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Old 06-06-2018, 09:21 AM   #1
R.R.J Tolkien
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Tolkien's Views on Creation and Evolution

As a christian and a creationist I have always been interested in Tolkien's views on creation and evolution. As far as i am aware no in depth scholarly work has been done on his views on this issue. My first sources on him that effected my thoughts on his stance were

-The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien Houghton Mifflin 2000
-J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000
-The Inklings C.S Lewis J.R.R Tolkien, Charles Williams and their friends. Humphrey Carpenter Harper Collins Publishers 2006
-Ents, Elves, and Eriador the Environmental Vision of J.R.R Tolkien by Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans Kentucky University press 2006.
-The Gospel according to Tolkien visions of the kingdom in middle earth by Ralph C. Wood Westminster John Knox Press 2003
-Finding God in the lord of the rings by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware Salt river 2001


After reading these I was sure he was a biblical creationist as he believed in a literal Adam and Eve, garden of Eden, and a literal fall of man like me, and the majority of Catholics since Tolkien was catholic, through history. When I read the sillmarillion I saw the biblical account of literal creation all over the place further cementing my views. However I new he was also greatly influenced by C.S Lewis on this issue as well. So I purchased this book on Lewis views on evolution.


https://www.amazon.com/Lewis-Anti-Da.../dp/1532607733


I than reread the letters of Tolkien and it seemed he and Lewis were open to and likely accepted at various times the earth was old [not my view]. It seems now to me that they both either old earth creationist, or some form of intelligent design. It is to bad the modern creation movement did not start earlier, I would have like both Lewis and Tolkien's opinions on it, though I think they both may have held this view as well.



Does anyone have information on this subject?
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Old 06-06-2018, 03:47 PM   #2
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Flipping that around - what information do you have? I know Tolkien was an old-school Catholic, and I remember that he objected to the discarding of the Latin rites (being raised by a priest will do that to you!). And obviously the Silm has a lot of resonances with Genesis.

Middle-earth is much older than Bishop Usher's 6000 years, obviously; there's about that much time between the rising of the Sun and the fall of Sauron, and I believe Tolkien claimed the Fourth Age began six thousand years before the present. So that's 12K back to the awakening of Men, plus however long before that. So, if we assume Tolkien was writing something that would fit in with his idea of real history, he'd have to accept a fair bit of age in there.

But besides that... what have you got? I'm assuming there's no smoking gun, no Letter saying 'As you know, I believe the Earth to have begun in this manner...', but surely your readings have turned up some relevant quotes to share with the Downs.

hS

Edit: Letters #96 seems to be the most relevant. Talking to Christopher in 1945, Tolkien makes the following points:

-'As for Eden, I think most Christians... have been rather bustled and hustled... by the self-styled scientists, and they've sort of tucked Genesis into a lumber-room of their mind as not very fashionable furniture...'
-That this rejection loses the beauty of the whole story even simply 'as a story'.
-That Genesis is a 'myth', in that it '... has not... historicity of the same kind as the NT, which are virtually contemporary documents, while Genesis is separated by we do not know how many sad exiled generations from the Fall...'
-'... but certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth.'
-That the past existence of Eden is proven by: 'the nobler part of the human mind is filled with the thoughts of... peace and goodwill, and with the thought of its loss.'

My feeling from this is that Tolkien views the Bible as an account of the myths of ancient Judea (as we might expect from a man whose day job was myths and legends!), but believes that those myths are based on a lost 'true' Eden. Which is very much the mindset that led to the Book of Lost Tales, come to think of it - and to Frodo's 'original,' of Hey Diddle Diddle.

hS

Last edited by Huinesoron; 06-06-2018 at 04:08 PM. Reason: Did some reading.
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Old 06-06-2018, 04:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Flipping that around - what information do you have? I know Tolkien was an old-school Catholic, and I remember that he objected to the discarding of the Latin rites (being raised by a priest will do that to you!). And obviously the Silm has a lot of resonances with Genesis.

Middle-earth is much older than Bishop Usher's 6000 years, obviously; there's about that much time between the rising of the Sun and the fall of Sauron, and I believe Tolkien claimed the Fourth Age began six thousand years before the present. So that's 12K back to the awakening of Men, plus however long before that. So, if we assume Tolkien was writing something that would fit in with his idea of real history, he'd have to accept a fair bit of age in there.

But besides that... what have you got? I'm assuming there's no smoking gun, no Letter saying 'As you know, I believe the Earth to have begun in this manner...', but surely your readings have turned up some relevant quotes to share with the Downs.

hS

Edit: Letters #96 seems to be the most relevant. Talking to Christopher in 1945, Tolkien makes the following points:

-'As for Eden, I think most Christians... have been rather bustled and hustled... by the self-styled scientists, and they've sort of tucked Genesis into a lumber-room of their mind as not very fashionable furniture...'
-That this rejection loses the beauty of the whole story even simply 'as a story'.
-That Genesis is a 'myth', in that it '... has not... historicity of the same kind as the NT, which are virtually contemporary documents, while Genesis is separated by we do not know how many sad exiled generations from the Fall...'
-'... but certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth.'
-That the past existence of Eden is proven by: 'the nobler part of the human mind is filled with the thoughts of... peace and goodwill, and with the thought of its loss.'

My feeling from this is that Tolkien views the Bible as an account of the myths of ancient Judea (as we might expect from a man whose day job was myths and legends!), but believes that those myths are based on a lost 'true' Eden. Which is very much the mindset that led to the Book of Lost Tales, come to think of it - and to Frodo's 'original,' of Hey Diddle Diddle.

hS

Thanks for asking for sources i surely would have provided had i done an in depth study, I was hoping someone else had. All my info would come from those sources I cannot at the moment off hand remember where. I know most came from his belief in a literal fall of man and a literal historical garden of eden plus some healthy skepticism of evolution when disused by the inklings. That added with the majority position of historic Catholics.


Agreed. That is why when i reread his letters it does seem he did allow for a much older earth than the young earth creation position.



Give me a second and i will see what I can come up with and most.
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Old 06-06-2018, 05:39 PM   #4
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“Tolkien believed devoutly that there had once been an Eden on earth, and that mans original sin and subsequent dethronement were responsible for the ills of the world
--J.R.R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Humphrey carpenter Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000


So what led me to my original beliefs on him was the carpenters bios of the inklings and his bio of Tolkien where he speaks many times of the importance of the fall of Tolkiens [and the inklings] worldviews and how it effected their writings. Such as in lotr and the sillmarillion where the fall played a big part along with the genesis creation in Tolkien's writings. They often discussed this matter in their meetings and all held to a literal fall. When Tolkien felt the sadness of seeing dead animals, or thought of memories from his past and felt nostalgia, he connected those feelings to being derived from Eden. Added leiws stance and its effects on Tolkien as well. If you want direct info it can be found in those bios by carpenter. Along with the historic traditional literal creation viewpoint of Catholics that Tolkien held led me to believe he was a creationist.


Myth is reality

Tolkien, yes, compared Christianity [and genesis] to a story, where god is the author, who used real men and real history to tell the story. This in part converted Lewis. Tolkien said of the gospel, that Jesus, God in flesh, died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits...to reject it leads either to madness or to wrath,” Tolkien went on to say, “This story is supreme and is true. Art has been verified. God is the lord of angels, and of men and of elves, legend and history have met and fused.” Tolkien viewed the gospel as a story that entered history, a true story. “The resurrection…was the greatest fairy story…the gospels tell a fairy story, by the greatest author, who is the supreme artist and author of reality.” So given that lets look at letters 96.







96 To Christopher Tolkien 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford
30 January 1945 (FS 78)
My dearest Chris,

....As for Eden. I think most Christians, except the v. simple and uneducated or those protected in other ways, have been rather bustled and hustled now for some generations by the self-styled scientists, and they've sort of tucked Genesis into a lumber-room of their mind as not very fashionable furniture, a bit ashamed to have it about the house, don't you know, when the bright clever young people called: I mean, of course, even the fideles who did not sell it secondhand or burn it as soon as modern taste began to sneer. In consequence they have indeed (myself as much as any), as you say, forgotten the beauty of the matter even 'as a story'. Lewis recently wrote a most interesting essay (if published I don't know) showing of what great value the 'story-value' was, as mental nourishment – of the whole Chr. story (NT especially). It was a defence of that kind of attitude which we tend to sneer at: the fainthearted that loses faith, but clings at least to the beauty of 'the story' as having some permanent value. His point was that they do still in that way get some nourishment and are not cut off wholly from the sap of life: for the beauty of the story while not necessarily a guarantee of its truth is a concomitant of it, and a fidelis is meant to draw nourishment from the beauty as well as the truth. So that the faintheart 'admirer' is really still getting something, which even one of the faithful (stupid, insensitive, shamefaced) may be missing. But partly as a development of my own thought on my lines and work (technical and literary), partly in contact with C.S.L., and in various ways not least the firm guiding hand of Alma Mater Ecclesia, I do not now feel either ashamed or dubious on the Eden 'myth'. It has not, of course, historicity of the same kind as the NT [that is historical support proof] , which are virtually contemporary documents, while Genesis is separated by we do not know how many sad exiled generations from the Fall, but certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of 'exile'. If you come to think of it, your (very just) horror at the stupid murder of the hawk, and your obstinate memory of this 'home' of yours in an idyllic hour (when often there is an illusion of the stay of time and decay and a sense of gentle peace) – έίθε γενοίμην, 'stands the clock at ten to three, and is there honey still for tea' – are derived from Eden. As far as we can go back the nobler pan of the human mind is filled with the thoughts of sibb, peace and goodwill, and with the thought of its loss. We shall never recover it, for that is not the way of repentance, which works spirally and not in a closed circle; we may recover something like it, but on a higher plane. Just as (to compare a small thing) the convened urban gets more out of the country than the mere yokel, but he cannot become a real landsman, he is both more and in a way less (less truly earthy anyway). Of course, I suppose that, subject to the permission of God, the whole human race (as each individual) is free not to rise again but to go to perdition and carry out the Fall to its bitter bottom (as each individual can singulariter). And at certain periods, the present is notably one, that seems not only a likely event but imminent. Still I think there will be a 'millenium', the prophesied thousand-year rule of the Saints, i.e. those who have for all their imperfections never finally bowed heart and will to the world or the evil spirit (in modern but not universal terms: mechanism, 'scientific' materialism. Socialism in either of its factions now at war....).




