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Poll
Question: Do you believe that the acount of genesis in the Old testament should be taken literally?
Yes - 53 (15.9%)
No - 127 (38%)
both metaphorically and literally - 154 (46.1%)
Total Voters: 334

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Author Topic: Creationism, Evolution, and Orthodoxy  (Read 296060 times) Average Rating: 0
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Rufus
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« Reply #2925 on: February 24, 2011, 08:00:12 PM »

The issue here is not the permissibility of allegorical interpretations. The issue is the permissibility of rejecting the literal meaning entirely.

I am fully aware of that. I am trying to show that some Fathers did reject the literal interpretation of certain passages, and thus demonstrate that there is room for interpretation.

Quote
On reading the extensive and varied quotations from the Fathers on the subject compiled by Fr Seraphim, I am convinced that the consensus patrum indeed requires us to accept the scriptural account of Creation literally, even as allegorical interpretations of the spiritual significance of the account are also enjoined in various places.

Fr. Seraphim's article quotes a number of Fathers--more than me. But he can only quote so many, and only a few of them actually said that you have to completely accept the literal meaning. The Fathers are not some kind of monolothic block of dogma. They're all different, and they're quite human, as an examination of their lives often reveals.

Quote
I think also you misunderstand the concept of consensus patrum. The disagreement on some detail of one or two Fathers does not negate a consensus, or render it open to just any question.

If there is dissent, then there is not a full consensus. Note that you are making the assumtion that all the dozens of Fathers you have not quoted agree with the few you have. That would be like me claiming that the few Fathers I've found who found nonliteralism acceptible meant that there were tons of Fathers who agreed with them, which there may not have been.

Quote
For instance, St Augustine disagrees with those like St Ephraim the Syrian on the temporal significance of the Six Days. However, nothing in those passages of Augustine suggest this is because he believed in million-year epochs of gradual evolution (as you yourself concede).

Now you are simply being goofy. Of course Augustine didn't believe in evolution!

Quote
Rather, he believed that time began only after God had finished His creative work, so that the Six Days could not have had temporal significance in our sense, but only causal significance (in a similar way to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, in which the Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds, but not in time). The opinion I believe can be found also in other Fathers, like St Gregory of Nyssa, that Creation occurred in an instant, not over six temporal days.

On a second reading, I concede this point. He interprets it literally, it's just that "literal" means something different for him and for us. He did not allegorize them, or consider them simply to be a poetic statement.

Quote
The majority, however, believe in six literal, temporal days.

Which doesn't prove anything, because a minority did not. And there are some big names in that minority!

Quote
Yet whether you believe in instantaneous creation, or creation over six days, you are still dealing with creation, not evolution. None of the Fathers taught the latter.

I'm not sure what you are thinking here, because not a single person on this forum thinks God did not create the universe! It is you and atheists who try to pit evolution and creation against each other. (Not just evolution, actually, but science in general, as I can demonstrate some other time.)

Quote
Or take Origen. Notwithstanding the fact that he does not enjoy the same authority as the canonical Fathers like St Basil or St Gregory, I think I would agree with you that the latter two would not have published any work that contained actual heresy. But what is Origen actually saying here? He is mainly attacking literal interpretations of anthropomorphisms in Scriptural language about God, a point that Fr Seraphim addresses. We only need to look to St John Chrysostom for similar counsel:

Quote
When you hear, beloved, that God planted Paradise in Eden in the east, understand the word 'planted' befittingly of God: that is, that He commanded; but concerning the words that follow, believe precisely that paradise was created and in that very place where the Scripture has assigned it.(Homilies on Genesis, XIII, 3)

I will have to repeat him:
Quote
It was not only, however, with the (Scriptures composed) before the advent (of Christ) that the Spirit thus dealt; but as being the same Spirit, and (proceeding) from the one God, He did the same thing both with the evangelists and the apostles—as even these do not contain through­out a pure history of events, which are in­terwoven indeed according to the letter, but which did not actually occur.

In case it is unclear, I am not saying the Bible is a big allegory. I am saying that it is a semi-historical, semi-allegorical narrative. I am forced by both an examination of the text and by external reasons (like history) to say that the creation narrative and the story of Adam are semi- or totally metaphorical representations of something nonetheless real. The narratives themselves make far more cohesive sense when we allow for absolute allegorization of certain elements, and they also cease to contradict what we know about history and pre-history. Some people believe in--not to sound crass--actual history, while maintaining a belief in a literal Adam and Eve and a temporal fall. I'm OK with this, but for reasons that would burden this post I'm more inclined to treat almost the whole contents of the opening chapters as metaphors, with perhaps certain actual events buried in there somewhere. I am taking an unnsually liberal point of view here, but I think it makes the most sense. I am also emphatically not insisting on my exact view of the matter.

Quote
For who that has understanding will sup­pose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, ex­isted without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indi­cate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.

No literal days. No literal trees. No literal fruit. No literal eating.

Quote
Nay, the Gospels themselves are filled with the same kind of narratives; e.g., the devil leading Jesus up into a high moun­tain, in order to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world, and the glory of them. For who is there among those who do not read such accounts carelessly, that would not condemn those who think that with the eye of the body­— which requires a lofty height in order that the parts lying (immediately) under and adjacent may be seen— the kingdoms of the Persians, and Scythians, and Indians, and Parthians, were beheld, and the manner in which their princes are glorified among men?

Temptation by Satan in the wilderness: a historical event which, according to Origen, is written in two of the Gospels in a thoroughly metaphorical way.

Quote
And the attentive reader may no­tice in the Gospels innumerable other pas­sages like these, so that he will be convinced that in the histories that are literally re­corded, circumstances that did not occur are inserted.

There are things in the Scriptures that did not occur.

Quote
In the rest of that quotation, Origen is criticizing purely literal interpretations of the Law, a point common to many Fathers, and constituting one of the principal patristic criticisms of Rabbinical (Pharisaic) Judaism.

If they were attacking nonliteral interpretations so hard, then there must have been quite a few people doing what I'm doing!

Quote
Finally, we should address the useful point made by St Augustine on the need to respect genuine discoveries in science, and not insist on literal interpretations of Scripture that conflict with known facts. The issue he is concerned with is the question of whether the heavens are spherical or flat, a question to which there is indeed no dogmatic significance.

As you have made the age of the earth a question of dogmatic significance, I likewise could easily make the shape of the cosmos a matter of dogma. Someone once said on this forum that if heaven has to be an actual place up in the sky, or else the Lord would have had no place to bodily ascend to!! If that's not turning the shape of the cosmos into a matter of dogma, then I don't know what is!

Quote
The rub comes on the question of death, however. The Davis Young article you link to tries to argue that St Augustine did not believe the Fall caused death and corruption in the rest of Creation. I don't believe the quotations he provides actually indicate such a thing. However, even if he did (for which I would need access to the full book by Augustine), I don't think St Augustine's personal opinion on this matter undermines the clear consensus of the other Fathers that death is a result of the Fall, and not part of God's Creation from the beginning.

Thus St Gregory of Sinai:

Quote
The presently-existing creation was not originally created corruptible; but afterwards it fell under corruption, being made subject to vanity, according to the Scripture, not willingly, but by reason of him, Adam, who hath subjected it in hope of the renewal of Adam who had become subject to corruption. (Rm. 8:20) He who renewed and sanctified Adam has renewed the creation also, but He has not yet delivered it from corruption. (Chapters on Commandments and Dogmas, 11)

St Macarius the Great:

Quote
Adam was placed as the lord and king of all creatures.... But after his captivity, there was taken captive together with him the creation which served him and submitted to him, because through him death came to reign over every soul. (Homily 11)

St John Chrysostom:

Quote
Just as the creature became corruptible when your body became corruptible, so also when your body will be incorrupt, the creature also will follow after it and become corresponding to it. (Homilies on Romans, XIV, 5)

I agree with all this, and I admit that I can't explain how exactly the fall occurred. (Of course, I would be at a total loss to explain how a piece of fruit could give eternal life, so the above question doesn't make me lose any sleep.)

Quote
After all this, you might still argue thus: "Even if the consensus of the Fathers teaches that the world was without death and corruption before the Fall, science unambiguously teaches us that there was death and corruption before the Fall, and so Scripture cannot be taken literally on this matter, and all patristic interpretations to the contrary must be rejected." If science did indeed provide such unambiguous evidence, I would have to concede. But science does not provide this evidence. That has been the purpose of my recent posts.

Well, I'm very ambivalent towards the idea of the fall as a temporal event, largely for the reason you've given. It's difficult to reconcile with our observed experience.

As for scientifically disproving the literal interpretation of the early Bible narratives, that will be for later posts. I can't spend my life on this forum, and it's another topic. Right now I'm focusing on patristics.

Quote
The whole evolutionary mindset proceeds from the need to account for Creation without reference to a Creator. For true believers in materialism, this need trumps the need for sticking to theories that account for observed facts. Thus, although we never see organization spontaneously arising from disorganization, we put this simple observation aside for the sake of a theory of origins that has the necessary virtue, from the materialistic standpoint, of making no reference to God. Since we need immense amounts of time for this theory to work (Time has become our new God), we simply accept only such geological and astronomical evidence as can be made to fit with this theory, and reject the rest. Thus, we conveniently assume constant rates of radioactive decay to prove that certain crystals are over a billion years old, but happily ignore the fact that the concentration of helium is far above that which is predicted for the same lapse of time, given current known rates of diffusion. Rather than allow for the possibility of accelerated radioactive decay, a phenomenon for which there is independent evidence, we assume that somehow extra helium was introduced into the crystals, despite the absence of any plausible source or diffusive mechanism. And so on and so forth.

The handful of things that scientists haven't accounted for doesn't offset the vast amount of information that you either ignore or come up with fantastic explanations for. It may also interest you to know that geologists suspected the earth was millions of years old decades before Darwin's theory was published.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_geology
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« Reply #2926 on: February 24, 2011, 09:37:36 PM »

I'm not getting emotional.  Imagine a calm voice talking to you and saying that Anderson's article is rubbish and filled with stupidity.  Plain and simple.  I'm not raising my voice, I'm only stating the obvious.  It's just as calm as anyone who call my beliefs demonic.

The particular efflux pump is an example of only one kind of evolution that take place at a biological price.  But there are others that don't, such as the ones I've provided in my last post that keeps getting ignored.

It might help if you explained for me and perhaps others which studies in particular show genetic mutations that involve unambiguous complications of the genetic code, because I wasn't able to discover them on reading the abstracts you submitted. This could well be that I don't understand the technical language, although I did try to read them as closely as I could. For instance, here is the one on the gene duplication case:

Quote
In a collection of 110 clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae, a single strain, Kp593, was found to exhibit a mutator phenotype with a rifampicin mutation frequency 100-fold higher than the modal value for this species. Complementation experiments with the wild-type MutL, one of the main components of the methyl-directed mismatch repair system, allowed the mutator phenotype to be reversed. Sequencing revealed substitution of the conserved residue Lys307 to Arg and site-directed mutagenesis followed by complementation experiments confirmed the critical role of this mutation. The patient infected with Kp593 relapsed a month later and the strain isolated then, Kp869, was identical to Kp593, as verified by PFGE analysis. Phenotypically, Kp869 colonies were more mucoid than those of Kp593, probably due to increased capsule synthesis as shown by electron microscopy. In addition, Kp869 exhibited a 16-fold higher amoxicillin resistance level related to a 36.4 kb tandem duplication encompassing the chromosomal bla(SHV-11) gene, which was unstable in vitro. These data suggest that the mutator phenotype found in Kp593/Kp869 is associated with beneficial mutations conferring a selective advantage, such as increased virulence factor production and antibiotic resistance. The latter was due to resistance gene duplication, an event rarely described in natural isolates. This is the first description of the in vivo occurrence of gene duplication in a mutator background.


Okay, quickly answering your question, and I want to get much more in detail now that Opus is also in the discussion.  I too have some engagements I need to attend to.  I'll probably answer your question in full.

This abstract talks about two mutations.  One is a point mutation on a gene that is involved with mismatch repair.  Another is gene duplication that is involved with amoxicillin resistance.  Gene duplication is rarely ever studied as a resistance issue, but it's not the first time it's been studied for other issues.

The point mutation may have lead to a loss of function (it reversed the mutator phenotype), but when it comes to the amoxicillin resistance, no loss of function occurred.  In fact, a gain of function occurred at no biological cost, which is a 16-fold increase in resistance against amoxicillin.

Monday, I'll search for more papers on pubmed so we can have a much more grand discussion on this, but for information gaining studies, I found this site last night:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB102.html

The only other biological "cost" I would be wondering about is the nutrient and energy supply to provide for the new information, which is not so hard to consider.
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« Reply #2927 on: February 24, 2011, 09:40:55 PM »

The issue here is not the permissibility of allegorical interpretations. The issue is the permissibility of rejecting the literal meaning entirely.

I am fully aware of that. I am trying to show that some Fathers did reject the literal interpretation of certain passages, and thus demonstrate that there is room for interpretation.

Quote
On reading the extensive and varied quotations from the Fathers on the subject compiled by Fr Seraphim, I am convinced that the consensus patrum indeed requires us to accept the scriptural account of Creation literally, even as allegorical interpretations of the spiritual significance of the account are also enjoined in various places.

Fr. Seraphim's article quotes a number of Fathers--more than me. But he can only quote so many, and only a few of them actually said that you have to completely accept the literal meaning. The Fathers are not some kind of monolothic block of dogma. They're all different, and they're quite human, as an examination of their lives often reveals.

Quote
I think also you misunderstand the concept of consensus patrum. The disagreement on some detail of one or two Fathers does not negate a consensus, or render it open to just any question.

If there is dissent, then there is not a full consensus. Note that you are making the assumtion that all the dozens of Fathers you have not quoted agree with the few you have. That would be like me claiming that the few Fathers I've found who found nonliteralism acceptible meant that there were tons of Fathers who agreed with them, which there may not have been.

Quote
For instance, St Augustine disagrees with those like St Ephraim the Syrian on the temporal significance of the Six Days. However, nothing in those passages of Augustine suggest this is because he believed in million-year epochs of gradual evolution (as you yourself concede).

Now you are simply being goofy. Of course Augustine didn't believe in evolution!

Quote
Rather, he believed that time began only after God had finished His creative work, so that the Six Days could not have had temporal significance in our sense, but only causal significance (in a similar way to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, in which the Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds, but not in time). The opinion I believe can be found also in other Fathers, like St Gregory of Nyssa, that Creation occurred in an instant, not over six temporal days.

On a second reading, I concede this point. He interprets it literally, it's just that "literal" means something different for him and for us. He did not allegorize them, or consider them simply to be a poetic statement.

Quote
The majority, however, believe in six literal, temporal days.

Which doesn't prove anything, because a minority did not. And there are some big names in that minority!

Quote
Yet whether you believe in instantaneous creation, or creation over six days, you are still dealing with creation, not evolution. None of the Fathers taught the latter.

