Author Topic: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?  (Read 4608 times)

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Offline Pellegrino

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No they most certainly did not, and the risk of over-allegorizing Genesis creates an opening for allegorical interpretation of other scripture and faith practices (e.g. the Incarnation, the Holy Mysteries, etc.).
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2015, 11:30:18 PM »
Please post writings from every Father for confirmation.

Offline homedad76

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2015, 11:44:42 PM »
There is a whole lot of land between Literaltown and Allegory Bay.  The Bible is neither a science text nor a work of fiction.  This has been discussed at length and I can't recall a whole lot of argument that Genesis is strictly allegory so that extreme position will not find much support here, which your stance seems to imply you think you will find.
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Offline homedad76

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2015, 11:46:38 PM »
The biggest difference between the creation account and events like the incarnation and the establishment of the mysteries... nobody except God was there for the first one.  While not strictly a straw man the argument that one puts the others in doubt is pretty close.
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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2015, 11:53:38 PM »
I don't believe that Genesis should be interpreted as a literal historical or scientific account in every aspect. However, to reduce Genesis to merely some allegorical fable does indeed pose the question as to why every other book of Scripture should not also be viewed as allegorical fables. If Moses did not really mean for us to think that God created a literal man and a literal woman, then why should we think that St. John the Evangelist intended for us to think that Jesus really meant for us to eat His real Body and drink His real Blood? And why should we think that the other writers of the Gospels intended for us to think that Jesus literally rose from the dead and literally ascended into heaven?

I've always found it odd that people can believe in the sacramental Mysteries while straining to affirm the mystery of creation. It's like: "Of course God can transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. No problem. But it's ridiculous to think that God could speak the universe into existence and create man and woman without the aid of evolution." Weird.


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« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 11:57:09 PM by Gebre Menfes Kidus »
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2015, 12:24:20 AM »
I've always found it odd that people can believe in the sacramental Mysteries while straining to affirm the mystery of creation. It's like: "Of course God can transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. No problem. But it's ridiculous to think that God could speak the universe into existence and create man and woman without the aid of evolution." Weird.


Selam

It's not "Could God do this?" it's "Did God do this?"

Nobody denies that Creationism is logically possible. The argument is that it's highly unlikely given all the evidence for a 13+ Billion year old universe (contradicting the results obtained by adding the Biblical genealogies together), etc.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 12:24:44 AM by Volnutt »
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Offline Pellegrino

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2015, 12:31:19 AM »
Please post writings from every Father for confirmation.

Already been assembled for you for some years in one neat package, some material never before translated into English.  Genesis, Creation and Early Man.  I have already been given a warning about posting too much content from original sources, so you will please excuse me for not posting it's 800 some pages here.
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2015, 12:35:05 AM »
No they most certainly did not, and the risk of over-allegorizing Genesis creates an opening for allegorical interpretation of other scripture and faith practices (e.g. the Incarnation, the Holy Mysteries, etc.).

Your thread title is a question. Your first post is a statement disavowing the question. Do you believe God deceives? Do you believe God wants us to deceive others? I have no respect for what you have done here.
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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2015, 12:38:01 AM »
I've always found it odd that people can believe in the sacramental Mysteries while straining to affirm the mystery of creation. It's like: "Of course God can transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. No problem. But it's ridiculous to think that God could speak the universe into existence and create man and woman without the aid of evolution." Weird.


Selam

It's not "Could God do this?" it's "Did God do this?"

Nobody denies that Creationism is logically possible. The argument is that it's highly unlikely given all the evidence for a 13+ Billion year old universe (contradicting the results obtained by adding the Biblical genealogies together), etc.

It sure seems that most evolutionists certainly do deny that creationism is logically possible. And from a rationalistic standpoint of empirical plausibility, the Resurrection and the Sacramental Mysteries can also be logically doubted and dismissed. So the question at hand here is what did the biblical authors intend for us to understand. And therefore my questions remain. As for the ostensible evidence of a 13+ billion year old universe, that's something I will always call into question. But that has been argued on other threads, so no need to rehash it here. I think the OP wants to know how the Church fathers viewed Genesis. And I think that's the important thing here.

