Romania
as
Laboratory
of
the
Dialogue
between 
Science
and
Spirituality
in
the
Contemporary 
World 
 Romanian
Academy,
Bucharest 
 October
19-20,
2009 


The
Other
Path
in
Science,
 Theology
and
Spirituality

Pondering
a
Fourteenth
Century
Byzantine
 Model

Revd
Dr
Doru
Costache 
 St
Andrew’s
Greek
Orthodox
Theological
College,
Sydney 


Contents

  Setting
a
context
   Scholars
and
 representatives
of
tradition
 in
fourteenth
century
 Byzantium
   The
Palamite
synthesis
   Wisdom
for
today


Setting
a
context

  Status
quaestionis
(various
approaches
to
 science
and
theology)

  The
warfare
theory
(Andrew
White):
medieval
theology
 as
an
obstacle
for
the
development
of
sciences
   The
alliance
theory
(Pierre
Duhem):
medieval
theology
 as
a
necessary
condition
for
the
development
of
 sciences


John
Gribbin,
Science:
A
History
1543-2001 
(London:
Penguin
Books,
2003)
4


  …by
the
time
of
the 
Renaissance
the
received 
wisdom
about
the
nature 
of
the
Universe
had
been 
essentially
unchanged 
since
the
great
days
of 
Ancient
Greece,
some 
1500
years
before 
Copernicus
came
on
the 
scene.
…fifteen
centuries 
of
stagnation… 


David
C.
Lindberg,
‘Medieval
Science
and 
Religion’,
in
Gary
B.
Ferngren
(ed.), 
Science
and
Religion:
A
Historical 
Introduction
(Baltimore
&
London:
The 
Johns

Hopkins
University
Press,
2002)
58 


  What
do
we
find
in 
the
Middle
Ages
are 
the
roots,
the 
sources,
of
modern 
scientific
disciplines 
and
practices
– 
ancestors
of
many 
of
the
pieces
of 
modern
science…


Setting
a
context


  Status
quaestionis
(trends
and
issues
in
science
and
 theology)



  Bridging
the
gap:
multidisciplinary,
interdisciplinary
&
 transdisciplinary
approaches
   Obstacles:
the
western
framework,
characterised
by
a
series
of
 oppositions
(e.g.
natural
vs.
supernatural,
matter
vs.
spirit
etc)


Setting
a
context

  The
western
roots
of
the
problem:

  The
scholastic
division
between
natural
and
supernatural
 (culture
of
oppositions)

indirectly
leads
to
the
split
 between
science
and
theology
(the
way
it
first
dissociated
 theology
and
spirituality)


Doru
Costache,
‘Irelevanţa
Controversei
Creaţionism
vs.
Evoluţionism
 pentru
Tradiţia
Bisericii
Ortodoxe:
Deconstrucţie
Logică
şi
Teologică
a
unui
 Mit
Modern’,
Noua
reprezentare
a
lumii:
Studii
interdisciplinare
3
(Bucureşti:
 XXI
Eonul
dogmatic,
2004)

51-67.


Setting
a
context

  The
western
roots
of
the
problem:

  The
revival
of
Platonism
and
other
dualistic
systems
in
 Renaissance

endorsement
of
the
culture
of
oppositions

 widening
the
chasm
between
natural
and
supernatural

further
 estrangement
of
science
and
theology


Claude
Allègre,

 Dieu
face
à
la
science

 (Paris:
Fayard,
1997)
7‐8


  Allègre
notes
that
after
 centuries
of
 preeminence
of
the
 religious
perspective,
we
 live
in
an
era
dominated
 by
science


Why
would
anyone
be
interested
in
fourteenth
 century
Byzantium?


  Renaissance
cannot
be
thought
of
without
considering
the
 impact
of
the
Byzantine
migrants,
intellectuals
and
 Platonists,
to
the
West

  David
Bradshaw,
Aristotle
East
and
West:
Metaphysics
and
the
Division
of
Christendom
(Cambridge:
 Cambridge
University
Press,
2004)
263.


