Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Why the Seemingly Educated Abandon Christianity

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Why do some people, well educated and baptized as Christians, fall away from Christianity and give themselves over to philosophy and to learned theories, pretending these to be something more truthful than Christianity?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Magic and Value of Photons

By Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki

We live in a superbly beautiful world, whose underlying secret of life is borne by microscopic entities called 'Genes'. They are inconspicuous; they are not visible. And yet, they determine life and its characteristics. They are what determines each person, each identity, with precision and with details.

We are swimming inside an ocean of infinite particles, which relate to assorted and strange names: Quarks, Gluons, Bosons, Leptons, Baryons, Neutrinos, Photons and a host of others - which are also not visible. However these tiny particles are what supports the grandeur of this world. They are the ones that shield its mystery.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

That God is the Cause of All Creation (St. Gregory Palamas)

By St. Gregory Palamas

That the world has an origin nature teaches and history confirms, while the discoveries of the arts, the institution of laws and the constitution of states also clearly affirm it. We know who are the founders of nearly all the arts, the lawgivers and those who established states, and indeed we know what has been written about the origin of everything. Yet we see that none of this surpasses the account of the genesis of the world and of time as narrated by Moses. And Moses, who wrote about the genesis of the world, has so irrefutably substantiated the truth of what he writes through such extraordinary actions and words that he has convinced virtually the whole human race and has persuaded them to deride those who sophistically teach the contrary. Since the nature of this world is such that everything in it requires a specific cause in each instance, and since without such a cause nothing can exist at all, the very nature of things demonstrates that there must be a first principle which is self-existent and does not derive from any other principle.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why Was the Book of Genesis Written?

The Prophet (Moses) wrote the Book of Genesis as an introduction to the divine knowledge, the intention of Moses being to lead by the hand those enslaved by the senses - through the visible things - to the perception of the things that transcend the senses.

- St. Gregory of Nyssa (Apology of the Hexaemeron 8)

Friday, October 23, 2015

On God and Science

Hearing these two words, God and Science (or Religion and Reason), most people think there is a contrast. But is it true that everything that has to do with God (or religion) violates the discoveries and achievements of science (or reason)? Or perhaps the opposite is true, where science contradicts and denies religion?

Certainly from a historical point of view we can see how many times frictions occurred when there was an encounter between the two. Unfortunately, to the point where there were bloody persecutions (from institutional religion) or severe and fierce denial which also had hideous bloody endings (on behalf of science, including philosophical currents).

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What of the Discovery of Water on Mars?

In a Q&A during a lecture at Rice University, "Has Science Buried God?," John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, answers the question, "What of the discovery of water on Mars?" Listen to this clip to hear Dr. Lennox's response.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why St. Neophytos the Recluse Wrote His "Hexaemeron" ("Six-Days of Creation")

In his introduction to his Interpretation of the Hexaemeron, St. Neophytos the Recluse (+ 1215) explains the following reason as to why he undertook this work:

It seems good to tell as to what caused me to reach the decision to write this book. When I was enlightened by some divine sunrise from above and I turned far away from the vanities of life, and my feet were led along the straight path and way of peace, so as to follow the monastic life, I secretly left my parents and my seven siblings, both male and female, and I arrived at a certain holy monastery. There it happened that I heard the prophetic words which say: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," and all the words which follow these. And as I listened I was amazed because I had never heard these words before, for I was illiterate and did not even know the alphabet, being a child of eighteen years of age.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

St. Gregory of Nyssa on the Beginning of Creation

By St. Gregory of Nyssa

(On the Making of Man, Chs. 23-24)

XXIII. That he who confesses the beginning of the world's existence must necessarily also agree as to its end.

1. But if some one, beholding the present course of the world, by which intervals of time are marked, going on in a certain order, should say that it is not possible that the predicted stoppage of these moving things should take place, such a man clearly also does not believe that in the beginning the heaven and the earth were made by God; for he who admits a beginning of motion surely does not doubt as to its also having an end; and he who does not allow its end, does not admit its beginning either; but as it is by believing that we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, as the apostle says, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear , we must use the same faith as to the word of God when He foretells the necessary stoppage of existing things.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

That the Human Body is Made Suitable for the Use of Reason

By St. Gregory of Nyssa

(On the Making of Man, Chs. 8-10)

But man's form is upright, and extends aloft towards heaven, and looks upwards, and these are marks of sovereignty which show his royal dignity. For the fact that man alone among existing things is such as this, while all others bow their bodies downwards, clearly points to the difference of dignity between those which stoop beneath his sway and that power which rises above them, for all the rest have the foremost limbs of their bodies in the form of feet, because that which stoops needs something to support it, but in the formation of man these limbs were made hands, for the upright body found one base, supporting its position securely on two feet, sufficient for its needs.

