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Author Topic: The Evolution Thread to End All Evolution Threads  (Read 23543 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #135 on: April 15, 2005, 12:01:40 AM »

Why do you place such emphasis on the Alexandrian school of thought?

I am placing a great deal of emphasis on them because they were one of the two great Schools of Thought in the Early Church, and probably greater than Antioch, and they were a school of thought that produced such great theologians as St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Athanasios the Great, and St. Cyril of Alexandria...as well as establishing the basis for the thought of St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, and St. Maximos the Confessor, and influential in the theology of untold numbers of the fathers. Moreover, the thought that was presented by this school can hardly be ignored in a discussion like this, in which we are debating literal versus figurative interpretations of the Holy Scriptures; rarely are there easy answers within Orthodox and we should not try to make issues so cut and dry.

Would you like to become a non-Chalcedonian?

Not at all, though I have great love and respect for the Alexandrian school of Thought and especially for the Theologians that the Byzantine Church and the Non-Chalcedonians hold in common, I disagree with the conclusion of some of their theologians that Chalcedon was a Nestorian synod; rather, I see the synod as a rejection of Nestorius while simultaneously a reaffirmation the Humanity of Christ. And while I can see how certain theologians from the School of Alexandria would certainly tend in the extreme direction that they did (i.e. Eutyches), I do not believe these conclusions to be either a required or even natural result of Alexandrian thought. Rather I find these extreme posistions to be a result of an attempted oversimplification of Christological Dogmas, a desire for a simple and reasonable answer that actually answers more questions than it presents, when no such answer exists; thus, this was not the kind of answer the Chalcedon gave, Chalcedon gave an answer that took two more Oecumenical Synods to simply clarify what they were trying to say and even to this day, especially in the Dialogue between the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox, we are still trying to learn how to fully express and communicate Chalcedon.
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« Reply #136 on: April 15, 2005, 09:13:59 AM »



Why do you place such emphasis on the Alexandrian school of thought?
Would you like to become a non-Chalcedonian?

... Aren't you a non-Chalcedonian?

*confused*

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« Reply #137 on: April 15, 2005, 11:23:53 AM »

I am confused. I accept St. Cyril's miaphysite christology, the one accepted by the Alexandrian school and the council of Ephesus. The Byzantine and Latin Churches, on the other hand, rejected this previously held christology in Chalcedon. I do not understand why one would think of me as a "schismatic" or "heretic" considering that miaphysitism was the pre-chalcedonian christology.

Furthermore, the theologians in the Alexandrian school, even though they may have interpretted the Hexaemeron allegorically, understood the story of Adam and Eve to be a historical account and the basis for the doctrine of ancestral sin.

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« Reply #138 on: April 15, 2005, 01:31:27 PM »

Is it possible that some here might be confusing "allegorical" with "typological" in regards to Biblical interpretation?
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« Reply #139 on: April 15, 2005, 02:21:01 PM »

I am confused. I accept St. Cyril's miaphysite christology, the one accepted by the Alexandrian school and the council of Ephesus. The Byzantine and Latin Churches, on the other hand, rejected this previously held christology in Chalcedon. I do not understand why one would think of me as a "schismatic" or "heretic" considering that miaphysitism was the pre-chalcedonian christology.

I'm discussing Alexandrian thought, not the details of Chalcedon...that's another discussion.

Furthermore, the theologians in the Alexandrian school, even though they may have interpretted the Hexaemeron allegorically, understood the story of Adam and Eve to be a historical account and the basis for the doctrine of ancestral sin.

Did they? There were often times when they would reject historical interpretations in favour of allegorical interpretations, I have not read enough of the Alexandrian School of thought on this particular issue to know what their take would be, though I assume, like with many issues, there would be some disagreement within the School itself. However, the manner inwhich they interpreted much of Scripture would demonstrate that they would be open to interpreting that story allegorically if there was a pressing reason to...of course during the early Church there was no pressing reason for an allegorical interpretation (though one was often given anyway), today there may be.


Is it possible that some here might be confusing "allegorical" with "typological" in regards to Biblical interpretation?

Typological interpretation is a very narrow field of allegorical interpretation. Typology was employed by the School of Antioch, but they did not produce the full allegorical interpretations we see coming out of Alexandria.
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« Reply #140 on: April 15, 2005, 02:29:22 PM »

This is a commentary of St. Gregory of Nyssa in which he refers to Adam and Eve as historical persons:
On Holy and Salvific Pascha
By our father amongst the saints Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa
http://www.saintdemetrios.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/st_gregory_of_nyssa.htm

This is his commentary on the Hexaemeron:
http://www.bhsu.edu/artssciences/asfaculty/dsalomon/nyssa/hex.html

While some fathers believed that all things were created simultaneously while others believed that each "day" represented a thousand years, they all nonetheless interpreted Genesis as a historical account. This is not a difference of opinion on the historicity of Genesis but of the meaning of the Hexaemeron. Please name one father of the church who did not believe Adam and Eve to be historical persons and that the earth is young.
If all things were created together in the same command, then everything would be even younger. Wink

For a Catholic overview of the fathers in their interpretation of Genesis:
http://users2.ev1.net/~origins/pdf/hexrev.pdf

The Fathers of Antioch, the Fathers of Syria, and the Cappadocian Fathers (including St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa), interpeted the Hexaemeron in the literal sense. Thus one can conclude that the Alexandrian position was outside of the mainstream.