I'm not sure what you are thinking here, because not a single person on this forum thinks God did not create the universe! It is you and atheists who try to pit evolution and creation against each other. (Not just evolution, actually, but science in general, as I can demonstrate some other time.)

Quote
Or take Origen. Notwithstanding the fact that he does not enjoy the same authority as the canonical Fathers like St Basil or St Gregory, I think I would agree with you that the latter two would not have published any work that contained actual heresy. But what is Origen actually saying here? He is mainly attacking literal interpretations of anthropomorphisms in Scriptural language about God, a point that Fr Seraphim addresses. We only need to look to St John Chrysostom for similar counsel:

Quote
When you hear, beloved, that God planted Paradise in Eden in the east, understand the word 'planted' befittingly of God: that is, that He commanded; but concerning the words that follow, believe precisely that paradise was created and in that very place where the Scripture has assigned it.(Homilies on Genesis, XIII, 3)

I will have to repeat him:
Quote
It was not only, however, with the (Scriptures composed) before the advent (of Christ) that the Spirit thus dealt; but as being the same Spirit, and (proceeding) from the one God, He did the same thing both with the evangelists and the apostles—as even these do not contain through­out a pure history of events, which are in­terwoven indeed according to the letter, but which did not actually occur.

In case it is unclear, I am not saying the Bible is a big allegory. I am saying that it is a semi-historical, semi-allegorical narrative. I am forced by both an examination of the text and by external reasons (like history) to say that the creation narrative and the story of Adam are semi- or totally metaphorical representations of something nonetheless real. The narratives themselves make far more cohesive sense when we allow for absolute allegorization of certain elements, and they also cease to contradict what we know about history and pre-history. Some people believe in--not to sound crass--actual history, while maintaining a belief in a literal Adam and Eve and a temporal fall. I'm OK with this, but for reasons that would burden this post I'm more inclined to treat almost the whole contents of the opening chapters as metaphors, with perhaps certain actual events buried in there somewhere. I am taking an unnsually liberal point of view here, but I think it makes the most sense. I am also emphatically not insisting on my exact view of the matter.

Quote
For who that has understanding will sup­pose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, ex­isted without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indi­cate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.

No literal days. No literal trees. No literal fruit. No literal eating.

Quote
Nay, the Gospels themselves are filled with the same kind of narratives; e.g., the devil leading Jesus up into a high moun­tain, in order to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world, and the glory of them. For who is there among those who do not read such accounts carelessly, that would not condemn those who think that with the eye of the body­— which requires a lofty height in order that the parts lying (immediately) under and adjacent may be seen— the kingdoms of the Persians, and Scythians, and Indians, and Parthians, were beheld, and the manner in which their princes are glorified among men?

Temptation by Satan in the wilderness: a historical event which, according to Origen, is written in two of the Gospels in a thoroughly metaphorical way.

Quote
And the attentive reader may no­tice in the Gospels innumerable other pas­sages like these, so that he will be convinced that in the histories that are literally re­corded, circumstances that did not occur are inserted.

There are things in the Scriptures that did not occur.

Quote
In the rest of that quotation, Origen is criticizing purely literal interpretations of the Law, a point common to many Fathers, and constituting one of the principal patristic criticisms of Rabbinical (Pharisaic) Judaism.

If they were attacking nonliteral interpretations so hard, then there must have been quite a few people doing what I'm doing!

Quote
Finally, we should address the useful point made by St Augustine on the need to respect genuine discoveries in science, and not insist on literal interpretations of Scripture that conflict with known facts. The issue he is concerned with is the question of whether the heavens are spherical or flat, a question to which there is indeed no dogmatic significance.

As you have made the age of the earth a question of dogmatic significance, I likewise could easily make the shape of the cosmos a matter of dogma. Someone once said on this forum that if heaven has to be an actual place up in the sky, or else the Lord would have had no place to bodily ascend to!! If that's not turning the shape of the cosmos into a matter of dogma, then I don't know what is!

Quote
The rub comes on the question of death, however. The Davis Young article you link to tries to argue that St Augustine did not believe the Fall caused death and corruption in the rest of Creation. I don't believe the quotations he provides actually indicate such a thing. However, even if he did (for which I would need access to the full book by Augustine), I don't think St Augustine's personal opinion on this matter undermines the clear consensus of the other Fathers that death is a result of the Fall, and not part of God's Creation from the beginning.

Thus St Gregory of Sinai:

Quote
The presently-existing creation was not originally created corruptible; but afterwards it fell under corruption, being made subject to vanity, according to the Scripture, not willingly, but by reason of him, Adam, who hath subjected it in hope of the renewal of Adam who had become subject to corruption. (Rm. 8:20) He who renewed and sanctified Adam has renewed the creation also, but He has not yet delivered it from corruption. (Chapters on Commandments and Dogmas, 11)

St Macarius the Great:

Quote
Adam was placed as the lord and king of all creatures.... But after his captivity, there was taken captive together with him the creation which served him and submitted to him, because through him death came to reign over every soul. (Homily 11)

St John Chrysostom:

Quote
Just as the creature became corruptible when your body became corruptible, so also when your body will be incorrupt, the creature also will follow after it and become corresponding to it. (Homilies on Romans, XIV, 5)

I agree with all this, and I admit that I can't explain how exactly the fall occurred. (Of course, I would be at a total loss to explain how a piece of fruit could give eternal life, so the above question doesn't make me lose any sleep.)

Quote
After all this, you might still argue thus: "Even if the consensus of the Fathers teaches that the world was without death and corruption before the Fall, science unambiguously teaches us that there was death and corruption before the Fall, and so Scripture cannot be taken literally on this matter, and all patristic interpretations to the contrary must be rejected." If science did indeed provide such unambiguous evidence, I would have to concede. But science does not provide this evidence. That has been the purpose of my recent posts.

Well, I'm very ambivalent towards the idea of the fall as a temporal event, largely for the reason you've given. It's difficult to reconcile with our observed experience.

As for scientifically disproving the literal interpretation of the early Bible narratives, that will be for later posts. I can't spend my life on this forum, and it's another topic. Right now I'm focusing on patristics.

Quote
The whole evolutionary mindset proceeds from the need to account for Creation without reference to a Creator. For true believers in materialism, this need trumps the need for sticking to theories that account for observed facts. Thus, although we never see organization spontaneously arising from disorganization, we put this simple observation aside for the sake of a theory of origins that has the necessary virtue, from the materialistic standpoint, of making no reference to God. Since we need immense amounts of time for this theory to work (Time has become our new God), we simply accept only such geological and astronomical evidence as can be made to fit with this theory, and reject the rest. Thus, we conveniently assume constant rates of radioactive decay to prove that certain crystals are over a billion years old, but happily ignore the fact that the concentration of helium is far above that which is predicted for the same lapse of time, given current known rates of diffusion. Rather than allow for the possibility of accelerated radioactive decay, a phenomenon for which there is independent evidence, we assume that somehow extra helium was introduced into the crystals, despite the absence of any plausible source or diffusive mechanism. And so on and so forth.

The handful of things that scientists haven't accounted for doesn't offset the vast amount of information that you either ignore or come up with fantastic explanations for. It may also interest you to know that geologists suspected the earth was millions of years old decades before Darwin's theory was published.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_geology

To be honest, if you are able to convince patristically of your ideas, then I would say with all honesty, there would be no point in discussing the science of it anymore.

I personally already discussed the patristics, and you're only repeating everything I mentioned pages ago.  But maybe, I'm horrible at it.

So, I think I'm going to stick with the science at an attempt to shake foundations.
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If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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« Reply #2928 on: February 24, 2011, 10:16:28 PM »

To be honest, if you are able to convince patristically of your ideas, then I would say with all honesty, there would be no point in discussing the science of it anymore.

I personally already discussed the patristics, and you're only repeating everything I mentioned pages ago.  But maybe, I'm horrible at it.

So, I think I'm going to stick with the science at an attempt to shake foundations.

Sorry, I haven't thoroughly read the whole thread (for obvious reasons). I just wanted to be more explicit and go into greater detail. Science is next...I'm no biology expert, but there are so many subjects that make a young earth ridiculous that I see no need to focus on evolution as the primary argument. There are much more direct proofs in fields like history, archeology, and linguistics.

btw, just curious...how is Origen viewed in the Coptic Church? I've read some things that suggest to me that he is highly respected by you, and, of course, was never anathematized.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 10:17:17 PM by Rufus » Logged
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« Reply #2929 on: February 24, 2011, 10:30:59 PM »

To be honest, if you are able to convince patristically of your ideas, then I would say with all honesty, there would be no point in discussing the science of it anymore.

I personally already discussed the patristics, and you're only repeating everything I mentioned pages ago.  But maybe, I'm horrible at it.

So, I think I'm going to stick with the science at an attempt to shake foundations.

Sorry, I haven't thoroughly read the whole thread (for obvious reasons). I just wanted to be more explicit and go into greater detail. Science is next...I'm no biology expert, but there are so many subjects that make a young earth ridiculous that I see no need to focus on evolution as the primary argument. There are much more direct proofs in fields like history, archeology, and linguistics.

btw, just curious...how is Origen viewed in the Coptic Church? I've read some things that suggest to me that he is highly respected by you, and, of course, was never anathematized.

He is indeed highly respected as the father of Biblical interpretation, but the Coptic Church considered him excommunicated twice in a local Alexandrian manner, once by Pope St. Demetrius (Origen's contemporary) and the second by Pope St. Theophilus (predecessor to St. Cyril the Great) and still in effect.  Nevertheless, his tools of allegory has been used and studied.  St. Didymus the Blind, condemned by the EO Church is a revered saint in our Church, known as a great teacher of the Scriptures (and understandably in the same spirit of Origen) and a teacher to St. Athanasius, who also shows hints of the same methodology.

He has many reasons to be excommunicated, but his interpretation of the Scriptures in allegory and his non-acceptance of literal trees and fruits were not one of them, and seems to have been viewed as acceptable by Sts. Basil and Gregory Nazienzen.  Certainly our liturgies also give a somewhat allegorical idea of Genesis as well.  In our Gregorian liturgy, we personalize Adam's sin, "Of one tree, you told me not to eat, but I did eat...I plucked for myself the sentence of death."  Of course, in the Coptic Church, theologically, one can argue, I ate no tree, I didn't pluck any fruit that lead me to death, but certainly if we can take that allegorically into our lives of continuous sin against God, we can see the allegorical parallel of the Original Sin and Fall of Adam, that for whatever law God gave Adam, he disobeyed and fell, and joined the world of death, as St. Athanasius teaches.
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« Reply #2930 on: February 24, 2011, 10:42:09 PM »

To be honest, if you are able to convince patristically of your ideas, then I would say with all honesty, there would be no point in discussing the science of it anymore.

I personally already discussed the patristics, and you're only repeating everything I mentioned pages ago.  But maybe, I'm horrible at it.

So, I think I'm going to stick with the science at an attempt to shake foundations.

Sorry, I haven't thoroughly read the whole thread (for obvious reasons). I just wanted to be more explicit and go into greater detail. Science is next...I'm no biology expert, but there are so many subjects that make a young earth ridiculous that I see no need to focus on evolution as the primary argument. There are much more direct proofs in fields like history, archeology, and linguistics.

btw, just curious...how is Origen viewed in the Coptic Church? I've read some things that suggest to me that he is highly respected by you, and, of course, was never anathematized.

He is indeed highly respected as the father of Biblical interpretation, but the Coptic Church considered him excommunicated twice in a local Alexandrian manner, once by Pope St. Demetrius (Origen's contemporary) and the second by Pope St. Theophilus (predecessor to St. Cyril the Great) and still in effect.  Nevertheless, his tools of allegory has been used and studied.  St. Didymus the Blind, condemned by the EO Church is a revered saint in our Church, known as a great teacher of the Scriptures (and understandably in the same spirit of Origen) and a teacher to St. Athanasius, who also shows hints of the same methodology.

He has many reasons to be excommunicated, but his interpretation of the Scriptures in allegory and his non-acceptance of literal trees and fruits were not one of them, and seems to have been viewed as acceptable by Sts. Basil and Gregory Nazienzen.  Certainly our liturgies also give a somewhat allegorical idea of Genesis as well.  In our Gregorian liturgy, we personalize Adam's sin, "Of one tree, you told me not to eat, but I did eat...I plucked for myself the sentence of death."  Of course, in the Coptic Church, theologically, one can argue, I ate no tree, I didn't pluck any fruit that lead me to death, but certainly if we can take that allegorically into our lives of continuous sin against God, we can see the allegorical parallel of the Original Sin and Fall of Adam, that for whatever law God gave Adam, he disobeyed and fell, and joined the world of death, as St. Athanasius teaches.

Thank you! We have hymns that say things similar to the prayer you described, especially during Holy Week.
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« Reply #2931 on: February 24, 2011, 10:51:03 PM »

@ Rufus:

Minor dissent does not negate a consensus. St Augustine's belief in the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son does not negate the consensus of the Church that the Spirit proceeds from the Son alone. We do not exclude him from the Church for that reason, but not because his doctrine was correct, but because he was not consciously opposing the Church at the time. This reflects a phenomenon frequently seen in Church history: some doctrine is indeed debated for a time, but a consensus does emerge, after which debate is no longer permitted.

With the Six Days, I do believe there is a consensus that these are to be interpreted literally, notwithstanding a minority opinion attested long ago that Creation took place in a single instant. But I would concede that the dogmatic significance of Six Days versus single instant is far less than the significance of Creation versus Evolution. Since none of the Fathers appears to have supported any kind of evolutionism, despite the fact that similar theories existed in the ancient world, really puts the burden of proof on evolutionists to show that their opinion is supported by the Fathers.

One of the things that convinces me the Fathers would not have supported evolutionism is the strong reaction against Darwinism that we find in modern Orthodox saints. St Theophan the Recluse, St Ignatius Brianchaninov, St John of Kronstadt, and St Nectarius of Aegina are all on record in opposition to it. I can't believe that they didn't know the Fathers well enough to accept the completely non-literal interpretation you are advocating, if such were available. This idea that we know better than these saints how to interpret Scripture and the Fathers seems highly problematic to me.

On the first reading of Origen I thought he was making the same argument as St John Chrysostom, namely that anthropomorphic vocabulary like "walking" and "planting" are to be understood in a manner appropriate to the Deity, but that the Garden itself and what it contained should be understood literally. But I now see that Origen does seem to be disputing even the literal meaning of things like the Tree of Life. All I can say is that I take St Basil the Great and St John Chrysostom over Origen if it comes to a dispute. It doesn't escape my notice that those authorities that seem to support complete allegory are also those authorities that are otherwise known for teaching erroneous doctrines, e.g. Origen, who also taught the non-eternity of Hell, or St Augustine with his various errors. The Fathers that enjoy undisputed authority, like St Basil, St John Chrysostom, or St Gregory the Theologian all promote a literal interpretation, even if at times they also teach some allegorizations.

