Tags

, , , ,

When one reads enough of the Fathers of the Church, there is one aspect of our modern world that begins to seem downright backwards. To the modern mind, there is a dichotomy between science and religion. This is, in part, due to the emergence of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Since his theory hypothesizes a mechanism for change that operates primarily by random chance, it intellectually challenges the role of a divine creator in the grand scheme of things. However (despite the protestations of atheists and secularists), the actual mechanism that Darwin proposes (natural selection) does not stand up to scientific analysis (how does it explain altruism?). If scientists are honest they will admit as such.

However, as characterized by the Scopes Trial, the modern world sees religion and science as adversaries. This dichotomy, in part, is perpetuated by people who are anti-religion because it allows them to remove religion (especially Christianity) from the public sphere and makes power over others easier to obtain and hold onto. Remember the words of St. Paul in the third chapter of Galatians (v. 28):

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

For anyone who seeks to have power over anyone else, Christianity is a major stumbling block.

Evolution, however, is not alien to religion — indeed the goal of Orthodox Christianity is the evolution of creation from its fallenness to the divine life of God. Indeed, I would argue that the current perception of religion vs. science is something that does not hold up to a close examination, especially if one reads the Fathers.

Take St. Ambrose, for example. Having established, in the ninth chapter of the first book of his treatise On the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit is the oil of gladness, he states:

And well did he say oil of gladness, lest you should think Him a creature; for it is the nature of this sort of oil that it will by no means mingle with moisture of another kind. Gladness, too, does not anoint the body, but brightens the inmost heart, as the prophet said: ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart’ (Ps. 4:7). So as he loses his pains who wishes to mix oil with moister matter, because since the nature of oil is lighter than others, when the others settle, it rises and is separated. How do those wretched pedlars think that the oil of gladness can by their tricks be mingled with other creatures, since of a truth corporeal things cannot be mingled with incorporeal, nor things created with uncreated?

Did you see it? Did you see how St. Ambrose used science to make a theological point? Oil and water do not mix. Oil is lighter than water and so when the two settle, the oil sits atop the water. This is science and the Fathers were never afraid to use science to illustrate a theological point. God is the creator of all. Therefore, our observations of His creation will inevitably reveal to us theology. We just have to be open to the possibility.

Sadly, the modern mind has convinced itself that science — the means by which we explore and explain creation — is incapable of seeing the Creator through His Creation. Who, in their right mind, says that we can know nothing about Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt or Claude Monet from their paintings? Certainly, we cannot know them in their entirety without having other sources of information, but we can intuit basic information about them. Seeing what they painted, in what style they painted in and by the technology used in their paint we can determine when and where they lived, for example. Thus, to say that God cannot be known by observing His creation is patently ridiculous.

In other words, science vs. religion (especially Christianity) is a false dichotomy.