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Can an Orthodox Christian be a cosmological Pythagorean?


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#1 Peter Cvek

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:11 PM

As fervent disciples of Pythagoras and Plato, both Copernicus and Galileo (and virtually the entire intelligentsia of the Renaissance period) sought to enshrine the worship of Apollo/Helios, along with the revival of Neoplatonism in the west, under the banner of Pythagorean heliocentrism and an " increase" in so-called " empirical scientific knowledge". They succeeded, and the rest is history..

Those who believed that the Holy Scriptures were completely inerrant were dealt a severe blow of confidence, the authority of the Word of God began to swiftly erode, the faith of multitudes was shipwrecked, since not only did Scripture declare the motion of the sun, planets and stars around a stationary earth and a relatively small universe compared to today's theories (Ptolemy even delineated the relative distances from earth of the stars and planets), but the undivided testimony of the Church Fathers, especially Saint Basil and Saint John Damascene, all the way to the early eighth century and beyond, testified of the same...

Protestants in the main justify the acceptance of Pythagorean Cosmology by Copernicus and Galileo by stating that the Scripture IS inerrant, yet it is NOT a book of science ( whatever that means... an irreconcilable dichotomy of schizophrenic proportions, it appears).. They also claim that when Scripture mentions obviously an increase in the last days of INFORMATION (the imagery used is of heralds " running to and fro increasing information exchange/ knowledge"), they invariably interpret this "knowledge" as " gnostic awareness/ scientific knowledge", which the passage clearly does not admit of...

The Apostle Paul warns us about " science falsely so-called" and heathen " vain philosophy", though Justyn Martyr and Clement of Alexandria in their capacity of being " all things to all men in order to save some" still qualify Christian philosophical speculation as something entirely alien to the Pythagorean and the Platonic; or any OTHER of the heathen philosophical strains..

Plato's " logos", as he himself admits, is Hermes/Mercury, whom Saint Paul clearly denies as divine when rejecting the personal appelatives of Jupiter and Mercury on his and Barnabas' journey through Lystra, and in other passages ( including King David's statement to the same effect) explicitely stating that ALL the gods of the heathen ( including Plato's hermes and zeus) were actually demons..

Yet in all this confusion throughout Christendom that resulted from the revival of Apollonian Pythagoreanism during the time of Copernicus and Galileo, very few voices were heard, and fewer still raised, to the contrary... The question posed is, can an Orthodox Christian who takes seriously the Fountain of Knowledge of John Damascene and the Hexaemeron of Saint Basil, and the undivided testimony of the Early, and early medieval, Church, at the same time subscribe to the Cosmology of Pythagoras? If they can and do, then at what cost to Scripture and Faith?

Edited by Olga, 26 June 2012 - 11:17 PM.
added paragraph spacing for ease of reading


#2 Aaron R.

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:43 AM

I think Seraphim Rose answers some of the points you raise

In the Scriptural-Patristic view the earth, as the home of man, the pinnacle of God's creation, is the center of the universe. Everything else - no matter what the scientific explanation of its present state and movement, or the physical immensity of it in comparison to the earth - is secondary, and was made for the sake of the earth, that is, for man. Our God is of such power and majesty that we need not doubt that in a single momentary exercise of His creative might He brought into being this whole earth - large to us, but only a speck in the whole universe - and that in another moment of His power He made the whole immensity of the stars of heaven. He could do vastly more than that if He willed; in the inspired text of Genesis He has left us the barest outline of what He did do, and this account is not required to accord with our human speculations and guesses. "
from Fr.Seraphim Rose
Genesis, Creation and Early Man
Part I. An Orthodox Patristic Commentary of Genesis




Edited by Aaron R., 27 June 2012 - 01:09 AM.


#3 Antonios

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 03:24 AM

... The question posed is, can an Orthodox Christian who takes seriously the Fountain of Knowledge of John Damascene and the Hexaemeron of Saint Basil, and the undivided testimony of the Early, and early medieval, Church, at the same time subscribe to the Cosmology of Pythagoras? If they can and do, then at what cost to Scripture and Faith?


