treat scientific knowledge that does not attack God to be part of God's revelation of creation to mankind.  In that context, I don't see why we can't acknowledge H2O.

But I, just as any scientist worth their salt, will never claim absolute knowledge (a knowledge held only by God, IMO).  Hopefully, we'll keep questioning what we "know," and slowly find out what we don't.
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2008, 11:45:35 PM »

I don't know if you intend to or not, but you come across as having a very totalitarian tone, i.e. "Believe what I say, don't even question what i say, because I have the authority to say it and you don't."

If you read more of Heorhij's postings, you will find him to be one of the most kind and pleasant posters here on oc.net. 

I think he is simply frustrated that people without a strong scientific background are claiming to be authorities on matters where it is clear they don't really have an in-depth knowledge of the matter at hand.   

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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2008, 11:59:13 PM »

I think he is simply frustrated that people without a strong scientific background are claiming to be authorities on matters where it is clear they don't really have an in-depth knowledge of the matter at hand.   

Methinks you've hit the nail right on the head - sometimes (and I'm sure I'm as guilty of it as anyone else) there seems to be an arrogant presumption of knowledge by someone who obviously is ignorant on the subject.  Science and nature are so tempting in this regard, because of our constant interaction with the natural world; we see it and touch it, and we read about it in the Bible and the Fathers and magazines and so on and so forth.
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2008, 12:01:01 AM »

I suppose that, to a certain degree, all scientific claims need to be constantly challenged.  I mean, it is a basic principle of science that anything that is not potentially falsifiable is not scientific per se.  Much of science consists of the checking and re-checking of hypotheses, results, etc., in an effort to replicate results under similar or different circumstances, depending on the thesis involved.

For example, the simple statement that water is made up of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen atoms was a complete statement 50 years ago; but now one must include in the definition of atom the makeup of subatomic particles.  Who knows, maybe in 50 years we will also need to include the molecules of dark matter that may or may not be present in the midst of the water molecules.

And maybe one day we'll discover that an atom really isn't an atom.

Science depends on the constant questioning of its premises, theories, and whatnot.

Now, of course, one should be willing and able at any given point to say that to the best of our knowledge at the time so-and-so is correct.  ISTM that many, under the guise of being "religious," are not able to do so.  I certainly don't understand why.  The Fathers that I have read (which aren't nearly as many as I should have) seemed to treat scientific knowledge that does not attack God to be part of God's revelation of creation to mankind.  In that context, I don't see why we can't acknowledge H2O.

But I, just as any scientist worth their salt, will never claim absolute knowledge (a knowledge held only by God, IMO).  Hopefully, we'll keep questioning what we "know," and slowly find out what we don't.
I agree totally.  I've never subscribed to the idea that 'science' is incompatible with Orthodoxy; we have nothing to be afraid of as far as that goes.  As Christians though, we need to temper our approach with Christian ethics.
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2008, 12:27:09 AM »

If you read more of Heorhij's postings, you will find him to be one of the most kind and pleasant posters here on oc.net. 

Hear, hear!


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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2008, 12:44:31 AM »

I would agree, he's very nice and I enjoy his posts! My mom's family is from Mississippi and I'd love to stop for Coffee the next time I'm down if you are reading Heorhij!  But on the scientific issues, even if he is 100% correct, it can come across as very, "if you don't have the credentials, shut up and listen to me."  While I might understand the motivations behind this frustration, it's not the best way to get people to open their minds and listen. Additionally, the danger in this frustration is that you begin to look at people who disagree with you as the "ignorant masses" and over time begin to treat them this way.  While I know Heorhij would never go to this extreme, many in the scientific community do which is why I think their can be such wide chasms in scientific discussions such as these.

If you read more of Heorhij's postings, you will find him to be one of the most kind and pleasant posters here on oc.net. 

I think he is simply frustrated that people without a strong scientific background are claiming to be authorities on matters where it is clear they don't really have an in-depth knowledge of the matter at hand.   


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« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2008, 02:30:19 AM »

I don't know if you intend to or not, but you come across as having a very totalitarian tone, i.e. "Believe what I say, don't even question what i say, because I have the authority to say it and you don't."

Ummm, that's not what George said, he never said as much.

(He did make a comment the necessity of formal education in the sciences in another thread with which I do disagree; since, in biology at least, I have no formal education, yet still know enough to be able to competently consider evidence presented and have an intelligent discussion with biologists, at least in genetics and computational biology and, to a degree, parts of molecular biology...I probably couldn't keep up with George on Immunology, but if I so desired (which I do) and had the time (which I do not) I'm sure I could learn enough from the appropriate textbooks to hold an intelligent conversation, you just have to know where to find the right ones.)

In the end, the point is that whether you agree or disagree with a scientific hypothesis or theory, the only legitimate opinion is based on scientific evidence. Classical physics was (technically) proven incorrect, but this could not be accomplished from arguments based on theology, philosophy, astrology, etc.; it was only possible to dismiss certain elements of the theory based on new scientific theories that had greater evidence. What, I believe, George is objecting to, and what I most certainly object to, is when people disagree with a scientific theory based on irrelevant factors (such as theology or philosophy) and completely ignore (or more often fail to understand) the scientific evidence at hand.
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« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2008, 02:42:52 AM »

I would agree, he's very nice and I enjoy his posts! My mom's family is from Mississippi and I'd love to stop for Coffee the next time I'm down if you are reading Heorhij!  But on the scientific issues, even if he is 100% correct, it can come across as very, "if you don't have the credentials, shut up and listen to me."  While I might understand the motivations behind this frustration, it's not the best way to get people to open their minds and listen. Additionally, the danger in this frustration is that you begin to look at people who disagree with you as the "ignorant masses" and over time begin to treat them this way.  While I know Heorhij would never go to this extreme, many in the scientific community do which is why I think their can be such wide chasms in scientific discussions such as these.

Unfortunately, more often than not, they are the ignorant masses worthy of nothing more than mockery. There are, of course, some exceptions, a small number of people who do not have the credentials but do understand the subject. Of course, these people will undoubtably side with the scientific community, with very few exceptions.

As for George's approach, we had a discussion a while back about Dr. Watson's views on genetic determinism, views with which I strongly agree, in the end I doubt that we can never rise above our DNA, it's the genetic programme that determines who we are; however, best as I could gather from his responses I believe George disagreed with me, but I would hardly say that he was condescending or dismissive. George can correct me if I'm misrepresenting him, but I believe the point is that disagreement is fine as long as it is consonant with the scientific evidence. The kind of disagreement expressed in the referenced discussions was not, it was simply wrong and because of the overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence there's really no room for a rational disagreement (unless you're a genius so far beyond all of us that you can create a new scientific theory that no human has ever before conceived, which better explains the data at hand than any previous scientific theory).
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« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2008, 02:48:39 AM »

I agree totally.  I've never subscribed to the idea that 'science' is incompatible with Orthodoxy; we have nothing to be afraid of as far as that goes.  As Christians though, we need to temper our approach with Christian ethics.

I would take it a step further, 'Orthodoxy' incompatible with science is not orthodox at all, it is heterodoxy. If we are to worship the Holy Trinity as the creator of heaven and earth we must accept this very creation of his as divine revelation. And, more than that, as direct revelation from God, not any man's (no matter how holy) interpretation of divine revelation. Thus, if there is a conflict between scripture and science, it would be reasonable to conclude that God who created the world got it more correct than the author of scripture who attempted to interpret what God revealed to him. That is not to say that the divine revelation was somehow flawed, only that whenever human interpretation is involved, even in the writing of Scripture, one must allow room for error.
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« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2008, 03:02:45 AM »

Here's a great example by what I meant by Christian ethics and science.  Granted, this isn't necessarily the type of science Heorhij was speaking about, but it does illustrate that we need to be careful.

"If you're younger than 35, you'll probably live long enough to put David Levy's prediction to the test. Levy says that by 2050 we'll be creating robots so lifelike, so imbued with human-seeming intelligence and emotions, as to be nearly indistinguishable from real people. And we'll have sex with these robots. Some of us will even marry them. And it will all be good."

When asked if he or his wife would 'employ' a robot for this purpose he replied,

"Yes, yes, and if she wanted to try one I wouldn't have a problem with that. I would regard it as genuine scientific curiosity."



Full article here.

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« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2008, 03:16:55 AM »

Here's a great example by what I meant by Christian ethics and science.  Granted, this isn't necessarily the type of science Heorhij was speaking about, but it does illustrate that we need to be careful.

"If you're younger than 35, you'll probably live long enough to put David Levy's prediction to the test. Levy says that by 2050 we'll be creating robots so lifelike, so imbued with human-seeming intelligence and emotions, as to be nearly indistinguishable from real people. And we'll have sex with these robots. Some of us will even marry them. And it will all be good."

When asked if he or his wife would 'employ' a robot for this purpose he replied,

"Yes, yes, and if she wanted to try one I wouldn't have a problem with that. I would regard it as genuine scientific curiosity."



Full article here.

I fail to see where the problem comes in.
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« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2008, 04:00:52 AM »

I would agree, he's very nice and I enjoy his posts! My mom's family is from Mississippi and I'd love to stop for Coffee the next time I'm down if you are reading Heorhij!  But on the scientific issues, even if he is 100% correct, it can come across as very, "if you don't have the credentials, shut up and listen to me."  While I might understand the motivations behind this frustration, it's not the best way to get people to open their minds and listen. Additionally, the danger in this frustration is that you begin to look at people who disagree with you as the "ignorant masses" and over time begin to treat them this way.  While I know Heorhij would never go to this extreme, many in the scientific community do which is why I think their can be such wide chasms in scientific discussions such as these.

It is obvious from these discussions that Heorhij's detractors don't even have a basic level of biological knowledge.  Rather than talking about biology at all, most people here are simply making appeals to texts that are over a millennium old.  The knowledge of basic biology is readily accessible.  If someone refuses to partake of it because of their religious zealotry, then whether it is polite to say so or not, they are part of the ignorant hoi polloi.  Simply put, there is no way to have a discussion if an appeal to a codification of Near Eastern creation myths carries the same or greater weight than that which is empirically observed. 

This doesn't only apply to biology.  I am trying to imagine what I would do if I were in Heorhij's position if someone said that Indoeuropean linguistics (one of my fields of study) was impossible since according to Genesis all the different languages of the earth were created in one fell swoop rather than through gradual changes over the course of generations.  I would do that same thing as Heorhij (although with far lass tact and patience) and recommend that the person read some introductory texts on historical linguistics and show that it is simply a fact that modern languages slowly emerged from common ancestors.  There is simply no other way to debate these types of topics. 
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« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2008, 04:40:15 AM »

It is obvious from these discussions that Heorhij's detractors don't even have a basic level of biological knowledge.  Rather than talking about biology at all, most people here are simply making appeals to texts that are over a millennium old.  The knowledge of basic biology is readily accessible.  If someone refuses to partake of it because of their religious zealotry, then whether it is polite to say so or not, they are part of the ignorant hoi polloi.  Simply put, there is no way to have a discussion if an appeal to a codification of Near Eastern creation myths carries the same or greater weight than that which is empirically observed. 

This doesn't only apply to biology.  I am trying to imagine what I would do if I were in Heorhij's position if someone said that Indoeuropean linguistics (one of my fields of study) was impossible since according to Genesis all the different languages of the earth were created in one fell swoop rather than through gradual changes over the course of generations.  I would do that same thing as Heorhij (although with far lass tact and patience) and recommend that the person read some introductory texts on historical linguistics and show that it is simply a fact that modern languages slowly emerged from common ancestors.  There is simply no other way to debate these types of topics. 

Hear, hear!
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« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2008, 10:28:34 AM »

Hear, hear!

I second that.
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« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2008, 10:39:26 AM »

Heorhij,

I don't know that I have the answer to your question.  My own belief is that science and faith are complementary, and that study and appreciation of the natural world can be done by people of good faith.  I do believe, based on what I've read, that the idea that science and religion are locked in to a type of antithetical warfare is itself a modern idea which is kind of ironic.  It would not be intellectually satisfying or acceptable to me personally to discount scientific knowledge when reading the Bible or any of the other writings of the early church; and I can't imagine I'm unique in that regard.
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« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2008, 10:49:52 AM »

What, I believe, George is objecting to, and what I most certainly object to, is when people disagree with a scientific theory based on irrelevant factors (such as theology or philosophy) and completely ignore (or more often fail to understand) the scientific evidence at hand.

You make an excellent point here.
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« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2008, 11:01:11 AM »

Thank you so much, all who responded.

First of all, I really apologize to all of you whom I impresed as totalitarian. That was not my intention. Probably when I write about evolution, I - against my will - acquire a certain harshness in my tone because of so many problems with my students that I encounter daily. There is this persistent and pervasive belief among them that I say things that I say because I, like other science teachers, kind of, belong to a particular anti-theist, anti-Christian "gang." By my nature, I am not a terribly strong logician and debator, I feel my weakness and become defensive. Sorry about that.

Of course I do realize that the nature of science is questioning everything. When I asked, are scientific thruths "up for grabs," I never meant that these truths are carved in stone for ever and ever. My question was more, can an individual decide that he/she believes or not believes in the discoveries made by scientists based on that individual's belief systems? Can I decide that I do not believe in the existence of, say, neutrinos because I am a Buddhist or Muslim or Zoroastrian?

It is this focus of the problem that actually bothers me a lot, exactly because I keep hearing it all the time from Christians - that yes, we can, and we should, "choose our position" on the theory of biological evolution because we are Bible-believing folk, and the Bible says in this chapter and this verse that there was an actual physical time when ONE human being existed and lapsed into sin, etc. etc. etc. (in the case of Orthodox, to this is added this and that interpretation by this or that Holy Father). So, if you "chose" to "believe" that certain populations of apes slowly, gradually, inconspicuously evolved into first populations of the species Homo erectus, and then Homo habilis, and then Homo sapiens, and, hence, that there was no such thing as literal "first human couple" etc., then you are outside of *us*, our beliefs, and definitely not a Christian! Given the text of, say, Romans 5, your entire theory of biological evolution is a blasphemy (see GOCTheophan's first two or three replies to my post in the locked evolution thread in the Free-For-All section).

When I try to challenge this, I hear something like, "well, OK, if you think that science can correct Romans 5 - then can Romans 5 correct science?" And here I very emphatically say NO - and again find myself in a difficult position. The discussion again begins to degrade into the issue of "scientific totalitrianism." My only point, actually, is that scientific truths (yes, tentative as they are!) cannot be dismissed based on any "text" - no matter how much respect and "clout" this particular text has among people who belong to particular belief systems. But I somehow was never able to drive this point across.

Again, my apologies for being too harsh on people, and my thanks to you for great replies.



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« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2008, 11:12:20 AM »

^George, you have nothing to apologize for.  Smiley


I'd really like to ask a question to those who know more about both science and scripture than I.  However, it is related to George's comment about apes and evolution.  Is it okay for us to post here regarding evolution?  Or is it a topic that we're supposed to stay away from, since the thread is locked?  I'm still kinda new here, and don't know how it works...

Thanks!
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« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2008, 11:24:22 AM »

As far as I know, it's not off-limits to post on evolution, but with the recent firestorm on that thread it may be better to put the topic aside for a while and let some of our more vigorous posters cool their jets.  Global mods/admins, I'm assuming this is the case?
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« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2008, 11:49:12 AM »

Are all statements that are made by scientists up for grabs by people who are dividing everything into the two categories, "I believe this" vs. "I do not believe this?"

Not trying to be difficult (or maybe I'm just fuzzy this morning and need more coffee) but I think that one thing to consider about a scientist's statements is "Is he/she speaking on something that they are qualified to be an authority about?" 

As an example,  I would accept William Shockley's statements on physics and Transistors and semi-conductors without question, because he was an authority, reasearcher and inventor in that field.  His later ideas on genetics and human populations were not in an area in which he was an expert and were (imho) very much up for grabs and in fact it was appropriate to show the errors in them.

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« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2008, 01:02:28 PM »

As an example,  I would accept William Shockley's statements on physics and Transistors and semi-conductors without question, because he was an authority, reasearcher and inventor in that field.  His later ideas on genetics and human populations were not in an area in which he was an expert and were (imho) very much up for grabs and in fact it was appropriate to show the errors in them.

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But Shockley's statements are not true because he said so; I do not accept his statements simply because they come from him. They are accepted because they are logically argued and presented to be consonant with sound scientific research. Everyone has to demonstrate the validity of their theory before it is accepted by the scientific community, regardless of their celebrity status. That's what makes this science and not theology or art.
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« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2008, 03:48:34 PM »

Thank you so much, all who responded.


Of course I do realize that the nature of science is questioning everything. When I asked, are scientific thruths "up for grabs," I never meant that these truths are carved in stone for ever and ever. My question was more, can an individual decide that he/she believes or not believes in the discoveries made by scientists based on that individual's belief systems? Can I decide that I do not believe in the existence of, say, neutrinos because I am a Buddhist or Muslim or Zoroastrian?


First I would like to apologize if I offended you in any way. 
  Scientific truths are certainly up for grabs. When your field has to lobby for funding it usually states it's case in front of the nonscientific world. Your truths have to penetrate into non-scientific peoples pockets.

 I really don't have any issues with believing in evolution as long as it can fall in line with Orthodox theology. I personally don't believe in a 6000 year old world. Anybody who does has to take a trip to the Museum of natural history in NYC to be awakened. I certainly don't doubt that it may have taken millions of years before man entered the world. Even that man has evolved for lesser species. My confusion starts when I think into mans soul. I ask. How was man endowed with a soul different from other species and at what point in time was man lifted to a high calling.
 If we continue we can clearly see that man really isn't fallen except in mortality.
If he isn't fallen. What is he?
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« Reply #25 on: January 03, 2008, 04:16:16 PM »

If anything, there are two camps that I can see opposed to evolution:

1.  The camp that worships the Bible as a verbatim Word of God.  This camp will reject all science that does not believe in the young Earth belief, or the belief that the earth is the center of the universe, or that different languages came from the Babel incident, etc.

2.  The camp that holds on to a certain belief of Original Sin (or Ancestral Sin, whatever you want to call it).  This is a more complicated camp.  They may understand the idea that the Bible is not always literal, that maybe the Red Sea wasn't split wall to wall or that the flood wasn't worldwide as the Bible imagined it to be or to the point where some laws that were written in Leviticus or the stories in Numbers are there as fiction and to teach a lesson and not to be taken literally.

This second camp would be more comfortable with an idea that one man (or a couple of men and women, not just one Adam and one Eve) were evolved and God decided to take this group of humans that He loved (if not just Adam and Eve) and place them in Paradise away from the natural laws of the world until they all disobeyed Him in some sort of way where they lost the grace of incorruption in Paradise and went back to their natural roots and continued in a world of natural biological laws.

The problem really isn't science.  It's the belief in a Fall.  What need is there to baptize a child if there was no Fall.  Now, I don't mean to bring back the debate of evolution.  My intention was to show that evolutionary science is a unique scientific theory in the world where aside from Bibliolatry Protestants and aside from other Christians who believe the Fall of one man brought death to other plants and animals in the world, undermines the idea of a literal Fall, and not an individual symbolic Fall.  All other scientific theories in the past that had problems with the Church or Christians was quickly acceptable because it did not undermine a crucial theological belief held for centuries, even written in our liturgies and prayer services.

Perhaps this is what needs to be addressed to bring many Orthodox Christians at ease with the theory of evolution and of all future scientific developments that come from this crucial science.

God bless.
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« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2008, 04:46:48 PM »

Folks,

Fear not.  Evolution is not a forbidden subject on this forum; we had just wanted a "cool-off" period before reopening the subject.  So don't be afraid to bring up the issue here (as long as it is germane to the subject of the thread).  I'll be unlocking the other thread again shortly.

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« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2008, 04:58:02 PM »



The problem really isn't science.  It's the belief in a Fall.  What need is there to baptize a child if there was no Fall. 

God bless.

Exactly. The only need for baptism than would be salvation from death. Which is in line with Orthodox Theology. Grin
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« Reply #28 on: January 03, 2008, 05:18:32 PM »

Witch is in line with Orthodox Theology. Grin 

Which witch is in line with Orthodox Theology Huh

Sorry to pick on that one, Demetrios.  I know you meant to say "Which is in line" in stead of "Witch is in line."
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« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2008, 05:41:20 PM »

No problem Cleveland. I know my spelling is horrendous.
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« Reply #30 on: January 03, 2008, 06:21:28 PM »

Dear Mina,

I agree with your very good, thoughtful post, but what's the solution? I've been thinking so long about this dichotomy, the belief in one "real" physical "Adam" vs. the much more "scientific" belief in us humans appearing gradually and inconspicuously over millions of years of evolution. The first belief does seem to be so beautifully consistent with the entire traditional Christian set of views on Fall and Redemption/Salvation. But it is scientifically impossible, implausable, untenable. Where do we go from there?

Thanks again,

George
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« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2008, 06:36:08 PM »

Have you read Dobzhanskii?
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« Reply #32 on: January 03, 2008, 06:51:06 PM »

Have you read Dobzhanskii?

Sorry to admit (being a biology teacher), but no, I never read his works, only about him.
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« Reply #33 on: January 03, 2008, 07:48:42 PM »

Help me here.  I state/ask the following sincerely.  I understand and believe species evolve.  I just bough a German Shepherd, I'm pretty sure I understand why and how so many different species of dogs evolved both due to nature and man's intervention.  When science talks about these particular processes it seems very clear, logical and understandable to me.  But when science talks about one very different species becoming another, or a fish migrating to land and beginning to walk, the logic seems to get replaced with a belief in, "with enough time anything can happen."  I can't help but hear the explanations and think to myself, "so if man started spending most of his time in the water, a million years from now we'd grow gills and a fin."  I'm an educated person, I like to believe I follow the facts.  But when evolution goes from explaining the differentiation of species to the development of species, it starts sounding like voodoo science to me.  And I have no problem saying that my lack of understanding might very well come from ignorance.

And if you believe Man evolved from protein without God intervening to make it happen, I don't think you can honestly believe the bible is anything more than metaphors and myths.  Your heart might tell you this is not true, and you might not want to believe, but that is where the logic leads. Being a fan of Christopher Hitchens(a fan in the sense I find him entertaining, I disagree with many of his beliefs), I think he argues this pretty persuasively. 


Dear Mina,

I agree with your very good, thoughtful post, but what's the solution? I've been thinking so long about this dichotomy, the belief in one "real" physical "Adam" vs. the much more "scientific" belief in us humans appearing gradually and inconspicuously over millions of years of evolution. The first belief does seem to be so beautifully consistent with the entire traditional Christian set of views on Fall and Redemption/Salvation. But it is scientifically impossible, implausable, untenable. Where do we go from there?

Thanks again,

George
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« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2008, 08:43:11 PM »

Help me here.  I state/ask the following sincerely.  I understand and believe species evolve.  I just bough a German Shepherd, I'm pretty sure I understand why and how so many different species of dogs evolved both due to nature and man's intervention.  When science talks about these particular processes it seems very clear, logical and understandable to me.  But when science talks about one very different species becoming another, or a fish migrating to land and beginning to walk, the logic seems to get replaced with a belief in, "with enough time anything can happen."  I can't help but hear the explanations and think to myself, "so if man started spending most of his time in the water, a million years from now we'd grow gills and a fin."  I'm an educated person, I like to believe I follow the facts.  But when evolution goes from explaining the differentiation of species to the development of species, it starts sounding like voodoo science to me.  And I have no problem saying that my lack of understanding might very well come from ignorance.

And if you believe Man evolved from protein without God intervening to make it happen, I don't think you can honestly believe the bible is anything more than metaphors and myths.  Your heart might tell you this is not true, and you might not want to believe, but that is where the logic leads. Being a fan of Christopher Hitchens(a fan in the sense I find him entertaining, I disagree with many of his beliefs), I think he argues this pretty persuasively. 



Let's take a look at what we are talking about. A creature that has gills and fins has them, no matter how many billions or trillions of years it *could* swim in waters. We aren't talking and we have never been talking about the change that takes place in individuals. Evolution is just not that.

What evolution is, is the genetic change that takes place in very large groups of creatures, called populations. These creatures have DNA. This DNA consists of nucleotides, whose sequence is the code for proteins (hence, features of the creature). Each of these nucleotides can be at any given moment of time replaced by another nucleotide or merely knocked out. These changes in the DNA are called mutations. Some of these mutations result in heritable subtle or not so subtle changes in the appearance (phenotype). If a change in the phenotype confers better adaptability to the particular kind of environment in which the carrier of these mutations lives, this carrier produces more progeny. The progeny inherits new features. For example, in a group of 10000000000000000 creatures that we call "fish," 100 might have inherited such a change in their nucleotides that their proteins would assemble in a structure that we call "lung" rather than "gill," than these 100 creatures would produce progeny that has a lot more chances to survive on dry land. So, the non-carriers of the mutation will happily continue to be, for whatever amount of millions of years you want, to be "fish," but the 100 carriers of the mutation will establish a line of creatures that we call "drylanders," and in a certain number of years - maybe 100000, maybe 10000000000, - the descendants of these guys will form a pool of creatures that we call so. On their way, they will not be immune from factors that induce new mutations, and from new challeges in the ever-changing environment. So, in a yet another gazilion years we will see a dichotomy not just between "fish" and "drylanders," but the dichotomy of the drylanders that we call amphibians and of the drylanders that we call reptiles, and so on and so forth.

Again, all this is wonderfully described - with much, much evidence used to back up these descriptions - in all modern biology textbooks. I am just a little guy who tries to learn this and to convey this to my students, knowing for a fact - as someone who did his own research and published his own science papers, albeit not in the field of evolution but in the field of molecular immunology, - that it does really take a lot of hard evidence to convince the scientific community in any scientific truth or theory.
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« Reply #35 on: January 03, 2008, 08:58:56 PM »

But from what I understand, a lung doesn't just appear.  Many mutations must take place, all beneficial to the host in order to be passed down, and then maybe a million years down the road these intermediary mutations, all beneficial to the host, become a lung.  That is hard to believe.  And it seems to contradict your initial assertion that "a creature that has gills and fins has them, no matter how many billions or trillions of years it could swim in waters."

To read logic like this or read geneticists talk about genome structure, it can almost comes across as the evolution of mankind was inevitable.  But when I read about it it really comes across as large amounts of chance and wishful thinking.  I've read the basic modern biology textbooks, and they really just seem to me to give elaborate explanations of, "give it enough time and a fish will grow lungs, even though it doesn't need them until it is living on land."  I'll prove it to you in one billion years.