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« Reply #141 on: April 15, 2005, 03:23:07 PM »

Matthew,

You're missing the point again, you're trying to argue from specific quotes of various fathers that were made within the context of their own time and culture and ignoring how they thought. My point has been that they were far more open to the influences of science and philosophy on their thought than you are willing to admit. This radical protestant literalism that I see may have had some roots in Antiochian thought (btw, the Syrian and Antiochian schools are one and the same), but it a taking of these tendencies to the extreme (as Nestorius did) and completely ignoring the other traditions of the Church. The issue of pre-existance of matter was an issue that the fathers had to deal with, and on this issue their statements are very important; however, evolution was not an issue that they addressed, and you cannot simply take exegetical works that are designed to address the issues of that day and apply their statements to a debate that these fathers could never have even conceived of...I dont think it is possible to effectively argue that even had the Fathers been presented with all the scientific evidence evolution and understood the theory that they would unanimously have turned against it. Some would certainly have opposed it but I am equal certain that others would have at least considered if not embraced it (St. Cyril of Alexandria comes to mind and quite possibly even St. Basil the Great who had tendencies to rely in the science of the day).
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« Reply #142 on: April 15, 2005, 03:31:46 PM »

In the beginning of the Hexaemeron, St. Basil directly refutes the secular origins theories of his day with the text of Genesis. I doubt that he would find the Darwinists as any different from the atomists. This is not a matter of science but of true theology.

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." I stop
struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I
begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt
the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to
explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm anti unshaken,
each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are
sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant
to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause
presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in
sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the
origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that
atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union,
the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births
and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the
strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider's web woven by these writers
who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little
consistency! It is because they knew not how to say "In the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth." Deceived by their inherent atheism it
appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all
was given up to chance. To guard us against this error the writer on the
creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the
name of God; "In the beginning God created." What a glorious order! He first
establishes a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never
had a beginning. Then be adds "Created" to show that which was made was a very
small part of the power of the Creator."
http://www.creatio.orthodoxy.ru/english/hexaemeron/32011.htm

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« Reply #143 on: April 15, 2005, 03:42:09 PM »

The atomists insisted on the pre-eternal existance of matter, which would imply that matter exists outside of the One, outside of God, and thus is logically equal to any pre-eternal god. The insistance on Creation arose out of a necessity to defend God as the source of all things. Creationism vs. Evolution is a fundamentally different argument, the Evolutionist posistions, which trace themselves back to a big bang where the laws of physics break down actually necessitates the existance of some 'god' or 'metaphysical force' and can actually be regarded as quite consistant with Christian Philosophy, it can still preserve God as the source of all matter as the creater and former of the universe and the sustainer of all life and existance. You're trying to compare apples and oranges.
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« Reply #144 on: April 15, 2005, 03:43:34 PM »

The Greek atomism and modern Darwinism are both materialistic origins theories.
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« Reply #145 on: April 15, 2005, 04:40:04 PM »

The Greek atomism and modern Darwinism are both materialistic origins theories.

The Genesis Creation account and The Creation of the World by Eurynome are both metaphysical origins theories...does that make them the same?
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« Reply #146 on: April 15, 2005, 04:53:13 PM »

This is rather surprising...

This is how Fr. Seraphim Rose quotes the Hexaemeron:

"We cannot do better than to begin with St. Basil himself, who has written so inspiringly of the Six Days of Creation. In the Hexaemeron he writes:

Those who do not admit the common meaning of the Scriptures say that water is not water, but some other nature, and they explain a plant and a fish according to their opinion. They describe also the production of reptiles and wild animals, changing it according to their own notions, just like the dream interpreters, who interpret for their own ends the appearances seen in their dreams. When I hear grass, I think of grass, and in the same manner I understand everything as it is said, a plant, a fish, a wild animal, and an ox. Indeed, I am not ashamed of the Gospel.... Since Moses left unsaid, as useless for us, things in no way pertaining to us, shall we for this reason believe that the words of the Spirit are of less value than the foolish wisdom (of those who have written about the world)? Or shall I rather give glory to Him Who has not kept our mind occupied with vanities but has ordained that all things be written for the edification and guidance of our souls? This is a thing of which they seem to me to have been unaware, who have attempted by false arguments and allegorical interpretations to bestow on the Scripture a dignity of their own imagining. But theirs is the attitude of one who considers himself wiser than the revelations of the Spirit and introduces his own ideas in pretense of an explanation. Therefore, let It be understood as it has been written. (Hexaemeron, IX, 1)"
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/evolution_frseraphim_kalomiros.aspx

And this is what it actually says:

"HOMILY IX.

The creation of terrestrial animals.

