August 30, 2014

Dn. Kuraev: Can an Orthodox Become an Evolutionist?

Dn. Andrei Kureav

Dn. Andrei Kureav

It appears that fundamentalist Protestant “Scientific Creationism” is causing quite the stir in Russia. Here is a particularly thoughtful and penetrating rebuttal that posits a congruence between Orthodox theology and the theory of evolution. I am generally predisposed against evolution largely because of its philosophical presuppositions primarily materialism. This essay does not appear to be bound to them. Second, another objection I had was that if evolution was true, death had to predate Adam. Death entered the world though Adam’s sin our theology teaches, yet evolution sees death as preexisting mankind (indeed, as a mechanism of progress). The author examines this question and answers it directly and with enough cogency to merit a look and reflection. Is it accurate? I don’t know. It credibly challenges scientific creationism think. Can it stand on its own? I just can’t tell yet. Is it worth reading? Yes.

I’ve done some basic editing of the piece and added the section breaks for readibility. If you want to print it, locate the icon at the bottom of this article.

Source: Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral (OCA)

Protestant Creationism in Russia

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

Creationist’s allegations are very absolute: they dispute not only the atheistic understanding of evolution but the possibility of any evolution as such. The world, before humans appeared, was six days old – not more than this. The Earth is not capable of evolutionary development, even as an answer to the call of the Creator.

This position is not new in the history of thought, including Christian. It was characteristic for pagan thought to reduce the notion of matter to the notion of non-existence. Only spirit can live and act. The world is inanimate, the world is material, the world is a [cuff] for life and nothing else.

However, in Christian tradition the main opposition to the antique philosophy – “matter-spirit”  was replaced by the dyad “Creator-creation”, which is of a different nature. By this both the creative spirit and the created materiality happened to be put in the same parentheses, becoming relative. There is no foundation to deny a value (let it be less but, nevertheless a value) of the corporeal, if one accepts a value that stands behind the creative spirit, behind the human soul. A human’s and an angel’s spirit is able to tremble when it hears the voice of the Creator, why then mountains cannot tremble, too? A human spirit is capable of rejoicing when hearing the Word, then why rivers, waters, and seas cannot experience the same joy?

In pagan cosmogony chthonic matter opposes the spirit, puts out his impulse, that is why between them there cannot be any positive dialogue. However, in the Bible, in the book of Genesis there is no war between God and chaos. The world is obedient to the Creator. Waters and abysses answer with gladness to the Creator’s command. Hence, there is no necessity to transfer the pagan idea of the animosity of matter toward God to the world of Bible.

God, in the book of Genesis, calls each creature by name, by this He calls them out of the abyss of non-existence. Metropolitan Philaret expressed this idea beautifully: “The Word pronounces the existence all creatures”. Here we have a dialogue, a call, and an answer. “Let the earth sprout, let her produce what she never had, let her acquire what she does not have, because God [presents] the power to act,”- St. Basil the Great explains. The seeds of life are not in the earth, but ” God’s word creates the essence” and He puts them in the ground, the earth only “sprouts them”. The earth cannot deliver life all by herself, but it is not right to reduce her role, as well ; ” The earth should grow things without having the necessity of an outsider’s assistance”. The life comes from the earth, but the life-giving power of matter is a gift to her from the Creator.

Hence, from the one hand, there is nothing like an alchemistry of materialism which follows the recipe of the sorcerer from “Anthony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare: “Take a little bit of dirt, a little bit of the Sun, and you will get an Egyptian crocodile”. In the story about the six days of creation, it is underlined that when life begin to appear on the earth, there was no where to get “a little of the Sun” (the Sun appeared only on the fourth day, but life – one cosmic day earlier).

On the other hand, when one reads the Gospel without prejudice, it is impossible to miss that it leaves a little bit of activity for the created world. There are no words like “And God created grass”, but ” the earth brought forth”. Later God does not just simply create life but commands the elements to reveal themselves : “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures; Let the earth bring forth living creatures”.

The Appearance of Life in Genesis

The only creature that God does not entrust to create by anyone is man. Man is exclusively God’s creation. The independent activity of the earth is not unlimited: she cannot produce man. The decisive transition from an animal to the anthropomorphic creature is not taking place by God’s order but through his direct action – “bara” (and even this will not be enough for the creation of man: after that, when God creates a physiological vessel by a special creative act which is able to be a receptacle of consciousness and freedom, the second act of the biblical anthropogenic act will be needed – the act of birthing in the Spirit).

The appearance of life by Genesis is evolution (because the earth “produced” plants and simple organisms), and at the same time it is a “leap to life”, which took place by God’s command.

The earth is called to creativity, to the independent act by God’s word, and this is an acknowledgment of the existence of the inner motive forces, which belong to the earth. Certainly, here we do not have an indication of how and what are the limits of the earth’s answer to God’s call. Only one thing is clear: different periods in the history of genesis started from God’s call for the independent activity of “the earth”. The world, which is called to motion and growth, is becoming a co-worker with God. The theme of the creature’s cooperation with God has appeared in the Bible long before one directly starts talking about man.

The fact that the earth responds to the call of the Word and as a result she produces life in Six days means that she is not a lifeless mass from which the outer force shapes something by overcoming the resistance of matter. The Bible is not the Vedanta. Hence matter is not a synonym for death and non-existence.

St. Basil describes this creative response in the following way: “Imagine this that by a soft call, this cold and barren earth, all of a sudden, is moving closer to the time of birth and she, as if there drops down from her a sad and grievous cloth, and then vests herself in a bright riza, she is enjoying her attire and brings forth thousands of plants”.

The Protestant Restoration of the Pagan Notion of Matter

Why then has a part of the Protestant world restored the pagan prejudice of identification of matter and passivity and made it an essential principal of their faith?

It seems to me there are there reasons for this:

The first one is connected with the distinctive tradition of Western Christianity. A very clear biblical picture of the gradual entrance into the world of different levels of existence, in Western Europe happened to be clouded by a lame Latin translation of the Bible. In the book of Sirach it is said that “He who lives for ever is the Creator of whole universe” (Sir. 18,1).

The Greek word koine means ‘together’, ‘joined together’, but Latin word simul means ‘simultaneously’. This particular part of Vulgate causes the resistance toward evolution in the West.”

That is why even Augustine was already convinced that “God created everything simultaneously”. Protestants inherited this traditional conviction of the Western theological schools, however, they forgot that this statement is based, first of all, on the peculiarities of the Latin translation of non-canonical biblical books.

In order for this statement of a non-canonical book to be accepted by Protestants (usually non-canonical books are considered to be just apocrypha), it had to be given some kind of foundation. This foundation abides in the heart of the Protestant faith: in the doctrine of being “saved only by faith”, “only by grace”.

The word "synergy", cooperation, co-working is not accepted by Protestant-fundamentalists ( in spite of the fact that one can find it in the Bible B 1 Cor. 3, 9). A man cannot be a participant in his own salvation. This is an exceptional gift, and man is only “being notified” of this by the Sacrifice of Golgotha, i.e., that their sins have been payed off.

Even in case a person cannot be a creator, cannot cooperate with God, how can we recognize this right of the world to exist before men? Hence, the Adventists theological textbook makes a transition to the criticism of evolution in the following way: “Even the Apostle Paul could not be virtuous by his own effort. He knew the perfect ideal of God’s Law but he could not live in accordance with it”. Then they conclude that “Golgotha denies the theory of evolution decisively”. This textbook regrets that “More and more Christians accept the atheistic theory of evolution, according to which God, while creating the world, used evolutionary process”. It is very strange that Adventists call those people who accept this theory atheists.

This doctrinal motive alone was not enough for them to simply keep their anti-evolutionist convictions in the quietness of their hearts and in their seminaries that are scandalously at odds with the opinion of science and education. In spite of this they continuously propagandize their convictions.. The reason for the persistence of the fundamentalists on this matter is already for social motives.

It became only in our situation, fin du siecle, possible for them to clash with scientific opinion. At the end of our century any anti-scientific statement can be made with impunity.

Astrologers, Sorcerors, Occultists are not shy about expressing the wildest ideas. It seems like the average man has became tired of the seriousness of science and responsibility and hence, is ready to listen to everything from the position of “why not?”. Now instead of argumentation people come to [voluntaism]: “I want it to be this way! I do not care about argumentation! It seems to me it should be this way! I like it like this!”. This mass ecstasy of irrationalism makes the Protestant’s over-literal rendering a marketable merchandise.

In Orthodoxy There is No Textual or Doctrinal Foundation Against Evolution

In Orthodoxy there is no textual or doctrinal foundation tearing away evolution. There is no sense for Orthodox people to indulge in the social fashion of irrationalism (any irrationalism in the end will work for occultism and against the Church).

Nevertheless, even among the Orthodox people, voices are heard calling for the radical tearing away of any form of evolution. First of all, one has to notice that the denial of evolution among the Orthodox is something new and cannot claim to be traditional.

First, even according to the opinion of the theologians of the very conservative Russian church abroad, The days of creation cannot be understood literally (because “for God a thousand years is as yesterday”) but like periods.

Second, the idea of evolution, detached from an atheistic interpretation of evolution, was addressed in a positive manner in books by Orthodox writers. For example, the professor Andreiev E.M who rejected the idea of the descent of man from primates, wrote: "As for the rest of creation Darwinism is not opposed to the biblical teaching about the creation of animals because evolution does not answer the question: Who created the very first animals?"

Professor of St. Petersburg theological Academy, the Archbishop Michael (Mudyugin) writes: “There are many strikingly similar categories one can find in the Bible and on the pages of any biology textbook. The process of evolution of the organic world is one of them. The biblical terminology itself is confined on the same plane. There it is said “Let the earth bring forth living creatures”, “Let the earth bring forth cattle and creeping things”.

Here the verb brings forth (“produce” in Slav. Translation) points to the connection between separate phases of the formation of the living world, more over, it points to the connection between animate and inanimate matter”.

Professor of Moscow of Religious Academy Osipov A. E. writes, “for theology it is possible to accept the hypothesis of creationism and evolution as one condition. In both cases God is the Lawmaker and Constructor of the world, Who could create everything in this world by “days” at once in a finished form or slowly during several “days” “bring forth” from water and earth, from simple forms to the highest forms by the law of nature that has been made by Him”.

Professor of St. Vladimir Seminary in New York, Protopresbyter Basil Zenkovski also underlines the biblical “independent activity” of the earth. “The biblical text is clearly telling us that God commands the earth to act by itself. This creative activity of nature, according to the expression of Bergson, elan vital, – desire to live, makes the fact of evolution of life on earth indisputable”.

One of the leading authors of the magazine “Journal of Moscow Patriarchate” in the [60-70th] Protopresbyter Nickolai Ivanov agreed with the idea of evolution: “The act of the creation of the world, and the formation of it’s forms, for God, is an expression of His might, His will; but for Nature the fulfillment of this will is an act of formation in other words it is a single and gradual process, that occurs over time. During the process of development it is possible for the appearance of transitional forms, which sometimes serve only as a step for the appearance of higher forms that are connected to eternity”.

Prof. Pheoletov N.N. who was a member of the 1917-1918 Sobor wrote that, “the idea of evolution itself cannot be viewed by Christians as something strange or contradictory to their consciousness”.  In 1917 the Holy Martyr, Protopresbyter Michael Meltchov, while discussing the question of the relationship between Christianity and science wrote that, ” A comprehensive and spiritual explanation and understanding of parts of the bible contribute, at large, and destroys the misunderstanding between Christianity and science. One just has to read a little deeper into the text of Genesis then it immediately it becomes clear that the bible does not give any foundation to consider that the day of the creation is a 24-hour period. And the wall between biblical explanation and scientific data about the indeterminately long life of the earth before the existence of man is demolished”.

