Religion and Science in Gregory of Nyssa: The Unity of the Creative and Scientific Logos
Keywords:Gregory of Nyssa, Logos, creation, science, theology, anthroplogy
I have chosen to focus on Gregory of Nyssa’s approach to science, for this conference, because, among all the religious thinkers I know, he is one of the very richest theologians and mystics and, at the same time, the one most interested in science, with a positive attitude towards it. Indeed, Gregory († 394ca.) was not only one of the most outstanding theologians in Christian Patristics – a direct heir of the great philosopher, theologian and exegete Origen of Alexandria – but he was also deeply interested in science. These two aspects, theology and science, are not opposed to one another in Gregory’s thought, since both proceed from the same logos. The logos, in its most perfect form, is Christ, the Logos of God, whose full expression is found in Christian revelation (both in Scripture and, more directly, in the very Person of Jesus Christ). But it is also the same logos that has always illuminated all human intellectual achievements in philosophy and science, even among “pagans,” because it is present in every rational creature or logikon as such. Thus, to seek a rational justification and explanation – at the level of the philosophical and scientific logos – of doctrines that come from the logos of Scripture (such as the doctrine of the resurrection) is for Gregory an operation that is not only fully legitimate but also necessary on a very theoretical plane. In sum, for Gregory, science, philosophy and theology are all grounded in the logos and thus ultimately consistent with each other.
This paper is one of a collection that originated in the IAHR Special Conference “Religions, Science and Technology in Cultural Contexts: Dynamics of Change”, held at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology on March 1–2, 2012. For an overall introduction see the article by Ulrika Mårtensson, also published here.
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