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Factual Accuracy in the Bible
  • "The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less — some more than others — on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors in historic and scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if the errors related to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them . . . The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects, is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all." -Georges Lemaitre

    The above quote makes a lot of sense to me. But I am confused on this matter because speakers and apologetics of the Faith often use examples of historical accuracy in the Bible to prove whatever point they are trying to make. Many times I find people pointing out the validity of saying that the Gospels are accurate historical documents. They do this by giving examples such as the one about how the distances between places Jesus traveled to were dictated (in days walking) in the Gospels. Later, historians tracked the amounts of days it took between each place and verified that all of these distances were exact.
    My question is whether or not historical and factual accuracy of the Bible should be an issue for us. Also, is it an issue if the Bible is historically or factually incorrect?
    Please answer with your own opinions, but also with the opinions of the Church Fathers, if you have access.
  • Can you give an example of historic inaccuracies? 
  • And adding to the discussion-- i know there are some translation mistakes n the english Bible, Such as "A camel in the eye of the needle" is supposed to be "a rope in the eye of a needle" etc. does anyone know of those 
  • I recommend for you the book Case for Christ (Lee Strobel)

    An Atheist lawyer and journalist goes and examines the new testament (including the resurrection) from the point of view of a court of law. He examines Archaeological evidence, historical evidence, corroborative evidence, psychological evidence, medical evidence (i.e. of death on the cross), evidence of the authenticity of the gospels, etc. He conducts a series of interviews with experts in each field and ends up with a convincing argument for the validity of the New Testament - to the point, of course, of converting him to a devout Christian.

    You can buy it from the Google Play Store (or probably Amazon Kindle store if you have the Kindle app). It isn't too expensive and it's not too long. It's definitely worth the read.

    FYI, the book is part of a series (Case for Christ, Case for Faith, Case for a Creator) in case you're interested in others.
  • I've watched a documentary about the book before. I'll definitely look into it. 

    But my question is still more conceptual. I am not really looking for the accuracy or inaccuracy of certain things in the Bible, but whether or not I should care and why.

    Are you sure about that @avvakaras? Have you heard the interpretation of how the Eye of a Needle was a gate along the walls of Jerusalem through which camels had to crouch down to get through?
  • St.Cyril of Alexandria is the main person who argues that its a type and should be rope of chord 
    I did research and apparently there is no such gate 
  • It seems you're right. Although it seems that there are a few other interpretations. But I am surprised that such a false idea could be so prevalent. 

    Still, the initial question remains unanswered. And also @avvakaras's question about translation mistakes in the Bible. 
  • Put it this way... Most Orthodox Christians would agree with Lemaitre's statement.

    However, the Coptic Church places a particular emphasis on the Bible more than other Orthodox churches, most of which don't even see it as necessary to read the Bible everyday (by yourself). Look at Pope Shenouda's books - they are full of quotations from the Bible more than most other Orthodox books.

    So probably most Copts would disagree with the above statement. Personally, I agree with the statement.
  • Humanity is an evolutionary species. Our knowledge an understanding of the universe is constantly evolving. Unfortunately, it has temporarily devolved at some points in history, but we're back and going strong. The authors of the Bible (OT and NT) and the Church Fathers, were't all scientists or philosophers (I think some were, but surely it was a small proportion). This also filters down into later works such as the Synaxarium. There is one entry (I can't remember when) that recounts a 'miracle' where the Sun was darkened for several days as a result of God's wrath, and it only shone again after they prayed that it would. Turns out that it was just an eclipse and if I recall it was actually worked out to be mathematically consistent with the eclipse cycles of today.

    There are also some instances in the Bible where, as Lemaitre says, things were written based on conventional wisdom of the times. Even the story of Creation. This was actually based on Pope Shenouda's answer to somebody's question about modern scientific discoveries being contradictory to the Bible. He specifically asked about the Earth's age and if we should believe scientists when they claim that certain rocks and fossils are millions of years old. Basically Pope Shenouda pointed out that the Earth wasn't created in six solar days (24hrs). Considering that the Sun, on which solar days are based, wasn't created till the fourth day, we can be sure that the first three were definitely not solar. Only an fool would claim such a thing. Furthermore, the church believes that we are currently living in the seventh day, and the eighth day is taken to be eternity. Based on this we could conclude (or at least hypothesise) that between the fourth day and the sixth day (when He made man) He could have easily created and destroyed the the entire animal group called "Dinosaura" which spanned about 165 million years.

    Back to my main point, truth is a by-product of fact and context. Whilst the facts are true i.e. God created all things in the way that He did, the context of the recount differed substantially. We know that the prophets were Divinely guided in their scribing, however, if Moses had written the story of Genesis the way it understand it now, no one would have understood it and he would undoubtedly have been stoned for blasphemy.
  • @Ifahmy,
    I recommend the book because it provides enough evidence to show that EVEN if there were facts in the bible that were wrong, or were unsupported by science/archaeology, there is still more than enough evidence for Its validity. The author actually asks that same question in more than one of his interviews (if I remember correctly).
  • remember that the dating systems used in evolutionary theories are based on carbon and uranium dating.
    in order to work out the age of something, an assumption is made that the percentage of carbon that is radioactive as always been the same since the creation (or accidental appearance) of the world.

    this is a crazy assumption as the huge events in the history of the universe will have changed the amount of radioactivity of elements.
    so creation in exactly 7 solar days is unlikely (see above) but possible.
    traditional darwinian evolution is even less likely because of all the holes in the theories.
    i studied this at school (at school leaving level, age 18) and i found lots of philosophical and scientific mistakes in traditional evolution theory.