Even earlier, V.S. Solovyov, clearly pointed to the way of a Christian interpretation of the idea of evolution. If I would have been asked to find parallels between modern science and the worldview of Moses, I would say that his vision of the origin of life is very similar to the theory of directed evolution. The philosophical foundation of this theory which in biology was developed by Berg L. and Teilhard De Chardin, is expressed clearly by V. Solovyov: “The fact that higher forms or types of existence appear after lower ones does not mean that they are the essence of their production, or creation of these lower forms. The order of reality is not the same as the order of events. The higher, more complicated and full forms and conditions of being exist (metaphysically) before the lower though they appear and reveal themselves after them. One cannot deny evolution because of this. No one can deny it! It is a fact! To insist that evolution creates the higher orders wholly from the lower, in other words from nothing, means to replace facts by logical nonsense. The evolution of the lower orders of existence cannot create the higher by its own action, instead it produces material conditions or provides with accordance an environment so that the higher orders can reveal themselves. Hence, each appearance of a new type of existence is in a sense a new creation, but such that the least of all could be marked as a creation out of nothing, because, first of all, the previous type serves as a foundation for the appearance of a new type. Secondly, even it’s own positive essence of a new type does not appear new from nothing, but being in existence from the beginning of time, only enters (at a certain moment in the process) into a different sphere of existence, into the world of events. The conditions appear from the natural evolution of nature; that is revealed by God”.

The Philosopher V. N. Ilyin, Serbian theologian Protopresbyter Stephan Lyashevski and the professor Lazar Milin, outstanding Romanian Theologian priest Dimitru Staniloe, Bishop Basil (Rodzyanko) did not consider the theory of evolution as anti-biblical or atheistic.

So, a calm attitude toward evolution is the tradition of Orthodox Academic Theology, what is new about this is the acceptance of the Protestant creationists position by Orthodox preachers.

Does Death Predate Adam?

The first argument, evolution presupposes the change of generations. The change of generations presupposes death. The essence of the problem is that if there were generations of developing animal forms before the appearance and fall of man then in this case we have to say that death was in the world before the appearance of sin! We know that death is the consequence of sin, and the sin of man. Hence, there was no sin in the world, before man than theologically it is impossible to presuppose the existence of death in it.

If death was in the world before the fall of man, then the universe became corrupted not through man, this statement is against the biblical belief. Here, we have to stop and think hard about the meanings of the words “death” and “sin”.

The word “death” is too human; the word “death” is very rich with human tragedy. Can we apply the word “death” that is so full, up to the edge, with human meaning to a non-human world. Death for a person is a tragedy, it is something outrageously wrong it is not by chance that in Russian Philosophy that the terrifying fear of death was taken as an experiential witness of its non-human origin: suppose, that man was a legitimate outcome of natural evolution and a struggle for survival, he would not then experience disgust towards that (death) which is so “natural”.

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

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

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

If not – it means those temporary limitations of animals and their accessibility to decay is not a violation of the Plan of the Creator.

It is not a sin or distortion of the creative will. If the Eucharist is the only Bread of Life and in our Cathedrals we do not administer communion to puppies, it means that this Bread is not for them and Eternity is not for them either. The death of animals is not a violation of the Plan of God. The Bible does not promise eternal life for our world. Only the human soul is prepared for Eternity. The Savior appeals to people not to kittens when he says: “Come, oh blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mathew 25:34). The rest will be burned.

And if upon creation (not resurrection but exactly upon the new creation of a “new Earth, and a new sky”) God will decide to inhabit them by animals, they will appear there. Those animals are not going to be the same animals of this earth. Everything will be new there, besides us. God did not create animals for immortality and that is why their departure from existence is not a violation of Gods Plan, and there is not sin. Saint Augustine writes directly that “animals were created by mortals”. Earlier St. Methodious Patarsky’s position was the same “what kind of producer, that is the kind of product”.

God is immortal, alive, and imperishable, man is God’s creation and that’s why the creation, man, is immortal. This is the reason why God created man by himself, but the rest of the world, like animals and plants, were created by air, earth, and water. Animals received their life by the means of air animation. Man got his soul from the eternal essence itself, because God breathes, in man’s face, the breath of life.

Since it is a fact that animals cannot receive God’s grace, they are not immortal. They are animated by elements from which they were produced, but elements are flaming up and fading down together with their outcomes.

The death of animals is not a violation of the will of the creator and that is why it is not in evidence of profanation of primordial good quality of the world. The will of God is violated only when the creature which is the image of the Creator is reducing himself to the level of animals and puts himself under the law of struggle, survival and dying. The laws that existed before the human world was made. It is exactly then that the violation of the will of God is taking place. It seems that we are already used to identifying ourselves with animals. We are used to doing this so much that non-Christians seem to identify and derive justification for their passions and lawlessness from this, where Christians, acquiring the gifts of the Holy Spirit, then spread them to the animal world.

Besides, can we describe the behavior of animals in categories of sin and virtue? If the word “sin” cannot be applied to the description of animals, then the relative word “death” (to the word “sin”) cannot be applied to animals in a strict human-existential meaning.

Holy fathers tell us directly that sin came to the world through man and only man can sin in this world (we do not touch any of the events in the area of angels). “What is another evil act, besides the events happening between people you can point at? B St. Methodious rhetorically asked: ” all the rest of the creatures are obedient to God by necessity and none of them can do anything except what it was created for”. So there is no evil among animals and the death of animals is not evil if it is not caused by a human. Killing among animals is not evil because they do not have freedom.

The “Struggle for survival” in God’s plan makes good pedagogical sense, St. Augustine supposes that the fight between animals is edifying for man so by seeing how animals fight for their bodily life he could understand how tensely and passionately he has to fight for his spiritual salvation.

Does the Edenic Existence Apply to Animals?

The second argument of Orthodox anti-evolutionists is built on those writings by the holy fathers who deny the existence of suffering in the Garden of Eden. According to the Holy Father’s intuition not only man, but animals were in a blessed condition. That is why any suffering and death that is connected to evolution cannot be even imagined from the theological viewpoint.

I don’t think that even this argument is irreproachable.

First of all, this advocate loses from his sight, that Eden is not the whole world. Paradise is not a synonym for the cosmos before the fall. Eden does not include the whole world, those rivers are flowing from it, which are washing the garden where man is placed.

Russian word “rai” is a Jewish word which means “garden” and “paradise” is of Greek origin (which is, in it’s turn, a Hellinized Persian word “pardes” meaning park) Eden means “a world of joy”. The word “Eden” comes from Akkadian “ediny” and means “step”. This primary pronunciation was already forgotten and for the Jewish ear this word “Eden” happened to be connected with the words pleasure or sweetness. So, when Sarah heard a promise about the birth of her son, she “laughed to herself saying, : after I have grown old, and my husband is old shall I have pleasure? (Gen. 18:12) here pleasure is “edena”.

But in Jewish text the word “garden” has not only joyful associations. The Russian word “garden” does not contain the meaning of Jewish “gun”. Jewish “gun” came from the verb “gunnon” to defend. In other languages the connection between garden and fence, defense are also present: French “jardin” has a connection with the verb “garder” (to guard), English “garden” as well as German “garten” also goes back to the same roman root. The translation of the Jewish word “gun” is better translated as “fenced and protected place”.

This place is not just protected by itself, but a commandment was given to man “to keep it” (Gen. 2:15) in this sense, the Garden of Eden was a fenced and protected place. Hence, there was something that the garden had to be protected against. The world should be protected from man or man should be protected from the world. Man had to protect the garden, or the garden was providing protection for man. In any case Eden – joy and garden – the fortress where the man was settled is not one and the same place ( because “a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden” Gene 2:10). Paradise was planted during the existence of Eden (paradeson en Eden – “paradise in Eden”), in this case, paradise in the sense of joy is Eden, but not the garden.

The garden was given to the man so that it would become a subject for protection and it would also protect man; and Eden so to give joy to man. The man had not approached Eden, rather he was in the “Garden” part of Eden.

Hence, the Scripture does not say that the whole world lived according to the law of the Garden of Eden. More over, it was vice- versa. Though the Bible does not describe directly the world outside of Eden but it is quite clear that the protected zone was put in opposition to the wild uncultivated nature. This opposition was very cruel, this was the reason for having guards.

The fact that the created man was put into the protected place meant that he had to be protected from somebody or something. Now we already know that the fence of the Garden could not protect from Satan. Then there was something else, not spiritual but other that was a threat for the human novice on the planet Earth. In order to protect man from those threats, he was taken out of the Universal context and put into some kind of “play-pen” that had clear borders (four rivers).

It is quite possible that outside of the Garden of Eden all laws for survival already existed, God warned man ” do not eat… or you shall die” (Gen. 2, 17).

So, if God said this to them then it means that people were familiar with the experience of death earlier (better to say they saw somebody’s death before). This tells us that death existed in non-human world, in the world of animals.

The man was protected up to a certain period of time. Once man had broken the fence of the Garden of Eden by his sin and the laws of the outer world, the laws of Darwin’s biology poured into the world of humans.

The connection between sin and death dogmatically is established by the words of the apostle Paul: “Therefore as sin came into the world through a man and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind because all men sinned”. (Rom. 5:12)

Sin came through man. Though human sin spread death to all people. Judging by these words of the apostle Paul, one cannot conclude that animals were immortal before the sin of Adam. Better to conclude that death existed already in the world, but through human sin it came upon us.

One thing that cannot be argued in the biblical narration: the cosmos is in need of protection from the very beginning. Either Eden has to be protected from man (the “garden”, “paradise” is fortification by which God has protected Eden from man) or it is necessary to protect man from the outer world. In the last instance we have to admit that outer world contains something dangerous for man.

Eden is Limited in Space and Time

The second point which Orthodox anti-evolutionists do not take into consideration: Eden is not only limited in space but also in time.

The Garden of Eden is not the whole world, rather it appears after the creation of man. The history of the world does not start from Eden. Instead, it is brought forth after six days by a distinctive act of creation ” The Lord God planted garden in Eden in the East and there He put the man whom he had formed” (Gen. 2, 8).

Therefore, man was created before Eden and Eden was planted after the creation of the world. It was a created man who was put in a garden planted for him.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden” (Gen. 2, 15). From where did God take man? (“take” means select, the way “levits” were selected from other tribes). Eden is not the place that we came from: this is the place of our destination.

Man was created outside of paradise. But where is this place: higher or lower in relation to paradise? Was man created in a higher order of being and then moved down? Or maybe he was created in a lower place and than raised up to the level of Eden? Where did man appear: in the world of the jungle, in the world where there was no reign of God’s love and then from there, from the world of anthropoids he was put into Eden?

The Biblical text inclines to the second explanation. The Biblical narration accentuates that the world from which man came cannot be the same as the world where man had to live and grow. Let us emphasize that in order to appear in Eden, man had to relocate himself: cross over the line between the wild nature and the Garden. This is not just a change of location but a change of an environment.

Man has to be protected from the world of his antropogenez. Hence, the world where man is from (by its bodily geography) contains something destructive in itself. This is not moral evil, this is not sin (because sin did not exist before man). There is something in the law of nature, in its cycles, that is good for the cosmos and dangerous for man. There is something without which the development of the world “from the original dust of cosmos” to the world before man would have been impossible but now when the growth has reached its limit, the laws of evolution have to retreat.

The world cannot go to something without a decay of the old. Life cannot grow without constant renewal and without[ living] something out of its limits, i.e. out of limits of life. There is no creation without destruction in the cosmos but in the world of man. This polarity of creation and destruction, this harmony of cosmic creative-destructive cycles can be moderated, stopped and demolished at least there where man appears. He is above the cosmos and lives in the cosmos. Hence, the harmony of cosmic contradictions must not function in him. Man has to be protected from the dominant influence of cosmic laws. This protection can only come from a cosmic being from above who is the Creator of Cosmos.

Man, by denying His protection, made himself a part of this cosmos in which all pagan philosophical systems saw the inevitable unity between good and evil, birth and death. Yes, the world of man has been radically changed as a result of sin. Can we consider the world before man and without man being something different. Maybe man, by his act, simply obliterates the edge by which he was abundantly and supernaturally separated from the rest of the world?

Yes, in that world that Adam was introduced to, i.e. in the world before Eden, even the death of animals did not exist. Was it like this in the world from which Adam was “taken out”? Can we relate the starting point and the assigned point of the first Exodus? The Serbian theologian Stephan Lyashevsky supposes that there was no death only in Eden. During the time of creation of man ” in Paradise a new world has been installed where blood already was not shed in the face of immortal Adam, violent death had disappeared among animals, “because God gave to all as food different plants and fruit in Paradise” and all the animals were obedient to man”.

The atmosphere of heavenly abundance, in which Adam was introduced, embraced Eden. What kind of world was outside of Eden that lies between two rivers, we do not know. The Bible does not say anything about the world outside or before Eden. In any case, it is incorrect to draw a conclusion about that world by what we suppose was in the Garden of Eden.

