Church Fathers on Genesis and Evolution

gent

Chicken
I recently got a copy of Fr. Seraphim's book and I find it pretty fascinating. As I've been praying and getting into the faith these last few months I find myself more and more open to the idea of a young earth creationism. I certainly find the idea more appealing than an old earth, I "want" it to be true. I still have reservations of course. The idea of an old earth and evolution is very ubiquitous and through my whole life everywhere I looked it was considered a "fact". But seeing how the mainstream science establishment has lied about all sorts of things like the Coronavirus and even legitimatizes absurd nonsense like "transgenderism" makes me realize that "science" is hardly objective. I can see how a similar corruption happened with evolution and an old earth, though I'm not totally convinced.

I like what Fr. Seraphim says about humility and how only God's revelation can reveal to us the Truth. He says if our own understanding seems to contradict scriptures we should first question our own understanding, rather than assume the scriptures are mistaken.

Another thing that intrigues me is that all of the first civilizations appeared around the same time a few thousand years ago. If human evolution was truly random and we have been here for hundreds of thousands of years then what were the chances that both Mesopotamia and ancient China would each develop civilizations within a few thousand years of each other, since they presumably had no contact with one another? And why was this around the same time that the Bible says creation happened?
 
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Blade Runner

Pelican
The counter would be that we can only find things to show us civilization X so far back, or that writings are only extant from those time periods.

The most likely explanation of such things is the antediluvian/postdiluvian theory. Interestingly, the Bible suggests this if not outright stating it, and Fr. Seraphim, I believe is incorrect in his view of this and of the "Giants". For what it is worth, I believe that the understanding of the Old Testament and God in that time can only be seen in this light, if we are to make any sense of it. Does it matter all that much? No, in the sense that Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth and Life and that if you know Him and are obedient to God the Father like He was, you will acquire gifts and continue in holiness, as He promised.
 
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DanielH

Pelican
If death came into the world as a result of Adam and Eve's sin, how did animals die for billions of years to evolve them?

Romans 5:12 (NKJV): Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned

I guess the response would be animals could die, but not men, but then that creates a situation where you have billions of years of dying animals until you have the proto human ape, that births Adam and Eve, contrary to Adam being made of dust and Eve of his rib, and then those proto human apes died, the ones just one or two generations before Adam. But then it doesn't really make sense to say death entered the world through one man, if that one man's grandparent apes were dead.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member
One aspect that's long bothered me about the implications of the YEC view is the idea that the entire fundamental working of the world got thrown out of whack (to put it lightly) by human sin. That processes like decay, plant/animal death, and entropy itself suddenly were thrown into motion at Adam's sin. This is really just my opinion, but such a notion seems to give humans far too much credit, and suggest God wasn't very good at creating if it all came undone that easily or needed such immediate and dramatic revision. It's always struck me as a massive assumption read back into the Genesis account. The idea that all animals were herbivores and after Adam's sin, God snapped his fingers and made some of them start eating each other (or even designed them like that in the first place and made them bide their time eating plants!) strikes me as exceedingly silly and the product of the type of floppy-suit-wearing hucksters who run dinosaur amusement parks.

I realize some might point to Romans 8:20-21 as a passage suggesting God did this on purpose in response to our sin, but I'm not convinced this is really all that clear or the meaning of this passage. If the Church Fathers overwhelmingly took such an interpretation of things I'd shrug and go along with it, but I don't know one way or the other.

What seems more plausible is that animal death, natural processes, and events like earthquakes and tornadoes were always in place as they exist today, but mankind was intended to be shielded from these effects by virtue of living in the Garden of Eden, which was separate and protected from these things by design (or perhaps from eating of the Tree of Life.)
 

ilostabet

Pelican
If the Church Fathers overwhelmingly took such an interpretation of things I'd shrug and go along with it, but I don't know one way or the other.


Read and discern for yourself.
 

DanielH

Pelican
What seems more plausible is that animal death, natural processes, and events like earthquakes and tornadoes were always in place as they exist today, but mankind was intended to be shielded from these effects by virtue of living in the Garden of Eden, which was separate and protected from these things by design (or perhaps from eating of the Tree of Life.)
The verse I shared stated death came into “the world” not “The Garden of Eden.”

With how liberal certain Orthodox jurisdictions have become if there were an abundance of Church Fathers who supported evolution or even old earth creationism I have no doubt such a book would have been written with their quotes, but as of now the only consensus we have is Fr. Seraphim's book.
 

Enigma

Hummingbird
Gold Member
One aspect that's long bothered me about the implications of the YEC view is the idea that the entire fundamental working of the world got thrown out of whack (to put it lightly) by human sin. That processes like decay, plant/animal death, and entropy itself suddenly were thrown into motion at Adam's sin. This is really just my opinion, but such a notion seems to give humans far too much credit, and suggest God wasn't very good at creating if it all came undone that easily or needed such immediate and dramatic revision. It's always struck me as a massive assumption read back into the Genesis account. The idea that all animals were herbivores and after Adam's sin, God snapped his fingers and made some of them start eating each other (or even designed them like that in the first place and made them bide their time eating plants!) strikes me as exceedingly silly and the product of the type of floppy-suit-wearing hucksters who run dinosaur amusement parks.

I realize some might point to Romans 8:20-21 as a passage suggesting God did this on purpose in response to our sin, but I'm not convinced this is really all that clear or the meaning of this passage. If the Church Fathers overwhelmingly took such an interpretation of things I'd shrug and go along with it, but I don't know one way or the other.

