Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Christian Dogmatics

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3. Existential consequences of the dogma on Creation


We have already examined Gnosticism’s perception of Creation (which isolated God from the world), as well as the opposite view to that of Gnosticism, which asserted that this world was the result of a creation by God, but in such a manner that made the world seem like an eternal creation of God, thus presenting God as a compulsory Creator – in other words, the world was presented as some sort of effluence from the very existence of God.  In contrast to this view, the Church took the stance that the world was created from nil; in other words, the world is NOT an extension of God Himself, nor was it created from matter that pre-existed, or from ideas that pre-existed, or from ideas residing in the thoughts of God (as Philon and the middle Platonics had believed), which thoughts were eventually realized.  When we say that the world was created from nil, we mean that it did not pre-exist, not even as a thought in God’s mind (ie, an eternal thought of God).  Thus, we not only have a rejecting of the pre-existence of matter, but also a rejecting of the pre-existence of ideas and thoughts regarding the world, inside God’s mind.  So, when we say that the world was created from nil, we are also implying that the world could just as equally NOT have come into being; that it may NOT have come into existence at all.  The fact that the world does exist, is the result of God’s free will.  This has very serious existential consequences which we must examine, and which constitute what we have named “interpretation of the dogma” in our lessons.

What does the statement: “the world may NOT have come into existence at all” signify?  This was a concept that the ancient Greeks would simply not accept.  For the ancient Greeks, the world is eternal; one couldn’t even consider entertaining the thought that the world was once nonexistent. 

So, on the premise that the world did not pre-exist, then “something else” must have existed before it; well, that “whatever else” relates to God. Thus, Creation is divided into two kinds of existence.  The one kind is the existence that “must have already existed, no matter what”; and the other kind is the kind of existence that “could, potentially, not exist”.  The kind that “could potentially not exist”, would logically owe its existence to the free will of “the one that already existed, no matter what”.  In Patristic terms, the “one that already existed, no matter what” (i.e., the one that does NOT owe its existence to someone else’s free will), is called “the UNcreated”.  The one that exists because someone else willed it to exist (and could very possibly NOT have come into existence), is, in Patristic terms, called “the created”.  It is in this way that existence is comprised of these two poles.  Everything that exists, everything that we claim exists, anything that goes with the verb “to be”, must be either created or uncreated.  There are no other categories In other words, it will either be something that exists because someone else willed it to exist (and it can equally be something that was NOT willed and subsequently nonexistent), or, it can be something that exists, not because someone else willed it, but because it alone willed itself to exist. 

Pay special attention here, to a detail that is very, very difficult, but also very, very important.  What we have named “uncreated” (i.e., that which exists, but not because “someone else” willed it to exist), for us (“the created”) it means that whereas we exist thanks to “someone else’s” free will, that same “someone else” does NOT exist because another “someone else” willed it, hence making its existence compulsory.  Its existence is compulsory, only for us Some people are mistaken in this detail, when they assume that: “since its existence is compulsory for us, then it must be compulsory for itself also”.  No. The one cannot be derived from the other.  It is compulsory for us, because it simply came before us.  As for its own self, it exists freely, simply because nothing else came before it.  This certainly can’t imply that its own self exists compulsorily.

Consequently, the “created” and the “uncreated” are the two categories that we utilize, when working on the dogma of Creation.  I repeat the “created” is something that exists because “someone else” willed it to exist and as such, it could equally NOT exist, if that “someone else” did not will it to exist;  the “Uncreated” is that which exists, NOT because “someone else” willed it to exist, but because it alone willed it.   How have we deduced this differentiation in existence?