Especially do these ministering hands adapt themselves to the requirements of the reason: indeed if one were to say that the ministration of hands is a special property of the rational nature, he would not be entirely wrong; and that not only because his thought turns to the common and obvious fact that we signify our reasoning by means of the natural employment of our hands in written characters. It is true that this fact, that we speak by writing, and, in a certain way, converse by the aid of our hands, preserving sounds by the forms of the alphabet, is not unconnected with the endowment of reason; but I am referring to something else when I say that the hands co-operate with the bidding of reason....

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Why Man is Destitute of Natural Weapons and Covering

By St. Gregory of Nyssa

(On the Making of Man, Ch. 7)

1. But what means the uprightness of his figure? And why is it that those powers which aid life do not naturally belong to his body? But man is brought into life bare of natural covering, an unarmed and poor being, destitute of all things useful, worthy, according to appearances, of pity rather than of admiration, not armed with prominent horns or sharp claws, nor with hoofs nor with teeth, nor possessing by nature any deadly venom in a sting—things such as most animals have in their own power for defense against those who do them harm. His body is not protected with a covering of hair. And yet possibly it was to be expected that he who was promoted to rule over the rest of the creatures should be defended by nature with arms of his own so that he might not need assistance from others for his own security. Now, however, the lion, the boar, the tiger, the leopard, and all the like have natural power sufficient for their safety; and the bull has his horn, the hare his speed, the deer his leap and the certainty of his sight, and another beast has bulk, others a proboscis, the birds have their wings, and the bee her sting, and generally in all there is some protective power implanted by nature. But man alone of all is slower than the beasts that are swift of foot, smaller than those that are of great bulk, more defenseless than those that are protected by natural arms; and how, one will say, has such a being obtained the sovereignty over all things?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stephen Hawking Can't Use Physics To Answer Why We're Here

To restate the maxim of Albert Einstein: The problem with scientists is that they make terrible philosophers.

Eric Priest
3 September 2010

Stephen Hawking makes the claim that it is not necessary to invoke God as the creator of the universe and the assertion that physics alone made it.

He may be correct in his first statement, but to rule out a possibly important role for God is in my view unjustified. It is certainly possible that God sets up and maintains or underpins the laws of physics and allows them to work, so that being able to explain the big bang in terms of physics is not inconsistent with there being a role for God.

As a scientist, you are continually questioning, rarely coming up with a definitive answer. The limitations of your own knowledge and expertise together with the beauty and mystery of life and the universe often fill you with a sense of profound humility. Thus, unequivocal assertions are not part of a genuine scientific quest.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jacques Barzun on Science, Facts, and Darwin’s Influence

Jacques Martin Barzun (born November 30, 1907) is a French-born American historian of ideas and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, but is perhaps best known as a philosopher of education, his Teacher in America (1945) being a strong influence on post-WWII training of schoolteachers in the United States. In 2000 he wrote his popular book From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present.

In 1941 he wrote Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage. Below are a few worthwhile quotes from the book:

On Science:

Science as a Delphic oracle exists only in the popular imagination and the silent assumptions of certain scientists. At any given time there are only searchers who agree or disagree. The March of Science is not an orderly army or parade, but rather a land rush for the free spaces ahead. This means a degree of anarchy. Besides, fogeyism, faddism, love of stability, self-seeking, personal likes and dislikes, and all other infirmities of mind, play as decisive a part in science as in any other cultural enterprise.

Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Jacques Barzun, p. 336

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The "Ecclesiastical" Theory of Evolution

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The Church Fathers, when speaking of the Transfiguration of Christ and the partaking of divine glory, speak of the personal ascent on the mount of the vision of God. It is the constant cry of the Church: "Make Thine everlasting light shine forth also upon us sinners." And in a related prayer in the First Hour we feel the need to ask Christ: "O Christ, the true Light, which illumines and sanctifies every man who comes into the world! Let the light of Your countenance be shown upon us, that in it we may behold the light ineffable." Continual ascent and evolution are needed.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

St. Basil the Great on the Intelligent Cause of Creation

By St. Basil the Great

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Genesis 1:1

I stop struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt the truth of our faith?

The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider's web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that all was given up to chance.

Friday, July 24, 2015

On Legitimate and Bogus Scientific Consensus

John Horgan is one of the most colorful and thought-provoking science writers of the last several decades. He defies pigeonholing and enjoys challenging conventional wisdom. In the best Socratic tradition, he has been a gadfly to the scientific community, constantly urging it to be more self-reflective and to strive for sober understanding of the scientific enterprise—its prospects, possibilities, and pitfalls.