Yes, you can, with little cost to Scripture and Faith, when you stop trying to put things in an all or nothing frame of mind. For example, while my doctor is someone whose recommendation I follow in regards to controlling my blood pressure, he may not give me the best gardening advice. That doesn't mean of course I can't find truth in what he says about growing tomato plants or planting tulips and that I should just ignore everything he says about the topic of gardening, or by extrapolation, ignore everything he says about my health.

#4 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 01:36 PM

Just so I understand your claims....

- All of modern science, especially cosmology, is built on pagan principles founded in worship of the sun.
- Science has discovered facts that overturn the teachings of the fathers.
- A "serious" Orthodox Christian believes the fathers.

And the question is how a (presumably serious) Orthodox Christian can square these claims.

While others may provide a detailed, fact-based answer, I will simply provide some principles that I believe might help in discovering a comfortable way of dealing with this:

- The creed that we profess does not have clauses that say "...and in the Fountain of Knowledge of John Damascene and the Hexaemeron of Saint Basil, and the undivided testimony of the Early, and early medieval, Church..."
- No father or saint of the Church is infallible
- Time, being a created thing, is also fallen, as are our senses, reason and logic
- Unlike the Western Church, we don't make a habit of dogmatizing theologoumena

Trust me when I tell you that the "harmonizing" of science and religion kept me away from the Church for decades. It was when I stopped harmonizing and realized that the important thing was the Love of Christ that fulfilled me that the problems went away. Put another way: Perhaps the questions you ask and the points you raise are simply an example of the rationalist type thinking that is troubling you to begin with.

Forgive me for any offense, and I hope you find the answers you seek.

#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 05:21 PM

Yet in all this confusion throughout Christendom


As far as I know, the Orthodox Church has no dogmatic position on this. Has it ever condemned Copernicus (a Roman Catholic canon we might remember) or Galileo? The Church perhaps thinks that this issue is unimportant. All that matters is our salvation. The partial judgment will not be a science viva (nor a theological one for that matter).

#6 Aaron R.

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 11:35 PM

As I mentioned in a previous thread we still in our modern time call it sunrise and sunset not earth rotation light and earth rotation dark, this could be the language used in Holy Scripture. As to what certain fathers taught on science nothing is considered doctrine as far as I know unless the entire Church accepts it.

#7 Peter Cvek

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 09:46 AM

As I mentioned in a previous thread we still in our modern time call it sunrise and sunset not earth rotation light and earth rotation dark, this could be the language used in Holy Scripture. As to what certain fathers taught on science nothing is considered doctrine as far as I know unless the entire Church accepts it.

.
The ENTIRE Church DID accept geocentrism ( without a single exception) until the time Pythagoreanism was revived by Copernicus, Galileo, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition of the Florentine academy as bequeathed by Gemisthos Plethon and others.

#8 Peter Cvek

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 09:56 AM

Just so I understand your claims....

- All of modern science, especially cosmology, is built on pagan principles founded in worship of the sun.
- Science has discovered facts that overturn the teachings of the fathers.
- A "serious" Orthodox Christian believes the fathers.

And the question is how a (presumably serious) Orthodox Christian can square these claims.

While others may provide a detailed, fact-based answer, I will simply provide some principles that I believe might help in discovering a comfortable way of dealing with this:

- The creed that we profess does not have clauses that say "...and in the Fountain of Knowledge of John Damascene and the Hexaemeron of Saint Basil, and the undivided testimony of the Early, and early medieval, Church..."
- No father or saint of the Church is infallible
- Time, being a created thing, is also fallen, as are our senses, reason and logic
- Unlike the Western Church, we don't make a habit of dogmatizing theologoumena

Trust me when I tell you that the "harmonizing" of science and religion kept me away from the Church for decades. It was when I stopped harmonizing and realized that the important thing was the Love of Christ that fulfilled me that the problems went away. Put another way: Perhaps the questions you ask and the points you raise are simply an example of the rationalist type thinking that is troubling you to begin with.

Forgive me for any offense, and I hope you find the answers you seek.