Science can't say, "God intervened to create species."  It has to look at nature, and come up with as plausible explanation as possible to explain creation without God. Since we are dealing with things that can't really be observed, and that occurred millions and billions of years ago, Science puts itself in a position where it can't be proven wrong because its almost possible to prove a negative, i.e. "Evolution is wrong" or "God doesn't exist."  Either can be believed, neither can be proven.  So it seems to me scientists create a pedestal that can't be kicked over and revert to unplausible and unprovable probabilities when their position is challenged.

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« Reply #36 on: January 03, 2008, 09:07:02 PM »

And by the way, so much for the "non-debate" thread!  Wink
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« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2008, 09:12:39 PM »

Sorry to admit (being a biology teacher), but no, I never read his works, only about him.

I just ran across him, he seemed interesting.

I personally dont' have an issue with God working through a process of evolution or over the timelines we see in fossil evidence.
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« Reply #38 on: January 03, 2008, 09:17:38 PM »

I usually hesitate to enter into these conversations because my knowledge of science is fairly basic.  Sad  But I do feel that this is an important topic; one that we should be able to discuss with Christian charity; one that so often fails to be so.

I will never forget being horrified when a close relative (fundamentalist) announced that “anyone who doesn’t believe in Genesis, exactly as it was written, could not possibly be a Christian!” At one time, all family gatherings seemed to have been dominated by a rehash of the latest “Creation-Science” magazine; their children’s only science education is based on that pseudo-science.

On only one occasion, when the cry of “ban evolution from schools” had been raised, I was foolish enough to mention that there were differing perspectives of Genesis, even amongst Christians. I believe I had some good points to make, but I didn’t get the chance. The reaction was so ugly that I thought I might be lynched. Thereafter, I decided that I would have to keep the guilty secret of my acceptance of biological evolution to myself.  Grin

Without wishing to be contentious, I do think that all statements made by anyone are "up for grabs" - if that term means that they should be open to challenge. However, when statements made by scientists, or anyone else for that matter, are countered, it would be helpful if those in opposition had some knowledge of the topic on which they feel obliged to give an opinion.

I hope I don't give offence in saying this, but I believe that in the case of evolution too many Christians are willing to say "I do not believe this" without having the slightest knowledge of what they are speaking. They take a rigid stand on the literal nature of certain scriptures and in wilful ignorance set themselves against a particular field of learning. Any hope of dialogue with such people is further exacerbated by the completely unreasonable accusation that anyone who believes other than they do could not possibly be a Christian of any calibre. I consider this approach to be subversive, obscurantist and dangerously harking back to the Medieval mindset that accused Galileo of heresy because of his heliocentric theory of the solar system.

Thank you for starting this thread, George. I'm hoping to learn from it.

God be with you all.
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« Reply #39 on: January 03, 2008, 09:21:33 PM »

Dear Mina,

I agree with your very good, thoughtful post, but what's the solution? I've been thinking so long about this dichotomy, the belief in one "real" physical "Adam" vs. the much more "scientific" belief in us humans appearing gradually and inconspicuously over millions of years of evolution. The first belief does seem to be so beautifully consistent with the entire traditional Christian set of views on Fall and Redemption/Salvation. But it is scientifically impossible, implausable, untenable. Where do we go from there?

Thanks again,

George

I still say that where we go from here is to strike a balance.  Theology and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures did not stop with the Holy Fathers.  What we must strive for is interpretation in the spirit of the Fathers.  Had the Fathers had modern science, I feel sure they would have reacted to it and addressed it accordingly.  This is what we must do.  But reacting accordingly does not automatically mean rejecting science altogether.  Rather, we judge it on its merits, educate ourselves, and open our minds to figure out how it fits in with the revelation of the Scriptures.

My question that I wanted to ask from before was, is there some reason that the scriptures cannot be interpreted to mean that the appearance of Adam as the first human could refer to humanity as we now recognize it, as homo sapiens?  In other words, there were apes who evolved, etc. and eventually homo sapiens, into whom God breathed the Breath of Life (which is what separates us from animals and any species we may have evolved from).  This final species, homo sapiens, having the Breath of Life, is who we recognize as Adam.  Is this possible?  I'm not a theologian, but this seems fairly simple to me. 

I saw a story on CBS this evening about evolution and creationism.  Apparently, the battle over teaching creationism in schools is continuing to rage.  The thing that I found both frustrating and funny was that they showed a museum devoted to creationism.  The museum featured, among other things, Adam and Eve WITH the dinosaurs, and the curator said this was because God created ALL animals, and then humans on the sixth day.  I laughed at the museum, then got frustrated that this is the Christianity that people see.  I see this and think, "this makes us look stupid!  No wonder people hate Christians and think Christianity is ridiculous!"
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« Reply #40 on: January 03, 2008, 09:31:38 PM »

I have no desire to ban evolution from schools, and I have no desire to label someone a heretic who believes in evolution.  But this is an Orthodox Christian forum, not a science board.  If I'm not allowed to ask questions or challenge scientific findings without going to biology class, that sure seems judgemental and biased.   And in relation to my posts, I haven't quoted one scripture or one holy father.  My questions on evolution arose before I was a christian.

I would hope my brothers in christ who are scientists would encourage me asking them questions.  I wouldn't expect them to tell me, "do your homework then we can talk."  My day job is a consultant.  I would never treat someone I am trying to help in this way, i.e. "do your homework because you are too ignorant for me to even talk to."

I usually hesitate to enter into these conversations because my knowledge of science is fairly basic.  Sad  But I do feel that this is an important topic; one that we should be able to discuss with Christian charity; one that so often fails to be so.

I will never forget being horrified when a close relative (fundamentalist) announced that “anyone who doesn’t believe in Genesis, exactly as it was written, could not possibly be a Christian!” At one time, all family gatherings seemed to have been dominated by a rehash of the latest “Creation-Science” magazine; their children’s only science education is based on that pseudo-science.

On only one occasion, when the cry of “ban evolution from schools” had been raised, I was foolish enough to mention that there were differing perspectives of Genesis, even amongst Christians. I believe I had some good points to make, but I didn’t get the chance. The reaction was so ugly that I thought I might be lynched. Thereafter, I decided that I would have to keep the guilty secret of my acceptance of biological evolution to myself.  Grin

Without wishing to be contentious, I do think that all statements made by anyone are "up for grabs" - if that term means that they should be open to challenge. However, when statements made by scientists, or anyone else for that matter, are countered, it would be helpful if those in opposition had some knowledge of the topic on which they feel obliged to give an opinion.

I hope I don't give offence in saying this, but I believe that in the case of evolution too many Christians are willing to say "I do not believe this" without having the slightest knowledge of what they are speaking. They take a rigid stand on the literal nature of certain scriptures and in wilful ignorance set themselves against a particular field of learning. Any hope of dialogue with such people is further exacerbated by the completely unreasonable accusation that anyone who believes other than they do could not possibly be a Christian of any calibre. I consider this approach to be subversive, obscurantist and dangerously harking back to the Medieval mindset that accused Galileo of heresy because of his heliocentric theory of the solar system.

Thank you for starting this thread, George. I'm hoping to learn from it.

God be with you all.

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« Reply #41 on: January 03, 2008, 09:44:27 PM »

And if you believe Man evolved from protein without God intervening to make it happen, I don't think you can honestly believe the bible is anything more than metaphors and myths.  Your heart might tell you this is not true, and you might not want to believe, but that is where the logic leads.
Maybe instead of looking at the creation accounts as myths, we should look at them as parables.  We all know that Jesus taught the people using parables.  Let's take for example the parable of the prodigal son.  The Orthodox Church has a Sunday dedicated to the prodigal son.  I have seen icons and frescoes of the prodigal son.  We have all heard sermons about the prodigal son.  Has any priest began a sermon on the prodigal son by saying, "Today's gospel reading is not fact but fiction.  It's nothing but a myth.  It's not true"?  No.  When we meditate on the prodigal son do we even think that it's only a story? No, we think of repentance, the return from exile,and the open, loving arms of a loving father awaiting our return.
I think the same holds true with the creation accounts.  We shouldn't look at them as fact or fiction.  That isn't the point.  The point is that the omnipotent God, somehow, someway, brought all of what we see into existence.  All ultimately comes from Him.  As we get glimpses into reality through science, we get a better and better understanding of how this may have occurred.  But, it doesn't have to change for us the ultimate reality that all this was ultimately brought about by His doing.
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« Reply #42 on: January 03, 2008, 09:46:18 PM »

I have no desire to ban evolution from schools, and I have no desire to label someone a heretic who believes in evolution.  But this is an Orthodox Christian forum, not a science board.  If I'm not allowed to ask questions or challenge scientific findings without going to biology class, that sure seems judgemental and biased. 

I didn't say you did and certainly didn't say you weren't allowed to ask questions. Huh My post was very general, about my own experiences with regard to this topic and not directed at any poster.

God be with you.
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« Reply #43 on: January 03, 2008, 09:48:01 PM »

But from what I understand, a lung doesn't just appear.  Many mutations must take place, all beneficial to the host in order to be passed down, and then maybe a million years down the road these intermediary mutations, all beneficial to the host, become a lung.  That is hard to believe.  And it seems to contradict your initial assertion that "a creature that has gills and fins has them, no matter how many billions or trillions of years it could swim in waters."

No, there is no contradiction! Again, we are not looking at individuals. We are looking at large groups. In one individual fish, it well could be that no mutation affecting the transformation of its gills into its lungs has happened! But it could also have happened that in one out of many thousand fishes one little mutation has happened, and the respiratory tube, due to this muttion, turned somewhat less outward (as in gills) and somewhat more outward (as in lungs). Because the outcome of this mutation made the descendants, the progeny of this mutant fish just a tiny little bit better adapted to shallow lagoons, to the possibility of surviving in air (when the atmospheric pressure is harmful to those forms in which the respiratory tube branches entirely outward), this mutant lived a tad longer and produced a tad more progeny. This progeny looked and behaved a little bit less like a fish and a little, little, little-little bit more like a salamander or toad or frog. Then some other mutations occured in the descendants of these fishes (note the plural) evolving into amphibians, and other, and other... And if - if! - if! - these mutations conferred features that allowed the mutants to be better adapted to their particular environment (shallow drying lagoons, lack of water and abundance of air), then each time the mutation appeared in the line of these evolving groups of creatures, it resulted in bigger progeny of carriers of just this particular mutation and of just this particular appearence (phenotype). And so it went in many, many, many, many generations. And, again, all these processes did not miraculously turn any ONE observed fish into any ONE observed toad or salamander or frog. Rather, all these changes gradually, inconspicuously resulted only in the diversification of the existing life forms.
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« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2008, 10:02:28 PM »

George,

Is there any kind of "Evolution for dummies" you could suggest? I have found TalkOrigins to be a very useful site, but reading from the computer has its limitations. It would be great if I could take something readable to bed.

God be with you.
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« Reply #45 on: January 03, 2008, 10:04:12 PM »

Lot of "ifs" there!  Smiley

Now what really fascinates me about this discussion is this: if you believe man evolved over billions of years from proteins purely through natural biological processes.  How can you possible reconcile this belief with belief in the "fall of man", or the "soul", or the "afterlife", or almost anything else miraculous.

How could man "fall" if he was in a constant state of evolvement.  How could their be a soul, something apart from the material.  Atheistic evolutionists would just say the "soul" is a myth, in reality just our conscience working as a brain function.  If we evolved naturally, why would we do anything but die naturally, i.e. turn to dust and lights out forever.

Even more fascinating to me, on the one hand if I don't believe in evolution as posited by scientists I am crazy, but these same scientists who are Christian find it perfectly logical to believe in a Christ whose sacrifice was necessary primarily because of the fall, a fall which doesn't plausible within the confines of evolution.  There must be some serious back and forth going on in the brain of the TBE christian scientist!
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« Reply #46 on: January 03, 2008, 10:15:16 PM »

George,

Is there any kind of "Evolution for dummies" you could suggest? I have found TalkOrigins to be a very useful site, but reading from the computer has its limitations. It would be great if I could take something readable to bed.

God be with you.


Honestly, I don't know, I am not sure. The thing is, the whole notion of evolution is so linked to DNA, nucleotides, mutations... and, unfortunately, in my experience, biology is hardly ever taught to average American schoolchildren to the extent that they can really connect evolution with DNA in their minds. Darwin, of course, did not have the concept of genes, DNA, etc., in his head, so he just used very wishy-washy terms like "undefined variabilty" to refer to things that we now call random DNA mutations. His whole mental activity was, to a very large extent, a "pre-science," a work of a unique genius who feels, senses some major phenomena even before these phenomena are rationally dissected (based on new empirical findings) and summarized and put on paper.

Maybe just begin to read a biology textbook, like Campbell's or Krogh's or Minkoff&Baker's (the last one is the shortest). But do make sure first that you understand, visualize DNA and its biological function and the real significance of DNA mutations for *POPULATIONS*, not just for individual creatures. Then go the chapters about evolution.

My best, best wishes to you as you go. If I could be of any help, please let me know by a PM!

G.
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« Reply #47 on: January 03, 2008, 10:18:31 PM »

You keep making this point.  But don't the DNA mutations begin with an individual who is then the determinator for a population.

Quote
. But do make sure first that you understand, visualize DNA and its biological function and the real significance of DNA mutations for *POPULATIONS*, not just for individual creatures. Then go the chapters about evolution.

My best, best wishes to you as you go. If I could be of any help, please let me know by a PM!

G.

Modified this only to correct the quote tags.  ~EofK
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« Reply #48 on: January 03, 2008, 10:24:33 PM »

But do make sure first that you understand, visualize DNA and its biological function and the real significance of DNA mutations for *POPULATIONS*, not just for individual creatures. Then go the chapters about evolution.

Thanks George, I do understand that point. Smiley

God be with you.
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« Reply #49 on: January 03, 2008, 10:32:32 PM »

Lot of "ifs" there!  Smiley

Now what really fascinates me about this discussion is this: if you believe man evolved over billions of years from proteins purely through natural biological processes.  How can you possible reconcile this belief with belief in the "fall of man", or the "soul", or the "afterlife", or almost anything else miraculous.

How could man "fall" if he was in a constant state of evolvement.  How could their be a soul, something apart from the material.  Atheistic evolutionists would just say the "soul" is a myth, in reality just our conscience working as a brain function.  If we evolved naturally, why would we do anything but die naturally, i.e. turn to dust and lights out forever.

Even more fascinating to me, on the one hand if I don't believe in evolution as posited by scientists I am crazy, but these same scientists who are Christian find it perfectly logical to believe in a Christ whose sacrifice was necessary primarily because of the fall, a fall which doesn't plausible within the confines of evolution.  There must be some serious back and forth going on in the brain of the TBE christian scientist!

Dear Livefreeordie,

Again, all I can say is this: scientists labored lond and hard, and because of their long and hard labor, we now KNOW (not believe, but know) what we know (if we so choose - nobody forces anyone to know anything).

Soul, sin, fall, salvation - those are terms that cannot be explained in the frame of reference of these empirical findings of scientists. Just how to explain them, I simply do not know. I really don't, speaking in scientific, empirical terms. I know that sin exists, of course. I know that people commit sins all the time and that I, for one, do sin a lot. I also believe - ABSOLUTELY irrationally, without any premise for this belief that I could find in science - that my personal physical death will not be the complete end of me and I will somehow continue to exist and, while continuing to exist after my physical death, will be somehow brought to justice for everything I've done while I lived. That's, basically, all I feel confident about right now. To what extent the lines of the Holy Bible or the writings of all Holy Fathers from Irenaeus of Lyons to Seraphim Rose add to this basic belief of mine - again, I, honestly, honest-to-goodness-ly, DO NOT KNOW. The whole concept of one physical Adam existing and falling in sin and holding in himself the entire future humankind makes no sense to me and I do not believe it, cannot believe it, no matter what. Why has Christ come, what exactly He has done (in strict empirical terms), and how exactly does He save - also, in all honesty, I do not know, do not understand, even though I somehow believe that He does.

So, yes, my dear brother, you are right, a lot of things do go inside the head of someone like me who does happen to have been exposed to science, its history, its method, and is nonetheless a Christian and feels that the Orthodox Church is the community of the Christian faith...
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« Reply #50 on: January 03, 2008, 10:45:52 PM »

And I'm glad you are here with us!  But scientists have KNOWN a lot of things universally only to change their mind universally down the road.

To know what is in a molecule of water by walking outside or opening your tap and then getting a sample of it to then study in a lab, is not the same thing as conjecturing how a fish might have developed lungs a billion years ago.  We do not KNOW how some sort of fish developed lungs.  Everything you said about how that might have occurred was completely made up according to your best knowledge, but of course there is no evidence you can examine to make this claim.  You can only speculate.  But I do agree, just because it is speculation doesn't mean it's wrong.  Scientists speculated on the what would happen when they tested the first atom bomb, and they were correct!

"God became man so that man might become God."  So then do you also believe that God must have also evolved for this to be true?

Dear Livefreeordie,

Again, all I can say is this: scientists labored lond and hard, and because of their long and hard labor, we now KNOW (not believe, but know) what we know (if we so choose - nobody forces anyone to know anything).

Soul, sin, fall, salvation - those are terms that cannot be explained in the frame of reference of these empirical findings of scientists. Just how to explain them, I simply do not know. I really don't, speaking in scientific, empirical terms. I know that sin exists, of course. I know that people commit sins all the time and that I, for one, do sin a lot. I also believe - ABSOLUTELY irrationally, without any premise for this belief that I could find in science - that my personal physical death will not be the complete end of me and I will somehow continue to exist and, while continuing to exist after my physical death, will be somehow brought to justice for everything I've done while I lived. That's, basically, all I feel confident about right now. To what extent the lines of the Holy Bible or the writings of all Holy Fathers from Irenaeus of Lyons to Seraphim Rose add to this basic belief of mine - again, I, honestly, honest-to-goodness-ly, DO NOT KNOW. The whole concept of one physical Adam existing and falling in sin and holding in himself the entire future humankind makes no sense to me and I do not believe it, cannot believe it, no matter what. Why has Christ come, what exactly He has done (in strict empirical terms), and how exactly does He save - also, in all honesty, I do not know, do not understand, even though I somehow believe that He does.

So, yes, my dear brother, you are right, a lot of things do go inside the head of someone like me who does happen to have been exposed to science, its history, its method, and is nonetheless a Christian and feels that the Orthodox Church is the community of the Christian faith...
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« Reply #51 on: January 03, 2008, 10:50:39 PM »

I apologise if this replay is taking the thread beyond its intention of being for information only and into debate.

Now what really fascinates me about this discussion is this: if you believe man evolved over billions of years from proteins purely through natural biological processes.

Those who believe in theistic evolution don't believe that this is a purely "natural" biological process. But the point is, there is a biological process, current evidence shows that quite clearly. The question then begs, is God a master deceiver?

I did read at one time (unfortunately, I lost the information in a computer crash and haven't been able to redicovery it) that the "fall" could be looked upon as a parable about man never having reached his potential; one that is reached in Christ. Sorry, but the details are fuzzy. Perhaps someone else in the forum might know something of what I refer to and help out here.

God be with you.

Edited by self to add "current" and correct an incorrect preposition.

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« Reply #52 on: January 03, 2008, 10:54:33 PM »

You keep making this point.  But don't the DNA mutations begin with an individual who is then the determinator for a population.

Well, mutations are defined as changes in the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA, so, strictly speaking, they begin with nucleotides, not with a particular individual. *IF* the carrier of these mutations acquires features advantageous to the survival and reproductive success in the particular environment, than the progeny of this mutant individual forms a distinct population evolving into some direction away from the "wild type" (the sum total of individuals before the mutation appeared). If not - then not. For example, if there are no shallow lagoons that dry down occasionally, then there is no diffrence whether or not a fish acquires the mutation that makes its gills branch inward rather than outward.
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« Reply #53 on: January 03, 2008, 10:54:59 PM »

I believe, but I could be wrong, that the theistic evolutionist believes God set the stage for evolution to result in man, rigged the odds so to speak, then he rolled the dice, and sat back to watch it happen until he was ready to intervene as recorded in the bible.
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« Reply #54 on: January 03, 2008, 11:03:18 PM »

Can one instance of the mutation of a nucleotide cause a gill to branch inward as opposed to outward.  Or would it take a succession of these mutations all beneficial, all passed down from one fish to another until it was pointing inward?

And doesn't it take a number of nucleotides to mutate at the same time to actually change a DNA strand in any beneficial type of way. And aren't most observed mutations usually harmful, not beneficial?

What are some examples of current species where a mutation was observed, it was beneficial and new to the species, and was then passed down to the "population."

Thanks for your patience!




Well, mutations are defined as changes in the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA, so, strictly speaking, they begin with nucleotides, not with a particular individual. *IF* the carrier of these mutations acquires features advantageous to the survival and reproductive success in the particular environment, than the progeny of this mutant individual forms a distinct population evolving into some direction away from the "wild type" (the sum total of individuals before the mutation appeared). If not - then not. For example, if there are no shallow lagoons that dry down occasionally, then there is no diffrence whether or not a fish acquires the mutation that makes its gills branch inward rather than outward.
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« Reply #55 on: January 03, 2008, 11:11:14 PM »

And if you believe Man evolved from protein without God intervening to make it happen, I don't think you can honestly believe the bible is anything more than metaphors and myths.  Your heart might tell you this is not true, and you might not want to believe, but that is where the logic leads. Being a fan of Christopher Hitchens(a fan in the sense I find him entertaining, I disagree with many of his beliefs), I think he argues this pretty persuasively. 

The views of Hitchens are religious and shouldn't be confused with scientific views (i.e the scientific view is evolutionary theory, the religious view is that therefore there is no sort of god(s) or if there is a god it exists merely in weak deist type of way).  OTOH, someone like me sees the science and comes to the religious conclusions, How Great are Thy works, O Lord, in Wisdom Thou hast created them all. 

As for the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, what's wrong with seeing at as mostly myths and metaphors? 
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« Reply #56 on: January 03, 2008, 11:19:45 PM »

I think Hitchens would disagree with you! But you can argue with him yourself!  Wink

The problem with believing that the bible is mostly myths and metaphors is that you become the judge of what are myths and metaphors and what is reality.  In essence you judge God which puts you in a precarious spiritual place. I would recommend much prayer before confessing a belief in whether a particular passage is a myth or not.

The views of Hitchens are religious and shouldn't be confused with scientific views (i.e the scientific view is evolutionary theory, the religious view is that therefore there is no sort of god(s) or if there is a god it exists merely in weak deist type of way).  OTOH, someone like me sees the science and comes to the religious conclusions, How Great are Thy works, O Lord, in Wisdom Thou hast created them all. 

As for the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, what's wrong with seeing at as mostly myths and metaphors? 
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« Reply #57 on: January 03, 2008, 11:24:40 PM »

I believe, but I could be wrong, that the theistic evolutionist believes God set the stage for evolution to result in man, rigged the odds so to speak, then he rolled the dice, and sat back to watch it happen until he was ready to intervene as recorded in the bible.

Theistic evolution is the proposition that God is in charge of the biological process called evolution. God directs and guides the unfolding of life forms over millions of years. Theistic evolution contends that there is no conflict between science and the Biblical book of Genesis.
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« Reply #58 on: January 03, 2008, 11:31:47 PM »

The problem with believing that the bible is mostly myths and metaphors is that you become the judge of what are myths and metaphors and what is reality.  In essence you judge God which puts you in a precarious spiritual place. I would recommend much prayer before confessing a belief in whether a particular passage is a myth or not.

But surely no one would suggest that the entire bible should be taken literally? Clearly it is made up on metaphor, parable, history, poetry, etc. Discernment is needed to differentiate between the many genres. Why should Genesis be excluded from that process?


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« Reply #59 on: January 03, 2008, 11:36:01 PM »

I think Hitchens would disagree with you! But you can argue with him yourself!  Wink

He publishes in the popular press.  His theological claims aren't evaluated by peer reviews, nor could they be.  Hence to claim they are anything other than his personal philosophical and religious views is simply incorrect. 

Quote
The problem with believing that the bible is mostly myths and metaphors is that you become the judge of what are myths and metaphors and what is reality.  In essence you judge God which puts you in a precarious spiritual place. I would recommend much prayer before confessing a belief in whether a particular passage is a myth or not.

And the same could be said of you for rejecting that which is obvious from empirical observations.  In other threads, I've made my case that my views are not some random set of ideas rather they form a coherent system with a basis in patristic thought.   

And for that matter, which creation story in Genesis do you consider to be the authoritative (since they are contradictory)?
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« Reply #60 on: January 03, 2008, 11:40:33 PM »

Can one instance of the mutation of a nucleotide cause a gill to branch inward as opposed to outward.  Or would it take a succession of these mutations all beneficial, all passed down from one fish to another until it was pointing inward?

There are several kinds of mutations, one of them called "homeotic." These change the whole pattern of tissue development in embriogenesis, so that indeed just one nucleotide change can cause a very radical change in the way respiratory tube is branching.


And doesn't it take a number of nucleotides to mutate at the same time to actually change a DNA strand in any beneficial type of way.

You see, there is no "policeman" that stands there with a baton and tells nucleotides, "hey, make sure you guys change in a beneficial way!" Mutagens - like UV light, cosmic radiation, some chemicals - just keep acting and changing the sequence of nucleotides in DNA. Whether or not these changes will be "benefitial," will be decided during the interaction of mutants with their particular, peculiar environment. A stream of cosmic particles can hit the DNA in a fruit fly, and the wings of this fruit fly will become dark rather then light-colored. If the progeny of this fly lives in the environment where the fruit on which it feeds is somewhat darker, then it's "beneficial," because these flies will hide from predators who eat them, but if it's lighter, then, on the contrary, this same mutation will be harmful. One nucleotide substitution in your hemoglobin gene that results in the so-called s-allele is harmful for you if you live in the USA or Western Europe, because you will suffer from anemia. This same siutation, however, is beneficial if you live in the Amazon basin jungle, because, even though you will still suffer from anemia, you will be resistant to Plasmodium malariae (the unicellular organism that causes malaria by invading normal red blood cells - but it cannot invade red blood cells filled with s-hemoglobin), so you will less likely die of malaria when you are 20 or 30, and have more children.

And aren't most observed mutations usually harmful, not beneficial?