What seems more plausible is that animal death, natural processes, and events like earthquakes and tornadoes were always in place as they exist today, but mankind was intended to be shielded from these effects by virtue of living in the Garden of Eden, which was separate and protected from these things by design (or perhaps from eating of the Tree of Life.)

They are. For instance, St. Athanasius goes into this at length in "In the Incarnation". God told Adam that they'd die if they ate from the tree, they ate from the tree, so they died.

To add to what DanielH said, Paul also reiterates in Romans that just as death entered the world through one man, death was abolished by one Man, Christ. The "harrowing of Hades" and Christ's "trampling of death" are not only Orthodox dogma and depicted in many icons, chants, etc., they're prophesied in the Bible, as Paul points out in I Corinthians for example: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"

This is one of the most crucial elements of Christ's death and resurrection, one that's reiterated again and again in the Bible and Church Fathers. They're also clear that both Adam's sin and Christ's redemption of sin had a cosmic scope that effect not only man and animals but all of creation.

Of course, Christ as the Second Adam and the emphasis that's placed on His geneology is another reason that the Biblical account is incompatible with evolution. Adam was a man, Abraham was a man, Moses was a man, David was a man, Christ was a Man. There's no room for "proto-apes" or any of that either before or after the Fall.
 

An0dyne

Robin
One aspect that's long bothered me about the implications of the YEC view is the idea that the entire fundamental working of the world got thrown out of whack (to put it lightly) by human sin. That processes like decay, plant/animal death, and entropy itself suddenly were thrown into motion at Adam's sin. This is really just my opinion, but such a notion seems to give humans far too much credit, and suggest God wasn't very good at creating if it all came undone that easily or needed such immediate and dramatic revision. It's always struck me as a massive assumption read back into the Genesis account. The idea that all animals were herbivores and after Adam's sin, God snapped his fingers and made some of them start eating each other (or even designed them like that in the first place and made them bide their time eating plants!) strikes me as exceedingly silly and the product of the type of floppy-suit-wearing hucksters who run dinosaur amusement parks.

I realize some might point to Romans 8:20-21 as a passage suggesting God did this on purpose in response to our sin, but I'm not convinced this is really all that clear or the meaning of this passage. If the Church Fathers overwhelmingly took such an interpretation of things I'd shrug and go along with it, but I don't know one way or the other.

What seems more plausible is that animal death, natural processes, and events like earthquakes and tornadoes were always in place as they exist today, but mankind was intended to be shielded from these effects by virtue of living in the Garden of Eden, which was separate and protected from these things by design (or perhaps from eating of the Tree of Life.)
The question isn’t what God did but what we did. Adam was the federal head of all creation. God created humanity as the crown jewel of all creation, and all creation was meant to serve humanity - even the Angels, which is likely why the devil rebelled. Mankind’s fate is intricately linked to creation, which is why the whole creation groans in longing for the Parousia.

To say that God is the author of death in any way is a grave blasphemy. He is the Death of death, and when all things are restored, the lion will lie down with the lamb, the child will play with the cobra, and nothing will harm, kill, or die in all His Holy Mountain.
 

N°6

Ostrich
The Bible doesn’t state our planet’s age. It was already in existence at the beginning of the week when Adam was created. It was a global abyss and the dry land was formed by gathering the water together in order to expose it (Gen 1:9-10). After this, the abyss was called Earth. So Terra firma was already there, it was just under water.

Connecting the age of the planet with the age of mankind isn’t necessary.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member

Read and discern for yourself.
I didn't realize this was available somewhere online, and the library at my parish doesn't have it. Definitely interested in checking it out.

To add to what DanielH said, Paul also reiterates in Romans that just as death entered the world through one man, death was abolished by one Man, Christ. The "harrowing of Hades" and Christ's "trampling of death" are not only Orthodox dogma and depicted in many icons, chants, etc., they're prophesied in the Bible, as Paul points out in I Corinthians for example: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"
Yep, no disputing this. But obviously, there are multiple layers to this, since people are still dying and will keep dying until Christ's return and the New Creation. The connotation of "death" in this context seems inseparably connected to the causal effects of sin associated with death and human death in particular (at least at the present.) It's obvious that death won't be a part at all of the New Creation, which if I had to hazard a guess might work according to different physics (and probably time itself, also.) The real question is just whether our present universe was created like this or not, and whether it suddenly changed upon Adam's sin, which seems largely the realm of speculation.

But again, I need to reiterate, I'm an evolution skeptic. I'm not trying to justify the most progressive reading of Genesis I can come up with. In some respects I'm still reacting against the YEC fundamentalist culture in which I grew up and which was filled with dumb arguments rather than good ones. I'm open to having my mind changed, especially by patristic insight.

They're also clear that both Adam's sin and Christ's redemption of sin had a cosmic scope that effect not only man and animals but all of creation.

Guess I'll find out more when I read Fr. Seraphim Rose's book.

Of course, Christ as the Second Adam and the emphasis that's placed on His geneology is another reason that the Biblical account is incompatible with evolution. Adam was a man, Abraham was a man, Moses was a man, David was a man, Christ was a Man. There's no room for "proto-apes" or any of that either before or after the Fall.
Again, I doubt evolution so I'm not suggesting "proto-humans" anyway. But Biblical genealogies are a bit more complicated than they appear at first glance, as insight into Ancient Near East culture has revealed their genealogies work quite a bit different from ours. My point is simply that I'd be hesitant to make these things a litmus test of faith or whatever.
 
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