    1. How did you like the fare of my morning's discourse? It seemed to me
that I had the good intentions of a poor giver of a feast, who, ambitious of
having the credit of keeping a good table saddens his guests by the poor
supply of the more expensive dishes. In vain he lavishly covers his table with
his mean fare; his ambition only shows his folly. It is for you to judge if I
have shared the same fate. Yet, whatever my discourse may have been, take care
lest you disregard it. No one refused to sit at the table of Elisha; and yet
he only gave his friends wild vegetables.  I know the laws of allegory,
though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those truly,
who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not
water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy
wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their
allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to
snake them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass; plant, fish, wild
beast, domestic animal, I take all in the literal sense.  "For I am not
ashamed of the gospel."  Those who have written about the nature of the
universe have discussed at length the shape of the earth. If it be spherical
or cylindrical, if it resemble a disc and is equally rounded in all parts, or
if it has the forth of a winnowing basket and is hollow in the middle;  all
these conjectures have been suggested by cosmographers, each one upsetting
that of his predecessor. It will not lead me to give less importance to the
creation of the universe, that the servant of God, Moses, is silent as to
shapes;
he has not said that the earth is a hundred and eighty thousand furlongs in
circumference; he has not measured into what extent of air its shadow projects
itself whilst the sun revolves around it, nor stated how this shadow, casting
itself upon the moon, produces eclipses. He has passed over in silence, as
useless, all that is unimportant for us. Shall I then prefer foolish wisdom to
the oracles of the Holy Spirit? Shall I not rather exalt Him who, not wishing
to fill our minds with these vanities, has regulated all the economy of
Scripture in view of the edification and the making perfect of our souls? It
is this which those seem to me not to have understood, who, giving themselves
up to the distorted meaning of allegory, have undertaken to give a majesty of
their own invention to Scripture. It is to believe themselves wiser than the
Holy Spirit, and to bring forth their own ideas under a pretext of exegesis.
Let us hear Scripture as it has been written.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/32019.htm

I hope this is just a difference of translation rather than a deliberate deception.

I hope this is just a difference of translation rather than a deliberate deception.



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« Reply #147 on: April 15, 2005, 04:59:49 PM »

Your first quote is from the 9th (IX) Homily...your second is from the 4th (IV) Homily.
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« Reply #148 on: April 15, 2005, 05:02:19 PM »

Yeah, I changed it. But the one from Catholic Encyclopedia is different.
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« Reply #149 on: April 15, 2005, 05:06:51 PM »

Different translations. A good reason to read it in the Original Greek.
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« Reply #150 on: April 15, 2005, 05:08:39 PM »

Fr. Seraphim Rose was a linguist and did his own translations. Perhaps this shows his dedication to acquiring a thoroughly patristic mindset.
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« Reply #151 on: April 15, 2005, 11:11:32 PM »

Quote
the Evolutionist posistions, which trace themselves back to a big bang

No, NO, NO! Evolution has nothing to do with Big Bang theory. They are completely unrelated. Evolution is a subset of biology: it is solely concerned with life. Big Bang theory is a cosmological theory, which is a subset of theoretical physics. As far as biology is concerned, it doesn't matter if the universe began with the big bang, God created it ex nihilo, if it had no beginning (steady state), or if it were sneezed out by the Great Green Arkleseizure, for that matter. Evolutionary theory also says nothing about the origin of life; the first cells could have been molded by God, formed naturally, or been shat out by Capt. Picard when he was brought back in time by Q, for all evolutionary theory cares. As long as life exists, evolutionary theory is happy.
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« Reply #152 on: April 15, 2005, 11:36:54 PM »

No, NO, NO! Evolution has nothing to do with Big Bang theory. They are completely unrelated. Evolution is a subset of biology: it is solely concerned with life. Big Bang theory is a cosmological theory, which is a subset of theoretical physics. As far as biology is concerned, it doesn't matter if the universe began with the big bang, God created it ex nihilo, if it had no beginning (steady state), or if it were sneezed out by the Great Green Arkleseizure, for that matter. Evolutionary theory also says nothing about the origin of life; the first cells could have been molded by God, formed naturally, or been shat out by Capt. Picard when he was brought back in time by Q, for all evolutionary theory cares. As long as life exists, evolutionary theory is happy.

And biology is nothing more than a subset of physics where we use terribly inaccurate approximations because the calculations are two complex (at least until we get a Quantum Computer in the range of eighty to ninety q-bits or so, at which time biology will go the way of alchemy and witch doctors), biological is simply one small part of a greater theory, which is considered evolution, that also takes into account the evolution of galaxies, stars, planets, solar systems, atmospheres and yes, the building blocks of life along with the evolution of those building blocks to what we have today. To try and exclude this from any system of evolution is to ignore the scientific method on which evolution is based (which does not break down if we go before the formation of life), and thus undermine the theory itself.
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« Reply #153 on: April 16, 2005, 12:19:18 AM »

Evolutionary theory is not just biology but a metaphysical system to explain how the material universe as we know it could have arisen from an unguided process.
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« Reply #154 on: April 16, 2005, 01:12:18 AM »

Evolutionary theory is not just biology but a metaphysical system to explain how the material universe as we know it could have arisen from an unguided process.

No, it's a scientific theory that explains the origins of the universe from a scientific perspective. It only becomes metaphysical if you try to elevate science to a metaphysical theory. It is a subset of Science, no different than the Theory of Gravity or Quantum Mechanics.
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« Reply #155 on: April 16, 2005, 01:24:45 AM »

Is it not the metaphysics of naturalism?
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« Reply #156 on: April 16, 2005, 02:38:11 PM »

Quote
Evolutionary theory is not just biology but a metaphysical system to explain how the material universe as we know it could have arisen from an unguided process.

Unfortunately, you are wrong. Evolutionary theory is only concerned with physical changes in populations of living creatures over time. It has nothing to do with astronomy, cosmology, or theoretical physics, except to the degree that any subset of biology has to do with those disciplines.

Quote
No, it's a scientific theory that explains the origins of the universe from a scientific perspective.

Unfortunately, you are also wrong. Cosmological theories try to explain the origin of the universe from a scientific perspective. Evolutionary theory is only concerned with physical changes in populations of living creatures over time.