No, actually, because of the so-called redundancy (or "degeneracy") of the genetic code, most mutations, statistically speaking, are "silent" (not affecting the amino acid sequence at all), and, therefore, indifferent, neither harmful nor helpful. Very many mutations are harmful. A minority turns out to be beneficial; but, given the enormous rate of DNA mutation, even this relatively small number of potentially beneficial mutations cannot be discounted. The rate of DNA mutation is estimated to be 10 (-9) per base per generation in every individual cell, which means that during the lifetime of an organism that consists of many trillion cells, at least several thousand cells (including germ cells) will acquire new mutations. And populations consist of many, many thousands of these mutation-carrying individuals, so even if most are either indifferent or harmful, some will be beneficial to this ever-changing environment. Therefore, evolution keeps going. Besides, random events like earthquakes, forest fires or floods cause the so-called genetic drift, which can cause profound genetic changes in populations even regardless of the natural selection.


What are some examples of current species where a mutation was observed, it was beneficial and new to the species, and was then passed down to the "population."

Peppered moth is one "classical" example.

Thanks for your patience!

You are certainly most welcome, thank you for good questions.

Fixed the quotes, nothing else. --YtterbiumAnalyst

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« Reply #61 on: January 03, 2008, 11:48:54 PM »

Actually, what you defined is Intelligent Design. Most scientists have disavowed it as "God in the Gaps" and basically creationism.

Francis Collins, the founder of the human Genome project and one of the leaders in Theistic Evolution offers a definition in his book, The Language of God.  Two parts of the definition, are 1) The universe came into being out of nothingness, apporximately 14 billion years ago. 2) Despite massive improbabilities, the properties of the universe appear to be precisely tuned for life.  and skipping to point 4) once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required.

So basically, if you read his book, the bible of Theistic Evolution, God tuned the Universe, rolled the dice, then stepped back and let it evolve.

Theistic evolution is the proposition that God is in charge of the biological process called evolution. God directs and guides the unfolding of life forms over millions of years. Theistic evolution contends that there is no conflict between science and the Biblical book of Genesis.

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« Reply #62 on: January 03, 2008, 11:50:12 PM »

Of course not, I would suggest I'm not the one who will decide what is literal, what is metaphor, parable, etc.  I will let the Church and the Holy Fathers decide and I will follow.

But surely no one would suggest that the entire bible should be taken literally? Clearly it is made up on metaphor, parable, history, poetry, etc. Discernment is needed to differentiate between the many genres. Why should Genesis be excluded from that process?



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« Reply #63 on: January 03, 2008, 11:51:07 PM »

Whichever one my Church teaches!  Wink Doubt it matters one iota to my salvation or faith.

   

And for that matter, which creation story in Genesis do you consider to be the authoritative (since they are contradictory)?
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« Reply #64 on: January 03, 2008, 11:57:57 PM »

Now is the "peppered moth" the classic example, or the only example?  And is a moth's wings changing colors macroevolution that results in some new biological processes, or isn't that just an example of differentiation.  The pigment of the wings changed is my understanding, which is very understandable via genetic theory.  But I'm not sure it helps me understand the development of lungs on a fish.

There are several kinds of mutations, one of them called "homeotic." These change the whole pattern of tissue development in embriogenesis, so that indeed just one nucleotide change can cause a very radical change in the way respiratory tube is branching.


You see, there is no "policeman" that stands there with a baton and tells nucleotides, "hey, make sure you guys change in a beneficial way!" Mutagens - like UV light, cosmic radiation, some chemicals - just keep acting and changing the sequence of nucleotides in DNA. Whether or not these changes will be "benefitial," will be decided during the interaction of mutants with their particular, peculiar environment. A stream of cosmic particles can hit the DNA in a fruit fly, and the wings of this fruit fly will become dark rather then light-colored. If the progeny of this fly lives in the environment where the fruit on which it feeds is somewhat darker, then it's "beneficial," because these flies will hide from predators who eat them, but if it's lighter, then, on the contrary, this same mutation will be harmful. One nucleotide substitution in your hemoglobin gene that results in the so-called s-allele is harmful for you if you live in the USA or Western Europe, because you will suffer from anemia. This same siutation, however, is beneficial if you live in the Amazon basin jungle, because, even though you will still suffer from anemia, you will be resistant to Plasmodium malariae (the unicellular organism that causes malaria by invading normal red blood cells - but it cannot invade red blood cells filled with s-hemoglobin), so you will less likely die of malaria when you are 20 or 30, and have more children.

No, actually, because of the so-called redundancy (or "degeneracy") of the genetic code, most mutations, statistically speaking, are "silent" (not affecting the amino acid sequence at all), and, therefore, indifferent, neither harmful nor helpful. Very many mutations are harmful. A minority turns out to be beneficial; but, given the enormous rate of DNA mutation, even this relatively small number of potentially beneficial mutations cannot be discounted. The rate of DNA mutation is estimated to be 10 (-9) per base per generation in every individual cell, which means that during the lifetime of an organism that consists of many trillion cells, at least several thousand cells (including germ cells) will acquire new mutations. And populations consist of many, many thousands of these mutation-carrying individuals, so even if most are either indifferent or harmful, some will be beneficial to this ever-changing environment. Therefore, evolution keeps going. Besides, random events like earthquakes, forest fires or floods cause the so-called genetic drift, which can cause profound genetic changes in populations even regardless of the natural selection.


You are certainly most welcome, thank you for good questions.




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« Reply #65 on: January 04, 2008, 12:06:23 AM »

Now is the "peppered moth" the classic example, or the only example?  And is a moth's wings changing colors macroevolution that results in some new biological processes, or isn't that just an example of differentiation.  The pigment of the wings changed is my understanding, which is very understandable via genetic theory.  But I'm not sure it helps me understand the development of lungs on a fish.


Peppered moth is just one example, there are many others (see textbooks). Pigment change and/or similar genetic changes can influence of mating preferences, and therefore on the reproductive isolation of the new population from the old -> possible speciation.
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« Reply #66 on: January 04, 2008, 12:06:27 AM »

My brother, I'm enjoying these posts as my kids sleep and my dog rests at my feet, and I sure enjoy your enthusiasm and insight.  But step back for a minute.  We are talking about creation, one of the fundamental questions of life.  We are talking about millions and billions of years of scientific speculation.  You are a scientist with obviously a lot of study into evolution.  So I ask a simple question and fundamental question, show me an example of the type of mutation that results in evolution.  The example given is the classic one and usually the only one given, a species of moth get seperated and the character of their pigmentation changes.  Now can't you understand why I would have a hard time following, understanding and believing that the change in pigmentation of a specked moth is PROOF that plant life evolved over billions of years via billions of random mutations to become man.  Please, give me some understanding here.  I'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm not trying to debate science with ignorance.

There are several kinds of mutations, one of them called "homeotic." These change the whole pattern of tissue development in embriogenesis, so that indeed just one nucleotide change can cause a very radical change in the way respiratory tube is branching.


You see, there is no "policeman" that stands there with a baton and tells nucleotides, "hey, make sure you guys change in a beneficial way!" Mutagens - like UV light, cosmic radiation, some chemicals - just keep acting and changing the sequence of nucleotides in DNA. Whether or not these changes will be "benefitial," will be decided during the interaction of mutants with their particular, peculiar environment. A stream of cosmic particles can hit the DNA in a fruit fly, and the wings of this fruit fly will become dark rather then light-colored. If the progeny of this fly lives in the environment where the fruit on which it feeds is somewhat darker, then it's "beneficial," because these flies will hide from predators who eat them, but if it's lighter, then, on the contrary, this same mutation will be harmful. One nucleotide substitution in your hemoglobin gene that results in the so-called s-allele is harmful for you if you live in the USA or Western Europe, because you will suffer from anemia. This same siutation, however, is beneficial if you live in the Amazon basin jungle, because, even though you will still suffer from anemia, you will be resistant to Plasmodium malariae (the unicellular organism that causes malaria by invading normal red blood cells - but it cannot invade red blood cells filled with s-hemoglobin), so you will less likely die of malaria when you are 20 or 30, and have more children.

No, actually, because of the so-called redundancy (or "degeneracy") of the genetic code, most mutations, statistically speaking, are "silent" (not affecting the amino acid sequence at all), and, therefore, indifferent, neither harmful nor helpful. Very many mutations are harmful. A minority turns out to be beneficial; but, given the enormous rate of DNA mutation, even this relatively small number of potentially beneficial mutations cannot be discounted. The rate of DNA mutation is estimated to be 10 (-9) per base per generation in every individual cell, which means that during the lifetime of an organism that consists of many trillion cells, at least several thousand cells (including germ cells) will acquire new mutations. And populations consist of many, many thousands of these mutation-carrying individuals, so even if most are either indifferent or harmful, some will be beneficial to this ever-changing environment. Therefore, evolution keeps going. Besides, random events like earthquakes, forest fires or floods cause the so-called genetic drift, which can cause profound genetic changes in populations even regardless of the natural selection.


You are certainly most welcome, thank you for good questions.




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« Reply #67 on: January 04, 2008, 12:13:06 AM »

I did read at one time (unfortunately, I lost the information in a computer crash and haven't been able to redicovery it) that the "fall" could be looked upon as a parable about man never having reached his potential; one that is reached in Christ.
I would be most interested in learning more about who the proponents of this theory are; perhaps I am wrong, but I don't believe any of the Fathers or Mothers would ever allude to the Fall as being a parable.  IMO, there is too much evidence to the contrary.

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« Reply #68 on: January 04, 2008, 12:15:21 AM »

Actually, what you defined is Intelligent Design. Most scientists have disavowed it as "God in the Gaps" and basically creationism.

Francis Collins, the founder of the human Genome project and one of the leaders in Theistic Evolution offers a definition in his book, The Language of God.  Two parts of the definition, are 1) The universe came into being out of nothingness, apporximately 14 billion years ago. 2) Despite massive improbabilities, the properties of the universe appear to be precisely tuned for life.  and skipping to point 4) once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required.

So basically, if you read his book, the bible of Theistic Evolution, God tuned the Universe, rolled the dice, then stepped back and let it evolve.

Theistic Evolution is a concept that's been around a lot longer than Intelligent Design. Perhaps there are differering definitions amongst theistic evolutionists as to what theistic evolution is. It wouldn't surprise me. Grin
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« Reply #69 on: January 04, 2008, 12:17:53 AM »

I still say that where we go from here is to strike a balance.  Theology and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures did not stop with the Holy Fathers.  What we must strive for is interpretation in the spirit of the Fathers.

Forgive my ignorance, but isn't this one of the reasons that Orthodox Christians complain about Latin theology?
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Of course not, I would suggest I'm not the one who will decide what is literal, what is metaphor, parable, etc.  I will let the Church and the Holy Fathers decide and I will follow.

See, this is one of the things that keeps from converting.  When and where do you decide that the "fancy" story isn't just a metaphor anymore?  My train of thought goes:

Creation - Well, they didn't know any better.  Theistic evolution works fine even though it isn't scriptural.

The Fall - Well, they didn't know any better.  There had to eventually be the first man and woman, and obviously they did something bad because there is death in the world for us.

The Flood - May be Utnapishtim from Gilgamesh, maybe Utnapishtim is Noah.  Either way, the Flood was probably a local flood, and there probably was no Great Ark.  It's just intended to convey a lesson.

So and so on, until

The Resurrection.  Okay, thats symbolic, too, and intended to convey a lesson, right?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO every single word of that story is 100% true!

Where is the line drawn?  The Exodus?  Job?  Jonah?
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« Reply #70 on: January 04, 2008, 12:22:48 AM »

I would be most interested in learning more about who the proponents of this theory are; perhaps I am wrong, but I don't believe any of the Fathers or Mothers would ever allude to the Fall as being a parable.  IMO, there is too much evidence to the contrary.

I'm sorry, my post was messy. I meant to say that the Genesis account of the fall was in the form of a parable. I'll keep hunting and hopefully come across the article. It was from an Orthodox source, but I just can't remember details.
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« Reply #71 on: January 04, 2008, 12:23:46 AM »

My brother, I'm enjoying these posts as my kids sleep and my dog rests at my feet, and I sure enjoy your enthusiasm and insight.  But step back for a minute.  We are talking about creation, one of the fundamental questions of life.  We are talking about millions and billions of years of scientific speculation.  You are a scientist with obviously a lot of study into evolution.  So I ask a simple question and fundamental question, show me an example of the type of mutation that results in evolution.  The example given is the classic one and usually the only one given, a species of moth get seperated and the character of their pigmentation changes.  Now can't you understand why I would have a hard time following, understanding and believing that the change in pigmentation of a specked moth is PROOF that plant life evolved over billions of years via billions of random mutations to become man.  Please, give me some understanding here.  I'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm not trying to debate science with ignorance.


Rather than looking for one miraculous "proof" of a complex concept by one simple example, I think one should just see the logic of how things work.

Of course the fact that the frequency of perrered moth increased during the Industrial Revolution, per se, is not a "proof" that humans evolved from apes or that amphibians evolved from fishes.

But what this observation if fact is, is this:

- mutagens change our genes randomly, so that in a group of one million individuals there will always be a few with a changed gene;

- we live in a certain environment, which can be indifferent to this change in our genes, or disfavoring it, or favoring it: for example, if you and I are two butterflies with light-colored wings and my genes changed so that my wings became dark, this can be irrelevant to my survival vs. yours, or it can be favoring your survival (if you can, for example, hide from predators better tan me on a light-colored background), or it can favor my survival (if, for example, the environment became darker, because of the chimney emissions);

- in a population where there are many males and females with light- or dark-colored wings, after many generations, given some other mutations occur, mating preferences can be established so that light-colored butterflies mate with their like, and dark-colored with their like;

- in a few more thousands or millions of years, humans will begin to observe the two separately mating populations and call the first of them butterlies and the seccond - bitterfloys (or whatever - because species names are mere human labels, rather arbitrary in many cases); and "creationists" will argue that butterflies and bitterfloys have ALWAYS been different species, like, say, polar bears and grizzly bears. Or like dogs and wolves (... ah, not a good example because gods and wolves actually do cross-mate, so for them it did not matter whether certain mutations occured or not as far as their existence as ONE biological species was concerned...)
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« Reply #72 on: January 04, 2008, 12:27:48 AM »

(... ah, not a good example because gods and wolves actually do cross-mate,
Where are these beings today, Heorhij? The Ukrayne? Cheesy  Wink
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« Reply #73 on: January 04, 2008, 12:32:09 AM »

Where are these beings today, Heorhij? The Ukrayne? Cheesy  Wink

Oh, sorry, I meant dogs and wolves, of course. And yes, they are in Ukrayne as well as in Ukaraine or Urakania. But not in RUSSIA!!! Smiley Smiley Smiley Because whatever is in Ukraine, is not the same as in Russia. By now, y'all would definitely know that I'm a diehard Ukarayjanieen nationalist!  police
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« Reply #74 on: January 04, 2008, 12:35:19 AM »

By now, y'all would definitely know that I'm a diehard Ukarayjanieen nationalist! 
But of coarse! Wink  Yet, I hope you understood that I was merely teasing you and meant no offense to you or Ukraine. Cheesy
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« Reply #75 on: January 04, 2008, 12:37:12 AM »

I am asking your permission, folks, to bail out from this discussion till tomorrow. My wife just threatened to demolish our computer if I do not log out immediately.  Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked
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« Reply #76 on: January 04, 2008, 12:39:40 AM »

Your marriage or OC.net?!!

Where are your priorities, Heorhij!  Wink
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« Reply #77 on: January 04, 2008, 12:40:18 AM »

I'm sorry, my post was messy. I meant to say that the Genesis account of the fall was in the form of a parable. I'll keep hunting and hopefully come across the article. It was from an Orthodox source, but I just can't remember details.
The way in which the account was given to us, that is, the scenery and people (and subsequent dialogue), could perhaps be in parable form yes.  Does anyone have any references of where this theory can be found?
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« Reply #78 on: January 04, 2008, 12:43:27 AM »

How can we as fallible men living thousands of years after the events occurred draw the line.  At best, it's an interesting exercise in speculation, at worst, it will keep you from the church and following her medicine.  The only option that will keep you from going crazy thinking about it is to just accept what your jurisdiction teaches and follow the rule of prayer, fasting, etc.

Forgive my ignorance, but isn't this one of the reasons that Orthodox Christians complain about Latin theology?
See, this is one of the things that keeps from converting.  When and where do you decide that the "fancy" story isn't just a metaphor anymore?  My train of thought goes:

Creation - Well, they didn't know any better.  Theistic evolution works fine even though it isn't scriptural.

The Fall - Well, they didn't know any better.  There had to eventually be the first man and woman, and obviously they did something bad because there is death in the world for us.

The Flood - May be Utnapishtim from Gilgamesh, maybe Utnapishtim is Noah.  Either way, the Flood was probably a local flood, and there probably was no Great Ark.  It's just intended to convey a lesson.

So and so on, until

The Resurrection.  Okay, thats symbolic, too, and intended to convey a lesson, right?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO every single word of that story is 100% true!

Where is the line drawn?  The Exodus?  Job?  Jonah?

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« Reply #79 on: January 04, 2008, 12:55:21 AM »

I am asking your permission, folks, to bail out from this discussion till tomorrow. My wife just threatened to demolish our computer if I do not log out immediately.  Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

LOL - good for you, Mrs George!!! SmileySmileySmileySmileySmileySmiley
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« Reply #80 on: January 04, 2008, 12:56:24 AM »

But after thousands or millions of years they are still butterflies, and the changing of pigment is no where near as complicated as growing lungs, or evolving a brain, etc.  Again, science's answer just seems to be, "give me enough time and I can explain anything".

What's interesting to me is that I've read the one year in the evolutionary life of a virus is equal to one million years in the evolutionary life of an evolving DNA-based entity.  We have been studying viruses for years.  Now while plenty of mutations have occured making them nastier and nastier and giving them many new properities, I've never read anywhere of viruses "evolving" into anything other than different types of "viruses".  Doesn't it seem odd that if we've been able to observe the equivalent of millions of years of viral evolution, and in something as simple as this it has never evolved into anything other than what it started out as, a virus, albeit a newer, better virus! wouldn't that call into question the statement, "all evolution needs is time."

One group of scientist did a test on 13,000 generations of viruses.  Scientists speculate this is the number of generations between ape and man.  The viruses changed a lot, the scientists made lots of interesting findings that contributed greatly to the understanding of evolution, but at the end of 13,000 generations, they were still left with viruses.  Not some other organism or creature, just different types of viruses.

Of course, I'm not a scientist and this is just my understanding which could be greatly flawed.  I welcome feedback.

Rather than looking for one miraculous "proof" of a complex concept by one simple example, I think one should just see the logic of how things work.

Of course the fact that the frequency of perrered moth increased during the Industrial Revolution, per se, is not a "proof" that humans evolved from apes or that amphibians evolved from fishes.

But what this observation if fact is, is this:

- mutagens change our genes randomly, so that in a group of one million individuals there will always be a few with a changed gene;

- we live in a certain environment, which can be indifferent to this change in our genes, or disfavoring it, or favoring it: for example, if you and I are two butterflies with light-colored wings and my genes changed so that my wings became dark, this can be irrelevant to my survival vs. yours, or it can be favoring your survival (if you can, for example, hide from predators better tan me on a light-colored background), or it can favor my survival (if, for example, the environment became darker, because of the chimney emissions);

- in a population where there are many males and females with light- or dark-colored wings, after many generations, given some other mutations occur, mating preferences can be established so that light-colored butterflies mate with their like, and dark-colored with their like;

- in a few more thousands or millions of years, humans will begin to observe the two separately mating populations and call the first of them butterlies and the seccond - bitterfloys (or whatever - because species names are mere human labels, rather arbitrary in many cases); and "creationists" will argue that butterflies and bitterfloys have ALWAYS been different species, like, say, polar bears and grizzly bears. Or like dogs and wolves (... ah, not a good example because gods and wolves actually do cross-mate, so for them it did not matter whether certain mutations occured or not as far as their existence as ONE biological species was concerned...)
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« Reply #81 on: January 04, 2008, 12:58:33 AM »

I should have said, "they still seem to be butterflies."  I don't know if the changing of wing colors would allow you to call the newly colored butterfly still a butterfly.
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« Reply #82 on: January 04, 2008, 01:09:03 AM »

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO every single word of that story is 100% true!

Where is the line drawn?  The Exodus?  Job?  Jonah?

It must always be remembered that without the Holy Tradition to explain what was meant, the Holy Bible (to quote Fr. Maximos in The Mountain of Silence) is simply an empty letter.  To expunge Holy Tradition is to become one of the 24,000 or so sects of Protestantism and to fall into error.  As Preoteasa Mari has reminded us- our interpretations must be in the spirit of the Holy Fathers.  The Holy Tradition has been handed down to us in an unbroken line beginning with Christ Himself as well as the Holy Apostles and the Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles.    
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« Reply #83 on: January 04, 2008, 01:11:28 AM »

You are a prince, I wish I would have given an answer this good.  God help me if I had to interpret scripture on my own. Thanks Gabriel.

It must always be remembered that without the Holy Tradition to explain what was meant, the Holy Bible (to quote Fr. Maximos in The Mountain of Silence) is simply an empty letter.  To expunge Holy Tradition is to become one of the 24,000 or so sects of Protestantism and to fall into error.  As Preoteasa Mari has reminded us- our interpretations must be in the spirit of the Holy Fathers.  The Holy Tradition has been handed down to us in an unbroken line beginning with Christ Himself as well as the Holy Apostles and the Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles.    
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« Reply #84 on: January 04, 2008, 01:18:14 AM »

It must always be remembered that without the Holy Tradition to explain what was meant, the Holy Bible (to quote Fr. Maximos in The Mountain of Silence) is simply an empty letter.  To expunge Holy Tradition is to become one of the 24,000 or so sects of Protestantism and to fall into error.  As Preoteasa Mari has reminded us- our interpretations must be in the spirit of the Holy Fathers.  The Holy Tradition has been handed down to us in an unbroken line beginning with Christ Himself as well as the Holy Apostles and the Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles.     

Okay.  Christ Himself, the Holy Apostles, and the Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles believed in a literal Adam and Eve.  So... what is your point?
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« Reply #85 on: January 04, 2008, 01:29:55 AM »

My point would be that if you believe Christ was truly the son of God and you believe he believed in a literal Adam and Eve, you're probably safer to put your money on the son God than the collective speculation of 21st century scientists.

If you don't believe in a literal Adam and Eve and can't believe any other way due to your scientific beliefs and faith in 21st century science, you are left with a few possibilities: 1) Christ was the son of God and knew he was wrong but spoke in a literal way because of the feeble minds of the time, 2) Christ wasn't the son of God, he was just a man, and he merely repeated what he had been taught to him by man about Adam and Eve, or 3) We can't trust what the scriptures say about what Christ believed.  It was probably so altered by first and second century folk tales we can't possibly know what or who to trust.

There might be more than this, but I think this pretty well covers it.

As always, the point is real simple, what do you believe.

Okay.  Christ Himself, the Holy Apostles, and the Saints Equal-to-the-Apostles believed in a literal Adam and Eve.  So... what is your point?
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« Reply #86 on: January 04, 2008, 01:33:53 AM »

As always, the point is real simple, what do you believe.


I believe that it shouldn't be this freaking hard to find real Truth.

I'm bowing out of this thread.

Peace.
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« Reply #87 on: January 04, 2008, 01:39:49 AM »

I must ask, you have "Agnostic Pessimist" under your name.

I ask this sincerely, do you seek truth, or do you seek to expose what you believe to be a myth, that their is truth? What in your life has led you to believe that truth should be easy to find?

I believe that it shouldn't be this freaking hard to find real Truth.

I'm bowing out of this thread.

Peace.
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« Reply #88 on: January 04, 2008, 01:45:00 AM »

I must ask, you have "Agnostic Pessimist" under your name.

I ask this sincerely, do you seek truth, or do you seek to expose what you believe to be a myth, that their is truth? What in your life has led you to believe that truth should be easy to find?


*sigh*  Okay, I'll come back, even though this is off-topic.

I seek Truth, regardless of what that might be.
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« Reply #89 on: January 04, 2008, 01:52:01 AM »

You are a prince, I wish I would have given an answer this good.  God help me if I had to interpret scripture on my own. Thanks Gabriel.

Thank you for the kind words, but I'm no prince.   A lowly sinner full of pride and arrogance, but no prince.  With prayer, I hope to get over myself someday...
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« Reply #90 on: January 04, 2008, 02:01:17 AM »

I believe that it shouldn't be this freaking hard to find real Truth.
Jesus told us that He is the Truth.  I sincerely do not mean to sound callous, but the onus is now on you: you either choose to believe or choose not to believe.  If you want to believe, Jesus will guide you.  It's truly that simple.  But we must remember that He does things in His own time.  If you really are seeking the Truth Gabriel, you will find it.
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« Reply #91 on: January 04, 2008, 02:29:06 AM »

Okay.

Which church should I join?

The Seven or Three Council Orthodox?  I am not in agreement with Mina and the other folks on here.  One is correct, and one is not.

So, which one?

Oh, let me guess....

Yours.

Right?
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« Reply #92 on: January 04, 2008, 02:30:39 AM »

If I want to believe, are you kidding me???

Did you even read the thread that I linked to in our PM exchange?

I hit rock bottom and have no found a hand hold.

Don't talk to me about wanting to believe, Gabe.  Don't even.
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« Reply #93 on: January 04, 2008, 02:38:21 AM »

George,

Is there any kind of "Evolution for dummies" you could suggest? I have found TalkOrigins to be a very useful site, but reading from the computer has its limitations. It would be great if I could take something readable to bed.

God be with you.

While not an 'Evolution for dummies', per se, I would strongly recommend MIT's videoed lecture series, 7.012 Introduction to Biology taught by Eric Lander (Director of the Broad Institute at MIT and a leader of the Human Genome Project) and Professor Robert Weinberg (winner of the 1997 National Medal of Science). Professor Lander is especially great, he almost makes me wish I had bit the bullet and paid the 40k+ a year to go to MIT and have studied biology.

The entire introduction to biology course can be found here in video format: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Biology/7-012Fall-2004/VideoLectures/index.htm

If you have a slow internet connection and want to save the lectures to your hard drive before watching them, the instructions to do so are here http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/help/faq4/index.htm#3

It's quite an investment in time (an entire semester worth of lectures), but I would highly recommend it and it is well worth the effort, the textbook the class uses (Freeman, Scott. Biological Science. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. ISBN: 0130819239) is also wonderful (and pretty much proves the case for evolution, even to the skeptic), I purchased it and would highly recommend it. It allowed me to understand the basics of biology from a modern perspective and move into other fields of Biology.

