Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Transplantation of the Western Conflict with Science in the Orthodox East


By Fr. George Metallinos

The European Enlightenment consists of a struggle between natural empiricism and the metaphysics of Aristotle. The Enlighteners are philosophers and rationalists as well. The Greek Enlighteners, with Adamantios Korais as their patriarch, were metaphysical in their theology, and it was they who transported the conflict between the empiricists and the metaphysicists to Greece. However, the Orthodox monks of Mount Athos, the Kollyvades hesychast Fathers, remained empirical in their theological method. The introduction of metaphysics in popular and academic theology is owed principally to Korais. For that reason, Korais became the authenticator of academic theologians as well as of popular moral movements. This means that the cleansing of the heart has ceased to be considered a presupposition of theology, and its place has been taken by scholastic education. The same problem appeared in Russia at the time of Peter the Great (seventeenth to eighteenth century). Thus the Fathers are considered to be philosophers (principally Neo-Platonists like Saint Augustine) and social workers. This has become the prototype of the pietists in Greece. Furthermore, hesychasm is rejected as being obscurantism. The so-called “progressive” ideas of Korais are inclusive of the fact that he was a supporter of Calvinistic and not Roman Catholic use of metaphysics and that his theological works are intense in Calvinistic pietism (moralism).

Friday, July 20, 2018

St. John Chrysostom on the Vital Power of Primordial Water


By St. John Chrysostom

(Homilies on Genesis 3.4)

What is meant by that part of the text, "The Spirit of God moved over the water"? It seems to me to mean this, that some life-giving force was present in the waters: it wasn't simply water that was stationary and immobile, but moving and possessed of some vital power. I mean, what doesn't move is quite useless, whereas what moves is capable of many things. So, to teach us that this water, great and cumbersome as it was, had some vital power, he says, "The Spirit of God moved over the water." It is not without reason that Sacred Scripture makes this early comment. Instead, it intends later to describe to us that creatures were produced in these waters by the command of the Creator of all things, and so at this point it teaches the listener that water was not idly formed, but was moving, and shifting, and flowing over everything.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Scientific Proof Is A Myth

This image illustrates a gravitational lensing effect due to the distortion of space by mass. This is one prediction where Einstein's theory of relativity gave the right answer where Newton's did not. But even with this, it's impossible to 'prove' Einstein right. (NASA, ESA, and Johan Richard (Caltech, USA); Acknowledgements: Davide de Martin & James Long (ESA/Hubble))

Ethan Siegel
Nov 22, 2017
Forbes

You've heard of our greatest scientific theories: the theory of evolution, the Big Bang theory, the theory of gravity. You've also heard of the concept of a proof, and the claims that certain pieces of evidence prove the validities of these theories. Fossils, genetic inheritance, and DNA prove the theory of evolution. The Hubble expansion of the Universe, the evolution of stars, galaxies, and heavy elements, and the existence of the cosmic microwave background prove the Big Bang theory. And falling objects, GPS clocks, planetary motion, and the deflection of starlight prove the theory of gravity.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Science and Orthodox Christianity: An Overview (2 of 2)


...continued from part one.

Science and Orthodoxy during the Ottoman Period

Byzantine humanism ended with the collapse of Byzantium, and the debate about nature ceased to be a priority for Orthodox scholars. Some who had fled to Italy eventually returned to their homeland, where they made a living by teaching; while others, who had already acquired a sound Orthodox theological education and despised the Westerners, would engage in translations, mostly of astronomical works, in parallel to their theological polemics. Yet the sixteenth century in the Ottoman territories failed to produce important works on science—and certainly none that could be perceived as contradictory to faith. Most of the scientific texts that were produced by Greeks were written in Latin, and thus their work was assigned more to the European Renaissance than to the Orthodox world. In the West, Greek scholars contributed a great deal to European humanism by teaching Greek, editing ancient Greek texts, and helping Western scholars discover new gems in Byzantine manuscripts, a number of which, having survived the destruction of Eastern libraries, were carried to libraries in Western European cities.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Science and Orthodox Christianity: An Overview (1 of 2)


By Efthymios Nicolaidis, Eudoxie Delli, Nikolaos Livanos, 
Kostas Tampakis, and George Vlahakis

Abstract

This essay offers an overview of the history of the relations between science and Eastern Christianity based on Greek-language sources. The civilizations concerned are the Byzantine Empire, the Christian Orthodox communities of the Ottoman Empire, and modern Greece, as a case study of a national state. Beginning with the Greek Church Fathers, the essay investigates the ideas of theologians and scholars on nature. Neoplatonism, the theological debates of Iconoclasm and Hesychasm, the proposed union of the Eastern and Western Churches, and the complex relations with the Hellenic past all had notable impacts on the conception of science held by the Byzantine Orthodox. From the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, the Christian Orthodox world did not actively participate in the making of the new science that was developing in modern Europe. It had to deal with the assimilation of scientific ideas produced by Western Christianity, and its main concern was the “legitimacy” of knowledge that did not originate directly from its own spiritual tradition. Finally, with regard to the Greek state, beyond the specific points of contact between the sciences and Orthodox Christianity—pertaining, for example, to materialism, evolution, and the calendar—the essay presents the constant background engagement with religion visible in most public pronouncements of scientists and intellectuals.