Were Animals Predatory Before the Fall?

The third argument of the anti-evolutionists is based on Gen. 2:30 “and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the air and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so”. In the eyes of the anti-evolutionists it means that before the fall of man there were no predators and there could not be. Hence, all scientific evolutionist theories are in direct contradiction with the Bible.

The main question then, is this: When exactly and where, these words of God were said? The thing is that Genesis narrates twice about the creation of man B in the first and second chapters. One of the traditionally most difficult tasks of Biblical exegesis consisted in finding an agreement between these two stories. So, did God have any relationship with man before the creation of the Garden of Eden and out of it? Did the creator pronounce those words in the Garden of Eden or out of it, before its creation? Could they be the part of His speech already in Eden, where He commanded to eat fruit from each tree and forbade eating fruit from the tree of knowledge. Let us suppose that God’s ascertainment related to the world around Eden, then it was not in contradiction with the opinion of science. Science cannot explore the experience of Eden. Science studies Eden’s outer world and in this it does not enter in contradiction with Biblical and Holy Father’s witnesses about the order of co-habitation of man and animals, which was established for the Garden of Paradise.

So, the supposition of evolution and the connected disappearance of animals do not contradict neither the meaning nor the letter of Revelation. Scripture does not describe the technology of the birth of life and of its development and that is why there is no reason to enter into conflict with Science.

We can say the same about our church Tradition. There are a number of ancient and Medieval, natural and philosophical positions which can be found in Middle Age commentaries about the six days of creation that do not have faith teaching importance. St. Basil the Great used the encyclopedic knowledge of his time – for us it means, not that natural philosophy of the fourth century was enlightened by the name of the great saint forever and through this had to become a part of theology, but it means that such a daring attempt of the church to have a dialogue with the world of secular thought and knowledge is blessed by the authority of the great Cappadocian. St. John of Damascus in his “Precise Description of the Orthodox Faith” includes a description of scientific doctrine of his time, it only means that the interest in cognition of the God created world was not foreign to Orthodox thought. Given the reality that the Fathers included in their text, facts from their contemporary science, does not mean that we have to become enemies of our contemporary science.

There are only three characteristics that could not be thought to be out of the Biblical context; life (the same way as the whole world) appears gradually; that the world is capable of answering creatively to God’s call; the evolution of the creation of the world would not have brought any results without a directive Intellect.

Matter is not immortal it was created and that is why it had received an incentive from the outside. Only because it was created by this incentive does it preserve its creative impulse. That is why the world is capable of movement and development. Another balanced opinion is also true: though the world is able to develop itself, it gets its creative impulses from the outside.

The change from one kingdom to another in the bible is described as unexplainable only from the inner evolution of the world: this is a breakthrough that took place by the will of the Creator. Exactly in this situation one can use the word “bara” : the appearance of matter from nonexistence; then the appearance of the first life – fish and at last man. However, the lack of the word “bara” during the step from the non-organic world to the plant world can mean that this border can be over come by nature itself.

God does not create the world the way a sculptor makes a sculpture. In the last case the material is absolutely passive and is changed only by the direct coercion of a cutter, under the direct coercion of the artist. Whereas, the earth, primitive matter and water took very active participation in its design during the creation of the world. They fulfilled the commands of the Creator and not the commands fulfilled themselves in them.

Hence, the matter is active and there is no aggression against God in its activity, the scripture does not describe how exactly the earth answered the creators call. But it is very clear that the earth responded readily without opposition.

So, Orthodoxy, unlike paganism that demonizes matter, or Protestantism that deprives the created world its right to participate in creation, has no foundation to reject the thesis, according to which, the creator created matter capable of good development.

The essence of the unrolling process of the word does not depend on its speed. Those people are naive for whom it vaguely seems that God would not have been necessary if we stretch the process of creation. Equally naive are those people, who suppose that the creation of the world for more than six days reduces the greatness of the Creator. We have to remember that nothing withstood or limited the creative action. Everything (before the appearance of sin) was happening by the will of the Creator. Did this will involve creating the world instantly or in six days, or in six thousand years, or in myriad of centuries B we don’t know because “who can count the days of eternity?” As far as the position of Seraphim Rose is concerned, I cannot say that his position was mistaken. Simply, this is not the only position which an Orthodox person can adhere to.

Orthodox Theology and Differences of Opinion

In Orthodox theology it is acceptable to have questions on which there cannot be differences in opinion, to approach it from a different angle what does it mean ” for us people and for our salvation”? In case, if a certain thesis does not have a soterological use and at the same time it: a) is not condemned by a Sobor mind; b) does not lead through its logical revealing to opposition with the clearly stated dogmatic positions of church teaching; c) differs from the opinions of some of the Fathers; d) has at least some support of some witnesses of the church tradition, then, one can keep this opinion, with one condition, that it will not be presented as a “church-must” faith-teaching statement.

Private theological opinions can contradict each other. Besides the well-known words of the Apostle Paul about this (” for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized” (1Cor. 11,19) one can bring the words of the church historian V.V. Bolotov: “Nobody has the power to forbid to keep theologumen as my private theological opinion, that has been expressed at least by one of the Fathers of the Church, if it has not been proven that a competent church court has already declared that the view as a mistaken one. From the other hand, nobody has the power to demand from me that I accept, as my theological opinion a theologumen that has been uttered by several Church Fathers, because this theologumen does not fascinate me by its sublime theological beauty, does not win my heart by understanding, or even appeal to my mind, by its majestic power of argumentation”.

Hence, theological unacceptability for Orthodox thinking, the idea of evolution could be proved if one can explain in what way allowing the change of the animal generations in and before the human world, in or out of the world of Eden can damage the conscious participation of a Christian in the Church sacraments. Direct referrals that “Bible teaches but you are saying” – cannot be accepted for examination.( “Proof-texting”) Orthodox tradition knows how complicated and different the interpretation of Scripture can be. (especially Old Testament). That is why before one can accept this or that interpretation he should first ask a question: ” for what reason am I inclined to accept this interpretation?”  When one rejects it, again, try to find a motivation: what is it exactly that could not be accepted? When one condemns something, a question should be asked: what is so damaging for the salvation of people in this opinion?

I cannot accept the opinions and methods of argumentation of the radical creationists because they are trying to use their own scientific material and they do it very unprofessionally causing well deserved censure from the people who are professional scientists. Here there is a great danger that a biologist after reading a book could say that this is “pot-boiler” and transfers this opinion to the whole Christian world.

Once I was invited to read a lecture for the students of biological faculty of the Moscow State University. Usually I have good relationship with the students of MSU. This time I was shocked by the coldness of these students. After the first lecture I asked my colleagues who invited me: “Did I behave in a wrong way? Why is their attitude was so strange?” The answer was: ” Oh, excuse us Fr. Andrew but the week before your lecture there were Baptists from America here. They were trying to prove to the students that there was no evolution and the world was created in six days. One student (we do not even talk about our professors) caught them in a manipulation of the scientific facts, in a very tendentious selection of one group of facts and ignoring (hushing-up) others.

So, our students have decided that it is acceptable for all Christians to manipulate the facts of science. They think that you are a person who holds the same view. This is the reason for their attitude towards you. Only after the second lecture, when I have explained to them that in Orthodoxy there is a possibility for a different interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis, after that the relationship with the students was improved and the conversation about the Scripture and Orthodoxy went on with great attention and understanding.

So I have a missionary interest so not to accept edgy judgments of creationists, and try to find evolutionist reading of the six days of creation. I do not have a personal problem to believe that either God created the world in six days or instantly. There is no problem for me in expressing my opinion that is wittingly unacceptable in this particular auditory (I have to do this very often). I simply think that it is not good for a priest to burden people with something that is too heavy for them. Yes, in Christianity there are moments when one has to practice [bring] a “sacrifice of the intellect”. Nevertheless it seems to me that this sacrifice has to be brought to the dogma about the Trinitarian Unity of God and not to “dogma” about the precise number of hours of the creation of the world.

Finally, it is useful to look closely to your own inner motives which urge you to accept this or that opinion. It is a favorite hobby for a lot of people now in our parishes, monasteries, and even seminaries to prove to each other their arch-orthodoxy. It is a very suitable reason for them to expose and condemn those “heretic-evolutionists” for these purposes. In case, if a person is not preoccupied with getting a reputation of arch-orthodox in the circle of his witty like-minded acquaintances but how to bring to the church door those people who are still far away from it, then it is better to sacrifice the joy of the sense of your own strong objection and also the joy from the exposing and condemning of the next “heretic”. After all: theology exists in order to present Christ to people and not to make stronger the authority of theologians. That is why in my opinion the question about, do we except evolutionary interpretation of the first Old Testament pages, or do we interpret them in the framework of strict creationism is not a question. How do we understand the ancient pages of history? This is question about our future. Do we want to see our church missionary work active and open? Or, the whole life of the church and thought narrowed down to the repetition of citations from the past centuries?

Andrei Kuraev is professor and director of the Department of Theology and Apologetics at St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Institute, Moscow, and deacon at the Church of St. John the Forerunner ‘na Presne.’

Comments

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    Nick Katich says:

    Fr. Hans: I read through this. I need to read through it a couple of more times. His reflection on creation (in this case the earth) cooperating almost in its ontological and not just in its teleological basis is quite interesting. What is the source of the Article and where is the quite learned Deacon from?

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Nick, here’s the source:

    http://www.hvmla.org/library/evolution.html

    and bio:

    Andrei Kuraev is professor and director of the Department of Theology and Apologetics at St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Institute, Moscow, and deacon at the Church of St. John the Forerunner ‘na Presne.’

    Apparently he is popular and influential in Russia. Have not found much on him but a search on his name yields more.

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    Harry Coin says:

    I think this fellow is on to something important. Not least, the very brief section offering that ‘Eden’ is not to be accepted without inspection as merely tthe label of a place, but that that word has a meaning of a ‘fenced and/or protected’ region, yet not disconnected from everything else (note the references to the water flowing through it and so on from without). Scientists would recognize that immediately as fair description of a laboratory. If that were widely understood among fundamentalists many dominoes would fall.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Harry, I must agree. In my own study of Darwinism lo these last twenty years, I’ve definitely come to the conlusion that while the Protestant/Fundamentalist view of biogenesis is infantile, pure materialism (i.e. Darwinism) is clearly on its last legs. This deacon is definitely on to something.

      As an aside, isn’t it wonderful that such intellectual ferment is going on in Orthodoxy? More to the point: why isn’t anything like this coming out of the dhimmi patriarchates? How much time is wasted on febrile interpretations of Canon 28 on the Phanar’s website?

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        Harry Coin says:

        George, while its encouraging to see active forward thinking emerging from Russia, before we go all sweaty lets recall it was only about a week ago in the grand scheme of things the church there got so gummed up with the autocrats the people saw fit to actively discard it along with the autocrats and plunge the world and their culture into a state of internal oppression and suffering both they and we were most lucky to survive. Our own scholars at St. Vlads and Holy Cross have not been taking a nappy these many years, though perhaps in a bit of a patch very recently.

        We see many in the Russian church willing to support the autocrats that support them leading exactly to the history they already experienced instead of siding with their own people and offering, shall we call it ‘corrective commentary’ to those making decisions.

        Really, it hardly matters the national origin any longer, until we all wake up to notice and to deal with the fact something happened in human history that never before has happened– we live four times longer and working age widowers no longer exist statistically, we are in fact doomed since essential to the priest and bishop’s ability to relate to the people and more important the requirement by the people to have confidence in the priest and bishop is personal knowledge of fatherhood. We fiddle-faddle with canon 28 and related focus on rules that help this or that group, while others work the rules they like– it will matter as much as whether the cook did or didn’t put too much salt on the boat’s dinner while water rushes in the hole at the bottom. We’ve allowed a major and essential voice in leadership to go excinct that existed for all, all, all of our history prior to now.

        In fact until it is restored I am certain it is not proper to call any future council ‘ecumenical’ in the sense of previous as the majority of the voices once heard in all prior councils there are not only silent, but absent. While a group of highly talented sopranos is technically a choir, it can’t sing most of the music to the world.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Assuming that these Orthodox writers are correct, they still have to deal with heliocentrism. There are a few passages which forbid the motion of the earth. In the Holy Scriptures Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth. Chronicles 16:30 “tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved”. The Psalmist compares the sun to a runner in a race around the earth: “…the sun…rejoiceth as a bridegroom to run his race. His going forth is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it…” (Psalm 19:4-6). The Bible nowhere teaches the heliocentric theory, the theory that the earth is in motion around the sun. Should we dismiss these verses as mere poetry or misunderstanding of “primitive” people?