and it goes on.
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Old 06-06-2018, 08:18 PM   #5
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As an atheist, I would caution a 1+1=2 view of Tolkien's creation equaling the biblical or Christian concept of the Beginning. Unlike the Christian allegorist and apologist C.S. Lewis, whose literary output leaves me cold (save for The Screwtape Letters, which are hilarious) Tolkien drew on more than just biblical concepts when he created his cosmology, and it was that synthesis of various cultures' mythos that gives his fantasy far more depth and interest. Thus, he could captivate a non-Christian like myself as well as any pedestrian Presbyterian.

First, the idea of music being an integral part of creation is not a Christian concept, but rather familiar to Celtic/Bardic legends (such as in Taliesin), as well as Norse myth (Braggi, the Golden Harp and the Song of Life), and Finnish myth (wherein Väinämöinen fashioned a harp out of salmon bones that was used eventually by sea gods to create the music of the ocean on the beach). There are also such concepts in Hindu (the Rigvedic Hymns) and Aztec myth (Quetzalcoatl and the Music of the Sun).

Second, the Valar's more than coincidental likeness to the Greek Pantheon of gods or of the Norse Æsir, and the hierarchy and marriages found therein. Each individual Vala is endowed with certain powers matching any number of gods/goddesses of the hunt, the sea, crafting, the wood...and wrestling! Mandos is equivalent to the Greek Fates or the Norse Norns with the added dimension of having the responsibilities of Hades.

Third, Melkor is not merely an equivalent of the fallen Angel Lucifer, tempting men's souls, he is rather the corrupter of Arda itself (see "Morgoth's Ring"). Such corruptive deities who scar the very earth, control the seasons and are enemies of light can be found in Slavic, Persian, Finnish and Celtic myth.

Fourth, the other disparate legends and myths that are interwoven throughout Tolkien's early cosmology, everything from the Finnish Kalavela copied to create the tale of Turin Turambar to the Atlantis myth reworked into the Akallabêth (Atalantë in Quenya). The legend of Tilion the moon and Arien the sun used to describe the wayward lunar orbit is very much crafted in the style of Greek and Norse myths, as is Ossë a personification of the capricious, violent and unfathomable sea. Even Angainor (the chain of Melkor) could be compared to the binding of Fenrir with the enchanted Gleipnir. Another that springs to mind is when Luthien sang to release the spirit of Beren and herself from the Halls of Mandos, which has a direct correlation to Orpheus melting the cold heart of Hades to release his love Eurydice from the Underworld.

So, yes, Christian symbology, but there's a whole lotta heathen going on!
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Old 06-07-2018, 02:34 PM   #6
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From what I have read above, nothing seems to me like Tolkien could not have seen the "old" stories (=Genesis etc.) as metaphors, in the same sense many modern (=including in his time) Christians/Catholics see them. The Letter 96 quoted above seems to me would make perfect sense exactly in such a case.

I mean, the idea is, most people don't really think about it unless you intentionally push them into answering a specific question, like: "So were the seven days of creation literal or not?" But majority of believers would not think about it. Both Genesis and the fact that somebody dug up a 65 million year old dinosaur can be true at the same time. Because for example the biblical account doesn't really operate with such cathegories. The Bible is not interested in knowing, or asking you, how many years has it been since the Flood. Its core is in something else, it revolves around the following of God and shows the recordings of other people who followed God in their time, they are now the witnesses for those who read it, who can see themselves as parts of the same story (I am sure Tolkien would have liked that metaphore).

So I really don't think Tolkien would have felt the need to create any "either-or" picture in his head. The whole misconception that "science" and "religion" are in some way mutually exclusive comes in large part from modern positivist thinking and everything that followed from there. Which, sure, was up and running still in Tolkien's times. But a massive amount of Catholics also at the time - even Catholic priests - were also scientists, including people who made big work in biology, geology, astronomy... all the while when operating not under the "creationist" paradigm (in the sense of the word as it's mostly used now: literal creation in 7 days etc), but under the paradigm of the science at their time.

The letter 96 quoted above seems to me like showing that Tolkien took Genesis, most of all, as a story. Yes, Gospels are so close to the time of the events they describe that even the geographic details etc we can take as "historical truths"; we can't say the same about the rest. At the same time, if Tolkien imagined Eden as "real" - sure, but such an Eden could have been in Africa a few million years ago, for all practical purposes. The main point is that it doesn't matter where, what matters is that the story is fundamentally true: not in its geographic or chronological cathegories, but it is true always, throughout the history, it is true now, it is true about Tolkien's generation, it is true about current generation. And so on. That's what "myth" is.
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Old 06-07-2018, 02:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by R.R.J Tolkien View Post
I than reread the letters of Tolkien and it seemed he and Lewis were open to and likely accepted at various times the earth was old [not my view]. It seems now to me that they both either old earth creationist, or some form of intelligent design. It is to bad the modern creation movement did not start earlier, I would have like both Lewis and Tolkien's opinions on it, though I think they both may have held this view as well.

Does anyone have information on this subject?
I'm really not more than very casually informed about creationism and its various forms and I'm not too interested either so I don't exactly know where you are coming from. But have you read the later volumes of the History of Middle Earth? If I remember correctly, the 10th one, Morgoth's Ring, includes an ambitious but ultimately futile attempt to rewrite the Silmarillion to be more in sync with scientific facts that were well known in the mid 20th century. Such as the vast timespan geological processes need to form the land, the unlikelihood of plant-life before the sun and not least the silliness of a flat earth.

Tolkien wanted the story to resonate true even to us modern people I believe, that we should be able to imagine the stories to really come out of a mythological past in our world. And that this would be hard if it ignored well known scientific facts such as the above mentioned and others.

The old stories where better and the rewrite-attempt was rightly scrapped but it should make it clear that Tolkien accepted the strong scientific evidence that the Earth was very very old and that the surrounding space is vast and even older. I'd suppose he did believe that God created Man in one way or another.
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Old 06-07-2018, 02:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
As an atheist, I would caution a 1+1=2 view of Tolkien's creation equaling the biblical or Christian concept of the Beginning. Unlike the Christian allegorist and apologist C.S. Lewis, whose literary output leaves me cold (save for The Screwtape Letters, which are hilarious) Tolkien drew on more than just biblical concepts when he created his cosmology, and it was that synthesis of various cultures' mythos that gives his fantasy far more depth and interest. Thus, he could captivate a non-Christian like myself as well as any pedestrian Presbyterian.

First, the idea of music being an integral part of creation is not a Christian concept, but rather familiar to Celtic/Bardic legends (such as in Taliesin), as well as Norse myth (Braggi, the Golden Harp and the Song of Life), and Finnish myth (wherein Väinämöinen fashioned a harp out of salmon bones that was used eventually by sea gods to create the music of the ocean on the beach). There are also such concepts in Hindu (the Rigvedic Hymns) and Aztec myth (Quetzalcoatl and the Music of the Sun).

Second, the Valar's more than coincidental likeness to the Greek Pantheon of gods or of the Norse Æsir, and the hierarchy and marriages found therein. Each individual Vala is endowed with certain powers matching any number of gods/goddesses of the hunt, the sea, crafting, the wood...and wrestling! Mandos is equivalent to the Greek Fates or the Norse Norns with the added dimension of having the responsibilities of Hades.

Third, Melkor is not merely an equivalent of the fallen Angel Lucifer, tempting men's souls, he is rather the corrupter of Arda itself (see "Morgoth's Ring"). Such corruptive deities who scar the very earth, control the seasons and are enemies of light can be found in Slavic, Persian, Finnish and Celtic myth.

Fourth, the other disparate legends and myths that are interwoven throughout Tolkien's early cosmology, everything from the Finnish Kalavela copied to create the tale of Turin Turambar to the Atlantis myth reworked into the Akallabêth (Atalantë in Quenya). The legend of Tilion the moon and Arien the sun used to describe the wayward lunar orbit is very much crafted in the style of Greek and Norse myths, as is Ossë a personification of the capricious, violent and unfathomable sea. Even Angainor (the chain of Melkor) could be compared to the binding of Fenrir with the enchanted Gleipnir. Another that springs to mind is when Luthien sang to release the spirit of Beren and herself from the Halls of Mandos, which has a direct correlation to Orpheus melting the cold heart of Hades to release his love Eurydice from the Underworld.

So, yes, Christian symbology, but there's a whole lotta heathen going on!

