Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Compatibility of Science and Faith

In 2010 Cafebabel interviewed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on various contemporary topics (see here). Below is a question with the answer of His All Holiness having to do with the compatibility of science and faith:

Finally, are science and faith incompatible or simply have other recipients and content? Recently, Stephen Hawking has caused a stir with his statements that the universe could exist without the Creator. Do you regard such statements as meaningful? What is the answer of the Church?

I do not consider faith and science as opposed but rather as parallel roads. They are complementary because they lead to the same goal of Truth. You know, Einstein once said: “Science has no God, but scientists do have a God.”

The Orthodox Church is not against science. Indeed, there is historical evidence that our bishops were among the most eminent scientists. Orthodox monasteries preserved ancient Greek manuscripts and made them known to the West. Saint Gregory Palamas studied the philosophy of Aristotle. Furthermore, our Church has a saint named Epistimi (which means “science” in Greek) and a saint Ypomoni (which means “patience”). We did not have any Galileo.

Statements like those of Stephen Hawking are respectable but not binding for anyone. But such statements are provocative and ultimately only divide people. Our approach is that all of the created universe that we see around us – the sky, the oceans, the plants – could not possibly have been generated by chance but in fact have a Creator. A few days ago, I took a stroll in the garden with friends. As I held a flower, I noticed how perfect and beautiful it was and how wisely it was crafted by thousands of smaller flowers that were a feast for the eyes to behold. This cannot have occurred at random.