Claude
Allègre,

 Dieu
face
à
la
science

 (Paris:
Fayard,
1997)
218

  Allègre
notes
that
the
 Byzantine
migration
to
Italy
 (caused
by
the
Turkish
 invasion)
brought
to
the
West
 the
flexible
attitude
of
the
 Orthodox
clergy,
which
far
 from
posing
obstacles
 against
science
encouraged
 its
development


Byzantines
&
the
Renaissance

  Manuel
Chrysolaras
(d.
1415),
the
first
real
teacher
of
 classical
Greek
in
the
West
(in
Florence)
   George
Gemistus
Plethon
(d.
1464),
contributor
to
the
 foundation
of
the
Platonic
Academy
of
Florence

  Frederick
Copleston,
A
History
of
Philosophy,
vol.
3:
Late
Medieval
and
Renaissance
Philosophy
 (London
&
New
York:
Continuum,
2003)
207-11


Byzantines
&
the
Renaissance

  John
Argyropoulos
(d.
1486),
teacher
of
the
Greek
 language
in
Florence
and
Rome
   John
(Cardinal)
Bessarion
of
Trebizond
(d.
1472),
 defender
of
Platonism

  Frederick
Copleston,
A
History
of
Philosophy,
vol.
3:
Late
Medieval
and
Renaissance
 Philosophy
(London
&
New
York:
Continuum,
2003)
207-11


Why
wouldn’t
anyone
be
interested
in
 fourteenth
century
Byzantium?


  Byzantine
migrants
as
catalysts
of
the
 Renaissance

is
there
a
history
 behind
their
mindset
and
attitude?



Why
wouldn’t
anyone
be
interested
 in
fourteenth
century
Byzantium?

  The
story
that
is
never
told:
a
very
different
 unfolding
of
science
and
theology
in
late
medieval
 Byzantium

the
chance
of
taking
another
path


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars


  1330,
Barlaam
the
Calabrian
(d.
1348)
attempted
to
 illustrate
that
the
“Barbarians”
(Westerners)
were
capable
 of
philosophy,
mathematics
and
science

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
 Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
156-7


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars


  Nikephoros
Gregoras
(d.
1360)
 alleged
that
the
“Barbarians”
 remained
Aristotelians
whilst
the
 Byzantines
were
much
more
 advanced
than
that

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
 Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
 Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
156-7


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars

  Decline
of
hard
sciences
 (the
process
began
in
late
 antiquity)
   Development
of
humanities
 (literature,
historiography,
 law)

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
 Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
 Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
 Institute,
2007)
286-90


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars

  Why
sciences
were
not
prioritised 
by
the
Byzantines?
   Immediate
interest
in
exploring
the 
spiritual
path

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
 Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
 Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
283-4


Fourteenth
Century
 Byzantium:
The
Scholars

  Interest
in
official
(mathematics,
astronomy,
 medicine)
and
apocryphal
(astrology,
 arithmology,
alchemy)
sciences

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
 trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
286-90


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars


  Significant
progress
in
mathematics
and
 astronomy:


  Maximos
Planoudes
(d.
1330)
used
for
the
first
 time,
before
the
Westerners,
the
Arabic
numbers


Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
 Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
 2007)
294-5


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars


  Significant
progress
in
mathematics
and
 astronomy:


  Gregoras
perfected
the
calculus
of
eclipses
 and
prepared
the
reform
of
the
calendar
 (aborted
by
Andronicus
II)


Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
 Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
 Research
Institute,
2007)
294-5


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars


  Significant
progress
in
mathematics
and
 astronomy:


  Theodore
Metochites
(d.
1332)
advocated
the
 freedom
of
astronomy
from
superstitions
and
 astrology,
emphasising
the
purely
mathematical
bases
 of
this
science

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
 trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
294-5


Fourteenth
Century
 Byzantium:
The
Scholars


  Significant
progress
in
mathematics
and
astronomy:


  Theodore
Meliteniotes
(d.
after
1360),
composed
the
most
 comprehensive
Byzantine
compendium
of
astronomy,
the
 Astronomical
Manual

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
 by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
294-5


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars


  New
technologies:

  the
‘liquid
fire’
   a
prototype
of
the
steam
engine
   an
advanced
astrolabe
(Gregoras
 composed
a
treatise
on
the
use
of
this
 instrument)

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
 Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
 Institute,
2007)
293-4


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 The
Scholars

  Science
and
technology

  Metochites
strongly
believed
that
 technological
progress
is
only
possible
due
to
 the
applicability
of
theoretical
mathematics


Theodoros
Metochites,
Miscellanea
 Philosophica
et
Historica


  I
cannot
see
any
evil
in
these
practical
 applications.
No
damage
is
incurred
by
them
on
 the
value
of
theoretical
mathematics.
Indeed,
it
 would
be
good
to
seek
to
find
in
all
the
branches
 of
mathematics
useful
means
for
the
life
of
 humanity.