As already mentioned, the ancient Greeks believed that the world is eternal.  They therefore didn’t accept this distinction between “created” and “uncreated”.  When they referred to something created, it was in the sense that it did not previously exist, in the form that it has today, but in some other form; in other words, this table did have a beginning – someone made it.  When saying that something originates from nil, it means that it did never existed previously, in any form whatsoever.  That is what a “created” thing is.  But an ancient Greek would have said:  “Yes, I accept that this table had a beginning, that someone made it.”  (He would thus far be accepting a dogma on creation.) “But, before this table was made into the form we see it in today, it used to exist in another form. There was the timber, and before the piece of timber, there was the tree”, etc.,etc.. In other words, he discerned an eternal transmutation of the elements, which essentially had no beginning. It was just an eternal condition. This concept of Creation is not Christian. The Christian concept of Creation is – to use the previous example – that we must presuppose that this table once didn’t exist at all; subsequently that it was also equally possible for it not to exist, in the absolute sense of not having ever existed, in any form whatsoever, i.e., prior to this table, there existed nothing, absolutely nil; not “nil” in the sense that it wasn’t previously a table, but it was in the form of wood.  Even the wood did not exist. Not even the basic elements comprising this table existed; there was absolutely nothing before.  Obviously, you understand that this view comes up against our logic; it conflicts with human intellect, because science truly finds itself in a difficult spot, when confronted by this kind of logic. How can something that now actually exists, previously have been non-existent, in any form?  And yet, in physical science today, the most recent theories on the genesis of the universe, clearly refer to a creation – to an appearance of the universe from nil. The predominant theory on the genesis of the universe is an explosion (“The Big Bang”), which is attributed to an initial stage that is equivalent to nil.  We shall not go into this matter in detail; however, I would like to point out that it really isn’t that unthinkable for one to suppose that there was absolutely nothing, out of which this world was created.  At any rate, the universe must not in any way be viewed as an extension of God Himself, whether in the form of matter, or in the form of ideas.  Our world is a “created” thing.  It began from nil (as opposed to God Who is Uncreated, Whose existence has many differences - as opposed to the existence of the Uncreated God).  What are the major differences between “created” existence and “uncreated” existence?

The first major difference, as we mentioned earlier, is that the “created” exists, because “someone else” willed it to exist, and not because it willed its own existence.  “Created” existence is therefore not a free existence.  On the other hand, “uncreated” existence exists, not because “someone else” willed it to exist (since there is no “someone else” beyond God who by definition would have willed God to exist); if there was a “someone else” who could have created God, then God would also be a “creation” and we would then need to seek the one who created the one who created...etc..etc... We would definitely have to stop somewhere.  The point at which we stop is where the “uncreated” is.  Therefore, the “uncreated” is NOT the result of “someone else’s” will, hence it exists freely.  It does NOT exist because “someone else” wanted it to exist.  It must exist, because it alone wanted to exist.  That is the major difference between the Creator and the creation; the “uncreated’s” freedom to exist, versus the “created’s” compulsory existence.  The compulsory status of existence of course pertains to the actual event of existence – to the fact that something exists at this moment.

The second major difference and consequence is that, since the “created” came from nil, it will always have nil lurking “behind its back”, like a permanent threat to its existence. If the created world could also NOT have existed, then what could hinder the possibility of its ceasing to exist?  The only thing that could hinder the possibility of its ceasing to exist, is that which caused it to exist in the first place – in other words, the will of the Uncreated.  The free will of the Uncreated can maintain the created in existence, for as long as it desires, for any length of time. But, it is ONLY this free will and NOT the created by itself that can ensure its existence – its survival. Therefore, for the created to exist, it must be perpetually dependent on the will of the one who brought it into existence.  Thus, we observe in the created a dependent existence, whereas in the Uncreated we observe a non-dependent existence.  The created must be in a perpetual relationship with the Uncreated, in order to survive. If this relationship with the Uncreated is severed, the consequence is none other than a cessation of its existence – a return to nil.  Consequently, by not having inside itself the potentials necessary for existing without any dependence (because if it did, it would be an “uncreated” being), the created perpetually experiences the threat of its return to nil.  This is the threat of “death”.  The created existentially lives under the stress of death, and the only way to rid itself of this stress – the stress of returning to nil – is, as we said, its relationship with the Uncreated and the maintaining of that relationship.  When the created severs this bond with the Uncreated, turns towards itself and seeks to draw its powers of survival from its own self, it lapses into a deception which does not lead anywhere, except to its annihilation and death – to death as a form of annihilation.  Consequently, everything to do with the existence of a creation hangs in the balance; and this is the essence of the dogma on Creation – its existential interpretation, i.e., its association with the Uncreated. If the bond with the Uncreated is severed, the creation ceases to exist. One could of course imagine a situation that involves a bond between the created and the Uncreated that cannot be severed in any way: in other words, God could have created a world that neither wants to live forever, nor wants to have any association with God, which would imply a compulsory relationship with God. It would more or less mean that God created another “god” – a god that would live eternally because it would be in an eternal, compulsory relationship with the Uncreated.  It would live eternally, despite having begun from nil.  This is entirely inconceivable.

