Why an Orthodox Christian cannot be an evolutionist


Translation from Russian by Dr.Evgeny Selensky, evgeny@dcs.gla.ac.uk. Citations from the Bible are translated using the King James Version; all the rest citations (except the Lenten troparion of the sixths hour, for which the original has been found in English) are translated from Russian. Therefore the translations may considerably differ from the known sources in English.

Flee from delirious ideas of philosophers who are not ashamed to say that their soul and a dog's soul are alike and that they were fish.
St Basil the Great.

What is the Orthodox attitude towards natural science? This question does not have at the moment a rigorous and unambiguous answer. The point is not as much in a detailed explanation of its various aspects as in the possibility of a coherent Orthodox view of the key issues of natural science. Is it really possible to reconcile the Orthodox dogmas and scientific knowledge? E.g., can one combine the Biblical story of creation and the Christian understanding of its purpose with the contemporary cosmogonic theory of the "big bang" and the eventual evolutionary development of the universe, or with the concept of the origin of life based on destruction (mutations) and death (natural selection)? Is Orthodox education at all compatible with such a materialistic perspective? Some Christian apologetic publications are aimed at finding a positive answer. However the attractiveness of such an answer is deceiving, since it conveys the idea that it is possible to come to the Divine Truth without believing in Christ, with the help of scientific reasoning of the human mind only. But whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23). Without God neither science nor any other concept of human thought leads to the Truth, that no flesh should glory in the presence of God. (1 Cor 1:29). The Saviour Himself has said: "I receive not testimony from man" (Jn 5:34); "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (Jn 18:37); "He that is not with me is against me" (Mt 12:30).

St Theophanus the Recluse wrote: "The positive teaching of the Church serves to know whether a concept is from the Truth. This is a litmus test for all teachings. Whatever agrees with it, you should accept it, whatever does not- - reject. One can do it without further deliberations" [1]. "Science goes forward fast, let it do so. But if they infer something inconsistent with the Divine Revelation, they are definitely off the right path in lie, do not follow them" [2]. "Believers have the right to measure the material things with spiritual ones, when materialists get into the realm of the spiritual without a slightest scruple... We have wisdom as our partner, while theirs is foolishness. Material things can be neither the power not the purpose. They are just the means and the field of activity of spiritual powers by the action of the spiritual beginning of all things (Creator)" [1]. To come to the true understanding of God's creation one should not project, pleasing this materialistic age (Rom 12:2), the Revealed Truth onto scientific achievements, since in the light of the Divine Revelation the Truth itself is given to us in entirety and simplicity to the extent that pleases God. On the contrary, one should view science from the divine, spiritual point according to St Basil the Great, "exploring the world and studying the universe not based on the worldly wisdom, but in the way God teaches His servant, speaking to him explicitly but not in dark speeches (Num 12:8)" [3].

The cornerstone of the Orthodox attitude to science is the concept of Creation - the origin of the universe, life and man. From the Christian perspective, the laws governing the world today and before the fall are different in principle, as everything created by God in the beginning was perfect and immortal. St Ignatius writes: "Today the earth is quite different in our eyes. We do not know its state in its saint virginity; we know it in the state of corruption and condemnation, we know it already bound to be burnt; it was designed for eternity" [4].

To reconcile today's cosmogonic hypotheses with Moses' story of the Six Days is a great temptation for contemporary scientists newly converted into Orthodoxy. The original logical incoherence of all these hypotheses is in the attempts to describe the appearance and development of the world with the help of the laws of the already existing universe. Creation is in principle a religious concept, but not a scientific one. On the contrary, the religiousness of this scientific concept is in its atheistic nature (in the faith in no-God).