Vary good points. He did not of course take only from Genesis but other works as well. However just because that is so it does not negate his belief in a literal fall, garden of eden, or the genesis account of creation. More so it does not show that he accepted evolution or rejected creation. But only that the fact he used some of genesis in his creation does not conclude he accepted it as historical fact by itself. Had he used evolution in the sillmarillion now that would be interesting.
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Old 06-07-2018, 03:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
I'm really not more than very casually informed about creationism and its various forms and I'm not too interested either so I don't exactly know where you are coming from. But have you read the later volumes of the History of Middle Earth? If I remember correctly, the 10th one, Morgoth's Ring, includes an ambitious but ultimately futile attempt to rewrite the Silmarillion to be more in sync with scientific facts that were well known in the mid 20th century. Such as the vast timespan geological processes need to form the land, the unlikelihood of plant-life before the sun and not least the silliness of a flat earth.

Tolkien wanted the story to resonate true even to us modern people I believe, that we should be able to imagine the stories to really come out of a mythological past in our world. And that this would be hard if it ignored well known scientific facts such as the above mentioned and others.
I will be reading morgoths ring [and other home]and full in the coming weeks and months and perhaps that will help me answer this question. As for your "scientific facts" those geological processes do not need millions of years, unless we accept uniformitarnism beliefs about the unobservable [ not replete able demonstrable, not science] past. Instead they can be understood within the young earth/global flood paradigm. Yes god made plants before the sun, there was however light gen 1 3-5. God is able to provide light and keep his creation without the sun witch is a part of creation and not god. In fact when the return of the true king happens it will be as it was before the sun

And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
rev 22.5


Just for your info, the catholic church never taught a flat earth and the flat earth society today are evolutionist. But I also must wonder what of the many scientific facts that refute evolution? why dont they count? maybe Tolkien rejected evolution as unscientific as i do. Maybe that is why his world was created. We modern people cannot both accept the discoveries of science and hold on to old and what should be passing away beliefs about the past such as evolution.



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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post

The old stories where better and the rewrite-attempt was rightly scrapped but it should make it clear that Tolkien accepted the strong scientific evidence that the Earth was very very old and that the surrounding space is vast and even older. I'd suppose he did believe that God created Man in one way or another.
Perhaps, any evidence tolkien had this view? what strong evidence persuaded him? was he aware of the faults in any claimed evidences and summations? was he aware of the counter arguments? I am unaware if he stated on either side. Maybe he understood creation had to be true or science could not be as his close friend Lewis often argued.




If Evolution Were True Would Science be Possible?

‘If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if*their*thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milkjug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.’
-C.S. Lewis (1898–1963),*The Business of Heaven, Fount Paperbacks, U.K., p. 97, 1984.



Evolution undermines the preconditions necessary for rational thought, thereby destroying the very possibility of knowledge and science. Evolutionist say we are nothing but random matter and chemicals getting together for a survival advantage. They say we are the result of hydrogen gas, than rain on rocks, than millions of years of mutations. So why should i trust them that what they are telling me is true? If there just evolved slimeology how do i know they have the truth? Why should i aspect one accident [our brain] to understand another accident the world? Would i believe bacteria or chemicals if they taught a class on science? Were just higher animals there is no reason to trust them or to know for sure they are telling the truth. We could not know that we were even viewing the world properly. How do we know our eyes, ears, brain, and memory are getting the right information? There is no way to know. We could be in some matrix world or as evolutionist recently in scientific American said we could be like a fish in a bowl that is curved giving us a distorted view of reality.[P 70 the theory of everything scientific American oct 2010 ]

Science would be impossible unless our memories were giving accurate info as well as our senses such as our eyes and ears . Laws of logic are needed as well. How does matter produce a organism with memory? Or a consciousness. If this comes from mere machines [us] they why would not machines gain consciousnesses? Science needs us to be able to know our senses are giving us the correct information, our eyes ears memory etc how do we know we are correctly interpreting actual reality? Also regularity in time space-uniformity [not uniformitarism] is needed to do science and to have knowledge otherwise our experiments would be pointless, and we would not be able to make any predictions.

Yet the universe is understandable, we assume the universe is logical and orderly as it obeys mathematical laws. That is how we can make predictions. Freedom to chose and consider various options free will not deterministic “dance to the sound of our genes” as Richard Dawkins described it. In fact if evolution is true evolutionist only believe in evolution because the chemicals in there brain are making them believe that, they did not come to some objective decision but random mutations that gave a survival advantage make them. evolutionist say anyone should be rational with beliefs logic etc is inconstant with evolution after all were just evolved pond scum, it assumes we were created.


But if creation is true than i would expect us as created by a intelligent creator to be able to properly understand nature. I would expect to be able to know im getting the right information, that i can trust that we are in a orderly universe that follows laws that make science possible. so that we were able to do repeatable* lab experiments etc. That there would be things like laws of logic, reliability of our memory, reliability of our senses, that our eyes, ears are accurately giving us the correct information, information to be able to do science in the first place. If biblical creation were not true than we could not know anything if we were not created by god we would have no reason to trust our senses, and no way to prove or know for sure.



I would however love to invite you to such a debate on the age of the earth. I have on many forums debated this very issue and would love to with you. PM me if you are inters ted and we can on another forum.
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Old 06-07-2018, 04:12 PM   #10
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From what I have read above, nothing seems to me like Tolkien could not have seen the "old" stories (=Genesis etc.) as metaphors, in the same sense many modern (=including in his time) Christians/Catholics see them. The Letter 96 quoted above seems to me would make perfect sense exactly in such a case.

Could be yes. However given he said the same of Jesus and the Crucifixion [events he said were actual history] it lends to the opposite. I think post 4 indicates that was his belief. Plus the fact he and the inklings held to the historical reality of the garden of eden and the fall.


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I mean, the idea is, most people don't really think about it unless you intentionally push them into answering a specific question, like: "So were the seven days of creation literal or not?" But majority of believers would not think about it. Both Genesis and the fact that somebody dug up a 65 million year old dinosaur can be true at the same time. Because for example the biblical account doesn't really operate with such cathegories. The Bible is not interested in knowing, or asking you, how many years has it been since the Flood. Its core is in something else, it revolves around the following of God and shows the recordings of other people who followed God in their time, they are now the witnesses for those who read it, who can see themselves as parts of the same story (I am sure Tolkien would have liked that metaphore).
The Inklings however often discussed this issue and thought it over. I agree that many would go along with what you have said, i disagree. But than who cares of me? What did tolkien think?


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So I really don't think Tolkien would have felt the need to create any "either-or" picture in his head.
that could be very true. But he could also have held to the genesis creation account as the few indicators i gave above seem to suggest.



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The whole misconception that "science" and "religion" are in some way mutually exclusive comes in large part from modern positivist thinking and everything that followed from there. Which, sure, was up and running still in Tolkien's times. But a massive amount of Catholics also at the time - even Catholic priests - were also scientists, including people who made big work in biology, geology, astronomy... all the while when operating not under the "creationist" paradigm (in the sense of the word as it's mostly used now: literal creation in 7 days etc), but under the paradigm of the science at their time.
Well i agree fully, but my op has nothing to do with science, but evolution that anti scientific belief held by many sadly even within the scientific community. Yes most all scientist of the past and the originators of science were Christians. That is because science only makes sense within the biblical worldview, not the atheistic evolutionary worldview.

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The letter 96 quoted above seems to me like showing that Tolkien took Genesis, most of all, as a story. Yes, Gospels are so close to the time of the events they describe that even the geographic details etc we can take as "historical truths"; we can't say the same about the rest. At the same time, if Tolkien imagined Eden as "real" - sure, but such an Eden could have been in Africa a few million years ago, for all practical purposes. The main point is that it doesn't matter where, what matters is that the story is fundamentally true: not in its geographic or chronological cathegories, but it is true always, throughout the history, it is true now, it is true about Tolkien's generation, it is true about current generation. And so on. That's what "myth" is.
Agreed, as the Crucifixion was also a "story" but actual events within history. But i think your right, to Tolkien [not to me] I do agree that just because he held to a literal historical garden of eden, that does not conclude he was a young earth creationist. That is why in my op i said i think he was likely an old earth creationist or ID as other statements seem to indicate he accepted an old earth.
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Old 06-07-2018, 04:19 PM   #11
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Evidence Tolkien seemed to believe in an old earth from letters 64.



On Thursday I gave 2 lectures and had some troublesome business in town and was too tired to attend the Lewis seance. I hope to see him tomorrow, and read some more of 'the Ring'. It is growing and sprouting again (I did a whole day at it yesterday to the neglect of many matters) and opening out in unexpected ways. So far in the new chapters Frodo and Sam have traversed Sam Gebir, climbed down the cliff, encountered and temporarily tamed Gollum. They have with his guidance crossed the Dead Marshes and the slag-heaps of Mordor, lain in hiding outside the main gates and found them impassable, and set out for a more secret entrance near Minas Morghul (formerly M. Ithil). It will turn out to be the deadly Kirith Ungol and Gollum will play false. But at moment they are in Ithilien (which is proving a lovely land); there has been a lot of bother about stewed rabbit; and they have been captured by Gondorians, and witnessed them ambushing a Swerting army (dark men of South) marching to Mordor's aid. A large elephant of prehistoric size, a war-elephant of the Swertings, is loose, and Sam has gratified a life-long wish to see an Oliphaunt, an animal about which there was a hobbit nursery-rhyme (though it was commonly supposed to be mythical).





