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Can an Orthodox Christian be a cosmological Pythagorean?


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#21 John Mitchell

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 01:39 AM

His cosmology points out the divine pattern in creation,after all Pythagoras was a Greek!




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?



#22 Peter Cvek

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 02:33 AM

Pythagoras of Samos was, on the paternal side, of noble Tyrian ( Phoenician) descent.. He was educated and initiated in heathen philosophy and the mystery religions, in Phoenicia and Egypt, and instructed by the Persian Zoroaster ( not to be confused with the original, Bactrian, Zoroaster) as well... Saint Paul in the epistle to the Romans waves a decidedly sweeping accusation against the cosmology of the Philosophers by stating that they considered the created cosmos to be in the likeness of a man ( this was the anthroposophic Orphic teaching, to which Pythagoras, the " father of philosophy" also subscribed) and other created creatures and things, specifically stating that they honoured NOT the image of Divine order in their crass speculations..

#23 Peter Cvek

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 03:01 AM

...correction... The Pantheistic Cosmology of Orpheus and the Philosophers was generally ANTHROPOMORPHISM, where the worship of the planets and the stars, particularly Pan Zeus/Jupiter, Diana/Luna and Apollo/Apollyon and the Muses, which were the basis of the greater part of their EXOTERIC rites... Esoterically, however, the worship of Hermes and Aphrodite/Venus prevailed....Their Cosmos was regarded as the anthropomorphic image of the supreme deity, whom the Kabbalistic Jews knew as Adam Kadmon... These teachings were the teachings which the Apostle Paul repeatedly denounced as false.. The falsehood obviously included heathen Pantheistic notions of the centrality of the sun/Apollyon ( which the Orphics placed as the " solar plexus" of their cosmos), though not specifically stated in isolation as such by the Apostle..

#24 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 02:11 PM

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


One important example: Saint Symeon the New Theologian lived 949–1022 AD

#25 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 02:14 PM

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?


Why do you care?

Edited by Marcin Mankowski, 01 July 2012 - 02:15 PM.
better focus


#26 Peter Cvek

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 04:37 PM

One important example: Saint Symeon the New Theologian lived 949–1022 AD


Saint Symeon lived OUTSIDE the era of the Fathers ( The PATRISTIC ERA), which historically ended with Saint John Damascene... Also, you will recall, that Saint Symeon and Hesychasm was originally not regarded universally as Orthodox, particularly Archbishop Stephen of Nicomedia, and that Saint Symeon had a great battle against the Orthodox heirarchy and those subservient to the Emperor BEFORE he was eventually accepted... Two early complaints against him were the introduction of mandatory Vegetarianism in his Abbey, and secondly of bypassing the authority of the Bishops by INCREASING the authority of (his) " spiritual father" ( Symeon the Studite), whom he canonized BEFORE the Orthodox Church had the opportunity to do... Anyway, these are different matters. Saint Symeon was NEVER regarded as a continuation of the Fathers of the PATRISTIC ERA... This ERA ended with John Damascene, as history clearly understands and states...

#27 Peter Cvek

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 04:39 PM

Why do you care?


Because I love the Truth

#28 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 07:34 PM

Dear Peter,

I think the quote of Father Seraphim Rose by Aaron R. in his first post, is good for from a biblical viewpoint the earth is the centre around which all things revolve, for God created the earth for man and the Sun and all things are there for the sake of the earth, for the sake of man. I don't think this means that the physical solar system has to be set out with the sun orbiting the earth, it does not really matter so long as we remember that God created the Sun for the Earth and that the Earth is the centre of God's creation in that regard.

In regard to the Holy Fathers, the Church, contrary to Western thought, does not believe the age of the Holy Fathers has ever come to an end, but will always continue.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#29 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:53 PM

through a consistent use of the contextual method we may learn to distinguish between the eternal and the temporary in patristic writings, that is, between that which holds timeless value and retains immutable significance for Christians, and between the remnants of the past which appeared - and disappeared - within the historical context of the church author. Many views on natural sciences held, for instance, in St Basil the Great’s Hexaemeron and St John of Damascus’s Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith are obsolete, while their theological interpretation of the created microcosm remains significant to this day.

According to some, the patristic age ends in the 8th century with St John of Damascus’s Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, summing up several centuries of theological dispute. Others situate its end in the 11th century with the final schism between the first and the second Rome, or mid-way through the 15th century, when the second Rome , Constantinople, fell, or in 1917, with the fall of the “third Rome”, Moscow, as the capital of an Orthodox empire. Therefore a return to “patristic roots” is conceived as a return to the past and the restoration of the 7th, 15th or 19th century.

This point of view must be rejected. In the opinion of Fr. Georges Florovsky, “The church is still fully authoritative as she has been in the ages past, since the Spirit of Truth quickens her now no less effectively than in the ancient times;” therefore it is not possible to limit the “patristic age” to one or other historic era.

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev).



Even if we distinguish Fathers who explained dogma and those whose writings are more about prayer and ascesis - and such a disctinction perhaps ought not to be too readily drawn anyway - we cannot be sure that a St Gregory the Theologian will not appear in our times or later. Many Orthodox would mention St Ignatii Brianchaninov, St Justin Popovich, and Archimandrite Sophrony (considered a great theologian by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos)) as Fathers of the Church.

