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The Orthodox View of Evolution
Development, not evolution
“Orthodox evolutionism” and the patristic teaching
The patristic teaching on evolution
The state of nature before and after the fall
Science and Divine Revelation
The Nature of Man

The Nature of Man

And now I come to the final and most important question which is raised for Orthodox theology by the modern theory of evolution: the nature of man and in particular the nature of the first-created man Adam. I say that this is the “most important question” raised by evolution because the doctrine of man, anthropology, touches most closely upon theology, and here, perhaps, it becomes most possible to identify theologically the error of evolutionism. It is well known that Orthodoxy teaches quite differently from Roman Catholicism regarding man’s nature and Divine grace, and now I shall attempt to show that the theological view of man’s nature which is implied in the theory of evolution, - is not the Orthodox view of man, but is much closer to the Roman Catholic view; and this is only a confirmation of the fact that the theory of evolution, far from being taught by any Orthodox Father, is simply a product of the Western apostate mentality and even, despite the fact that it originally was a “reaction” against Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, has deep roots in the Papist scholastic tradition.

The view of human nature and the creation of Adam which you set forth in your letter is very much influenced by your opinion that Adam, in his body, was an “evolved beast.” This opinion you obtained not from the holy Fathers (for you cannot find one Father who believed this, and I have already shown you that the Fathers indeed believe quite “literally” that Adam was created from the dust and not from any other creature), but from modern science. Let us then look, first of all, at the Orthodox patristic view of the nature and value of secular, scientific knowledge, particularly in relation to revealed, theological knowledge.

This patristic view is very well set forth by the great hesychast Father, St. Gregory Palamas, who was forced to defend Orthodox theology and spiritual experience precisely against a Western rationalist, Barlaam, who wished to reduce the spiritual experience and knowledge of hesychasm to something attainable by science and philosophy. In answering him, St. Gregory set forth general principles which are well applicable in our own day, when scientists and philosophers think they can understand the mysteries of creation and man’s nature better than Orthodox theology. He writes: “The beginning of wisdom is to be sufficiently wise to distinguish and prefer to the wisdom which is low, terrestrial and vain, that which is truly useful, heavenly and spiritual, that which comes from God and conducts towards Him, and which renders conformable to God those who acquire it.”

St. Gregory teaches that the latter wisdom alone is good in itself, while the former is both good and evil: “Even if one of the Fathers says the same thing as do those from without, the concordance is only verbal, the thought being quite different. The former, in fact, have, according to Paul, ‘the mind of Christ,’ while the latter express at best a human reasoning.” From secular knowledge, St. Gregory writes, “we absolutely cannot expect any precision whatever in the knowledge of Divine things; for it is not possible to draw from it any certain teaching on the subject of God.”

And this knowledge can also be harmful and fight against true theology: “The power of this reason enters into battle against those who accept the traditions in simplicity of heart; it despises the writings of the Spirit, after the example of men who have treated them carelessly and have set up the creation against the Creator.”

There could hardly be a better account than this of what modern “Christian evolutionists” have tried to do by thinking themselves wiser than the holy Fathers, using secular knowledge to reinterpret the teaching of the Sacred Scripture and the holy Fathers. Who can fail to see that the rationalistic, naturalistic spirit of Barlaam is quite close to that of modern evolutionism?

But notice that St. Gregory is speaking of scientific knowledge which, on its own level, is true; it becomes false only by warring against the higher knowledge of theology. Is the theory of evolution even true scientifically?

I have already spoken of the dubious nature of the scientific evidence for evolution in general, and now I must say a word specifically about the scientific evidence for human evolution, since here we already begin to touch on the realm of Orthodox theology. Now I must ask you a very elementary scientific question: what is the evidence for the “evolution of man”?

The scientific fossil evidence for the “evolution of man” consists of: Neanderthal Man (many specimens); Peking man (several skulls); the “men” called Java, Heidelberg, Piltdown (until 20 years ago), and the recent finds in Africa (all extremely fragmentary). The total fossil evidence for the “evolution of man” could be contained in a box the size of a small coffin, and is from widely separated parts of the earth, with no reliable indication of even relative (much less absolute) age, and with no indication whatever of how these different “men” were connected with each other, whether by descent or kinship.