Quote
biological is simply one small part of a greater theory, which is considered evolution, that also takes into account the evolution of galaxies, stars, planets, solar systems, atmospheres and yes, the building blocks of life along with the evolution of those building blocks to what we have today.

This is absolute rubbish. Cosmology and biolgoy are two different scientific disciplines. Biology doesn't assume anything about the origin of the universe, or the formation of astronomical phenomena. How the universe was created has nothing to do with Stephen J. Gould's theories, and how cynodonts evolved from therapsids has nothing to do with Stephen Hawking's theories.
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« Reply #157 on: April 16, 2005, 06:01:20 PM »

ev-+o-+lu-+tion   
A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. See Synonyms at development.

Consider stellar evolution, for example.
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« Reply #158 on: April 16, 2005, 09:25:53 PM »

The meaning of the word "evolution" is not synonymous with the Theory of Evolution, any more than speaking of the "gravity" of a situation has anything to do with the Theory of Gravity.
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« Reply #159 on: April 16, 2005, 10:27:22 PM »

For philosophical naturalists, evolution is an all-embracing concept for how the world as we know it came into being through an entirely materialistic process. I could provide quotes but that would just be redundant. This is common knowledge.
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« Reply #160 on: April 16, 2005, 10:54:11 PM »

Quote
For philosophical naturalists, evolution is an all-embracing concept for how the world as we know it came into being through an entirely materialistic process. I could provide quotes but that would just be redundant. This is common knowledge.

Er, no, I'm afraid it's not. The Theory of Evolution is a well-defined biological theory that has nothing to do with cosmology. I should dearly like to see these quotes, though even if they say what you claim they say, all that proves is that the speaker was incorrect in their terminology.

It is a common misconception that the theory of evolution encompasses cosmology, but it just ain't so. Evolution is a biological theory, not a worldview. Fr. Seraphim was talking out of his arse when he stated otherwise.
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« Reply #161 on: April 16, 2005, 10:56:37 PM »

Also, for all that Fr. Seraphim goes on about Teilhard, his speculations on teleological evolution are unscientific, not taken seriously by any legitimate biologist, and irrelevant to today's scientific discourse.
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« Reply #162 on: April 16, 2005, 11:25:07 PM »

Evolution is a biological theory, not a worldview. Fr. Seraphim was talking out of his arse when he stated otherwise.

I note the British/Australian spelling of "arse".
If we remember that Fr. Seraphim was not trying to match science with science, but pointing to a phenomenon which is happening in our time- that is, that children are being brought up by nominally Christian parents who are ignorant of the Creator. We see that what he was trying to do was to remind people that we must believe what we profess to believe, namely, our belief that God is "the Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible."
In Father Seraphim's time, the now famous experiment took place where a primitive earth atmosphere in a jar was sparked with electricity (as a form of 'lightning") and allegedly, amino acids were produced. "There you have it, a universe which does not require a God and where life can evolve on it's own!". This is what Fr. Seraphim was reacting against, a phenomenon which was taking place in his own time.
While I disagree with Matthew's position, and beleive it to be a misreading of Fr. Seraphim's intent, I also think you are doing him an injustice as well.
Also, he may very well be glorified one day- God help you if you are found accusing him of "talking through his arse"!
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« Reply #163 on: April 16, 2005, 11:30:08 PM »

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Also, he may very well be glorified one day- God help you if you are found accusing him of "talking through his arse"!

I am in fact a big proponent of his glorification -- I venerate him as a saint. Even saints, though, can talk out of their arses once in a while.
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« Reply #164 on: April 17, 2005, 01:35:36 AM »

How have I misread Fr. Seraphim?

As for the word "evolution":

"By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous. Together with Marx's materialistic theory of history and society and Freud's attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin's theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism-of much of science, in short-that has since been the stage of most Western thought." (Futuyma D.J., "Evolutionary Biology", [1979], Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, Second Edition, 1986, p.2). [top]

"Although many details remain to be worked out, it is already evident that all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely materialistic factors. They are readily explicable on the basis of differential reproduction in populations (the main factor in the modern conception of natural selection) and of the mainly random interplay of the known processes of heredity." (Simpson G.G., "The Meaning of Evolution: A Study of the History of Life and of its Significance for Man," [1949], Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1960, reprint, p.343). Charles Darwin

"Evolution is any process of growth, change or development. The word stems from the Latin evolutio meaning "unfolding" and before the late 19th century was confined to referring to goal-directed, pre-programmed processes such as embryological development. A pre-programmed task, as in a military maneuver, using this definition, may be termed an "evolution." One can also speak of stellar evolution, chemical evolution, cultural evolution or the evolution of an idea. Other kinds of evolution include evolutionary algorithms (which include genetic algorithms) which attempt to mimic processes similar to biological evolution in a computer program, most frequently as an optimization technique and as an experimental framework for the computational modelling of evolution."
http://knowallabout.com/e/ev/evolution.html

I do find it rather interesting that certain fathers of the Church attempted to interpret the days of the Hexaemeron in a God-befitting manner.
Though it is highly paradoxical that the Hexaemeron could represent six indefinite periods of time while the story of Adam and Eve is a historical account, this may nonetheless be true.
The notion that each "day" should be understood befittingly of God is just as rational as believing that He created the universe with "apparent age".
Given that the Scripture is not explicit on this matter, it is perhaps best to leave it as a mystery and focus on what we can be more certain of.

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« Reply #165 on: April 17, 2005, 03:12:51 AM »

I am in fact a big proponent of his glorification -- I venerate him as a saint. Even saints, though, can talk out of their arses once in a while.