If you don't have the time to invest in watching all the lectures (though I would strongly recommend them to ANYONE, both to students to learn biology and to instructors to learn what is probably the best way to teach biology), for the issue of genetics and evolution I would strongly recommend Lecture 25, 'Genomics', though I may appreciate it more than most because of my background in mathematics and computer science (Prof. Lander has his Ph.D. in Mathematics, so I connect with his methodology and reasoning in a way I had not previously connected with a biologist). Once biology was reduced to a computational system, akin to computer science, I was hooked; I wish I had gained the understanding of biology i have today when I entered college; if I had, I would have probably gotten a degree in that as well as Mathematics...oh well, that's life.

Personally, I think that someone who sits through these lectures and does not believe in evolution is either stupid or slept the whole time. They woke me up and gave me an appreciation for the field of biology as it truly is. If by any means you can watch these lectures, do it.
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« Reply #94 on: January 04, 2008, 02:41:08 AM »

Okay.

Which church should I join?

The Seven or Three Council Orthodox?  I am not in agreement with Mina and the other folks on here.  One is correct, and one is not.

So, which one?

Oh, let me guess....

Yours.

Right?

Both and neither. Wink

There is truth in any philosophical or religious system man has ever devised and, likewise, there is falsehood in every such system.
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« Reply #95 on: January 04, 2008, 02:49:00 AM »

But after thousands or millions of years they are still butterflies, and the changing of pigment is no where near as complicated as growing lungs, or evolving a brain, etc.  Again, science's answer just seems to be, "give me enough time and I can explain anything".

What's interesting to me is that I've read the one year in the evolutionary life of a virus is equal to one million years in the evolutionary life of an evolving DNA-based entity.  We have been studying viruses for years.  Now while plenty of mutations have occured making them nastier and nastier and giving them many new properities, I've never read anywhere of viruses "evolving" into anything other than different types of "viruses".  Doesn't it seem odd that if we've been able to observe the equivalent of millions of years of viral evolution, and in something as simple as this it has never evolved into anything other than what it started out as, a virus, albeit a newer, better virus! wouldn't that call into question the statement, "all evolution needs is time."

One group of scientist did a test on 13,000 generations of viruses.  Scientists speculate this is the number of generations between ape and man.  The viruses changed a lot, the scientists made lots of interesting findings that contributed greatly to the understanding of evolution, but at the end of 13,000 generations, they were still left with viruses.  Not some other organism or creature, just different types of viruses.

Of course, I'm not a scientist and this is just my understanding which could be greatly flawed.  I welcome feedback.

Are you for real? Or are you just screwing with us? Roll Eyes

Because enough generations have passed to allow for the evolution of one species of apes to another (homo sapiens), you think that enough generations have passed to allow for the evolution of viruses to actual life forms (self-reproducing species). Do you have any grasp of how absurd this sounds? The evolution of a virus to a self-reproducing species is a greater change than the evolution of a fruit fly to a human, which are merely 600 million years removed. The longest part of our evolutionary history was the development of self-reproducing species, it took billions of years, because this development had to occur by random events, without the benefit of natural selection.

The evolution of viruses can tell us a lot about the development of early life on earth, about our ancient ancestors, but it still would, in all probability, take billions of years for something so primitive (though, admittedly, elegant) to evolve into self-reproducing lifeforms.
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« Reply #96 on: January 04, 2008, 02:50:27 AM »

If I want to believe, are you kidding me???

Did you even the thread that I linked to in our PM exchange?

I hit rock bottom and have no found a hand hold.

Don't talk to me about wanting to believe, Gabe.  Don't even.
Sure, I read it.  Many times.  I took it very seriously.  And I've never told you you had to believe in my church.  I humbly reminded you what Christ said to each and every one of us.  You said you're looking for the Truth.  Christ said He is the Truth.  Personally, I believe that you have found a hand hold in the form of this forum and all the folks here who care about you, which BTW, I believe that Jesus Himself led you here.  You call yourself a pessimistic agnostic.  OK, who am I to argue?  But you're still with us so you can't be that pessimistic right?  As for the agnostic part, I believe that you want to believe (otherwise why continue to search for the truth?)  Forgive me if I sound crass, brother, but I know you will find the Truth.
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« Reply #97 on: January 04, 2008, 08:23:14 AM »

While not an 'Evolution for dummies', per se, I would strongly recommend MIT's videoed lecture series, 7.012 Introduction to Biology taught by Eric Lander (Director of the Broad Institute at MIT and a leader of the Human Genome Project) and Professor Robert Weinberg (winner of the 1997 National Medal of Science). Professor Lander is especially great, he almost makes me wish I had bit the bullet and paid the 40k+ a year to go to MIT and have studied biology.

The entire introduction to biology course can be found here in video format: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Biology/7-012Fall-2004/VideoLectures/index.htm

If you have a slow internet connection and want to save the lectures to your hard drive before watching them, the instructions to do so are here http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/help/faq4/index.htm#3

It's quite an investment in time (an entire semester worth of lectures), but I would highly recommend it and it is well worth the effort, the textbook the class uses (Freeman, Scott. Biological Science. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. ISBN: 0130819239) is also wonderful (and pretty much proves the case for evolution, even to the skeptic), I purchased it and would highly recommend it. It allowed me to understand the basics of biology from a modern perspective and move into other fields of Biology.

If you don't have the time to invest in watching all the lectures (though I would strongly recommend them to ANYONE, both to students to learn biology and to instructors to learn what is probably the best way to teach biology), for the issue of genetics and evolution I would strongly recommend Lecture 25, 'Genomics', though I may appreciate it more than most because of my background in mathematics and computer science (Prof. Lander has his Ph.D. in Mathematics, so I connect with his methodology and reasoning in a way I had not previously connected with a biologist). Once biology was reduced to a computational system, akin to computer science, I was hooked; I wish I had gained the understanding of biology i have today when I entered college; if I had, I would have probably gotten a degree in that as well as Mathematics...oh well, that's life.

Personally, I think that someone who sits through these lectures and does not believe in evolution is either stupid or slept the whole time. They woke me up and gave me an appreciation for the field of biology as it truly is. If by any means you can watch these lectures, do it.

Thanks so much, GIC, much appreciated.
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« Reply #98 on: January 04, 2008, 09:22:46 AM »

But after thousands or millions of years they are still butterflies, and the changing of pigment is no where near as complicated as growing lungs, or evolving a brain, etc.  Again, science's answer just seems to be, "give me enough time and I can explain anything".

The point is, within a population of butterflies over a long period of time there might be evolution. It does not in any way mean that all butterflies will turn into something else. Evolution does not mean change of species A into species B. Rather, evolution means diversification. In a population of butterflies called A, evolution may lead to a split into two different populations, say A1 and A2. The A1 will remain as it is because it lives in the environment that favors the original phenotype (say, white unpigmented wings). But the population A2 will be different, with pigmented wings (originally cominf from a random pigmented mutant), because it lives in a different environment, one that favors dark coloration (easier to hide from predators). Other mutations - IF there is a certain favoring environment - will be "positively selected," expanded by other possible environmental challenges.So, depending on these challenges, we can observe expansion of populations A3, A4, A5, ...An. Some of these new mutant populations can develop new mating preferences (mate within themselves and not with other A populations), and because of tat entomologists will call them a different species (say, Butterflieya OCNetia Terrifica - with dark coloration vs. Butterflieya OCNetica Dumbia - with non-colored wings). Lay people will keep calling them both butterflies, but strictly-biologically speaing they the B.O.T. and the B.O.D. are different species as long as they do not cross-mate in the wild, producing fertile progeny. 


What's interesting to me is that I've read the one year in the evolutionary life of a virus is equal to one million years in the evolutionary life of an evolving DNA-based entity.  We have been studying viruses for years.  Now while plenty of mutations have occured making them nastier and nastier and giving them many new properities, I've never read anywhere of viruses "evolving" into anything other than different types of "viruses".  Doesn't it seem odd that if we've been able to observe the equivalent of millions of years of viral evolution, and in something as simple as this it has never evolved into anything other than what it started out as, a virus, albeit a newer, better virus! wouldn't that call into question the statement, "all evolution needs is time."

There exist some forms of life that are not easy to put in a "box." For example, Rickettsia are *now* classified as bacteria, but just some 25-30 years ago all microbiology textbooks classified them as viruses. They indeed have the size of large viruses and are obligatory intracellular agents (cannot replicate outside of cells that they infect). The only thing that seems to "clearly" distingish them from viruses is that they, as recently discovered, have both DNA and RNA, which is not characteristic of viruses but characteristic of bacteria. But then, there are some viruses with very strange genome, too; for example, the hepatitis B virus has some portions of its genome made of double-stranded DNA and other portions made of single-stranded DNA. Replace just one nitrogenous base in the ssDNA portion of these viruses from thymine to uracil, and add one atom of oxygen to its sugar core, and you have a virus that has both DNA and RNA, like in Rickettsia. So, there probably are forms of life that are kind of intermediate between viruses and bacteria. Besides, there are viroids and prions, yet other strange, unclassifiable agents, whose existence points at intermediate evolutionary forms.

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« Reply #99 on: January 04, 2008, 10:07:29 AM »

It's pretty easy to envision that lunged life may have come out of the water through the eel. They can breath air through there gills for a long periods of time.
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« Reply #100 on: January 04, 2008, 01:13:38 PM »

Yikes....I only wanted to pinpoint the discussion on the Fall.  I'm sorry this turned into another evolution thread.

Let's start this discussion by an assumption here.  Even for those who are not scientists or who can't understand evolution, let's assume evolution is true.  Now, can we talk about the Fall?

Let's not use Genesis as a reference either.  Let's use the idea I showed earlier (based on St. Athanasius' "On the Incarnation" where he never mentions the trees or the ribs, just simply "man" or "mankind" and "the one law").  Perhaps not one Adam and one Eve, but is it okay to say that a couple of human beings, male and female, were put in Paradise, and when disobeying God, fell from eternal life and lived back in a corrupt world with all the other animals and plants?

I'd also recommend people to read the Philokalia of Origen, which provides us with some excellent insight on how Alexandrians viewed the Bible before and after Christ.  In it, something that intrigued me that I shared with Heorhij a while back:

Quote
2. In Genesis God gives a command to Adam, saying, "Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall not eat of it: for in the day that ye eat thereof ye shall surely die." 186 There, also, God begins by speaking in the singular, "Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat," but goes on in the plural, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall not eat of it: for in the day that ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die." The explanation is that when God speaks of the commandment which He wished Adam to keep and live, He commands in the singular, "Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat"; for they who walk in God's ways and hold fast His commandments, though they be many, yet by reason of their being of one mind the many are essentially one.187 And, therefore, when a commandment respecting goodness is given, the singular is used----"Thou mayest freely eat"; but in laying down the law respecting transgression, God no longer uses the singular, but the plural----"Ye shall not eat: for in the day that ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die."

3. And so it is with the present passage. When they still weep and make supplication to God, the plural is used----"They wept and made supplication to me "; but when they find God, He no longer uses the plural----"There |47 He spake, not with them," but with him. For by finding God and by hearing His Word, they have already become one. For the individual when he sins is one of many, severed from God and divided, his unity gone; but the many who follow the commandments of God are one man; as also the Apostle testifies, saying, "For we who are many are one bread, one body";188 and again, "There is one God, and One Christ, and one faith, and one baptism";189 and elsewhere, "For all we are one body in Christ Jesus";190 and again, "I espoused you all to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to the Lord."191 And that they are well pleasing to the Lord and one,192 is shown in the Lord's prayer to His Father for His disciples. "Holy Father," He says, "grant that as I and Thou are one, so also they may be one in us."193 And also, whenever the saints are said to be members of one another,194 the only conclusion is that they are one body. In The Shepherd,195 again, where we read of the building of the tower, a building composed of many stones, but seeming to be one solid block, what can the meaning of the Scripture be except the harmony and unity of the many?

Is it true that in that particular verse, there's a singular and a plural form of "you?"  And if true, what other interpretations from the Holy Fathers as maybe perhaps ancient Jewish commentators can we find?  Keep in mind, this is before "Eve is made" in the Genesis story.

If in Church we say "I believe in one God..." and yet there are more in Church than just "I," then when we sin, we are clearly more than one "Adam and Eve" (much much more than one, more than two even ;-))?

God bless.
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« Reply #101 on: January 04, 2008, 02:18:58 PM »

Soul, sin, fall, salvation - those are terms that cannot be explained in the frame of reference of these empirical findings of scientists. Just how to explain them, I simply do not know. I really don't, speaking in scientific, empirical terms. I know that sin exists, of course. I know that people commit sins all the time and that I, for one, do sin a lot. I also believe - ABSOLUTELY irrationally, without any premise for this belief that I could find in science - that my personal physical death will not be the complete end of me and I will somehow continue to exist and, while continuing to exist after my physical death, will be somehow brought to justice for everything I've done while I lived. That's, basically, all I feel confident about right now. To what extent the lines of the Holy Bible or the writings of all Holy Fathers from Irenaeus of Lyons to Seraphim Rose add to this basic belief of mine - again, I, honestly, honest-to-goodness-ly, DO NOT KNOW. The whole concept of one physical Adam existing and falling in sin and holding in himself the entire future humankind makes no sense to me and I do not believe it, cannot believe it, no matter what. Why has Christ come, what exactly He has done (in strict empirical terms), and how exactly does He save - also, in all honesty, I do not know, do not understand, even though I somehow believe that He does.

So, yes, my dear brother, you are right, a lot of things do go inside the head of someone like me who does happen to have been exposed to science, its history, its method, and is nonetheless a Christian and feels that the Orthodox Church is the community of the Christian faith...

Heorhij, I actually had a fairly significant crisis of faith over these same issues in the not too distant past (centered a lot around Genesis and Adam).  To the point where none of it made sense to me anymore, and I was ready to give it all up.  Somehow I found despite the inconsistencies, the far fetched stuff and the simply unbelievable (in the whole realm of things we believe in the church, not just this topic); I found that I still somehow believed enough to maintain my faith in the church and the saving power of Christ.  So I remain, and have come to terms with my own way of balancing what's in scripture and what we know about the world and have found peace with it.

In terms of the Fall, I could say my summary view is that it is both historical and metaphorical as recorded.  I don't believe in a single instantaneous Fall as such, nor do I believe in instantaneous salvation, but that theosis is a part of both ends of the process; i.e. the origins and destiny of man.  I believe baptism is necessary to bring children in to the full life of the church, but I don't believe it cleanses them of "the sin of Adam" brought about by the Fall.  Children may be born with a human nature that when developed will manifest negatively, but sin is an exercise of the will.

None of it in my opinion will ever "make sense" or logically hold up, if nothing else the contradictions present in scripture itself cannot be rationalized in my opinion.  That says nothing about what modern science makes us aware of.  There is just something inside myself that tells me its real, and there's nothing beyond that I could point to that is really a convincing argument.
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« Reply #102 on: January 04, 2008, 02:27:02 PM »

C'mon now, I was not saying at all that I expected life to spring forth from the petri dish!  I merely pointed out that some evolutionist's theorize ape became man in about 13,000 evolutionary generations.  Another group of scientists, probably just out of pure curiosity, did a test where they observed viruses going through 13,000 evolutuonary generations.  I found it interesting that at the end of trial, they were still viruses.  That all those mutations didn't result in any of the millions of viruses mutating into ANYTHING other than a virus, much less some type of higher form.  On the other hand, think of how many millions of beneficiary mutations must have occurred for a hairy ape to become man in the same number of evolutionary generations.  I realize the fundamental evolutionary changes in simple substances takes more time than evolutionary changes in complex primates, but c'mon, it would seem reasonable to see some sign in all the "evolution" of the virus evolving into something, anything, other than a virus. I don't think this absurd if you think about, how you characterized what I said might be though!  Wink

As far as screwing with you!  I wonder who is screwing with whom.  This is an Orthodox Christian board.  Many have taken it upon themselves to either say or imply, "evolution from plant life to human is a fact, because of this the "Fall of man" is absurd.  So let us reexamine and enlighten 2000 years of Christian and Othodox ignorance."  Who is screwing with whom.  What response do people positing these views expect, "my goodness, I've been enlightened and now see the error our ways and theology of fallen man.  In light of this irrefutable scientific evidence, how may we now interpret the fathers and the man who called himself Christ."

Of course, my wife thinks we are all crazy!!  Smiley

Are you for real? Or are you just screwing with us? Roll Eyes

Because enough generations have passed to allow for the evolution of one species of apes to another (homo sapiens), you think that enough generations have passed to allow for the evolution of viruses to actual life forms (self-reproducing species). Do you have any grasp of how absurd this sounds? The evolution of a virus to a self-reproducing species is a greater change than the evolution of a fruit fly to a human, which are merely 600 million years removed. The longest part of our evolutionary history was the development of self-reproducing species, it took billions of years, because this development had to occur by random events, without the benefit of natural selection.

The evolution of viruses can tell us a lot about the development of early life on earth, about our ancient ancestors, but it still would, in all probability, take billions of years for something so primitive (though, admittedly, elegant) to evolve into self-reproducing lifeforms.
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« Reply #103 on: January 04, 2008, 02:40:40 PM »

As far as screwing with you!  I wonder who is screwing with whom.  This is an Orthodox Christian board.  Many have taken it upon themselves to either say or imply, "evolution from plant life to human is a fact, because of this the "Fall of man" is absurd.  So let us reexamine and enlighten 2000 years of Christian and Othodox ignorance."  Who is screwing with whom.  What response do people positing these views expect, "my goodness, I've been enlightened and now see the error our ways and theology of fallen man.  In light of this irrefutable scientific evidence, how may we now interpret the fathers and the man who called himself Christ."

Pretty much, yes, that's the response I expect. I expect independent, rational, and enlightened thought, even if it conflicts with 2000 years of thought developed in ignorance.

Quote
Of course, my wife thinks we are all crazy!!  Smiley

She's, of course, correct. Grin
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« Reply #104 on: January 04, 2008, 07:29:11 PM »

So what is the name of the Church you are going to found based on this thought? 

The problem you have is this.  The Orthodox Church believes God has miraculously appeared and spoke to thousands of saints, prophets, etc. from before Christ to this present day.  He had plenty of opportunity to say, "I was wrong about the fall, man evolved, let me reveal a new understanding."   But he didn't.  But as you and others have so clearly stated, a rational, independent analysis of evolution makes the Orthodox teaching on the fall impossible.  It makes it a silly belief actually.  I would expect you to say I am an ignorant fool for believing in the fall as taught by the Church for 2000 years.

It seems to me that their is only one way to resolve this for people who can't believe in evolution and believe in the Church's teaching on the fall.  Find a church that has an evolutionary view of the fall and join it.  Or start your own.  Because unless the Orthodox Church disavows the witness of countless saints who have experienced the presence of God it will probably never change it's view on this fundamental issue.

And seriously, this is an Orthodox Christian board where it's reasonable to expect their will be people who have problems with evolution and have honestly dealt with them.  It does your cause no good to post publicly to each other talking about "creationist's"  in condescending or arrogant terms.

Pretty much, yes, that's the response I expect. I expect independent, rational, and enlightened thought, even if it conflicts with 2000 years of thought developed in ignorance.

She's, of course, correct. Grin
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« Reply #105 on: January 04, 2008, 08:45:14 PM »

To equate metaphysical, Divine Truth with empirical, scientific data and theory, in my opinion, denigrates both of them.
The logoi of created things is the Truth which metaphysics and theology are concerned with. The way a tree works, (its xylem and phloem etc.) is incidental to theology. Science and religion are talking about the same things in different ways and with different foci. Science looks at a rock to examine it's mineral content, origins and classification according to established nomenclature. Theology looks at a rock to see it's connection to the Cosmos and it's created logos. In Orthodoxy, this difference in understanding is made especially clear on the Feast of Theophany with the Great Blessing of the Waters. The Sanctification of the Waters restores the creature of water to what it was created to be. The water remains composed of molecules of two hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom after it's blessing, so, from a scientific point of view, nothing has changed, yet from a metaphysical point of view, it's original logos has been restored, and it's metaphysical properties have changed. The same with the Bread and Wine in the Liturgy. When they are consecrated, they still maintain the "scientific" properties of Bread and Wine, but from a metaphysical point of view, they are now the Body and Blood of the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Physics and Metaphysics are dealing with completely different types of Truth and to treat them as though they were the same Truth disparages both Science and Religion.
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« Reply #106 on: January 04, 2008, 09:10:05 PM »

So what is the name of the Church you are going to found based on this thought? 

The problem you have is this.  The Orthodox Church believes God has miraculously appeared and spoke to thousands of saints, prophets, etc. from before Christ to this present day.  He had plenty of opportunity to say, "I was wrong about the fall, man evolved, let me reveal a new understanding."   But he didn't.  But as you and others have so clearly stated, a rational, independent analysis of evolution makes the Orthodox teaching on the fall impossible.  It makes it a silly belief actually.  I would expect you to say I am an ignorant fool for believing in the fall as taught by the Church for 2000 years.

Nonsense, God hasn't been talking to anyone; this is all theologumena that you are presenting as dogma. No one converses directly with God and those who claim to do so are not holy, they are insane, and that's not an ad hominem, take them to any psychiatrist they'll diagnose them as such. There may be some guiding force of the Holy Spirit, but he isn't carrying on conversations with anyone. Last time God spoke to man was when Christ was on earth and, to the best of my knowledge, he didn't give this issue much time.

Quote
It seems to me that their is only one way to resolve this for people who can't believe in evolution and believe in the Church's teaching on the fall.  Find a church that has an evolutionary view of the fall and join it.  Or start your own.  Because unless the Orthodox Church disavows the witness of countless saints who have experienced the presence of God it will probably never change it's view on this fundamental issue.

I found one, the Orthodox Church; the idea of the fall you are presenting is a popish invention. Man has fallen insofar as he is less than the divine, there was no act, per se, the myth in genesis is allegory. Man is fallen insofar as he is of a different essence, of a different ousia, than the father. Christ brought life because he united the Divine Ousia and the human ousia in his one Divine Person. This was the lifting of the curse, the incarnation itself. The only time evolution becomes a theological problem is when you take the myth about the garden of eden literally, which is just a silly thing to do considering what we know today.

Quote
And seriously, this is an Orthodox Christian board where it's reasonable to expect their will be people who have problems with evolution and have honestly dealt with them.  It does your cause no good to post publicly to each other talking about "creationist's"  in condescending or arrogant terms.

It's an Orthodox Christian board, not Pastor John's Pentecostal Church of Born-Again Believers board; thus, it's reasonable to expect that legetimate and well-established scientific theories, such as the theory of evolution or of gravity, are taken seriously. Creationists are not taken seriously not because they are bad people, but because their position is simply not a serious one worthy of consideration.
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« Reply #107 on: January 04, 2008, 09:49:31 PM »

I think your post speaks for itself.

I might not agree with you, but my questions have surely been respectful and surely have taken the theory of evolution seriously. The only thing that to me has come close to Pastor John's Pentacostal Chruch of Born Again Believers is the anger and inner turmoil that comes across when some people are questioned on their views.

You definately put a smile on my face with these comments "Nonsense, God hasn't been talking to anyone" and "I found one, the Orthodox Church."

I would at least hope you believe Christ was the son of God, he died for fallen man because he loves us, and the Orthodox Church is the holder of his truth. 

With Old Calender Christmas coming up on the 7th, I'm signing off on this topic until afterwords.  See you all next week!

Nonsense, God hasn't been talking to anyone; this is all theologumena that you are presenting as dogma. No one converses directly with God and those who claim to do so are not holy, they are insane, and that's not an ad hominem, take them to any psychiatrist they'll diagnose them as such. There may be some guiding force of the Holy Spirit, but he isn't carrying on conversations with anyone. Last time God spoke to man was when Christ was on earth and, to the best of my knowledge, he didn't give this issue much time.

I found one, the Orthodox Church; the idea of the fall you are presenting is a popish invention. Man has fallen insofar as he is less than the divine, there was no act, per se, the myth in genesis is allegory. Man is fallen insofar as he is of a different essence, of a different ousia, than the father. Christ brought life because he united the Divine Ousia and the human ousia in his one Divine Person. This was the lifting of the curse, the incarnation itself. The only time evolution becomes a theological problem is when you take the myth about the garden of eden literally, which is just a silly thing to do considering what we know today.

It's an Orthodox Christian board, not Pastor John's Pentecostal Church of Born-Again Believers board; thus, it's reasonable to expect that legetimate and well-established scientific theories, such as the theory of evolution or of gravity, are taken seriously. Creationists are not taken seriously not because they are bad people, but because their position is simply not a serious one worthy of consideration.
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« Reply #108 on: January 04, 2008, 10:34:13 PM »

Has anyone read "Light from the East: Theology, Science, and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition (Word in the World)"  by Alexei Nesteruk?
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« Reply #109 on: January 04, 2008, 10:37:24 PM »


I would at least hope you believe Christ was the son of God, he died for fallen man because he loves us, and the Orthodox Church is the holder of his truth. 


Do you know the Orthodox understanding of original sin. It's not the same as the western view. Take a close look at the words affects from the sin and don't concentrate to much on the sin itself.
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« Reply #110 on: January 04, 2008, 10:44:05 PM »

By fallen I meant the weak human nature we inherited from Adam.  Not the western idea of original sin.  Of course, I didn't say Original Sin but I guess fallen is a loaded word that I should have been mindful of when many on the board seem to be in a heightened state of "gotcha!"

Now I must take my board break!  Pardon me.


Do you know the Orthodox understanding of original sin. It's not the same as the western view. Take a close look at the words affects from the sin and don't concentrate to much on the sin itself.
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« Reply #111 on: January 04, 2008, 11:14:17 PM »

By fallen I meant the weak human nature we inherited from Adam.  Not the western idea of original sin.  Of course, I didn't say Original Sin but I guess fallen is a loaded word that I should have been mindful of when many on the board seem to be in a heightened state of "gotcha!"

Now I must take my board break!  Pardon me.


I didn't point out our view of original sin to correct you, but to get you thinking. If the affects of the sin is what we inherit than it is the effects of that sin that we need salvation from. If the theory of evolution is correct and it fits nicely into our theology. Why fight it. Assuming of course one believes that salvation from non-existence is what we are being saved from.  laugh
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« Reply #112 on: January 05, 2008, 12:51:38 AM »

He had plenty of opportunity to say, "I was wrong about the fall, man evolved, let me reveal a new understanding."   But he didn't.  But as you and others have so clearly stated, a rational, independent analysis of evolution makes the Orthodox teaching on the fall impossible.  It makes it a silly belief actually.  I would expect you to say I am an ignorant fool for believing in the fall as taught by the Church for 2000 years.
I plead ignorance here.  Can someone tell me exactly how the theory of biological evolution makes the Orthodox teaching on the fall impossible?  What exactly is the Orthodox teaching on the fall that would be invalidated by evolutionary science?