Further, one of these “evolutionary ancestors of man,” - “Piltdown Man,” - was discovered 20 years ago to have been a deliberate fraud. It is an interesting fact that Teilhard de Chardin was one of the “discoverers” of “Piltdown Man” - a fact which you will not find in most textbooks or in biographies of him. He “discovered” the canine tooth of this fabricated creature - a tooth which had already been dyed with intent to cause deception regarding its age when he found it! I do not have the evidence to say that Teilhard de Chardin consciously participated in the fraud; I think it more likely that he was the victim of the actual perpetrator of the fraud, and that he was so anxious to find proof for the “evolution of man” in which he already believed that he simply did not pay any attention to the anatomical difficulties which this crudely fabricated “man” presented to any objective observer. And yet in evolutionary textbooks printed before the discovery of the fraud, Piltdown Man is accepted as an evolutionary ancestor of man without question; his “skull” is even illustrated and it is confidently stated that “he combines human characteristics with others far retarded.” This, of course, is just what is required for a “missing link” between man and ape, and that is why the Piltdown fraud was composed precisely of a mixture of human and ape bones.

Some time later this same Teilhard de Chardin participated in the discovery, and above all in the “interpretation,” of “Peking Man.” Several skulls were found of this creature, and it was the best candidate that had been found until then as the “missing link” between modern man and the apes. Thanks to his “interpretation” (for by then he had established a reputation as one of the world’s leading paleontologists), “Peking Man” also entered textbooks as an ancestor of man - in utter disdain of the uncontested fact that modern human bones were found in the same deposit, and to everyone without “evolutionary” prejudices it was clear that this “Peking Ape” had been used for food by human beings (for there was a hole in the base of every skull of “Peking man” by which the brains had been drawn out).

If you will examine objectively all the fossil evidence for the “evolution of man,” I believe you will find that there is no conclusive or even remotely reasonable evidence whatever for this “evolution.” The evidence is believed to be proof for human evolution because men want to believe this; they believe in an philosophy that requires that man evolved from ape-like creatures. Of all the fossil “men” only Neanderthal Man 9and of course Cro-Magnon Man, who is simply modern man) seems to be genuine; and he is simply “Homo Sapiens,” no different from modern man than modern men are different from each other, a variation within one definite kind of species. Please note that the pictures of Neanderthal Man in evolutionary textbooks are the invention of artists who have a preconceived idea of what “primitive man” must have looked like, based on evolutionary philosophy!

I have said enough, I believe, not to show that I can “disprove” the “evolution of man” (for who can prove or disprove anything with such fragmentary evidence?!), but to indicate that we must be very critical indeed of the biased interpretations of such scanty evidence. Let us leave it to our modern pagans and their philosophers to become excited with the discovery of every new skull, bone or even a single tooth, about which newspaper headlines declare: “New Ancestor of Man Found.” This is not even the realm of vain knowledge; it is the realm of modern fables and fairy tales, of a wisdom which truly has become astonishingly foolish.

Where does the Orthodox Christian turn if he wishes to learn the true doctrine of the creation of the world and man? St. Basil tells us clearly: “Let us examine the structure of the world and contemplate the whole universe, beginning, not from the wisdom of the world, but from what God taught His servant (Moses)” (Hexaemeron, VI, 1).

We shall now see that the evolutionary views on the origin of man in reality not only do not teach us anything about the origin of man, but present us with a false picture, as you yourself prove when you are forced to expound this teaching in order to defend the idea of evolution.

St. Gregory the Theologian.
St. Gregory
the Theologian.

Expounding your view on the nature of man, based upon an acceptance of the idea of evolution, you write: “Man is not an image of God by nature. By nature he is an animal, an evolved beast, dust from the ground. He is an image of God supernaturally.” And again: “God’s breath of life transformed the animal in man without changing a single anatomical characteristic of his body, nor a single cell.” And: “I would not be surprised if Adam’s body were not in all respects the body of an ape.”