Here it seems he accepts "prehistoric" time period of earth history from the uniformitarnism perspective. Of course if one really wanted him to be a young earth creationist we might say he was simply using the common terminology for a woolly mammoth size type creature similar to how creationist scientist also will refer to the geological column by the standard language. Or perhaps "prehistoric" as in pre middle earth third age historical writings unlike the myth/legends of the sillmarillion. However I think the clear reading strongly suggest his acceptance of an old earth.
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Old 06-07-2018, 05:02 PM   #12
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Evolution undermines the preconditions necessary for rational thought, thereby destroying the very possibility of knowledge and science. Evolutionist say we are nothing but random matter and chemicals getting together for a survival advantage. They say we are the result of hydrogen gas, than rain on rocks, than millions of years of mutations.
Might I suggest you keep your debates to strictly Tolkien and not to the larger evolution v. creationism quagmire? I am sure flat-earthers and people who rule their lives by the zodiac all believe fervently in their certain idiosyncratic dogma, but it has no place here.

This topic, much like politics or religion in general, can lead to some rather ugly outcomes. Please refrain. Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-07-2018, 06:22 PM   #13
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Might I suggest you keep your debates to strictly Tolkien and not to the larger evolution v. creationism quagmire? I am sure flat-earthers and people who rule their lives by the zodiac all believe fervently in their certain idiosyncratic dogma, but it has no place here.

This topic, much like politics or religion in general, can lead to some rather ugly outcomes. Please refrain. Thank you in advance.
I will do. However when you attempted to do the same against creation, i thought it ok i respond. I also have no issues with your holding onto your beliefs as determined as a flat earther regardless of science. I also did not even bring up creation vs evolution stuff besides one example that tolkien and lewis used and were aware of. I do however enjoy that discussion but as you said this is a Tolkien forum, I shall stay to topic.
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Old 06-07-2018, 06:55 PM   #14
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As an atheist, I would caution a 1+1=2 view of Tolkien's creation equaling the biblical or Christian concept of the Beginning. Unlike the Christian allegorist and apologist C.S. Lewis, whose literary output leaves me cold (save for The Screwtape Letters, which are hilarious) Tolkien drew on more than just biblical concepts when he created his cosmology, and it was that synthesis of various cultures' mythos that gives his fantasy far more depth and interest. Thus, he could captivate a non-Christian like myself as well as any pedestrian Presbyterian.

First, the idea of music being an integral part of creation is not a Christian concept, but rather familiar to Celtic/Bardic legends (such as in Taliesin), as well as Norse myth (Braggi, the Golden Harp and the Song of Life), and Finnish myth (wherein Väinämöinen fashioned a harp out of salmon bones that was used eventually by sea gods to create the music of the ocean on the beach). There are also such concepts in Hindu (the Rigvedic Hymns) and Aztec myth (Quetzalcoatl and the Music of the Sun).

Second, the Valar's more than coincidental likeness to the Greek Pantheon of gods or of the Norse Æsir, and the hierarchy and marriages found therein. Each individual Vala is endowed with certain powers matching any number of gods/goddesses of the hunt, the sea, crafting, the wood...and wrestling! Mandos is equivalent to the Greek Fates or the Norse Norns with the added dimension of having the responsibilities of Hades.

Third, Melkor is not merely an equivalent of the fallen Angel Lucifer, tempting men's souls, he is rather the corrupter of Arda itself (see "Morgoth's Ring"). Such corruptive deities who scar the very earth, control the seasons and are enemies of light can be found in Slavic, Persian, Finnish and Celtic myth.

Fourth, the other disparate legends and myths that are interwoven throughout Tolkien's early cosmology, everything from the Finnish Kalavela copied to create the tale of Turin Turambar to the Atlantis myth reworked into the Akallabêth (Atalantë in Quenya). The legend of Tilion the moon and Arien the sun used to describe the wayward lunar orbit is very much crafted in the style of Greek and Norse myths, as is Ossë a personification of the capricious, violent and unfathomable sea. Even Angainor (the chain of Melkor) could be compared to the binding of Fenrir with the enchanted Gleipnir. Another that springs to mind is when Luthien sang to release the spirit of Beren and herself from the Halls of Mandos, which has a direct correlation to Orpheus melting the cold heart of Hades to release his love Eurydice from the Underworld.

So, yes, Christian symbology, but there's a whole lotta heathen going on!
So i responded before in agreement but did some more thinking and reading. The sillmarillion as published was of course his early works and very "northern" in it material. His later sillmarillion took on as Christopher said "theological and philosophical" ideas would have taken on a much more christian form. I am sure the HOME will verify this when i read them. So of course this later published version by Christopher will be more pagan. Having said that

That a single God spoke the world materiall and not, into being is a biblical concept. One god creating and gen 1.26 has been interpreted by many Christians as god working through and with angels in his creation. Angels of course in ME are as tolkien said are maia and valar. Thus when the maia and valar help in creation, it is constant with gen 1.26. Further unlike pagan myths, the angels dont create on their own but are given music by eru and perform the task they were given all comes from god alone. Neither are these co-creators worshiped as in pagan myths.




In tolkiens work "evil" corrupts the very earth and environment. A great book on this is

Ents, Elves, and Eriador the Environmental Vision of J.R.R Tolkien by Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans Kentucky University press 2006.

It does not have to be some angel deity but any evil by nature will corrupt it surroundings. Thus orcs, goblins will do the same.
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Old 06-07-2018, 07:04 PM   #15
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Some Relevant to the topic Biblical and Christian Themes in the LOTR


“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”
-J.R.R Tolkien


“In LOTR the conflict is not basically about “freedom,” though that is naturally involved. It is about God, and his sole right to divine honor. The Eldar and the Numenoreans believed in the one, the true god, and held worship of any other person an abomination. Sauron desired to be a god-king, and was held to be this by his servants.”
-J.R.R Tolkien


As a devout catholic, Tolkien’s worldview could not be hidden in his works. His worldview is the worldview that produced the LOTR. He included many Christian and biblical themes into his works. He did not however like straight allegory and disliked C.S Lewis’ strong Christian allegory (Lewis, who sought to give Christianity a home in mythology, used strong Christian allegory). Tolkien said, “I have written a tail which is built on or out of certain religious ideas but is not an allegory of them.” Of first most importance, Tolkien’s work was to be for enjoyment, yet he knew he could not withhold his own worldview. At a lecture at Saint Andrews, Tolkien said LOTR was a specifically a Christian venture to write such a story as he was now engaged in. Wheaton College (IL) professor Clyde Kilby once sent Tolkien a paper by a professor in New South Wales that argued, “At every point, the human dynamics of The Lord of the Rings are drawn from the tradition ascribed to Christ’s redemptive activity.” Tolkien wrote back to Kilby and said that this was true, though not always conscious on his part. A student said he feels “clean” after reading LOTR, with no sex, morality, power, and with its concern for ethical/spiritual life.

“The religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“Myth and fairy-story must, all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth.”
-J R.R Tolkien quoted in David Day The Battles of Tolkien Thunder Bay Press San Diego CA 2017


Tolkien included many aspects of biblical theology into his books. Councils of the past play a large role in catholic thinking, doctrine, and decision’s on important issues. In LOTR there are many councils that decide the fate of Middle Earth, such as at the council of Elrond or the Ent moot. In the book “Walking with Frodo, a devotional journey through LOTR,” author Sarah Arthur goes through the many choices faced by LOTR characters good versus evil with biblical counterparts and lesson. It includes chapters on darkness/light, pride/humility, corruption/integrity, betrayal/loyalty, deceit/honesty, control/servant hood, bondage/freedom, and despair/hope. The creation of Middle Earth was by singing, just as in the bible, God spoke creation into existence. “The elf food called “lembas,” was clearly reminiscent of the Eucharistic wafer.” Tolkien said Elendil was a Noahchian figure [Noah]. He said Aman was a form of purgatory for Frodo and mortals until their eternal destination. When Tolkien said that Frodo gave into the ring of power, but that he was still a “good” person, he was thinking of 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 and the Lord's Prayer. Some see similarities between the highest angel Manwe, and the biblical arch angel Micheal. Biblical marriage, monogamy, was commonly practiced in the West by the free people. Other systems of marriage or union were regarded as “things only done under the shadow.” Tolkien said Frodo was under demonic pressure bearing the ring, and was given grace, divine grace, to carry out his task. Much of Galadrial comes from the teachings of Mary the mother of Jesus.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien



The Fall From Eden and Restoration


“There cannot be any story without a fall- all stories are ultimately about the fall.”
-J .R.R Tolkien quoted in David Day The Battles of Tolkien Thunder Bay Press San Diego CA 2017

“Tolkien believed devoutly that there had once been an Eden on earth, and that mans original sin and subsequent dethronement were responsible for the ills of the world
---* Humphrey Carpenter J.R. R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000


Tolkien believed strongly there had been an Eden on earth and that man’s original sin was responsible for this fallen world. The immortal Elves for all intent and purposes were men before the fall. Like the world pre fall (Garden of Eden), Lorien was without “stain,” no death, sickness or curse. The Elves represent the eternal and supernatural aspects of humanity and are the creatures most like eru(God). Elves by nature are good, but can be seduced. At the council of Elrond, Elrond says, “Nothing is evil in the beginning, even Sauron was not so.” This is a Christian understanding of evil, that God’s original creation was good, with no death or suffering and evil. The devil himself was created “good” and an angel of light. Andreth says that men were born to live everlasting in the beginning just as the bible teaches. The elves thought God’s gift to man was death, because to go on as fallen creatures in a fallen world forever would be worse. And when the men of Númenóreans* were upset over the human race dying while elves and valar did not, the immortal valar replied

“Thus you escape, and leave the world and are not bound by it, in hope or in weariness. Which of us therefore should envy the others”

And reflecting the biblical teachings in Revelations chapter 21, Andreth says, “The one [God] will himself enter into Arda, and heal men and all the marring from the beginning to the end.” Tolkien said, “Fantasy serves as “A far off gleam or echo of evangelium [good news gospel] in the real world.” In the history of Middle Earth, when Arwen dies, it says “There is her green grave, until the world is changed.” In the Hobbit it says, “The world will ultimately be “renewed.” “The world was fair, the mountains tall in elder days before the fall,” says Gimli. And Thorin said to Bilbo at his death “I go to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed.”