In 1885 N.Ya.Danilevsky wrote that "the theory of evolution is not as much a biological teaching, as it is a philosophical one, a dome on the building of mechanical materialism, by which is it only possible to explain its fantastic success not related to real scientific achievements" [5]. Here is the reason why the theory of evolution despite its scientific infertility, has remained hitherto an almost unrivalled concept: it satisfies the necessity of having a materialistic explanation of all things, "scientifically" proving natural origin of all forms of live, man included. By doing so, the theory of evolution getting too far beyond the limits of science - in the area of faith - on behalf of science demands the denial of God, bearing all the responsibility for such mindlessness: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." (Ps 13:1, 53:1; Rev 16:9).

One can in many ways disprove scientifically the inconsistency of the theory of evolution - either Darwinian or its contemporary synthetic counterpart or any modification of those including ones having theistic forms. However, any scientific argumentation is conditional. The theory of evolution is not a scientific theory in the rigorous sense. It is a world perspective, perception, a religious (namely, pagan) concept of the origin of the world that penetrates all today's science putting in its foundation the idea that the world has in itself a mechanism for its own development, self-perfection having been in action for billions of years.

The Christian understanding of the world states however that from the moment Adam fell, the world has been bound to be driven by involution - degeneration, whereas all the creative force comes from the Lord, not from within the world. If one wants to speak of evolution, let them speak of the voluntary spiritual development on a personal basis in terms of acquiring the fullness of the image of God rather than the biological evolution of the Homo sapiens species. In this sense, the evolution of man is subdued not to the natural laws but the supernatural law of salvation.

An evolutionary perspective of the world's history that interprets it as a process of perpetual striving for perfection of all forms of life driving the "arrow" of development from simplest organisms towards man is incompatible with the Orthodox understanding expressed by the Holy Fathers of the Church. The starting point of the Christian view is that man was placed on top of God-given dignity but succumbing to the temptation of the independent evolutionary development (italics mine, E.S.) he fell trying to acquire an even higher position and caused all creation to fall from grace along with him. The attitude towards evolutionism is not an abstract philosophical or a special scientific question. It is a spiritual issue, an issue concerning faith and eternal salvation - it deals with the outset, existence and, consequently, the end of the world. This issue forms the mindset of an individual, his attitude towards life, and morals.

The principal point of disagreement of evolutionism and Christianity is the question of the origin of living organisms. Apostle Paul admonished us not to deliver teachings different from his, nor did he let us listen to the endless fables at variance with God's lessons of faith (1Òim. 1: 3-4). All the scientific, religious and philosophical existential teachings stemming from outside The Old Testament and Christian Revelation describe endless births and multilateral transformations of things based on the thesis that nothing can appear from nothing else. The world is understood either in terms of only transformations of material substance coming up with more complex forms from simpler ones or of emanation (proceeding from) the Deity or, finally, of identity of the world with the Deity. The difference is only in the fact the in the first case the physical evolution is meant; in the latter, the appearance of new forms is defined by the spiritual state of the object undergoing series of reincarnations. However, in both cases, in the foundation lies the evolutionist (heathen) idea of the appearance of new entities from the old ones. Evolutionists, like all the other pagans, are trying to state that cosmos originates from primitive chaos. About gods "performing" such a transformation of chaos into cosmos St Gregory Palamas said: "A god creating not from nothing, a god that did not exist before matter… is not a god. I'll tell you adding something to the words of the Prophet: The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens (Jer 10:11) as well as those theologians who invented them" [6]. L.A.Òykhomirov notes: "The idea of creation could only come from Revelation by the One Who stands beyond the laws of matter and Who Himself has created it. For the human mind, which never observed such a thing and which only knows birth, evolution and transformation of existing things, the idea of coming into being from nothing is absurd. It could not have occurred to anyone and is at variance with our knowledge and comprehension." [7]. In its essence, Christian Revelation is counter-evolutionary. This does not rule out the possibility of natural development of species, within certain limits (within biological genders). This only means that new entities (in their own kind) have an entirely different mechanism of appearance - by the act of creation from nothing - inconceivably to our mind because of its supernatural, divine origin. This mechanism sets characteristics, definitive and unchangeable properties transferred genetically from ancestors to descendents. The teaching about the Divine act of creation of everything from nothing is an integral part of the whole Christian doctrine. St Athanasius teaches that "each created thing in its kind, in its entity, remains as it was created" [3].

