Kalomiros on Creation Posted

I have published the article “The Six Days of Creation” by Kalomiros in the Pages section and commend it to you for reading. My thanks to Jason for posting the link that gave me access to this fine material.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.





50 responses to “Kalomiros on Creation Posted”

  1. Athanasius Avatar

    Father bless.

    I must admit that I have always found troubling the argument in this essay that Adam was not truly the first-created man, and its contention that “Outside of Paradise, therefore, there existed not only other people, but _many_ other people.” I incline toward a reading of Genesis that is at least more literal than this.

  2. Nathan Avatar

    Hello all,

    I made every effort I can to be thoughtful and challenging and somewhat provocative (to make it interesting) without being annoying or insulting. I am not sure if I have succeeded, but I hope and pray that I have:

    Blessings to all in Christ,

    It seems to me that Kalomiros is reaching badly here. I actually agree with most all of his talk about the theology in Genesis (the archetypes and such) – this stuff is rich and beautiful – but I simply *also* believe that the writer of Genesis considered himself to be writing real history, that most everyone believed this to be the case until *some* (most in the West) 19th century Christians came along, and that to not understand these chapters in this way *may* negatively impact someone’s faith (that is, if they are inclined to think like a good lawyer or investigator/detective).

    To say that Gregory of Nyssa and St. Basil are speaking of something analogous to what we today understand as evolution – namely, physical descent from a common ancestor, where *constant suffering, pain, and death is part and parcel of this process* – and that Genesis 1-3 in fact teaches this – seems to me highly unlikely, to say the least (see p. 17 – 19 and note the lack of quotations from the Fathers here – also, his history involving Cain and the other persons outside of Paradise [is Genesis 1-2:3 really the history of “all mankind” or just the first believers in Christ? – see p. 39] on p. 36 and 37 is also lacking any quotations from the Fathers, and is, as Athanasius wrote, troubling to many believers). The important theological issue is fundamentally the “empirical” history of death: namely, was death used by God as part and parcel of the creative process – before Adam and Eve sinned in time – or not? Was there ever *really* a time when animals did not eat each other, and things *were “very good”* in some coherent sense – or has this never really been the case in the past but only something that the future holds? (“all continues as it was from the beginning of creation?”) Why is saying this kind of insistence on *some* real history here any more “literalistic” than saying that the Gospels give us a good sense of what really happened in time? Can we just completely stop worrying about chronology? : ) It seems to me that there is no reason – *apart from the evolutionists’ assertions of what the facts actually are and mean* – to interpret these particular Father’s admittedly *speculative theology* (which is not necessarily shared by other Fathers) in the fashion he does (and he is certainly creative, esp. on p. 17-19).

    Further, to say what I am saying is not to resort to an “ontological fragmentation of creation” (17), which seems to me a straw-man argument, since I too see Christ as redeeming the whole creation – primarily from *suffering, pain, and death*, which “were not” “from the beginning”. Is this “reject[ing] the foundations of the Christian faith” (17) to insist otherwise? Is not rather insisting that suffering, pain, and death were there from the very beginning the questionable approach to take? Again, we are saying that things like time / chronology are simply unimportant here?

    In addition, I hate to say it, but I also find his writing when he deals with scientific matters to be highly unsatisfying and un-nuanced. He says: “Evolution is a fact that no one can contest by searching in the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Fathers, or in that “book” which is called the Earth”. Anyone who thinks that aspects of science can be construed as “pure” in any real sense (meaning there is, absolutely, no doubt, a “fact of evolution”) needs to read some Michael Polanyi, the author of “Personal Knowledge” (note: Polanyi himself believed in evolution, but shows why, I believe, it may be seen as far less certain than most claim it is), and who is also instrumental in the philosopher Charles Taylor’s thought (winner of last year’s Templeton award). Though trying to be as objective as possible, we really can’t “make our minds as blank as a sheet of paper”, thinking that this and some reading alone, apart from deep *experience* in understanding these matters, will help us. (think CSI for a minute: we always encounter the wider context of particular facts, and sometimes we realize that certain facts might even be understood differently given this or that “frame” of understanding… in other words, *other facts* might alter the whole picture! – we depend on others who know more than us to not create meaning with their own powers, but to “make things meaningful” by explaining, helping us understand) Ironically, is it not Kalomiros then who ends up being “rationalistic” here, thinking science is a more certain kind of discipline than it really is (this is also a “prideful confidence in the human mind”)?

