Academic meeting “Science and Orthodoxy around the World”
Conference Hall of Hotel “Crystal Palace”, Shipka Street 14, Sofia
Wednesday, March 21, 2018, from 10:00 to 12:00
Prof. Nina Dimitrova (Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) : “Moments from the history of science – religion relations in Bulgaria (20-21th Century)”
Associate Prof. Pavel Pavlov (Faculty of Theology, Sofia University) : “Orthodox theology and science in Bulgaria”
Prof. Alexandre Kostov and Ass. Prof. Ivaylo Nachev (Institute for Balkan Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)
On 21st of March 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria, an academic meeting-discussion was held as part of project SOW’s lecture program, dedicated to the topic “Science and Orthodoxy around the World”. The event, which attracted the interest of more than 50 guests, was opened by Prof. Alexander Kostov, member of SOW’s scientific committee, who introduced the topic and presented key aspects of the project activities in Bulgaria. Ms. Ersi Bakou, on behalf of the project’s leading organization, the Greek Institute of Historical Research, presented main activities and goals of the project SOW. The core of the academic meeting, whose moderators were Prof. Kostov and Assistant Prof. Ivaylo Nachev, consisted of two lectures. The lecture of Prof. Nina Dimitrova (Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), titled “Moments from the history of science – religion relations in Bulgaria (20-21th Century)”, developed the argument that there are three well-defined stages in the more recent history of the science-religion relations in the Bulgarian context. Prof. Dimitrova examined the Interwar period, the period of “scientific atheism”, and the period since the 1990s. The lecture also elaborated on central discussions among Bulgarian philosophers. In the first period the focus was on different, sometimes polar interpretations of new discoveries in physics, and on changing attitudes towards science-religion relations and science in general. The second stage was characterized by activities, dictated by the regime to present religion as an anti-scientific activity. In the last part of the lecture Prof. Dimitrova discussed main works of contemporary Bulgarian philosophers and thinkers who sought new approaches to the science-religion relations in the local context. The title of the second lecture, given by Associate Prof. Pavel Pavlov (Faculty of Theology, Sofia University), was “Orthodox theology and science in Bulgaria”. In his contribution Professor Pavlov examined the development of the theological academy in Bulgaria since its establishment in 1923 as part of the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” with a focus on the science-religion relations. Professor Pavlov analyzed the place of theological knowledge in the overall system of university knowledge, dealing in detail with discussions around curricula, separate disciplines and topics. The lecturer also discussed works of separate Orthodox theologians who dealt with the science-religion relations and elaborated on the heritage in the field of Fr. Georges Florovsky. At the end of the lecture Professor Pavlov presented his perspective on current challenges facing the dialogue, including the relations between theology and ecology and referred to some of the activities of the Theological Faculty in Sofia in that area. The official part of the academic meeting, which was held in the conference room of hotel “Crystal Palace” (Shipka Street 14, Sofia), was closed with a question and answer session where the public had the opportunity to confer with the lecturers. The active and lively discussion showed a keen interest in this relatively new topic for the Bulgarian public.