Now, before examining the patristic teaching of man’s nature, I will admit that this word “nature” can be a little ambiguous, and that one can find passages where the holy Fathers use the expression “human nature” in the way it is used in common discourse, as referring to this fallen human nature whose effects we observe every day. But there is a higher patristic teaching of human nature, a specific doctrine, given by Divine revelation, which cannot be understood or accepted by one who believes in evolution.

The Orthodox doctrine of human nature is set forth most concisely in the Spiritual Instructions of Abba Dorotheus. This book is accepted in the Orthodox Church as the basic textbook of Orthodox spirituality. It is most significant that the Orthodox doctrine of human nature is set forth in the very first page of this book, because this doctrine is the foundation of the entire Orthodox spiritual life.

What is this doctrine? Abba Dorotheus writes in the very first words of his First Instruction: “In the beginning, when God created man, He placed him in Paradise and adorned him with every virtue, giving him the commandment not to taste of the tree which was in the midst of Paradise. And thus he remained there in the enjoyment of Paradise; in prayer, in vision, in every glory and honor, having sound senses and being in the same natural condition in which he was created. For God created man according to His own image, i.e. immortal, master of himself, and adorned with every virtue. But when he transgressed the commandment, eating the fruit of the tree of which God had commanded him not to taste, then he was banished from Paradise, fell away from the natural condition, and fell into a condition against nature, and then he remained in sin, in love of glory, in love for the enjoyments of this age and of other passions, and he was mastered by them, for he became himself their slave through the transgression. (The Lord Jesus Christ) accepted our very nature, the essence of our constitution, and became a new Adam in the image of God Who created the first Adam; He renewed the natural condition and made the senses again sound, as they were in the beginning.”

The same doctrine is set forth by other ascetic Fathers. Thus Abba Isaiah teaches: “…In the beginning, when God created man, He placed him in Paradise, and he had then sound senses, which stood in their natural order; but when he obeyed the one who deceived him, all his senses were changed into an unnatural state, and he was then cast out from his glory.” And the same Father continues: “And so let him who desires to come into his natural condition cut off all his fleshly desires, so as to place himself in the condition according to the nature of the mind.”

The holy Fathers clearly teach that, when Adam sinned, man did not merely lose something which had been added to his nature, but rather human nature itself was changed, corrupted, at the same time that man lost God’s grace. The Divine services of the Orthodox Church, which are a foundation of our Orthodox dogmatic teaching and spiritual life, also clearly teach that the human nature which we now observe is not natural to us, but has been corrupted..

It can also be noted that our whole Orthodox conception of the incarnation of Christ and our salvation through Him is bound up with a proper understanding of human nature as it was in the beginning, to which Christ has restored us. We believe that we will one day live with Him in a world very much like the world that existed here in this earth, before the fall of Adam, and that our nature will then be the nature of Adam - only even higher, because everything material and changeable will then be left behind.

And now I must show you further that even your doctrine of human nature as it is now in this fallen world, is incorrect, is not according to the teaching of the holy Fathers. Perhaps it is a result of error on your part, that you write: “Apart from God man is from his nature nothing at all, because his nature is the dust from the ground, like the nature of the animals.” Because you believe in the philosophy of evolution, you are forced either to believe that human nature is only a low, animal nature, as you indeed state; or, at best, you divide human nature artificially into two parts: that which is from “nature” and that which is from God. But the true Orthodox anthropology teaches that human nature is one, it is that which we have from God; we do not have some nature “from the animals” or “from the dust” which is different from the nature with which God created us. And therefore, even the fallen, corrupted human nature which we have now is not “nothing at all,” as you say, but it still preserves in some degree the “goodness” in which God created it. Behold what Abba Dorotheus writes of this doctrine:

“We have naturally the virtues given to us by God. For when God created man, He sowed virtues in him, as also He said: ‘Let us create man in Our image and likeness.’ It is said: ‘in Our image,’ inasmuch God created the soul immortal and with authority over itself, and ‘in Our likeness,’ referring to virtues. For the Lord says: ‘Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful’; and elsewhere: “You shall be holy as I am holy’. Consequently, by nature God gave us virtues. But passions do not belong to us by nature, for they do not even have any substance or composition; just like darkness of itself has no substance, being, as St. Basil says, but a state of air created from the absence of light, so passions are not natural to us, but the soul in its love of pleasure, having inclined away from virtues, instills the passions in itself and strengthens them against itself” (Instruction XII).