I think you've missed the point Beayf, which is that despite what you may think, Fr. Seraphim was addressing the "zeitgeist" of his time, he was not talking through his arse. When I went to high school (by the way, I attended my 20 year high school reunion last November which gives you an idea of how long ago this was), there was no internet, and you were considered well off if you had a VCR. At this time, the Experiment of Stanley Miller was still "state of the art" science. In 1953, Miller recreated what was believed to be the early atmosphere of the Earth by creating a chamber with only hydrogen, water, methane, and ammonia. To speed up "geologic time" in his experiment, he boiled the water and instead of exposing the mix to ultraviolet light he used an electric discharge something like lightning. After just a week, Miller had a residue of compounds settled in his system. He analyzed them and the results were electrifying: Organic compounds had been formed, most notably some of the "building blocks of life," amino acids. Amino acids are necessary to form proteins which themselves form the structure of cells and play important roles in the biochemical reactions life requires. Miller found the amino acids glycine, alanine, aspartic and glutamic acid, and others. Fifteen percent of the carbon from the methane had been combined into organic compounds. As amazing as discovering amino acids at all was how easily they had formed. This was immediatley "latched on to" by the "popular scientists" as evidence that the Universe began without thew need for God, and simply evolved into what we know today- energy and inorganic matter into organic matter and Life. I know this sounds bizaar today, but in my day (and Fr. Seraphim's day), this was considered the "first step" in Evolution- even in school science curricula.
The distinction that you see between Evolution and comsology did not exist in Fr. Seraphim's day. In his day (and my day) Evolution was not simply a branch of biology, it was an explanation for the origin of organic matter and life.
So before you accuse Fr. Seraphim of "talking though his arse", perhaps you should take a sober step backewards and see what he was up against in his own time, rather than judge him by anachronism.
By the way, Fr. Seraphim also warned about the obsession with UFO's- again, another "fad" at the time. The movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was a box office hit, and very believable to people who were on the UFO bandwagon. Have you noticed how this fad has died down since camcorders have become so freely available? In another generation, the concept of UFO's may be completely extinct- in which case, Fr. Seraphim's writing will appear strange and superfluous and based on pseudo-science. I think a similar thing is happening with yourself when you look back at Fr. Seraphim's writings in relation to Evolution. The Evolutionary Theory of his day was not the Evolutionary Theory that you know today.
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« Reply #166 on: April 17, 2005, 02:55:54 PM »

Very well; I retract my "talking through his arse" comment, if it'll make you feel better. The distinction between cosmology and the theory of evolution did in fact exist in the scientific community during Fr. Seraphim's time, however. I freely admit the two may have been conflated in the popular media (and still are); however, when discussing or studying scientific matters, it is best to ignore the popular media, as their grasp of scientific matters is notoriously bogus.
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« Reply #167 on: April 17, 2005, 03:01:07 PM »

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Together with Marx's materialistic theory of history and society and Freud's attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin's theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism-of much of science, in short-that has since been the stage of most Western thought."

This says nothing about the theory of evolution as a cosmological theory.

Quote
Although many details remain to be worked out, it is already evident that all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely materialistic factors.

What happened before life was created / formed / generated is not part of the history of life, scientifically speaking, so again, this says nothing about cosmology.

Quote
"Evolution is any process of growth, change or development. The word stems from the Latin evolutio meaning "unfolding" and before the late 19th century was confined to referring to goal-directed, pre-programmed processes such as embryological development. A pre-programmed task, as in a military maneuver, using this definition, may be termed an "evolution." One can also speak of stellar evolution, chemical evolution, cultural evolution or the evolution of an idea. Other kinds of evolution include evolutionary algorithms (which include genetic algorithms) which attempt to mimic processes similar to biological evolution in a computer program, most frequently as an optimization technique and as an experimental framework for the computational modelling of evolution."

Yes, but the concept of "evolution" per se is not synonymous with the theory of evolution. In fact, the word "evolution" itself was a rather poor choice of name for the theory -- looked at purely materialistically (which is all science can do), evolution is not directed towards a goal, nor is there some inevitable progression from the lower to the higher; it is simply a matter of populations changing to be better adapted towards their environment.

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« Reply #168 on: April 17, 2005, 04:12:31 PM »

Er, no, I'm afraid it's not. The Theory of Evolution is a well-defined biological theory that has nothing to do with cosmology. I should dearly like to see these quotes, though even if they say what you claim they say, all that proves is that the speaker was incorrect in their terminology.

It is a common misconception that the theory of evolution encompasses cosmology, but it just ain't so. Evolution is a biological theory, not a worldview. Fr. Seraphim was talking out of his arse when he stated otherwise.

Actually it depends on who you ask...I know that most Biologists will say that evolution only deals with the Biological aspect, but most Physicists will include Cosmology in Evolution, viewing biological evolution as simply a small side show, but a subset of physics (after all, there is no difference between the electrons and protons found in biologican and non-biological matter, so ultimately there is no difference from the point of view of the physicist); it is just Jargon that is specific to each field, we are simply arguing over semantics.

Ultimately evolution (including Cosmology) is a theory born out of the Axioms of Science, if you have a problem with it, you need to discuss the Axioms of Science, not evolution which is simply a theorem derived from these Axioms; by claiming the the thoery is a philosophy you are ignoring its origins and trying to make more out of it than is really there.
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« Reply #169 on: April 17, 2005, 04:13:31 PM »

I think a similar thing is happening with yourself when you look back at Fr. Seraphim's writings in relation to Evolution. The Evolutionary Theory of his day was not the Evolutionary Theory that you know today.

