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Question: Do you believe that the acount of genesis in the Old testament should be taken literally?
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Author Topic: Creationism, Evolution, and Orthodoxy  (Read 329013 times) Average Rating: 0
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Heorhij
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« Reply #945 on: June 11, 2009, 04:52:51 PM »

Quote
Now, I do think that you raise a very interesting question: the role of death in Genesis, and how that role compares to the role of death in evolution.

Is it possible that "death" in Genesis means "spiritual death"?

Genesis 2:17 (KJV): But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Adam and Eve did not physically die the same day they ate the fruit, so perhaps it's spiritual death being referred to here.

i think the fact that Christ defeated physical death proves that we are not meant to die. if physical death is in fact good, then why would He defeat it? also there is the canon i quoted earlier:

Canon 109 of African Code, 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.

and as for Church Fathers quotes, there are plenty in Genesis, Creation and Early Man which I don't have on me right now. This website has a helpful chart on it though: http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter4.htm  Be sure to read the 3 points below it though, because even the Fathers who are checked as having believed man was mortal before the Fall didn't actually mean man was always meant to die. The website says that St. Clement of Alexandria believed that, but I'm not sure why he says that -- the citation he gives is only available in Latin so I can't read it, but St. Clement seems to admonish the heretic Valentinian for making God the author of death in The Stromata, book 4.13

The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.
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« Reply #946 on: June 11, 2009, 04:58:28 PM »


According to the evolutionary theory, the thing that evolves is a biological POPULATION. So, no, according to the evolutionary theory, it cannot be that from a population of apes, suddenly, in one instant, two "definitely-no-longer-apes-but-most-certainly-humans" appear. The evolutionary theory sees the emergence of new species as a very slow, inconspicuous process that may take millions of years, without strict borders between the ancestor species and the new species.

there are some problems with this. obviously, this makes Adam and Eve not literal people, but there is this:

Canon 109 of African Code, 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.

this obvioulsly requires that Adam and Eve be literal.

also, there are icons of Adam and Eve, with halos, people take them as their patron Saints. this indicates that the Church understands them as literal people.


St. Irenaeus says it is a heresy to believe that Adam was not saved by Christ -- how much moreso to believe that he never actually existed?


another problem I see, is that the Fathers teach that God created humans uniquely from the dust, in that He spoke everything else into existence, but in the case of Man there is the divine council ("Let us make man...") and God directly forms man with His own "hands." if evolution is true then man was not created in a unique manner, but rather just came about like everything else. also, not only does this mean that the days of Genesis are allegorical, but that there weren't even 6 creative acts -- just one in the beginning which eventually gave rise to everything. so what then are the creative acts of each day an allegory for?

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« Reply #947 on: June 11, 2009, 05:20:34 PM »

also regarding this quote from St. Justin Martyr that was brought up earlier:

Quote
For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, ‘The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,’ is connected with this subject. Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 81

i have two things to say in response

1. he says that "the day of the Lord is as a thousand years" is connected with the lifespan of Adam, he does not say that each day of creation was 1000 yrs. perhaps that is what he meant but i'm not seeing the connection, and even if that is what he meant, that doesn't necessarily mean he is ruling out the literal level -- but many ECF's do explicitly rule out the possibility of interpreting Genesis only allegorically.
2. immediately following that quote he says:

And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place. Just as our Lord also said, ‘They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to the angels, the children of the God of the resurrection.’

this idea is of course the condemned heresy of chiliasm, so it seems St. Justin is not the best authority for how to understand 1000 yrs within Christianity.

but of importance to note: he is assuming a literal Adam, which is not a given if evolution is true.
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« Reply #948 on: June 11, 2009, 05:25:52 PM »



The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.

i completely agree with all you have said here.

so doesnt that make evolution highly questionable? if it is true, then Adam and the animals and plants, etc would have surely died as just part of the on-going process.
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« Reply #949 on: June 11, 2009, 05:30:34 PM »

God created humans uniquely from the dust, in that He spoke everything else into existence,

Right, but He said, "let the WATER produce creatures..." and "let the GROUND (or soil) produce creatures..." In other words, God created nature (space, time, matter, natural laws like gravitation, etc.), and then THE NATURE, obeying God's will, created plants, animals, etc. "The dust of the earth" may be just another term for "Nature." Man is simultaneously a natural creature (produced from dust), and a super-natural creature (has God's breath breathed in his nostrils). That's why St. Basil the Great calls man "zoon nootikon" (sp.?), "a reasonable animal" - having his body like a natural creature and having his reason, his "nous," creative intellect, like a creature that is above nature.
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« Reply #950 on: June 11, 2009, 05:55:52 PM »

God created humans uniquely from the dust, in that He spoke everything else into existence,

Right, but He said, "let the WATER produce creatures..." and "let the GROUND (or soil) produce creatures..." In other words, God created nature (space, time, matter, natural laws like gravitation, etc.), and then THE NATURE, obeying God's will, created plants, animals, etc. "The dust of the earth" may be just another term for "Nature." Man is simultaneously a natural creature (produced from dust), and a super-natural creature (has God's breath breathed in his nostrils). That's why St. Basil the Great calls man "zoon nootikon" (sp.?), "a reasonable animal" - having his body like a natural creature and having his reason, his "nous," creative intellect, like a creature that is above nature.



[/quote]

even if God used the material that was already there, the Fathers tell us that the creative act of each day was instantaneous, and that man, plants, and animals were created mature. also, how could we explain evolution if there is no sun until the 4th set of billions of years?:

St. Basil teaches:

"Let the earth bring forth herbs." And in the briefest moment of time the earth, beginning with germination in order that it might keep the laws of the Creator, passing through every form of increase, immediately brought the shoots to perfection. The meadows were deep with the abundant grass; the fertile plains, rippling with standing crops, presented the picture of a swelling sea with its moving heads of grain. And every herb and every kind of vegetable and whatever shrubs and legumes there were, rose from the earth at that time in all profusion.... "And the fruit tree," He said, "that bears fruit containing seed of its own kind and of its own likeness on the earth. At this saying all the dense woods appeared; all the trees shot up, those which are wont to rise to the greatest height, the firs, cedars, cypresses, and pines; likewise, all the shrubs were immediately thick with leaf and bushy; and the so-called garland plants - the rose bushes, myrtles, and laurels-all came into existence in a moment f time, although they were not previously upon the earth, each o with its own peculiar nature.

St. Ephraim the Syrian states precisely:

The herbs, at the time of their creation, were the productions of a single instant, but in appearance they appeared the productions of months. Likewise the trees, at the time of their creation, were the productions of a single day, but in their perfection and fruits, which weighed down the branches, they appeared the productions of years.

St. Gregory of Nyssa also emphasizes that what was created by God was not merely seeds or a potentiality for growth, but the actual creations we know; seeds come from those first-created plants:

We learn from Scripture in the account of the first creation, that first the earth brought forth "the green herb," and that then from this plant seed was yielded, from which, when it was shed on the ground, the same form of the original plant again sprang up.... In the beginning, we see, it was not an ear rising from a grain, but a grain coming from an ear, and, after that, the ear grows round the grain.

Plants and trees appeared on earth, as the Fathers repeat again and again, before the very existence of the sun. St. John Chrysostom writes:

(Moses) shows you that everything was accomplished before the creation of the sun, so that you might ascribe the ripening of the fruits not to it, but to the Creator of the universe.

St. Basil states:

The adornment of the earth is older than the sun, that those who have been misled may cease worshipping the sun as the origin of life.

Ambrose waxes eloquent on this subject:

Before the light of the sun shall appear, let the green herb be born, let its light be prior to that of the sun. Let the earth germinate before ceives the fostering care of the sun, lest there be an occasion for human error to grow. Let everyone be informed that the sun is not the author of vegetation.. . . How can the sun give the faculty of life growing plants, when these have already been brought forth by the life-giving creative power of God before the sun entered into such a life as this? The sun is younger than the green shoot, younger than the green plant.

St. Basil writes:

All water was in eager haste to fulfill the command of its Creator, and the great and ineffable power of God immediately produced an efficacious and active life in creatures of which one would not even be able to enumerate the species, as soon as the capacity for propagating living creatures came to the waters through His command.

And St. Ambrose:

At this command the waters immediately poured forth their offspring. The rivers were in labor. The lakes produced their quota of life. The sea itself began to bear all manner of reptiles.... We are unable to record the multiplicity of the names of all those species which by Divine command were brought to life in a moment of time. At the same instant substantial form and the principle of life were brought into existence.... The whale, as well as the frog, came into existence at the same time by the same creative power.



this quote specifically deals with your point i think:

St. Basil writes (speaking of the Sixth Day):

When He said: "Let it bring forth," (the earth) did not produce what was stored up in it, but He Who gave the command also bestowed upon it the power to bring forth. Neither did the earth, when it heard, "Let it bring forth vegetation and the fruit trees," produce plants which it had hidden in it; nor did it send up to the surface the palm or the oak or the cypress which had been hidden somewhere down below in its womb. On the contrary, it is the Divine Word that is the origin of all things made. "Let the earth bring forth"; not, let it put forth what it has, but, let it acquire what it does not have, since God is enduing it with the power of active force.