Selam
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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2015, 12:45:07 AM »
No they most certainly did not, and the risk of over-allegorizing Genesis creates an opening for allegorical interpretation of other scripture and faith practices (e.g. the Incarnation, the Holy Mysteries, etc.).

 Do you believe God deceives? Do you believe God wants us to deceive others?

It is not God who deceives. The deception comes from our obfuscated view of a fallen world, from sin, and from the devil. Nature is quite deceptive. I don't think nature was deceptive prior to the fall, but is certainly is now - not totally and always deceptive, but certainly deceptive in many ways. People once thought the earth was flat. That wasn't God deceiving them. That was the deception of their own flawed perspective. I imagine Christians back in those times asked the same question: "Do you think that God would deceive us about the earth? All evidence indicates that the earth is flat. God wouldn't play tricks on us."


Selam
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2015, 12:56:48 AM »
No they most certainly did not, and the risk of over-allegorizing Genesis creates an opening for allegorical interpretation of other scripture and faith practices (e.g. the Incarnation, the Holy Mysteries, etc.).

If it does create such an opening, it only does so because people have not learned discernment in their Orthodox spiritual life.  And when the issue is muddied, and there's an apparent contradiction between scientific events and Genesis (if one wants to take it literally and likes to create a contradiction), then it becomes a good humbling experience to believe in "I don't know" while affirming confidence in latching on to Christ and the literalness of His ministry and salvation.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 12:57:36 AM by minasoliman »
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Offline Pellegrino

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2015, 12:57:44 AM »
No they most certainly did not, and the risk of over-allegorizing Genesis creates an opening for allegorical interpretation of other scripture and faith practices (e.g. the Incarnation, the Holy Mysteries, etc.).

Your thread title is a question. Your first post is a statement disavowing the question. Do you believe God deceives? Do you believe God wants us to deceive others? I have no respect for what you have done here.

You make a valid point. I felt like I needed to "say something" when starting the topic.  In retrospect, I realized that a better approach would have been to say something more neutral, but by that time, I was no longer able to modify the post.
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2015, 01:01:01 AM »
I've always found it odd that people can believe in the sacramental Mysteries while straining to affirm the mystery of creation. It's like: "Of course God can transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. No problem. But it's ridiculous to think that God could speak the universe into existence and create man and woman without the aid of evolution." Weird.


Selam

It's not "Could God do this?" it's "Did God do this?"

Nobody denies that Creationism is logically possible. The argument is that it's highly unlikely given all the evidence for a 13+ Billion year old universe (contradicting the results obtained by adding the Biblical genealogies together), etc.

It sure seems that most evolutionists certainly do deny that creationism is logically possible. And from a rationalistic standpoint of empirical plausibility, the Resurrection and the Sacramental Mysteries can also be logically doubted and dismissed. So the question at hand here is what did the biblical authors intend for us to understand. And therefore my questions remain. As for the ostensible evidence of a 13+ billion year old universe, that's something I will always call into question. But that has been argued on other threads, so no need to rehash it here. I think the OP wants to know how the Church fathers viewed Genesis. And I think that's the important thing here.

Selam

I'm not saying they believe it might have happened, they don't. I'm just saying that those who think the concept of God is logically coherent admit that a God could have created a universe in six days 6000 years ago, theoretically but did not in actuality.

The evidence is very important. The Fathers were men of their day going off the evidence of the world around them. They had no reason to doubt geocentrism and a young earth. We have reason to doubt both. Is God a liar who plants false evidence?

By the way, how many of the Fathers believed the Earth is flat, contrary to the known facts of their day? Lactantius and Isadore of Seville certainly did. I seem to recall that St. John Chrysostom did. Justin would know better than I.
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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 01:09:42 AM »
I've always found it odd that people can believe in the sacramental Mysteries while straining to affirm the mystery of creation. It's like: "Of course God can transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. No problem. But it's ridiculous to think that God could speak the universe into existence and create man and woman without the aid of evolution." Weird.