The idea that this life on earth is a preparation to life eternal, which first appeared in the Old Testament Revelation and then delivered in its fullness by the Saviour, distinguishes in principle the Christian world perspective from all the rest religious views and teachings always carrying elements of evolution. Nonetheless, in all times (both pre-Christian and Christian) there have been attempts to synthesise Revelation with human understanding of the world as a wholesome Gnostic or syncretic doctrine.

Conforming to contemporary science, the theory of evolution of biological species has evolved itself from the simple Darwinism to more complex theories still preserving the key idea of development from lower forms towards higher forms of organisation. And here again we see "mediocre theologians", heirs of gnostocism and supporters of theistic, "Christian" (quotes mine, E.S.) or teleological evolutionism who dare speak of natural appearance and development of life in religious terms. - It is better for them not to know the way of truth than knowing it to come away from the holy commandment given to them. For it has happened to them according to the parable: a dog coming back to its vomit and a washed pig to the dirt (2 Pet 1:20-21). As Fr Seraphim (Rose) says, "any attempt to combine evolutionism with Christianity bears witness of not only a low theological background of an individual but also of an almost complete loss of common sense." [8].

It should be stressed once more that, according to any evolutionary concept be it with or without Christian terminology and religious semblance, the origin and driving force of the world is seen not in God but in the world itself, in its own natural mechanisms. In the foundation of the evolutionary perspective lies the so-called principle of uniformity, which says that the laws of nature remain as they were perpetually.

The idea of Christian evolutionism is based on speculatively stretching the concept of spiritual evolution of an individual towards the perfect embodiment of the image of God (that is, the inconceivable phenomenon of salvation of the faithful or, in other words, the evolution of the image of God into the His likeness) onto the natural development of creation. While arguing so, Christian evolutionists leave out of account all the legacy of the Fathers of the Church who left for us profound contemplation on the Book of Genesis. They ignore that the spiritual evolution is concerned with spiritual matters such as humility and repentance in falling short to fulfill God's commandments and, therefore, it is obviously irrelevant to speak in terms of "Christian mechanisms of evolution" relative to flora and fauna.

Christian evolutionism assumes a special, understandable only to the evolutionists themselves explanation of the Holy Scriptures, which contradicts the Fathers of the Church. In the holy words of the Book of Genesis, according to these scientists, there are hidden mysteries of our being. The clue can only be granted to the chosen intellectuals enriched with the knowledge of contemporary natural science. A certain time ago Adam viewed the forbidden fruit as a symbol, which, once possessed, would give him control over his own existence. Today Christian evolutionists consider Adam a symbol… Such explanations of the Scriptures are the fruit of scientific intellectualism, the fruit of the mind affected by sin. Centuries ago, Gnostics were misled by the same idea. Generally speaking, Christian evolutionism is a contemporary form of gnosticism and, therefore, cannot help being pagan. On the other hand, as is said above, the essence of heathenism is in evolution of both visible and invisible nature. The illusion of evolutionism becomes possible when the spiritual guidance has been lost, when scientific hypotheses are accepted as absolute and treated as idols. Such a perverted thinking is stubborn and is not obedient to the Truth (Rom 1:28, 2:8). Really, evolution is not even a scientific truth (a fact, a law or an inference): its existence cannot be scientifically proved or disproved since it cannot be observed. Hence, according to the precise definition by Apostle Paul, evolution is a subject of faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1). In the non-Christian evolutionism, which denies the Revealed Truth, there is no danger for Christians: them that are without God judgeth (1Cor 5:13). However, when it comes under false pretences of Christianity, it becomes extremely dangerous and therefore it must be called a heresy.