Further, these God-given virtues still exercise themselves even in our fallen state. This is the extremely important Orthodox teaching of St. John Cassian, who thus refuted the error of Blessed Augustine, who indeed believed that man apart from God’s grace was “nothing at all.” St. Cassian teaches in his Thirteenth Conference: “That the human race after the fall actually did not lose the knowledge of good is affirmed by Apostle Paul… And even to the Pharisees the Lord said that they can know the truth. He would not have said this if they could not have discerned what is just by their natural reason. Therefore, one should not think that human nature is capable only of evil.”

Likewise, with regard to the righteous Job, St. Cassian asks whether “he conquered the various snares of the enemy in this battle apart from his own virtue, but only with the assistance of God’s grace,” and he answers: “Job conquered him by his own power. However, the grace of God also did not abandon Job; lest the tempter burden him with temptations above his strength, God’s grace allowed him to be tempted as much as the virtue of the tempted one could bear.”

Again, with regard to the Patriarch Abraham: “God’s righteousness wished to test the faith of Abraham, not that which the Lord had instilled in him, but that which he showed by his own freedom.”

Of course, the reason why Augustine (and Roman Catholicism and Protestantism after him) believed that man was nothing without grace, was that he had an incorrect conception of human nature, based on a naturalistic view of man. The Orthodox doctrine, on the other hand, of human nature as it was created in the beginning by God and is even now preserved in part in our fallen state, prevents us from falling into any such a false dualism between what is “man’s” and what is “God’s.” To be sure, everything good that man has is from God, not the least his very nature. Man has no “animal nature” as such and never did have; he has only the fully human nature which God gave him in the beginning, and which he has not entirely lost even now.

Is it necessary to quote for you the multitude of clear patristic evidence that the “image of God,” which is to be found in the soul, refers to man’s nature and is not something added from without? Let it suffice to quote the marvelous testimony of St. Gregory the Theologian, showing how man by his constitution stands between two worlds, and is free to follow whichever side of his nature he will:

“I do not understand how I became joined to the body and how, being the image of God, I became mixed up with dirt! What wisdom is revealed in me, and what a great mystery! Was it not for this that God led us into this warfare and battle with the body, that we, being a part of Divinity, might not be haughty and exalt ourselves because of our dignity, and might not disdain the Creator, but might always direct our gaze toward Him, and so that our dignity might be kept within bounds by the infirmity joined to us? So that we might know at the same time we are both immensely great and immensely low, earthly and heavenly, temporal and immortal, inheritors of light and darkness, depending upon which side we incline towards? So was our constitution established, and this, as far as I can see, was in order that the earthly dust might humble us if we should imagine to exalt ourselves because of the image of God” (Homily 14).

This image of God which man possesses by nature was not completely lost even among the pagans, as St. John Cassian teaches; it has not been lost even today, when man, under the influence of modern philosophy and evolutionism, is trying to turn himself into a sub-human beast - for even now God awaits man’s conversion, awaits his awakening to the true human nature which he has within him.

The Nature of Man

This brings me to the very important point of your interpretation of the teaching of the God-bearing Father of almost our own times, St. Seraphim of Sarov, contained in his famous “Conversation with Motovilov.”