It is out of the question, for God to create another god:  a god with an eternal outcome, without being a god to begin with; in other words, a god that has been created from nil but ends up eternal. It is inconceivable, because it would mean that the word “God” has a very strange inference: that is, it would apply both to a being that exists without having being created by someone else, as well as to a being that has been created by someone else.  The word “God” is used extremely arbitrarily. Of course we can use words any way we want – nobody is stopping us. But we can’t act arbitrarily, because we need to discern things, so, if we use this word here, we will need to find another word to describe that being who is God, without having been created by someone else..

From the moment that we accept that this was created by someone else and that someone else in fact exists, and was not created by anyone else, from that moment, we need to find two different words to describe these two things. It is therefore not possible to refer to the created being as “god”, and the Uncreated also “god”. This consequently precludes our regarding the created as a thing that is made eternal by God.  The created, therefore, is something that does not have eternicity within it. If it is cut off from God, it cannot live, it cannot exist, it will lapse into nil.  It is precisely this condition that gives rise to the following question:  How then, can this world live?  How can it exist? How can it avoid nil?  Because it has to avoid it (as we have already said) and be in a perpetual association with God.  Therefore, there must reside within the created a freedom of choice, with regard to this association with God. And this leads us to the major issue of Creation, not only of the world, but also of Man within the world.

Before focusing on Man specifically, we need to discuss more generally the existence of free beings within creation.

I must repeat the position that was outlined earlier, that it is impossible for a creation to live, to avoid its return to nil, if it is not in a perpetual association with the Uncreated.

A second position:  This association with the Uncreated God cannot possibly be a compulsory one, because if it were, then we would have a second god within Creation. Hence, it must be a voluntary, freely-wanted association. In order for it to be voluntary, there must be free beings existing in Creation;  consequently, it is precisely this need of the created world to live on, to survive in such an association with God, that leads to the creation of free beings.  The dogma on Creation mentions two kinds of free beings within Creation.  Free beings with a material hypostasis and free beings which don’t have a material hypostasis.  The ones that don’t have a material hypostasis are known as “angels” - incorporeal beings.  The free beings that possess a material hypostasis are known as mankind.  There is nothing else in Creation that we can call a free being; only the incorporeal ones (the angels) and Man.

According to what we have said so far, the role that free beings play in Creation, i.e. their calling, or, the purpose for which free beings were brought into existence, was to freely unite the created with the Uncreated.  In other words, to be able to become willingly united, because, as I have proven, the created cannot be forcefully united to the Uncreated.  Thus, if this union does not take place, the creation is condemned to return to nil, as it has no other means for survival.  Therefore, the free beings in Creation have a major destination; they do not merely have a major destination, they have an ontological destination.  Creation literally hinges on their exercising their freedom.  If they exercise their freedom in the manner that will lead to the union of the created with the Uncreated, then Creation – the created – will remain alive.  If they exercise their freedom in a reverse manner, then the created is threatened by catastrophe, by annihilation.  Of these free beings, angels – the incorporeal beings – fall short of the requirements of the role that we just mentioned, i.e., the uniting of the created to the Uncreated.  They fall short when compared to mankind, because they do not have the same corporeal potential, the same material status, and therefore cannot within themselves unite the material world, material Creation, with the uncreated God. Man, on the other hand, because of his material hypostasis, partakes of the material world/Creation; he was from the very beginning pre-ordained by God as the par excellence instrument by which this union of the created and the Uncreated was to be realized, and the subsequent survival of the created.

