The problem of naturally knowing God and the rational arguments

  1. Lemma
  2. Problema cunoaşterii naturale a lui Dumnezeu şi argumentele raţionale
  3. Romanian
  4. Stavinschi, Alexandra
  5. Various approaches to the problem of correlation between science and theology - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Orthodox gnosiology - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Patristic studies - Ecumenism and dialogue > Westernism and anti-westernism
  6. 20-1-2007
  7. Niculcea, Adrian [Author]. The problem of naturally knowing God and the rational arguments
  8. Transdisciplinarity in Science and Religion
  9. Aristotelianism - Platonism - St. Gregory Palamas - St Gregory of Nyssa - apophatisim
  10. Click Here
    1. The rational arguments to prove the existence of God suppose a totally different perspective on the natural way of knowing God from the one used by Orthodox theology, as defined by St. Gregory of Nyssa (4h century) until St. Gregory Palamas (6th century), and from the latter until today. This means that the research on the relationship between science and religion will be profoundly compromised if those who will develop it will ignore this fact. The purpose of this study is to make this clear. In contrast to the Catholic doctrine that was heavily influence by Artistotle’s distinctions and by the thomistic thought, the Orthodox claim that it is possibile to reach a natural knowledge of God's existence, but at the same time, that His being is absolutely unknowable. The Eastern Fathers’ fundamental thesis, which has been preserved unscathed until today, is the total apophatism regarding the possibility of the human mind to know God's being, either naturally or through revelation. Orthodox theology also identifies the divine being with existence, but considers that the finite world, created out of nothing by God, is the expression of absolute transience. However, this does not entail that we can get to know the essence of God through the exercise of rational arguments, like the cosmological one invoked in the Latin thinking. That is why the chapter on the natural knowledge of God in the Orthodox dogmatic textbooks must totally reject the idea that, through the exercise of reason, we could know something similar to what is postulated by Western theology. The Eastern Fathers also claim that the mind can go as far as postulating the existence of God. But their argument will no longer be the Aristotelic distinction between "material" and "act", between "essence" and "existence", but the Platonic distinction between the impermanence, the "nothingness" of the material world, in constant making, and the immutable 'being' of God. For the Eastern thinkers, God’s being will always remain beyond the knowledge of any created being, shrouded in the darkness of absolute apophatism. That explains why the Orthodox theology has a different answer to the major problem of its relationship with scientific thinking.