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St. John of Damascene: A vanguard and supporter of relativism and the Big Bang?1
fr. Dan Bădulescu Throughout history Christianity (religion/faith/Christian Church) we met from the fifth century, in the Roman Empire, a more and more growth, in the spiritual plane, but also in culture, philosophy, art, science. Philosophy gave way, and things continued so for over 1000 years. Back then, the saints (with some exceptions) were scholars and scientists were believers. Since the Renaissance, in the West are manifested increasingly active secularization trends, philosophical, cultural, artistic and scientific concepts more and more "humanistic" which claim autonomy from religion. Not without opposition and conflict, gradually, the (Western) church retreat and during the Enlightenment, eighteenth century, philosophy is "released" from religion and goes on a separate journey. But not only does this, but gradually it substitutes by certain transitional phase, as was that of "deism" the Christian revelation (in the West of course in the Catholic and Protestant religious teaching). What we see at the moment? Being too well familiar from childhood with evolution, some of us have denied it at adulthood, and we firmly confessed that we Christians will never accept such things, considering this philosophy as being contrary to God and His revelation. But behold, here truly meet two basic traits which defines evolutionism: the transformation from simple to complex, transitional forms, "progress" peaceful or violent elimination of the weak and the victory of the fittest. And they can be seen even before Darwin. It was not long and came the turn of philosophy to be removed from management, first by ideology - especially the "scientific and dialectic" Marxism, a transitional form of the nineteenth century, which installed atheism and fought openly and violently the church, being openly antichristical. The twentieth century marked the triumph of science that has become the standard of reason, knowledge, civilization, progress, and weapon no. 1 of all atheists from then until now. In this context, in our country2, especially after 40 years of militant atheistic communism, were formed generations of atheists and materialists scientists, inventors, engineers, biologists, chemists, etc., for whom the return of Christ is a true hard labor. Some of them went even to theology, or monastery, became priests. It is understandable on this approach especially from church (and vice versa), the "science-religion dialogue" in the realm of cosmology/cosmogony and biology/ biogenesis, rarely anthropology. Since the most acute conflict and rupture occurred in the west, it was natural that all these attempts to turn "reconciliation" to be started there. They fall into two major directions: - Theistic evolutionism, from the bosom of Roman Catholicism. Here is seeking the adaptation ("aggiornamento") of the revelation with the latest research and scientific theories. To accomplish this impossible task, the scriptural interpretations, i.e. the Holy Tradition, are changed, and all kind modernist interpretations appear, practically a new theology. So, the faith adapts science, which thus validates it. - Creationism ("Scientific") came from the neo-Protestant area, a reaction contrary to the above: here science must comply Scripture, and in this respect are due the necessary steps and retouching. The
The original article here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/99721879/Sfantul-Ioan-Damaschin-Un-avangardist%C5%9Fi-sus%C5%A3in%C4%83tor-al-relativismului-%C5%9Fi-al-big-bangului 2 Romania
2 Tradition is neglected, such interpretations are original and subject to error, but this is at least somewhat a better intent. So the Scripture validates science. With us, as we said, the "dialogue" would be directed towards recovering the "lost sheep of the house of Israel", most of them baptized Orthodox Christians, to regain practitioners, and, as noted, sometimes with admirable results. The problem is that things unfortunately do not stop there. The orthodox "dialogue" is inspired by the catholic one, and in the academic area, not a few teachers (even the clergy!) declared themselves explicitly or implicitly as evolutionary theists. They form series of students in this dubious spirit of compromise and adaptation, reaching dangerous distortions on the long term. They lead to true "mutants", a term accepted (isn’t it?) by the evolutionists. These "transitional forms" leads to a postmodern neo-orthodoxy which is connected to science, confessions, in a word, to the world. We write these words with a bitter taste, because we notice, without any joy, the confirmation of a "trend" (as it is called now) in some circles more or less academic who came to invoke St. John Damascene, author of a true patristic dogmatic synthesis (eighth century) as being no more and no less... a true vanguard in the field of astrophysics and cosmology, transmitting at that time theories and models that would be over 1,000 