It should be clear now, why, as the Apostle says in his Epistle to Romans, "all of Creation also sighs and suffers"; why all of Creation falls when Man falls. Why all of Creation anticipates to be saved, why it looks forward to surviving when Man becomes united to the Uncreated.  Man therefore has this immense mission, and that is why the exercising of Man’s freedom affects Creation as we have already mentioned; not only Creation’s well-being, but also its very existence. Creation can, in other words, end up a nonentity.

I shall repeat the points that we touched on earlier.

Creation includes beings that can freely turn towards God and freely hinge their existence on this association with God - with the Uncreated.  These free beings are two kinds. There are those beings which, when voluntarily turning towards God bring the rest of Creation along with them, because they are in an organic relationship with the rest of Creation. These beings are Mankind.  The other kind of free beings are those that do not have this organic relationship with the rest of material Creation and so, when turning towards God and hinging their created existence on the uncreated God, do not bring material Creation along with them; they merely exist in a state of bliss, in a blessed condition, because they are limited to merely experiencing that relationship. These incorporeal beings, the angels, are not cut off or unrelated to the rest of Creation. They are likewise creations; they are likewise created beings. They are not eternal, and they too are subject to the same conditions that material bodies are subject to. Therefore, to be subjected to the condition called “death” and obliteration is not a consequence of one’s material status.  Pay special attention to this point: death is not attributed to the fact that the being is a material one, but because it is a created one.  There is a difference between the two.  The created Creation does not consist only of material creations.  Matter is not evil; it is not the cause of death and obliteration, or the threat of annihilation.  Evil – the threat of annihilation – stems from the being’s created status, from the fact that these beings had a certain beginning; that they had originated from nil.

These were the points that we highlighted.  Now let us examine Creation and Man’s place in Creation, in more detail.

Man appears towards the end of Creation. Here, we have a basic difference between Christianity, the Bible, and the philosophical –chiefly the Gnostic – systems during the time that the dogma on Creation was being formulated. The Gnostic systems begin with the creation of Man and end up with the creation of matter and other inferior beings, because they begin with the premise that Creation commenced with whatever was superior, by comparison to how it ended, and therefore, the more that one descends towards the more inferior beings, the more one heads towards the Fall of Creation, and its subsequent downgrading.  The Gnostics had a very negative opinion of matter, thus, perfection was to be found only in the beginning and Man was regarded as the perfect being, while all inferior beings came later.  This explained the degrading of the material world, as found in these systems.

In the Biblical perception, we do not find any downgrading of the material world.  On the contrary, we could say –using the prevalent terminology of our time- that there is an “upgrading” of the material world.  The Bible regards the material world worthy of the best kind of fortune possible, and that is why the appearance of Man towards the end of Creation indicates that God intended the material world for the best there is, which was Man; because, as we said, this human being was to bring along with it the entire material world into communion with the uncreated God.

The creating therefore of Mankind towards the end of Creation has this specific meaning: the upgrading of the material world.  However it also has another meaning, which is the exercising of freedom on the part of mankind towards the material world as well. In other words, Man is created with the element of freedom, which will allow him to take a positive or a negative stance, good or bad, towards the rest of the world.  Man is the “crowning glory” of Creation; he is the king of all Creation (as described by many Fathers); he is the one who can rule over the entire material world and use it in any way he desires. Why?  Because, as opposed to the rest of the world, he is endowed with freedom – something that no other material being possesses in Creation.  Consequently, Man is created towards the end, in order to vouchsafe and to fulfill the mission of the material world, and will do this, by means of his freedom, having being given the potential to use this world freely (“...and have dominion over the earth...”).  And this is the exact point where one locates Man’s huge responsibility within the material world.

We have spoken therefore of the importance – or, more correctly, the mission – that Man has within Creation, and we have highlighted the difference between Man and the rest of material Creation. The difference is that Man has freedom, which the rest of material Creation does not.  At this point we need to make a certain analysis and we shall do so, presently.  Before proceeding to this analysis, I would like to relate this freedom with the term “in the image of”, as mentioned in the Holy Bible and the Fathers.  Man was created in the image of and in the likeness of God. This Biblical expression has been interpreted in numerous ways, and even during the Patristic period, we can see different views as to the meaning of: “in the image of”.

