People spend huge amounts of time trying to refute evolution and trying to force the teaching of “alternatives” on schoolkids.
But is this really a good use of our time? If scientists found something that absolutely proved evolution, what would happen to our faith? (Actually, it can be argued that they have long since proven evolution.)
I feel it’s better to just say, God was behind whatever happened. Whether He used evolution, six 24-hour days of creation, or whatever, God was the great Designer.
Now let’s get on with more important things, such as spreading the Word and helping our communities.
This writer says that the Early Church did not understand the 6 Creation days to be literal. They were, rather, “six successive enormous periods of time.” I’ve heard this may not be totally accurate: “Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church” by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara, Jr.
Also see this view from a Russian Orthodox missionary leaflet: “Orthodoxy and Creationism” by Fr. Deacon Andrey Kuraev
The Orthodox church does not reject God-driven evolution, just atheistic evolution, and does not say one way or another how things worked.
Many Orthodox believe evolution is incompatible with Genesis; many believe it is compatible. One bishop will say evolution is how God created; another will emphatically deny evolution.
But also note that Adam and Eve are treated in Church writings as actual people, not metaphors, so we must take care before dismissing them as simply allegories:
We shall not compare the biblical story of creation with modern scientific theories of the origin of the universe. The protracted dialogue between science and theology has not yet come to any definitive conclusions about the connections between biblical revelation and scientific developments.
It is, however, very clear that the Bible does not aim to present a scientific account of the origin of the universe, and it is rather naive to polemicize on the biblical narrative understood in its literal sense. Sacred Scripture regards all of history from the perspective of an interrelationship between the human and the divine.
The authors of biblical stories often use metaphorical and symbolic language and they often rely on the scientific knowledge of their own time. This, however, does not diminish the significance of the Bible as a book through which God speaks to humanity and reveals God in all His creative power. —The Six Days of Creation
The classic patristic writing is Basil’s nine homilies on the Six Days of Creation, the Hexaemeron. Most of the key doctrines whose origin is wrongly attributed to Augustine in the Western tradition can be found in Basil and Gregory of Nyssa two generations earlier.
The world does not begin in time, but in God’s will and word (Hexaemeron, 1:5ff). The six days of creation are not 24-hour days (caused by the sun, created on the fourth day) but long epochs.
There is no “three-storey universe” as in Rudolf Bultmann’s caricature of patristic teaching. The created order is unfinished, dynamic, moving towards its fulfillment.
Heaven is not a place but an order of many-dimensioned reality closed to our senses. –Paulos Mar Gregorios, A Theology of Nature: an Introduction
Among the visible things that God created is the crown of His creation, man. In Genesis we read the story of God’s creation. We cannot interpret this story to the letter; however, its message is loud and clear:
God is the creator of everything that exists; there is order in God’s creation, and a development (even “evolution”) from lower forms to higher forms of life; God created everything good; man, created in God’s image and likeness, has a very special place in God’s creation, called to be God’s proxy toward His creation. –His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, The Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church
From the Orthodox Study Bible, the “Creation” essay, page 2:
Regarding questions about the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of creation, and about various viewpoints concerning evolution, the Orthodox Church has not dogmatized any particular view.
What is dogmatically proclaimed is that the One Triune God created everything that exists, and that man was created in a unique way and is alone made in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26, 27).
Here is the Catholic view: Adam, Eve, and Evolution
Theodore G. Stylianopoulos writes in The New Testament, An Orthodox Perspective:
A reaction to this liberal academic tradition is the fundamentalist interpretation, ranging from simplistic to sophisticated expressions.
Although fundamentalist interpretation developed in deliberate opposition to liberal biblical studies, especially historical criticism, it was compelled to imitate some of the perceived enemy’s tools.
Based on its own ideological interests, its definitive feature is the use of rationalism, even if artificially, to defend positions such as creationism and the absolute inerrancy of Scripture.
A particularly American phenomenon since the late nineteenth century, it has spread as well to other areas of the globe in the wake of conservative Protestant missions.
The fundamentalist approach is ideological in that it is inclined to defend an absolute position of the plenary inspiration, propositional revelation, and total inerrancy of Scripture regarding all truth–scientific, historical, and theological–beyond the claims and evidence of Scripture itself.
While the intent to uphold the authority of Scripture is commendable, the extremes to which it has led, including a kind of intellectual sophistry and fanaticism, are indefensible.
Christian fundamentalism, whether among Protestants, Roman-Catholics, or Orthodox is on the whole an obscurantist reaction, albeit understandably so, to the bewildering excesses of modernism.
It is often based on unconscious fear of losing the objective grounds of one’s security of faith in the face of new findings by scientific and historical research.
However, as has been noted by many, refusal to face reasonable facts of science and history is not evidence of sound faith but lack of it.
As Father Thomas Hopko puts it in The Orthodox Faith: Bible and Church History:
…At this time, there was a clash between the liberals and fundamentalists.
The fundamentalists, particularly in America, insisted on using the Bible as a manual of science to be interpreted literally in a manner inconsistent with the purposes and intentions of the holy scriptures as understood and interpreted in Church Tradition.
Thus in the Western Protestant world of the nineteenth century, the dominant choice offered was that of either liberalism of a rationalist or pietist variety, or sectarian fundamentalism….(p. 204)
From OrthodoxWiki: Evolution
I think the furor over evolution vs. literalist creationism may have been stirred by the Devil–not by speaking through Darwin, mind you, but by making people elevate its importance far too high.
The arguments have not only pitted atheist against Christian, but Christian against Christian. We know God created, whatever means He used.
And the Gospel of salvation is far more important than trying to prove the so-called “atheist evolutionists” wrong.
Written around 2005/2006/2007
Index to my theology/church opinion pages:
–End Times and Christian Zionism
–God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
–Cat and Dog Theology
–Raising One’s Hands in Worship
–On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
–On church buildings
–The Message Bible
–The Purpose-Driven Life
–The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
–The idea that God has someone in mind for you
–Literalism in Biblical interpretation
–Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology, Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
–More about Pat Robertson
–Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
–Women in Marriage/the Church
–Why do bad things happen?
–Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts? Or, how should we evangelize, then?
–Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
–Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
–Hell and the Nature of God
–Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
–Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
–How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
–What about predestination?
–Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
–An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God
–Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
–Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
–Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
–What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
–Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
–What is Worship?
–Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
–Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
–Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
–Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week