I wouldn't say the age of the earth is of dogmatic significance in the way, say, the absence of corruption in the pre-lapsarian Creation is significant, or the doctrine that our first parents were specially created by God from the earth, and not descended by natural generation from non-human species. It's more that an old earth doctrine is intimately tied in with evolutionism, and in particular leads people to doubt the existence of events like the Great Flood, which has also traditionally been understood to have actually occurred.

Your point about old-earth geology preceding Darwin is, of course, true in itself, but then there were evolutionists, and a strong movement for a purely materialist philosophy of science, before Darwin also.

@ Mina:

Thanks for the info about beneficial mutations. Let's talk about that more when Opus gets back.

Regarding patristics, yes I recall you relied a lot on your particular interpretation of St Athanasius to support your theory that evolutionism is compatible with the Fathers. My main problem with that is that you can definitely show St Athanasius himself believed in literal special creation, like the following (quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose's book Genesis, Creation and Early Man, chapter 1):

Quote
Though Adam only was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved succession of the whole race.

So, your reading of evolutionism, and in particular of death before the Fall, into Athanasius is not in fact explicitly made by the saint, but you have attempted to fit his words into your beliefs. Given the consensus among other great Fathers like St Basil and St Chrysostom that the original Creation was entirely incorruptible, this leads me to interpret St Athanasius in the light of them, rather than in the "light" of evolutionary philosophy. The corruptible nature that Man fell into after expulsion from Paradise is still then a consequence of the Fall, as is the fall of all creation into corruption, and St Athanasius' words do not undermine that.
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« Reply #2932 on: February 24, 2011, 11:41:42 PM »

@ Rufus:

Minor dissent does not negate a consensus.

Origen, Basil, and Gregory are not minor dissent. I've shown that they all thought a non-literal interpretation to be plausible.

Quote
St Augustine's belief in the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son does not negate the consensus of the Church that the Spirit proceeds from the Son alone.

The filioque was rebuked by an Ecumenical Council. Instantaneous creation was not.

Quote
We do not exclude him from the Church for that reason, but not because his doctrine was correct, but because he was not consciously opposing the Church at the time. This reflects a phenomenon frequently seen in Church history: some doctrine is indeed debated for a time, but a consensus does emerge, after which debate is no longer permitted.

Once again, you are assuming that all the Fathers must have unequivocally agreed with the handful known to have explicitly insisted on the full literal meaning, when in fact, St. Basil did not even unequivocally agree with himself!

Quote
With the Six Days, I do believe there is a consensus that these are to be interpreted literally, notwithstanding a minority opinion attested long ago that Creation took place in a single instant. But I would concede that the dogmatic significance of Six Days versus single instant is far less than the significance of Creation versus Evolution.

There you go again, stating that evolution is against creation by definition. If evolution is true, someone still had to create all this, right?

Quote
Since none of the Fathers appears to have supported any kind of evolutionism, despite the fact that similar theories existed in the ancient world, really puts the burden of proof on evolutionists to show that their opinion is supported by the Fathers.

Except that ancient theories that remotely resembled evolution were simply philosophical abstractions. Ancient theories of "evolution" held no more credibility than Democritus' theory of atoms.

Quote
One of the things that convinces me the Fathers would not have supported evolutionism is the strong reaction against Darwinism that we find in modern Orthodox saints. St Theophan the Recluse, St Ignatius Brianchaninov, St John of Kronstadt, and St Nectarius of Aegina are all on record in opposition to it. I can't believe that they didn't know the Fathers well enough to accept the completely non-literal interpretation you are advocating, if such were available. This idea that we know better than these saints how to interpret Scripture and the Fathers seems highly problematic to me.

It was only in the first half of the 20th Century that Darwin's theory became widely accepted, because it had never been empirically substantiated before the rise of modern genetics research. Of course, Darwin's original theory has also undergone numerous modifications since then. A hundred years ago it was perfectly reasonable to reject it. Their rejection of it is also understandable in light of the fact that evolution has always been touted as propaganda by atheists, who abuse literalists' assertions to create a strawman Christian in order to fuel their own arguments.

Quote
On the first reading of Origen I thought he was making the same argument as St John Chrysostom, namely that anthropomorphic vocabulary like "walking" and "planting" are to be understood in a manner appropriate to the Deity, but that the Garden itself and what it contained should be understood literally. But I now see that Origen does seem to be disputing even the literal meaning of things like the Tree of Life. All I can say is that I take St Basil the Great and St John Chrysostom over Origen if it comes to a dispute. It doesn't escape my notice that those authorities that seem to support complete allegory are also those authorities that are otherwise known for teaching erroneous doctrines, e.g. Origen, who also taught the non-eternity of Hell, or St Augustine with his various errors. The Fathers that enjoy undisputed authority, like St Basil, St John Chrysostom, or St Gregory the Theologian all promote a literal interpretation, even if at times they also teach some allegorizations.

Such as...?

Quote
I wouldn't say the age of the earth is of dogmatic significance in the way, say, the absence of corruption in the pre-lapsarian Creation is significant, or the doctrine that our first parents were specially created by God from the earth, and not descended by natural generation from non-human species. It's more that an old earth doctrine is intimately tied in with evolutionism, and in particular leads people to doubt the existence of events like the Great Flood, which has also traditionally been understood to have actually occurred.

The existence of heaven as a place up in the sky is a question of dogmatic significance. Those who assert that the sky is simply empty space, despite the fact that hardly anyone's ever been up there, are effectively denying the bodily ascension of Christ.

Quote
Your point about old-earth geology preceding Darwin is, of course, true in itself, but then there were evolutionists, and a strong movement for a purely materialist philosophy of science, before Darwin also.
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« Reply #2933 on: February 25, 2011, 12:24:36 AM »

Rufus, you keep coming back to the fact that the Fathers put forth allegorical interpretations of Genesis (Origen, St. Basil, St. Gregory you pointed to in your last post), but no one is disputing that fact. what we are disputing is the evolutionary idea that allegory necessarily excludes literality. except perhaps in Origen, you cannot find this in the Fathers (and even Origen believed in a young earth). and anyways, its precisely Origen's understanding of creation that makes him so problematic. and regarding the Philocalia of Origen - I cant say why exactly Sts. Basil and Gregory included that particular quote, because their own interpretations of Genesis are quite different. St. Basil's Hexameron which is the standard Orthodox commentary, which St. Gregory the Theologian says lifts his mind to God, is quite literal. so again, we are not denying that Genesis has allegorical truth, but the burden of proof is on your side to prove that the Fathers taught that Genesis has no literal truth.

and regarding the length of days, other than Origen and St. Augustine I am not aware of a single dissenting voice from the Fathers. and of course their dissent is even less compatible with evolution.... here is my blog post about what the Fathers have to say about the Genesis chronology: http://oldbelieving.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/orthodoxy-and-creationism/ and here again is the article about the Byzantine Creation Era calendar which shows that the Church teaches (and has consistently taught) that the world is less than 8000 yrs old: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Byzantine_Creation_Era. Although most places have changed to dating with BC and AD, the numbers still correspond to a date from creation as per the Byzantine Creation Era calendar. When I was in Romania I saw a sign with an icon in St. Nicholas Church in Brasov that said the icon was from 1692 AD/7201.

you ask for an example of an allegorization that the Fathers taught. Quoting from Fr. Seraphim:
Quote
St. Macarius the Great of Egypt, a Saint of the most exalted mystical life and whom one certainly cannot suspect of overly literal views of Scripture, writes on Genesis 3:24: "That Paradise was closed and that a Cherubim was commanded to prevent man from entering it by a flaming sword: of this we believe that in visible fashion it was indeed just as it is written, and at the same time we find that this occurs mystically in every soul." This is a passage which many of us might have expected to have only a mystical meaning, but this great seer of Divine things assures us that it is also true "just as it is written" - for those capable of seeing it.

there we have allegory, which is a layer added to the literal, not to the exclusion of the literal.

ive already shown what St. Augustine had to say about allegory, and here is what St. Basil had to say:
Quote
(Some) have attempted by false arguments and allegorical interpretations to bestow on the Scripture a dignity of their own imagining. But theirs is the attitude of one who considers himself wiser than the revelations of the Spirit and introduces his own ideas in pretense of an explanation. Therefore, let it be understood as it has been written

and St. Ephraim the Syrian tells us similarly in the Commentary on Genesis:

Quote
No one should think that the Creation of Six Days is an allegory; it is likewise impermissible to say that what seems, according to the account, to have been created in six days, was created in a single instant, and likewise that certain names presented in this account either signify nothing, or signify something else. On the contrary, we must know that just as the heaven and the earth which were created in the beginning are actually the heaven and the earth and not something else understood under the names of heaven and earth, so also everything else that is spoken of as being created and brought into order after the creation of heaven and earth is not empty names, but the very essence of the created natures corresponds to the force of these names.

and why not - just for fun: St. John Chrysostom, speaking specifically of the rivers of Paradise, writes:
Quote
Perhaps one who loves to speak from his own wisdom here also will not allow that the rivers are actually rivers, nor that the waters are precisely waters, but will instill, in those who allow themselves to listen to them, the idea that they (under the names of rivers and waters) represented something else. But I entreat you, let us not pay heed to these people, let us stop up our hearing against them, and let us believe the Divine Scripture, and following what is written in it, let us strive to preserve in our souls sound dogmas.
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« Reply #2934 on: February 25, 2011, 12:33:05 AM »

Rufus, you keep coming back to the fact that the Fathers put forth allegorical interpretations of Genesis (Origen, St. Basil, St. Gregory you pointed to in your last post), but no one is disputing that fact. what we are disputing is the evolutionary idea that allegory necessarily excludes literality. except perhaps in Origen, you cannot find this in the Fathers (and even Origen believed in a young earth). and anyways, its precisely Origen's understanding of creation that makes him so problematic. and regarding the Philocalia of Origen - I cant say why exactly Sts. Basil and Gregory included that particular quote, because their own interpretations of Genesis are quite different. St. Basil's Hexameron which is the standard Orthodox commentary, which St. Gregory the Theologian says lifts his mind to God, is quite literal. so again, we are not denying that Genesis has allegorical truth, but the burden of proof is on your side to prove that the Fathers taught that Genesis has no literal truth.

and regarding the length of days, other than Origen and St. Augustine I am not aware of a single dissenting voice from the Fathers. and of course their dissent is even less compatible with evolution.... here is my blog post about what the Fathers have to say about the Genesis chronology: http://oldbelieving.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/orthodoxy-and-creationism/ and here again is the article about the Byzantine Creation Era calendar which shows that the Church teaches (and has consistently taught) that the world is less than 8000 yrs old: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Byzantine_Creation_Era. Although most places have changed to dating with BC and AD, the numbers still correspond to a date from creation as per the Byzantine Creation Era calendar. When I was in Romania I saw a sign with an icon in St. Nicholas Church in Brasov that said the icon was from 1692 AD/7201.

Your rebuttal to my posts shows that you either have barely read them, or are selectively ignoring what I've said, because I address most of the points you've made numerous times. Some of your statements show that you're not even aware of my own views expressed in previous posts. As a result, I don't feel compelled to spend another half-hour responding.

Note that my quotations from the Fathers come from a cursory search of the internet. If I continue to find more such passages in nthe future, I will post them here.
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« Reply #2935 on: February 25, 2011, 12:34:41 AM »

Rufus, you keep coming back to the fact that the Fathers put forth allegorical interpretations of Genesis (Origen, St. Basil, St. Gregory you pointed to in your last post), but no one is disputing that fact. what we are disputing is the evolutionary idea that allegory necessarily excludes literality. except perhaps in Origen, you cannot find this in the Fathers (and even Origen believed in a young earth). and anyways, its precisely Origen's understanding of creation that makes him so problematic. and regarding the Philocalia of Origen - I cant say why exactly Sts. Basil and Gregory included that particular quote, because their own interpretations of Genesis are quite different. St. Basil's Hexameron which is the standard Orthodox commentary, which St. Gregory the Theologian says lifts his mind to God, is quite literal. so again, we are not denying that Genesis has allegorical truth, but the burden of proof is on your side to prove that the Fathers taught that Genesis has no literal truth.

and regarding the length of days, other than Origen and St. Augustine I am not aware of a single dissenting voice from the Fathers. and of course their dissent is even less compatible with evolution.... here is my blog post about what the Fathers have to say about the Genesis chronology: http://oldbelieving.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/orthodoxy-and-creationism/ and here again is the article about the Byzantine Creation Era calendar which shows that the Church teaches (and has consistently taught) that the world is less than 8000 yrs old: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Byzantine_Creation_Era. Although most places have changed to dating with BC and AD, the numbers still correspond to a date from creation as per the Byzantine Creation Era calendar. When I was in Romania I saw a sign with an icon in St. Nicholas Church in Brasov that said the icon was from 1692 AD/7201.

Your rebuttal to my posts shows that you either have barely read them, or are selectively ignoring what I've said, because I address most of the points you've made numerous times. Some of your statements show that you're not even aware of my own views expressed in previous posts. As a result, I don't feel compelled to spend another half-hour responding.

Note that my quotations from the Fathers come from a cursory search of the internet. If I continue to find more such passages in nthe future, I will post them here.

how does my rebuttal show that i barely read your post ...? i have reiterated the same points, because you have made the same assertions ...

you attempted to show that Sts. Basil and Gregory are a dissenting voice on this matter, so I addressed that statment. you asked for examples of allegories in the Fathers, so I provided some ...
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« Reply #2936 on: February 25, 2011, 12:57:21 AM »

@ Rufus:

With regard to St Gregory Nazianzus and allegory, Fr Seraphim himself showed how allegorical and literal interpretations co-existed. Thus:

Quote
The tree was, according to my view, Contemplation, upon which it is only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter. (Homily on the Theophany, XII)

St Gregory appears to be allegorizing only, if you take this passage in isolation. And yet we have St Gregory Palamas informing us that the elder Gregory did not intend a rejection of the literal interpretation by his allegory. I'll repeat the passage:

Quote
Similarly, Gregory the Theologian has called the tree of knowledge of good and evil contemplation, having in his contemplation considered it as a symbol of this contemplation which is intended to elevate us; but it does not follow that what is involved is an illusion or a symbol without existence of its own.

Non-literal interpretation is possible, but only in addition to the literal, not instead of it.

And I'm not convinced by your dismissal of the witness of modern saints against Darwinism. The basic tenets of the theory have remained, and these tenets were the target of these saints' criticisms, such as St Nectarius' condemnation of the doctrine of "pithecogeny", or the descent of humans from apes or ape-like creatures. "Neo-Darwinism" has not changed its stand on that issue, so St Nectarius' criticism remains.

