Monday, September 29, 2014

Genesis, Time, Aeon and Eternity

By Vladimir Lossky

In Genesis we read that the heavens and the earth, the universe in its entirety in fact, was created "in the beginning". St. Basil saw this as the beginning of time; but "as the beginning of a road is not yet the road, and the beginning of a house is not yet a house, so the beginning of time is not yet time, not even the smallest part of it."1 If the divine will created "in the beginning", it means that "its action was instantaneous and outside of time"; but with the universe time also begins. According to St. Maximus it is motion, the change which is proper to created things whose very origin was in change, which is also the origin of time, the form of sensible being (τα αισθητά). 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Book of Creation Reveals the Creator

- St. Irenaeus of Lyons (129 - 203)

That God is the Creator of the world is accepted even by those who in many ways speak against Him.... For creation reveals Him who formed it, and the very work made suggests Him who made it, and the world manifests Him who ordered it. The universal Church, moreover, throughout the whole world, has received this tradition from the apostles themselves.

("Against Heresies", Book II, ch. 9:1)

Friday, September 12, 2014

St. Nektarios on Darwinistic Evolution and the Human Soul

The following text comes from St. Nektarios' study on the human soul, and here he defends the dignity of man against naturalistic explanations for the origin of the soul of man. Whereas Darwinistic Evolution claims man, body and soul, was descended from lower life forms, Orthodox theology, as explained by St. Nektarios and other Church writers, teaches that man's soul has a divine origin, given by God. The rational soul of man is in God's image, and the purpose of man is to acquire the Holy Spirit and become like God. This ultimately distinguishes man from the animals. St. Nektarios astutely does not comment on the body of man, which he concedes is like that of an animal, as other Orthodox writers also say, because the body of man is part of the physical universe which science can study and learn about. For a short introduction to this text, read Introduction to Saint Nektarios' Study on Darwinism and the Human Soul.

By St. Nektarios of Pentapolis

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Introduction to Saint Nektarios' Study on Darwinism and the Human Soul

By Dr. Constantine Cavarnos

Sketch Concerning Man "may be regarded as the first Christian anthropology in the modern Greek language."1 In the Preface, St. Nektarios explains that the writing of this book was occasioned by a discussion which he had with some college students that "the soul of man differs only in degree from the soul of animals." To refute their erroneous view, he says, he wrote and published a small study, of only 16 pages, titled Concerning the Relation of the Human Soul to That of the Animal and Their Difference.2 As that work was too brief to treat the subject adequately and to convince the students, he proceeded to write this book of 233 pages. Its purpose is to show what man is, and the chasm that separates man from the animal. In the closing section of the book (pp. 191-229), our Saint gives eleven proofs of the immortality of the soul. Included among these are the six proofs contained in his book Holy Memorial Services. The first two of the latter appear unaltered, the third, fourth and fifth in expanded form, and the sixth revised. The five new arguments are: (1) from the holy life; (2) from the worship of God; (3) from knowledge; (4) from the social life; and (5) from the destiny of nations and divine Providence.

Friday, September 5, 2014

St. Seraphim of Sarov on Adam in Paradise

Below is an excerpt from St. Seraphim of Sarov's conversation with Nicholas Motovilov that explains the purpose of the Christian life as being the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. To make his point, St. Seraphim gives a brief overview of the history of Holy Scripture to show that this purpose for mankind existed from the beginning, with Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. By explaining that man was initially created just like all animals is significant, because what distinguishes mankind from the animals is that mankind has been given the gift of the grace of God to keep us immortal and make us gods. This is the essential key to the theological interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, and all of Holy Scripture in general, as well as the sacramental and ascetic life of the Church.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Natural Selection and Divine Providence According to St. Nikolai Velimirovich

How the Sheep Survived

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

When we think about Darwin’s theory, we often wonder how the sheep managed to survive. Darwin maintains that in the “harsh struggle for survival” over long periods of time only those animals survived that were stronger and more agile than their neighbors, while the weaker and the less skillful disappeared. Having listened carefully to this theory, we ask ourselves: how did the sheep manage to survive? How did it happen that they were not completely exterminated by their mortal enemies – the wolves? After all, a she-wolf produces a litter of five or six cubs every year, while in the same period of time a ewe produces one single lamb. So every year there are five against one.