samedi 29 mars 2008

Creationism vs. Evolution, considering Thomism, Biology, Church Fathers

series---see comment below for newest index to it.

1 an answer to the question if thomism is opposed to evolution because specific forms are not accidental 2 an answer to a longer answer, after having already answered some turns, which unfortunately defending the compatibility of thomism and evolution - want to read all of the debate? Look at source, then

1 an answer to the question if thomism is opposed to evolution because specific forms are not accidental

Materialism is opposed to thomism precisely in considering corporeal things as accidents of protons, neutrons and electrons in the combinations known as atoms and ions.Even without thomism - is it biologically possible for mammals with one chromosome number to evolve from ammals with a clearly different one?hints:

a) all mammal individuals are diploid, that is: chromosomes go in pairs

b) each chromosome belongs to its own set, which in mammals means: its own pair

c) three or one chromosomes in one pair are a malformation, not the beginning of one pair more or less

d) chromosomes are only counted in natural numbers, not in infinitesimal fractions anyway (yes, genes are infinitesimal fractions of chromosomes, and yes, the chromosomes do change genes, or so people who study presumed chromosome evolutions say; but the issue is the chromosomes, not the individual genes)

2 an answer to a longer answer, after having already answered some turns, which unfortunately defending the compatibility of thomism and evolution

R. H.,I am forced to answer briefly, and I have not much to say, but it is to the point(s).

a) physical causes, sciences thereof

Aquinas certainly acknowledged them. Would that mean he would have accepted evolutionism? Less sure. Evolution presupposes the knowledge of a physical timeline of billions of years. Aquinas helf that what is neither present and perfectly visible and tangible cannot be perfectly known. That includes distant things, that includes past and futre, that includes the hidden. It also includes a possibility, which in thomistic terms would involve a very antithomistic proposition, i e that the essences of the different kinds of plants and animals differ only accidentally and one could therefore evolve from the other by accident, just as red-haired and brown-haired men have accidentally evolved from the same Adam, maybe the same post-flood survivors. This possibility is as unmendelian as it is unthomistic. Mendel knew of recombinations and of qualities that followed suit and did not recombine. Later research has identified the numbers of phenotype recombinations with the chromosomes that define the numbers of genotype recombinations. A lemur, a rat, a dog and a man have quite different chromosome numbers. These are numbers of whole pairs. A pair is not constituted by its number of chromosomes [alone] (two in any mammal) but also by their functions, each chromosome of one pair having in common with the other a specific set of functions. Superfluous and lacking chromosomes in one pair come nowhere near constituting new pairs or reducing the number of pairs (except if two different chromosomes - i e from different pairs - are recombined around one "new" centromere [new as new to both, but old for one of them]: even that would happen only from one parent first time, and the individual would from the other parent inherit a set of chromosomes that has the old dsitribution), variation in chromosome numbers include malfunctions, some of them lethal, some inhibit fertility, some simply make the new individual abnormal....

b) newness of animals and plants:

"Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning. Again, animals of new kinds arise occasionally from the connection of individuals belonging to different species, as the mule is the offspring of an ass and a mare; but even these existed previously in their causes, in the works of the six days."

One by one, now:

"so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning."

Spontaneous generation of animals (like flies and toads) has since that time been rejected. It is as unscientific today as it was unbiblical then. "omne vivum ex ovo."*

"Again, animals of new kinds arise occasionally from the connection of individuals belonging to different species, as the mule is the offspring of an ass and a mare; but even these existed previously in their causes, in the works of the six days."

And mules are infertile. There can therefore never be a population of mules, only a collection of them.

St Augustine gives another example: thorny bushes, toads, flies, et c appeared after the fall as fullgrown individuals, punishing Adam, God having only created them "in ovo" or embryonically before the fall.

*I am not saying strictest sticking to Bible's words be necessary to orthodoxy: I am merely observing that when that old teacher accepted compromising with them to accomodate what was then science, he has not been confirmed by more recent science - like the chrystalline spheres of the heavens, which St Basil explains why Moses didn't mention, though the scientists back then had apparently proven their existance: these scientists back then have not been confirmed by more recent astronomers.

c) six recent days

Some few Church Fathers - Origen, therein defended by St Augustine - said God created all in one single instant (at least embryonically, some species growing to fullgrown individuals only later) and the six days are six mental "dawnings" of the different aspects of that one instant work on the angels observing it. Most say the six days were six days. Thomas say both may be true, the one instant observed in six mental dawnings on angelic knowledge referring to embryonic individuals, the six real days referring to full grown individuals.

I know no Church Father of the First Millennium to have suggested the six days might be what Pius XII in Humani Generis considered possible: six much longer periods.