    but i first advise everyone to read the whole old testament (read the new first!) and then see if there are still questions. too often people read a few verses of the old testament out of context (usually quoted by atheist friends) and then get confused.
    read all of it, and if it still doesn't make sense, ask at your church if you can attend any Bible study or correspondence course on the Bible and early church writers.
    then you will understand the Bible is often not talking about literal days or time periods.
    somethings in the Bible do seem strange (giants and big floods, for example), but remember that the idea of a God who loves us is also strange, but true!  
  • Hi all this is sort of off topic but there's a really good book called "The Experience of God" by David Bentley Hart that discusses popular debates between Biblical Fundamentalists and militant Atheists. Here's the first of a five part review written by Abouna Aidan Kimel
  • These are all very good and satisfying answers. Thank you for all of the sources.
  • Who is this Fr. Aidan Kimel? Do you have his bio by any chance?
  • His holiness pope tawadros recently mentioned in an interview the translation mistake of the camel in theeye of a needle and how it's supposed to be rope in the eye of a needle
  • Perhaps HH Pope Tawadros is saying the truth about the translation concerning the Syriac Bible translation.  However, I've heard it said that the "eye of a needle" is the name of a very difficult wilderness to go through, that even a camel will not make it through.

    Whatever the case is, the meaning of that verse is not lost.  It does not matter.  We know that the second half of Mark chapter 16 may have not been originally written by St. Mark, but perhaps one of his later disciples or a later scribe in the Church.

    St. John Chrysostom in the introductory commentary to the gospel of Matthew talks about how all the gospels may contradict each other in small details, and that is a good thing, he says, because this means that the story of Christ is authentic enough that they didn't copy off of one another.  Thus, you have to see that even St. John Chrysostom acknowledged the human factor in the Scriptures, that you may see that inspiration is not about scientific or absolute historical accuracy, but about enough historical and theological accuracy that is necessary for the Christian faith, whereas the small details and the unnecessary accounts in a dogmatic sense do not need to be historically accurate.

    Origen himself, the master of Biblical interpretation, would teach that fiction and fact were interwoven together in the Old Testament to paint a full and beautiful picture by the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the gospel of Christ.  This is the crux of his allegorical method.
  • @coptic_deacon

    Some your comments have disturbed me, I have no intention to have an argument with you about creation vs evolution, there is enough of that, and quite frankly I don't believe me it is my job to change your views, but I would like you to read the following links and reconsider whether the big bang and evolution is really "science" and proof that Genesis is not an accurate account of creation.

    I believe that the word of God is completely true in all that it says and that true science, not the fake "science" that tries to defy God, but the true science is the one that glorifies God.

    God Bless
    Pray for me
  • The above links are not Orthodox at all!
  • @qawe

    Science does not need to be orthodox, science is science...

    God bless

  • And it was something of a theme in patristic texts that one must not mistake the Genesis narratives for scientific descriptions of the origin of the world. If nothing else, it would have offended against many Christian philosophers’ understanding of divine transcendence to imagine that God really made the world through a succession of cosmic interventions; they assumed that God s creative act is eternal, not temporal, occurring not at a discrete instant in the past, but rather pervading all of time. Basil of Caesarea (330-379) argued that the “beginning” mentioned in the first verse of Genesis ought not to be thought of as a moment of time, as such a moment would itself be something divisible, with a beginning of its own that would then itself have had to have a beginning, and so on ad infinitum; rather, he said, creation should be conceived of as the eternal, indivisible, and immediate bringing into existence of the whole of creation, from its beginning to its end.

    Many of the Fathers—Origen, John Chrysostom (c. 349-407), Augustine (354—430), for example—took “beginning” as a reference to the eternal “principle” of Gods Logos. Thus it made perfect sense for Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine to speculate that, while the act of creation is timeless, the world had unfolded progressively in time, out of its own intrinsic potencies and principles, with nature itself acting as the craftsman. And such was the pattern of “higher” biblical exegesis for centuries thereafter. Certainly anyone searching mediaeval commentaries on the creation narratives of Genesis for signs of fundamentalist literalism will be largely disappointed. There is a good reason why, among Darwins contemporaries, even as orthodox a Christian thinker as John Henry Newman (1801-1890)—who was, among other things, a great patristics scholar— could find nothing in the science of evolution contrary to or problematic for the doctrine of creation.

    Not that we need to exaggerate the sophistication of Christians or of religious persons in general down the centuries, or imagine that they could foresee future advances in cosmology, geology, or genetics. Intelligence, education, curiosity are always variable properties, and the average person as a rule has only a vague interest in what the remote origins of the world may have been, or where the demarcation between legend and history lies.

    Moreover, no ancient thinker, however brilliant, had access to modern knowledge regarding the age of the earth or the phylogeny of species. What we can say, however, at least with regard to Western culture, is that it was not until the modern period (and, really, not until the late modern period) that a significant minority of believers became convinced that the truth of their faith depended upon an absolutely literal—an absolutely “factual”—interpretation of scripture, and felt compelled to stake everything on so ludicrous a wager.

    Now the Bible came to be seen as what it obviously is not: a collection of “inerrant” oracles and historical reports, each true in the same way as every other, each subject to only one level of interpretation, and all perfectly in agreement with one another. As I say, this was largely the result of a cultural impoverishment, but it also followed from the triumph of a distinctly modern concept of what constitutes reliable knowledge; it was the strange misapplication of the rigorous but quite limited methods of the modern empirical sciences to questions properly belonging to the realms of logic and of spiritual experience. I think it fair to say that the early fundamentalist movement opposed itself to Darwinism not simply because the latter seemed to contradict the biblical story, and not even simply out of dismay at the rise of the eugenics movement or of other forms of “social Darwinism” (though that was definitely one of the issues involved); rather, many genuinely believed that there was some sort of logical conflict between the idea that God had created the world and the idea that terrestrial life had evolved over time.