In very general lines, Patristic writings have different opinions on this topic.  One opinion is that the expression “in the image of” differs from “in the likeness of”, inasmuch as the first expression implies the perfect state of Man at the beginning of Creation, the way he was created by God, while the second expression is the state that Man will achieve at the end of Time, when he finally looks upon God face to face, thus fulfilling the communion between the created and the Uncreated. That is when the “likeness” will have been achieved; when Man will become god-like - this being an eschatological perception.

For others, it is already a reality, and the “likeness” can also be considered a reality prior to the end of Time.  For other Fathers, the content of the term “image” is the logic of Man; for others, such as Gregory of Nyssa, who stresses this point persistently, it is the element of self-government. The difference is not an essential one, because even with the Fathers who relate the “image” to Man’s logic, Man’s logos, the concept that is understood there is that the logos –the logic- of Man is nothing more than his freedom, his self-government. It is for this reason that I believe one resonates the Patristic tradition overall, when denoting (as we did here) that the difference between Man and the rest of Creation is the element of freedom, of self-government.

We must therefore see what constitutes this freedom of Man, and how it could contribute towards the purpose of Creation.  Freedom is the potential that the created has (because we are referring to the freedom of a created being here) to simulate God with regard to creation. Thus, as we have said, our existence – the created’s existence – is a given fact for the created and consequently, the created is not a free existence.  We exist, because someone else willed it, and not because we have freely willed to exist. This is therefore the supreme challenge that the created is faced with. It has a compulsory existence, whereas contrarily, the uncreated (God), by not having been created by someone else, does not have a compulsory existence, but a free one.  So, the “image” (as related to Man’s freedom) consists precisely of the fact that he can have –or has the tendency to prefer to have- not a compulsory existence, but a free one. 

Consequently, Man’s freedom is exercised in two ways; the one way is negative, i.e., it is the potential that man has in his freedom to disregard or to reject the given existence of Creation and reject the Creator, by saying “I do not acknowledge You as Creator”, or “I do not consider this Creation to be of any concern to me, and furthermore, because I did not create this Creation, I can reject it.”  This is the negative approach.  But there is also the positive option:  “I cannot want to reject it, however, I can (and I desire to) create my own world; I also want to create – to create freely from nil, the way that God creates.” This tendency is found in Man, and it is the only determinant difference between man and animal.

We need to insert a large parenthesis at this point, because one cannot speak of the dogma on the Creation of the world and Man, without referring to modern Biology and especially to the Evolution Theory – Darwin’s theory (*) – which, whether we like it or not, is the one that currently prevails in Biology.  When the Evolution Theory made its appearance, Darwin caused panic in prevalent Theology. Darwin’s theory (*) created this panic, because up until that time – and even to this day for many people –  the characteristic that discerned Man from the animals was considered to be the logical element, thought, conscience, and self-awareness most of all, and Darwin in his “Origin of the Species” (*) demonstrated very convincingly that all these characteristics are also found in animals, except that animals possess them to a lesser degree and consequently, the difference between man and the animal –with regard to these characteristics- is not, as he stated, a difference in kind, but a degree of difference.  He demonstrated that animals can also think, have a conscience, create a civilization, possess technology; furthermore, many things of which Man boasts are not lacking in animals; they too organize their lives etc., and, just like that, in a moment of time, we found ourselves in a dilemma as to whether or not to accept that Man is also an animal, or to review the entire issue of how Man differs from the animals.