Erik Larson of interviewed him on various scientific topics, among which was the top of scientific consensus and the proper role of dissent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It is Good to be Able to Go to the Moon, but Better to Attain God (St. Paisios the Athonite)

On the topic of the sanctification of knowledge, St. Paisios the Athonite (+ 1994) said the following:

Education and knowledge are good things, but if they are not sanctified, they are a waste and lead to disaster. Some university students arrived at my hut one day, loaded with books. They said, "Elder, we are here to discuss the Old Testament with you. God permits knowledge, doesn't He?"

"What kind of knowledge do you mean?" I asked them. "Knowledge acquired with the mind?"

"Yes," they answered.

"This kind of knowledge," I replied, "will take you up to the moon, but will not lead you to God."

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Will the World Return To Religion?": Clarence Darrow debates G.K. Chesterton (video)

This is a dramatic recreation of a debate between the Catholic thinker and writer G.K. Chesterton and Clarence Darrow, who was the defense attorney at the Scopes Trial, which took place in New York City on January 18, 1931 on the topic "Will the World Return To Religion?".

Monday, July 6, 2015

A First Sighting of the Earliest Stars of Creation

An artist’s impression of CR7, a very distant galaxy three times brighter than any other known galaxy from this period.

From Cosmos Magazine (July 6, 2015):

The Universe began with a brilliant flash but soon descended into darkness – until finally, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the first stars flickered into life.

Astronomers believe they have now glimpsed some survivors from this pioneering generation of stars. These ancient ancestors of modern stars were monsters, hundreds of times more massive than our Sun and millions of times as luminous. Their short, intense lives ended in giant supernova explosions that enriched the cosmos with the first elements that were heavier than helium such as carbon, oxygen and nitrogen – the stuff of planets and ultimately of life.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Science Not A Collection of Truths, But An Exploration of Mysteries

What does science mean? In the New York Review of Books, Freeman Dyson discussed information theory and the history of science under the headline, “How We Know.” In the body of his book review of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick, Dyson, while trying to clear up some misinformation, exposed some embarrassments in science that call into question not only how we know, but what we know:

"The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries. Wherever we go exploring in the world around us, we find mysteries. Our planet is covered by continents and oceans whose origin we cannot explain. Our atmosphere is constantly stirred by poorly understood disturbances that we call weather and climate. The visible matter in the universe is outweighed by a much larger quantity of dark invisible matter that we do not understand at all. The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.
Even physics, the most exact and most firmly established branch of science, is still full of mysteries... Science is the sum total of a great multitude of mysteries. It is an unending argument between a great multitude of voices."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cosmologists Forced to “In the Beginning”

The late astronomer Robert Jastrow detailed in his 1978 book God and the Astronomers how cosmologists were repulsed by the idea the universe had a beginning. He found it quizzical that they would have such an emotional reaction. They all realized that a beginning out of nothing was implausible without a Creator. Since then, various models allowing for an eternal universe brought secular cosmologists relief from their emotional pains. It now appears that relief was premature.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Saint Luke the Physician and His Contribution as a Surgeon

By John Sanidopoulos

St. Luke the Physician was born Valentin Felixovich Voyno-Yasenetsky in 1877. He was an outstanding surgeon, the founder of purulent surgery, a spiritual writer, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the archbishop of Simferopol and of the Crimea since May 1946. In the year 1898, he began his studies at the Medical School of the University of Kiev. He was a laureate of the Stalin Prize in medicine in 1946. His repose was in 1961.

His contribution to local anesthesia was huge, using in general anesthesia chloroform and ether. Very often it is said that local anesthesia is much more dangerous than surgery itself. But St. Luke was an advanced personality, and always used a photographic camera to photograph all the incidents he operated on.

St. Luke used to say that to perform a surgery, you must have the eye of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the hands of a woman, thus describing the precision a surgeon should have.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Dead End of Rational Arguments for God's Existence

From an Orthodox Christian perspective, rational arguments for the existence of God, though helpful in explaining to a non-believer that God's existence is rational rather than irrational, come to a dead end by not being able to effectively demonstrate that God exists. Though metaphysics can lead to a certain logical certainty about something, only empiricism can verify and confirm a philosophical or emotional argument. Every argument can present a counter-argument based on logical laws and principles, but empirical scientific observation cannot be philosophically discounted. Therefore, without empirical proof for God and an actual observation, there is ultimately no proof for God's existence to confirm what is inferred through logic.

Orthodox Christianity alone provides the most precise means to empirically prove the existence of God. This scientific method of verifying the divine comes through the process by which man can acquire the Holy Spirit and through glorification (union with God) actually perceive God (Matt. 5:8) in this life, which produces inner faith that is based not on mere acceptance of other peoples observations (the appearances of God to the prophets, apostles and saints), but a faith based on personal empirical proof. In Orthodox theology, one definition of a saint could be that it is someone who has verified the existence of God through empirical observation.

