Tuesday, February 24, 2015

St. John of Damascus on How Paradise in Genesis Should Be Understood

By St. John of Damascus

Now when God was about to fashion man out of the visible and invisible creation in His own image and likeness to reign as king and ruler over all the earth and all that it contains, He first made for him, so to speak, a kingdom in which he should live a life of happiness and prosperity. And this is the divine paradise , planted in Eden by the hands of God, a very storehouse of joy and gladness of heart (for "Eden" means luxuriousness). Its site is higher in the East than all the earth: it is temperate and the air that surrounds it is the rarest and purest: evergreen plants are its pride, sweet fragrances abound, it is flooded with light, and in sensuous freshness and beauty it transcends imagination: in truth the place is divine, a meet home for him who was created in God's image: no creature lacking reason made its dwelling there but man alone, the work of God's own hands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

N.T. Wright on Darwinism and Epicurianism (video)

N.T. Wright distinguishes between the science of Darwin and the philosophy of Darwinists. Believing that one can be both a theist and an evolutionist, Tom Wright exposes the real agenda of those who argue that religion and science are necessarily in opposition.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Basil the Great on the Vanity of Reading Genesis as Science

In the passage below from Basil the Great's Hexaemeron (Homily 9), we see that Genesis avoids presenting vain scientific theories in order to focus on that which edifies and perfects the soul. To read Genesis either as a literal historical scientific account, or even infusing allegory into the text, is a vain attempt at reading this text outside of the divine intention behind its inspiration. In fact, the entire Bible is a theological book that primarily aims at the perfecting of our souls.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Basil the Great and the Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis

The text below gives a good summary of not only Saint Basil's view on allegory when it comes to interpreting Genesis 1, but also how when Basil refers to allegory he is referring to the way heretics and those who have a low view of Scripture interpreted it. Alternatively, when Basil says it should be examined literally, he is not referring to a literal historical approach, which is part of the modern debate, but to an approach that examines the text for what it says according to its literal words. The allegorical approach, which is speculative, avoids the basic message that is trying to be conveyed by Genesis 1, which is primarily spiritual as well relational, as far as what God's relationship is with His creation, as well as conveying a new revelation for the people of Israel in opposition to the surrounding pagan cultures.

By Christopher A. Hall

The clearest example we possess in English translation of Basil's exegesis and homiletical style is his Hexaemeron, a series of nine sermons he delivered on the six days of creation. He preached them at both evening and morning services during the Lenten season, but the exact date of the sermons is difficult to determine.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil's close friend, deeply admired Basil's Hexaemeron for its clear portrayal of the wonder of creation and its Creator. "Whenever I handle his Hexaemeron and take its words on my lips, I am brought into the presence of my Creator, and understand the works of creation, and admire the Creator more than before, using my teacher as my only means of site."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Critique of Scientific Materialism

The following is an excerpt from a 2012 lecture titled "A Professor’s Journey out of Nihilism: Why I am not an Atheist" by J. Budziszewski from the University of Texas.

I had been strongly influenced by the mythology of our age that confuses scientific rationality with materialism or physicalism -- with the view that matter is all there is. If that were true, then there couldn't be such things as minds, moral law, or God, could there? After all, none of those are matter.