Melkor’s fall was like that of Satan in the bible. Like Satan Melkor fell “From splendor, he fell through arrogance to contempt for all things save himself, a spirit wasteful and pitless. Understanding he turned subtly in perverting to his own will all that he would use, until he became a liar without shame. He began with the desire of light [creative action] but when he could not posses it for himself alone, he descended through fire and wrath into great burning, down into darkness and darkness he used most in his evil works upon arda and filled it with fear for all living things.”

Like Melkor, The biblical tempter, the angel cast out of heaven, the father of lies, the one thrown into darkness are all biblical connections. Melko’s rebellion was to increase power and glory as the biblical Satan intent was as well. Melkor forges a crown for himself and gives title “king of the world.” Melkor like Satan could not create, but only corrupt or cause marring of the once good creation.. Frodo said “The shadow that bred [the orcs] can only mock and it cannot make, not real things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them”. And in the letters of Tolkien he said “Servants of the dark power, and later Sauron, neither of whom could, or would produce living things, they must be corruptions.”

“Satan promised Eve deathlessness, secret knowledge and enhanced power if she would disobey god and eat of the forbidden fruit [gen 3 4-5]. In middle earth the dark lord sauron promises much the same as he tempts the kings of Numonor to turn from the worship of Eru Ilvatar, set sail for the undying lands forbidden to them and claim the immortality he suggests is theirs by right of their greatness. Its all a lie of course and leads to their destruction. The creator, in his wisdom decrees that humans would be mortal...Tolkien refers to its tragic end as “the second fall of man.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


Angels Demons Satan Evil


To the Catholic Tolkien, angels can be and are prayed to. Frodo prays and is helped by the angelic valar Elberth or Gilthoniel when the witch king is about to stab him. Galadriel possesses intercessory powers and is a reflection of Mary, the mother of Jesus; she also seems to have divine powers, reading the hearts/minds of the fellowship. In the LOTR, the higher powers [valar/maiar/angels] help in creation. Some biblical interpreters have said that Genesis 1:26 refers to angels helping in creation, just as in Middle Earth with the valar. Also, just like in the bible, the holy spirit casts out darkness and demons. For Tolkien, the secret fire was the holy spirit; Gandalf said, “I am a servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of udun... go back to the shadow you cannot pass.” Gandalf tells the witch king, “go back to the abyss that awaits you and your master.” This is the biblical understanding of hell being created for the devil and demons.

But how can LOTR be Christian with pagan wizards in it? The Proper name for wizards is scholars or istari. When asked, Tolkien said “wizards distinct from sorcerers or magicians ...equivalent in the mode of these tales of angels, guardian angels.” Wizards on middle earth had limited power, he said “wizards...when enemy forces are to powerful can act in emergency as an “angel” no more violently than the release of St Peter from prison.” Gandalf and other good “wizards” did not use magic to do “spells,” their power was given to them by Eru (God). Of the elves “magic” Tolkien said “Their “magic” is art...its objective is art not power, sub creation not domination and tyrannical re forming creation.” Gandalf’s staff and powers were constant with Judges 6:21 & 13:19-20.

“The values that emerge in “The Lord of the Rings” are the values that emerge in the Gospels. In the characterization of the Hobbits, the most reluctant and the most unlikely of heroes, we see the exaltation of the humble. In the figure of Gandalf we see the archetype of an Old Testament patriarch, his staff apparently having the same power as that possessed by Moses.”
-Bradley Birzer J.R.R Tolkien s Sanctifying Myth


Pagan magic in LOTR is sinister; it seeks to alter the created world and is associated with machines and the desire for power. Bad magic is the “Desire power in this world, domination of things and wills.” “The enemy...concerned with sheer domination and so the land of magic and machines.” Hobbits never studied magic and Tolkien viewed modern technology as a form of magic. Sauron, Saurman, and the king of the wring-wraiths are the sorcerers of Deuteronomy 18:9-12 and evil.
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Old 06-07-2018, 09:51 PM   #16
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I will do. However when you attempted to do the same against creation, i thought it ok i respond. I also have no issues with your holding onto your beliefs as determined as a flat earther regardless of science. I also did not even bring up creation vs evolution stuff besides one example that tolkien and lewis used and were aware of. I do however enjoy that discussion but as you said this is a Tolkien forum, I shall stay to topic.
Dude, lose the dogma. I said no such thing about being against creation, other than not believing it personally. I merely pointed out your artificial constraints on what Tolkien was writing limits the overall effect, which is a synthesis of many myths, not an adherence to one. Tolkien once floated the idea of creating a "Mythology for England", which is why many sections of The Silmarillion that I pointed out are not Christian at all, but all wound together brilliantly to make a greater whole. What made Tolkien's work great is that any symbology was subsumed in the text. As he stated himself, "the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism."

Not overt, not proselytizing. I would not have continued to read it for nearly 5 decades if I felt I was being preached to. Like on this thread, for instance.

And with that, I will post on this thread no more. There is nothing mirthful here that should be in the "Middle-earth Mirth" part of the forum.
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:41 AM   #17
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Request: Is it possible to move this thread to The Books or Novices and Newcomers? It seems like it would fit better there.

Opening Disclaimer: The original question was what Tolkien believed about the creation of the Earth. A second question of how closely he matched his writings to that belief. Actual discussion of the truth or otherwise of these beliefs isn't relevant, and I for one won't be addressing it.

With that said:

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I will do. However when you attempted to do the same against creation, i thought it ok i respond.
R.R.J. Tolkien, I think you're confusing Morthoron with skip spence here. Skip was also mostly just stating what Tolkien did and felt, rather than their own beliefs; while this did slip over into an assertion ('strong scientific evidence'), the majority of what they said was just a summary of Tolkien's thoughts as seen in Myths Transformed (which is indeed in Morgoth's Ring).

Okay, moving on, I've been rooting through Letters to see what I can find.

Letter 96

Letter 96, as quoted at length by R.R.J., is very clear that Tolkien believed in a literal Fall of Man, and in a historic 'Edenic state' for humanity. Whether this was a garden at the source of four rivers where the first two humans lived in harmony with the animals, or an innocent 'childhood' in the East African Rift Valley (per Legate), isn't strictly clear from the letter; however, Tolkien definitely comes across as thinking the Genesis account is a myth based on a distant reality.

Letter 153

Letter 153 is a response to a Catholic reader arguing that many things Tolkien did were theologically unsound. It actually has very little bearing on the questions at hand, but does contain this:

Quote:
I am not a metaphysician; but I should have thought it a curious metaphysic – there is not one but many, indeed potentially innumerable ones – that declared the channels known (in such a finite comer as we have any inkling of) to have been used, are the only possible ones, or efficacious, or possibly acceptable to and by Him!
The specific reference here is reincarnation, but I find it interesting that Tolkien appears at least open to the possibility that there is other intelligent life in the universe than humanity. Still not strictly relevant, but interesting.

Letter 169

Quote:
As for the shape of the world of the Third Age, I am afraid that was devised 'dramatically' rather than geologically, or paleontologically. I do sometimes wish that I had made some sort of agreement between the imaginations or theories of the geologists and my map a little more possible.
It surprises me just how scathing Tolkien can be about scientific theories, while at the same time accepting them. This comment is typical: he simultaneously refers to them as 'imaginations', while saying he wishes he'd adhered more closely to them!

Letter 211

[quote]Pterodactyl. Yes and no. I did not intend the steed of the Witch-King to be what is now called a 'pterodactyl', and often is drawn (with rather less shadowy evidence than lies behind many monsters of the new and fascinating semi-scientific mythology of the 'Prehistoric'). But obviously it is pterodactylic and owes much to the new mythology, and its description even provides a sort of way in which it could be a last survivor of older geological eras.5[/]quote]

We encounter again Tolkien's use of the word 'myth' to describe events he believe happened, but were not recorded directly (same usage as for Genesis). This is proof that he was dubious of the specific science of paleontology - but also that he accepted the reality of 'older geological ages' from which a pterosaur-like creature could have sprung. This is similar to the 'elephant of prehistoric size' in Letters 64, though of course the mammoth is much more recent (there were extant mammoths 4000 years ago, which is well into actual, written historical time!).

Letter 324

Quote:
Owing to the prominence of Ethiopia in the Italian war Gondar may have been one such element. But no more than say Gondwana-land (that rare venture of geology into poetry).
I think this goes a long way towards explaining what's up with Tolkien's viewpoint: he was, first and foremost, a literary thinker. His own writings were 'sub-creations'; any account of pre-history was 'mythology', whether scientific or religious; and the most interesting thing about ancient super-continents was the 'poetry' of their names.