    I myself must try hard not to be overly critical of my brothers promoting the kinds of view Kalomiros proposes, but FYI, I know, as someone who is pretty familiar with this issue, that my fellow friends with a scientific background and education – the atheists and religious skeptics among them – will mock views like Kalomiros’ among themselves if not in the open with theistic evolutionists present (and this does not mean that we should be satisfied that we are preaching the “foolishness of the cross”!) For many of them clearly see – as with the eyes of a simple child – the simple, glaring problems many refuse to acknowledge. Forget the assumptions regarding “scientific rationalism” and “literalism” for a minute: are not these ideas of Kalomiros things that would never stand up in a human court of law – or that would never fly in a detective agency/newsroom – as unconcerned as they necessarily are about basic things like fitting evidence into chronological sequence? Or are practices like those in a human court of law or detective agency – and insisting on this concrete way of thinking about our “event-full”, incarnational faith – simply “wisdom of the world” (I tend to think it has more to do with philosophers and their grandiose ideas – think Augustine: “eternal archetypes”, receiving the uncreated Divine essence itself, grand systems that explain it *all* with no mystery left, etc.)? Surely God is indeed free and independent of His creation, including time, but of course we are not, and He has chosen to make Himself a part of our experience in it, right?

    Why should we not be like children when it comes to Genesis 1-3? First day, second day, “morning and evening”, etc… (with Kalomiros’ view, Adam may well have said after the fall: “So *that’s* why (my sin) there was all this pain, suffering and death – hmmm, I was wondering what God said when he told me this was ‘very good’”.) When the Scriptures say that we are to put childish ways behind us, I think it had other things in mind other than a “literal” reading of Genesis and being concerned about chronology, right? Perhaps like dying to our own non-intuitive and elaborate philosophical constructions about how to explain away the evidence and embracing the historical, empirical, rough-and-tumble simplicity of the real world Christ entered instead?



  3. fatherstephen Avatar

    That’s a fair criticism.

  4. Wonders for Oyarsa Avatar

    Although Cain’s concern about what sort of things other people will think when they see him without a mark (and worry about becoming an outcast from civilization), and his ability to found a city, certainly lend themselves to a reading that implies other human civilization.

  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    Kalomiros was by no means a “liberal,” indeed, I think he may have been an “Old Calendarist Greek” but I’m not sure. I know that he was a protege of Fr. John Romanides. I think his take on things here is very consistent with the “mystical” teaching of many of the Fathers, though there are other witnesses for whom a more literal read provides a greater “comfort zone.”

    I simply think that we have to begin with Christ and reading everything backwards and forwards for it to make sense – for there can be no true sense apart from Christ. Kalomiros, as is true with his River of Fire, is well worth the read and a good pondering.

  6. Scott M Avatar
    Scott M

    Indeed Oyarsa. That struck me the first time I read Genesis. I’ve then heard people ask why Scripture doesn’t tell us more about these civilizations and their stories. And I think the answer to that is simple. Scripture is about Christ. He is the center and fullness of the story. And it is about the people God gathers around that center, the story of the people of God. Other things and peoples are mentioned only as the impinge and relate to the center of that story.

    Something else that may help. At least I’ve found it interesting. I understand that “Adam” is not used as a proper name probably until chapter 4. Before then, it is ha-adam or the adam, which is the generic term for mankind. Or it is the man and the woman. It’s also a play on words. God forms the adam from the adama, the little ground or groundling from the ground itself. God then splits the adam into male and female. Go back and read Genesis with that in mind and it may look different to you. Hold that in one part of your mind and the image of the true man, Jesus of Nazareth, in another as you read and I’m fairly certain the perspective will be different. At least it was for me.

