Saints, Holy Elders, and Theologians Who Have Lived Since Darwin
— Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow, editor’s preface to Pravoslavnoye osmysleniye tvoreniya mira I sovremennaya nauka, vol. 4 (2008), p. 3
A polarity of worldviews poses the task today of introducing students to a wide range of views on fundamental questions. Such questions traditionally refer to the problems of the origin of life, the origin of the universe, and the appearance of man. And no harm will be done to a schoolboy if he knows the Biblical theory of the origin of the world. Man’s realization that he is the crown of God’s creation will only elevate him; if someone wants to think that he has descended from apes, let him think that way, but let him not thrust it on someone else.
— St. Ambrose of Optina, Sovety suprugam I roditelyam (Counsels to spouses and parents) (2009)
Don’t believe at face value all kinds of nonsense without investigation: that something can come into being [of itself] from dust, and that people used to be apes.
— Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit, pg. 60
With the prayer man becomes like a child. It brings him back to the simplicity and innocence that Adam had in Paradise before the fall. With the prayer one acquires blessed, holy dispassion
—Fr. Artemy Vladimirov, English-language tea, Mosocw, May 19, 2016
Speaking about going into Church on Holy Saturday night as a young boy, with no idea what was going on, and being recruited to serve in the altar, Fr. Artemy Vladimirov said:
Shaking like a leaf, I put on the garment, and it was quite suitable for me, covering even my mouth, and I was put in line by an altar boy, and these clothes were so similar to that of angels sitting on the tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ who the disciples of the Lord thought were young men. I felt like an angelic being, and all my thoughts and feelings were there. It was something unbelievable. It seemed to me that I was flying.
But my outlook had been so impacted by school where they used to tell that people have a common origin with apes, and we believed it. This was the Soviet style of thinking. This lie, this ugly, ugly outlook that was pressed into our hearts was still present in our section of the world, and I remember standing there and looking at myself and feeling bliss in my heart, and at that very moment I realized that we have nothing in common with apes. It was not a philosophical process in my brain, but it was a revelation to the heart.
Oh, how ugly this lie is. Now I know, I feel and understand and believe that we have nothing in common with animals. Certainly we are created by the hands of our Lord, because the human being is so close to angels, which I realized as I began to understand the words of the procession: “They Resurrection O Christ our Savior, the angels in Heaven sing, enable us on earth, to glorify Thee in purity of heart.” When I began to understand the meaning of the words all the remnants of this ape philosophy disappeared and thus I began to think, feel, see, and perceive the world as an Orthodox Christian.
My main point is that it was not a logical process of finding the Christian philosophy, but it was certainly a catharsis. I was delivered from this lie, but not just from thinking logically about evolution and creation, but it was the heart’s perception of revelation which was the fruit of my participating in the Paschal services.
— St. Barsanuphius of Optina, Elder Barsanuphius of Optina, pg. 280
Look – what a picture! … This is left to us as a consolation. It’s no wonder that the Prophet David said, “Thou hast gladdened me, O Lord, by Thy works” (Ps. 91:3). “Thou hast gladdened me,” he says, this is only a hint of that wondrous beauty, incomprehensible to human thought, which was originally created. We don’t know what kind of moon there was then, what kind of sun, what kind of light . . . All of this changed after the fall.
Elder Barsanuphius of Optina, pg. 468
The beautiful things of this world are only hints of that beauty with which the first-created world was filled, as Adam and Eve saw it. That beauty was destroyed by the sin of the first people . . . Thus also did the fall into sin of the first people destroy the beauty of God’s world, and there remain to us only fragments of it by which we may judge concerning the primordial beauty.
Elder Barsanuphius of Optina, pg. 488 (St. Herman’s Press)
The English philosopher Darwin created an entire system according to which life is a struggle for existence, a struggle of the strong against the weak, where those that are conquered are doomed to destruction and the conquerors are triumphant. This is already the beginning of a bestial philosophy, and those who come to believe in it wouldn’t think twice about killing a man, assaulting a woman, or robbing their closest friend — and they would do all this calmly, with a full recognition of their right to commit these crimes.
— Fr. Constantine Bufeyev (Moscow priest, doctor of geology and mineralogy, founder of Shestodnev), editor’s preface to Pravoslavnoye osmysleniye tvoreniya mira I sovremennaya nauka, vol. 4 (2008), p. 5
In the work of the Shestodnev center, we have always set down as a principle to base ourselves, in the realm of science, only on trustworthy and verified facts. In theology we prefer to use primarily Patristic sources, and allow no departure from dogmatic Orthodox teachings. In this we are trying to be continuers of the work of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) of blessed memory, who, it seems to us, has set forth the only right direction in the theological interpretation of the problems posed by the modern unchurched world.
— Elder Cleopa, Elder Cleopa of Sihastria by Archimandrite Ioanichie Balan (New Varatec Publishing 2001), pg. 154
The Savior Christ came, not only to teach us what we need to do, but to endure suffering, ridicule, spitting, beating and death upon the Cross for us, so that He would deliver the race of Adam from hades where they had stayed for 5508 years from the time of the first Adam till the coming of the new Adam – Christ. (this date of 5508 is taken from the Byzantine Creation Era calendar which says that the world was created in 5508 BC — here is the Wiki article about this calendar http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Byzantine_Creation_Era)
–Hieromartyr Fr. Daniel Sysoev: Chronicle of the Beginning (1999): deals with bost theological and scientific issues related to the doctrine of creation
The Hexameron vs. Evolution, edited by Deacon Daniel Sysoev (2000): anthology of articles by Fr. Constantine Bufeyev, Fr. Daniel Sysoev, and other authors.
“Who is Like God?” or, How Long Did a Day of Creation Last? (2003): A theological investigation of creation and evolution, and an analysis of the attempts to reconcile them. Contains many Patristic citations, from the first to the twentieth centuries, on the Six days of creation.
— Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: Vol. 2: The World: Creation and Deification, pg. 1
The economy of God, that is, his plan with regard to the world, consists in the deification of the created world, something which, as a consequence of sin, implies also its salvation. The salvation and the deification of the world presuppose, as primal divine act, its creation. Salvation and deification undoubtedly have humanity directly as their aim but not a humanity separated from nature, rather one that is ontologically united with it. For nature depends on man or makes him whole, and man cannot reach perfection if he does not reflect nature and is not at work upon it. Thus by ‘world” both nature and humanity are understood; or when the word “world” is used to indicate one of these realities, the other is always implied as well.
The successive appearance of other humans from the first human is no longer a creation like that in the beginning, for all remains on the same plane.
— Archimandrite Ephraim of Vatopaidi, Creation and the End of Ages, http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/12/creation-and-end-of-ages.html
The Lord first created the spiritual, invisible world, which includes the myriads of angels and then the material world, which became visible through His Word. Finally, He created man, the crown of creation, who as St John of Damascus says, is made of visible and invisible substance. For this reason St Gregory Palamas describes man as “the major in a small world”.
… Human nature was not created by command like the rest of the visible and invisible creation where the Lord “spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:9). In order to create man all three Persons of the Holy Trinity came together and said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Thus the Lord and Creator Himself took dust from the ground and created the body and breathed into his nostrils ‘the breath of life’, namely divine Grace, His uncreated deifying energies.
… According to Christian anthropology, Adam, the first man, having been placed in Paradise, was given the command to ‘work and keep it’ and govern over the entire material creation ‘freely’. In order to preserve the necessary reliance on the Lord- Creator, man was issued with a prohibition; namely not to eat from a certain fruit, in order to test his free will. Adam, being free, did not keep this command and as theology says ‘the forefathers sinned’ or ‘fell’.
… After the fall, the forefathers, Adam and Eve, ‘were clothed with garments of skins’ (Genesis 3:21); namely with corruption, mortality and with the blameless passions: hunger, thirst, sleep and pain. The powers of their soul were also diffused.
… The fall of man, who was the ‘crown of creation’, has caused the fall of the entire creation which “has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8″22). This explains the main teaching of our Church, which views the creation as a whole, which is being guided towards perfection and deification; man and nature together. Man and nature are not distinct in the design of the creation. Therefore man has a duty to maintain a good relationship with the rest of the creation. The fact that man remains in the fallen condition perilously prolongs the world enduring in the same condition. Thus man contributes to the perversion and degradation of nature. Therefore, the fall has not only distorted man existentially and morally but also his very same environment.
… In His Second Coming, Christ will not only restore human nature but the entire creation. Since the rest of the creation fell because of man, it will be regenerated by the sanctified man. When man attains sanctification, his surrounding environment is also sanctified. We find many such examples in the lives of the saints. A lion was attending the needs of St Gerasimos of Jordan; St Seraphim of Sarov was feeding a bear as if it was a tame lamb; Elder Paisios the Hagiorite was known to be keeping company with snakes and other wild animals.
Along with the resurrection and regeneration of man, nature will also be absolved of corruption. According to St Symeon the New Theologian, nature will become non-material and eternal. “During the regeneration, nature will become a non-material abode, beyond human perception” (St Symeon The New Theologian: Moral Issues, 1, 5).
— St. Gabriel Igoshkin (hieroconfessor), Lives of the 20th Century Russian New Martyrs and Confessors of the Moscow Diocese: Sept-Oct) (2003) (by Met. Juvenaly of Krutitsa and Kolomena),
Accused by Soviets of ignoring science: “That is not true. I love science. I have studied all my life and advise others to study, for knowledge is light and ignorance is darkness … [but] about the creation of life on earth and man I have said that it is as it is written in the Holy Scriptures, and I cannot say otherwise.”
– Fr. George Calciu, Christ is Calling You!, pg. 26
You have been told that you descend from apes, that you are a beast which must be trained; but now you discover an astonishing thing: that you are the temple of God, and in you dwells the Spirit of God. You are being called, young friend, back to your dignity as a metaphysical being; you are raised up from the low place in which false education has sunk you to the sacred office of being the temple in which God dwells.
Tell me, young man, how much have you believed the statements which you have heard repeatedly to the point of obsession – at school, on the radio, on television, in the newspapers and at young people’s meetings – that you descend from apes? And how honored did this revelation make you feel? Noam Chomsky has said that the most stupid human beings can learn to speak, but the most intelligent ape has never reached such a height of achievement.
And now, behold, a voice from heaven addresses you: “You are my son!” And again, the voice confirms it for you, as it did before for Jesus when He lived in the world, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again (cf. John 12:28).
You are heaven and earth; darkness and light; sin and grace. I know, friend, that you are tortured by questions concerning the meaning of your life in this world, and on the purpose of the world in general. Do the ready-made authoritarian statements in answer to your limited question satisfy you: namely that “heaven is fiction, matter is everything, and it is matter speaking to you through your internal and external senses”? Matter organized its own structure and evolution by certain laws of great complexity before even the slightest rudiment of the human brain was formed. Thus once the higher brain of man appeared – the only means by which matter organizes itself – it could no longer recognize itself. And from that time until now human intelligence has been struggling in a sterile and vain effort to discover the laws which heedless matter fixed in a period when there was nothing but darkness and unconsciousness!
What do you think of this game of non-intelligence which annuls all human intelligence, even that of the collective one? Do you not see that the most elementary logic obliges you to admit the presence of an intelligence outside the world?
But I call you to a much higher flight; to total abandonment; to an act of courage which defies reason. I call you to God. I call you to the One that transcends the world so that you might know an infinite heaven of spiritual joy, the heaven which you presently grope for in your personal hell and which you seek even while in a state of unplanned revolt.
This heaven, with its divine hierarchy and its divine light gradually descending only to return to its source which is God, does not count us in twos or fives or tens. For, my friend, in the eyes of heaven you are not a piece in a machine which drives you around; in the eyes of heaven you are a soul, a whole being, so free in your actions, so priceless in your worth, that God Himself, in the guise of the Second Person of the Trinity, came into the world to be crucified for you.