Myths Transformed

The major changes Tolkien wanted to make during the 'Myths Transformed' period, late in his life, were: removing the flat earth period; making the sun (and moon) older than Middle-earth; moving the Awakening of Men back to around the time of the Awakening of the Elves (so that Melkor could corrupt them in person); making Melkor more of an immanent force for evil in the world, and less a single figure; dramatically lengthening the timeline.

On this last point: Tolkien lengthened a Valian Year from ~10 solar years to precisely 144, multiplying the age of Middle-earth by nearly 15. If we assume the timeline here was still valid, then the two Awakenings would have taken place some 650,000 years after Creation. It was then some 72,000 years to the Return of the Noldor, and (from other sources) a good 13,000 years from then to the present day.

Under Tolkien's late ideas, then, Middle-earth is 'now' around 750 thousand years old, and the 'Edenic state' of mankind lies nearly 100,000 years in the past.

I remember that the round-earth, old-sun changes were made to accord with the facts of the Real World (I think at the same time he made the Earth orbit the Sun, rather than the reverse); I don't remember whether the age change was stated to be for the same reason.

The Silmarillion - Nordic or Christian?

Both, obviously. ^_^

Unlike Lewis in The Magician's Nephew, Tolkien never set out to write an allegory for Genesis, or for any other part of the Bible. There are Christian themes and images in Middle-earth - a great many of them, as R.R.J. cites. There are also a lot of Norse themes and images: Tolkien mentions that Smaug is based on Fafnir (Letters 122), that the Dagor Dagorath is more like Ragnarök than 'anything else' (Letters 131), the name and character of Frodo (Letters 168), that Tom Bombadil makes use of some Nibelung material (Letters 237 & 240), Mirkwood (Letters 289), the dwarves (Letters 297)... I'm sure there are many more.

Perhaps the most relevant quote I've found on this matter is Tolkien's comments on Hitler, in Letter 45:

Quote:
I have spent most of my life, since I was your age, studying Germanic matters (in the general sense that includes England and Scandinavia). There is a great deal more force (and truth) than ignorant people imagine in the 'Germanic' ideal. I was much attracted by it as an undergraduate (when Hitler was, I suppose, dabbling in paint, and had not heard of it), in reaction against the 'Classics'. You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil. But no one ever calls on me to 'broadcast', or do a postscript! Yet I suppose I know better than most what is the truth about this 'Nordic' nonsense. Anyway, I have in this War a burning private grudge – which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler (for the odd thing about demonic inspiration and impetus is that it in no way enhances the purely intellectual stature: it chiefly affects the mere will). Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light. Nowhere, incidentally, was it nobler than in England, nor more early sanctified and Christianized. ....
The 'northern spirit', and the Nordic tales, were noble, and worthy of a lifetime of study. Per Letters 15, the very existence of the Silmarillion lent the later stories a 'northern atmosphere'. And Tolkien felt that they could only be improved by being 'sanctified and Christianised'.

Thus the Valar, Norse-style gods in all but name, are viewed through a lens of Christianity, and become angels; the invocations to Elbereth have resonances with Catholic prayers to the saints or indeed Mary to intercede on their behalf; and Gandalf is simultaneously an 'Odinic wanderer' and an angel in the style of Raphael, who met Tobiah on the road and travelled with him.

Tolkien's work doesn't set up a 'Christian good, Pagan bad' dichotomy; rather, it takes both bodies of mythology as sources, and blends them together with linguistics and his own imaginings. It's true that you're more likely to find 'bad' Nordic themes than Christian ones, but there are also many 'good' Nordic-inspired ideas in Middle-earth. Tolkien took it all and cooked up something truly unique, that - as Morthoron said - can be appreciated by anyone, Christian or otherwise.

hS

PS: That said, I find this quote very baffling:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Birzer
...[Gandalf's] staff apparently having the same power as that possessed by Moses.
Staffs associated with Moses have the following powers: turning into snakes, producing water by hitting rocks (which Moses was punished for!), parting oceans, sprouting into trees, and securing victory over enemy armies.

Gandalf's staff... does none of these, nor anything like them. Unless the point Birzer is making is 'neither staff has any actual power, because it all comes from God', I'm not at all sure what he's trying to say.

hS
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Old 06-08-2018, 10:08 AM   #18
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Huh, you people have certainly been busy. I will just remark one thing, rather regarding the "generic methodology" used on this thread (which I think basically everyone agrees on, only somehow I think there was a seed of danger of people misunderstanding each other):

The question is (Huneisoron clarified it pretty well just above, I'd say) what were Tolkien's views of creation/evolution, then that's pretty simple and clear topic and let's stick to that.

I absolutely agree with Morth's contribution regarding the various influences, but I think it does not actually have anything to do with the question posed. The fact whether Tolkien used myths from here or there as inspiration for his Legendarium says nothing about his personal beliefs regarding the real-world age of the Earth etc.

Funnily enough, I think what Morth said was a good response to what R.J.J. wrote AFTER Morth's post, in his post about the Christian influences. As far as I am concerned, it looks to me like these posts should have been posted in reverse order. Then they would both make sense. Otherwise, what R.J.J. said is as much off-topic as Morth's. I mean, it may be enlightening for someone who doesn't know about Tolkien's background that much and so on, but it really doesn't also contribute to the question about Tolkien's stance on the evolution etc. question.

And most of all, we are talking about Tolkien's, let's say, scientific belief, right? We are not talking about his faith or anything. He was a Catholic, we know that, that could give us some generic area to operate in. But the basic idea is to try to reconstruct what he was thinking based on letters and other remarks. (And I think you folks have pretty much accomplished that.) Am I right?

All in all, I would 100% back up Huneisoron's opening disclaimer above as being the standard for this discussion, as well as moving this topic into a different sub-forum. Any related, but different discussions can have their own thread, if it came to that.
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Dude, lose the dogma. I said no such thing about being against creation, other than not believing it personally. I merely pointed out your artificial constraints on what Tolkien was writing limits the overall effect, which is a synthesis of many myths, not an adherence to one. Tolkien once floated the idea of creating a "Mythology for England", which is why many sections of The Silmarillion that I pointed out are not Christian at all, but all wound together brilliantly to make a greater whole. What made Tolkien's work great is that any symbology was subsumed in the text. As he stated himself, "the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism."

Not overt, not proselytizing. I would not have continued to read it for nearly 5 decades if I felt I was being preached to. Like on this thread, for instance.

And with that, I will post on this thread no more. There is nothing mirthful here that should be in the "Middle-earth Mirth" part of the forum.
Mothoron, my sincere apologies, I have mistook you for another poster as was pointed out to me. You have made great comments i hope you dont leave on my account.

I would disagree the sillmarillion had nothing christian as i would say it clearly does especially on creation and the fall. But yes nowhere is it preaching Christianity he did not intended it to as maybe Lewis did. This thread is on his beliefs on creation and evolution.
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:46 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Request: Is it possible to move this thread to The Books or Novices and Newcomers? It seems like it would fit better there.

Opening Disclaimer: The original question was what Tolkien believed about the creation of the Earth. A second question of how closely he matched his writings to that belief. Actual discussion of the truth or otherwise of these beliefs isn't relevant, and I for one won't be addressing it.

With that said:

R.R.J. Tolkien, I think you're confusing Morthoron with skip spence here. Skip was also mostly just stating what Tolkien did and felt, rather than their own beliefs; while this did slip over into an assertion ('strong scientific evidence'), the majority of what they said was just a summary of Tolkien's thoughts as seen in Myths Transformed (which is indeed in Morgoth's Ring).

Thanks for the correction and i did apologize to Morthoron, good catch sir thanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Okay, moving on, I've been rooting through Letters to see what I can find.

Letter 96

Letter 96, as quoted at length by R.R.J., is very clear that Tolkien believed in a literal Fall of Man, and in a historic 'Edenic state' for humanity. Whether this was a garden at the source of four rivers where the first two humans lived in harmony with the animals, or an innocent 'childhood' in the East African Rift Valley (per Legate), isn't strictly clear from the letter; however, Tolkien definitely comes across as thinking the Genesis account is a myth based on a distant reality.

He was answering a question to his son about the reality of the garden and fall as many had rejected it, Tolkien stated he did believe this "myth" [so called] and that from the christian biblical perspective. I think that is clear from the letter. However this does not make him a young earth creationist as another poster pointed out.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Letter 153

Letter 153 is a response to a Catholic reader arguing that many things Tolkien did were theologically unsound. It actually has very little bearing on the questions at hand, but does contain this:



The specific reference here is reincarnation, but I find it interesting that Tolkien appears at least open to the possibility that there is other intelligent life in the universe than humanity. Still not strictly relevant, but interesting.
I think this has nothing to do with life outside of the universe, but reincarnation of a hypothetical created being by god.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Letter 169



It surprises me just how scathing Tolkien can be about scientific theories, while at the same time accepting them. This comment is typical: he simultaneously refers to them as 'imaginations', while saying he wishes he'd adhered more closely to them!

Agreed, just the reason I wish a in depth book was written on the subject. I think he might have been saying the "imaginations or theories of the geologists" [evolution long ages] is just that, but that he wanted his middle earth in the third age to match more closely the accepted geography of the past by the majority of geologist.