St. Ambrose writes, in his treatise on the resurrection:

Nature in all its produce remains consistent with itself.... Seeds of one kind cannot be changed into another kind of plant, nor bring forth produce differing from its own seeds, so that men should spring from serpents and flesh from teeth; how much more, indeed, is it to be believed that whatever has been sown rises again in its own nature, and that crops do not differ from their seed, that soft things do not spring from hard, nor hard from soft, nor is poison changed into blood; but that flesh is restored from flesh, bone from bone, blood from blood, the humors of the body from humors. Can ye then, ye heathen, who are able to assert a change, deny a restoration of the nature?

In a similar view, St. Gregory of Nyssa writes:

Whereas we learn from Scripture in the account of the first Creation, that first the earth brought forth "the green herb" (as the narrative says), and that then from this plant seed was yielded, from which, when it was shed on the ground, the same form of the original plant again sprang up, the Apostle, it is to be observed, declares that this very same thing happens in the Resurrection also; and so we learn from him the fact, not only that our humanity will be then changed into something nobler, but also that what we have therein to expect is nothing else than that which was at the beginning.

St. Ephraim writes:

The earth at God's command immediately brought forth creeping things, beasts of the field, creatures of prey, and domestic animals, as many as were necessary for the service of him who, on that very day, transgressed the commandment of his Lord.

St. Ephraim the Syrian teaches:

Just as the trees, the grasses, the animals, birds and man were at the same time both old and young: old in the appearance of their members and structures, young in the time of their creation; so also the moon was at the same time both old and young: young because it was just created, old because it was full as on the fifteenth day.


all quotes from: http://www.creatio.orthodoxy.ru/english/rose_genesis/chapter2.html
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« Reply #951 on: June 11, 2009, 06:05:08 PM »



The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.

i completely agree with all you have said here.

so doesnt that make evolution highly questionable? if it is true, then Adam and the animals and plants, etc would have surely died as just part of the on-going process.

No, it does not make it questionable. If Adam remained obedient to God, he would be BEYOND the normal, regular, conventional laws of nature, including the law of evolution.

I like the way a Russian philosopher and Orthodox theologian, Semyon L. Frank, puts it. (Sorry, I only have his text in Russian, so I'll just convey a summary in English.) Suppose you see a man who is dressed in shabby clothes, doing some hard mundane work and barely making his day-to-day living. However, for a totally incomprehensible reason, this man knows deep in his heart that he is an heir to a royal throne and to riches and bliss beyond measure. He cannot explain why in the world he has this idea, and yet, nonetheless, he does have it. Something in him tells him that he is here, in these shabby clothes and doing this miserable job, only because some time in the past a very sad accident occured.

That's us. Right now, we are part of the animal world, subject to the natural laws. But somewhere deep in our heart there lives this strange knowledge that we are in fact something much biggger - we are heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. That Kindgom is meant for us, not just these 60-70-80 years of life in mortal, corruptible, aching and dying body. Actually, even here we can find beauty, but we are filled, for some reason that defies rational explanation, with anticipation of a completely different and completely new world where there will be no "biology," no "evolution," no "natural selection," no struggle to win our daily bread, no need to swallow pills, etc. etc. etc.

Biological evolution is a reality, and as creatures that emerged from nature we are part of it - but we don't have to be. When we are redeemed by Christ, when we (hopefully) give Him a good report during the Last Judgment and receive mercy (go to His right hand), then we will no longer be part of "nature" with its laws, but will be fed, led, governed directly by God's grace.
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« Reply #952 on: June 11, 2009, 06:41:24 PM »



The way I understand it: humans were not meant to die, indeed.

God's plan for us is that we live forever (or "for the ages of ages"), constantly growing in our perfection, in the knowledge of God.

This is possible if we are not separated from God. God is the source of all life, and His grace can make any object living, not dying, as long as God wants.

Adam (whether he was a literal man or an allegorical representative of the entire mankind) was created with this POTENTIAL for becoming more and more perfect, with this potential to grow in perfection and love for God without ceasing.

However, by his sin of pride and arrogance Adam made himself separated from God's grace. God cannot approve sin. So, because of Adam's sin, God withdrew His grace from Adam - and Adam became merely a part of the "natural world," not being different from animals in that he, like them, started to live a merely "biological life" - i.e., he became under the dominion of natural forces, such as wear and tear of his organs and tissues and cells, aging, illness, and eventually physical death ("returning to the dust").

God never wanted any of this to happen, but He allowed this to happen because the alternative (i.e. that Adam continues to sin and yet keeps living, being animated by God's grace) would be harmful for Adam himself. So, all in all, the withdrawal of grace and the transformation of Adam from a God-inspired creature that cannot die into a merely biological creature that is subject to death - was a "medication," of sorts. Christ redeems the entire human race, liquidating the dominion of death - but He does it without violation of the human freedom; we aren't forced, in any way, to accept this gift of redemption, but, rather, are gently offered to accept it by our conscious choice, our free human will.

i completely agree with all you have said here.

so doesnt that make evolution highly questionable? if it is true, then Adam and the animals and plants, etc would have surely died as just part of the on-going process.

No, it does not make it questionable. If Adam remained obedient to God, he would be BEYOND the normal, regular, conventional laws of nature, including the law of evolution.

I like the way a Russian philosopher and Orthodox theologian, Semyon L. Frank, puts it. (Sorry, I only have his text in Russian, so I'll just convey a summary in English.) Suppose you see a man who is dressed in shabby clothes, doing some hard mundane work and barely making his day-to-day living. However, for a totally incomprehensible reason, this man knows deep in his heart that he is an heir to a royal throne and to riches and bliss beyond measure. He cannot explain why in the world he has this idea, and yet, nonetheless, he does have it. Something in him tells him that he is here, in these shabby clothes and doing this miserable job only because some time in the past, a very sad accident occured.

That's us. Right now, we are part of the animal world, subject to the natural laws. But somewhere deep in our heart there lives this strange knowledge that we are in fact something much biggger - we are heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. That Kindgom is meant for us, not just these 60-70-80 years of life in mortal, corruptible, aching and dying body. Actually, even here we can find beauty, but we are filled, for some reason that defies rational explanation, with anticipation of a completely different and completely new world where there will be no "biology," no "evolution," no "natural selection," no struggle to win our daily bread, no need to swallow pills, etc. etc. etc.

Biological evolution is a reality, and as creatures that emerged from nature we are part of it - but we don't have to be. When we are redeemed by Christ, when we (hopefully) give Him a good report during the Last Judgment and receive mercy (go to His right hand), then we will no longer be part of "nature" with its laws, but will be fed, led, governed directly by God's grace.


but the Fathers teach that all of creation was an immortal paradise, not just man, and not just the Garden. man is the crown of creation, creation is his kingdom. would a mortal kingdom befit an immortal king? is it Paradise if you have rotting corpses all around you? St. Paul tells us that the entire creation was subjected to futility and corruption and that it awaits redemption. this necessarily means it is fallen from its intended state, otherwise why would it await redemption?

i know there are many quotes to this affect in Fr. Seraphim's book which I dont have with me right now.
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« Reply #953 on: June 11, 2009, 06:42:05 PM »

here's more relevant quotes:

St Theophanus the Recluse wrote: "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 lie, 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 not 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)" [1]

from http://creatio.orthodoxy.ru/sbornik/sbufeev_whynot_english.html
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« Reply #954 on: June 11, 2009, 06:50:17 PM »

(Moses) shows you that everything was accomplished before the creation of the sun, so that you might ascribe the ripening of the fruits not to it, but to the Creator of the universe.


I think this quote is evidence that Genesis and Evolution are explanations that operate at different levels. From the level of matter-energy, it's pretty clear that the ripening of fruits, growth of plants, etc., is indeed a result of the Sunlight. So scientists (who operate on the level of matter-energy) can rightfully say that, scientifically speaking, plants require light.

However, the Author of Genesis is speaking on a different level, a more basic, "deeper", level. On this level, God is the source of everything, not via intermediates, but directly. Thus, God directly created plants, without the use of the sun or other instruments. In fact, one can read the Fathers as making a very radical claim: God creates all things instantaneously, and all things are continuously being created by God, moment to moment. However, since science cannot observe this instantaneous creation, science is forced to speak in terms of cause-and-effect, time, age, and evolution.
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« Reply #955 on: June 11, 2009, 06:59:52 PM »

plants indeed require sunlight today, but did they then? thats an assumption that scientists make. they had light directly from God then. is there a reason from the Tradition/Fathers to question this?

St Ignatius writes: "Today the earth is quite different in our eyes. We do not know its state in its saint virginity; we know it in the state of corruption and condemnation, we know it already bound to be burnt; it was designed for eternity"

from http://creatio.orthodoxy.ru/sbornik/sbufeev_whynot_english.html
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« Reply #956 on: June 11, 2009, 07:00:50 PM »

(Moses) shows you that everything was accomplished before the creation of the sun, so that you might ascribe the ripening of the fruits not to it, but to the Creator of the universe.


I think this quote is evidence that Genesis and Evolution are explanations that operate at different levels. From the level of matter-energy, it's pretty clear that the ripening of fruits, growth of plants, etc., is indeed a result of the Sunlight. So scientists (who operate on the level of matter-energy) can rightfully say that, scientifically speaking, plants require light.

However, the Author of Genesis is speaking on a different level, a more basic, "deeper", level. On this level, God is the source of everything, not via intermediates, but directly. Thus, God directly created plants, without the use of the sun or other instruments. In fact, one can read the Fathers as making a very radical claim: God creates all things instantaneously, and all things are continuously being created by God, moment to moment. However, since science cannot observe this instantaneous creation, science is forced to speak in terms of cause-and-effect, time, age, and evolution.