    This was and is a view held, of course, by any number of atheists as well. In either case, however, it is a bizarre belief. After all, one assumes that fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist materialists alike are aware that Christians believe God is the creator of every person; but presumably none of them would be so foolish as to imagine that this means each person is not also the product of a spermatozoon and ovum; surely they grasp that here God's act of creation is understood as the whole event of nature and existence, not as a distinct causal agency that in some way rivals the natural process of conception. Somehow, though, even in the minds of some Christians, God has come to be understood not as the truly transcendent source and end of all contingent reality, who creates through “donating” being to a natural order that is complete in itself, but only as a kind of supreme mechanical cause located somewhere within the continuum of nature. Which is only to say that, here at the far end of modernity, the concept of God is often just as obscure to those who want to believe as to those who want not to. Ours is in many ways a particularly unsubtle age."

    From David Bentley Hart, "The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013) 23-28
  • "For the sake of harmony, I for one am more than willing to acknowledge that the God described by the new atheists definitely does not exist; but, to be perfectly honest, that is an altogether painless concession to make.

    Would that I could, however, lay the blame for many of these misunderstandings entirely to the charge of the atheists. I cannot, sadly. Late modernity in the West has been marked, as no other period ever has, by the triumph of ideological extremism. The twentieth century gave birth to fundamentalism in religion, but also in politics, social theory, economics, and countless other spheres of abstract conjecture and personal commitment.

    Radical materialisms bred mass murder, radical political movements and radical religious fideisms bred terrorism; never before had abstract ideas proved to be such lethal things. What the cause or causes of this peculiarly modern pathology might be is a fascinating but tangential question here. Whatever the case, the results have spanned the full spectrum, from the unspeakably tragic to the ineffably banal. It is true that a great deal of the rhetoric of the new atheism is often just the confessional rote of materialist fundamentalism (which, like all fundamentalisms, imagines that in fact it represents the side of reason and truth); but it is also true that the new atheism has sprung up in a garden of contending fundamentalisms. There would not be so many slapdash popular atheist manifestoes, in all likelihood, if there were not so many soft and inviting targets out there to provoke them: young earth creationists who believe that the two contradictory cosmogonic myths of the early chapters of Genesis are actually a single documentary account of an event that occurred a little over six millennia ago, and that there really was a Noah who built a giant ark to rescue a compendious menagerie from a universal deluge... Here, certainly, the new atheism has opponents against which it is well matched.

    It should be noted, though, just out of fairness, that the emergence of fundamentalism in the last century was not some sort of retreat to a more original or primitive form of faith. Certainly the rise of the Christian fundamentalist movement was not a recovery of the Christianity of earlier centuries or of the apostolic church.

    It was a thoroughly modern phenomenon, a strange and somewhat poignantly pathetic attempt on the part of culturally deracinated Christians, raised without the intellectual or imaginative resources of a living religious civilization, to imitate the evidentiary methods of modern empirical science by taking the Bible as some sort of objective and impeccably consistent digest of historical data.

    It is of course absurd to treat the Bible in that way—though, frankly, no more absurd than thinking that “science shows that God does not exist”—but it is also most definitely not the way the Bible was read in the ancient or mediaeval church. The greatest Church Fathers, for instance, took it for granted that the creation narratives of Genesis could not be treated literally, at least not in the sense we give to that word today, but must be read allegorically—which, incidentally, does not mean read as stories with codes to be decrypted but simply read as stories whose value lies in the spiritual truths to which they can be seen as pointing."

    David Bentley Hart
  • Here's an interesting book on science

    Also check out RC Priest, Fr Robert Barron's article on Genesis

    "My hope is that those who are tripped up by the beginning of the book of Genesis can make a small but essential interpretive adjustment and see these writings as they were meant to be seen: not as primitive science, but as exquisite theology."

  • And here's why our Orthodox Church should try to avoid adopting the literalism of fundamentalist Christians:

    "The caricature of Christianity, some of which has been made possible by Christian fundamentalism (itself a caricature of Christianity), is generally too incorrect to be addressed by a serious Christian...The great tragedy, of course, is that contemporary Christianity has been so “gutted” by those who claim to be its reformers, that a central doctrine of the faith can now be used by non-believers in an effort to undermine a modernized Christianity that was only invented a few years ago."

    Abouna Stephen Freeman, A Faith That Cannot Be Defended,

  • @cyril

    wow that was a long post! This may seem like a stupid question but do you believe what David Bentley Hart is saying?

    I find it hard to be a person who believes in God and in His Word and then believe people who are coming up with theories to basically try to disprove  God. What astonishes me even more is that Christians believing in God alter their faith due to "new scientific advancements," without questioning them. I questioned them and I found that the God of the bible is highly supported by scientific evidence; science glorifies Him. But where does the issue arise then? 

    Historical science is where we have evidence and we come up with theories to explain what has happened. (This is in opposition to operational science.) Evolution scientists have found some data and made up theories (evolution/big bang) to try to explain it. These theories came from their own minds. However, Creationists look at the data they get and they don't really need to speculate a lot, because their theories are already made, it is in the Bible. And the scientific data has never supported evolutionary theories as well as it has the bible.

    Those are just some of the reasons why I choose to be a young earth creationist.

    God Bless
    Pray for my weakness 

  • Apologies for the long posts.

    I think Dr Hart has written some of the finest apologetic pieces in the past five years. His assessment of fundamentalism is also very sound.

    Biblical fundamentalism comes out from a confessional tradition that is very different from the Orthodox Church and is rooted very strongly in the presuppositions of Sola Scriptura...

    Sure the Church can use what is beneficial but Biblical fundamentalism and the theology it springs should be approached with caution.
  • Oh don't worry, this ones pay back! :p
    Please explain what you mean by the theology that Biblical fundamentalism springs should be approached with caution, why? If you read the below excerpt, the theology that theistic evolution proposes seems to be the one that should be approached with cuation.