The reason why the theory of evolution has been considerably changed (as to acquiring religious including "Orthodox" forms) is related to today's shift from the exhausted rationalistic paradigm toward fuller idealistic concepts of the world that do not deny the existence of God absolutely. However, even a minor misinterpretation of a dogma leads to heresy and, consequently, to falling apart from the Truth. It is clear therefore why "saving" half-scientific mythology by "adding" it to the religious dogmas for the sake of "harmony between science and faith" (at the price of compromise on the part of faith) leads away from the true Christian teaching to the darkness of occultism and theosophy. An example of the above "convergence" of the theory of evolution and theology might be a new concept suggesting that apart from struggle for life, that is, enmity (which, by the way, a certain time ago justified the class struggle in the social world), a driving force for evolution can also be assistance. Philosophically, this is a form of dualism (no better than the materialism due to Darwin), since it states the independence of the two issues, the destructive and constructive. In the history of the Church this Gnostic concept expressed itself in the Manichean heresy.

While gaining momentum after separating from magic and having fully acquired materialistic grounds, natural science in attempts to understand the laws of life trespassed on the border between purely material and spiritual matters. However all kinds of spirituality which are not from the Holy Spirit are hopeless ugliness, a travesty of the Truth or a spiritual miscarriage. Therefore the process of transformation of secularised science into an occult para-science that we are observing nowadays is quite logical. The theory of evolution, which borrowed from the Bible the idea of a gradual accomplishment of the world, serves an excellent example of anti-Christian spirituality in science. Today the words of St Theophanus the Recluse of Vysha sound ever more to the point: "In our days the Russians start deviating from faith: some of them are completely losing it falling into disbelief, others are leaving for Protestantism, yet others are surreptitiously concocting their own beliefs where they think to combine spiritism and geological nonsense with Divine Revelation. Evil is growing: false belief and disbelief are raising their heads, while faith and Orthodoxy are weakening. Will we stop? Will we finally have the same as the French, for example, or others … The West has grown depraved. It depraved itself: instead of the Gospel they started learning from the heathens and imitate them - and ended up in depravity. We are going to have the same: we started learning from the West that had left Christ and we have acquired the spirit of the West. In the end, like the West we will deny the true Christianity. However, there is nothing here that inevitably influences our free choice: if we want, we can chase away the western darkness; if we don't, we'll disappear in it" [9].

Let us now show in more detail why the evolutionary perspective is incompatible with the Orthodox doctrine. Among the numerous properties of God it has become traditional in patristic literature to group the following ones (the so-called cataphatic [10] properties, i.e. those properties that state positive qualities of God) together. As will be shown below, these qualities are denied by evolutionists.

Omnipotence. Evolutionism, being unable to prove that evolution takes place within observable time intervals, for the sake of plausibility of its arguments asserts that the timescale of the world's history amounts to millions of years. This diminishes God's omnipotence and capability of creating the world in six days only by His Word (Gen. 1: 1-31, Ps 32:9, 148:5, 113:11, 118:90, Lk 1:37). It should be noted here that Christian evolutionists, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Mt 22:29), having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart (Eph 4:17-18), mistakenly lay in the foundation of their reasoning about the length of the six days of creation the verse in the Bible saying that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Pet 3:8). This saying by the Holy Apostle Peter should be interpreted as something pertaining to the Lord. As St John The Chrisostom argues, it should be treated as a metaphor aimed at clarifying that God is beyond time, that is, eternal. Evolutionists view the days of creation as "intervals of indefinite length", referring to the ambiguity of the Jewish word "yohm". This understanding is wrong. The Holy Fathers of the Eastern Church pointed that these days were equal in length to our usual days, that is, they lasted 24 hours each. E.g., St Ephrem the Syrian writes: "Although both light and clouds have been created instantaneously, the day-half and the night-half of the first day lasted twelve hours each" [40]. The Lord Himself witnessed the literary sense of the days of creation as the days of the week: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy… For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Ex 20: 8, 11)". The Orthodox Liturgical tradition also interprets the days of creation to be equal to usual days [10]. In particular, in the Church services creation and redemption are juxtaposed. E.g., the fall took place on Friday afternoon (Gen 3:9), at the same time on Friday Saviour was crucified on the Cross: "O Thou Who on the sixths day and hour hast nailed to the Cross the sin that Adam dared to commit in Paradise: tear up the record of our trespasses, O Christ our God, and save us" (Lenten Troparion of the Sixth Hour).

