Friday, September 6, 2013

Scientific Progress and a New Mankind

‘ . . . in the beginning humanity was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) in order to be perpetually born by the Spirit in the exercise of free choice . . . , and to acquire the additional gift of assimilation to God by keeping the divine commandment, such that man, as fashioned from God by nature, might become son of God and divine by grace through the Spirit.  . . . Desiring, then, . . . to return humanity to its divine inheritance, the Logos who created human nature truly became a man, humanly begotten . . . ’ (St Maximus the Confessor, ‘Ambiguum 42’, On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, trans. Blowers & Wilkens, Crestwood, Ny., St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003, p. 93).

‘ . . . perhaps [evolution] is the very key (intellectual) to the assault upon the Church, to the very ‘philosophy’ (and there is such a thing!) of the coming Antichrist’ (Father Seraphim Rose, letter to Fr N., 18 April 1973, quoted in Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, Hieromonk Damascene, 3rd ed., Platina, Ca., St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010,  p. 541).

We have probably seen enough of the path of Progress to know where it is leading us:  the perfection of man by means of technology.  Already stories are appearing in the mainstream/corporate media promoting the merging of man and machine:

Mankind, having abandoned God’s plan for his deification - first in the Garden of Eden before the Fall and now through Our Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ after the Fall - has come under the sway of a satanic desire to raise itself to a higher state of being apart from God’s grace, and even in opposition to God.  This desire has manifested itself throughout the centuries in different ways: the Tower of Babel, alchemy, and now eugenics/transhumanism.

Barbara Peterson of Farm Wars has posted a good introduction to this latest (and frightening) attempt at creating a ‘new man’ apart from God.  An excerpt is included below.

This much, at least, should be clear after reading it:  It is urgent that we all reject - and find a way to break up - behemoth corporations like Monsanto, Google, etc., not simply for a healthier economic and political climate, but for a better spiritual climate as well.

But what is to be the Church’s answer to the world’s attempt to create a superman, to overcome fallen man’s broken, distorted, limited nature through the natural sciences alone?  It has already been given, as Fr Seraphim said, in men like ‘St. Anthony the Great, who did overcome mankind (his own human nature) and was like an angel on earth’ (‘Orthodox Survival Course’, series of talks given in 1975, quoted in Father Seraphim Rose, p. 25). 

Corporations or no corporations, the choice is still ultimately ours to make, whether to accept scientism, pride, the machine-man/superman, and the Antichrist with his cult of Progress or to embrace the ways of the Most Holy Trinity, humility, asceticism, prayer, and transformation through His grace.  Let us by all means ‘walk in the light, as He is in the light’ (I John 1:7)!

From Farm Wars:


There is a move afoot to reprogram humanity. To redefine it in the limited terms of scientific understanding, place it in a box, and then, all wrapped up in a pretty package, attempt to deliver this convoluted mess to us as progress.

There are those who think that, given the chance, they could and should genetically manipulate the earth and the creatures that inhabit it, including man, to suite a purpose of their own imaginings. They want to experiment on all of our precious resources, turn our rivers into streams of pollution, and take each and every living thing on earth and use it to create something “better.”

According to whose design? Well, the so-called “scientific” one, of course. And if this means combining cows and humans, goats and spiders, man and machine in order to achieve the goal? Well, so be it. After all, the only thing that is important is the end result. And the end result is that a few will obtain immortality… or so they think. And if a few eggs get broken in the process, well, that is the price paid for success.

This is Transhumanism – the natural culmination of something called reprogenetics. Some call it designer evolution.


As a contrast to this evil, we offer a portion of St Anthony’s life below.  The whole of it, along with some of his teachings, is found here:


Anthony was born near Herakleopolis Magna in Upper Egypt in 251 to wealthy parents. When he was eighteen years old, his parents died and left him with the care of his unmarried sister. In 285, he decided to follow the words of Jesus who had said: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21). Anthony gave his wealth to the poor and needy, and placed his sister with a group of Christian virgins, a sort of proto-nunnery at the time.

The moniker "Father of Monasticism" is misleading, as Christian monasticism was already being practiced in the deserts of Egypt. Ascetics commonly retired to isolated locations on the outskirts of cities. Anthony is notable for being one of the first ascetics to attempt living in the desert proper, completely cut off from civilization. His anchoritic (isolated) lifestyle was remarkably harsher than his predecessors. By the 2nd century there were also famous Christian ascetics, such as Saint Thecla. Saint Anthony decided to follow this tradition and headed out into the alkaline desert region called the Nitra in Latin (Wadi El Natrun today), about 95 km west of Alexandria, some of the most rugged terrain of the Western Desert.

Also note that pagan ascetic hermits and loosely organized cenobitic communities that the Hellenized Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria described as the Therapeutae in the first century, were long established in the harsh environments by the Lake Mareotis close to Alexandria, and in other less-accessible regions. Philo understood: for "this class of persons may be met with in many places, for both Greece and barbarian countries want to enjoy whatever is perfectly good." (Philo, De vita contemplativa, written c. 10)

According to Athanasius, the devil fought St Anthony by afflicting him with boredom, laziness, and the phantoms of women, which he overcame by the power of prayer, providing a theme for Christian art. After that, he moved to a tomb, where he resided and closed the door on himself, depending on some local villagers who brought him food. When the devil perceived his ascetic life and his intense worship, he was envious and beat him mercilessly, leaving him unconscious. When his friends from the local village came to visit him and found him in this condition, they carried him to a church.

After he recovered, he made a second effort and went back to the desert, further out, to a mountain by the Nile, called Pispir, now Der el Memun, opposite Arsinoë in the Fayyum. There he lived strictly enclosed in an old abandoned Roman fort for some twenty years. According to Athanasius, the devil again resumed his war against Saint Anthony, only this time the phantoms were in the form of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes and scorpions. They appeared as if they were about to attack him or cut him into pieces. But the Saint would laugh at them scornfully and say, "If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me." At his saying this, they disappeared as though in smoke, and God gave him the victory over the devil. While in the fort he only communicated with the outside world by a crevice through which food would be passed and he would say a few words. Saint Anthony would prepare a quantity of bread that would sustain him for six months. He did not allow anyone to enter his cell: whoever came to him, stood outside and listened to his advice.

Then one day he emerged from the fort with the help of villagers to break down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away, or gone insane in his solitary confinement, but he emerged healthy, serene, and enlightened. Everyone was amazed he had been through these trials and emerged spiritually rejuvenated. He was hailed as a hero and from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow.


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