    A central part of the Gospel is that death is the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). Death intruded into a perfect world because of sin, and it is so serious that Jesus’ victory over death cannot be entirely manifested while there is a single believer in the grave. Are we expected to believe that something the Bible authors described as an enemy was used or overseen by God for millions of years and was called ”very good”?

    A major part of the Gospel is the hope we have in this Resurrection and restoration of the creation to its original perfect state. The Bible is clear about the New Heavens and Earth as a place where there is no carnivory, no death, no suffering, and no sin (Isaiah 65:17–25Revelation 21:1–5). But how can this be called a restoration if such a state never existed?

    An evolutionist Anglican priest gave a good summary of what accepting death before the Fall means for Christian theology:

    “ … Fossils are the remains of creatures that lived and died for over a billion years before Homo Sapiens evolved. Death is as old as life itself by all but a split second. Can it therefore be God’s punishment for Sin? The fossil record demonstrates that some form of evil has existed throughout time. On the large scale it is evident in natural disasters. … On the individual scale there is ample evidence of painful, crippling disease and the activity of parasites. We see that living things have suffered in dying, with arthritis, a tumor, or simply being eaten by other creatures. From the dawn of time, the possibility of life and death, good and evil, have always existed. At no point is there any discontinuity; there was never a time when death appeared, or a moment when the evil [sic] changed the nature of the universe. God made the world as it is … evolution as the instrument of change and diversity. People try to tell us that Adam had a perfect relationship with God until he sinned, and all we need to do is repent and accept Jesus in order to restore that original relationship. But perfection like this never existed. There never was such a world. Trying to return to it, either in reality or spiritually, is a delusion. Unfortunately it is still central to much evangelical preaching.”3

  • So, one can now see the slippery slope that ensues if we allow for billions of years with or without evolution, because it puts death and suffering before the Fall. Its logical corollary is that it also places evil before the Fall (which no longer exists in his view, as such, since there was nowhere to fall from). And in the process it rules out the hope of a return to a perfect state, since there can be no return to what never was. The Gospel itself has been destroyed in the process.

    So what did Jesus come to save us from, if not death, suffering, sin, and separation from God? What do we do with passages like Hebrews 9:22, which says “ … the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”, if death and bloodshed were occurring as ‘natural’ processes for millions of years before Adam? If that is the case, then the death of Christ becomes insignificant and unable to pay for our sins. And what is our hope if it is not in the Resurrection and the New Heavens and Earth?

    f death is natural, why do we mourn it so? Why can we not accept death as a ‘normal’ part of life? This view robs the Gospel of its power and Jesus’ sacrifice of its significance. Following the thought to its natural conclusion has led many people to abandon the Christian faith altogether.

    excerpt from

    God Bless

    Pray for me

  • If it is about accepting animal death before the fall that one is worried about, the Coptic Church really has no problem with that. I know many bishops who do not deny the fact that dinosaurs were killed off 65 million years ago.

    I sympathize however with this issue, as I feel this may be the hardest roadblock for a theologian to accept evolution. Frankly, what counts is humanity more than anything. Furthermore, death in Adam (humanity) is more than just physical disintegration. So that should be a bit food for thought.
  • @Faithfull Servant 1 

    WOW. WOW. WOW. I don't know where to start.
    1. Maybe here. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CREATION VS. EVOLUTION. That is merely a figment of imagination created by hippie liberal quacks and nutter conservative evangelicals. There is only one definitive truth and that is that God created and sustains all things. However, to reduce his magnificent actions to a series of magic tricks is probably the most blasphemous thing I have ever heard. (I won't elaborate further because quite frankly I don't have the time).

    2. NOT ONCE DID I DENY THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE BIBLE. Please read and think before you post, and look up the word 'context'.

    3. WHY IS THERE THIS STUPID DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE GOD OF THE BIBLE AND SOME OTHER GOD OF SCIENCE. You must understand, just because the scientists who made certain discoveries were't Christian or even Orthodox. Just because they failed to see that their discoveries supported the Bible, doesn't mean we condemn the science behind them. 

    4. PLEASE USE ORTHODOX REFERENCES IF YOU ARE GOING TO ATEMPT SOME FORM OF INTELLIGENT ARGUMENT. Those two articles you referenced are very incoherent. They stick conclusions to arguments at seemingly arbitrary places. I got lost about 4 times in each one.

    My friend, I don't want do offend you (I don't know you from Adam), but PLEASE RECONSIDER YOUR POSITION. We have it in us to preach to the great minds of our time and bring them to the faith, but we can't stick to medieval thoughts and expect them to jump onboard. Recall St. Paul adapted to his audience (to a Jew I was a Jew, to the Greek I was a Greek... I don't know the actual verse). Furthermore, by doing so we are not changing anything in our faith, but on the contrary, we are understanding God better (although we can't ever fully comprehend Him). Sticking to tradition for its own sake is a crime against that very tradition, for by doing so you corrupt its true meaning to a simple matter of historical convenience.

    Please PM me.

    Best wishes pal.
  • @coptic_deacon,

    1. Creation vs Evolution is very real, in fact the reason why the "vs" is in there is due to the fact that they are both giving very different views on the origins on the universe, including you and me. You are very correct in that God is created and sustains all things, and that is simply the truth. We agree! However, I take it that we disagree on how He did it exactly, I believe that the bible's account of creation in Genesis is true while you believe that the recent scientific theories are true and have adapted that with your beliefs in the true God. Please clarify me if I am wrong. Furthermore, I do not see how believing God created the world in 6 days is seen as magic tricks and therefore blasphemous. In fact, anyone denying that God couldn't do that (not saying that you are) is questioning His power and authority. 