How ridiculous it seems to you now – the curse of the poet who believed so much in heaven that he needed to have a chorus of children to hide behind as a shield! Do not believe, my friend, in the all-powerful nature of matter. This earth is finite. We can destroy matter in minutes through fission and achieve oblivion if we do not admit the presence of God. The absolute claims of materialism are supported on a limited premise. You realize that the attributes of matter – such as infinity, eternity, and self-creation – are purely spiritual notions. To deny the existence of heaven is to deny all existence which does not fall into the orbit of my feelings. To deny the spirit means to admit that, for those moments when I close my eyes or block my ears, the world becomes non-existent.
pg. 152, 154-155,
I read in the newspapers just a few days ago that the Pope made a statement – did you read it?
That he believes in the theory of evolution.
Yes. He tried to justify his statement by saying that only the soul of man is made by God. But until the appearance of man – what did God do – did He sleep? When did He start to make the soul of man and why? If you accept that the body of man and the body of animals are not created by God, that they are the result of evolution, then why did God begin to make the soul of man? . . . And now he is speaking about evolution – limiting God to a being that could only make a soul from time to time. I think he is in the hands of freemasonry. I cannot explain it otherwise. Either that or he has lost his mind.
There was a professor of Apologetics at the seminary. He said that now is the time for science to be in accord with theology – not theology with science. And that is right! We have discovered many things, and all these things induce us to accept that energy comes before matter – spirit before matter. And the Pope says that God has no role in the creation of the world? That matter created itself without having any brain to organize the laws of the universe? And now human beings, who do have brains, are unable to discover the laws of the universe made by matter without a brain? And God only created the soul of a man? If we accept the theory of evolution as the Pope said we should, it would mean accepting that in the beginning was a cell, and only afterwards a man. When, then, did God decide to give man a soul? To Neanderthal man or to modern man? Thus it is absolutely stupid for a Pope to say a thing like that.
Well, there are even many Catholics and other Christians who are “pro-choice” – who are supporting the slaughter of unborn babies. They just do not see this fight between God and the devil that you have spoken of.
What is surprising to me is that more and more the church sides with the devil in this fight. If the Pope now supports the devil, what will happen to the souls of the millions of Catholics? Until now, some bishops have supported evolution, but there had been no decision with the synaxis of bishops saying: yes, evolution is right. But the Pope has said it? For this reason I suppose that he is, to a certain extent, in the hands of Masonry. He is very inclined toward the Catholic worldly empire; he travels often. He tries to make the church stronger, but he completely forgets the spiritual life.
— Dr. George Mantzaridis, Universality and Monasticism, foreword to Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit, p. 27
The fall into sin destroyed man internally and divided the human race into egocentric individuals. Man’s distancing from the source of life, God, killed him and estranged him from his neighbor and from the world. Man’s subjection to the law of decay and death left him egocentric and selfish. In this way, the unity of humanity was undermined at its base and division became the rule.
— Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, Prologue for the English Edition of Counsels from the Holy Mountain – Elder Ephraim
I thank God that his book is now translated into English, because I believe that it will give another perspective to those who desire their rebirth in Christ and want to overcome the great problems that torment man today: death and the duality of pleasure and pain.
The Twelve Feasts of the Lord 7:17
The Fathers, speaking of the Transfiguration of Christ and the partaking of divine glory, speak of the personal ascent on the mount of the vision of God. It is the constant cry of the Church: “Make Thine everlasting light shine forth also upon us sinners.” And in a related prayer in the first hour we feel the need to ask Christ: “O Christ, the true Light, which illumineth and sanctifieth every man who cometh in the world! Let the light of Thy countenance be shown upon us, that in it we may behold the light ineffable.” Continual ascent and evolution are needed.
In the Church we speak of man’s evolution, not from ape to man, but from man to God. And this “ecclesiastical theory” of evolution which the Church has, gives an understanding of life and satisfies all of man’s inner and existential anxieties.
St. Maximus the Confessor teaches that Christ is not shown to all in the same way, but to beginners he is shown in the form of a servant, while to those who are ascending the mountain of the vision of God He is shown “in the form of God”.
— Met. Hilarion Alfeyev, interview by Dmitry Didrov and Dmitry Gubin, Temporarily Open, ATV, May 1, 2009 [in Russian]
Darwin’s theory contradicts Biblical revelation, because this theory proposes to us … that man developed from some kind of animal state by way of gradual evolution to the point that people have reached now. The Biblical picture is quite different. The Bible states that God created man perfect, and that the imperfection of today’s human life is bound up first of all with sin.
— St. Hilarion Troitsky (Abp. of Verey, heiromartyr), The Incarnation and Humility, in Moscow Church Herald 1913, nos. 51-52, reprint in There is no Christianity Without the Church (2007), p. 349
Through the misuse of his freedom man has so corrupted his nature that he is only left to cry out: “Wretched man am I, poor me! I cannot save myself.” We require a new creation, we need an infusion of a new energy of grace. This is precisely what all mankind should say in order to believe in the incarnate Son of God. Such a humble admission, such a lowly confession of one’s frailness, of one’s guilt before God’s handiwork – is this in the spirit of the modern man? On the contrary, the contemporary conscience is saturated with the idea of evolution, the idea of progress, i.e., the very idea that nourishes human pride. Christianity demands a humble conscience. There was perfect Adam, my forefather; and I, mankind, have only been involved in sin and corruption. The Church calls us to humility when she calls Adam our ancestor. But evolution? Descent from a monkey? No matter how modestly someone may judge himself, still he cannot avoid thinking with some pride: at least I am not a monkey, at least some progress has been realized in me. This is how evolution, by calling a monkey our ancestor, feeds our pride. If a monkey is our benchmark then one can pride oneself in progress, but if we compare ourselves to the sinless Adam, this external progress will lose its value. The external progress is at the same time a refinement of sin. If humanity is moving forward in its development, then we can rely on ourselves. We can create ourselves. But the Church says the opposite. “We could not become incorrupt and immortal if the Incorruptible and Immortal One had not first become what we are now.” To believe in the Incarnation means to confess that without God all of mankind is nothing.
The Church through the ages carries the ideal of deification. This is a very high ideal and it demands much from man. It is unthinkable without the Incarnation; it forces man to first of all be humbled. Humanity rejects this high ideal and it no longer needs the Incarnation of the Son of God. An infinitely lowered ideal of life allows mankind to speak about progress; it gives it the opportunity to feel proud about its achievements. Precisely these two thought-patterns comprise the two worldviews: the ecclesiastical and the secular. The ecclesiastical: the descent of perfect Adam, the fall, the need for the Incarnation – humility. The secular: the ascent from the monkey, progress, the needlessness and denial of the Incarnation – pride.
— St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, Homily on Man
The earth, created, adorned, blessed by God, did not have any deficiencies. It was overflowing with refinement. “God saw,” after the completion of the whole creation of the world, “everything that He had made: and, behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31). Now the earth is presented to our eyes in a completely different look. We do not know her condition in holy virginity; we know her in the condition of corruption and accursedness, we know her already sentenced to burning; she was created for eternity. . . . Plants were not subjected either to decay or to diseases; both decay and diseases and the weeds themselves, appeared after the alteration of the earth following the fall of man . . . According to its creation, there was on it only the splendid, only the wholesome, there was only that which was suitable for the immortal and blessed life of its inhabitants . . . The beasts and other animals lived in perfect harmony among themselves, nourishing themselves on plant life.
— I. M. Kontzevitch, The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit (1996), pp. 31-32
Before his fall, Adam was inwardly collected by the divine grace inherent in him and he was creatively aspiring to reach God through perfect love for Him and conformance to His divine will. He was wholly immersed in contemplation of God and in communion with God. All manifestations of the triune nature of man (i.e. the spirit, the soul and the body) harmoniously unified in him, hierarchically submitted to the highest principle within man – to his spirit. The spirit ruled over all aspects of human nature, directing them towards the single highest purpose. The first man was wholly filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit and emanated light, like St. Seraphim during his conversation with Moto- (p. 32)vilov. The elements of the world were unable to harm man and he was immortal. Sin, the sting of death, introduced the poison of disintegration and corruption into the nature of man. Divine grace, which had until then protected and integrated him, now abandoned him. All the energies of his soul were now in the state of confusion and contradiction. The flesh rebelled against the spirit – the slave against his master. Thus, the order of man’s soul became distorted, and there appeared a confused human being, the man of sin. Passion is not something new, brought in from without, but a redirection of former qualities and abilities from what is proper to what is wrong. Thus, the highest manifestation of the spirit, its ability to aspire to the most holy, towards God, upon the loss of communion with the Divine, turned downwards and exchanged these aspirations for the love of oneself and all things lowly and created.
— Ioan Vladuca, About Evolutionism, http://www.sfaturiortodoxe.ro/orthodox/orthodox_advices_science_religions.htm
The atheist evolutionism is the hypothesis that states that the species of animals turned one into another, from the first unicellular to the monkey and human being, in billions of years, through accidental processes; it also states that the species of plants evolved from unicellular forms to the plants with flowers. The evolutionism comes from the ancient pagan believes.
In the Sumerian mythology, men and gods appeared out from the mixture of sweet water and salt water.
Anaximandre (610-546 a. Chr.) believed that the animals appeared from the sea, due to the sun warmth: that at the beginning they were covered by a thorn crust they lost.
According to Empedocle (483-423a. Chr.), life was born from the heated silt from which came out segments of living beings, isolated members, eyes lacking the head, etc. he believed that the living beings were obtained from the random associations of those segments.
Democrite (460-370 A. Chr.) considered that man was leavened, like a wormlig, out of silt.
Aristotle (384-322 a.Chr.) considered that there was a spontaneous transition from unliving to living through intermediary elements. He also thought that plants are intermediary links between lifeless objects and animals.
Teophrast of Eresos (370-287 a. Chr.) believed that plants can spontaneously metamorphosis.
Lucretiu (98-55a. Chr.) stated that species appeared from the accidental mixture of some elements.
Albertus Magnus (1193-1280) was convinced that plants can pass from one species to another under the influence of the soil, of the nourishment, of the grafting. He believed that barley can turn into wheat, and the oak into vineyard.
The medieval philosophers tried to obtain mice out of wheat flour and dirty rags.
Buffon (1707-1788) supposed that out of rotten stuff can be born tape worms, caterpillars, beetles and lice.
Diderot (1713-1784) believed that the living creatures appear spontaneously by accidental chemical combinations.
Lamark (1744-1829) considered that the living beings appeared spontaneously and then they evolved from simple to complex.
Cabanis (1757-1808) thought that the matter in motion may generate forms of life.
Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), Charles Darwin’ grandfather, also thought that life appeared spontaneously. He also believed that living creature evolved due to their wish and their efforts of will. In those times many people were convinced that animals with teeth appeared out of those without teeth because of their wish to chew the food. In this context was formed (that is to say deformed) Charles Darwin’ outlook., considered as “the father of the evolutionism”. He believed that man comes from a hairy mammalian, with tail and sharp ears, living in trees. Charles Darwin used his theory to explain the progress of the society. He considered that the fight for the existence has a decisive role. That is why, indignant at the concern that people showed for the sick men, he stated that “anyone who dealt with the reproduction of the domestic animals knows, with no shadow of a doubt, how harming can be this perpetuation of the weakly beings”. Both the communists and the capitalists developed this conception because of political and economical interests.
All the strange ideas, presented above are to be found nowadays in the evolutionary biology taught in schools, secondary schools and universities. Pupils are taught that ” the living matter is the result of evolution, in certain conditions, of the lifeless matter” and that “life is a step superior in point of quality in the evolution of the forms of motion of the matter”. They are also told that life appeared spontaneously, in the aquatic medium, through accidental chemical combinations, in the presence of the sun light. Pupils are taught that plants and animals evolved from unicellular to pluricellular, from inferior to superior. Fish are said to have turned into amphibians, amphibians into reptiles, reptiles into birds and mammalians, from monkey to man. In the 12th grade pupils learn that ” the species of hominides lost the fur-coat proper to the monkey, becoming a nude monkey”.
Graver than the atheist biologists’ statements are those of some contemporary philosophers with theological pretensions. these ones believing that the theory of the evolutionism is correct, hurried to interpret it theologically, mixing it with the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Thus, they came to the conclusion that Adam had animal ancestors, that man comes from blessing from a mammalian, etc. in this way appeared the theist evolutionism, used by the New Age.