St. Seraphim says: “Many explain that when it says in the Bible that God breathed the breath of life into the face of Adam the first-created man, who was created by Him from the dust of the ground, it must mean that until then there was neither human soul nor spirit in Adam, but only the flesh created from the dust of the ground. This interpretation is wrong, for the Lord created Adam from the dust of the ground with the constitution which the holy Apostle Paul describes: ‘May your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Ďđĺď. Ńĺđŕôčě Ńŕđîâńęčé
Ďđĺď. Ńĺđŕôčě Ńŕđîâńęčé

And all these parts of our nature were created from the dust of the ground, and Adam was not created dead, but an active being like all the other animate creatures of God living on earth. The point is that if the Lord God had not breathed afterwards into his face the breath of life (that is, the grace of our Lord God the Holy Spirit…), Adam would have remained without having within him the Holy Spirit Who raises him to God-like dignity. However perfect he had been created and superior to all the other creatures of God as the crown of creation on earth, he would have been just like all the other creatures, which, though they have a body, soul and spirit, each according to its kind, yet have not the Holy Spirit within them. But when the Lord God breathed into Adam’s face the breath of life, then, according to Moses’ word, ‘Adam became a living soul,’ that is, completely and in every way like God, and, like Him, forever immortal.”

This is the one patristic quote you give which seems to support your view that man was first a beast, and then (later in time) received the image of God and became man. In fact, I must tell you that you have completely misunderstood the teaching of St. Seraphim, who is not at all teaching what the doctrine of evolution teaches. This I can show by quoting both the clear teaching of other holy Fathers and that of St. Seraphim himself.

First, we should be clear that when St. Seraphim speaks of man as being composed of “spirit and soul and body,” he is not contradicting those many other holy Fathers who speak of human nature as merely “soul and body”; he is merely making a distinction between different aspects of the soul and speaking of them separately, as many holy Fathers also speak. Secondly, in saying that the “breath of life” which God breathed into the face of Adam is the grace of the Holy Spirit, he is not contradicting the very many holy Fathers who teach that the “breath of life” is the soul, but is only giving a perhaps more profound and precise interpretation of this passage from Scripture. But is he actually making the rationalistic distinction which you make between the nature of man which existed “before” this breathing, and the grace which was communicated by it? Does Orthodox theology accept the rigid dichotomy which Roman Catholic teaching makes between “nature” and “grace,” as though man knew everything there is to know about these two great mysteries?

No, Orthodox theology does not know such a rigid dichotomy on the subject: does immortality belong to the human soul by nature or by grace? What belongs to first-created Adam by nature and what by grace? Let us not make false rationalistic distinctions, but let us admit that we do not fully understand this mystery. Nature and grace both come from God. The nature of first-created Adam was so exalted that we can only faintly understand it now by our own experience of grace, which has been given to us by the Second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ; but Adam’s state was also higher than anything we can imagine even from our own experience of grace, for even his high nature was made yet more perfect by grace; and he was, as St. Seraphim says, “completely and in every way like God, and, like Him, forever immortal.”

What is absolutely clear, and what is sufficient for us to know, is that the creation of man – of his spirit and soul and body, and of the Divine grace which perfected his nature – is a single act of creation, and it cannot be artificially divided up, as though one part of it came “first,” and another part “later.” God created man in grace, but neither the Holy Scriptures, nor the Holy Fathers teach us that this grace came later in time than the creation of man’s nature. This teaching belongs to Medieval Latin scholasticism.

To be convinced of this we have only to examine how the holy Fathers instruct us to interpret the sacred narrative of Genesis at this point. The answer is summed up for us by St. John Damascene: “With His own hands God created man both from visible and invisible nature, in His own image and likeness: from the earth God formed his body, and by His own inbreathing gave him a rational and understanding soul, which last we say is the divine image… Furthermore, the body and the soul were formed at the same time – not one before and the other afterwards, as the ravings of Origen would have it” (On the Orthodox Faith, II, 12.)

Although St. John Damascene speaks of God’s inbreathing as the soul, he does not teach differently from St. Seraphim, who spoke of this inbreathing as the grace of the Holy Spirit. St. John Damascene hardly speaks of grace at all in the creation of man, since this grace is understood to have been present throughout the entire process of creation, primarily in the creation of the image of God – the soul – which, as he teaches, is part of our nature. St. Gregory of Nyssa also speaks of the creation of man without paying any special attention to what comes “from nature” and what comes “from grace,” but simply ends his writing with the words: “Let us all return to that divinely apparent grace with which God created man in the beginning, saying: let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (On the formation of man, XXX, 34).