As an aside, is anyone here aware that we have another thread currently receiving posts on the subject of evolution and that this thread was intended to be a discussion of our understanding of the general principles of science and how we come to know God's creation?  It might help to discuss the specifics of evolutionary theory on the evolution thread.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12605.msg200217.html#msg200217
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« Reply #113 on: January 05, 2008, 01:01:19 AM »

Has anyone read "Light from the East: Theology, Science, and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition (Word in the World)"  by Alexei Nesteruk?

I haven't, but I'd be interested.  Can you give us a nice summary of what it addresses?

Dear ozGeorge,

You make an excellent point regarding the metaphysical and the physical.  Yet, I would have to admit that the story and dogma of the Fall not only has a metaphysical but also a physical component that if not addressed can be quite contradictory to the science of evolution.  How can we deal with this?  Is it as simple as believing that all that matters is the unity of humanity and divinity, or was there a share in the divine grace in some way before the incarnation (and as Genesis teaches, before some sort of Fall)?

Thank you and Merry Christmas for those of us who will celebrate it in the Old Calendar.
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« Reply #114 on: January 05, 2008, 01:36:27 AM »

I haven't, but I'd be interested.  Can you give us a nice summary of what it addresses?

Happy Christmas, Mina.

I haven't read the book myself. I came across it during a search on the topic of evolution within the Orthodox framework. It's look like it might be way over my head. (But I think I'm still going to give it a go) Grin

From the blurb on Amazon...

Book Description

In this unique volume, a new and distinctive perspective on hotly debated issues in science and religion emerges from the ancient Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition.
Alexei Nesteruk reveals how the Orthodox tradition, deeply rooted in Greek Patristic thought, can contribute importantly in a way that the usual Western sources do not. Orthodox thought, he holds, profoundly and helpfully relates the experience of God to our knowledge of the world. His masterful historical introduction to the Orthodox traditions not only surveys key features of its theology but highlights its ontology of participation and communion. From this Nesteruk derives Orthodoxy’s unique approach to theological and scientific attribution. Theology identifies the underlying principles (logoi) in scientific affirmations.

Nesteruk then applies this methodology to key issues in cosmology: the presence of the divine in creation, the theological meaning of models of creation, the problem of time, and the validity of the anthropic principle, especially as it relates to the emergence of humans and the Incarnation.

Nesteruk’s unique synthesis is not a valorization of Eastern Orthodox thought so much as an influx of startlingly fresh ideas about the character of science itself and an affirmation of the ultimate religious and theological value of the whole scientific enterprise.

About the Author

Alexei V. Nesteruk is a researcher in cosmology and quantum physics in the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, England, and a research associate in the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, England.

(http://www.amazon.com/Light-Theology-Sciences-Alexei-Nesteruk/dp/0800634993/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199510407&sr=1-1)

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« Reply #115 on: January 05, 2008, 01:43:23 AM »

Looks like a fascinating book, I'll pick it up Monday and give a synopsis when I get a chance.
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« Reply #116 on: January 05, 2008, 03:24:35 AM »

Looks like a fascinating book, I'll pick it up Monday and give a synopsis when I get a chance.

It does look very interesting; I've ordered it, too.
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« Reply #117 on: January 05, 2008, 05:55:21 AM »

It might work out cheaper from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0800634993 for those of us who are not in the USA but who will receive it  with free-post from book depository  Wink
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« Reply #118 on: January 05, 2008, 06:00:48 AM »

It might work out cheaper from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0800634993 for those of us who are not in the USA but who will receive it  with free-post from book depository  Wink

Good point, Credo.InDeum. That's where I ordered the book from. Grin
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« Reply #119 on: January 05, 2008, 09:52:53 AM »

You make an excellent point regarding the metaphysical and the physical.  Yet, I would have to admit that the story and dogma of the Fall not only has a metaphysical but also a physical component that if not addressed can be quite contradictory to the science of evolution.  How can we deal with this?  Is it as simple as believing that all that matters is the unity of humanity and divinity, or was there a share in the divine grace in some way before the incarnation (and as Genesis teaches, before some sort of Fall)?
Dear Mina,
The Fall and the Restoration are not physical matters, they are metaphysical matters. I'm not sure what "physical" component of Genesis you are referring to.
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« Reply #120 on: January 05, 2008, 12:20:07 PM »

It might work out cheaper from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0800634993 for those of us who are not in the USA but who will receive it  with free-post from book depository  Wink

It's even cheaper from my university's library  Grin  And TEN POUNDS... at the current exchange rate...remember when the dollar use to be worth something?
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« Reply #121 on: January 05, 2008, 02:51:31 PM »

But Shockley's statements are not true because he said so; I do not accept his statements simply because they come from him. They are accepted because they are logically argued and presented to be consonant with sound scientific research. Everyone has to demonstrate the validity of their theory before it is accepted by the scientific community, regardless of their celebrity status. That's what makes this science and not theology or art.

I apologize for not writing clearly.  My meaning was that Shockley by his knowledge, research and that his work was peer-reviewed had shown that he knew the subject, understood it and was a reliable authority on it speaking the truth of the Science. If he came out with something new, other scientists and engineers would look at his work for errors, but that in general *on that field* he could be taken as a trusted authority.

 Not that Shockley the Man was to not be questioned.

Ebor
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« Reply #122 on: January 05, 2008, 02:52:17 PM »

I checked Abe.com (Advanced Book Exchange a site that links bookshops in a number of countries) and there are used copies of the book for less then 20 pounds including postage, unless the exchange rate has changed.

Ebor
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« Reply #123 on: January 05, 2008, 06:31:59 PM »

Dear Mina,
The Fall and the Restoration are not physical matters, they are metaphysical matters. I'm not sure what "physical" component of Genesis you are referring to.

Let me tell you what I think you're saying when you're saying "metaphysical."  What I think you're saying is that metaphysical means the Genesis story, as GiC puts it, is totally metaphorical describing each and everyone of us, and not an actual physical event where one man and one woman (or many men and many women) spent time with God in paradise before disobeying Him of some sort.  In other words, I see the traditional view as I just pointed it out to you as both metaphysical (i.e. spiritual) AND physical.
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« Reply #124 on: January 06, 2008, 10:30:48 AM »

Heorhij, I actually had a fairly significant crisis of faith over these same issues in the not too distant past (centered a lot around Genesis and Adam).  To the point where none of it made sense to me anymore, and I was ready to give it all up.  Somehow I found despite the inconsistencies, the far fetched stuff and the simply unbelievable (in the whole realm of things we believe in the church, not just this topic); I found that I still somehow believed enough to maintain my faith in the church and the saving power of Christ.  So I remain, and have come to terms with my own way of balancing what's in scripture and what we know about the world and have found peace with it.

In terms of the Fall, I could say my summary view is that it is both historical and metaphorical as recorded.  I don't believe in a single instantaneous Fall as such, nor do I believe in instantaneous salvation, but that theosis is a part of both ends of the process; i.e. the origins and destiny of man.  I believe baptism is necessary to bring children in to the full life of the church, but I don't believe it cleanses them of "the sin of Adam" brought about by the Fall.  Children may be born with a human nature that when developed will manifest negatively, but sin is an exercise of the will.

None of it in my opinion will ever "make sense" or logically hold up, if nothing else the contradictions present in scripture itself cannot be rationalized in my opinion.  That says nothing about what modern science makes us aware of.  There is just something inside myself that tells me its real, and there's nothing beyond that I could point to that is really a convincing argument.

I think that's pretty much where I stand now. I do believe in the Church, in the absolute necessity of me belonging to Her. I believe that She, the Orthodox Church (or, a synonym, One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church) is where the Holy Spirit dwells, and that we, those who belong to Her, are being saved by the mystical, incomprehensible salvific power of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the living Son of the living God. On the other hand, I, at this point of my life, do not believe in my capacity to find eternal truths in very many fragments of the Bible and also in some patristic writings that I have read thus far. I believe a lot of it is myth and, moreover, weird, misleading, harmful nonsense. I know I sound terribly rebellious and I do not, in all honesty, like it! But that's where I stand, sincerely. The whole notion, particularly, of one man lapsing into sin and the entire human race, being "in" that one man, suffering the consequences of that sin, and especially the notion of our bodies becoming corrupt, our sensuality/sexuality becoming a bestial thing and an abomination, our salvation as a path where we abandon all "passions" - humanity? - and thrive to achieving a sort of hesychasm, - all that, again, to me does, perhaps unfortunately, sound more and more like a weird and misleading and very harmful, repressing, killing nonsense...

Probably it's just a phase in my life, I don't know. During the Nativity Fast, I tried to be "good" and read some Scripture and at least a couple of pages from Fathers every day. For whatever reason, everything that I read made me sick to my stomach. On the last day of the Fast, when my atheist daughter and her dearly beloved atheist fiance were already with us, I read a fragment from St. Gregory Palamas where he explains Jesus's words about hating one's family and writes, (I'm paraphrasing), well, if they are good faithful Orthodox Christians, then maybe love them, but if they are unbelievers, then do what Christ says, hate them, run away from them and never look back, become a monk. My ONLY thought when I was reading that was, man, you know, GET A LIFE... Sad

When the Fast was over, I stopped reading that "spiritual" literature and resumed reading some good fiction, and I feel so much better. The only thing that keeps eating me is that my relatives, seeing me in the last days of the Fast, concluded that I indeed became a religious nut.

Sorry for rambling and going off-topic. Perhaps I should withdraw from this forum for a while.
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« Reply #125 on: January 06, 2008, 11:08:04 AM »

Quote
if they are good faithful Orthodox Christians, then maybe love them, but if they are unbelievers, then do what Christ says, hate them, run away from them and never look back, become a monk. My ONLY thought when I was reading that was, man, you know, GET A LIFE...

wow...that's far from what I understood that verse meant.  When Christ said "hate them," it is that same intensity as Christ said "pluck your eye out."  It's an exaggerated symbolism of knowing where your priorities are.  If you love others before God, then what that is teaching is that you got your priorities wrong.  That's all.  But in the end, the ultimate goal of loving others happens because you love God.  After all, God even said to love your enemies.

I'm not sure what St. Gregory said, but perhaps at that time Christians and non-Christians never got along.  If I'm not mistaken there were Muslims at the time who believed that a non-Muslim is an enemy.

May God reward you with His grace day by day as you grow in the Orthodox faith.
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« Reply #126 on: January 06, 2008, 03:35:29 PM »

I think that's pretty much where I stand now. I do believe in the Church, in the absolute necessity of me belonging to Her. I believe that She, the Orthodox Church (or, a synonym, One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church) is where the Holy Spirit dwells, and that we, those who belong to Her, are being saved by the mystical, incomprehensible salvific power of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the living Son of the living God. On the other hand, I, at this point of my life, do not believe in my capacity to find eternal truths in very many fragments of the Bible and also in some patristic writings that I have read thus far. I believe a lot of it is myth and, moreover, weird, misleading, harmful nonsense. I know I sound terribly rebellious and I do not, in all honesty, like it! But that's where I stand, sincerely. The whole notion, particularly, of one man lapsing into sin and the entire human race, being "in" that one man, suffering the consequences of that sin, and especially the notion of our bodies becoming corrupt, our sensuality/sexuality becoming a bestial thing and an abomination, our salvation as a path where we abandon all "passions" - humanity? - and thrive to achieving a sort of hesychasm, - all that, again, to me does, perhaps unfortunately, sound more and more like a weird and misleading and very harmful, repressing, killing nonsense...

Probably it's just a phase in my life, I don't know. During the Nativity Fast, I tried to be "good" and read some Scripture and at least a couple of pages from Fathers every day. For whatever reason, everything that I read made me sick to my stomach. On the last day of the Fast, when my atheist daughter and her dearly beloved atheist fiance were already with us, I read a fragment from St. Gregory Palamas where he explains Jesus's words about hating one's family and writes, (I'm paraphrasing), well, if they are good faithful Orthodox Christians, then maybe love them, but if they are unbelievers, then do what Christ says, hate them, run away from them and never look back, become a monk. My ONLY thought when I was reading that was, man, you know, GET A LIFE... Sad

When the Fast was over, I stopped reading that "spiritual" literature and resumed reading some good fiction, and I feel so much better. The only thing that keeps eating me is that my relatives, seeing me in the last days of the Fast, concluded that I indeed became a religious nut.

Sorry for rambling and going off-topic. Perhaps I should withdraw from this forum for a while.

Excellent post, it gets the 'post of the month' nomination from me...not that my nominations get you that far. Wink

I appreciate this post because it is honest and it resonates with me and my experiences. At times I have read various fathers such as Palamas (I try to avoid him anymore), Symeon the New Theologian, monastic fathers from the philokalia, and even Chrysostom or Paul and just thought, this is utter nonsense and that it is nonsense should be obvious to anyone willing to show one iota of objectivity. And then when I see others try to treat this nonsense (and the example you gave from Palamas is one great example) as inspired dogma I tend to ask myself, why do I even bother, I don't really share anything in common with these people, I dismiss their very weltanschauung as uninformed and absurd; why do I even bother associating with these people -- with Christianity -- even, as I often do, in name only?

On this level I can sympathize with your family and their perceptions of Christianity and their wonder as to why you bother. This has been their experience of Christianity, this has been most intelligent people's experience with Christianity; and, I'm sure, it's rather disconcerting for them to have to associate your beliefs and practices with this experience.

However, fortunately (I believe, though this is certainly a matter of personal opinion), I have experienced another side of Christianity, a side where rational people look at these absurdities written by supposedly holy men and confront them as the nonsense they are, they do not allow Christianity to be hijacked by fundamentalists and zealots. They take what is good and upright, what we can still today hold fast to in good and informed conscious, and make this the standard of the Christian faith, unafraid to confront and dismiss the sacred cows of another era that have manifested themselves as absurd today.

Then when I feel disconnected to the Church, to Christianity itself, I will go and read the truly great theologians of our Church, I will read St. John the Evangelist, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasios the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and especially St. Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite; and while there are still some cultural elements from their time that one would do well to gloss over, they are fewer and further between, they are less absurd, and, more importantly, things are objectively presented as the best understanding they can put forth given the knowledge available in their day. In their writings are found gems of wisdom and thought unequaled in the ancient world. And it is because of their intellectual heritage in the Church, a heritage of learning, skepticism, and objectivity, that I am not merely willing to associate with the institution, but even take some pride in standing in the line of their intellectual tradition. While every religion has its nonsense and historical baggage acquired over centuries, if one looks deep enough they will find that Christianity has something more, it has an honesty and objectivity and intellectual tradition derived from the Ancient Greeks that is rarely found in other sets of myths, beliefs, or faiths. Whether or not this approach I attempt is valid is anyone's guess, I may have truly found gems of thought in the ancient world, then again I may just be rationalizing absurdity, but I guess no one can really for certain; but if we apply to religion the same principles that have made the sciences the great and unequaled fields they are today: objectivity, skepticism, and a willingness to change, we can certainly, at least, avoid the descent into fundamentalism.

I don't know if this post helps or makes things worse, but I believed that such a wonderfully honest post on your part merited an equally honest response.
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« Reply #127 on: January 06, 2008, 06:03:38 PM »

There is a place for cynical reassessment of religious views in the Christian life because so much of the Christianity we experience in the early writers, scripture, and especially televised religious programs is kind of weird. I would abandon Christian faith if the only manifestations of it were the ramblings of a Benny Hinn or the writings of some half crazed hermit from the fifth century. There's got to be some authenticity otherwise it is not worth retaining.

So where does the authenticity come from? Partly from scripture, partly from people who struggle to live like Christians, and partly from the bankruptcy of the alternatives.

Atheism just doesn't work because it leaves no foundations for moral values and I want moral values. Other monotheistic religions like Judaism just seem more petty and uninviting than Christianity. And polytheism just seems completely silly.

That's how I see cynicism's place in religion. I don't want to be a cynic because I don't think that it offers anything constructive and absolutely nothing valuable. It is like looking for nothing but faults in something that's good and I can't see any reason to look for faults in everything. ...

Anyway on this whole "science versus religious knowledge" question ... why bother with crazy attempts to base religion on scientific proof? The only real areas of contact between science and religion are in things like history and archaeology and that's because Christianity is built on claims about places and people and events that just might be verifiable by digging up artefacts or finding old bits and pieces with writing on them. Once you get too deeply into the 'science' of the bible you're just going to end up with a bunch of really stupid sixth century BC notions about the shape of the world and how many legs a chicken has. It just gets absurd so why bother with it? The bible is an old book it isn't reasonable to expect an old book to answer our questions about science. We don't expect Plato to tell us how to split a nucleus despite the fact that he knew about 'atoms'.

Phil

PS: I know, i am rambling ... seems to fit in the current thread though  Cool
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« Reply #128 on: January 06, 2008, 06:21:06 PM »

Breaking my vow to respond to this thread until after the Nativity, I must ask, just a few hours before we leave for 5 hours of services. Yikes!

Do you believe in the virgin birth of Christ? 

Excellent post, it gets the 'post of the month' nomination from me...not that my nominations get you that far. Wink

I appreciate this post because it is honest and it resonates with me and my experiences. At times I have read various fathers such as Palamas (I try to avoid him anymore), Symeon the New Theologian, monastic fathers from the philokalia, and even Chrysostom or Paul and just thought, this is utter nonsense and that it is nonsense should be obvious to anyone willing to show one iota of objectivity. And then when I see others try to treat this nonsense (and the example you gave from Palamas is one great example) as inspired dogma I tend to ask myself, why do I even bother, I don't really share anything in common with these people, I dismiss their very weltanschauung as uninformed and absurd; why do I even bother associating with these people -- with Christianity -- even, as I often do, in name only?

On this level I can sympathize with your family and their perceptions of Christianity and their wonder as to why you bother. This has been their experience of Christianity, this has been most intelligent people's experience with Christianity; and, I'm sure, it's rather disconcerting for them to have to associate your beliefs and practices with this experience.

However, fortunately (I believe, though this is certainly a matter of personal opinion), I have experienced another side of Christianity, a side where rational people look at these absurdities written by supposedly holy men and confront them as the nonsense they are, they do not allow Christianity to be hijacked by fundamentalists and zealots. They take what is good and upright, what we can still today hold fast to in good and informed conscious, and make this the standard of the Christian faith, unafraid to confront and dismiss the sacred cows of another era that have manifested themselves as absurd today.

Then when I feel disconnected to the Church, to Christianity itself, I will go and read the truly great theologians of our Church, I will read St. John the Evangelist, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasios the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and especially St. Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite; and while there are still some cultural elements from their time that one would do well to gloss over, they are fewer and further between, they are less absurd, and, more importantly, things are objectively presented as the best understanding they can put forth given the knowledge available in their day. In their writings are found gems of wisdom and thought unequaled in the ancient world. And it is because of their intellectual heritage in the Church, a heritage of learning, skepticism, and objectivity, that I am not merely willing to associate with the institution, but even take some pride in standing in the line of their intellectual tradition. While every religion has its nonsense and historical baggage acquired over centuries, if one looks deep enough they will find that Christianity has something more, it has an honesty and objectivity and intellectual tradition derived from the Ancient Greeks that is rarely found in other sets of myths, beliefs, or faiths. Whether or not this approach I attempt is valid is anyone's guess, I may have truly found gems of thought in the ancient world, then again I may just be rationalizing absurdity, but I guess no one can really for certain; but if we apply to religion the same principles that have made the sciences the great and unequaled fields they are today: objectivity, skepticism, and a willingness to change, we can certainly, at least, avoid the descent into fundamentalism.

I don't know if this post helps or makes things worse, but I believed that such a wonderfully honest post on your part merited an equally honest response.
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« Reply #129 on: January 06, 2008, 06:49:44 PM »

I'm starting a new thread on this side topic here:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14186.msg200547.html#msg200547

I went ahead and moved the posts referring to the new subject to that thread.
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« Reply #130 on: January 06, 2008, 07:33:31 PM »

Let me tell you what I think you're saying when you're saying "metaphysical."  What I think you're saying is that metaphysical means the Genesis story, as GiC puts it, is totally metaphorical describing each and everyone of us, and not an actual physical event where one man and one woman (or many men and many women) spent time with God in paradise before disobeying Him of some sort.  In other words, I see the traditional view as I just pointed it out to you as both metaphysical (i.e. spiritual) AND physical.
I see.  Do you consider any part to be metaphorical? For example, did God actually plant an actual fruit tree that He didn't want Adam to eat from? Or could this possible be a metaphor/allegory?

At times I have read various fathers such as Palamas (I try to avoid him anymore), Symeon the New Theologian, monastic fathers from the philokalia, and even Chrysostom or Paul and just thought, this is utter nonsense and that it is nonsense should be obvious to anyone willing to show one iota of objectivity........Then when I feel disconnected to the Church, to Christianity itself, I will go and read the truly great theologians of our Church, I will read St. John the Evangelist, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasios the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and especially St. Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite;
That's interesting. I have placed the latter group of Fathers in my personal mental category of "Theo-poets", that is, that I find their writings to be more "poetic", especially Sts. John and Dionysius, and in fact I personally find them more irrational. For example, I can't find anything rational in "In the begining there was the Logos.......", nor do I find anything "rational" in pseudodionysius' descriptions of the heirarchy of the Bodiless powers etc. To me, they seem more like beautiful poetry, rather that rationed thought.
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« Reply #131 on: January 06, 2008, 09:05:15 PM »

That's interesting. I have placed the latter group of Fathers in my personal mental category of "Theo-poets", that is, that I find their writings to be more "poetic", especially Sts. John and Dionysius, and in fact I personally find them more irrational. For example, I can't find anything rational in "In the begining there was the Logos.......", nor do I find anything "rational" in pseudodionysius' descriptions of the heirarchy of the Bodiless powers etc. To me, they seem more like beautiful poetry, rather that rationed thought.

I think that their approaches are rational, in fact they are purely rational without use of observation. It's this reduction of theology to the realm of reason and not trying to pull it in line with the science and culture of their day that makes it truly valuable. Because it was not written to be dependent on the cultural or scientific norms of their time it retains relevance. To a degree there is poetry in it as well, as all ideas when reduced to their essence are poetic in nature; but the strength to poetry and reason alone is that looking back on them, even 2000 years later, they still hold truth and relevance; compare this to Chrysostom's attempts at dogmatizing cultural norms of his day regarding, say, dress and they seem all the more valuable.
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« Reply #132 on: January 06, 2008, 09:07:09 PM »

Breaking my vow to respond to this thread until after the Nativity, I must ask, just a few hours before we leave for 5 hours of services. Yikes!

Do you believe in the virgin birth of Christ?

I'm not going to dogmatize anything by stating it in terms of scientific absolutes, nor will I try to force my metaphysics on others, but personally I do. In fact, I would take another step and say that the virgin birth of Christ is more fundamental than even the resurrection itself.
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« Reply #133 on: January 06, 2008, 09:15:32 PM »

I think that their approaches are rational, in fact they are purely rational without use of observation.
I'm having trouble understanding
1) What you mean by "rational", and
2) What you mean by "without use of observation".

With regards to #1, I still can't see what is "rational" about stating that the Logos is God and pitched His tent among us in the flesh, nor what is "rational" about describing the hierarchy of the nine orders of Angels  in detail.

With regards to #2, I'm not sure how you can say that these Fathers do not use observation in describing what they describe when St. John himself says he is describing "that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life..." (1John 1:1).
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« Reply #134 on: January 06, 2008, 09:42:16 PM »

I'm having trouble understanding
1) What you mean by "rational", and
2) What you mean by "without use of observation".

With regards to #1, I still can't see what is "rational" about stating that the Logos is God and pitched His tent among us in the flesh, nor what is "rational" about describing the hierarchy of the nine orders of Angels  in detail.

With this I guess I'm making the divide seen between Mathematics and the Sciences. Mathematics is purely rational, it is based on thought alone and is independent of any observations of the physical world. You develop axioms and using established rules of logic prove lemas, theorms, and corollaries, it is a discipline of pure reason. Science, on the other hand, relies on observation and then theories are developed to try and explain these observations, with the observations always being paramount.

It seems to me that these authors took a more 'mathematical' approach to theology, rather than the 'scientific' one observed by other, less relevant, theologians of their time.

As to whether the hierarchy of angels is 'rational' in terms of the standard modern connotation of the word, probably not; however, in these authors you can see systems of thought developed and used to create proofs based on the assumptions made and, thus, while they are not as rigorous as modern mathematicians you can still see the rational basis of their approach.

Quote
With regards to #2, I'm not sure how you can say that these Fathers do not use observation in describing what they describe when St. John himself says he is describing "that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life..." (1John 1:1).

There was some dependence on observation, especially in John who saw, learned from, and lived with our Lord. But their theology is more academic, more rational, generally derived from the neo-platonic tradition. If one follows this tradition one can see the logical and rational development of a metaphysical system that is expounded upon by the Christian writers I mentioned above. Now it may not be the only metaphysical conclusions that one can drive from logic, reason, and the creation of axioms, but it is certainly one possiblity which has a degree of internal consistency and thus is certainly beautiful and, in a way, objectively true. (Objectively true within its own system, just as mathematics is, to take the truth beyond this to the level of some kind of absolute, universal truth can only be done by faith).

Edit: I hope this makes some sense and I don't seem to be just rambling on. (Which I am doing, rambling that is (hard to avoid with theology or philosophy), but hopefully something of substance is coming out of it Wink)
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« Reply #135 on: January 06, 2008, 10:02:48 PM »

Edit: I hope this makes some sense and I don't seem to be just rambling on. (Which I am doing, rambling that is (hard to avoid with theology or philosophy), but hopefully something of substance is coming out of it Wink)

It kind of makes sense, but I guess I would disagree that the theology of John and pseudoDyonisius were not the product of "observation" and therefore "mathematical". Certainly (as you seem to agree) this is not the case with John. One of the basic requirements of Orthodox theology is theoria- the "vision" of God, and this seems to me to be a clearly subjective observation. It seems to me that a theologian -in fact, any theologian- is saying: "Based on what I have come to understand through my own experiences and my studies, God is like ......" This seems to me to be closer to something like biology rather than mathematics.
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« Reply #136 on: January 06, 2008, 11:14:52 PM »

Sorry for rambling and going off-topic. Perhaps I should withdraw from this forum for a while.