Fr. Seraphim wrote on the patristic understanding on Genesis in order to affirm apostolic tradition. Even if evolution were not a popular theory, we can be sure that he would have provided the patristic exegesis for us to learn from.
The nature of the first-created man and world, the fall, the necessity of redemption, and others are important Orthodox doctrines that hinge on the traditional understanding of Genesis.

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« Reply #170 on: April 17, 2005, 05:23:07 PM »

Though I do not usually like creation "science", I find this site to be very interesting:

"Welcome to Answers in Creation, a creation science ministry believing in an inerrant Word of God and a literal interpretation of Genesis.  We also believe the earth is billions of years old.  We apply logic and common sense to creation science, and bring conservative Christianity and Old Earth Creationism together, without conflict."
http://www.answersincreation.org/

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« Reply #171 on: April 17, 2005, 07:35:19 PM »

Brothers/Sisters,

Let’s suppose that some archeologists after thousands of years will find my home and there they’ll also find my diary that I keep in my desk.
 
In my diary I am writing all my impressions and generally all about my personal life with my family.

So they will have the archeological findings of my house, my furniture, my clothes, and all things found in ones house along with my diary.

In their effort to understand my life they may find that my diary’s evidences are not compatible with their other findings. There is nowhere in my diary a written evidence about the existence of a device called refrigerator and for several other appliances. Also there is also no written evidence about our dog found buried in our garden. And also by studying the house structure they will figure out that my description of its construction is so deficient that I may not even talk about this specific house.

Then one of these archeologists will have the bizarre idea that I was writing in my diary about my family’s life, about my personal relationship with my family’s members and I was not keeping a record about everything that was there in our house or everything was taking place. So it is absolutely right that they found no detailed records of the things that I had no personal relation with and also that my ability to explain everything that was surrounding me was limited by my capacity to relate with each one of them.

They‘ll all think this proposition and after awhile they‘ll come to the conclusion that my diary is an unreliable source for their scientific analysis because is referring to personal impressions about personal relationships and it is not a scientific journal.
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« Reply #172 on: April 17, 2005, 08:05:35 PM »

The following are quotes of church fathers who may have been open to the day-age theory:

Justin Martyr
"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 [Gen. 5:5]. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression ‘The day of the Lord is a thousand years’ [Ps. 90:4] is connected with this subject" (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 81 [A.D. 155]).

Irenaeus
"And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since ‘a day of the Lord is a thousand years,’ he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin" (Against Heresies 5:23:2 [A.D. 189]).

Clement of Alexandria
"And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist? . . . That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds: ‘This is the book of the generation, also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth’ [Gen. 2:4]. For the expression ‘when they were created’ intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression ‘in the day that God made them,’ that is, in and by which God made ‘all things,’ and ‘without which not even one thing was made,’ points out the activity exerted by the Son" (Miscellanies 6:16 [A.D. 208]).

Cyprian
"The first seven days in the divine arrangement contain seven thousand years" (Treatises 11:11 [A.D. 250]).

Origen
"For who that has understanding will suppose that the first and second and third day existed without a sun and moon and stars and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? . . . I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally" (The Fundamental Doctrines 4:1:16 [A.D. 225]).

"The text said that ‘there was evening and there was morning’; it did not say ‘the first day,’ but said ‘one day.’ It is because there was not yet time before the world existed. But time begins to exist with the following days" (Homilies on Genesis [A.D. 234]).

"And since he [the pagan Celsus] makes the statements about the ‘days of creation’ ground of accusation—as if he understood them clearly and correctly, some of which elapsed before the creation of light and heaven, the sun and moon and stars, and some of them after the creation of these we shall only make this observation, that Moses must have forgotten that he had said a little before ‘that in six days the creation of the world had been finished’ and that in consequence of this act of forgetfulness he subjoins to these words the following: ‘This is the book of the creation of man in the day when God made the heaven and the earth [Gen. 2:4]’" (Against Celsus 6:51 [A.D. 248]).

"And with regard to the creation of the light upon the first day . . . and of the [great] lights and stars upon the fourth . . . we have treated to the best of our ability in our notes upon Genesis, as well as in the foregoing pages, when we found fault with those who, taking the words in their apparent signification, said that the time of six days was occupied in the creation of the world" (ibid., 6:60).

"For he [the pagan Celsus] knows nothing of the day of the Sabbath and rest of God, which follows the completion of the world’s creation, and which lasts during the duration of the world, and in which all those will keep the festival with God who have done all their work in their six days" (ibid., 6:61).

Lactantius
"Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six-thousandth year is not yet complete. . . . Therefore, since all the works of God were completed in six days, the world must continue in its present state through six ages, that is, six thousand years. For the great day of God is limited by a circle of a thousand years, as the prophet shows, who says, ‘In thy sight, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day [Ps. 90:4]’" (Divine Institutes 7:14 [A.D. 307]).

Augustine
"Seven days by our reckoning, after the model of the days of creation, make up a week. By the passage of such weeks time rolls on, and in these weeks one day is constituted by the course of the sun from its rising to its setting; but we must bear in mind that these days indeed recall the days of creation, but without in any way being really similar to them" (ibid., 4:27).

"[A]t least we know that it [the Genesis creation day] is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar" (ibid., 5:2).