Completely agree. Thank you, Jetavan, well put!
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« Reply #957 on: June 11, 2009, 07:04:20 PM »

In fact, one can read the Fathers as making a very radical claim: God creates all things instantaneously, and all things are continuously being created by God, moment to moment. However, since science cannot observe this instantaneous creation, science is forced to speak in terms of cause-and-effect, time, age, and evolution.

i think id state it as God instantaneously created, and continues to sustain that creation, but i don't know if thats the proper way to say it or not. it seems to me that what you are saying is that scientists are forced to use evolutionary terms simply because they're missing what is really happening .... id also say its because they assume they know what happened in the past.
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« Reply #958 on: June 11, 2009, 07:32:14 PM »

The Origin of Life on Earth
http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/talks/origin.shtml
Thinking of the history of the universe, we note the uninterrupted development in it, which as it seems, does not require any interference from without. When La Place was explaining to Napoleon his theory of the provenance of the solar system, to the question of Napoleon: "Where is the interference of the Lord God here?" he answered: "My theory does not need it."

Can an Orthodox Become an Evolutionist?
http://www.hvmla.org/library/evolution.html
Recently many books have appeared in Russia dedicated to the criticism of Darwinism. The majority of them are the work of American protestant, creationist authors. The Orthodox, with a great joy of relief, have welcomed these books to their cathedrals and libraries in as much as Darwinism was cultivated in the Soviet schools and institutes. Were we in a hurry to let this happen? Is the position of the American fundamentalist Christian? Or, does it have a confessional justification which is not very obvious from the Orthodox point of view.

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« Reply #959 on: June 11, 2009, 08:01:38 PM »


Can an Orthodox Become an Evolutionist?
http://www.hvmla.org/library/evolution.html

On evolution and death and Genesis:

Quote
Undoubtedly the death of man entered into this world through sin. Death is evil and it was not created by God. This is also an axiom of Biblical Theology.

Hence, it seems to me, that only one conclusion should be drawn from this: the departure of animals is not death, and it is not the same as the departure of a man. When we say "The death of Socrates" we do not have a right to apply the same word to the phrase "The death of a Dog". The death of a star is a metaphor. We can use the same metaphor to say the "death" of an atom or a chair. Animals were disappearing from existence, they were going out of the world before the time of man. This was not death. Hence, it is impossible to talk about the phenomenon of death in a theological or philosophical meaning of the word, while applying this to a non-human world. The death of a lifeless star or atom, the splitting of a living cell or bacteria, and the discontinuance of a physiological process in monkeys: this is not the same is the death of man.

Yes, death is a consequence of sin! Sin is a violation of the will of the Creator. Can we be sure that the death of animals is also a violation of the Creative will? Did God create animals for eternal life? Did he want to create them as participants in eternity? Did he intend them to partake in the Bread of Life, and Eucharist?

If not - it means those temporary limitations of animals and their accessibility to decay is not a violation of the Plan of the Creator.
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« Reply #960 on: June 12, 2009, 02:40:15 AM »

[But proof texts don't prove a consensus.]

how have i proof texted? I posted ECFs specifically saying its impermissible to interpret the days of creation allegorically and more recent Saints who explicitly wrote against evolution, and you call that proof texting?
Yes, by definition, what you have admitted to doing is in fact proof texting.  You have a dogmatic conclusion that you want to persuade us to embrace.  You have handpicked those patristic quotes, apparently removed from their proper context, that support your dogma (excluding those patristic quotes that don't?).  And you are presenting those handpicked quotes as evidence for the point you want to prove.  That, jckstraw, is proof texting.

A proof text taken out of context is merely a pretext.
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« Reply #961 on: June 12, 2009, 06:27:41 AM »

voted both metaforically and literally.

My apologises for crossing the line in the other thread.
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« Reply #962 on: June 12, 2009, 07:48:16 AM »

My apologises for crossing the line in the other thread.

Please forgive me, too, if I offended you in any way in these discussions.
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« Reply #963 on: June 12, 2009, 07:51:43 AM »

I remember being taught in Sunday School in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Philadelphia that the Book of Genesis does not contain literal facts but it contains literal truths. God created the heavens and the earth and created all of us in His image.The rest is just commentary.
I remember a old monk who has sense fallen asleep that one thing that worried him about evangelical protestants joining the Church is that they would still insist on reading the Bible as if they were still evangelical protestants.
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« Reply #964 on: June 12, 2009, 09:59:36 AM »

I remember being taught in Sunday School in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Philadelphia that the Book of Genesis does not contain literal facts but it contains literal truths. God created the heavens and the earth and created all of us in His image.The rest is just commentary.
I remember a old monk who has sense fallen asleep that one thing that worried him about evangelical protestants joining the Church is that they would still insist on reading the Bible as if they were still evangelical protestants.

I am afraid that there exists this trend in the traditionally Orthodox countries as well, not just in the USA or Western Europe where many Orthodox are converts from Protestantism. About 2 years ago, for example, I heard from one Russian woman from Moscow that her parish priest very strongly admonished her and other parishioners to take the Genesis story literally. When I wrote on another Orthodox forum ("Sirota," a Moscow-based one) that I take Genesis metaphorically, she replied, "that's bad, because you must believe that everything indeed happened just like it is told in this book - that's what my priest tells me."
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« Reply #965 on: June 12, 2009, 12:46:18 PM »


YIKES......I thought only America would have this problem because of the large number of Evangelicals who have converted..of coarse if one's priest is also a convert from protestantism...What is happening in the catachumanate?
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« Reply #966 on: June 12, 2009, 05:01:52 PM »

Quote
Yes, by definition, what you have admitted to doing is in fact proof texting.  You have a dogmatic conclusion that you want to persuade us to embrace.  You have handpicked those patristic quotes, apparently removed from their proper context, that support your dogma (excluding those patristic quotes that don't?).  And you are presenting those handpicked quotes as evidence for the point you want to prove.  That, jckstraw, is proof texting.

if my quotes are apparently removed from their proper context then feel free to put them in the proper context. the context is interpretation of Genesis. the reason i don't post quotes that contradict Creationism is that i've never seen one besides the few that Riddikulus posted, and I responded to them. feel free to post more quotes from Saints that contradict Creationism and then we can deal with them.

and i could easily say that the few quotes from Riddikulus are just prooftexted to try to prove evolution. for instance, i provided evidence from St. Clement of Alexandria that he did NOT believe in allegorical days, as Riddikulus' one quote seemingly showed. and regarding St. Justin Martyr -- one quote alone does not prove his stance on Genesis. In many other places he speaks of Adam and Eve literally, and a literal global flood (which many evolutionists tend to reject also). so his overall attitude to Genesis is one of literality, despite one confusing quote about the length of Adam's life (notice he therefore believes in a literal Adam who literally lived 900 some years ...)
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« Reply #967 on: June 12, 2009, 05:04:38 PM »

Quote
I am afraid that there exists this trend in the traditionally Orthodox countries as well, not just in the USA or Western Europe where many Orthodox are converts from Protestantism. About 2 years ago, for example, I heard from one Russian woman from Moscow that her parish priest very strongly admonished her and other parishioners to take the Genesis story literally. When I wrote on another Orthodox forum ("Sirota," a Moscow-based one) that I take Genesis metaphorically, she replied, "that's bad, because you must believe that everything indeed happened just like it is told in this book - that's what my priest tells me."

There is a society in Russia called Shestodnev -- 6 Days, which was founded with the blessing of Patriarch Alexei II (memory eternal). Every year they hold a conference which brings together theologians and scientists from all kinds of fields to discuss how their respective work falls in line with the Patristic teachings on Genesis. A recent issue of the Orthodox Word (from St. Herman's) is dedicated to the most recent conference.

Was Patriarch Alexei II and everyone involved in these conferences just a convert or too influenced by Fundamentalism? Should we say that of St. Nektarios, St. John of Kronstadt, St. Barsanuphius of Optina, Elder Cleopa, St. Justin Popovich, Elder Paisios, Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Fr. Seraphim, etc etc?
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« Reply #968 on: June 12, 2009, 06:06:18 PM »

I still maintain that the Genesis stories do not contain literal stories but do contain eternal truths..God created everything and made us in his image.
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« Reply #969 on: June 12, 2009, 06:13:38 PM »

No, it doesn't. Our God-bearing fathers were ignorant of the evidence, (yes, evidence) revealed to us over time by men of science. How many of the Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding?

ok, well then you admit that the evidence contradicts the Fathers, you just believe the Fathers were wrong.

Yes, I've already said that. They were ignorant of the evidence revealed to us over time by men of science. In areas outside their expertise, they are wrong. Why would we assume that because someone is inspired by the Holy Spirit they know all things scientific?

Quote
I believe that studying the Creator is a more accurate approach than studying the creation. as for geocentrism -- did that belief arise from Scriptural interpretation, or did that just tend to be what everyone was believing?

It was a belief that was upheld by scripture, else why was the Church so adamently against it?

Quote
because the belief in literal days comes from their interpretation of Scripture, not from borrowing from the then-current ideas of the culture.


This belief came from the Jewish culture. There were other creation myths in the Roman world, but they were eventually discarded. This one took because it came with the Christian package.

Quote
again ill quote St. John of Kronstadt:
"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."

