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Author Topic: Science and knowledge of things  (Read 20698 times) Average Rating: 0
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ozgeorge
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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!
Jeff

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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.
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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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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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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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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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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
Professor


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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