[QUOTE=Huinesoron;711709]
Letter 211

Quote:
Pterodactyl. Yes and no. I did not intend the steed of the Witch-King to be what is now called a 'pterodactyl', and often is drawn (with rather less shadowy evidence than lies behind many monsters of the new and fascinating semi-scientific mythology of the 'Prehistoric'). But obviously it is pterodactylic and owes much to the new mythology, and its description even provides a sort of way in which it could be a last survivor of older geological eras.5[/]quote]

We encounter again Tolkien's use of the word 'myth' to describe events he believe happened, but were not recorded directly (same usage as for Genesis). This is proof that he was dubious of the specific science of paleontology - but also that he accepted the reality of 'older geological ages' from which a pterosaur-like creature could have sprung. This is similar to the 'elephant of prehistoric size' in Letters 64, though of course the mammoth is much more recent (there were extant mammoths 4000 years ago, which is well into actual, written historical time!).

Agreed this is why i am confused on the issue. He says "semi-scientific mythology of the 'Prehistoric'" and yet seems to accept old ages. This is why i think he was likely some form of old earth creationist. Of course the evolution interpretation could be the "mythology" while the prehsitoric, could be the ages, thus a old earth creationist. Wish I could ask him.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Letter 324



I think this goes a long way towards explaining what's up with Tolkien's viewpoint: he was, first and foremost, a literary thinker. His own writings were 'sub-creations'; any account of pre-history was 'mythology', whether scientific or religious; and the most interesting thing about ancient super-continents was the 'poetry' of their names.
Nice.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Myths Transformed

The major changes Tolkien wanted to make during the 'Myths Transformed' period, late in his life, were: removing the flat earth period; making the sun (and moon) older than Middle-earth; moving the Awakening of Men back to around the time of the Awakening of the Elves (so that Melkor could corrupt them in person); making Melkor more of an immanent force for evil in the world, and less a single figure; dramatically lengthening the timeline.

On this last point: Tolkien lengthened a Valian Year from ~10 solar years to precisely 144, multiplying the age of Middle-earth by nearly 15. If we assume the timeline here was still valid, then the two Awakenings would have taken place some 650,000 years after Creation. It was then some 72,000 years to the Return of the Noldor, and (from other sources) a good 13,000 years from then to the present day.

Under Tolkien's late ideas, then, Middle-earth is 'now' around 750 thousand years old, and the 'Edenic state' of mankind lies nearly 100,000 years in the past.

I remember that the round-earth, old-sun changes were made to accord with the facts of the Real World (I think at the same time he made the Earth orbit the Sun, rather than the reverse); I don't remember whether the age change was stated to be for the same reason.

Interesting, I cannot comment until i have read it but thanks.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
The Silmarillion - Nordic or Christian?

Both, obviously. ^_^

Unlike Lewis in The Magician's Nephew, Tolkien never set out to write an allegory for Genesis, or for any other part of the Bible. There are Christian themes and images in Middle-earth - a great many of them, as R.R.J. cites. There are also a lot of Norse themes and images: Tolkien mentions that Smaug is based on Fafnir (Letters 122), that the Dagor Dagorath is more like Ragnarök than 'anything else' (Letters 131), the name and character of Frodo (Letters 168), that Tom Bombadil makes use of some Nibelung material (Letters 237 & 240), Mirkwood (Letters 289), the dwarves (Letters 297)... I'm sure there are many more.

Perhaps the most relevant quote I've found on this matter is Tolkien's comments on Hitler, in Letter 45:



The 'northern spirit', and the Nordic tales, were noble, and worthy of a lifetime of study. Per Letters 15, the very existence of the Silmarillion lent the later stories a 'northern atmosphere'. And Tolkien felt that they could only be improved by being 'sanctified and Christianised'.

Thus the Valar, Norse-style gods in all but name, are viewed through a lens of Christianity, and become angels; the invocations to Elbereth have resonances with Catholic prayers to the saints or indeed Mary to intercede on their behalf; and Gandalf is simultaneously an 'Odinic wanderer' and an angel in the style of Raphael, who met Tobiah on the road and travelled with him.

Tolkien's work doesn't set up a 'Christian good, Pagan bad' dichotomy; rather, it takes both bodies of mythology as sources, and blends them together with linguistics and his own imaginings. It's true that you're more likely to find 'bad' Nordic themes than Christian ones, but there are also many 'good' Nordic-inspired ideas in Middle-earth. Tolkien took it all and cooked up something truly unique, that - as Morthoron said - can be appreciated by anyone, Christian or otherwise.

hS

PS: That said, I find this quote very baffling:

I think you are spot on sir, good post.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Staffs associated with Moses have the following powers: turning into snakes, producing water by hitting rocks (which Moses was punished for!), parting oceans, sprouting into trees, and securing victory over enemy armies.

Gandalf's staff... does none of these, nor anything like them. Unless the point Birzer is making is 'neither staff has any actual power, because it all comes from God', I'm not at all sure what he's trying to say.

hS
Good question. I think as you stated, the power originates from eru and not from magic spells. I have not read that in awhile.
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:50 PM   #21
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A bit off topic but some other less relevant christian themes. If anyone is looking for a more in depth look at christian themes, get the books refrenced in my op.

Gods in Control

People like Galadrial, Elrond, Tom Bombadil, and Gandalf remind us as Gandalf said “I can put it no plainer than by saying Bilbo was meant to find the ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.” Like the God of the bible, Eru is involved in providential and guidance; Tolkien called it “Gods management of the drama.” An atheist said to Tolkien, “You create a world in which some sort of faith seems to be everywhere without a visible source, like a light from an invisible lamp.” Tolkien felt a spirit was working through him while writing LOTR, he attributed to god.


Deceptive Appearances

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.”
-Lord of the Rings


Detail’s written on Strider make him out to be “The queerest” of all the folk in the prancing pony, yet he would end up being a king and helper. This follows the biblical idea of not looking at the outward appearance, but looking inward. King David was the youngest of the family and most unlikely to be selected king, being a shepherd and not a warrior. But as God says in 1 Samuel 16:6-7 in selecting king David, God does not see outward appearances as man sees, he sees the heart. Another king in the bible, Jesus, was a lowly, poor, working carpenter, born in a manger with no special visual qualities (Isaiah 53:2-3), yet will be the future king of the earth.


Shutting out the Night

Come dear folk...laugh and be merry...let us shut out the night. Fear nothing”
-Goldberry addressing Hobbits, LOTR


With all the dark danger of the old Forrest around and them being chased, the Hobbits are able to put the fear away because of the love and grace poured out by Tom Bombadil, the most ancient and powerful light. Good can drive out evil, Nehemiah 8:10 & 1 John 4:18.

Often Overlooked

“We always seem to get left out of the old lists and old stories.”
-Merry speaking to Treebeard, LOTR


The Hobbits were often overlooked by the outside world, where they were referred to as “Halflings.” Saouron overlooked them until the discovery of the ring. Yet they were chosen of all the free peoples for the most important task. Throughout the bible God chooses people of weakness to do his tasks, such as Joseph, Moses, David, the twelve disciples, etc. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

The First-Adam / Last-Adam connection

“Aragorn’s distant ancestor was King Isildur. Isildur had the opportunity to destroy the ring, but he instead succumbed to temptation and kept the ring for himself. This led to his death, and plunged the world into an age of darkness, much as Adam’s sin brought death and suffering into the world. But Aragorn succeeds where his forefather failed. Aragorn does not succumb to temptation. He is not tempted by the glory and power the ring promises (see Matthew 4:8-10), but wants only to save the world from the evil bestowed upon it by his ancestor. After conquering evil, Aragorn is officially installed as the king. Likewise, Christ came into the world to save people from sin; Christ succeeded where Adam failed. Christ defeats evil and is installed as King” (Psalm 2:6-9)
-Jason Lisle the Gospel in Hollywood



Hidden Courage

“There is a seed of courage hidden waiting for some final desperate danger to come along to make it grow.”
-LOTR


Hobbits are small, friendly, peaceful people, enjoying the fruits of life; like drink, beer, food, parties and extended sleep. Not the worrier kind of folk like Dwarves and Strider. Yet over and over again the Hobbits perform great acts of courage against all odds. The small ordinary Hobbits do extraordinary things that most men of Rohan or Gondor would be scared to do. They choose self sacrifice over self preservation and enjoyment. In the Bible when David was fighting Goliath, he was just a small boy (shortest of 8 brothers) and a shepherd. None of the grown men in the army wished to face Goliath, yet a small shepherd did, and against all odds defeated the giant.


Redemption

“When things are in danger someone has to give them up, lose them so that others may keep them.”
-Frodo speaking to Sam, LOTR


Frodo was willing to sacrifice his own good and his life on Middle Earth to save the Shire and all of Middle Earth. Jesus’ death on the cross was when he gave up his life for ours.


Saved on the Wings of Eagles Exodus 19:4

Many times in the Hobbit and the LOTR good peoples are saved on the wings of eagles, literally. Such as with Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom, Gandalf on Isengard, and the Dwarves, Bilbo, and Gandalf in the Hobit.

The Ring

“The ring seems to represent sin. It answers only to Sauron, a nonphysical enemy representing Satan. Like sin, the ring is superficially attractive, desirable, and gives its wearer great power. But it inevitably destroys its wearer and enslaves him to the evil Sauron. Those who have been in possession of the ring find it nearly impossible to give up, even though it slowly destroys them.”
-Jason Lisle the Gospel in Hollywood


Gospel the True Tale


“If literature teaches us anything at all, it is this that we have in us an eternal element.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“Myth, Tolkien believed, allowed us to see things as they were meant to be, prior to the Fall.
-Bradley Birzer J.R.R Tolkien s Sanctifying Myth


Tolkien said of the gospel, that Jesus, God in flesh, died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits...to reject it leads either to madness or to wrath,” Tolkien went on to say, “This story is supreme and is true. Art has been verified. God is the lord of angels, and of men and of elves, legend and history have met and fused.” Tolkien viewed the gospel as a story that entered history, a true story. “The resurrection…was the greatest fairy story…the gospels tell a fairy story, by the greatest author, who is the supreme artist and author of reality.” Also believing that “The only just literary critic is Christ,” because of “the gifts he himself bestowed.”