Contemporary anthropology has now located the difference elsewhere. I repeat, that many people still persist on the idea that the difference is found in the characteristics that we mentioned and that they naturally consider Man to be an advanced animal species. To locate a radical difference that will be a difference in kind –as Darwin said- and not a difference in degree, we must not resort to logic or conscience; not even to self-awareness, science and technology, perhaps not even to something that is very popular nowadays –especially in Britain– i.e. communication, because things are not quite clear there either, as to whether animals have languages – not languages in the sense of uttering cries to communicate, but in the sense of structured sentences, of composing meanings etc..  All of these are characteristics of Man; however, not everyone is convinced of this.  Thus, the single characteristic that anthropology today is inclined to accept as a difference, I believe now renders Darwin’s (*) theory  entirely innocuous for Theology, provided Theology takes the appropriate stance. This characteristic is, as we mentioned earlier, freedom.  An animal, any animal, even the more advanced kind, possesses the ability to adapt to the environment, to the existing world, to Creation; however, it will never consider denying its environment, annihilating it and then creating its own world.  An animal cannot create a world of its own; only Man has this tendency.  You notice a tree. The same tree that you are beholding is also beheld by a cat. As a scientist, you can analyse that tree, you can become a perfect botanist, create an entire science and will, in this manner, be one step above that animal, but you will not be of a different kind. During the course of evolution, you may have once possessed less knowledge as a biological being and acquired more knowledge with the passing of Time; this is understandable and it creates no problem. Consequently, as regards the knowledge of that tree, you do not differ as a species from the animal. But when you say “I will draw this tree; I will make my own tree, I will make a world with trees which are not these, but my own trees”, from that moment on, you have proved you do not belong to the animal category.  An animal can never consider making its own world. It adjusts itself to the present world, but does not create its own.  Therefore the animal cannot develop artistically. One could say that to a certain elementary degree, it can create science. Quite often however, it is more than an elementary degree; quite often, we discover things that have already been discovered by animals. Science therefore is possible for an animal or for Man (as a superior kind of animal), but it cannot create art.  The fact that it cannot draw is not simply a matter of not being able to pick up a paintbrush and draw. It can be taught to do this. But to reject the existing world and create a world of its own, which will bear its personal stamp, is a characteristic of Man, and this characteristic is observed –as modern psychology has indicated- from Man’s very first steps.

Psychology todayespecially with Freud- has observed that when a child, an infant, takes any raw material into its hands, it will shape it, thus imposing its own personal stamp on it. This reflects man’s tendency to create his own world; it is his way of showing he is unwilling to admit that the world that was provided for him is something that he has to adjust to, whether he likes it or not. He wants his own world.  Art, therefore, as a creation of a new world, is an exercising of Man’s freedom, which however conflicts with its created status.  Why Because Man cannot create anything from nil. No matter what he does, he is forced to rely on given images, given materials, in order to create it.  How can he create? That is where he stumbles.  That is why genuinely “creative” Art – like the Art of our time, which developed under the influence of  one’s conscience, in a climate that basically existentialism and the modern philosophies in general have nurtured –  why modern Art has this tendency (which many find annoying) to fragment given forms.  Michaelangelo constantly complained that the greatest impediment in his art was the marble, and the need to be rid of the marble in order to create something. Picasso and many other contemporary artists also fragmented their forms.  Why?  Because they too felt that given forms hindered their freedom.  When this table here has a given form, it is not a work of creative Art to represent it the way it is. This was the olden concept of Art, which was more reminiscent of photography. You take this object, and produce an exact replica of it.  Art is not about copying the given world. Nor is it what the Romantic Era held it to be: i.e., “Art” means to extract from the given creation – from Nature – its spirit, its meaning, its beauty, etc.  But these do not have any freedom, nor any creativity.  Art bears inside it that restlessness regarding freedom, hence its desire to fragment the given forms and freely create whatever the artist desires. However, you can see that what the artist wants is something so arbitrarily personal, that no-one else can recognize it.  He creates something and calls it a table, but it doesn’t have the appearance of a table, so that I too can recognize it as a table. This is why this kind of art form is so difficult to comprehend and why it is rejected by us; why we call it weird, surrealistic, etc.  Or, let’s take a poem for example: even in poetry today, words are also fragmented; i.e., traditional words, with their traditional meaning, are now an impediment in expression, in creation.

