The Whole and the Person

On 20 April 2023, Doru Costache, the AIOCS Founding Director, offered a talk for the ISCAST-NZCIS Conversations. The topic was “The Whole and the Person: The Destiny of the Self in the Infinite Universe.” This was part of a series of talks, “Hardwired? Human Consciousness and Christian Belief,” running from April to June 2023.

Abstract: One of modernity’s forebears, Blaise Pascal, gave voice to a terror that still haunts us, regarding the human self condemned to pointlessness in the infinite universe. He cried out loud: “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me!” For centuries, indeed, the self appeared to be inexorably lost in the cosmos—to paraphrase Walker Percy—managing to gain a bit of self-esteem by abusing nature (i.e., the environment) in the name of erecting a civilisation. But this was not a real way out of the self’s predicament. Not even the joy of finding out more things about nature and the universe could be the desired solution. Closer to our time, fortunately, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin reminded us that Christianity is an excellent framework for reconciling the self and the cosmos, or the whole and personal consciousness. In this talk, I undertake to map the parameters of the issue, one that still determines the self to seek refuge in excesses of all sorts, as well as a possible solution, in Teilhard’s footsteps, for the terrors the self experiences at the sight of modern cosmology’s bewildering expanses.

Speaker’s bio: Very Rev. Dr Doru Costache is the ISCAST Research Director and an Associate Professor of Theology at the Sydney College of Theology. He coedits Christian Perspectives on Science and Technology. He is a Fellow of ISCAST and of the International Society for Science and Religion. He was a Selby Old Fellow in Religious History of the Orthodox Christian Faith at the University of Sydney Library and co-chaired the Cosmology group of project “Science and Orthodoxy around the World” (Athens). Author of Humankind and the Cosmos: Early Christian Representations (Brill, 2021) and coauthor of Dreams, Virtue and Divine Knowledge in Early Christian Egypt (Cambridge, 2019).

Video recording of the talk and Q&A

Audio recording of the talk, Q&A, and the ensuing informal chat


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