    2. Please forgive me if I misunderstood your post. I also looked up the word context, but do not understand how that fits in with our present discussion. ;)

    3. I guess this is where you must have misunderstood me, I did not say that there is a God of the Bible and a God of science. They are the same God, but what I said is that true science glorifies the God, "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork." You said that we shouldn't condemn the science behind the theories of the atheists and evolutionists. My whole point and argument is that there is no real science behind them, their science is faulty. Their theories have been refuted too many times and their is not a shred of validity in them. The only reason why they are so popular is because of media in a world that wants to defy God and His rule, that when anything ridiculous comes about  they except it as fact, when really it is nothing but a hopeless theory that cannot be adequately supported. It is so widespread as fact that even our own orthodox Popes, Bishops, Priests and laymen have also accepted it as fact instead of questioning them and looking for the truth.

    4. As I said before in reply to qawe, science is science. I do not wish to pick on you, but in your line 3 you said:

    You must understand, just because the scientists who made certain discoveries were't Christian or even Orthodox. Just because they failed to see that their discoveries supported the Bible, doesn't mean we condemn the science behind them." 

    Like you said, said just because these guys aren't orthodox doesn't mean we shouldn't use them. In fact it is very hard to find an orthodox scientist whose works are published as well as these guys. Furthermore if you went to their about page, they have the same orthodox views as us. There is absolutely no problem in using their research. 

    From your post it seems that I have annoyed you, but believe me, I had no intention to and please forgive me if I did. However, I will not reconsider my position because of the lack of scientific evidence to support your views and the views of countless others. Just because so and so believes in something does not make it right, i.e. a lot of people that killing black people was okay, it turned out that it wasn't.  

    Furthermore, we are not sticking to medieval thoughts by being young earth creationists, we are simply sticking to the truth, there is no question that Genesis means exactly what it means, it is an historical account which is supported by increasing amounts of evidence both scientific and linguistic.
    You also said that by accepting evolution and the like we are not changing anything in our faith, however we are. If you were to read the articles presented forward earlier they outline these. 

    You present a good case when you say that death in humanity is more than physical disintegration. I cannot answer that and that is more of a theological issue and that is not my main concern.

    However my main argument is that evolution is not real and there is so much more evidence supporting the bible and refuting evolution than there is that is supporting evolution, but there is still so many people accepting it as fact.

    Nonetheless, great scientists and theologians may argue about God and the origins of the universe while the simple man creeps into heaven. Really what we are discussing here is not of absolute importance but it is still really important, but probably not as important as the spiritual life of one and their relationship with God. 

    I pray that we all can grow and be strengthened in God and with God no matter what view we choose to take for it is not up to anyone else to change how a person thinks it is up to them and the work of God within them. We can only present forth different viewpoints and evidence and pray that the truth may be revealed.

    God Bless
    Pray for me
  • Wow, I just reread that and my tone comes of nasty, but trust me it was written in full respect and decency.

    God bless
  • You wrote:

    However my main argument is that evolution is not real and there is so much more evidence supporting the bible and refuting evolution than there is that is supporting evolution, but there is still so many people accepting it as fact.

    I have to respectfully disagree.  If you are willing, I would recommend some reading, but all in all, a decent science education in my opinion would be enough to refute this.  The fact of the matter is evolution is a fact, whether we believe it or not.  Thanks to genetics, if we deny it due to religious reasons, we turn God into a charlatan.

    We need to realize also the Bible was not made a science book.  The Bible is not the Quran.  It's not a magic book.  It's been inspired by Holy Spirit to help give revelation about the gospel of Jesus Christ, not about scientific or historical pre-Christ accuracy.  I recommend reading Origen's "Philocalia", which elucidates the way in which the ancient Alexandrian church studied exegesis.
  • I would like you to please clarify what you mean by evolution, as I know that micro-evolution is completely probable and has and still is occurring now. 
    The problem I have is the evolution of microbe to man and also the other "facts" that this study of life brings along with it such as the age of the earth. If you would like, there is a couple great books written by scientists with PhDs on this subject, among them is "Refuting Evolution" and "Dismantling the Big Bang." Both of them can be found here. There is also many resources and articles on why countless PhD scientists believe in Biblical creation at . Also with regard to "Refuting Evolution," it is online, available here. By the way, I first came across this site as they air their productions on CYC and at first I thought they were a bit dodgy, but trust me this site is great.

    I can understand what you mean when you say the Bible was not meant to be an accurate account of scientific or historical events, however this is not my field of expertise  so I will not try and discuss this with you. However, if something has not yet had enough scientific validity and support, my view is that we should not be so quick to rule out that the Bible cannot be speaking about an actual historical or scientific account. 

    Also I found the book online here
    Would you be able to point out which chapters I should read first to understand how the ancient Alexandrian church studied exegesis? I am no Theologian or Historian so I do need a bit of guidance when it comes to these things, however from the looks of it chapter 1 seems to be dealing with this issue.

    Pray for me
    God Bless

  • Dear Faithful Servant,

    I have debated evolution ad nauseum with many people.  The issue comes from certain misunderstandings and misapplications of scientific terminologies or scientific discoveries.  The fact is evolution has been studied from several aspects, fossil record, embryology, anatomical comparisons, biochemically, and now, the final nail on the coffin to solidify the theory of evolution, genetics.  When you use the distinction between micro and macro evolution, it is a distinction that has no clear cut line on where to draw.  For instance, evolution occurs on a cellular level and occurs on an insect and plant level, as has been observed, albeit on a slower scale than the cell, and the bacteria evolves faster than eukaryotes or more complex bacteria.  Does that mean that somehow the insects and plants have mediocre evolution, or eukaryotes have semi-microevolution?  The distinction only talks about the scale of what happens, but the same process in both can be observed and observed even up the human scale, and that is the rate of genetic change over time.  This lead to a study in population genetics, which can statistically predict how fast or slow something can evolve.  The more complex the organism, the slower the rate of evolution.