No disrepect to St John intended, but if he was insisting upon a literal interpretation of Genesis based on his limited understanding of what geologists of his time were saying, he is simply incorrect. Geologist do not boast that they understand the mind of the Lord; they read the evidence of nature. Is God a master deceiver? Why provide us with the intelligence to investigate and understand our surroundings and place an illusion of age in the strata?

Quote
you are correct in your assessment of my posts. however, i cannot agree that the Church has no dogmatic teaching on this matter. true, there is no Ecumenical Council statement on evolution, but the mind of the Church is not always expressed in a council. claiming that it must be ecumenically pronounced in order to be considered the Church's teaching would mean that the Church didnt teach Jesus as God until 325.

But it was certainly permissable to have an opinion either way before the mind of the Church was expressed in council. At this moment, we have no idea which side of the issue any of the Church fathers fall should a council to settle this matter ever be called.

Quote
Or for another example, which Ecumenical Council teaches that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ? (perhaps one of them did, but not that I know of). however, I did provide one Canon from the 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils that says that we must believe in a literal Adam who only died because of sin (thus not because of a process of evolution).

What the Church teaches regarding the mysteries of our faith is quite different to testable scientific hypothesis. And again, which death are we discussing? Spiritual or physical? If the death described is spritual and relating solely to man, rather than the rest of the animal kingdom, that would only have come about once man had developed beyond *animal* instincts to moral concepts and conscience. Hence when the first of mankind sinned, the connection of innocence with God was severed. At that time, man no longer followed instincts with the innocence of the animal kingdom, he deliberated on things and made decisions outside that paradigm. 

Quote
Let me quote St Augustine once again...

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

and despite this caution, he still says:

St. Augustine, City of God, Book XIII.XXI
Quote
On this account some allegorize all that concerns Paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial Paradise! As if there never existed these two women, Sarah and Hagar, nor the two sons who were born to Abraham, the one of the bond woman, the other of the free, because the apostle says that in them the two covenants were prefigured; or as if water never flowed from the rock when Moses struck it, because therein Christ can be seen in a figure, as the same apostle says, "Now that rock was Christ!" No one, then, denies that Paradise may signify the life of the blessed; its four rivers, the four virtues, prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice; its trees, all useful knowledge; its fruits, the customs of the godly; its tree of life, wisdom herself, the mother of all good; and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the experience of a broken commandment. The punishment which God appointed was in itself, a just, and therefore a good thing; but man's experience of it is not good.

These things can also and more profitably be understood of the Church, so that they become prophetic foreshadowings of things to come. Thus Paradise is the Church, as it is called in the Canticles;[2] the four rivers of Paradise are the four gospels; the fruit-trees the saints, and the fruit their works; the tree of life is the holy of holies, Christ; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the will’s free choice. For if man despise the will of God, he can only destroy himself; and so he learns the difference between consecrating himself to the common good and revelling in his own. For he who loves himself is abandoned to himself, in order that, being overwhelmed with fears and sorrows, he may cry, if there be yet soul in him to feel his ills, in the words of the psalm, “My soul is cast down within me,

. . .These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon Paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts.

I have added the piece represented by the ellipsis in the quote you supplied to get a better idea of context. Clearly St Augstine doesn't appear to be speaking against the allegorising of Paradise, merely certain allegorizations.

Quote
I prefer to look at what St. Augustine actually believed about Genesis, rather than assuming that the other quote accurately applies to creationists (do we actually know St. Augustine would say that about creationists? perhaps he would say that about evolutionists).

Well, certainly it would appear that St Augustine doesn't support an entirely literal interpretation of Genesis, for he has allegorised paradise in the above passage.

editied for clarity

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« Reply #970 on: June 12, 2009, 06:17:04 PM »

and i could easily say that the few quotes from Riddikulus are just prooftexted to try to prove evolution.

No, they don't prove evolution and I never said they did. The theory of Evolution was unknown at the time. All the quotes prove, is that not all the fathers spoke of Genesis in literal terms.

edited for clarity......  Embarrassed
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« Reply #971 on: June 12, 2009, 06:30:59 PM »

No, it doesn't. Our God-bearing fathers were ignorant of the evidence, (yes, evidence) revealed to us over time by men of science. How many of the Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding?

ok, well then you admit that the evidence contradicts the Fathers, you just believe the Fathers were wrong.

Yes, I've already said that. They were ignorant of the evidence revealed to us over time by men of science. In areas outside their expertise, they are wrong. Why would we assume that because someone is inspired by the Holy Spirit they know all things scientific?


im not advocating assuming that. im advocating looking to the Fathers to understand Scripture. Why do you interpret Scripture according to scientific theories rather than the Fathers?


Quote
Quote
because the belief in literal days comes from their interpretation of Scripture, not from borrowing from the then-current ideas of the culture.


This belief came from the Jewish culture. There were other creation myths in the Roman world, but they were eventually discarded. This one took because it came with the Christian package.

where do you think the Jews got it from? perhaps Scripture ...

Quote
Quote
again ill quote St. John of Kronstadt:
"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."

No disrepect to St John intended, but if he was insisting upon a literal interpretation of Genesis based on his limited understanding of what geologists of his time were saying, he is simply incorrect. Geologist do not boast that they understand the mind of the Lord; they read the evidence of nature. Is God a master deceiver? Why provide us with the intelligence to investigate and understand our surroundings and place an illusion of age in the strata?

we've already discussed whether or not geologists claim to know the mind of God. they might not outright say that claim, but they think they know that the days of Genesis are actually periods because of their scientific work. they believe the Fathers to be wrong, thus they believe they understand God's creation and Scripture better.

and there is no illusion of age, because God has told us through the Church that He created plants and all such things in a mature state. had He not told us this you could perhaps claim He's being deceptive, but we already know from Scripture and the Fathers that we should expect the young earth to appear mature. on the first day of Adam's existence he was allowed to eat from certain trees -- obviously he didnt have to wait for the trees to grow up and produce fruit, it was already that way.

Quote
Quote
you are correct in your assessment of my posts. however, i cannot agree that the Church has no dogmatic teaching on this matter. true, there is no Ecumenical Council statement on evolution, but the mind of the Church is not always expressed in a council. claiming that it must be ecumenically pronounced in order to be considered the Church's teaching would mean that the Church didnt teach Jesus as God until 325.

But it was certainly permissable to have an opinion either way before the mind of the Church was expressed in council. At this moment, we have no idea which side of the issue any of the Church fathers fall should a council to settle this matter ever be called.

sure we do. read their works.

if it was permissible to not believe that Jesus was God why was it such a problem that Aruis believed that? your line of argument seems to suggest that the faith is not there from the Apostles but is rather decided upon in Councils. as i understand it, the Orthodox view is that the Councils proclaimed what the Church always believed.

Quote
Quote
Or for another example, which Ecumenical Council teaches that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ? (perhaps one of them did, but not that I know of). however, I did provide one Canon from the 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils that says that we must believe in a literal Adam who only died because of sin (thus not because of a process of evolution).

What the Church teaches regarding the mysteries of our faith is quite different to testable scientific hypothesis. And again, which death are we discussing? Spiritual or physical? If the death described is spritual and relating solely to man, rather than the rest of the animal kingdom, that would only have come about once man had developed beyond *animal* instincts to moral concepts and conscience. Hence when the first of mankind sinned, the connection of innocence with God was severed. At that time, man no longer followed instincts with the innocence of the animal kingdom, he deliberated on things and made decisions outside that paradigm. 

we are talking about every kind of death. The Wisdom of Solomon tells us that God did not create death. I have already provided a canon from the 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils that declares anathema anyone who believes man was meant to physically die. futhermore, why would Christ defeat physical death if its actually good? (since everything God created was good ...). Also, regarding animals, how would it be paradise for man if the animals he names and loves and cares for are dying all around him? does he just not actually care about the animals and thus it doesn't affect him?  

Quote
Quote
Let me quote St Augustine once again...

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

and despite this caution, he still says:

St. Augustine, City of God, Book XIII.XXI
Quote
On this account some allegorize all that concerns Paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial Paradise! As if there never existed these two women, Sarah and Hagar, nor the two sons who were born to Abraham, the one of the bond woman, the other of the free, because the apostle says that in them the two covenants were prefigured; or as if water never flowed from the rock when Moses struck it, because therein Christ can be seen in a figure, as the same apostle says, "Now that rock was Christ!" No one, then, denies that Paradise may signify the life of the blessed; its four rivers, the four virtues, prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice; its trees, all useful knowledge; its fruits, the customs of the godly; its tree of life, wisdom herself, the mother of all good; and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the experience of a broken commandment. The punishment which God appointed was in itself, a just, and therefore a good thing; but man's experience of it is not good.

These things can also and more profitably be understood of the Church, so that they become prophetic foreshadowings of things to come. Thus Paradise is the Church, as it is called in the Canticles;[2] the four rivers of Paradise are the four gospels; the fruit-trees the saints, and the fruit their works; the tree of life is the holy of holies, Christ; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the will’s free choice. For if man despise the will of God, he can only destroy himself; and so he learns the difference between consecrating himself to the common good and revelling in his own. For he who loves himself is abandoned to himself, in order that, being overwhelmed with fears and sorrows, he may cry, if there be yet soul in him to feel his ills, in the words of the psalm, “My soul is cast down within me,

. . .These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon Paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts.

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I have added the piece represented by the ellipsis in the quote you supplied to get a better idea of context. Clearly St Augstine doesn't appear to be speaking against the allegorising of Paradise, merely certain allegorizations.

