четвъртък, 14 април 2011 г.

Theistic Evolution And The Orthodox Theology

Is it possible to look for the judgment of the Bible and the holy saints of the Church regarding a number of scientific, moral and ethical issues, posed in our times, such as creation and evolution, cloning, abortion, etc.? Unfortunately, a big part of the Christians interpret the aforementioned authorities wrongly, so that they can adjust them to some syncretic points of view, which seem to reconcile secular views with Heavenly commandments.[1] But here is what St. James (God's brother) tells us in his message: "You adulterous people! Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4).
In this article we shall look at the consequences of the so called theistic-evolutionary doctrine, according to which God has programmed the development of the matter in ascending line - from the simple to the complex, from the dead to the living, from the lower to the higher forms of life. More famous supporters of this standpoint are G. Altner, K. F. von Weizsäcker, I. Ilies, H. Rorbach, and others. The greatest merit for the formulation of the "Christian evolutionism" has the French Jesuit priest, paleontologist and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955). He draws the development of the Universe as a process of the "cosmogenesis", which however he reduces to evolution of the spirit, giving it a teleological interpretation. According to him, the opportunities for the development of the spirit at the expense of the complicating of the individual's organism have been depleted with the origin of man, and further progress should be made on a "collective" base. De Chardin considers science as "supreme act of collective vision" and views science as a variety of religious attitude towards reality, which will speed up evolution.
But the Creation described in chapter one of the Bible is entirely a supernatural process, whereas evolution passes in total agreement with natural laws. According to some authors, "the theistic evolutionist is trying to ride simultaneously two horses, which gallop in opposite directions". The contemporary official position of the Vatican accepts this unprincipled synthesis between the natural philosophy and the traditional Christian theology as a scientific explanation for the Creation. Unfortunately, there are also many Orthodox scientists and theologians who have moved to (or are approximating) this liberal standpoint lately. As an example we could point the Russian professors I. M. Andreev, archbishop Michael (Mudyugin), archpriest Vasilii Zenkovskii, the Serbian theologians archpriest Stefan Lyashevski and professor Lazar Milin, the prominent Romanian priest Dimitru Staniloe, and others.
As we have already pointed out, according to this view God created matter by setting objective laws, that result in the arrangement of that matter into celestial systems, living organisms, and finally in the emerging of the reasonable human being. Generally, this could happen in two ways: 1) through the mechanisms of Darwin's evolutionary process; or 2) by some arranging relations that spontaneously organize the universe (i.e. synergetic type of evolution).
First option. Darwin's model could be applied for the inanimate, as well as for the animate nature. Let us imagine that we have an infinite multitude of universes that are separated from one another. The matter in each of them is constantly moving and changing, and the survival of the fittest retains those, that come to a steady dynamic equilibrium. Then, among a huge number of disordered celestial systems, there will be one, in which the cosmic bodies are in wonderful harmony. If we dispose of enough number of the latter, we could hope that somewhere there could be found also planets with appropriate conditions for living. We could presume that on part of them living organisms are also emerging (and here goes the same argument - among a big number of transitional forms there will be a few sustainable species). And on even a smaller number of celestial bodies evolution will result in the development of intelligent creatures.[2]
The following objections arise in that scenario: First, where in the Bible was it described that God has created such an enormous ocean of chaos, so that small islands of order could arise by chance in it? Secondly, why the intermediate links are missing in the paleontological recording, as well as among the contemporary species? On the third place, one should expect that on other planets in the cosmos there will be intelligent civilizations (something that is again in contradiction with the Holy Writ[3]). And, fourthly, if the matter is dialectically developing and perfecting, it will be in a condition to reach the indicated result even without God's interference. (Thus, His existence could be fully ignored as well.) It was not by chance that Charles Darwin said: "I would not have been interested in the least in the theory of the natural selection, if it had required the addition of some miracle, at whichever stage of its development".[4] Julian Huxley adds: "To postulate a Divine interference with these exchanges of matter and energy at a particular moment in the earth’s history is both unnecessary and illogical."[5]
Second option. (In this paragraph we will repeat what has already been said on the question in Chapter VI of the book). A spontaneous arranging of the matter could be observed at the formation of the electron layers of atoms, the beautiful spatial grids of crystal bodies, Benard Cells, the putting together of viruses, etc. For example, if a beam of electrons is passed in a proximity to a stripped nucleus of some chemical element, part of those electrons will be kept around the nucleus and will automatically form the stable configuration of the electron shell of the atom. By analogue, some assume that there might still exist a number of undiscovered laws, that help for the structuring of the cosmos as well. If that is really so, we could establish their existence quite easily. It would be enough to launch the space aircrafts with arbitrary directions and speeds, and since they would succeed every time to become satellites of the Sun or of some other planet, we could assume that the celestial systems are self-organizing. But the experience shows that such an ordering, alas, is not happening. Also, even if we mix in a suitable solution all the chemical elements that build the cells in the necessary quantities and proportions, they will not join together into a living organism. In the genetic program no possibility is discovered for saltatory ascending transmutation of the species, for instance to have chickens hatched from snake's eggs. The aforesaid points that God has not set ordering relations, which could spontaneously organize all the spheres of our world; and in order to achieve harmony in cosmos, for the origin of life and its variety, a special creative act was required.