It is important to note that all the Holy Fathers, who gave explanations to the Book of Genesis, unanimously stressed that the creative acts of the Lord were instantaneous. St Basil the Great says: "Let the earth bring forth… (Gen 1:11). At this short command in a moment there appeared a great nature and the artistic word, bringing forth limitless multitudes of plants more quickly than we reason" [3]. St Ambrose of Milan says: "He (Moses) did not anticipate a late and slow creation from combinations of atoms" but "wanted to express the unthinkable rate of the action" (see [11]). St Athanasius the Great testifies: "All kinds of animals were created at once all together at the same command" [12]. St Ioann of Kronshtadt states: "He says and His word instantly becomes multiple images and versatility of forms" [13]. Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) writes: " the "God" of "Christian evolution" is a god who is "not strong enough to accomplish all the work"; the reason itself why the teaching of evolution has been developed is to explain the universe based either on the idea that there is no God or that He is not able to create the world in six days by His word alone. Those who believe in the God worshiped by Orthodox Christians would never imagine evolution" [8]. King David asked: "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" (Ps 2:1) Why does then the weak mind of evolutionists-heathens rage being unable to accept by faith a very simple divine truth: And God said, Let there be… And there was!?

Goodness. Evolutionism does not admit that God created the world because of His goodness and it this world there was no corruption and death in the beginning: God did not create death (Pr 1:13), God created man not corrupted (Pr 2:23), death came into the world because of the envy of the devil (2:24), as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Rom 5:12). Everything that God made was very good (Gen 1:31) and this was so not according to our judgement but God's! The world created in six days was perfect. It was perfect not, of course, in the sense that this ruled out any further perfection. The utmost perfection will only be after the end of this age in the everlasting eighth day. But, undoubtedly, it was so because it did not have anything against or not pleasing God such as a shortcoming, vice or sin. Therefore in the newly created world there were no diseases, suffering, aging, corruption or death. The opposite concept will inevitably lead to an absolute misinterpretation of the idea of God. Death came as a result of breaking the harmony in the relationship between God and man: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17). Death appeared only after the fall of man who was supposed to reign over all creation. So the creature itself came under the bondage of corruption… The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Rom 8:21-22). Having disobeyed God, man learned sin for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20). And sin brought forth death. As a matter of fact, death is a consequence, result and the wages of sin (Rom 6:23); and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (Jam 1:15).