Monday, June 1, 2015

How Did the Saints Write About Creation?

People often forget the divine inspiration behind the writings of the Prophets, Apostles and Saints, even regarding what seems like the simplicity of their observations of creation. Saint Paisios the Athonite informs us how in fact the Saints wrote empirically about creation by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and not speculatively, and why they did so in the way they did.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ivan Pavlov Remembered the Easter of His Youth

By John Sanidopoulos

It appears that even atheists today have a hard time giving up on their former religious traditions, as it was reported this past week where they continue to see some of the benefits of Great Lent even after they have lost faith. In reading this report, I was reminded of another famous atheist who could not altogether abandon the religious traditions of his Orthodox Christian upbringing, especially that of Great Lent and Easter - Ivan Pavlov.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936), a brilliant Russian physiologist, is most famous for winning the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for his research in conditioned reflex. Before his rise to scientific fame, however, he was a Seminary student in line to be a priest from a devout Orthodox family of eleven children. For six generations, since the time of Peter the Great, the Pavlov men served the Russian Orthodox Church as clergymen. His father, Petr Dmitrievich Pavlov, and his two brothers, both named Ivan, all graduated from seminaries and served parishes in Russia. His father was a respected clergyman who served the Nikolo-Vysokovskaia Church in Ryazan, about 200 miles from Moscow, and his mother also was the daughter of a Russian Orthodox priest.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

How the Myth of the Flat-Earth Dogma Started the Religion-Science War

Matt J. Rossano
September 16, 2010
The Huffington Post

Starting a war on false pretenses is nothing new. But when a few nineteenth-century academicians declared a science-vs.-religion war, they did us all a disservice.

John W. Draper (1811-1882) was born in England into a devout Methodist family. In 1832, he emigrated to the U.S., studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and later became professor of chemistry and biology at New York University and head of the medical school. Along the way he rejected his family's religion and acquired an intense antipathy for Catholicism. Two factors were pivotal in shaping his attitude: the debates over Darwinian evolution erupting shortly after the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, and the reactionary attitude of Pope Pius IX toward liberal progressivism encapsulated in his Syllabus of Errors published in 1864.

In 1874, Draper published The History of Conflict Between Religion and Science, in which he argued that current (nineteenth-century) events were reflective of the totality of Christian history. Christianity was currently opposing progress because it has always been an impediment to science, reason, and progress. An especially egregious example of this was the Church's insistence on a flat earth, a laughable dogma that stubbornly persisted until Columbus demolished it, bravely prevailing despite the ignorant protests of the Spanish cardinals.

Draper, with a little help from Washington Irving, thus popularized the "flat earth" myth, the idea that prior to Columbus there was a widespread, religiously-inspired belief that the earth was flat. Contemporary historians have squashed this myth, with Jeffrey Russell's book Inventing the Flat Earth probably being the most detailed account of how and why it arose. Historian of science David Lindberg summarizes the medieval understanding of the earth and cosmos in his book The Beginnings of Western Science: "At the center of everything is the sphere of the earth. Every Medieval scholar of the period agreed on its sphericity, and ancient estimates of its circumference (about 252,000 stades) were widely known and accepted" (p. 253).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Naturalism, the New Idolatry

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"As the thief is ashamed when caught, so shall the house of Israel be ashamed. They who say to a piece of wood, 'You are my father' and to a stone 'You gave me birth,' they turn to Me their backs, not their faces; yet in time of trouble they cry out, 'Rise up and save us !'" (Jeremiah 2: 26-27).

In truth brethren, they will all be put to shame who do not see beyond wood and stone and, who in their ignorance, say that man is composed entirely of plants and minerals and the same thing occurs to him as with plants and minerals. With their backs turned to the Creator, they are unable to see anything other than creation and, forgetting the Creator, they proclaim creation the Creator. They say that nature created and gave birth to man, that is why man is lesser than nature, lower than nature, the servant in the lap of nature, a slave on the chain of nature and a dead man in the grave of nature. They who speak like that will be shamed when they fall into misfortune and cry out to God: "Rise up and save us!"

Monday, May 11, 2015

Three Tips For Students Studying Evolution

In my high school biology class, I was taught the secularist/materialist view of Darwinian evolution, where the teacher was constantly reminding us that scientific facts leave no room for the "superstitions" of religion, ascribing everything in the universe, including life, to random impersonal forces and chemicals which one day we will understand, but don't quite understand yet. Such teachings brought myself and other fellow students to reject God, till I started studying what science really does say and doesn't say, and seeing how truly limited it is in conveying information, especially about origins. 