Moreover, it's telling that you claim Darwinism was not "empirically substantiated" until modern genetics. Surely most Darwinists would argue that fossil evidence and comparative anatomy alone prove the truth of evolution, or at least they did in the early days of the theory. Does that mean that you, like creationists, find the paleontological and anatomical evidence unconvincing?
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« Reply #2937 on: February 25, 2011, 02:17:18 PM »

how does my rebuttal show that i barely read your post ...? i have reiterated the same points, because you have made the same assertions ...

Yes, I've re-asserted them by substantiating them.

Quote
you attempted to show that Sts. Basil and Gregory are a dissenting voice on this matter, so I addressed that statment.

You just told me that St. Basil believed in a literal six-day creation, but I already knew that and said that. The point is that he considered Origen's interpretation worth perpetuating. Moreover, St. Basil's opinion does not equate to saying that everyone who disagrees with him is not Orthodox.

Quote
you asked for examples of allegories in the Fathers, so I provided some ...

You repeated the same quotations over and over again. You seem to think that since no intelligent person could disagree with your arguments, you can just repeat them over again until I "get it." I've already explained why I am not convinced of the fact just because it is the majority opinion of the Fathers. I also stated that I do not believe it is necessary to allegorize the entire story, in spite of my own opinion on the matter. But all these points can be found explained in greater detail in my longer posts.

The bottom line is, I do not need to prove that "the Fathers" allowed a purely metaphorical interpretaion of certain elements of the Biblical narratives: I just need to prove that a few of them thought it was permissible, even if they themselves decided not to do so.
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« Reply #2938 on: February 25, 2011, 02:27:06 PM »

Moreover, it's telling that you claim Darwinism was not "empirically substantiated" until modern genetics. Surely most Darwinists would argue that fossil evidence and comparative anatomy alone prove the truth of evolution, or at least they did in the early days of the theory. Does that mean that you, like creationists, find the paleontological and anatomical evidence unconvincing?

The current theory of evolution was not sufficiently substantiated until modern times. Fossils do not prove natural selection. Anatomy does not prove natural selection. They certainly do suggest some form of evolution in general. What fossils prove beyond a doubt is that there was death in the world more than 7500 (or 6000, or whatever) years ago.
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« Reply #2939 on: February 25, 2011, 02:57:11 PM »

Moreover, it's telling that you claim Darwinism was not "empirically substantiated" until modern genetics. Surely most Darwinists would argue that fossil evidence and comparative anatomy alone prove the truth of evolution, or at least they did in the early days of the theory. Does that mean that you, like creationists, find the paleontological and anatomical evidence unconvincing?

The current theory of evolution was not sufficiently substantiated until modern times. Fossils do not prove natural selection. Anatomy does not prove natural selection. They certainly do suggest some form of evolution in general. What fossils prove beyond a doubt is that there was death in the world more than 7500 (or 6000, or whatever) years ago.

If that's what you want to believe, I suppose I cannot dissuade you. All I need to know is that the Fathers did not believe there was death in the world before our forefathers transgressed. If that is too hard for you, I am sorry, but we are required to believe many things that are hard for the worldly, rationalist mind.

But as for the supposed scientific proof that all these fossils died before Adam, I am content that not all the evidence supports this, and in the end I choose to accept the evidence that supports the patristic doctrine about the perfect world before the Fall, the Great Flood of Noah and so on. If you only want to accept the evidence that supports the atheistic doctrines of evolution and a creation filled with death and corruption from the beginning, that is your choice.
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« Reply #2940 on: February 25, 2011, 05:42:02 PM »

Moreover, it's telling that you claim Darwinism was not "empirically substantiated" until modern genetics. Surely most Darwinists would argue that fossil evidence and comparative anatomy alone prove the truth of evolution, or at least they did in the early days of the theory. Does that mean that you, like creationists, find the paleontological and anatomical evidence unconvincing?

The current theory of evolution was not sufficiently substantiated until modern times. Fossils do not prove natural selection. Anatomy does not prove natural selection. They certainly do suggest some form of evolution in general. What fossils prove beyond a doubt is that there was death in the world more than 7500 (or 6000, or whatever) years ago.

If that's what you want to believe, I suppose I cannot dissuade you. All I need to know is that the Fathers did not believe there was death in the world before our forefathers transgressed. If that is too hard for you, I am sorry, but we are required to believe many things that are hard for the worldly, rationalist mind.

But as for the supposed scientific proof that all these fossils died before Adam, I am content that not all the evidence supports this, and in the end I choose to accept the evidence that supports the patristic doctrine about the perfect world before the Fall, the Great Flood of Noah and so on. If you only want to accept the evidence that supports the atheistic doctrines of evolution and a creation filled with death and corruption from the beginning, that is your choice.

I suppose we have finally reached an impasse, at least as far as patristics are concerned. It's interesting that you say I want to believe these "atheistic doctrines." Whay on earth leads me to want to believe them? Why would anyone interested in truth want to favor any one possibility over another? What motivation could all of us have for wanting to believe this? Wouldn't it be easier for us to just reject it? Are we that gullible? are we that stupid? Are we in denial? Denial of what? We're Christians! We have nothing to gain by acknowledging science! (Except, of course, that we would have to reject the opportunity to do good in the world as scientists.)

There are plenty of Christians in the field of biology. None of them thinks this is a problem. Those who claim to be scientists and got their degrees from such-and-such Bible Institute are merely being propped up by their institutions for the sole purpose of being apologists. We know them by their fruit: not a single useful accomplishment has come out of these fraudulent scientists, while legitimate science has produced such things as antibiotics, using a great deal of evolutionary theory along the way (Mina can speak far better on this than I can--I'm just a chemist).

It is true that there are a few genuine scientists who suspect the current theory of evolution to have fundamental flaws, and perhaps they are right. However, not a single one of these dissenting scientists could ever be persuaded that the earth was created a few thousand years ago, or that we allare descended from three people who stepped out of a boat in 2700 BC (or 2342 BC according to the Jewish chronology, take your pick). It is simply insane to acquaint oneself with ancient history, and then assert this to be true.

I simply wish to make clear that I am not the one who wants to believe something; I am not the one who lives with cognitive dissonance; and I am not in the least afraid of being proven wrong on this issue. It is simply too clear.

In the end, it really doesn't matter to me whether you think there were literal trees or not. What is important is, as Augustine said, when Christians make unreasonable assertions that make unbelievers think of us as unreasonable people. If you are wrong about evolution/geology/history, then you can imagine how detrimental that could be. (Conversely, if I am wrong, that could also lead to serious problems.) I therefore become concerned when Christians, and especially Orthodox ones, try to promote these ideas.

In Christ,
Rufus
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« Reply #2941 on: February 25, 2011, 06:02:34 PM »

I couldn't agree more with the previous post.

One of my favorite books is "The Language of God" by Francis Collins, an American physician-geneticist, currently Director of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. He's a Protestant and there are many things in this book with which I disagree. But he does make some very good points, like what I'm about to post now.

Imagine someone who was raised as a true Christian and along other things, he was taught that evolution is fiction of the Devil, people lived along with Dinosaurs and other things. If that person chooses to study the life sciences, such as biology, he will face scientific findings that contradict his faith. Findings that are not just narrated, but observed. Will he still hold on to his faith then or reject it, since what he was taught as "truth" holds of no scientific reality today? Having Christianity step down and voice opinions on science will only make some people leave the Church and nobody wants that.

I Corinthians, 15:14. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain: and your faith is also vain.




I've also read of the possibility of God messing with the shadows of the past so as to trick us into believing in evolution and testing us. Honestly, this is the biggest nonsense I've ever encountered. Is this your God? Someone who will play tricks to His own beloved creations? That is not the God I believe in, for sure.
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« Reply #2942 on: February 25, 2011, 09:10:31 PM »

Honestly, this is the biggest nonsense I've ever encountered. Is this your God? Someone who will play tricks to His own beloved creations? That is not the God I believe in, for sure.
Agreed.  The god of literal creationism isn't the almighty creator of the universe; he's a god of parlor tricks -- some sort of cosmic David Copperfield.
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« Reply #2943 on: February 25, 2011, 09:45:16 PM »

Moreover, it's telling that you claim Darwinism was not "empirically substantiated" until modern genetics. Surely most Darwinists would argue that fossil evidence and comparative anatomy alone prove the truth of evolution, or at least they did in the early days of the theory. Does that mean that you, like creationists, find the paleontological and anatomical evidence unconvincing?

The current theory of evolution was not sufficiently substantiated until modern times. Fossils do not prove natural selection. Anatomy does not prove natural selection. They certainly do suggest some form of evolution in general. What fossils prove beyond a doubt is that there was death in the world more than 7500 (or 6000, or whatever) years ago.

If that's what you want to believe, I suppose I cannot dissuade you. All I need to know is that the Fathers did not believe there was death in the world before our forefathers transgressed. If that is too hard for you, I am sorry, but we are required to believe many things that are hard for the worldly, rationalist mind.

But as for the supposed scientific proof that all these fossils died before Adam, I am content that not all the evidence supports this, and in the end I choose to accept the evidence that supports the patristic doctrine about the perfect world before the Fall, the Great Flood of Noah and so on. If you only want to accept the evidence that supports the atheistic doctrines of evolution and a creation filled with death and corruption from the beginning, that is your choice.

I suppose we have finally reached an impasse, at least as far as patristics are concerned. It's interesting that you say I want to believe these "atheistic doctrines." Whay on earth leads me to want to believe them? Why would anyone interested in truth want to favor any one possibility over another? What motivation could all of us have for wanting to believe this? Wouldn't it be easier for us to just reject it? Are we that gullible? are we that stupid? Are we in denial? Denial of what? We're Christians! We have nothing to gain by acknowledging science! (Except, of course, that we would have to reject the opportunity to do good in the world as scientists.)

There are plenty of Christians in the field of biology. None of them thinks this is a problem. Those who claim to be scientists and got their degrees from such-and-such Bible Institute are merely being propped up by their institutions for the sole purpose of being apologists. We know them by their fruit: not a single useful accomplishment has come out of these fraudulent scientists, while legitimate science has produced such things as antibiotics, using a great deal of evolutionary theory along the way (Mina can speak far better on this than I can--I'm just a chemist).

It is true that there are a few genuine scientists who suspect the current theory of evolution to have fundamental flaws, and perhaps they are right. However, not a single one of these dissenting scientists could ever be persuaded that the earth was created a few thousand years ago, or that we allare descended from three people who stepped out of a boat in 2700 BC (or 2342 BC according to the Jewish chronology, take your pick). It is simply insane to acquaint oneself with ancient history, and then assert this to be true.

I simply wish to make clear that I am not the one who wants to believe something; I am not the one who lives with cognitive dissonance; and I am not in the least afraid of being proven wrong on this issue. It is simply too clear.

In the end, it really doesn't matter to me whether you think there were literal trees or not. What is important is, as Augustine said, when Christians make unreasonable assertions that make unbelievers think of us as unreasonable people. If you are wrong about evolution/geology/history, then you can imagine how detrimental that could be. (Conversely, if I am wrong, that could also lead to serious problems.) I therefore become concerned when Christians, and especially Orthodox ones, try to promote these ideas.

In Christ,
Rufus

I suppose we have reached an impasse. I'll add a few words just to clarify some misunderstandings I think might still remain.

I think I see what you're saying about the "easy" choice. However, I would have thought the "easier" choice would be to surrender to what the world demands we believe: that we are nothing more than the product of impersonal chance, and that death is an integral part of nature, rather than an evil intrusion into God's good creation. If we accept this, no one will laugh at us or not invite us to prestigious academic conferences or praise our "wisdom" in not paying attention to the teachings of the Fathers.

I don't think the insinuation that creationists can't be good scientists is necessarily valid (although it may well be true for some). Acknowledging and studying variation and change that we observe is one thing; trying to extend this to account for everything in the world is something quite different and doesn't follow logically from the former. The idea that you can't understand how mutations and gene transfers confer antibiotic resistance in bacteria unless you believe we are descended from apes is absurd. That would be like saying no one could have figured out how to selectively breed dogs and horses until Darwin told us about natural selection.

To be honest, I wonder how it is that you do not suffer from cognitive dissonance! I think you acknowledge that the patristic consensus overwhelmingly supports a literal interpretation of Genesis. This is not because allegorical interpretations weren't available. It's not even because complete non-literalism wasn't found among many theologians, such as Origen. It's because the Fathers, including St Basil, St Chrysostom, St Ephraim the Syrian and so many others did not believe complete non-literalism was acceptable. If they did, don't you think they would have said so? Pointing to those allegorical passages of Origen, who was later condemned for heresy, and hypothesizing that St Basil would have scratched out those passages unless he thought they were permissible, seems kind of a weak argument when you have the saint saying the following:

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Those who do not admit the common meaning of the Scriptures say that water is not water, but some other nature, and they explain a plant and a fish according to their opinion.... (But) when I hear "grass," I think of grass, and in the same manner I understand everything as it is said, a plant, a fish, a wild animal, and an ox. Indeed, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16)."... (Some) have attempted by false arguments and allegorical interpretations to bestow on the Scripture a dignity of their own imagining. But theirs is the attitude of one who considers himself wiser than the revelations of the Spirit and introduces his own ideas in pretense of an explanation. Therefore, let it be understood as it has been written

How much plainer must St Basil be to persuade you that he believed the literal meaning of Genesis may not be rejected? And if Darwinism was at all compatible with our faith, do you expect me to believe that this would have escaped the notice of St Nectarius, St John of Kronstadt, St Barsanuphius of Optina and the rest? They might easily have said "well, as long as we appreciate the spiritual message, we don't need to believe in it literally." But since they didn't say that, I can't in good conscience deny the literal meaning of Scripture.

It would certainly be nice if a "theistic evolutionism" compromise could be found (nice in the sense of saving anyone the trouble of questioning secular science), but to me the difficulties are insurmountable. The patristic consensus on accepting the literal meaning of Scripture must be rejected; their unambiguous teaching that Creation before the Fall was incorrupt must likewise be rejected. You can talk about God "guiding" the course of evolution, but in practice how does this differ from belief in blind chance? My impression is that Christian evolutionists generally refuse to address the contradictions, and where they do, they inevitably sacrifice Church doctrine for the sake of conforming to their secular theories (e.g. conceding that death existed prior to sin).

As I said, exactly how old the earth is doesn't seem quite as important, at least if we are talking about the world before Adam (after Adam you have e.g. the exact enumeration of the generations from Adam to Christ that undermine attempts to reconcile Biblical human history with secular theories of pre-history). But then an old earth includes all those "old" fossils that, as you say, would have had to have died before Adam.

