Modernity and the Science-Orthodox Christianity Dialog


Athens, February 8, 2018 | National Hellenic Research Foundation


Within the wider scope of the science-religion relationship, the concept of Modernity still remains a complex and controversial issue approached in a double perspective; in the revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics ensuing a profound transformation of all aspects of human life and cultural paradigms across Europe and beyond, but also as a result of an eclipse of tradition, religion, transcendence and authority related to the growing industrialization, urbanization and secularization of the Western world. Orthodox Christianity is faced with the ambiguous challenges of the present era, searching for its own path to modernity and modern science. Numerous factors, however, closely related to the history and social characteristics of the Orthodox Christian societies of eastern and south-eastern Europe, lead to complications and variations in the understanding of the term ‘modernity’Given that Orthodox Christian states and societies throughout the world have not directly participated in the making of modern science, which developed predominantly in western Europe during the 17th-18th centuries, this new concept of science was viewed from many Orthodox scholars with suspicion, considered to be an output of western culture. The delay in the reception of the scientific teachings of Modern science by eastern European societies greatly influenced their interaction with Modernity. Their encounter with the new philosophical and scientific ideas was not smooth. The reception and assimilation of these ideas was a long and laborious process which at times implied new approaches to dogmatic and cultural issues. At times, Modernity was explicitly or implicitly related to a possible quest for reformation of the Orthodox Church. Thus, Modernity effectively spread in south-eastern Europe only during the national revivals of the 19th century, and in Russia after the reforms of the end of 19th century. The integration of the concept of Modernity in Orthodox Christian societies is still a work-in-progress. Modernity seems to have never become an integrated part of Orthodox culture, and this may explain, among other, why, in the so-called post-modern era, Orthodoxy returns partly to pre-modern sources for rethinking its relationship with modern science.

The Workshop aims to bring to light focal points in the contemporary discourse between Orthodox Christianity and modernity in their intersection with science, and to examine certain key questions, such as: has the highly ambiguous and complicate relationship between Orthodox Christianity and modernity influenced the former’s current perception of science? Could the only partial integration of modernity into Orthodoxy allow the latter to develop new, fruitful ideas in and about science in our post-modern world?



10:00-11:30 Session 1

Christopher HowellDuke University, Durham, NC
Get Thee Behind Me, Modernist: Anti-Modernism in the Eastern Orthodox Debate over Evolution and the Church Fathers

Stelios VirvidakisProfessor, Dept of History & Philosophy of Science, University of Athens Orthodoxy and modern philosophy

Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies
Orthodoxy and the Enlightenment



11:30-12:00 Coffee break


12:00-13:30 Session 2

Rev. Kirill KopeikinDirector of the St.Petersburg State University Center of Interdisciplinary Scientific Theological Research Archpriest, Vice Rector of St.Petersburg Theological Academy
Contemporary Russian Orthodoxy between the Middle Ages and Postmodernity

Alexei BodrovFounder & Rector, St Andrew’s Biblical Theological Institute, Moscow
Modernity, Orthodoxy and Theological Education in contemporary Russia

Rev. Dmitry KirianovAssoc. Professor, Tobolsk Orthodox Theological Seminary
Challenges of Modernity and Enlightenments in Russian Religious- Philosophical Thinking: Yesterday and Today



13:30-14:30 Short Lunch Break


14:30-16:00 Session 3

Nikolaos AsproulisVolos Academy for Theological Studies
Is a dialogue between Eastern Orthodoxy and Modernity possible? Sophia, personhood and modern physics.           

Vasilios MakridesProf. of Religious Studies (Orthodox Christianity), Faculty of Philosophy, University of Erfurt
Orthodox Christianity and Postmodernity (with particular reference to the dialogue with modern science)

Aleksandar Petrovic, Professor, University of Belgrade
 & ​Aleksandra P. Stevanovic, Dept of PhD studies in History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Belgrade
Is Modernity Still Modern in the Time of Post-modernity?



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