  7. fatherstephen Avatar

    But the intention of the author is often not the issue in reading the Old Testament in a Christian manner. Authorial intent may be an issue for the Constitution, but typological interpretation certainly goes far beyond what an author himself might have known or meant.

  8. Momesansnom Avatar

    When reading the first chapters of Genesis with the eyes of a child, you might find yourself questioning the literalness of “days,” just as a child did with me, asking how it was that three full days could pass before God created the sun and moon and the lights in heaven to divide day and night. Also, one of the first questions many children ask (I did) after reading or hearing the Genesis account is the question of who Adam and Eve’s sons married. The answer that often comes out of the mouths of literalist adults is “their sisters.” The response that usually comes out of the mouths of the children who hear this is “eww, yuck!”

    So much for childlike literalism.

  9. Karen C Avatar
    Karen C

    Thank you Father. Learning to read all of Scripture through the Person of Christ with the Church has been deeply stabilizing to my faith after having to try to discern between all the variant “historical,” “literal,” and chronologically-tied readings of my evangelical Protestant heritage. Since it was “The River of Fire” that hooked me into seriously investigating Orthodoxy, I can’t be easily dismissive of Kalomiros. As a, now Orthodox, believer, I’m very sympathetic with advocates of Intelligent Design and their completely valid criticisms of the presuppositions of Naturalism and Materialism, but I feel advocates of a literal 6-day Creationism based on that reading of Genesis do more to hurt the credibility of the faith in the eyes of intelligent skeptics than to recommend it. Since I’m neither an exegete, nor a scientist, I must defer to others in these areas. In terms of this, though, it speaks volumes to me when the head of the Human Genome Project, a biological scientist who confesses an orthodox understanding of Christ and personal faith in Him, claims that what we now know about genetics basically confirms evolutionary theory as the proper scientific description of the mechanism by which God creates (Francis Collins in “The Language of God”) and then goes on to advocate Christian faith (in opposition to the philosophies of Naturalism and Materialism) in his scientific community. I’m not qualified to answer Collins’ claim that the findings about our genetic code refute the creationists’ objections to evolution based on the “missing links” between “kinds,” but it was interesting to me to see how closely the “seed” of the universe concept of creation of Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, as expounded by Kalomiros, paralleled what Collins claims are the implications of the very recent findings on the nature of our genes and their operation.

  10. Nathan Avatar

    Father Stephen,

    Thank you for the gracious response (I was very happy to see it just now). Must run now, but will check again Monday morning.

    Blessings in Christ!


  11. Lucian Avatar

    Yes. The insistance and obsession of the first chapter of Genesis (and the Gospel of John) with “life in itself” and “seed in itself” … it totally brings a whole new perspective on how we look at God, the very Fountain of Life and Existence, the eternal O On: if God is truly all this (and He most assuredly is) then it’s only natural for Him to have “Life in Himself” (the Holy Spirit, the Lord Giver of Life) and “Seed in Himself”, His own eternal only-begotten Son, the Lukan and Patristical logos spermatikos.

  12. Nathan Avatar


    the question of who Adam and Eve’s sons married. The answer that often comes out of the mouths of literalist adults is “their sisters.” The response that usually comes out of the mouths of the children who hear this is “eww, yuck!”

    So much for childlike literalism. (end)

    Well, Abraham married his half-sister…

  13. fatherstephen Avatar

    I once did an afternoon Bible study with a high school group (I was a priest, not part of the high school group). Genesis was the book I chose to study. By the time we had gotten through the patriarchs, I was so embarrassed I hardly knew what to say other than, “Well, God redeems us all!”

    We don’t joke about marrying our sisters in Tennessee….

  14. Momesansnom Avatar

    Nathan and Father Stephen,

    Yes, indeed. 🙂

  15. handmaid Avatar

    “We don’t joke about marrying our sisters in Tennessee…”

    Just yer cousins! 😉

  16. Wonders for Oyarsa Avatar

    Hi Father Steven,

    I just thought of something that I think makes sense of these conflicts a little better to me. A myth is an icon. Think of Rublev’s Trinity or the Icon of the Anastasis. Here again we see something far different than we would with a photo – either of the hospitality of Abraham, or in Christ rising from the dead. But it is no less true for that.

