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149. Feb. 25,1974B Second Sunday of Great Lent, St. Gregory Palamas

Dear Dr. Kalomiros,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have received your letter concerning “evolution,” for which we thank you very much. I have read it, trying, as you said, to remove all Western conceptions from my mind. I hope, if God gives me the strength, to study your points carefully and write you a very long and detailed reply before too long, but for the present I wish to say only a few things.

I myself have been searching the Holy Fathers for some time seeking to find out their teaching on the questions which are raised by “evolution.” I have been compiling a great many passages from their writings, including most of the passages which you quote in your letter. I have tried very hard not to project into these passages any “preconceived” opinions of my own, but I must acknowledge that my conclusions regarding the teaching of the Holy Fathers are quite different from yours. I believe that I can show you that some of your interpretations of the Holy Fathers are incomplete — that is, that you have presented only a part of their teaching and have overlooked other parts that are quite essential to the question. I would also like to present to you patristic texts on questions which you do not raise in your letter, but which I believe are also quite essential for understanding the questions raised by evolution.

I note also in your letter that your use of the term “evolution” is somewhat imprecise, and I would like to discuss this question also in some detail.

I agree with you that this subject is vital and extremely important. We have found very few people who are willing or able to think clearly in this subject, with the result that there is much confusion in the minds of Orthodox faithful concerning it. We are therefore very grateful to you for writing your views so clearly and outspokenly.

Like you, we also do not want to have merely “our own opinion” on this subject, but only wish to accept the teaching of the Holy Fathers. So far we have not found any “evolutionist” or “antievolutionist” who sets forth the real Orthodox teaching on this subject, and that is why we ourselves have been making research on it. The Protestant Fundamentalist objections to evolution are mostly superficial and rationalistic (as you yourself have noted), being based on an interpretation of the book of Genesis that comes from “common sense,” and not from the Holy Fathers.

We are not theologians (and I will tell you frankly that we distrust people who call themselves “theologians,” for almost all of them seem to us to be just academic rationalists) but we dearly love the Holy Fathers and wish to live by their teaching, and we sense that you do also. May it be that by this love, with the help of God and by the prayers of these Holy Fathers, we may now begin a “dialogue” with you that will bring us all to the true Patristic teaching and be of help also to others.

Everything that I write will be read and criticized by my co-laborer Father Herman, to whom I am in obedience, and we will try also to obtain the opinions of some of our Russian theologians whom we respect.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk .

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