    We’ve always been told that the earth goes around the Sun, but proving that the earth goes around the Sun is impossible. All the experiments claiming to prove it only show that there is a relative motion between the earth and the sun or between earth and the celestial sphere. One can look at any motion in space as relative. Those favoring heliocentrism are saying that the stars could not move quickly enough to circle our world daily. At the same time they accept the idea that the initial expansion of the Universe can and does exceed the speed of light.

    How long will it take before we accept other dogmas of secular humanism, like the existence of advanced “humanoid” beings? If we do not want the life of the church and thought to be narrowed down to the repetition of citations from the past centuries perhaps we should start to ask forgiveness for our present ignorance of how common extraterrestrial life may actually be. There is some truth here: if we call the advanced “humanoid” beings by their proper names -demons – then yes, the extraterrestrial life is very common.

    The Three Holy Hierarchs and Geocentrism by Fr. Dan Badulescu

    Compelled by the evidence of these passages, as to many passages of Scripture and other Holy Fathers, the modernist theologians fall into the impasse from which they have two outputs:

    1) they can presume the Fathers as sincere and good willed, but limited in knowledge and technology of the fourth century, the golden century of theology, but obviously underscored in terms of scientific progress and technical research;

    2)they still have at hand the output of considering the scriptural passages and their interpretation to be “allegorical,” “metaphorical,” “symbolic”, or eventually having a high spiritual meaning, and in no case literally, in the way considered by the Antiochian school, and nowadays, the neo-Protestant fundamentalists.

    We humbly think that both these paths lead to error and deception since:
    - In case 1) those statements made above by the Holy Fathers were made “not by the light of worldly wisdom, but by that with which God wills to enlighten His servant, when He speaks to him in person and without enigmas.”

    The Holy Fathers did not rely upon the worldly wisdom, or upon the science of this fallen world, which the same Saints and many others have fought a number of occasions. They would have never allowed themselves to interprete the Scriptures according to the secular profane science.

    - In case 2), let us not forget that the very St. John Chrysostom was the most glorious representative of the Antiochian school where he was formed and shined before being the Archbishop of Constantinople.

    Secondly, not only he, but also the two other great teachers and hierarchs have contended clearly and without equivocation that the passages in Genesis have to be interpreted exactly literally, at least in the first phase, and then eventually get higher meanings.

    In his Treatise On the Priesthood, St. Gregory Nazianzen blames the so- called teachers of his time, who on behalf of high philosophy, didn’t accept the simple, literal understanding, as we today say “fundamentalist” of the Scriptural accounts.

    This being so, we wonder, as Orthodox theologians who honor, as it must, the greatest teachers of Orthodoxy: who should we believe in the matter of cosmology? Should we believe the Holy Fathers, or lots of “scholars” like Copernicus, Bruno, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, etc. who think and teach terribly hostile to Scripture and all Fathers, just on the basis of philosophy, science and the human mind of the world fallen under the prince of darkness?

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      Harry Coin says:

      Eliot, noting that psalms are ‘songs’ and firmly in the world of metaphor and allegory, and told from the perspective of someone here looking up, I see no obligation on the psalmist or any other writer biblical or otherwise really to choose a frame of reference convenient to scientists but inconvenient to the folk next door. When it’s time for me to ask for directions to Disney World I use an ‘Iowa Centric’ system. When its time for folk to figure out when the seasons will happen it’s a heliocentric system. When its time for folk to plan a mission to another planet it’s a heliocentric system. When its time to point a telescope past that, well it’s universal coordinates. Not so many calls for that back in the biblical day.

      Frames of reference ‘Iowa-Centrism’ ‘HelioCentrism’ ‘Milky Way Galactic Centrism’ are for the convenience of those who want to describe locations and motions, not the other way round. To feel bound to use this or that spot as the center of all maps I think might have had appeal to Cesear, but that’s about it anymore. Even the Pharohs and the Chinese dynastics changed the time maps to mark ‘zero hour’ in a way they preferred. Ah well, yesterday is still before tomorrow, over there is still the same distance from over here whether your yardstick puts the ’1′ on this end or that end.

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      Nick Katich says:

      Eliot: We are discussing evolution and not heliocentricism. However, you are incorrect in saying thay [P]roving that the earth goes around the Sun is impossible. All the experiments claiming to prove it only show that there is a relative motion between the earth and the sun or between earth and the celestial sphere.t ” You can’t look at the sun vis-a-vis the earth in isolation. You have to look at the sun vis-a-vis the whole solar system. Does the Sun also revolve around Jupiter? If it does, then at some point Mars and Jupiter would be between us and the Sun.

      Accept what Harry says. We all speak from our own unique perspective when we describe motion. It is not poetry. It is human language.

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    Nick Katich says:

    Fr. Hans: I too have always been troubled by the fact that evolution implies that death pre-dated Adam. The Deacon presents an interesting response. That there is a difference between the death of animals outside of Eden (one could possibly say renewal in the case of predators) and Adam pre-fall in Eden is certainly demonstrable. It is clear, and supported by Patristic writings that Adam was either created immortal or created potentially to be immortal. Which, does not matter. The key is this: in the Garden, there was NO prohibition against Adam eating from the Tree of Life. To say that death entered the world as a consequence of the “sin” of Adam is a correct statement from the perspective of Adam. Death of man entered the world. There is a strong basis for a theological synthesis of the Deacon’s dichotomy.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Yes there is a strong basis Nick and that is why I posted this article. It breaks new ground, or at least it posits a new synthesis that does not distort the patristic witness as far as I can tell. In a way it is revolutionary which I why I really need to think this through.

      Having said that, it is so good to see theological creativity of this kind emerging in the Orthodox world. There has been good work in other places of course, but Russian thinking seems to have broken free of the apologetic defensiveness (if I can call it that) that characterizes so much other work. That characteristic may have been necessary (I am not making any judgments here) but it also held us back from robust cultural engagement in my view. That seems to be changing.

      For example, I really like Yannaras’ chapter in The Freedom of Morality called “Pietism as an Ecclesiological Heresy.” In places it is brilliant and helped me grasp (and subsequently popularize) the notion of Truth as self-referencing that I explained in my conversation with Scott on the other thread. It was crucial in throwing off the notion that Truth needs an outside referent in order to establish it’s veracity and thus authority (Pietism is the real problem with Protestantism, not Sola Scriptura). This Pietistic assumption is subtle but widespread and something that converts in particular have difficulty recognizing if they recognize it at all.

      But his notion of the Church as the locus of perfect communion however, well, at the risk of sounding un-Orthodox at least in terms of popular Orthodox polemics, I just don’t see it. It strikes me as an ideal not realized and thus falls into that defensive apologetic mode I described above. Yannaras certainly provides an antidote to the Pietistic truncation, but I am not sure if his argument reflects something existentially real. Perhaps I am reading him wrong, or perhaps I don’t see something I should be seeing.

      Put it this way. There is counsel, forgiveness, repentance and so forth in the Church. There is also the manifestation of Christ within it through the Spirit in the disbursement of wisdom, knowledge, even the healing of bodies and so forth. This is clear. I have seen it with my own eyes. But these manifestations most often occur in private and remain hidden from a large number of Orthodox believers, many of whom seem far removed from even the conception that life in Christ is a dynamic enterprise. Maybe my complaint reflects nothing more than on many levels our Church is secularized. I’m not really sure yet.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Darwin’s theory talks about a gradual evolution of species by natural selection while the book of Genesis and the Holy Fathers indicate a simultaneous creation of all species.

    The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind.

    God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.

    God created the material substance with the potential of giving birth to all things and He calls the immense variety of life-forms to unfold. St. Basil the Great, in his book The Six Days of Creation (Hexaëmeron), writes that the earth and the water were pregnant with the various species of plants and animals and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters to give life to water and to all creation. The created existence has an unaltered identity of being, according to its species, and retaining its species through continuous birth till the end of the world. This is why we hear all the time about species that went extinct and never about new species now being formed.

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    There is some worthy analysis in this piece. However, these comments in particular are somewhat nonsensical from a Christian and a theological point of view:

    The earth is called to creativity, to the independent act by God’s word, and this is an acknowledgment of the existence of the inner motive forces, which belong to the earth. Certainly, here we do not have an indication of how and what are the limits of the earth’s answer to God’s call. Only one thing is clear: different periods in the history of genesis started from God’s call for the independent activity of “the earth”. The world, which is called to motion and growth, is becoming a co-worker with God. The theme of the creature’s cooperation with God has appeared in the Bible long before one directly starts talking about man.

    “Inner motive forces” of the earth? This sounds way to new-agey and can send the wrong message to other Orthodox Christians. It reeks of language we often hear from pagan worshipers of mother earth? There are more accurate ways of expressing this without confusing the readers.

    The “earth” is not an entity as a person or a creature is an entity. The earth is just matter it cannot have an “essence” of her own. While, creatively and philosophically we can say that nature has an “essence” what we are in effect saying is that God’s nature is reflected in that nature and the earth carries in its makeup a glimpse of the Creator.

    Everything God has made has some likeness to Himself. Space is like Him in its hugeness: not that the greatness of space is the same kind of greatness as God’s, but it is a sort of symbol of it, or a translation of it into non-spiritual terms. Matter is like God in having energy: though, again, of course, physical energy is a different kind of thing from the power of God. The vegetable world is like Him because it is alive, and He is the ‘living God’. But life, in this biological sense, is not the same as the life there is in God: it is only a kind of symbol or shadow of it. When we come on to the animals, we find other kinds of resemblance in addition to biological life. The intense activity and fertility of the insects, for example, is a first dim resemblance to the unceasing activity and the creativeness of God. In the higher mammals we get the beginnings of instinctive affection. That is not the same thing as the love that exists in God: but it is like it – rather in the way that a picture drawn on a flat piece of paper can nevertheless be `like’ a landscape. When we come to man, the highest of the animals, we get the completest resemblance to God which we know of. (There may be creatures in other worlds who are more like God than man is, but we do not know about them.) Man not only lives, but loves and reasons: biological life reaches its highest known level in him. – C.S. Lewis

    Also, I don’t believe there is an “independent” activity of the earth outside of the sustaining power and direction of the Logos. The earth is not a “co-worker” with God, only man is. The earth is the environment of matter, physical and biological, which was created to provide a place where humans to live. It is a medium of existence over which man is supposed to have dominion and control. We must be good stewards and manage it to the glory of God.

    However, it is only the WORD who created, sustains, and continues to create life in all its forms and marvelous complexity. Genesis can only be properly explained and viewed through the lens of the New Testament:

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

    “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Chris: Amen!

      There is some worthy analysis in this piece. However, these comments in particular are somewhat nonsensical from a Christian and a theological point of view

      .
      By looking at the length of this essay one can guess it… Philosophy was Dn.’s favorite subject and he is the son of a renown philosopher! He’s wrapping it in way too many words. As I said before, the Saints are more effective at communicating their message.

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    Maxim says:

    It’s funny how orthodox thinkers spend so much time and energy trying to get the rest of us to accept the premise of the materialist/Darwinist view of life. Science tells us nothing, but scientists tell us a lot of things. Darwinists pre-suppose a materialist view of life with no possibility of a creator, therefore their interpretations will always be colored with this bias. I do not even accept their premise, therefore, to spend so much time on such things is fruitless. It’s almost as if these orthodox thinkers cannot cope with the idea that other orthodox believers embrace a non -Darwinist view of life. I am actually embarrassed for these individuals. It seems they crave the acceptance of these materialists, so as to appear “enlightened” and “relevant”. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not going to be more palatable to the world, if they see we orthodox “get it” when it comes to evolution.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Maxim, you are correct. Philosophical materialism is the Achilles tendon of Darwinian naturalism. But that objection is met in Dn. Kureav’s piece. In fact, the “inner motives of the earth” that Chris complains about above could easily be understood as the logoi (as St. Maximos the Confessor calls it) that comes from the creative command of God when he first spoke the world into existence. Put another way, Dn. Kureav is not positing order emerging from randomness (an illogical and impossible event) but says instead:

      The earth is called to creativity, to the independent act by God’s word, and this is an acknowledgment of the existence of the inner motive forces, which belong to the earth.

