Dear George, I really appreciate your kind guidance on the issue with the priest and the Bishop.
On whether one should follow some Bishop's "modern" guidance promoting evolution over the Church fathers' teachings, I'm hesitant to share this with you and Pravoslavbob, since I do not want to offend you on your journey to understanding; and although I cannot currently see faults in my reasoning, I know that I may also have blind spots that you might be able to help me understand along this line; but if I may, can I ask you to reconsider your secondary Orthodox understanding on modern evolutionary theories based on the following possible thoughts?
If I may, I will offer thoughts based upon the Russian entomologist Iuri'i Filipchenko evolutionary distinctive words "macroevolution" and "microevolution" and Polish professor of Genetics presentation in the following article http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v17/i3/genetics.asp
. Professor Maciej Giertych, M.A.(Oxford), Ph.D.(Toronto), D.Sc.(Poznan), is head of the Genetics Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences at the Institute of Dendrology in Kornik, Poland. As you read in the article, observable science and Holy Tradition are not at odds. What you as a scientist can observe are changes within kinds and can enjoy studying and observing God's working through "microevolution", but that is very different than what has gripped many branches of the protestants and Roman catholics western liberal higher critics, since they want us all to make the "leap of faith" from microevolution to macroevolution.
Stephen Jay Gould, Christopher Hitchens, and a host of modern day "metaphysical teachers" under the guise of "science" are clearly following Darwin's original thesis and promoting as "science" that which is taking away the faith of Millions on our planet from God their Creator. I cannot tell you how many times in talks with intellectuals, professors and scholars at major universities, they barrage our students with the antichristian polemics based upon this "leap of faith" into the religion of macroevolutionary "theory". They say that "macroevolution is fact", although they know we are missing millions of "transitionary fossils" that should have been found by paleontologists years ago.
While at MIT bookstore 22+ years ago, I found an enlightening book written by a noncreationist paleontologist, who laid out the case against evolutionary "theory" based on only the real scientific observable fossil records and showed us that all the "missing links" are still missing and that "scientists" desperate to prove a failed "theory" have gone so far as to lead the world astray for periods of 20-40 years at a stretch, by even physically manipulating the data (actual fossils were sawed and "shaped" to try to prove some fossils as "missing link" fossils). This scientist was so concerned over how easily 50 debates between evolutionists and creationist scientists had easily been won by creationists, that if the scientific community does not join together to stop evolutionary dogmatic fantasies as "science" that obviously did not meet the paleontological evidence, that the creationists would have the only viable scientific option on hand, so he wanted to have us to start promoting new theories of creation before it was too late, since obviously macroevolution was factually problematic for the observable scientist.
Atheists say that they trust evolution as fact while knowing that we have no "observable empirical scientific evidence" for randomly created mutations which lead to increase in information. For one scientific note dealing with Richard Dawkins' premise, read this Phd's writings at http://trueorigin.org/dawkinfo.asp
. The author Dr. Royal Truman has his Ph.D., specializing in organic chemistry and works in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
For a more thorough discussions on the topic, Phd Sarfati from Australia, who has earned honors in condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, physical and inorganic chemistry, in his book reviewed and contributed by phd in plant physiology, Don Batten, Phd John Baumgardner, geophysicist and plate tectonic modeler, tenured astronomy professor, phd Danny Faulkner, Robert Newton, Phd in astroPhysics, Russell Humphreys, Phd in Nuclear Physics, joined biologist and geologist, John Woodmorappe, and a host of other scientists, to present the scientific evidence for an alternate viewpoint to macroevolutionary theories. There are other science websites run by phds, like www.answersingenesis.org
which present the scientific rebuttals to many of our scientific questions, but unfortunately those scientists do not often understand the Orthodox Holy Tradition, but Father Seraphim Rose obviously did and wrote a monumental modern book presenting our Orthodox Tradition on the modern "theory" attacking our faith. I wish not only western scientists led on these discussions refuting macroevolutionary theories , since the Orthodox church holds a much stronger basis for our beliefs and understanding of the Word of God than the modern minipopes of the west. I hesitate to bring their websites up, but the links are there incase you might be open to other possibilities on basic scientific "answers" presented by only one side in many of our campuses and textbooks.