I don't want to disagree with St Augustine on the need to respect observed facts. I don't think, however, that he meant we should accept just any theory, if that theory compels us to disregard Revelation (and jckstraw has provided quotations from the saint that speak the opposite quite clearly). The real question, of course, is whether observed facts contradict Revelation. With those supposedly ancient fossils, for instance, are you sure you would rather insist on the infallibility of the dating methods of fallible science, rather than the unshakable testimony of Scripture and Tradition that the world was perfect and incorrupt until the sin of our first parents? These are the questions that constantly confront me when pondering this question, and why I have come to the conclusions that I have.
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« Reply #2944 on: February 25, 2011, 10:18:32 PM »



I've also read of the possibility of God messing with the shadows of the past so as to trick us into believing in evolution and testing us. Honestly, this is the biggest nonsense I've ever encountered. Is this your God? Someone who will play tricks to His own beloved creations? That is not the God I believe in, for sure.

of course as Creationists we dont believe in deceptive God (well, perhaps some accept that, but I certainly dont). but i only feel "tricked" by God if I accept the teachings of science over the teachings of the Fathers. If i accept Divine Revelation as the supreme source of knowledge on this subject then im certainly not tricked at all. God has given us the Scriptures and the Church to interpret them - so God comes right out and says "this is how creation happened." so there's no confusion, or perceived deception on my part at all.
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« Reply #2945 on: February 25, 2011, 10:21:29 PM »

and regarding John's point about death existing in creation (and the point i have been making for 50 pages now...), the teaching that Adam and Eve were created bodily immortal is an Ecumenical teaching of the Church, not up to opinion:

 
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Canon 109 of African Code, (120 of Council of Carthage), ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.

That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.

Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.
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« Reply #2946 on: February 25, 2011, 11:01:26 PM »

also, i think it is important to look at how the Fathers approached this issue. in addition to the fact that what they actually did teach on this subject is in total opposition to evolution, they also warned us from trying to understand this subject too much, from trying to understand with human wisdom. although the Fathers were not against science (nor are Creationists, although this is a common strawman put forth), they certainly did not view it as highly as many do today. they did not feel bound to accept it, nor did they think it useful in understanding Genesis:
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St. Ambrose, Paradise, 7
(speaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil): “We should not form a hasty judgment in respect to this product of creation, if it presents to our intellect what seems to us – like the creation of serpents and certain poisonous creatures – difficult and incomprehensible. In fact, we are unable, owing to human weakness, yet to know and understand the reason for the creation of each and every object. Let us, therefore, not criticize in holy Scripture something which we cannot comprehend. There are very many things which must not be subjected to the judgment of our intellect. Rather, these should be surveyed from the lofty heights of Divine Providence and from the intentions of God Himself.

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St. Augustine, City of God, Book XII.XXIV
For we are not to conceive of this work in a carnal fashion, as if God wrought as we commonly see artisans, who use their hands, and material furnished to them, that by their artistic skill they may fashion some material object. God's hand is God's power; and He, working invisibly, effects visible results. But this seems fabulous rather than true to men, who measure by customary and everyday works the power and wisdom of God, whereby He understands and produces without seeds even seeds themselves; and because they cannot understand the things which at the beginning were created, they are sceptical regarding them—as if the very things which they do know about human propagation, conceptions and births, would seem less incredible if told to those who had no experience of them; though these very things, too, are attributed by many rather to physical and natural causes than to the work of the divine mind.

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St. Barsanuphius of Optina, Elder Barsanuphius of Optina, pg. 280
this is only a hint of that wondrous beauty, incomprehensible to human thought, which was originally created. We don’t know what kind of moon there was then, what kind of sun, what kind of light . . . All of this changed after the fall.
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Elder Barsanuphius of Optina, pg. 468,
The beautiful things of this world are only hints of that beauty with which the first-created world was filled, as Adam and Eve saw it. That beauty was destroyed by the sin of the first people . . . Thus also did the fall into sin of the first people destroy the beauty of God’s world, and there remain to us only fragments of it by which we may judge concerning the primordial beauty.
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St. Basil, Hexameron, 1.1
If the weakness of our intelligence does not allow us to penetrate the depth of the thoughts of the writer, yet we will be involuntarily drawn to give faith to his words by the force of his authority. Now it is Moses who composed this history . . . who disdained the pomp of royalty, and, to share the humble conditions of his compatriots, preferred to be persecuted with the people of God . . . Moses, finally, who, at the age of eighty, saw God, as far as it is possible for man to see Him . . . according to the testimony of God Himself, ‘If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make Myself known to him in a vision, and I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; . . . he is faithful in all My house, I speak with him face to face, even plainly and not in dark sayings’ (Num. 12:6-8)

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Clement of Alexandria, Stromata Book 6.9
For, in fine, it is impossible that the immutable should assume firmness and consistency in the mutable. But the ruling faculty being in perpetual change, and therefore unstable, the force of habit is not maintained. For how can he who is perpetually changed by external occurrences mad accidents, ever possess habit and disposition, and in a word, grasp of scientific knowledge? Further, also, the philosophers regard the virtues as habits, dispositions, and sciences. And as knowledge (gnosis) is not born with men, but is acquired,133 and the acquiring of it in its elements demands application, and training, and progress; and then from incessant practice it passes into a habit; so, when perfected in the mystic habit, it abides, being infallible through love. For not only has he apprehended the first Cause, and the Cause produced by it, and is sure about them, possessing firmly firm and irrefragable and immoveable reasons; but also respecting what is good and what is evil, and respecting all production, and to speak comprehensively, respecting all about Which the Lord has spoken, he has learned, from the truth itself, the most exact truth from the foundation of the world to the end. Not preferring to the truth itself what appears plausible, or, according to Hellenic reasoning, necessary; but what has been spoken by the Lord he accepts as clear and evident, though concealed from others; and he has already received the knowledge of all things. And the oracles we possess give their utterances respecting what exists, as it is; and respecting what is future, as it shall be; and respecting what is past, as it was.

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Fr. Sophrony, Principles of Orthodox Asceticism, in The Orthodox Ethos, 1964, pg. 273-274
The educated man of the present day, with his developed critical approach, is incomparably less fitted for the ascetic exercise of obedience than the man of a simple turn of mind who is not seduced by intellectual curiosity. The cultured man, enamoured of his own critical intelligence, which he is accustomed to consider his principal dignity and the one solid foundation of his ‘personal’ life, has to renounce this wealth of his before becoming a novice, or it will be difficult for him to enter into the Kingdom. But how is this to be done? Is not the man into whose hands we must put our will just another human being likes ourselves – one, indeed, who many sometimes seem to us to stand lower than we do? The disciple begins to argue within himself: ‘Is this staretz an oracle, then? And how does he know God’s will? God gave us our reason and we must do our reasoning ourselves. For instance, there is no sense at all in what the staretz has just told me. It is all rubbish.’ And so on. This sort of attitude makes the novice doubtful and hesitant about his spiritual father’s every word, his every directive; and so he forgets that God’s will in this world expresses itself in the very same outward forms as serve to manifest both the natural will of man and the demoniacal will, when this last is made manifest through man. He judges by outward appearances, after the manner of the ‘reasoning’ man, and therefore does not find the path to the living faith . . . In the presence of divine truth the novice finds himself profoundly convinced of the imperfection of his own reasoning powers. This marks an important stage in his ascetic life. In mistrusting his intelligence the monk frees himself from the nightmare in which all mankind lives . . . By this renunciation of his will and judgment, for the sake of cleaving to the divine will which surpasses any human wisdom, the novice is in fact renouncing nothing else than his own egocentric will, het product of the passions, and his feeble little intelligence, and thereby showing true wisdom and superior will. In this manner the novice lightly – and imperceptibly to himself – advances to a height which men of the greatest intellectual culture cannot attain, or even apprehend. This height is purity of mind in God, as we have said earlier.
-- it is explained earlier that “novice” in this context refers to any Christian who turns to a spiritual father for guidance

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St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 28.5,
But enough has been said on this point. As to what concerns us, it is not only the Peace of God which passeth all understanding and knowledge, nor only the things which God hath stored up in promise for the righteous, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived" except in a very small degree, nor the accurate knowledge of the Creation. For even of this I would have you know that you have only a shadow when you hear the words, "I will consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars," and the settled order therein; not as if he were considering them now, but as destined to do so hereafter.

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Oration 43, Funeral Oration for St. Basil, Chapter 67,
I will only say this of him. Whenever I handle his Hexaemeron, and take its words on my lips, I am brought into the presence of the Creator, and understand the words of creation, and admire the Creator more than before, using my teacher as my only means of sight.

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St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, Homily on Man
The earth, created, adorned, blessed by God, did not have any deficiencies. It was overflowing with refinement. "God saw," after the completion of the whole creation of the world, "everything that He had made: and, behold, it was very good." (Gen. 1:31). Now the earth is presented to our eyes in a completely different look. We do not know her condition in holy virginity; we know her in the condition of corruption and accursedness, we know her already sentenced to burning; she was created for eternity. . . . Plants were not subjected either to decay or to diseases; both decay and diseases and the weeds themselves, appeared after the alteration of the earth following the fall of man . . . According to its creation, there was on it only the splendid, only the wholesome, there was only that which was suitable for the immortal and blessed life of its inhabitants . . . The beasts and other animals lived in perfect harmony among themselves, nourishing themselves on plant life.

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St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book II.XVIII
1. Having therefore the truth itself as our rule and the testimony concerning God set clearly before us, we ought not, by running after numerous and diverse answers to questions, to cast away the firm and true knowledge of God. 2. We should leave things of that nature to God who created us, being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit; but we, inasmuch as we are inferior to, and later in existence than, the Word of God and His Spirit, are on that very account destitute of the knowledge of His mysteries. And there is no cause for wonder if this is the case with us as respects things spiritual and heavenly, and such as require to be made known to us by revelation, since many even of those things which lie at our very feet (I mean such as belong to this world, which we handle, and see, and are in close contact with) transcend our knowledge, so that even these we must leave to God. 3. If, therefore, even with respect to creation, there are some things [the knowledge of] Which belongs only to God, and others which come within the range of our own knowledge, what ground is there for complaint, if, in regard to those things which we investigate in the Scriptures (which are throughout spiritual), we are able by the grace of God to explain some of them, while we must leave others in the hands of God, and that not only in the present world, but also in that which is to come, so that God should forever teach, and man should for ever learn the things taught him by God? As the apostle has said on this point, that, when other things have been done away, then these three, "faith, hope, and charity, shall endure."

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St. John of Kronstadt,My Life in Christ
 "The Holy Scriptures speak more truly and more clearly of the world than the world itself or the arrangement of the earthly strata; the scriptures of nature within it, being dead and voiceless, cannot express anything definite. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" Were you with God when He created the universe? "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counseller, hath taught Him?" And yet you geologists boast that you have understood the mind of the Lord, in the arrangement of strata, and maintained it in spite of Holy Writ! You believe more in the dead letters of the earthly strata, in the soulless earth, than in the Divinely-inspired words of the great prophet Moses, who saw God."

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St. Justin Martyr, Hortatory Address to the Greeks, chapter 8
Since therefore it is impossible to learn anything true concerning religion from your teachers, who by their mutual disagreement have furnished you with sufficient proof of their own ignorance, I consider it reasonable to recur to our progenitors, who both in point of time have by a great way the precedence of your teachers, and who have taught us nothing from their own private fancy, nor differed with one another, nor attempted to overturn one another's positions, but without wrangling and contention received from God the knowledge which also they taught to us. For neither by nature nor by human conception is it possible for men to know things so great and divine, but by the gift which then descended from above upon the holy men, who had no need of rhetorical art, nor of uttering anything in a contentious or quarrelsome manner, but to present themselves pure to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the divine plectrum itself, descending from heaven, and using righteous men as an instrument like a harp or lyre, might reveal to us the knowledge of things divine and heavenly. Wherefore, as if with one mouth and one tongue, they have in succession, and in harmony with one another, taught us both concerning God, and the creation of the world, and the formation of man, and concerning the immortality of the human soul, and the judgment which is to be after this life, and concerning all things which it is needful for us to know, and thus in divers times and places have afforded us the divine instruction.

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Lactantius, Divine Institutes 7.14
Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed; and in this they perhaps followed the Chaldeans, who, as Cicero has related in his first book respecting divination, foolishly say that they possess comprised in their memorials four hundred and seventy thousand years; in which matter, because they thought that they could not be convicted, they believed that they were at liberty to speak falsely. But we, whom the Holy Scriptures instruct to the knowledge of the truth, know the beginning and the end of the world, respecting which we will now speak in the end of our work, since we have explained respecting the beginning in the second book. Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodelled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain. God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days, as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works. But this is the Sabbath-day, which in the language of the Hebrews received its name from the number, whence the seventh is the legitimate and complete number. For there are seven days, by the revolutions of which in order the circles of years are made up; and there are seven stars which do not set, and seven luminaries which are called planets, whose differing and unequal movements are believed to cause the varieties of circumstances and time.

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St. Methodios of Olympus, Discourses, III.2
For it is a dangerous thing wholly to despise the literal meaning, as has been said, and especially of Genesis, where the unchangeable decrees of God for the constitution of the universe are set forth, in agreement with which, even until now, the world is perfectly ordered, most beautifully in accordance with a perfect rule, until the Lawgiver Himself having re-arranged it, wishing to order it anew, shall break up the first laws of nature by a fresh disposition. But, since it is not fitting to leave the demonstration of the argument unexamined-and, so to speak, half-lame-come let us, as it were completing our pair, bring forth the analogical sense, looking more deeply into the Scripture; for Paul is not to be despised when he passes over the literal meaning, and shows that the words extend to Christ and the Church.


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St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies Pg. 116
One and One only, has spoken to us clearly and definitely about all that will come to pass at the end of time: the Lord Jesus Christ. Were anyone soever to say what He said about the end of the world, we would not believe him, though he were the greatest sage living. Were he to speak from his human understanding, and not from God’s proven revelation, we would not believe him. For human understanding and human logic, however great they may be, are too puny to reach to the world’s beginning and its end. Understanding is useless where vision is needed. We need a seer, who sees as clearly as the sun – to see the whole world, from its beginning to its end, and the beginning and the end themselves. There has only ever been one such: the Lord Jesus Christ.

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St. Symeon the New Theologian, Ethical Discourses 1.1
God did not, as some people think, just give Paradise to our ancestors at the beginning, nor did He make only Paradise incorruptible. No! Instead, He did much more. Before Paradise He made the whole earth, the one which we inhabit, and everything in it. Nor that alone, but He also in five days brought the heavens and all they contain into being. On the sixth day He made Adam and established him as lord and king of all the visible creation. Neither Eve nor Paradise were yet created, but the whole world had been brought into being by God as one thing, as a kind of paradise, at once incorruptible yet material and perceptible. It was this world, as we said, which was given to Adam and to his descendants for their enjoyment. Does this seem strange to you? It should not. Pay attention to our argument, and it will show you clearly how this is so from the holy Scripture. It is written there: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void.” Next, the remaining creative works of God are given in exact detail, and then, after “there was evening and morning the fifth day, “ Scripture adds: “Then God said, “Let us make man after our image, in our likeness . . . male and female He created them [1:26-27]. Male and female, it says, not as though Eve had already come into being, but instead as she was still in Adam’s side, co-existing with him.