Sometimes it helps to take a break, but I hope you stick around, or at least return.  I can say for myself I've read the Bible in entirety probably twice, and then parts of it lots and lots of times over.  A good deal in it I find tremendously boring, part absolutely repulsive, and part among the most inspiring words I can think of anywhere.  Generally I just return to the parts I like and read them only.  I have to admit for being Orthodox, I have not read incredibly deeply in the church Fathers.  My overall reading so far is probably similar to my take on the Bible, except I have found what I have read of the church fathers in general to be even less readable than most of the Bible.  I tend to glaze over if I read too much.  I don't do a lot of spiritual reading in general, and tend to find most of my affirmation of faith and best experiences to be with other people, either my family or around church.  It's very rare that I leave a liturgy or moleben or whatever and say "boy that was a waste of time".  I pretty much always feel better.

I converted not because I found Orthodoxy to be some compellingly rational or coherent system or I just loved the church fathers; but in large part because I felt an affinity for the culture of the church, I believe deeply that the sacraments are the life of the church, and I appreciated the belief in Orthodoxy that there is a transormative power to beauty that has redemptive value.  Basically that man and creation could be deified and whole once again, and that this is God's purpose for us.  Despite the many negatives, I feel there is this fundamentally positive view behind it all.

Quote
On the last day of the Fast, when my atheist daughter and her dearly beloved atheist fiance were already with us, I read a fragment...
I probably would have read the Nativity sermon of St. Isaac the Syrian (one of the few fathers I will go back and read regularly).  It goes like this:
Quote
This Christmas night bestowed peace on the whole world;
So let no one threaten;
This is the night of the Most Gentle One -
Let no one be cruel;
This is the night of the Humble One -
Let no one be proud.
Now is the day of joy -
Let us not revenge;
Now is the day of Good Will -
Let us not be mean.
In this Day of Peace -
Let us not be conquered by anger.
Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.
This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;
Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.
Today the DIVINE BEING took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,
In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of DIVINITY.

I'm not sure if you already celebrated, or if you will tomorrow, but have a good Christmas.  Realize you're not alone in your struggles.  Remember what Dostoevsky said

It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.
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« Reply #137 on: January 07, 2008, 04:27:10 AM »

I see.  Do you consider any part to be metaphorical? For example, did God actually plant an actual fruit tree that He didn't want Adam to eat from? Or could this possible be a metaphor/allegory?

The fruit tree I'd tend to take it metaphorically.  Likewise the idea that woman was created out of the ribs of man.  That also can be a metaphor, not to be taken literally.  The only part that I'd probably take literally is the idea that a men or some men "walked with God" so to speak before they disobeyed Him in some sort of way.  That is the general view I seem to get from the fathers unless someone has something else clearly showing a different view, which is pretty much what I'm asking.
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« Reply #138 on: January 07, 2008, 06:59:42 PM »

The fruit tree I'd tend to take it metaphorically.  Likewise the idea that woman was created out of the ribs of man.  That also can be a metaphor, not to be taken literally.  The only part that I'd probably take literally is the idea that a men or some men "walked with God" so to speak before they disobeyed Him in some sort of way.  That is the general view I seem to get from the fathers unless someone has something else clearly showing a different view, which is pretty much what I'm asking.

As my knowledge is extremely limited and un-sophisticated, and my understanding perhaps even more so although I do strive and pray for more of both, I hesitatingly would like to ask this: if God is God, and therefore omniscient and omnipotent, and the Creator of all creation, and beyond the understanding of even the wisest and most intelligent and deepest thinking of His creatures, is it not just possible that the Tree in Genesis was a real tree, and that woman was actually created from the ribs of man, who himself was created from dust? 

I do not have the answer, hence the question.  I seek only to learn, and understand, as far as I am able.  I would not go so far, though others might, as to call myself an evolutionist or a creationist because I still seek to know and understand within my limits, which are many, as some of you may have observed.  I stand in admiration of the depth and breadth of knowledge of some who post here, and somewhat aghast at the pride and arrogance, reconizable by me because of my own pride and arrogance (not to mention the doubts that so plaque me at times), of others.

By the way, AMM, thank you so much for posting St. Isaac's Nativity Sermon!  How stunningly beautiful!

Christ is Baptized!  In the Jordan!
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« Reply #139 on: January 07, 2008, 10:36:04 PM »

The fruit tree I'd tend to take it metaphorically.  Likewise the idea that woman was created out of the ribs of man.  That also can be a metaphor, not to be taken literally.  The only part that I'd probably take literally is the idea that a men or some men "walked with God" so to speak before they disobeyed Him in some sort of way.  That is the general view I seem to get from the fathers unless someone has something else clearly showing a different view, which is pretty much what I'm asking.

I think that the book was written for the people of that day. It is a simple understanding of the Genisis of life. Could you imagine trying to explaining DNA to them.
 I think man walked with God in the beginning. Now, man must walk to God.
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« Reply #140 on: January 07, 2008, 10:36:35 PM »

The only part that I'd probably take literally is the idea that a men or some men "walked with God" so to speak before they disobeyed Him in some sort of way. 
With regard to "man walking with God" you say that you "take this literally...so to speak". But if we take this "literally", do we mean that man walked with and erxperienced the Divine Essence? Clearly not. We mean that man experienced the Divine Energies (i.e, the fullness of Grace). I have no problem with this, but I think we have to be clear what we mean by "literally"- that is, in talking about Man walking with God,we are talking about a metaphysical Truth.
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« Reply #141 on: January 08, 2008, 12:00:00 AM »

Well, I think these discussions have proved debating is fun.  Unfortunately, the contest usually becomes about "winning" and when they reach the point that people openly talk about fellow Orthodox Christian's "ignorance", and the joy of smacking people down, one begins to question whether Christian love resides anywhere among it and if we aren't missing what the resurrection of Christ and his Church are all about.

It reminds me of my divinity school classes at Vanderbilt.  I majored in Mathematics but minored in religion and took so many religion classes I was able to take a few grad level courses.  The big thing in Seminary discussion at the time was the Jesus Seminar.  A group of theologians who met to discover the "historical" Jesus.  Basically, they would get together and decide what parts of the New Testament we should take at face value, which were metaphors, which were completely made up, etc.  It was very interesting, imagine a group of people like GIC, only smarter with about 6 degrees after their name.  At first it was exciting to read about, at the time I would have described myself as a Disciple of Jung, but very quickly I lost interest as the entire the seminar began to look more and more like men feeding their egos, not human beings searching for truth and love.

In light of the above and the nature of this discussion.  I'm just going to tell my story and why I believe what I believe, how I've developed my knowledge of things if you will.

From my late teens to early 20s I believed only in a historical Jesus, thought that "unvarnished"  Christianity was a good philosophy, and was convinced that Carl Jung was the MAN.   Actually, it was studying evolution that began to point me back toward a more traditional Christ and God.  As a Math Major, I was fascinated by probability and statistics.  With all the exciting discoveries about how nature evolves and adapts genetically, at least in my Math Department it was fun to arm chair quarterback the "probability" of different steps of evolution.  As I began to become overwhelmed by all the chance mutations that science required to randomly occur in order to produce any type of life or creature from the "evolution" of another, I began to disbelieve.  It seemed to me that evolutionists made the same mistakes as creationists(I've never been a 6000 year creationist).  They took what knowledge they did have and did believe in, i.e. the Genesis account, or laboratory experiments showing how DNA is structured, or fossils with similarities, etc. and begin to apply those beliefs to the greatest question man has and can't resist speculating on, how is it that we exist and were created and what is our purpose?  When I'd ask questions and get answers like, "we've seen evolution in action, let me tell you about the speckled moth."  I'd compare the mutations of a moth changing how it is pigmented, with all the literally random mutations that must take place for the simplest advance in a organism, and I didn't buy it.

As a result, I begin to believe in God, and I began to believe someday I would have to make a decision about Christ, but I remained out of Church, just happy to pursue my career as a Fighter Pilot in the US Marines. 

Then I experienced a miracle.  On July 23rd, 1994 at about 2:04 pm I ejected from a jet about 20 feet above the ground at the Naval Air Station in Oceana, Va.  After ejecting as I hurtled through the air at about 200 mph and parallel to the ground, I felt something grab me, saw my co-pilot go flying by and hit a tree, then I blacked out.  I woke in an ambulance.  I soon found out that although at least 10 people followed the jet from the time we took off, the jet caught on fire, we ejected and the jet crashed, no one saw our parachutes open.  My parachute was a streamer on the ground with no signs of opening.  That very day they flew in an engineer from the company that made the ejection seat to question me because, "your survival chance at that altitude, attitude and air speed should have been 0% and no one saw you get a chute."

When I finally returned home their was message from my mom.  She had left it at my house at almost exactly the time of my accident.  She was over 1000 miles away when it happened and had no idea I was flying that day, a Saturday I believe. Her message said, "God just told me something bad was happening to you and wanted you to know I am on my knees praying.  Call me."

I fell to my knees.  I wept.  I wanted to find the living God.

My journey led me to the Holy Orthodox Church.  Mainly because after this experience I believed in Miracles and when I read the lives of the saints and the many miraculous people still living to this day, I believed it.

Go forward a few years.  I'm living in Indianapolis and my wife and I have 2 children at the time.  Our youngest then, Mary, named after the Mother of God, was 2.  I hear my wife in scream in the kitchen and I run in as I hear her crying aloud to Mother Mary, "Holy Mother of God, save Mary."  We witness a miracle.  Our 2 year old had fallen from the top of a set of old stairs without a rail head first down 10 feet toward a concrete floor.  As my wife called for Mother Mary, Mary our daughter's fall was stopped in midair and her body was raised back up to the stairs.  I look for a wire, anything that might explain this naturally, nothing.

So, I believe.  I believe in miracles.  I believe God talks to people.  I believe in the lives of the Saints.  While I'm sure that some stories might be false, I KNOW miracles happen and in general, most of the stories can be believed.  I have no reason not to. And no reason to spend time debunking the supposedly "false" ones.

So when it comes to theology and matters of faith, I listen to the Saints, the Holy Fathers, I try to do what the Church tells me obediently.  While I engage in debate because its fun, I know it holds no spiritual truth and no spiritual meaning.  And when this debate leads to the humiliation of fellow Christians, the denial of Martyrs and Saints and their testimony, I know it's time for me to stop debating.

So their you go.  If anyone is interested, I would be to happy to privately tell more.  I have many more experiences like this, but if I chronicled them here I'm afraid I would just give GIC too much information to get me admitted to the mental ward!  Smiley

And for the truly cynical that think I'm a crazy man sitting alone in a small apartment creating a bunch of illusory rantings, you can check out www.silouan.com where there is a little more info on this as well as a television report that mentions the crash.  I am the president and founder of a very successful business, Silouan Green, LLC which you can check out at www.silouangreen.com, I published a nationally distributed magazine, I was a Captain in the Marines, and I'm currently working on a record, Live Free or Die, at Curb Studios in Nashville, TN with Jeff Tweel, a producer, songwriter, session musician, and music publisher of over 50 #1 country songs. I have the worlds best wife and 5 killer children.

I do apologize I had to make such a personal, long winded post.  I just couldn't take people attacking the church and her saints any longer. 

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« Reply #142 on: January 08, 2008, 12:03:36 AM »

I just couldn't take people attacking the church and her saints any longer. 
Who exactly is "attacking the church and her saints" on this thread?
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« Reply #143 on: January 09, 2008, 11:03:53 AM »

A few ad hoc points to make:

1) I'm not sure how one can argue that the Fall is not concerned with the physical. Revelation makes it very clear that one of the major consequences of the fall was the physical corruption of man. The physical is inextricably connected to the metaphysical; the ills of the soul result in the ills of the body; the abolishment of the ills of the body thus in turn signify the abolishment of the ills of the soul. This is one of the basic morals of the Gospel healing accounts.

2) The idea that Adam and Eve are metaphorically representative of mankind does not sit well with the theology of the fall as presented by the Apostles, St Paul in particular, and the Fathers. This is because these Saints teach that the ills from which we suffer are on account of both the sin of "Adam and Eve" and the sins of mankind in general. For example, the Fathers insist that when we sin we become imitators of Adam and Eve, and that as such, not only are Adam and Eve responsible for the general state of corruption in which the world exists, but we too, by virtue of imitating them, share in that responsibility. Clearly they see two components to the fallen condition of man; one relates back to "Adam and Eve", and another relates to the rest of mankind. Such would be tautologous had they conceived of Adam and Eve as being metaphorical representatives of mankind.

3) This is primarily to Heorhij. I appreciate your sincerity, but I hope you will also appreciate mine when I opine that your general approach (i.e. I am not speaking with respect to your thoughts on the evolution debate in particular) to the truths of revelation which seems inclined to measure them against what, from a strictly worldly perspective, seems rational vs. irrational, plausible vs. absurd etc. seems spiritually dangerous to me. Are you  familiar with the wisdom of the world vs. foolishness of God tension that is consistent throughout the Scriptures? Have you meditated upon the striking way in which God specifically selects the children--the simple, to be bearers of His Wisdom, and His command that we adopt their mental framework? What are your thoughts on these two powerful elements of the Gospel message? Let us step away from the Creationism vs. Evolution debate for a second, and concern ourselves with a less controversial subject related to your field of study: the etiology of illness. The unanimous witness of the Fathers is that illness is inextricably connected to sin, so much so in fact that illness may in fact be a manifestation of demonic activity. No one is saying there is no biological element to illness, but only that there is much more to it than biology, both in terms of its cause and appropriate treatment. Why else does the Church perform the Sacrament of the Unction of sick? Does this service seem absurd to you? Do the prayers for the sick which testify to these truths seem absurd to you? How far can one reason to this effect before every element of their faith becomes too absurd to accept that they are forced to abandon faith altogether? Isn't faith itself, the substance of things not seen, absurd? You emphasised that regardless of your issues with various elements of Revelation, that you maintain your belief in God and the Church--am I safe to presume you do so because something beyond your reason compels you to? In other words, it is not because these elements of your Faith that you still cling to have passed a foolproof examination of rationality, but rather because there is something spiritually undeniable about them? Sorry for all the questions (none of which are rhetorical by the way--I do not presume to know your answer to any of these, I would like you to inform me, if you are willing, so I can get a better understanding of where you're coming from).
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« Reply #144 on: January 09, 2008, 03:57:16 PM »

A few ad hoc points to make:

1) I'm not sure how one can argue that the Fall is not concerned with the physical. Revelation makes it very clear that one of the major consequences of the fall was the physical corruption of man. The physical is inextricably connected to the metaphysical; the ills of the soul result in the ills of the body; the abolishment of the ills of the body thus in turn signify the abolishment of the ills of the soul. This is one of the basic morals of the Gospel healing accounts.

2) The idea that Adam and Eve are metaphorically representative of mankind does not sit well with the theology of the fall as presented by the Apostles, St Paul in particular, and the Fathers. This is because these Saints teach that the ills from which we suffer are on account of both the sin of "Adam and Eve" and the sins of mankind in general. For example, the Fathers insist that when we sin we become imitators of Adam and Eve, and that as such, not only are Adam and Eve responsible for the general state of corruption in which the world exists, but we too, by virtue of imitating them, share in that responsibility. Clearly they see two components to the fallen condition of man; one relates back to "Adam and Eve", and another relates to the rest of mankind. Such would be tautologous had they conceived of Adam and Eve as being metaphorical representatives of mankind.

3) This is primarily to Heorhij. I appreciate your sincerity, but I hope you will also appreciate mine when I opine that your general approach (i.e. I am not speaking with respect to your thoughts on the evolution debate in particular) to the truths of revelation which seems inclined to measure them against what, from a strictly worldly perspective, seems rational vs. irrational, plausible vs. absurd etc. seems spiritually dangerous to me. Are you  familiar with the wisdom of the world vs. foolishness of God tension that is consistent throughout the Scriptures? Have you meditated upon the striking way in which God specifically selects the children--the simple, to be bearers of His Wisdom, and His command that we adopt their mental framework? What are your thoughts on these two powerful elements of the Gospel message? Let us step away from the Creationism vs. Evolution debate for a second, and concern ourselves with a less controversial subject related to your field of study: the etiology of illness. The unanimous witness of the Fathers is that illness is inextricably connected to sin, so much so in fact that illness may in fact be a manifestation of demonic activity. No one is saying there is no biological element to illness, but only that there is much more to it than biology, both in terms of its cause and appropriate treatment. Why else does the Church perform the Sacrament of the Unction of sick? Does this service seem absurd to you? Do the prayers for the sick which testify to these truths seem absurd to you? How far can one reason to this effect before every element of their faith becomes too absurd to accept that they are forced to abandon faith altogether? Isn't faith itself, the substance of things not seen, absurd? You emphasised that regardless of your issues with various elements of Revelation, that you maintain your belief in God and the Church--am I safe to presume you do so because something beyond your reason compels you to? In other words, it is not because these elements of your Faith that you still cling to have passed a foolproof examination of rationality, but rather because there is something spiritually undeniable about them? Sorry for all the questions (none of which are rhetorical by the way--I do not presume to know your answer to any of these, I would like you to inform me, if you are willing, so I can get a better understanding of where you're coming from).

Wow, what a great post!!  Thank you for articulating so clearly and gently many points and questions that have rattled around in my head but which I have been unable to give adequate expression to (viz. my poor attempt just a few posts back) !  I very much look forward to Herohij's response as well as those of others here.

God Bless,
Jeff
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« Reply #145 on: January 10, 2008, 11:38:41 AM »

With regard to "man walking with God" you say that you "take this literally...so to speak". But if we take this "literally", do we mean that man walked with and erxperienced the Divine Essence? Clearly not. We mean that man experienced the Divine Energies (i.e, the fullness of Grace). I have no problem with this, but I think we have to be clear what we mean by "literally"- that is, in talking about Man walking with God,we are talking about a metaphysical Truth.

Yes, "man walking with God" was just a symbolic way of saying that man was in Paradise with God.  Whether one pair of a man and woman, or many men and many women, my point was that after they were created (through evolution) that God decided to take this group of humans, give them a spiritual component and capability of partaking of the divine nature, and actually partaking of the divine nature away from the earth of natural biological laws of physical death and life.  LITERALLY, they were PHYSICALLY taken away from the earth for a time in order for them to be with God.

That's the physical component I'm trying to stress.  Like I said before, I'm using St. Athanasius' "On the Incarnation" as a reference.

God bless.
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« Reply #146 on: January 24, 2008, 06:22:39 PM »

Did everyone give up on this thread?  If so, well....what a shame!

In Christ,
Jeff
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« Reply #147 on: January 29, 2008, 09:05:20 AM »

No, I read an interesting book review this morning.

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/reviews/377
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« Reply #148 on: January 30, 2008, 03:36:55 PM »

Is it possible that Adam and Eve represent the appearance of consciousness and then language in the evolutionary line?  Could the icon that is painted for us in Genesis be an acknowledgement of our basic psychology that has set us apart from other creatures?  Isn't Ego(I) necessary for a person to separate theirself from others, give names to lower beings (animal) and even introduce the possibility for falsely and wrongly seeing themselves as God(I am)?  It seems in ancient history that the appearance of the written word comes on the global scene quite suddenly. 

Maximos the Confessor is an example of a father who sees Genesis as a psychological model in that he refers to himself as Adam, by referring Adam as I:
Quote
"As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity(cf. Gen 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death into existence, for he delights in the corruption of human nature."  -Philokalia vol II page 167

The Adam and Eve story may be a particular man's recognition of consciousness in himself and family.  It's possible that all people today derived from this family who passed down orally their awakening of consciousness and discovery of reason, language that was only latently possible in their ancestors.  Perhaps the fall is a product of devolution.

"Are we not men? we are D E V O"
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« Reply #149 on: January 30, 2008, 04:33:25 PM »

Wonderful discussion Brothers and Sisters. Much to ponder!

Wasn't it St. Isaac the Syrian who discussed knowledge as three degrees...
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« Reply #150 on: January 30, 2008, 08:20:42 PM »

Perhaps the fall is a product of devolution.
"Are we not men? we are D E V O"

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« Reply #151 on: January 30, 2008, 09:05:58 PM »

Not directly related to the topic at hand but this was mentioned in a class I'm taking and I found it rather intriguing:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis

The more I read about things like this, the more amazing and wondrous creation really is to me.  I find it baffling how someone can see holding to a literal understanding of some codified Near Eastern myths is somehow holding creation in higher regard than studying the processes that have been used to shape the universe. 
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« Reply #152 on: January 30, 2008, 09:12:19 PM »

Not directly related to the topic at hand but this was mentioned in a class I'm taking and I found it rather intriguing:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis

The more I read about things like this, the more amazing and wondrous creation really is to me.  I find it baffling how someone can see holding to a literal understanding of some codified Near Eastern myths is somehow holding creation in higher regard than studying the processes that have been used to shape the universe. 

Nektarios,

I agree. The more I read about this subject, the more awestruck I am.  Grin
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« Reply #153 on: January 31, 2008, 10:06:56 AM »

Is it possible that Adam and Eve represent the appearance of consciousness and then language in the evolutionary line?  Could the icon that is painted for us in Genesis be an acknowledgement of our basic psychology that has set us apart from other creatures?  Isn't Ego(I) necessary for a person to separate theirself from others, give names to lower beings (animal) and even introduce the possibility for falsely and wrongly seeing themselves as God(I am)?  It seems in ancient history that the appearance of the written word comes on the global scene quite suddenly. 

Maximos the Confessor is an example of a father who sees Genesis as a psychological model in that he refers to himself as Adam, by referring Adam as I:
The Adam and Eve story may be a particular man's recognition of consciousness in himself and family.  It's possible that all people today derived from this family who passed down orally their awakening of consciousness and discovery of reason, language that was only latently possible in their ancestors.  Perhaps the fall is a product of devolution.

"Are we not men? we are D E V O"

In the Coptic Gregorian liturgy, the priest prays as if he was Adam and goes through the whole Genesis story, "You formed me out of non-existence, You set up the sky for me...made the earth firm...bridled the sea...revealed the nature of animals...subdued everything under my feet...wrote within me the Image of Your authority...You opened for me the Paradise, for my delight.  You gave me the learning of Your knowledge.  You revealed to me the Tree of Life and made known to me the thorn of death.  One plant there was, of which you said to me "From this only do not eat."  I ate of my own free will.  I laid aside your law by my own opinion.   I neglected your commandments.  I brought upon myself the sentence of death."

The Coptic Basilian liturgy does the same in a much shorter rendition, but of which I will quote in full:

"Holy, Holy, Holy, truly O Lord, our God, Who formed us, created us and placed us in the paradise of  joy.   When we disobeyed Your commandment by the guile of the serpent, we fell from eternal life, and were exiled from the Paradise of joy. You have not abandoned us to the end, but have always visited us through Your holy prophets, and in the last days, You did manifest Yourself to us, who were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, through Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who of The Holy Spirit and of the Holy Virgin Mary."

Makes one think I suppose.  Still this doesn't leave room to understand a certain literal component that the Holy Fathers seemed to have stuck to.

God bless.
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« Reply #154 on: January 31, 2008, 12:20:09 PM »

If Adam as a person does not exist, than each man and woman's salvation from ancestral sin is individualized. In the past Adam was viewed as an all encompassing figure in relation to nature. Now one can see that, that may not be the case.
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« Reply #155 on: January 31, 2008, 06:51:20 PM »

If Adam as a person does not exist, than each man and woman's salvation from ancestral sin is individualized. In the past Adam was viewed as an all encompassing figure in relation to nature. Now one can see that, that may not be the case.

Ok, it's late in the day, I've been up for a long time, etc., etc. (not to mention that I'm kind of dense  Smiley), but..........could you elaborate on this a little?  I don't quite get your meaning.

Not directly connected with your post above, Demetrios, so not necessarily directed to you, though feel free to answer, I'm still genuinely interested in a reply to my post above, in which I asked,  "As my knowledge is extremely limited and un-sophisticated, and my understanding perhaps even more so although I do strive and pray for more of both, I hesitatingly would like to ask this: if God is God, and therefore omniscient and omnipotent, and the Creator of all creation, and beyond the understanding of even the wisest and most intelligent and deepest thinking of His creatures, is it not just possible that the Tree in Genesis was a real tree, and that woman was actually created from the ribs of man, who himself was created from dust?"

I realize that some may think on reading that that I am a literalist and creationist.  If that is the truth, then I am.  If that is not the truth, then I am not.  But please don't pigeonhole me on the basis of a sincere question, because, if, the answer to my question is "yes", and it may or may not be, where does that place the person doing the pigeonholing? I am only trying in my own bumbling manner to discover that truth and have the sneaking suspicion that I may only find out after my repose, if at all.  So, any genuine assistance from anyone here would be much appreciated.  And I do not refer to my repose, rather to an understanding of the question at hand  Grin!

God bless,
Jeff
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« Reply #156 on: February 01, 2008, 02:32:22 PM »



Not directly connected with your post above, Demetrios, so not necessarily directed to you, though feel free to answer, I'm still genuinely interested in a reply to my post above, in which I asked,  "As my knowledge is extremely limited and un-sophisticated, and my understanding perhaps even more so although I do strive and pray for more of both, I hesitatingly would like to ask this: if God is God, and therefore omniscient and omnipotent, and the Creator of all creation, and beyond the understanding of even the wisest and most intelligent and deepest thinking of His creatures, is it not just possible that the Tree in Genesis was a real tree, and that woman was actually created from the ribs of man, who himself was created from dust?"


Jeff

The tree isn't real. Good and evil are not material elements. They are a bi product from our free will. Every bodies free will and not just Adam and Eve's.
  This might come as a surprise to you, but everybody relives the fall. Not only that, but dare I say that, Knowledge of good and evil wouldn't exist if evil didn't exist. One must know evil to know what good is. Just like knowing darkness, unless there is light first and the lights go out. Good and evil are an education. Fallen man clings to evil, while saved man chooses good. When the fathers say that God calls us to become Gods. They are referring to our actions. He gave us the perfect example, Christ. Theosis is becoming the Image of Christ. Our free will ascends to a Christ like free will that always chooses good over evil. For man this is difficult because we are called to shake off what we are, Animals. We are called to listen to our conscience instead of our bodies.

Before the fall Man may have not realized what good and evil were. Because of his animal like state. Animals do evils without knowing they are evils. To them it is natural. Predators kill and so on. Mans realization that these actions are wrong were given to him by God in the conscience that he gave man. The breath of life.

To me. Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first animals to be endowed with a conscience. I don't view it as a fall but rather a higher calling. A chance to become gods.
 
   

 
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« Reply #157 on: February 01, 2008, 02:58:15 PM »

A few ad hoc points to make:

1) I'm not sure how one can argue that the Fall is not concerned with the physical. Revelation makes it very clear that one of the major consequences of the fall was the physical corruption of man. The physical is inextricably connected to the metaphysical; the ills of the soul result in the ills of the body; the abolishment of the ills of the body thus in turn signify the abolishment of the ills of the soul. This is one of the basic morals of the Gospel healing accounts.