I have talked with numerous "theistic evolutionists" from various universities, who finally moved to their logical conclusion of living apart from faith in God, just because they finally accepted the false premise of evolution as not just "metaphysical" but scientific "fact" and understood that with their professors' theories, "creation does not need a Creator"; and now sadly, accept by "faith" in "science" that randomly generated beneficial changes started abiogenetically to form modern day complex carbon based lifeforms. They now live as atheists even while going through the motions of faith within various church traditions, while others are diligently working to subvert the Orthodox faith from the planet completely. Romans 5:12-21 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
These former believers have come to understand if there was no "first Adam and Eve", there cannot be a 'second Adam who delivered us from our sins (Romans 5), nor a second Eve, The Theotokos (Justin Martyr). They understand if sin did not enter the world through the first "Adam", then death did not come as the result of his "sinful choices" and man did not need a Savior to deliver us from the devil's grip of death. They know that if we can hyper-spiritualize interpretation of scriptures away from almost all of our Church Fathers' clear teachings, then it's very easy to simply discard the Holy Word completely and not allow it to guide and transform our lives during liturgy. While we often believe in deeper meaning of Holy Scriptures, obviously we do not do totally away with its primary meaning. We know there was a literal second Adam, Christ our God, just as there was a literal first Saints Adam and Eve. The Patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Jospeh, and hosts of ancient saints are not just figures of spiritual understanding, but all Church Fathers of the Orthodox Churches have taught a literal understanding of real historical men like St. David and Solomon, and none of these were just symbols of the divine Christ. St. Athanasius, in his monumental message on the most important "On the Incarnation"
of our LORD and its effectual power for our lives, starts his wonderful message by First addressing 3 "scientific" theories of creation of his days with the following words:
" In regard to the making of the universe and the creation of all things there have been various opinions, and each person has propounded the theory that suited his own taste.
• For instance, some say that all things are self-originated and, so to speak, haphazard.
• …Others take the view expressed by Plato, that giant among the Greeks. He said that God had made all things out of pre-existent and uncreated matter, just as the carpenter makes things only out of wood that already exists.
• …Then, again, there is the theory of the Gnostics, who have invented for themselves an Artificer of all things other than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… they get a creation independent of the Father…"
St. Athanasius answers the first "scientific theory" of evolutionary abiogenesis atheistic spontaneous generation system of his day with the following words:
"…some say that all things are self-originated and, so to speak, haphazard. The Epicureans are among these; they deny that there is any Mind behind the universe at all. This view is contrary to all the facts of experience, their own existence included. For if all things had come into being in this automatic fashion, instead of being the outcome of Mind, though they existed, they would all be uniform and without distinction. In the universe everything would be sun or moon or whatever it was, and in the human body the whole would be hand or eye or foot. But in point of fact the sun and the moon and the earth are all different things, and even within the human body there are different members, such as foot and hand and head. This distinctness of things argues not a spontaneous generation but a prevenient Cause; and from that Cause we can apprehend God, the Designer and Maker of all."
For the second "scientific theory" of evolutionary like matter and life came from previous matter and life, as inspired by Plato, St. Athanasius answers:
"He [Plato] said that God had made all things out of pre-existent and uncreated matter, just as the carpenter makes things only out of wood that already exists. But those who hold this view do not realize that to deny that God is Himself the Cause of matter is to impute limitation to Him, just as it is undoubtedly a limitation on the part of the carpenter that he can make nothing unless he has the wood. How could God be called Maker and Artificer if His ability to make depended on some other cause, namely on matter itself? If He only worked up existing matter and did not Himself bring matter into being, He would be not the Creator but only a craftsman.
The 3rd theory does not seem to enter the discussion rooms these days yet, so I'll limit my words somewhat by not quoting St. Athanasius here.
But to all "scientific theories" of creation, our Church father provides the following holy Tradition to help us correctly understand Genesis and God's Word against our modern day theories:
" Such are the notions which men put forward. But the impiety of their foolish talk is plainly declared by the divine teaching of the Christian faith. From it we know that, because there is Mind behind the universe, it did not originate itself; because God is infinite, not finite, it was not made from pre-existent matter, but out of nothing and out of non-existence absolute and utter God brought it into being through the Word. He says as much in Genesis: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;44Gen. i. 1 and again through that most helpful book The Shepherd, "Believe thou first and foremost that there is One God Who created and arranged all things and brought them out of non-existence into being."55The Shepherd of Hermas, Book II. I
Paul also indicates the same thing when he says, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which we see now did not come into being out of things which had previously appeared."66Heb. xi. 3 For God is good—or rather, of all goodness He is Fountainhead, and it is impossible for one who is good to be mean or grudging about anything. Grudging existence to none therefore, He made all things out of nothing through His own Word, our Lord Jesus Christ and of all these His earthly creatures He reserved especial mercy for the race of men.