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Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, chapter 1
From God you may learn about that which you hold of God; but from none else will you get this knowledge, if you get it not from God. For who is to reveal that which God has hidden? To that quarter must we resort in our inquiries whence we are most safe even in deriving our ignorance. For it is really better for us not to know a thing, because He has not revealed it to us, than to know it according to man’s wisdom, because he has been bold enough to assume it.

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St. Theophan the Recluse
"The positive teaching of the Church serves to know whether a concept is from the Truth. This is a litmus test for all teachings. Whatever agrees with it, you should accept it, whatever does not- - reject. One can do it without further deliberations" [1]. "Science goes forward fast, let it do so. But if they infer something inconsistent with the Divine Revelation, they are definitely off the right path in life, do not follow them" [2]. "Believers have the right to measure the material things with spiritual ones, when materialists get into the realm of the spiritual without a slightest scruple... We have wisdom as our partner, while theirs is foolishness. Material things can be neither the power nor the purpose. They are just the means and the field of activity of spiritual powers by the action of the spiritual beginning of all things (Creator)"

-- from St Feofan Zatvornik, Nastavleniya v duhovnoi zhisni. - Pskov-Pechery Monastery of Holy Dormition: Mosc. Patriarchate Publ., 1994.  And 2. St Feofan Zatvornik, Sozertsanie I razmyshlenie. - Moscow, Pravilo very, 1998.
http://creatio.orthodoxy.ru/sbornik/sbufeev_whynot_english.html

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St. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus II.XII
Of this six days' work no man can give a worthy explanation and description of all its parts, not though he had ten thousand tongues and ten thousand mouths; nay, though he were to live ten thousand years, sojourning in this life, not even so could he utter anything worthy of these things, on account of the exceeding greatness and riches of the wisdom of God which there is in the six days' work above narrated. Many writers indeed have imitated [the narration], and essayed to give an explanation of these things; yet, though they thence derived some suggestions, both concerning the creation of the world and the nature of man, they have emitted no slightest spark of truth.

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II.XVIII
But as to what relates to the creation of man, his own creation cannot be explained by man, though it is a succinct account of it which holy Scripture gives. For when God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness," He first intimates the dignity of man. For God having made all things by His Word, and having reckoned them all mere bye-works, reckons the creation of man to be the only work worthy of His own hands. Moreover, God is found, as if needing help, to say, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness." But to no one else than to His own Word and wisdom did He say, "Let Us make." And when He had made and blessed him, that he might increase and replenish the earth, He put all things under his dominion, and at his service; and He appointed from the first that he should find nutriment from the fruits of the earth, and from seeds, and herbs, and acorns, having at the same time appointed that the animals be of habits similar tom an's, that they also might eat of an the seeds of the earth.

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Vladimir Lossky, Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church Pg. 104-105
Having no philosophical references, the Church always freely makes use of philosophy and the sciences for apologetic purposes, but she never has any cause to defend these relative and changing truths as she defends the unchangeable truth of her doctrines. This is why ancient or more modern cosmological theories cannot affect in any way the more fundamental truth which is revealed to the Church: “the truth of Holy Scripture is far deeper than the limits of our understanding,” as Philaret of Moscow says [Sermons and Discourses, Moscow, 1877]. In the face of the vision of the universe which the human race has gained since the period of the renaissance, in which the earth is represented as an atom lost in infinite space amid innumerable other worlds, there is no need for theology to change anything whatever in the narrative of Genesis . . .

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« Reply #2947 on: February 25, 2011, 11:31:03 PM »

and regarding John's point about death existing in creation (and the point i have been making for 50 pages now...),

We heard you.

Quote
the teaching that Adam and Eve were created bodily immortal is an Ecumenical teaching of the Church, not up to opinion:

 
Quote
Canon 109 of African Code, (120 of Council of Carthage), ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.

That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.

Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.

No one is saying Man was created bound to death. It is notably the teaching of the Fathers that Adam was not immortal by his own nature, but only immortal because the grace of God was dwelling in him (and also in the whole creation, which was tied to Adam's obedience or disobedience).
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« Reply #2948 on: February 25, 2011, 11:38:19 PM »

and regarding John's point about death existing in creation (and the point i have been making for 50 pages now...),

We heard you.

Quote
the teaching that Adam and Eve were created bodily immortal is an Ecumenical teaching of the Church, not up to opinion:

 
Quote
Canon 109 of African Code, (120 of Council of Carthage), ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.

That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.

Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.

No one is saying Man was created bound to death. It is notably the teaching of the Fathers that Adam was not immortal by his own nature, but only immortal because the grace of God was dwelling in him (and also in the whole creation, which was tied to Adam's obedience or disobedience).

well, honestly, you might be one of the first ones on this thread to accept this. most have been arguing that death is indeed natural to the world. how do you harmonize this belief with evolution which has death as a necessary component?
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« Reply #2949 on: February 26, 2011, 01:15:11 AM »

and regarding John's point about death existing in creation (and the point i have been making for 50 pages now...),

We heard you.

Quote
the teaching that Adam and Eve were created bodily immortal is an Ecumenical teaching of the Church, not up to opinion:

 
Quote
Canon 109 of African Code, (120 of Council of Carthage), ratified at Trullo and Nicea II.
That Adam was not created by God subject to death.

That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.

Ancient Epitome of Canon CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and through natural necessity, let him be anathema.

No one is saying Man was created bound to death. It is notably the teaching of the Fathers that Adam was not immortal by his own nature, but only immortal because the grace of God was dwelling in him (and also in the whole creation, which was tied to Adam's obedience or disobedience).

well, honestly, you might be one of the first ones on this thread to accept this. most have been arguing that death is indeed natural to the world. how do you harmonize this belief with evolution which has death as a necessary component?

Well, the easy answer is that I just accept the mystery, but that's boring, so I'll tell you what I think!

I can only speculate (obviously), but I think there are two main paradigms we can look at this through: we can look at the fall as an event that occured at a particular point in history, or we can look at it as being non-temporal. I would favor the second view, but that's just me. Either way, you can't escape death existing among animals before humans existed. Coming from the point-in-time view, could the first humans (which I would have to define as the first beings capable of union with God) have transformed creation by following God's path? I think that's a stretch. I think a non-temporal view makes much more sense, in which Adam is an archetype for all humanity. This works as long as we remember that Adam was not immortal by nature, but would have died (and did) without being sustained by God's grace. This still does not get rid of the problem of animal death. A further possibility is that the spiritualized paradise in which the fall took place exists outside the normal confines of the reality we live in now, and that the fall precipitated the world we live in. This can tend towards a semi-gnosticism, but it does not have to, and it is not really out of whack with the Fathers. It's not that different from what Iconodule is saying, except that I'm acknowledging that the fossils, etc. are really dead remnants of prehistoric  creatures, and he is not. (Even within this latter worldview, I still would have a gard time acknowledging literal trees and such, but that's just me. We're dealing with serious weirdness at this point anyway.)

That being said, this is speculation, and I will not dogmatically cling to any one view. It's just me brainstorming. What I really care about is what the Bible narrative means for us, now.
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« Reply #2950 on: February 26, 2011, 01:41:30 AM »

Oh, and as a post-script, reconciling natural history with Scripture isn't nearly as acrobatic as explaining how you can inherit eternal life or gain knowledge of good and evil by eating a literal piece of fruit! this "fruit" does not simply have a secondary allegorical meaning. It's symbolic meaning is quite concretely real!!
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« Reply #2951 on: February 28, 2011, 04:05:26 PM »

Anyone been to this website?
http://www.talkorigins.org/
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« Reply #2952 on: February 28, 2011, 04:41:05 PM »

Anyone been to this website?
http://www.talkorigins.org/

that website says that because there is still death in the world, Christ obviously did not overcome death ... yeeeeeeeeah .....

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH301.html
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« Reply #2953 on: February 28, 2011, 05:17:24 PM »

More evidence that it is impossible to understand Genesis, or anything in the Bible or the Fathers, with a mind that is focused solely on this fallen world. As Fr Seraphim explained, there is not even any purpose in trying to theorize about Creation with our fallen reason, since we are bound to get it wrong so long as we are unaided by Divine Revelation. The role science plays in bringing us to God is very simple: it tells us that there is a marvelous order running throughout the universe, and it does not tell us where this order comes from. We then thank God that He has given us the knowledge concerning Creation that is necessary for our salvation through Scripture and Tradition.
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« Reply #2954 on: February 28, 2011, 07:52:54 PM »

Anyone been to this website?
http://www.talkorigins.org/

that website says that because there is still death in the world, Christ obviously did not overcome death ... yeeeeeeeeah .....

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH301.html
The full response:

"The Biblical references to death refer to spiritual death. Romans 6:23, for example, says God, through Christ, already gave us eternal life. Obviously, physical death still occurs, so Christ did not save mankind from it. If the death from which Christ was supposed to save us was physical death, then Christ was a failure."
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« Reply #2955 on: February 28, 2011, 10:23:10 PM »

Anyone been to this website?
http://www.talkorigins.org/

that website says that because there is still death in the world, Christ obviously did not overcome death ... yeeeeeeeeah .....

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH301.html
The full response:

"The Biblical references to death refer to spiritual death. Romans 6:23, for example, says God, through Christ, already gave us eternal life. Obviously, physical death still occurs, so Christ did not save mankind from it. If the death from which Christ was supposed to save us was physical death, then Christ was a failure."

exactly. they attempted to step over into theology and failed miserably. i put no stock in that website for the purposes of this discussion.
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« Reply #2956 on: March 01, 2011, 02:47:54 AM »

Thank you, Opus. So, if I understand you right, there are mutations that restore fitness that also do not belong to the class of "reversion" mutations that Anderson talks about. I am guessing that is what you mean by "Promoter-Up" mutations. The key claim here, I think, is that you have supposedly random mutations that not only increase fitness (a necessarily contingent quality and not absolutely dependent on increased complexity), but more importantly increase informational complexity beyond the originally observed state of complexity, something that could support Darwinian theory, even though it contradicts the predictions of the generalized second law of thermodynamics. I think we already established in this discussion that terms like "gain of function" are not probative, because, as Anderson showed, gains in function can arise from loss of information, where events like loss of repressor genes are concerned, which result in increased performance of a certain function already encoded in the genetic design. But I take it you are speaking of gain of information, not just gain of function.

When you get a chance, could you take a look at this article about Darwinism and the deterioration of the genome?

http://www.trueorigin.org/mutations01.asp

He makes some interesting claims, such as the fact that mutations are not entirely random, and that the structure of the genome does not fit with the hypothesis that the whole genome is the product of random change. Also, he insists on the extreme rarity of beneficial mutations, with several citations to support his claim. Perhaps you and Mina disagree with the author's conclusion, however, in which case we should certainly discuss this further:

Quote
All of the beneficial mutations located in my search of the literature involving almost 20 million references were loss mutations and mutations such as sickle cell anemia that have a beneficial effect only in very special circumstances.  In most situations they have a decidedly negative effect on the organism’s health.  Not a single clear example of an information-gaining mutation was located.  It was concluded that molecular biology research shows that information-gaining mutations have not yet been documented.  While such negative findings do not in and of themselves prove creation, they support the conclusion that an Intelligent Designer formed the original genomes of each created kind.

One alternative way of looking at this problem is the following: if we start by assuming beneficial, information-gaining mutations are sufficiently frequent, why did e.g. Dobzhansky's fruitfly experiments completely fail to reveal any? After deliberately increasing the mutation rate by application of radiation, and after many generations, the only mutations that occurred were deleterious, e.g. loss of wings. And even if you argue that such mutations could be beneficial in certain environments, e.g. a windy island where a winged fly could be easily blown out to sea, they are clearly information-losing mutations, not information-gaining. I see problems with Darwinian predictions whichever aspect of biology you look at.

And notwithstanding whatever scientific evidence for Darwinism there may be, the dogmatic problems remain. A God who created death is simply not the God of the Christians. A universe that arose out of cycles of destruction and spontaneous creation would seem on the contrary to support pagan theories of the Deity, like the three aspects of the Hindu god Shiva.

Hi Jonathan
I started on the article that you suggested that I  read. I wasn't particularly efficient, because I consider this a conversation rather than a debate. That will be evident once you see how far I have gotten. But first I want to relieve your mind about promoter up mutations, the gain of information achieved is not novel, strong promoters already have this information (typically in bacteriophage that wants to overexpress their gene products as fast a possible). Promoter up mutations are pervasive because they often only require a single base pair change. If you want to know why most promoters are purposefully weak, we can go into that later. And my advise to Dobzhansky is to lower the radiation dose, wait longer, and be more patient, but then again I have only started working with fruit flies a few months ago and I am already tired of having them fly into my mouth when harvesting embryos for protein purification.

I am sure I have read it already, but can you recap the evidence that absolutely all life had to live forever. It appear to be the crux of the problem here rather than scientific evidence. It is not a situation that would allow a sustained environment in our current biosphere, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. And I confess that I have read this entire 66 page and growing thread, but remember almost none of it.

This is where I am with the article you have chosen for so far (comments on the abstract and the beginning of the article) with quoted text in red:

An evaluation of DNA/RNA mutations indicates that they cannot provide significant new levels of information.
This is wrong unless his definition of information doesn’t include a beneficial effect.

Instead, mutations will produce degradation of the information in the genome.  This is the opposite of the predictions of the neoDarwinian origins model. 
Degradation of information is a weird term here. I don’t know what he is talking about because I do not know what the neoDarinian origin models (there must be more than one, right?) are and I do not really care what they are.

Such genome degradation is counteracted by natural selection that helps maintain the status quo.
I he means defects, absolutely, he hit the nail on the head with this statement.

  Degradation results for many reasons, two of which are reviewed here.  1) there is a tendency for mutations to produce a highly disproportionate number of certain nucleotide bases such as thymine and 2) many mutations occur in only a relatively few places within the gene called “hot spots,” and rarely occur in others, known as “cold spots.”
I do not know why he picks out thymine. There are hot spots, they tend to be repetitive sequence elements. The other spots used to be called cold spots, but they represent the normal rate of mutations. There is no impact of hot versus cold on the role of mutations in evolution. In other words, the normal mutation rate for a given gene is 1 per 10 million (+/- a factor of 10) in a population of bacteria, and hot spots are around 1 in 10,000 (+/- a factor of 10). There is plenty of time for 1 per 10 million.