That discrepancy was once one of my motives for rejecting the papacy of that man, while still accepting papacy as such.

d) a question of historical truth

apart from the question of scientific truth - which leaves the question totally open as to time frame, closed as against kind to kind evolution - apart from the questions of secondary causes which is accepted* whatever you may believe on age dating and macroevolution, apart from the question whether the solution offered by Humani Generis is orthodox or not, there remains a question of HISTORICAL truth

heathen traditions from most places all over the world confirm the details rejected in the name of "scientific progress": a fairly recent creation, a degeneration of men thereafter, a flood, and a repopulation of mankind

*that God sometimes acts through such causes, not that he were bound to exclusively do so

e) Teilhard de Chardin and Jacques Maritain

They seem to think that science as known now is the same in base as science as known back then, only the research is better. That is where I think they got it wrong.

Some of the new methods are rather methods of qualified guessing than of real deduction, real observation. They are methods which Aquinas and Aristotle would have rejected as unscientific. The old, less than scientific statements (chrystalline spheres, spontaneous generation) were so by lack of possibility of observations correcting them. They made the best of available evidence. The new ones are unscientific by making the best of evidence that is so clearly off topic.

Unfortunately this post was the only response that kept my promise of briefness. Until I just lengthened it.

New responses:

a) Chromosomes:

"You discussion on chromosomes assumes that any new variation that results in something of a new species would have to be abnormal in the sense of somehow being defective. This is a huge assumption. The truth is that mutation leads to evolution because genes are crossed over in the process from one chromosome to the other."

I am not assuming it. I am concluding it, for those changes which involve changes of chromosome numbers, from what I know as a fact about changes of chromosome numbers from normal in men.

b) submission to ecclesiastic authority*:

"Must be convenient to just reject the insights** from encyclicals as you see fit."

I did not reject his encyclicals and his bull before coming to believe believe that he was a heretical non-pope or anti-pope, nor afterwards, but at the same time.

*Which is neither a philosophical, nor a patristic argument
**according to how Pio Nono defined papacy, the Holy Spirit was not given so that Popes might expound new doctrines revealed by Him, but ....

c) Patristics:

"What about St. Cyprian of Carthage:

"'As the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand of years, as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, and the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, and the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house l so here also the number seven of the brethren, embracing, in the quantity of their number, the seven churches, as likewise in the first book of Kings we read that the barren hath borne seven'"

Likely to refer to the seven thousand years of human history (including the eighth millennium anno creationis which just started some 200 years ago or more) rather than to timelength of creation week as such. Certainly such a reference is there in De Civitate Dei by St Augustine. Have you really checked the context of the quote, or have you just taken on faith that it be applicable to creation week as such?

"And it was a popular notion among the some of the Early Church Fathers to quote the psalm referring to a day as a thousand years to the lord in reference to Adam in the garden as St. Justin Martyr does."

Now here I would have liked a quote!

"Now if we are talking about a six thousand year creation as believed by at least one Church Father, maybe more, this seems to directly contradict your earlier notion that all Early Church Fathers believed in a short creation."

Which one? St Justin Martyr or St Cyprian of Carthage? The quote not given or the quote that may be taken out of context?

d) infallible criterium:

"Now maybe you have some infallible ability to determine whether encyclical letters or unorthodox but until the Church condemns it I prefer to entertain the possibility."

Vincent of Lerins? Commonitorium? I will not condemn a man as heretic for believing evolution till a general council condemn it, but I will not hold that it is an orthodox interpretation of Genesis or that it does not at least imply grave heresies about God as creator and as good - implications that the individual Christian believer who accepts evolution need of course not be aware of in some cases, but which cannot be absent in all cases either.

Third stage responses:

a) St Cyprians authority is about ... what?

a more extensive quote from treatises 11:11 - here:

"What, indeed, do we find in the Maccabees of seven brethren, equals alike in their lot of birth and virtues, filling up the number seven in the sacrament of a perfected completion? Seven brethren were thus associating in martyrdom. As the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand of years,(9) as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, and the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, and the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house( l) so here also the number seven of the brethren, embracing, in the quantity of their number, the seven churches, as likewise in the first book of Kings we read that the barren has borne seven." (unfortunately recurrent footnotes 9 and 1 were neither clickable nor otherwise identifiable on page)

Cyprian is indulging in numerology of a type little used nowadays. As well as in allegoric application. Saying that the seven days (of creation week) contain seven thousand years (of created history after creation and fall) is not tantamount in any way whatsoever to saying that the seven days were really not seven days in the ordinary sense, but seven thousand years. You got him wrong. Familiarise yourself with allegorical method and with numerology before you try to use this as an alternative timeline for creation week. Oh, and: the title of the treatise is not "Hexaëmeron" or "Work of six days" it is "Exhortation to Martyrdom, Addressed to Fortunatus." and chapter 11 is entitled: "11. That it was before predicted that the world would hold us in abhorrence, and that it would stir up persecutions against us, and that no new thing is happening to the Christians, since from the beginning of the world the good have suffered, and the righteous have been oppressed and slain by the unrighteous"