Upon them, therefore, upon men who, as animals, were essentially impermanent, He bestowed a grace which other creatures lacked—namely the impress of His own Image, a share in the reasonable being of the very Word Himself, so that, reflecting Him and themselves becoming reasonable and expressing the Mind of God even as He does, though in limited degree they might continue for ever in the blessed and only true life of the saints in paradise. But since the will of man could turn either way, God secured this grace that He had given by making it conditional from the first upon two things—namely, a law and a place. He set them in His own paradise, and laid upon them a single prohibition. If they guarded the grace and retained the loveliness of their original innocence, then the life of paradise should be theirs, without sorrow, pain or care, and after it the assurance of immortality in heaven. But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but, dying outside of it, continue in death and in corruption. This is what Holy Scripture tells us, proclaiming the command of God, "Of every tree that is in the garden thou shalt surely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat, but in the day that ye do eat, ye shall surely die."77Gen. ii. 16 f. "Ye shall surely die"—not just die only, but remain in the state of death and of corruption"
St. Athanasius is not our Orthodox Pope, but I only quoted from him to show you my dear brothers, that our Orthodox Church fathers have always had to contend for the faith in the midst of "scientific theories" that contradicted the Word of God as understood by the Holy Spirit guiding our Holy Tradition of rightly understanding theopneustos, God's inspired Word. Macroevolution like materialism and long age theories have been around for 1000s of years, but the Church has not every given in to them that I know of, and infact have spoken specifically against their "faith".
When I had completed my minor degrees in Physics and Computer Engineering many years ago. I simply was a "theistic evolutoinist" until one day by providential guidance, I found some powerful writings by modern scientists who showed me that "true science" not only did not support macroevolution, but infact, the scientific facts pointed us away from the ex-protestant turned atheist, Charles Darwin and his evolutionary "theory". St. Athanasius
provides the following possible light on why the subject was important to our church fathers and it wasn't simply a nontopic for theology and right worship of God:" You may be wondering why we are discussing the origin of men when we set out to talk about the Word's becoming Man. The former subject is relevant to the latter for this reason: it was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body. For God had made man thus (that is, as an embodied spirit), and had willed that he should remain in incorruption. But men, having turned from the contemplation of God to evil of their own devising, had come inevitably under the law of death. Instead of remaining in the state in which God had created them, they were in process of becoming corrupted entirely, and death had them completely under its dominion. For the transgression of the commandment was making them turn back again according to their nature; and as they had at the beginning come into being out of non-existence, so were they now on the way to returning, through corruption, to non-existence again. The presence and love of the Word had called them into being; inevitably, therefore when they lost the knowledge of God, they lost existence with it; for it is God alone Who exists, evil is non-being, the negation and antithesis of good. By nature, of course, man is mortal, since he was made from nothing; but he bears also the Likeness of Him Who is, and if he preserves that Likeness through constant contemplation, then his nature is deprived of its power and he remains incorrupt. So is it affirmed in Wisdom: "The keeping of His laws is the assurance of incorruption."88Wisdom vi. 18 And being incorrupt, he would be henceforth as God, as Holy Scripture says, "I have said, Ye are gods and sons of the Highest all of you: but ye die as men and fall as one of the princes."99Psalm lxxxii. 6 f.
(5) This, then, was the plight of men. God had not only made them out of nothing, but had also graciously bestowed on them His own life by the grace of the Word. Then, turning from eternal things to things corruptible, by counsel of the devil, they had become the cause of their own corruption in death; for, as I said before, though they were by nature subject to corruption, the grace of their union with the Word made them capable of escaping from the natural law, provided that they retained the beauty of innocence with which they were created. That is to say, the presence of the Word with them shielded them even from natural corruption, as also Wisdom says: "God created man for incorruption and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death entered into the world."1010Wisdom ii. 23 f. When this happened, men began to die, and corruption ran riot among them and held sway over them to an even more than natural degree, because it was the penalty of which God had forewarned them for transgressing the commandment. Indeed, they had in their sinning surpassed all limits; for, having invented wickedness in the beginning and so involved themselves in death and corruption, they had gone on gradually from bad to worse, not stopping at any one kind of evil, but continually, as with insatiable appetite, devising new kinds of sins. Adulteries and thefts were everywhere, murder and rapine filled the earth, law was disregarded in corruption and injustice, all kinds of iniquities were perpetrated by all, both singly and in common. Cities were warring with cities, nations were rising against nations, and the whole earth was rent with factions and battles, while each strove to outdo the other in wickedness. Even crimes contrary to nature were not unknown, but as the martyr-apostle of Christ says: "Their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature; and the men also, leaving the natural use of the woman, flamed out in lust towards each other, perpetrating shameless acts with their own sex, and receiving in their own persons the due recompense of their pervertedness."1111Rom. i. 26 f. "
If you would like, you can read the full wonderful message of St. Athanasius at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/athanasius/incarnation.ii.html
Metaphysical sciences are obviously not "empirical science", so this is no threat to real scientific research and study. Just sets boundaries for science to keep its understanding to what it can observe and correctly infer, but not try to read into the actual facts metaphysical and spiritual inferences that are not provable by any sort of real observable science. Now, if we have someone enter a time machine and observe the past different than what God has told us clearly in His Word and through Holy Tradition in His Church, then maybe we can put that account against our only eyewitness account, The Holy Trinity
and choose whom to believe and follow for our lives.