    We have even gotten so exact with genetic studies that we can actually know how distant one human from another is related to.  Genetically, I can find out perhaps that you are my 55th cousin 20 times removed or something.  We can find out what our common ancestor is, and with this same technology, it is has been used on an interspecies level to the point where it consistently confirms the overall picture of evolution that was studied embryologically, by fossil, anatomically, biochemically etc.  That's why genetics have turned evolution into a fact.

    The books published, I'm sorry to say, are usually published by Protestants or at the very least funded by Protestants who are invested in proving the scientific and historic accuracy of the Bible, turning the Bible into something even the Church fathers did not intend it for.  The Bible to these groups is a magic book (I saw one testimony video that literally speaks of the Bible floating in air and the words popping out and glowing with light to convert someone into Christianity!!!).  They have no Church tradition to fall on, and thus, the only way they can approve of their heretical dogmas is by turning the primary source of Church tradition (the Bible) into an idol that they worship.  They who profess iconoclasm have turned the Bible into a statue to bow down before.  In Islam, the same thing occurs, where the Quran is given such high veneration that it must be scientifically and historically accurate.  In addition, you hear Muslims speak of the Quran as having no literary mistakes that makes Shakespeare look like a first grader.  All these fantastical and sensationalist praises lead one to even kill for anyone who insults a letter in the Quran (I've only met one believing Muslim in my life who does not treat the Quran that way, and there are a minority of scholars who are changing the way they interpret the Quran based on today's science).

    This is not how we treat the Bible.  The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit inspires the respective authors to write based on his personality, cultural beliefs, understandings, traditions, customs, etc, and using these ideas, weaves together a perfect picture of the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is even thought that it can inspire historical fact interwoven with fiction to paint that complete picture of the gospel.  That doesn't mean all Scripture is fiction, but it does mean not everything should be taken scientifically or historically accurate (or even grammatically accurate for that matter), but to be interpreted in a spiritual manner.  Genesis chapter 1 for instance gives us the science of its day, the world of the four elements, water, air, fire, and dust.  Who can deny in their basic science courses that today we now know we have 110+ elements, not four.  Does that make Genesis 1 uninspired?  Absolutely not!  It is a beautifully written text filled with wonder about the Creator as well as the revelation of the Trinity and the gospel!

    Some books I can recommend that helps elucidate the science of evolution for you are "Finding Darwin's God" and "The Language of God", the former written by a Catholic, Dr. Kenneth Miller PhD (professor of cell biology and lead witness in the Kittsmiller vs. Board of Ed), and the latter by a Protestant, Dr. Francis Collins MD, PhD (atheist turned Christian, physician, discovered genetic links to breast cancer, and the head of the Genome Project that successfully mapped the human genome).  After much thought and study, I have come to a conclusion that those who advocate Intelligent Design as a science either commit basic scientific disaster or real Christian blasphemy against God (if they really know what science is).

    As for Origen's Philocalia, at least the first chapter, which is a long one, suffices.

    "I am a creationist and an evolutionist."  Dr. Theodosius Dobzhansky, father of the genetic definition of evolution and Orthodox Christian

    God bless.
  • That's a very interesting observation, the similarity between Fundamentalist Islam and Fundamentalist Protestantism. They both seem to share a focus on textual primacy, the literal application and reading, the iconoclasm and even the sense of a far away God. Humanity and Divinity are separated, and Incarnation is denied. There's even the sense of triumphalism in proselytization and a conquering kind of missiology.

    (Someone once pointed out that a popular Evangelical Christian Worship song, if translated into Arabic would be the same words as a certain triumphalist battle cry.)

    One wonders if the literal readings of Scripture in our Church might be linked to a sort of double pressure from cultural persecution and enculturalization on one end and subtle protestant proselytizing on the other? Strange that the Church of Alexandria, known for its beautiful allegorical readings of Scripture in the Early Church has a more literal and fundamentalist way of reading today.

    “You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” + Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451

    Another way is perhaps allowing one to "read" but encouraging them to misread. 

  • Thank you for the insights and I am sorry for the delay in posting.

    Mina, you wrote that evolution has been studied form "fossil record, embryology, anatomical comparisons, biochemically, and now, the final nail on the coffin to solidify the theory of evolution, genetics"

    I am not saying that science is a lie, in fact I am a very strong believer in science. I am saying however that the studies you have pointed out above are not "conclusive" (as Father ap said in his post) as there have been many scientific refutations to them. I will tell you this, even if I did not believe in God or the Bible, I still wouldn't except evolution or its "evidence", if you can call it that. All the scientific refutations to it far outweigh the support for it. All these can be found here

    With regard to your comment about the books, you said that these are usually written by protestants trying to prove the scientific accuracy of the bible. However, this is not true. Looking at the authors of these books they have been written by people with PhDs, they have been written by scientists. Furthermore, in these books there is very little use of the Bible as evidence compared to how much scientific evidence they present forth. So please don't be so quick to knock these books of as "protestant," as they are simply science books, presenting forth scientific facts. I have never heard of someone undertaking a Bachelor of Science refuse to read or use their textbook because it wasn't written by somebody orthodox, this is the same concept with the books that I posted. 

    "This is not how we treat the Bible.  The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit inspires the respective authors to write based on his personality, cultural beliefs, understandings, traditions, customs, etc, and using these ideas, weaves together a perfect picture of the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is even thought that it can inspire historical fact interwoven with fiction to paint that complete picture of the gospel.  That doesn't mean all Scripture is fiction, but it does mean not everything should be taken scientifically or historically accurate (or even grammatically accurate for that matter), but to be interpreted in a spiritual manner.  Genesis chapter 1 for instance gives us the science of its day, the world of the four elements, water, air, fire, and dust.  Who can deny in their basic science courses that today we now know we have 110+ elements, not four.  Does that make Genesis 1 uninspired?  Absolutely not!  It is a beautifully written text filled with wonder about the Creator as well as the revelation of the Trinity and the gospel!"

