Fr. John Romanides on the Creation of the World and Man (5 of 6)
The previous post was a transcript from a less than clear recording of a classroom lecture of Fr. John Romanides, in which there could be minor errors in transcription and translation. The post below is a summary of the lecture from the notes of a student of Fr. Romanides that is word for word, and fills in some of the unintelligible words due to the unclear recording. Below the translation are the same notes in the original Greek.
By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides
Now the problem is whether man evolved from the ape, or if man made his appearance as man from the beginning.
According to empirical methods of research, one cannot determine in advance whether various theories developed for an issue are wrong or not. No one can prove it dogmatically, or demonstrate its authenticity, before there is scientific evidence, how an issue, from the standpoint of the evidence, will be found in the positive sciences.
And I think it is a great folly and stupidity for one to sit and engage in an apologetic way with such an issue. Because if man evolved from an ape, then he evolved from an ape. If he did not evolve from an ape, then he did not evolve from an ape. In other words, either he evolved from an ape or not.
Is this a theological problem? No. I believe that in essence it is not a theological problem. It is simply a scientific problem.
Hence, if it is a scientific problem, why should we lose our patience and become agitated and think that Orthodoxy will collapse, if it is proved scientifically, for example, that man evolved from an ape? What significance does this have for Orthodoxy? Orthodoxy is not Paleontology.
In Orthodoxy we do not do theology according to the past, but according to the present. The interest of Orthodoxy is for man as he is now.
For Orthodoxy is a spiritual psychiatry, and belongs in the medical sciences, because its primary concern is the therapy of the soul of man. The work of the Church is to heal the nous of man (to activate the noetic energy of the soul, which in fallen man is either inactive, latently active, or demonically active), and to go from purification of the soul to the illumination of the nous, and for man to be cured and become what he is meant to be; to go from the psychopath he is now, to psychically healthy.
So what concern is it to us, from a theological standpoint, if man evolved from an ape or not? This issue, of course, from a scientific standpoint, is very interesting. The one is different from the other however.
If man evolved from apes, then the question arises: When, at what moment, did man become man? When, at what moment, and by what criterion, did the ape cease being an ape and become a man? Was it the change of the size of his brain, or did something else happen? The difference between man and animals is not so much in reasoning ability, because certain animals also have rationality. Thus, if it is not the existence of logic in man, what criterion determines whether a man is a man?
The criterion is that man is that animal that has noetic energy (i.e., essentially the nous is manifested by its noetic energy) within him, an organ (the nous) to which the Holy Spirit can come and dwell and pray (on behalf of humans), and through which the Holy Spirit can give to man the grace of illumination, and through illumination man can reach deification, when and for however long God wants.
This is man!
So, as far as where man came from, whether from dirt or an ape (that is to say the issue of the origin of man), this is of secondary importance.
Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
…to be continued.