Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top Ten Sci-Fi Films of the Decade (2010-2019)

The 2010s were a great decade for sci-fi movies. CGI technology continues to get better and better, and above all, Sci-fi films directly benefit from the improved visual technology. Traditionally, science fiction films have always boasted cutting-edge visual effects: movies like Metropolis and Forbidden Planet were top-tier, groundbreaking movies. Even the models and props in all of the original Star Wars movies were mind-boggling and state-of-the-art in their day.

The past decade was certainly no exception, and the 2010s saw a plethora of exciting sci-fi movies with some of the best visual effects ever seen on the big screen. Audiences saw life-like robots, strange new worlds, and hyper-realistic space crafts. In addition to stunning visual effects, sci-fi movies in the last decade also brought audiences a variety of intelligent, thought-provoking science fiction stories that grappled with cranial concepts like artificial intelligence, the dangers of technological advancement, and what it means to be human.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Orthodox Scientist Today (Fr. George Metallinos)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos

1. According to its epistemological definition, a scientist is the one who is (and is rightly acknowledged as) the one who has mastered a science, pursuant to specialized studies. More specifically, scientists are those who “stand above” – that is, who possess – a full and certain knowledge, but also possess the prerequisite of experience in the area of that knowledge. One might also add to the scientist’s prerequisites his performance in research. His studies and the diploma that he attains is merely that person’s introduction into the sphere of the science that he has been studying. His specialization in conjunction with his research within a sphere of science is that which entitles someone to be characterized as Scientist. The non-expert is not a scientist, but rather a thinker, who relies on an arbitrary opinion, that is, on a mere conjecture. That is why we must not be surprised when improvable positions are propagated by “scientists”, especially in the realm of History. This happens because an unsupported “knowledge” is being produced and reproduced for the deception of many – which may be embraced by the semi-literate, but not by the specialized scientist.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Purpose of Life and the Proof Pointing Us to God According to St. Gregory Palamas

The Purpose of Life

"The reason mankind was brought into being by God was so that they might apprehend with their senses the sky, the earth, and everything they contain, as visible objects, and by means of them, go beyond them with their minds to invisible beauties, that they might sing the praises of God, the one Creator of all."

- St. Gregory Palamas 
(Second Homily on the Entry of the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies, 16)

Proof Pointing Us To God

"Let us admire Abraham and the far-famed Melchizedek, who turned to God of their own accord - after they had already attained the age of reason. They had observed that great proof pointing us to God: this universe; the earth; what surrounds it; the combination of elements; the noble harmony of opposites; the vast boundary formed by the heavens which encircle the visible portion of creation; the multitude of stars fixed therein; their varied and wonderful disposition and their movement, which is neither simple nor conflicting, but harmonious, orderly and lyrical; their progress around their orbits; their conjunctions; their shared paths; their alterations; the significant formations which result, according to what experts in these matters tell us. These things and everything else which happens according to nature's law proclaim God who is eternally above them."

- St. Gregory Palamas 
(Second Homily on the Entry of the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies, 28)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Biology, Bioethics and Biotheology (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Orthodox Church has its own realm where all the applications of the teaching and work of Christ take place. The Church cures people and helps them to overcome all problems, even death itself and the fear of death.

Christians also live, however, in a world that has its own peculiarities. In the first centuries there were major persecutions and Christians were taken to be martyred, as happens in the Middle East in our own era. They also suffered from the great Christological and Trinitarian heresies, but even today there are many forms of heresy that afflict the body of the Church. Many other social and scientific problems exist as well.

