Orthodox Christianity and the Cosmic Setting of Human Experience

Including the Discussion of a Recent Article on David Bohm’s Cosmology

At the invitation of Professor Richard de Grijs, on 5 May 2022, Associate Professor Doru Costache, from the Sydney College of Divinity, Australia, gave a seminar presentation entitled “Orthodox Christianity and the Cosmic Setting of Human Experience, Including the Discussion of a Recent Article on David Bohm’s Cosmology” for the Research Centre for Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonics of Macquarie University, Sydney.

The talk was attended by faculty members and postgraduate students. Costache introduced Orthodox Christianity to the audience, emphasizing the cosmic dimension of the Orthodox faith and experience, and the openness of Byzantine Christianity to scientific research, including astronomy, cosmology, and physics, and to technological innovation. Against this backdrop, the second part of the talk summarised the article de Grijs and Costache coauthored, “The Cosmology of David Bohm: Scientific and Theological Significance,” recently accepted for publication, after peer review, by the important journal Theology and Science of CTNS (Berkeley). As the speaker pointed out, the research that led to the writing of this article was undertaken under the aegis of the project SOW (Athens), in 2021-2022. The seminar was held in a blended format, with most attendees being present in person and some remotely.

The twentieth-century historian and philosopher of religion, Mircea Eliade, mentioned a difference between Western Christianity’s historicist outlook and the “cosmic Christianity of the Balkans.” The latter was a reference to the Orthodox Christian tradition, which in Late Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages consistently framed its experience against the backdrop of the earthly environment and the skies above. In this talk, I introduce Orthodox Christianity’s interest in matters astronomical through theoretical and practical examples. The first category includes cosmographical endeavors and astronomical observations. The second category includes the annual calendar, holding the major festivals in relation to astronomical events, the geographical orientation of churches, celestial and zodiacal iconography, etc. It is in this light that I then summarise a forthcoming article written together with Richard de Grijs, where I respond to his analysis of David Bohm’s cosmological thinking from the viewpoint of Orthodox theology. I end by highlighting Orthodox Christianity’s openness to and interest in astronomy and cosmology, obvious in a series of modern and contemporary undertakings to incorporate scientific information into its current worldview. Thus, while Orthodox Christianity is no longer a Balkans-bound phenomenon, its worldview still engages the cosmic setting of human experience.



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