      What is new is that he is drawing more sharply the distinction between the creative prowess of the earth and the purpose and destiny of man. It is correct that the Fathers draw this distinction as well, but I have never seen it expanded in the way Dn. Kureav has done. It allows for an expanded definition of the nature of death as well, ie: death means one thing for nature and another thing for man. The point he makes is that Christ came to save man from death, not all of creation although it is through the abolition of death by Christ’s resurrection that creation will be renewed (recapitulated is the term we use) which is also an accepted and long standing doctrine in the Church. This point needs to be clarified as his thesis is developed.

      The general spirit of your complaint is correct I think. Much Orthodox thinking is sloppy, especially moral theology. We hit on that all the time here, especially the attempt to align Orthodox moral thought with the Progressive agenda. A Darwinian cosmology is part of that overall world view broadly speaking so I understand your criticism.

      But again, this essay is different. Dn. Kureav does not make lazy errors. I am not saying he is right because I’m not sure if I understand his logic in any sufficient way yet. What I do see however, is that he has removed two chief obstacles: philosophical materialism and death preceding Adam. I should add too that this is not a back door attempt to endorse Darwinian naturalism for the reason I pointed out above: Dn. Kureav affirms an internal logic in the workings of nature that entered the world through God’s spoken word. If Dn. Kureav is correct, it also means that the Darwinian naturalist will have to shift his view.

      I’m not sure yet if the essay is brilliant (which does not mean de-facto accurate, BTW) but is certainly is very creative. I think it portends good things that we are seeing this level of creativity in our Church.

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    Isaac says:

    Maxim,

    While your accusations may hold true for some Orthodox, I think you are leaving out the other issue of educated Orthodox attempting to maintain some kind of intellectual integrity in the face of the overwhelming evidence for evolution proper (as opposed to all the philosophical barnacles that grow on it). I am thinking of such examples as Dobzhansky, who was convinced about evolution because of the science he actually did rather than concerns about being accepted by materialists. In fact, if you have any experience with academia you know how counter-cultural his famous article actually was in terms of taking on the materialists. I actually see the materialist Darwinists as the other side of the fundamentalist creationist coin since both sides seem to maintain a vested interest in diametric conflict.

    Oddly enough, it has been my experience that young earth creationists who have converted to Orthodoxy and held on to their fundamentalist assumptions have been far more outspoken about this issue and seem to imply that belief in evolution is tantamount to heresy, or that it somehow rises to the level of Creedal dogma despite the fact that it does no such thing.

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    Nick Katich says:

    Before many are so quick to dismiss the Deacon’s commentary and reflections, I think it important to revisit St. Basil’s Homilies on the Hexaemeron. There are some quite interesting points of covergence which require further reflection and discussion. The bold emphasis are mine, but not the italicized. The notes within brackets are mine. I have seperated each excerpt in paragraph form. Continuous text in each paragraph is continuous text in the original. Here goes:

    START OF EXCERPTS

    And God said Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself. It was deep wisdom that commanded the earth, when it rested after discharging the weight of the waters, first to bring forth grass, then wood as we see it doing still at this time. For the voice that was then heard and this command were as a natural and permanent law for it; it gave fertility and the power to produce fruit for all ages to come; Let the earth bring forth. The production of vegetables shows first germination. When the germs begin to sprout they form grass; this develops and becomes a plant, which insensibly receives its different articulations, and reaches its maturity in the seed. Thus all things which sprout and are green are developed. Let the earth bring forth green grass. Let the earth bring forth by itself without having any need of help from without.

    God did not command the earth immediately to give forth seed and fruit, but to produce germs, to grow green, and to arrive at maturity in the seed; so that this first command teaches nature what she has to do in the course of ages.

    For the earth brings forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear. Let the earth bring forth grass. In a moment earth began by germination to obey the laws of the Creator, completed every stage of growth, and brought germs to perfection.

    And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life after their kind, and fowl that may fly above the earth after their kind.

    The command was given, and immediately the rivers and lakes becoming fruitful brought forth their natural broods; the sea travailed with all kinds of swimming creatures; not even in mud and marshes did the water remain idle; it took its part in creation. Everywhere from its ebullition frogs, gnats and flies came forth. For that which we see today is the sign of the past. Thus everywhere the water hastened to obey the Creator’s command.

    This command had empowered the waters to bring forth life. Let the waters bring forth moving creatures that have life. Then for the first time is made a being with life and feeling. For though plants and trees be said to live, seeing that they share the power of being nourished and growing; nevertheless they are neither living beings, nor have they life. To create these last God said, Let the water produce moving creatures.
    Let the waters bring forth moving creatures after their kind. God caused to be born the firstlings of each species to serve as seeds for nature. Their multitudinous numbers are kept up in subsequent succession, when it is necessary for them to grow and multiply.

    And God said Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind; and it was so. The command of God advanced step by step and earth thus received her adornment. Yesterday it was said, Let the waters produce moving things, and today let the earth bring forth the living creature. Is the earth then alive? At these words Let the earth bring forth, it did not produce a germ contained in it, but He who gave the order at the same time gifted it with the grace and power to bring forth. When the earth had heard this command Let the earth bring forth grass and the tree yielding fruit, it was not grass that it had hidden in it that it caused to spring forth, it did not bring to the surface a palm tree, an oak, a cypress, hitherto kept back in its depths. It is the word of God which forms the nature of things created. Let the earth bring forth; that is to say not that she may bring forth that which she has but that she may acquire that which she lacks, when God gives her the power.

    But why did the waters receive the command to bring forth the moving creature that has life and the earth to bring forth the living creature? We conclude that, by their nature, swimming creatures appear only to have an imperfect life, because they live in the thick element of water. They are hard of hearing, and their sight is dull because they see through the water; they have no memory, no imagination, no idea of social intercourse. Thus divine language appears to indicate that, in aquatic animals, the carnal life originates their psychic movements, while in terrestrial animals, gifted with a more perfect life, the soul enjoys supreme authority. In fact the greater part of quadrupeds have more power of penetration in their senses; their apprehension of present objects is keen, and they keep all exact remembrance of the past. It seems therefore, that after the command given to the waters to bring forth moving creatures that have life, created simply living bodies for aquatic animals, while for terrestrial animals He commanded the soul to exist and to direct the body, showing thus that the inhabitants of the earth are gifted with greater vital force.

    Let the earth bring forth a living soul. Why did the earth produce a living soul? So that you may make a difference between the soul of cattle and that of man. You will soon learn how the human soul was formed; hear now about the soul of creatures devoid of reason. Since, according to Scripture, the life of every creature is in the blood, as the blood when thickened changes into flesh, and flesh when corrupted decomposes into earth, so the soul of beasts is naturally an earthy substance. Let the earth bring forth a living soul. See the affinity of the soul with blood, of blood with flesh, of flesh with earth; and remounting in an inverse sense from the earth to the flesh, from the flesh to the blood, from the blood to the soul, you will find that the soul of beasts is earth. Do not suppose that it is older than the essence of their body, nor that it survives the dissolution of the flesh; [Fr. Hans, this appears to me to be congruent with the Deacon's notion of the distinction of the death of animals and of humans]

    Let the waters it is said bring forth abundantly moving creature that has life and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. Why do the waters give birth also to birds? Because there is, so to say, a family link between the creatures that fly and those that swim. In the same way that fish cut the waters, using their fins to carry them forward and their tails to direct their movements round and round and straightforward, so we see birds float in the air by the help of their wings. Both endowed with the property of swimming, their common derivation from the waters has made them of one family.

    Let the earth bring forth the living soul of domestic animals, of wild beasts, and of reptiles after their kind.

    Let the earth bring forth the living creature. This command has continued and earth does not cease to obey the Creator. For, if there are creatures which are successively produced by their predecessors, there are others that even today we see born from the earth itself. In wet weather she brings forth grasshoppers and an immense number of insects which fly in the air and have no names because they are so small; she also produces mice and frogs. In the environs of Thebes in Egypt, after abundant rain in hot weather, the country is covered with field mice. We see mud alone produce eels; they do not proceed from an egg, nor in any other manner; it is the earth alone which gives them birth. Let the earth produce a living creature.

    END OF EXCERPTS

    I, for one, cannot say that the some of the Deacons ideas are not pregnant in Basil’s reflections.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Orthodox Belief and Evolution, a few thoughts on Dn. Kureav’s article

    I offer the following critique in the hopes that the problem areas will be examined in much greater depth and the areas where he seems to get it right can be developed more fully. I would hope that those with greater credentials and training in the necessary disciplines would pursue some of these lines of inquiry.

    Problems

    He begins with the assumption that evolution as a scientific concept is true and then fits his commentary to that assumption. He neither defines evolution very well nor makes a clear distinction between evolution that is clearly and explicitly atheistic and his understanding. Thus he does not really engage modern thought from a stand point of the revealed truth thereby completing and fulfilling whatever truth modern thought has perceived. Instead, he attempts to harmonize the revealed truth of the Church with the modern understanding (his missionary interest then makes truth propositional). Thus he complains that anti-evolutionists are “scandalously at odds with the opinion of science and education.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing where truth is involved. He allows his assumption about evolution to control the direction of his thought.

    His, even if peripheral, reliance on the work and thought of De Chardin is a big problem. De Chardin was a co-conspirator in one of the biggest scientific frauds of his time, the Piltdown Man. De Chardin’s ‘Christianity’ became just as fraudulent and heretical, deteriorating into some sort of cosmic consciousness new age mush. De Chardin’s mindset is emblematic of many in the scientistic community. The intellectual end justifies the means. The pursuit of truth is not relevant or important. The Deacon’s failure to recognize such a fundamental flaw and acknowledge it greatly weakens his overall argument.

    His use of citations from various Russian scholars in the manner he does is an extremely weak use of scholarly evidence and would be significantly graded down if used by any undergraduate in a history paper.

    He does not really engage the problem of death, he just eliminates it by fiat. His reasons for eliminating it exclude any consideration not only of death but the attendant corruption that is associated with death. He is wholly unpersuasive as far as I am concerned.

    His emphasis on the independence of matter ignores and trivializes the priestly vocation of humans to dress and keep the earth (not just Eden) and to offer it back to God “thine own of thine own” already transformed to some extent. The independence of matter then also puts the hierarchy of creation back upside down to some extent vitiating his argument that life comes down from above. His approach thereby ignores what should be the strongest focus on any Orthodox approach to evolution: man as microcosm and priest.

    What he got right (mostly)

    He puts a stake in the heart of Protestant creationism, but not as completely as he could. While he clearly sees and articulates the essential dualism of Protestant thought he misses the larger problem that gives rise to the dualism: Protestantism is iconoclastic (at least the creationists are). It is anti-sacramental, anti-hierarchical and extremely reductionistic. Such and approach denies the incarnational reality of man and the creation. Kuraev needs to approach the popular idea of theistic evolution with the same degree of perception as it is born of the same wrong understanding of God, the visible creation and our place in the created order. Most theistic evolution simply uses God to fill in the gaps. Therefore it simply acquiesces to the veracity of atheistic variety of evolution without any real critique. While I do not place Kuraev’s arguments in the theistic evolution camp, his failure to critique them leaves him vulnerable.

    His explanation of Eden really hits home but here too he needs to expand man’s priestly vocation to dress and keep the earth (the whole earth) before and after the fall. Kuraev leaves fascinating hints at the full incarnational reality of God’s word and life throughout creation, but he never develops them.

    I also agree that evolution need not be a doctrinal matter touching on salvation between Orthodox believers, however, we must be quite careful that unthinking acceptance of the atheistic evolutionary model leaves us open to a denial of the anthropology of the Church. Kureav’s weak articulation of that anthropology could easily lead right back to the dualism he decries. He, himself, makes too great a distinction between man and the rest of the visible creation.

    Further area of exploration

    The arena of sub-atomic physics has long seemed to me to be a fruitful ground for the recognition of the vibrant and emerging presence of God’s Word and Its on-going creative power. Thus creation itself is not a static reality, frozen in time upon which God acts, but emergent, dynamic and synergistic.

    Finally,

    Dn. Kuraev’s essay is intellectually satisfying which is my biggest problem with it. He tries too hard to harmonize the insights into truth that modern science may have with the revealed truth of the Church rather than articulating the revealed truth in and of itself and using that to discern where truth may lie in modern science.