It has been noted that during the early centuries the Fathers of the Church faced problems originating from classical metaphysics, particularly from Neoplatonism, and for that reason they had to define dogmatic terms, so that revelational truth would not be altered. Today there are similar problems due to more recent philosophy, the Enlightenment, existentialism and German idealism.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Purpose of the Creation Account in Genesis According to Cyril of Alexandria

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

The divine Moses does not appear before our eyes as one who composed doubtful stories, nor one who launched himself out on this road from simple ambition. He had in mind primarily to contribute to making lives led better. And in fact he did not attempt to discourse subtly on the nature of the things, by speaking about what the first principles are named, or about the elements which proceed from it; these things are, in my opinion, too obscure, and inaccessible to some minds. His goal was to form the spirits of his contemporaries with the doctrines of the truth: because they were being misled and had taken to worshiping each according to his imagination. Their extreme ignorance made them ignore the one God, God by nature, and to worship his creations. Some thought that the sky was god, others the disc of the sun; there were even some wretched enough to allot the glory of the supreme nature to the moon, the stars, the earth, to plants, to the watery element, birds, or to brute animals! They had come to this, and such a terrible sickness had affected all the inhabitants of the earth, when Moses came to their help and revealed himself as the initiator into knowledge of great value for all. He proclaimed clearly that there exists by nature only one Creator of the universe, and radically distinguished Him from all other realities which He had merely brought into being and existence. Considering what was useful, and as clearly as possible, neglecting every excessively subtle point, he restricted himself to deal only with that which was strictly essential.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Science and the Orthodox Church in 18th and Early 19th Century Greece: Sociological Considerations

The complete 18-page text can be read here.

This was a paper read at the XIXth International Conference for the Sociology of Religion (Tübingen, 25-29 August 1987), written and presented by Vasilios N. Makrides.

It consists of the following sections:

1. Introduction
2. Orthodox Traditionalism and its Social Impact
3. The Specific Reasons for the Conflict
4. Social Consequences of the Conflict

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Movie Trailer: "The Current War" (2017)

The Current War is a 2017 American historical drama film directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and written by Michael Mitnick. The film presents the story of the "war of the currents" between electricity titans Thomas Edison, and partners George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, which determined whose electrical system would power the modern world. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Holland, Katherine Waterston among others.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

On the Interpretation of the Creation Account in Genesis (St. Augustine of Hippo)

The following excerpt is taken from Augustine's The Literal Meaning of Genesis: An Unfinished Book, as translated by J. H. Taylor, S.J., Newman Press, New York, 1982. Although this work was written in AD 401, you will notice that Augustine's understanding of "literal" is quite different from today's notion of a "literal interpretation of Genesis" as claimed by young-earth creationists. On the contrary, you will see that Augustine was well aware of the teachings of "natural science" (such as it was), and was reluctant to contradict its findings, out of humility for the general revelation of God.

The Literal Meaning of Genesis

By St. Augustine of Hippo

Book 1, Chapter 19

38. Let us suppose that in explaining the words, "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and light was made," one man thinks that it was material light that was made, and another that it was spiritual. As to the actual existence of spiritual light in a spiritual creature, our faith leaves no doubt; as to the existence of material light, celestial or supercelestial, even existing before the heavens, a light which could have been followed by night, there will be nothing in such a supposition contrary to the faith until unerring truth gives the lie to it. And if that should happen, this teaching was never in Holy Scripture but was an opinion proposed by man in his ignorance. On the other hand, if reason should prove that this opinion is unquestionably true, it will still be uncertain whether this sense was intended by the sacred writer when he used the words quoted above, or whether he meant something else no less true. And if the general drift of the passage shows that the sacred writer did not intend this teaching, the other, which he did intend, will not thereby be false; indeed, it will be true and more worth knowing. On the other hand, if the tenor of the words of Scripture does not militate against our taking this teaching as the mind of the writer, we shall still have to enquire whether he could not have meant something else besides. And if we find that he could have meant something else also, it will not be clear which of the two meanings he intended. And there is no difficulty if he is thought to have wished both interpretations if both are supported by clear indications in the context.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

When St. Luke the Surgeon Was Asked in Court About Believing in a God He Couldn't See

St. Luke the Surgeon performing surgery.

