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GabrieltheCelt
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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.

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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.

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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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