"For in these days [of creation] 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 is extremely difficult or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!" (The City of God 11:6 [A.D. 419]).

"We see that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting [of the sun] and no morning but by the rising of the sun, but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day. And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness and called the light ‘day’ and the darkness ‘night’; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was and yet must unhesitatingly believe it" (ibid., 11:7).
http://www.catholic.com/Library/Cre...and_Genesis.asp

Though it is highly paradoxical that the Hexaemeron could represent six indefinite periods of time while the story of Adam and Eve is a historical account, this may nonetheless be true.
The notion that each day should be understood "befittingly of God" is just as rational as believing that He created the universe with "apparent age".
Given that the Scripture is not explicit on this matter, it is perhaps best to leave it as a mystery and focus on what we can be more certain of.
Given that God stands outside of time, He did not necessarily create within time and therefore, the universe itself could be billions of years old even though the Creation ocurred in six "days". Given that the fathers of the Church were not unanimous in the meaning of the Hexaemeron, one need not believe in a young universe in order to uphold the authority of Scripture.
God created the earth in six days and specially created the species and mankind. Genesis itself is a factual history. The nature of time before the fall, on the other hand, is a mystery to human understanding. The universe may be billions of years old or less than ten thousand. However, if the universe is young, then the supernovas we observe never really happened. That is a little unsettling.
As sort of a "patristic scholar", I am constantly learning more and more about what the fathers of the Church taught. Given that the fathers were not unanimous of the length of the Creation days, we should be open to the possibility that modern science is correct in its dating techniques.
As I have shown before, some of the fathers taught that we must understand the days of the Hexaemeron in a manner befitting of God, given that He stands outside of time.

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« Reply #173 on: April 17, 2005, 08:13:42 PM »

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Physicists will include Cosmology in Evolution, viewing biological evolution as simply a small side show, but a subset of physics

Then those physicists may be using the word "evolution" in a different way, but they are definitely not talking about the theory of evolution. If they are, they're wrong. Communities of living beings changing over time in response to selection pressures is not related to how stars and galaxies form, except insasmuch as anything is related to how stars and galaxies form.

It's not impossible, or even uncommon, for a scientist in one field to have serious misconceptions about what is going on in another field. I'm not a biologist, but biology is a great interest of mine, and one that I spend a lot of time studying about. I have only the barest familiarity with physics, though, and so my opinion is not to be relied upon when discussing cosmology or astronomy.
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« Reply #174 on: April 17, 2005, 08:41:47 PM »

Then those physicists may be using the word "evolution" in a different way, but they are definitely not talking about the theory of evolution. If they are, they're wrong.
"If they are, they're wrong."- do you mean they're "talking through their arses"? Wink
If we extrapolate the idea that Evolution can begin on it's own (as Stanley Miller did) and therefore "provide" an explanation for the origins of the Universe which says that God did not create the Universe, because it could begin on it's own, we have a plausable scientific hypothesis.
However, this "hypothesis", however much it is based on  empirical science will always be a "philosopy". Even if we believe that God is the "first cause" who set this evolution in motion, we have taken a philosophical/metaphysical stance. We are saying that "this is how God created the Universe", and cannot escape the fact that we have taken the philosophical stance of Deists, and we must reject "Revealed Truth" in favour of empirical, scientific facts.
Even the belief that physics and metaphysics "cannot mix" is a philosophical stance. Even the statement that "all truth is empirical" is not an empirical statement, it is a metaphysical statement.

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« Reply #175 on: April 17, 2005, 09:05:43 PM »

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If we extrapolate the idea that Evolution can begin on it's own (as Stanley Miller did) and therefore "provide" an explanation for the origins of the Universe which says that God did not create the Universe, because it could begin on it's own, we have a plausable scientific hypothesis.

The thing is, though, that the theory of evolution requires some already existing life to work with. How life began comes under the heading of theories of biogenesis (and FTR, I believe that the first life was created by God directly; ditto for Adam and Eve). Likewise, how the universe began falls under the heading of cosmology; it's what is studied by scientists such as Stephen Hawking. Now, many scientists believe that the universe began on its own, and that life formed on its own (though I do not), but neither of those have to do with the theory of evolution. It's once that life was existing that the theory of evolution applies, as selection pressures would have come to bear on the newly formed life, e.g. the early formation of the oxygen-rich atmosphere after the development of photosynthesis, which meant that the great diversity of anaerobic bacteria and archaea would henceforth be limited to environments that lack oxygen, such as mud, soil, hot springs, etc.
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« Reply #176 on: April 17, 2005, 09:21:30 PM »

Now, many scientists believe that the universe began on its own, and that life formed on its own (though I do not), but neither of those have to do with the theory of evolution. It's once that life was existing that the theory of evolution applies,

I know that you believe in God. I know that Evolution is not necessarily Biogenesis. I know that Evolutionary Theory applies to life once it exists. What I am saying, is that we cannot deny that Evolutionary Theory is a philosophical and metaphysical stance. The idea that it is "pure science" is untrue. If one believes in God, and accepts the Theory of Evolution as an empirical fact, then there is no escaping the fact that we have defined the mechanism by which God sustains life. We have not simply stated empirical facts, whether we are right or wrong, we have made a philosophical/metaphysical statement, we have made a theological statement. There is no hiding behind the facade of "pure science". We have likened God to a watchmaker who makes a watch, sets it in motion and has nothing more to do with it- the position of the Deists.
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« Reply #177 on: April 17, 2005, 09:50:20 PM »

Quote
then there is no escaping the fact that we have defined the mechanism by which God sustains life. We have not simply stated empirical facts, whether we are right or wrong, we have made a philosophical/metaphysical statement, we have made a theological statement.

