Thoughts on Evolution and Creation

Thankyou to those who have sent in such interesting and thought provoking comments to my last post. Here is my two-cents worth…

The Catholic Church and some varieties of Protestant Churches (non-evangelical ones) have moved officially towards accepting the Theory of Evolution as the process God used to create life on the Earth. I would note that even if this turned out to be true, it would still have no effect whatsoever on either the accuracy of the Bible or on our Christian faith, for as Tony points out, the Old Testament has been interpreted allegorically since the time of Origen in the 3rd century BC.

However, there remain some fatally serious problems with the Theory of Macro Evolution as an explanation for life on earth. Among these are:

1. How did life begin?

2. How can huge chunks of very organised information be spliced into an existing genome by mere chance?

3. How can incredibly complex systems, such as the mammalian eye or the clotting cascade in the blood, evolve gradually when in fact the absence of any one component of that system renders the whole system useless? (This is the basic premise of the “Intelligent Design” movement.)

And there are others. A recent court case in the USA ruled that Intelligent Design was not science. I believe that ruling was flawed, though, since the case was not really about whether ID is science or not, but about whether it should be allowed to be taught in Science classes in schools. Clearly, there is a much deeper political agenda involved in the second form of the question, since there is a strong backlash against the “Christian Right” raging in the US at the moment. Most people saw this as just one more way that the Christian Right was trying to impose its standards on the very government of the land, and fought bitterly because of that reason. I read the judgment (you can google it easily) and it seems to me quite biased, though framed in perfect legalese of course.

Atheists in the US have made quite a fuss over this judgement, which they see as some kind of proof that ID is fantasy. Personally, I would not go to a Judge to tell me whether God created the world. Why should he know anymore about it than anyone else? As someone pointed out to me recently, scientists have no more knowledge of philosophy or the laws of logic than anyone else, yet those like Dawkins present themselves as being authorities on questions of religion, which are not scientific question at all, but philosophical ones.

There are different forms of Creationism, and yes, our Church does not subscribe to the literal form that says the world was created in six 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago. I would firstly note that any dogmatic assertions about the creation are not to be trusted – none of us was there! And the only One who was there did not give us a modern scientific account of events, but an account intended to help us understand who we owe our existence to. Anything beyond the actual words of the Bible is interpretation, and you will find good interpretation and bad interpretation, but it is in the end, on this matter, nothing more than interpretation.

Personally, I have no trouble fitting any current scientific theory into what Genesis tells us. There are some discarded theories that I would have certainly had trouble with, such as the Steady State Theory of the universe, that said that the universe has no beginning and no end, but that it has simply existed forever. This would be in direct contradiction to what Genesis plainly tells us: “In the beginning, God created…” The fact that scientists were literally forced by the facts to accept that the universe did have a beginning (rather than existing forever) is to me one of the greatest vindications of the truth of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole.

All comments welcomed!

Fr Ant

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6 Replies to “Thoughts on Evolution and Creation”

  1. As my physics prize in high school, I was given a rather interesting book about ‘Alternative Universes’. They are postulating a theory that the Universe is like a bubble emerging from a bubble bath- where there is many “geneses” in a “nirvana”. It is pretty intriguing- though I think that just asks how the bath came about. Black holes are also reported to be kind of doors to these alternative universes. He has some spiritual reflections, and they were remarkable- unorthodox, but sincere. There is so much about this Universe that astounds me. But it alarms me how much Physics have become speculative (I think so, anyway).

    I think that the Church is being vilified here in Australia, too. There was an article criticising how “green” we are- or not, should I say. It was very funny since I do not see how this could be more important than the sins I battle with- God have mercy on me if he wanted me to forget about pride and use recycled toilet paper (actually, I do :P)! People want to make the church be the instrument of humanistic ideals, and I think this is “social Gospel” is drowning out our more substantial callings.

    I particularly like the Anglican bishops of Sydney’s (loving) response to the same-sex issue (http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/media/audio/are_there_limits_to_fellowship). I think we will see a lot of bad publicity in our papers during their Lambeth conference (while Sydney does not attend). I mean look at the articles lately on the same-sex marriage issue, abortion and Euthanasia- just fierce hatred by the “Left”. You cannot believe the many “ad hominen” and naturalistic fallacies. You know when I was learning about logical fallacies, I remember the “appeal to Antiquity” – much less has been said about the “appeal to Modernism”.

    It is going to be chaos- I think, as the “progressive” Episopical church justify themselves for not heeding to the “canons” of their last meeting in 1998, and put forward their agenda, claiming that the evangelical/orthodox churches are the irrational/bigheaded ones. Ironic if you think about it.
    It is sad that when people think about Christians, they just think about “anti-Evolution”, “anti-Science”, “anti-abortion”, “anti-homosexuality”, “repressive”, the various scandals (my life would be the biggest scandal!) and the Environment.

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  2. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23661803-7583,00.html

    This is brilliant! It rebukes my individualism, though, and I should take heed to H.G. Archbishop Jensen’s voice to al of us- not just those who believe they have to act every inclination- and even be defined by it.

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  3. “…the Old Testament has been interpreted allegorically since the time of Origen in the 3rd century BC.”

    I’m kind of shocked by this Abouna – I had heard of the idea before but I had no idea that we accepted it…
    How is this justified?

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  4. Actually, if you read the New Testament writers, they were pioners in using this method. We see things in the Old Testament as “an pre-incarnation” or “pre-figurment” of the New Testament. You will notice that some prophecies- were not really “predictions”, but a truth of the treatment of prophets, or human conditions etc. That explains why some seem to recur. There is no doubt they are treated events as history, but they used it in a way to describe our situation. Consider: Ps 80:8-19; Eccl 12:3-7; Jn 10:1-16; Eph 6:11-17.

    As one said: The NT is hidden in the OT, and the OT reveals the NT. (I think I got that right?)

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  5. Re: Allegorical Interpretation of the Old Testament.

    I understand that the Alexandrian School was the ‘leader’ in this area. However, by allegorical I did not mean to imply that the stories were to be taken as fiction. The Fathers did not often comment on the historical accuracy of Genesis but they did quite brilliantly bring out symbols and meanings out of the events – that’s what I meant by allegorical. I’m not sure whether they ever discussed the question of its historical accuracy. Those who know more about the topic will correct me if I am wrong!

    Fr Ant

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  6. just a couple of general issue of concerns , most priests in the coptic church on sundays sermon seems not well prepared in their thoughts to get across with the result that most of the audience “congregation ” feel humiliated , i believe priests must go the extra mile and improve the quality of Sunday Sermons within our Austrlian culture to attract more people to the church, always there is a room for improvement …the other issue of concern those announcements at the end of the church not all the congregation interested in it so why not to dismmise the congregation and those who are interested to stay back or could be better use that great technology of the screen at the end of the church for those who are interested to do some anouncments readings …may our lord Jesus Christ look after his churches from generation to generation till thy kingdom come , amen ..

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