Below is a helpful guide written by a critic of evolution to help students studying evolution to also think critically and get a full picture of what science (not necessarily scientists) says about origins, without the philosophical assumptions and based only on the data, if it says anything at all. Often teachers and textbookssay more about evolution and origins than what science actually says intermingling philosophical assumptions. The point isn't necessarily to reject evolution, but to accept what is fact and reject what contradicts the evidence. This is science, after all.

By Casey Luskin

After attending public schools from kindergarten through my masters degree, I learned a few lessons about staying informed while studying a biased and one-sided origins curriculum. My large, inner-city public high school was rich in diversity, and I learned to appreciate a multiplicity of viewpoints and backgrounds. Unfortunately, this diversity did not extend into the biology classroom. There I was told there was one, and only one, acceptable perspective regarding origins: neo-Darwinian theory. As students head back to school this year, I want to share some tips I’ve learned to help students stay informed on this topic:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva, the Patron of Science and Technology

By Christodoulos A. Protopapas, CEO of Hellas-Sat

No saint until today in the Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church has so much to do with modern technology as Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva. The wisdom by the grace of God acquired by Saint Porphyrios was unique, and the way in which he did his miracles in this life and after his death was so significant that it leaves us "technologists dumbfounded", as our holy Church rightly says.

It is worth mentioning that Saint Porphyrios lived at a time when technology was growing rapidly together with various other sciences throughout humanity, to the point where some Orthodox thinkers of his time had begun to demonize and villainize technological progress.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Saint Porphyrios and Apollo 13

Below is a brief translation summary of a lecture circulating in Greek in the video by Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol about Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva and how he helped to save the crew of the Apollo 13 lunar mission. It is not a word for word translation, just a basic one. Unfortunately many details are left out, but the Metropolitan passed on this information because he believed it to be a miracle of God through the Elder.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Galileo's Trial: Not A Conflict Between Science and Religion

Sloppy Records Cast Galileo's Trial in New Light

Jeremy Hsu
September 30, 2010

When it comes to bad record-keepers, no one expects the Roman Inquisition — but that's exactly what one historian discovered while trying to resolve a centuries-old controversy over the trials of Galileo.

The Roman Catholic Church's second trial of the famed Italian astronomer has come to symbolize a pivotal culture clash between science and religion. But a broad examination of 50 years’ worth of records suggests the Roman Inquisition viewed the case more as an ordinary legal dispute than a world-changing philosophical conflict.

The study also showed that the Inquisition's records often carelessly left out crucial information.

That understanding helps reconcile an apparent contradiction in the records on Galileo's trial, said Thomas Mayer, a historian at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

"The notion that Galileo's trial was a conflict between science and religion should be dead," Mayer told LiveScience. "Anyone who works seriously on Galileo doesn't accept that interpretation anymore."

Monday, April 13, 2015

How the Passion of Christ Reversed the Fall of Adam

By John Sanidopoulos

- Jesus voluntarily and successfully fasted forty days in the wilderness and overcame the temptations of the devil, because Adam voluntarily yet unsuccessfully kept the God-commanded fast to abstain from the Tree of Knowledge after being tempted by the devil.

- Jesus rebuked Peter as inspired by the devil for trying to dissuade Him from going to Jerusalem to be crucified, because Adam gave in to the suggestion of Eve who was inspired by the devil to eat the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

- Jesus submitted His will to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, because in the Garden of Eden Adam disobeyed the will of the Father.

- Jesus was crucified on the wood of a tree, because the fall of Adam took place through a forbidden tree.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Horror of Nature at the Death of Christ

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"The earth quaked, rocks were split" (Matthew 27:51).

O, what a terrible reproach against mankind! Even dead nature recognized Him Whom men were unable to recognize. All mute things trembled and began to protest, each in its own way and in its own language. The mute earth quakes - that is its language. The stones split apart - that is their language. The sun withholds its light - that is its language. All of creation in its own way protested. For all of creation is submissive to Him, as it was to Adam at one time in Paradise, because all of creation recognizes Him as it did Adam in Paradise.