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I prefer to look at what St. Augustine actually believed about Genesis, rather than assuming that the other quote accurately applies to creationists (do we actually know St. Augustine would say that about creationists? perhaps he would say that about evolutionists).

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Well, certainly it would appear that St Augustine doesn't support a literal interpretation of Genesis.



if you read the City of God you will see that he most certainly supports a literal Genesis. He is rightly saying that there are deeper levels of meanings that can be taken from the text, but that does not exclude the literal level. that is exactly what he says in the quote i provided.

for instance:

St. Gregory the Theologian, noted for his profound mystical interpretations of Scripture, says of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: "This tree was, according to my view, Contemplation, upon which it is only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter." Does this mean that he regarded this tree as only a symbol, and not also a literal tree? In his own writings he apparently does not give an answer to this question, but another great Holy Father does (for when they are teaching Orthodox doctrine and not just giving private opinions, all the great Fathers agree with each other and even help to interpret each other). St. Gregory Palamas, the fourteenth-century hesychast Father, comments on this passage:

Gregory the Theologian has called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil "contemplation" ... but it does not follow that what is involved is an illusion or a symbol without existence of its own. For the divine Maximus (the Confessor) also makes Moses the symbol of judgment, and Elijah the symbol of foresight! Are they too then supposed not to have really existed, but to have been invented "symbolically"?

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.


http://www.creatio.orthodoxy.ru/english/rose_genesis/chapter1.html



let me make this clear, although i already have: there are allegorical truths to Genesis, but they do not exclude the literal truth. however, the Fathers have explicitly taught that interpreting Genesis only allegorically to the exclusion of the literal level is impermissible.
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« Reply #972 on: June 12, 2009, 06:34:02 PM »

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No, they don't prove evolution and I never said they did. The theory of Evolution was unknown at the time. All the quotes prove, is that not all the fathers spoke of Genesis in literal terms.

but they only deal with the length of the days, and some of them are confusing at best (St. Justin Martyr, and St. Irenaeus) and the St. Clement quote doesnt even deal with the length of the days as it supposedly does.

websites that collect such quotes dont look at how the Fathers dealt with the entirety of Genesis -- for instance did those Fathers believe in a literal Adam and Eve, a literal global flood, did they believe death existed before sin, did they believe all of earth was immortal, or just man? these questions are far more important for the issue at hand, and Fr. Seraphim's book delves into all these matters. just looking at one small aspect is not sufficient to glean the minds of the Chuch/Fathers on this issue.
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« Reply #973 on: June 12, 2009, 07:25:58 PM »

jckstraw72,

I just typed a reply to you on one of your recent posts and somehow, in trying to fix up the quotes, I lost the lot.  Angry I'm sorry, but I'm going to take that as Divine Intervention showing me that it's time to stop this, and I'm just not going to spend another hour trying to recollect everything I had written. We seem to be going in circles anyway, and I really don't have any more time to give to this topic. As I don't wish to make this thread a full-time career, I'm going to have to say that we will just have to agree to disagree.

The sun is shining, grandchildren are pestering me to take them out. In short, "real life" opportunities call to me!  Grin

Thanks for your civil exchange of ideas.

God be with you.
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« Reply #974 on: June 12, 2009, 07:28:18 PM »

have fun with the grand-progeny!
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« Reply #975 on: June 12, 2009, 07:28:44 PM »

for anyone else who is still reading, i was just about to post these:

St. Gregory the Sinaite writes:

The presently existing creation was not originally created corruptible; but afterwards it fell under corruption, “being made subject to vanity,” according to the Scripture. (Chapters on Commandments and Dogmas 11, Russian Philokalia, vol. 5)

In his Homilies on Romans St. John Chrysostom says:

   just as the creature become 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.

St. Macarius the Great says:

   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. (Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily 11)

St. Symeon the New Theologian writes:

   The words and decrees of God became the law of nature. Therefore also the decree of God, uttered by Him as a result of the disobedience of the first Adam—that is, the decree to him of death and corruption—became the law of nature, eternal and unalterable. (Homily 38)

And St. Basil writes, “in fact, nothing of what had received designation or existence had yet died." (On the Origin of Man). And this fits exactly with what St. Paul tells us in Romans 8:

18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

If all of creation but Paradise and man was meant to die then it wouldn’t be groaning in pain. Futhermore, he even says the creatures were made subject to vanity and shall be delivered into the “glorious liberty” of the saints.
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« Reply #976 on: June 12, 2009, 08:00:00 PM »

No, it doesn't. Our God-bearing fathers were ignorant of the evidence, (yes, evidence) revealed to us over time by men of science. How many of the Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding?

ok, well then you admit that the evidence contradicts the Fathers, you just believe the Fathers were wrong.

Yes, I've already said that. They were ignorant of the evidence revealed to us over time by men of science. In areas outside their expertise, they are wrong. Why would we assume that because someone is inspired by the Holy Spirit they know all things scientific?


im not advocating assuming that. im advocating looking to the Fathers to understand Scripture. Why do you interpret Scripture according to scientific theories rather than the Fathers?
Why do you interpret science according to the Scriptures and the Fathers and not according to the observations of science?  Riddikulus has already mentioned how we have been forced to reinterpret the Scriptures according to our scientific knowledge that the earth is not the center of the universe and that the earth is not flat, despite the clear biblical evidence to the contrary.  Are we to continue to see the earth as flat because the Scriptures and the Fathers say the earth is flat?

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you are correct in your assessment of my posts. however, i cannot agree that the Church has no dogmatic teaching on this matter. true, there is no Ecumenical Council statement on evolution, but the mind of the Church is not always expressed in a council. claiming that it must be ecumenically pronounced in order to be considered the Church's teaching would mean that the Church didnt teach Jesus as God until 325.

But it was certainly permissable to have an opinion either way before the mind of the Church was expressed in council. At this moment, we have no idea which side of the issue any of the Church fathers fall should a council to settle this matter ever be called.

sure we do. read their works.
Just because Riddikulus disagrees with you doesn't mean she hasn't read the Fathers' works.  She apparently has already and has presented from her reading evidence to suggest that there is no such patristic consensus as you like to keep proclaiming.  You can keep bombarding us with patristic quotes all you want, but you need to prove near unanimity to prove a consensus.  All it takes to disprove a consensus is just a few quotes from some Fathers who believed differently, and Riddikulus has done that.

if you read the City of God you will see that he most certainly supports a literal Genesis. He is rightly saying that there are deeper levels of meanings that can be taken from the text, but that does not exclude the literal level. that is exactly what he says in the quote i provided.
Again, Riddikulus has read the City of God, or else she wouldn't be able to quote it to you.  It's possible for someone to have read and studied the same material you have studied and still draw a conclusion that differs from yours.  She has apparently done this.

let me make this clear, although i already have: there are allegorical truths to Genesis, but they do not exclude the literal truth. however, the Fathers have explicitly taught that interpreting Genesis only allegorically to the exclusion of the literal level is impermissible.
The thrust of your arguments, however, don't show a desire to present a literal view of Genesis as A legitimate way to understand the text.  Your use of Genesis to oppose evolutionary theory shows, rather, a desire to present a literal view of Genesis as THE ONLY legitimate way.  If you could accept a non-literal interpretation of Genesis, why are you so opposed to a view of Genesis that allows for evolution?
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« Reply #977 on: June 13, 2009, 05:13:30 PM »

No, it doesn't. Our God-bearing fathers were ignorant of the evidence, (yes, evidence) revealed to us over time by men of science. How many of the Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding?

ok, well then you admit that the evidence contradicts the Fathers, you just believe the Fathers were wrong.

Yes, I've already said that. They were ignorant of the evidence revealed to us over time by men of science. In areas outside their expertise, they are wrong. Why would we assume that because someone is inspired by the Holy Spirit they know all things scientific?


im not advocating assuming that. im advocating looking to the Fathers to understand Scripture. Why do you interpret Scripture according to scientific theories rather than the Fathers?
Why do you interpret science according to the Scriptures and the Fathers and not according to the observations of science?  Riddikulus has already mentioned how we have been forced to reinterpret the Scriptures according to our scientific knowledge that the earth is not the center of the universe and that the earth is not flat, despite the clear biblical evidence to the contrary.  Are we to continue to see the earth as flat because the Scriptures and the Fathers say the earth is flat?

i only "interpret science according to the SCriptures and the Fathers" when there is an overlap. in such an instance the Church is obviously a more accurate source, as it hears directly from God. Where do the Scriptures speak of a flat earth though? And what doctrinal issue would this be related to? I have already brought up several doctrinal issues that are involved in how we understand Genesis.

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you are correct in your assessment of my posts. however, i cannot agree that the Church has no dogmatic teaching on this matter. true, there is no Ecumenical Council statement on evolution, but the mind of the Church is not always expressed in a council. claiming that it must be ecumenically pronounced in order to be considered the Church's teaching would mean that the Church didnt teach Jesus as God until 325.

But it was certainly permissable to have an opinion either way before the mind of the Church was expressed in council. At this moment, we have no idea which side of the issue any of the Church fathers fall should a council to settle this matter ever be called.

sure we do. read their works.