The sin committed by the first people, by concrete historical personalities who gave in to the tempter, was exactly that they tried to acquire knowledge independently of God to become perfect or "evolve" and be like gods, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:5). Man willfully separated himself from God, the Giver of life, breaking His life-creating commandment. In doing so he doomed himself and the rest of creation to die since the separation from God causes corruption according to the Prophet: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (Ps 1:6); they that are far from thee shall perish (Ps 73:27). On the contrary, according to evolutionists death or "natural selection" is considered not a consequence of sin or a discord and lawlessness brought into the world from outside but a sort of "tribute to nature" or a necessary condition for new biological species to appear. This view implies pragmatically explains the purpose of existence of creatures instead of accepting that they are self-sufficient and valuable as such. Each living thing is then but a stage in the progressive development towards more advanced forms and is inevitably devoured and sacrificed by this inexorable development. In other words, it is not considered a creature with the purpose to exalt and glorify the goodness, power and wisdom of God: Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl (Ps 148:7, 9-10). The idea of the existence of death before the fall is especially blasphemous with respect to man himself as a person created by God according to His image and likeness and therefore immortal. The theory of evolution is a sacrilege therefore since it assumes the existence of ape (or even more primitive) ancestors of Adam putting a question about their redemption on the Cross and moreover limitlessly lengthening the genealogy of the Son of Man Himself (which in fact has 77 generations from Adam (Lk 3:23-38)). Alternatively this theory does not accept Adam as a historical person not only "disproving" his being saint but disproving the fact of his life and thus "killing" him. This reveals that it originates from the devil who was a murderer from the beginning (Jn 8:44). Rule 123 of the Council of Carthage states: "Whoever says that Adam, the first man created, was created mortal so that whether he had or had not sinned would have died anyway, that is, would have left his body not as in punishment for sin but due to the necessity of nature: let him be cursed (anathema)" [30]. It is important to realise that believing in the existence of death before Adam's fall destroys the grounds for the Christian understanding of the world. "Can one believe in Christ and doubt in the fall of the first people?" - asks St Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov) and clarifies - "If the story of the fall was a legend, an imaginary beginning of the following events of the observable history of the world, there would be no necessity in redemption of humanity by the Son of God and the unity of people and God would never be broken" [31]. The point here is not in the subtlety of explanation of the Bible but in the incompatibility of the Orthodox theology and evolution, of the faith in the necessity of our redemption by the incarnate Son of God Jesus Christ and the faith in the absence of reasons making such redemption necessary: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14-15); what communion has a wolf with a lamb? And a sinful with a righteous (Sir 13:21).

Wisdom. Evolutionism disregards the divine origin of life as it tries to explain it scientifically, with the earthly wisdom based on the distorted, fragmental rational knowledge. But God is not worshipped with men's hands (Acts 17: 25); the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Cor 3:19). For it is only God in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3) his understanding is infinite (Ps 146:5), and there is no searching of his understanding (Is 40:28). For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Rom 11:34). No one is able to conceive His works (Sir 18:2).

Omniscience. The theory of evolution rejects God's all-knowing since it sees Him making laboratory experiments according to a manly limited scheme: learning slavishly by trial and error and from simpler things to more complex. But God, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Rev 1:8), knows everything of every creature not even born yet and did know before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) because He is beyond time: Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world (Acts 15:18); And in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them (Ps 139:16); but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him (Heb 4:13). There is a good example of this [14]. An evolutionist must invent a contemporary airplane. He takes a steam train, removes an engine attaches wings to the engine and here it is, Mozhaysky's aircraft! The next step is to come up with an internal combustion engine and get Brothers Wright's plane. Then even in this model he has to do yet another degenerative mutation removing the second pair of wings to obtain a monoplane. Finally, the engine must mutate to become a jet one. Well, it is roughly what the evolution of human ideas in aircraft building looked like. But is there a constructor who, knowing beforehand the way the desired plane looks, will start making it from a steam train and Mozhaysky's plane?

Can anyone imagine that our Creator is such a "constructor", He Who is eternal and Who knows what is hidden, who knows everything before it comes into being?

Truth. Evolutionism tries to disprove that God is truthful and faithful, compelling one either to reject the Scriptures or to believe that the creation of the world and the life of man described by the prophet Moses in the book of Genesis, did not take place in history but is an allegorical story requiring additional analysis based on principles entirely hostile to Christianity. But we know that God is faithful and there is no lie in Him: "all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he (Dt 32:4), the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth (Ps 33:4); But the Lord is the true God (Jer 10:10, Jn 8:27), it is impossible for God to lie (Heb 6:18). The Holy Fathers did not accept any allegorical understanding of the Bible including the Hexaemeron, on the contrary they emphasised the necessity to understand it "as it is written". St Basil the Great in his explanations of the Hexaemeron says: "When I hear about the grass, I think of the grass; as well as plants, fish, animals and cattle - all is understood according to its name. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16)" [3]. St John The Chrisostom: "Not to believe what is told in the Divine Scriptures but to invent something different is extremely dangerous for the one who dares to do it" [15].

