While scientific understanding of the creation and technology have progressed through the centuries, the dogma of the Orthodox Church does not change or develop. Scientific theories and Western philosophical ideas are adaptable and constantly change in light of new evidence and ideas, but theology is unalterable. This is why the same theological experience is expressed through the writings of the Fathers of the Orthodox Church from the 1st century to the 21st century. (Remember that the dogma of the Church is not just a collection of philosophical propositions to be rationally accepted, but boundaries to keep us on the path of authentic theological experience, which is the Way of personal knowledge, healing, and transformation.)
In the West, the boundaries between science and philosophy (secular and religious) are blurred. Philosophy of science is mistaken for science and religious philosophy is mistaken for theology. In such an environment, spirituality and science may be considered incompatible approaches to life. No such contradiction exists between Orthodox theology and science, properly understood. In an article published in Christian Bioethics (Oxford Journals/Oxford University Press), Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (Greece) wrote,
As Christians, particularly as Orthodox Christians, we are certainly not opposed to research and progress. Nor do we want the Western conflict between the Christian faith and science to be repeated. To avoid this, science itself ought to set limits and conditions for research, and theology should be occupied with giving meaning to human life and guiding people toward putting right their relationships with themselves, their fellow human beings, creation, and God. The aim of science is to improve human life, and the aim of theology is to help human beings acquire existential peace, freedom, and knowledge of themselves and God. When both sides stay within these boundaries, there can be no conflict between theology and science. (1)
(1) Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, "Christian Bioethics: Challenges in Secularized Europe," 30, Christian Bioethics, 14(1), 29-41, April 2008.
Image: NIH/Public Doman