In the summer of 1921, wounded and burned Red Army men were brought from Bukhara to Tashkent. Within a few days of travel, in hot weather, many of them had colonies of fly larvae under their uniforms. They were delivered to the hospital at the end of the working day, when only the doctor on duty remained in the hospital. He examined only a few patients whose condition was causing concern. The rest were left to be.

By morning among the patients of the clinic, there was a rumor that doctors allowed wounded soldiers to be infected with worms. The Emergency Investigation Commission arrested all the doctors. A quick revolutionary court began, to which experts from other medical institutions in Tashkent were invited, including Professor Voyno-Yasenetsky (St. Luke).

Monday, April 8, 2019

Scientific Progress as Related to Frankish Civilization and Romanity

By Fr. John Romanides

There are clear and distinct boundaries between Theology and Science. Theology, as the Greek origin of the word suggests, is concerned with God - what God is and how one can attain communion with Him - whereas Science is concerned with the created world and is interested mainly in the use of the world.

Medieval Frankish civilization* was destroyed by Europe's scientific, economic, social, political and philosophical awakening. Romanity however, was not only unharmed, but was actually reinforced by this awakening of Europe, and later of America and Russia.

Neo-Greeklings not only cannot perceive the above; rather, they are angered when they hear such a comment, because their basic dogma is that light can be found only in Europe or America or Russia. In fact, they believe that only the Greeks who accept this idea can become enlightened.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says

In a conversation with Scientific American, theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiserthe, who is the 2019 Templeton Prize winner, does not pull punches on the limits of science, the value of humility in science, and the irrationality of atheism. Concerning the latter, the agnostic physicist says:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (6 of 6)

...continued from part five.

7. General Biotheological Principles

According to Aristotle, man “by nature has a desire to know”. If this applies to every field of human knowledge, it applies even more to the mystery of life. Human beings have always been preoccupied with the question of what life is, how life begins, who gave them life, what existed before their conception, where they were before, and what the meaning of life is. It is striking that from the beginning of their lives children are interested in these questions. However, such questions frequently arise at any age and at critical times, in adolescence, middle age and old age, as well as in extreme life-or-death situations.

Today, with the combination of technology and medicine, it is possible for human beings to investigate these serious questions, particularly about what happens as soon as they are conceived and how they lived in their mother’s womb from the moment of conception. The problem is basically theological.

A few brief but crucial theological responses on bioethical and related issues are set out below.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (5 of 6)

...continued from part four.

6. Biomedical and Medical Research

1) From the views of various scientists, researchers and specialists in biomedical and medical research connected with patents, biobanks and clinical trials, it is clear that all research is implicated in different forms of interdependence with corporations and research centers. These things are not as natural as some people claim. Apart from some well-disposed researchers motivated by an interest in dealing with problems afflicting humankind, there are others who place all research in the context of vested interests and commercial gain. There is a difference between scientists in the past and those of recent times, because corporations and universities complicate the issues.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (4 of 6)

...continued from part three.

5. Biotechnology and the Environment

1) The universe was created by God and He is the Lord of the world. The one who creates something also has power over it. The Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, created the angels first, then the material creation, and finally man, who is made up of spiritual and material elements (soul and body), and is the microcosm of the entire universe. The kingdom was created, and then the king was created to enter it.

2) Human beings reign over creation; they are rulers of creation by God’s command. They cultivate creation and manage it with God’s special permission and authorization, so they are not able to appropriate it for themselves. Although they manage it they must not usurp it. This means that their jurisdiction is limited and they cannot behave as God, but as God’s stewards and managers who have been authorized by Him. Arrogance has consequences both for human beings themselves and for nature.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (3 of 6)

...continued from part two.

4. The End of Biological Life

a) Euthanasia

The Church faces the issue of euthanasia from the Orthodox perspective that we saw earlier, when we identified the way in which the Church handles other bioethical problems. Four important points will be mainly emphasized here.

1) Life was given to human beings by God, so it is God’s gift to humankind. This means that God alone, not man, has exclusive rights over life. God has power over life, and He takes life when the right time comes. A human being is not entitled to take his life, as he is not the cause of life.