... Respectfully sir... I am not troubled by the supposed dichotomy... As far as I am concerned the issues are resolved in favour of the express Word of God, and against " science falsely so-called" and also the dangers of " vain philosophy" as the great Apostle puts it.. May I ask a fleeting yet pertinent question? Fred Hoyle, though an unbeliever who is regarded as the highest authority in his scientific field, was forced to publicly admit by facts that if the universe was smaller than theoretically expected, then the relative observational stance of Geocentrism would be EXACTLY the same as that of Heliocentrism.. In other words, if the relative distances to the stars are shorter ( as the early church as well as Ptolemy believed until the 15th century WITHOUT exception), then the observational values were potentially equal..

#9 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:06 PM

This is probably the most muddled thread to date on Monachos, including broad, sweeping generalizations and all kinds of muddled premises that lead, where?

The so-called scientific revolution clearly has roots in the idea that man could now dominate nature, and actually transform nature, including human nature. For uninformed Christians this has indeed caused huge problems, but especially so for people who stand on literalism in the Bible. As we all who are Orthodox know well, Biblical literalism, even to some extent doctrinal literalism, is death to the spirit. Orthodoxy went through its problems with literalism during the iconoclastic controversy and came out of it whole, unlike the "West."

#10 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:38 PM

... Respectfully sir... I am not troubled by the supposed dichotomy... As far as I am concerned the issues are resolved in favour of the express Word of God, and against " science falsely so-called" and also the dangers of " vain philosophy" as the great Apostle puts it.. May I ask a fleeting yet pertinent question? Fred Hoyle, though an unbeliever who is regarded as the highest authority in his scientific field, was forced to publicly admit by facts that if the universe was smaller than theoretically expected, then the relative observational stance of Geocentrism would be EXACTLY the same as that of Heliocentrism.. In other words, if the relative distances to the stars are shorter ( as the early church as well as Ptolemy believed until the 15th century WITHOUT exception), then the observational values were potentially equal..


Mr. Cvek, beloved of Christ,

You did not actually post a question, and though I have pondered on your words for some time now, I have been unable to discern one, nor have I been able to add a single cubit to my stature. My guess is that your toil has not added a single cubit to your stature either. Perhaps we should pray and ask God to enlighten us. I believe that we both agree that the issues are resolved in favor of the express Word of God, that being Jesus Christ Himself.

In Christ,
Thomas

#11 Peter Cvek

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:53 PM

Mr. Cvek, beloved of Christ,

You did not actually post a question, and though I have pondered on your words for some time now, I have been unable to discern one, nor have I been able to add a single cubit to my stature. My guess is that your toil has not added a single cubit to your stature either. Perhaps we should pray and ask God to enlighten us. I believe that we both agree that the issues are resolved in favor of the express Word of God, that being Jesus Christ Himself.

In Christ,
Thomas


... you are corect sir.. I posed a statement inviting comment, yet left the question lingering...

#12 Aaron R.

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:54 PM

Error in post.

#13 Aaron R.

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:56 PM

.
The ENTIRE Church DID accept geocentrism ( without a single exception) until the time Pythagoreanism was revived by Copernicus, Galileo, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition of the Florentine academy as bequeathed by Gemisthos Plethon and others.


What Church are you refering to? If you say the Orthodox Church can you back this up with any sources.

Kind regards

Aaron

#14 Peter Cvek

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:46 AM

What Church are you refering to? If you say the Orthodox Church can you back this up with any sources.

Kind regards

Aaron


Yes indeed... The last of the Eastern Orthodox Church Fathers, Saint John Damascene, conveyed the classic Orthodox Geocentric Cosmology( largely based on the Hexaemeron of Saint Basil, which was also Geocentric) to subsequent generations. His teachings even held sway amongst the Catholics until, once again, the time of Copernicus, though faith in an absolute understanding of theology AND cosmology had begun to erode already in the time of William of Occam, whose "razor" appears to have done damage not only to Faith in Orthodoxy, but in Theology and, by natural reflex, Cosmology as well... Luther claimed to be an " Occamist"... This teaching of John of Damascus was accepted without a single whimper of dissent ( and rightly so) until the revival of Pythagorean Heliocentrism by Copernicus... Please refer to his work " De Fide" ( On The Orthodox Faith)....

#15 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:09 PM

faith in an absolute understanding of theology AND cosmology had begun to erode already in the time of William of Occam, whose "razor" appears to have done damage not only to Faith in Orthodoxy, but in Theology and, by natural reflex, Cosmology as well...