    I think calling Genesis 1-11 an icon of creation is about perfect. Here we see the key people and events with which to understand our origins, the nature of God, and man. Dostoyevsky called it “a carven image of the world, and of man, and of human characters, and everything is named and set forth unto ages of ages” and I think that exactly right.

    Like icons, I think it folly to interpret Genesis with “literalism” – that is, asking questions like “how did Cain find a wife” or “how did the Dinosaurs fit on the Ark”. These are not questions the icon is addressing, anymore than the icon of the Anastasis is meant to show the viewer the architectural layout of Hades or the relative size of Satan and Jesus’ big toes. “Ah”, someone might say, “but if the icon draws their big toes at different sizes, and this is not indeed so, is not the icon in error?” The answer is “no” – any more than the Bible would be in error by tasting bad when baked into a cake.

  17. fatherstephen Avatar

    I would agree – though I would probably avoid the historical-critical use of the word “myth” since so many misunderstand it. But that the Scriptures are iconic is indeed the case, I would agree.

  18. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    There was one comment I wished to make:

    I believe that there are a number of options, including young earth creationism, old earth creationism, theistic evolution, and various permitted options, all allowable as theological opinion. My own opinion is of an old earth, but I don’t worry about whether other opinions are destructive.

    That stated, Kalomiros concerns me here, not because of the particular theological opinions, but for how he treats the patristic witness. There were a couple of times earlier where I followed the footnotes and it didn’t seem to check out; I don’t know the “hexaemeron” tradition that well, but I would comment on the most recent example.

    In St. Basil’s Hexaemeron, second homily, St. Basil says quite clearly and distinctly that one day is one day when we are talking about a day of Creation, and rejects interpretations that give an elastic sense to “day” in that context. He then goes on, not to another day of Creation, but to the mystical “eighth day”, meaning eternity, and says of eternity, “Thus whether you call it day, or whether you call it eternity, you express the same idea.”

    Kalomiros paraphrases this and presents it as a direct patristic warrant to say that “day” has an elastic sense. And this exegesis disturbs me. I believe in an old earth, but I would much rather say I am rejecting St. Basil’s testimony than make his testimony agree with me through a reading like this. It’s a quote that’s entirely out of context.

    Now there are a lot of questions this doesn’t answer, but following his footnotes to primary sources has never left me with the sense that he presented the sources well. And in this case, my concern is less whether his position is right than whether he is speaking from the heart, or whether his theology is (willingly) deceptive, which is a much more serious issue.


  19. Seraphim Avatar


    (If I may).

    In a very literal sense, in the very beginning, mankind was created in the image and likeness of God, being called to share in the divine attributes of a pre-eternal, glorious, existence (Gen 1:26–28).

    Of course, the recollection of what the glorious image of God should look like was utterly lost in the fall; and any “tension” arising between the so-called “old” and “young earth” views must be seen as the product of a mind unrenewed by the Creator’s Spirit.

    A footnote from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath, should help clarify things:

    “The idea of continuous creation seems to have been the theme of an ancient controversy. According to the School of Shammai, the benediction over the lights which is said at the outgoing of the Sabbath, is: “Blessed art Thou who created the lights of fire” whereas, according to the school of Hillel, we recite” Blessed art Thou. . . who creates the lights of fire” (p. 118).

  20. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Thank you, Fr. Stephen and Seraphim.

    I have not come to see things as forcefully as Seraphim says, that young/old tension is an indicator of needing God’s work, but as time has passed, I’ve come to increasingly downplay the details. The theme jumped to mind after a recent email interchange.

    Thank you for your comment.

  21. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    P.S. On my site, I posted a carefully named, “Religion and science is not just intelligent design versus evolution”, and recently, after a conversation where someone took a sledgehammer to me for failing to believe a young earth, wrote “Creation and Holy Orthodoxy: fundamentalism is not enough”. My posting a comment above was partly in the wake of that controversy being on my mind, after a long time of it moving further and further out of my main attentions.