Selam

It's not "Could God do this?" it's "Did God do this?"

Nobody denies that Creationism is logically possible. The argument is that it's highly unlikely given all the evidence for a 13+ Billion year old universe (contradicting the results obtained by adding the Biblical genealogies together), etc.

It sure seems that most evolutionists certainly do deny that creationism is logically possible. And from a rationalistic standpoint of empirical plausibility, the Resurrection and the Sacramental Mysteries can also be logically doubted and dismissed. So the question at hand here is what did the biblical authors intend for us to understand. And therefore my questions remain. As for the ostensible evidence of a 13+ billion year old universe, that's something I will always call into question. But that has been argued on other threads, so no need to rehash it here. I think the OP wants to know how the Church fathers viewed Genesis. And I think that's the important thing here.

Selam

I'm not saying they believe it might have happened, they don't. I'm just saying that those who think the concept of God is logically coherent admit that a God could have created a universe in six days 6000 years ago, theoretically but did not in actuality.

The evidence is very important. The Fathers were men of their day going off the evidence of the world around them. They had no reason to doubt geocentrism and a young earth. We have reason to doubt both. Is God a liar who plants false evidence?

By the way, how many of the Fathers believed the Earth is flat, contrary to the known facts of their day? Lactantius and Isadore of Seville certainly did. I seem to recall that St. John Chrysostom did. Justin would know better than I.

I think all Orthodox Christians agree that God could have created the universe in 6 days or over the span of 6 billion years. So I am open to either theory. I just don't accept as evidence theories that are predicated upon certain presuppositions when competing theories could be just as valid within the framework of other presuppositions. But people are free to believe whatever they wish.


Selam
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2015, 01:21:09 AM »
Unfortunately this is where the lack of religious fervor and faith, the lack of love and trust in God, come in. Creationists have fallen into the trap of clinging to evidences, multiplying arguments, and planting their flag in the ground and surrounding it (and their hearts) with concrete. Those who have accepted the evolutionary consensus have found it through love--of God, truth, and beauty. These evolutionists have left themselves vulnerable to being shown to be fools, to being shown as having lived theirs lives built on lies. What if Scripture isn't what they thought? What if God isn't who they thought? But there is no love where there is no vulnerability.

The idea that allowing too strong an allegorical understanding of Genesis will lead to questioning the fundamental elements of the faith is of course a slippery slope, and the evolutionists have avoided this slippery slope... by means of throwing themselves down the slippery slope of reality. They don't know what will happen, what science and other human endeavors will find, and what new problems may pop up. They trust in God, however, and truth, and hope. They are willing to let go of the safety blanket of understanding and evidence, of needing to have everything packed in a tidy box wrapped with genuine leather, and to accept reality as it comes.

Not so for the creationists, who think they can figure it all out, or that they already did, or that church father #375 did; they can believe in other things they can't wrap their head around--like "the uncircumscribable being circumscribed"--but they cannot make that leap, yet, when it comes to evolution. This is ok though, especially for the Orthodox (and a few others)--for they rely not only on themselves, but on all the things God has given: reason, hope, faith, trust, experience, creativity, and all the rest, of the entire church, with God guiding the way. Through these things the evolutionists accept that the resurrection, or the  eucharist, are real literal/conrete/etc. But creationists have put up a wall: and thinking to protect themselves from unbelievers they have mired themselves in the inability to trust, and partially walled themselves off from God and facing reality. Mr. Gebre, tear down this wall.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 01:29:10 AM by Justin Kissel »

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2015, 01:24:56 AM »
(Hopefully the excesses of that post can be forgiven. Obviously I was trying to frame things in the opposite way than they normally are, as far as who is not trusting God, over-reliant on reason, etc. I do not really mean the slights and such, not about those on this thread anyway...)

Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2015, 01:28:30 AM »
(Hopefully the excesses of that post can be forgiven. Obviously I was trying to frame things in the opposite way than they normally are, as far as who is not trusting God, over-reliant on reason, etc. I do not really mean the slights and such, not about those on this thread anyway...)

The portrayal of evolutionists as saints and creationists as sinners is a bit much, I agree. And the Reagan reference was just tacky.

Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2015, 01:31:27 AM »
Do creationists deny that species can go extinct? That's certainly what St Basil claims in his Hexaemeron.

Of course, that's St Basil's words, not the Bible's. So we can maybe ignore them, because St Basil doesn't have the authority of Scripture, which means that his teaching on Genesis may be fallible.

Hmmm, I wonder what other patristic teachings on Genesis are fallible...

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2015, 01:34:00 AM »
Do creationists deny that species can go extinct? That's certainly what St Basil claims in his Hexaemeron.

Of course, that's St Basil's words, not the Bible's. So we can maybe ignore them, because St Basil doesn't have the authority of Scripture, which means that his teaching on Genesis may be fallible.

Hmmm, I wonder what other patristic teachings on Genesis are fallible...

NicholasofMyra created a thread somewhere in the private forum with my name on it (I think in the EO/OO) about all the Patristic quotes that contradict any scientific understanding of nature.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 01:34:18 AM by minasoliman »
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2015, 01:38:58 AM »
Unfortunately this is where the lack of religious fervor and faith, the lack of love and trust in God, come in. Creationists have fallen into the trap of clinging to evidences, multiplying arguments, and planting their flag in the ground and surrounding it (and their hearts) with concrete. Those who have accepted the evolutionary consensus have found it through love--of God, truth, and beauty. These evolutionists have left themselves vulnerable to being shown to be fools, to being shown as having lived theirs lives built on lies. What if Scripture isn't what they thought? What if God isn't who they thought? But there is no love where there is no vulnerability.

The idea that allowing too strong an allegorical understanding of Genesis will lead to questioning the fundamental elements of the faith is of course a slippery slope, and the evolutionists have avoided this slippery slope... by means of throwing themselves down the slippery slope of reality. They don't know what will happen, what science and other human endeavors will find, and what new problems may pop up. They trust in God, however, and truth, and hope. They are willing to let go of the safety blanket of understanding and evidence, of needing to have everything packed in a tidy box wrapped with genuine leather, and to accept reality as it comes.

Not so for the creationists, who think they can figure it all out, or that they already did, or that church father #375 did; they can believe in other things they can't wrap their head around--like "the uncircumscribable being circumscribed"--but they cannot make that leap, yet, when it comes to evolution. This is ok though, especially for the Orthodox (and a few others)--for they rely not only on themselves, but on all the things God has given: reason, hope, faith, trust, experience, creativity, and all the rest, of the entire church, with God guiding the way. Through these things the evolutionists accept that the resurrection, or the  eucharist, are real literal/conrete/etc. But creationists have put up a wall: and thinking to protect themselves from unbelievers they have mired themselves in the inability to trust, and partially walled themselves off from God and facing reality. Mr. Gebre, tear down this wall.

I always enjoy your poetic writing. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin would be proud. Of course, this type of argumentation has nothing to do with science, and I am just as guilty of doing the same thing.

I don't think I am the one who has erected the wall, however. I have consistently avowed that God is the author of science, and therefore I affirm scientific evidence and never view it as conflicting with my Orthodox Christian Faith.

I think the humility point is key here. Why can't we just admit that the earth could be 7,000 years old or 7 million years old? I'm the one who remains agnostic on this point. Why can't others do the same?

And it seems to me that the greatest scientific discoveries are born from humility, from curiosity, from a sense of profound wonder - not from an attitude of pride and presumption that posits a theory and then defends it at all costs.