— Schema-Abbot John (Alekseyev), Elder of Valaam, Letters of the Valaam Elder Schema-Abbot John, 1996, pp. 86-87
An academy student and missionary said to me that by God’s creation in days one must understand millions of years. You poor missionary – you represent the omnipotent Creator as being very weak and attribute millions of years to Him. That’s how your reason speaks, but I believe that, as the Lord said, “And the evening and the morning were the first day,” one must understand days and not millions of years. For the Lord said, “And it was so.” With a word He divided the water from the land, and the water, with a noise, stood in its indicated places: there were seas, the rivers and streams began to flow, and across the whole earth there were warm waters and cold springs. The Lord said, “Let there be forests,” and there were forests across the whole earth in perfect form – one kind in the north, and another kind in the south – and then they began to gradually grow. So also the birds were created by God’s word: they immediately flew across the whole earth and were of various kinds; and all the rest of creation, as it is said in the Bible. The more I consider nature, the more I am amazed and come to know the omnipotence of the Creator.
— St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ
“The Holy Scriptures speak more truly and more clearly of the world than the world itself or the arrangement of the earthly strata; the scriptures of nature within it, being dead and voiceless, cannot express anything definite. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Were you with God when He created the universe? “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counseller, hath taught Him?” And yet you geologists boast that you have understood the mind of the Lord, in the arrangement of strata, and maintained it in spite of Holy Writ! You believe more in the dead letters of the earthly strata, in the soulless earth, than in the Divinely-inspired words of the great prophet Moses, who saw God.”
When you doubt the truth of any person or event described in Holy Scripture, then remember that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as the Apostle says and is therefore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales, although it includes parables, which everyone can see are not true narratives, but are written in figurative language. The whole of the word of God is single, entire, indivisible truth; and if you admit that any narrative, sentence, or word is untrue, then you sin against the truth of the whole of Holy Scripture and its primordial truth, which is God Himself. “I am the truth,” said the Lord; “Thy word is truth,” said Jesus Christ to God the Father. Thus, consider the whole of the Holy Scripture as truth; everything that is said in it has either taken place or takes place.
p. 95 (1971)
The human race is one great tree of God; spreading and growing over the whole earth, and covering the whole earth with its branches. To the original rotten root – fallen Adam – God in His great wisdom and mercy has grafted a new living root – the Lord Jesus Christ – from Whom Christians derive their origin, as a shoot from the whole tree . . . Heathens are the unregenerate, inanimate shoot coming from the rotten root – Adam.
p. 269 (1971)
God is inexhaustible in His gifts to men. During already 7403 years He abundantly feeds all creatures.
Why did not the Almighty create the world at once, but in six days? In order to teach man by deeds to perform his work gradually, not hurriedly, but with consideration. If you pray, pray without hurrying; if you read the Gospel, or, in general, any religious or worldly books, do not read them hurriedly, but read with consideration and with a true view of the material. If you are learning a lesson, do not hurry to finish it quickly, but penetrate into the subject deeply and consider it well. If you are doing work, do it without hurrying, with consideration quietly. Even the world was not created instantaneously but in six days. The Lord shows us an example in everything; let us follow His steps.
My Life in Christ, qtd. in Orthodox Word no. 2, p. 54
Before his fall Adam was entirely concentrated interiorly by the Divine grace present in him and turned in his creative activity toward God in perfect love for Him and in fulfillment of His Divine will. He was entirely in a state of communion with and contemplation of God. In him all manifestation of the tripartite composition of the human being (i.e., spirit, soul, and body) were harmoniously united and hierarchically subordinated to the higher principle in man – his spirit. The spirit ruled over all, turning all toward a single higher aim. The first-created man was entirely penetrated with the grace of the Holy Spirit and entirely illuminated. The elements of the world could not harm man, and he was immortal.
Novyye groznye slova (New stern sermons) (1908), p. 13, 91
Half-educated people and over-educated people do not believe in a personal, righteous, omnipotent, and unoriginate God, but believe in an impersonal origin and in some kind of evolution of the world and all beings … and therefore they live and act as thought they will not have to give an answer to anyone for their words and deeds, making gods of themselves, their reason, and their passions … In their blindness they reach the point of insanity, deny the very existence of God, and maintain that everything stems from blind evolution (the teaching that everything comes into being of itself, without the participation of a Creative power). But he who has an intellect does not believe in such insane ravings.
— Fr. John Romanides, Original Sin According to St. Paul (http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/frjr_sin.aspx)
St. Paul strongly affirms the belief that all things created by God are good. Yet, at the same time, he insists on the fact that not only man, but also all of creation has fallen.Both man and creation are awaiting the final redemption. Thus, in spite of the fact that all things created by God are good, the devil has temporarily become the “god of this age.” A basic presupposition of St. Paul’s thought is that although the world was created by God and as such is good, yet now there rules in it the power of Satan. The devil, however, is by no means absolute, since God has never abandoned His creation.
Thus, according to St. Paul, creation as it is is not what God intended it to be—”For the creature was made subject to vanity…by reason of him who hath subjected the same.” Therefore, evil can exist, at least temporarily, as a parasitic element alongside and inside of that which God created originally good. A good example of this is one who would do the Good according to the “inner man,” but finds it impossible because of the indwelling power of sin in the flesh. Although created good and still maintained and governed by God, creation as it is is still far from being normal or natural, if by “normal” we understand nature according to the original and final destiny of creation. governing this age, in spite of the fact that God Himself is still sustaining creation and creating for Himself a remnant, is the devil himself.
To try to read into St. Paul’s thought any type of philosophy of a naturally well balanced universe with inherent and fixed moral laws of reason, according to which men can live with peace of mind and be happy, is to do violence to the apostle’s faith. For St. Paul, there is now no such thing as a natural world with an inherent system of moral laws, because all of creation has been subjected to the vanity and evil power of Satan, who is ruling by the powers of death and corruption
. . . It is he [Satan] who led man and all of creation into the path of death and corruption. The power of death and corruption, according to Paul, is not negative, but on the contrary, positively active. “The sting of death is sin,” which in turn reigns in death. Not only man, but all creation has been yoked under its tyrannizing power and is now awaiting redemption. Creation itself shall also be delivered from the slavery of corruption. Along with the final destruction of all the enemies of God, death—the last and probably the greatest enemy—will be destroyed. Then death will be swallowed up in victory. For St. Paul, the destruction of death is parallel to the destruction of the devil and his forces. Salvation from the one is salvation from the other.
. . . In spite of the fact that creation is of God and essentially good, the devil at the same time has parasitically transformed this same creation of God into a temporary kingdom for himself. The devil, death, and sin are reigning in this world and not in another. Both the kingdom of darkness and kingdom of light are battling hand to hand in the same place. For this reason, the only true victory possible over the devil is the resurrection of the dead. There is no escape from the battlefield. The only choice possible for every man is either to fight the devil by actively sharing in the victory of Christ, or to accept the deceptions of the devil by wanting to believe that all goes well and everything is normal.
. . . On the other hand, it is a grave mistake to make the justice of God responsible for death and corruption. Nowhere does Paul attribute the beginnings of death and corruption to God. On the contrary, nature was subjected to vanity and corruption by the devil, who through the sin and death of the first man managed to lodge himself parasitically within creation, of which he was already a part but at first not yet its tyrant. For Paul, the transgression of the first man opened the way for the entrance of death into the world, but this enemy is certainly not the finished product of God. Neither can the death of Adam, or even of each man, be considered the outcome of any decision of God to punish. St. Paul never suggests such an idea.
. . . St. Paul claims that death is the enemy which came into the world and passed unto all men through the sin of one man. Not only many, but all of creation became subject to corruption. The subjugation of man and creation to the power of the devil and death was obviously a temporary frustration of the original destiny of man and creation. It is false to read into Paul’s statements about the first and second Adams the idea that Adam would have died even though he had not sinned, simply because the first Adam was made eis psychen zosan—which expression, according to St. Paul’s usage within the context, clearly means mortal. Adam could very well have been created not naturally immortal, but if he had not sinned there is no reason to believe that he would not have become immortal by nature. This is certainly implied by the extraordinary powers St. Paul attributes to death and corruption.
The Ancestral Sin, p. 41-42
When philosophical systems try to explain the phenomena of things and the presence of evil in them on the basis of what is known about nature, it is absolutely natural for them to confuse the idea of the creation of mater with its fall. If we begin with philosophical and scientific observations of the material world, it is logically impossible to arrive at a distinction between the creation of the world and its fall. Quite simply, this is because the reality before our eyes presents nature as it is now, after the fall … Philosophy is unable to bridge [its] dualism between matter and reality because it is impossible for natural man to distinguish between the wholly positive creation of the world and the fall of the world. Man cannot know this division except by revelation.
The dualism of matter and reality is largely based on the idea that death is both a natural and phenomenal fact since matter and the material world in general are without permanent reality, something that belongs to a different dimension. In contrast to the philosophical method, through the divine revelation given to the Prophets, the special people of God learned to distinguish clearly between the world’s creation and the world’s fall, as well as between the present age, which is under the sway of the devil and death, and the future age of the resurrection and the incorruptibility of matter.
— Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Monastic Wisdom, p. 50
This is truly the sickness that plagues us men of the eighth millennium: we fail to recognize one another’s gifts.
No one loves you more than I do, nor does anyone dare to tell you the plain truth, if he sees it. From all those people you have met until now, you have heard only flattery, trickery, and the teachings of the eighth millennium—everything false and commonplace. Whereas you, as a tender little shoot, need spiritual wisdom and the plain truth.
But He does not send angels to help him, because the nature of men of the eighth millennium cannot endure it, nor does He give him His grace when he is alone, as in the beginning, so that he cannot say that he was given grace because of his own patience and struggle.
An Athonite Gerontikon: Sayings of the Holy Fathers of Mount Athos (Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas, 1997), p. 329,
Once when a certain theologian came near Elder Joseph the Cave-dweller, the elder sensed a bad odour. He brought it to the man’s attention, admonishing him to go and make his confession. As a result, it became clear that the cause of the odour was the theologian’s misguided belief in Darwin’s theory of the evolution of mankind.
My Elder Joseph the Hesychast pp. 348-349, by Elder Ephraim of Philotheou
With our own eyes we witnessed many instances of his gift of clairvoyance. Once, when Geronda was still at St. Basil’s Skete, he met a layman near the skete’s main church. Geronda approached him and said, “You are making some serious mistake.”
“What mistake?” the layman asked.
“I don’t know,” Geronda replied, “but you are definitely making some serious mistake.”
“Can’t we figure out what it is?”
“Right now in the daytime we can’t figure it out. But if you like, come down to my place at night.”
“All right, Geronda; I’ll come after midnight.”
After midnight, the layman went and met with Geronda. They began discussing things, and it turned out that this layman, even though he had a degree in theology, had written an entire book supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution!
Geronda said to him: “When you present a theory or an opinion, why don’t you draw from the writings of the holy Fathers and Orthodox theologians rather than heretics who aren’t even Christian! A theory or viewpoint becomes fortified when it is confirmed y the Bible or by the holy Fathers of the Church. You will not be welcome here in my hut until you renounce that theory.”
The theologian acknowledged that he had an incorrect viewpoint with this theory and he asked Geronda to tell him how he had recognized it. Geronda answered, “When I approached you yesterday, a stench was coming out of you, and this made me realize that you have made some grave error.” When it came to matters of the faith, Geronda tolerated no deviations.
— St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox faith and life in Christ, pg. 192-193, quoting St. Nikolai of Zicha:
Critiquing Europe as secular humanists and ecumenists who have fled far from God, St. Justin writes:
“Christ then asks with sorrow:
How can you people live with only your imperialistic, material interests, that is to say, only with animalistic desires for your bodily appetites? I wanted to make you gods and sons and daughters of God but you go away from Me and try to become like a pack of animals?
To this Europe answers:
You are old-fashioned. In place of your Gospel we discovered biology and zoology. And now we know that we are not descended from You and Your heavenly Father, but from orangutans and gorillas, that is to say, apes. And we are perfectly able to become gods because we do not recognize any other god than ourselves.