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    Nick Katich says:

    Michael: There are things which you have written with which I quite agree and things which you have written with which I respectfully disagree. That is quite a good and healthy thing because it forms the basis for a vibrant dialog. It is for the same reason that I set forth in my previous post the various excerpts from St. Basil’s Homilies on the Hexaemeron.

    Although you say that you hope “the problem areas [of the Deacon's essay] will be examined in much greater depth and the areas where he [the Deacon] seems to get it right can be developed more fully”, I would say that the issues which he raises need a more thorough examination without prejudging what is a problem and what he got right. In examining an idea thoroughly, preconceived notions of whether something is ab initio probably right or wrong not only limits the examination but necessarily predicts the outcome. Having said that, the principal disagreement I have is with your following comment:

    He begins with the assumption that evolution as a scientific concept is true and then fits his commentary to that assumption. He neither defines evolution very well nor makes a clear distinction between evolution that is clearly and explicitly atheistic and his understanding. Thus he does not really engage modern thought from a stand point of the revealed truth thereby completing and fulfilling whatever truth modern thought has perceived. Instead, he attempts to harmonize the revealed truth of the Church with the modern understanding (his missionary interest then makes truth propositional). Thus he complains that anti-evolutionists are “scandalously at odds with the opinion of science and education.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing where truth is involved. He allows his assumption about evolution to control the direct ion of his thought.

    I do not think that anywhere in his essay he assumes that evolution as a scientific concept is true. And, I do not think he is trying conform Orthodox thought to an evolutionary theory that is “explicitly atheistic” or to some more antiseptically less atheistic variant of the same. What he is explicitly doing is suggesting that the current Protestantized Creationist construct does not properly engage the discussion and that it marginalizes itself because it is explicitly, in its construct, grounded in some notion that contains elements of a paganistic view of matter. In this, I am in total agreement. He is not advancing evolution. What he is doing is suggesting that, by using the Protestant-Pagan construct, we are making the wrong arguments. What he is further suggesting is that, to the extent that our objections are based on some notion that evolution in any form is unacceptable because it presupposes that some death predated Adam and that it did not, such a notion may not have Patristic support. You will recall Fr. Hans’ introduction which indicated that he is generally not predisposed to evolution because: “[If] evolution was true, death had to predate Adam. Death entered the world though Adam’s sin our theology teaches, yet evolution sees death as preexisting mankind (indeed, as a mechanism of progress)”.

    What I tried to demonstrate in my last post of excerpts from St. Basil is that much in the Deacon’s essay is quite congruent with St. Basil’s Homilies on the Hexaemeron. When I first read the Deacon’s essay trying to distinguish between the death of animals pre-Fall and the death of Man as a result of the Fall, I though, well that is quite novel. But if you read St. Basil, at least to me, the things that he says conform to what the Deacon has said. If St. Basil is correct, that does not mean that Darwin was likewise correct. What it does mean, however, is that our heretofore arguments against Darwin, based on a rejection of evolution because there could have been no kind of death pre-Fall, is weak, at best, and quite irrelevant, at worst.

    I think the Deacon’s ultimate message is that we have forgotten the Fathers and need to go back to them and rethink what we now instinctively think.

    Let me say this, which I have wanted to say for many years to my Orthodox brothers. It often pains me, to the point of near insanity (figure of speech, of course, because I am not yet at the abyss) to visit one of our sister forums (considered by some to be the best forum) and see some of the posts: (1) What do the Fathers say about the icon of the ark leaving the shore with Luther, Calvin, et. al. being left behind (forgetting that the Fathers pre-dated that icon by nearly two millennia); (2) What do the canons say about that icon (forgetting that the canons only deal with one icon — prohibiting the depiction of Christ as a lamb; (3) What do the Fathers say about an Orthodox playing football in the Super Bowl (I am using hyperbole, of course); etc., etc. I want to scream: “Does anyone ever read the Fathers or the canons anymore?”.

    I’ve heard other innane statements. One recently on this forum (and I sincerely forget who it was): “The Fathers are uniform and the teaching of the Church is uniform that Genesis 1 and 2 are to be interpreted literally”. No! There is no consensus! There is much Patristic thought that they are allegorical. There is other Patristic thought that they are literal. In fact, Nyssa denies the Hexaemeron and says that everything was created simultaneously in one act of Will and the story of the six days is allegorical in that it was designed to show the interrelationship of everything which could not be as well demonstrated by merely telling everyone that it was simultaneous.

    We suffer much because we suffer from the same problem that modern science suffers from. I posted several times on another thread that modern science suffers much because so much is taken on faith. Someone says something; someone else repeats it; then again; and again; and it becomes “gospel” so to speak. We have the same thing. Someone says, “The Fathers were unanimous on this point; it gets repeated over and over again; and now it is “gospel”, again so to speak.

    If we want to intellectually engage in a serious discussion of evolution vis-a-vis revealed Truth, and to get it right, we need to throw all of the “secondary centuries removed” sources and go back to Scripture and the original sources, the actually writings of the Fathers. That, I think, is the real meaning of the Deacon’s essay.

    Thanks to him secondarily, and to St. Basil primarily, I am no longer hung up on the “evolution can’t be right because there was no death for anything pre-Fall”. It doesn’t mean that evolution is right. But it does mean that we can get back on the path of more relevant thinking. And, in doing so, maybe we can get back to actually reading the Fathers and find out how much on or off path we really are.

    As a post-script, I also find a greater appreciation for the fact that the earth and the water, though inanimate, according to St. Basil, actively obey the command and respond to the grace that God gave them to participate in the act of creation, while Man, created in His image, resists and wants his own creation. How did we get so far out of sync?

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Nick, by ‘problems’ I was indicating areas that were unclear, ill-constructed or needed more development not whether the points were wrong or right.

      The ‘got right’ section is more of an agreement, but is also an indication that what he said was clear.

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      Ilya Kharin says:

      Dn. Kuraev is quite well-known and controversial in Russia. His orientation is mission to the intelligentsia, and the essay fits well into this persona. However, no doubt the discussion of raised issues is too important to get bogged down in the article’s context.

      Mr. Katich, special thanks for posting St. Basil’s text and calling us to study the Fathers. I think questions like “what do Fathers say about some-21st-century-thing” are not nonsensical, given that, at least in Russia, believers frequently will include such recent hierarchs as Sts. Theophan the Recluse, Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and Nicholas (Velimirovich) into the category of “Fathers”. In this sense a “Father” is someone who becomes a pillar of the Church and feeds the multitudes with salvific teachings. In that vein, I offer the teaching of St. Seraphim of Sarov, a Divinely-taught theologian. I believe this passage sheds some light on why and how a distinction between the life (and the death) of man and animals might be drawn:

      Many explain that when it says in the Bible: ‘God breathed the breath of life into the face of Adam the first-created, who was created by Him from the dust of the ground,’ it must mean that until then there was neither human soul nor spirit in Adam, but only the flesh created from the dust of the ground. This interpretation is wrong, for the Lord God created Adam from the dust of the ground with the constitution which our dear little Father, the holy Apostle Paul describes: May your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thess. 5:23). And all these three parts of our nature were created from the dust of the ground, and Adam was not created dead, but an active living being like all the other animate creatures of God living on earth. The point is that if the Lord God had not breathed afterwards into his face this breath of life (that is, the grace of our Lord God the Holy Spirit Who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son and is sent into the world for the Son’s sake), Adam would have remained without having within him the Holy Spirit Who raises him to Godlike dignity. However perfect he had been created and superior to all the other creatures of God, as the crown of creation on earth, he would have been just like all the other creatures which, though they have a body, soul and spirit each according to its kind, yet have not the Holy Spirit within them. But when the Lord God breathed into Adam’s face the breath of life, then, according to Moses’ word, Adam became a living soul (Gen. 2:7), that is, completely and in every way like God, and, like Him, for ever immortal. Adam was immune to the action of the elements to such a degree that water could not drown him, fire could not burn him, the earth could not swallow him in its abysses, and the air could not harm him by any kind of action whatever. Everything was subject to him as the beloved of God, as the king and lord of creation, and everything looked up to him, as the perfect crown of God’s creatures. Adam was made so wise by this breath of life which was breathed into his face from the creative lips of God, the Creator and Ruler of all, that there never has been a man on earth wiser or more intelligent than he, and it is hardly likely that there ever will be. When the Lord commanded him to give names to all the creatures, he gave every creature a name which completely expressed all the qualities, powers and properties given to it by God at its creation.

      (sourse: http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/wonderful.aspx)

      If I understand correctly, St. Seraphim says that Adam was like other animals before the breath of life entered him, and only at that point did he become a partaker of the Divine quality of immortality. From this fact one might indeed conclude that all earthly creatures (including Adam!) were created mortal. From the fact that Adam alone received the breath of the Holy Spirit one might further conclude that non-human earthly creatures remained mortal even after that. Or was there some other way, by which they might have been granted immortality? Perhaps the immortality of man – God’s steward of the earth – kept animals from dying before the fall? Now that this question about the mortality of animals before the fall has been formulated, perhaps more people might contribute what holy teachings they know so that, God willing, we might see more clearly.

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    Nick Katich says:

    Ilya: Thank you so much for your post. With respect to your comment, “Dn. Kuraev is quite well-known and controversial in Russia. His orientation is mission to the intelligentsia, and the essay fits well into this persona. However, no doubt the discussion of raised issues is too important to get bogged down in the article’s context”, is quite poignant. Sometimes we get too bogged down in the messenger and not the message.

    I am glad that we concur that this issue must be more explored. Sometimes we Othodox too often forget what the Fathers said and too often rely on what someone else says they said. I also agree that there are current or late in time Fathers that are also in the category of Fathers, and St. Seraphim, and others are among them.

    I would very much like to see an intellectual discussion, patristic based, on the issue of “If death of animals predated Adam, and if death, according to our theology, entered the world through Adam’s sin, is every theory of evolution inconsistent with our theology?’ The corollary is, “Does death of animals and plants have the same meaning, from a theological perspective, as the death of human beings?”

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Nick, I agree with you. We need a prayerful study based on Patristic and Scriptural understanding with people in differing contexts to help balance any bias.

    Some points that need to cover, IMO, to answer your questions:
    1. The nature of death: is our death the same as the death of the rest of the visible creation. St. Paul says: “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” He also links the salvation of man to the rest of the natural creation. That has always made it difficult to bifurcate and separate us and the rest of creation. Such bifurcation seems to place us on an all too easy road to various forms of dualism. While human beings are clearly unique, is it possible to make them too unique?

    2. Clarity on ‘each to his kind’ there was some language in the deacon’s essay that suggested change of kind. In part that seem to me to come from his failure to be clear on what the word evolution means. Clarity on the meaning of evolution would also be required to answer the compatibility question.

    You ask: “… is every theory of evolution inconsistent with our theology?”

    I am predisposed to answer your question right now with a yes simply because all of the current theories start in the wrong place, go the wrong direction and therefore end incorrectly. They do not take into account anything revealed about man and the visible creation in the Christian faith and, in fact, actively and consciously work to destroy the faith in many cases. Those who do not want to be at odds with the world’s perspective will look for ways to accomodate. That is a natural human tendency. The context does make a difference and needs to be considered when evaluating the message. That is why we need a variety of folks from a variety of contexts and why the actual saints and fathers who lived and thought in different contexts are especially needed.

    THe Church cannot ignore the questions, but people within the Church certainly can.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Fr.Seraphim Rose writes so clearly about the Creation. The first three chapters are available online.
    Genesis, Creation and Early Man — The Orthodox Christian Vision Fr.Seraphim Rose

    Undoubtedly, here is one of the chief sources of the conflict between scientific theory and religious revelation. During the Six Days nature itself was being made; our present knowledge of natural laws cannot possibly tell us how these laws themselves were made. The very subject of ultimate origins, of beginnings, of the Genesis of all things – is outside the sphere of science. When a scientist enters this realm he guesses and speculates like any ancient cosmologist; and this only distracts him from his serious work of studying the natural processes of this world – it also makes him a competitor of religious revelation, which is the only possible source of our real knowledge of the beginning of things, just as it is our only source of knowledge of the final end of all things. St. Basil writes:

    We are proposing to examine the structure of the world and to contemplate the whole universe, not from the wisdom of the world, but from what God taught His servant when He spoke to him in person and without riddles.