Some contemporary proponents of the theistic evolution view state that God has interfered only from time to time within the normal course of development, in order to assist in the fulfillment of a number of insurmountable obstacles in front of the evolution - the origin of the genetic code, the origin of the bigger taxonomy units, the conscious activity of human beings, etc. But He has allowed for the natural processes to act in the interim periods of the geologic history. Such position is incoherent: either we should accept that God has been smart enough to set an autonomous mechanism in the development of the matter leading finally to the origin of human being, or, if he has interfered - why shouldn't He had created at the very beginning everything in order and in completed form? Furthermore, every time we refer to supernatural causes, the concept of theistic evolution becomes a non-scientific one. So our attempt to unify religion with science becomes futile. For this reason, many theologians claim that such a doctrine (in all its different scenarios and modifications ) is a preposterous compromise between Christianity and Darwinism.
The contradictions between the Biblical stand-point and the evolutionist theory are in two major directions:
А) The physical aspect.

Description of the Creation
Evolutionist presumptions
1. In the beginning God created the Earth, then the Sun, the Moon and the stars.
1. We have molecular gas clouds, from which stars are being formed. Planetary systems are then formed around these stars. 
2. The planet was covered with water, which, by order of God, withdrew and the continents emerged. I.e. the ocean preceded the raising of the dry land.
2. Heated fire globe with water steams in the atmosphere. When the Earth cooled down, dry land is formed, and later on water falls down as rain and fills in the seas. Originally, water came on Earth by comets.
3. Plants existed before the Sun.[6]
3. Plants originated much later than the Sun.
4. The creation of terrestrial animals followed that of the birds.
4. The terrestrial animals and the reptiles have developed before the birds.
5. Sea mammals (whales, dolphins, seals, etc.) originated before their land fellows.
5. Some terrestrial mammals go back to live in water for the second time.
6. Living creatures were created according to their species.
6. All organisms evolve constantly into one another.
7. God created man from soil, in His own image and likeness.
7. Human beings evolved from primates.
Table 1.

The Christian-evolutionists claim that the narrative in the Genesis should be interpreted allegorically. But the personifications in the poetic books of the Bible, in the proverbs of our God, and even in the mystic revelations of the prophets are based on analogy, and not on contradiction. A comparison between the order of the processes fulfilled in the physical world shows that there cannot be any unification between the Creation and the evolution theories.[7]
B) The spiritual aspect.
The theistic doctrine of the evolution comes into contradiction also with basic Christian dogmas:
1) Distortion of God's essence.
According to the Holy Writ, God is possessed by love, compassion and wisdom (І John 4:8; Exodus 22:27; Psalm 104:24). He remained faithful to Himself also with the Creation, since He does not "change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). He who looks at the Omnipotent as an author of the evolutionist strategy that is marked by suffering, cruelty and death, he distorts His essence. Therefore, it is no wonder that materialists like Hoimar von Ditfurth pose the question: "How could … God be justified for creating a world, that from the very beginning was full of all kinds of sufferings - pain, fears, and diseases? If the world is God's making, how did evil come into it? … Any believer should find an answer for himself to the question - how do we bring into line the imperfection of the world with God's omnipotence".[8]
The famous French biologist and atheist Jacques Monod (a Nobel Prize winner) tells us the same: "The struggle for life and the elimination of the weakest is a horrible process … I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution ".[9]
The truth is that it was a wonderful world at the beginning - love, joy and peace reigned everywhere. "And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis. 1:31). It was after the original sin that Adam heard the dreadful words: "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toll you will eat of it all the days of your life …" (Genesis 3:17).
2) Stultifying Christ's act of redemption.