years ahead of contemporary astrophysical models! This would save in front of the representatives of science - almost always atheists or at least anti ecclesial/clerical - the image of an institution backward, ignorant, conservative and outdated. The claim that science - at least of the "official" one - is an atheistic field is based on the fact that in all its areas God and His works, mysteries, miracles, etc. are excluded. Of course one might object that there are scientists (scientists, researchers, inventors, teachers) believers, even practitioners, and who are not declared atheists. But this does not change the situation of the science: in the moment when those would try to bring in professional scientific and technological elements of faith are involved, they would have to leave the scientific "main stream" and to become either creationists (of neo Protestant type) or evolutionary theists (Catholic type). Doing so, they will be disqualified and reported in the category "pseudoscience". Back, not only this would save the image of the church and theology, but also, indirectly, it states a temporal upward against science, as we said, about 1200 years, which is not negligible. Much the same could be said about the Giordano Bruno, who in 1600 spoke about parallel universes, acentrism, inhabited worlds, etc. which led us already to the modern and contemporary science fiction. Fortunately, in our orthodox we came not as far (yet?), given his questionable status (condemned as heretical by the Catholic Church) do not confer him any spiritual and theological authority, much less one of holiness. And then, as we said, there is an appeal to an undeniable authority in Orthodoxy, that of St. John Damascene, a leading figure both in theology and in the spiritual living, and of course with a holy life. In what would have been so the vanguard visions (intuitive? revealed?) of the Saint? According to supporters and promoters of these views, in the following:
"St. John Damascene in "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (8 th century AD) states: ... b) time is relative. (Temporal duration of the days of creation is relative, even among themselves) c) the universe is spherical (i.e. closed, you can not go "out" of it, it has no "edge" space). The universe is dynamic and not static. The geocentric model is presented (as a functional potential model, and not exclusively) "fashionable" in the philosophy and science (scientific paradigm) of the era. d) all objects in the universe are considered to be moving (being set in motion by the work of God), which implies lack of state of absolute rest. e) the expression (in ancient Greek) that the universe is expanding uniformly in all directions (center of the planet earth is considered the reference in this case) is equivocal. Text exegesis involves thorough study, hemeneutica not exhaustive in this situation. Thus, the work of St. John Damascene is considered the reference in theology in terms of honest dialogue between theology and science. The methodology used is eloquent."3 These problems were analyzed in the article Are The Holy Fathers "heliocentrists" ?4 but it seems that their supporters do not stop, aggravating the human "error" in substance to "perseverence" which – God forbid! - is in danger of becoming diabolical as medieval adage says. The second case is launched among others here: "Let us not forget that up to twentieth century the science held a cosmology involving a static universe (see the Newtonian mechanics), while the Orthodox theology maintained a universe that has a beginning (matter, space, time, laws of science) and is dynamic being in uniform expansion relative to planet Earth (see St. John Damascene An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, eighth century AD) …
4 Thus, from this point of view of cosmogony, the Orthodox theology was long before science. It is gratifying today that science has developed the Big Bang theory which is consistent with the cosmogony of the Scripture and the Holy Fathers... …St. John Damascene... (the last Holy Father of the Church) speaks in the eighth century of a spherical universe (closed and bounded by God) moving in expansion in the famous work An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith stating that "All, therefore, who hold that the heaven is in the form of a sphere, say that it is equally removed and distant from the earth at all points, whether above, or sideways, or below.", because "only the Godhead is still, moving all" through His work and "the heaven is the wholeness of all visible and unseen creation... and we say that at the creation of the universe we have received also the creation of heaven, which heathen philosophers, acquiring the teachings of Moses, say it is a sphere ".
 St. John Damascene - An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book II, Chapter 6.  St. John Damascene - An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book I, chapter 4.  St. John Damascene - An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book II, Chapter 6.