How is it that irrational creation knew Him and was obedient to Him, we do not know. It is some kind of inner instinct of irrational creation, which came to them from the Word of God, by which they were created. That instinct of irrational creation is more valuable than the mind of man when darkened by sin. Of all the things which are in existence, nothing is more blind than the mind of man when darkened by sin. Not only does he not see what was created to be seen, rather, he sees that which is contrary to being, contrary to God, and contrary to the truth. These are the degrees of the blindness; beneath blindness; these are numbers below zero. This is man of lower creation. For when the priests of God in Jerusalem did not recognize their God, the storms and winds recognized Him; vegetation and animals recognized Him; the seas, the rivers, the earth, the stones, the stars, the sun and even the demons recognized Him. O what kind of shame it is for mankind!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Faith Factor In Science

Hugh Pickens writes:

"Pastabagel writes that the actual scientific answers to the questions of the origins of the universe, the evolution of man, and the fundamental nature of the cosmos involve things like wave equations and quantum electrodynamics and molecular biology that very few non-scientists can ever hope to understand and that if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we accept the incredibly complex scientific phenomena in physics, astronomy, and biology through the process of belief, not through reason. When Richard Fenyman wrote “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,” he was including himself which is disconcerting given how many books he wrote on that very subject. The fact is that it takes years of dedicated study before scientific truth in its truest, mathematical and symbolic forms can be understood. The rest of us rely on experts to explain it, someone who has seen and understood the truth and can dumb it down for us in a language we can understand.

Monday, March 30, 2015

An Animated Journey Inside the Cell

This original animation, Journey Inside The Cell by Light Productions, reveals in intricate detail how the digital information in DNA directs protein synthesis inside the cell, revealing a world of molecular machines and nano-processors communicating digital information.

Narrated by Stephen C. Meyer, author of the book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne 2009), the video is a short tour of the molecular labyrinth, the cell’s sophisticated information-processing system, which not only produces machines, but also reproduces itself.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Galileo, Augustine and Vatican II

Could There Be Another Galileo Case?

Galileo, Augustine and Vatican II

Gregory W. Dawes
University of Otago, New Zealand


[1] Few scholars of religion seem familiar with the theological writings of one of the founders of modern science, Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642). In these writings, which deal with the interpretation of the Bible, Galileo tries to defend his espousal of Copernican astronomy against his critics. He does so by drawing a sharp distinction between questions of religion and questions of science, justifying this by claiming that he stands in a long tradition, one reaching back at least as far as St. Augustine (354 - 430). Galileo's position ought to be of considerable contemporary interest, for in our own day his strategy has become a common one, particularly among those who wish to avoid what Andrew Dickson White famously described as "the warfare between science and theology." Such writers argue that science and religion do not come into conflict because their areas within which they are competent differ. In the words of a recent work by evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, science and religion may both claim authority, but their areas of authority represent "non-overlapping magisteria".

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Lost World of Adam and Eve: An Interview with John Walton

The following interview provides some helpful hints in how to read Genesis 1 and 2 within the broader context of the language and culture in which it was written, which will also help bring us to a deeper theological understanding of the text.

Old Testament scholar John Walton affirms a historical Adam—but says there are far more important dimensions to Genesis.

Interview by Kevin P. Emmert
MARCH 19, 2015
Christianity Today

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Why We Need Earthquakes

Why We Need Earthquakes

Without them, the planet couldn't support creatures like us.

Christianity Today
Dinesh D'Souza

The problem of theodicy—why bad things happen to good people—predates Christianity. Writing around 300 b.c., the Greek philosopher Epicurus framed the problem this way: God is believed by most people to be infinite in his power and also in his goodness and compassion. Now evil exists in the world and seems always to have existed. If God is unable to remove evil, he lacks omnipotence. If God is able to remove evil but doesn't, he lacks goodness and compassion. So clearly the all-powerful, compassionate God that most people pray to does not exist.

This old critique has been revived by Bart Ehrman in God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer. Theologians over the centuries have responded to questions about the existence of evil by pointing out that man, not God, is the author of moral evil. Evil in this view refers to the bad things that people do to each other. Moral evil is the necessary price that God pays for granting humans moral autonomy.

Yet while human freedom may account for moral evil, it cannot account for natural evil, or more accurately, natural suffering. Ehrman's book is full of examples, to which we can add recent tragedies such as the earthquake in China last spring and the 2004 tsunami that killed tens of thousands in Southeast Asia.

Christian apologists such as C. S. Lewis have attempted to account for natural disasters by showing how they draw people together, or how they provide moral instruction to the survivors, or how they turn our eyes to God. Ehrman asks, but couldn't God have found better ways to achieve these worthy objectives? Rejecting as implausible and offensive the usual responses to innocent suffering, Ehrman has stopped calling himself a Christian.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why the World's Most Notorious Atheist Came to Believe in an Intelligent Creator

Anthony Flew (1923-2010), who was the world’s leading intellectual atheist for most of his adult life, said the following a few years shortly before his death:

“I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence. I believe that the universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Scientists Calculate the Feasibility of Noah's Ark

Scientists at the University of Leicester have discovered that Noah's Ark could have carried 70,000 animals without sinking if built from the dimensions listed in The Bible.