From the beginning of the world. Not at the beginning of the world. Sorry; if you are not intellectually dishonest on your own behalf in citing this as an alternative timeline for creation week as such, at least you are authority-thumping on behalf of someone intellectually dishonest, someone groping for straws to find patristic support for longer timelines. You may of course say that the chapter headings were added by some editor: indeed they were, but they are appropriate. The heading "work of the six days" would have been heavily inappropriate to the chapter as to the treatise as a whole.

b) authority of St Justin the Philosopher

I reproduce your quote in full, just adding some little at the end:

With the Lord “one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8 and Psalm 90:4).

Furthermore light was created on day one but the sun not until day for.

Adam was told he would die on the same day that he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil but he lived to be 930 years old. He died within 1000 years which seems to indicate that the days being referred to might be a thousand years each.

You asked about the quote from St. Justin Martyr quoting the psalm referring to a day as a thousand years to the lord in reference to Adam in the garden.

"For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years [Gen. 5:5]. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression ‘The day of the Lord is a thousand years’ [Ps. 90:4] is connected with this subject" (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 81 [A.D. 155]).

There you go. And if that isn’t enough to satisfy you skepticism that Church Fathers believed different things about the time frame of the creation narrative I’ll do you a favor of providing a few more quotes to think about. This one is from Irenaeus in agreement with St. Justin Martyr:

"And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since ‘a day of the Lord is a thousand years,’ he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin" (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:23:2 [A.D. 189]).

Indeed so. Only, the day when Adam ate the fruit and died, being indeed a thousand years old, happened after the seventh day on which God rested, thus after the days of Creation Week. Hence, St Justin is no authority for reading six thousand years into creation week.

c) Egyptian patristics

What about the possibility of St. Clement of Alexandria speaking of “an indefinite and dateless production”?

"And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist? . . . That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds: ‘This is the book of the generation, also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth’ [Gen. 2:4]. For the expression ‘when they were created’ intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression ‘in the day that God made them,’ that is, in and by which God made ‘all things,’ and ‘without which not even one thing was made,’ points out the activity exerted by the Son"(Miscellanies 6:16 [A.D. 208]).

And here is Origin arguing against taking the six days literally as six twenty-four hour days: "For who that has understanding will suppose that the first and second and third day existed without a sun and moon and stars and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? . . . I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally" (The Fundamental Doctrines 4:1:16 [A.D. 225]).

St Clement of Alexandria talks about the dateless and indefinite production. The context seems to indicate that the first production of things could not be dated in relation to previous events. It is no breach in the consensus that the six days were no longer than six ordinary days.

Origen is remarked about twice by St Augustine: once for the ingenuity of supposing God made all things in one single instant (i e much shorter than six days, absolutely no longer), which means that St Augustine having presumably read all Origen had to say about it concluded that he had opted for a one-instant creation. Which, unlike a seven thousand year or seven billion year creation is not at variance with patristic consensus of first millennium.

The second thing is that he remarked Origen for believing only the allegorical sense of Old Testament passages like the flood, the Antiochenes for believing only the literal sense of passages like the flood, but St Augustine held that a Catholic should believe both: both that those eight people were actually rescued by the arc, all without perishing (literal sense), and that all who are saved are so by the Church, all without perishing (allegorical sense).

d) a sum up of your use of patristics (as seen so far in this debate)

After a scrutiny of you for patristic examples for a longer timespan of creation week than a week, I conclude that it holds not.

I never claimed patristic consensus is for the six days only, I said it is for either that or a one instant creation. The authority of Origen - which is not the authority of a canonised saint! - along with that of St Augustine - which is - go for the one instant creation. St Clement is unclear. Both other examples are such of allegory and prophecy about happenings after creation and fall, not of exposition of creation week as such.

e) further inconsistencies

"I am not trying to read evolution into the Genesis account. I consider evolution a theory of science. As I said before I don’t dogmatically hold onto the theory of evolution. If new data and a new scientific theory came out that best dealt with this evidence, I imagine I would adopt it."

The Genesis account, taken literally, is an account of the beginnings of things visible, including all the animal species. So is Evolution. Labelling the one science and the other spirituality does not change that both taken literally are accounts of among other things, the beginnings of animal species. Now: the beginnings of all the animal species cannot be another thing or have another timeline than the beginnings of all animal species.

You are also pretending to bow down in science only to data and to coherent explanation.