2) The idea that Adam and Eve are metaphorically representative of mankind does not sit well with the theology of the fall as presented by the Apostles, St Paul in particular, and the Fathers. This is because these Saints teach that the ills from which we suffer are on account of both the sin of "Adam and Eve" and the sins of mankind in general. For example, the Fathers insist that when we sin we become imitators of Adam and Eve, and that as such, not only are Adam and Eve responsible for the general state of corruption in which the world exists, but we too, by virtue of imitating them, share in that responsibility. Clearly they see two components to the fallen condition of man; one relates back to "Adam and Eve", and another relates to the rest of mankind. Such would be tautologous had they conceived of Adam and Eve as being metaphorical representatives of mankind.

3) This is primarily to Heorhij. I appreciate your sincerity, but I hope you will also appreciate mine when I opine that your general approach (i.e. I am not speaking with respect to your thoughts on the evolution debate in particular) to the truths of revelation which seems inclined to measure them against what, from a strictly worldly perspective, seems rational vs. irrational, plausible vs. absurd etc. seems spiritually dangerous to me. Are you  familiar with the wisdom of the world vs. foolishness of God tension that is consistent throughout the Scriptures? Have you meditated upon the striking way in which God specifically selects the children--the simple, to be bearers of His Wisdom, and His command that we adopt their mental framework? What are your thoughts on these two powerful elements of the Gospel message? Let us step away from the Creationism vs. Evolution debate for a second, and concern ourselves with a less controversial subject related to your field of study: the etiology of illness. The unanimous witness of the Fathers is that illness is inextricably connected to sin, so much so in fact that illness may in fact be a manifestation of demonic activity. No one is saying there is no biological element to illness, but only that there is much more to it than biology, both in terms of its cause and appropriate treatment. Why else does the Church perform the Sacrament of the Unction of sick? Does this service seem absurd to you? Do the prayers for the sick which testify to these truths seem absurd to you? How far can one reason to this effect before every element of their faith becomes too absurd to accept that they are forced to abandon faith altogether? Isn't faith itself, the substance of things not seen, absurd? You emphasised that regardless of your issues with various elements of Revelation, that you maintain your belief in God and the Church--am I safe to presume you do so because something beyond your reason compels you to? In other words, it is not because these elements of your Faith that you still cling to have passed a foolproof examination of rationality, but rather because there is something spiritually undeniable about them? Sorry for all the questions (none of which are rhetorical by the way--I do not presume to know your answer to any of these, I would like you to inform me, if you are willing, so I can get a better understanding of where you're coming from).

Very nice!

Thanks 'Meiregeyta' EkhristosAnesti !

(Mieregeyta in Ethiopian Church hierachy is a title bestowed upon an esteemed clergyman who is depended on to unravel doctrinal discourses without altering the canon of the faith. Usually an archdeacon.)

Its is common to call someone 'Mieregeyta' albeit endearingly in a specific situation based on how they handled it. This is a playful use of the title and as such is allowed we are very careful not to over abuse the use in this way.
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« Reply #158 on: February 01, 2008, 03:13:36 PM »

Faith And Science In Orthodox Gnosiology And Methodology
The Very Rev. Prof. Dr. Dr. George Metallinos
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A. Problem or pseudo-problem?

The antithesis and consequent collision between faith and science is a problem for western (Franco-Latin) thought and is a pseudo-problem for the Orthodox patristic tradition. This is based upon the historical data of these two regions.

The (supposed) dilemma of faith versus science appears in Western Europe in the 17th century with the simultaneous development of the positive sciences. About this same time we have the appearance of the first Orthodox positions on this issue. It is an important fact that these developments in the West are happening without the presence of Orthodoxy. In these recent centuries there has been a spiritual estrangement and differentiation between the [rational] West and the Orthodox East. This fact is outlined by the de-orthodoxiation and de-ecclesiastication of the western European world and the philosophication and legalization of faith and its eventual forming as a religion in the same area. Thus religion is the refutation of Orthodoxy and, according to Fr. John Romanides, the sickess of the human being. Therefore, Orthodoxy remained historically as a non-participant in the making of the present western European civilization, which is also a different size than the civilization of the Orthodox East.

The turning points in western Europeans course of alteration include: scholasticism (13th century), nominalism (14th century), humanism/renaissance (15th century), Reformation (16th century) and the Enlightenment (17th century). It is a series of revolutions and, at that same time, breaches in the structure of western European civilization, that was created by the dialectic of these two movements.

Scholasticism is supported on the adoption of the Platonic realia. Our world is conceived of as an image of the transcendent universalia (realism, archetype). The instrument of knowledge is the mind-intellect. Knowledge (including knowing God) is accomplished through the penetration of logic in the essence of beings. It is the foundation of metaphysic theology, which presupposes the Analogia Entis, the consequitive ontological relation between God and the world, the analogy between the created and uncreated. Nominalism accepts that the universalia are simple names and not beings as in realism. It is a struggle between Platonism and Aristotelian thought in European thought. However, nominalism turned out to be the DNA, in a way, of European civilization, whose essential elements are dualism philosophically and individualism (eudomenism) socially. Prosperity will become the basic quest of the western man, theologically based on the scholastic theology of the middle ages. Nominalism (that is dualism) is the foundation of scientific development of the western world, that is the development of the positive sciences.

The Orthodox East had had another spiritual evolution, under the guidance of its spiritual leaders the saints � and of those who followed them, the true believers--who remained loyal to the prophetic-apostolic-patristic tradition; this tradition stands at the opposite end of scholasticism and all the historic spiritual developments in the European word. In the East, hesychasm or prayer of the heart is dominant (and is the backbone of patristic tradition) it is expressed with the ascetically experienced participation in the Truth as communion with the Uncreated. The faith in the possibility of the joining of God and the world (the Uncreated and the created) within history is preserved in the Orthodox East. This, however, means the rejection of every form of dualism. Science, to the degree it developed in Byzantium/Romania, developed within this framework.

The scientific revolution in Western Europe of the 17th Century, contributed to the separation of the fields of faith and knowledge. It resulted in the following axiomatic principle: New (positive) philosophy only accepts truths which are verified through rational thought. It is the absolute authority of Western thinking. The truths of this new philosophy are the existence of God, soul, virtue, immortality, and judgment. Their acceptance, of course, can only take place in a theistic enlightenment, since we also find atheism as a structural element of modern thought. The ecclesiastical doctrines that are rejected by rationality are the Triune nature of God, the Incarnation, glorification, salvation, etc. This natural and logical religion, from the Orthodox viewpoint, not only differs from atheism but is much worse. Atheism is less dangerous than its distortion!


B. Orthodox Gnosiology

It has been said that in the East the antithesis between faith and science is a pseudo-problem, Why? Because gnosiology in the East is defined by the object to be known which is twofold: the Uncreated and the created. Only the Holy Trinity is Uncreated. The universe (or universes) in which our existence is realized, is created. Faith is knowledge of the Uncreated, and science is knowledge of the created. Therefore, they are two different types of knowledge, each having its own method and tools of inquiry.

The believer, moving within the territory of supernatural, or knowledge of the Uncreated, is not called to learn something metaphysically or to accept something logically, but to experience God by being in communion with Him. This is accomplished by introducing him to a way of life or method which leads to divine knowledge.

It has been correctly stated that if Christianity were to appear for the first time in our era, it would have taken the form of a therapeutic institution, a hospital to reinstate and restore the function of man as a psychosomatic being. That is why Saint John Chrysostom calls the Church a spiritual hospital. Supernatural-theological knowledge is understood in Orthodoxy as pathos (experience of life), as participation and communion with the transcendent and not an unreachable personal truth of the Uncreated and certainly not a mere exercise in learning. Thus, the Christian faith is not the abstract contemplative adoption of metaphysical truths, it is rather, the experience of beholding True Being: the experience of the Supersubstantial (Superessential) Trinity.

This clearly expresses that in Orthodoxy, authority is found in experience. The experience of participating in the Uncreated, of seeing the Uncreated (as expressed by the terms and "theosis" and "glorification"), and is not based on texts or in the Scriptures. The tradition of the Church is not preserved within texts but in people. Texts help, but they are not the bearers of the Holy Tradition. Tradition is preserved by the Saints. Human beings are the bearers of the Gospel. The placing of texts above the actual experience of the Uncreated (an indication of the religionizing of faith) leads to their ideologization and in fact to their idolization. This in turn leads to the absolute authority of the text (fundamentalism) and all the well understood consequences.

The presupposition of the function of knowing the Uncreated, for Orthodoxy, is the rejection of every analogy (either Entis or Fide) in this relationship of the created and the Uncreated. St. John of Damascus summarizes this previously extant patristic tradition in the following manner: It is impossible to find, in creation, an icon that would reveal the way of existence of the Holy Trinity. Because, how could it be possible for the created, which is complex and changeable and describable, which has shape and is perishable, to clearly reveal Superessential Divine Essence, which is free of all these categories? (P.G. 94,821/21).

Therefore, it now becomes apparent why school education and philosophy more specifically, according to the patristic tradition, are not presuppositions for knowledge of God (theognosia). Alongside the great academic St. Basil the Great (+379) we also give honor to St. Anthony (+350), who by wordly standards was not wise. Yet they are both teachers of the faith. Both witness to knowledge of God, St. Anthony as someone uneducated and St. Basil as someone who was more highly educated than Aristotle. St. Augustine (+430) differs (something that the West would find very painful, if they knew about it) from patristic tradition at this point when he ignores scriptural and patristic gnosiology and is in essence a Neo-platonist! With his axiom credo ut intelligam (I believe in order to understand) he introduced the principle that man is lead to a logical conception of Revelation through faith. This gives priority to the intellect (the mind), which is considered by this form of knowledge to be the instrument or tool of knowing both the natural as well as the supernatural. God is considered as a knowable object that can be conceived of by the human intellect (mind) just as any natural object can be conceived of. After St. Augustine the next step in this evolution (with the intervention of the scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas+1274) will be made by Decartes (+1650) with his axiom cogito, ergo sum (I think therefore I am) in which the intellect (mind) is declared as the main basis of existence.


C. The two types of knowledge

It is the Orthodox Tradition that puts and end to this theoretical collision within the field of gnosiology. It does so by differentiating the two types of knowledge and of wisdom:

   1.

      divine or that which "from above" and
   2.

      secular (thyrathen) or lower.

The first knowledge is supernatural and the second is natural. This corresponds to the clear distinction between the Uncreated and the created, between God and creation. These two types of learning require two methods of learning. The method of divine wisdom-knowledge is the communion of man with the Uncreated through the heart. It is accomplished through the presence of the Uncreated energy of God in man's heart. The method of secular wisdom-knowledge is science, it is accomplished by exercising the intellectual/ logical power of man. Orthodoxy establishes a clear hierarchy in the two types of knowledge and their methods.

The method of supernatural gnosiology, in the Orthodox Tradition, is called hesychasm and is identified with watchfulness and purification (nepsis and katharsis) of the heart. Hesychasm is identified with Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy, patristically speaking, is inconceivable outside its hesychastic practice. Hesychasm in its essence, is the ascetic-curative practice of cleansing the heart of passions to rekindle the noetic faculty within the heart. It must be noted at this point, that the method of hesychasm as a curative practice is also scientific and practical. Therefore, theology, under proper conditions, belongs to the practical sciences. Theology's academic classification among the theoretical sciences or arts began in the 12th century in the west and is due to the shift of theology into metaphysics. Therefore, those in the East who condemn our own theology, demonstrate their Westernization, since they, essentially, condemn and reject a disfigured caricature of what they regard as theology. But what is the noetic function? In the Holy Scriptures there is, already, the distinction between the spirit of man (his nous) and the intellect (the logos or mind). The spirit of man in patristics is called nous to distinguish it from the Holy Spirit. The spirit, the nous, is the eye of the soul (see Matt. 6:226).

The noetic faculty is called the function of the nous within the heart and is the spiritual function of the heart, its parallel function is the heart as the organ that pumps the blood throughout our bodies. This noetic faculty is a mnemonic system that exists with the brain cells. These two are known and are detectab1e from human science, which science cannot, however, conceive of the nous. When man attains illumination by the Holy Spirit and becomes the temple of God, self-love changes to unconditional love and it then becomes possible to buiId real social relations supported upon this unconditional reciprocity (a willingness to sacrifice for our fellow man) rather than a self- interested claim of individual rights according to the spirit of western European society.

Thus some important consequences are understood: First, that Christianity in its authenticity is the transcendence of religion and a conception of the Church as merely an institution of rules and duties. Furthermore, Orthodoxy cannot be conceived as an adoption of some principles or truths, imposed upon from above. This is the non-Orthodox version of doctrines (absolute principles, imposed truths). Conceptions and meanings in Orthodoxy are examined through their empirical verification. The dialectical-intellectual style of thinking about theology, as well as dogmatizing, are alien to authentic Orthodox Tradition.

The scientist and professor of the knowledge of the Uncreated, in the Orthodox Tradition, is the Geron/Starets (the Elder or Spiritual Father), the guide or "teacher of the desert". The recording of both types of know1edge presupposes empirica1 knowledge of the phenomenon.

The same holds true in the field of science, where only the specialist understands the research of other scientists of the same field. The adoption of conclusions or findings of a scientific branch by non-specialists (i.e. those who are unable to experimentally examine the research of the specialists) is based on the trust of the specialists credibility. Otherwise, there would be no scientific progress.

The same holds true for the science of faith. The empirical knowledge of the Saints, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers and Mothers of all ages is adopted and founded upon the same trust. The patristic tradition and the Church's Councils function on this provable experience. There is no Ecumenical Council without the presence of the glorified/deified (theoumenoi), those who see the divine (this is the problem of the councils of today!) Orthodox doctrine results from this relationship.

Therefore, Orthodox faith is as dogmatic as science is. Those who speak of bias in the filed of faith, must not forget the words of Marc Bloch, that all scientific research is biased from the beginning, otherwise research could not have been possible. The same holds true of faith. Orthodoxy, makes a distinction between the two types of knowledge (and wisdom), and their methods and tools, thus, avoiding any confusion between them as well as any conflict. The road remains open to confusion and conflict only where the conditions and essence of Christianity are lost. However, in the Orthodox environment, some illogical analogies exist. Such as the possibility of having someone who excels in science, yet with regard to divine knowledge is a child spiritually; and vice-versa, someone who is great in divine knowledge and completely illiterate in human wisdom as the aforementioned St. Anthony the Great. Nothing, however, precludes the possibility of possessing both types of wisdom/knowledge, as is the case of the Great Fathers and Mothers of the Church. This is exactly what the Church hymns for the 3rd century mathematician Saint Catherine the Wise as possessing both types of knowledge: The martyr having received God's wisdom since childhood, learned all secular wisdom well...


D. God-Man dialectic

Thus the Orthodox believer experiences in the correlation of the two knowledge-wisdoms a God-man dialectic. And to use the Christological terminology, every knowledge must stay put and move within its limits. The problem of the limits of each kind of knowledge is put thus: The surpassing of those limits leads to the confusion of their functions and finally to their conflict. According to the above, the Holy Fathers defended the correct use of science and education. Saint Gregory the Theologian states: "Education should not be dishonored." The same Father in his second theological Oration also sets the limits of both kinds of wisdom. Saint Gregory says that the ancient sage (Plato in Timaeus) said: "It is difficult to know God and impossible to express Him [verbally]." However the same Greek yet Christian St. Gregory understands that it is impossible to express (describe) God with words, moreover it is absolutely impossible to understand Him! That is, Plato has already pointed out the limits of human reason and it is important to add that there is no rationalism in the ancient Greek philosophy. Saint Gregory also demonstrates the impossibility of surpassing those limits and the conception of the Uncreated by means of the knowledge of the created.

The distinction and simultaneous hierarchy of the two kinds of knowledge have been pointed out by Saint Basil the Great when he states that faith must prevail in words concerning God and the proofs made by reason. That faith originates from the action and energy of the Holy Spirit. Faith for St. Basil is the illumination of the Holy Spirit in the heart. (P.G. 30,104B-105B). He also gives a classic example of the Orthodox use of scientific knowledge in his Hexameron (P.G. 29, 3-208). He repudiates the cosmological theories of the philosophers on the eternity and self-existence of the world and proceeds to the synthesis of biblical and scientific facts, through which he surpasses science. Furthermore, by rejecting materialistic and heretical teachings, he gets to the theological (but not metaphysical) interpretation of the nature of creation. The central message of this work is, that the logical support of dogma is impossible based only on science. Dogma belongs to another sphere. It is above reason and science, yet within the limits of another knowledge. The use of dogma with wordly knowledge leads to the transformation of science into metaphysics. Whereas the use of reason in the domain of faith proves its weakness and relativity. Therefore, there is no belief that is not searched in Orthodox gnosiology, but each field is searched with its own criteria: Science with its presuppositions and Divine Knowledge with its presuppositions.

The most tragic expression of the alienated Christian body is the ecclesiastica1 attitude in the West towards Galileo. The case could be characterized as surpassing the limits of jurisdiction. But it is much more serious, it is the confusion of the limits of knowledge and their conflict. It is a fact that this loss of the wisdom from above in the West and the way of achieving it have caused the intellect (mind) to be used as a tool of not only human wisdom, but of Divine Wisdom too. The use of the intellect in the field of science leads unavoidably to the rejection of the supernatural as incomprehensible, and its use in the field of faith can lead to the rejection of science when it is considered to be in conflict with faith. This same way of thinking and the same loss of criteria is also betrayed by the rejection of the Copernican system in the East (1774-1821). Science, in turn, takes its revenge for the condemnation of Galilee by the Roman Church, in the person of Darwin, with his theory of evolution.


E. Transplantation of the Western Problem to the Orthodox East

The European Enlightenment consisted of a struggle between physical empiricism and the metaphysics of Aristotle. The Enlighteners are philosophers and rationalists as well. The Greek Enlighteners, with Adamantios Korais as their patriarch, were metaphysical in their theology and it was they who transported the conflict between empiricists and metaphysicists to Greece. However, the Orthodox monks of Mount Athos, the Kollyvades and other Hesychast Fathers remained empiricists in their theological method. The introduction of metaphysics in our popular and academic theology is due, principally, to Korais. For this reason Korais became the authority for our academic theologians, as well as for the popular moral movements. This means that the purification of the heart has ceased to be considered as a presupposition of theology and its place has been taken by scholastic education. the same problem appeared in Russia at the time of Peter the Great (17-18th century). Thus the Fathers are considered to be philosophers (principally Neo-platonists like St. Augustine) and social workers. This has become the prototype of the pietists in Greece. Furthermore, Hesychasm is rejected as obscurantism. The so-called progressive ideas of Korais comprise from the fact that he was a supporter of the Calvinistic and not the Roman Catholic use of metaphysics, and his theological works are intense in this Calvinistic pietism (moralism).

However, for the Fathers,Orthodoxy is anti-metaphysical, as it continually searches empirical certainty, by means of the hesychastic method. This is why the hesychasm of the Kollyvades is empirical and scientific. Ratio according to Saint Nicodemus the Hagiorite is empirical. This is illustrated by the Hesychasts of the 18th century in the way in which they accept the scientific progress of the West. The Kollyvades acknowledged scientific viewpoints like, for example, Saint Nicodemos the Hagiorite did in his work, Symbouletikon, where he accepts the latest theories of his time on the functioning of the heart. Saint Athansios Parios does not fight science itself, but its use by the Westernized Enlighteners of the Greek nation. They regarded science as God's work and as an offering for the improvement of life. But the use of science in a metaphysical struggle against faith, as was practised in the West, and as was transferred to the East, is opposed quite rightly by the traditional theologians of the 18th and 19th century. The mistakes lies on the side of the Greek Enlighteners who, without having any relationship with the patristic viewpoint of knowledge, although they themselves were priests and monks, transferred the European conflict of metaphysicists and empiricists to Greece, talking about irrational religion. Whereas, the Fathers of Orthodoxy, discriminating between the two kinds of knowledge making a distinction at the same time between the rational from the super-rational.

The problem of conflict between faith and science, apart from the confusion of knowledge, has caused the idoloziation of the two kinds of knowledge. Thus, a weak and morbid apologetic has resulted in Christianity (e.g. a Greek professor of Apologetics many years ago produced a mathematical proof of the existence of God !). In Orthodoxy, however, this dualism is not self-evident. Nothing excludes the co-existence of faith and science when faith is not imaginary metaphysics and science does not falsify its positive character with the use of metaphysics. The mutual understanding of science and faith is helped by current scientific language.

The principle of indetermination (that there is no causality) is a kind of apophatism in science. The return to the Fathers therefore, helps to overcome the conflict. The acceptance of the limits of the two kinds of knowledge (Uncreated and created) and the use of the suitable organ or tool for each one, is the element of Orthodoxy and of the Fathers which places earthly wisdom under higher or divine knowledge.

In contrast, the confusion of the two types of knowledge in Western thought promotes their mutual misinterpretations and continues and fosters their conflict. A Church which persists in metaphysical theology, will always be obliged to beg Galileo's pardon. But a Science that also ignores its limits, will deteriorate into metaphysics and will either deal with the existence of God (which is not its responsibility) or reject God completely.
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« Reply #159 on: February 01, 2008, 04:50:30 PM »

The tree isn't real. Good and evil are not material elements. They are a bi product from our free will. Every bodies free will and not just Adam and Eve's.
  This might come as a surprise to you, but everybody relives the fall. Not only that, but dare I say that, Knowledge of good and evil wouldn't exist if evil didn't exist. One must know evil to know what good is. Just like knowing darkness, unless there is light first and the lights go out. Good and evil are an education. Fallen man clings to evil, while saved man chooses good. When the fathers say that God calls us to become Gods. They are referring to our actions. He gave us the perfect example, Christ. Theosis is becoming the Image of Christ. Our free will ascends to a Christ like free will that always chooses good over evil. For man this is difficult because we are called to shake off what we are, Animals. We are called to listen to our conscience instead of our bodies.

Before the fall Man may have not realized what good and evil were. Because of his animal like state. Animals do evils without knowing they are evils. To them it is natural. Predators kill and so on. Mans realization that these actions are wrong were given to him by God in the conscience that he gave man. The breath of life.

To me. Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first animals to be endowed with a conscience. I don't view it as a fall but rather a higher calling. A chance to become gods.


Interesting.  But you didn't really answer the question, unless I'm more obtuse than I thought (that too is a possibility! Grin).

So, how do you know that the tree isn't real?  I only asked if there is the possibility that the tree was real.  After all, God being God, He can do whatever He wants, pretty much, no?

As for re-living the fall, I couldn't agree with you more.  Happens to me several times (at least) daily!

If, as you say, "Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first animals to be endowed with a conscience", does that eliminate the possibility that they were created as described in Genesis?  And if the tree wasn't, as you contend, real (as a tree, that is), does that mean it logically and necessarily follows that Adam and Eve were not real individuals?  I only pose the questions(and apologize if they are worded in such a way as to appear, well, stupid).  I don't have the answers.  I wish I did!

So, now another possibility comes to mind, the seed of which was planted, I think, by an earlier post on this thread.  Goes like this:  God created all that He created, including those processes known as evolution and speciation (spelling?).  Lots of time passed, and Homo Sapiens evolved eventually out of....who knows precisely what.  In any event, we came to be as we are.  At some point (WHEN??) we acquired a "conscience", to use your word, Demetrios.  I guess during all this time we were in what has been called Paradise or the Garden of Eden.  Having acquired a conscience, being still in the Garden, we fell, and were expelled.  So the "we" here--Adam and Eve as individuals?  Adam and Eve as metaphorical representatives of the whole human race?  Or what, and how?  Sorry if this is kind of rambling, but I am trying to wrap my little mind around all of this and understand it as best I can.  As I've said before, any genuine assistance is very much appreciated!

God Bless,
Jeff
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« Reply #160 on: February 02, 2008, 03:55:28 AM »

I mean, it is a basic principle of science that anything that is not potentially falsifiable is not scientific per se. 
I am not so sure that this is true. For one thing, what would falsify the theory of evolution? For another, take for example, the Pythagorean theorem: a^2 + b^2 = c^2 . Could this theorem ever be falsified in Euclidean geometry?  I don’t think that mathematical theorems such as Cauchy’s integral formula, or theorems on the homology groups of the torus could be falsified. And since  it has been argued by Professor Max Tegmark of MIT, that the external reality hypothesis implies that the physical world is an abstract mathematical structure, this would point to the possiblity that there are nonfalsifiable scientific truths, such as for example String theory.  : See:
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0704/0704.0646v2.pdf
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« Reply #161 on: February 02, 2008, 04:46:01 AM »

I am not so sure that this is true. For one thing, what would falsify the theory of evolution? For another, take for example, the Pythagorean theorem: a^2 + b^2 = c^2 . Could this theorem ever be falsified in Euclidean geometry?

Well, mathematics isn't science, per se; it's something beyond science as it is independent of the physical world. Mathematics is a truth beyond science and and the universe.

But even then, it is not absolute. It is theoretically possible that the Pythagorean theorem is falsifiable within Euclidean geometry, since it is possible that Euclidean geometry itself is false, that is to say that it is inconsistent. No system, even a mathematical system, is absolute; all things are relative and all things are doubtful.
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« Reply #162 on: February 02, 2008, 01:42:47 PM »

I am not so sure that this is true. [re: I mean, it is a basic principle of science that anything that is not potentially falsifiable is not scientific per se. ]

FWIW, every science class and professor I've been subjected to has said that same thing almost word for word: that if something cannot be proven false then it isn't scientific, it is religious.  In the fowards and prefaces of most science textbooks one is likely to find the same concept. 

Some distinction does need to be made, and I think is often lacking, between the actual scientific findings of a scientist and his personal opinions.  Scientist X finds biological process Y occurs = science; scientist X says that since Y happens, God must not exist = not science.  Some of scientists who write for a more general audience really insist on trying to weave the two together.  For example, Hawking's A Brief History of Time attempts to make all sorts of theological claims along side his actual scientific research.

   
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« Reply #163 on: February 02, 2008, 01:44:33 PM »


Interesting.  But you didn't really answer the question, unless I'm more obtuse than I thought (that too is a possibility! Grin).

So, how do you know that the tree isn't real?  I only asked if there is the possibility that the tree was real.  After all, God being God, He can do whatever He wants, pretty much, no?

As for re-living the fall, I couldn't agree with you more.  Happens to me several times (at least) daily!