Sarah Knapton
April 3, 2014

Noah’s Ark would have floated even with two of every animal in the world packed inside, scientists have calculated.

Although researchers are unsure if all the creatures could have squeezed into the huge boat, they are confident it would have handled the weight of 70,000 creatures without sinking.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cosmological Contingency and Logical Necessity: G. Florovsky and T. Torrance

This lecture was delivered in April 2011 at the Orthodox Theology and the Sciences Conference held in Sofia, Bulgaria.

By Matthew Baker
Fordham University, New York, USA

After long neglect, Fr Georges Florovsky is now finally again being talked about. Over the past two years, conferences have been held in five countries, a society has been established at Princeton, and articles are appearing in various journals – all dealing with Florovsky's thought and influence.

Some of this talk is highly critical. Some argue that Florovsky's neo-patristic hermeneutic must be, not extended, but transcended, left behind, if Orthodoxy is to rise to the needed engagement with modern culture. Given the crucial place of the sciences in the birth of the “modern,” it is interesting, to say the least, how little engagement with scientific thought one finds among these critics.

In contrast to these critics, the work of Alexei Nesteruk has recently shown us how contemporary physics and Orthodox theology in a distinctly Florovskian vein may be brought into deep and fruitful interaction. But there is another figure upon whose crucial contributions Nesteruk explicitly builds, who has also not yet received the interest deserved from the Orthodox. Of all 20th century theologians, T.F. Torrance's offering to theology-science dialogue is the most estimable, and informed by a profound engagement with the Greek Fathers. In a certain sense, the two approaches of Torrance and Florovsky are joined in Nesteruk's attempted neo-patristic synthesis of theology and physics.

This exchange is not one Nesteruk inaugurated. After meeting, probably at the first WCC assembly in Amsterdam, 1948, Florovsky and Torrance corresponded occasionally into the 70's. Torrance's published works also contain positive remarks on aspects of Florovsky's thought.

In the context of theology-science dialogue, however, it is on the theme of the contingency of creation that Torrance most frequently repairs to Florovsky for insight. In what follows, then, we will consider Florovsky and Torrance's contributions to our understanding of created contingency in theology and science, and then conclude by asking what, if anything, the respective approaches of these two theologians have to offer to one another as well as to the wider enterprise of Church theology.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

St. John of Damascus on How Paradise in Genesis Should Be Understood

By St. John of Damascus

Now when God was about to fashion man out of the visible and invisible creation in His own image and likeness to reign as king and ruler over all the earth and all that it contains, He first made for him, so to speak, a kingdom in which he should live a life of happiness and prosperity. And this is the divine paradise , planted in Eden by the hands of God, a very storehouse of joy and gladness of heart (for "Eden" means luxuriousness). Its site is higher in the East than all the earth: it is temperate and the air that surrounds it is the rarest and purest: evergreen plants are its pride, sweet fragrances abound, it is flooded with light, and in sensuous freshness and beauty it transcends imagination: in truth the place is divine, a meet home for him who was created in God's image: no creature lacking reason made its dwelling there but man alone, the work of God's own hands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

N.T. Wright on Darwinism and Epicurianism (video)

N.T. Wright distinguishes between the science of Darwin and the philosophy of Darwinists. Believing that one can be both a theist and an evolutionist, Tom Wright exposes the real agenda of those who argue that religion and science are necessarily in opposition.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Basil the Great on the Vanity of Reading Genesis as Science

In the passage below from Basil the Great's Hexaemeron (Homily 9), we see that Genesis avoids presenting vain scientific theories in order to focus on that which edifies and perfects the soul. To read Genesis either as a literal historical scientific account, or even infusing allegory into the text, is a vain attempt at reading this text outside of the divine intention behind its inspiration. In fact, the entire Bible is a theological book that primarily aims at the perfecting of our souls.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Basil the Great and the Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis

The text below gives a good summary of not only Saint Basil's view on allegory when it comes to interpreting Genesis 1, but also how when Basil refers to allegory he is referring to the way heretics and those who have a low view of Scripture interpreted it. Alternatively, when Basil says it should be examined literally, he is not referring to a literal historical approach, which is part of the modern debate, but to an approach that examines the text for what it says according to its literal words. The allegorical approach, which is speculative, avoids the basic message that is trying to be conveyed by Genesis 1, which is primarily spiritual as well relational, as far as what God's relationship is with His creation, as well as conveying a new revelation for the people of Israel in opposition to the surrounding pagan cultures.