1 shows unequivocally that the universe is closed, you can not get "out of it" and the uniform expansion in all directions (Big Bang theory, Hubble's theorem). 2 shows clearly the inexistence of the absolute stand..." etc. Let us resume the argument. So, according to the person who posted, (and possibly group that supports these views), in this quote: "All, therefore, who hold that the heaven is in the form of a sphere, say that it is equally removed and distant from the earth at all points, whether above, or sideways, or below" would mean the uniform expansion of the universe around the earth, as argued by big-bang model
The expansion of the universe
We stressed in particular the words "it is equally removed and distant", which is the sole basis of this assumption, by our knowledge unprecedented in all Orthodox theological tradition until the twenty-first century. The original passage reads:
Strictly linguistic speaking, let us say that we might somehow think that "removed" is a dynamic term, meaning "moving away", "it distances". And from here, it went ahead with the assumption: it is moving away continuously from the beginning until today, so right now when we write and read these lines, just like the model of the "expanding universe" of big bang hypothesis. Moreover, on the same forum, the poor theistic evolutionist was simply demolished both by the atheists scientists and others who easily found the total disprove of this interpretation. And not only there, but also the following nonsense: "b) time is relative. (The temporal duration of the days of creation is relative, even between them)"- (this was "deduction" number what? Until now, none of theologians has not reached such interpretations, originality is full!) has been removed, even at common sense. Day refers to the time period. Within the first 3 days when the sun was not who determined the length of time the day of 24 hours? Who determined the evening and morning? The questions are rhetorical because St. John Damascene says clear that before the creation of the sun the temporal duration (eon) can not be "measured". "Before the foundation of the world, when there was no sun to divide the day from the night, there was not an age which can be measured." St. John Damascene An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith." We are concerned and hope that such nonsense that defies common sense, theological and human, are not supported and taught by fathers teachers in theology classes. We say this because behind those posts on the net there are at least some suspicious characters, which are called "Eugen7", "MihailT", etc. which certainly do not have any authority endorsement and not as long as we do not know who they are (the possibility that they could be fathers teachers is a nightmare, why would adopt this anonymity?) Not knowing them, we chose to fight their ideas and opinions, especially since they behave as if they have a consistent schedule, and claims to come from the academic theology. "c) the universe is spherical (i.e. closed, you can not get "out" of it, it has no "edge" space). The universe is dynamic and not static. Geocentric model is presented (as a functional model potential, not exclusively) "fashionable" in philosophy and science (scientific paradigm) of that era." "There is no space edge"??? Aristotle thought so? Ptolemy? The Holy Fathers? What is "sphere" if not a body? And how can there be a body infinite, indefinite? This is clearly about classical sphere in 3D, and the universe is limited to "waters above". "d) all objects in the universe are considered to be moving (being set in motion by the work of God) which implies the lack of state of absolute rest."
6 When you're unaware not only of the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic astrophysics, but also of the patristic interpretations, you inevitably get into such confusions, but, through the great mercy of God, it is possible to get out o these too, if there is some goodwill. Seeing at the end all arguments of the "new theologians" related to science-religion topics, we see how operates (knowingly or unwittingly, willingly or unwillingly, in thought, word or in deed) the evolutionary Hegelian dialectical process: = Thesis: (The religious cosmology, that of the Scriptures and the Fathers) Antithesis (The official contemporary scientific cosmology) Synthesis: The new "orthodox" theology of creation (a sort of theistic evolutionism) But where will go this "synthesis"? To approach God? Or towards the "Religion of the Future"5? We fear that to this one, and the fact that is fighting atheism and unbelief, materialism and the positivism of the post-renascentist/iluminist modern "science", is not at all sufficient. Some said that in quantum mechanics are spiritual issues, but what "spirits" are there? Science seems to gradually leave the atheist perspective, but it does not turn closer to Orthodoxy, but it is ending a brace, returning to where it started: in magic, occultism, alchemy and astrology, the cainite spirit fighting God. See also: http://www.scribd.com/doc/37785026/St-John-of-Damascus-Concerning-the-Heaven http://www.scribd.com/doc/11573472/The-Consensus-of-Church-Fathers-onGeocentrismhttp://www.hexaimeron.ro/pdf/cosmologie/The-Heaven.pdf http://www.scribd.com/doc/131317960/Are-The-Holy-Fathers-heliocentrists
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