    If we can humble ourselves enough to know that we can actually know rather little about the details of the Creation of the Six Days, we will have a better chance of understanding what we can about Genesis. The Holy Fathers, and not scientific or cosmological speculations, are our key to understanding the text.

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    Joseph A. says:

    I have written about Fr. Andrei’s proposed interpretation of Genesis: “Orthodoxy and Evolution.” For what it’s worth, I think that the previous comments are some of the better that I have seen on this site–both respectful and substantive. Good job, and enjoy your Sunday!

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Joseph, do you mind if I post your piece on the Observer as a feature piece? I’d like to continue the discussion on it. Fr. Hans.

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      Joseph A. says:

      Dear Fr.,

      By all means. I would have copied it to the comment section, but I did not want presumptuously to post something so long. I just edited a few more things, too, to make it more readable.

      Peace,
      Joseph

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    Joseph A. says:

    Response by Joseph A. From: Arimathea

    Last week, I read an interesting post on The Observer of Deacon Andrei Kuraev’s “Can an Orthodox become an Evolutionist?” (original source) Deacon Andrei teaches at the Moscow Theological Academy, and he has been prominently involved in the evolution debate in Russia. He finds the “creationist” arguments offered by American Protestants problematic, and he seeks to show how biological evolution does not contradict Christian doctrine. In this article, he attempts to address traditional Orthodox concerns by offering an interpretation of Genesis that could coexist with the non-metaphysical (and hence, non-materialist) claims of contemporary evolutionary theory. Unfortunately, the article is insufficiently written and edited, owing, I assume, to Fr. Andrei’s limitations in English. However, his ideas are worth considering. I also recommend the readers’ comments, which provide additional insights.

    I agree with Fr. Andrei on many points. It is necessary for educated Christians to engage philosophy and to learn from what “secular” knowledge offers. Contemporary biology overwhelmingly supports the theory of evolution, and the evidence for it, while not absolutely compelling, demonstrates to an impartial observer, who has no other commitments or interests in the judgment, that life has indeed evolved on earth. We know that evolution occurs because we have witnessed it. We also know from the vast fossil record that we have collected that flora and fauna varied much throughout the various stages of prehistory. Biological evolution explains the evidence in a coherent way that does not do violence to our understanding of the world. I have addressed creationism and Darwinism previously, noting that there are significant problems with the Darwinian explanation of evolution. However, I hold no doubts about biological evolution as such. I am, therefore, grateful for Fr. Andrei’s reflections on how evolution relates to Christian doctrine.

    I learnt something from Fr. Andrei’s article that I never considered before. He notes that the biblical language stresses the actitivity of the earth itself in the stages of creation:

    And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. . . .

    And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. . . .

    And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    This is exciting and remarkable, and I am embarrassed that I have never thought about it. The text shows that the world itself is creative and dynamic, though God creates through it. Without God, the world is nothing. Yet, at the level of creation—of the limited and of the particular—natural causality manifests the creative energies of God. It is this metaphysical attitude that makes natural philosophy possible, where there is both an eternal source of being and a temporal level of reality wherein particular beings interrelate. Natural philosophy, or “natural science,” concerns itself with the latter, while the metaphysical foundation for the intelligibility of such research rests with the former.

    I also think that Fr. Andrei makes an excellent point about intellectual honesty. We should always keep in mind why we judge things so. We must not become blinded to the assumptions and motivations that cause us to render one judgment rather than another. Moreover, Fr. Andrei wisely emphasizes the distinction between Christian doctrine and theologoumena, or personal opinions about religious matters that may or may not be correct. As Orthodox Christians, we should always strive for the truth, but we should be mindful of our ignorance and limitations. Not everything has been revealed; not everything is clear. Among such issues is the debate about evolution. That said, there are problems that biological evolution raises.

    I do not find the issues of the six day creation or of the young earth important. It is clear that the first part of Genesis is mythic discourse. By myth, I do not mean false. Rather, myth is not a logical or analytical exposition of the truth. The mythic involves, among other things, a poetic, symbolic narrative that conveys certain truths. After all, what is a day before the creation of the sun? Genesis is significant in the lessons about creation that it provides. God creates the world, and the world is good. Whether such is accomplished in a week or in fifteen billion years does not matter. As such, I am sympathetic to Fr. Andrei’s project. Yet, I think that there are other theological lessons essential in the Genesis story, and I think that Fr. Andrei’s interpretation fails to salvage them.

    Fr. Andrei suggests that Eden does not represent the cosmos as a whole but is simply a garden—a place protected from the rest of the universe in which God places Adam. Hence, the heavens and the earth developed according to the theories of modern science, including the evolution of species from inanimate constituent elements. In the fullness of time, God placed an evolved being from that cosmos—we might guess a primitive hominid—into the Garden and gave him a rational soul. This garden was a paradise exempted from the forces of nature—the forces of decay, and therein this new creature was to mature. Fr. Andrei may follow Irenaeus in seeing Adam as an immature being who was being groomed for the cosmic role that he one day would be asked to fulfill—that of the cosmic mediator, the priest of creation, the role of which Maximus the Confessor explained so beautifully. Adam in the garden was free from death and disease. He was to be a steward of God’s creation, being above that creation. However, Adam transgressed his vocation and brought about the fall. For Fr. Andrei, this lapse did not rend the nature of the whole cosmos, but it sullied human nature alone. Adam’s sin brought death into the world, but Fr. Andrei thinks that this is only spiritual death and the consequent physical death of man alone. The consequence for the rest of creation was simply the absence of the appointed good steward.

    My problem with Fr. Andrei’s proposed theory involves two points. First, his interpretation does not do justice to the cosmic consequences of the fall. As I wrote previously, it is important to remain aware of why we judge things as we do. I think that the Christian doctrine of the fall is extremely important. It explains, insofar as explanation is possible, the disconnect between the empirical evidence of a tragic world and the noetic understanding of ideals. Even if we accept that any created world will be necessarily imperfect, as it is not God, it seems that the evil in the world is worse than simply being less than perfect. We intuitively grasp that the created world is marred. Humean dismissals of the desire for and love of perfection as projected irrational wishes do not make sense. Why would the human soul hunger so ravenously for the impossible? Why would men evolve to hold, rather universally, such ideas that would make them less reproductively fit? For they invest their energy and talents in pursuing what Hume and his ilk regard as falsehoods—goals such as justice, righteousness, order, stability, and beauty. Indeed, the normal human understanding of the world is illusory according to this reductionist view. That is unacceptable to me. The universal human inclination to contrast the “ought” with the “is” indicates a fissure between the world as we find it and the world as we know it to be in its essence. Undoubtedly, this disconnect allows for much error, and projected desires along with lack of wisdom contribute to such error. Nonetheless, I think that our intuition is correct that the fallen world falls short of the intended divine pattern. Laying the blame for this shortcoming upon human beings corresponds to our own daily experience. We are doubtlessly the cause of most of our woes. That even existential evils are to be traced to human sin seems right in that it absolves God—the perfectly good—from blame. I do not worship a malign power; I worship the source of being, goodness, and truth. The story of the fall allows for that, and Fr. Andrei’s interpretation removes the cosmos too far from the fall, dismantling the basis of Christian theodicy. Furthermore, the special exemption of Eden from the laws of the universe appears inelegant, and the cosmic role of man pales in comparison to that of traditional Christian doctrine.

    Second, I find it repugnant that Fr. Andrei fails to see non-human death as death. For he argues that animal death is simply the cycle of life, and we should not be bothered by it. Yet, his position seems to contradict itself. For why would God exempt the animals in Eden from death unless death itself, even for the beasts, was evil? So as not to trouble young, impressionable Adam? Yet, why would something normal and natural and good such as the generation and decay of the beasts trouble Adam unless such dissolution was indeed evil, as it surely is. Death, loss, and the irrevocability of dissolution are repulsive to us. It is not simply human death that we find lamentable. I do not understand the casual dismissal of other species’ deaths. I do not even understand the casual dismissal of the destruction of inanimate things. The nature of the world as we find it—fallen nature—continually does violence to our desire for permanence and intelligibility. The wheel of time is unsettling in its destructive character. Of course, we can see the silver lining of generation and decay—namely, generation—but half of the system is troublesome.

    It is for these reasons that I cannot accept Fr. Andrei’s interpretation of Genesis. I do not know how to reconcile the Eden myth with what we know of the natural world. Yet, I am committed not to accept an attempt at reconciliation that treats either inadequately. I trust that the two views cohere, but I am unable, at least at present, to see how.

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    Joseph says:

    I have posted another item about this: “Kristor on the Fall” (as it contains a lengthy comment by a reader about the fall). Given Fr.’s previous request, I’ll repost my part here:

    I have been thinking about the issue over the weekend, and I am dissatisfied with my first objection to Fr. Andrei’s theory. It is quite muddled. When we are dealing with such fundamental and ultimate matters as the unfallen world and, by association, the eschaton, we have entered a realm of metaphysical questioning that makes me sympathetic to Kant when he warns about the transcendent temptation. The difficulty involved reminds me of the human attempt to comprehend the underlying metaphysics of Christ’s incarnation or ascension. We just do not have the relevant insights. However, I do believe that echoes of such knowledge permeate the world. So, I do not wish to judge such understanding impossible, but I realize that I am grasping in the dark to make sense of some very basic questions, such as what are we really meant to be according to the divine plan? What would unfallen creation look like? Is such the same as redeemed creation? Is there a distinction between the necessary imperfection of creation, as that which is not God, and sinful imperfection? Are instantiations in time and place of the ideas in the mind of God inherently imperfect in such a way that they imply or are contiguous with fallen nature, or is it possible for reflections to be good as reflections?

    I do not know, but I have been pondering these questions for many years, and their possible answers impact my attitude toward Fr. Andrei’s proposal. It is possible, I suppose, to hold his interpretation and to attribute our blindness of and obtuseness toward the world simply to the distortion of our spiritual faculties. Yet, I think that the difficulty of seeing God in all things is not only our problem. I may harbor an irrational bias here, but I think that human ignorance and the failure to see the world clearly are not simply the result of human failure. Understanding involves both the mind and the object known; intellection takes two to tango. That it is so difficult to think rationally about being makes me suspect that the world is less intelligible than it should be in our fallen state. Fr. Andrei’s interpretation removes man from the cosmos so radically that it reminds me of Cartesian dualism, wherein the human mind, separate from the world, thinks about and acts upon the world. A Christian could defend Fr. Andrei (and Descartes) by appealing to the special status of man wherein God gives man spirit, which seems to put man in a radically different relationship to the rest of creation. Yet, I would reply that such spirit is what makes us be able to transcend the bounds of space and time, as our thought may consider any link in the temporal chain of causality or any magnitude of space. We may contemplate spiritual realities and rise above the limitations of our animal nature. Our spiritual nature allows us to exist on multiple levels of being, but such does not mean that we are not truly still animals that are part of the rest of creation. Fr. Andrei’s Eden story lends credence to this disembodied Cartesian view that lays the foundation for several species of modern spiritual perversion. Is it accidental that non-human death seems so trivial in such a scheme? For the Cartesian, everything besides the human mind is mere mechanism–the playing out of matter in motion. I do not doubt Fr. Andrei’s best Christian intentions, but in seeking to accommodate a materialist, mechanistic world view, he may repeat the Christian metaphysical surrender of early modern thought. Such a view of the world has no place for the transcendent. The fall, affecting both man and the world, produced a situation where such horizontal ideas are not only possible but persuasive.

    In my previous post and in this one, you may get the impression that I have indicted Fr. Andrei for nominalism, Humean skepticism, and the Cartesian mastery of nature. Not so, though I have not written or explicated well. Obviously, Fr. Andrei believes in Orthodox doctrine. His theory accepts the fall of man. However, I worry that his interpretation of Genesis has the faint odor of these noxious humors, and my hypersensitivity toward such poisons has triggered an allergic reaction of the spirit.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Joseph, I agree with your statement that

      Fr. Andrei’s interpretation removes man from the cosmos so radically that it reminds me of Cartesian dualism, wherein the human mind, separate from the world, thinks about and acts upon the world.

      That is a key difficulty with his analysis. Creation was made for man, not the other way round.