Selam
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 01:40:30 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus »
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2015, 04:00:09 PM »
There is a whole lot of land between Literaltown and Allegory Bay.  The Bible is neither a science text nor a work of fiction.  This has been discussed at length and I can't recall a whole lot of argument that Genesis is strictly allegory so that extreme position will not find much support here, which your stance seems to imply you think you will find.

Surely Literaltown was Antioch and Allegory Bay, Alexandria.  However I think what we have is a synthesis.  And I think one can be an Orthodox creationist, but I am not, but I think based on the allegorical interpretations of Genesis which do exist, it is unorthodox to insist on creationism as a test of Orthodoxy.
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2015, 07:37:21 PM »
Did the OP ask a question to answer it? Or is this a pruned thread?

If the former, awesome.

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2015, 08:43:38 PM »
No they most certainly did not, and the risk of over-allegorizing Genesis creates an opening for allegorical interpretation of other scripture and faith practices (e.g. the Incarnation, the Holy Mysteries, etc.).
So why are privileging a particular kind of hermeneutic over and against another?

But how would that open up everything else for allegorical interpretation? The Bible texts themselves assorted range of genres that were written by many different authors that had distinct purposes towards their respective audiences. And those texts are also contrasted culturally at varying times from when they were written too. I'd like to see the gymnastics pulled off for the God in Genesis being the same as the one found in 1st Corinthians.

This is the problem of trying to obtain a total, united, single God in these diverse set of texts. You have to choose a view of God that addresses our historical condition. But I also can't help the fact, Pellegrino after your recent remarks on evolution/philosophy, that this isn't yet another attempt to thwart the threat of evolution to your faith (which already is silly in itself). You still haven't satisfactorily resolved the issue of evolution in how that jives with your faith, which I'm still puzzled how it's even an issue in the first place, wasn't I already clear enough about it in that other thread?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 08:48:53 PM by nothing »
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2015, 09:56:05 PM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2015, 10:03:04 PM »

I think the humility point is key here. Why can't we just admit that the earth could be 7,000 years old or 7 million years old? I'm the one who remains agnostic on this point. Why can't others do the same?

Selam
There is no way the earth is 7 million years old. Radiometric dating demonstrates it is far older than that.  ;D

On a more serious note, as someone who accept the scientific dating on such things, I have no problem stating that is it possible that it is all completely wrong and everything was created 7k years ago. It is also possible that it was created last week, but in the interest of continuing scientific discovery, it is much more beneficial to use scientific models that assume that we did not all pop into existence a few days ago. The theory of evolution has assisted scientists in building workable models to develop vaccines and medication to fight constantly evolving bacteria and viruses. It go with it because it works. If another theory came along that worked better, I would accept that instead.
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2015, 10:09:37 PM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.

Welcome back, man!  :)
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2015, 10:20:58 PM »

I think the humility point is key here. Why can't we just admit that the earth could be 7,000 years old or 7 million years old? I'm the one who remains agnostic on this point. Why can't others do the same?

Selam
There is no way the earth is 7 million years old. Radiometric dating demonstrates it is far older than that.  ;D

On a more serious note, as someone who accept the scientific dating on such things, I have no problem stating that is it possible that it is all completely wrong and everything was created 7k years ago. It is also possible that it was created last week, but in the interest of continuing scientific discovery, it is much more beneficial to use scientific models that assume that we did not all pop into existence a few days ago. The theory of evolution has assisted scientists in building workable models to develop vaccines and medication to fight constantly evolving bacteria and viruses. It go with it because it works. If another theory came along that worked better, I would accept that instead.

The Uniformitarian Principle is good shorthand for what I think you're describing: in any historical science, like geology, evolutionary biology or historical linguistics, you can only proceed by the assumption that, absent evidence to the contrary, the same laws and processes observed today have always obtained. Once you start entertaining the possibility that the laws of nature were different in the past, e.g. rates of radioactive decay were faster so that a young earth now appears old, then you have to give up, because the logical space of all the possible hypotheses becomes infinite. Not only does Genesis become literally possible, but also every other creation myth ever recorded, and any such myth not recorded but imaginable by the human mind.