In the struggle for life hatred, aggression and killing ensure survival of the fittest and consequently lead the development of pre-historic humans towards progress. Something more, the liberal theologist Wolfgang Böhme goes as far as presenting even sin as a necessary evolutionary factor: "Isn't sin a rather external phenomenon in the great process of evolution, or maybe - a necessary phenomenon, if development has to move onward? … Teilhard de Chardin thought that sin accompanies the evolutionary process perforce, that it is "the risk" and "the shadow", that every creation carries in itself."[10] As someone has aptly said: "Monkeys' descendants do not need a Saviour".
But how could we combine all this with the moral laws, love and the self-sacrifice willingness, commanded in the Bible and perfectly fulfilled in the life of our God Jesus Christ?!
3) Regular consequences of the evolutionary doctrine.
As we have marked before, the theory of evolution carried out consistently eliminates the necessity of a Creator. If matter is in a state to self-organize itself, it is clear that the possibility for the existence of God could be deduced to zero. Darwin himself came up with the same conclusion: "Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true …"[11]
The historian of biology professor William Provine from the Cornell University (who is a convinced evolutionist), witnesses our thesis: "Of course, it is still possible to believe in both modern evolutionary biology and a purposive force, even the Judaeo-Christian God. One can suppose that God started the whole universe or works through the laws of nature (or both) ... [Such a God] has nothing to do with human morals, answers no prayers, gives no life everlasting, in fact does nothing whatsoever that is detectable. In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology only … if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism."[12]
In that sense, many theologians claim, that there are no supernatural events in the Bible, since that would require the direct intervention of God in nature, in our life and in human history. But if that is so, then Jesus Christ is not God, came down to Earth in flesh. He didn't perform any miracles and wonders. Most importantly, the Ressurection of Christ did not happen. St. Paul answers to such misconceptions with: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised....Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. " (1 Corinthians 15:14-18 )[13]
4) "The fool says in his heart: There is no God." (Psalm 13:1).
"If there is no God, then everything is permitted!" - with these ominous words the great Russian writer Fiodor Dostoevski warns us about the anarchy, the terror and the lawlessness that occur in society as a consequence of atheism. Darwinism has influenced the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche who pronounced the "struggle for existence", developing into "will for power". It is not by chance that his political concepts assisted for strengthening the position of the fascists ideology, that is characterized by racism, extreme chauvinism, and antihumanism. The evolutionary theory was raised in the rank of a "state religion" also in the ex-communist countries. Hitler's and Stalin's regimes have unleashed the Second World War, destroyed in this war and in the concentration camps tens of millions of human lives and demolished almost the whole of Europe. Therefore, we ask ourselves how it is possible at all for some people to integrate the evolutionary theory with Christianity???!!![14]
The materialistic way of thinking lead also to promiscuous sexual relations, abortions, homosexualism, drug habits, avarice, increasing crime. Archimandrite Yustin Popovich speaks about the logical end at the retreat of the modern society from Christianity: "Withered, driven by material comforts, degenerated, the humanist man is fully right, when through his sages, announces that he has come from the monkey. Once being leveled with the animals in relation to his origin, why should not he equal with them also in relation to his morals? Even sin and crime are considered as inevitable in society and natural necessity by modern justice. ... It could not be different, because only the sensation of immortality could give birth to morals that are senior to the animals' drive." "In other words, evolution appears to be a license for the patent of the easy way of life, given to mankind by the "prince of this world" - the Antichrist" - summarized P. Budzilovich.
5) The Christian view of the Creation.
From Jesus' words in Matthew 19:4 and of St. Apostle Paul - II Corinthians. 11:3 it is evident that they both trusted Moses' testimony for the events that had occurred in the Garden of Eden.[15] In an extensive work of his, hieromonk Seraphime Rose proves, that all the significant holy fathers of the church supported the creationist viewpoint. Such pillars of Orthodoxy as St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, St. John Damascene, and many others, have not considered the Biblical story of the creation as a myth, legend, or allegory, but have taken it as truthful. Taking into consideration their constant battle for the purity of faith, we should not doubt even for a moment that they would qualify the theistic evolution doctrine as a craftly masked "disastrous heresy".[16]
Christianity does not need to compromise with each contemporary but unsubstantiated "scientific" ideology, only to appear developing and modern. Today, leading authorities, one after the other, begin to give up the evolution theory, since all their efforts to prove their theses "always come to a dead end" (see "Introduction"). Therefore, isn't it time to ask ourselves whether, being Orthodox Christians, we should always be so naive as to take any bait thrown by the secular philosophy? Let us remind ourselves what happened when the Catholic church standpoint (borrowed from the ancient Greek men of thought) that is Earth is flat, motionless, and that the Sun, the planets and the stars go around it, was refuted. The opponents of the Holy Writ have found the long searched occasion to renounce its Divine origin. Wouldn't it be the same again, if we support the doctrine of the evolution, which is now seriously discredited?[17]
Finally, we will end with a quote from the book of the informatics professor Werner Gitt "Did God use evolution" (page 104): "Atheism can be recognized immediately, independent of the philosophical attire it appears in, as an anti-God and anti-Biblical school, so that it is not directly dangerous for Christians. But the situation is quite different in the case of conceptual structures which, by Jesus words, appear in sheep's clothing, but "inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Matthew 7:15). In the case of theistic evolution Christian concepts are readily integrated. However, such teachings reduce the message of the Bible to insignificance and come as "savage wolves" who "will not spare the flock" (Acts 20:29). One example of this is the theistic evolutionary doctrine. All systems which entice us away from the true gate (Jesus) into the sheep pen, are called thieves and robbers by Jesus (John 10:1). … For this reason the Bible warns repeatedly: "See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition …" (Col 2:8).