      The more I think about it, his uncritical acceptance of DeChardin poses, for me, a huge problem. It makes me wonder what other non-Christian, even anti-Christian metaphysics masquerading as science that the good deacon is accepting.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    There is an interesting discussion on death at Fr. Ted Bobosh’s blog that relate to our discussion here I think.

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    Lucky says:

    http://www.hexaimeron.ro – Presents articles and information about Hexaimeron, cosmology, chronology and ancient astronomy, from an Orthodox viewpoint.

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      hexaimeron says:
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        Eliot Ryan says:

        hexaimeron: I believe that Michelson–Morley experiment performed in 1887 proved that the Earth does not move. Instead, a wrong conclusions was drawn on purpose. The ether was proved to exist but such papers do not get published.
        About a year ago I wrote a comment on this subject:
        http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2009/12/green-patriarch-on-copenhagen/

        Rather than admitting the possibility that the earth was stationary with respect to the ether, scientists dispensed the ether. Michelson-Morley experiment showed that the earth was stationary (or at lest this is a posibility). In order to avoid having to adopt this results Einstein comes up with the postulate: “speed of light is constant in all reference frames”. Special Relativity claims that the speed of light is the only constant in the universe, whereas mass, length, distance, and time became relative. What we have is a system of mathematical formulae which doesn’t explain much of how things work BUT because of Relativity (its postulates), no one can prove whether the sun goes around the earth or the earth goes around the sun.

        That nonsense and similar ones (like the big bang theory) are perpetrated by the “great” physicists from “major” universities. I feel defeated … Wouldn’t it be a waste of time to fight it back? Anyway, your work is impressive!

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          hexaimeron says:

          > About a year ago I wrote a comment on this subject:
          > http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2009/12/green-patriarch-on-copenhagen/
          >

          Rather than admitting the possibility that the earth was stationary with respect to the ether, scientists dispensed the ether. Michelson-Morley experiment showed that the earth was stationary (or at lest this is a posibility). In order to avoid having to adopt this results Einstein comes up with the postulate: “speed of light is constant in all reference frames”. Special Relativity claims that the speed of light is the only constant in the universe, whereas mass, length, distance, and time became relative. What we have is a system of mathematical formulae which doesn’t explain much of how things work BUT because of Relativity (its postulates), no one can prove whether the sun goes around the earth or the earth goes around the sun.

          >
          >>
          > Thank you for your appreciation! We guess that you are using something like “Google translate” machine to read this Romanian site. There is such thing also in your forum, we thought too if it would be an idea to put something like this too on our site. The problem is that the result can look quite tricky, but, anyway, it’s better than nothing! To translate “manually” all the site means a lot of work and time, and we, as you can guess! are not many, and take no money for this! Something could be done, but, for instance, we can not translate Fr. Seraphim in English! Instead we need the original of that material from site…. Maybe we can get a little help from our American friends! Also suggestions for translation improvement? Obviously, this goes only for the Romanian articles and studies translated in English.

          That nonsense and similar ones (like the big bang theory) are perpetrated by the “great” physicists from “major” universities. I feel defeated … Wouldn’t it be a waste of time to fight it back?

          Well, as Saint Basilius said:

          “And do not let any one compare with the inquisitive discussions of philosophers upon the heavens, the simple and inartificial character of the utterances of the Spirit; as the beauty of chaste women surpasses that of a harlot, [1510] so our arguments are superior to those of our opponents. They only seek to persuade by forced reasoning. With us truth presents itself naked and without artifice. But why torment ourselves to refute the errors of philosophers, when it is sufficient to produce their mutually contradictory books, and, as quiet spectators, to watch the war? [1511] For those thinkers are not less numerous, nor less celebrated, nor more sober in speech in fighting their adversaries, who say that the universe is being consumed by fire, and that from the seeds which remain in the ashes of the burnt world all is being brought to life again. Hence in the world there is destruction and palingenesis to infinity. [1512] All, equally far from the truth, find each on their side by-ways which lead them to error.” http://www.elpenor.org/basil/hexaemeron.asp?pg=29

          You can see such an example in this material http://www.vimeo.com/19807459 that refute scientifically the big bang theory….

          We really are not sure either if we must fight on the science area and with scientific weapons.If someone doesn’t believe the Scripture and the Fathers there is very little hope… but, who really knows? The mercy of God is infinite and His ways unknown! So, we can confess and teach the revealed truth and then wait and see were are the results. And, look, glory to God Almighty, there are results, as you there! We also, here in Romania, took great help from Father Seraphim, and now we try to follow him, with our humble capacities and God’s help…

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            hexaimeron: I did not read the entire site, but it seems to be the largest collection on this subject I’ve seen so far. You certainly do not have to translate Fr. Seraphim Rose from Romanian back into English. The original version should be readily available here. However, I do not think that everything is available online. What article/book(s) are you looking for?

            I am going to explore a little bit more the links you provided. I do not think I have the ability, time and energy to help you much, but indeed, glory to God Almighty!. It is a miracle that Christianity is still around after long and repeated persecutions against Christians and the rise of various heresies.

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            hexaimeron says:

            Eliot,

            We answer you here because we don’t have your mail yet. But until then, this goes also for everybody interested in such important issues:

            ABOUT SITE Hexaimeron.ro (http://www.hexaimeron.ro/Contact/Contact.html)

            The purpose of this site is to present and update the Church’s teaching reflected in the Holy Scripture and the interpretation of the Holy Fathers, related to creation of the world. The word “Hexaimeron” (Ή Έξαήερον) is greek, “hexa” means “six” and “imeron” means “days” and refers to those days described in Genesis Chapter I of the book. The first Christian writer who used this term was Theophilos of Antioch, but the one who gave consistency to it was Saint Basilius the Great.

            This site is a theological one, an Orthodox Christian. It furthermore contains elements of ancient astronomy and some scientific research in the contemporary creationism. The basic idea we want to convey is this: We believe and confess that the creation of the world: cosmos, life, man, it is a MYSTERY and a MIRACLE. It is Mystery as is direct work of God and Miracle since it is not a natural and normal repeatable phenomenon, but something supernatural and unique. It can not be searched otherwise than through the natural and supernatural revelation.

            Broadly speaking, the “natural” revelation means the activity of the ancient pagan wise men before Christ, who, though not being in the prophets revealed Law, however, had indirect access to knowledge of the truth, trough the skills included in their hearts. It’s about human efforts which trough the contemplation of nature can somehow reach the Creator. Here we can put the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, like Plato and Aristotle, who took teachings about natural sciences from Moses and the Egyptians. The Fathers of the Church have kept from those almost entirely the cosmology, the composition of the cosmos, celestial mechanics, etc. The model taken further by The Church was that of a limited spherical universe whose center is a stationary Earth around which everything revolves: the seven planets and stars.

            The supernatural revelation is coming from God to man, it is straightforward and is made from the beginning to the prophets, among whom we have shining in the highest rank Moses. It is contained in the Holy Scripture not only in the book of Genesis but also in many other places. This scriptural revelation of the Holy Spirit was interpreted by the Holy Fathers inspired by the same Spirit and is the supreme unerring knowledge, unchanged and true in all the places and times. It can not be dependent on “knowledge of science/technical” of a particular era.

            Here we meet a radical contrast to the ancient cosmology related concepts namely: How did the universe, life and man appear. Here The Church rejected the errors of the ancients: polytheism, eternal matter, etc., and combined the cosmogony of the Scripture with the ancient geocentric cosmology. This teaching lasted virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Based on that it was developed also that liturgical framework of the Church: the church calendar. This teaching began to be challenged and amended in western Catholic and Protestant area starting with the 16th century. A great part of the modern science, which occurred after that date until today, is in manifest contradiction with the revelation, reaching a completely different cosmogony, cosmology, anthropology and biology. Astrophysics and biology, taught in schools in the last hundred years, are deeply imbued with an atheistic and evolutionistic, antichristic and antichurch vision.

            At the end of last century, in the same Catholic and (neo) Protestant Western area arouse several scientific efforts to return to a “natural” revelation harmonized with the traditional teaching of the Church. Such trends have emerged in the schools of creationism and modern geocentricism.

            In our orthodox area the first who took a similar task in regard to the question of “creationism” was Father Seraphim Rose. Going after his pioneering work, other Orthodox creationists/antievolutionists emerged, including in our country (Romania). Following this upbringing and very useful example, we thought it appropriate to continue this work especially with the cosmological issues, bringing back to light this invaluable treasure of knowledge, buried under thick mud and almost unknown in all environments, including the monastic one. It is obvious that helio/acentrism is the greatest deception present, including people of all confessions, religions, ages and cultural levels! So it will be very hard to dispel it, we will face more opposition and scandal, but also souls to be won!

            Being a pioneer work in the orthodox area, it contains certainly gaps and possible errors, for which we ask for understanding and straightening with love. Please pray for the people who did this work and let us give glory to God for His deed and the fact that He takes care that we should hear about it, despite many obstacles!

            Fr. Dan Bădulescu

            CONTACT

            If you have a question about one of the topics do not hesitate to send us your opinion on e-mail. The answers are in the FAQs menu grouped by areas addressed .
            Hexaimeron.ro is an independent project, created and maintained by some volunteers. We wish to generate a free dialog, conscious and argued on the origin of cosmos and life on Earth, a debate with scientific, logical and theological arguments.

            E-mail: contact@hexaimeron.ro

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            hexaimeron:

            But why torment ourselves to refute the errors of philosophers, when it is sufficient to produce their mutually contradictory books, and, as quiet spectators, to watch the war? Saint Basilius

            Very well said, except that it appears to me that this is what the secular thinkers and philosophers did. They produced tons of books contradictory to the teachings of the Church and now they watch the war.

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    hexaimeron says:

    As for the question of the topic: Yes, unfortunately, an Orthodox can become an Evolutionist, because God allows sins and heresies, for our freedom, and for testing the faith. But, yes, this Orthodox, as any heterodox, can repent and abandon this devilish teaching, by God’s help, there are plenty of such cases, known and unknown…

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    hexameiron:
    This is indeed a very courageous endeavor. The claims of evolutionism and heliocentrism are often and wrongly perceived as facts verified by observation. Many faithful Orthodox fear ridicule by secularists and they prefer to have a “prudent” attitude. You can take a look at the discussions proving my point above here: Some Thoughts on Atheism – January 4, 2011 – by Fr. Johannes Jacobse

    Let us wait for the people here to notice this discussion. They are now busy with the latest event in the Orthodox Church in America concerning His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH. I believe it is better and more interesting to discuss it here than through e-mails.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    I’ve been reading Genesis this week and one thing is quite clear: everything is created and procreates after its own kind.

    The unique word of God does not morph from one thing into another. Clearly, also, is the different process that God uses in the creation of human beings. We are set apart. Only we are made for communion with each other and with God.

    Any statement of evolution that does not recognize these unambiguous realities is flawed.

    Clearly, too, God’s word is not static, resisted or limited in time.

    Also any statement on evolution that does not fully take into account the difference (ontologically and physically) that our entrance into sin caused, is flawed. We descended toward the animal rather than asending toward God. In that sense the pre-existence of corruption in the rest of creation prior to our sin makes a lot of sense. Although there is one question: originally even the animals were given plants to eat, not each other. What does that say about the nature of the creation pre-fall and post fall?

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      The fundamental idea behind evolution is this: since man is considered to come from animals, we are in their likeness. Therefore, we ought to behave like animals and become like animals. So,we became thoughtless, reckless and indifferent about our salvation as the lower animals.

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      hexaimeron says:

      Michael!

      “In that sense the pre-existence of corruption in the rest of creation prior to our sin makes a lot of sense”. Sorry to say that, but since we still are in the first week of Great Lent, and this is the best time for catechisms involving Genesis, we are afraid that here might be a big mistake! If we look carefully both in Scripture and Fathers, and in the end, use sound thinking too, there was nor corruption neither death in creation prior to human – Adam and Eve – sin. Even if there was vegetarian food, fruits, leaves, a.s.o., – both humans and creatures had these as nourishment, – this doesn’t mean at all corruption and death! Everything created directly by God Himself was perfect, without corruption of any kind and at any level. Corruption and death came for sure after the original sin. Forgive us!

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    Lucky says:

    Michael,

    you should read

    http://www.hexaimeron.ro/Hexaimeron/Facerea_en.htmlHow to read Genesis, fundamental principles, by Hieromonk Seraphim Rose

    Are clearly explained the six days of creation and patristic exegesis. You will find many answers to your questions

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