Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America

from http://www.antiochian.org/1123706696

CREATION. Orthodox Christians confess God as Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1, the Nicene Creed). Creation did not just happen into existence. God made it all. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God . . .” (Hebrews 11:3). Orthodox Christians do not believe the Bible to be a scientific textbook on creation, as some mistakenly maintain, but rather God’s revelation of Himself and His salvation. Also, helpful as they may be, we do not view scientific textbooks as God’s revelation. They may contain both known facts and speculative theory. They are not infallible. Orthodox Christians refuse to build an unnecessary and artificial wall between science and the Christian Faith. Rather, they under­stand honest scientific investigation as a potential encouragement to faith, for all truth is from God.

Evolutionists often assert that the Bible is not a scientific textbook, and yet it is the evolutionists who interpret Genesis according to the teachings of modern scientists. If they are admitting it’s a spiritual textbook, why do they give preeminence to material scientists over spiritual scientists – the Saints? As the Antiochian statements says, science textbooks are not revelation, and therefore they should not be used to refute the consistent teachings of the Saints.

This is not to say that Creationists do not see any scientific value in the Creation-Fall narrative, of course. Orthodoxy is not a dualistic faith. We do not falsely distance the spiritual and the material. God created both the material and the spiritual world, and man exists in both as the king and crown of creation who is called to raise all of the material creation to God as Paradise. Our Tradition teaches that death did not exist in the world until man sinned, and yet death obviously also has a biological component – the overlap between theology and science is obvious. We know that Orthodoxy is true, and thus any scientific theory must harmonize with evolution in order to be true, and this is why as Orthodox Christians we cannot accept evolution. As Orthodox “Creationists” we do not build a wall between science and theology, but rather we look for a true harmony. In fact, it is the evolutionists who build a wall between science and theology.

I argued this point in a note originally posted on Facebook:

A common attack against Creationists is that they are anti-science, or that they are positing an antithesis between religion and science. However, I think, in fact, the exact opposite is true. I think it is actually the evolutionists that put a divide between theology and science. On the theistic evolutionist side there seems to be a denial that theology has implications for science, and that science has implications for theology. How often do we hear or read: “The Bible isn’t a science book!” (1) or “The Fathers weren’t scientists!”? Well, no one is claiming that the Bible’s purpose is to teach science or that the Fathers first concern was the natural sciences, but I don’t know how we could reasonably claim that the two spheres have no overlap. Our faith is entirely centered on the Person of the Incarnate Word – Jesus Christ. Christ took on flesh, died in the flesh, and rose again in the flesh. He is the Creator Who created the physical world which Orthodox Christianity understands to be a good creation. We do not believe in the dualistic/Manichean/Gnostic divide between the material and the spiritual. We do not posit a chasm between the two.

But theistic evolutionists seek to harmonize Orthodoxy and evolution by either giving full credence to science, or by not really accepting either theology or science. In the Patristic Tradition the entire world was created as Paradise, and as man is the crown of creation, it was only once man sinned that all of creation was plunged into a state of corruption. However, if man is a product of evolution then there was necessarily death long before man sinned. The two are incompatible and so some theistic evolutionists deny that physical death is a result of sin – they lend full weight to science and none to the Fathers. This makes Christ’s physical Incarnation, death, and Resurrection in the flesh, and our own resurrection from the death which we proclaim in the Creed, nonsensical, and places the blame for death on God. Furthermore, the Fathers do not doubt the historicity of Adam or that he was truly the first and only person on earth, being uniquely created – having no parents – along with Eve. However, evolution happens in populations, not individuals, and so some theistic evolutionists deny that there ever was a historical Adam and Eve, but rather, they simply symbolize all of mankind. However, since the Patristic understanding of anthropology and the consequences of sin comes from their literal reading of the Genesis story, this tactic is obviously problematic. Others seek to harmonize Orthodoxy and evolution by not really accepting either. Some, acknowledging that Orthodox Tradition teaches that man physically dies only as a consequence of sin, will accept that man was indeed physically immortal until he sinned, but still wanting to be hip scientifically they will deny that animals and plants also die as a result of man’s sin. This still blames some death on God although the Wisdom of Solomon 1 teaches that God is not the author of death of any kind. So they accept Orthodox Tradition only partially, and they only accept evolution partially. From an evolutionary-scientific standpoint it is absurd to believe that man alone was somehow immortal. Evolution is one big, connected picture and I know of no scientist who can scientifically justify saying that one species was somehow exempt from the chain. Also, recognizing that the Scripture and Fathers teach the historicity of Adam and Eve, some theistic evolutionists will say that the bodies of Adam and Eve were part of a larger species, but the two of them were called out to receive through the breath of God a spiritual aspect. But this denies that man as we know him is truly a result of evolution.This also posits that there are, or were, creatures that are exactly like humans physically speaking, but lacking the rational aspect of humanity. This is also absurd scientifically speaking. So in order to try to “harmonize” Orthodoxy and evolution, one either disregards the Patristic Tradition and sides completely with science or one denies both Orthodoxy and science and creates his own illegitimate amalgamation. Thus, theistic evolutionists are the ones truly placing a divide between religion and science.

Creationists, however, recognize that theology has implications for science, and science has implications for religion. The Orthodox tradition accepts the historicity of the Genesis account and teaches that death is a result of sin. Thus, we know when death entered this world. This has clear scientific implications. However, if evolutionary science is true and death has existed for billions of years and evolution happens in populations, then the Orthodox understanding of anthropology and sin and death need a radical change. Again, Orthodoxy is not dualistic. The physical and the spiritual realms necessarily interact and have implications for each other. Understanding this, the Creationist realizes that Orthodoxy and science must truly harmonize, and so both Orthodoxy and evolution cannot be true, because, as even the evolutionists’ tactics demonstrate, they are incompatible. Since the understanding of God’s act of Creation and the Scriptural account thereof, and of the paradisiacal life belongs obviously to the Church, the Orthodox Tradition is held as true, and thus evolution cannot be maintained to be true. However, against the frequent attacks of evolutionists, this does not mean that Creationists are “anti-science,” for we recognize that true faith and true science will necessarily complement each other. We simply recognize that evolution is not true science.

(1) Which makes me wonder why evolutionists then turn around and look to scientists to explain it …

(1)

Futhermore, it should be noted, that elsewhere the Antiochian site presents Patristic teaching that is incompatible with evolution. They quote Blessed Theodoret of Cyrus commenting on Gen. 2:7:

 

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen. 2:7)

When we hear in the account of Moses that God took dust from the earth and formed man, and we seek out the meaning of this utterance, we discover in it the special good disposition of God towards the human race. For the great Prophet notes, in his description of the creation, that God created all the other creatures by His word, while man He created with His own hands … We do not say that the Divinity has hands … but we affirm that every one of these expressions indicates a greater care of God’s part for man than for the other creatures.(2)

The teaching that man was created bodily in a manner unique from the rest of creation is incompatible with the evolutionary idea that man simply evolved from lower lifeforms, as did everything else. Here we see that the Saints literally understood Adam to have been fashioned particularly by God, and that this has theological significance.

 

1. https://www.facebook.com/notes/jesse-dominick/false-attacks-on-creationists/10150264755496604

2. quoted in Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision, by Fr. Seraphim Rose, edited by Hieromonk Damascene, p. 212

 

 

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