Read more:
Farewell, Darwin!

The Possible Reasons - Reflections And Emotions


[1] Syncretism - reconciliation, combining between different, often contrary philosophic and/or religious schools on the grounds of their points of contact only.
[2] Human imagination is not even able to imagine how enormous the number of universes should be, so that the above scenario can be fulfilled. If the Universe is only one, then the statistical probability that intelligent life appers in it is insignificantly small and practically not feasible. This (together with the lack of observed signals from intelligent extra-terrestrial civilziations) was also the most important prerequisite that made the famous Soviet astro-physicist I. S. Shklovski to give up the hypothesis for extra-terrestrial civilizations. I wonder why, however, he did not ask himself: "How then, our own civilization did appear?!"
[3] Some scientists-Christians' reasoning is as follows: "God has presented to us quite specific elucidations regarding the future - for example, the return of Jesus and a number of details about the end of the world. In a moment to come the Universe will shrink as a scroll, the present Earth and heaven will pass away, and new ones will be created (Isaiah 34:4; ІІ Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1). If God had created intelligent civilizations elsewhere, this would have destroyed also the place where they live. Adam's sin became a reason for the whole creation to be judged, so why should a race of beings that are not of Adam's (sinful) posterity suffer from the punishment and after that be part of the restoration, which will come with Christ?!
The reasons for the origin of the stars are particularly pointed to us in the narrative about the Creation. In Genesis 1:14 we read: "And God said: "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years." God made the stars for mankind, and not for another civilization "somewhere out there". Add to this also the sequence of the events (on the first days our planet, and only on the fourth day - the stars) and you will see the power of the Biblical proof that the purpose of the creation is uniquely focused on the Earth.
[4] R. E. Clark, Darwin: Before and After, London: Paternoster Press, 1948, p. 86
[5] Evolution in Action, New York: New American Library, 1964, p. 20
[6] Of course, the question arises "how did the plants survive without the Sun?". Let us remind, however, that God has created the light on the very first day and it provided the necessary temperature and energy for the photosynthesis. A remainder of this primary light is perhaps the so called relic radiation, which the scientists interpret as a proof of the Big Bang.
[7] The scientific hypothesis of the Steady State Theory by Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold, Hermann Bondi  was the dominant one by the middle of the XXth  century. We  wouldn't be surprised if some of the theologians of that time have "proved" (in agreement with the theory), that, allegorically speaking, according to Moises the Universe, the Earth, all living creatures and man have always existed (without the need for being created), just the same as the Creator.
Furthermore, there is a high probability that the data from the WMAP space probe, put to orbit in 2001, prove the cyclical model of the Universe of Steinhardt–Turok  (bur for a flat Universe). In that case, today we have to conclude that the Bible and the philosophical-religious systems of India present the same – that God creates and destroys the word in a process of an infinite number of repeating cosmic cycles.
[8] Ditfurth, H., Wir sind nicht nur von dieser Welt München, 1984, 145
[9] Jacques Monod, "The Secret of Life". An interview with Lorie Jot on the Australian radio, 10 June 1976, a little while before his death.
[10] Böhme, W., Evolution und Freiheit in: Herrenalber Texte Nr. HT 57, 1984, S. 89-90
[11] In 1851 Darwin was devastated by the death of his ten year old daughter Annie. By then his faith in Christianity had dwindled and he had stopped going to church. In 1879 (i.e. at the very end of his life - 1882) at a question that was posed to him he answered, that he had never been an atheist in the sense of someone who denies the existence of God, and that in principle "an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin (see: "Darwin's religious view")
A little while before his demise, however, he wrote to a friend of his: "I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, and therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God"
http://www.stevemaltz.com/main/node/16 (see the end of the article)
According to doctor Croft, after Darwin's death, his family has purposely destroyed many of his documents, in order to hide Darwin's aversion to Christianity. (Lawrence R. Croft, The Life and Death of Charles Darwin (Chorley: Elmwood Booksq 1989) p. 95. See also Russel Grigg, Darwin`s Arguments Against God, 13 June 2008, at: creationontheweb.com)
[12] William B. Provine, Book review in Academe, January/ February, 1987, pp, 50-52.