I have already told you that evolution of a species with one number of chromosome pairs into a species with another number of chromosome pairs is a major difficulty. These data are not new, but they may be so to you. You interpreted me as presuming rather than concluding (from humdrum medical data about chromosome syndroms, Downs, Klinefeldt's, et c) that this would involve an evolution passing in each and every such case by at least one - actually more than one generation of - chromosomatically abnormal individuals. Survival of the unfittest, so to speak. If you want to pretend at some honesty in science (I am not talking theology now) read up on chromosomes.

What may also be news to you, though absolutely not to a creationist - yes, I am absolutely still talking about science, not theology here - is that age dating presupposes relying on data we actually do not have: like, for C14, did the atmosphere back when these bones (say the ones in Atapuerca) were alive contain approximately the same percentage of C14 - it has been measureed for a much shorter time - or, for geological dating, are Jura and Trias really remnants from different periods, rather than remnants of different collections of species wrongly classed as period faunas.

And here I remark that Aquinas (my Church does not recognise his canonisation, though I personally find him a holy man, not far from St Photius the Great in character and cultural type, though less learned, perhaps, in classics, and more learned, perhaps, in Aristotle) did not recognise as science the "knowledge" of something past/future/faraway/hidden and at same time contingent.

If something is contingent, it can be known only if visibly and tangibly at hand. Secondary to that is the memory of such knowledge in the individual who had it, tertiary to that knowledge is the transmission of such memory, by spoken or written word, enforced perhaps by pictoiral or other non-verbal means. It is not classed as science, it is individual knowledge of an individual thing or occurrence.If something is known without having to be physically at hand, it is that insofar as the knowledge is typical, not individual: and therefore necessary, not contingent. Past things are not necessary. Eternal (or quasieternal, i e uninterrupted since creation) past-present-and-future things are.

Clearly - and I am speaking as a scientific disciple of the Aquinate, not as a theological one - the claim that birds descend from ornithopod reptiles, who along with sauropod reptiles descend from batrachians, is not an example of eternal, necessary truth: we do not find the frogs or salamanders hatching eggs that become alternatively velociraptors or geckos, neither do we find regularly that velociraptors hatch eggs that become archaeopteryges, or that those hatch eggs that become birds as we know them. Rather, we find neither velociraptors or archaeopteryges around (or if, they have not been identified as such): we find geckos hatching geckos, we find salamanders hatching salamanders, we find birds hatching birds of their own kinds, with the possible - it is viennese history from a time that modern zoologists regard as unreliable, a k a legend - the basilisk, hatched by a cock.

f) "It does not increase ones faith nor make one moral if they believe or disbelieve in evolution."

If you contend yourself with believing evolution, without concluding anything from it, adversely to traditional exegetics ... to traditional view of species as fixed (Teilhard notably believed mankind was evolving to "point Omega") ... to traditional eschatology ... and traditional views of the innocence of all visible creation before Adam's fall; if overmore you ask no questions about the implications in theory of knowledge by accepting evolution as scientific, if you do not accept other similar non-scientific but nowadays academic methods - notably psychology and psychiatry that deal heavy-handedly with what is hidden in the heart of the human neighbour, notably demographic ecological and other futurologic expertise; in short, if you accept evolution with a childish faith without asking questions, without concluding, I think it may be perfectly anodine. But such a limited faith in evolution is, at least in adults, above a certain level of instruction, rare; or otherwise my experience in discussing evolution misleads me.

When you argue with atheists, they know perfectly well that your belief in evolution as a fact, or your limited belief in the closely literal sense of Genesis, is a novum in the Christian Church. They will three out of four times say to themselves or between themselves that you are right about the beginning of all animal species, but that the people you accept as religious authorities were wrong. When you argue without arguing against evolution on the scientific level, when you indeed encourage their belief in modern scientific methods.


5 commentaires:

Hans Georg Lundahl a dit…

Orthodoxy and Creationism by Deacon Andrew Kuraev

Hans Georg Lundahl a dit…

Genesis and Early Man, by Fr Seraphim Kalamiros

Hans Georg Lundahl a dit…

Correction on authorship of above:

"An article entitled The Eternal Will was printed in The Christian Activist Volume 11, Fall/Winter 1997. It was a lecture given by Dr. Alexander Kalomiros on evolution vs. creationism and his interpretation of the traditional teachings by the Fathers of the Orthodox Church about Genesis. This is a response to Dr. Kalomiros by Fr. Seraphim Rose. It has been excerpted for length by Frank Schaeffer."

(from article)

Hans Georg Lundahl a dit… is the new index post to this series.

Above correction has been included where appropriate, but last quote stands.

Hans Georg Lundahl a dit…

In 2009 I gave a short link to an url burner that is now down or perhaps reserved for emails.

Here is now the link before without the said short link:

Creation vs. Evolution : Index to English Crea-vs-Evolu-series