  22. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    The real problem with modern evolution is that it is founded upon a philosophy that is totally at odds with Christianity: philosphical naturalism. It is a belief, among other things, that matter is self-organizing. Not a new derivative of paganism since St. Athanasius at the very beginning of “On the Incarnation” refutes it.

    The modern philosphical naturalism goes a step beyond even paganism be denying the divine altogether.

    Not only that but the founders of moder evolutionary theory were quite open and consistent in their intent to replace Christian moral teaching with one more to their liking–often to rationalize their less than moral sexual preferences, racist and mysognist beliefs.

    None of the Fathers would have ever considered such a non-Christian philosophy as it denies everything that Christianity teaches and everything that God is.

    We and the rest of the visible world were either created by a divine and loving God or we were not. One cannot simply wave a wand and reconcile two unreconcilable views on the nature of things and the nature of our own being.

  23. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Your reply is largely correct but has a rather striking omission: Darwin wanted an account of how God could have made life without interfering once things were set in motion, and he was a father who found God did not intervene to stop the death of the child he buried.

    This does not of itself commend evolution to Orthodoxy; but evolution was not, at first, the fruit of naturalism. I am an “old earth” creationist; I do not believe the broad evolutionary account as sufficient. But the theistic evolutionists I know do not strike me as compromised in faith, not even close to Orthodox whose speech is peppered with “after Wittgenstein” and all that connotes.

  24. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    One further comment:

    If you click on the link in my name for this post, it is a direct link to a piece I wrote recently on origins questions. It quotes one of St. Basil’s homilies on Creation:

    “Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and bonds, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider’s web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all was given up to chance.”

    Owing to Protestant influences, the question most obvious to many is whether we should believe in a young or old earth and, if we believe in an old earth, whether God created by intervening or through evolution. (Those aren’t all the options, just three of the more important ones.) And we overlook things like these.

    The view that is rather brusquely condemned is as far as I know the closest ancient analogue to modern chemistry; Basil goes on to say that Genesis 1 teaches that we should believe the elements are earth, air, water, fire, and ether. And the ancient near-chemistry teaching is much more sharply condemned than people who want an elastic understanding of “day” in Genesis.

    I am not aware of Orthodox who accept St. Basil’s claim about what elements we should believe and why we must reject, as implicitly atheist, what would now be called modern chemistry. If you are going to say that none of the fathers would accept the philosophical naturalism that now brandishes evolution, will you also say that people who accept the chemistry accepted also by fundamentalist Creation Science are accepting something unacceptable?

  25. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Question as my last post seemed to disappear:

    Do you believe that we must reject modern chemistry as incompatible with Orthodoxy?

    This may seem a strange question; click on my name at the top of this post to see why I raise this question. (Sorry, I typed out a separate post, but it vanished.)

  26. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    I fail to see any real or practical difference between an non-incarnational, absent diety and naturalism. Whatever Darwin’s orginal stated reasons, if they did involve a substantive diety he quickly moved away from that as the Huxley’s, Fichtes et. al, took over and drove attempted to drive the theory into the very heart of Christianity.

    Cetainly you have no doubt that the current crop of evolutionary thinkers are anything but naturalists do you? Many of them are dogmatic materialists whose contempt for religious faith of any kind is bombastically proclaimed.

    I tend to see theistic evolutionists as people who simply don’t want to confront the inherent non-Chrisitan ethos of modernity. Whether it is out of friendship, timidity, ignorance or an inherent sympathy with the deconstructionism of modern thought, their Christian faith will never be as strong as it might otherwise be.

  27. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Modern quantum chemistry does a lot to weaken evolutionary theory as do information theory and mirco-biology.

    The question for me always is: what are your assumptions. Science can proceed from a foundation of philosophical naturalism or a vast variety of foundations of faith in a divine creator. Each will (or could) have a significantly different interpretation of the same fact sets.

    One has to assume something since neither the absence of God nor the reality of God can be proven.

  28. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Thank you. Evolution’s popularizers are clear naturalists; the rank and file biologists, particularly Christian ones, not so hard to hear. But Christian evolutionists do not usually use evolution as a sledgehammer. Dawkins and company do.

