In examining this simple sentence we realize that both Theology and Science move on different levels and, consequently, there can be no conflict between them or between theologians and scientists. A conflict developed and reached historic proportions in the West, when Metaphysics was identified with Theology. It is well known that the content of Metaphysics is one thing and the content of revealed Theology quite another. For example, according to Metaphysics there is an ungenerated world of ideas from which this world is derived either by a fall or an emanation. Therefore, when the West identified Metaphysics with Theology and indeed, when the advance of natural Science resulted in the shaking off of the foundations of Metaphysics, then the Theology which had been identified with Metaphysics was also questioned. Thus, an Athonite monk once jokingly referred to the conflict between Faith and Science as the «puns and riddles» of the West.
In the Orthodox Church, as expressed by the Holy Fathers, we see that the content of Theology is one thing and that of Science another. Theology talks about God, about the Creator of the world being God, about the fall and sickness of the human personality and about its cure so that man can attain communion with God. Science concerns itself with what can be known scientifically, those things that can be examined by the senses and it tries to make man's life bearable within his fallen state.
Unfortunately, however, we often notice that a great deal of confusion prevails between these two bounds and spheres. The problem is created when Science is made sacrosanct and mythological and when Theology is secularized.
Science is made sacrosanct when various scientists use scientific data and some discoveries to demolish teaching about God or even to be identified with God, something that constitutes hubris in the ancient sense of the word. Moreover, it is also made sacrosanct when they try to find a system, which will solve all man's problems even his existential ones. Typical of such a case is the statement made recently by a geneticist who proposed the cloning of human beings: "We are going to become one with God. We are going to have almost as much knowledge and almost as much power as God ... Cloning and the reprogramming of DNA is the first serious step in becoming one with God - very simple philosophy." [ 1 ]
Theology is secularized when it rejects its essence, which is to lead man to purification, illumination and deification (theosis), when it loses its eschatological orientation, and when it is historicized and made part of society. Moreover, Theology is secularized when it is completely overwhelmed by anxiety and insecurity in the face of scientific argument or still yet when it uses the methodology of Science to talk about God. In such cases it creates problems in research. Indeed, if Theology does not have clear orthodox criteria and sure presuppositions then it has lost its mission. [ 2 ]
All that follows will show the confusion that is created, as well as the different bounds and frameworks in which both Theology and Science act respectively.
1. THE TWO KINDS OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE TWO KINDS OF TRUTH ACCORDING TO ST. GREGORY PALAMAS.
The dialogue that took place between St. Gregory Palamas and Barlaam, was also an occasion, among other things, for the boundaries of Orthodox Theology and of Science to be cleared up.
2. THE THEOLOGIAN AND THE SCIENTIST IN RELATION TO GOD AND THE WORLD.
3. THE POSITION OF ST. BASIL THE GREAT REGARDING THEOLOGY AND SCIENCE
I would like to mention two characteristic examples:
4. A CONTEMPORARY EXAMPLE FROM THE FIELD OF GENETICS.
In continuing, I would like to present seven theological positions on the subject of the prospect of human cloning.
Return [ 1 ] BBC News - Wednesday January 7th, 1998 -reported in Greek in the «Eleutherotypia» Newspaper January 8th, 1998.
Return [ 2 ] See the Greek Magazine Diabasi (=Passage), Nov.-Dec. 1997, pp. 5-7.
Return [ 3 ] Translated from the original Greek text published in Gregory Palamas: Works Vol. 2, in the series Ellenes Pateres tes Ekklesias, Thessaloniki 1987, p. 268.
Return [ 4 ] ibid. p. 270.
Return [ 5 ] ibid. p. 272.
Return [ 6 ] ibid.
Return [ 7 ] See Nikos Matsoukas: «The double methodology of Gregory Palamas,» in Greek, in the volume Papers of the Theological Conference in honor and memory of our Father among the Saints Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, published by the Sacred Metropolis of Thessaloniki 1986, pp. 75 onwards. [ in Greek]
Return [ 8 ] John Romanides: Romiosyni, Published by Poumaras, Thessaloniki 1975, pp. [ in Greek ]
Return [ 9 ] See Panagiotis Christou, O Megas Basileios, Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, Thessaloniki 1978, pp. 22-23.
Return [ 10 ] Translated from the original Greek text of Basil the Great, Homilies on the Hexameron, published in the series Ellenes Pateres tes Ekklesias, Vol. 4, p. 28, footnote 1.
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