Does anyone know philosophy of science enough to explain whether one can reasonably be agnostic about a scientific theory that is the only one consistent with evidence? I know enough about it to have heard of Popper and the idea that scientific theories must be falsifiable, and therefore can't be treated as absolute truth, but that's not quite the same as saying we can be totally agnostic and not prefer the theory that is supported by evidence over the theory that is not.

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2015, 11:14:18 PM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2015, 11:17:00 PM »

I think the humility point is key here. Why can't we just admit that the earth could be 7,000 years old or 7 million years old? I'm the one who remains agnostic on this point. Why can't others do the same?

Selam
There is no way the earth is 7 million years old. Radiometric dating demonstrates it is far older than that.  ;D

On a more serious note, as someone who accept the scientific dating on such things, I have no problem stating that is it possible that it is all completely wrong and everything was created 7k years ago. It is also possible that it was created last week, but in the interest of continuing scientific discovery, it is much more beneficial to use scientific models that assume that we did not all pop into existence a few days ago. The theory of evolution has assisted scientists in building workable models to develop vaccines and medication to fight constantly evolving bacteria and viruses. It go with it because it works. If another theory came along that worked better, I would accept that instead.

The Uniformitarian Principle is good shorthand for what I think you're describing: in any historical science, like geology, evolutionary biology or historical linguistics, you can only proceed by the assumption that, absent evidence to the contrary, the same laws and processes observed today have always obtained. Once you start entertaining the possibility that the laws of nature were different in the past, e.g. rates of radioactive decay were faster so that a young earth now appears old, then you have to give up, because the logical space of all the possible hypotheses becomes infinite. Not only does Genesis become literally possible, but also every other creation myth ever recorded, and any such myth not recorded but imaginable by the human mind.

Does anyone know philosophy of science enough to explain whether one can reasonably be agnostic about a scientific theory that is the only one consistent with evidence? I know enough about it to have heard of Popper and the idea that scientific theories must be falsifiable, and therefore can't be treated as absolute truth, but that's not quite the same as saying we can be totally agnostic and not prefer the theory that is supported by evidence over the theory that is not.

I agree completely with your assessment. The uniformitarian principle is valid and should be affirmed. It can be used to prove that the earth is at least 7-8,000 years old. That is undeniable. And that's a scientific fact. And there's nothing wrong with using the uniformitarian principle to make logical assumptions about an earth that is much, much older than that. But the problem is when people present those logical assumptions as inviolate scientific laws. That's not science. That's religion.


Selam
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2015, 11:18:20 PM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?

Well, that's mere speculative opinion. Quite an interesting and popular opinion, but that's all it is.


Selam
"Whether it’s the guillotine, the hangman’s noose, or reciprocal endeavors of militaristic horror, radical evil will never be recompensed with radical punishment. The only answer, the only remedy, and the only truly effective response to radical evil is radical love."
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #30 on: April 01, 2015, 12:12:44 AM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?

Well, that's mere speculative opinion. Quite an interesting and popular opinion, but that's all it is.


Which part is "mere speculative opinion"? 

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2015, 12:43:39 AM »
For reference, and since we don't have tags now, I'm linking the following thread on a similar topic:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25459.msg399516.html#top

Someone may find it helpful, especially the words of Fr. Peter.   :)

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #32 on: April 01, 2015, 12:55:44 AM »
For reference, and since we don't have tags now, I'm linking the following thread on a similar topic:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25459.msg399516.html#top

Someone may find it helpful, especially the words of Fr. Peter.   :)

This is the most important part I think in Fr. Peter's posts:

Quote
That does not mean that I am not myself of the opinion that the book of Jonah records an historical narrative. But my faith would not be shaken if it did not.

That's the point.  Likewise, if science teaches something, it should never shake my faith just because Genesis is somehow contradictory.  I still praise and see wisdom and spirituality from Genesis.  I see really truth in Genesis that points to the revelation of Christ.
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #33 on: April 01, 2015, 02:21:59 AM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?