    But let me repeat my question. Should we reject modern chemistry? The same link is at the top of this post. I’ve never heard of people drawing a line in the sand anywhere besides origins questions.

    Besides possible proof texting on what I quote in the linked posting, modern science emerged from an occult-laden environment. Should we reject science on that account?

  29. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Clarification to my previous wording: “not so hard to hear” should have been “not so eager to wield a sledgehammer” or “not so easy to hear” etc.

  30. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Let me give my answer to the question I posed. I have some wariness about science as a whole; certainly there is an inverse relationship to dogmatism about science and understanding it. “I’ve been pondering the implications about Einstein’s theory of relativity” translates to “I’m doing some heavy name-dropping. Don’t bother to address my misconstruals because there’s no way you can explain it that I will accept or even understand.”

    The best scientists are rarely anything but the most humble, and there is a good reason for this. One biologist compared cell biologists to people who have a few frames out of the film of a long and complex movie, and are attempting to reconstruct its plot. And you cannot make progress in science if you dogmatically claim to know all the answers; you might be able to make progress in science if you are the type of person who can see how little you really know.

    And going beyond this basic observation, I tentatively believe science has the best answers presently available to most of the questions it addresses, but deserves an answer of “Yes, but…” on most scores. And I furthermore believe that science as a whole is not what it is believed in the West, and (as someone with a scientific background) believe most people would do well with much less scientific influence.

    And I suggest that, at least for academic theology, every real instance I’ve seen of academic theology being quasi-scientific was detrimental to theology, and in most cases was outside of the areas usually recognized as religion-science boundary issues. To the extent that academic theology I’ve seen is scientific, it has ingested things that Orthodox should recognize as toxic. And well over 95% of these areas are something that people don’t particularly connect with evolution or origins.

    I accept modern chemistry as the best picture available of, for instance, what the items in my room are made of, and I believe I would not be more Orthodox by making myself believe they were composed of earth, air, fire, and water. However, I believe I would be more Orthodox if I were innocent enough of science not to have the question framed in a scientific way. And, among other things, learning science is a movement out of the nous that Orthodoxy summons us to live out of, and towards the dianoia which does its rightful work acting as a moon reflecting the noetic sun and not as the basis for knowledge.

  31. fatherstephen Avatar

    Christos, etc.
    I believe and teach (as does the Church) that God created everything from nothing. Beyond that, I have no knowledge. I understand that He continues to sustain everything that exists in its existence out of His goodwill for us. That He directs things is also clear from Scripture. I live in a Science city, home of one of America’s National Laboratories and other related science industries. I have a high regard for science and am certain that if we understood the true logoi of the created order, we would understand many things that science wonders about. I recall a physics professor that I had in college once saying, “The further you go in physics, the more theological the questions become.” That doesn’t surprise me.

  32. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Your respect is very commendable.

    In my own experience, I started from a very scientific background; I have math awards and letters after my name in the sciences. And this science has been the start of a journey of metanoia; it is a starting point of things that would find healing in Orthodoxy. And entering Orthodox theology, mystical theology, has meant unlearning not only the content of my knowing but what it is to know at all. Science is cut from the same cloth, or bedrock to, what it was that I needed healing from the Church as I was reconciled from heterodoxy.

    My suspicion about the logoi is less that we would answer what science asks that it cannot answer, but what science cannot ask.

  33. Seraphim Avatar


    Well out.

    I find it helpful to remember always that the Church was there at the beginning, and will also be there at the end (Matt. 28:20).

    The obvious weakness of scientism (where science is given a kind of created will in man) is that it cannot ascribe proper or indeed any particular meaning to either the cause of separation from, or union with, God.

    The reality, the Truth, is infinitely better than the far reaches of the imagination (which is largely the domain of science).

  34. Seraphim Avatar

    Sorry for the typo, should read well put.

  35. Victor Avatar

    This is delightful converse.

    Christos, I wonder if perhaps St. Basil is touching on the principle of looking at things in terms of what can be known through experience rather than through speculation? Atomization seems so intent on deconstructing everything….In the words of Gandalf to Saruman “He who breaks a thing to discover its nature has left the path of wisdom.”