Just because Riddikulus disagrees with you doesn't mean she hasn't read the Fathers' works.  She apparently has already and has presented from her reading evidence to suggest that there is no such patristic consensus as you like to keep proclaiming.  You can keep bombarding us with patristic quotes all you want, but you need to prove near unanimity to prove a consensus.  All it takes to disprove a consensus is just a few quotes from some Fathers who believed differently, and Riddikulus has done that.

i have already dealt with her quotes several times. at best she shows some variance on the length of the days of creation. this hardly speaks to the totality of the Adam and Eve story.

if you read the City of God you will see that he most certainly supports a literal Genesis. He is rightly saying that there are deeper levels of meanings that can be taken from the text, but that does not exclude the literal level. that is exactly what he says in the quote i provided.

Again, Riddikulus has read the City of God, or else she wouldn't be able to quote it to you.  It's possible for someone to have read and studied the same material you have studied and still draw a conclusion that differs from yours.  She has apparently done this.

its quite literally impossible to read the City of God and come away thinking St. Augustine did not interpret Genesis literally. He said its only acceptable to see allegorical spiritual truths in Genesis if you also adhere to the strictly historical sense of it. i have already provided that quote in an earlier post.

let me make this clear, although i already have: there are allegorical truths to Genesis, but they do not exclude the literal truth. however, the Fathers have explicitly taught that interpreting Genesis only allegorically to the exclusion of the literal level is impermissible.

The thrust of your arguments, however, don't show a desire to present a literal view of Genesis as A legitimate way to understand the text.  Your use of Genesis to oppose evolutionary theory shows, rather, a desire to present a literal view of Genesis as THE ONLY legitimate way.  If you could accept a non-literal interpretation of Genesis, why are you so opposed to a view of Genesis that allows for evolution?

no i quite understand that there are allegorical truths in Genesis, and I have already posted several Patristic quotes that speak of this. Scripture has many levels, which should all be taken into account. The problem with evolution is that it necessarily rules out the literal level, which no Church Father (that I have ever seen, including in this whole thread) ever did. I have also mentioned previously Church canons that speak of a literal Adam and Eve, the Church's calendar adopts a literal timeline, icons show Adam and Eve and other early figures with halos which means they are actual people/Saints, etc etc.


i am quite comfortable with the allegorical truths of Genesis. the question is, why are modern Christians uncomfortable with the literal level. is there any reason from within the Church to be so?
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« Reply #978 on: June 13, 2009, 05:44:30 PM »

why are modern Christians uncomfortable with the literal level

"Uncomfortable"?  Hardly.  Genesis tells the Truth that God created the universe.  Scientific knowledge shows the facts of creatures that once lived and passed into extinction, the plate tectonics that show how the continents fit together once long ago and how the Earth has changed, how species can adapt to certain settings such as the finches on the Galapagos Islands, the age of samples by various methods such as C14 and K-Ar, how the Mediterranean Sea was once a desert then flooded when the passage to the Atlantic opened and so much more.  I'd as lief be "uncomfortable" with a favourite story that I knew wasn't physical fact.  They're different kinds of information or thought. 

It's marvelous that God did so much over so long.  Much more marvelous then having all this only a few thousand years old with fake fossils that seem to be millions of years old.  For God to make fake fossils would have Him making a lie, and I don't believe that.

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« Reply #979 on: June 13, 2009, 09:11:56 PM »

No, it doesn't. Our God-bearing fathers were ignorant of the evidence, (yes, evidence) revealed to us over time by men of science. How many of the Church Fathers were geocentric in their understanding?

ok, well then you admit that the evidence contradicts the Fathers, you just believe the Fathers were wrong.

Yes, I've already said that. They were ignorant of the evidence revealed to us over time by men of science. In areas outside their expertise, they are wrong. Why would we assume that because someone is inspired by the Holy Spirit they know all things scientific?


im not advocating assuming that. im advocating looking to the Fathers to understand Scripture. Why do you interpret Scripture according to scientific theories rather than the Fathers?
Why do you interpret science according to the Scriptures and the Fathers and not according to the observations of science?  Riddikulus has already mentioned how we have been forced to reinterpret the Scriptures according to our scientific knowledge that the earth is not the center of the universe and that the earth is not flat, despite the clear biblical evidence to the contrary.  Are we to continue to see the earth as flat because the Scriptures and the Fathers say the earth is flat?

i only "interpret science according to the SCriptures and the Fathers" when there is an overlap. in such an instance the Church is obviously a more accurate source, as it hears directly from God. Where do the Scriptures speak of a flat earth though? And what doctrinal issue would this be related to? I have already brought up several doctrinal issues that are involved in how we understand Genesis.

Quote
Quote
you are correct in your assessment of my posts. however, i cannot agree that the Church has no dogmatic teaching on this matter. true, there is no Ecumenical Council statement on evolution, but the mind of the Church is not always expressed in a council. claiming that it must be ecumenically pronounced in order to be considered the Church's teaching would mean that the Church didnt teach Jesus as God until 325.

But it was certainly permissable to have an opinion either way before the mind of the Church was expressed in council. At this moment, we have no idea which side of the issue any of the Church fathers fall should a council to settle this matter ever be called.

sure we do. read their works.

Just because Riddikulus disagrees with you doesn't mean she hasn't read the Fathers' works.  She apparently has already and has presented from her reading evidence to suggest that there is no such patristic consensus as you like to keep proclaiming.  You can keep bombarding us with patristic quotes all you want, but you need to prove near unanimity to prove a consensus.  All it takes to disprove a consensus is just a few quotes from some Fathers who believed differently, and Riddikulus has done that.

i have already dealt with her quotes several times. at best she shows some variance on the length of the days of creation. this hardly speaks to the totality of the Adam and Eve story.

What is does show is that a literal interpretation of Genesis is not consistent within the writings of the Fathers.

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if you read the City of God you will see that he most certainly supports a literal Genesis. He is rightly saying that there are deeper levels of meanings that can be taken from the text, but that does not exclude the literal level. that is exactly what he says in the quote i provided.

Again, Riddikulus has read the City of God, or else she wouldn't be able to quote it to you.  It's possible for someone to have read and studied the same material you have studied and still draw a conclusion that differs from yours.  She has apparently done this.

its quite literally impossible to read the City of God and come away thinking St. Augustine did not interpret Genesis literally. He said its only acceptable to see allegorical spiritual truths in Genesis if you also adhere to the strictly historical sense of it. i have already provided that quote in an earlier post.

I'm not sure how you would come to this conclusion. St Augustine is famous (or infamous, depending on one's point of view) for advocating that the creation events were implemented instantaneously rather than spread over six natural days. He speculates in various ways as to the meaning of the days, but advocates a position of instantaneous creation taking place in Genesis 1:1. In the City of God, he states; "What kind of days these were is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive." Literal days are hardly impossible to conceive. It seems St Augustine was puzzled as to when God created time, with the sun (by which a normal day is measured) being created only on the fourth day. Because of this he opted for instantaneous creation, with the “days” of Genesis 1 being treated as six repetitions of a single day or days of angelic knowledge or some other symbolic representation. 

Augustine’s view, with its emphasis on instantaneous creation, had a profound influence throughout the Middle Ages.

What seems clear from the City of God is that Augustine believed that the six days of Genesis are the progressive revelation of God's creative activity - to the angels and to any humans who could not understand that He created everything instantaneously. Augustine interprets the days in Genesis as being a manifestation of the sequence in that one moment of Creation. To Augustine, all creation happened in one instant.

"But simultaneously with time the world was made, if in the world's creation change and motion were created, as seems evident from the order of the first six or seven days. For in these days the morning and evening are counted, until, on the sixth day, all things which God then made were finished, and on the seventh the rest of God was mysteriously and sublimely signalized. What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!" (City of God, Book 11: Chapt. 6). http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.iv.XI.6.html

Spirit of God who by him recorded God’s works which were finished on the sixth day, may be supposed not to have omitted all mention of the angels whether he included them in the words “in the beginning,” because He made them first, or, which seems most likely, because He made them in the only-begotten Word.  And, under these names heaven and earth, the whole creation is signified, either as divided into spiritual and material, which seems the more likely, or into the two great parts of the world in which all created things are contained, so that, first of all, the creation is presented in sum, and then its parts are enumerated according to the mystic number of the days. (chapter 33 City of God http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.iv.XI.33.html)




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« Reply #980 on: June 13, 2009, 10:38:09 PM »

Augustine's Origin of Species.
How the great theologian might weigh in on the Darwin debate.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th of the publication of his On the Origin of Species. For some, such as Richard Dawkins, Darwinism has been elevated from a provisional scientific theory to a worldview—an outlook on reality that excludes God, firmly and permanently. Others have reacted strongly against the high priests of secularism. Atheism, they argue, simply uses such scientific theories as weapons in its protracted war against religion.

They also fear that biblical interpretation is simply being accommodated to fit contemporary scientific theories. Surely, they argue, the Creation narratives in Genesis are meant to be taken literally, as historical accounts of what actually happened. Isn't that what Christians have always done? Many evangelicals fear that innovators and modernizers are abandoning the long Christian tradition of faithful biblical exegesis. They say the church has always treated the Creation accounts as straightforward histories of how everything came into being. The authority and clarity of Scripture—themes that are rightly cherished by evangelicals—seem to be at stake.

These are important concerns, and the Darwin anniversaries invite us to look to church history to understand how our spiritual forebears dealt with similar issues.

Letting Scripture Speak

North African bishop Augustine of Hippo (354–430) had no skin in the game concerning the current origins controversies. He interpreted Scripture a thousand years before the Scientific Revolution, and 1,500 before Darwin's Origin of Species. Augustine didn't "accommodate" or "compromise" his biblical interpretation to fit new scientific theories. The important thing was to let Scripture speak for itself.

