A Theology of the World

Resulting from the author’s presentation for the first international conference of project Science and Orthodoxy around the World (Athens, 2016), Doru Costache‘s chapter, ‘A Theology of the World: Dumitru Stăniloae, the Traditional Worldview, and Contemporary Cosmology,’ is published in volume Orthodox Christianity and Modern Science: Tensions, Ambiguities, Potential (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2019). Edited by Vasilios N. Makrides and Gayle Woloschak, the volume is the first in a new Brepols series, Science and Orthodox Christianity.

The remarkable contributions of Father Dumitru Stăniloae (1903-1993) ranged from traditional theology to patristics, from spiritual anthropology to asceticism, and from apologetics to mystical theology. Although his attentiveness to modern cultural trends and ideas has been at times noticed, his input in terms of bridging the traditional representation of reality and the contemporary sciences remains largely ignored. The fact of the matter is that, as a genuine neopatristic theologian, Father Stăniloae was aware of the challenges posed to the traditional worldview by the sciences, and also willing to initiate a constructive dialogue between the theological representation of reality and contemporary cosmology. Interestingly, he did not stumble on account of the ideological narratives in the guise of which scientific cosmology is sometimes promoted—from the atheistic propaganda of the communist regime of those days Romania to the agnosticism and aggressive scientism pertaining to various Western milieus. Instead, discerningly, without prejudice, he consistently referred to the available scientific data in order to give a new articulation to the traditional worldview. In so doing, he provided modern theology with a means to communicate the traditional worldview in intelligible ways to a contemporary, scientifically educated audience. Herein I consider the achievements of Father Stăniloae in the reformulation of the patristic representation of reality—particularly the views of Saint Athanasius the Great and Saint Maximus the Confessor—in conversation with aspects pertaining to the contemporary scientific paradigm. I address the author’s cosmological elaborations by focusing on three main areas, namely, the movement of the universe, the rationality of the cosmos, and the anthropic principle. My goal is to show that for him scientific cosmology and the Christian worldview were, far from antagonistic, a match made in heaven.

The chapter can be accessed here.