  36. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Seraphim, thank you; and I guessed you intended “well put”. While I respect the attitude Fr. Stephen put about science, scientism is out-and-out wrong and Fr. Stephen in expressing respect for science seems not to entertain scientism in the least.

    Victor, quite possibly; in a master’s thesis (I’m trying to link to it from this post), this didn’t make the final squeezed word count, but I quoted from C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Paraphrased from memory:

    [Eustace learns that his host is a star who is doing penance for an unspecified sin by ruling over the Dufflepuds]

    “But… but… In our world, a star is a giant ball of flaming gas!”

    “Son, even in your world, that is only what a star is made of, not what a star is.”

  37. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    P.S. Two of my cherished icons are of the creation of the fish, birds, and reptiles; and of the stars (both available from skete.com; they’re really beautiful). Both quote the LXX; the creation of the birds, fish, and reptiles quotes Genesis 1, although interestingly the icon does not show reptiles (associated Biblically and in tradition with the demonic, and interestingly as far as I know the only class of animals that can be venomous).

    The creation of the stars quotes not Genesis but Job: “and all the Sons of God shouted for joy!” It appears in that icon that stars and angels are separate, with a ring of angels around the celestial star-studded sky, but something about the icon gives the impression they are cut from the same cloth.

  38. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    P.S., maybe unneeded, “…the only class of animals that can be venomous” should be “…the only class of vertebrates that can be venomous.” The reason it is within the letter of the law for fasting to eat lobster on a fasting day is that they are from the same class as scorpions, and seafood can be seen as not a delicacy but a form of the lowest animal to eat; non-fish seafood’s analogues on land are scorpions, worms, and so on and so forth, which are usually not a first dining choice to us. St. John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey is not unclean, but this is a diet of an ascetic.

  39. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    Clarification, probably unnecessary: “class of animals” should be “class of vertebrates” and I was not using ‘class’ in its technical sense in biology. The reason we can eat seafood on Wednesdays and Fridays has nothing to do with lobster being a delicacy; lobster is a seaborne cousin to the scorpion, and seafood is allowed as basically bugs and worms.

  40. Seraphim Avatar

    This is so very thought provoking.

    In The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Vladimir Lossky speaks of the enhypostasising of man and Church, who, while maintaining separate identities are nonetheless members of the Lord’s body.

    This perplexing yet profoundly non-arithmetic unknown, defies all logic. Even mute fish will speak. One hypostasis (God is a spirit) supports all the hypostases.

    Thus is the divine plan fulfilled. In Christ’s Pascha are all the elements of God’s life, death, resurrection and ascension found — and when the Church herself is revealed as the shoot of His planting, then will birth pangs cease.

  41. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar


    And we cannot, or at very least should not try to, separate Christ the Lord and Savior of men from Christ the Lord and Savior of the Creation. Humanity is a recapitulation, a summary, a microcosm of spiritual and visible Creation; mute fish already speak in the person of the saints.

  42. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    P.S. If you’d read a good (non-Orthodox) treatment of a saint, Lars Thunberg’s “Microcosm and Mediator: The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor” apparently helped St. Maximus’s theology get some of the attention it deserves. The title is apt and corresponds to its contents: “microcosm” confesses man to be not only the image of God but the summary of spiritual and material Creation, and “mediator” confesses man to be involved in mediations including between the spiritual and material, and between the uncreated and created. The book is not just about theology of Creation, and it is close to saturated with ascetical concerns, and maybe there are other caveats to presenting it as a theological understanding of our created world… but it genuinely is theology of our created world.

    I don’t object to understanding the Creation, and wouldn’t rule out science. But “understanding the Creation” does not simply and directly mean “science”. The link on my name at this post is to a piece that is an attempt to rightly understand Creation and does not draw its substance from science. Its title is Hymn to the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

  43. Seraphim Avatar

    Indeed. . .

    Very insightful and thanks for the pointers, all this certainly bears much looking into

  44. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    You’re welcome.