#30 Peter Cvek

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 09:10 PM

Dear Peter,

I think the quote of Father Seraphim Rose by Aaron R. in his first post, is good for from a biblical viewpoint the earth is the centre around which all things revolve, for God created the earth for man and the Sun and all things are there for the sake of the earth, for the sake of man. I don't think this means that the physical solar system has to be set out with the sun orbiting the earth, it does not really matter so long as we remember that God created the Sun for the Earth and that the Earth is the centre of God's creation in that regard.

In regard to the Holy Fathers, the Church, contrary to Western thought, does not believe the age of the Holy Fathers has ever come to an end, but will always continue.

In Christ.
Daniel,


Dear Daniel,

You are correct in the view that it is the consensus of the West that believes that the age of the Holy Fathers has come to an end.. I stand corrected... It is the west, and NOT the east that divides chronological history into the middle ages from the approximate time of John Damascene to the fall of Constantinople, and not the east...

In view of the earlier statement, it is all to easy to sweep under a mat, or hide under a bushel of Origenistic spiritualizing, that which the Church, East AND West, believed LITERALLY in for close to 1450 years... If they not only believed in its literality, and TAUGHT the very same literality ( along WITH the spiritual interpretation), and combated apologetically their great enemy, the Gnostic Neoplatonists during the reign of Julian Apostate and others ( the Neoplatonists were the heretics who taught Pythagorean Cosmology, but were invariably rebuffed by the Church),and not only Arius, why is it that these Pythagorean enemies, these proud anti-God " giants" are not rebuffed now? Has Origen become THE excuse for our fear of scientific aloofness and ostracism? Is the literal Word of God, as believed in by the Orthodox Church for all this time, to be somehow discarded because of embarrassment? The Word of God is NOT only " spirit" and allegory, but is " literal" as well... Our bodies are not mere phantoms, nor was Christ's... We have to accept the literality with equal worth as spirituality, so long as the word is not " rent" but " rightly divided"... I accept and treasure the mystical method of interpretation, for it gives life to the literal, and is not truly " mystical" unless it complies and accompanies the literal... But if asked to denounce and discard the literal, am I being asked to become a heretic like the Baptist who dares to give even the sacraments a symbolic, Origenistic, interpretation? Can we not see that just as the humanity of Christ is the ladder to God by the literal Cross, so in like analogy the literality in Scripture ( the Word of God) cannot be discarded without insurmountable loss and destruction? If we believe the earth to be central mystically, why destroy the literality by accepting the heathenism of heliocentricity from a mere Pantheist like Pythagoras, which to this day remains an unproven theory, like evolution, though accepted by the entire earth? Has Pythagoras more truth than the Word of God and the entire consensus of the Church Fathers? Nay, he has not, nor ever could, for the Word of God IS a book of science more accurate than any Pythagoras... Just because we are daunted by the heaving and haughty chest of the Goliath Pythagoras does not mean that we must shirk our duty to defend the Faith, and Orthodoxy itself, and the tender Faith of the weak and feeble whose conscience is seared by such a haughty Giant? Let us choose the undivided Truth, which was ALWAYS literally, as well as mystically, taught by the earliest Orthodoxy, for God Himself will hold us accountable, as He tells us, " My People Perish for a LACK OF Knowledge".....

#31 Father David Moser

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 09:22 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..


Perhaps some of the sources that you consult might proclaim that the patristic age or era ended at some point - but for the Orthodox Church there are patristic fathers throughout the life of the Church and they are not limited to one defined "era" or "age". The Church is a living organism and thus new fathers come to light in every time. If you believe otherwise then your belief is in error.

Fr David Moser

#32 Peter Cvek

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 09:39 PM

Perhaps some of the sources that you consult might proclaim that the patristic age or era ended at some point - but for the Orthodox Church there are patristic fathers throughout the life of the Church and they are not limited to one defined "era" or "age". The Church is a living organism and thus new fathers come to light in every time. If you believe otherwise then your belief is in error.

Fr David Moser


Father Moser, in this you are correct. This I admit as in my previous post to DanielR # 30..

#33 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 11:15 PM

It would afford the Orthodox clergy here the courtesy which is due to them if all posters, Orthodox or not, would observe the convention of addressing them as Father N - Christian name - and not by surname.

#34 Peter Cvek

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 11:23 PM

It would afford the Orthodox clergy here the courtesy which is due to them if all posters, Orthodox or not, would observe the convention of addressing them as Father N - Christian name - and not by surname.


Reproof cordially acknowledged... My apologies to Father David...

#35 Georgije Z.

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:05 PM

Many people get surprised when I tell them I am religious, I believe in God, and I am an Orthodox Christian. Only because they know me as a person of a great interest in philosophy and science.
Well, I don't see why it should be conflicting.
I find the science as a human activity which help us to make better conditions for our life. If an earthquake destroys our houses, and kill many people, so we will start to think how to build new houses in another way. There is nothing wrong in it. The wrong is if one will use the scientific discovers for evil things.