“He [Tolkien] created a body of work that is imbued with a profound wisdom-a wisdom that our civilization desperately needs-drawn very largely from the Catholic faith in which he was raised.”**
-Secret Fire: The Spiritual Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien*by Stratford Caldecott
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:55 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
Huh, you people have certainly been busy. I will just remark one thing, rather regarding the "generic methodology" used on this thread (which I think basically everyone agrees on, only somehow I think there was a seed of danger of people misunderstanding each other):

The question is (Huneisoron clarified it pretty well just above, I'd say) what were Tolkien's views of creation/evolution, then that's pretty simple and clear topic and let's stick to that.

I absolutely agree with Morth's contribution regarding the various influences, but I think it does not actually have anything to do with the question posed. The fact whether Tolkien used myths from here or there as inspiration for his Legendarium says nothing about his personal beliefs regarding the real-world age of the Earth etc.

Funnily enough, I think what Morth said was a good response to what R.J.J. wrote AFTER Morth's post, in his post about the Christian influences. As far as I am concerned, it looks to me like these posts should have been posted in reverse order. Then they would both make sense. Otherwise, what R.J.J. said is as much off-topic as Morth's. I mean, it may be enlightening for someone who doesn't know about Tolkien's background that much and so on, but it really doesn't also contribute to the question about Tolkien's stance on the evolution etc. question.

And most of all, we are talking about Tolkien's, let's say, scientific belief, right? We are not talking about his faith or anything. He was a Catholic, we know that, that could give us some generic area to operate in. But the basic idea is to try to reconstruct what he was thinking based on letters and other remarks. (And I think you folks have pretty much accomplished that.) Am I right?

All in all, I would 100% back up Huneisoron's opening disclaimer above as being the standard for this discussion, as well as moving this topic into a different sub-forum. Any related, but different discussions can have their own thread, if it came to that.
Agreed and thanks for the post.
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Old 06-08-2018, 04:57 PM   #23
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I think there's one thing that should be pointed out. I think all the other references to Tolkien's belief in the Gospels, or his generic Christian faith, do in no way contribute as arguments for or against his belief in regards to creation.

Like it's been brought up several times above, professing Christian faith, or even less, believing in some sort of divine providence (or writing about world governed by Valar or Eru's will etc), does not need to have anything to do with understanding the creation of our world. Like I have said above: one can be a Christian or believe in God creating the world, but at the same time not believe in literal interpretation of Genesis. The Genesis is, first and foremost, a statement: it is a proclamation of faith, saying that creation was not an accident, it has a purpose, etc etc. The details of how exactly it happened - biologically, physically - are not its chief concern (if it had been, it would have spent more time elaborating on it - instead, every verse rather just repeats and underlines the fact that it was God's word that is, according to this account, the source of everything).

The same, what Tolkien said about Gospels, if he believed them to be true, says nothing about taking the rest of the biblical writings literally.

I am just saying all this evidence is not really relevant, as it cannot be used as an argument for or against anything. It only says that Tolkien was a Christian, but we already know that. What is relevant for the question of his view of creation and evolution is the evidence that directly refers Genesis, evolutionary theories, pterodactyls, etc.
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Old 06-08-2018, 06:51 PM   #24
R.R.J Tolkien
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So I cant find it online but pages 141-142 of The Inklings C.S Lewis J.R.R Tolkien, Charles Williams and their friends. Humphrey Carpenter Harper Collins Publishers 2006

gives a small example of some of the discussions on evolution by the inklings. It seems from this section that evolution as in Darwinian upward complexity evolution is rejected, a few reasons are given.
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Old 06-09-2018, 01:00 AM   #25
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I agree with Legate that continuing to list examples of Christian (or indeed Norse) themes in Tolkien's writing is off-topic for this thread, and I'm sorry for contributing to it.

R.R.J., it would be really interesting if you could copy out some of that Inklings evolution discussion. I've not run up against any relevant quotes anywhere else (and don't own the Inklings biography), so it's possible that quote is the only basis for discussion.

Coming back to Myths Transformed, I thought I'd compile a few actual quotes from the collection that have bearing on Tolkien's thinking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MT 1
When however (no matter how little most people know or think about astronomy) it is the general belief that we live on a 'spherical' island in 'Space', you cannot [write a Flat Earth cosmology] any more.
This quote is actually... really weird. Tolkien isn't saying that he wants his story to be more true to life; he's saying that it's fundamentally wrong to write a story that conflicts with the majority understanding of nature. More and mor, it feels like Tolkien viewed everything as a story, rejecting objective truth entirely and basing his judgements solely on 'what most people believe'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MT 2
[Elven] legends should have a closer relation to the knowledge now possessed of at least the form of the Solar System (=Kingdom of Arda); though it need not, of course, follow any 'scientific' theory of its making or development.
'Scientific' in quotes yet again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MT 2
[Melkor's first attacks] will, roughly, correspond to supposed primeval epochs before Earth became habitable. A time of fire and cataclysm.
This section also directly references 'the orbit of Earth', and also insists that the Sun has to be coeval with the Earth.

And that is... Actually about it. MT then moves on to discuss later events, and does so mostly in-universe; we don't get anything else that sheds light on Tolkien's thinking behind the changes. Well, so it goes.

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Old 06-09-2018, 03:27 AM   #26
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Nice discoveries there, hS. I think the first quote looks like Tolkien is talking about what would the public and the critics accept from a "good writer" at that time. The same way writing free-form verse would be considered awkward at certain time, or using outdated words would seem strange.

Why "scientific" is in quotation marks in the second one is hard to tell. But we should bear in mind that the first half of 20th century was also ripe with all kinds of new theories that may have seemed crazy, and also "esoteric pseudo-science" had been popular since earlier on. He may be refering to anything or nothing in particular.

The third quote at least seems to quite clearly indicate, whatever Tolkien's view of Earth's beginning was, it was not a literal copy-paste of Genesis. "A time of fire and cataclysm" does not sound like anything from the harmonious picture painted there, and to me it also sounds like simplified, average person's way of talking about the formation of primal Earth according to the latest theories in geology/astronomy of his time.

P. S. And I second the request for quotes about the Inklings - that's exactly the kind of stuff that might be interesting and good to have quoted here, if it can be found.
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Old 06-09-2018, 05:58 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
I agree with Legate that continuing to list examples of Christian (or indeed Norse) themes in Tolkien's writing is off-topic for this thread, and I'm sorry for contributing to it.

R.R.J., it would be really interesting if you could copy out some of that Inklings evolution discussion. I've not run up against any relevant quotes anywhere else (and don't own the Inklings biography), so it's possible that quote is the only basis for discussion.

Coming back to Myths Transformed, I thought I'd compile a few actual quotes from the collection that have bearing on Tolkien's thinking.



This quote is actually... really weird. Tolkien isn't saying that he wants his story to be more true to life; he's saying that it's fundamentally wrong to write a story that conflicts with the majority understanding of nature. More and mor, it feels like Tolkien viewed everything as a story, rejecting objective truth entirely and basing his judgements solely on 'what most people believe'.



'Scientific' in quotes yet again.



This section also directly references 'the orbit of Earth', and also insists that the Sun has to be coeval with the Earth.

And that is... Actually about it. MT then moves on to discuss later events, and does so mostly in-universe; we don't get anything else that sheds light on Tolkien's thinking behind the changes. Well, so it goes.

hS

I have spent a good amount of time trying to cheat and find it online to post here and cannot. I have my kids soccer tournament today perhaps tomorrow i could or at least a short summary [but would you trust me].



Thanks for posting some quotes and since I have not yet read the material, i can only comment and guess at context. As to the first I dont think your conclusion is correct. If you read his letters or bio's i dont think one can say Tolkien objected to truth or held some relative truth. Nor is he one to simply accept majority opinion because the majority accept it. My guess is it seems he went from his early northern mythology [early sillmarillion] and wanted to make it more in line with lotr and it taking place in our actual earth in a historical time period.



Right. Science good, evolution not part of science [but that is another thread]. But he was referring to eleven science and what the elves would know. Tolkien was not a creator but a discoverer, he discovered what these people and places would be based on their language, history etc.


This last one is very, very interesting and deserves thought. Thanks for posting these now i must get the home.


Thanks good post.
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Old 06-09-2018, 06:01 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post

The third quote at least seems to quite clearly indicate, whatever Tolkien's view of Earth's beginning was, it was not a literal copy-paste of Genesis. "A time of fire and cataclysm" does not sound like anything from the harmonious picture painted there, and to me it also sounds like simplified, average person's way of talking about the formation of primal Earth according to the latest theories in geology/astronomy of his time.

P. S. And I second the request for quotes about the Inklings - that's exactly the kind of stuff that might be interesting and good to have quoted here, if it can be found.
I think you might be right on the first. He did not just copy paste geneses. However his world was the act of speech and creation of fully formed creatures, not an evolutionary history. But once more the old earth history seems to be their.



I will do my best tomorrow to quote it, off to soccer. The book on lewis views on Darwin is a good source as well posted in my op.
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