By Christopher A. Hall

The clearest example we possess in English translation of Basil's exegesis and homiletical style is his Hexaemeron, a series of nine sermons he delivered on the six days of creation. He preached them at both evening and morning services during the Lenten season, but the exact date of the sermons is difficult to determine.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil's close friend, deeply admired Basil's Hexaemeron for its clear portrayal of the wonder of creation and its Creator. "Whenever I handle his Hexaemeron and take its words on my lips, I am brought into the presence of my Creator, and understand the works of creation, and admire the Creator more than before, using my teacher as my only means of site."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Critique of Scientific Materialism

The following is an excerpt from a 2012 lecture titled "A Professor’s Journey out of Nihilism: Why I am not an Atheist" by J. Budziszewski from the University of Texas.

I had been strongly influenced by the mythology of our age that confuses scientific rationality with materialism or physicalism -- with the view that matter is all there is. If that were true, then there couldn't be such things as minds, moral law, or God, could there? After all, none of those are matter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stephen Hawking’s Creation Confusion

William Carroll
September 8, 2010

Scientists have begun to doubt whether there was a “Big Bang.” But in claiming that this disproves the existence of a Creator, they confuse temporal beginnings with origins.

“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God . . . to set the Universe going.” Such is the affirmation of Stephen Hawking found in his newly released book, The Grand Design. It is not unusual to hear a distinguished scientist make the claim that the universe and everything about it is, at least in principle, exhaustively explicable in terms of contemporary science. In his famous book, A Brief History of Time (1988), Hawking did admit that perhaps a god was needed to choose the basic laws of physics and that, accordingly, if a grand unified theory of scientific explanation were at hand we would come to know “the mind of God.” Now Hawking thinks that, more broadly, we can do away with an appeal to a creator, at least as he understands what ‘to create’ means. Citing a version of contemporary string theory, known as “M-theory,” Hawking tells us that the “creation” of a great many universes out of nothing “does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god.” Rather, these multiple universes “arise naturally from physical law.” Ultimate questions about the nature of existence which have intrigued philosophers for millennia are, so he claims, now the province of science, and “philosophy is dead.”

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Hidden World of Mystery

By Photios Kontoglou

Contemporary man has altogether forgotten the world that is within himself and has occupied himself only with the world that is outside himself, the material world. And he investigates by means of science “the outside of the cup and platter” (Matthew 23:25).

One of these worlds is material, the other is spiritual. One of them is for the transitory life; the other for the eternal. One of them is in space and time, while the other is beyond these.

Today’s man lives materialistically, busying himself with pseudo-spiritual things. Only matter interests him, the rather coarse, more tangible aspect of the universe. He cannot experience spiritual reality by means of his bodily senses and does not concern himself at all with it. He who hurls into space with machines made of aluminum, he who has his brain full of numbers, screws, springs, and other such things, cannot understand what is hidden behind the material world that he perceives by means of his physical senses.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Orthodox Doctrine of Personal Causality

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

One of the fundamental points of doctrine in which our Orthodox Faith differs from all the philosophical systems as well as from some non-Orthodox denominations is the conception of causality, i.e., of causes. Those outside are prompt to call our faith mysticism, and our Church the Church of mystics. By the unorthodox theologians we have been often rebuked on that account, and by the atheists ridiculed. Our learned theologians neither denied nor confirmed our mysticism, for we never called ourselves mystics. So, we listened in wonderment and silence, expecting the outsiders to define clearly their meaning of our so-called mysticism. They defined it as a kind of oriental quietism, or a passive plunging into mere contemplation of the things divine. The atheists of our time, in Russia, Yugoslavia and everywhere do not call any religion by any other name but mysticism which for them means superstition. We listen to both sides, and we reject both definitions of our Orthodox mysticism, which is neither quietism nor superstition.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Elder Paisios on Science and the Spiritual Life

The following excerpt comes from the book Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Spiritual Counsels I: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, pp. 228-229.

Evil starts when the mind concentrates only on science and is totally separated from God. This is why it is difficult for people who think this way to find inner peace and balance. By contrast, when the mind revolves around God, and is illumined and sanctified, science is used both for our spiritual edification and for the benefit of the world.

- Do you mean to say, Elder, that science does not help people?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Did God Create Water?

By John Sanidopoulos

A question that should seem obvious is in fact an often asked question among skeptics. Reading Genesis 1:1, they read that God created "the heavens and the earth", but there seems to be no mention of water, though water suddenly appears in the narrative.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The "Ecclesiastical" Theory of Evolution

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The Church Fathers, when speaking of the Transfiguration of Christ and the partaking of divine glory, speak of the personal ascent on the mount of the vision of God. It is the constant cry of the Church: "Make Thine everlasting light shine forth also upon us sinners." And in a related prayer in the First Hour we feel the need to ask Christ: "O Christ, the true Light, which illumines and sanctifies every man who comes into the world! Let the light of Your countenance be shown upon us, that in it we may behold the light ineffable." Continual ascent and evolution are needed.