Philosophy of Occam is actually closer to Orthodoxy than you assume. The reason for his empiricism and preference of simplicity is grounded in his belief in supra-rational transcendence and omnipotence of God. If God is above human reason we cannot completely rely on our logical speculations to form views about His creation and need to augment them with observation and experience.

I recommend you the set of excellent homilies by Saint John Chrysostom - "On Incomprehensible Nature of God" that are an example of apophatic theology.

#16 Peter Cvek

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:17 PM

... It ought to be noted that the entire chorus of the Orthodox Church Fathers were in consensus also on the question of an immobile, stationary, earth, which was the actual literal center of the Universe. The Scripture passages which attested to the non-existent motion of the earth, and the REAL motion of the sun, planets, and stars, ( as being smaller in size and much closer to the earth than current theoretical measurement) were always taken literally by the Orthodox Church Fathers... As an aside, and in effect, IF the earth was in daily motion, we could not avoid constant and perpetual @ 1000 mile per hour winds, and the buffer of our atmosphere ( the " lower" heavens of Scripture) would not avail us ought... If, however, the sun and moon and planets and the circuit of stars moved in a swift motion about the earth in onion-skin orbits, the earth's atmosphere would protect the surface in exactly the manner that it currently does....

#17 Peter Cvek

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:52 PM

Philosophy of Occam is actually closer to Orthodoxy than you assume. The reason for his empiricism and preference of simplicity is grounded in his belief in supra-rational transcendence and omnipotence of God. If God is above human reason we cannot completely rely on our logical speculations to form views about His creation and need to augment them with observation and experience.

I recommend you the set of excellent homilies by Saint John Chrysostom - "On Incomprehensible Nature of God" that are an example of apophatic theology.


Both apophatic and cataphatic theology were and are used in Orthodoxy to counterbalance each other, and are entirely Scriptural... Occam's " razor", could not be said to be pure Orthodox apophatic theologically in any sense, since to Occam ( and Luther his great disciple) the reduction of reality and theology ( and by reflex cosmology) into simples was in effect either a negation or a complete denial of the ability to understand the complex where such complex understanding was permitted by Scripture... What Occam achieved in theology was a " dumbing down" of traditional ( and Orthodox) understanding under the guise of simplification and a " false humility" in logic and reasoning, whereas the Fathers, though, like Chrysosthom, whilst always admitting the unknowability of God's essence ( according to Scripture), were not reluctant to discourse on the " nature and functioning of the Trinity itself"." Come, let US reason TOGETHER says the Lord", EVEN unto the nature of the Godhead, as Saint Paul admits.. Occam's " unknowability" naturally progressed to the " utter uncertainty" of Herbert Spencer's " unknowability", which in reality is a form of " denial".. Occam paved the way for the " denial" of cardinal doctrinal "knowability" ( which is very different to the apophatic theology of Orthodoxy) and the Trinity ( or our ability to understand it), and the subsequent revival of Arianism by the heretical Socinianists.. By reducing the logical process to merely an acceptance of the simplest common denominators, Occam did to theology something akin to what Vincent of Lerins tried to do with the question of Christian Unity... Common denominators and simples merely serve to stifle rationality, rather than promote humility in the process of human logic... Occam's razor was an " illusion" created with "denial" as an aim, rather than being actually " close" to Orthodox apophatic theological methodology... For this very reason it found a home in Luther, and, from logical historical extension, paved the way for Socinius' revival of Arianism...

#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:39 PM

The last of the Eastern Orthodox Church Fathers, Saint John Damascene


What??????

#19 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 04:27 PM

PC:The last of the Eastern Orthodox Church Fathers, Saint John Damascene"
What?????? What??????


The last he could find in the antiquities bookshop :)

Edited by Marcin Mankowski, 29 June 2012 - 04:28 PM.
present tense


#20 Peter Cvek

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 11:13 PM

... Please refrain from rash conclusions... Historically, the ERA or AGE of the Fathers ( the PATRISTIC ERA) is known by all to have ended with the age of John Damascene... We are not saying Orthodoxy ended, merely that the PATRISTIC AGE ended at that time.. This is historical fact..




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