Augustine wrestled with Genesis 1–2 throughout his career. There are at least four points in his writings at which he attempts to develop a detailed, systematic account of how these chapters are to be understood. Each is subtly different. Here I shall consider Augustine's The Literal Meaning of Genesis, which was written between 401 and 415. Augustine intended this to be a "literal" commentary (meaning "in the sense intended by the author").

Augustine draws out the following core themes: God brought everything into existence in a single moment of creation. Yet the created order is not static. God endowed it with the capacity to develop. Augustine uses the image of a dormant seed to help his readers grasp this point. God creates seeds, which will grow and develop at the right time. Using more technical language, Augustine asks his readers to think of the created order as containing divinely embedded causalities that emerge or evolve at a later stage. Yet Augustine has no time for any notion of random or arbitrary changes within creation. The development of God's creation is always subject to God's sovereign providence. The God who planted the seeds at the moment of creation also governs and directs the time and place of their growth.

Augustine argues that the first Genesis Creation account (1:1–2:3) cannot be interpreted in isolation, but must be set alongside the second Genesis Creation account (2:4–25), as well as every other statement about the Creation found in Scripture. For example, Augustine suggests that Psalm 33:6–9 speaks of an instantaneous creation of the world through God's creative Word, while John 5:17 points to a God who is still active within creation.

Further, he argues that a close reading of Genesis 2:4 has the following meaning: "When day was made, God made heaven and earth and every green thing of the field." This leads him to conclude that the six days of Creation are not chronological. Rather, they are a way of categorizing God's work of creation. God created the world in an instant but continues to develop and mold it, even to the present day.

Augustine was deeply concerned that biblical interpreters might get locked into reading the Bible according to the scientific assumptions of the age. This, of course, happened during the Copernican controversies of the late 16th century. Traditional biblical interpretation held that the sun revolved around the earth. The church interpreted a challenge to this erroneous idea as a challenge to the authority of the Bible. It was not, of course. It was a challenge to one specific interpretation of the Bible—an interpretation, as it happened, in urgent need of review.

Augustine anticipated this point a millennium earlier. Certain biblical passages, he insisted, are genuinely open to diverse interpretations and must not be wedded to prevailing scientific theories. Otherwise, the Bible becomes the prisoner of what was once believed to be scientifically true: "In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines our position, we too fall with it."

No Compromise

Augustine's approach allowed theology to avoid becoming trapped in a prescientific worldview, and helped him not to compromise in the face of cultural pressures, which were significant. For example, many contemporary thinkers regarded the Christian view of creation ex nihilo as utter nonsense. Claudius Galenus (a.d. 129–200), physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, dismissed it as a logical and metaphysical absurdity.

Augustine also argues that Scripture teaches that time is also part of the created order, that God created space and time together. For some, however, the idea of time as a created thing seemed ridiculous. Again, Augustine counters that the biblical narrative is not open to alternative interpretations. Time must therefore be thought of as one of God's creatures and servants. For Augustine, time itself is an element of the created order. Timelessness, on the other hand, is the essential feature of eternity.

So what was God doing before he created the universe? Augustine undermines the question by pointing out that God did not bring creation into being at a certain definite moment in time, because time did not exist prior to creation. For Augustine, eternity is a realm without space or time. Interestingly, this is precisely the state of existence many scientists posit existed before the big bang.

Now, Augustine may be wrong in asserting that Scripture clearly teaches that the Creation was instantaneous. Evangelicals, after all, believe in the infallibility of Scripture, not the infallibility of its interpreters. As others have pointed out, Augustine himself was not entirely consistent about the Creation. Other options certainly exist—most notably, the familiar idea that the six days of Creation represent six periods of 24 hours, or the related idea that they represent six more extended periods, possibly millions of years. Nevertheless, Augustine's position ought to make us reflect on these questions, even if some of us believe him to be incorrect.

Ongoing Creation

So what are the implications of this ancient Christian interpretation of Genesis for the Darwin celebrations? First, Augustine does not limit God's creative action to the primordial act of origination. God is, he insists, still working within the world, directing its continuing development and unfolding its potential. There are two "moments" in the Creation: a primary act of origination, and a continuing process of providential guidance. Creation is thus not a completed past event. God is working even now, in the present, Augustine writes, sustaining and directing the unfolding of the "generations that he laid up in creation when it was first established."

This twofold focus on the Creation allows us to read Genesis in a way that affirms that God created everything from nothing, in an instant. However, it also helps us affirm that the universe has been created with a capacity to develop, under God's sovereign guidance. Thus, the primordial state of creation does not correspond to what we presently observe. For Augustine, God created a universe that was deliberately designed to develop and evolve. The blueprint for that evolution is not arbitrary, but is programmed into the very fabric of creation. God's providence superintends the continuing unfolding of the created order.

Earlier Christian writers noted how the first Genesis Creation narrative speaks of the earth and the waters "bringing forth" living creatures. They concluded that this pointed to God's endowing the natural order with a capacity to generate living things. Augustine takes this idea further: God created the world complete with a series of dormant powers, which were actualized at appropriate moments through divine providence.

Augustine argues that Genesis 1:12 implies that the earth received the power or capacity to produce things by itself: "Scripture has stated that the earth brought forth the crops and the trees causally, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth."

Where some might think of the Creation as God's insertion of new kinds of plants and animals readymade into an already existing world, Augustine rejects this as inconsistent with the overall witness of Scripture. Rather, God must be thought of as creating in that very first moment the potencies for all the kinds of living things to come later, including humanity.

This means that the first Creation account describes the instantaneous bringing into existence of primal matter, including causal resources for further development. The second account explores how these causal possibilities emerged and developed from the earth. Taken together, the two Genesis Creation accounts declare that God made the world instantaneously, while envisaging that the various kinds of living things would make their appearance gradually over time—as they were meant to by their Creator.

The image of the "seed" implies that the original Creation contained within it the potential for all the living kinds to subsequently emerge. This does not mean that God created the world incomplete or imperfect, in that "what God originally established in causes, he subsequently fulfilled in effects." This process of development, Augustine declares, is governed by fundamental laws, which reflect the will of their Creator: "God has established fixed laws governing the production of kinds and qualities of beings, and bringing them out of concealment into full view."

Augustine would have rejected any idea of the development of the universe as a random or lawless process. For this reason, Augustine would have opposed the Darwinian notion of random variations, insisting that God's providence is deeply involved throughout. The process may be unpredictable. But it is not random.

Authority or Interpretation?

Unsurprisingly, Augustine approaches the text with the culturally prevalent presupposition of the fixity of species and finds nothing in it to challenge his thinking on this point. Yet the ways in which he critiques contemporary authorities and his own experience suggest that, on this point at least, he would be open to correction in light of prevailing scientific opinion.

So does Augustine's The Literal Meaning of Genesis help us engage with the great questions raised by Darwin? Let's be clear that Augustine does not answer these questions for us. But he does help us see that the real issue here is not the authority of the Bible, but its right interpretation. In addition, he offers us a classic way of thinking about the Creation that might illuminate some contemporary debates.

On this issue, Augustine is neither liberal nor accommodationist, but deeply biblical, both in substance and intention. While his approach hardly represents the last word, it needs to be on the table.

We need patient, generous, and gracious reflection on these big issues. Augustine of Hippo can help us get started.

Alister McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King's College, London, and holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University in molecular biophysics. This article has been adapted from his 2009 Gifford Lectures, newly published as A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Westminster John Knox).
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/may/22.39.html?start=4

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« Reply #981 on: June 14, 2009, 01:20:21 PM »

yes, im aware that St. Augustine tended to view the 6 days as one instant, and Fr. Seraphim mentions this in his book. However, as I have said several times, just focusing on the length of the days does very little to give us a full picture of how the Fathers viewed Genesis. Additionally, we know that minor variance within the Fathers does not disrupt the overall concensus. Several early Fathers held to chiliasm, for instance. We can't try to rehabilitate chiliasm based on this minor variance though. And the Church has similarly taught literalism for Genesis through the majority of the Fathers, hymnography, icons, Ecumenical canons, its calendar, etc

in the other thread you even posted a review from George Theokritoff that says:
Quote
Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism, however much contrary evidence there may appear to be.

are you saying Theokritoff is wrong also? not sure why you posted it if you think he's wrong ...