To this Christ says:
You are more obstinate than the ancient Jews were. I raised you up from the darkness of barbarism to the heavenly light, but you have gone back to the darkness like a water buffalo goes into the mud. I shed My blood for your sake. I showed My love to you, when all of the Angels turned their faces away from you because they could not stand the smell of hell that came from you. When you were all darkness and smelly, I was the only One Who stayed to clean you and illuminate you. Now stop being unbelievers, because you will only return to tat unbearable darkness and stench again.
To this Europe mockingly shouts:
Get away from us. We do not recognize you. We follow European civilization and culture, and the Greek philosophers. We want to be free. We have universities. Science is the start that guides us. Our slogan is: freedom, brotherhood, equality. And our mind is the god of all gods. You are an Asiatic. And we reject You. You are only an old myth our grandmothers and grandfathers believed in.
With tears in His eyes, Christ says:
Behold now I am leaving, but you will see. You have left God’s road and you are following Satan’s. Blessings and happiness have been taken away from you. Your life is in My hands, because I was crucified for you. And yet in spite of all this I will not punish you, but your own sins and your apostasy from Me your Savior, shall punish you. I revealed the love of My Father to everyone, and with love I wanted to save all of you.
Europe then says:
Love? Our agenda only includes a hardy and manly hatred for everyone who disagrees with us. Our love is only a fable. And in place of this fable we have raised up the flag: of ethnicity, of internationalism, of the state, of progress, of evolution, of trans-oceanism, and of cultism. Our salvation is found in these, so get away from us.
My brothers, the debate ended in our times. Christ went far away from Europe, as He did at one time from the land of the Gadarenes, when the Gadarenes asked Him to.
— On the Divine-Human Path (1980), p. 215-216; also: The God-man Evolution,Found at Mystagogy by John Sanidopoulos http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/04/honest-statements-by-atheists-in.html
You ask me to answer the question, whether the scientific understanding of the evolution of the world and man can coexist with the traditional Orthodox experience and knowledge. Also, you ask, what is the position of the Fathers on this issue, and whether there is a general need for such a coexistence. In a short summary, I write the following:
The anthropology of the New Testament stands or falls on the anthropology of the Old. The entire Gospel of the Old Testament: Man – the image of God! The entire Gospel of the New Testament: the God-man – image of man! Whatever is heavenly, divine, eternal, immortal and unchangeable in humans is the image of God, the godlikeness of man.
This godlikeness of man was assaulted by the voluntary sin of the same, in partnership with the devil, by means of sin and death which stems from the transgression. That is why God became man, in order to restore His corrupt image from sin. That is why He incarnated and lived in the world of man as the God-man, as the Church, to offer the image of God – man – all the necessary means so that this deformed God-formed man can be able in the God-man body of the Church, with the help of Sacred Mysteries and virtues, to mature “to a perfect man, to the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This is the God-man anthropology. The purpose of godlike beings known as humans is one: to become gradually perfect as God the Father, to become a god by grace, to attain theosis, deification, Christification, Trinitification. According to the Holy Fathers, “God became man, that man may become a god” (Athanasius the Great).
But the so-called “scientific” anthropology does not recognize the godlikeness of human existence. With this, they deny the advancement of the God-man evolution of the human being.
If man is not the image of God, then the God-man and His Gospel is something unnatural for such a man, something mechanical and unattainable. Then the God-man Jesus is a robot built by other robots. The God-man becomes a bully because he wants from people, forcibly, to become a perfect being like God. In essence we are talking about a forensic utopia, an illusion and an unattainable “ideal”. In the end, it is reduced to a myth, a narrative.
If man, therefore, is not a godlike being, then the God-man himself is unnecessary because the scientific theories of evolution do not accept sin, nor the Savior from sin. In the secular world of “evolution” everything is natural and there is no room for sin to exist. That is why it is a joke to speak of a Savior and salvation from sin. In the final analysis everything is natural: sin, evil and death. For, if everything in man occurs and is the result of evolution, then there is nothing that needs to be saved in him since nothing is immortal and unchangeable within him, but all is earthly and clay and as such are transient, perishable and perceptible.
In such a world of “evolution” there is no place for the Church, which is the body of the God-man Christ. The theology which again bases itself on the anthropology of the “scientific” theory of evolution is nothing more than a self-negation. In essence it is a theology without God and an anthropology without man. If man is not immortal, eternal and a God-man image of God, then all theologies and all anthropologies are nothing but a silly joke, a tragic comedy.
Orthodox theology and the relationship we have with the Holy Fathers is the way for our ascent to the God-man, the Orthodox All-truth. This is something in need of analysis, and is for those dealing with issues of the gospel on the planet. All the problems of the gospel are essentially focused on the problem of man. And all the problems of man are focused on one issue, that of the God-man. Only the God-man is the universal solution to the enigma called man. Without the God-man and outside of the God-man, man is always – consciously or not – transformed into something sub-human, a human effigy, a superman, a devil-man. Proof and evidence for this? The entire history of mankind.
Pravoslavna Crkva I Ekumenizam (The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism) (1974), pp. 37-38, trans. Benjamin Emmanuel Stanley, p. 25
The infallible Apostle advises and directs Christians: “Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines, for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace” (Heb. 13:9). More often involuntarily than voluntarily, people deceive themselves with their various sciences. They deceive themselves by sin, which has become their intellectual power through habit, and has become so natural and human that it is not felt or recognized by those guided and led by sin in their reasonings and sciences. Through sin we come to the creator of sin, the principal logic of sin: the devil. He has countless and very skillful and subtle ways of infiltrating his lies into the human sciences, alienating men from the only true God. Moreover, he introduces all his wiles by the logic of sin into these human sciences, artfully deceiving men with his blasphemy, so that they, in their self-delusion, deny God, reject God, are blind to God, or fence themselves off from Him.
Commentary on 1 John, http://classicalchristianity.com/2012/10/12/on-love-hate-and-the-origin-of-man/
If a man hates someone, he in reality hates him because he does not see him as a divine creation. He does not recognize him as a being in the image of God; he has not found the path to his soul because he does not have the true light, which would illumine the soul of his brother, whom he hates, and would show him his eternal and immortal side. In this darkness, in this ignorance about man, lives everyone who reduces man to a mortal being, or just to a body or to a descendant of an animal or just a plain animal.
According to the holy Theologian, the commandment of paradise, the proto-commandment, the commandment ap’ arche (from the beginning) is mutual love. This love indicates that man is of God, that mankind is of God, in origin and by his new, spiritual rebirth. If the love of man is lacking, then the real, ontological, and true origin of man cannot be known; and man then wanders in the dark and seeks his origin among animals, elements, and in other things of this world.
— St. Luke of Simferopol, Science and Religion, Trinity Word, 2001, pp. 41-42
Darwinism, which declares that man, by means of evolution, has developed from the lower species of animals, and is not a product of the creative act of the Godhead, has turned out to be merely a supposition, a hypothesis, which has become obsolete even for science. This hypothesis has been acknowledged as contradictory not only to the Bible, but to nature itself, which jealously strives to preserve the purity of each species, and knows of no transition even from a sparrow to a swallow. There are no known facts of a transition of an ape into a man.
— St. Maria Skobtsova, “Types of Religious Life,” Essential Writings, p. 146
How widespread was this kind of ecclesiastical psychology? Certainly, one ought not to imagine that this was the only type of religious consciousness, but without a doubt any other kind would have to be searched for diligently, since the “official” type was so overpowering. This is especially clear if we take into account that alongside such an understanding of ecclesiastical life and religious ways, we developed our own intense form of atheism. These people, as Soloviev accurately observed, laid down their souls for their friends while believing that man evolved from apes. Thus it was possible to find an outlet for love, sacrifice, and heroic deeds outside church walls.
— Archimandrite Naum (elder of Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra), About Paschalia (http://english.ruvr.ru/radio_broadcast/2248514/2315938.html)
God had created the world and time itself out of nothing, and our Saviour chose this very time of creation as the time of renewal, when He suffered and gave the commandment – “This do in remembrance of Me” – to yearly celebrate Easter – the Resurrection of Christ. This creation of the world and the beginning of Being took place in the spring period, in the month of March, 5508 B.C. On Friday, the sixth day of creation at noon, man was created. Of this period, the beginning of the Being of the universe, we read in the Procedural Psalmbook, which contains, apart from psalms, the prayer-book and various service procedures, also the articles of faith and pascal tables:
“The month of March (of holy martyr St.Eudokia), the day having 12 hours and the night having 12 hours. This is the first month among months, for therein was created this visible world of the beginning of Being, and Adam — the first man from God — was created and all creatures for his sake; and introduced to Heaven and, for transgression, banished. In this same month, God, without leaving His Majestic throne, descended from heaven to His love of man, as rain onto fleece, by Archangel’s annunciation in the Pure womb of Holy Virgin Mary through the Holy Ghost incarnated unfathomably, only He knows how. On this day, by voluntary passion of His flesh and by His death, He overcame death and by His radiant Lifegiving Resurrection was Adam and the whole Humankind from hell delivered and to the original state restored, so as to inherit heaven. For this reason, from its first day begin all circles of the sun and moon, and the leap-year, and the equinox are established thereby, etc.”
— St. Nektarios, Sketch Concerning Man (1893), p. 87-88, quoted in Constantine Cavarnos’ Biological Evolutionism, p. 63-65 (or 28-29?)
“The two volumes of the work Philosphie zoologique are in their entirety intended to uphold the degrading evolutionary theory regarding man. The first volume seeks to prove that the human organism evolved from that of an ape, as a result of chance circumstances. And the second volume seeks to prove that the distinctive excellences of the human mind are nothing but an extension of a power which the animals have, differing only in degree. Having weak and badly set foundations . . . Lamarck claims to prove that in earlier times nature produced through marvelous evolution one species from another, earlier one. He seeks to establish a gradual chain having successive (not contemporaneous) links and thus to produce finally the human species through a metamorphosis that is the reverse of the truth, and not less marvelous than the transformations one reads about in myths! . . . the Darwinian theories imagined that they arrived at the solution of the anthropological question by accepting the model of evolution. These theories, not being based on sound foundations, instead of solving the problem rendered it more enigmatic; because they denied the validity of revealed truth, viewed man as belonging to the same order as the irrational animals, denied his spiritual origin and attributed to him a very lowly origin. Their failure had as its chief reason the negation of his lofty origin and of his spiritual nature, which is altogether alien to matter and to the physical world. In general, without the acceptance of revealed truth, man will remain an insoluble problem. The acceptance of this principle is the firm and safe foundation upon which every inquirer about man must base himself. It is from this that he must begin in order to rightly solve the various parts of the question and learn the truth through true science.”
Study concerning the Immortality of the Soul and the Holy Memorial Service (1901), p. 65, quoted in Constantine Cavarnos’ Modern Greek Philosophers on the Human Soul, 2nd Ed. (1987), p. 85
Those who deny the immortality of the soul undermine both the moral law and the foundations of societies, which they want to see collapsing into ruins, in order that they might prove that man is an ape, from which they boast that they are descended.
The Theory of Evolution is Wrong Parts 1-4, http://www.stnektariosmonastery.org/evolution.php
They who reduce man to the ranks of the irrational animals and who liken man’s soul to that of the animals deny the soul’s grandeur, the soul’s unique qualities and spiritual powers, and man’s sublime destiny. They are blind and unable to see the supremacy of the human soul, even though it is apparent through her works and clearly confirmed throughout the centuries. They close their ears to the voice trumpeted by the soul’s powerful achievements. Man’s soul is an exquisite entity that is adorned by divine virtues, which, in turn, sanctify his earthly domain. Man was truly created to sanctify the earth.
Proponents of the theory that man evolved from apes are ignorant of man and his sublime destiny because they deny that man has a soul and refuse that he is capable of experiencing Divine revelation. They rejected the spirit, and the Spirit deserted them. They abandoned God, and God abandoned them. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22). “God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fit” (Rom. 1:28). A certain poet says very appropriately: “When the malicious demons want to harm someone, first they strip a person’s mind of sound reasoning and then persuade him to espouse a corrupt belief, so that man can no longer comprehend that he sins.” This is true because if people were aware of what they were saying, they would not debase themselves or pride themselves on being descendants of the genus of primitive animals. The prophet very fittingly said about them: “Man, being in honor, did not understand; he is compared to the mindless animals, and is become like unto them” (Ps. 48:20).