    And one other comment re: Thunberg. The usual Orthodox complaint about Western scholarship is that they read the Greek Fathers through Western eyes. Thunberg is writing scholarship to Western standards, meaning that his writing is not directly an invitation to prayer, but a meticulous dianoia-based analysis, where St. Maximus’s writing is noetic and an invitation for prayer.

    That stated, the portions of Thunberg I’ve read seem to get things right; maybe someone who read him at greater length and knew St. Maximus better than I do could point out distorted understanding, but it is my opinion that Thunberg does not get St. Maximus wrong in the sense that Orthodox scholars usually say that someone reads a Father through Western eyes.

  45. Christos Jonathan Hayward Avatar

    You’re most welcome!

  46. Karen Avatar

    Christos and Seraphim, I’m very out of my depth here, but I am fascinated by what modern science describes of the “natural” world (though not all of its theories and explanations about those observations, of course), and also by how the Creation speaks of the Creator. Have either of you ever read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and/or In His Image by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey? I read them when I was Evangelical and think they are beautiful illustrations of how what we have learned about the nature of the human body and its processes for health or disease illuminate the biblical metaphors (and also illustrate the profound aptness of those metaphors). I still find that medicine (both allopathic and naturopathic systems) gives us a lot of material for understanding in a deeper way what makes for spiritual health and disease. I also wondered if Christos has ever read Dr. Francis Collins’ The Language of God and, if so, what you thought about it? I entered the Orthodox Church in 2007 and appreciate what Christos wrote his article about importing Protestant Fundamentalist assumptions for defending the more literal reading of the Creation accounts into Orthodoxy. I have sympathies for many of the concerns of Intelligent Design advocates and also those of Christians who believe the biblical exegesis (and “scientific” analysis) employed by young earth Creationists put unnecessary obstacles to faith in the way of thinking people in the sciences, but I am far from an expert in any academic area (or spiritual)–science, philosophy, or theology–and can have no strong opinions about any of this. Probably insofar as I understand what he is saying above, I fall pretty much into the same category as Fr. Stephen; that is, what informs my understanding of Creation comes first and foremost from my Orthodox faith.

  47. Karen Avatar

    Christos, have you read Fearfully & Wonderfully Made and/or In His Image by Dr. Paul Brand & Philip Yancey? I found their approach greatly edifying when I first read them as a young evangelical, and still enjoy them as an Orthodox. I also read The Language of God by Dr. Francis Collins a couple years ago and wondered if you have read it what observations you might make as an Orthodox Christian with background in the sciences? He speaks as a geneticist who is also a Christian who believes there is ample evidence in the genetic code of living things to account for the “missing” links of macro evolutionary theory as the best description of “how” God created living creatures. I am sympathetic to sincere Christians in the sciences who don’t want to put what they deem unnecessary obstacles to faith in the way of other thinking people by reading scientific description into an overly literal exegesis of a religious text.

    I speak as one who is informed to the best of my understanding first and foremost by the Orthodox faith (much in the way that Fr. Stephen describes of himself above–at least as far as I understand that). I am far from being expert in science, philosophy, patristics or any other discipline for that matter, so apart from admitting to a general sympathy with many of the concerns of Intelligent Design advocates and at the same time a distrust of some (much?) of the biblical exegesis and scientific analyses of young earth Creationists, I can’t contribute in any depth to a discussion on this subject.

  48. mic Avatar

    Fr. Bless.

    Fr, do you know which work has St. Basil’s hexaemeron homily/ies?

    This particular piece of Kalomiros i find extremely facinating, and i am very thankful that Christos Jonathan Hayward commented on it recently or i may have may have never read it.

    Also, i think i remember that St. Gregory was quoted or referenced in this work as well, do you know what that work is from?

    Thank you for your time Fr, and thank you for posting this.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to blog via email

Support the work

Your generous support for Glory to God for All Things will help maintain and expand the work of Fr. Stephen. This ministry continues to grow and your help is important. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Latest Comments

  1. How does one learn to hear the tone beneath the suffering, or the twists and turns of life?

  2. Since even dogs can hear things we can’t, certainly Saints and Angels can. What sound or sounds properly directed to…

Read my books

Everywhere Present by Stephen Freeman

Listen to my podcast