St. John Damascene and others, speaking of God’s inbreathing as the soul, examine this subject in a somewhat different manner than St. Seraphim; but it is clear that the teaching of all these Fathers concerning the creation of man and, in particular, concerning the question of whether it is possible from the narrative in Genesis to conclude as to a difference in time between the “formation” and the “inbreathing” of man, – is one and the same. St. John Damascene speaks for all the Fathers when he remarks that they (i.e. the formation and the inbreathing) occurred “at the same time – not one before and the other afterwards.”

St. John Damascene, in particular, rejects Origen’s heresy concerning the “pre-existence” of souls. But there was also an opposite heresy, which taught of the “pre-existence” of the human body, exactly as contemporary “Christian evolutionists” teach. This heresy was specifically disproved by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Having examined Origen’s fallacy in regard to the “pre-existence of souls,” St. Gregory continues: “Others, however, keeping to the order described by Moses concerning the formation of man, declare that the soul came second in time after the body. Since God (they say), having first taken dust from the earth, created man, and only then made him a living being by breathing into him, on this basis they attempt to prove that the body is to be preferred over the soul, which had entered into an already created body. The soul, they say, was created for the body, in order for man not to be a lifeless and immobile creation… But the teaching of both the one and the other is equally unacceptable” (On the formation of man, XXVIII).

Concretely rejecting the teaching of the “pre-existence of bodies,” St. Gregory says: “And I believe that our true teaching should lie somewhere in the middle between these suppositions. This means that we should not believe that, in accordance with the Hellenic falsehood, our souls, which rotated with the universe, became burdened with sin and, being unable to keep up with the speed of the rotating polar caps, fell to the ground; neither should we assert that man was first created by the Word as a statue from clay, and then a soul was made for this statue (for in that case our intelligent nature would be less precious than a statue made out of clay). Since man, who is composed of a soul and a body, is a single entity, we must assume a single beginning to his composition… According to the apostles, our nature is comprehended by the mind as a duality: physical man and mystical man. Thus, if one part was pre-existent and the other appeared afterwards, that would signify a deficiency in the power of the Creator, as though being inadequate for the instantaneous creation of the entire being, but dividing the task and taking care of each half in turn” (Ibid, XXIX).

Do we need more proof that the “God” of “Christian evolutionists” is precisely a God who is inadequate for performing the entire task; and that the reason for inventing evolutionary teaching was to explain the universe on the basis of God either not existing at all, or being unable to create the world in six days by His Word alone?

Those who believe in the God worshipped by Orthodox Christians would never have thought of evolution.

It is quite obvious that Saint Seraphim understood the text of the book of Genesis differently from the way you interpret it. Other parts of his “Conversation with Motovilov” show that St. Seraphim looked upon creation and the nature of Adam in the same way as did the entire patristic tradition.

Thus, immediately after the place you have cited, there are the following words which you do not mention: “Adam was created in such a way as not to be affected by any of the God-made elements; thus he could not be drowned by water, nor burned by fire, nor swallowed up by the earth’s abysses, nor harmed by any action of the air. Everything was subjected to him…”

This is an exact description of the incorruptibility of Adam’s body at the time of creation, when it was subject to rules that were different from today’s “laws of nature,” which you will find impossible to accept, since you believe, together with modern philosophy, that material creation was “natural,” i.e. corruptible, even before Adam’s fall!

And again St. Seraphim says: “Such wisdom, and power, and might, and all other good and holy qualities the Lord God gave also to Eve, having created her not from the dust of the earth, but from Adam’s rib in the bliss of the Eden He had planted in the middle of the earth.” Do you believe in Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib as an historical fact, as do all the Holy Fathers? No, you cannot, because from the point of view of evolutionary philosophy it is an absurdity; why should the “God” of evolution develop Adam’s body from animals “in a natural manner,” and then create Eve miraculously? The “God” of evolution does not work such miracles!

Let us now concretely examine the Orthodox patristic view of the body of the first-created Adam, which, according to evolutionary teaching, should have been corruptible, like the corruptible world from which it “evolved,” and could have been, as you assert, even the body of an ape.