They who have the audacity to group and compare the survival instincts of animals with the psychological qualities of man demonstrate that they are superficial and purblind because they perceive neither the restricted features of animals, nor the general, free, independent, and infinite character of man…
It is impossible, right from the onset, to compare man to animals because there is an infinite chasm separating the two from each other…They who equate the traits of animals (when taken collectively) to the virtues and qualities of man, or the works and actions of animals to the works and accomplishments of the human intellect, and draw conclusions concerning their similarity err upon the very fundamental basis of the comparison; thus, their conclusions are incorrect…
What type of comparison can be made between the works of animals and the technological advancements or the miracles of science attained by man? How greatly is poor man deceived as a result of superficial examination! What is there in common between the instincts and the never-changing capacities of animals and the scientific achievements of man? Man is extremely deceived, nearsighted, and blind! Why can he not discern and distinguish the difference between human beings and animals? How have educated people strayed away from true science to such an extent as to classify humans and animals together! How are they able to recognize the similarity that exists in their anatomical composition yet unable to perceive the difference that exists in their spirits? What is there in common between man and monkeys? If their similar physical appearance brings them together, their dissimilar spirit sets them apart to such an extent that the ability to compare the two vanishes. Was God perhaps obliged to create a different [anatomical] form for the embodiment of man, totally unlike any other found within the animal kingdom, prior to breathing His Divine breath into man, in order to render him an image of God? No, dear reader. God’s divine breath is so magnificent and noble that it was capable of rendering man an exceptional and preeminent being even by using an inferior template [for his body]
The harmony that exists between man’s body and his rational soul is so perfect that the careful observer will magnify in astonishment the extreme wisdom of the divine Creator, Who made all the bodily members compatible with and capable of fulfilling the demands of the soul…What purpose would man’s brilliant intellectual thoughts have if they could not be externalized through the body? What would be the purpose of man’s intellect, mind, spiritual powers, feelings, emotions, and the entire ensemble of spiritual qualities that distinguishes him from all the irrational animals, if man was just another animal?…
Man advances toward perfection daily. Man not only looks after himself, he is concerned for the well being of all of humanity in general, and he improves both himself as well as animals. Where do we see a trace of such preoccupation and improvement amongst the animals? Are not their accomplishments always the same? What comparison can be made between the shelter of monkeys that have remained unchanged for eons and the diverse range of buildings erected by man? What is there in common between man and monkeys, even if they have similar external characteristics? What if monkeys can build huts, if swallows can make nests, if bees construct hives, and other animals have dens.
What relationship is there between the chimpanzee that shatters nutshells with a stone and man who has devised an array of instruments to do the same? What is so remarkable if a monkey’s hand was designed in such a precise way (as was deemed necessary for its perpetuation), just as the elephant was given a dexterous trunk, and other animals analogous body parts according to their needs? What is so remarkable if God’s providence bestowed animals with adroitness, in order for them to preserve, sustain, and perpetuate themselves? Who can confirm that a monkey would have ever felt the need or thought of using a stone to help it consume its food if its hand was not constructed the way it is. Never will an animal benefit from the skillfulness and adroitness of another animal. A monkey can watch a beaver build a dam for centuries; however, it will never mimic the beaver’s accomplishment. Nor will a dog, or a bird, or any other animal (whether it be a simple organism or a highly-developed animal) mimic the skills of another animal….
Which intellectual accomplishment of any animal documents their ability to contemplate, judge, and reason? Which animal ever turned an idea into knowledge? When did an animal ever have an opinion on a certain matter? When did any animal think about the origin of its existence, the end of its life, or concerning life and death? None of the admirers of monkeys and the theory that man evolved from apes can substantiate that any such thing has ever taken place with any animal throughout the centuries. Therefore, to support the opinion that animals and man have similar spirits that differ only in degree [of development] is completely incorrect and illogical.
Man, this mysterious being, was created by God as the pinnacle of creation, in order for him to acquire knowledge of his Creator. In accordance to his great destiny, man was formed analogously. He received the honor of being fashioned in an entirely extraordinary and unique manner and was brought to life through God’s Divine breath. While all of creation was brought into existence from nothing by a single phrase—“let there be”—that externalized God’s volition, man alone had his body formed by the hands of the Divine Creator, only he received a living soul created through God’s inbreathing, and only he is made in the image and likeness of his Creator. What a marvelous creation indeed! What an honor for man! What a great destiny! Truly, his destiny is great, and his honor is sublime; however, more marvelous is the manner in which his body and soul were created. Because he became the image and likeness of God and was created in order to live eternally and dwell in the same place as the heavenly angels.
How noble was man made! How much did sin debase and ignorance humble him! But this is not so! Man was endowed with nobility, and he will remain noble, even if certain people degrade themselves, even if certain people have forgotten about their sublime descent…Yes! Man is a supreme creation, and nothing can be compared to him.
The prudent portion of the human race, all who are truly wise, confirm this truth. Behold what M. Frederic de Rougemont states concerning man in his wise and insightful essay entitled Primitive mankind; its religion, history and civilization: “Man is of noble descent. He was born in Paradise and not within the wilderness. The sound of angelic hymns, not the roars of tigers and cries of wolves, echoed in his homeland. God was vigilantly watching over him even before man came to know Him. It is not at all true that man created the idea of God in order to invent a certain divinity to worship. Humanity departed not from atheism but from faith; not from deception but from the truth; not from ignorance but from revelation.”
Unfortunately, they who pride themselves on their resemblance to the animals seek to recruit new followers. They seek young laborers to overturn humanity’s moral and ethical principles; they are looking for new diggers to help undermine the foundations of society and deprave mankind. Behold the unethical moral principles that constitute their “civilized” mission: “Pleasure,” they say, “debauchery, and love are good; but so is hatred…The truth is good as long as it provides us with some enjoyment; however, deception, hypocrisy, and deceit are also good if they can help us increase our assets. Faith is good as long as there is something to gain from it; however, treachery is also good if it can secure for us greater profit. Marriage is good as long as it makes us happy; however, adultery is just as good when marriage no longer satisfies our desires…Life is good as long as it remains an enigma; however, suicide is also acceptable when this puzzle has been solved.”
— St. Nicholas Pokrovsky, New Martyrs of the St. Petersburg Diocese (2003) (by Hiermonk Nestor Kumysh), p. 209
I am a religious man. I have never denied and never will deny my convictions despite the fact that religion and science have parted ways. To take the question of the origin of man, I prove to believers and am myself convinced that man was created by God, [though] science says the opposite.
— St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies, 11 for Meatfast Sunday, pg. 116
Our life is short and our days are numbered, but time is long – counted in hundreds and thousands of years.
One and One only, has spoken to us clearly and definitely about all that will come to pass at the end of time: the Lord Jesus Christ. Were anyone soever to say what He said about the end of the world, we would not believe him, though he were the greatest sage living. Were he to speak from his human understanding, and not from God’s proven revelation, we would not believe him. For human understanding and human logic, however great they may be, are too puny to reach to the world’s beginning and its end. Understanding is useless where vision is needed. We need a seer, who sees as clearly as the sun – to see the whole world, from its beginning to its end, and the beginning and the end themselves. There has only ever been one such: the Lord Jesus Christ.
Homilies Vol. 2, trans. Mother Maria (1998), p. 280
How can a twisted spine be straightened without breaking? How can a stiffened neck move without remaining a source of pain? It takes a million years, say the ignorant minds of our day, for a monkey’s spine to become straight and a monkey to become a man. Thus they speak, not knowing the power and the might of the living God. It took just a second, at one word from the Lord Jesus, for the woman’s spine, which was much more bent than that of a monkey, to be straightened. But how is a spine straightened? How is a neck unstiffened? … Do not ask about all this, but thank God as this woman did.
Through the Prison Window (1985), qtd. In St. Justin Popovich, The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, trans. Benjamin Emmanuel Stanley, p. 163
If the history of the last three centuries – the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth – could be given one true name, no name would be more suitable than the Proceedings of the Court Case between Europe and Christ. For nothing has occurred in Europe over the last three hundred years that has not had a significant connection with Christ our God.
The case between Christ and Europe develops like this:
… Christ asks sadly: “How can you men live by imperialism alone, that is, by material interests, by bestial greed for bodily food? I intended to make you gods and sons of God, but you resist and hurry to make yourselves equal to beasts of burden.”
Europe replies: “You are outdated. In the place of your Gospel, we have discovered zoology and biology. Now we know that we are not descended from your or your Father in heaven, but from orangutans, gorillas, and monkeys. We are now grooming ourselves to be gods. We do not recognize any other gods but ourselves.”
p. 43-44 (same page in St. Justin’s work)
For this reason God has given them up to shameful pleasures [cf. Rom. 1:26], so that they find pleasure only in things of the earth and not in heaven, and only in what provokes laughter from the demons and tears from Christ’s angels. They take pleasure in looking after their bodies, in plundering the property of others, in stealing from the small and weak, in multiplying their earthly treasures and extending their states and their rule, in the wicked usurpation of the homelands of others, in merriment and dancing, in the rejection of every faith as superstition, in the denying of God, in a totally biological life, in shamelessly calling monkeys their ancestors, in the drowning of anthropology in zoology.
“Death is not natural; rather it is unnatural. And death is not from nature; rather it is against nature. All of nature in horror cries out: “I do not know death! I do not wish death! I am afraid of death! I strive against death!” Death is an uninvited stranger in nature . . . Even when one hundred philosophers declare that “death is natural!” all of nature trembles in indignation and shouts: “No! I have no use for death! It is an uninvited stranger!” And the voice of nature is not sophistry. The protest of nature against death outweighs all excuses thought up to justify death. And if there is something that nature struggles to express in its untouched harmony, doing so without exception in a unison of voices, then it is a protest against death. It is its unanimous, frantic, and heaven-shaking elegy of death.
Prologue from Ochrid, December 10
Noah lived among men given over to unrighteousness and evil. For five hundred years he lived among them, and yet remained righteous in the eyes of God . . . When the universal flood befell the human race, God did not abandon Noah, His faithful servant, nor leave him to the destruction with the others, but saved him and glorified him, making him the progenitor of the new human race. The splendid example of Noah, my brothers, teaches us that each one of us can please God even when surrounded by sinners – if we want to.
The Universe as Symbols and Signs: An Essay On Monasticism in the Eastern Church, XVII.2
Just as on the eve of the universal flood, even so on the eve of the world’s end the thoughts of men will be continually evil.
Inspired Orthodox Positions, http://www.impantokratoros.gr/Orthodox-Positions.en.aspx
While Christ says: “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), the heretic world in thousands of ways expresses the following saying: “Without Christ we can do everything”. The entire contemporary culture is turned against Christ. All the modern sciences compete in seeing who will succeed in serving the hardest blow to Christ’s teaching. It is a revolution of the vulgar servants against the mistress of the house, a revolution of worldly science against the heavenly science of Christ. However, this whole revolution in our days boils down to what has been written with such clarity: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools (Rom 1:22).”
– Elder Paisios,Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos: Epistles, pg. 203-204
As long as Adam loved God and observed His commandments, he dwelt in the Paradise of God and God abode in the paradisiacal heart of Adam. Naked Adam was clothed with the grace of God and surrounded by all the animals, he held and caressed them lovingly, and they, in turn, licked him devoutly, as their master. When Adam violated God’s commandment, he was stripped of the grace of God, clothed with a garment of skin and exiled from Paradise. Grace-filled Adam became wild, and many animals, because of Adam, were also made savage, and instead of approaching him with devoutness and licking him with love, they lashed out at him with rage in order to tear at or bite him. – (Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian” Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece, 2002)
With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, pg. 295
“Someone else asked me, ‘Adam had two sons, Abel and Cain; how did Cain’s wife get there?’ But if one should read a little further in the Old Testament it says clearly that after Seth, Adam had other sons and daughters. Cain had left his home and wandered in the mountains after his brother’s murder and did not know that the wife he took was actually his sister. God provided that men should descend from one tribe to prevent malice and crime. This way they would reason, ‘We all come from the same father and mother, Adam and Eve;’ and perhaps this thought would put the break on human malice. But that’s not what happened. Our world is full of malice!”