    I agree with you 100%! You are right not everything should be taken literally, and don't get me wrong I am not advocating the complete literal reading of the Bible. What I am trying to say is that we shouldn't be so quick to brush off something written in the Bible as fiction when there is no conclusive evidence for it's opposite, and in this case, when there is so much scientific evidence for it's validity.

    There is a new book and documentary coming out called "Evolution's Achilles Heel," it can be found here. I urge everyone to read/ watch it.  

    Pray for me
    God Bless

  • Here's what Dr Brenneman has to say about both ID and Creation science:

    "Obviously the belief that the Bible is true was not new to evangelicals or Christianity, but the fusion of Baconianism and Common Sense created a certain way the Bible was true. The Bible was seen as a storehouse of facts. The Baconian inductive method was a way to examine those facts and create a theology around this examination. Inductive reasoning from facts brought “truth”; deductive reasoning from previously conceived theories brought speculation or one’s prejudices to scripture. “Evangelicals assumed that when they applied scientific Common Sense to Scripture and God-given experience more generally, they could derive a fixed, universally valid theology” much like Isaac Newton’s laws."

  • Fr Theodore Bobosh also has a nice reflection:

    Maybe Post-Modernity and Pre-Modernity are very much related...
  • Faithful Servant,

    I'll comment in more detail, but yes, I will dismiss these people as Protestants protecting a warped view of the Bible, even so-called "PhDs" who get their degrees from the Discovery Institute or engage in scientific dishonesty. Just notice the fact that you are sending me links of a book from a Protestant website and the author of the book is "9 PhDs". Do I send you a theology book and tell you, "here's a great Christology textbook written by 7 bishops", or do you actually read the name of the authors to make sure this is a reputable bishop that I am convinced knows what he talks about?
  • To be honest I'm not sure what to extend exactly, but let me be clear about something.  I appreciate the fact that you do not consider science a lie.  But when I continue to research this, I find that those who are part of this, PhD or not, continue to deceive, either that or have fallen through the cracks with terrible credentials of science.

    In the past, they couldn't get enough biologists to promote creationism or Intelligent Design.  They did get one biochemist, Michael Behe, and even he actually in his hypothesis of "irreducible complexity" does not deny common ancestry with apes.  The issue is that many people jumped on the opportunity to include his ideas into the fight against evolution and for their views of the Bible.  This was exposed in the Kittzmiller vs Dover case.

    Then you get mathematicians who say that the timing is impossible.  That too is a misunderstanding of "natural selection."  When scientists use the term random, that does not exclude the fact there is positive selection in nature, and so the laws of science are in fact guiding evolution in such a manner that there is in fact enough time worked through in the process.

    When Ben Stein came up with his movie, you see the same arguments regurgitated with the same false dichotomies it presents.  It is truly a work of deception, not a work of objective research.  With the movie "Evolution's Achilles' Heel" coming out, I worry this is all the same junk brought about by "qualified scientists".

    Furthermore, as far as we are concerned, we should not waste our time with such idiocies.  This isn't just against evolution, but there's also a fight against the geological record and a fight against basic theories of physics just to further the case of "Biblical accuracy".  We need to step back a bit and say, "is it really worth my time to try to prove evolution is wrong based on theological premises?"  One question you should ask, "what are the theological issues that I'm worried about?"

    Am I saying that the Image of God was formed from an ape?  No, I'm not.  Just as the Bible differentiates between the creation by the dust of the earth (like any other land creature mind you) and creation in the Image by God's Breathe, so too one can typify the dust of the earth as the evolutionary process, and the creation in the Image and Likeness.

    Am I saying that the Bible is not the inspired word of God?  No, as I mentioned before, the Bible is the story of man's history of relationship with God and the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and man's salvation.  Some of the stories may be fiction interwoven with facts, but the fullness of the Scriptures, each and every word, represents the Truth, that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Am I saying that the age of the Earth is old?  Yes, I am, and just because the age assumed in the Scriptures is young does not mean it was meant to teach dogmatically that the Earth is young.

    Am I saying that animals experienced death and corruption before the creation of Adam?  Yes, I am, and in fact, there are Coptic bishops who already believe this even though they may have trouble with evolution.  Nevertheless, it was man's sin who lead to man's death.  That is the most important aspect of the faith.  All creation may in fact seek redemption, but man's sorry state kept creation in the state of death and corruption.  St. Athanasius even said that man was the only thing in all of physical creation to receive the grace of immortality and incorruption, even though they are by nature, like all other creation, mortal and corruptible.

    In a nutshell, I find it superfluous to argue whether evolution is false or true if it does not matter so long as one has a strong faith in Christ and a true understanding of the Bible.
  • Dear Mina,
    This is probably the last post I will make on this thread.

    Firstly, I would like to thank you for all the insights you have given me about everything we have discussed, you are, in my opinion and probably many others, one of the greats on this forum.

    Secondly, I will respect your belief but I will maintain mine and I will maintain to be a young earth creationist due to the overwhelming amount of evidence out there, even though you have chosen to dismiss these scientists as phony or illegitimate. As I have said before, science glorifies God and all I see when I study science (physics, mathematics, biology, geology etc...) is the glory of God, and I hope that everyone does too, which is why I posted on here in the first place. 

    Finally I would like to say that you are absolutely correct, this whole discussion comes second to a life of faith and communion with our God. 

