Science and Religion in Russian Religious Philosophy

  1. Lemma
  2. Наука и религия в русской религиозной философии
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Key thinkers - Westernism and anti-westernism - History and philosophy of science - Orthodox critique of science
  6. 19-10-2018
  7. Солдатов, Александр Васильевич [Author]. Наука и религия в русской религиозной философии
  8. Вестник Русской христианской гуманитарной академии
  9. Big Bang - Mathematics - History of the Russian Orthodox Church - Western Christianity - Christian philosophy - Human nature
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    1. <p>Солдатов, Александр Васильевич (2007). Наука и религия в русской религиозной философии. <em>Вестник Русской христианской гуманитарной академии</em>, 8 (2), 142-146.</p>
    1. The author argues that the Russian experience of interaction between science and religion is different from the Western European experience. He explains this by the fact that Russia had received Christianity from the Byzantine Empire – an Empire which later disappeared. This made the Russian Orthodox Church seek independence from the centre of Orthodox Christianity in Constantinople under Muslim rulers. Meanwhile, Western Europe was Christianised by Rome, which always remained at the centre of European political life. Thus, for Russians, an independent Church was more significant than having their own Christian doctrine.

      It is only in the 18th century that Russia secularized the public sphere, which made dialogue between science and religion possible. However, Russian thought on religion and science concentrated more on questions of faith and knowledge rather than on the conflict between science and religion. This is why in 19th-20th century Russia, most works on faith and knowledge were written by religious philosophers rather than theologians. These authors generally criticized the dominance of materialism in philosophy. The main argument of this criticism stated that materialism deprived humans of freedom of choice and only sought a comfortable existence for them.

      The author quotes a number of prominent Russian thinkers, including Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948), who believed that truth couldn’t be found through science, bur rather through religious philosophical thinking. For him science could also reach God, if it asked the right questions. Berdyaev called humans the “existential centre” of the universe, one with a freedom of choice. This freedom, uncontrolled by God, was, according to Berdyaev, potentially dangerous and could become a source of evil. He believed that philosophy needed religion for moral guidance.

      The author also quotes Viktor Nesmelov (1863-1937), who believed that that the theist mindset could come about through a logical inductive method; therefore religion, with the help of philosophy, did not need to have any conflicts with science.

      Fr. Pavel Florensky (1882-1937) saw faith and the mind as opposed to one another. He spoke of the importance of “thinking with faith” because the mind is always torn apart by contradictions. For Florensky, science had a descriptive function and functioned as a language. Math had a central place among sciences in Florensky’s philosophy, due to its abstract nature. Math allows for numerous interpretations and is not constrained by empiricism. Florensky backed his ideas with contemporary mathematical examples.

      Fr. Vasily Rodzyanko (1915-1999) interpreted the Big Bang theory as the creation of the actual world of matter after the Fall. According to him, Adam and Eve lived in an ideal world before the Fall. The universe appeared after the Fall as a result of the Big Bang which created matter, space, and time.