With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man pg. 327-329
The nonsense we hear in schools these days about Darwin’s theory and the rest! Even the teachers themselves do not believe what they are teaching; but they go ahead, because they want to pollute the minds of our youth and take them away from the Church. This is what someone told me, “Let’s say that the soil contained various substances and mirco-organisms, and God took these and created man …” “You mean,” I replied, “that if those elements did not exist in the soil, God would not have been able to create man? It would have been really difficult for Him!” “Well, let’s say,” he continued, “that He took some things from the monkey and perfected them; couldn’t that be how it happened?” “Are you trying to say,” I answered, “that God cannot create a perfect creature, that he cannot create a human being, even after dedicating a whole day to that? What should He have done? Go get spare parts? Why don’t you read the prophecy of Job (38:14) from the Scripture readings of Holy Thursday? Now science does not accept all of their own claims about our kinship with monkeys. How long has it been since man went to the moon? In all these years, have monkeys evolved enough to build a bicycle or at least a skateboard? Have you ever seen a monkey on a skateboard? Of course you can teach him to do that, but that’s not the same thing …” But the man would not give up. He would insist, “Let’s assume this,” or “let’s say that …” “Well, let’s just say that you will not say a thing,” I finally told him, “this way you’ll find the certainty you want.”
The theory of evolution was being taught by a professor I knew at the University. Once, I said to him, “In time and with proper care a green bean plant will become a better green bean plant, the eggplant a better eggplant. If you feed and take care of a monkey, he will become a better monkey, but he will not turn into a human being. If a white man moves to a warm climate and is always in the sun, his complexion may change somewhat, but he will still be a white man.” And then, there’s this to think about. Christ was born of a human being, the Panaghia! Are we supposed to believe that His ancestors were monkeys? What blasphemy! And those who support this theory don’t realize that they are blaspheming. They throw a stone and do not check to see how many heads they have cracked. All you will from them is, “Mine went farther than the other fellow’s.” That’s what they are all about these days; they marvel at who will throw a stone the farthest. But they care nothing about those who are passing by and the many heads their stones will crack.
-Geronda, some people think that these theories will help bring Marxists to Church.
-Well, perhaps, a few Marxists might come to Church at first. But then, they will want to organize as a party and start giving dictates to others. “Now you must go to Church; now you may not. Now do this, now do that.” They will have rules for everything. And in the end, they will start telling people, “Who told you that there is a God? There is no God! The priests are making it all up to deceive you.” This is what will happen; the Marxists will use these good willing folks to achieve their goal. Marxists with a good will and disposition will come back to the Church, repent, and go to confession. But those who have no good disposition, they will never change.
Spiritual Awakening, trans. Fr. Peter Chamberas (2008), p. 65
“Geronda, some devout young men are troubled while serving their military duty by those who are abusive and curse. What should they do?”
Elder Paisios: “This requires discernment and patience. God will help. The wireless operator that I worked with in the army was a blasphemous, unbelieving doctor. Every day he would come to the administrative unit to brainwash me with his ideas! He talked to me about Darwin’s theory of evolution, and other such things; things entirely blasphemous.
One day a neighbor named Kostas said to my brother, “I will make him change his way of thinking, throw away those books he is reading, and give up his fasting and prayer.” He found me – I was about fifteen years old then – and he started talking to me about Darwin’s theory. He started talking, and went on and on and was making my head spin. In my haze, I headed for the forest, to the Chapel of St. Barbara. I went in and began praying to Christ, “My Christ, if You exist, reveal Yourself to me in some way,” I kept saying, while constantly doing prostrations for a long time. It was summer. The sweat was running down my body, and I was drenched and completely exhausted. But I didn’t hear or see anything. Nor did God help me in any way with even a small sign, some sound, some shadow; I was only a child, after all. Even if one were to look at this from a human and logical perspective, one could say, “My God, what a shame for the poor child. From eleven years old, he has been going up to the hills to live ascetically, and how his doing through a crisis. That man made his head spin with some foolish theories. At home, he has difficulties with his brother. He ran to the forest to seek help from You …” And yet nothing, nothing, nothing! Exhausted from the many prostrations, I sat down for a while. Then I thought, “All right, when I asked Kostas what he thought about Christ, what did He tell me? He told me that Christ was the best, most righteous man, Who proclaimed righteousness and had so offended the Pharisees that they crucified Him out of envy.” Then I said, “If Christ was such a good man, so righteous, and no other man had ever appeared like Him, and others killed Him out of envy, then it is right of me to do for this man far more than I have done, even to die for him.” As soon as I looked at it this way, Christ appeared to me in a great light – the chapel was full of light – and told me, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in Me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25-26). These same words I could also read in the open Gospel which He held in one hand. There was such an inner transformation in me that I found myself saying constantly, “Come here now, Kosta, to discuss if there is or there isn’t a God.” You see, for Christ to appear He waited for my philotimo-filled response. Now, if Christ requires such a response from even a young child, can you imagine how much more He would expect from a mature adult.
— Elder Paisius (Olaru) of Sihastira and Sihla, “Teachings of Elder Paisius,” Orthodox Word, no. 271 (2010), p. 121,
What do you mean you don’t believe? Hold your tongue! Who is it that brought you to the monastery? These are the thoughts of the devil. Why do you listen to what the enemy says? The devil’s aim is to make people doubt and believe that there is no God. Because if there is no God, then neither is there any sin, and people can do anything. Doubt is halfway to the renunciation of God; that is why the devil tempts us. The Savior says that the days will come – and, look, they have come (cf. Luke 18:8). Some people say that mean was made from an ape. It was a madman who said this; man is the image and likeness of God.
— St. Paul Andreyev (Hiermoartyr), Martyrs, Confessors, and Ascetics of piety of the Russian Orthodox Church of the 20th Century: Biographies and Material on Them, Book 7 (2002) (by Abbot Damascene Orlovsky), p. 162
Witness says about St. Paul’s “anti-Soviet” views: The priest Andreyev … said that the Soviet authorities preach the teaching of Darwin, that man proceeded from apes, but that this is a blasphemy and lie.
–Patriarch Pavle, Clarifying Some Questions About Our Faith, vol 1 [in Serbian], p. 16
There is no doubt that God could have created a wife for Cain in the same way that He created Adam from earth and Eve from Adam, but He did not do that. Instead, He allowed that Cain and Seth take their sisters as wives.
— Fr. Philotheos Zervakos, Paternal Counsels vol. 2 (Orthodox Kypseli Publications), pg. 41
He who wishes to become a monk if he is cowardly or hesitant should not become a monk. Because from the moment that he leaves the world he goes out to battle not against men, against flesh and blood but against the rulers and authorities of darkness, against the invisible demons who have been tried well in battle, because for 7,500 years they have fought men and monastics even more so.
— Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love, pg. 210
Egotism evicted man from Paradise; it is a great evil. Adam and Eve were simple and humble; that’s why they lived in Paradise. They didn’t have egotism. They did, however have the ‘primal nature,’ as we call it in theological language. When we say ‘primal nature’ we mean the gifts of grace that God bestowed on man in the beginning when He created him, namely, life, immortality, consciousness, freedom of will, love, humility, etc. Through flattery, however, the devil managed to delude them.
— Mother Raphaela, Living in Christ, pg. 2
Thus creation is no longer wholly beautiful and good. Though most of us seem to be born with an innate sense of the goodness of creation, and desire to enjoy it, we have chosen to side with the forces of destruction and death.
– Fr. Schmemann, Great Lent, pg. 40
The “continuous reading” of Genesis, Isaiah, and Proverbs has its origin at the time when Lent was still the main pre-baptismal season of the Church and lenten services were predominantly catechetical in their character, i.e., dedicated to the indoctrination of the catechumen. Each of the three books corresponds to one of the three basic aspects of the Old Testament: the history of God’s activity in Creation, prophecy, and the ethical or moral teachings. The Book of Genesis gives, as it were, the “framework” of the Church’s faith. It contains the story of Creation, of the Fall, and finally that of the promise and the beginning of salvation through God’s covenant with his chosen people. It conveys the three fundamental dimensions of the Church’s belief in God as Creator, Judge, and Savior. It reveals the roots of the Christian understanding of man as created in the “image and likeness of God,” as falling away from God, and as remaining the object of divine love, care, and ultimately salvation. It discloses the meaning of history as the history of salvation leading to and fulfilled in Christ. It announces the mystery of the Church through the images and realities of the People of God, Covenant, Ark, etc.
Lent is exactly the opposite; it is a return to the “normal” life, to that “fasting” which Adam and Eve broke, thus introducing suffering and death into the world.
With a unique art, St. Andrew interwove the great biblical themes – Adam and Eve, Paradise and Fall, the Patriarchs, Noah and the Flood, David, the Promised Land, and ultimately Christ and the Church – with confession of sin and repentance. The events of sacred history are revealed as events of my life, God’s acts in the past as acts aimed at me and my salvation, the tragedy of sin and betrayal as my personal tragedy. My life is shown to me as part of the great and all-embracing fight between God and the powers of darkness which rebel against Him . . . Thus, for four evenings the nine odes of the Canon tell me again and again the spiritual story of the world which is also my story. They challenge me with the decisive events and acts of the past whose meaning and power, however, are eternal because every human soul – unique and irreplaceable – moves, as it were, through the same drama, is faced with the same ultimate choices, discovers the same ultimate reality. Scriptural examples are more than mere “allegories” as many people think, and who therefore find this Canon too “overworked,” too loaded with irrelevant names and episodes. Why speak, they ask, of Cain and Able, of David and Solomon, when it should be so much simpler just to say: “I have sinned”?
Because of sin and betrayal, the joyful day of Creation [Saturday] has become the day of death; for Creation, by “subjecting itself to futility” (Rom. 8:20), has itself become death. But Christ’s Death restores the seventh day, making it the day of re-creation, of the overcoming and destruction of that which made this world a triumph of death. And the ultimate purpose of Lent is to restore in us the “eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” which is the content of the Christian faith, love, and hope.
It is important, therefore, to discern the uniquely Christian content of fasting. It is first of all revealed to us in the interdependence between two events which we find in the Bible: one at the beginning of the Old Testament and the other at the beginning of the New Testament. The first event is the “breaking of the fast” by Adam in Paradise. He ate of the forbidden fruit. This is how man’s original sin is revealed to us. Christ, the New Adam – and this is the second event – begins by fasting. Adam was tempted and he succumbed to temptation; Christ was tempted and He overcame that temptation. The result of Adam’s failure is expulsion from Paradise and death. The fruits of Christ’s victory are the destruction of death and our return to Paradise.
Great Lent, pg. 94
God, we are told, “created no death.” He is the Giver of Life. How then did life become mortal? Why is death and death alone the only absolute condition of that which exists? The Church answers: because man rejected life as it was offered and given to him by God and preferred a life depending not on God alone but on “bread alone.”
Great Lent, pg. 94-95
The unfathomable tragedy of Adam is that he ate for its own sake. More than that, he ate “apart” from God in order to be independent of Him. And if he did it, it is because he believed that food had life in itself and that he, by partaking of that food, could be like God, i.e., have life in himself. To put it very simply: he believed in food, whereas the only object of belief, of faith, of dependence is God and God alone. World, food, became his gods, the sources and principles of his life. He became their slave. Adam – in Hebrew – means “man.” It is my name, our common name. Man is still Adam, still the slave of “food.” He may claim that he believes in God, but God is not his life, his food, the all-embracing content of his existence. He may claim that he receives his life from God but he doesn’t live in God and for God. His science, his experience, his self-consciousness are all built on that same principle: “by bread alone.” We eat in order to be alive but we are not alive in God. This is the sin of all sins. This is the verdict of death pronounced on our life.”