I'd like to see some variance from the Fathers on issues other than the length of the days, as that variance has already been acknowledged and discussed several times now. additionally, has anyone addressed the issue that the Church adopted a calendar that employed a literal Genesis timeline? It places us in the 8th millennium from creation.
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« Reply #982 on: June 14, 2009, 01:23:52 PM »

In vain, then, do some babble with most empty presumption, saying that Egypt has understood the reckoning of the stars for more than a hundred thousand years. For in what books have they collected that number who learned letters from Isis their mistress, not much more than two thousand years ago? Varro, who has declared this, is no small authority in history, and it does not disagree with the truth of the divine books. For as it is not yet six thousand years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, and contrary to, the ascertained truth? For what historian of the past should we credit more than him who has also predicted things to come which we now see fulfilled? St. Augustine, City of God, Book XVIII.XL

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« Reply #983 on: June 14, 2009, 01:27:56 PM »

Quote
This twofold focus on the Creation allows us to read Genesis in a way that affirms that God created everything from nothing, in an instant. However, it also helps us affirm that the universe has been created with a capacity to develop, under God's sovereign guidance. Thus, the primordial state of creation does not correspond to what we presently observe. For Augustine, God created a universe that was deliberately designed to develop and evolve. The blueprint for that evolution is not arbitrary, but is programmed into the very fabric of creation. God's providence superintends the continuing unfolding of the created order.

the bolded part tells us why uniformitarianism does not work. im sure we can all agree that scientists are not directly observing the past, but rather remains from the past that require interpretation. as this author points out though, the early earth was different than what we know, thus we can not cast the present onto the past and assume we are correct. this is the problem with dating methods --- if we assume a constant rate of decay, and we assume the original make-up of the item being dated, are we necessarily correct? I think St. Augustine, at least according to this author, tell us that we are not correct in those assumptions.
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« Reply #984 on: June 14, 2009, 06:37:18 PM »

yes, im aware that St. Augustine tended to view the 6 days as one instant

If you believed that, why did you say; its quite literally impossible to read the City of God and come away thinking St. Augustine did not interpret Genesis literally? [/quote]

Quote
Several early Fathers held to chiliasm, for instance. We can't try to rehabilitate chiliasm based on this minor variance though. And the Church has similarly taught literalism for Genesis through the majority of the Fathers, hymnography, icons, Ecumenical canons, its calendar, etc.

Again you confuse mysterical matters with the physical realities of our surroundings. To be honest with you, I couldn't care less who believes that Genesis is a literal account of creation, what I disagree with is that people should be deceived into thinking that this is the only viewpoint they are allowed to have. The Orthodox Church does not enforce such a decision upon its members. And I would see any representation of Genesis within the Church's hymnography etc, as a symbolic focus on God's ways and His relationship with His creatures.

Quote
in the other thread you even posted a review from George Theokritoff that says:
Quote
Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism, however much contrary evidence there may appear to be.

are you saying Theokritoff is wrong also? not sure why you posted it if you think he's wrong ...

Oh dear. You do quote mine without reading the context, don't you? Let's put the quote in context: Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism, however much contrary evidence there may appear to be...Precisely because Fr Seraphim’s approach is fundamentally honest and his arguments usually precise and coherent-at least as regards the patristic sources-it is very important to recognize his presuppositions. Fundamental to his entire case is the premise that evolution, and any other scientific theory antithetical to young earth creationism, constitutes philosophy rather than science: we will return to this later. Closely allied to this premise is the assertion that evolution is “Clearly” of the same order as views about the cosmos current in St Basil’s time that were rejected by that Father (285).

The latter premise does much to explain why Fr Seraphim, for all his emphasis on taking the Fathers in context and on their own terms, does not always avoid enlisting them in modern battles-in effect, interpreting them in terms of our own context. An example is his use of Gregory of Nyssa’s comments on transmigration of souls, a teaching which Fr Seraphim characterizes as “a strange parallel with the modern theory of universal evolution” (138). Strange, indeed.
Gregory sees reincarnation as amounting to a belief that “one single nature runs through all beings” (139), which, according to Fr Seraphim, “lies at the heart of the theory of universal evolution”; but he is making the debatable assumption that “nature” means the same thing for St Gregory of Nyssa and for Erasmus Darwin. Evolution can hardly be said to “blend and confuse hopelessly all the marks by which one could be distinguished from another,” as the Saint continues apropos of reincarnation. One might further note that St Gregory, while rejecting any “blending and confusion,” strongly affirms a certain connection between all material creatures; consider his notion of man as a mingling of the intelligible and the sensible “so that one grace of a sort might equally pervade the whole creation, the lower nature (sic) being mingled with the supramundane” (Great Catechism, 6). Would it be any more arbitrary to see in this a “strange parallel” with the physical connectedness between living things which we now recognize, and for which evolution provides a neat explanation?


Theokritoff also says earlier in the critique; "...there is a distinct difference in emphasis and tone between a patristic treatise on Genesis and Fr Seraphim's compilation. The Fathers assume that Genesis has a basis in historical fact, but seem primarily interested in what it tells us about God's ways and His relationship with His creatures; in Fr Seraphim's commentary, the literal interpretation becomes the main point.

Quote
I'd like to see some variance from the Fathers on issues other than the length of the days, as that variance has already been acknowledged and discussed several times now. additionally, has anyone addressed the issue that the Church adopted a calendar that employed a literal Genesis timeline? It places us in the 8th millennium from creation.

The Ancient Church no doubt assumed that Genesis had some basis in history and set a calendar based upon that, but none of this alters the fact that each member of the Orthodox Church is permitted to have access to the evidence of nature and current scientific data and decide for themselves if the days of Genesis are a literal representation of Creation. You have argued that St Augustine believed they did; I have shown you that he didn't.

Moderator help!! No matter what I do, I can't get the quotes to work properly! Embarrassed

Edited for clarity.

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« Reply #985 on: June 14, 2009, 09:47:20 PM »

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If you believed that, why did you say; its quite literally impossible to read the City of God and come away thinking St. Augustine did not interpret Genesis literally?

because as I have continually stated, the length of the days is only one small part of the Genesis story, and for this topic, the least important issue. If St. Augustine interprets all of Genesis literally except for the length of the days, you really think that is enough to claim he didn't view Genesis literally? He even said those who claim a longer timeline than that given in Scripture should be mocked! That doesn't sound like he's just giving an opinion there -- he's being quite forceful about it. That's a key point --- the Fathers weren't just offering opinions, they were quite forceful and dogmatic in their statements, such as when St. John Chrysostom says to stop up our ears against those who offer a different interpretation, and St. Ephraim the Syrian says it is impermissible to interpret the days as an allegory. If it was just his opinion how could he say an allegory is impermissible?! Do you really think the Fathers were so brash unjustifiably?
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« Reply #986 on: June 14, 2009, 09:48:56 PM »

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Again you confuse mysterical matters with the physical realities of our surroundings. To be honest with you, I couldn't care less who believes that Genesis is a literal account of creation, what I disagree with is that people should be deceived into thinking that this is the only viewpoint they are allowed to have. The Orthodox Church does not enforce such a decision upon its members. And I would see any representation of Genesis within the Church's hymnography etc, as a symbolic focus on God's ways and His relationship with His creatures.

and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think. Even Theokritoff who critiqued Fr. Seraphim agreed that the Fathers viewed Genesis litereally.

and yes, of course you could view any representation of Genesis as symbolic, but do you have a reason from within Tradition to do so? Or are you allowing current scientific trends to trump revelation?
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« Reply #987 on: June 14, 2009, 10:10:18 PM »

and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think.

But why is this the "problem?" Yes, I really don't care what the Fathers think about the Avogadro's number, or about the energy being the mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Why should I? I revere the Fathers because they shaped the doctrine of the Church, which is that Christ, my Lord and Savior, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and therefore True God, but also man like me. What else should I really "care" about as far as what the Fathers think? Do I need to seek their guidance in the issue of how I should tie my shoelaces, or in the issue of how I should treat African Americans, or in the issue of whether I should cut fish with the knife held in my right or left hand? Please do not dismiss these statements as ridiculous because I do really thingk they have as much relevance to our faith as the statement that the universe was created in literal 6 days (6 times 24 hours) or as the statement that Joshua stopped the movement of the Sun (Joshua 10:13). Why should issues of the science of biology, which did not even exist in the time of the Fathers, be any different?
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« Reply #988 on: June 14, 2009, 10:22:18 PM »

and that's the problem. You don't care what the Fathers think.

But why is this the "problem?" Yes, I really don't care what the Fathers think about the Avogadro's number, or about the energy being the mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Why should I? I revere the Fathers because they shaped the doctrine of the Church, which is that Christ, my Lord and Savior, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and therefore True God, but also man like me. What else should I really "care" about as far as what the Fathers think? Do I need to seek their guidance in the issue of how I should tie my shoelaces, or in the issue of how I should treat African Americans, or in the issue of whether I should cut fish with the knife held in my right or left hand? Please do not dismiss these statements as ridiculous because I do really thingk they have as much relevance to our faith as the statement that the universe was created in literal 6 days (6 times 24 hours) or as the statement that Joshua stopped the movement of the Sun (Joshua 10:13). Why should issues of the science of biology, which did not even exist in the time of the Fathers, be any different?


the issue at hand is how to interpret Genesis. Yes, the Fathers are good for that.

If you ignore the Fathers on Genesis then that basically leads to two conclusions that i can think of:
1. The Spirit led the Fathers incorrectly for 1800 years
2. the Spirit wasn't interested in leading the Fathers when it came to Genesis.
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« Reply #989 on: June 15, 2009, 03:37:56 AM »

Of course that they were seven days. But 7 days of God , in the time of God wich is outside time.So the seven days represent 7 periods of time , wich are refered to as days.But as it is written one day and one night.Of course that they were days , but what is more important to ask , how  did the time passed than. Or better how long was a day?We know in verses of godly wisedom and beauty it is written like this "And at that time" when is refered to persons who rise above their human nature and flesh , in the moments of grace , somehow that context takes us somewere outside the time.Those who are in God`s grace and love are outside time.Time counting is the consequence of the fall , of falling from Grace . The time is counted like a countdown , only to take us back outside of time.We know that it is written in the Scripture : In the afterdays, the time will get shorter , and the days will get shorter . And if God would have not shorten those days no soul could escape.We see that somehow time passes really quick and sometimes really hard.What we need to keep in mind , the first humans for outside the time , and creation took place outside the time.The time is relative.
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