  Apud
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
 trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
294


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium:
 Exponents
of
Tradition


  Now,
that’s
a
surprise!
Beyond
the
various
 understandings
they
illustrated,
all
the
above
 mentioned
scholars
claimed
they
were
also
 faithful
representatives
of
tradition


David
C.
Lindberg,
‘Medieval
Science
and
 Religion’,
in
Gary
B.
Ferngren
(ed.),
Science
 and
Religion:
A
Historical
Introduction
 (Baltimore
&
London:
The
Johns

Hopkins
 University
Press,
2002)
58


  …all
medieval
scholars
were
both
theologically
and
 scientifically
informed,
and
all
understood
that
theological
 beliefs
necessarily
entailed
scientific
consequences
and
 conversely.


  Just
one
example:
 Theodore
Metochites,
an
 imperial
dignitary
and
 logician,
an
Aristotelian
 teacher
and
a
skeptic,
 astronomer
and
 mathematician,
 benefactor
of
the
famous
 church
of
Chora
and
 defender
of
the
spiritual
 tradition
of
the
Byzantine
 Church


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantium: 
Exponents
of
Tradition 


  Metochites:
we
cannot
be
certain
of
the
veracity/falsity 
of
our
knowledge
when
referring
to
the
nature
of
things 
   Denies
the
logical
laws
of
non-contradiction
and
the 
excluded
middle

source
of
Palamas’
attitude

  Börje
Bydén,
‘
“To
Every
Argument
there
is
a
Counter-Argument”:
Theodore
Metochites’ 
Defence
of
Scepticism
(Semeiosis
61)’.
In
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its 
Ancient
Sources
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
186,
207


  The
lesson:
technology
and
 spiritual
life
are
not
mutually
 exclusive

perpetuation
of
 St
Maximus
the
Confessor’s
 legacy

  Doru
Costache,’
Going
Upwards
with
Everything
 You
Are:
The
Unifying
Ladder
of
St
Maximus
 the
Confessor’
(in
B.
Nicolescu
&
M.
Stavinschi
 (eds.),
Science
and
Orthodoxy,
a
Necessary
 Dialogue.
Bucharest:
Curtea
Veche,
2006)
 135-144


  If
this
was
the
case, 
why
then
many 
scholars
have
been 
marginalised
and 
condemned
by
the 
Byzantines? 


  The
answer
is
simple: 
like
their
Western 
counterparts,
they 
trespassed
the 
boundaries
between 
science/philosophy
& 
theology/spirituality


  An
example:
for
Barlaam
the
Calabrian, 
theology
was
based
on
‘science
and 
knowledge’,
depending
on
philosophy
in 
order
to
achieve
its
goals

  Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine 
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute, 
2007)
157
 Katerina
Ierodiakonou,
‘The
Anti-Logical
Movement
in
the
Fourteenth 
Century’,
in
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient 
Sources
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
228


St
Gregory
Palamas
on
theology 


  To
know
God
truly
in
so
far
as
is
possible
is 
incomparably
superior
to
the
philosophy
of
the 
Greeks,
and
simply
to
know
what
place
man 
has
in
relation
to
God
surpasses
all
their 
wisdom.


Topics
of
Natural
and
Theological
Science
and
on
the
Moral
and
Ascetic
Life
26,
in 
The
Philokalia,
vol.
4
(London:
Faber
&
Faber,
1995)
356


The
Palamite
synthesis 


St
Gregory
Palamas
(ca
1296-1359) 
 Spiritual
author,
noted
theologian
and
a
polymath 
 Efforts
to
integrate
science,
theology
and
spiritual
life 
within
a
hierarchical
scheme
that
anticipates
the 
transdisciplinary
vision 


The
Palamite
synthesis 


  Massive
use
of
the
Aristotelian
term
energy, 
achieving
its
theological
integration 
   Many
other
elements
of
Aristotelian
science
and 
other
sources 

  Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?
Theology
and
Natural
Knowledge
in
St 
Gregory
Palamas’
One
Hundred
and
Fifty
Chapters’,
Transdisciplinarity
in 
Science
and
Religion
3
(Bucharest:
Curtea
Veche,
2008)
27-46 


The
Palamite
synthesis


  Another
surprise:
privileging
natural 
explanations
of
cosmic
phenomena
against
the 
mythological
‘world
soul’
advocated
by
some 
‘Platonising’
scholars

  Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?
Theology
and
Natural
Knowledge
in
St 
Gregory
Palamas’
One
Hundred
and
Fifty
Chapters’,
Transdisciplinarity
in 
Science
and
Religion
3
(Bucharest:
Curtea
Veche,
2008)
27-46


The
Palamite
synthesis 


  Courageous
integration
of 
scientific
elements
within
a 
scripturally
based
worldview 

  Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?
Theology 
and
Natural
Knowledge
in
St
Gregory
Palamas’
One 
Hundred
and
Fifty
Chapters’,
Transdisciplinarity
in 
Science
and
Religion
3
(Bucharest:
Curtea
Veche, 
2008)
27-46 


  Although
it
was
integral 
part
of
the
educational 
curriculum,
many
14th 
century
Byzantines
either 
feared
Aristotelian
logic
or 
just
distrusted
it
(e.g. 
Metochites,
Gregoras) 
   Both
Barlaam
and 
Palamas
were
in
favour
of 
logic 


Katerina
Ierodiakonou,
‘The
Anti-Logical 
Movement
in
the
Fourteenth
Century’,
in 
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.),
Byzantine 
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient
Sources 
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
219-20, 
224
 Börje
Bydén,
‘
“To
Every
Argument
there
is 
a
Counter-Argument”:
Theodore 
Metochites’
Defence
of
Scepticism 
(Semeiosis
61)’.
In
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.), 
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient 
Sources
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002) 
190


The
Palamite
synthesis 


  There
was,
however,
a
significant
difference:

  Barlaam
remained
truthful
to
Aristotle
   Palamas,
instead,
‘misused’
Aristotelian
logic
by
ignoring 
the
principle
of
non-contradiction
(excluded
middle)

  Katerina
Ierodiakonou,
‘The
Anti-Logical
Movement
in
the
Fourteenth
Century’,
in 
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient
Sources
(Oxford: 
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
233


The
Palamite
synthesis 


  Elaborating
within
an
inclusive
logic,
he
was 
capable
of
maintaining
the
distinct
validity,
and 
autonomy,
of
science
and
theology

  Science
deals
with
the
laws
of
nature
   Theology
deals
with
spiritual
things


Topics
of
Natural
and
Theological
Science
and
on
the
Moral
and
Ascetic
Life
20,
in 
The
Philokalia,
vol.
4
(London:
Faber
&
Faber,
1995)
354



The
Palamite
synthesis 


  A
hierarchical
approach

  Science
explores
the
world
and
leads
to
technological 
inventions
   Theology
interprets
things
within
the
Christian
mindset
   Spirituality
is
the
privileged
path
toward
personal 
transformation


Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
 Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition
 (Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
 2007)
165

  …generally
speaking,
mysticism,
at 
its
best
moments,
does
not
deny 
knowledge,
the
outer
knowledge. 
What
it
denies
is
that
this 
knowledge
leads
to
the
roots,
to 
theory
and
to
the
deification
of 
man.
For
this
great
enterprise,
it 
summons
the
whole
man,
contracts 
the
antinomies
and,
with 
Hesychasm,
gives
primacy
to
the 
heart.
The
mind
can
find
itself
only 
if
it
is
baptised
in
the
heart. 


  Working
within
the 
Palamite
model:
a 
holistic
understanding 
of
the
human
journey 
   For
the
Byzantines,
it 
was
never
a
matter
of 
antagonism

a 
generous 
transdisciplinary
vision 


Spirituality
 (transformation)
 Theology
 (formation)
 Science
 (information)


  There
is
no
theological
validation/invalidation
of 
science
   There
is
no
scientific
validation/invalidation
of 
theology
   Science
and
theology
can
complement
each
other, 
however,
within
the
broader
picture
of
the
human 
spiritual
becoming



  Western
disinterest
in
knowing
and
understanding
 the
Byzantine
message,
both
in
the
late
Middle
 Ages
and
today

  David
Bradshaw,
Aristotle
East
and
West:
Metaphysics
and
the
Division
of
Christendom
 (Cambridge:
Cambridge
University
Press,
2004)
263-4.


  Learning
from
the
traditionalist
Byzantines
(not
only
 from
the
secular
Byzantine
scholars)
would
have
 spared
the
West
the
painful
modern
conflict
 between
science
and
religion


The
14th
century
Byzantine
lesson:
edifying
a
holistic 
culture,
open
both
to
the
scientific
undertakings
and 
the
transformative
goals
of
spirituality 


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