Well, that's mere speculative opinion. Quite an interesting and popular opinion, but that's all it is.


Which part is "mere speculative opinion"?

This part: "...to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then."

Maybe it did happen "way back then." Maybe it's an ongoing process. Maybe the universe was created at a fixed time and is being sustained by its Creator. These are all speculations. And I am always wary of those who claim to know with certainty such universal mysteries.


Selam

« Last Edit: April 01, 2015, 02:23:23 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus »
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #34 on: April 01, 2015, 02:47:06 AM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?

Well, that's mere speculative opinion. Quite an interesting and popular opinion, but that's all it is.


Which part is "mere speculative opinion"?

This part: "...to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then."

Maybe it did happen "way back then." Maybe it's an ongoing process. Maybe the universe was created at a fixed time and is being sustained by its Creator. These are all speculations. And I am always wary of those who claim to know with certainty such universal mysteries.


Selam

I think that act of sustaining is essentially an act of creation either way. He gives the lions their meat in due season. New people come into being, move about, complain about the weather, convert, die- all under God's care.
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #35 on: April 01, 2015, 04:06:55 AM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?

Well, that's mere speculative opinion. Quite an interesting and popular opinion, but that's all it is.


Which part is "mere speculative opinion"?

This part: "...to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then."

Maybe it did happen "way back then." Maybe it's an ongoing process. Maybe the universe was created at a fixed time and is being sustained by its Creator. These are all speculations. And I am always wary of those who claim to know with certainty such universal mysteries.


Selam

I think that act of sustaining is essentially an act of creation either way. He gives the lions their meat in due season. New people come into being, move about, complain about the weather, convert, die- all under God's care.

Agreed. But sustainability, adaptation, flux and flow are not the same thing as universal evolution or human ancestry from common descent. Lions eat, humans are born and humans die, the earth changes, the universe produces its sparks and fires and meteors and symphonic chaos. But those things are not evolution. They are simply existence.

Selam
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2015, 07:04:17 AM »
Depends on how you want to read the Bible.
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #37 on: April 01, 2015, 07:56:26 AM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?

Well, that's mere speculative opinion. Quite an interesting and popular opinion, but that's all it is.


Which part is "mere speculative opinion"?

This part: "...to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then."

Maybe it did happen "way back then." Maybe it's an ongoing process. Maybe the universe was created at a fixed time and is being sustained by its Creator. These are all speculations. And I am always wary of those who claim to know with certainty such universal mysteries.


Selam

Of course, we are both speculating and sharing informed opinions. Nobody "knows" for certain. And yet, everything we find out about the world and the universe and organic life shows an evolutionary picture, rather than a six 24-hour day creation blitz. That's not to say it didn't happen that way (or everything in a single moment) but there's no reason to prefer it, especially when the Genesis account itself doesn't lead one to that conclusion.

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #38 on: April 01, 2015, 11:44:08 AM »
Much of this conversation seems to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then" rather than something that is happening at every moment; an eternal gift of God. God is the Creator because he sustains all of reality. Understanding this frees us to see evolution for what it is: not something opposed to "creation" but the very act of creation itself. Evolution is creation. God's "act" of creation is timeless and endows reality to unfold and bring forth life out of its own intrinsic potentialities, acting as its own craftsman.
While I have some quibbles with some of what you said, this is really great. Haven't seen you post much on the boards, can you start contributing more regularly?

Well, that's mere speculative opinion. Quite an interesting and popular opinion, but that's all it is.


Which part is "mere speculative opinion"?

This part: "...to mistake "creation" for something that "happened" way "back then."

Maybe it did happen "way back then." Maybe it's an ongoing process. Maybe the universe was created at a fixed time and is being sustained by its Creator. These are all speculations. And I am always wary of those who claim to know with certainty such universal mysteries.


