Is the Origin of the World a Miracle or a Natural Process? – the Holy Fathers Explain

Fr. George Maximov

The difference between the biblical and evolutionary narratives of the origin of the world is obvious for most people. However, not everyone thinks why such a serious difference occurred. It is not a secret that the modern scientific worldview does not state as its goal “to know the Creator from creation”, nor does it use the concept of God; rather, it seeks to create an explanation for the world, which would rule out any direct divine intervention.

According to the faith of the Church, the origin of the world is a supernatural act, a miracle. That’s how the Bible describes it and that’s how the Holy Fathers understood it. This is not a personal reflection, but a common opinion of the Holy Fathers that the world was created by God’s instantaneous creative actions over the course of six days, but the created world looked already mature. Adam was not created as an embryo – as there would be no one to nurture him, the first birds were not created as eggs, as there would be no one to hatch them, and the first trees were not created as seeds, as it would take years for them to grow and show their beauty. God created a world that was already mature and perfect in its beauty, with ramified trees and high mountains.

Saint Athanasius the Great: “With his thrust and will, God beautifully and gracefully creates the one world … For this reveals the miraculous action of His Deity, that He makes and arranges all things according to their nature by the same act, not at different times, but suddenly, and all together. … and in this way he produces some miraculous, and truly divine, harmony.”

Saint Ephraim the Syrian: “Grains, at the time of their creation, were the products of one moment, but seemed to have grown for months. Likewise, trees, at the time of their creation, were the products of one day, but they seemed to have grown for years, judging by their perfection and by the fruit that burdened their branches… The earth, by divine command, immediately brought forth vermin, beasts of the field, beasts of prey, and cattle. Just as trees and herbs, animals, birds, and man were both old and young: old by their appearance, and young according by the time of their creation; so too was the moon – both old and young at the same time.”

Saint John Chrysostom: “The whole creation was built within five days with one word and command… In the blink of an eye He created all cattle and beasts – a lion, a bear, a bull, a horse, and a lot of other useful and fit for service to people! Such is the wisdom of the Creator!”

Saint Isaac the Syrian: “God, by his sole discretion, suddenly brought all things out of non-existence into existence, and every thing appeared before him in perfection.

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem: “Though the birth of bodies from bodies is miraculous, it is not impossible. It is the fact that the dirt of the earth became a human being that is more marvelous; that the ugly dirt becomes the coating and the light of the eyes is more miraculous; and the strong bones, the gentle lung, and the other various members that are born out of the uniform matter are miraculous. What was Adam born of? Didn’t God take the matter from the earth and mold this marvelous creature?”

Saint Maximus the Greek: “What is impossible for His creative power, by which He suddenly decorated the sky with countless millions of stars and immediately brought from non-existence into existence a multitude of four-legged earthlings, fishes of the sea and birds of the sky, and the whole earth was decorated with innumerable flowers and various gardens and forests”?

If we believe that God is Almighty, it would seem strange to question His ability to create a universe in six calendar days. In fact, we are surrounded by evidence of the greatness of our Creator everywhere. “Geology is said to find many things in the depths of the earth that could have been formed over millennia, not within six days. However, the six-day formation of the world in the Mosaic narrative did not take place according to the laws of nature alone. Therefore, it is a logical injustice to think of it as a merely natural phenomenon,” St. Philaret of Chernigov said.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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