Creationism Hurting the Mission of the Church?

Evolutionists sometimes claim that Creationism hurts the mission of the Church by making the Church appear foolish and thus turning people off to the Church. Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, for one, makes this claim. Here is my response, from a note originally posted on Facebook:


I see this as one of the many sloppy arguments against Creationism in the Church, when such polls are brought up to “prove” that Creationism is hurting the mission of the Church.

First, it is undeniable that the Patristic, hymnographic, and canonical Tradition presents to us an understanding of Genesis as literal history which is the foundation for deeper, spiritual interpretations of that history. George and Elizabeth Theokritoff write in their review of Fr. Seraphim Rose’s “Genesis, Creation, and Early Man” : //Fr Seraphim is commendably honest in recognizing that if one believes, as he does, that we must read Genesis exactly as the Fathers did, one is then committed to a thorough-going young earth creationism,// although they themselves are evolutionists (St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 46-4 (2002) 365-90).

Thus, in essence, the argument being made by evolutionists is that Creationists are hurting the mission of the Church by staying true to the foundations which that very Church has laid out for us. Many people within the Church and others looking at the Church from without bear a worldview that has been shaped by modern science and information and thus they are conditioned to see the creative acts of God as a matter for scientific inquiry and thus they reject the Church’s traditional teaching as running against the supposedly factual teaching of evolution, and so it is said that Creationism is placing a barrier between them and God.

What we see here is a conflict of Christian Tradition and modern worldview. The evolutionist argument begins by accepting the modern worldview and looking to rework theology to fit the worldview and allow those entrenched in the evolutionist belief to slide nicely into the Church. Essentially this argument says “our ancients couldnt properly discern what is science and what is theology, but don’t worry, we got it figured out now.” Obviously this doesnt foster respect for the Fathers which is itself a barrier to joining the Church of the Fathers.

And finally the point: however, rather than blaming Creationists for not being congruent with a modernist worldview, it is rather this new worldview and the dominance of evolution in all areas of education and life that is keeping people from the Church. The reason people have trouble accepting the traditional teaching is because they lend first and dominant credence to their worldview which has not been shaped by an Orthodox ethos. This statement is not intended as a slam on any Orthodox evolutionists, but it is historically accurate to say that evolution was developed quite apart from any influence of Orthodox piety and understanding of God and creation. As Fr. Seraphim said, no one worshiping the Orthodox God would ever first think of the idea of evolution.

So I propose, rather than accepting wholesale the theory of evolution and the worldview it shapes and figuring out how to neutralize the influence of us pesky Creationists, we teach our people to think critically, examine their worldview, read the Fathers, pray to the Fathers who have written Hexamerons, consider if science and philosopy are even able to speak to creative acts of God and the pre-fallen world, etc. Wherever this leads the seeker it at least recognizes that modern man does not uniformly accept evolution, it encourages critical thinking, it dispels the strawman myth that Creationists are indolent towards science, and maintains fidelity to the traditional teaching and methods of the Church and maintains respect for those who have handed on the faith to us.

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