Holiness. When we say that God is Holy, we emphasise that His nature is different from this world and therefore incomprehensible. Evolutionism, on the contrary, either rejects the supernatural and miraculous or does not make the distinction. But the Lord our God is Holy (Ps 99: 9). It is the very meaning of our life to strive for holiness. Man, being God's image, is not only an earthly thing but a heavenly as well: he is given the spirit which sets him apart from the animal world. With the spirit man conceives God and acquires holiness. The main reason why the theory of evolution is not consistent with the Orthodox thinking is, according to St Theophanus the Recluse, that the former reduces the spirit-soul-and-body human constitution to the animal nature with just two parts, body and soul. He writes: "If we accept that the center of man's nature is spirit, the theory of Darwin comes crushing down by itself. In fact, when considering the origin of man, to say that it is solely the origin of his body is not sufficient. On the contrary, his origins as a spiritual entity in an animal body and soul should be emphasised" [16]. A person who does not have a spiritual life and denies the manifestation of spirit in himself, actually loses it and becomes like an animal. It should be noted that the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped (2 Th 2, 4), will win people's favour, as is said in the Apocalypse, in the image of a beast: The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? (Rev. 13: 3-4). The theory of evolution that likens man to a beast has already won people's favour and become a scientific version of the pagan cult of totem, the animal beginning.

The main issue of anthropology is the reference frame in which to describe man. We can name a few layers of the hierarchical perception of the phenomenon of man. From the mechanical point of view, man is a system of joints and links. At the physico-chemical layer, a nonlinear open system able to organise and develop itself. Biologically, we are a living organism with a preprogrammed set of instincts. At the spiritual level, we are God's image. Therefore spiritual laws are important for us not to be a machine, a protein mass or an animal. The principle of action of these laws is different from the physical ones: the spiritual laws do not act by themselves but are given to be observed. Therefore they may be violated by the free will of man. God does not want to force these laws on us but He wants the will of His creation to freely come in accordance with His will. If this happens, His creature, man, becomes like God. On the other hand, every sin is contrary to God's will and leads to the destruction of man and the whole world and the separation from the Creator.

Therefore in natural sciences man should be viewed not from a fallen and seriously affected by sin personality's perspective, but bearing in mind those features and properties that distinguish us from the rest of creation and liken us to God - the ability to speak, think and love as well as our freedom, creativity, immortality, power and other qualities. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14)! All the personal properties acquire their true worth only in relation to God, in relation to our striving towards God's likeness. That is why when we view the nature of man we must overcome the ontological propensity to sin in our being. By contrast, viewing the man from within his fallen nature leads to ever more aberration. It is sufficient to remember the recent advances in gene engineering, the appearance of new bio-technologies such as fetal therapy, conception in vitro, cloning, xenotransplantology (transplantology across species) and the like.