Prof. Provine states that the theistic evolution theory in fact leads to deism. According to this view at the beginning God created the matter, setting in it some program, which would allow the world to self-construct itself. Later on, however, he did not interfere at all in its development, neither in human history. Therefore, in practice deism could not be differentiated from atheism.
[13] The evolutionary doctrine, apart from being in thorough discord with the Bible, is not confirmed by science at all. The best response to the question why the evolutionary theory is still taught in the secondary and higher school in the USA, was provided by Phillip E. Johnson, PhD, professor in jurisprudence with the University of California, in his book "Darwin on trial": "Most professors continue to teach evolution in the universities out of fear. This fear is that of not being tenured, of not getting research grants, of not being published, and of not being accepted by their peers. So, to be accepted, to be published, to be granted research money, and to be tenured by their university, they must follow the party line, which is evolution. This is how the academic game is played." (and not only in America - A/N V.V.).
A great part of the contemporary Christian-scientists have solved this complicated dilemma between faith and science, compromising with their conscience, in order to admit the theistic evolution doctrine. Thus not only could they make progress in the hierarchy as evolutionists, but they could also hope, as Christians, that one day they will go to heaven. St. Apostle Paul does not hide his sorrow from similar believers, who "only want to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ" (Galatians 6:12).
[14] In his article "Orthodoxy and evolution" dean Andrey Kuraev tries to prove that the theistic evolution is compatible with Orthodox theology. In the quoted material, though, there are too much unsubstantiated statements; in view of that we will focus separately on its refutation. The reader can get familiar with it on the site:
To this moment, no one has ever succeeded in combining the evolutionary theory with the Biblical record. All attempts to do this are a grotesque exegetic caricature. The Dutch jesuit Stephanus Trooster writes candidly in his book "Evolution and the doctrine of original sin": "Those who treat seriously the scientific dogma of evolution, could not agree with the traditional treatment ( not only of the Creation, but of the Fall of man and, therefore, of the rest of the religious dogmas - A/N V.V.). Thus we should find an interpretation, suitable to our modern times."
[15] Some claim that "God has made the human being deriving from the monkey through evolution, but this was omitted in the Bible".
The holy evangelists Matthew and Luke, having traced back Jesus' genealogy go back to Adam (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38). According to the above view, Adam should have been an Australopitek, the succeeding generation turned into Pitecanthropus, further in Neanderthals, and only some of the last genealogy branches perhaps became Cro-Magnons. (If one trusts a popular image of Jesus, reconstructed after a skull of His time that was found and broadcast by BBC, He should have kept to a considerable degree His resemblance to the Neanderthals, which fully supports the theistic theory.
St. evangelist Luke, however, clearly states that "Adam is the son of God", i.e. the first man was immediately created by God, as it was written: "the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being". (Luke 3:38; Genesis. 2:7). (Unfortunately, there are a few supporters of that view, claiming that " dust of the ground" is figuratively speaking for "living creatures, that existed before that moment".  But in that case the words "for dust you are and to dust you will return" (Genesis 3:19) should mean, that after our death we are again turned into some kind of animal so that kind of teaching leads us directly to the idea of reincarnation!?)
[16] Refer to priest Seraphime Rose's book "The Orthodox View of Evolution".
 Many Orthodox theologians are skeptical towards some of the ideas of  priest Seraphime Rose. Let us note however, that, in his book "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: The Orthodox Patristic Understanding”, he presents objectively the view of the holy saints on Creation.
[17] In 2006 over 600 scientists with high academical degrees from some of the most prestigious universities around the world (scientists that for sure could not claim to be mislead by creationists) sign the anti-Darwin declaration "Scientific Dissent from Darwin". Based on their own work, many of these experts independently derive the same conclusion, namely that "results from scientific experiments, carried in the last years in different fields: cosmology, physics, biology, AI etc.,...cast doubt on the main dogma of evolution – natural selection". If all those scientists are right (and their number is ever increasing and has even doubled for the last 6-7 years) then, although it may sound astonishing, we will have the same twist of history as with Galileo. Indeed, we will see that so far we have been proposing a false model and this will discredit us in front of the society.

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