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The four elements

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#21 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack


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Posted 02 April 2005 - 03:17 PM

I think this depends on what we believe science is or encompasses. If it is natural knowledge about reality then it can certainly be included within the Orthodox phronema. But if by science we mean an autonomous so-called objective knowledge then of course we run into problems.

The saint sees the true logos of each creature.(St Maximos the Confessor talks about this) This is not a 'scientific objective' knowledge as we would define this in our modern world but rather the true vision of the reality of that creature and its place & destiny within the Divine/created cosmos. And of course all of this is grounded within Christ as pre-eternal Logos Who Himself is the alpha & omega of all creation.

So in this sense the saint has insight (I'm not sure about "priveleged access") about the reality of creation.

Let's put it this way. Natural knowledge tends towards defining what it perceives in absolute terms. "This is what will happen." "This is what does happen." Because such perception is also not free from passion it also tends to have hidden within it a degree of anxiety; ie the purpose of science is to solve or alleviate what it defines as problems.

The saint moves however beyond this- for example when St. Seraphim feeds the bear. Scientifically bears don't do that (we are definitely not talking about a tame bear or a bear who has gotten used to a kind-hearted person) in the so-called natural world. But yet they do along with other animals in the saint's deified space. In other words that is their true reality not the natural one of bears eat people - it is not that the latter is false, but rather that it reflects this fallen, tragic world. And if we use such science to solve the problem of aggressive bears (wise advice for those of us who are still so sinful! ie keep out of the way!) then we miss something and we begin to define reality only by what is fallen. Here I think is where so often anxiety creeps into modern science to define what is "objective reality" when in fact it is not at all objective reality.

I suppose that this leaves us in a a certain tension. We have the fallen world before us and in an important sense since we are called by God to live within this world while not being of it. In that sense we must come to recognise the natural laws of this fallen world. So we build cars to run and have keys hoping the car starts when we need to drive to work or the children to school. This all relates to science in the conventional sense. But then we find that we get into the car & it won't start or else the children are late getting up...now we begin to recognise that science cannot be absolute precisely because we live in a fallen world. And anyway creation is subject to instability in any case. So now faith comes in and patience. And we phone the priest who comes over to bless the car-and the car starts! Not very scientific perhaps- but it is very real.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#22 Guest_Isaac David

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Posted 04 April 2005 - 04:08 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael

Thank you.



#23 Tim Grass

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 07:15 PM

Hi everyone. I'd like to know more about this question of how much "science," and what kind, comes about from the kind of contemplation the Fathers talk about. Does this mean just inner knowing? .... Or is it really knowledge of the scientific universe... genes, and atoms, and natuers... etc., etc.?


#24 Antonios


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Posted 20 November 2005 - 09:23 PM


I believe the "science" which the Fathers gain insight to through contemplation has to do with the logoi, or inner essense or principles of things. In the Philokalia, logoi is defined in this way: "As the unitary cosmic principle, the Logos (the Second Person of the Holy Trinity) contains in Himself the multiple logoi in accordance with which all things come into existence at the times and places, and in the forms, appointed for them, each single thing thereby containing in itself the principle of its own development. It is these logoi, containing principally in the Logos and manifest in the forms of the created universe, that consititute the first or lower stage of contemplation."

In another source, it is defined as the 'divine willings' or 'creative ideas of things'.

So, this spiritual knowledge goes beyond scientific processes and deeper into the 'meanings' and 'reasons' for created things, which in their end and fulfillment lies in union with God. This is one way in which God reveals Himself and can be known in creatures and by means of creatures.

That is why one contemporary elder in recent times (I believe Father Paisios) used to astound his spritiual children when he would have these in depth and detailed discussions with visitors regarding current scientific thought and theories. He had an awareness and understanding far deeper than his 'formal' education would have granted. He would ask questions to these learned peoples which would cut right to the chase and get right to the very heart of what particular thing was being discussed, often directly to the point at which modern science had reached its limit. He didn't have to know the exact equation or terminology or minute scientific details in order to grasp the 'logoi', or inner essence, of the topic matter.

Now, if you asked him directly what exactly genes were made of, he probably would have grinned and replied "denim".Posted Image

in humility and love,

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