Do you feel the same way about attempts to tease out how gravity works, or electromagnetism, or chemical reactions? What is special about life that figuring out how it works, and how populations of it work, is so different and more grave than figuring out how apples fall to the ground, or how moving a wire through a coil produces an electrical current?
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« Reply #178 on: April 17, 2005, 10:23:00 PM »

Do you feel the same way about attempts to tease out how gravity works, or electromagnetism, or chemical reactions? What is special about life that figuring out how it works, and how populations of it work, is so different and more grave than figuring out how apples fall to the ground, or how moving a wire through a coil produces an electrical current?
Firstly, yes, I feel the same way about all the "laws of Nature". I beleive that they are established by God in His wisdom. Every time I learn a new scientific fact, I am stuck with wonder at the wisdom and generosity of our God.
Secondly, at the basis of The Theory of Evolution is randomness. If God chose to use this mechanism to sustain life, then He is not the Creator of Mankind- randomness is. God cannot, even for an instant, interfere with the process of Evolution- because this would render Evolution unrandom and the entire basis of the theory collapses.
What is the point of praying for our daily bread if our receiving our daily bread depends on randomness? How could there have been a Fall if the existence of free will is random? What is the point of praying that we be delivered from trials if our trials are simply the result of randomness? What was the point of Christ's Death and Ressurection if there is no Divine Plan of Salvation- only randomness? What was the point of the Divine Incarnation if this breached the randomness of Evolution? How can we say that the Human Nature of Christ is the result of the randomness of Evolution? And if we say that the Incarnation was not random, then hasn't God interfered in history (at least in the case of the Incarnation) and therefore removed randomness? And if we look at the History of our Fathers in the Faith- all the way back to Abraham- hasn't God interfered in history, and therefore history is not random?
Thirdly, if Evolution is the mechanism by which God sustains life, did God therefore create a flawed system of randomness that He needs to redeem us from by His Plan of Salvation? This is not the Orthodox understanding.....According to Orthodoxy, the nature of everything which God created is inherently good. Evolutionary theory requires that the nature of everything is inherntly neutral.

The only way in which the theory of Evolution and a belief in the God Whom the Orthodox Christians worship can be reconciled is if we either believe that Evolution stopped when Man came into being, and there was no more randomness after that, or if God stopped His act of Creation after the "sixth day" and has not interfered in human history since then, and the interference of God in human history is only an "apparent" interference. The latter belief cannot be reconciled with the Orthodox Christian God, which leaves us therefore with the former, namely that Evolution has ceased.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2005, 11:16:44 PM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #179 on: April 17, 2005, 11:55:28 PM »

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Secondly, at the basis of The Theory of Evolution is randomness.

The theory of evolution is the exact opposite of randomness. Natural selection is an imposition of order -- a sorting of those organisms in a population who are unfit to survive in their particular environment from those who are fit.

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God cannot, even for an instant, interfere with the process of Evolution- because this would render Evolution unrandom and the entire basis of the theory collapses.

The huh? God interfering with the process of evolution does no such thing -- organisms will still live and die according to their fitness in relation to their environment. Mutations will still occur, and mixing of genes will also still occur. Bacteria and archaea will still continue to merrily shuffle their genes around, viruses will spread new genetic information willy-nilly, and what comes out of that mix will still either be fit to survive in its environment or not.

Does the theory of gravity collapse if God interferes with its operation for some specific purpose? Does the fact that St. Mary of Egypt levitated off the ground in her prayer mean that we should chunk all our calculations about planetary movements? Can we no longer predict solar eclipses because Christ walked on the water?

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What is the point of praying for our daily bread if our receiving our daily bread depends on randomness? How could there have been a Fall if the existence of free will is random? What is the point of praying that we be delivered from trials if our trials are simply the result of randomness? What was the point of Christ's Death and Ressurection if there is no Divine Plan of Salvation- only randomness? What was the point of the Divine Incarnation if this breached the randomness of Evolution? How can we say that the Human Nature of Christ is the result of the randomness of Evolution? And if we say that the Incarnation was not random, then hasn't God interfered in history (at least in the case of the Incarnation) and therefore removed randomness? And if we look at the History of our Fathers in the Faith- all the way back to Abraham- hasn't God interfered in history, and therefore history is not random?

I fully agree that history is not random. Once you realize that God intervening in the operation of the universe doesn't mean the theory of evolution collapses, all these problems disappear. God has established orderly rules for the operation of the universe -- matter attracts matter gravitationally; electricity and magnetism are interchangeable; nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum; populations of organisms change over time as a result of pressure from their environment. The fact that God can suspend or modify these rules for His own purposes doesn't mean the rules are now invalid.

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The only way in which the theory of Evolution and a belief in the God Whom the Orthodox Christians worship can be reconciled is if we either believe that Evolution stopped when Man came into being, and there was no more randomness after that, or if God stopped His act of Creation after the "sixth day" and has not interfered in human history since then, and the interference of God in human history is only an "apparent" interference.

I believe you are setting up a false dichotomy. I see no contradiction whatsoever between having an active, intervening God and also having natural processes continue to operate. And evolution is still clearly continuing to happen -- new species have been observed to form, both in the laboratory and in the wild, and natural selection is still in operation, else we would not have problems with populations of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics.
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