I mentioned all the above, so that you might see how much Dogmatics is linked to Man’s existential quests, and how –consequently - the dogma on the creation of Man as a free being points in this direction.  It points towards a being, which, inside God’s given world, does not desire to accept it and preserve it the way it was delivered to him; instead, he desires to place his own personal stamp on it, and this commences from a denial, through to a stance. In other words, he can either destroy it in order to prove his freedom, or, he can accept it and then vouchsafe it again, of his own free will. Of course there are various in-between stages; however, the being that we call “Man” moves within that region. From the moment that we ask Man to forsake his freedom, we demote him to the status of an animal.

And here lies the big problem:  If Man’s freedom is exercised, if it is respected and preserved, there lurks a danger for Creation, and in our day and age, in this very generation, it is imperative to mention this.  Man has indeed reached the point of being a veritable threat to Creation. That expression ofgo forth and conquer the earth...” - the exercising of his freedom - has led him to use Nature thoughtlessly, to use it as he wishes.  I read a very interesting book recently, by an American historian on the problem of ecology, where, in an amazing analysis, she demonstrates how the roots of the ecological problem are in Christianity, in Western Christianity, and especially in the comprehension of that Biblical expression of “conquer the earth” where Man can supposedly do what he likes with Creation.  Creation, therefore, is not endangered ecologically by the animals.  Why?  Because animals adapt themselves to Creation, to the given environment; it will never cross their mind to exercise their freedom to the detriment of Creation.  In his freedom however, Man can destroy Creation.  Then why did God cede it to him?  We need to re-iterate, to the previous lesson:  Freedom was the only means through which Creation could live on.

Unfortunately, freedom –by definition- could not be only the affirmative kind. From the moment that freedom was bestowed so that the world would be able to live, at the same time, freedom was given for the world to be able to be destroyed.  Why?  Because we do not possess the affirmative kind of freedom only; Only in God do we have affirmative freedom only. Is there any chance, is it at all feasible, that God would want the destruction of the world? Of course not.  Why?  Well, the whole problem begins with the reality of being created, and the difference between the created and the Uncreated.

When creating, God did not have to deal with a given Creation, a given situation.  Whatever He made was the result of His will. This is Gods affirmation; it is aYes”.  “No” as an exercising of freedom, or the choice between “Yes” and “No” does not exist for God, because for Him, nothing is a given, to which He might say “No”.  “No” will appear suddenly, from the moment that a possibility exists, which one is able to reject.  To be able to reject something, it must have previously been given to you by someone else.

Here lies the problem that the created has as a free being, because, given that the created is a created being, it confronts given situations; even its own existence is something given by someone else, and that for the created, the “someone else” is also a given. Consequently, it is not able to exercise its freedom only with “Yes”, because there exist things to which it can say “No”.  God cannot exercise His freedom as aNo”, because He doesn’t have anything given by another “someone”, to which He might say “No”.

Consequently, when God bestows freedom to a created being, He unavoidably bestows it in the form of a choice between “Yes” and “No”.  The created being’s freedom is comprised of the potential to say “Yes” or “No” in a given situation. This is why the Law that was given from the very first moment of Man’s Creation in Paradise, by means of the “tree of knowledge” and the indication “from these you may eat, but from this tree you may not eat”; these were all means by which Man could exercise his freedom.  God did not provide the Law in order to deprive Man of his freedom; He gave the Law, in order to give Man the opportunity to exercise this freedom, because Man’s freedom –as a created being- can only be exercised through this choice between “Yes” and “No”.

This will be the topic of our next lesson, which will pertain to the meaning and the consequences of the first Man’s choice, which was his choice of “No” towards the (given) God and the (given) world.  This is the dogma –so to speak- of Man’s Fall. What it consists of, and what consequences it had, will be our next lesson.


(*) OODE Note:  Differing views are held by the Orthodox Church on this topic; however, it is an issue that Orthodoxy has not yet dogmatized on officially (through an Ecumenical Council).  For other views on this subject, apart from those presented by the author of this article, you may visit the following sites:

OrthodoxWiki: Evolution

Super Correctness

Genesis and Early Man


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Transcript by N. R.

Translation by A. N.

Article published in English on: 7-12-2006.

Last update: 9-12-2006.