The Eucharist, pg. 61
Any consecration in the Church is not a creation of “sacred objects,” by their sanctity contraposed to the “profane,” i.e. the unconsecrated, but their referral to their original and at the same time ultimate meaning – God’s conception of them. For the entire world was created as an “altar of God,” as a temple, as a symbol of the kingdom. According to its conception, it is all sacred, and not “profane,” for its essence lies in the divine “very good” of Genesis. The sin of man consists in the fact that he has darkened the “very good” in his very being and as such has torn the world away from God, made it an “end in itself,” and therefore a fall and death.
But God has saved the world. He saved it in that he again revealed its goal: the kingdom of God; its life: to be the path to this kingdom; its meaning: to be in communion with God, and in him with all creation. And therefore, in contrast to the pagan “sanctification,” which consists in the sacralization of separate parts and objects of the world, the Christian sanctification consists in the restoration to everything in the world of its symbolic nature, its “sacramentality,” in referring everything to the ultimate aim of being. All our worship services therefore are an ascent to the altar and a return back to “this world” for witness to “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Co 2:9)
–Fr. Sebastian Dabovich, Preaching in the Russian Church, p. 101
Had Adam and Eve not sinned: “there would be no need of the plow and the laboring oxen, the planting of seed, the watering shower, the mutual change of the seasons of the year, the winter binding in fetters and the summer opening up all things.
— Fr. Seraphim Rose, Letters from Fr. Seraphim by Fr. Alexey Young, pg. 75
Thus, “theistic evolution,” as I understand its motives, is the invention of men who, being afraid that physical evolution is really “scientific,” stick “God” in at various points of the evolutionary process in order not to be left out, in order to conform “theology” to the “latest scientific discoveries.” But this kind of artificial thinking is satisfactory neither for theology nor science, but just mixes the two realms up.
Letters from Fr. Seraphim, pg. 75
… the whole purpose and intent of the theory of physical evolution is to find an explanation of the world without God; i.e., physical evolution is by its nature atheistic, and its only ridiculous when “theologians” run after the latest “scientific” theory in order not to be left behind by the times. Further, the “God” of theistic or spiritual evolution is not the God of Orthodox Christianity!
— St. Silouan, St. Silouan the Athonite p. 90
Fr. Sophrony says of him: “For all his real humility and gentleness, the Staretz would say with unshakeable conviction and inner certainty that man cannot ‘of himself’ apprehend Divine matters, which are made known ‘only through the Holy Spirit’, and so the Holy Scriptures, too, ‘written by the Holy Spirit’ cannot be understood through scientific research which can only provide surface aspects and details, never the substance.
— Fr. Sophrony, Principles of Orthodox Asceticism, in The Orthodox Ethos, 1964, pg. 273-274
The educated man of the present day, with his developed critical approach, is incomparably less fitted for the ascetic exercise of obedience than the man of a simple turn of mind who is not seduced by intellectual curiosity. The cultured man, enamoured of his own critical intelligence, which he is accustomed to consider his principal dignity and the one solid foundation of his ‘personal’ life, has to renounce this wealth of his before becoming a novice, or it will be difficult for him to enter into the Kingdom. But how is this to be done? Is not the man into whose hands we must put our will just another human being likes ourselves – one, indeed, who many sometimes seem to us to stand lower than we do? The disciple begins to argue within himself: ‘Is this staretz an oracle, then? And how does he know God’s will? God gave us our reason and we must do our reasoning ourselves. For instance, there is no sense at all in what the staretz has just told me. It is all rubbish.’ And so on. This sort of attitude makes the novice doubtful and hesitant about his spiritual father’s every word, his every directive; and so he forgets that God’s will in this world expresses itself in the very same outward forms as serve to manifest both the natural will of man and the demoniacal will, when this last is made manifest through man. He judges by outward appearances, after the manner of the ‘reasoning’ man, and therefore does not find the path to the living faith . . . In the presence of divine truth the novice finds himself profoundly convinced of the imperfection of his own reasoning powers. This marks an important stage in his ascetic life. In mistrusting his intelligence the monk frees himself from the nightmare in which all mankind lives . . . By this renunciation of his will and judgment, for the sake of cleaving to the divine will which surpasses any human wisdom, the novice is in fact renouncing nothing else than his own egocentric will, het product of the passions, and his feeble little intelligence, and thereby showing true wisdom and superior will. In this manner the novice lightly – and imperceptibly to himself – advances to a height which men of the greatest intellectual culture cannot attain, or even apprehend. This height is purity of mind in God, as we have said earlier.
— it is explained earlier that “novice” in this context refers to any Christian who turns to a spiritual father for guidance
Videt’ Boga kak On est’ (To See God as He Is) (2006), p. 238
For many of the representatives of modern science, “in the beginning was a hydrogen atom,: and from it, by the path of evolution, over the course of an unspecified number of billions of years, arose everything that now exists … The idea is absurd to us, that from “accidental” combinations, unexpected by the first atom itself, could arise human thought, with its quests for THE ORIGIN.
— St. Thaddeus Uspensky (Abp. of Tver, hieromartyr), Rejoice! (1998), p. 164
A man who does not believe in God wants to explain, from the gyrations of the cosmic dust, the origin of the world, whereas in every blade of grass, in the structure and life of even the tiniest beings there is enclosed so much information [payЗM: literally, reason, intellect, mind] that it is beyond human understanding. The many centuries of human wisdom have not been able to create one living grain, and meanwhile unbelief tries to explain all the wondrous variety in the world by unconscious movements of matter.
On the Sermons of Vladika Thaddeus Uspensky/Patriarch Tikhon and the History of the Russian Church Disturbance (1994), p. 352
Life, as they say, is an enormous, complex mechanical process, brought into being they know not when, by whom, or for what purpose … But if life is a mechanical process, then one must renounce the soul, thought, will, and freedom.
— St. Theophan the Recluse, St Feofan Zatvornik, Nastavleniya v duhovnoi zhisni. – Pskov-Pechery Monastery of Holy Dormition: Mosc. Patriarchate Publ., 1994,http://creatio.orthodoxy.ru/sbornik/sbufeev_whynot_english.html
“The positive teaching of the Church serves to know whether a concept is from the Truth. This is a litmus test for all teachings. Whatever agrees with it, you should accept it, whatever does not- – reject. One can do it without further deliberations.”
Sozertsanie I razmyshlenie. Moscow, Pravilo very, 1998, http://creatio.orthodoxy.ru/sbornik/sbufeev_whynot_english.html
“Science goes forward fast, let it do so. But if they infer something inconsistent with the Divine Revelation, they are definitely off the right path in life, do not follow them.”
The Spiritual Life and How to be Attuned to It, pg. 65-66
Thus, put entirely out of your mind the idea that there are people who do not acknowledge the existence of God. There are some scientists who think they can do without God, and who talk and write books as if He did not exist. But while their tongues and pens weave such empty words, their hearts say something else. They make themselves out to be nonbelievers, but very uncertainly, so as to successfully get away with it in their own conscience.
Thoughts for Each Day of the Year According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God, trans. Lisa Marie Baranov (2010), pp. 127-128
What ought we to preach? We should cry to all, ‘Sons of the Kingdom [of Heaven]! Don’t run from the Kingdom into bondage and slavery’ – for they are in fact running. Some are captivated by freedom of mind. They say, ‘We don’t want the bonds of faith and the oppression of authority, even Divine authority; we’ll figure things out and make up our minds for ourselves.’ So they have made up their minds. They have built fables in which there is more childishness than in the mythology of the Greeks – and they magnify themselves … Others are enticed by the broad path of the passions. They say, ‘We don’t want to know positive commandments or the demands of conscience – this is all abstract: we need tangible naturalness.’ And they have gone after it. What has come of it? They have bowed down before dumb beasts. Has not the theory that man originated from animals arisen from this moral fall? This is where they have gone! And everyone runs from the Lord, everyone runs …”
The truth of God is simple; can a proud mind study it? Such a mind would rather think up its own thing: sensational things, although empty and as weak as a spider’s web. To see that this is so, look at the current theories of the creation of the world: they are like a somnambulistic or drunken delirium. And yet how good they seem to those who invented them! How much energy and time are wasted on this – and all in vain! The deed was accomplished simply: ‘He spake and they cam to be. He commanded and they were created’ (Ps. 148:5). No one can think up anything better than this solution.
The Sadducees had a seemingly insoluble objection to the resurrection; but the Lord resolved it with a few words to them, and so clearly that everyone understood and acknowledged the Sadducees to have been beaten by the truth of His word. What the Sadducees were then, unbelievers of all sorts are now. They have heaped up a multitude of fanciful suppositions for themselves, elevated them to the status of irrefutable truths and plumed themselves on them, assuming that nothing can be said against them. In fact, they are so ungrounded that it is not even worthwhile speaking against them. All of their sophistry is a house of cards – blow on it and it flies apart. There is no need to refute it in its parts; it is enough to regard it as one regards dreams. When speaking against dreams, people do not prove the absurdity in their composition or in their individual parts, but only say, ‘It’s a dream,’ and with that they resolve everything. It is the same with the theory of the formation of the world from a nebula and its supports, with the theory of abiogenesis and Darwin’s origin of genera and species, and with his last dream about the descent of man. It is all like delirium. When you read them you are walking in the midst of shadows. And scientists? Well, what can you do with them? Their motto is ‘If you don’t like it, don’t listen, but don’t prevent me from lying.”
Sozertsaniye i razmyshleniye (Contemplations and Reflections) (1998) p. 146
These days many nihilists of both sexes, naturalists, Darwinists, Spiritists, and Westernizers in general have multiplied among us. All right, you’re thinking – would the Church have been silent, would it not have proferred its voice, would it not have condemned or anathematized them if there had been something new in their teaching? To be sure – a council would have done so without doubt, and all of them, with their teachings, would have been given over to anathema. To the current Rite of Orthodoxy only the following item would have been added: ‘To Büchner, Feuerbach, Darwin, Renan, Kardec, and all their followers – anathema! But there is no need, either for a special council or for any kind of addition. All of their false teachings were anathematized long ago. At the present time, not only in principal cities but in all place and churches the Rite of Orthodoxy ought to be brought in and celebrated, so that all the teachings contrary to the word of God might be collected and that it might be proclaimed to everyone what they must fear and from what teachings they must flee, and all might know. Many are seduced intellectually only through ignorance, and therefore a public condemnation of pernicious teachings would save them from destruction. If the action of an anathema is terrible to someone, then let him avoid the teachings that lead to it. Let him who is afraid of it for the sake of others bring them back to a healthy teaching. If you who are not favorably disposed to this action are Orthodox, then you are going against yourself; and if you have already lost sound teaching, then what business do you have concerning what is done in the Church that supports it? After all, you’ve already separated yourself from the Church and have your own convictions, your own way of looking at things – well, live with them then. It’s all the same whether or not your name and your teaching are uttered under the anathema: you are already under anathema if you philosophize against the Church and persist in this philosophizing.
Sobraniye pisem (Collected Letters) Vol. 2, (1994) p. 112
There is not a single science which could be established solidly on its own principles. Something can be obtained from all the sciences. But this is not something that gives one the right to cite sciences as a decisive authority. It is not science itself [that is the problem], but scientists who twist science however they want. Consequently, there are only the conjectures and inferences of scientists.
Vol. 2, p. 117
A believer has the full right to insinuate himself with spiritual things into the material realm, while materialists crawl with their matter, without a twinge of conscience, into the spiritual realm. Right-mindedness is on our side, while incoherence is on theirs. And this is not because every sandpiper praises its own swamp; rather, it is to the point. Matter cannot be either a power or a purpose. Both are outside of it. Matter can only be a means and a field for spiritual powers, in accordance with the spiritual origin (the Creator) of all things.
vol. 7, pp. 144-45
People have suddenly had a thought and have started to write about preserving faith. But they don’t want to block the source of unbelief. This source is the spread of the teaching that world formed by itself, according to which there is no need for God and the soul does not exist – it’s all atoms and chemistry, nothing more. This is being preached at [university] rostrums and in literature. He who breathes these fumes is inescapably stupefied, and loses his senses and faith … Until these books are destroyed; until professors and literary men are forced not only not to hold to this theory, but even to demolish it – until then – faithlessness will grow and grow, and with it, self-will and the destruction of the present government. That’s the way the French Revolution went.