 An intensive review of the literature fails to reveal a single clear example of a beneficial information-gaining mutation.  Conversely, thousands of deleterious mutations exist, supporting the hypothesis that very few mutations are beneficial.  These findings support the creation origins model.
Again, I am not sure what he means by information and what he thinks is not information. There are many examples of beneficial mutations. The author also seems to ignore the fact that evolved organisms are near perfection for their environmental niche. If you change their environment (temperature, salinity, nutrient compositions, etc.) beneficial mutations are evident that might be silent or detrimental in the prior environment. This is already documented. Why are there thousands upon thousands of research papers on detrimental mutations and let us say only a few hundred or less of the papers that show that beneficial mutations occur? It is because detrimental mutations have financial and health consequences. The research will be funded by NIH and the Department of Agriculture and published in the limited and costly space of Journals. If you want to do a new experiment on the acquirement of beneficial mutations based on environmental change with a new organism or a new environmental situation/requirement, it is doubtful you would be funded because the proof of concept has already been established, the probability of discovering something novel (very important for basic research) is low and only a small fraction of research proposals with high probability for novel and significant contributions are funded. I suspect there are a lot more studies of this sort in industry-related journals rather the research journals and he probably should do his literature search there (it is not going to be indexed in PubMed, unfortunately).

An evaluation of the literature and an analysis of the original data reveals many serious problems with Dawkins’ mutation/selection model.  A major problem is the computer program contains human designed foresight that evolution does not possess.  Intermediate word sets are chosen only because the program is designed to select for changes that match its predetermined goal.
I might have the same objection, but I have done the same thing with totally random DNA sequence with a selective pressure and having no idea what the result would be. Here is an example (done by someone I know): when whole genome sequences became available for organisms from the third domain of life, Archaea (they are prokaryotic extremophiles that contain related proteins that are only found in eukaryotes and not bacteria and vice versa), a researcher found a gene encoding a protein that was related to a class of bacterial transcriptional regulators that bind to specific DNA sequences (transcription is RNA synthesis). The regulation of gene expression is primarily mediated (ultimately) by regulating transcription and little or nothing was known about the regulation of gene expression in Archaea. They are difficult grow in a laboratory and no genetic system was available. The researcher cloned the gene, expressed the protein in E. coli and purified it to see if it would bind nonspecifically to DNA (with weak affinity; that is, most of the interaction affinity is due only to the spacing and negative charges of the phosphate (PO4-) separating individual deoxyribose moities of DNA). It did bind nonspecifically, but he had no way of finding out if it bound tightly to a specific sequence in the archaeal genome due to the near impossibility of doing genetics (optimal growth conditions of 100 C (the temperature water boils) and anaerobic, which means no agar petri dishes, no air allowed, and the melting and degradation of any DNA that you might would want to get into the cell). To get around this problem he used an in vitro evolution technique called SELEX. It is kind of the modern way to get proteins or RNA with new activities that didn’t exist previously in nature by starting with totally random DNA (we are just too dumb to figure out how to do this type of genetic engineering ourselves currently). In this case a totally random ~20 (might be 16, I forget) base pair DNA molecule was synthesized on a machine with predetermined flanking DNA sequences on each side (more about this later). This corresponds to 420 different sequences and he made enough DNA to have four copies of each possibility. He then allowed a relatively small amount his protein to bind to this DNA under nonspecific conditions (high micro-molar concentrations of DNA). Because nonspecific protein-DNA interactions are transient (that is, the on and off rates of binding/releasing to/from DNA is rapid), if his protein binds DNA specifically (not all proteins of this type do), it will exchange, with time, onto DNA having greater and greater similarity to its preferred binding sequence and it will remain bound to these more preferred DNA sequences for longer periods of time. I won’t go into the details but there are lots of ways of isolating DNA bound to protein from free DNA, which was done. This isolated DNA was amplified by 25 rounds of DNA replication using the predetermined flanking sequences to design DNA primers to replicate the random region. The technique is called PCR, which I am guessing you are familiar with and won’t go into it further except to note that the heat resistant DNA polymerase comes from the same archaeal species (Pyrococcus furiosus). Twenty five rounds is the number of doublings E. coli achieves after 8-12 hours. He then used this DNA for binding to his protein at more stringent conditions (a lot less protein and a lot less DNA, but still with a large excess of DNA over protein. The DNA that bound to his protein was again isolated and amplified by PCR. This procedure was repeated about 6 to 8 times (I can’t remember), each time making the conditions more stringent (ultimately down to the low nanomolar concentration range). He sequenced this DNA and found that he selected an interrupted palindromic sequence from random DNA. I don’t remember the sequence, but is was of this sort: 5'-GGCTTACaggGTAAGCC-3' (the complementary DNA strand has the same capitalized letter sequence going right to left [in the 5' to 3' direction]; agg is the interruption). He found this sequence upstream of just a couple of genes in the Pyrococcus genome and he cloned the genes into an E coli plasmid for in vitro transcription using the (human/eukaryotic-like) Pyrococcus RNA polymerase and (human/eukaryotic-like) basal transcription factors TBP and TFIIB and found that his (bacterial-like) protein and the palindromic sequence were essential for the transcription of these genes but not other Pyrococcus genes.

One major problem is that this model does not include lethal mutations.  Every single product of the program can survive and “reproduce” until the goal is reached.  As a result, there is no limit to the “beneficial changes” available for selection, and every single change to each goal letter increases “fitness” and is thus selected for the next generation (Spetner, 1997, pp. 163-170).  This model is totally unrealistic because most expressed mutations are deleterious and, as a result, the favorable mutations almost always “become swallowed in the flood of bad mutations” (Hoyle, 1999, p. 20).  Hence, “only mutations of small effect are likely to be beneficial” (Bell, 1997, p. 56).
First off, I do not buy into abiogenesis occurring on earth. I do not find it reasonable (it is beyond what I can comprehend) and I stopped reading abiogenesis-related papers about five years ago (although this research topic is worthwhile for many other reasons). I also do not buy into the above statement. Let’s start with a microorganism and how and/or why it got here is a matter of one’s faith. For me, I would prefer God to start with some bacterial species (I know more about them than archaea) along with some bacteriophage (viruses that infect bacteria), the latter so that I do not have to write about the evolutionary lag phase when they were not in existence. Oh, and some of these chosen bacteria have a sex pilus and a DNA plasmid episome that can integrate in and out of the bacterial chromosome carrying along duplicated bacterial genes to other bacteria during intercourse. They are not needed and I do not use them for this story, but sex sells. These bacteria created an environment on earth that made it possible for them to devolve into less adaptive and less fit organisms like eukaryotes (from yeasts to humans). I say this because bacteria can survive quite well without us eukaryotes, but we eukaryotes cannot survive without bacteria. Now a eukaryote might say we have an evolved archeaeon for our nucleus, an evolved cyanobacteria for our chloroplast, an evolved eubacteria for our mitochondria and an evolved bacteriophage T7-related RNA polymerase for our mitochondrial RNA polymerase (I didn’t want to leave our bacteriophage friends out), but we eukaryotes can’t do squat, metabolically, compared to prokaryotes. I added this opinion of mine because I think we need to have more humility and focus ourselves why God created this environment for us to exist (for me it is spelled out primarily in the Gospel of St Matthew and I will forever be struggling to live up to those expectations without thinking about it first). Back to the issue on hand with a warning, I am not an evolutionary biologist, I have never taken a class on it nor have I read a book or article about evolution (per se), I am not interested in it (I consider it a done deal based on comparative protein structure and enzymatic mechanisms and of course phylogenetic relationships of DNA and proteins), there are others here that are more knowledgeable than I am in this particular area (Minasoliman (I hope I spelled that correctly) and Heorhij, for example). The refuting scenario that follows came to mind because of the recent metagenomic sequencing project, The Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling Expedition, in which DNA extracted from ocean waters is being sequenced by the Craig Venter machines and programs used to shotgun sequence the human genome. A lot of the DNA found turned out to be from cyanophage, a bacteriophage which infects cyanobacteria (life-giving blue green algae in Opus118-speak, or “pond scum” in Aposphetic). These cyanophage, en masse, contain a lot of genes, including photosystems I and II (for photosynthesis) and other metabolic (anabolic and catabolic) enzymes, from cyanbacteria, other metabolic enzymes without bacterial counterparts, and a bunch of other proteins that we have no idea what they do because all we have is DNA sequence and no known homologs. Some viruses kill the cell no matter what (lytic), some rest a spell like rats until it looks like the boat is going to sink (lysogenic). Viruses are good incubators for evolution because they are not alive, incorporate (duplicate) preexisting genes from bacteria by chromosomal integration or inadvertent recombination (both happen), have 100-1000 progeny per infected cell in less than 15 minutes, compared to 1 bacterial genome in 20 minutes max, no constraints on the evolving gene being toxic at some point because they are going to kill the cell in a few minutes any way or whenever they feel like it if they are lysogenic, less dependent on precise DNA replication (leading to more errors/mutations) because of the number their progeny with each infection cycle, and they are probably the first to sense and adapt to changes in the environment (meaning a selective pressure on the duplicated genes they already harbor) because they need to grab as much of the cell’s resources and the cellular environmental resources as fast as they can while they are killing off the cell (once they go lytic on you, if they were lysogenic). This is one way to refute the lethality problem proposed above, there are others I could propose if viruses didn’t exist and do not exist now which is perhaps overdoing it.

That's it so far. I am still contemplating on some text that I wrote about evolution in higher eukaryotes, I decided to use RNA splicing as a mechanism to that avoids lethality but I do not have the facts on the tip of my tongue and describing the topic is a bit complex.

Best wishes
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« Reply #2957 on: March 01, 2011, 10:57:30 AM »

In this case a totally random ~20 (might be 16, I forget) base pair DNA molecule was synthesized on a machine with predetermined flanking DNA sequences on each side (more about this later). This corresponds to 420 different sequences and he made enough DNA to have four copies of each possibility.

I forgot to check if the superscripts carried over in my paste. 420 is 4 to the 20th power (or ~1,100,000,000,000).
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« Reply #2958 on: March 04, 2011, 11:29:51 AM »

Thanks for your reply, Opus. I'm sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you. You obviously spent a lot of time on that post, so I don't want you to feel like you wasted your time.

It seems you have identified a significant problem, which is how do we define "information"? When I first thought seriously about this issue a couple of weeks ago, I finally became convinced beyond doubt that evolution CAN'T be true, because the kind of incredibly long series of random upward changes from a highly disordered to a highly ordered and organized situation just seemed completely implausible, based on our current observations of how things work in nature. Yes, there is a lot of organization, but as far as we can tell now this information was always there. Certainly, if we had to come up with a purely materialistic theory for how this organization came about, we need to devise an evolutionary theory of some kind. But logically we don't HAVE to posit evolutionism; direct creation of the natural order by some outside intelligence will do just as well, although it is hardly compatible with materialist presuppositions.

I admit, though, that my concept of "informational complexity" is still somewhat vague. But I don't think it's any vaguer than your average evolutionist who, in typically facile fashion, claims that because stuff is changing now, everything we see today can be explained by change. Obviously, a lot depends on just what kind of change we see now, and what kind of change we need to get all the natural order today out of primeval chaos.

I still believe this, even if in a very localized way we can observe something that looks like information increase, for instance where beneficial mutations occur in bacteria (and allowing any beneficial mutation to be considered "information increase"). Mina asserted that if you can see a germ gain resistance by some little change in one gene copy, it necessarily follows that you can get evolution of all species, given sufficient time. But I don't see the logic in this, because you need a lot more than a single point mutation to get all the biodiversity we see now. Does Mina know for a fact that all of evolution can be shown to be driven by the same process we see in the evolution of bacterial antibiotic resistance, or is he just assuming it because it seems likely to him, or because it fits with his beliefs? Even creationists believe that some of the current biodiversity is due to mutation and selection, just not all of it. Evolution of sex from asexual organisms, for instance, is something creationists do not believe occurred, but evolution of domestic dogs from wolves or wild dogs is something they would generally allow.

Not being a physicist or chemist, I don't know exactly how to define information. Looking at the talkorigins page on information increase Mina gave, it doesn't seem like evolutionists have a clear idea, either. It basically comes down to "this list of stuff counts as information increase because we say so, and who are you to say different?" So, if after getting into the nitty-gritty of information theory it is not quite clear whether something like information increase is actually observed at the molecular level, I would return to the other kinds of evidence that evolutionists rely on and point out how they are not nearly as robust as claimed. For instance, you have the fossil record that supposedly shows how whales evolved from cows … or is it dogs? Or something else perhaps? It is not clear, which shows that the fossils by no means represent a fact of whales evolving from some land animal, because if the change were an observed fact, we would observe at the same time what the whales evolved from. Given that paleontologists can't decide what the evidence is telling them about the change, it follows that the change is not a fact, but a theory devised to account for rather meager fossil evidence.

The most important question, of course, is why should we care? Why shouldn't we just allow scientists to do their thing? It matters in concrete ways. For instance, anyone who takes evolutionism seriously, and follows its implications to their logical conclusion, ends up with a philosophy that contradicts Christianity in fundamental ways. If survival of the fittest is the actual law of the universe, on what grounds do we Christians dispute this, and try to live according to laws of mercy and charity that defy the law of nature? Isn't it more sensible to abandon these crazy notions and do what is best for our survival and the survival of our progeny? A Christian evolutionist must endure cognitive dissonance, with the Gospel telling him one thing, and his theory of the universe telling him something completely different.

Then there are the dogmatic problems. Having the right beliefs about God are necessary in themselves, apart from their moral implications. I would say it is blasphemous to believe God devised the order of creation by the "trial and error" of evolution, when He revealed to us in unambiguous language that He created everything by the power of His Word and the breath of His Spirit. And what kind of a God creates death and corruption? Surely not an all-powerful and all-good God, and one Who revealed to us that He did not even create death?

And even if you try to argue your way around these, you are still left with the uncomfortable fact that the Fathers simply refused to rationalize away the dogma of Creation. This kind of materialistic rationalism, according to which we refuse to believe anything miraculous simply because we are not blessed to see it with our own eyes, was completely foreign to the patristic mind. Those Fathers who use allegory, like St Athanasius, never denied special creation of Man or other species; they only proceeded at once to give the higher meaning of these mysteries. But the literal meaning is important, because we must believe that the Creation is fundamentally real, not just some poetic obfuscation of reality. Thinkers like Origen refused to accept the reality of material Creation, because an incorrupt but material reality did not agree with his Platonist presuppositions, according to which a perfect world must necessarily be abstract, ideal and non-material. He put Plato before God, just like we are putting Darwin before God.
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« Reply #2959 on: March 05, 2011, 05:32:04 PM »

Hi Jonathan

Thanks for responding. I am unfortunately working this weekend but I am going to try to respond with some of my thoughts about what you wrote. I also just read Ozgeorge's instructions on how to quote text so I am going to try that out as well.

It seems you have identified a significant problem, which is how do we define "information"? When I first thought seriously about this issue a couple of weeks ago, I finally became convinced beyond doubt that evolution CAN'T be true, because the kind of incredibly long series of random upward changes from a highly disordered to a highly ordered and organized situation just seemed completely implausible, based on our current observations of how things work in nature. Yes, there is a lot of organization, but as far as we can tell now this information was always there. Certainly, if we had to come up with a purely materialistic theory for how this organization came about, we need to devise an evolutionary theory of some kind. But logically we don't HAVE to posit evolutionism; direct creation of the natural order by some outside intelligence will do just as well, although it is hardly compatible with materialist presuppositions.