    Please pray for and may God bless you with every blessing Pacon Mina,

  • Thank you for your kind and undeserved words really. I'm no better than anyone. I simply learn and share what I learned. My passion for science is personally that I find science really sacred. God Himself created the laws of science, and I venerate it as if it were the language God used to create, and we all know how attached we can get to a sacred language God used to communicate with to us through His saints. When I chant in the Psalmody, "praise him all you wind and rain, snow and hail, sun and moon, cold and heat, birds and beasts, fish and creeping things, all you angels and saints, all nations", I think of how much value we put in the creation of God as a glory to God. When I feel science is misused I get very passionate about it, not only because of the value it has with God, but also of how it could make us look unnecessarily irrational to many others, not befitting those who truly praise God in all in His glorious creation.
  • I just came across this discussion, and I found it very interesting.

    Quick question though... 

    Assuming all species have a common ancestor, how do you reconcile the account of Adam & Eve with evolution? What should we interpret as symbolic vs literal? Since evolution refers to a change over time in a population rather than individuals, then that would assume that at the time of Adam & Eve, there was a large population of humans. Did God breathe into the nostrils the breath of life of just one man, or into every man that lived at that time? If it was just one man, that brings a lot of other questions, such as what happened to all the other humans that lived at that time? Were they denied the breath of life? If they were denied the breath of life, what happened to them? Did they all just die and Adam was the only "human" that survived? If it was into every man that lived at that time, then we will have to assume that the entire account of Adam & Eve is to be taken as symbolic, and that not until Genesis 4 can we start reading it as literal. But that would be a theological stretch. 

    Sorry for bringing back a controversial topic, but I feel like these are important questions that need to be answered if we are to assume that God used evolution to create humans, and that all organisms have a common ancestor.
  • "The Church is not a Bible-based teaching institution – the Church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth, the Body of Christ, divinely given by God for our salvation and it uses the Scriptures and everything that exists for the purpose of expounding the truth it has received from God from the very beginning."

    Father Stephen Freeman
  • This is a message I shared with someone privately more than two years ago.  I edited it to make it public:

    I've gotten to the point where when one builds a certain level of maturity in thinking, the questions no longer matter.  It's like asking whether Noah took 2 or 7 of each animal.  Why should it matter?  Let us not treat the Bible like the Quran.  The Bible is more dignified than that.
  • where do these other formats come from?  it seems google publishes this in more than one way
  • Thanks for the article by Fr. Stephen Freeman.  I agree with his article in general, with one major exception:  his criticism of scholasticism.  I think it is a good tool when used appropriately, and our Coptic Church has been scholastic in her tradition post-Chalcedonian (a commenter at the bottom named Samn! also mentioned the same for the EO tradition).  It was a very popular tool of philosophical and theological discussion.  Admittedly it is because of Islam that it skyrocketed in popularity among Christian and Jewish theologians, but even before Islam, there was some form of scholasticism evident when systematically explaining theology.
  • "O You, the Being, who were and who abides forever, the eternal, co-essential, co-enthroned, and co-creator with the Father. Who for the sake of goodness only brought man into existence out of nonexistence, and put him in the paradise of joy." -St. Gregory Liturgy

    "You, as Lover of Mankind, have created me, as man. You had no need of my servitude, but rather I had need of Your lordship. Because of the multitude of Your tender mercies, You have brought me into existence when I was not." -St. Gregory Liturgy

    An Excerpt from Fr. Tadros Malaty's "Patristic Commentary on Genesis":
    "In the second century, it seems that Origen believed that the story of Adam and Eve, and all what happened to them, was a purely symbolic story, presented by the divine inspiration, to reveal spiritual concepts that touch Adam’s life in relationship to God; that the Garden was not on earth but in the third heavens, where Adam and Eve, before their fall, were two spirits with no real bodies; that they descended from paradise to earth as a result of their sin; and that the bodies they acquired were a kind of punishment. St. Epiphanius of Salamis at Cyprus, attacked these views in his correspondence to St. John of Jerusalem.

    These views are totally unacceptable by the Church, as they distort the look at the world created by God as a sign of His love for us, and they corrupt our belief in the sanctification of the body. Christ the Lord, as well as His saintly apostles, proclaimed the early incidents of creation as actual and not as symbolic incidents.

    (1) Both Testaments of the Holy Scripture are built on the revelation of the sacrifice of salvation that humanity needed, after the fall of our parents Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden... (See Romans 5); and on the fact that the fall of Adam had necessitated the redemptive work of Christ, to save man as a whole - spirit and body, and not to save his spirit alone. For if the human body is the product of sins that the spirit has committed earlier in separation from the body, there would be no need for the Divine Incarnation and for the salvation of the body together with the spirit.

    (2) When Christ the Lord talked, Himself, about marriage, He referred to it on the basis of what happened at the onset of creation, as a historical truth, in order to prohibit divorce (Matthew 19: 3-6; Mark 10:2-9).

    (3) Christ referred to the episode of the fall of our parents on the onset of creation, clarifying the role of the devil and his deceit (John 8:44).

    (4) When the apostle Paul talked about the Church as the bride of the Lord Christ, he mentioned the serpent’s deceit of Eve as an actual episode (1 Corinthians 11:3).

    (5) In the genealogy of Christ the Lord, the Evangelist Luke mentioned Adam as the first man created (Luke 3:38).

    (6) The apostle Paul talked about Abel (son of Adam and Eve), as an actual person and not as a symbol (Hebrew 11: 4).

    While we do not deny the existence of that Garden, as actual history lived by Adam, yet we also see in that Garden, a symbol of Christ the Lord who came to us from the East, into Whom Adam enters, to find in Him his fulfillment and the joy of his heart. As the word ‘Eden’ means “joy” or “paradise,” therefore, Christ our Lord is the True Joy and the Source of our eternal Paradise.

    If the Garden symbolizes Christ the Lord as the Source of our joy, on the other hand, it symbolizes the Church, as the body of Christ that carries, on the inside and in her midst, the ‘Tree of Life,’ symbol of Christ the Lord, the Head of the Church and the Source of her life."

Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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