Slova na Gospodskiye, Bogorodichnyye, i torzhestvennyye dni (Homilies on Feasts of the Lord and the Theotokos, and festal days) (1883), p. 5
In vain do people think highly about the world and its laws, about nature and its forces, as if there were something untouchable, indisputable and inviolable in them. Under the appearance of science they are devising for themselves an idol-worship that is more destructive than the mythological idol-worship of the ancient Greeks. No, brethren – it is not by the laws and forces of nature that the life of each one of us is upheld, but by the power of God acting within us. The Lord, ‘upholding all things by the word of His power’ (Heb. 1:3), bears each one of us by the same word of His power.
Let us maintain this thought in our mind and imprint it in our heart. The all-active power of God bears us over the abyss of nothingness, and ‘we live, and move, and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). If He takes away His Spirit, if He removes His hand, we will disappear and will no longer be remembered among the living. But if the Lord holds us, then He touches us. He does not merely see us mentally; no, He touches, as one hand touches another or as the air touches one’s body. How consoling and awesome!
A pure spirit [nous] contemplates God and receives from Him knowledge of mysteries. But even the spirit, combined with the body, after the diversity of the creations of the visible world has been revealed to it through the senses, have been enlightened by the same inward illumination from above, must contemplate in these creations all the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and the mysteries of God’s making and governing of the world, so that even when faced with this great amount of knowledge it can remain unperturbed in the same single Divine contemplation. But, having fallen, a person is captivated by the diversity of created things and even overwhelmed by impressions from them, which supplant within him the very thought of God. Studying created things, he goes no further than what he sees in them – their composition and interrelations – and, not receiving illumination from above, does not see in them the clear reflection of God and the Divine mysteries. The world has become for him a tarnished mirror, in which nothing can be seen but the mirror itself. Hence a great amount of knowledge suppresses within him the knowledge of the one thing; it turns him away from it, makes him cold toward it. Such is the price and such is the fruit of science in a fallen state.
— Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Lenten Spring, pg. 20
We have wasted what our good God has given us. We have ruined our lives and our world. We have polluted the air, the water and the earth. The birds and the fish, the plants andthe animals grieve because of our wickedness . . . we have lost our divine legacy as children of God. And the whole cosmos suffers with us in our affliction.
It [the fall of Adam and Eve] tells of the most tragic event in human experience: the rebellion of the creature against the Creator and the transformation of the world as paradise with God into a garbage heap of dead men’s bones. It describes this death-bound, demon-riddled, rat-racing world that we call human civilization, which is the result of the futile strivings of self-centered creatures.
And we experience evil for ourselves, by our own volition, and bring corruption to our total being: mind, soul, heart and body.
— St. Varlaam Nikol’sky (hieromartyr), Martyrs, Confessors, and Ascetics of piety of the Russian Orthodox Church of the 20th Century: Biographies and Materials on Them, Book 6 (2002) (by Abbot Damascene Orlovsky, p. 313
Soviet interrogator: Did you try to conduct religious propaganda among schoolchildren? In particular, did you say that in the schools they do not correctly explain the origin of man?
St. Varlaam: Last year I was walking past a school, and a student of the school addressed me with the question of where man came from, saying that the teacher had said in the lesson that man originated from apes. He asked me what I thought, and I answered that man came from God.
— St. Vladimir Bogoyavlensky (Met. of Kiev and Gallich, hieromartyr of Bolshevik Yoke), Gd istinoye shchast’ye: V vere ili neverii? (Where is true happiness? In faith or unbelief?), (1905), pp. 6-18
Only at the present time ha such an audacious philosophy found a place for itself, which overthrows human worth and tries to give its false teaching a wide dissemination … Man did not originate from God’s hands, it says; in an endless and gradual transition from imperfection to perfection he developed from the animal kingdom, and as little soul as animals have, so little does man have … How immeasurably deeply does all this degrade and insult man! From the highest step in the progression of creation he is reduced to the same level as the animals … There is no need to refute such a teaching on a scientific basis, although it would not be difficult to do so, since unbelief has far from proved its position … But if such a teaching finds more and more followers at the present time, this is not because the teaching of unbelief has supposedly become inarguably true, but because it does not hinder a corrupt heart that is inclined to sin from giving itself over to its passions. For if man is not immortal, if he is nothing more than the attainment of the highest development of the animals, then he has no business with God … Brethren, do not listen to the pernicious, poison-bearing teaching of unbelief, which lowers you to the level of animals and, depriving you of human worth, promises you nothing but despair and an inconsolable life.
– Vladimir Lossky, Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 104
Thus in the condition of mortality which is the consequence of the coming of sin, the spiritual nature of the soul maintains a certain link with the disunited elements of the body, a link which it will find again at the moment of the resurrection in order that the parts may be transformed into a “spiritual body,” which is indeed our true body, different from the grossness of those we now have, the “garments of skin” which God made for Adam and Eve after their sin.
Having no philosophical references, the Church always freely makes use of philosophy and the sciences for apologetic purposes, but she never has any cause to defend these relative and changing truths as she defends the unchangeable truth of her doctrines. This is why ancient or more modern cosmological theories cannot affect in any way the more fundamental truth which is revealed to the Church: “the truth of Holy Scripture is far deeper than the limits of our understanding,” as Philaret of Moscow says [Sermons and Discourses, Moscow, 1877]. In the face of the vision of the universe which the human race has gained since the period of the renaissance, in which the earth is represented as an atom lost in infinite space amid innumerable other worlds, there is no need for theology to change anything whatever in the narrative of Genesis . . .
In the same way, the creation of man was not, as with the rest of the living creatures, the result of an ordinance given to the earth: in this case God did not ordain, but said in His eternal Counsel ‘let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’
Pg. 109, 110, 112-113
It was the divinely appointed function of the first man according to St. Maximus, to unite in himself the whole of created being; and at the same time to reach his perfect union with God thus grant the state of deification the whole of creation . . . The deification of man and of the whole created universe would thus be accomplished. Since this task which was given to man was not fulfilled by Adam, it is in the work of Christ, the second Adam, that we can see what it was meant to be . . . Man is not a being isolated from the rest of creation; by his very nature he is bound up with the whole of the universe, and St. Paul bears witness that the whole creation awaits the future glory which will be revealed in the sons of God (Rom. vii, 18-22) . . . The world was created from nothing by the sole will of God – this is its origin. It was created in order to participate in the fullness of the divine life – this is its vocation. It is called to make this union a reality in liberty, in the free harmony of the created will with the life of God – this is the mystery of the Church inherent in creation. Throughout all the vicissitudes which followed upon the fall of humanity, and the destruction of the first Church – the Church or paradise – the creation preserved the idea of its vocation and with it the idea of the Church, which was at length to be fully realized after Golgotha and after Pentecost, as the Church properly so-called, the indestructible Church of Christ.
Man was created last according to the Greek Fathers, in order that he might be introduced into the universe like a king into his palace. “As a prophet and a high priest,” added Philaret of Moscow, [G. Florovsky, op. cit. p. 179] giving an ecclesiological accent to the cosmology of the Bible. For this great theologian of the last century, the creation is already a preparation for the Church, which was to begin to exist in the earthly paradise, with the first men. The books of God’s Revelation are for him a sacred history of the world, beginning with the creation of the heavens and the earth, and ending with the new heaven and the new earth of the Apocalypse. The history of the world is a history of the Church which is the mystical foundation of the world.
Finally, as in St. Ireneus, St. Gregory of , and St. Gregory of Palamas, not only the soul, but also the body of man shares in the character of the image, being created in the image of God. “The word Man,” says St. Gregory Palamas, “is not applied to either soul or body separately, but to both together, since together they have been created in the image of God.” [also St. Justin Martyr]
In fact, the Biblical narrative gives no precise account of the nature of the image; but it does present the whole creation of man as an act apart, different from the creation of other beings. Like the angels, who, as St. Isaac the Syrian puts it, were created ‘in silence,’ man was not formed by a divine command addressed to the earth. Rather God Himself fashioned him from the dust of the earth with His own hands; that is to say, according to St. Ireneus, with the Word and the Holy Spirit, and breathed the breath of life into him. St. Gregory Nazianzen interprets the passage in Genesis in the following way: ‘The Word of God taking a portion of the newly created earth, has with his own immortal hands fashioned our frame, and imparted life to it; since the spirit which he breathed into it, is an effluence of the invisible Divinity. Thus out of the dust, and out of the breath, man was created in the image of the Immortal, for in both the spiritual nature reigns supreme.
By way of the human will, evil has become a power infecting the whole creation’ ‘cursed is the ground for thy sake’ (Gen. iii, 17). The universe which still reflects the majesty of God, has at the same time acquired a sinister character . . . Sin has been introduced where grace should reign, and instead of the divine plenitude, a gaping abyss has opened in God’s creation, the gates of hell opened by the free will of man.
— Way of a Pilgrim (Image Books, Doubleday, 1978), pg. 34-35
The teacher responded, “Though you have not been exposed to higher learning, you must have studied the history of the Old and New Testaments, published for schools in the form of questions and answers. Do you recall that, when the first man Adam was in his innocent state, all creation was subject to him and that the animals approached him with fear and he named them? The elder to whom this rosary [prayer rope] belonged was a holy man, and holiness is nothing else than the sinner’s return from his sinful state to the innocent state of the first man by means of self-discipline. When the soul of a man becomes holy, then the body is holy also. And the rosary which was constantly in the hands of the holy elder became empowered by his touch and spirit; it acquired, so to speak, the power of the first man’s innocence. This is what we mean by a spiritual mystery of nature! And all animals in natural succession, even to this day, feel that power through the sense of smell, since the nose is the chief sensory organ in animals.
—Fr. Zacharias, The Hidden Man of the Heart, pg. 18-19
Man is the true lord of the kingdom of the world, the crown of the whole creation . . . And at that moment, his dreadful fall took place, as the Scriptures relate, and this was a universal misfortune . . . So did man become unmindful of his Maker, delivering himself up to sin and to its wages of corruption and death . . . When man banishes God and his neighbour from his heart, he loses his sovereignty over God’s creation, bestowed on him by virtue of his likeness to God. In other words, he fails in what he has been designed for – to oversee the world with justice and, being enlarged by the spirit of prophecy, to bring all creation to God.
— pg. 20
However, God’s call is irrevocable and ‘steadfast’ (cf. Rom. 11:29). Furthermore, death is an illegitimate enemy, for the will of God, the basis of man’s original issuing forth, has foreordained that man should live eternally ‘in immortality’ (Wisd. 2:23). Death must therefore be destroyed (cf. 1 Cor. 15:26), for which reason the Son of God Himself came into the world to blot it out and to ‘destroy the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8). Man’s mortality is therefore a phenomenon that runs counter to his nature in that it opposes that for which he has been designed. This is precisely why the human soul is restless: if life leads only to death, then nothing can ever be meaningful.
However, God, Who abides unto the ages and has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, does all He can that ‘the wicked [might] turn from his way and live’ (Ezek. 33:11). He summons the dissolute from the blindness of their desolation, intensifying by His grace the cruel spectacle of mortality, which entered the whole creation through man’s fall into sin. God increases the threat of death by keeping before man’s eyes this terrible spectacle. He opens the eyes of the soul that it might behold the mark of corruption and mortality on every created thing. Man then hears the groaning of a universe which has delivered itself up to vanity from which there is no escape. The soul is then granted the grace of perceiving the dark veil of death, corruption, and despair which envelop mankind and all life on earth. This spiritual phenomenon, unknown to modern psychology, is called ‘mindfulness of death’ in Orthodox ascetic terminology. It has nothing to do with the psychological awareness that we shall die some day; it is more like a deep knowledge, accompanied by a wondrous sensibility of the heart, which perceives clearly ‘the futility of any and every acquisition on earth’, and that ‘all is vanity’ (Eccles. 1:2).
— Pg. 75
At the same time, this grace creates his personal communion with God and with all men, for they are like unto himself. He is also united with the whole of creation, which groans under the same condemnation to death.