Friday, June 10, 2016

Can We Know God Through Mathematics?

The esteemed theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, one of the creators and developers of the revolutionary String Theory which is highly respected throughout the world, claims to have developed a theory that might point to the existence of God. Through this theory he claims that it is through mathematics we can know the mind of God, who he says is a mathematician. He says: "The mind of God we believe is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God." You can hear him explain more here. The Orthodox perspective is quite different, however, coming down to how both Science and Theology should be viewed and used. Below Fr. John Romanides and Fr. George Metallinos explain, together with a wonderful quote by Albert Einstein that can be integrated into the Orthodox perspective.

By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

At this point, we come to a crucial difference between the apophatic theology of the Church Fathers and that of the Western Scholastic theologians of the Middle Ages. Even today if we open up a dogmatic textbook written by Roman Catholic theologians, we will come across their claim that there are two ways to theologize – one way involves attributing names to God and the other negative way involves removing these names from God. But what is absurd is that for them these names are not taken away from God in order to avoid attributing them to Him, but in order to purify the names of their imperfections.

But you will not find such a thing in the Church Fathers, for whom the method of attributing names to God is really quite simple. Names are given and they are taken away. In other words, they make use of opposites. But when the Fathers speak about God and attribute opposites to Him, they negate Aristotle’s law of contradiction and in so doing overturn the entire edifice of Aristotelian philosophy.

This means that the Fathers do not follow the rules of logic when they deal with theological matters or talk about God. Why? Because the rules of logic are valid, in so far as they are valid, only for God’s creation. The rules of logic or philosophy are not applicable with God. There is not any philosophical system or system of logic that can be applied to God. The Fathers consider those who think that they can approach God via pure mathematics to be terribly naive, simply because there is no similarity between the created and uncreated. What is valid in the created realm is not valid for the uncreated reality that is God, because there are no rules from created reality that can be applied to uncreated reality.

The Fathers do not say anything about God on the basis of philosophical reflection. They do not sit at their desks like the Scholastics in order to do theology, because when the Church Fathers theologize, speculation or reflection is strictly forbidden. The only sensible way to study the Bible is not to speculate (that is, to try to understand Holy Scripture by employing the reason or abstractions), but to pray. But what do we mean by prayer? Noetic prayer, because noetic prayer means that the Holy Spirit visits the believer and prays within his heart. When this occurs, the believer is illumined and becomes capable of rightly understanding the concepts from the Old and New Testament, and is also in a position to be led from his present state of illumination to theosis.

From Patristic Theology, "On Terminology, Expressions, and Concepts in Theology.

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos

The problem of conflict between faith and science, apart from the confusion of knowledge, has caused the idoloziation of the two kinds of knowledge. Thus, a weak and morbid apologetic has resulted in Christianity (e.g. a Greek professor of Apologetics many years ago produced a mathematical proof of the existence of God !). In Orthodoxy, however, this dualism is not self-evident. Nothing excludes the co-existence of faith and science when faith is not imaginary metaphysics and science does not falsify its positive character with the use of metaphysics. The mutual understanding of science and faith is helped by current scientific language.

From "Faith And Science In Orthodox Gnosiology and Methodology".