However, I haven't still found anything in the Fathers contrary to the science. I would be very happy if Peter Cvek can quote it directly (author, work, page, paragraph).

The Holy Fathers always speak about the distinction between the spiritual and logic knowledge. The logic knowledge is that of numbers, the spiritual is the knowledge behind the numbers which one can acquire trough virtues and can be found deep in one's heart and love towards the Lord Jesus Christos.

But what is the numeric knowledge? Let us assume that the universe is endless in both time and space and that it is moving. So our knowledge can develop endlessly, however everything is just nothing in comparing to God's knowledge.
Having this in mind we must accept that our numeric knowledge is just "nothing", since every knowledge of numbers is equally far away from the ∞.
I wouldn't be surprised that in some +1000y another scientist completely deny some of the common scientific beliefs today. What to say about the science when people still die today from the "simple" diseases, making an awful pollution of the poisons in the nature, still knowing a little about matter, time, brain, soul, deep sea, etc. So, we can face in the future a very developed numeric science, which would be for us today just nonsense. It doesn't mean that we today can't acquire a deep understanding of the Scripture trough the active spiritual knowledge.
However, speaking about heliocentric system etc. one must remember that even the scientists, speaking about the universe, say that the time can't be understood "before" universe, and that, since everything started from nothing or a dense "something", so everything is the centre of the universe: me, you, earth, sun, another galaxy etc. Every single "monade" is the centre. (people have a tendency to imagine, what is called BigBang, as a some kind of explosion that look like a balloon.). That is the current scientific theory.

Furthermore, one must keep in mind that the Scripture is written for all people in all times. For me the sun still "goes around"...

After all, reading the holy Fathers I always think about what they call the spiritual knowledge, or the active spiritual knowledge.
One can have a very deep understanding of the world through the Scripture, but still having a very bad knowledge about driving business or economy.
Compare it with knowledge of keeping you alive (cooking, healing etc) and knowledge of the computer science. One can be very good in a computer programming but will not survive if one knows ONLY that.
Using my intellect I have found that the philosophy of the Holy Fathers is so strong, as an iron stone. As more as I read I understand its complexity and hardness and that IT IS the really food for my soul and me personally.

Please correct me if I am wrong somewhere.
Be well. G.

#36 Darrin Rasberry

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 05:44 PM

Are there any instances where the Fathers changed their views based on arguments presented or evidence discovered? Perhaps we can use such examples to responsibly adjust our faith within the firm context of the Creed and the Councils.

#37 John Simmons

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:18 PM

I believe that this essay by Fr. George Metallinos clarifies things:

http://www.megarevma.../Metallinos.htm

#38 Derek Sandor

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 01:17 PM

When someone uses the 'tiny being in vast universe' argument, just remind them that if we look at the scale in the other direction, the cellular then atomic, subatomic and future, further in viewpoints, humans seem to sit at about the middle of things. That fact is consistent with a Christian concept of our place as the mediators between the worlds and our status as caretakers. We seem to be able to just brush the edge of each limit, cosmic and particular. Our inner nature also spans demonic and angelic.

I've never been offered conclusive proof of heliocentrism or geocentrism but the first seems more elegant. If it is true we will probably never know what kind of motion the earth takes through space unless we can calculate the total rotations of every level from the solar system to the galaxy to the galaxy cluster to the spuper cluster and up to whatever other levels there are. Nested rotating mega cells. Whatever the Earth is doing, It isn't going round in a circle, thats for sure. So, if heliocentrism is true, it is also not true.

Or we are resting on the universe's still central point. We will never know empirically because we cannot get outside the system to model it in total, or far enough in to re-create it. We can only measure out from the mid-point to where it starts to get fuzzy and then make theories about what we will find as the technology extends our senses.

#39 Owen Jones

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 01:42 PM

very well said, Derek. The world is not a closed system, nor is the solar system, etc. and neither is man, as you have pointed out so clearly.

#40 Jacob Van Sickle

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 10:27 PM

It seems to me that much of the consternation of this thread is based on the fact that there are a number of assumptions built into Peter's question that are not shared by many of the responders. For instance, Peter, you seem to think that belief in Scripture (or its infallibility) is the same as saying that all of its expressions are literally true. Also, you appear to think that holding the Fathers as arbiters of the True Faith entails following them in every belief on which they agree. These are difficult issues in and of themselves, apart from whatever bearing they have on the question of cosmology. I wouldn't expect them to achieve resolution in this discussion thread. I would suggest, however, that much of your perspective is rooted in narratives constructed in the modern era which some, but certainly not all, Orthodox accept. For instance, this last claim that the Patristic era ended with John of Damascus--this is not a "fact," as you say, but part of an historiographical narrative constructed in the last few centuries by Western scholars to help organize history along lines that they find significant. Christians of the East recognize many writers after John of Damscus as "Fathers," such as Gregory Palamas, Mark of Ephesus, and Nicholas Cabasilas, up to recent figures like John of Kronstadt and Silouan the Athonite.

(Update: Sorry, I posted this before seeing that there is a full second page of responses where some of what I wrote has been further developed. I leave the post as is, though, since I think it still contributes)




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