I think I agree with you on a lot of things you wrote here but I do not come to the conclusion that evolution can't be true. The way I think about this issue is that life on earth started with organisms that were already highly organized and complex (most likely bacteria since they are the most fit).

Quote
I admit, though, that my concept of "informational complexity" is still somewhat vague. But I don't think it's any vaguer than your average evolutionist who, in typically facile fashion, claims that because stuff is changing now, everything we see today can be explained by change. Obviously, a lot depends on just what kind of change we see now, and what kind of change we need to get all the natural order today out of primeval chaos.

The term "primeval chaos" leads me to believe that you are writing about abiogenesis here. I know we agree on this issue. Although evolution is suitable for biodiversity, transferring that mechanism to the creation of life is dubious.

Quote
I still believe this, even if in a very localized way we can observe something that looks like information increase, for instance where beneficial mutations occur in bacteria (and allowing any beneficial mutation to be considered "information increase"). Mina asserted that if you can see a germ gain resistance by some little change in one gene copy, it necessarily follows that you can get evolution of all species, given sufficient time. But I don't see the logic in this, because you need a lot more than a single point mutation to get all the biodiversity we see now. Does Mina know for a fact that all of evolution can be shown to be driven by the same process we see in the evolution of bacterial antibiotic resistance, or is he just assuming it because it seems likely to him, or because it fits with his beliefs? Even creationists believe that some of the current biodiversity is due to mutation and selection, just not all of it. Evolution of sex from asexual organisms, for instance, is something creationists do not believe occurred, but evolution of domestic dogs from wolves or wild dogs is something they would generally allow.

Yes you do need more than a single mutation. And you can see the step wise process or whole gene transference in the fossil record, which in this case is the DNA sequence. I agree with Minasoliman on this. I would also say that the vast majority of the biodiversity we observe is due to evolution. There may be something that is not compatible with evolution. I do not know what that something is, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that evolution is not sufficient. I am unclear about the evolution of sex issue. From my perspective, there may be a truly asexual organism out there, but I haven't paid any attention. Yeast have sex of course with two haploid cells merging to form a diploid in response to sex pheromones.  The bacteria, E. coli, has sex (more like coitus interruptus, since shear forces usually prevents the entire transference of one bacterium's chromosome into another). Those organisms that do not have E. coli's sexual prowess share their DNA through direct uptake of DNA released from other cells (cell lysis, often) or from viral infection.

Quote
Not being a physicist or chemist, I don't know exactly how to define information. Looking at the talkorigins page on information increase Mina gave, it doesn't seem like evolutionists have a clear idea, either. It basically comes down to "this list of stuff counts as information increase because we say so, and who are you to say different?" So, if after getting into the nitty-gritty of information theory it is not quite clear whether something like information increase is actually observed at the molecular level, I would return to the other kinds of evidence that evolutionists rely on and point out how they are not nearly as robust as claimed. For instance, you have the fossil record that supposedly shows how whales evolved from cows … or is it dogs? Or something else perhaps? It is not clear, which shows that the fossils by no means represent a fact of whales evolving from some land animal, because if the change were an observed fact, we would observe at the same time what the whales evolved from. Given that paleontologists can't decide what the evidence is telling them about the change, it follows that the change is not a fact, but a theory devised to account for rather meager fossil evidence.

I am unclear what the issue is here. I have not read what you have read. With whole genome sequencing, I would think that fossils found by paleontologists would only firm up timing and not the general evolutionary path that was taken.

Quote
The most important question, of course, is why should we care? Why shouldn't we just allow scientists to do their thing? It matters in concrete ways. For instance, anyone who takes evolutionism seriously, and follows its implications to their logical conclusion, ends up with a philosophy that contradicts Christianity in fundamental ways. If survival of the fittest is the actual law of the universe, on what grounds do we Christians dispute this, and try to live according to laws of mercy and charity that defy the law of nature? Isn't it more sensible to abandon these crazy notions and do what is best for our survival and the survival of our progeny? A Christian evolutionist must endure cognitive dissonance, with the Gospel telling him one thing, and his theory of the universe telling him something completely different.

I do not know what the logical conclusion is and I do not see the logical path I am supposed to be seeing. Without more information it sounds like the domino theory and I am suppose to wage war on North Vietnam to prevent the communist takeover of the entire world. In the term "survival of the fittest", removing the phrase "of the fittest" will bring you closer to what evolution is about. It is not a law of the universe. Evolution does not have to occur, it is happening here, conditions may prevent it elsewhere if there is some form of life elsewhere. In this paragraph it is as if you are seeing me as a cartoon and not a person. Perhaps I am a cartoon in some ways, but I do not see it from within the printed page. From my perspective I think it is difficult to study the molecular basis of life and not see and not feel the wondrous beauty, glory and love of God in it. I was at an international scientific meeting this past summer (I was the keynote speaker for what that is worth). Over beer I brought up my belief in God (I do not recall the context since we were drinking beer and conversations tend to be fluid and multitopic in this situation) and a four hour conversation ensued amongst a number of research professors, postdocs and graduate students. I was the only non-European in the conversation. As you can probably tell by now I am not very good at expressing myself, but there were others in this conversation that I knew by scientific reputation but not personally, that eloquently expressed what I believe and why. I am bringing this conversation up because I saw a statistical trend. That is the more experienced, established and knowledgeable the researcher was, the more steadfast their belief in Christ. That is the graduate students and postdocs were either atheist, agnostic or didn't think about God very much. I think a researcher sees the beauty of life on the outside, like most of us do, but they also see and are continually awed by the sublime beauty of God's creation on the inside. I hope an pray that my random observation is not an exception, but rather indicative of where the graduate students and postdocs will be in the future.

Quote
Then there are the dogmatic problems. Having the right beliefs about God are necessary in themselves, apart from their moral implications. I would say it is blasphemous to believe God devised the order of creation by the "trial and error" of evolution, when He revealed to us in unambiguous language that He created everything by the power of His Word and the breath of His Spirit. And what kind of a God creates death and corruption? Surely not an all-powerful and all-good God, and one Who revealed to us that He did not even create death?

I think if God created the conditions necessary for evolution, it wasn't trial and error, the result of this process was known and preordained. This paragraph and the one below gets into concepts and specific texts that I should know having read a lot of this thread. But I just do not remember the details. I do not know why I don't remember, but I am guessing that I do not see how these issues are essential for my salvation. I am afraid you would have to rehash the details for me. One of the things I believe is that God wishes for my salvation and that is the central goal of my life but I also know I am still far from this goal. Sometimes the evolution/creation debates here logically lead to the belief that God does not wish for our salvation. If a literal reading of a biblical text leads to the conclusion God does not wish for all of us to be with Him, I will reject the literal reading. For some reason my cursor disappeared, so I am going to quit here and get back to work.

Again, thanks for telling me your thoughts. I hope we can continue this conversation but it will have to be more like a chess game played by means of non-electronic mail.


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« Reply #2960 on: March 05, 2011, 10:31:40 PM »

@ Mina:

Thanks for the info about beneficial mutations. Let's talk about that more when Opus gets back.

Regarding patristics, yes I recall you relied a lot on your particular interpretation of St Athanasius to support your theory that evolutionism is compatible with the Fathers. My main problem with that is that you can definitely show St Athanasius himself believed in literal special creation, like the following (quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose's book Genesis, Creation and Early Man, chapter 1):

Quote
Though Adam only was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved succession of the whole race.

So, your reading of evolutionism, and in particular of death before the Fall, into Athanasius is not in fact explicitly made by the saint, but you have attempted to fit his words into your beliefs. Given the consensus among other great Fathers like St Basil and St Chrysostom that the original Creation was entirely incorruptible, this leads me to interpret St Athanasius in the light of them, rather than in the "light" of evolutionary philosophy. The corruptible nature that Man fell into after expulsion from Paradise is still then a consequence of the Fall, as is the fall of all creation into corruption, and St Athanasius' words do not undermine that.

If I seem to interpret St. Athanasius "in the light of evolutionary philosophy" (I don't even know that that means), then I apologize for having you mistake my intentions.

The huge fuss over St. Athanasius I believe was whether the death of animals existed before Adam's creation or not.  I never debated to show St. Athanasius as an "evolutionist."  In fact, I never debated any church father as an evolutionist.  In addition, I have quoted parts of St. Athanasius where he makes scientific mistakes to make a point on Church fathers and the understanding of science of their times, if we can properly even call it "science."

Neither have I denied the special creation that is in man.  I may disagree at how this may have come about, but I agree with St. Athanasius that only man was made in the image and likeness of God, and that only man was made immortal by grace unlike all other creation in that world.

I would like to know where the quote St. Seraphim used comes from in its full context.  Biblically speaking, animals also were formed from the earth as well, so that one sentence doesn't really make any sense.  If I'm not mistaken, I believe some Church fathers believed that all animals were formed from the earth.  Only man was "breathed" into.
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« Reply #2961 on: March 06, 2011, 03:43:53 PM »

I located Fr Seraphim's quotation here (Against the Arians, 2.19.48):

Quote
For as to the separate stars or the great lights, not this appeared first, and that second, but in one day and by the same command, they were all called into being. And such was the original formation of the quadrupeds, and of birds, and fishes, and cattle, and plants; thus too has the race made after God’s Image come to be, namely men; for though Adam only was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved the succession of the whole race.

Of relevance are these other quotations from St Athanasius:

Against the Arians, 1.12.51

Quote
For since the first man Adam altered, and through sin death came into the world, therefore it became the second Adam to be unalterable; that, should the Serpent again assault, even the Serpent’s deceit might be baffled, and, the Lord being unalterable and unchangeable, the Serpent might become powerless in his assault against all.

Defense of the Nicene Definition, 3.9

Quote
These irreligious men then having so little mind amid their madness, let us see whether this particular sophism be not even more irrational than the others. Adam was created alone by God alone through the Word; yet no one would say that Adam had any prerogative over other men, or was different from those who came after him, granting that he alone was made and fashioned by God alone, and we all spring from Adam, and consist according to succession of the race, so long as he was fashioned from the earth as others, and at first not being, afterwards came to be.
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« Reply #2962 on: March 06, 2011, 04:14:31 PM »

Okay, thank you.  That makes more sense now.  In these quotations, it is shown that St. Athanasius believes that the only man that was created from the earth was Adam.

The phrase "death came into the world" needs to be taken into context with what he says in "On the Incarnation," namely the escaping of the natural law of death in paradise vs. dying outside of paradise in the natural law of death, and in this quote:

Quote
The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape.

Which is the central and most important point.
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« Reply #2963 on: March 06, 2011, 09:29:56 PM »

Okay, thank you.  That makes more sense now.  In these quotations, it is shown that St. Athanasius believes that the only man that was created from the earth was Adam.

The phrase "death came into the world" needs to be taken into context with what he says in "On the Incarnation," namely the escaping of the natural law of death in paradise vs. dying outside of paradise in the natural law of death, and in this quote:

Quote
The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape.

Which is the central and most important point.

how does that quote indicate that there was death before man sinned?
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« Reply #2964 on: March 06, 2011, 09:32:59 PM »

Okay, thank you.  That makes more sense now.  In these quotations, it is shown that St. Athanasius believes that the only man that was created from the earth was Adam.

The phrase "death came into the world" needs to be taken into context with what he says in "On the Incarnation," namely the escaping of the natural law of death in paradise vs. dying outside of paradise in the natural law of death, and in this quote:

Quote
The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape.

Which is the central and most important point.

how does that quote indicate that there was death before man sinned?

Not necessarily that, but it I wanted to show how "death entered into the world" meant using that quote.  I also mentioned "the escaping of the natural law of death in paradise vs. dying outside of paradise in the natural law of death" which were quoted earlier in this thread.

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« Reply #2965 on: March 14, 2011, 06:17:30 PM »

Okay, thank you.  That makes more sense now.  In these quotations, it is shown that St. Athanasius believes that the only man that was created from the earth was Adam.

The phrase "death came into the world" needs to be taken into context with what he says in "On the Incarnation," namely the escaping of the natural law of death in paradise vs. dying outside of paradise in the natural law of death, and in this quote:

Quote
The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape.

Which is the central and most important point.

how does that quote indicate that there was death before man sinned?
Job 38 indicates that the prey-predator relationship is part of God's plan for animals:

 39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
   and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
   or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
   when its young cry out to God
   and wander about for lack of food?
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If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.
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« Reply #2966 on: March 14, 2011, 10:57:19 PM »

Okay, thank you.  That makes more sense now.  In these quotations, it is shown that St. Athanasius believes that the only man that was created from the earth was Adam.

The phrase "death came into the world" needs to be taken into context with what he says in "On the Incarnation," namely the escaping of the natural law of death in paradise vs. dying outside of paradise in the natural law of death, and in this quote:

Quote
The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape.

Which is the central and most important point.

how does that quote indicate that there was death before man sinned?
Job 38 indicates that the prey-predator relationship is part of God's plan for animals:

 39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
   and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
   or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
   when its young cry out to God
   and wander about for lack of food?

i dont see how this passage comments on whether or not God intended it to be this way ...
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« Reply #2967 on: March 15, 2011, 01:37:54 AM »

I'm officially fasting from this thread for lent...and possibly for the foreseeable future as well Wink
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ativan
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« Reply #2968 on: March 15, 2011, 02:21:26 AM »

Is evolutionary theory compatible with the Orthodox Christian faith?
100 % non-compatible. Neo-Darwinism is anti-Orthodox theory for one. Second, Darwinism isn't even a theory. It might be called hypothesis only and moreover bad scientific hypothesis (based only on arguments of ad hominem attacks and "if we don't know how it happened it doesn't mean it did not or could not happen" type of statements when it comes to explaining genetic mechanisms of Darwinian theory) and evil spiritual hypothesis. I also doubt creationists "theories". Though creationist admit that they base most of their statement on faith as opposed to Darwinists who want to sell their nonsense as theory.

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Do you believe that the acount of genesis in the Old testament should be taken literally?
I don't believe in literal account of Genesis. I also believe that Bible has many many hidden treasures which can't be reached by intellectual endeavor, creation mystery included here.
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« Reply #2969 on: March 15, 2011, 02:46:19 AM »

Second, Darwinism isn't even a theory. It might be called hypothesis only and moreover bad scientific hypothesis (based only on arguments of ad hominem attacks and "if we don't know how it happened it doesn't mean it did not or could not happen" type of statements when it comes to explaining genetic mechanisms of Darwinian theory) and evil spiritual hypothesis. I also doubt creationists "theories". Though creationist admit that they base most of their statement on faith as opposed to Darwinists who want to sell their nonsense as theory.

I think my head just exploded.
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