Apart from the concept of man's nature, another very important issue is our own attitude towards nature, which has also been immensely "darwinised" in the present time. The notion of ecology itself is anti-Christian, because it misconstrues the core of the problem: the reason of the contemporary ecological crisis is seen by ecologists in the unwise industrial activities. That is, they exchange the true reason of the crisis for its manifestation, its consequence. The actual reason of all natural catastrophes, illnesses, sufferings and death is, however, our sin before God: Against thee, thee only, have I sinned (Ps 49:4). Man as such is not an obstacle to the existence of nature. Sin lead to the spreading of evil from man to the animal world and all creation: For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:20-21). St John The Chrisostom explains: "What does it mean: was made subject to vanity? - It was made corruptible. What for and why? - It is your fault, man. Because you got a deadly body subject to sufferings, the Earth has also been cursed" [17]. The Earth itself has been changed. "According to the Revelation, the Earth is irritated by the lawlessness which is done on it, - writes Deacon Daniel Sysoyev, - This happens not because our planet is a god or a personality (as occultists say), but because on the third day of creation divine not-made ideas were put in it which give the Earth fertility and control its being. They come from the inconceivable entity of God. This is why every crime and sin is inevitably reflected on our planet." [18]. Therefore the salvation, preservation and healing of nature is only possible after the healing of master of this world, man, who being unworthy has lost his ability and power to govern it. The world was created for us, not the other way around. Every creature exists, according to the Holy Fathers, to serve man. And since the Lord sent the flood onto the ancient and depraved world, is it not clear that attempts to improve the ecological situation on Earth using only the rational scientific approach without thinking of the rebirth of man in Christ are futile? If he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly (2 Pet 2:4-6). The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (Dt 29:29). This phrase shows that it is only the fulfillment of the law, a revealed thing that belongs to us, whereas the salvation of this world, a secret thing, is up to the Lord.

To create an earthly paradise is impossible. We cannot avoid the end of the world and no one is able to save it: the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Pet 3:7). The transfiguration of man and the world is only possible by acquiring God's grace and overcoming our fallen nature: The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2 Pet 2:9); the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (Ps 1:6).

References (all in Russian)

1. St Feofan Zatvornik, Nastavleniya v duhovnoi zhisni. - Pskov-Pechery Monastery of Holy Dormition: Mosc. Patriarchate Publ., 1994.

2. St Feofan Zatvornik, Sozertsanie I razmyshlenie. - Moscow, Pravilo very, 1998.

3. St Vasily Vyeliky. Byesedy na Knigu Bytiya, Tvorenia. - Ìoscow, Palomnik, 1993. - vol.1.

5. N.Ya.Danilevsky, Darwinism, A critical study. - St Petersburgh., 1885.

6. St Grigiry Palama. V zaschitu svyaschenno-bezmolvstvuyuschikh. - Moscow, Kanon, 1995.

7. L.A.Tikhomirov, Religiozno-philosophskie osnovy istorii. - Moscow, "Moskva" Magazin, 1998.

8. Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), Poslanie k A.Kalomirosu, Russki Pastyr. ¹22-23, 1995.

9. Rossia pered vtorym proshestviem, S.Fomin (Ed.), Sviyato-Troitskaya Sergiyeva Lavra, 1993.

10. Archimandrite Alipy (Kastalsky-Borozdin), Apchimandrite Isaiah (Belov), Dogmaticheskoe bogoslovie, Sviyato-Troitskaya Sergiyeva Lavra, 1995.

11. Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), Pravoslavnoye svyatootecheskoye ponimanie Knigi Bytia, Moscow, Rossiyskoye Otdelenie Valaamskogo Obschestva Ameriki, 1998.

12. St Aphanasy Vyeliky, Tvorenya, Sergiyev Posad, 1994.

13. St Ioann Kronshtandtsky, Moya zhisn vo Hriste, Moscow, Blagovest, 1998, vol.1-2.

14. Priest Timophey, Dvye kosmogonii, Evolutsionnaya teoria v svete svyatootecheskogo uchenia i argumentov creatsionnoy nauki, Moscow, Palomnik, 1999.

15. St Ioann Zlatoust, Byesedy na Knigu Bytiya , Tvorenia, Moscow, Zlatoust, 1994, vol. 4., book 1.

16. St Feofan Zatvornik, Mudrye soviety, Moscow, Pravilo vyery, 1998.

18. Deacon Daniil Sysoyev, Lyetopis nachala, Sretensky Monastery.

17. St Ioann Zlatoust, Byesedy na poslanie k rimlyanam, Tvorenia, Moscow, Zlatoust, 1994, vol.9, book 2.