If, as you say, "Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first animals to be endowed with a conscience", does that eliminate the possibility that they were created as described in Genesis?  And if the tree wasn't, as you contend, real (as a tree, that is), does that mean it logically and necessarily follows that Adam and Eve were not real individuals?  I only pose the questions(and apologize if they are worded in such a way as to appear, well, stupid).  I don't have the answers.  I wish I did!

So, now another possibility comes to mind, the seed of which was planted, I think, by an earlier post on this thread.  Goes like this:  God created all that He created, including those processes known as evolution and speciation (spelling?).  Lots of time passed, and Homo Sapiens evolved eventually out of....who knows precisely what.  In any event, we came to be as we are.  At some point (WHEN??) we acquired a "conscience", to use your word, Demetrios.  I guess during all this time we were in what has been called Paradise or the Garden of Eden.  Having acquired a conscience, being still in the Garden, we fell, and were expelled.  So the "we" here--Adam and Eve as individuals?  Adam and Eve as metaphorical representatives of the whole human race?  Or what, and how?  Sorry if this is kind of rambling, but I am trying to wrap my little mind around all of this and understand it as best I can.  As I've said before, any genuine assistance is very much appreciated!

God Bless,
Jeff


Paradise could very will be a state of not knowing what sin is. An animal doesn't know what sin is even when it kills. Now that man has entered into a conscience he no longer is in Paradise. To regain Paradise he must over come sin. His new knowledge of sin makes him fallen. With free will he can choose his destiny. Becoming a god rather than remaining an animal. The devil promised us that we will be just like god by eating the fruit of knowledge. He wasn't lieing.

Lets take the person Adam. Adam is a persona because of a relationship to god, the devil, and eve. Relationships are what form our being. If we have no relationships we are not persona's. A baby left in the jungle with apes to grow him up will be an ape. We are who we are because we choose to be who we are in relation to others. I am I because I differ to you, but what joins me to you is a choose to be like you. I became me because of my relationships that I formed from birth. My mother, father, sister, teacher, friends, fellow workers, and so on. I wouldn't be me unless I had relationships with these people. I am me because I choose the prime relationship, to be like my mentors. What makes us gods is a relationship to Christ. We choose to be like him. That choice sheads all other relationships.

I'm sure Adam and Eve were literal people.They were chosen by god. Just like Noah was chosen and then Abraham and than all of man kind.
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« Reply #164 on: February 02, 2008, 02:08:07 PM »

FWIW, every science class and professor I've been subjected to has said that same thing almost word for word: that if something cannot be proven false then it isn't scientific, it is religious.  In the fowards and prefaces of most science textbooks one is likely to find the same concept. 
How would you falsify the theory of evolution?
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« Reply #165 on: February 02, 2008, 02:17:10 PM »

Well, mathematics isn't science, per se; it's something beyond science as it is independent of the physical world. Mathematics is a truth beyond science and and the universe.
If so, then why is mathematics appropriate and effective in addressing questions related to science?
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« Reply #166 on: February 02, 2008, 02:27:59 PM »

How would you falsify the theory of evolution?

If some other theory of species variation that better fits the evidence is put forth.  Even now there is a roaring debate between punctuated equilibrium proponents and gradualists.  Certain things like recapitulation have been proven to be incorrect. 
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« Reply #167 on: February 02, 2008, 02:53:49 PM »

If so, then why is mathematics appropriate and effective in addressing questions related to science?

Mathematics is a system of logic, it doesn't address scientific questions. I would personally argue that it is the system of logic that is essential and fundamental to the universe, everything in it, and everything beyond it, that all things are dependent upon it...but that's a theological statement, it's neither mathematical nor scientific (though mathematics does make for great theology).


Mathematics is used by scientists to rationally argue their cases and develop scientific theories, mathematics is more the language of science than science itself.

Now there are certain fields of science that almost approach the rigid requirements of mathematics, such as mathematical physics, but even then certain fundamental assumptions must be made based on observations of the natural world, making the examination fundamentally less rigid than would be required of theoretical mathematics.
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« Reply #168 on: February 02, 2008, 03:08:08 PM »

If some other theory of species variation that better fits the evidence is put forth.  Even now there is a roaring debate between punctuated equilibrium proponents and gradualists.  Certain things like recapitulation have been proven to be incorrect. 
But that doesn't really falsify the theory of evolution, since the theory can be modified by the addition of new hypotheses. Also, how would anyone falsify the hypothesis  that if a theory is not falsifiable, then it is not science.
To make falsifiability the criterion as to whether or not a theory is scientfic flies in the face of the idea that science is supported by the evidence in the real world and by the success of the theory, and not by the failures of other theories.  Many events are unexpected, hard to predict and occur without precedent, and but that doesn't mean that our previous ideas have been completely falsified so much as meaning that we may have to modify some aspect of the theory, such as its scope of application.
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« Reply #169 on: February 02, 2008, 03:42:12 PM »

Mathematics is a system of logic, it doesn't address scientific questions. I would personally argue that it is the system of logic that is essential and fundamental to the universe, everything in it, and everything beyond it, that all things are dependent upon it...but that's a theological statement, it's neither mathematical nor scientific (though mathematics does make for great theology).


Mathematics is used by scientists to rationally argue their cases and develop scientific theories, mathematics is more the language of science than science itself.
However, it has been argued by Max Tegmark of MIT that the physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. In other words, although physics textbooks may say that external reality is described by mathematics, according to Tegmark, the Mathematical universe Hypothesis says that external reality is itself a mathematical structure., in the sense that there is an isomorphism between the two. The Mathematical Uninverse hypothesis gives the reason as to why mathematics is useful in describing the physical world, namely that this usefulness is a natural consequence of the fact that the external world is isomorphic to a mathematical structure.
http://aps.arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0704/0704.0646v2.pdf
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« Reply #170 on: February 02, 2008, 05:20:02 PM »

But that doesn't really falsify the theory of evolution, since the theory can be modified by the addition of new hypotheses. Also, how would anyone falsify the hypothesis  that if a theory is not falsifiable, then it is not science.
To make falsifiability the criterion as to whether or not a theory is scientfic flies in the face of the idea that science is supported by the evidence in the real world and by the success of the theory, and not by the failures of other theories.  Many events are unexpected, hard to predict and occur without precedent, and but that doesn't mean that our previous ideas have been completely falsified so much as meaning that we may have to modify some aspect of the theory, such as its scope of application.

Maybe one day we'll find the alien race that put us here and we were just all made from the same beaker with fossils being leftovers from previous experiments or discover that complex life can randomly come into existence under a certain set of physical conditions. Of course, this is highly unlikely, the theory of evolution is rather well established; but the point is that it could be falsified if (and only if) in the future we make some discoveries that point us in a different direction, the theory is open to considering all data, be it data that supports or opposes it. The same goes for atomic theory, the theory of relativity, th etheory of electromagnetism, etc. It's highly unlikely that any of these theories will be falsified, but they are theoretically falsifiable.
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« Reply #171 on: February 02, 2008, 05:34:18 PM »

However, it has been argued by Max Tegmark of MIT that the physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. In other words, although physics textbooks may say that external reality is described by mathematics, according to Tegmark, the Mathematical universe Hypothesis says that external reality is itself a mathematical structure., in the sense that there is an isomorphism between the two. The Mathematical Uninverse hypothesis gives the reason as to why mathematics is useful in describing the physical world, namely that this usefulness is a natural consequence of the fact that the external world is isomorphic to a mathematical structure.
http://aps.arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0704/0704.0646v2.pdf

I only had time to skim through the article appears to be a nice pop-culture introduction to theory with 'the idiots guide to set theory' thrown in. I don't disagree with his hypothesis, 'Our external physical reality is a mathematical structure', I just believe that it is a tautology. Any structure (and for that matter, even the absence of a structure) is a mathematical reality; you simply cannot have a 'non-mathematical structure', there is always some mathematical system that can be developed to encompass any structure, even randomness. By virtue of existing the universe has to be mathematical, but that does not imply that mathematics is the universe and that the universe is mathematics, the structure of the universe is simply a subset of mathematics since mathematical systems have been developed that transcend the possibilities of the physical universe (especially in the fields of topology and computational theory).
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« Reply #172 on: February 02, 2008, 10:04:59 PM »

I only had time to skim through the article appears to be a nice pop-culture introduction to theory with 'the idiots guide to set theory' thrown in. I don't disagree with his hypothesis, 'Our external physical reality is a mathematical structure', I just believe that it is a tautology. Any structure (and for that matter, even the absence of a structure) is a mathematical reality; you simply cannot have a 'non-mathematical structure', there is always some mathematical system that can be developed to encompass any structure, even randomness. By virtue of existing the universe has to be mathematical, but that does not imply that mathematics is the universe and that the universe is mathematics, the structure of the universe is simply a subset of mathematics since mathematical systems have been developed that transcend the possibilities of the physical universe (especially in the fields of topology and computational theory).
It is supposed to give an answer to the question concerning the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences.
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« Reply #173 on: February 03, 2008, 02:04:38 AM »

Maybe one day we'll find the alien race that put us here and we were just all made from the same beaker with fossils being leftovers from previous experiments or discover that complex life can randomly come into existence under a certain set of physical conditions. Of course, this is highly unlikely, the theory of evolution is rather well established; but the point is that it could be falsified if (and only if) in the future we make some discoveries that point us in a different direction,....
It can  be argued that some of what you have mentioned here  would not falsify the theory of evolution, but at most would only result in a modification of it.  For example, supposing an alien race that put us here, still there remains the possibility that the alien race itself underwent an evolution on its own, and it does not account for the evolution of plant life. Similaly if life came from a beaker or from a set of physical conditions, there still could be an evolution from that point on.
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« Reply #174 on: February 03, 2008, 02:08:25 AM »

It can  be argued that some of what you have mentioned here  would not falsify the theory of evolution, but at most would only result in a modification of it.  For example, supposing an alien race that put us here, still there remains the possibility that the alien race itself underwent an evolution on its own, and it does not account for the evolution of plant life. Similaly if life came from a beaker or from a set of physical conditions, there still could be an evolution from that point on.

There could be, but whether or not this would be the case would depend on the evidence at hand. If the evidence at hand did not support this conclusion (perhaps the biological history of this alien race is substantially different from ours here on earth) then the theory would not be vaild.
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« Reply #175 on: February 03, 2008, 02:16:35 AM »

There could be, but whether or not this would be the case would depend on the evidence at hand.
Yes. that is how science works. Its credibility depends on the supporting evidence at hand and not on the falsification of another theory.
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« Reply #176 on: February 03, 2008, 02:39:13 AM »

Yes. that is how science works. Its credibility depends on the supporting evidence at hand and not on the falsification of another theory.

It's the fact that the theory could be disproven if the evidence so demonstrates that makes it falsifiable.
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« Reply #177 on: February 03, 2008, 03:19:01 AM »

It's the fact that the theory could be disproven if the evidence so demonstrates that makes it falsifiable.
However, falsifiability is not the criterion which decides whether or not a theory constitutes a science or a scientific theory. For example, there are falsifiable elements and errors found in both astronomy and astrology. Yet, astronomy is science and astrology is not.
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« Reply #178 on: February 03, 2008, 03:53:36 AM »

However, falsifiability is not the criterion which decides whether or not a theory constitutes a science or a scientific theory. For example, there are falsifiable elements and errors found in both astronomy and astrology. Yet, astronomy is science and astrology is not.

Apparently astrology is not falsifiable, despite the development of the theory of relativity and astrophysics there are still people who believe in it...and as for the metaphysical claims behind it, you can prove that they can be calculated, but whether or not they're 'true' can neither be proven nor disproven. Basically, one you start introducing gods, spirits, or metaphysics it's no longer objectively falsifiable, it's no longer science.
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« Reply #179 on: February 03, 2008, 03:31:08 PM »

falsifiability is not the criterion which decides whether or not a theory constitutes a science or a scientific theory

What?  Falsifiability is a major criterion for whether or not something is considered "scientific" or not - that's in about every Intro Science course I've ever taken or heard of.  Astrology is not falsifiable - compatibility of persons or determination of actions based on astrological movement isn't falsifiable (because the theoretical sample size - all of humanity - is far too large)but astronomy is indeed falsifiable - the experiments are able to be reproduced, and the possibility exists that the theories can be proven false by the data at hand.
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« Reply #180 on: February 03, 2008, 04:00:38 PM »

What?  Falsifiability is a major criterion for whether or not something is considered "scientific" or not - that's in about every Intro Science course I've ever taken or heard of.  Astrology is not falsifiable - compatibility of persons or determination of actions based on astrological movement isn't falsifiable (because the theoretical sample size - all of humanity - is far too large)but astronomy is indeed falsifiable - the experiments are able to be reproduced, and the possibility exists that the theories can be proven false by the data at hand.
Well, astrology is falsifiable. One can easily take an astrological prediction such as today you will encounter a new friend. But I did not encounter any new friend today, so it has been falsified.
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« Reply #181 on: February 03, 2008, 04:06:55 PM »

What?  Falsifiability is a major criterion for whether or not something is considered "scientific" or not - that's in about every Intro Science course I've ever taken or heard of. 
It was said above that the theory of evolution is falsifiable, because it would be possible for the human race to have been started by a group of aliens. Well, if you are going to use the theory of alien landings to falsify evolution and say that it is therefore a scientific theory, one can just as easily say that religion is falsifiable, by such unlikely events. Take for example the teaching that Mary was married to Joseph. This is falsifiable, since if Mary appeared on television across the globe and announced that she was really married to the brother of Joseph, then that would falsify the claim. But no one would say that this teaching of Mary being married to Joseph was scientific in any sense, although it could be falsified in the same way that a discovery of a landing of aliens could be used to falsify the theory of evolution.
  Similarly other religious teachings could be falsified theoretically, but they would not be classified as scientific.
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« Reply #182 on: February 03, 2008, 04:37:41 PM »

It was said above that the theory of evolution is falsifiable, because it would be possible for the human race to have been started by a group of aliens. Well, if you are going to use the theory of alien landings to falsify evolution and say that it is therefore a scientific theory, one can just as easily say that religion is falsifiable, by such unlikely events. Take for example the teaching that Mary was married to Joseph. This is falsifiable, since if Mary appeared on television across the globe and announced that she was really married to the brother of Joseph, then that would falsify the claim. But no one would say that this teaching of Mary being married to Joseph was scientific in any sense, although it could be falsified in the same way that a discovery of a landing of aliens could be used to falsify the theory of evolution.
  Similarly other religious teachings could be falsified theoretically, but they would not be classified as scientific.

Certain accidental details of religion could potentially be falsifiable if, by some chance, we invented a time machine. But the metaphysics of religion cannot be disproven. For instance, we could theoretically disprove the incarnation, the resurrection, and so on and so fort; but you can't disprove the relationship between the one and the logos.

But for that matter, neither can they be proven; the incarnation or resurrection is not a viable scientific theory even independ of the metaphysical claims that surround them because the evidence is simply not there. Without a time machine, there certainly isn't enough evidence to justify calling this a theory (to say nothing of dogma)...it is clearly distinct from scientific theories.

Falsifiability is essential, but not sufficient for a scientific theory; evidence and observation are also required. All scientific theories are falsifiable, but not all falsifiable theories are scientific.
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« Reply #183 on: February 03, 2008, 06:03:14 PM »

Falsifiability is essential, but not sufficient for a scientific theory; evidence and observation are also required. All scientific theories are falsifiable, but not all falsifiable theories are scientific.
True to some extent.
How, though, would one falsify the science of weather forecasting?
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« Reply #184 on: February 03, 2008, 09:54:38 PM »

True to some extent.
How, though, would one falsify the science of weather forecasting?

By using the data available to come up with a better model than the ones currently used (as measured by more successful predictions) and in doing so demonstrate that our current models are flawed.
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« Reply #185 on: February 04, 2008, 02:52:04 AM »

By using the data available to come up with a better model than the ones currently used (as measured by more successful predictions) and in doing so demonstrate that our current models are flawed.
This doesn't falsify the science of weather forecasting. It only indicates how to modify and improve the present theory.
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« Reply #186 on: February 04, 2008, 02:55:51 AM »

Maybe one day we'll find the alien race that put us here and we were just all made from the same beaker with fossils being leftovers from previous experiments or discover that complex life can randomly come into existence under a certain set of physical conditions. Of course, this is highly unlikely, the theory of evolution is rather well established; but the point is that it could be falsified if (and only if) in the future we make some discoveries that point us in a different direction, the theory is open to considering all data, be it data that supports or opposes it. The same goes for atomic theory, the theory of relativity, th etheory of electromagnetism, etc. It's highly unlikely that any of these theories will be falsified, but they are theoretically falsifiable.
I don''t see where any of what you have mentioned here would in any way falsify the idea that a variation in some quality could, over long periods of time, and if environmental conditions encouraged it, lead to either modifications of present species or new species through natural selection.
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« Reply #187 on: February 04, 2008, 01:25:56 PM »

This doesn't falsify the science of weather forecasting. It only indicates how to modify and improve the present theory.

Depends on how radical the change is; if we found weather patterns traveled through mini-wormholes then it would dismiss the current theory entirely; of course, this is highly unlikely as the theory is well established by data, the most likely means of falsifying the theory would be to prove the data incorrect.
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« Reply #188 on: February 04, 2008, 01:27:00 PM »

I don''t see where any of what you have mentioned here would in any way falsify the idea that a variation in some quality could, over long periods of time, and if environmental conditions encouraged it, lead to either modifications of present species or new species through natural selection.

You're assuming that all current data would hold up to future discoveries, perhaps someday we could learn that ever observation we have today is incorrect.

Of course, just because a theory is theoretically falsifiable doesn't mean that it's false; I'd personally be willing to bet anyone that the theory of evolution will never be proven false even though, on a theoretical level, it is falsifiable by virtue of being dependent on observations.
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« Reply #189 on: February 04, 2008, 05:29:45 PM »

Depends on how radical the change is; if we found weather patterns traveled through mini-wormholes then it would dismiss the current theory entirely; of course, this is highly unlikely as the theory is well established by data, the most likely means of falsifying the theory would be to prove the data incorrect.
You are right, of course, however, it is more difficult to falsify a theory than someone might think at first. Take for example, the science of weather forecasting. A while back, I was walking in San Francisco at 10:30 in the morning and the weather announcer said that the weather for today will be sunny and clear all day.  However, at the very time that he made that announcement, it was pouring rain, and even so, that did not falsify the science of weather forecasting. Similarly with the science of Global Warming.
There have been snowstorms in China. India has had three meters of snow, in Afghanistan 200 people and thousands of sheep have died from an extraordinary cold snap.  In the Journal of Geophysical Research, Petr Chylek  argues that the Greenland melt is now actually slower than it was in the 1900s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. For the first time in more than 60 years, there was snow in Baghdad, according to satellite data prepared by remss.com, in Summit County Colorado, at the Dillon weather station, the average snow depth for January is eight inches, but this year, Jan 2008, there were 18 inches, and the average daily maximum temperature was 24.1 degrees, well below the historic average of 31.3 degrees. There was a record low temperature of 26 degrees below zero in Yankton, SD on January 24, 2008.  In Oregon, records were broken or tied for the early morning low temperature, and  it was the coldest February 1 in 48 years in Santa Cruz, India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai/Coldest_Feb_1_in_48_years/articleshow/2749848.cms
In La Ronge, Sask., Canada, temperatures of -43 degrees on January 30, 2008 broke all records.
Etc.
But still all this has not falsified the science of global warming.
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« Reply #190 on: February 05, 2008, 04:10:19 AM »

Faith And Science In Orthodox Gnosiology And Methodology
The Very Rev. Prof. Dr. Dr. George Metallinos
Professor

Interesting article.  A couple of things.  I'm not convinced of the whole Catholic/Orthodox divide concerning the problem and understanding of science and theology.  Sure, the Roman Catholic Church had issues in the past, such as Galileo, but ultimately, today I tend to see the West handling the issue much better than the Orthodox.  The Orthodox who rationalizes their acceptance of science by some sort history of Eastern theological development seems to forget that many of our own Eastern fathers incorporated rationalism (dare I say their own form of "scholasticism") into many of the theological debates at the time.  In addition, there are still proud anti-scholastic, anti-Western, anti-Latin, traditionalist Orthodox who find pride in their Eastern mystic tradition that still reject the science of evolution.  Actions speak louder than simple historical research, and it seems Catholics and Orthodox are no different concerning this. 

The difference I believe just lies in which rational is correct and which rational is wrong.  It's obvious that there are many things the Orthodox would disagree with concerning Aquinas, but that doesn't mean that we should throw away some form of rationalism altogether.  Orthodox should stop being so political and bias in marketing some form of Christianity that seems so opposite from the West when in fact there are many things they criticize in the West that were acceptable in the earliest centuries of Christianity.

Today, I see many Catholics as well as Orthodox who are educated enough and insightful enough to understand that divine knowledge and created knowledge are two separate realms of knowledge that need not be contradicted.  It's logical, it's not merely born out of some Eastern higher standard, and I see Catholics, truth be told, taking it better than us Orthodox.

One more thing that rubbed me the wrong way:

The most tragic expression of the alienated Christian body is the ecclesiastica1 attitude in the West towards Galileo. The case could be characterized as surpassing the limits of jurisdiction. But it is much more serious, it is the confusion of the limits of knowledge and their conflict. It is a fact that this loss of the wisdom from above in the West and the way of achieving it have caused the intellect (mind) to be used as a tool of not only human wisdom, but of Divine Wisdom too. The use of the intellect in the field of science leads unavoidably to the rejection of the supernatural as incomprehensible, and its use in the field of faith can lead to the rejection of science when it is considered to be in conflict with faith. This same way of thinking and the same loss of criteria is also betrayed by the rejection of the Copernican system in the East (1774-1821). Science, in turn, takes its revenge for the condemnation of Galilee by the Roman Church, in the person of Darwin, with his theory of evolution.

Now the article isn't very clear.  At first it advocates an acceptance of science by scientific experts, but then it condemns Darwin as an atheist, and evolution as a atheistic theological study that would have never happened if it wasn't for the pesky "scholastic" Roman Church that condemned Galileo for his "unBiblical" heliocentricism.  Give me a break!  This whole article is completely bullocks once it presents evolution as some sort of pseudo-science propagated by vengeful atheists.

God bless.
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« Reply #191 on: February 05, 2008, 06:03:32 AM »

....
Now the article isn't very clear.  At first it advocates an acceptance of science by scientific experts, but then it condemns Darwin as an atheist, and evolution as a atheistic theological study that would have never happened if it wasn't for the pesky "scholastic" Roman Church that condemned Galileo for his "unBiblical" heliocentricism.  Give me a break!  This whole article is completely bullocks once it presents evolution as some sort of pseudo-science propagated by vengeful atheists.

Could you please do me a favor & re-read the article? only this time outside the social & political context of American Education (I presume you're American, if not, please ignore my remark). I do not want to sound arrogant, but the "problem" of Darwinism or evolutionism, is solved here in Europe for decades (I remember I was tought Darwin's evolution theory in my last high-school year) with one big difference: we studied Darwin's theory alongside its philosophical & political "contributory causes". You see, the problem is not Darwin per se, but Darwin's philosopihical & political thinking: he is the advocate of colonialism & capitalism.  His theory appeared in the 19th century as (mostly) an analogism of both capitalism & colonialism: "As in his theory of Natural Selection, Darwin has expressively epitomized the persistence of the strongest, the same phenomenon appears  under the conditions of capitalist economy & colonialism in the western society" (White supremacy,  survival of the strongest etc). In this article, my dearest prof. in the University, fr. George Metallinos, only tries to present the "false" dichotomy of the western mindset between the natural and the supra-natural.  Besides, the difference between myself & the chimp is not in my genes (95% resemblance), but in my freedom (of choice). The question is not whether man is different than the monkey, but whether I am created according to the image of my Father (kath'omoiosin).  Or as Christos Yannaras puts it:
"The truth of personal existence, cannot be proven with scientific experiments; it is either won or lost inside the relationship. Science has as limits the given reality & clinical detachment of research. On the other side, a supra-natural hermeneutic, pertains only to the "meaning" of things or its absence"     

God bless   
God bless you too
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« Reply #192 on: February 05, 2008, 11:27:52 AM »

Well the article never mentioned anything about capitalism and colonialism.  But considering that you brought something new to the table, this doesn't disprove Darwinism.  That's like saying those who came up with the idea of the Trinity thought of the triune nature of man or the sun and helped them formulate a theological dogmatic belief of the Trinitarian God.  You appeal to analogies to show how troubling a scientific theory might be.  That is one of the biggest jokes I have ever read, and I never expected something like that in order to show the problems of evolution.

The article was clear:  Evolution came about as a result of the vengeance of atheists against the Roman Church.  I found nothing in there about colonialism or capitalism, unless it wasn't atheists who propagated evolution, but colonialists and capitalists, which makes no sense at all in the topic we're discussing.  The article subtly rejects evolution while accepts all other sciences, especially those that the Roman Church "unfairly" condemned, which makes the article clearly more of an anti-Western article than a pro-science one.

Clearly, evolution, like any other science is made by observations of the world, not by some presupposed philosophical, political, or economical notions.

PS Yes, I'm American.
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« Reply #193 on: February 05, 2008, 11:44:37 AM »

Well the article never mentioned anything about capitalism and colonialism.  But considering that you brought something new to the table, this doesn't disprove Darwinism.  That's like saying those who came up with the idea of the Trinity thought of the triune nature of man or the sun and helped them formulate a theological dogmatic belief of the Trinitarian God.  You appeal to analogies to show how troubling a scientific theory might be.  That is one of the biggest jokes I have ever read, and I never expected something like that in order to show the problems of evolution.

The article was clear:  Evolution came about as a result of the vengeance of atheists against the Roman Church.  I found nothing in there about colonialism or capitalism, unless it wasn't atheists who propagated evolution, but colonialists and capitalists, which makes no sense at all in the topic we're discussing.  The article subtly rejects evolution while accepts all other sciences, especially those that the Roman Church "unfairly" condemned, which makes the article clearly more of an anti-Western article than a pro-science one.

Clearly, evolution, like any other science is made by observations of the world, not by some presupposed philosophical, political, or economical notions.

PS Yes, I'm American.


I don't think you are understanding the article. It basically states that science falls under the created realm of understanding and knowledge of god is a different knowledge based on a relationship with god. If scientific knowledge changes over time it has nothing to do with our knowledge of God. Any theory even the theory of evolution can be accepted and will not change our knowledge of God. In the west because god is rationalized. They can never except evolution as the correct theory. Because god is rationalized and will lead a believer into atheism.
Ps I'm Greek and American Wink
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