The Scriptures clearly teach us that “God created man incorruptible.” St. Gregory Sinaite says: “The body, the theologians tell us, has been created incorruptible, the same as it will arise, and the soul has been created without passions; but just as the soul had the freedom to sin, so the body – to become corruptible.” And again: “The incorruptible body will be earthly, but without secretions and obesity, being indescribably transformed into a spiritual entity, so that it will be both dust and heavenly. Just as it has been created in the beginning, so it will arise, in order to accord with the image of the Son of Man.”

Let us note here that the body in the next life with still be “of dust.” Looking upon the corruptible dust of this fallen world, we become humble, thinking of this part of our nature; but when we think of that incorruptible dust of the newly-created world, out of which God made Adam, we delight in the majesty of even that lowest part of God’s ineffable creation!

St. Gregory the Theologian offers a symbolic interpretation of the “coats of skins” in which the Lord clothed Adam and Eve after their transgression, meaning that our current body differs from the body of the first-created Adam. “Adam is clothed in coats of skins, i.e. in a course, mortal and confrontational flesh.” St. Gregory the Sinaite also says: “Man was created incorruptible, and will arise the same. Corruptibility has been engendered by the flesh. To eat food and disgorge the excess, to carry one’s head proudly and to sleep lying down – those are natural attributes of animals and beasts, among whom we, too, find ourselves; having become through our transgression like unto the animals, we have lost our God-given qualities and have changed from wise beings into animals, from divine creations into beasts” (Discourses on the commandments, 8:9).

Concerning the state of Adam in Eden St. John Chrysostome teaches the following: “Man lived on earth like an angel – being in a body, but not having bodily needs; like a king, clothed in a purple robe and crowned with a diadem, he freely enjoyed his heavenly abode, having everything in abundance…. Until the fall the first people lived in Eden like angels, were not subject to lust or other passions, were not burdened with any bodily necessities, had even no need of being covered with garments” (Discourse on the Book of Genesis, XIII:4, XV:4).

St. Simeon the New Theologian also clearly speaks of the first-created Adam in Eden and of his final state in eternity: “If now, after we have transgressed the commandment and have been condemned to death, mankind has increased to such an extent, – imagine how many people there would have been, if all those born after the creation of the world had not died? And what a life they would have lived, being immortal and incorruptible, strangers to sin, sorrow, worries and oppressive cares?! And how, having excelled in keeping the commandments, they would have risen to perfect glory and, becoming transformed, would have drawn nearer to God, and the soul of each person would have become most radiant, reflecting the indescribable light of Divinity! And this sensual and coarsely material body would become immaterial and spiritual, above all senses; while the joy and rapture with which we would then be filled from communing with each other would truly be indescribable and impossible for the human mind to encompass… The life of the first people in Eden was not burdened by labor and oppressed by misfortune. Adam was created with an incorruptible body, although a material one, not yet spiritual… Of our body the apostle says: it is sown a natural body, and it is raised not like the body of the first man before the transgression, i.e. material, sensual, changing, having need of sensual food, but it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44), such as was the body of our Lord Jesus Christ after the resurrection, the body of the second Adam, the first-born among the dead, which is incomparably superior to the body of the first-created Adam” (Homily 45).

Our experience with our corruptible body makes it impossible for us to understand the incorruptible state of the body of Adam, who, as we know, had no bodily needs, who ate of all the trees in Eden without producing any waste, and who had no need of sleep (until a direct act of God made him fall asleep, in order for Eve be created from his rib). And how even less able are we to comprehend the exalted state of our bodies in the future age! But from the teaching of the Church we know enough to disprove those who believe that these mysteries may be comprehended by means of science and philosophy. The state of Adam and the newly-created world has been forever excluded from scientific knowledge by the barrier of Adam’s transgression, which had changed the very nature of Adam and all creation, and likewise the nature of knowledge itself.

Modern science knows only that which it observes and what it can reasonably deduce from its observations; its conjectures concerning the earliest creation are of neither greater nor lesser import than the myths and fables of ancient pagans. True knowledge of Adam and the newly-created world – as far as we are allowed to know – is accessible only through divine revelation and in the divine contemplation of the saints.

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