Selam

Of course, we are both speculating and sharing informed opinions. Nobody "knows" for certain. And yet, everything we find out about the world and the universe and organic life shows an evolutionary picture, rather than a six 24-hour day creation blitz. That's not to say it didn't happen that way (or everything in a single moment) but there's no reason to prefer it, especially when the Genesis account itself doesn't lead one to that conclusion.
Yep that's why its discourse about the past, and to confuse that discourse and what it means for something to "happen" is a mistake.

But regardless, within the domain of science, evolution is particularly useful. I just don't see any use of it as an explanation for religious narratives.

So both the evolutionist and creationist Christians fall I to the same metaphysical trap in regard to what "really happened". Why can't we just admit a bunch of stuff happened and the rest is discourse? Seems good enough for me.
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Modernist thinking and being consists of nothing but uncritical acceptance.

Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #39 on: April 01, 2015, 11:50:53 AM »
To say that it's just discourse suggests there's no objective truth content.

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #40 on: April 01, 2015, 12:01:22 PM »
For reference, and since we don't have tags now, I'm linking the following thread on a similar topic:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25459.msg399516.html#top

Someone may find it helpful, especially the words of Fr. Peter.   :)

This is the most important part I think in Fr. Peter's posts:

Quote
That does not mean that I am not myself of the opinion that the book of Jonah records an historical narrative. But my faith would not be shaken if it did not.

That's the point.  Likewise, if science teaches something, it should never shake my faith just because Genesis is somehow contradictory.  I still praise and see wisdom and spirituality from Genesis.  I see really truth in Genesis that points to the revelation of Christ.

That and sleeper's comment brings to mind an ongoing discussion I have with a microbiologist researcher who is a believer. He would say that the problem with Biblical literalists is that they think within a box. They tend to analyze science and rationality in the same manner they interpret Scripture. He would say that by continually referring to 'The' theory of evolution, they discount the reality that there are overlapping theories of evolution within science - many are contradictory and most/many microbiological functions are not predicatable. But many scientists are so singular minded that they fall into the same trap as do the literal Fundamentalists. I probably did not do justice to his point, but I thought i would share anyway.

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #41 on: April 01, 2015, 12:56:07 PM »
To say that it's just discourse suggests there's no objective truth content.
To say that it's just discourse suggests there's no objective truth content.
I have no idea what you mean by "objective truth content", care to explain?
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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #42 on: April 01, 2015, 12:59:51 PM »
To say that it's just discourse suggests there's no objective truth content.
To say that it's just discourse suggests there's no objective truth content.
I have no idea what you mean by "objective truth content", care to explain?

I mean that statements like "the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old" is a true statement about the world. When you say "a bunch of stuff happened and the rest is discourse", it makes it sound like we don't actually know how old the earth is, or that the earth has different ages depending on what discourse we engage in.

Maybe you could explain what you mean by "discourse".

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #43 on: April 01, 2015, 04:45:53 PM »
I love this discussion, but at the end of the day, we do not know how God created the world as we likely wouldnt be able to understand anyways. God is outside of our space and time, so it eventually gets frustrating when Christians argue over how old the world is. It doesnt matter, but science makes it clear its pretty dang old.

And how do you measure "6 days" when the sun and the moon werent even created until the 3rd day? Who knows how long those first two days were in the context of God's eternal existence.
Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

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Re: Did the Holy Fathers teach that Genesis is a metaphor/allegory?
« Reply #44 on: April 01, 2015, 07:21:25 PM »
To say that it's just discourse suggests there's no objective truth content.
To say that it's just discourse suggests there's no objective truth content.
I have no idea what you mean by "objective truth content", care to explain?

I mean that statements like "the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old" is a true statement about the world. When you say "a bunch of stuff happened and the rest is discourse", it makes it sound like we don't actually know how old the earth is, or that the earth has different ages depending on what discourse we engage in.

Maybe you could explain what you mean by "discourse".

Methinks you two are working on two very different philosophical theories of what truth is.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.