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.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

How I Became Orthodox (Herman Tristram Engelhardt)



Dr. Engelhardt was born in Texas to Roman Catholic parents, but became Orthodox in his mature years, taking the name Herman after St. Herman of Alaska. He studied philosophy and medicine and is now a professor at two Universities in Houston, Texas. His research has been done mainly in Bioethics and his most important contribution to Orthodox ethics is his book "The Foundations of Christian Bioethics".


Monday, June 11, 2018

Saint Luke of Crimea and Albert Schweitzer: Bringing Together Two Great Men


Saint Luke of Crimea and Albert Schweitzer:
Bringing Together Two Great Men

By George Papageorgiou

Saint Luke of Crimea and Albert Schweitzer are two great figures who marked the 20th century with their presence. One of them exposed himself to illnesses and had a hard life working in the tropics, while the other worked in the freezing cold of Siberia, facing endless exiles and prison due to a totally atheistic regime. They both practiced medicine without anything to gain, either using modern means whenever possible, or using basic and quite primitive means whenever it was necessary. The combination of their Christian faith and medical knowledge revealed another form of love for people through their work. Although they belong to different worlds, they are united by the love they had for less fortunate people and by their eagerness to help others in need.

Read the Introduction to the book and place your order here.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Holy Synod of Greece Approves of Two New Patron Saints in the Medical Field


The Standing Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, on Friday 8 June 2018, under the presidency of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, approved among other things, of two new patron saints in the medical field.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

T.F. Torrance on Science and Theology


‘When the scientist inquires into the nature of the world, he does that not by looking at God but by looking away from him at the world, but when the theologian inquires into the nature of God as he has revealed himself he does that not by looking at the nature of the world, which God has created out of nothing, but by looking away from the world to its Creator. The scientist and the theologian thus move in opposite directions. The scientist is concerned with the created or contingent universe, so that he does not reckon God among the data with which natural science is concerned. And that is of course consonant with a proper theological understanding of the nature of the universe which God has created as a reality utterly different from himself but which he has endowed with a created rational order reflecting his own transcendent rationality.’ (T.F. Torrance, Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking, 48-49)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Faith and Science According to the First American Female Astronomer, Maria Mitchell


Maria Mitchell (August 1, 1818-June 28, 1889), the first American woman astronomer, was the first professor of Astronomy at Vassar College and the first director of Vassar's observatory. Honored internationally, she was one of the most celebrated American scientists of the 19th century.

Maria was the third of ten children born to Quakers Lydia Coleman and William Mitchell on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. William Mitchell, an amateur astronomer, shared with his children what he considered to be the evidence of God in the natural world. Only Maria was interested enough to learn the mathematics of astronomy. At age 12 Maria counted the seconds for her father while they observed a lunar eclipse. At 14 she could adjust a ship's chronometer, a valuable skill in a whaling port. She preferred to stand on the roof searching the skies to gathering with the family or friends in the parlor.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Documentary: "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" (2017)


Starlet. Screen Siren. The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. All phrases used to describe 1940’s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr, whose ravishing visage was the inspiration for Snow White and Cat Woman. Alexandra Dean’s illuminating documentary adds Inventor to the list. Known for her matchless beauty and electric screen persona, Lamarr’s legion of fans never knew she possessed such a beautiful mind, whose concepts were the basis of cell phone and bluetooth technology. An Austrian Jewish émigré who acted by day and drew mechanical and electronic inventions by night, Lamarr came up with a “secret communication system” to help the Allies to beat the Nazis. Weaving in Lamarr’s own voice from archival recordings, Dean reveals how Lamarr gave her patent to the Navy, received no credit for her contributions, and wound up impoverished in her latter years. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a film for lovers of history, Hollywood and science.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018)

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018)

The brilliant Stephen Hawking, who was an theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, died at his home in Cambridge, England, early in the morning of 14 March 2018 at the age of 76. His family stated that he "died peacefully".

Hawking was best known for his discoveries in relativity and black holes. Though at one time a theist, he gradually became dissatisfied with the idea of God and the afterlife, being satisfied with what scientific knowledge alone can offer to mankind. One thing is for sure however: he thought a lot about God and often spoke of a Creator, although he did not believe a personal one existed. Below are some articles from the past that reference Hawking and his thought, some from an Orthodox Christian perspective.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Earliest Manuscripts of the Book of Genesis

Jacob Wrestling the Angel and Rebecca and Eliezer at the Wall, from the Vienna Genesis.
Early Byzantine Europe. 6th Century C.E. Illuminated manuscript.

The earliest substantial fragments of the Old Testament we have are the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Qumran and other sites in the Judaean Desert (ca. 2nd century BCE-1st century CE) and the Nash Papyrus (150-100 BCE), which contains the text of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 + Deuteronomy 5:6-21). The earliest artifacts we have which contain a biblical text are two small silver scrolls from the Jerusalem area dating from the 7th century BCE inscribed with portions of the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26).

The oldest known copy of Genesis (4QPaleoGen[sup]m[/sup], from Qumran) is really just a small fragment containing ten (or nine) complete words and eight (or nine) parts of words from Genesis 26:21-28. Written in paleo-Hebrew (the script used by the Israelites before they switched to the ‘square-script’ Hebrew letters used today), the fragment probably dates from the mid-2nd century BCE.